Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Long and Winding Road Through Jen's Brain

I hate my next door neighbors. It's heart-racing, vitriol-inducing, teenage-drama hate. When the weather is nice on weekends and often on week days, our neighbors (in their late-teens and early twenties) will gather on their stoop, sometimes to party, sometimes to drink, sometimes to cheer on racing cars or motorcycles, and sometimes just to yell and scream at each other. Unfortunately, the bedroom of our third-floor brownstone apartment faces the street, allowing us to hear every shout, laugh and revving engine.

On Friday night, Matt went to bed before I did, and when I joined him around midnight, I was annoyed, but not surprised at the ruckus outside. (The neighbors make me feel so old and grumpy that I like to use old-lady words like ‘ruckus’ and ‘hullabaloo.’ Of course, I also use words like ‘asshole’ and ‘douchebag.’)

On most nights, I can tune out the noise and, breathing deeply, lull myself to sleep. One of the many therapists I saw as a kid taught me some breathing exercises that continue to come in handy. Friday night was not one of those nights. Instead of being able to breathe calmly, I did the other thing that I do in these situations: get obsessive.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I have a mild form of a rare, weird obsessive compulsive disorder and once I start getting into my head, it’s hard to stop.

So, naturally, first I start thinking about how much I hate my neighbors. How I want to pour boiling oil on them from my windows or, at the very least, shoot them in the neck with a BB gun. (No, I do not own a BB gun). How dare they stand outside yelling and screaming like hooligans? (Oooh, I also like the word ‘hooligans.’)

And then I start going back to other things I’ve been obsessing about lately. First stop: Wedding Land. Starting small, I begin to obsess about how much I hate the way my bangs were in most of the pictures and quickly move on to how I’m still angry about the kid bullshit. And how even though Matt has already let it go, I don’t think I’ll ever forgive my brothers and sisters-in-law for making Matt cry on our wedding day. Ever.

On to the present thing. I don't really care about the people who didn't give us presents who didn't come to the wedding. It's kind of strange, but whatever. What I do care about is the three sets of good friends who came to the wedding and never gave us gifts. Two of the couples are married and recipients of generous gifts from us. I just think it’s rude and weird. I mean, did they forget? One of the couples sent a thank you note a year after their own wedding last August, so they’re not the timeliest people, but our wedding was two and a half months ago. I know traveling for weddings is expensive, and certainly if someone told us they weren’t able to come and get us a gift, we would have definitely told them to forget a gift, but I don’t think that’s a problem. And I’ve already bitched about this too much to Matt and to a couple of friends that I’ve been admonished several times to ‘forget about it’ and ‘move on,’ so I’m stuck thinking about it in my noisy bedroom.

So after thinking about ways other people have wronged me, it's time to focus on what I'm doing wrong. I start thinking about how maybe I shouldn't have quit my job. And then the questions. Why aren't I working more on my book proposal? Why aren't I making art? What's wrong with me? And why am I so hot? It's because I'm getting myself upset.

I get out of bed to call the cops. The precinct number is programmed in Matt's phone to make for easy middle of the night tattle-taleing. Sitting on the couch, I tell the officer my complaint, then make my second call, this one to 311 so they can keep a log of the incidents.

When did this become my life? How did I become this un-fun, cranky person who not only doesn't party on Fridays, tells on people who do?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Night of Fandom

I've never been a 'team' person. What I mean is, I've never really rooted for anything or anyone. When I was in high school, I usually snuck a notebook into assemblies and cultivated active disdain for sports players and cheerleaders. I'm not a fan of any sports team and don't understand why others are. But for one night, on Tuesday, November 4th, I finally felt swept up, rooting for someone, something bigger than me.

Beginning at 6 pm, I spent the evening on the verge of tears. Matt thought I was being silly since he had been absolutely convinced for three weeks that Obama was going to win, but I don't trust people, especially Americans en masse. So, all night long I almost cried when I thought McCain could win, and when it became obvious that it was Obama's victory, I got teary thinking how proud I was of my country, how happy I was that my president was smarter than me, and how lucky I was to be an American. I felt patriotic! For the first time ever! I wanted to hug strangers but since I was at home I just manically updated my Facebook status.

The next day, it was my mom who actually made me cry. We were talking about how she as a life-long hard-core Democrat usually voted against her economic interests, and how my dad's staff as conservative Republicans usually voted again their economic interests. "Well, I don't just vote for me," she told me, "I vote for you and your sister and your kids." I got choked up thinking how great out country would be if everyone voted with their kids and grandkids in mind.

And now, nearly a week later, my fandom has wained a little, but I'm still excited that I got to participate in making history. That my sister's baby will be born in the same year that Obama takes office. And that just maybe I can actually believe in someone.