Sunday, February 28, 2010

Perfecting the Lie

This is a response to Mr. London Street's post, "100 Words: Lying."

He believed me not because I am a good liar, but because he needed it to be the truth.

Too much had happened last night. Too much of which either one of us were willing to discuss. The evening was simple enough, to begin with, when my friend and I decided we should gather a large group together to go see a movie. We had a rough idea for a date and a list of all those with which we wished to share the moment. Of course, it is always simple until feelings get involved. That is when it happened: the explosion.

One cannot always predict when people are going to bump heads, and the worst part about all of this is, the fault was placed on me. As if I was supposed to just instinctively know the world would collapse with one message asking people if they are free on a Tuesday or Wednesday. "You should have known better," he said. Those words stung me. This boy, who, at one time, I considered a best friend, was attacking me. "If he is going to be there, I sure as hell ain't," he added--written not just for me to read but for everyone included on the list. And while he made a fool of himself I just sat on my end of the network shaking my head in disbelief of what had occurred within a matter of minutes.

This sudden confrontation was [and is] based on several lies: secrets his friends are not telling him, truths he is suppressing. His life has become shaded by this idea of a first, true love and things she will never tell him. "What's wrong, Jennifer?" my friend Mikey asked.
"I'd have to call you," I said. Again, this was posted for more than one to see. "Don't tell the whole fucking world my business!" he said, now probably mad at Mikey. My nerves on edge and my wit at its best, "I assure you, whatever story I am telling him is not the same one you know." I had him. He knew I did, too. He continued to try and fight it, but eventually stopped and left me to the one friend who is always there when I am upset. Of course, once everything was said and done, I did call the boy and he apologized. I tried, despite his eagerness to tell me I did nothing wrong, and we discussed the situation.

Once again, I found myself suppressing what I knew and listening to his heart break apart, as usual, over this one person in his life he swears means more to him than the world. He will never admit to himself that it is not worth the time. Even though he is willing to state that this relationship he cherishes has hurt him and been the most difficult thing he has ever gone through in his life.

While he may be a fool, he thinks he is a fool in love. How could I ever explain to him he is a fool who has fallen to love? He has been crippled by this black widow, of sorts.

Had this conversation happened face-to-face, I might have still had my wit shine through and stood on top at the end. However, I will never be a great liar for one reason: my face. I have been told, on more than one occasion, my face and eyes give me away. This may give others the advantage, however, I find it annoying. He would have known I was hiding something had we been sitting across from one another. At least on the phone all I had to worry with was my voice possibly cracking. "I don't really know," I told him--over and over again.
"Jennifer, please, this is important. Do you know something I don't?"
"No, I swear."

He believed me not because I am a good liar, but because he needed it to be the truth. I lied and it kills me. But what kills me more is while I know I could never lie to his face she has and will for the duration of their togetherness. And we all have to remind ourselves it is not our place to get involved--his friends, the ones standing beside him. Being a liar is a life-long commitment, and I would only be successful if I were to surround myself with gullible people. But when would I ever have a stimulating conversation or relationship that way? Does she never feel empty and pathetic? I am not sure how to perfect the lie, and I am not sure I want to know how either.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dollar Theatre Crowd

I would not have gone anywhere or done anything last night if I had not been invited to tag along on a little outing with a few friends. To be honest, I was completely content with sitting on my butt, working on the homework that remained, and doing nothing the rest of the night. "So, what's your answer? Are you coming with us, tonight?" Elizabeth asked. I could not say "no" to a friend who had bothered to invite me. I overlooked the fact that I was sitting in between the two roommates as they discussed their plans, thus the invitation could have merely been one of pity. Instead, I made a point to enjoy my time there. They are my friends, after all.

The dollar theatre--what a glamorous night out on the town. Of course, I should not complain. I am the last person willing to hand over my life savings just for a newly released film and undercooked popcorn. Unless, of course, the film is Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." His films deserve only the best, and by the best, I mean, I would be willing to amputate a leg and trade a kidney or two for the best seats in that house. However, this movie was not anything resembling a Tim Burton film. No, my friends decided the best choice would be "Leap Year." While I like Amy Adams' performances, and can typically handle the predictable, romantic comedy, I would not have, willingly, decided on "Leap Year" as my first choice.

Plans had changed along the way, unexpectedly, and I received a text-message from Elizabeth stating her roommates had decided not to attend the outing due to their own personal reasons. "Are you still game?" she asked. I have spent enough time with Elizabeth to know when she was eager [desperate] for a "yes." I told her I was still interested. After all, I had it already in my mind that I would be attending a late movie, and Elizabeth knows how to make things entertaining.

During the drive, I was picturing the rundown look to the building one can expect. Dollar theatres have a strange smell and strange collection of people who frequent the parking lots. This was far from the first time I had been to a dollar theatre, so I am not necessarily excluding myself from the aforementioned peoples, but I am sure those who have ventured to these cheap establishments, on at least one occasion, can vouch for the caustic nature of their biggest customers. I winced in the passenger seat as I thought about my last visit when a large family of five preschoolers stormed the theatre room and could not sit in one seat throughout the entire movie, shifting rows and knocking into people in the process.

We pulled into the closest parking spot. I sighed in relief. Being that it was a "school night" and it was somewhat late, hardly anyone had bothered to make the trip to the theatre. Though it is a college town, so those who did not go see a movie were probably getting high before their test the next morning or at one of those God-awful themed club nights like "Tasty Tuesdays."

The overall appearance of the theatre was not as hideous as the ones at home are. It is one thing I can say about this town: it may not be the home I have currently sitting on a pedestal, but it has a decent dollar theatre. I still refused to eat from the concession, regardless of how clean, though. Like the typical college student she is, Elizabeth paid for her ticket with nothing but coins--nickels, dimes and quarters. I could not stop laughing. "Shut up. I'm in college. I have no money." It was not a great argument, no matter if it had succeeded in stifling my pleasure, which it had not. It is a known fact, despite her sighs of being unemployed and money-less, she is not trying too hard to fix her current financial situation. Not that I am either, but that does not matter--she said it, not me.

The rooms were small, but the seats were comfortable. The room playing "Leap Year," however, had a few teenagers who looked at me and Elizabeth and chuckled. When I sneered back one of the girls turned to her boyfriend and said, "Look at that. The Irish comes to a movie about Ireland." A look of disappointment struck my face. It is bad enough I have the stereotypical hotheadedness, I do not need an immature, high school student making crude remarks as if I am here simply for their amusement. I graduated high school so I could escape the insensibility. I did my best to not acknowledge the comment and found a seat. As far as I know, they did not say anything else the rest of the night, and Elizabeth was completely unaware anything had happened--just as we both would prefer it.

When someone directs a stereotypical remark about redheads towards me, something about the comment will leave me on edge. I have to fight the feeling of my hands clenching and breathe. Sure, I can take a joke. However, rarely do I hear it in joking. I cannot help my hair color, nor do I care to burn my follicles and scalp to change the color with which I was born. The "brunette" clearly does not share this same idea. I would love to know what she thought she was hiding under her dye-job before the sun graciously turned it purple for my own sick amusement later. At least I am not full-blooded. In which case, if I ever saw the little, snide girl again, I would probably embrace the opportunity to fully offend by drowning myself in the smells of liquor and shouting loudly in her face with a crude accent--I never could master impersonations.

When the movie was over, the group quickly exited the building. Still wide awake and happy the movie was not a dud, Elizabeth and I quickly drove over to Waffle House and ate our weight in waffles and eggs. It may have not been the best idea I have ever had, but I have never been one to count calories--I did fail math, after all, so any chance I can avoid counting anything, I take it. But I would be willing to do it again--the theatre and the eggs.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Little Time To Think

So everyone is aware, I am still the happy-go-lucky Jennifer that I have been for the past couple of weeks, I have just been caught up in my usual over-thinking. I honestly hate that about myself. If, for one day, I could shut my brain off and just stare at a wall, I would be the most content I have probably been in awhile.

When I try to think about my mother, I do not always remember a lot at one time. Films give people the disillusion that memories will fall down around them like a horrifically beautiful collage of pictures and home movies, but it never happens that way. I have an unfortunately good memory--part of the reason why I have a tendency to dwell on things--however, when I try to remember things about loved ones I have lost, I typically draw a blank.

Sunday night, I had finished packing and was ready to tuck myself in bed before I make the long trip back to campus, when I found a picture of my mother on my wall. It was of my mother, Lynn Gleason, before she started her treatments. I studied the picture for awhile and suddenly realized the face smiling back at me was slightly unfamiliar. This thought was not comforted with my poor memory of her, either.

I spent so much time being angry and only really remembering some of the worst memories, I had forgotten who my mother was--the woman everyone else saw. I felt like a despicable human being. Sunday night, the worst of the memories flooded back and I remembered the days of being a rebellious bitch of a daughter at 14-years old and could not believe some of the things I had said and done to her. And despite all of it, she loved me more than any other woman could. She was an amazing mother and I never gave her enough credit. I can only hope she has forgiven me by now.

The worst thing a person can do is dwell on the bad or make a bad situation worse by forgetting what made life worth living "back then." We all need people, and even adults need their parents. I am fortunate enough to still have my father and to have my stepmother in my life, but I can never forget I did have an actual mother who cared for me more than I was willing to give in return sometimes. In more ways than I would have been willing to admit even a year ago, she is the reason I am here today doing what I am doing. It may sound sappy, but people need to know how much they mean to others. I try to let the ones in my life know, and I hope they do understand just how much I need them and love them.

When given that little bit of time to think, Sunday night, I realized I have been given the chance to finally start healing and understanding who my mother was and how much she meant to me--thoughts I had been shoving aside for too long. I am experiencing some of the more painful aspects of this at the moment, but I am actually happy about it. I never turn away the process of healing. Being bitter hurts more.

Related Post: How Writing and My Mother's Nagging Saved Me

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grilled Chicken Salad

Photo Source

One weekend can feel like an eternity when I return to campus. I feel years behind those who decided to stick it out and stay. I ran home and now I feel as if everyone I have made connections with has to catch me up on their life. But I was only gone for three days.

So many stories have molested my ears and filled my head, I am surprised I did not call out for an aspirin. Food is the best way to swap stories. And that was precisely what my roommate and I did after I returned from my somewhat uneventful philosophy class--group assignments lead to little brain activity, thus, I felt disturbingly tired.

The latest hot spot for this semester--typically infested by many with which I would not want to be trapped in an elevator--was eerily vacant for the afternoon. Cieanna and I made our way to one of the restaurants inside, ordered a quick meal and received the annoying, buzzing, flashing plastic discs that alarm the customer of their food waiting for their consumption. I hate those discs. I had just gotten my drink from the fountain when mine began "alerting" me, quite violently actually, of the salad set out on the counter. Cieanna's quickly mimicked the same noise and we promptly found a place to sit and enjoy our meal.

A grilled chicken salad--that is what they call it. The chicken does not look grilled. The leaves were not just lettuce, but a mixture of red cabbage, spinach and romaine and iceberg lettuce. The tomatoes and onions were left for me to chop as I please. Because of this, I just tossed them to the side. It was a good salad, just unexpected. Cieanna kept it safe: chicken tenders and fries. While I attempted to attack the large bowl of salad, she spoke.

"I can't believe I did it, Jennifer," she said.

I could not believe it either. Though the details shall remain scant, I am sure she will be thinking differently about how she handles herself. I am gone for a weekend, and she ensues a possible riot. It would not be the first time she has done something weird over the period of a short weekend, but her feelings about her decisions seem to intensify as the year presses on. I try to not make a point to judge, but listen. It is not like I have not put myself in dumber, though not necessarily similar, situations.

She finished her food before I did. There was something in her voice as she spoke. Words were coming, however her mind seemed to be still reeling over the details, and as the empty words fell from her, clearly only for her benefit, I just sat in my seat quietly trying to stab a flimsy, plastic fork through a fresh, rather large, crouton. One thing that pleases me: they use fresh, buttery croutons. Even Truett's does not accommodate me in such a way. Changes one's whole idea of the salad.

"So, what have we learned from this experience?" I said, rather sarcastically, once she had dotted the last "i" of her thoughts.

Cieanna then gave me the look. She and I both knew as long as she was still here, it would be more than difficult to escape these types of situations. She had already made the riotous connections.

"I know I don't want to be that type of person," she said. A good decision given the circumstances.

The ranch dressing the restaurant gave me was hardly enough for the entire salad. I suppose it is to keep me from soaking my salad and turning my rather healthy meal into a fattening party for my easily expandable stomach. They must know me and my eating habits. However, if they were, indeed, such amazing foreseers, they would have known I would want more ranch, thus, to be good servers, would have presented me with a size option on the amount of ranch--or dressing of my choice--I am allowed to drizzle onto the plethora of leaves and veggies handed to me in the large, porcelain bowl. During my roommate's slew of thoughts, I was contemplating how to distribute the contents of the plastic cup evenly. About a second after I began, I quickly gave up and began stabbing my remaining croutons again.

Her stories reminded me of mine from this past weekend. There was not a lot to say, but I am known for remember more details than some, so I was able to conjure up a nice small tale when asked, "What did you do this weekend while you were home?"

"Not much... I mean..." I sat there thinking, "Should I tell the story--the one real story I have?" I decided to make things even, I would. After all, she knew I would not be able to top her this afternoon. I was, after all, only home. I did not go to the city and hit up some big club. (As if I would.)

Surprisingly enough, I did not bore her. My story required a quick backtrack of history between characters and their relation to me, but she listened. After I had finished, it was interesting the conclusion to which I had arrived. Some of the characters in my life are just as wilted and repulsive as the salad's leaves had become over the course of my meal. I kept such a thought to myself and laughed internally. Three hours from here, I have stories full of characters who live in the past, or have trapped themselves in situations they could have avoided. Right now, my roommate and I were sitting at a table in a university, with a world of more stories still untold and characters still unmet, and we both are two people determined to not allow ourselves to be stuck in a rut. We know what we want, and are preparing ourselves for the future.

I love those characters at home, however, their complaints leave me shaking my head later. I guess it is safe to say, I learn from their mistakes. While I have never been one to shy away from routine, I am not going to let myself get so caught in it I begin to hate the routine.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Real Snow

(The beginnings of the snow.)

We traveled through rain, sleet and snow to get back home--a 2-1/2 hour drive back to familiar territory. By the time I was settled in my room and being attacked, lovingly, by three huge dogs, the snow had compounded into mountainous, marshmallow mounds. I was more than thrilled when the snowflakes grew in size and increased in numbers, and I stood outside for a long time basking in my gift. The second snow of the season, and I was able to be home for both. And as the day turned into night the snow did not cease, nor did its beauty.

I never realized how much brighter the night can appear due to snow. Suddenly, the whole word is one reflective, soft blanket. Friday, my hometown received its first real snow in a long time. And I am still getting used to the idea. All this white stuff fills every corner and crevice of my neighborhood. As far as the view from my window will stretch, there is not a branch, roof or yard untouched by this Heavenly gift. Typically, if it snows here, it is a strange combination of sleet and snow, utlimately resulting in the icy decoration that makes for brutal snowball fights. Locals get excited, assuming it is all we will ever see so we must bask in the moment. However, 2010 has not only brought with it the hard stuff, but the inches upon inches of the fluffy white stuff that has been spoken of by Northerners and celebrated in music and movies across the board.

(Friday evening, changing into night.)

The night, which would generally stand as a much darker and scarier time, seemed to be lifted by the snow. The sky was a bit bluer and if one was to look hard enough, the discovery of a few stars in the sky might have been made. The view looked almost unrealistic, but that is also why I have found it to be one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. I admit, I have not been as many places as some, but I know what beautiful is. Last night was it. While most of it has turned to ice and slush, and become a bit of a roadway hazard, I still had the best seat in the house.

(Saturday morning.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Painted Wings

It is amazing how my entire outlook on a week can change within just one night. And when I say this, I mean for the better. I have not had many teachers support me quite like the one I have now. Sure, family and friends are always there for me, but for someone who has seen my work and my dedication push so hard for me to succeed, it means more than any grandparents' kiss on the forehead. I would love very much to sit here and recap as much from last night as I can remember, however, I do not want to bore anyone or make it seem as though I am gloating. Let me just say this is, quite honestly, the first time a conversation with a teacher has begun with the infamous, "I need to see you after class," and ended with me grinning so hard it felt as though my face might explode. I could not tell you the last time I have ever had a good conversation with a teacher, particularly an English teacher. Too many of them had formed their own opinions about me--often prematurely--and, though they did try to hide it, were horrible liars. I had gotten used to the idea of not getting along with them. I have been known to say what is on my mind, and often without regard to if a teacher enjoys my negative views of Earnest Hemingway or if I think it is okay, given a reason, to serve someone a "knuckle-sandwich."

While my confidence in my writing and my success in the future is still not quite up to the confidence my English professor has in me, it is definitely a boost to hear that someone I really admire cares about how far I go in this field.

Until last night, I was starting to fall from the idea of concentrating in journalism; it has felt like an eternity since I left my high school's paper, and I desperately miss the atmosphere and the feeling of truly accomplishing something. I was in turmoil about my decision, until last night, when my professor showed me just how much it could benefit me by continuing to press forward with the idea I had fallen in love with two years ago. I have found my inspiration again in my writing and my reasoning for doing this. And as I sit here, I wonder how I could have ever lost it... I look at language just as poetically/romantically as I do my photography, and even when I spend a day with my Canon and no pencil in sight, I am still thinking, contemplating, titles and concepts for pictures and letting music lead the way--all of which require words.

I know wherever life takes me I will be writing, and it will not just be for my own personal gain. I cannot remember my life without some form of written language in it--whether I was reading it or writing it. I have worked too hard to not do whatever it takes to get where I want to be in life. It may very well be that I continue down this path of journalistic writing and decide to change later. However, I know my passion for language will never falter in the process. Especially when I have the support system, here at school and at home, counting on me and believing in me as much as they do.

I thank God for all of the wonderful people in my life. My spirits have been lifted, and, at this moment, I feel as though I could fly.