I like to tell people I don’t watch much television.
My childhood memories are filled with everything Hitchcock and Christie, anything Fawlty Towers and Mel Brooks, debates about the best Bond (Sean Connery, don’t argue with me), and scratchy old VHS tapes of obscure black and whites like “The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.” But television? Nah. We didn’t even have cable.
Fast forward a couple decades later and more often than not, after midnight, you will find me. Binge watching Netflix. Whatever. Not because it’s so good I can’t stop. It’s mindless. I can semi-view while I email on my laptop, play Dots on my iPhone and eat pizza on my coffee table.
I am not proud of this multitasking machine. Fairly sure my parents aren’t all that impressed either.
Here’s my point though… Actually, I am going to take my time getting there. Slow ride. Sunday drive. Every freaking day I try to be more concise in my communications. A.k.a. work emails. Turns out I bore and lose people after a few sentences otherwise. And that’s cool. I need to know my audience. Only it’s also unnatural. Forced. And now words are nearly busting out of my jeans. Which is funny because my jeans are so much looser these days. Debilitating stress and crippling insomnia? Fantastic appetite suppressants.
But I also digress because this is my space. I am really territorial. Like some kind of feral creature, clawing to reclaim my cave after months of leaving it vacant. This gets to be my forum; this is where I write run-on sentences or fragments or whatever the fuck I want. So there! Of course, what’s humorous about this is no one has been stopping me. You, however, have the choice to cease reading at any point in time. I am a squeaky wheel, rusty pipe, out of practice, and if I believed in trigger warnings, I would have issued an alert at the start of this post.
Alas, back to the tube. The HBO series, “Girls.” I’ve seen every episode. More than once. And I actively detest most of the characters. I find them petty and rude, self-involved and mean-spirited, lazy and abusive. Only there’s the occasional nugget that sticks. Hannah is arguably the worst of them all. And she is a writer. A clever writer. She does things with the words. Bless her. But she basically sucks at real life. She offends myriad people–close and removed–every episode, and it’s not like she’s happy. One of her kernels is stuck between my two front teeth though. Something she says to a potential employer (and I paraphrase, sort of): I give zero fucks about anything but have an opinion about everything, even things about which I am completely uninformed.
I love that. I fucking LOVE that.
I don’t like Hannah. But I want to be THAT. I have tried tried to think my way into THAT. Because THAT? THAT is hard. THAT is tough. THAT is FUCK YOU.
I fantasize about being exactly THAT.
But not really. Plus, trouble is, I can’t be THAT. I am sensitive. I am empathetic. I care about the well being of others. And I have hurt feelings. Frequently. Not to mention that I worry constantly about what others think of me, my person, my reputation, I could never be that seemingly bold, forthcoming or bare-bones honest. Here’s me, if I had to capture myself Hannah-style: I try to act like I give zero fucks about anything but I care deeply about everything, even things that I know are insignificant and irrelevant.
There’s my THAT.
Query. Am I stuck with that THAT? Can I try again? I am not talking do-overs or magical thinking. More like, can I give it a different go? Put on a new that and just see what happens? And if so, how do I want to be?
Easy. I’d like to be the THAT my mom depicted. My childhood me. Fearless. Never at a loss for words. An avid and enthusiastic story teller. A real hoot.
Maybe that’s a start. A place to begin again. Or just land. Momentarily.
Ultimately, recapturing oneself…reclaiming…that means taking stock. Does it not? Poking holes in the life leather and discerning what is significant? What is relevant? What matters?
I have a friend who would say “Nothing.” That there is no THAT. It’s all meaningless. Pointless. He is an avid listener of music that haunts the soul.*
I’ve tried on his shoes. I want to like his shoes. But they pinch my bunions. They don’t fit. For no matter how awful the world feels, I’ve never lost the sense that there is meaning of my own making. Not control, mind you. Possibility. Intention setting. Reorientation. I think I get to do that. And this may sound cheesy but I don’t care– I can choose my own adventure. And what I pick is less. As in, I need to actively remove things from my own plate. I simply cannot and do not want to keep going this hard–divided, unbalanced and miserable–any longer.
I shared this with a sibling over the weekend and she nodded, smiled and plated me up some delicious spaghetti. She told me it made sense to her. And I felt lighter than I have in quite a while.
I had dinner with one of my nearest and dearest tonight and expressed the same sentiments to her, to which she responded, “Yes. You’ve been sinking for too long.” I exhaled and thanked her.
I don’t need permission. I don’t seek validation. Yet it’s really, really comforting to know that when I am ready–and I inch forward and backward on an hourly basis–I have people with whom I can be where I am, without equivocation. That my own version of THAT is okay. Maybe not as witty and perfect as Hannah, but okay nonetheless.
And I admit it. I watch a lot of television.
All of the light and love from my heart, to yours.
*Please don’t misinterpret this to mean I do not love tortured rock. I fucking love music that digs into the sadness. Expresses what I can’t capture. Makes me cry. But then I somehow, most of the time, leave it there, for safe keeping. And I just robbed a song by The New Pornographers. How fitting. Listen.