Thursday, August 16, 2012

Look At This Long-Ass Blog Post. Isn't it Long and Ass-y? (It is about My Summer in Case You Were Actually Curious)

I feel as if this blog has somehow morphed from being a blog about exercise and trying to become a badass into a blog where I whine about men all the time. This probably detracts from my original goal, which is quite unfortunate, but shut up, it's my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want with it. Tits or GTFO. Honestly, I write this blog more for my own entertainment and desire to therapeutically work/write through my own personal issues. I don't have a therapist, I have the internet and a couple of friends and family members held as a captive audience because they feel obligated to read the weird things I write because they love me. Hooray!

I am a super blogger! No questions asked! Look at how my hair and cape flow as I write like the wind (Sorry Lucy I didn't actually write in a cape, but I did write most of this in my underwear so I am halfway there right?)

I am about to launch into a rant I feel unable to hold in for much longer that has to do with really hilarious topics like chronic depression, traumatizing boy interactions (yup, there have been even more--it's been a busy summer if I do say so myself!), and sentimental reflections on my own personal growth through working with children. It is for sure going to be super fun and light-hearted. But I want to be sure and try to get some badass validation in before I do that and let everyone know that I totally got punched in the face the other night. Ok, it was probably more like elbowed, but I like to say punched because it's more exciting. I feel as if I have crossed some sort of threshold of badassery; I have gone through a rite of passage that every badass must go through. I even got a nosebleed. Do you know how many times my nose has bled in my life? Probably something like twice. It was a big deal. I was wrestling. I know. Me. Wrestling. I was absolutely terrible at it, considering I have never been in a fight with anyone but my brothers when I was under the age of 11, and even then I relied heavily on hair pulling, nail scratching, and biting. Also I was at a party and let's just say my senses were not at their sharpest for some strange, bizarre reason. No idea how that could happen, all the theories are inconclusive at the moment. Anywho, I don't know why I felt the need to initiate several wrestling matches--it probably has something to do with many years of pent up aggression that I have been repressing--but I did. And thus I got punched in the face. And bled. And I was so badass I didn't even realize it until someone pointed it out to me. That's right--it didn't even hurt. What up.

Let's just ignore the fact that I burst into tears after I found out...Ahem...Probably has something to do with all the pent up sadness I have been repressing for years coming out from the trauma of being pinned to the ground and being unable to move. Also I thought I was going to have a black eye and look very unattractive for the rest of the evening, which freaked me out. God forbid my beauty be marred by such a battle-scar... Yes, I am really that narcissistic, if you have thought I have been exaggerating this whole time. I was already self conscious because some guys offended me with comments about my "unattractive pole bruises." Personally I love all my bruises and wear them with pride as badges of honor, marks I earned in victory of a new move, but also I want to be pretty. So I was upset about that, too. But let's just pretend I didn't cry, ok?

The coolest

The moral of the story is that I did something "cool," which now validates me to get a lot more intense for the next few thousand words.


In case it hasn't been blaringly obvious, I am not exactly the most cheerful, optimistic, or happiest kid on the block. It is not that out of the ordinary given the general state of things and people on this planet, I know, but there are times when I believe my morose and sullen pessimism go a little beyond the norm. I am talking about actual depression here...contemplation of my own death, the complete inability to get out of bed some mornings, feeling like I have to turn my personality"on" when I am around people, wanting nothing more than to sleep and not having to exist, feeling as if there is constantly an iron stone in my chest that I have to carry around with me everywhere... you know, the whole nine yards. I have never been officially diagnosed or prescribed anything, but given most descriptions of the symptoms of depression and my family history, I am sure it would not be hard for me to get one. I've basically dealt with these feelings my entire life, including childhood, but of course the last six years (adolescence) have been particularly intense. It has been something of a roller coaster ride, throttling up and down at super speed. Stupid roller coasters. I hate them. They suck. Big sucky suck roller coasters.

There is a reason I decided to work on become a "badass" and started this blog. I mean, beyond just because it's cool and I am cool and the world needs to revel in that (obviously) and to experiment in writing and practice humor and entertaining others with my craft and all that jazz. I didn't want to put up with this bullshit anymore. I don't have any real reason to be sad--I am, after all, an over privileged white girl who is perfectly healthy in every other way and have people who love and support her in every sense-- which is usually why I don't talk about depression very often. It makes me seem like little more than a humongous spoiled brat. I also don't like throwing money at so called "professionals" to listen to my problems and offer lack-luster advice that the first internet article you googled on depression could tell you. I wanted to find my own way of achieving happiness, particularly through exercise and improving my physical state in hopes it would transfer to my mental and emotional state. I also had hopes that being able to put a humorous spin on most aspects of my life would put things in perspective. After all, laughter is the best medicine, according to that Robin Williams movie that is an actually an awful portrayal of a highly intelligent doctor with some truly innovative ideas. If I can laugh at my own life, I think I am in good shape. Hopefully I am doing it well enough that others are laughing as well. Although not too much... Ok, come on guys. You can stop now. It's not that funny...really.

I must say I have found quite a bit of success in this method. If one were to go back through each blog entry to somehow measure the amount of pompous and egotistical cockiness that each one contained, they would probably find a fairly steady increase in levels. It's probably not good for my own humility, but it sure makes my prospects on living to see old age a lot better. Hey, if it's gotta be one or the other, I choose longevity.

Alright, now intro this summer. Oh, what a summer it has been. I have basically been existing in what feels like a pocket of non-reality for the past three months. On the whole, it's been fantastic.

Late last spring I landed this job at a very unique day camp. I was a little reticent about working at another camp, as I worked at a resident Girl Scout camp the summer before and had a fairly "meh" experience as far as actually working went. I met fantastic people and all that, but I don't think I had one meaningful experience to do with an actual child the whole summer. It was a lot of staying indoors and organizing, explaining, cleaning, and meeting one hundred new faces every week and I just couldn't keep up with so many new kids. It was not exactly everything I had dreamed of growing up as a camper, I didn't feel like I was being much of a role model or inspiring girls the way my camp counselors used to inspire me. But I decided to give this camp a try, partly because of the nature and content of the camp and partly because it was a day camp in my hometown and that meant I could go home at night and eat my dinners in peace and not have to half-ass conversation with seven brand new 9-13 year olds every night for an hour.

I am supposed to say some spiel about how this camp is a story-telling camp where kids get to be heroes and empowered blah blah blah, but I will just make it simple and say it is a LARP (live-action role-play) camp for kids. Basically what we do is play a very complicated game of pretend with a lot of rules and an astonishing variety of foam swords. This is supposed to make the kids feel good about themselves. I think they mostly just like whacking each other with fake swords and the parents like how exhausted they are by the end of the day. But hey, we can tell ourselves it makes them better people as well. It isn't really hurting anyone. Who knows? Maybe it really is.

My job as a counselor at this camp is to facilitate the very complex game of pretend (and also make sure no one breaks or loses any body parts, of course). Basically, I get to tell a story and together with the kids act the whole thing out, letting them think they get to make their own decisions while I discretely try to control--er, I mean, guide them along an actual plot by trying to outsmart them the whole time. It sounds pathetic and please don't judge me (probably too late for that) but it is rather difficult to outsmart kids, especially when they know the rules better than you do. Despite my complex duties, the kids probably only think I am there to be a larger person they can whack with their foam swords more easily and who also sometimes puts on a funny accent while they do it. Whatever works, right? If they are happy, then I am happy. The kids all have characters and there is an experience point system and a huge variety of powers in which they can earn with their points. There is imaginary money, imaginary items, and a hell of a lot of imaginary pets as well. It is quite the ordeal.

I wanted experience in storytelling, improv acting, and I wanted to be doing something outdoors in my hometown that was not manual labor. The whole working with kids part was secondary. Of course being in a kid environment means a lot of fun and silly stuff is going to go down, which is the main draw,  but after my experience last summer I didn't think much of actually working with them. Anyway, by some divine grace I somehow managed to convince them in my audition I was enthusiastic and full of energy, so I got the job. Good for me.

Then came the actual working part.

The training wasn't so bad. It was like every other kind of camp staff training: basically the most fun you can have without any alcohol. The entire point is to act like kids with each other so we can practice our, er, methods? I think the highlight of it all was getting to act out "problem kid" situations so we could practice our conflict resolution skills. For one of our younger employees I broke out all the stops. Not to brag or anything, but I am so totally a pro at being a problem child. I had so much fun I nearly peed myself with laughter. I bet that is how my parents will feel when I have children, huh?

After training came the real thing. It was...interesting. That first week was rough. I had to take care of and entertain 6 kids for 8 hours a day all on my own. First the first time ever, I actually had to interact fully and completely with children. There was no buffer of coworkers or random yarn-oriented crafts, just me, them, and a bunch of foam sticks. It did not help that there was a girl in my group who decided she just did not like me and constantly told me she was not having fun. She would curl up in a ball and refuse to move, and when I told her that I could not help her have fun if she did that, she only persisted to do it for even longer. I think it was some sort of karma for the actions of my own childhood. Go figure. On top of that, at least every single kid had a breakdown involved tears that week. It was a long week, but I made it through alive, thank god. And so did the kids. Which is also good... I suppose. (It meant I would be keeping my job at least)

This is the dream right here

Things got better, though. Well, kinda. The next week I had requested the all-girls group, aptly called the "pegasus," group. I was probably just trying to live vicariously through my job, because I so would have been all over that when I was 9. Part of me on the inside was all happy and warm and fuzzy just because my group name was "pegasus." Squee! Horses! Yay! I also thought I would handle it like cake because I already had experience with exclusively girl groups. Boy, was I off. Like I said, when I worked at the Girl Scout Camp, I rarely actually had to deal with any girls on an individual basis. They came into my arts and crafts room, I taught them stuff, they did it, they left, and then I got gripe about how they never cleaned up after themselves properly and I had to do it all myself. Anytime there was an actual problem, one of their cabin counselors dealt with it. I probably mediated more counselor-counselor problems than anything all summer. But this week it was yet again just me and the girls. I never realized how psychologically treacherous girls are. I guess I should have known, considering I've lived it. But trying to resolve these passive aggressive conflicts feels almost impossible at times, because no one is really doing anything wrong, per say. Something about what they say or do just feels off. Lucky for me, it was not a problem most of the week. That is, until it all piled up and the drama broke out in the last 5 minutes of the last day. Really?? You guys are going to wait until now to makes things difficult? Awesome. Dealing with that mostly just consisted of "hey guys, it's the end of the day, shut up and go home to cry to your parents about it." Ok, no I did try harder than that, but you know what I mean. Despite that mess however, I actually had some rewarding experiences in being able to encourage a younger generation to do awesome things, like write or join the circus. You know, things to aspire to, things our society needs more of! It was fun to be able to try and mold the next generation and stand as a role model. Or terribly frightening. Depends on what you think of me.

Then came two really rough weeks. I suddenly received lots of higher level, more experienced kids who also happened to have a lot of problems functioning in, well, society I guess. There were good moments and bad moments, often involving gargantuan 50 foot over powered hamsters or dancing, and after the first rough week I thought things couldn't get much worse, and then came that next group. This was the group that had 2 kids who ignored me, 2 who were agreeable and lovely, and 2 who kind of just were 'eh' because they were way more powerful than anyone else in the group and didn't feel very challenged. It was the first week I decided to toss out the written story they gave us to run and tell my own. Because it sucked and I had an awesome idea about rubber duckies running conspiracy, er, conspiracies so they could rule the world of a place called SkyMall. Totally not drawn from my childhood obsession with rubber ducks--I mean, what? Anyway, it was a struggle if anything to get them to all do the same thing at the same time, and it was on Wednesday that my supervisor decided to take over for a few minutes to give me a break when I couldn't get them to stop wrestling. I wrote about this before, so as you may know it totally backfired because they were enraptured by my boss's quest leading skills. After that they informed me that the week so far had not been fun at all, and all they wanted was more of him and less of me. They actually said things like, "It would be better if you made it fun," or "it would be better if you tried," and "everything you did today would be better if you were [my supervisor.]" Part of me wanted to slap their ungrateful little faces, and the other part of me wanted to go home and cry all night. Guess which one I did?

It was probably my lowest point of the summer. It had been a struggle for me to get up every day and deal with people, particularly children, as much as I was with the way I function as almost a 100% introvert. I would feel horribly depressed every morning when I arrived to work and had to find a way to pull myself out of it--usually by lunchtime-- to get my job done. Even though it seems I don't really care all that much about kids, I was genuinely upset about failing at my job. As much joy it gives me to watch kids suffer and complain, I actually do want kids to have fun and be happy and I was disappointed with myself for failing to make this happen. I managed to get through the week, only to observe even more closely their sick satisfaction for making me feel inadequate, as they would laugh and smile through the activities I ran and then tell me they didn't really have that much fun later. When I ran their final battle (submitting my ego and asking my more popular supervisor to help out for the sake of their happiness, even though they didn't deserve it) and then told them the whole thing was my idea, they acted quite surprised. As if it were a miracle I could do something fun if they just cooperated. Yea, it's a huge fucking miracle.

After that, things got better. I worked at one of our smaller alternate locations for a week, which was much more manageable with younger kids who were far less experienced and I didn't have to work as hard to outsmart them at every freaking turn. Also I was only working for 5 hours a day, which helped more than anything else. Then I worked in a different alternate location the next week, with even younger, less experienced kids. This was the best week of the summer. Not only did one of my 6 year olds bring in silly animal shaped hats every day (I started doing it too. We matched and had hat parties and it was super cool), but the other group at the location also seemed to really like me. When my kids would leave half way through the day, every day they asked me if I could stay with them and be their second quest leader. All those days of kids being unsatisfied and telling me they didn't like me were washed away with this validation. I have no idea what I did to make those kids like me, but boy did it feel good. On the final day of the week, I caved and hung out with them for 3 extra hours. I drew them pictures and they told me they were good and it made me feel even better. It made the whole summer seem worth it, to just have a handful of kids appreciate me existing.

Bird hat parties are the best parties 

Wow, that seems really sad when I write it out.

Oh well.

From there, I only had one week left of work and that went fairly well. Nothing notable, except that I finally just about found my groove in my work. Ironic, I know, that that seems to happen all the time. I always seem to at last get decent at something right as it is about to be over. I will just have to go back next year and dominate with demon moose, necro-dancers, and more rainbows.

I learned a lot from my job this summer. The most exciting thing to figure out was how to draw upon the creativity of the kids themselves, collaborate, and integrate it into the story. That is when things went the smoothest and were the most fun for everyone. Those were also probably the most creative and best things that came out of the stories. I learned how to think on my feet a hell of a lot better, how to be a better actor, and how to be a better sword fighter. Seriously, I improved a lot in that field pretty quickly; I went from barely being able to hold a foam blade to totally dominating 10 year old butts. The older kids not so much. I felt a lot of creative satisfaction in what I did, as everything was in my hands and I could basically do whatever I wanted. I learned how to be better with kids by milestones, although I still don't understand those people who act really goofy around kids and they think it is the best thing ever. Every time I try to be really silly and wacky with kids they just look at me like they are wondering who the hell took me off my meds. Eh, at least it's fun. I learned to let kids cry and to let them lose, because it makes them better in the end. At least I hope. I don't actually get to stick around and see that supposed "self-improvement," but I can only assume it'll make them better people. I learned how every kid needs something different, but also never let them toe the line. Ever. Ever. I learned how to keep my energy up for 8 hours a day with no caffeine whatsoever, and I learned how to be way more out there and not care at all. Hell, the more out there things got, the better they went. Even though there were kids I hated with every fiber of my being, and not every moment was perfect, and I came home at least once a week to collapse on my floor and fall to pieces sobbing from exhaustion, I felt like I really connected with kids this summer, and I will probably never forget some of them. To me that is a mission accomplished. I feel much more capable of being a parent now, and in turn much more inclined to never, ever have children.

Beyond all that, I met some really awesome coworkers along the way, which improves any camp experience. Unlike girl scout camp, there were not people at each other's necks and very few hateful rivalries. People were so nice! It was a miracle! Ah, how I love not-women.  I don't think there was a single person who got on my nerves so much I could barely stand to work with them. On top of that, there were people who I loved getting to hang out with when we should have been working but were far too lazy to care. Yay!

Basically, my summer was awesome. I didn't go out much and didn't have much of a life. All I ever did when I came home was pole dance and then collapse from exhaustion. But I had a satisfying job, and I think that is why we get lives in the first place, because our work or school is unsatisfying. Sure, I wasn't happy all the time, but I came out feeling stronger than I was before, so I can tuck that away in my badass bag of experience.

Also in my bag are knives, eye patches, and shiny things

Now comes the sequel to all that and guess what it is? Crippling sadness! Huzzah!

The summer was up and down, like I said, some days being sucky and making me want to stab my eyeball out with paperclips and others really good and satisfying and feeling like fuzzy puppies infecting my heart. But lately things have taken quite the downward slope. I like to attribute it to several things. The first is what I call a "fun-hangover," which is not sarcasm about a really bad hangover, but rather a hangover of sadness after having too much fun. I used to get them all the time when I got back from summer camp. It is that sensation of depression because you feel as if you will never have an experience as much fun as the one you just had, you will never feel so integrated into a community, and you have no idea when you will see your new-found friends again, if ever. I don't know what to do with myself or my time. I have no quests to prepare for, no devious soul-crushing plans to make, and no  awesome group of people to look forward to seeing every morning. All I have to look forward to is going back to school where I sit in dark rooms and stare at screens or pieces of paper all day long, which, in comparison to all the goblin fighting, vampire hunting, and grape taming (yes, grape taming) I did in the bright, sunny outdoors of the Rocky Mountains all summer long, seems kind of like the worst most terribly boring, unexciting, and depressing thing in the history ever. Or something like that.

The second thing I attribute to my feast of sadness is, yep, you guessed it, traumatic boy stuff. (Although to be fair I already told you, so that is kind of cheating) It is kind of weird and complicated, and I want to be as vague as possible so as to avoid embarrassing myself any further, although I don't know how much of that will be possible in order to explain things. I could just skip it all and not write anything about it entirely, but let's admit it, I secretly love digging my own gave on internet blogs. I should put it on my resume, really, with how much time I spend doing it. So I will go ahead and give it a whirl.

It started pretty close to the end of the summer when I realized a bit late that what was possibly one of the most attractive guys I have ever worked with (although you should remember one of my three previous jobs was at an all girls camp, so that can't really account for much) was actually really cool and hit all the check marks in my enormous book of detailed standards (really not that large or detailed). This happens about as frequently as I feel inclined to actually get a haircut. Considering I just got my first haircut in three years the other day, that is kind of a big deal. Maybe it happened because I got a haircut? In that case I should get my haircut more often. I might just go make an appointment to get a pixie cut now... Anyway, it didn't really bother me all that much...well, ok, it did, but I have been hit by crushes that I never thought would go anywhere plenty of times so I just figured I'd shrug it off and move along until it went away, like most of the previous instances. And then some sick god decided to play a huge joke on me, and it was declared on the last day of work that we would be playing characters who were getting married during our large, end of the week living scene. My brain had a freakout sitcom-after school special-Arrested Development, "and then there is a kiss, right?" -moment of panic. Ok, more like a day of panic. That is when things started to get confusing in my head. It's one thing for me to notice someone who doesn't give me a lick of attention, but then if all the sudden I am thrown in some unavoidable attention-giving situation with close physical contact and my people plus physical contact anxiety starts flaring up like a hot flash in a 40 year old woman. Attractive simile, for sure.

Ok, so that happened, and then fast forward to that evening where I invited over the same coworker and several other male coworkers over for uh, hot chocolate at my house to celebrate the end of work. After a couple of sips of hot chocolate and the next thing I know I am dancing on my pole for oh, just three or four hours for a very, very captive audience of young men.

Before you judge me or freak out like my mother inevitably will at the idea of men getting the wrong idea about me, let me defend myself. I am still very much in the early stages of a relationship with my pole where I am thrilled to be in the same room as it and we just can't keep our hands off each other. Well ok, my hands at least. Really though, I just can't help myself whenever I am around a pole. It's too damn fun. I have also never had an audience besides the girls at my studio watch me dance, and this was very different because these people clearly had no idea of what good pole dancing looked like, kind of like the way kids like my drawings, so it was fun to be all impressive. "Wow, you can do a basic fireman spin, that is so amazing." It is kind of like being told you are awesome for knowing how to tie your own shoes. Never the less, if you ever happen to take up pole dancing...NEVER DO THIS.  Even if you keep all your clothes on. But especially not if you are not accustomed to people pointing out your physical attractiveness out loud, to your face. Or having quarters thrown at you. Or being sexually harassed, basically. I mean, I was egging it on and didn't do a whole lot to stop it, but quarters hurt. They could have at least given me paper money, the jerks.

Fucking ow, you assholes. This is probably why I tried to start so many fights, come to think of it.

This led to very weird events, for me, at least. Suddenly I had all this attention I was not accustomed to having from different men, some of whom already had my attention. This is basically means for the universe implode upon itself. This attention carried over to the next night where we had a real party to celebrate the end of the summer. People were physically contacting me (not in any obscene ways, but I should point out here that I avoid even so much as handshakes if I can, so any touching at all to me is a big deal), there was picking up, wrestling, and I am uncertain, but I am pretty sure competition as well. Over me. What in the hell is wrong with the universe? Is there some planet out of alignment? Did some weird Native American ritual dance go wrong? Some people would congratulate me, but no, I refuse to accept this as a good thing. Have people met me? Don't they know I am crazy? Don't they know men tend to treat me like a box of dog biscuits sitting next to bacon? Have they not been clued in on the men treating-me-like-I-am-invisible-and-don't-exist-conspiracy? It was the weirdest, most uncomfortable situation I have ever been in. Instead of being able to run around and enjoy the party, I have memories of two people trying to keep me company at every point in the evening. I mean, I missed can slicing with an actual katana! A sad thing, indeed. I surely missed other exciting things as well. It was definitely a, uh, different experience.

I am horrendous at communication. I mean look at me, I write very personal blogs to "large," anonymous audiences on the internet to get my thoughts out of my head, because it is the only way I know how. After a couple cups of hot chocolate, I am even worse. I didn't want to be offensive to anyone, I didn't want to do anything I might regret, and I also didn't know what to do with all my school-girl crush feelings, so I pulled my signature move of doing absolutely nothing and ignoring the whole situation! This led into the signature after-effect of me being left with a lot unresolved feelings inside me. Not to mention hazy, confusing, and conflicting memories of events due to all the hot chocolate I drank. And there has been much mortal embarrassment in conversing over the accuracy of memories of these events. Must have been too much sugar, man. I guess I don't handle my sugar well. Unfortunately, due to inconvenient circumstances, I feel as if things have completely slipped out of my hands and I am unable to resolve or make peace with it myself, or at least let things fade and adjust back to normal, which is my usual strategy. Instead I am left with all the consequences of my actions and unresolvable emotional bullshit swirling around inside me.

So, combine the fun-hangover and the unresolved emotional bullshit I created for myself and suddenly these floodgates of what I can only reluctantly admit as real, genuine emotion that I have kept shut nice and tight for many months have been flung open and a surge of feelings have spread forth and I have been drowning in that sea ever since. Every day has had emotional breakdowns galore. So even though I was punched in the face and all that, I have taken major steps backwards in my badass journey. I wake up every morning in pain. I sit and stare at my wall listen to Bon Iver's Skinny Love on a loop. I am on the verge of breaking down at any moment. I even wrote half a poem in my head the other night. I still remember it. Oh the shame. I have been trying to do retail therapy, driving aimlessly therapy, cleaning therapy, imaginary conversations therapy, but progress has been slow. Writing this blog, a feat which has taken me over 6 hours, has been more helpful than anything, I think. Also listening to Perpetuum Mobile on repeat, which is maybe one of six things in this world that gives me feelings of optimism.

It only makes me even more sad still to realize how far back I feel as if I have fallen from my badass throne, especially over such stupid things. Really, being done with a fun job and letting myself get too caught up in an over blown never-gonna-happen crush are not good excuses for sadness. I want to rise up, but in the ever so classic way of depression, it just keeps pulling me back down. But I want to swear to you, right here and now, that I will get better. And I will write light-hearted, funny, non-egocentric blog posts once again, or so help me God! I will make this blog to be what I meant for it to be, and all will be well again. I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...

See you on the other side.

--Dark and dramatic exit goes here--

1 comment:

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