4.14.2009

Crazy-Talk


Does everyone consider at some time or another that they might be going a little psycho? Not psycho like living with your dead mother, stabbing someone in the shower crazy psycho, but psycho like catching yourself thinking, "is this normal?"

I had a friend who admitted he thought he was inches away from crazy on a regular basis. He was successful, good-looking, funny. He didn't admit this to me until I knew him well. I wish I could remember the conversation leading up to this admission. I would have it more often.

Turns out my friend wasn't inches away from crazy; he just wasn't happy in his job or his marriage. He changed both and moved away, and took his fears along with him, if he still had them. He never did talk to me about this again. I wonder if he was just trying to make conversation or if he truly thought he was on the edge. And why me? Did he tell everyone this? Did I look on the edge of crazy? Did he think I was standing there on the crazy-ledge with him?

I wish he hadn't said this because now I check my sanity on a routine basis. Am I sounding crazy? Am I pushing the people around me a little too much, like a crazy person would? If I heard what I'm saying, would I get tired of myself and call in a professional?

I'm all self-absorbed today because that's what happens when you have to face an unpleasant reality, right?

I'm trying to face the consequences of my reality and stay sane at the same time. If I can do it without being dramatic and not pushing the people around me too much, I'll respect myself in the morning. Mornings are hard enough when it comes to self-respect, the way I eat when I'm stressed. If there's chocolate cake in the house, there isn't for long. I've got a long list of justifications and morning is a lot further away than the refrigerator.

I guess reality started when I quit being a realtor (no regrets there) and applied to grad school for the fourth time. I figured we had enough money to carry me through and I needed to do something else, something I regretted not completing before. I had all the support anyone would want from husband and kids, but as usual, not my parents.

Nothing new there. "You're too old," one said. "Why waste your money?" "Why write?" the other one said. "You're wasting your artistic talent." Now I remember why I have a useless Art degree, which I've never used nor had an interest in using. No matter how old you get, you never stop wanting your parents' approval. There are worse things to work through.

I applied to grad school. Then my husband's colleague and boss were blown up by a bomb. Couldn't have predicted that, so I forgive myself. Couldn't have predicted that the hubby wants out, now, and couldn't have predicted that my dad would give us an opportunity to get out, now. We've been hinting for a decade to manage his apartment in San Francisco if the current manager ever left. She left. We're in, beginning this month.

Everything's great - the best school in the country for my program accepted me. It's low-residency so I don't have to live nearby. I can move, live low-rent, help my dad, live across the street from Golden Gate park and near extremely-missed family. This is hubby's dream almost more than mine.

We put the condo on the market hoping if we price it ridiculously low, we'll sell. We call the realtor, frantically, reducing the price more and more every few weeks. Now we'll have the priviledge of paying someone to buy it. What a crazy market. If I were realistic, I might have been able to forsee this. I didn't and even though, being an ex-realtor I know better, I'm taking it personally. We're going to have to borrow to sell. Borrowing for school, too, doesn't make sense anymore.

It turns out you can't just leave a job where 2/3 of the top administrators are either dead or in extreme pain and trying to recover. Hubby has to stay for a while. He can't quit anyway, because we couldn't pay the mortgage if he did. We'll be living in two different states until the boss can get his one remaining leg to heal. At least he's alive and getting better. One dumbass bomber killed two people, injured one, destroyed a bank, freaked everyone out, and way down the line, made it so I won't be going to graduate school.

We did nothing for Easter for the first time ever. As you can see by the photo, the hubby had his face lasered. Don't grow up in Florida with fair skin and a boat without sunscreen, or you'll spend days looking like this after the doctor has to burn so much of it off, it smokes. He says it doesn't hurt but I feel pain every time I look at him, and so does everybody else, judging by the looks on their faces. We hide out at home and it felt lonely until my brother-in-law called to say hubby's mom had a stroke. We need to go spend time with her before she's gone. Oh my God - of course.

The realtor sends feedback from the latest showing, good remarks as usual but not what the buyer was looking for. Reality hit, for some reason, with this email; it's gonna take more money and time than I expect to pay someone to buy the condo.

While reality was hitting, my Dad calls. "You ought to reconsider this student loan expense," he says. "You do these crazy, extravagant things like paying for basic cable. I'm more conservative with money." Something like that, anyway. If reality wasn't hitting me already, it was now. It's crazy to borrow to go to school. Absolutely, completely psycho.

God closed a door, so I tell myself, and I'm looking for a window to crawl through. Who makes up these dumb things that pop up into your head like this? These sayings aren't in the Bible but good people, too many of them, say these words to me so often they emerge in my thoughts like a bad 80's song when crap happens. "When God closes a door," I keep thinking, "He opens a window." Maybe for good people, who are better than me and who own homes with big windows just primed for hopping through. I'm stuck in Oregon, standing outside in the rain next to my condo's "for sale" sign. I'd just like a shrub to crawl under for a while. At least until the storm passes.

When I was homeless with four kids (twice) my mom would tell me, "You think you have it bad. You should hear about your sister." My sister is married to a lawyer with a CPA, doesn't have to work, has a fully funded retirement as well as all the things I can't afford, like Kleenex. I don't think she can qualify for food stamps but I give her a call. Empathy is good for the giver. You can put yourself in someone else's shoes and get out of your own smelly, holey, worn-out ones. Nobody is pain-free.

I listen to my sister talk. There's no mention of food stamps or homelessness but I try to support her just the same. Who am I to judge? I might be an inch away from crazy but she might be just half an inch. I'm here to help.

She's pretty chatty for someone so hard on their luck. She tells me about her horses (who has horses when they're destitute? Dogs, maybe, but not cats. Cats help themselves: they're out finding their own open doors and windows if you aren't providing). Horses, more than one, doesn't seem to be one of those indicators of poverty you see, along with the drunk guy holding a "will work for food" sign, on the Woodburn I-5 offramp.

"The Lord helps those who help themselves," she says before she hangs up. Did I call her to be reminded to help myself? Am I a cutter, hurting myself on a regular basis?

Wait a minute, I think, I need to take advice from others. I might have forgotten some of my previous screw-ups, so I start to list them in my head and think about if, in hindsight, I was really, honestly, helping myself. The list is long and my head starts to hurt. Is this a sign of impending hay fever or another sign of impending falling off the crazy cliff? I give up. Can't do anything about my life up to now, now, unless you have a time machine I can borrow.

I still can't do anything about my life up until now. I'm not homeless and my four kids survived to live in their own homes, so I'm thinking about that little victory rather than thinking about bad 80's songs or whatever else I can beat myself up with inside my head.

There's one piece of chocolate cake left. I might be crazy, but it sounds as if it's calling my name.