Journal of Whatever...

March 23, 2002

Today is my niece's 14th birthday...happy birthday, sweetie.

When I watch movies--there is usually an underdog of some sort. Like Duckie in "Pretty in Pink" Watts in "Some Kind of Wonderful" Muriel Hesslop in "Muriel's Wedding," or Fran in "Strictly Ballroom".

The world is full of us underdogs...those who always seem to be on the outside of the circle, wanting to step in to the fray and yet almost afraid to. Maybe that is why I root so hard for them. Believe me--I would have much rather been with Duckie than the rich guy Molly Ringwald ends up with. But that is the way things go--in the movies and in real life.

I designed this journal to be honest--with myself and those who may stumble upon it. It's not like I did it to move the world with my brand of thoughts or intelligence...sometimes it is refreshing to just be able to vent and spew and get things out that need to be out...for peace of mind or what have you.

I've always been an underdog. Frankly, I don't think anyone in my family thought I would be much. The shy little girl with a mischievious grin, always tucked away at the kids table--who's biggest idol was her brother who was ten years older. I could chat away with dolls and create worlds out of nothing. Safari's, going to see the didn't matter what I did...I did it with style.

My grandmother--who never had much faith in my father in the first place--always calling him stupid, complained because my head was always in the clouds--or tucked ceremoniously in a book. She thought there was something abundently strange about a three-year-old who could read...not just from memory...but read. The love of books was an outlet for a girl from the rural area of her hometown (which it isn't anymore. I can't even talk to myself without nosy neighbors thinking I'm mental).

It just isn't normal.

Yet, strangely enough--for the one no one thought would amount to much--I'm the only one out of twelve grandchildren who has a degree--with ambition to do more. I have always refused at least, in that regard to settle for less. Why should I?

But in many ways I have. Its that old adage--if you had to do it over again--what would you do differently. First, I would probably admire my spinster aunt from afar instead of boldly declaring (whilst trying to throw rocks across the river) that I "wanted to be just like her when I grew up". If I only knew at seven what I know now...

I could have done a million things differently: instead of watching bugs and daffy and becoming a carbo addict, I should have been outside, being a free wheeler...or maybe I should have been in some sort of sport. But the athletism was left to my brother--the artistic (meaning drawing) left up to my sister. I was the one dedicated to get better grades than either, and use the other talents not already taken: music, writing, creativity. I saw nothing wrong with it (indeed, there is nothing wrong with being that).

All through school I did the same thing. Studied my little heart out until 2 or 3 in the morning, getting up at six--day after day. I was a dreaded band geek who knock out classic songs (and still can--from memory--including my sixth grade solo) with soul.

I always told myself that I was "too busy" for any such nonsense such as romance or companionship. I suppose I probably was..but probably not enough. My early writings--to embarrasing to even mention in plot or thought, were full of romantic ideals...even though I claimed to dispise them...I always loved a great romance.

oh yes...skipping around sorry

Later this summer, my younger cousin (by two months) is getting married. Never once at family gatherings, do I hear the dreaded, "so, is there any special lady on the menu" in reference to them...but back me in the kitchen at the counter junction...and they hover like wolves over fresh prey. "Dear, sure there is some one in your life," or "when are you going to join your siblings in the land of matrimony." Has the term, "drop dead" ever been used on these people? Either that, or ten to one...when I am not present, they wonder as to my sexuality (hetero, thank you very much. Women do nothing for me).

Same goes for nosy people at work. Why is it, that everyone is concerned for the lack of a life. I live to go to work--to come home--to take notes for a junior in the BA program--to crawl under desks, connecting network cables to CPU's--to come home, and get the riot act read to me for not having done something...whatever it may be.

It's not as if I haven't thought about it--but in my position, when you have been neglected and rejected one too many times, the delight of even trying goes out the door faster than the dog when chasing a cat. I learned early on that I would much rather keep it to myself than admit to anything. As I told a friend recently--if I did like someone, they would never know it--ever. I would rather keep a friend than lose one. Its just the way it is.

But I see the way people behave. As my friend, Steve, tells me: my heart is just too good. He's right--and I've come to realize it. I'm a modern day Pollyanna.

I learned this my first year in the BA program. I listened to this group of people talk about their lives: divorce, abusive parents, alcoholic parents/spouses/self, drug addiction, rape, gang activity. I sat there...and thought. My parents have been married for almost 35 years--happily I may add, I drink maybe three or four times a year, hate smoking and only take Aleve to knock out my chronic headaches. My assistant says I don't know how to say no...even if it would make my life easier.

She's right. I don't know how to say no in the right situations...and for that matter, I don't know how to say yes in others. I tend to internalize everything that goes on with those around me--and try to find an answer where everyone wins--and then feel horrible when it doesn't work.

Part of the price of being an optimist, I think.

Own of my best friends calls me the "eternal optimist" or that I hope for the best no matter what the situation. If I can't have it for myself--then I hope it happens for another.

Yet I find myself getting discouraged more and more--from whatever it is, that is currently on my mind. Take my endeavor to lose weight...

My mother, years ago, lost a tremendous amount--while I seemed to gain. Slowly, over the yeears, it has returned. So I decide to do something about mine--since the outlook on the health front doesn't look to great--and to finally know what it would be like to be a normal weight--is part of it...but this time, it is for me.

Damn, off topic again...back on

Instead of trying to support me--mom buys crap all the time: cheetos, licorice. I mean, I splurge--once or twice a week on something small. She came home last week with the following: A bag of jelly belly (my weakness), a cadbury cream egg, a bag of Brach's candy from the bulk bins, a box of marshmallow peeps, a three pack hostess cupcake and three pack hostess twinkie--plus two regular sodas. Self defeating. I tossed the twinkies, stretched the jelly beans (after weeding out the gross ones which I give to my dog), made the peeps last all week as well as the brachs.

In other words--I don't think she wants that change. Maybe she is afraid if I do lose my weight, I will leave...but that will happen sooner or later, regardless of what happens. It is discouraging...and then to hear about relationships as if she is the great knower of all things romantic: then even basically telling me that I will not be intimate with anyone before I am married (!!!!!!!!!). Wow. I feel so good about myself...

What is also bad--which I haven't mentioned to anyone before my fiercest supporter--my dad-well, the possibility that he won't be alive anymore after April 9 scares the hell out of me. Never once has he been negative (nor will I...he will be here after the 9...he's dad after all...). He doesn't bring home crap with the expectation that I will eat it. There is nothing in the world like having him hold out his hand and putting a little strawberry creme lifesaver in it--because he thinks I need to be sweet.

After all...he knows me better than most people. He always encouraged me--taught me much of what I know (yep, I can change a tire, mow the lawn and saw on trees). There is an old thing about how women look for men like their dads--maybe that is true. Then again, there is no one quite like him. (Add to this the mystery of what dad looks like without his beard--and you get the gist--I know I never have except in pictures).

But back to being an underdog: if not being an underdog means I have to sell myself short--by changing all over to be what others want, they can forget it. I will not undermine my intelligence, or my wit, my wicked sense of humor or any talents I may possess. You take me as I am or not at all.

Being alone wouldn't be so bad if I knew what i was missing. The mixed messages from those around range from how much I miss to how dreadful, messy and disturbing relationships are. I want to be the judge. And I suppose if it doesn't happen...

So until such time--I will live through the characters of my creation, or those others have created. I can give them soul and voices and make them do what I wish. I can even make them dance...or love or hate. I can live through them and give them everything that I would I want if given just a chance.

It also means I can continue to have the theme songs of my life: From Abba, to Elton, to the Go-Go's to Duran Duran. Any song will do...underdogs have to have something that gives them hope. The optimist in me says--one day will come--and I'll be ready for it.