Weekend of 1,000 Christmases (part two: numbers on the wall)

Remember a few weeks ago when I had to rent a car to get to Pensacola because my own car was scaring the crap out of me? Remember how I called my mom the night before the drive, freaking out a little (ok, a lot) about the thought of having to drive to Pensacola in a car that needed wheel bearings and tie rods? Honestly, I didn’t expect that conversation to go down the following road. Really. Who expects someone to buy them a freaking car?

“Now, what are you trying to DO??”

“Well, I was trying to buy a car from you. Instead, I’m trying to leave now.”

It’s hard to get taken seriously when you dress like you’re 15, everyone’s a head taller than you, and you flat out tell them that your mom’s paying for the car. I kept wanting to point out that I am not a trust fund baby, I have never had a professional manicure, I mow my own lawn and have never even wanted a Louis Vuitton purse. One guy almost actually patted me on the head, catching himself roughly 6 inches before making contact and whipping his arm back into place at his side.

I ended up at a certain dealership, finally being taken seriously by someone. We test drove some things, but the guy didn’t have a black Civic handy. He was eager to sell me a white one, so he got this statement:

“I’ve picked my dealership. I’ve picked my salesman. Now, we just have to find the right car. Let’s give it a while and see if a similar black one shows up. If not, the white one will do nicely. I’m scoring a free car. I’m not going to nit pick over color.”

On Wednesday, he sent me an email telling me of the recent arrival of a black Civic 2-door. It was getting stuff done to it to make it certified, and would be ready for a visit from mom and me on Saturday. When the universe owes you one, sometimes it really pays up. I had decided in advance to name the car Kismet. He could be Turkish.

Mom and I had joked about showing up at the dealership with a briefcase full of money. “Yes, but I don’t have any handcuffs to attach the briefcase to my wrist.” “Oh, we can use mine. Wait. Forget you heard that.”

We had Salesman get the paperwork. Then he told us there was a problem. The people who had traded in said black 2-door may have a problem with their financing and the black 2-door may not be in play. “But we have a 2010 Civic, if you’d like to see that.”

This, I suppose was my cue to go all Veruca Salt and start begging my mom for the new car instead of the used one. No. I do not require a goose that lays gold eggs for Easter. What the salesman got was this:

“$________ is not $_______. It’s $2500 out of the price range. Let us know how it works out with the 2-door and we might be back.”

We weren’t doing the “walking out of the dealership” dance. We were actually walking out. At least, I was. As we were leaving, the manager stopped us. Surely, there was some price in between that would make the 2010 model worth it? As he was talking, mom motioned to the series of numbered sheets of paper taped to the front glass window. They numbered 1 to 34.

“Is that how many cars you’ve sold this month?”
“Yep.”
“How many are you aiming for?”
“Fifty.”

This would be the point where I whispered, “oh God,” and walked over to get a Coke. Did I mention that dad sold used cars in the 80s? And grandpa owned a dealership? You see, I’ve met my mom. This is sport for her. I could practically see that British guy from Big Cat Diary sitting in his Land Rover, whispering about the female lion stalking a Thompson’s gazelle. A female lion wearing festive gold sandals and dangly turquoise earrings.

Five hours later, we were walking out of there with a new car for not much more than one from 2008 with 37,000 miles on it. I’m still trying to process this. I feel like I’m driving around in something I didn’t really earn, but you know. I don’t feel guilty enough to refuse a free car. I’m not insane.

“Your car life needed a reboot. You were putting so much into that Cruiser you were about to be upside down on it.”

Just like that, with some bizarre break-it-down common sense, mom fished my butt out of the fire one more time, in yet another way that I can never possibly repay. Am I scared to death of scratching this thing? Yes. Do I swear to stop filling the floor of my car with junk mail? Yes. Do I want to do a little dance of joy every time I see that thing sitting in my driveway? Yes. When I went to have the insurance switched and they asked me for the mileage, I answered with “fifty-two.” I may have blushed a little.

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Weekend of 1,000 Christmases (part one: sharks with lazers)

I type to you from the usual place: a 6-foot office table in the back room of my house. I am looking at the usual thing: a 6-foot collage of musicians that’s waiting to have Beethoven painted on part of it. I am doing so without glasses on my face or contacts in my eyes.

No, I didn’t win the contest. I am referring to my mom as my “benefactor” on this because it makes me feel like Pip from Great Expectations. Well, it’s really mom and dad. Dad squirreled away the money; after he died, mom decided how to spend (part of) it. Thankfully, part of that includes shooting lasers at my head.

FRIDAY:
Mom and I awake at the crack of ass (roughly 7ish) to drive to Loden Vision’s Rivergate office. I’m ushered back to a dimly-lit suite where a Cars DVD is playing and a guy hands me a surgery hairnet and slips those funky surgical booties on my feet. They also taped two big pieces of gauze to either side of my face (“sideburns,” to catch any eye drop drippage), put numbing drops in my eyes and gave me a strong Tylenol and a valium. Shortly thereafter, the doc came in, sat me down and used some kind of pen to mark my corneas (sounds gross, but you can’t feel it). I sit down a while longer and then some lady asks me if I’m allergic to betadine, iodine, or shellfish.

“What? There’s lobster? Where?”

She takes this as a no, and uses betadine to clean the areas around my eyes. More numbing drops, then I get taken down the hall to the surgery room and laid down on a big gray chair between two machines.

Machine #1 is the “suction.” This basically translates to “we’re going to grab your eyeball real good to hold it in place and cut a flap in the surface of your eye.” Not particularly comfortable, but I guess it’s better than expecting me to be able to hold still. Too much pressure, you know. Take me out of the equation and just stick my eyeball in a vise.

Machine #2 is the infamous “focus on the red dot” machine that actually shapes the cornea. They put an “eye speculum” (the proper name for “that thing from Clockwork Orange that holds the guy’s eyes open”) and then the doctor takes a pokey thing and slides the cornea flap aside. It’s gross and you can see it happening, but I couldn’t feel it and was just so glad to no longer be in the suction machine that I didn’t really care. It’s the same “that’s disgusting, and I bet it would seriously hurt if I could feel it, but whatever” that you have when you see the dentist wiping chunks of your wisdom teeth on a paper towel.

Anyway, I stared at this little red dot for 30 seconds or so and watched it get less and less blurry while smelling something that smells like when they drill your teeth at the dentist (ew, but as the brochures say “This is NOT burning!”). When I sat up, everything was kind of halo-y and slightly double-y, but there it was. I could see the door from 20 feet away. SEE the door. Handle and everything. When I’d come into the room, I had to use my glasses to find the chair. The doctor said I had the highest prescription of the week. I did not get a t-shirt for the honor, though.

So, I went back into the dimly-lit room to listen to more Pixar movies and “let my flaps settle for 15 to 30 minutes” or until the doc could come in and clear me for takeoff. I was chauffered home by mom, who hurried me back to my blissfully darkened house. I popped a pain pill and a Lunesta and was pretty much out cold until a couple hours later when I woke up like Angry Elvis: “It feels like there’s an eyelash in there! Ow!! Drops! DROPS!”

Anyway, when I woke up the second time, I found mom in the kitchen surrounded by pasta, bread, wine and salad. There was also a dehumidifier in the hallway. Something about air conditioner condensation causing watery stigmata on my walls. Either that, or the house was crying. It’s kind of a drug haze. Did I mention the pasta?

The next morning, we got up even earlier to go back for a follow-up visit (“everything looks good…just takes time to see what the final result will be”). The follow-up was ended with a visit to Panera for cheese souffle and cheese danish. Everybody knows that these things don’t have calories on the weekend. Google it.

As of today, I’m still doing eyedrops every 4 hours, I can’t wear eye makeup for 5 more days, and I’ll be sleeping in those dorky Kareem Abdul-Jabbar glasses for some time, but make no mistake: this is completely kick-ass. I have no idea what to do with myself, just running around being able to SEE things. Running around with naked eyeballs, like some kind of crazy eye nudist. No glasses on the nightstand. No endless bottles of contact solution on the bathroom counter. No glasses case in my purse. I still keep catching myself reaching up to push up my glasses, only to find nothing there.

It’s like 1,000 Christmases all at the same time.

Sunday morning, I woke up in a house I love, with a mom I love, a cat I love and a phone bearing tweets and Facebook updates from people I love, not to mention text messages from people checking in on my eyeballs. I kind of wanted to cry for a second, but then thought maybe I’m not allowed to. My folder of instructions says nothing about being stupidly emo.

Firing One’s Shrink (part four: finale and comic relief)

I have apparently been bumming you guys out for the whole week, forgetting that you don’t see the future (of the notepad document) like I do. However, I think we’ve had a good run here, and it seems that we’ve started a teensy bit of a conversation about this whole thing. Not to sound “art school,” but part of the reason for this was to start a conversation about some stuff that is considered a bit of a party foul in bar/work/party situations. The other part was to get it all out, wrap it up in a nice red bow, and slide it to the back of the closet. And so: the red bow.

Some quick tips if you want to go off your brain drugs:

1. Exercise.
We all know how questionable “studies” can be, but studies have shown that regular exercise may be as good as taking anti-depressants. Exercise forces you to care about yourself for at least an hour a day. If you’re into thinking, you can get a lot of that done on a treadmill (I, however, am into vampire books, not thinking, ha ha). If you’re anxious, exercise will help wear you out enough to get some sleep. If I do a good job at kicking my own ass, I pass out around 10:00. It’s a hard pass-out, where you wake up with your glasses next to you in the bed and don’t remember what was on tv when you fell asleep. It’s a lot like vodka, but without making you fat, giving you wrinkles, using up your money and making you forget where your phone is. Speaking of vodka…

2. Don’t drink.
I can hold my liquor remarkably well. I love Drunk Amy. My friends love Drunk Amy. Drunk Amy loves everybody, thinks everything is hilarious and is generally much more pleasant than I am. Trouble is, when Drunk Amy disppears, she sends bi-polar, panic attack Amy, who sticks around all the next day. Who told that bitch where I live? I HATE THAT BITCH. (At least Sober Amy just obnoxiously refers to herself in the third person.)

3. Eat Well.
Stay away from carbs and processed sugars, because they might make you a tad bi-polar. As in “I was having such a good day, and now I want to die for no good reason. What the hell? Oh…my bagel is wearing off.” I know this sounds like crazy talk coming from me because I never met a dessert I didn’t like, but I try to only eat crap rarely and in small quantites. I pretty much live on tofu and vegetables and give myself the “I’m watching you, don’t try any funny business” look if I’m about to eat cookies.

4. Watch Yourself
Going off your drugs is not the time to run around thinking that you’re all better and you don’t have to keep working on whatever got you on those drugs in the first place. You have to watch yourself closely and make sure you don’t backslide. Strangely, going off the meds has made me a lot more active in doing things that I avoided doing for a long time, just out of fear that not challenging myself will lead in some kind of unforeseen downward spiral. Friends, I give you permission to start offering to drive. (The friends are laughing right now, as this is the equivalent of saying “let’s go shopping at Abercrombie.”)

So, yeah. That sounded like it was written by one of those obnoxious “Oh, you have to take good care of yourself” people. Unfortunately, it’s true, obnoxious or not. If nothing else, taking care of yourself is an outward ritual of respecting yourself. When you have a daily ritual of treating yourself well, you are less likely to destroy yourself or let other people destroy you.

But alas, you are wondering about Paxil withdrawal. You have come for gory details, not Dr. Oz-style life coaching.

When I went down to 75% power, the only thing I noticed was some stomach upset and some very angry intestines that lasted about a week. Another week of angry stomach and intestines came when I went from 25% power to nothing. The real fun started about two weeks after I stopped completely.

It’s hard to explain, but I guess the most accurate description would be that I feel like I’m losing my mind in the most fabulous way possible. Or maybe that I went from a 19-inch CRT to a 60-inch HD flatscreen. I never felt like I was drugged into submission, I never felt like a zombie, but I guess I’d also forgotten what technicolor looked like. It had been twelve years.

It started off with things I wasn’t sure if I was imagining. “Am I spazzier than usual? Oh, who can tell?” Then, I caught myself looking at a guy’s butt at Kroger. That’s not a gray area. That’s more of a “who ARE you? what are you DOING?” area. I sang in public. I have been social. It’s like I hate humanity 20% less than I used to. Oh, don’t worry, I still totally hate people. I just hate them 20% less. 🙂

It’s like somebody broke down a dam in my brain and everything (everything) is flooding out. It’s like Katrina hitting New Orleans, but with people just wind surfing instead of losing everything they own. 90% of the things and people in my life are people I had never really seen, because they arrived after 1998. I thought I was seeing them, but I was really seeing them through a thin layer of plexiglass. It’s like I had been wearing rubber gloves for 12 years and just took them off. This either kicks ass, or I’m losing my mind. Maybe a little of both. I’m new here.

“But Amy…you’re avoiding one of the issues.”

OK, fine. There are parts of me that might as well be attached to a 15 year old boy. If you want details, you can have them, but in person. My sister/mom/boss may be reading this, and I still have some decency left. I may be the queen of overshare, but even I am not okay with having my mom read about the goings-on of my girly parts. Warning: if you ask, I will tell you, and flesh may melt from your face. Sorry.

I now have what the shrinks would probably call “generalized anxiety.” In other words, there’s always a panic attack on-deck, bubbling under the surface. I look at it and say, “yeah, you’re going to need to put your back into that if you want it to do anything.” Having a panic attack on-deck isn’t what it used to be. I just ride it out. If anybody catches me taking my pulse or doing finger exercises, I’m just like, “yeah, I’m having a thing…don’t mind me…I just might need to go puke for a second.” What the hell do I care? I carry a toothbrush in my purse anyway.

Even as I type this, my heart feels sort of airy and hamster-like.

“Oh hey! Can I interest you in a freak out?”
“You know what? That’s getting really old. Fuck you.”
“But…would you like to freak out enough to make yourself puke?”
“Not since 1993, jackass.”

One last thing.

Many of you have repeatedly heard me championing the idea that people need to be on brain drugs in the same way that diabetic people need insulin. Like, people need brain drugs because some chemicals are wrong in their brains, not because those people are just pussies who need a crutch. Am I completely selling out everything I’ve been telling you for 12 years?

No.

I fully expect that my brain will continue to misfire on occasion and make me feel like I’m being chased by a bear for no discernible reason. My brain chemistry probably hasn’t changed one bit since 1998. What has changed is the way I respond to it. In 1998, I lived in fear of the airy, hamster-like feeling in my chest. In 2010, I just look at it and go, “really, jackass?” It’s still frustrating, scary and hard to explain, but experience says that it can’t keep that shit up for any real length of time. You just have to ride it out.

It’s like the little fear voice just keeps trying to scare me, and I keep saying “I’m sorry. Have you BEEN here the last 4 years? Have you seen this? I fucking dare you to come up with something scarier all on your own.” Almost all of the things I feared most in the world have happened in the last four years, and I’m still here. Someone broke into my house. A parent died. A friend smashed me into a wall and then died. Another friend died. I did my best work and was told it wasn’t good enough and I was fired. I went on a series of dates with guys who all but told me I should take what I can get cause I’ve passed 30. It was like an endless parade of people lining up to kick me in the face. Every time you think you’ve gotten it back together and start getting up off the ground, life comes by and kicks you in the face and you’re on the ground again.

With all due respect, life, you didn’t get me. Oh, you almost got me. You had me drinking, stress eating, and thinking “what if I just drive right into that pole over there?” You put forth a really good effort, but you didn’t get me.

You. Didn’t. Get. Me.

Bring me my sword.

Of Tattoos, Cops and Funyuns

I try to stay away from plot summary on here, but this weekend actually contained some adventures other than “go to starbucks and work on stuff,” so I thought I’d share.

I got Baby’s First Tattoo on Saturday, it being a black satiny ribbon that pseudo-ties around my right wrist. Tattoo guy at Black 13 was super nice and the whole thing didn’t hurt as much as I’d thought it would. I was expecting some kind of crazy, holy fuck pain, but really it just felt like an Epilady from Hell. Since I currently own the more modern version of said torture device, the tattoo wasn’t that bad. It’s mostly the length of time it takes that’ll get ya. Five minutes? Nothing. An hour? Dude, so annoying that I kind of want to punch you. Nothing personal. Anywho, I didn’t pass out or hurl, so I should get some points for that. This is good, as I sense that Baby’s First Tattoo will eventually have some friends. (You get pictures as soon as the skin stops being angry.)

After I left the tattoo place, I stopped by the drug store to get some after-care supplies (fragrance-free soap, fragrance-free lotion) and some celebratory Scooby Snacks (Funyuns and trail mix). On the way home, I got pulled over.

“I pulled you over because your tags are expired. From June.”
“I know! I’m a sinner! I need to get that done!”
“And you ran that light back there.”
“Dude! That was totally yellow! Swears!”
“No, it was red.”
“Duuuuuude. Yelloooooow.”

While I’m digging my license and insurance card out of my wallet, Cop says “so, are we goth or are we punk?” “Um….we’re goth.”

When I was digging through the contents of the glove box looking for my registration, I also pulled out a couple condoms. Jen and I went to Louisville for goth night about a year ago. Their goth night is held at a gay bar which features punch bowls full of condoms. Naturally, Jen thought it would be hilarious to hide these all over my car on the drive home. The best one was when I flipped down the sun visor and got pegged in the forehead by a “magnum.”

Anyway, Cop ran my info and came back to the car.

“Where did you go to high school?”
“In Kentucky…”
“Oh, I just wondered cause we’re the same age and I’m a metalhead, so I thought we might know each other.”
“Oh…no, probably not.”

“Well, this is your lucky day, cause I’m going to let you off with a warning.”
“Yay!!! I swear, I’ll totally get those tags updated!”

So, I headed home to watch tv, veg out, and nap for the rest of the day. Funyuns were delicious as always.

Caturday Catch-Up

I have just spent 1700 bucks in about 30 minutes. I am either in the champagne room of a strip club that opens in the morning, or I’m paying bills. Pick which ever makes you happiest. So, what’s to catch up on this week?

You already know about my Whole Foods dinner with Emily and Lesley, but I didn’t tell you about dinner with Katy and Alex. I’ve been having some feelings of guilt because I haven’t written my character’s part for episode 1 of our sitcom. Hopefully, my recent habit of driving to Kentucky for family crap hasn’t killed the momentum of the project. Katy and I are meeting next week to get together and write our respective parts.

As for Alex, he wants me to play some piano stuff for some of his songs. He likes to just have people come over and see what happens, but Euclid (a 188-pound digital piano, complete with speaker cabinet) doesn’t travel too well. I think the plan for now is that I’ll sit and come up with some riffs (are they even CALLED riffs if you do it on a piano?) and video tape them. Then, I’ll send this to Alex and he’ll pick through and decide which segments of my dicking around (if any) he wants to use. After we have enough stuff to make the journey worthwhile, we’ll either take my piano to his house or bring his computer to mine, both of which are kind of in the “pain in the ass” category. We’ll see what happens.

I haven’t forgotten about the (e)tv stuff. I’ve just lost a lot of time in the last couple of weeks and, much as I would enjoy spending half a day writing, recording, and editing a rant about Chili’s, there’s just not time for it this weekend. I’m totally backed up on freelance work, cleaning, working out and piano-playing. The freelance work needs to get done asap, as I already feel like a dick for taking so long on what I’ve already got on my plate. Everybody’s been totally cool about me getting nothing done cause I’ve been in Kentucky, but I hate having to push work back anyway. My problems are not their problems, and my drama shouldn’t be leaking into their lives like that.

Anywho, the bills are paid, the coffee is consumed, and the laundry’s dry, so I have to go fold laundry, work out, and get my butt to Starbucks so I can design some stuff. It’s already noon. Tick tock tick tock.

Caturday Catch-Up: Betta Late Than Neva

I didn’t holla at you over the weekend cause I was busy doing stuff with the fam. Now, I’m writing but I haven’t turned off my music (Murphy is bitching on the other side of the door and I’m drowning him out), so you’ll have to forgive the possible typos. Shall we?

Jen and I took a non-fabulous road trip up to Lexington for my dad’s celebration of life thing. I shall henceforth be referring to this as his “party,” because Celebration of Life is too damn long. Anywho, Friday night had Jen, mom, sis and I packing up 7 or 8 of dad’s paintings to display at the “party.” This was a sketchy process, involving much packing tape, foam core, and use of the phrase “we’ll just have to be careful.”

The next day, we took all that packing over to the sales pavillion at Fasig-Tipton, where we met up with a posse of sis’s friends, who helped set up. The only missing piece of the “party” was a sign downstairs, telling people that the “party” was upstairs. Thus, Jen and I were stationed downstairs to direct traffic.

There was a steady stream of people whom I questionably stealth-greeted. What’s stealth-greeting? Saying this:

“Hi! We’re here to direct traffic…everybody’s upstairs.”

Instead of this:

“Hi, I’m Bruce’s daughter, Amy.”

Half of the people sniffed me out anyway, since they knew they should be looking for one goth chick and one lawyer for the “daughters” category. I just didn’t want to give the “well, you know….he fought hard for a long time…he was just done…” speech 300 times. We’re OK, guys. We’re tough broads. Now go upstairs and have some wine, kay? Also, while hanging out downstairs, Jen and I invented a goth gang sign because I’ve felt for some time that we need one. “How do we make our fingers look like a bat?” “How about this?”

I saw the side of the family from Eastern Kentucky for the first time in 24 years. They’re nice people, but I never hear about the reunions and, when I do, I’ve already got something scheduled. I’m thinking they need Twitter. The other side of the fam, who I see at Thanksgiving and Christmas, were also there. Also people dad worked with. And people mom works/bowls with. I found myself feeling very glad to not be unemployed, as that makes the usual “so, what do you do?” conversation rather awkward. It’s awkward enough to tell them that I do graphic design. The people who get it respond with, “so, you got your dad’s artistic abilities?” (Half of them. He was way better.) The people who don’t get it think I do I.T. stuff. Other question: “you live in Nashville? Are you in the music biz at all?” (No, thank god, as I’d probably be unemployed right now.) I guess they all figured that they shouldn’t ask if I’m married, as a husband would have been standing next to me, rather than Jen. OK, Jen still would have been there…just on the other side.

Anywho, we got all the paintings (and a buttload of food) home without damages. Whit’s posse, my aunt, and aunt’s friend stayed the night. Translation:

I drank more than I ever have in one night, and got the second-drunkest I’ve ever been. Everybody else (except Jen) got way drunk, and Jen and I went to bed hearing everybody downstairs singing such awesome tunes as “Broken Wings,” “Rocket Man,” and “Wanted (Dead or Alive).” On the last one, Jen and I joined in, singing backup from upstairs. Sadly, though we had a screening for sis’s posse, she says I can’t show you a video I have named “Drunk People Say The Darnedest Things.” Something about how she doesn’t want her clients to see it. You people and your grown-up jobs. Kill joy! 😉

Everybody (except sis) headed out on Sunday, and Jen and I made it home in two pieces. Things got a little sketchy around Bowling Green, when my brain took the opportunity to have two panic attacks. Notes to self:

1. Do not skip brain drugs to drink vodka.
2. Do not drink that much vodka ever. Stomach will smite you.
3. Do not think pulling over will help. Blast some music. That always works.

Sorry today wasn’t Movie Monday like it normally is, but my video got vetoed by the subject. Besides, the schedule’s been a little fuxed recently. Will get back on schedule, back on track, and caught up. Promise-omise