The Blessing and Curse of a Near Perfect Memory

When I was two and a half, my mother enrolled me in a Catholic preschool. I remember playing with the toys, while she signed me up and I remember going every day. I remember the stern, black nun, holding my hand. I remember thinking that black people must sweat a lot, because her hands were sweaty and at age two, I hadn’t spent a lot of time with people of color. I remember when Santa came to visit the preschool. He brought me a Fisher-Price drum and I wore a dress with Scottish terriers on it, because #90skid.

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I saw Jurassic Park in theaters when I was five years old. I was so scared that I tucked my head into my teal and purple Aladdin t-shirt for the majority of the movie, and sat in my mother’s lap, terrified. That same summer, I saw Hocus Pocus with my Gramma, who hid an entire sleeve of gas station brownies under her coat, because she’d do anything for her grandkids, no matter how ridiculous… and just like Jurassic Park, I saw little of the movie with my face hidden in said coat the entire time.

When I started kindergarten, my mother wasn’t able to take me to school on my first day, so the weekend before, she had me don my First Day Outfit, did my hair, and loaded up my backpack. She took me to the school and had me walk up to the locked doors while she took pictures and had me pose in front of the school, insisting that years from now, I’d never remember it wasn’t really the first day of school.

For much of my life, it’s been a running joke that I remember everything, with friends and family and coworkers, but only in the last few years have I realized that I truly have a capacity for memory beyond what is normal. Though I’m sure I could map out our trailer house from when I was five, I don’t think it qualifies as an eidetic/photographic memory. You see, I can vividly recall far more than just imagery. I don’t just remember when my grandfather died right after I turned five. I remember being confused about why we had to bury him, instead of just propping him up at family events and pretending he was still alive. I remember asking if we could keep the body and my parents (probably confused and a little creeped out by the question), telling me it was illegal. I remember reasoning, in my five-year-old brain, that we could hide grandpa in the hamper if the police came, because that was the best hiding place in the house. I remember I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral, because I was too young, but considering these other thoughts, I think it might have helped me to understand.

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I could go on and on about the detailed thoughts and feelings and conversations and events of my childhood, despite the fact that many people tell me they don’t really have memories before the age of 7, but these aren’t the only years I remember with such clarity. I can recount, verbatim, entire conversations and events from middle school and high school. I can precisely quote multiple nights out with friends in my early twenties. I can remember what I wore, what Jake wore, which side of the table we both sat on, what we talked about, on our first date, our second date, our third date. While it is, indeed, a blessing in many ways, in others… well, not so much.

I am the best at arguments.

“Don’t you tell me that the last movie we saw in theaters was a Belle Movie, when I remember perfectly well that it was absolutely a Jake Movie. I did not want to see it just as badly as you did and in fact, I told you that it had bad reviews… and come to think of it, the one before that was also a Jake Movie, so you don’t just owe me one Belle Movie, but two.”

“I asked you nicely four times on four separate occasions to go through your mail, before I threatened to throw it all in the trash, so don’t act like I’m being unreasonable. It was so four. I asked on Thursday, when you came home for your lunch, before I went to work. I asked on Friday before dinner. I asked yesterday after work and I asked this morning, when we got up.”

“Two months ago, you agreed that the next time we went to a rodeo, if the Christmas store was open, we could go there first. Just because you didn’t think it would be open in September, that doesn’t mean you aren’t bound by your promise, mister.”

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I get embarrassed/angry/stressed out about interactions that no one else even remembers.

In the 11th grade, someone called me “squinty-eyed.” Sometimes, I’ll randomly wonder, 15 years later: Am I squinty-eyed? Was it just my contacts? Did Lasik fix it? Is it just my face?

I still remember, with perfect clarity, what it felt like to be 270 pounds, at 22. I remember that no one was ever cruel to me, because they saw right through me, like the time the video store clerk called to the man behind me, that they could take the next person in line. I remember looking around a college classroom and realizing that I was the fattest person in the room. I remember staring at myself naked and thinking that I didn’t even look like a woman anymore. I remember paying more for plus-sized clothing, being hot all the time, not being able to breathe, my feet constantly hurting, and every time I gain five pounds, I fear I’ll wake up right back there.

Catherine once said, about her best friend, “She’s just being a bitch, because she can’t get pregnant.” At my 30th birthday party, she went on and on about how Laura was crazy and her kids were afraid of her and Catherine was going to change her own locks so Laura couldn’t get into her house. Gail didn’t even remember these conversations, but every now and then, it really pisses me off that Catherine acted like was the only Mean Girl in that group of Mean Girls and I’m sure it still will in 10 years.

Last Christmas, Jake’s cousin and his wife wore matching Willie Nelson Christmas shirts. I made a reference to Duck Dynasty, not because I didn’t know who Willie Nelson was, but because the shirt made me think of it. I still stress out over the idea that Jake’s very country family thinks I can’t identify Willie Nelson.

I’m more introspective and focused on self-improvement.

It’s a lot easier to acknowledge a need for change, when you can vividly remember every shitty thing you’ve ever said or done. I think, for people with average memories, it’s easier to put these things off on others, claim that someone else started the conversation or told that secret or made that joke. I, however, can remember all of the times I  found a reason to mock people I didn’t even know, to be catty about family and friends, and how I used Facebook as a visual aid… and I can remember how often other people did it, too, that this was normal social behavior.

These glaring recollections are the reason I did away with social media and this behavior entirely… and my perfect memory is the reason I can see how much my life has changed. I remember how much time I used to spend staring at my phone, talking about people I didn’t know or care about, and how ugly my comments tended to be, as a result. I remember that I talked about people instead of ideas and instead of doing things I actually found fulfilling, like reading, writing, crafting, and spending time with my husband and family.

Though my escape from social media has been hugely impactful, even just my innate ability to acknowledge that I’m guilty of being hypocritical or impulsive or lazy, helps me to improve. When I see the statistic that only 37% of Christians attend church weekly, it’s much harder for me to convince myself that I’m following my faith. When I tell my husband that we need to start spending less, it’s not as easy to ignore the $10 I spent at the gas station on beef jerky, or that book I bought on my Kindle. When I get frustrated that I haven’t been successful at losing weight, I can’t deny that it’s because I’ve been sneaking ice cream and candy all week.

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I have more trouble moving on.

As I get older, I realize that there are seasons in life and it is perfectly natural and healthy to drift from one to another… but I think I struggle with it more than some. When I was 24, my whole world revolved around school and Gail and my guy friends… until my guy friends and I started to move in different directions. Gradually, they stopped inviting me to do things with them, and didn’t make the same effort to keep up with me. At the time, I had to find fault in them doing so, telling myself that they were jealous of my academic and career success or that they didn’t want to move forward with their own lives, so they resented me for doing so. Now, I realize that we were all just growing and it was okay to do so in different directions.

Today, I find the same has happened with Gail and I. What was once a relationship that defined me as a person is now comprised of sporadic text messages and the rare meet up at the mall for lunch. It’s not that either of us is truly at fault, so much as it is that we live on opposite sides of the city and Gail has grown passionate about veganism and travel and charity, while I’m further on the traditional path for which I always longed; buying a home, having babies, getting involved with my conservative church, connecting with my siblings and their spouses. While I’m sure we’ll always be connected in some way, it’s still hard for me to move forward, without Gail, when our lives were once so entwined. I so clearly remember having lunch several times a week, texting each other throughout the day, discussing every decision, big or small, with her, and its unlikely that that’s what our future relationship holds.

I’d imagine the same will be true when my dog has to be put down, or my Gramma passes, or my children grow up, or my dad dies. While I think these trials are tough for anyone, I think I remember life’s stages more vividly and while that’s nice when you’re looking back fondly, it also makes for some much more painful longing.

It makes me better at my job.

“They should know better.” I hear this so many times a week, in my job as Teen Librarian and each and every time, my response is “Why?” Everyone expects to have to explain behavioral and social norms to children, but never to teens. Teens should “know better.” I remember being confused as to why I suddenly went from cute to annoying, sassy to mouthy. I remember every conversation being colored with patronizing tones and preachy, subjective religious stances. I remember adults refusing to speak to me like I was a person with feelings, capable of extreme embarrassment and regret and heartache, because “teenagers are stupid”… and it makes me a lot better at my job.

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Just yesterday, I sat in the teen area at work, talking to my kids, when a woman came back and rudely snapped “You guys don’t have your own room, you know.” I firmly replied “This actually is their space,” to which she responded that we were being really loud. No, we weren’t. The building is just stupidly designed in a way that funnels sound into the computer area. “We can be quieter, but this is the teen area.” I don’t think anyone ever championed me like that as a teenager and that just made me angrier and it made my life harder. My ability to remember exactly what it felt like to be 15 makes me so much better at my job.

Nostalgia hits me harder.

It’s a good thing I’m so happy with my life, y’all, because sometimes, I really miss being 16 years old, riding around with Gail and Malik. I remember my 17th birthday party so vividly, giggling as we played a pathetically PG version of “strip Twister,” when we were all virgins, who’d never been kissed, before any of us were divorced or addicted to drugs or had babies that died. I remember life before any of us made any real mistakes and I remember how it felt to have all of those decisions ahead of me. Thirty seemed so far away and I pictured my life so differently… because I couldn’t comprehend how great my life could be if I spread things out a little more, but I miss that naivety.

From what I understand, most people have vague impressions of childhood, their teen years, and even now their twenties… but I remember it all in extreme detail.

I remember my mother making me birthday pancakes every year, before school, even though she worked full time as a nurse. I remember how she volunteered for every field trip and put little green foot prints all over the bathroom on St. Patrick’s Day.

I remember, when I was 9, how my best friend teamed up with a boy down the street to lock me in a van and beat the crap out of me, because she didn’t know how to tell me she didn’t want to be my friend anymore. I remember not telling my mother about it, when she picked me up, and how much it hurt that she was too distracted with her own life to notice something was wrong.

I remember my middle school crush and how horrible it felt that he didn’t like me back. I remember the embarrassment when his friends made fun of me. I remember how relentlessly I bullied him in revenge.

I remember sitting outside at lunch in high school, making nerdy jokes and having spinning contests, finally feeling accepted and welcome. I remember how much I loved those friends, who I no longer know and I miss them… not the 30-year-olds, but the 15-year-olds.

I remember the black cat I had as a teenager and how heartbroken I was the day she died, along with all of my other pets in the fire set by my ex. I remember exactly how the charred house smelled and the feel of warm water on my pants and I tried to salvage what I could. I remember everything about that day and exactly how horrible it felt.

I remember Grace, Gail’s daughter, and how much I loved her and how hard it was saying goodbye. I remember Gail and I leaning on each other during the hardest times in our lives and I miss that bond.

I remember being single and free to do as I wished, crafting and reading and Netflixing all night, and eventually waking to a feeling of emptiness and longing for my life to start.

I remember the uncertainty I felt in dating my husband. Was I texting too much or too little, did he really like me as much as I liked him, should I play hard to get, was I really as awkward as I thought I was and did he care? Yes and no, by the way. I remember the first time I told him I loved him and how badly I wanted to take it back, because it made me so vulnerable and I remember falling in love with him all over again a dozen times. I remember his proposal and the joy I felt walking down the aisle to him.

For better or worse, it seems I really do remember it all… and there are no rose colored glasses with a memory so clear.

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I’m a Librarian, B^+<#@$!!!

Four years ago, I had just found out that I was pregnant and that my ex-husband was lying about having a job… again. I was morbidly obese, starting my senior year of college, about to do my student teaching, and paying the bills through… well, prayer. I was petrified.

Today…

I am a fucking Librarian!!!!!!!

Suck my dick statistics, because I left the bastard and…

I. Did. It.

I followed through on all of my dreams and got that Bachelor’s degree and then that Master’s degree and now the job! My divorce didn’t lower my station in life. It opened up a universe of possibilities and opportunity.

  • Women who divorced between 2010 and 2011 were more likely to receive public assistance than men who divorced during this time, with rates being 23% and 15%, respectively.
  • Of women who divorced between 2010 and 2011, 27% reported a household income of less than $25,000.
  • Children of divorced parents are twice as likely to drop out of high school and less likely to attend college.
  • While men are financially better off than women after a divorce, they are more likely to suffer more emotionally.

I’m sorry. What was that? I can’t hear you over the sound of my I’m a Librarian, BITCHES!!! dance coupled with my ROAR OF AWESOME!!!!

A little bit o’ this…

… and a little bit o’…

.. and some nce, nce, nce.
Finally, some…

Yeah. They don’t let me dance at stuff.

Today, I talked the ear off the lady at the gym who asked why Librarians need a Master’s degree. Yesterday, I bought myself these… because I am just that cool.

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Sometimes, divorce is not a failure. It is the righting of a path. I wasn’t meant to be the miserable wife of a sociopath. I was meant to be right here.

Gail: “The divorce was not the mistake. The marriage was the mistake. The divorce was just what was required to correct that mistake.”

I’m not advising you to leave your husband because he won’t try that new thing in bed or he won’t put his fucking shoes away. If there’s something to salvage, fight for it. If you’re fantasizing about a life where he dies, through no fault of your own, because you’ll finally be free… if the marriage is truly awful and he or she is a truly poisonous person… there is a better life out there. No matter how scary it feels to go in search of it, it is so very worth it.

“It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.” – John Steinbeck

Yeah. I looked that up.
http://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Divorce_Statistics

Real-Life Photoshop: How Cosmetic Surgery Resonates 10 Years Later

As a kid, I had small moles on my face. By the time I reached middle school, they were prominent and I hated them. I once took Biore pore strips and placed them strategically, only to cry my eyes out when they didn’t remove moles. I took pictures of pretty actresses and drew brown dots on their faces to see if they were still pretty and showed them to my mother. When she wasn’t hitting me, the woman was terrified of being anything other than my best friend, so she caved and throughout seventh and eighth grade, I had five moles removed from my face, in a series of outpatient procedures. I was too young to make this sort of decision, but I don’t regret it.

A half-naked 14-year-old who had never even been kissed, I was mortified by the instructions “bend over like you’re diving” as Polaroids were taken in the plastic surgeon’s office. I asked when I’d get the pictures back and teared up when I learned they’d be kept on file for insurance purposes. In short, I was waaaay too young to be getting a breast reduction.

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Despite this, my mother was a nurse and used her pull to find someone who would agree to do the surgery. The doctor tried to talk my mother into waiting a few years, or at least until I’d lost a little weight, but I insisted and she agreed. The insurance claim was sent after my fifteenth birthday, in September. By December, I was excited for my first ever surgery, which just happened to be both cosmetic and elective.

I had claimed shoulder pain and the insurance company decided they’d save money in the long-run to just nip (pun only realized during proofreading) this problem in the butt. I did not have shoulder pain. I was humiliated by breasts that nearly sagged to my belly button and was forcing them into a size DDD bra that did not even fit. Those monsters don’t come cute. I’ve never regretted the decision. I have scars and can’t feel the underside of my breasts, causing sores from broken underwires to go unnoticed until looking in the mirror… and I still don’t regret it.

In fact, these procedures changed my whole outlook on plastic surgery. Previously having been one of the many individuals who consider plastic surgery to always be fake and self-indulgent (at age 11?), I soon realized that it’s just about the person undergoing the changes in themselves, and no one else. It’s hard to say someone should be happy with who they are when you were purchasing granny bras at age eleven while tearfully declaring you “look like a chocolate chip cooke!” I had parents who were too busy screaming at each other to make sure I bathed properly or washed my clothes regularly; forget about dressing cute, listening to the right music, or you know being nice to people. Fitting in wasn’t really my thing and the self-consciousness that came with facial moles and Big Mama breasts did not help.

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For realz. Change into that in the locker room before sixth grade gym.

 All that having been said, my mom made a bad decision on both counts. Ell oh ellsies. My mom made a lot of bad decisions…

  • the time she offered to buy us beer at 15
  • letting me and other people’s children jump off the roof onto the trampoline at age 12
  • kicking me in the stomach when I didn’t clean the litterbox
  • using the knowledge that I was a cutter as leverage to threaten me with therapy when I argued with her
  • giving me the “just be home before I go to work in the morning” curfew at sevenfuckingteen 

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Today, I’m a relatively confident adult. I’m fairly comfortable with who I am and how I look. I’d like to be about fifteen pounds lighter, but I’d rather have hips and red gummy worms than no hips and no red gummy worms, so… meh. Whatev. I am of perfectly sound mind to make the decision that I’d like to have the mole on my back removed, because I’m generally kidding when I tell Gail I’m going to do so with a cheese grater… or a blowtorch like that scene from Sons of Anarchy. I’m also twenty-five. I cannot fathom letting a child choose elective surgery. Regardless of the fact that the insurance company considered the above procedures to be necessary, I wasn’t afraid of cancer, nor did I actually have any shoulder pain. My issues were all psychological. Rather than destroying my view of therapy for the rest of my life by threatening me with it to get her way, my mother should’ve acknowledged the whopping self-esteem issues I had and arranged for me to speak with someone every couple of weeks, while putting me in social groups that were relatively free of teasing and judgement, like a church youth group. If, by age 16, building my confidence still did not fix my issues with the moles on my face, fine. She could schedule a consult with a dermatologist. If, by age 18, building my confidence did not fix my issues with the nipples at my bellybutton, she could schedule one with a plastic surgeon. Waiting three years seemed like an eternity at 15… which is why my mother should’ve helped me to see the big picture and made certain I could handle the decision I was making. Honestly, that time wouldn’t have changed my mind on either issue, especially the breast reduction (a pound and a half was removed from each), but it would’ve lessened the chances that I’d regret choices I made in utero.

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“Hey, you up there! This nose seems a bit squished. Schedule a rhinoplasty.”

 This problem, however, is not limited to youth. The “mommy makeover” has taken even the middle-class by storm. One plastic surgeon reports that mothers are his largest customer base. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS), 36% of the 9.9 million surgical and minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures performed in 2006 were on patients between the ages of 30 and 39; 29% of them were aged 20 to 29.*

I’m not knocking a tummy tuck if you just can’t fix it with diet and exercise. I will criticize the people who couple it with liposuction, without first losing the weight and keeping if off, though. What is the point of taking on thousands of dollars worth of surgical bills if you’ve no guarantee of an ability to maintain the results? I never wash my car. Like ever. So, despite the faded doors and banged up front bumper from my recent fender bender, I’m not paying to have it painted. I may as well light that money on fire, because I’m not going to suddenly start washing my car. Getting liposuction and a tummy tuck and then getting fat again is the same.

If you’ve done the sit-ups and counted the calories, joined that Zumba class, and bought the push-up bra, though, I get it. I do. That doesn’t even apply to just the mommy makeover customers, but also the women who hate that bump in their nose, or the skin hanging from their chin, or those paper-thin lips. I understand how they feel. Trust me. I’ve had breasts that swing.

However… ten years later, I’m acknowledging that I may not have been in the best psychological place when I made the decision to surgically alter my appearance foreverPerhaps, rather than flocking to have ourselves physically Photoshopped, we should spend some time trying to come to terms with who we are and consider that our issues may be psychological. Maybe it’s not so much the wrinkles in your forehead that make you uncomfortable, but rather aging itself. Maybe that loose skin at your stomach isn’t the problem, but instead it’s just that your marriage is lacking some romance and you don’t feel attractive. Maybe you’re just insecure and your nose makes you look unique and distinctive and changing that will just make you look bland.

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The constant photo altering and image filters we see on Facebook aren’t helping this body dysmorphia trend, either. Grown women are enhancing their own clavicles, presenting a slimmer vision to the world, only to be disappointed when they don’t see that in the mirror, even if the real thing is perfectly healthy. I fear for the generation of kids who grow up with “corrected” photos hanging on the wall. The real world will never be as colorful or as unblemished as that photo shoot and they will never actually look like that. If it’s fucking with the heads of adults who are doing it themselves, they… are… screwed. 

Also… maybe I’m completely fucking wrong. Maybe the sagging skin at your forehead is far more severe than you should be seeing at 35. Maybe your husband calls you sexy every day, but you just can’t find business suits that look right. Maybe you more resemble Tucan Sam than Jennifer Grey. I certainly know that I don’t miss the feeling of the underside of my breasts sweating on my stomach. I greatly prefer that barely noticeable scar on my face to the Austin-Powers-worthy mole. Isn’t it worth some introspection, though? Because if I’m right, those problems aren’t going away with a little visit to the doctor. I didn’t suddenly become the awesome and fucking hilarious gal I am today after the stitches were pulled, when I was fifteen. That took years of personal growth. If there are deeper issues that aren’t being addressed in addition to/instead of cosmetic surgery, you’re still going to be having trouble facing your own mortality and changing body. Your marriage will still be suffering. You’ll still be insecure and uncomfortable with the idiosyncrasies that make you who you are. Because, regardless of how content that makes you, that last bit is fact. We are exactly who we were in the womb. We, as a society, should take more pride in that and give serious consideration to its alteration. We should stop this constant catering to insecurity and discrimination with invasive procedures, “repairing” the slightest blemish. We should start practicing what we preach when we tell our little girls that they are beautiful just as they are

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… and if, after trying to come to terms with our individuality, we still hate that fat around our midriff that just won’t fucking DIE, then thank goodness for modern psychology and modern medicine.

Sources

http://www.webmd.com/beauty/treatments/mommy-makeover-a-plastic-surgery-trend

S#^t I Can’t Do (Part 2): Drive… At All

Preface…

Over Lent, Father shared a series of homilies focusing on the Seven Deadly Sins. Each week, he focused on a different one. This is the same… exactly the same.

Shit I can’t do:

Date Without Being a Jackass
Time Management
Cook on the Stove
Express Sympathy Appropriately
Manage Heartbreak Without Humor
Drive… At All
Share Important News Like a Normal Fucking Person

Drive… At All

It happened. I was in my very first car accident… just hours ago. The story is typical… damn near boring. I was in a rush, tried to change lanes, and was hit by a Saturn Vue. The other driver and I immediately traded information while waiting for the police to arrive. I called the insurance company, the claims department, the body shop, my dad to ask to borrow his Jeep for a few days, my Gramma and Gail to tell them I was alive, my step-mom to tell me it was just an accident, and then my actual mother who ignored my calls because she’s mad at me for some fabricated-batshit-crazy reason… and I did all of this while waiting for the aforementioned cop.

-Phone conversation-
Gail: “Hey. You get everything handled?”
Me: “If I were a rape victim, I’m pretty sure the semen sample would no longer be viable. I am still at the side of the road, waiting for the police. I have been here since the beginning of time.

In all honesty, outside of the inconvenience and 90 degree plus weather, it was pretty much the best car wreck ever. Like, for realz, if there are collisions in that town from Big Fish, they look like mine.

big fish town

If she wasn’t from Spectre (I would make sweet love to Google), I’m pretty sure I hit a fucking Sesame Street character when the word of the day was “understanding”, because that woman could not have been more pleasant. When the cop finally showed, he was the kind of friendly that makes you wonder if he’d gotten into the supplies in the evidence locker and basically told us both that he didn’t have to write a police report unless we really wanted him to, so no one (like the person at fault ::cough:: me ::cough::) had to get a ticket. Then the lady actually apologized to me for making me wait. I was fully responsible.

pleasantville
Is she serious?

In addition to all of that, my dad has a habit of collecting cars he does not need, so I don’t even need a rental while my car is in the body shop. My deductible is only $500 and I needed a new bumper anyway, because…

I am a terrible fucking driver.

I’m not even kidding or exaggerating when I say that I don’t know how I’ve been driving for nearly ten years and this is the first collision I’ve been in, let alone causedI curb check daily, people. I make split-second decisions that are more often than not really bad, like braving flooded streets after a tornado when I drive a hatchback that is about four inches off the ground.

flash flood
Three times, I have managed to use this picture. Fucking Southern spring.

I run out of gas almost as frequently as I get lost and most of those times, I had the money to fill up and just… fucking… forgot. Each and every time I sputter into the station, I scream “Fuck yeah! This car runs on prayer!!!!” like I’m Grandpa Joe, just saw the golden ticket, and leaped from bed for the first time in twenty years.

grandpa joe

Then there are all those times I’ve misplaced the car… with me in it. Gail and I once went shopping… or planned to… with me behind the wheel. The destination was the north side of the city and Gail was supposed to be giving me directions. She took a phone call and looked up to exclaim:

Gail: “What the fuck did you do?!? How did we end up at the Capitol?!?”
Me: “I don’t know! You were supposed to be giving me directions!”
Gail: “I looked away for two minutes! How did you even do thatBelle?!?”
::silence::
Me: “So… um… you wanna tour the Capitol?”
Gail: “Eh. Why not?”

We live in a grid state. Our roads are probably the easiest to follow in America. I have gotten on the wrong Turnpike, taking myself 30 miles out of the way at least four times. I’ve gotten lost on the way to the college where I received my master’s degree more than five times in three years. I was an online student. I don’t even know if I’ve been to that school more than 15 times total. The town of Springfield practically merges with my hometown, Shetland. It’s a Shetland family’s answer to sit-down chain restaurants, the one department store, and the movie theater. Gail and I spent most of high school driving around this town and giggling in the bookstore. I once had a Springfield address and I have gotten lost there recently. It’s sad, y’all. Mice can navigate mazes, on the first trip through, better than I can navigate my hometown. Not only that, but… well… I tend to hit shit. I tore a panel off of the side of the car the day I bought it, because I didn’t see the curb. Luckily it only cost $25 to reattach it, but that was only the beginning.

Incident 1: My extended family is huge. On Christmas day, we rent out the gymnasium of one of the local Catholic schools, where the kids put on a nauseatingly cute talent show, the women fight over their Dirty Santa theme, and the men grudgingly pretend they give a shit which Home Depot card they take home, because their wives made them play. It’s a blast and last year’s was no different… save for the ice. In my area, we don’t get a lot of snow, so when we do, everyone freaks the fuck out. My dad sent me a text Christmas morning telling me not to get out, because of the ice and insisted the party was canceled. My cousins all told me otherwise on Facebook. While I enjoy my solitude most of the time, it was Christmas day and I was not going to stay holed up inside alone like the star of some depressing as fuck Peanuts Gallery special. However, the storm had been raging for days and when I went outside, the entire car was encased in ice.

haird dryer on car

I know what you’re thinking, mostly because I got the same responses when I posted this picture on Facebook.

“That’ll break your windshield!” – Ward
“What the hell are you doing?!?!” – step-momma

But, no. That is not how I damaged my car on Christmas day. That is just an example of one of the “brilliant ideas” of which I researched no possible consequences. Gail actually refuses to listen to anything I preface with the quoted phrase. Close-minded bitch. After about an hour of scraping, during which I slipped on the ice only once, I finally cleared the window enough to drive through the ice and fallen tree limbs to the church. I fishtailed a few times, texted my dad at stoplights to ensure him I wasn’t leaving the house, and finally arrived, no damage to my car. Whew. Then, I pulled into the parking lot and didn’t realize that that curb was a half-wall and rammed the fucker. That is correct. I drove through a Southern apocalypse unscathed only to crack my front bumper in two on a wall while parking.

Incident 2: Shetland is a suburb and I work in the city, so I drive about 70 miles per hour on the highway, to and from the library. The speed limit is somewhere between 50 and 70. I couldn’t tell you for sure, because I don’t pay attention.

texting and driving

My Gramma is the most adored, most paranoid person in my life, with my dear Gaily taking a close second on both counts. Every night, when I get off work, she calls to make sure I’m no longer in the “bad” (read: not “wealthy and lily-white”) part of town. She’s an elderly white woman from the South and I mock her for it, but she worries, so whatev. I’ll appease My Favorite Lady. This particular night, she called right as I got on the highway. I don’t know that the reason I busted my bumper is because I was on the phone. It probably didn’t help, however, that I only had one hand available for any possible evasive maneuvers when I saw a dead pony in the road. Fine. It was a dog, but it had to be fucking Falcor, because that thing was huge.

falcorI saw Falcor in plenty of time, there just weren’t any options. I was going 70 miles per hour with only one free hand. Had I not had the phone plastered to my ear, I don’t know that I’d have had any other options than to hit it, either, because there were cars on either side of me.  Were I a typical Southerner in a pickup truck, this wouldn’t have been a problem. I, however, drive this…

little tykes car

The guys call it my “roller skate” and the four-year-old boy that Chad and Jay babysit once asked verbatim “Why do you drive that?” It’s a reliable car and I don’t want to replace it yet. It’s cute… because it’s small, and not meant to be driven over stray cattle. Having been the only one affected by said accident…

Me: “Hey, I’ve never even been in an accident, thank you very much.”
Chad: “Technically, hitting that dog and busting your bumper was an accident.”
Me: “That dog was already dead!”
Jay: “That dog could’ve been napping!!!”

… I didn’t bother to make an insurance claim. I know how much the parts are for my car and I know they couldn’t replace a single piece, but would instead need to replace the entire front bumper. It wasn’t worth reporting an accident to my insurance for cosmetic damage, so I… got creative.

hill billy bumper

Psh. I’m kidding. I’m classier than that. I used zip ties. That brings me to today, my “very first accident.” As far as accidents go, it was peachy, since I happened to be driving through the town from the Hidden Valley Ranch commercials at the time.

$500 to fix my bumper / (three separate accidents that destroyed my bumper + the damage done to the other vehicle) = $125 per incident and/or vehicle.

hidden valley ranchThe car won’t actually be serviced until July 9. What can I say? Don’t get into a car wreck during tornado season. I’ve had worse days, though. At least I’m not married to a man who’s insisting the oil was changed and the engine just fell out of the car for no reason, amiright?!? Perspective people.