Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Learning to exist in society and still be batshit crazy

To say I grew up socially inept would be like saying, “Electricity makes stuff do things.” It’s true, but just the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t know how much a part my parents’ divorce played, but jogging my memory back to when I was seven, I find it to be the general time when I began to withdraw from regular social activity at school. I believe it also stemmed from mental illness that was long overdue in being diagnosed. (You mean, not everyone is sad all the time? And who knew ADHD could mean more than just rambunctious boys jumping on desks? I had a hard time paying attention in school but I thought I was just bored and lazy.) Regardless, it meant I spoke to people my age less and less, and this made for very long days at school.

The only thing that made me more adorable
in second grade was being on a Polaroid.

By sixth grade, I spent every day at lunch by myself. Walking around the playground, waiting for recess to end so I could go back inside. I didn’t do anything particularly productive during this time, unless you count teaching myself how to burp on command – a skill that really charms the guys today but only served to further ostracize myself at the time. It was boring and miserable and the only thing I hated more than being so bored and miserable was the majority of the people I was stuck with at school.

I think it was in fifth grade that I befriended a girl in my classroom and we hung out every day at recess for a time. It could have been a couple weeks or a couple months, I really don’t remember. But I do vividly remember her turning to me one day and asking why I was “always following” her. Mortified, I walked away and returned to my solitary lunch periods, walking laps around the playground and avoiding eye contact.

Middle school was an improvement and high school even better because the pool of people with whom I could associate grew larger. I slowly felt more in my element because everyone else was awkward too. But not to be outdone, I developed my own little techniques for retaining a degree of social strangeness. My struggle with depression was constant and gradually increasing. I was never goth but my morbidity knew no bounds. I kept a binder filled with poems and short stories where unexpected deaths were very much expected. I even brought Harold and Maude into school to show people during lunch breaks in our English teacher’s classroom over the course of a week. (It’s a lovely movie that I still show to people now, but for completely different reasons than when I was 15.)

I still stayed relatively quiet, but when I had something to say, it was generally fucking weird. The best way I can find to justify it was that it was my way of reminding others that they didn’t like me and I didn’t like them, but I was still there and they’d have to deal with my existence the way I had to put up with theirs. It sounds angsty and rebellious as any teenager, but it was my peers I was giving the middle finger to, not my teachers or parents or any kind of authority figure. In some circumstances, I went out of my way to piss people off because they’d may as well have an actual reason to treat me like I was inferior. It didn’t go down well when I told girls in middle school that the Beatles were way better than Ricky Martin and I know I irritated the crap out of people by writing the box score of each Red Wings game on the whiteboard of every class I had. I started bringing my guitar to school and sang nonsense songs about Jesus or The Doctor, a song I wrote about Jack Kevorkian and his career in assisted suicide.

My junior year of high school, I discovered photography and it not only became a creative outlet that continues to this very day but a way for me to get in someone’s face without them being able to do much about it. I was the photo editor of my senior yearbook and even now, I wish I had abused that position with horrible pictures of horrible people. (Bitter? I barely know her!) But it was enough that I could take pictures whenever I wanted to and no one could say shit. I’ve been compared to Mark from RENT, always following people with my camera and living life through a lens. But you know what? I don’t have AIDS.

Obviously, a lot of this is still with me, or I wouldn’t be writing about it. It’s been eight years since I left high school and they’ve absolutely been better than the eight years prior. Some of that is just the process of growing older and maturing, I’m sure. Some of it is because I’m in more control over my mental illness with therapy and medication. A lot of it is I no longer have to see the same assholes day in, day out.

A girl who bullied me relentlessly in elementary and middle school lived in a house a couple blocks away from me. She moved away and some years afterward, the house she lived in burned down. No one was hurt but I once lamented to my mom that I wish this girl was still living there and that she had been in the house when it caught on fire. I sincerely, unapologetically meant it when I said it. I don’t feel that way anymore and it’s not because I’ve had a change of heart or we made up. I’ve just finally been able to let go. This girl doesn’t even live in the state anymore. She added me on Facebook and I only accepted her request because I thought it was so she could apologize to me. Yeah, no. I doubt she even remembers or realizes how she treated me. And instead of getting angry about that epiphany, it gave me a release. Here is someone who genuinely doesn’t give me a second thought. And not out of malice, just… she has no reason to think about me. Now I can do the same for her.

I’ll have the occasional pity party if I’ve had a particularly bad day, but I don’t feel sorry for myself the way I once did. When I realized there was a difference between feeling down and out and bringing people down with me, a new world opened up to me. Because people get tired of feeling sorry for you pretty effing fast. Legitimate reasons are a death in the family or suffering an injury. Someone saying mean things to you 15 years ago doesn’t hold much water. Learning to differentiate between truly sucky stuff and, what is affectionately called on Twitter, “first world problems,” has helped me come a long way in maintaining healthier social relationships.

Haters gonna hate. 

I’m still goofy as hell, though.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Live blogging at McDonald's

Often, I have a hell of a time updating blogs (or anything related to being online) because I don't have the internet at home. I can sometimes get an unsecured wifi signal but even that isn't very reliable and I often have to reconnect within minutes - usually when I'm about to do something important, like web banking or confirming something to be submitted.

So now I am sitting at McDonald's with Sara while she studies. Food and coffee (I don't even drink coffee, I'm a tea girl, but I'll take what I can get!). We're sitting next to a gaggle of old southern men who are rambling to one another about the gov'ment, semiautomatic weaponry and frequent mentions of Texas and Alabama  ("I want a translater," Sara just muttered under her breath). In fact, one man just asked another one to repeat himself with a loud "HUH?"though that could be either from not comprehending him or just not being able to hear because he's old. One of them just said, "I tell you what," just like Hank Hill would. This is a mesmerizing thing of beauty. Sara and I keep snickering in unison... these are the experiences I love to share with others.

Drinking more coffee - Sara says she's bringing me over to the dark side - it's actually really calming to be sitting here and finding ways to be productive. I intended to do some German work by copying a book I checked out of the library but for whatever reason, it's gone AWOL. I like it because it goes in depth with each section of grammar. I am not always the type to need someone to hold my hand when I'm learning something new, but another language is the type of thing I want to master as well as I can. A constant warning when learning a foreign language is to not associate said language with what its English equivalent should be, and I do get that. A simple example is in German one would say, "Ich gehe ins Bett." Literally translated to English, it's "I go in bed." But native English speakers know it's "I go to bed." I can accept the idea that languages have these types of differences with no problem, but I still like to know what the differences are because it helps me to understand why things work differently. Prepositions are weird. Gender and case are weird. German is weird. But I love it.

The old men are now joined by a flock of old women. They are apparently regulars; they all know each other by name. One woman is chiding a guy about how he hasn't lost any weight and his doctor will yell at him for it at his next appointment. (Why are you at McDonald's...?) 

Another old lady just said this verbatim: "I had never heard of the Tea Party until just recently. The last time I heard of the Tea Party was the Boston Tea Party. Some little girl had tea party dollies or something like that." The old man she was talking to walked by Sara and me earlier and gave us each a slip of paper.

I haven't done "a Google search" on this. I'll give you the pleasure of doing so and letting me know how child brides, Islamic law, women abuse and September 11 relate to each other. Let me know what you find out.
These old people next to us are now talking about different locations to go for dialysis like they're discussing their favorite restaurants. I am a little depressed by it. But it makes for good blog fodder. They've moved on to bladder infections and colonoscopies. This is what I have to look forward to in my old age!

Ugh, Hotel California is on the Muzak. I hate the fucking Eagles.

Tea Party lady is talking about her Social Security checks. The other ladies are talking about a guy on oxygen whose daughter is coming up from Tennessee to get him and take him away. Now someone else is going to rehab. Physical rehab? Drug rehab? Maybe both.

All I know is that it's hard to get anything accomplished right now because I'm enjoying live blogging old people at McDonald's too much.

An adorable couple. PLZ TO MOAR COFFEE.

The old ladies are beginning to dissipate. It's getting late and their children are coming to pick them up and bring them home. There's a creepy trucker-like guy they know who I think wants to sit down next to me. I am against this idea but I've done well enough to ignore them so far.

All I know is I got free dinner at McDonald's and I am jittery off of black coffee. The rule in my family is, "You aren't old enough to drink coffee unless you can drink it black." I am not one to stray from such golden rules.

Edit 8:14pm - The guy who gave us aforementioned paper slips came over as he was leaving and asked us how the wifi signal was. He told us he's a professor at Macomb and that he found out about all of this through a student who someone tried to recruit to their church to teach him how to use guns and kill police officers. He was wearing a veteran's trucker hat that had a patch tacked to it that read, "Remember 9-11!" Tea Party lady interrupted him mid-sentence and asked if he was coming or not, then told him she was going to wait in the car. I should expect nothing less from an establishment across the street from the Hazel Park Racetrack.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

I was debating making this an Etsy listing because I wasn't sure how well it would go over.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar by Becklo on
"Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." - Sigmund Freud

I decided to go ahead and list it today because if nothing else, it makes me laugh. Freud could point out what he thought was psychologically wrong in anyone, but he saw himself to be normal. I'm inclined to believe that obsessing over other people's obsessions makes a different case. But who am I to say? I take pictures of action figures and tampons!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stupid furniture

Two posts in one day? Why not? I'm excited because I've spent the weekend hanging out with Sara and Kyle, helping them move. And not that they lived far from me to begin with, but now they live only a few streets over and it's easier to simply walk to their new house than drive.

Last night we had a wonderful time transporting a couch... I was behind the camera for the whole time, so I probably had the best time of all.

Even Dan thought it was hilarious, sore hands and all. It's further evidence of how much I love my friends.

The road trip finale

I feel like such a lameass! I was doing so well with my daily posts, trying to finish up a week-long look back on my 2007 trip to New York. Alas, I only made it four days. I don’t have the internet at home so I either use an unsecured wifi network when I can access it from my bedroom or go to a library or other establishment that allows me to go online. Sometimes it’s hard enough just to connect long enough to get a couple websites loaded, but when I factor in uploading photographs on top of that it often just becomes impossible. So, better late than never, the last three days of my trip... GO!

On February 5, 2007, Kandas and I spent the day lounging around and doing our thing. We had rented Hedwig and the Angry Inch because neither of us had seen it and we ended up watching it three times in the week I was with her. We also did some creative rearrangement of her living room, which was a challenge due to what we now affectionately refer to as “Hurricane Becky.” I brought so much stuff with me on my trip that, had I been more selective, I probably would have gotten a few extra gallons of gas out of my drive. I brought my NES and all the games that went with it. I brought books. A giant selection from my wardrobe (except socks!). Blankets and pillows. A thousand pairs of Converse hi tops. It’s incredible to believe I didn’t bring my cat with me.







In the afternoon, Brent drove us to the train station and we hopped on a train for NYC. THE BIG EVENT! Seeing the Red Wings face off against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden! It was a pleasant ride and we arrived at Penn Station, which is actually connected to MSG so we didn’t even have to go outside. I was slightly disappointed about this because, hell, it’s New York City. But it was also cold and I opted to not wear a coat because I didn’t want to drag it around at the hockey game. I stuck to a hoodie under my Brendan Shanahan Red Wings jersey. As a seasoned NHL spectator, I know that it gets cold enough at games to make me shiver but hot enough from me jumping up and yelling/cheering/booing that I can’t wear too many layers.

We met up with Lilly because she was already there waiting to take a train home, then walked around the station. When I think “train station,” I think of a ticket counter and benches to sit on while you wait for your train to arrive. But this place is like an airport mixed with a mall. Kandas and I dicked around at a scary K-Mart for a while (they had a security guard) and had “dinner” at Pizza Hut. I got a lot of glares for my apparel and in true New York form, I got body slammed by some guy who told me I was “wearing the wrong fucking colors.” LOVE IT. I wish I had thought to point out that I was wearing red and white, whereas the Rangers’ are red, white and blue, so my colors weren’t exactly wrong…

The big deal about this game for me is that Brendan Shanahan was, is, has been, will always be my favorite hockey player. He came to Detroit when I was 11 and spent a decade here kicking ass and taking names. I was devastated when he left the Red Wings and I was even more devastated when games never lined up to give me an opportunity to see him. This was the first game (and it turned out to be the only game, as he retired recently) Shanny played against the Red Wings since he left Detroit. I’m no stalker, but this was something I had to be there for.

And oh, what a game it was. 2:18 into the game, Shanny opened up the scoring on Hasek and it marked the only time in history I cheered against the Red Wings. There was a lady who sat behind me wearing a Rangers Shanny jersey and we high fived. It was so great. The only thing that topped it off was the Wings won the game, coming up from behind to score some late goals. Kandas and I talked shit to each other the whole game since she’s a Rangers fan, but despite her complaining that I gave her a headache from all my shouting, I think she had a good time. (Protip: going to a hockey game with me is an experience. My first game caused the person next to me to switch seats, and this was before the game even began.)

The people made the trip what it was, though. Some guy came up to me during intermission, asked me if I was from Michigan, and then pointed to his hand to show me his girlfriend used to live in the Ann Arbor area. When Kandas and I were making our way back to the train, some creepy old guy who looked like the Gorton’s fisherman asked if he could have my email address. But my favorite was the guy we sat across from on the train. He looked like Al Bundy and was drinking a Budweiser not-so-discreetly from a paper bag. He asked me what the special occasion was because there were so many Red Wings fans there. I told him that Detroiters are just loyal to their sports teams like that (there’s no other way to explain Lions fans, after all). Kandas was also very quick to correct him when he assumed we were both Red Wings fans. But he was very nice for someone whose team just got owned.

I’m sad to say I didn’t bring my camera to the game because I was concerned they wouldn’t let me in with it or that it would be confiscated. I took a picture of our view from my phone but I have no idea where said phone is. But it was absolutely one of those events that, though it would be nice to have, pictures are not necessary for me to remember.

On February 6, 2007, we started the day with another chill-out session. All this travel is hard work! And the best way to unwind is by taking more goofy pictures.






Brent and I went out to get… something. I don’t remember. But I was one of the first passengers in his new car. I rode around with him and even got a picture of the Gotti Tans… apparently there was a tv show about it, but it was never something I watched.







Then! Then! Then! Kandas and I went to IKEA! I’d never been, and it remains my only visit. But on my dad’s recommendation, I got a hot dog while we were there. I also bought some incredibly inexpensive photo frames and a few mirrors that I still have hanging on my wall even now. It was a vastly overwhelming experience, and I would never go during a busy season, but I enjoyed the trip and the prices are proportionate to the quality (take that as you will, all I’ll say is I’m not disappointed).





We stopped at a shop nearby whose name escapes me… it sold records and clothes and other assorted stuff. The best I can compare it to is a slightly toned down Noir Leather without the separate room filled with sex toys. My favorite part was the outside of the building was painted in murals.




And let me tell you about the Dairy Barn. This place is insane. It’s a drive-through grocery store! You pull up, tell the clerk what you want, they give it to you through the window and you drive away! Milk? Cigarettes? Potato chips? Beer? Here you go, have fun! It was another cultural gap Kandas made fun of me for, but I hadn’t seen one of these before, nor have I seen one since. I’d hate to work at one of these places but I would probably “shop” there all the time.


On February 7, 2007, Kandas’ place recovered from Hurricane Becky. With my traveling possessions packed back up in my car, we went to a little diner restaurant for breakfast before I dropped her off at work and we bid each other adieu. I stopped for gas and headed back to the West Siiiide!

By the time I got into Pennsylvania, I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was get home but my family convinced me to stop in Pittsburgh to rest at my aunt and uncle’s house. I took a 4-5 hour nap, even though everyone wanted me to spend the night. But I get homesick for my Mitten state, so I resumed my journey around 10pm that night.

I was halfway through Ohio when I was pulled over for driving 72mph when the speed limit was 65. I didn’t give it too much consideration at the time, but I know now how lucky I am that I got off with a warning. Michigan plates are targeted in Ohio and it’s unheard of to escape a traffic stop without a fine. I explained to the cop I was just trying to get home from NYC and he asked me what I was doing out there. I told him about the hockey game as he looked through my car with his flashlight. I was wearing a Red Wings hoodie, had my Red Wings blanket in the back seat, and who knows what other random memorabilia he saw stuffed in my car. He was a nice guy, though, and told me he knew that we Detroiters like to speed but to “wait until you get back into Michigan to do it.”

I got home around 2am and immediately fell out. I had a blast and I’m glad I went, but I was exhausted and glad to be home. I took my IKEA frames and placed them around my bedroom, even framing a Spider-Man puzzle Kandas had given me in one of her many strange care packages she’s sent me from special findings at the dollar store.

I could go ahead and post pictures of the drive home, but they're not too different from the ones I took on the way to New York and, let's face it, I already posted an asston of photos in this post.

Friday, February 4, 2011

This Day In History: February 4, 2007

Four years ago today, I went to an insane asylum.

King’s Park was abandoned years ago and it’s fun to hike through the spread out ruins that still stand. Kandas and I went with her friend Lilly (finally! A day where I’m not driving!), who I’m sad to say I only have rearview mirror photographs of her eyebrow. She is a wonderful human being.


We had to bundle up because it was so cooooold in the… LI. Windy, windy, windy.


But it was fascinating walking around the grounds, peering through the shattered windows into the mess within the walls. There were still remnants of things once used,  now so tattered and destroyed they are nearly impossible to identify. My mind was constantly comparing what stood in front of me to pictures of Chernobyl and the untouched beauty within a city that has sat neglected for decades.

Of course, being somewhere so fascinating, my camera wouldn’t work because it was so bitterly cold and this is the only photograph I was able to take before it died completely for the day.


I expect one day I will return with more pictures. As amazing as the trip was, my favorite part was stopping at the gas station and having someone outside fill up the tank. Kandas and Lilly made fun of me a little bit for wanting to go out to do it myself or at least give the guy a tip, but hey, we don’t have fancy stuff like that in Michigan.

I think this was also the day we stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts and one of the other customers in line asked me where I got my Game Boy bag that I use to carry my wallet and pocket camera. When I told him I’m from Michigan and bought it at a local thrift shop, his response was, “Oh yeah? My brother lives in Livonia! Ever heard of Livonia?” It made me laugh since my dad has lived in Livonia for ten years, proving that even when you take the girl out of the Mitten, it will always know where I am and follow me relentlessly.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This Day In History: February 3, 2007

Continuing my Week In History reminiscing my ultimate New York road trip, four years ago today, my good friend Kandas and I made an additional road trip of our own to Stamford, Connecticut. I wish I had been a bigger fan of The Office at the time so I could have taken my picture next to a city sign while I was there. But the purpose for this excursion was to partake in one of my favorite vacation pastimes. Nevermind the fact it was the first thing we did once I got to Long Island; my desire to visit cemeteries is never quenched!

We made plans to go to Stamford to visit the grave of one of my favorite actresses, Gilda Radner. She was a fellow Metro Detroiter whose biggest claim to fame was being the first cast member chosen to be on Saturday Night Live. She died of ovarian cancer in 1989 but was a strong activist for the awareness and treatment of cancer before she died. Following her death, many support centers were opened across the United States and Canada in her honor. The Gilda's Club organization is open to anyone who has been affected by cancer, whether it be directly or as a friend, relative, coworker, etc. I've volunteered at the Metro Detroit clubhouse in Royal Oak, so it felt right for me to visit her since I was already so (relatively) close.


Of course, it would have been better had there not been snow everywhere so we didn't have to wander around aimlessly trying to find her grave. But it can't be said that it wasn't a nice cemetery.


Kandas finally found the grave site, with a pretty simple headstone that commemorates Gilda as a comedienne and ballerina.


A little bear was propped up against a trellis, which I'm sure has beautiful flowers that bloom when it's not ten degrees outside.


I wrote her a letter even though I knew she would never be able to read it. And left it under a pack of gum so it wouldn't fly away. I like to think she would have enjoyed that.


Following our dead people excursion, Kandas and I went back to New York to the city of Purchase, where we met up with her friend Alison and some of her school friends. After being wildly impressed that one of them was taking a class on how to be a clown - complete with spinning plates! - we did a little mall ratting. Kandas bought me an amazing souvenir shirt at Delia*s... well, two of them, which I promptly paired up because I loved them so much.


Even though I was starting to run on empty from driving so much (and I do mean that both in regard to my energy and my fuel supply), it was yet another fantastic day where we accomplished a lot and had fun the entire time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Day In History: February 2, 2007

I think I will do a This Week In History segment outlining my 2007 trip to New York. February 2 wasn't too big of a day as far as pictures go. I was still recovering from a long trip the day before! Kandas had to work and I had forgotten to pack socks, so her brother Brent took me to the mall. I bought some cheap argyle socks that I still own and wear even now, holes sewn up over and over again. But the most exciting thing about this trip?

I wanted to go to Bloomingdales. Never been to one! They don't have them in Michigan. And damnit, I wanted a Big Brown Bag!

It turns out there was nothing there I could afford. Not even something small for a Little Brown Bag. But this made it all worthwhile:


And then we had lunch at IHOP and it was delicious.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

This Day In History: February 1, 2007

Four years ago today, I took a road trip by myself. Destination: NEW YORK. I had three reasons for this:

  1. To spend time with my fellow cat loving cohort, Kandas.
  2. To watch the Detroit Red Wings own the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. (Loves me some Brendan Shanahan, no lie.)
  3. Why not?

So around 2:00am, I hopped in my car and trekked through southeastern Michigan, hopping on I-80 across Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, into New York City to Long Island. Aaaaaaand I may or may not have taken pictures through the course of my travels.




Pennsylvania has some beautiful scenery. It’d probably be even more beautiful if I wasn’t driving and had a way to concentrate on it better. Also, there is no lighting at night. Had I been aware of this prior to my trip, I may have decided to drive during the day. Darkness and huge mountains is effing terrifying.




Oh hey, look! It’s New Jersey! (I didn’t smell anything different.)

I got so excited when I finally started seeing signs. It meant I was getting close/going the right direction.


I called Kandas at this point, yelling “I CAN SEE THE WASHINGTON BRIDGE!” and jumping in my seat while she repeated, “Get off the phone. Get off the phone. Get off the phone. You will get ticketed. Get off the phone.”


Once I got through the toll booth, I was greeted with this view:

Aaaaaaaaaaaand rush hour traffic.



But I made it to Kandas’ place. I got there, took my stuff out of my car and… then we went to the cemetery.


It’s a big cemetery with steep inclines so it was nice to stretch my legs after driving 800 miles. We visited Harry Chapin’s grave. (Kandas took this picture and a lot of others now that I had someone to do it while I was driving.)


So okay, one obscure travel site accomplished. Where could we go now? A cold, Thursday night in Long Island… Yeah, that’s right: we headed to Amityville.

Now, about this picture Kandas took. I was standing in front of the infamous “Amityville Horror House,” mugging for the camera with my thumb up like I do. It wasn’t until later that night that I discovered that people really were murdered there. I thought it was a myth! I hadn’t seen the movies or read the books. I just knew people thought it was haunted. So… I’m an asshole. (I’m fine with that.)


Weird fun fact though: the movie posters make it look like a giant, secluded farm house in the middle of nowhere. But as you can (kinda) see, it’s just a regular house on a normal residential street. It’s so innocuous you’d drive right past it without noticing.

We made a stop at Walgreens after and I made her take a picture with me holding a giant stuffed Valentine’s Day “Love Lobster.” The look on her face clearly shows she was already wondering what the hell she had gotten herself into by having me stay with her for a week.

14 1

We drove around some more and did a lot of stuff. Most notably, Kandas pointed out to me a house Billy Joel used to live in before he sold it to Dee Snyder. (She took this picture and the next one.)


I turned around just to have Kandas take a picture of this sign. I’m immature and laughed like a 12 year old.


About 20 hours after I left Detroit, we got back to Kandas’ place. Her brother, Brent, was home on leave from the army, so the three of us had a fun night filled with goofing around and taking silly pictures.

As a gift for welcoming me into her home, I bought Kandas this weird stuffed dog that hooks up to MP3 players. It has speakers in its ears and lights up to music. It’s pretty ridiculous but we had a good time with it.


And there you have it. An abridged version of my first day in New York. Not exactly the typical trip most tourists plan, but I saw some great stuff and got to hang out with one of my favorite people in the world. A good time was had by all.