Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So This is Christmas, And What the Hell Have You Done?

That is always what I think when I hear this song. I feel like it comes on just so Lennon or Sarah McLachlan can personally ask me to reflect on my life choices.

"Ahhhhhhhh!? What the hell have I done!?"

And I am pretty sure I miss the point of Christmas every year when I am manically making a Christmas List to email my mother. And I am worrying about which sizes of things to ask for, and whether the list will be too absurdly expensive, and what else I am forgetting to ask for, and how I will end up getting everything back to New York.

Basically, Christmas makes me selfish. And now I am an adult, apparently, so it is time to do whatever it is adults do at Christmastime.

Unfortunately, I still feel like I am exempt from having to buy people gifts. My dad still says I can draw him a picture. My mom's biggest wish was for me to make a dentist appointment before my insurance ran out- which I never did. I normally buy my sister some nail polish and my brother a weird book from Urban Outfitters about poop or something.

I also still delusionally feel like I am allowed to be a christmas-kid because I am the oldest of my siblings and all my 750 first cousins, so I am still lumped with the kids/teenagers' Pollyana. My mom buys the gift for me to give to my 14-year-old cousin.

But last year, thanks to reading The Grinch Who Stole Christmas 40 times while babysitting, and crying at the end each time when he is standing on that cold mountain at dawn with his reindeer-dog and hears the Whos singing below even without their presents... "Carrie why do you cry when we read this?" "It's just a beautiful Christmas story, ok!?". Well, I started sensing that I had better become an amazing person, fast.

...so I Googled "Christmas Charities" in early December, and donated like... 20 dollars each to two Christmas Charities. One was for children whose parents are in prison.... (?) and the other one... I can't remember. That was actually a lot of money for me because my bank account is always at war with that $100 checking account minimum. But... let's be real, poor people should not be giving back with their money, they should be giving back with their time and love (or something amazing like this).

... though you bet I still made a manic list (on Amazon Wish List- with links to everything, and notes detailing sizes/colors, and also notes explaining WHY I wanted certain things like some sort of campaign. What am I? 16!?)


So, John and Sarah.... 

This is Christmas, and if you insist that I reflect, What Have I Done?

Let's lead with some positives:

-I... did a show where I got to do a scottish accent, which semi-fulfilled one of my life goals. So that is good, I guess.

-I moved to a new apartment with my best friend in Washington Heights- in order to be able to fully support myself and stop being a little baby. So that is also pretty good.

-However, for the move I used absolutely all of my savings. Actually I still had $400 until last week, now I have $300. The minimum is $250. Living on the edge.

-Relatedly, I started taking the subway no-matter-what.

-I..... once and for all, stopped thinking that a stupid alternative diet was going to cure all my earthly woes. Started eating a lot of ice cream. That was good.

-I got an office job, for many reasons, and also to show myself that I am dumb to take my super-exciting life-as-an-actress for granted.

-I cried every morning on the subway for a whole week when my favorite character from Downton Abbey died, while listening to a playlist I made called "Mourn". That was concerning, actually.

-That same week made me think that I had to become a funeral singer. To help other people mourn.

(Interestingly, earlier in the year I actually sang at two real funerals. One for my Grandfather, and one for my Aunt's mother. Neither of those experiences made me decide to be a professional funeral singer. But the death of a fictional character? Yep.)

-I realized that I have no shoes that are comfortable except for clogs. This continues to be a huge problem.

(Fun fact: one of the reported reasons the Grinch may be so mean is that this shoes are too tight.)

-Started doing some weird bunion preventative exercises. Stopped doing them.

-I read a book on creativity and started writing like maniac in the subway every morning to unlock my creativity. Whether it worked or not is debatable and hopefully To Be Determined.

-I gave up coffee for a few months- which was the worst thing I ever could have done.

-I considered moving to Philly, but didn't. I considered doing volunteer work, but didn't. I considered doing match.com, but definitely didn't.

-I quit my water addiction. I am not kidding. I had a water addiction for probably about 10 years, but didn't know of course because what the hell? Something to do with electrolytes.

-While leaving a restaurant, talking to a friend on my phone, and mindlessly searching in my bag for my phone- I freaked out and told her I lost my phone. Went back into the restaurant, on my phone, and said to the host: "I think I left my phone at the table!!!" They went to check and as they came back I realized I had instead lost my mind. Why my friend didn't just tell me right away: "Caroline you are on your phone, with me", I do not know.

-I got an American Express card in order to earn points on groceries that turn into cash rewards, but haven't used it yet. Partly because I accidentally signed the magnetic strip instead of the signature line.

-Went on some unexciting dates. That is always something I tell myself when I am like, "Caroline, you are a hermit!" "No I'm not! I went on some dates!".

-I decapitated a huge 3-inch cockroach at my old apartment- where I lived alone and so I had no choice. I used my "Simple Diary" and threw it at the thing while it was running psychotically at me. Instead of cleaning it, I just threw out the diary and the smashed bug body, and found the head/antennas all the way on the other side of the room the next day. That was... one of ... the lower points of my year.

- For the first and hopefully last time, I fell asleep with all the lights on, still in my sparkly skirt, curled up in a ball on my bed because I had had so much to drink and too little to eat at my Thanksgiving Eve Reunion-thing. According to my brother, he noticed the light on and came in to put me to bed: "How was your night, Caroline?"- "Stupid", I apparently replied. Couldn't I have done this in college? Or during my summer in Dublin? No, this was when I was home for Thanksgiving, as an adult.


So, Sarah and John, as you can see, though I am another year older, things are still looking pretty questionable. Assuming we don't all die tomorrow when the Mayan Calendar ends- I am going to try to be way more amazing in 2013.

And what will I do about it now? I told my mom after I wrote this post that I didn't want any gifts this year - and really meant it. I was going to focus on giving instead- because I have decided to become amazing.

But she ignored my declaration, and last week she sent me a few emails asking me if I was going ever to send her a list. But I didn't make a list! So, I stuck to my selfless guns.

But then she started texting me for my list. Why wasn't she letting me be selfless?

Then I caved- and yesterday I went on Zappos and sent her links to like 10 different shoes just hoping one of them will be comfortable enough for my Grinch feet.

So, oh well, we will see.

I guess all I have left, as my last chance to be amazing and giving this year, is to remember to tip the mailman.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sleeping Pill Dragons

Over the past few years, my sleep quality has gotten worse and worse.

But I shouldn't be so surprised- because at this point my father sleeps about 3 hours a night- and he and I are very similar. We bond over: coffee, wine, and how little sleep we get. (he gets way less than me still, thank god)

A few summers ago during college, I was with my family at the shore. Earlier in the summer my dad had given me one of his prescription sleeping pills "just in case", but I put it in my makeup bag and didn't use it for the whole summer. Because, you know, I like to consider myself very responsible and functional and holistic. Think yourself happy! Think yourself calm. Breathe and alllll willlll beeeeee wellllllllllllll.

But one hot night near the end of August, I had come home from a party, lay in my bed with the fan blowing on my face because my mom doesn't believe in air-conditioning, and had to take off my pajama pants because it was so hot. As I lay there, my mind was stuck on a dumb boy situation. I was replaying some lame conversation in my head over and over... (It was probably something like, "Caroline, pick a card" "ok!" )... 12:45 am.... ("was your card the Ace of clubs?" "wow! how do you do that!?") ....1am.... 1:30 am... ("You are amazing at card tricks!" "thanks").... 1:45 am. That was enough. It was time for the sleeping pill.

I hopped quietly out of bed so I didn't wake up my sister who was sleeping in the same room, found the pill, and took it.

Yesssssssss. Now I will sleeeeppp.

I lay down, and immediately started to feel my mind go black and blurry. But consciously I thought, "WAIT! I just want to think about this conversation for ONE more minute!" And I forced myself to stay awake in order to recall the same dumb conversation.

I purposely resisted the sleeping pill.

And then cartoon origami dragons started swooping in towards me with my eyes closed. Wow! What is this!? I opened my eyes and they were still swooping in at me! This is amazing! They were cartoon- but they were chinese-origami-type cartoons. I have to tell Margaret!

So I got out of bed in just my underwear and started shaking my little 12-year-old sister.

"Margaret! There are dragons EVERYWHERE!"
"There are dragons EVERYWHERE! It is amazing!"
"I need to go tell Shane!"

So I left my room in my underwear, and went downstairs to my brother's room to tell him about the dragons.

When I got to his door, I was searching for the doorknob on the wrong side of the door.

"Shane!!!!! You don't have a doorknob! YOUR DOORKNOB IS MISSING! ARE YOU IN THERE? Why don't you have a DOORKNOB???? This is SO WEIRD!"

He opened his door groggily. "Caroline?"

"Woaa...", the sleeping pill turned on me, "There are like- dragons and demons all around you!"
"There are dragons and demons right here, you don't see them?"
"Oh, weird Shane. Goodnight."

And I went back upstairs, and my mom was waiting for me in my room because my scared little sister went to get her to tell her I was drunk.

"Caroline ARE YOU DRUNK!?" she whisper-yelled.
"No, no I just took a sleeping pill and there are dragons everywhere"

Then she made me chug 3 glasses of water because I put my life in danger by taking a drug after I drank- and also I am a "horrible example for your sister!"

"No mom, I just resisted the pill because I wanted to think about the magic trick and then there were dragons. I didn't really drink".

I explained it better in the morning- and everything was fine- except for Shane- who is convinced to this day that I saw real demons around him.

Also, my friend Annie and I will now dramatically whisper-yell to each other, "ARE YOU DRUNK?!?!?!", which can be funny in any and all situations. Try it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Don't Talk, Don't Eat, Suffocate

I have recently been going back and editing and deleting dumb posts with pictures of blurry sandwiches where all I say is: I ate this sandwich! Yum!

But this post I just found was called "Missing Missing - Lost on a Cliff" (and I actually have no idea why- oh its because I started the post by saying "Sorry I have been MIA").

It was about a yoga retreat that I went on over Halloween 2009. This is all I wrote:

I just got back from a 2 day yoga retreat over Halloween in the Catskills. It was amazing and beautiful and ... scary (not halloween-scary, but more like I-am-going-to-slip-off these-rocks-and-fall-into-this-waterfall kind of scary).

And also, I am-going-to-starve scary. We had a day and a half of "the master cleanse" fasting on this retreat. Except I cheated and ate my trail mix at night alone in my room like a criminal. 

I was worried to do the fast because... of the obvious. But in the end it wasn't too bad for me because it was only really one day. And also because I cheated. 

Some crazies are apparently still doing it in the comfort of their own food-free apartments. But not me.

So, now let me take the opportunity to reveal some things I, weirdly, forget to mention:

This retreat was cool, and the area really was beautiful... however, not only did we not eat, but we did not speak. It was a silent retreat. Which actually was fantastic because I didn't know anyone and didn't need to spend any energy to get to know anyone. 

But actually, it wasn't silent on the bus ride up, and I sat next to this girl Holly who had just been dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, moved from California to NY on a whim, and was trying to start a cheesecake business. Basically she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But it was a blessing that I didn't have to talk to her after that because, nice as she was...

I also didn't tell anyone that I was going on this retreat. I vaguely mentioned to some friends that I would not be around for Halloween because of a yoga retreat. But I pretty much just left on a whim and went alone. But then realized I should maybe text my mom on the way up in case I died.

Me: FYI on bus going to yoga retreat for 2 days
Mom: What?

It was also the yoga studio's teacher training retreat that just happened to have some extra spots -and I randomly signed up two days before (because I was in yoga, and very stressed, and they announced the open slots and I had found the answer: THE MOUNTAINS!). So all the trainees knew each other, and even though we were ALL silent, the randos like me and Holly were truly the outcasts, and if people could have talked that would have been even more apparent. But I had no idea what was going on, and would often forget the schedule, and then couldn't ask anyone, and found myself walking around lost on a path in the woods at night by myself because I forgot the way from the lodge and didn't remember which building I slept in. Oh well.

We just starved in silence. And then almost died on a hike where we climbed up and behind a waterfall. These stupid yoga instructors were acting like they were trained hike-guides and I can't believe no one died. We walked across a nearly vertical, wet mud drop by holding onto a rope they threw across to some psycho who Tarzaned his way over ahead of us. And I had to sacrifice my water bottle because I had to start using two hands if I actually cared about staying alive.

But the crazier part by far, was the Native American Sweat Lodge ritual thing, that you were very heavily pressured to participate in because it was a "transformative experience". You are basically sitting on top of people you don't know, so close that your face is in their hair, in a small dark tent, too small to stand up in. The tent has molten rocks in the middle and they pour water over it to create steam. So basically you are boiling in the dark- and the air is so thick with steam you feel like you are suffocating. And you are crammed into this hut in the middle of their religious celebreation/ritual and you can't move because it is rude, and you are sardined in there, and also there is that molten pit in the middle. And it is pitch black and you still have 2 hours to go. And then they chant and you are supposed to chant along with the firekeeper master of ceremonies. And I actually did chant along because it took my mind off of the fact that I was dying. 

thank you, Google Images

This was the only part of the trip where we were allowed to talk. (Because they knew there was a chance of mortality) It was actually in the news the month before that someone had died in a Sweat Lodge Ritual. The firekeeper assured us that whoever was running that ritual that killed people didn't know what they were doing. Though still, the actual point of it is to induce suffering, and then to spiritually transcend the suffering. Ugh. 

I found myself digging my hands into the mud like they suggested, because it was relatively cool compared to the burning air. I also had to close my eyes, because it was less scary than having them open but seeing nothing. There were a few people who had to escape and never came back in during one of the few 5 minute breaks where they open the tent flap. And I wanted to so badly, and I had to pee, but I was on the far end. Actually I recall strongly considering peeing right in there, next to people into the mud we were sitting on. We were all so drenched, no one would have noticed. And plus it sort of felt like the end of days, so who cared. But I didn't. We were also strongly urged to stick it out, in order to experience the amazing and transformative experience.

I also now remember, that during the ceremony, Holly, who I hadn't been around since the bus (she wasn't in my group) started bawling- loudly. And all we could do was sit there in the dark, suffocating, and chanting, while she just cried for like a half an hour. 

And when I finally came out I was impressed that I wasn't dead- only lightheaded. If their purpose was to give my life fleeting perspective by inducing a near-death experience, I guess then it kind of succeeded. Except I knew I had done it to myself/they had done it to me, so... I was just mad. And soaked.

I actually can't believe I did that.

I also cannot believe I wrote a post about that retreat and didn't mention the near death experiences (starvation, cliff falling, and suffocation.)

the actual place. Menla.
I would definitely go back- if I could eat, and drink, and sleep- and talk- and do whatever the hell I wanted- and where suffering isn't the "goal".

...and actually, I don't even remember doing any yoga.