Oh, to be different…

I have always wished I was different than how I am.  It is something that is a constant with me.  I am better about it now, but I can remember a time when I would involuntarily replay some exchange where I came off as an idiot (there is a lot of material for this) over and over.  I have managed to get over myself enough to where I don’t do it as much anymore, but it still happens from time to time.  I wish I could figure out how to stop it, but so far I have not. 

A few posts ago I said that I was going to box up my 20s and 30s and not think about them anymore, just apply the lessons I have learned during them and not worry too much about the way I learned those lessons.  I figure by the time I am 50 I will have forgotten enough of the details and sufficiently rewritten the facts enough in my mind that I will be able to look back on that time with nostalgia rather than shame.  That is the working hypothesis so far, anyway. 

So in true self (over) analytical style, to start off the New Year I will tell you some of the things I hate about myself.  Or at least some of the things I have always wished were different about myself.  This is not a bid for sympathy or empathy or praise, it is an attempt at acceptance and maybe a step towards change.  At the very least, I think having some of the worst of myself out there will help me overcome the need to dwell on it or try and hide it.  That way I can get over it.  I also am planning on writing something about all the things I like about me, although I have a feeling it will be a shorter post.  So here goes…9 things I wish were different about me.  Read at your own risk, folks.

I have always wished to be funny.

I cannot tell a joke.  I cannot even remember one.  I have heard hundreds and there is not a single one I can tell you.  I may be able to pull off a humorous self-deprecating story or relate an absurd account of some situation in which I found myself (like the time I accidentally locked myself out of a hotel in Allentown, PA barefoot clad in only long john pants and a sweater in DECEMBER).  To me, however, that is not “being funny.”  I am not a master of storytelling or juxtaposition.  And the one thing I cannot do for the life of me that I have always wished beyond hope for is to be able to make shit up.  Like fiction.  I envy Stephen King and Mark Twain with every fiber of my being.  Hell, I envy much more sub-par writers than those. There have been plenty of times in my life people thought I was funny.  The problem is that I was not intending to be – embarrasing.

I have always wished for an easy self-assured confidence that seems to come naturally to some people. 

I have friends who are like that.  I am married to someone who is like that.  I am not like that.  When around other people I am nervous, twitchy and have to hide the fact that I am probably a bit sweaty in unsightly places.  There are very few people on the planet I can truly be at ease with.  I cherish them. With everyone else, my mind is reeling, my laugh is a little too loud, my speech is a little too fast and words tumble out without full consideration of what they will sound like.  I will spend hours thinking about what they sounded like and how they were taken later – but NEVER do I do this before they fall out of my huge, un-hinged yaw.  I have tried to keep quiet and clasp my hands demurely in my lap, but I sweat more then as if the unsaid words raise my body temperature and I rarely can hold it in as they build both heat and steam.  If I do, by the grace of God manage to keep my mouth shut, instead of going over my words later, I spend the time thinking of all the things I should have said.  You know, the things I should have said to make me look smart, witty and fun. 

I have always wished for grace.

My maiden name, ironically, is Grace.  God hath a sense of humor.  I am not graceful.  I am awkward.  I posted earlier about my lack of physical ability.  I did not exaggerate.  I may be able to play Frisbee, but I am doubtful even on that.  There are some people who have a natural movement that is languid and inherently poised.  Not I.  Now, I do dance.  I dance a lot.  I will dance in front of a room full of people sitting on their collective asses, especially if alcohol is introduced into the equation – but I will also do it stone cold sober.  In fact, the night I met Jay I was doing just that.  I do not know why it is the one area in which I am un-self-conscious.  I cannot explain it, it just is.  Since I cannot see myself I am clueless as to how I look and if there were a way for me to find out, I would never want to know.  It is my one area of blissful ignorance and I fully intend to keep it that way.  I just wish I was not the girl who trips up and down the stairs (sober), can fall over a shadow and does not constantly have bruises, scrapes and cuts I cannot explain.  Oh, and it would be really cool to be the one who catches people’s eye not because she just missed a step and fell on her face but because she is so naturally graceful you think she has feline DNA. 

I have always wished for belief.

Now, that is not to say I have not been comically gullible in my life.  In some ways I still am.  There are some areas of knowledge about which I am so woefully ignorant that you could convince me of outlandish things (math, physics and musicians come to mind).  But I have never been one who just bought an idea.  I was raised in an extremely conservative Christian home.  I cannot ever remember fitting in.  Ever.  Ironically, in my younger days I was picked on for being too much of a goody-two-shoes.  However, at least one of those same people have now un-friended me on Facebook due to my sacrilegious and egregiously irreverent ideals – not to mention my heretical lifestyle (I’ve been divorced – more than twice, even – was pregnant when I got married – twice – I don’t go to church on Sundays – or Sunday nights and Wednesday nights – and if I do go, it is to a – wait for it – denominational church.  I have even gone to a priest for confession, although I am not Catholic). But in a bid for brutal honesty here, I am still agnostic. And even though this is the truth, it scares the hell out of me.  I don’t know what it is about religion and the nature of the universe and humans in general, but I cannot help but have questions.  My parents and people I grew up with believe they have the answers to those questions.  I don’t think there is any way that anyone can.  It is not that I don’t have any beliefs, it is just that the ones I do hold lead to more questions than answers.  And I was not raised in such a way as to welcome questions.  They welcomed rules – and that just does not work for me.

I have wished for beauty. 

I have always wished for the beauty, grace and demureness of someone like Nicole Kidman.  That stature, talent, confidence – no to mention the curly red hair, blue eyes and flawless skin.  Well, I do have blue eyes.  Thanks to the wonder of science, I can make sure my hair stays the shade of red I want it to be.  Skin?  Eh, it could be worse.  Nothing can be done about my height, my freckles and the fact that I am, unlike my daughter Greta, not one whose natural attributes are visible without a bit of makeup. My eyebrows and eyelashes disappear.  My freckles add to the general patchiness of my complexion.  With makeup I can both control and bring those things out, but I am one of those who will even have makeup on when it does not look like I have makeup on.  Greta has beautifully arched dark eyebrows and eyelashes that are long and naturally curled.  She did not get them from me.  She also has hair that looks amazing when she just gets out of the shower and lets it air dry.  I have at least 3 products in my hair right now insuring that it looks naturally thick and curled.  And trust me, even with the makeup and the hair products I am not looking ready to grace the cover of Elle.  Greta has a better chance bare-faced. 

I have always wished for intellect.

My mother told me that when I was a young child I knew every nursery rhyme by heart and my parents thought I was gifted – then I got to school and they found out I was just average like everyone else. (I kind of wish she’d kept that little tidbit of information to herself.  I really did not need to know that.)  I am good with words, but I am one of many who are just that – good with words.  I read a lot. I was not some high minded intellectual who read for knowledge’s sake.  I was a scared kid who found it better to be absorbed in a book as an escape than actually hear the other kids around me.  I could immerse myself in a pretty good story and tune everything else out – from bitchy teachers to teasing kids to my annoying mother.  So I learned a lot about how sentences were structured and what things should sound like from Carolyn Keene, Madeline L’Engle, Aldous Huxley, etc.  But none of that seemed smart.  I wanted to understand things in math so I did not sound like a fool or have to stay after class and listen to teachers say phrases like “apply yourself.” I wanted to see the interconnectedness of math to science and music and everything surrounding me so that I could explain my deep insights to others.  I didn’t want to always be the one who “just didn’t get it.” But I always am. 

I wished for talent. 

At one point in my life I thought I had a good voice.  Not a mindblowingly awesome Elizabeth Church, Ella Fitzgerald, Julie Andrews, Patsy Cline or Karen Carpenter voice, but a good one.  I could sing.  My voice was strong.  It came easy to me. I’ve won a couple of medals and one day I will tell you about trying out for the All State Chorus when I was a Junior in high school (I made it, just so you know), but there has always been someone better and I suffered from horrible stage fright. But even music didn’t come easy to me. I never managed to learn to read it.  I never learned to play and instrument. At least I was better with music than I was with Art. I cannot draw a stick figure to anyone’s satisfaction. I was the only person I know who pulled Cs in both Art and PE from middle school to graduation.  While my mind is not concrete enough in its thinking to grasp math and physics, it is also not sufficiently free enough to soar into the heights of Art, and certainly not reach the level where they all combine into something that surpasses each of them alone.  I understand that such a place exists, as much as I understand that Saturn exists, has rings and orbits the Sun.  Beyond knowledge of a reciteable fact, I have no understanding of it and the import it has.  I know people do have that level of knowledge and comprehension, but I am not among them. 

I have always wished for hope.

I know people who have a disposition that makes them popular and well-liked.  They warm up a place when they come into it.  They have an inherent belief in the goodness of mankind and the ultimate positive outcome of every situation.  They radiate good vibes and nothing ever seems to get them down.  They are unflappable, having a knowledge that the rest of us seem to lack. By virtue of this, they are irresistible to all of us and we want nothing more than to be in their presence.  Even my awkward and graceless self feels more at ease when they are around.  They bring out the best in everyone.  They seem never to need a drink or to think about taking Prozac.  There is no question for them of whether good will triumph over evil.  Karma is their friend and they have nothing to fear. Since I am not among their number, I will cherish the friends I have who are and try and spend more time with them.  Without being seen as some stalkerish admirerer who makes them uncomfortable and they try to get away from me.  You know, like every character Zach Galifianakis has every played.

I have always wished for discipline.

I lack the ability to follow through with things.  I am a procrastinator.  I am lazy.  I am the kind of person who can spend an entire Saturday on the couch doing nothing.  I have even managed to do this after having kids.  My house is generally clean and picked up. I like things put way and get all nervous and touchy if they house is a mess.  If someone had to come home with me today from work, it would be ok.  Mind you, if I were having guests I would want to have a week’s notice and buy some new rubber gloves, but if someone just popped in, I would not find myself embarrassed.  This past weekend Greta was with friends and Ezra was at his dad’s and Jay and I did not get out of bed until noon either day. (And, yes, we have still managed this with a new baby, as well.  Be jealous.)  I am not ashamed.  I know people who would think this was insane.  They make plans and do things.  Go shopping and plant gardens, that kind of thing.  I cannot grow a plant in water (just ask my houseplants who are are all hydroponically grown and all near death), so I have no intention of attempting dirt.  I will not go jogging or wake at 6a and walk the neighborhood.  I’d rather bitch about the 10 lbs I need to lose than actually lose them.  I wait until the last minute.  Constantly.  People who don’t both shame and annoy me. 

So there they are.  Now I have to come up with 9 things I would not change about myself.   Hmmmm. Wonder what those will be.

  1. Like you, I can’t remember jokes, not even 8 minutes later!

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