Monday, June 24, 2013

Depression hurts. Jodi Arias can help.

Seeing as I have been trapped under an overwhelming pile of “meh” lately, I have had zero motivation to write, read, exercise, or do anything requiring greater effort than opening a box of Wheat Thins.  When I am depressed, my energy drains faster than the L.A. power grid, and what little ‘juice’ I have is reserved for loving and caring for my short people.*

*And personal grooming, because being depressed is no excuse for bad hair, people.

Suffice to say, once the shorties are in bed, my evenings consist of lying on the couch, crying like a fat girl at a Bieber concert and watching my already abysmal taste in television programming nosedive like a Uruguayan aircraft into a snowy mountaintop.  I have always been a big fan of any show like “Bridezillas” or “Intervention” that makes me feel so much better about myself as a person, but when I’m feeling particularly self-loathing, there is no better remedy than some true crime.*

*And if the show involves a “re-enactment” replete with puerile scripting and ham-handed attempts at acting?  L-O-V-E.  If that shit doesn’t crack open the safe where you lock away your joy then you need to lube up the dial a little, Betty Buzzkill.

I have always had a sick fascination with the macabre.  “Snapped” on Oxygen?  You go, girls.  Serial killers?  Can’t get enough.  Mass cult-related genocide?  Pass the Kool-Aid.  In fact, the other day someone asked me, “Do you want to hear something totally jacked up?” and the first thought that shot through my mind was “Why, yes. . .yes, I do”.  And for the record, starting ANY conversation with that query will instantaneously garner my full and undivided attention.*

*You had me at ‘hello’.

In general, my penchant for true crime drama is limited to Ann Rule biopics and shitty LifeTime movies, but every now and then I like to find my moral ‘line in the sand’ and crush it into oblivion just to remind myself that it still exists.  And that is where the Investigation Discovery channel sashays into the picture.

Most people either don’t watch or admit to watching Court TV and Investigation Discovery (IDTV) trial coverage because of that whole. . .oh, what do you call it. . .dignity and self-respect thing.  Yeah, I don’t have that.  What I DO have is a white trash streak a country mile wide, coupled with a curiosity so morbid it would make Stephen King flinch.  Generally, IDTV focuses on the more obscure stalker-y crimes and ‘love triangles gone wrong’, but for the last few months I have had the singular joy of watching the coverage of the Jodi Arias trial.

For those of you who are ‘so 2000 and late’ or who actually have active social lives and haven’t been following the trial with the veracity of Nancy Grace on crystal meth, Jodi Arias was apparently dating  Travis Alexander for four months before he broke up with her.  Arias then proceeded to stalk Alexander, hacking into his Facebook account, breaking into his home, and slashing his tires.  When her batshit crazy douchebaggery acts of seduction were fruitless, Arias sauntered into Travis Alexander’s bathroom, where she then shot him in the head, stabbed him 27 times, cut his throat, and left him to bleed out in the shower. . .after she took a few photos.   I get it.  We’ve all had our hearts broken.  We’ve all had those break-ups that make us feel just two boiled bunnies away from going the full Glenn Close, but for the love of the Baby Jeebus that is some jacked up Hitchcock shit right there, y’all.

Initially, Jodi Arias told the court that she’s been violently abused by her parents, and then claimed that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from Travis Alexander insisting on zip-tying her to a tree and cornholing her while she wore a Little Red Riding Hood costume.*

*I swear to God, you can’t make this shit up.

Apparently, the only recourse when one’s boyfriend wants to go all Big Bad Wolf on your ass in some “Once Upon a Time” fantasy is to bludgeon, shoot, and repeatedly stab them. . .while taking pictures. . .good to know. 

I get that Jodi Arias probably had a pretty whickety-whack childhood, and Travis Alexander may have had more kinks than an arthritic contortionist, but I find it very hard to believe that EVERYONE who has “issues” resorts to homicide.  Whenever someone stabs their ex-boyfriend in a shower stall, or opens fire in a high school cafeteria, the first thing the expert witnesses claim is that it’s because they had a troubled childhood.  Bitch, please.  My sister used to give me so many wedgies that I have the Underoos logo permanently embedded in my perineum and you don’t see me making a skin suit out of my neighbor’s torso.  So when the ACLU proves that they don’t have A-C-L-U-E by attempting to acquit some crazy son of a bitch for, oh. . .I don’t know. . .drowning their children in the back of a station wagon or sinking their pregnant wife in the San Francisco Bay because Uncle Eddie gave them the “bad touch”, I get a little “judgy”.

Now that Jodi Arias is enjoying an indeterminate vacation at La Casa Grande, she has plenty of time to market her line of “Survivor” T-shirts and ball caps, the proceeds of which, she claims will go to “stomp out domestic violence”.*

*Her choice of words. . .no, the irony is not lost on me either.

Arias also offered to cut off all of her hair this week to donate to Locks of Love.  Now, color me malignant, but I would rather go around with my hairless chemo-coif shining bright like a diamond than slap ANY of her crazy on my head.   At least she’s making an effort, desperate as it may be, to try to redeem her name.  But in the end she is what she is: fodder for voyeuristic jackals like myself who need to point fingers at the miscreants of this world to feel just a little better about our own indiscretions.

Do I think Jodi Arias is a troubled individual?  Absolutely.  Do I also think she’s crazier than a shithouse rat?  Hell to the yeah.  But it’s people like her, and Scott Peterson, and Charlie Manson, and Casey Anthony that make me feel a little more sane in this insane world.  And these last few weeks I’ve needed that.  Now, someone hand me the remote; that episode of “Swamp Murders” ain’t gonna watch itself, yo.



Friday, June 14, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow

It seems like every blogger I love has had their fair share of demons riding their backs.  I once said that bloggers were those children on the playground sitting atop the jungle gym screaming "LOOK AT MEEEEEEEE!" but in actuality, most of us were that child sitting off wondering "What's wrong with me?"  and some of us never stopped.

Many of you, as I, are fans of the bloggers Dooce, Hyperbole and a Half, and the great Blogess.  All of them brilliant, all of them talented, all of them plagued by depression.  While I in no way equate myself with their level of brilliance, I too have struggled with depression in the past, and because of some recent events and a "where-the-fuck-did-that-come-from?" recurrence of my PTSD, I am struggling with it today.

For me, my depression does not (fortunately) affect my daily life.  I am still extremely productive at work, care for and provide a loving and safe environment for my children, and maintain a facade in public that belies what is simmering underneath.  Last night at my neighborhood market, a favorite employee hugged me and said "You always look so happy! And you are always doing nice things for other people!"  And I thought, yes. . .I always LOOK so happy.  I smile, I laugh, I joke, and if you ask how I am, I am always "fine". . .except that I'm not.  I smile and laugh so that people won't ask me what's wrong because in truth, I don't know.  I have an amazing life.  I have two beautiful children, a loving and supportive family, friends who will go to the mat for my any time, and I job that I adore.  And yet there is this emptiness inside of me that yanks at my heart and is slowly draining my spirit.  I find myself crying at the oddest moments, and in the middle of a crowded room I will be hit by a wave of loneliness that sucks the breath from my lungs.  "Yes," I want to say, "Yes, I look so happy because I don't want you to know how I really feel.  And yes, I try to always do nice things for other people because I can't bear the thought of anyone else feeling this worthless and alone."

Some people have asked me who my blog posts have been so sporadic, and while I hedged around with "I've been busy. . .I've been travelling. . .Mercury is in retrograde. . .blah, blah, blah. . ." in truth I just don't feel like writing, or eating, or sleeping, or doing much of anything these days.

I know these feelings will pass, as they always have, but in the meantime, please be patient with me.  I will still be here; I'll still be writing, but maybe just once a week for a while, until I can shake this monster, and remember who I am again.

Be kind to yourselves.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Stupidest Crap Ever Spoken By Me and my Friends

BRANDON:  Jace kept bragging about some sorority girl he nailed last week.  I’m all, “Dude, bragging about screwing a sorority girl is like bragging about getting a pack of Skittles from the vending machine.  There’s no skill involved; if you give it money it’s pretty much a sure thing”.

ALEX:  Why do you call everybody ‘mate’?
CO-WORKER:  I spent a lot of time in Australia as a child.
ALEX:  So?  I grew up in New York; you don’t hear me calling everybody ‘motherfucker’.

MISTY:  How appalled would people be if I wrote a satire piece on my blog about Hitler?
ME:  Well, I’m laughing my ass off at that question alone.
MISTY:  Yes, but you’re an asshole, as am I.  Do you see my dilemma?
ME:  I say go for it.  Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.
MISTY:  Ahh, the mantra of assholes everywhere.

KELLY:  I knew it was time to quit drinking when I'd wake up in the morning and there was broken shit everywhere and fast food wrappers from places I didn't even remember going to.
ME:  Why is it that people never do anything good or productive when they black out? Like, "Man, that was a crazy night...wait...did I file my taxes?"
KELLY:  "Who left the 'Insanity' DVD in the player and why do my quads look so ripped?"
ME:  "I don't remember anything after that fourth shot but my upholstery looks fabulous!"

MY SON, J (singing Rihanna's 'Hopeless Place'):  "We found a lump in a horse's leeeeeeeeg...we found a lump in a hooooorse's leg!"

GINA:  I’m always too cold.  You know, I’d probably be the world’s worst hooker.  I’d always be like, “Seriously, I’ll blow you for free; just let me sit in your car and warm up for a minute”.

ME:  I should totally be able to get out of a speeding ticket when I have two screaming kids in the backseat.
GINA:  Oh please.  Based on your argument, I should be able to evade a reckless driving charge because I'm Asian.
KATE:  And I should be able to dodge a DUI because I'm Irish.

ALEX:  Choosing between New Seasons and Whole Foods is like the Portland hipster version of Sophie's Choice.

GIRL AT MALL #1:  I would, like, NEVER want to be pregnant.  The only time I’d want to be pregnant is if I was, like, trying to quit drinking or something.
GIRL AT MALL #2:  Totally!  ‘Cause rehab is, like, really expensive.  Oh, wait. . .but then you have a baby and you can’t go out, or see your friends, or party, or. . .
GIRL #1:  Oh my God!  Having a baby is totally like having a DUI!  I’m just going to keep drinking. . .and, you know, not get pregnant.
GIRL #2:  You are SO smart.

JESS:  Have you seen Callie these days?  She's gained some weight.
ME:  How much weight?  On a scale of 1 to 10. . .
JESS: . . .she's a 747.

KELLY (at bookstore):  Umm, maybe it's just me, but if someone is already depressed, is calling them a 'dummy' really going to help?

ME:  When's your birthday?
GIRL ON CAMPUS:  November 25th.
ME:  What year?
GIRL ON CAMPUS:  Well. . .every year. 
ME: Please tell me you're sarcastic.
GIRL ON CAMPUS:  No. . .Sagittarius.

ALEX:  There's a huge difference between nerds, geeks, and dorks.  A nerd is someone who knows a shitload about stuff nobody else cares about, a geek is someone who knows a shitload about stuff everyone's embarrassed to admit they care about, and a dork. . .well, they're just losers, so they're fair game.

KELLY:  How come the IKEA catalogs don't show the real story?  Pictures of screaming married couples stabbing each other with Allen wrenches amidst a pile of tear-stained Swedish kindling.

BRANDON:  Wow, it's really stormy out there.
ME:  Yeah, I hope we don't lose power.
BRANDON:  That would suck.  What if we have to go to the bathroom?
ME:  What?
BRANDON (rolling eyes):  Well, if the power goes out, the toilets won't flush.
ME:  . . .
ME:  Do you ever wonder what life would have been like if you'd gotten enough oxygen at birth?

Monday, June 3, 2013

ADULTHOOD: Crushing Dreams and Lowering Expectations since 1829

I’ve been out sick with bronchitis for the last two days (cue sound of me gasping and wheezing like an asthmatic porn star), so I’ve had a lot of time to sleep, watch “Masterchef”, and think about my childhood dreams.  Dreams are weird.  And by “dreams” I don’t mean the funky “showing up at school naked” shit that runs through your head at night like a streaker on peyote; I mean your hopes for the future.  Your ambitions.  The “what I wanna be when I grow up” stuff that as you grow older you slowly start scratching off of your list and filing under “it ain’t happening”.

I’m not saying that dreams die as you get older.  They just get. . .downsized.  Like your list of the Perfect Guy.  Want to know what mine was when I was in college?  Seriously, this was the ACTUAL list I uncovered when digging through some crap during my recent move. . .

Suffice to say, these days my list is a bit shorter. . .

My career ambitions were loftier in days of yore as well.  As a child I dreamed of being a prima ballerina.  Then when it became abundantly clear that I had neither the physique nor the gross motor skills to achieve said status, I was determined to become an Olympic gymnast.   For me, that sport held the dual distinction of being both high-profile, and singular.  I am not a team player kinda gal.  I don’t get the whole esprit d’corps mentality of wearing matching jerseys and smacking someone’s ass next to the Gatorade. I’m a lone-wolf-git-er-done-stay-the-fuck-out-of-my-way type of athlete, which explains my penchant for sports like distance running, yoga, and rock-climbing.  It’s all me on the side of that rockface, folks, and if I plummet to my death I have no one to blame but myself.  But if I make it all the way to the Olympics and find out that I missed out on the gold medal because my teammate fumbled the ball or my partner dropped me during the triple-axel-toe-loop-salchow then I will make it my life’s work to hunt that sorry asshole down and systematically destroy them.  I am THAT vindictive.  But I make no attempts to bedazzle my bullshit, so I own this dark part of my soul, and keep it as far away from other people as possible.  So, gymnastics seemed like a viable activity. . .until I realized that you have to actually train a bajillion hours a day, and my lack of ambition, coupled with a desire to actually ingest food dashed my hopes of Olympic gold against the rocks like the Exxon Valdez.  In retrospect, it’s just as well; these days the Olympics just seems to have lost its swagger.  We used to have the basics: run, jump, swim.  Now we have trampoline, badminton, and ping pong.  Now, color me cynical, but I don’t think any activity my 71 year old uncle can perform hungover in his backyard can be classified as a “sport”.   If the Olympic Commission is going to allow things like badminton, then I think they need to allow some other outdoorsy company picnic-esque activities.  Granted, some of those beefy East German women could probably outpull me on the tug-of-war but I am one stealthy little motherfucker so can guar-an-tee that I would kick some multinational ass at kick-the-can.  And hide-and-seek?  Pfft!  Bitch, please.  I’d be all Anne Frank up in that.*

*Although, some of those Middle Eastern countries may have a distinct advantage in that sport.  I’ve seen “Zero Dark Thirty”.  If those sorry bastards don’t want to be found then there ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no spiderhole deep enough…

But, obviously my dreams of Olympic gold never quite came to fruition.  So, as I entered my teen years I chose a career path that was a LOT more accessible:  movie star.  I know it sounds far-fetched and pathetic, but to this day, I SWEAR that the theater and I go together like Liza Minnelli and Vegas well drinks.  Acting was made for people like me:  overdramatic, larger than life, and more desperate for attention than a busboy at Hooters.   But while I had a lengthy and illustrious career in community theater. . .*

*My portrayal of Raindrop #3 in the epic "One Day In May" production is of particular distinction.

. . .and starred in every high school play sophomore through senior year, I still lacked the necessary attributes to reach super-stardom.  Which is to say, I wasn't ethnic (Halle Berry), quirky (Julia Roberts) or jaw-droppingly gorgeous (Charlize Theron) to make it from the local stage to the silver screen.  And while I did receive a couple of offers to appear on film in college, they generally involved roofies and some type of "naughty schoolgirl" scenario that just seemed. . .wrong.  So, I majored in Art History because the textbooks were pretty and minored in Political Science because I was the sole armpit-shaver on a hippy-dippy campus and loved nothing more than to go all Mike Huckabee on these little tree-hugging motherfuckers during classroom debates.*

*In truth, I think Huckabee is a smarmy little peckerhead, and my political leanings are relatively liberal; but I liked to "Limbaugh" shit up for dramatic purposes.  I was an asshole back then, too.

Since degrees in Art and Poli Sci leave one ill-equipped for any career not involving an apron or a name tag, I tried law school which was just. . .no.  Then I did everything from barista to retail employee to waitress to pay the bills.  Of course, the irony that someone with my blatant lack of social skills and general distaste for the majority of humanity was working with the general public should convey to you the whorelike nature of my existence at that time.  Then I got married.  Then I had kids.  Then my life was all about three other people, and my dreams just sort of got. . .forgotten.

I won't bore you with the details of my marriage and divorce; feel free to TiVo any LifeTime movie or episode of "Intervention" to get the Clif's Notes version.  Just know that eventually, I found my dreams again.  Like I said, dreams don't really die, they just get downsized and amended, and in some cases, what you get by accident turns out to be what you wanted all along. Today, I have two amazing short people, a Master's degree, a house I own, a coterie of wildly inappropriate and fiercely loyal friends, and a rewarding job that fills me with so much joy and pride.  I have achieved all of my dreams. . .not the ones I thought I wanted. . .but the ones that I was meant for.  Well, all except for one dream.  I was feeling morose and self-pitying the other day about never having found "The One", and I showed my old list from college, the list of attributes of "The Perfect Guy" to my friend Kelly.  She perused the faded paper and smiled at me, shaking her head.

"What do you mean, you never found 'The One', Jen?"  she laughed, handing me the list.  "You found 'The One' long ago."

I furrowed my brow in confusion.  "What do you mean?"  I asked.  "Dylan?  That didn't last."

"But the REAL 'One' did."  Kelly replied, tapping each item on the paper in turn.  "Dark hair, loves to laugh, a writer, strong arms, dimples, loves to hug, plays guitar, loves kids, a great cook, likes country music, can fix things, has a good job. . .except for blue eyes and a dog, you pretty much described yourself."

I stared at Kelly incredulously as a smile slowly spread across my face.  All of this time I'd been looking for the perfect person and like Dorothy, I had the power to click my fabulous heels together and see she'd been there all along.  I'm 'The One'.

And you know what?  It's the best relationship I've ever had.