Month: March 2013

10 Reasons My Brother is the Greatest Person on the Planet

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In case any of you readers are unaware, I have a little brother. Well, he’s not quite so little anymore. In fact, he’s a 6’7″, 18-year-old high school senior, so calling him “little” is probably the inaccuracy of the century. But taking that and the title of this post with a grain of salt, here are ten reasons why it is my completely objective, totally unbiased opinion that he should rule the world.

10.He doesn’t get stressed out. About anything. He might have this insanely important test the next morning, and he’ll just be like, “well, I studied enough and I’m tired, so let me just play video games for a while and then go to bed.” AND THEN HE’LL GET 100% ON THE TEST. In a similar situation, I would probably (and actually, I have done this) stay up until the wee hours of the morning rereading my notes a thousand times and making hundreds of flashcards and then be too stressed to actually fall asleep and sometimes end up making myself sick. And even if I got 100% on the test, I would be in terrible physical and mental shape. My brother? Nope, it’s just a day in the life for him. I mean, he definitely works hard to be the great person he is, he just doesn’t tear himself to shreds while doing it. I respect that.

9. He’s going to college for lighting design because, well, that’s what he loves, and it’s what he’s good at, so he’s going for it. I think it’s really awesome that he knows what he wants and he’s willing to work for it. Most 18-year-old boys have no idea what they want to do with their life when they go to college and they come out with nothing but debt and beer bellies. Okay, maybe that’s a gross generalization, but the point is that my brother is way ahead of the curve here, and it’s going to bring him huge success.

8. Speaking of lighting design, did I mention he is almost completely self-taught? Typical, right, leave a kid alone with a giant confusing lighting board and he’ll come away so good that he gets into every collegiate program he applies to. One of the program directors who interviewed him said his was the best portfolio he saw all year, and I bet all the other kids had teachers. I guess nobody needs to mentor a prodigy.

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7. He has never punched anyone in the face. If EVERY SINGLE PERSON I ever met said the SAME THING to me (“Wow, man, you’re really tall!”) I would be handing out some serious shiners. And he gets even more bonus points for always remaining polite when answering the question, “Do you play basketball?”
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6. More specifically, he has never punched ME in the face. If I were him, I would hate me. I mean, I’m REALLY annoying. I think we were born in the wrong order (isn’t the younger sibling supposed to be the annoying one?), although maybe it’s a maturity thing since I’m pretty sure I never mentally developed past the age of 13. Anyway, I appreciate that I have never been the victim of physical violence at his hands because he could probably break me in half.
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5. He introduced me to Snapchat.
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4. He’s remarkably unselfish for a teenager. I say “for a teenager” because all teenagers have some degree of obnoxious self-interest, and he’s no exception. But in general, he’s not materialistic and he cares about other people. Sure, sometimes it seems like he’s obsessed with his Xbox and his phone, but if you really think about it, the Xbox is his friend group’s communication hub and the phone is his lifeline to his girlfriend, so it’s really the people that he’s attached to, not the technology. Alright, maybe that’s a little bit of a stretch. But he really does value the humans he lets into his life. I promise.
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3. He is LOADED. I mean, SERIOUSLY loaded. I know that’s not exactly a personality trait, but I think it’s very impressive that he understands the value of saving money, especially at the age of 18. When I was 18, most of the guys I knew spent all their money on weed. I feel as though he will be very good at budgeting as an adult. Which is good because when I’m broke and starving and homeless, he might be able to spare a couple of dollars for me.
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2. He doesn’t half-ass anything. Whether it’s beating a video game, designing lights for a show, or having a girlfriend, he always gives 110% of himself to whatever he’s doing. His goals and responsibilities and promises really mean something to him, and he doesn’t mess around. That’s seriously one of the best qualities a person can have.
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1. He is my best friend. I know I can always count on him when I’m in a tough spot, and he’s one of the few people in the world that I can always be completely honest with. He has no choice but to pretend to love me for who I am, but he does it so gracefully I almost believe him. 🙂 Not everybody gets so lucky when the cards deal them a brother, and I will be forever grateful that I got such a good one.
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Happy Birthday, Mom! [2006]

I just couldn’t help myself. This was too funny. You’re welcome, world.

HaPPY BIrTHDaY mom!

hey mom. so today you’re turning FORTY-FOUR. wow…seems like just yesterday you were in diapers. only, i didn’t know you when you were in diapers. which is a good thing because…well, i’m not going to get into that. but i didn’t know you until you were like…29, because that’s when i was born. sigh…i was born. aren’t you glad i was born? i am. think about it. if i wasn’t born, you wouldn’t be getting this card right now! isn’t that amazing? because i think it is. and it wouldn’t be cool not to get this card because this card is SO awesome you’d like…die without it. mwahhaah. so does that mean if i took this away from you, you’d die? don’t worry, i won’t try it. i wouldn’t want you to die. NO. I’M NOT THINKING ABOUT YOU DYING RIGHT NOW. LALALALALALALA…okay. so basically IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! think about that a second.

[long pause to let mom ponder the fact that its her birthday]

did you get any revelations about your birthday? like “OH MY GOSH! I’M SO OLD I’M GOING TO HAVE TO START PULLING THE WRINKLES OFF MY FACE WITH TWEEZERS” ! that would be gross. but anything of that sort? (OH and for the record. you’re not that old. trust me i’ve seen so many people older and grayer and wrinkleder than you.) ok. moving on to other subjects like kittens and ponies and huevos rancheros (i dunno what those are). hmm. i like birthdays because there’s cake & presents involved. what’s your favorite part about birthdays? OH OH and friends. i like parties cuz i get to have all my friends in one place. cuz i never ever get to do that except maybe at school. you and your friends should have a sleepover!! oh my gosh! that would be awesome! you could stay up late talking at watching rated R movies and eating low-fat popcorn. that’s not much different than me and my friends except we watch PG-13 movies and eat the fattiest possible popcorn cuz we’re pigs. yay pigs! oh and we eat lots of candy too. like at my birthday party we ate all that candy right after we finished breakfast. and then we all threw up. only we really didn’t throw up but we pretended to. actually we didn’t pretend to. i made that up. you can disregard that whole throwing up thing. oh golly geepers. i’m almost a page into this card. i think this might be the last line. i’m going for 2 pages here! YES i got there! hahaha. i’m such a good cardwriter. cardcardcardcardcard i’m having fun. ok next subject. your birthday. which means you get to decide what we do. but the rule never says i cant influence your decision. mom…wink wink nudge nudge…lets go see the da vinci code. only zach and dad probably don’t want to so maybe we shouldn’t. OOH if we go to nashua i want to go bathing suit shopping. sorry. i know its your day. shutting up now. what else does one say in a birthday card? i hope 44 is your lucky year. OH MY GOSH! KNOW WHAT I REALIZED? YOU WERE BORN ON MAY 29 SO 29 WAS YOUR LUCKY YEAR, AND YOU HAD ME WHEN YOU WERE 29!  i must be a lucky baby. i was born in a lucky year. yaayyy! i like this. this realization was good stuff. well. i totally forgot when my birthday was for about two seconds i was like HM WHEN WAS I BORN?! and then i remembered because who could forget ME? even me. i can’t believe i forgot myself. that’s just sad. okay whatever. i’m over it. talking about your birthday is fun. it lets me ramble on and on for 1 ½ pages about absolutely nothing at all. isn’t this fun to read? zach is holding a tissue to his lip and i don’t know why. hmm this is odd. OH he told me its ice. ok that makes a lot more sense. well i am excited for your birthday. we get cake! and plus it’s a birthday so its just fun. birthdays are fun in general. especially when your very tall mother turns FORTY FOUR! aren’t you like jumping-out-of-your-boots excited? I KNOW I AM! i wonder if anything good’s on TV tonight. ok never mind TV. ITS YOUR BIRTHDAY CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES EAT PIZZA AND MACARONI & CHEESE AND CAKE WITH LOTS OF FROSTING AND SKIP YOUR CALCIUMS CAUSE THOSE ARE NASTY TIMES 100000. and i think i want a caricature. so when we go to FL i need to get one. iffn day minoo? hahaha that’s a made up language. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! that’s all i have left to say to you, my dear mother. HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

LoveLove,
Your Dear DauGHTer,
GwenDoLYn<3

My First Kiss

Light. It was light, I think; I remember seeing a faint warm glow around the room. Everything was sort of fuzzy around the edges, but the colors were vibrant and rich and inviting. The red cups organized purposefully on the sides of the table. The green paper shamrock hanging haphazardly on the wall. The blindingly neon pink dress sported by a statuesque blonde. It was warm and light and beautiful.

Maybe it wasn’t just the light. Maybe it was warm because the room was packed with bodies radiating heat and energy and unwieldy sexuality, and our bloodstreams pulsated with far too many mixed drinks. The music reverberated through the soles of my feet and exacerbated the unsteadiness I was already feeling.

Hands touch my waist. Words are exchanged but not understood. Alcohol slides down my throat, leaving a fiery glow that makes everything lighter and brighter and warmer. It is hot. I am sweating. Hands. Arms. Legs. We are walking. Stumbling. Someone falls, not me, I hope – no, I am holding an arm. Whose arm?

Words. Arms. Hands. Mouths. Something bitter and carbonated, something sour and smooth. It is dark and we are close and your hands are on my waist, steadying me as the beer and the music and the darkness infiltrate my senses and I begin to slip away.

Walking. Where are we? The curb surprises me. My ankles give in. An arm drapes over my shoulder and slides slowly toward my hipbone. Hands again, words again. Buzzing. It might be my phone. It might be my blood boiling. Or it might be the rhythm of your mouth on mine.

No words.

Skinny

Let me preface this by saying that I know what I’m about to write is extremely unfair. I am well aware that there is almost no one in my life who is intentionally trying to be cruel, everyone just wants to help. And I appreciate that, I really and truly do. This is just something I have to get off my chest.

Please, for the love of God, don’t tell me I’m skinny.

It’s not that I don’t believe you – well, I mean, I probably don’t, but that’s not the point.

To be honest, there is a huge part of me that loves hearing that kind of thing. This is not unique to me; considering the societal pressure we are constantly under to be thin, I’m sure that would be taken positively by just about anyone. It’s a compliment to be called skinny. And that’s all well and good, except that what if you’re not?

Since treatment, I’ve gone from a size 0 to a size 4. “But don’t worry,” I’m told constantly. “You’re still skinny.”

So apparently a size 4 is still okay.

But what if I get to a 6? Or a 10? At what point am I no longer thin? At what point will the comments just cease altogether, out of politeness? At what size will I know, miserably, beyond all doubt, that I no longer fit into the category I’ve mangled and manipulated my body to reach?

When I was at my lowest weight, I was dying. Yeah, actually dying. You want to know why? My body wasn’t meant to be that small. I can cry and whine about it all I want, but the good Lord did not make me to fit into size 0 jeans. And there is 100% absolutely positively nothing I can do about that.

In order to live a healthy life, I have to accept that I’m never going to be as skinny as I feel like I should be. And that’s really, really hard. But I will never be able to let go of my fixation on the size of my body if I’m constantly worried about…well, the size of my body. The inner dialogue of “I’m okay right here but I can’t gain any more weight” is only a very small step away from “I have to lose weight,” but that step is very dangerous. And frankly, I’m not interested in taking it.

So don’t tell me I’m skinny. It may be true, it may not be true, but I’m not interested. Tell me I’m funny. Tell me you like my outfit. Tell me I’m smart or strong or friendly. Hell, tell me you think I’m annoying. Just make sure it’s something that I can control. Tell me something that matters.

An Open Letter to My Best Friend

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The day I met you, I wasn’t quite sure what to think. You were stunning and well-dressed and friendly, and I knew immediately that you were the kind of girl who would walk into a room and make everybody pay attention to her without doing anything at all.

Not like me, anyway. The eternal wallflower.

I’ll admit that I never thought we’d be friends, mostly because I didn’t really think I was in your league of human being. You struck me as popular, social, well-liked, sophisticated. The person I’d always admired but never known.

It was unfair of me to categorize you like that. I would learn later that in many ways we were completely identical, and that we shared the same struggles and insecurities. I had no way of knowing that one day we would inadvertently order our coffee the exact same way and walk away from a shopping trip with the same articles of clothing, and at the time I never would have believed it.

I was right about some things, though. You ARE stunning, and the more I get to know you the more beauty I see. You ARE friendly, and every person who meets you is a better for it. You turn heads not just because you’re gorgeous, but because you exude grace and intelligence and positivity. You are incredibly funny, endearing, thoughtful, and strong – and I am here to remind you of all those things when you are unable to see them yourself.

I wish that for just one day, you could step into my shoes and see yourself the way I see you. I desperately want you to understand how important you are to the people who know you and how much happiness and love you truly deserve.

We were going through hell when we met. And we still are. After all, the road out of hell isn’t easy to find, or to stick to. But we’ve always, always, always got each other.

Cold

Cold.

That’s what I remember most, being incurably and irrationally cold. No matter how many blankets I stacked on top of myself or how many pairs of socks I wore, the marrow of my bones remained cold as ice. It didn’t matter if the room was 80 degrees or 30, I shivered like I was naked in the Arctic.

I remember wearing sweatshirts to lifeguard even when it was 90 degrees in the sun, my lips turning blue when I had to wade ankle-deep in the water. I remember spending my free hour in the morning laying on a wool blanket on the beach, wearing as many layers as I could handle, trying so hard to let the sun soak in. It rarely did.

I remember standing in the shower of my sorority house with the hot water turned up as high as it could go, trying to let the heat penetrate my skin, feeling nauseous and seeing little black spots cloud my peripheral vision. It was one of the many times I lost consciousness in that tiny shower stall, and every time I prayed for it. If I wasn’t conscious, I didn’t have to feel that bone-chilling cold that gnawed away at my insides and made me want to disappear.

The first day I started feeling warm again was about 2 months into treatment, when I was in the partial hospitalization program. Suddenly I didn’t want the space heater turned up to 90 degrees, and I certainly didn’t want it right next to me. I stopped wearing sweaters and started wearing t-shirts. I was surrounded by patients who were still cold, but I wasn’t anymore. Sometimes I would even sweat a little, and right before I started feeling disgusting I would take a moment to be proud of the fact that I was able to feel the warmth that I’d been missing for so many months.

I still feel cold, of course. New England winters are fairly brutal, and my parents are sticklers about not turning up the heat too high in our house. But even when it drops to 8 degrees outside, I am still warmer than I was that 45 degree day in September when I passed out at the football game, or that 60 degree day in October when I saw stars in my psychology lecture. I no longer have to feel the miserable chill that means I am slowly but surely killing myself.

On the worst days, that is what I remind myself of. When I feel worthless and scared and depressed and Ed swoops in to reassure me, I remember the cold and I tell him to f*** off. I deserve to encounter temperature the way it’s supposed to be. I am meant to sweat when it’s 90 degrees, not grab an extra sweater. I am meant to feel the sun on my face and bask in the warm glow. Heat is a gift. Recovery has given it to me, and I will not let Ed take it back.

Stream of Consciousness (2007)

I don’t like the color red.  It reminds me of blood.  I hate the smell of blood, it makes me really nauseous.  One time in seventh grade we had to dissect an inchworm and it was really disgusting.  We were supposed to be really careful not to break the giant blood vessel, but of course I did, because I’m very uncoordinated with a knife.  In eighth grade tech ed I used the knife upside down the whole semester and didn’t even realize it.  Tech ed wasn’t really a whole lot of fun.  One time the knife went through my finger and it didn’t even bleed.  Normally I bleed at everything too.  My fingers bleed a lot.  My friend Taylor carries around a whole box of Band-Aids just because I bleed all the time.  I’m not sure why, it’s kind of a subconscious thing, and I hate the smell of blood and the taste of blood and it makes me sick but yet it happens all the time.  I think it’s because I don’t like it that I bleed all the time.  This kind of makes sense if you know what I’m talking about.  Taylor’s really nice about the Band-Aids.  She usually carries ones with Disney princesses and monkeys in hats.  One time a girl at camp gave me a Spiderman Band-Aid, and it was really exciting because I had blisters on my heels so I wore Spiderman on them.  I get blisters on my heels all the time.  You’d think that would be a lesson to me to wear socks but of course I don’t.  There are permanent scars on there now.  They’re kind of purple-colored.  The only other scars I have on my body are from the chicken pox and they’re all on my face, and you can only see them when I cry.  I had the chicken pox really bad.  They were all over me, even inside my mouth.  I don’t remember it though, because I was two.  I had them on my second birthday, so I couldn’t have a party with all my friends, not that I really remember who my friends were either.  I know there were lots of kids my age on my street and that three of us were born in the same week.  It was me, Rebecca, and Trevor.  Rebecca moved to Ireland and I never heard from her again.  It was kind of upsetting actually, because we were friends from the second we came out of the hospital.  Not by choice, but we were.  That was when I lived in Michigan in a tiny little house.  When my brother was born, we had to move out of the house, and we moved into a bigger house.  I remember that house because my room was upstairs and the kitchen was downstairs.  I think I always feel like that’s the way that a house is supposed to be, and it doesn’t seem right that almost everything in my house is on the same floor.  I don’t really like it very much.  My house isn’t that bad though, I mean, it’s pretty small but it’s okay.  The problem is that wherever you go in my house, someone else is always there.  I can never be by myself really.  My brother comes in all the time to watch football or something and I have to leave and I don’t really know where else to go because if I go in the dining room my mom’s cooking and if I go into my bedroom my parents will yell at me for being antisocial.  I’m not really that antisocial, I just keep to myself a lot.  I’m pretty self-sufficient, I think.  I don’t really need other people most of the time; I’m good at being by myself.  Which is weird because I’m not an only child or anything which is usually where people get that gene, but I’m just a weird kid, I guess.  It’s hard because a lot of the time people need me and I don’t know what to give them because I don’t know what it feels like to really need someone.  I always wondered if that had to do with my family.  We all kind of shut ourselves down a lot of the time.  Maybe that’s why I started acting; it gave me an excuse to feel something for a change.  It’s really different than normal.  I can cry all the time and lash out and get mad.  It’s definitely not how I usually act.  I don’t really know why I don’t.  I guess that’s just the way I am.  Like how I can’t play piano without tilting my head to the side.  My teacher used to get really mad at me and yell that it wasn’t going to look good in concert, but my piano playing turned out okay with my head tilted so why mess with it?  It’s not like tilting your head hurts your piano playing.  You can still read the music and hit the notes and do everything you have to do, just with your head going sideways.  Is that really wrong?  I don’t think so.  My brother’s better at the piano than me.  That’s why I quit when I was in fifth grade, because my brother was in second grade and he was already ahead of me in the books.  I guess he’s just a better pianist than me, but I don’t like being second best, so I quit.  It bothers me less now that he’s better than me, mostly because there’s a reason for it, because he played for so many more years than I did.  I get frustrated with myself when I can’t play things right, like last week at my lesson I had this piece I’d been playing perfectly all week at home and all of a sudden I got to my lesson and I screwed it up really bad, and ever since then I’ve never been able to play it right anymore.  I’m probably going to have that piece forever because my ability to play it is just gone.  I don’t know if it’s psychological or what, but I definitely can’t play it anymore.  I really wish I could do what my dad does and just sit down at the piano and be able to play anything I put in front of me.  My dad didn’t even take lessons except one year in college, and he’s still phenomenal.  I think my whole family is filled with prodigies except for me.  My mom is a really good guitar player and my dad and my brother both play the trombone and the piano.  I try to play the piano but I’m not that good.  It’s a really strange thing how different I am from them.  They can mostly play sports too and I’m very uncoordinated.  I can’t even catch a ball when you throw it at me.  I don’t know why, I just can’t.  It makes for a very difficult gym class because everyone makes fun of me.  I can’t do anything everyone else can do, so I don’t even try because I’m afraid I’ll look stupid.  I look stupid doing a lot of things, so I should be over it by now, but I’m not.  I guess everyone’s afraid of looking stupid.  I wish I weren’t, because if I weren’t afraid of looking stupid I would do all sorts of things.  I guess in some respects I must not be, because I let myself get up on stage and be whatever part I’m supposed to be.  I’m kind of nervous about The Crucible.  I’ve never had a lead part in anything before, and what if I screw up?  I probably will, and then everyone will laugh at me, and I’ll have to sit there and not get cast for the rest of my life.  I hope people give me second chances at stuff like that.  It’s really hard when people don’t, because then I feel like people are judging me, which is not very much fun.  I hate that, but I do it.  It’s very hypocritical.  I don’t like it.  At Jesus camp in fifth grade we sang a song about hypocrites and how they’re terrible and they should die.  I love Jesus camp most of the time, except when they’re telling me I should die.  I’m going to work at one next summer.  The applications are going to be up on Friday and I’m really excited about it.  I’m going to go on as soon as they’re up and print one out and start filling it out.  I love filling out forms.  Everyone always looks at me funny and walks away when I say that, but something about the structure of it, the fact that there’s one answer you can put down, is satisfying.  Like when they ask for your name.  It’s not like I can put down whatever I feel like, I don’t have to make an opinion on anything, I just have one name, and that’s the name I put down.  It doesn’t require much thought.  I probably like filling out forms for the same reason I like math.  Math is always comforting.  It’s weird.  Another thing people look at me funny for.  When I’m really stressed out, doing math calms me down.  There are no “what ifs” in math, there are no “what do you thinks” in math, nothing like that.  There is one way to do the problem and one answer that comes out of it.  I like the uniformity of it, the fact that the answer is always the same no matter how many people do it.  2+2 is always 4.  That’s calming.  But I like having my opinions on things sometimes.  Everyone always thinks it’s weird that I might major in math and I might major in English, because they’re complete opposites.  But I like them both.  I also might major in theater, but I’m afraid to because I’m a wimp and I’m afraid I’ll fail.  I need to have some self-confidence I know, but I’m not one of those people that valiantly tries and tries again.  I mean I want to be one of those people, but I’m just not.  I get discouraged really easily most of the time and it takes a lot to get me up when I think I’m going to fail.  And sometimes I don’t even want to try again.  And if I majored in theater there would be lots and lots of failures and I’m not sure I can handle that.  I can’t even handle failing at a piano piece, how could I handle failing an audition in New York or something?  I don’t know.  I don’t even like New York that much.  I’m supposed to like big cities since I like theater but I don’t.  They make me nervous, they’re all noisy and busy and there are sketchy people everywhere vending drugs and following people.  I don’t think I could handle living in that environment because I’d be afraid all the time that someone was going to murder me in my sleep or something.  I have lots of irrational fears, and getting murdered happens to be one of those.  My phobias aren’t even normal things like heights and spiders.  I am afraid of heights.  Not spiders.  But I’m also afraid of having an allergic reaction to food, and falling out of a car while it’s moving, and swallowing glass.  My dad always laughs at me because when I was little I used to say that I was afraid I was going to pick a piece of glass up off the sidewalk and eat it, but he doesn’t understand that I really was afraid of it, and I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t eat or anything for a few days.  In seventh grade I was afraid to eat for three months and I lost eleven pounds.  It was scary and everyone thought I had an eating disorder but I didn’t, I just was afraid to eat.  After that I never had anything really bad again except for now I’m afraid sometimes of having an allergic reaction to food.  On Friday I thought I was because the side of my face swelled up like a balloon, but it turns out I had a salivary stone in my perodit gland.  It really hurt to eat and I had to drink lots of lemonade and eat sour candy and try to explode it by pressing really hard.  It did eventually deflate but then I went to the doctor and she said it was infected and now I’m on antibiotics.  I don’t mind though, because the pills are a really pretty blue color, like an aqua-y teal-y blue.  Up until last year I couldn’t even swallow pills because I was afraid I was going to choke on them, but now I can, and my antibiotics right now are huge and I can still swallow them, so I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come.

The Top 5 Things High School Theatre Taught Me About Kissing

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5. Do not, under any circumstances, part your lips. This could potentially be seen as an invitation for your scene partner to stealthily add tongue which he/she did not earn. I have always held fast to the old-fashioned ideal that you should keep that thing to yourself unless you’ve already bought me dinner.

4. You’re probably doing it wrong. Wrong, you ask? How can my expert lip-locks be wrong? Well, I don’t know, why don’t you ask the director who’s screaming that your hands are very awkwardly positioned and your facial expression looks like you’re about to kiss a tarantula?

3. Hold on for dear life. The first nine or ten times you think, “Dear God, this HAS to be long enough,” it’s not. And if you let go too soon, you can bet you’ll hear those dreaded words, do it again. Push through the pain and at least you’ll have several scenes of panicking about remembering your lines before you have to live that trauma again.

2. Nobody cares what you think. It’s probably awkward. You and your partner might have the sexual chemistry of peanut butter and pickles. He/she might have lips like the Sahara desert or, even worse, bad breath. But I guarantee that you won’t find sympathy with anybody but yourself, so quit whining.

1. A kiss is just a kiss. Your future is not determined by the one or two (or eight) people with whom you share carefully crafted intimate moments. And look on the bright side – the quality of your smooching can only go up from here.

How My Imagination Ruined My Life

When I was in first grade, I loved to play with Barbies. I had quite a few of them – not an exorbitant number, but enough that I could rarely interact with all of them at once. Every day, I eagerly awaited the time when I would arrive home from school and set them up on the sunroom floor to resume their lives. You see, I never had imaginary friends. I never needed them when I had my Barbies.

The “stories” my dolls would act out often lasted for weeks, sometimes even months. Each day I would pick up exactly where I’d left off the day before, creating and resolving conflicts and exploring relationship dynamics. I was only six or seven years old and clearly unaware of how sophisticated my thought processes were. But I was the God of my Barbies, I decided how they thought and moved and interacted.

Their fates weren’t quite predestined, however. I almost never thought ahead to where the story was going. I simply created characters and allowed them to influence each other until the action just sort of unfolded on its own. Sometimes this turned into a pair of twins (portrayed by my Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen dolls) being kidnapped and thrown into the back of my brother’s toy truck and having to find their way back home alone. Other times it became a mermaid who suddenly lost her fins and was forced to live among humans against her will. My scenarios involved time travel, adoption, magic, death, dating, rivalry, and a million other popular plot points. But it seemed as though with every new combination, every new character, the story was exciting and fresh and bold.

This wasn’t the first clue that my imagination was overactive, either. Before I could read, I often flipped through picture books and told my own story based on the images I saw. And even after reading became the love of my life, I spent a good deal of my time bringing piles of my mom’s catalogs into the living room and doing the same thing (my pride and joy was a Land’s End sale catalog that I named “The Fugitive” and used to tell a story about a wrongfully accused teenage boy on the run from the police). Throughout the early years of my existence, I never felt bored or unstimulated because my head was full of exciting adventures that didn’t require anyone but me.

I was a pretty solitary kid, only letting others join me if they had something to contribute to my world. In first grade, my best friend Libby and I shared a love of storytelling and continued the same “game” of Barbies for a year and a half. In third grade, I commanded my friends in a military game every day at recess. My social imagination carried all the way through middle school, when my good friend Michelle and I would pass a notebook back and forth in algebra class until we had created a dramatic and ridiculous tale of two best friends forced apart by geography. There was something special about the friendships I had that bolstered my creativity and made me into an even more inventive person.

It wasn’t all perfect, though. Middle school, a trying test of anyone’s confidence, was especially hard on me when everyone had suddenly outgrown the activities I still loved. I wasn’t totally grounded in reality, so I often came across as shy, aloof, or self-centered. I had been so busy occupying space in my own head that I became socially awkward and immature.

For a while, my imagination comforted me. I would lay in bed at night and imagine scenarios where I was confident and likable. I would sit down at the computer and type a tale loosely based on my current problem, but I’d keep going until I’d ended it the way I wanted, until I ended up with the guy or had the confidence to sing on stage or became famous. And then I wouldn’t care so much that the guy was still in love with my best friend because I could just imagine that he liked me instead. And it wouldn’t matter that I wasn’t confident or talented enough to be a famous actress because I could imagine what it would feel like and that would make me happy. And so I could continue to live in my own head where everything was perfect and things always turned out for the best.

The problem is, that’s not living.

Here I am, eight years later. Although I did my best to grow up in high school and college, I still prefer the inner world to the outer. Life is full of constant disappointments and fears and failures, but I can imagine my life any way I want. In my head I am charming and desirable, always balancing a plethora of suitors and friends, even though in the real world I am socially inept and have never even been kissed. In my head I have pursued and succeeded in the arts, in writing and acting and music, despite the fact that in the real world I am studying math. In my head I am beautiful and happy. In the real world I am depressed, afraid, and dangerously self-deprecating.

Perhaps my struggles with perfectionism, OCD, and ultimately anorexia finds their roots in my internal utopia. It is endlessly frustrating to compare the imperfections of life to the idealistic world inside my imagination. In my head there is no need to accept harsh realities, because every situation can be manipulated and fixed until it is exactly the way I want it. I have complete and total control over people, events, and feelings.

Life is absolutely not like that. I have little to no control over the actions and reactions of the people around me. I can’t magically erase my fears or remove obstacles that block my path. Things are not perfect, and they don’t always end happily. And that sucks. But it’s also the way life is. Having a perfect relationship in my imagination doesn’t bring me any closer to finding love in the real world, just like deciding that I want my body to run on 300 calories a day doesn’t mean that I’ll actually be able to survive that way.

I have lived for almost 21 years, and the most exciting and rewarding things that have happened to me took place inside my imagination.

The world awaits.

All the Times I’ve Never Been Kissed, Part 3

(Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.)

I’m seventeen.

We talk for the first time when we are asked to present a problem to our chemistry class. You take point because I am embarrassingly bad at chemistry and have a terrible phobia of public speaking, but you don’t mind. You don’t think any less of me because of it. I appreciate that about you. When you smile at me and tell me I’m still brilliant, my stomach does a somersault.

For almost a year you text me every single day. Sometimes I reply and sometimes I don’t, but I can always count on feeling my phone buzz sometime between 3 and 5 pm and experiencing the thrill that means you’re thinking about me at that very moment. It feels good to be remembered. Sometimes I know you’re flirting with me but I pretend I don’t notice because it’s easier to be clueless than scared.

By the time you’ve made your intentions clear, I’ve already overanalyzed every thought and emotion that’s gone through my head. It’s already too late to reach me.

We don’t talk much, other than electronically. Sometimes we make eye contact and I wonder which of us is going to look away first. Which of us is more scared of the other. When I feel my blood getting hot and things are a little fuzzy, I imagine you’re feeling that way too. One time we try to go out on a date and the whole time my body is boiling and my ears are ringing and I’m so alarmingly aware of your closeness that I can’t think straight. But you never touch me. You never say a word. You just sit there silently and I start feeling sick to my stomach and ask you to take me home.

You torment me before I go to sleep at night. I wonder how you are so clearly interested and yet so sullen and aloof. Why you’re the life of the party but you’ve never tried to make me laugh.

We both have walls up. I’m waiting for you to knock mine down and you’re waiting for me to do the same to yours, and all the while neither of us are happy. We are too consumed by our insecurities to let each other in.

Someday, someone will get through to you, and part of me will always envy her for being braver than I ever was. And for getting to see the special person you are.

I still think about you all the time. I always will.