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I have so many notebooks filled with partial stories and story ideas, but I never finish them. As soon as a great introduction gets put on paper, my interest in the story tapers off, and I start another. I do have one that I managed to write about 50 typed pages on, and it is pretty good, but I have no idea where to take it from its current position, nor whether I want it to go anywhere.
My latest excuse for not writing has been that I didn't have Word on this new computer. Then my wonderful, thoughtful, supportive boyfriend bought Word and installed it for me. Now I have files full of partial stories and story ideas.
What sucks is that everyone that knows me thinks that I'm this great writer, that I'm destined for greatness and immortality through the printed word. Many of them also think I'm an artist and a musician, too. What they don't know is that I'm not great at anything. I'm mediocre.
Mediocrity didn't used to bother me, but lately it has gotten under my skin. And not in the romantic Frank Sinatra way, either. I'm realizing that I don't feel passionate about anything- and if I do, the passion is so transient that I lose interest after a short time.
I wonder if I am depressed or if I have some sort of a learning disabiliy. I'd rather be depressed, just because I'm tired of people putting diagnoses to their shortcomings.
This post was edited by betty on Jan 22, 2005.
As soon as I take a step out of the back room into the store, a customer asks me where to find a particular children's book. As I am directing her towards the section that she needs, I am scanning the bindings of the neatly arranged books for the title that she is looking for. I start to see a bright white spot in the center of my vision and am having problems reading. In spite of the bright spot, the book is found and I continue on my way to the front of the store.
The White spot is still there, a small annoyance. It is the same type of spot you get when you stare into a bright light, or at the sun, but I didn't do anything like that. Interesting, this odd spot in my vision.
I stand behind the register and say," I can help who is next," to the growing line of customers in front of me. Michelle is at the register next to me, cutting down the line of encroaching consumers with the quick-fire report of her fingers on the 10-key.
As the customer in front of me is waiting for me to tell her the total of her purchase, the white spot in my vision grows slightly. The computer screen in front of me is almost unreadable, but I can see the total. $41.43 .
"$43.41 is your total." But wait, that's not right. Slip of the tongue, haha. "$41.43. I'm sorry."
The lady hands her credit card to me, and I say,"May I see picture ID please?"
I look at her credit card and realize that I can't read it. The white light has gotten so large that the credit card is obscured. I accept her license and give it a cursory look, hand it back to the lady, run the card, bag the books, and turn to Michelle as the customer walks away.
"Michelle, I think I have to go sit down." I walk to the rear of the store, ignoring the customers who are trying to get my attention. I enter the back room and then the office where my boss is receiving cases of merchandise.
"Neil, I think something is wrong with me." I say.
"What's going on, Betty?"
I look at a can of soup that is sitting on the table in front of me. I know the can says 'Soup At Hand', but all I can see is 'So Hat Ha', like my vision is folded,and skewed. I look at the soup can trying to get it to come into focus and I am struck with the realization that I don't understand what the letters mean.
"Something is wrong with my eyes. I can't see. I can't read." Panic is creeping up the back of my throat "Something is wrong with my brain" Is what I really meant, but I couldn't say that because words can lead to reality.
Oh shit , something is wrong with my brain.
I call a friend to pick me up from work and take me to the emergency room. By the time I get there, I no longer remember my birthday, what type of car I drive, my Uncle's name, etc. I know my boyfriend's name, but it means nothing to me. My own name doesn't sound familiar. My vision is almost totally gone.
----I never understood the difference between loss of vision and blindness. I lost my vision for 3 days a long time ago in a freak mascara incident. My eyes were swollen shut and I could only see black for 3 straight days. This time, my vision was gone. It was nonexistant. There is no black. There is no white. There is nothing. I was blind.
An hour later I started recovering my memory, and my vision. The ER doctor gives me the diagnosis of a Migrane and hands me a paper describing what to do in case of a headache. A headache. A fucking HEADACHE???? I want to grip delicate pieces of his anatomy in my palm and squeeze until his eyes roll into the back of his head and he is crying on the floor of the sterile room, curled in a ball at my feet.
I tell him Thank you.
My boss won't let me come back to work until I have a release from a doctor. I can't get an appointment anytime soon because I have no insurance. I still don't know what happened to me or if it is going to happen again.
So, that was my weekend. How was everyone else's?
So I'm doing my makeup in the bathroom and I look up so I can do my eyeliner. I catch myself staring at me, right into my eyes, and I stop what I'm doing and just stare back at me. Who is this person called Betty? Who is this girl who is too old to be where she is in life, but too young to have so many wrinkles? What have I accomplished in 30 years besides having a good time? Still staring at my face, eyeliner forgotten in my hand, I tilt my head a little to the left, then to the right. My eyeballs stare at the mirror, never changing position, ever watchful of this new discovery of me. This person staring at me, the one who everyone calls betty - she isn't betty. I'm betty. Me. Inside of the multicolored hair, and peircings and tattoos. I'm right here, but nobody can see me. I will be forever known as Betty the funny chick who works in a bookstore and has ever-changing hair. But right now, staring into this mirror, I can see my soul. The part of me that is only tripping down to earth for a short stay. Just checking in, soon to check out.
Then I shake my head to clear it, and continue putting on my eyeliner. I finish getting dressed and head to work. Another day, another dollar.
An interesting thing happened on the way to enlightenment.
When I was studying Art History during my short stint as an Art major, I was introduced to the Buddhist Mandala in the form of a short film taped in San Franciso at a Buddhist temple, not so long ago. In the film, a small group of shorn men travelled around the nation building an intricate sand painting that would take days to complete, then destroy the beautiful work hours after completion. They would then take the sand and pour it into a body of water, then start the process all over again. And get this, once a Mandala man, always a Mandala man. The act of making the intricate and painstaking work and then destroying it is supposed to bring one closer to enlightenment, so they do this day in and day out until they die. Now that is dedication. I can see it now, "Hey, Xin, wanna go to the beach? I heard there are supposed to be some sick waves today," "Naw, man, I'm making my Mandala today, maybe I'll go with you in my next lifetime."
This, and many other things got me thinking. I have never felt dedicated or pulled to anything spiritual, unless it is a friday night and flaming Dr. Peppers are on special. It's not for a lack of searching, or openmindedness either.
I remember as a little girl, being dragged to CCD (Catholacism's answer to Sunday School) and Mass every Sunday, I would cut class and hang out behind the giant Mary statue in the courtyard and pick petals off of roses that had dried at Mary's stoney feet. I was 8 years old when I realized that for years I had been attending Bible study and I couldn't remember the names of any of the Saints, or how they had come to be Saints in the first place.
After receiving communion I knew in my heart of hearts that religion was a fraud because all I had to do was memorize a few biblical phrases and wear a white dress and the powers that be let me into their exclusive club of the "saved". How I hoped that the instant the priest placed the thin tastless wafer (that was supposed to represent the body of Christ) on my little tongue, the Holy Spirit would pop up next to me,slap me on the back and show me the secret handshake.I wanted him to make my heart swell with love and acceptance and make me want to sing hymns at the top of my lungs. But all I got was a wafer on my tongue that slowly became stuck to the roof of my mouth, and a light shove from the priest because I had paused too long after receiving my wafer and I was holding up the line.
I remember walking back to my mom and dad, who were sitting on the hard oak pew bulging with pride.My parents were bulging with pride, not the pew. I don't think the pew cared either way whether I had been given salvation or not. My mom was so full, pride leaked out of the corner of her eyes in liquid form.
I felt nothing. I was afraid to chew the wafer, because I was unsure if it was disrespectful to masticate the body of Christ. It all sounded so gruesome to me; so Donner-ish. I guess I did feel something. I felt dissappointment.
It wasn't long after receiving communion that my mom gave my brother and I the choice whether or not we wanted to go to church or not. Just now, I realized something. See that period right before the word 'Just' in the previous sentence? That is the exact point of my realization, which I will share with you now.
After my brother and I instantly made our decisions, before the question had completely left my mother's mouth, my entire family quit going to church. We used to all get up early, scrub the ranch leavin's from under our little nails and from behind our ears, put on our Sunday Best, and trudge off to church. Everyone: Mom, Dad, Brother, Me, Grandma and Grandpa. After church we would all go to Denny's for breakfast along with the other families that had managed to accomplish the task of togetherness in silence for 2 hours. But after Bubba and I said "NO Thanks" to the Big-G, everyone would sleep in on Sunday. All of us. Then Dad started working Sundays.I think my brother and I were the only reason the family was going to Mass. They must have felt it was their duty to put up a united front and give the two of us a good religious upbringing. That is until we were deamed old enough to make the decision for ourselves.
I was in 6th grade when we quit going to church. I was 10 years old when I decided that I didn't feel the need for religion. I am torn on how to think about this. Do I become reverant in my knowledge that I was not a sheep, that I was so spiritually aware at the age of 10 that I KNEW Christianity is a hollow, last ditch attempt at immortality for beings who are terrified of death? Or do I become angry at my parents for not giving me the religious support that I needed desperately at that particular time in my life? Do I blame my parents for causing me to feel detached from any type of theology that could make me feel bonded with other beings of my species?
I prefer to think that everyone is blameless. This is just the way it worked out. I don't know what I believe at this point in my life. I want to believe that I am destined for some epiphany in the not-so-far future; that the Hand of God will slap me out of my Godless reverie one day and make me part of something that I sense is beyond my reach and yet was under my nose the entire time.
This post was edited by betty on Oct 29, 2004.
Okay, so I'm an evil muppet. I get myself in trouble all the time because whenever someone asks a question, I answer truthfully or with my real opinion. For example - I know this girl - a friend of a friend of a friend - who drives me batty. She always talks about nothing but sex, and her diatribes always start with "I'm not a freak but...." so I avoid her. She annoys the doodie out of me. Pretty much every time she walks up to me and starts talking, I walk away. I have tried to change the subject, I have tried tolerance, I even tried singing to myself while she was relaying her latest " i'mnotafreakbut...". So one day at a party, I sat down at a table in the back yard of my friend's house to smoke a cigarette, and here comes not-a-freak girl. Damn, I just lit my cigarette and I'm gonna have to put it out. Well, she sits down and starts i'mnotafreak-ing so I stub my smoke and start to stand up. She says, "um, Betty? Can i ask you a question?" I look around to the others at the table, tensing inside because I know I am about to commit some extreme faux pas by responding with a truthful answer to whatever question she is about to pose and I don't know how the others will react. So I say, "Sure, go ahead not-a-freak (names have been changed to protect the innocent, or not-so-innocent). She says,"You don't like me, do you?" So I respond in truth - "It's not that I don't like you, really. It's just that you annoy me.... all you ever talk about is sex, so whenever you start talking I leave. Like right now....." I step away from the table and walk inside of the house. So! If I happen to offend any of you with my answers, it is my nature. Sorry for any emotional stress i may cause you in the future. I will kiss your tooshies right now if you really need it to feel good about yourself, but this is the only time i will offer. take the free tooshie beso or leave it.
I was driving along the windey wind-swept hills this evening, my boyfriend sitting in the passenger seat. I had just finished crying. He stared out the window at the passing clouds, wondering how he could make everything better, even though he was the source of my despair. How can a man who is so very intelligent be so utterly self-destructive, or thoughtless? I am not a woman who cries easily. I am a strong, motorcycle riding, former mechanic/soldier who would rather kick a rabid bull with a steel-toed boot than show my weakness in front of anyone- or so I used to think. He brings out the damsel in distress in me. Who knew I had one of those?