Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Musings from Spaceship Earth June 28, 2008

I recently read that Buckminster Fuller (who I barely knew existed a few brief months ago, and now have a full-blown fascination with after somehow running across his “almost suicide” story and thus learning of his subsequent astounding feats of thinking, imagination, and innovation) opposed teaching children about “sunrise” and “sunset” because the earth itself is satellite in motion, a beautiful spaceship. I think somehow that the pervasiveness of such ideas as the sun ‘rising” and “setting” ties back to the world of ancient myths and the need to see ourselves as the center of some great play. On the other hand, we are all stars of some great play – our own story – no matter how mundane or commonplace it may seem. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, we only get one shot at life and being human, and we may as well make the most of it.


Last night I was watching a re-run of the final episodes of Project Runway Season three. After Jeffrey wins, he says something to the effect of, “It’s all just vibrations. It can be anything you want it to be,” and I was struck that I’d never heard him say this before. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure he said it the four or five times I watched it previously (yes, I am a total Project Runway fanatic, and I don’t mind watching and re-watching episodes I’ve already seen before, as is the Bravo way), it’s just that this time I heard him. Once in a while this reality, this fact of quantum physics, hits me and the truth that this computer keyboard feels hard to me, but it’s really just atoms – just like I am – trips me out. If I start thinking about that kind of stuff too much, my brain boggles. I do believe it’s true; I just haven’t had much success harnessing those atoms or vibrations in my favor. On the other hand, as I’ve come to learn from therapy, until we heal our shit, we continue to pull the same pre-programmed patterns (and toxic people in different bodies) our way. It’s our subconscious’ efforts to “get it right,” only it doesn’t work.


Anyway, back to Jeffrey, even though he had some jerk moments, I thought he was one of the more fascinating people to come through the Project. I always like to see people who have struggled and hit bottom bounce and come back bigger and better than they may have been without the struggle. Although I’m happily, gratefully not an addict, I always watched him and hoped he might inspire someone else at an extreme low point to realize that there are reasons to push beyond their troubles. Plus, the neck tattoo was a bold statement, no?


The other reason I love that show is that I absolutely marvel at their creative and technical prowess, and it is a skill that completely eludes me. When I was a Brownie I made a wrap-around skirt. Rather than go to the fabric store and get something nice, my mother dug out this hideous chunk of army green wool and saved herself $1.35 on something that was actually attractive. Hell, for all I know it was an army blanket. Anyway, I proceeded to fashion the world’s ugliest wrap-around skirt from this stuff, with the help of the Brownie leader. I probably got a badge, which was no doubt the only upside of the experience. In addition to being heinously ugly, the skirt had an unfortunate habit of coming open, as is the way with wrap-around anything and why one needs a safety pin if you’re not in the mood to flash airport security (or whomever).


I also went through a heavy-duty Grateful Dead period where I would make tons of hats and sell them before the shows. I remember more than once someone would ruthlessly diminish the quality of my work – the lack of liner or finish work on the inside, what have you – but then buy one anyway. I had some semi-good stuff going: cat in the hat hats before they were ubiquitous, jester hats (ditto), big floppy engineer’s hats that I would often do in psychedelic velvet and one and two-tailed “dragon” hats. I suppose in hindsight the belittling was a bargaining tactic, but at the time it always made me feel like a hack…so I suppose it worked. I don’t recall exactly, but I probably sold the hats cheaper than I wanted to the people that demeaned me the most. Pretty pathetic, no?


Meanwhile, I’ve had a couple dreams that I was on Project Runway. It pretty much always goes the same way: I realize I’m on the show, and I have no business being there. I’m somewhat baffled as to how I even got on, but here I am trying to create fabulous fashion despite having little talent and no skill. Maybe this is what having multiple personalities is like? You suddenly ‘come to’ wondering “how the hell did this happen?” but you decide to play along because it’s more alarming to admit you have no idea which end is up.



Anyway, I’m on the show, and I’m a train wreck. I’m like Elisa, sewing everything by hand, only not nearly so well. And yet somehow I’ve made it through the first few eliminations, which is only making my stress worse! I know I have no business being there, yet somehow I am. Just typing this, a theme of “deep down feels like a total fraud” or some such thing is becoming apparent.


Meanwhile, and in my own defense, I do make a mean last-minute Halloween costume when called upon, although this is less about sewing than creative thinking. I used to be a manager, and as a relatively young manager, I enforced some arbitrary rules I thought were “fun.” For instance, you had to dress up on Halloween if it fell on a weekday. Sometimes when I watch “The Office” I feel a little uncomfortable because I think I was on the borderline of being Michael, only without the self-awareness. Again – and thanks to therapy – I’m fairly confident if in a management position again, I’d be a little less of a fruitcake.


Back to Halloween, if you worked for me (or for someone who worked for me. Oh yes! Believe it or not, at more than one company I made it well into middle management. Once upon a time, I was burning a trail to the top. Now, not so much, but perhaps more on that later. Or perhaps not…) Anyway, if you worked for me and you showed up without a costume on, I would fashion one out of what I could find, and I was not beneath tossing paper trash out of a black trash bag (just paper trash, I swear) and fashioning a “California Raisin” (a.k.a. lose five pounds of water weight in one afternoon) or a toilet paper mummy. Those were the days…


Meanwhile, to get started on the story of my original walkabout, in addition to the loser from the Howard Johnson’s pool previously mentioned, let me set the stage for my frame of mind. It was the summer of 1992, and I was 19 years old, and burning a hole through my “Achtung Baby” tape. I had just finished my freshman year at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and – long story short – I wasn’t going back. I had transferred to Emerson College in Boston to pursue a creative writing degree (how far off that path I’ve gotten in sixteen years!) and to be with my high school sweetheart.


At least that was the plan in June, when the school year ended. However, by early July it had become pretty darn clear that he was a pathological liar. I don’t know the clinical definition, but if pathological lying can be defined as lying when there was no need, and when the truth would be just fine, then that was David. Half the time he had me thinking I was going crazy, swearing that conversations had been had, postcards sent, or events occurred that I simply couldn’t recall.


When it all came out – including such revelations as the reason he always seemed to have a last-minute emergency on the rare occasion that I needed help in the form of him driving, was because he didn’t know how to drive – I remember sitting on my dad’s couch, looking at him, and thinking, “WHO ARE YOU!?” Seemingly everything had been fraudulent, deceitful, untrue, or a plain old lie. Worse, more than once he’d let me think I was losing my mind. Thus, it should come as no shock to you that despite the fact that I had rearranged my whole life to be with him, the relationship ended.


Needless to say, when you’re that age, it’s not uncommon to think that your first love is going to last forever, and the cold reality check hit me hard. I was pretty lost. I think I really believed that we would move to Boston (he had – allegedly – gotten into Berklee College of Music. He was a very, very talented musician and artist, so I have no doubt he had the potential and they would’ve been lucky to have him, I just don’t know if he ever actually bothered to fill out the admission forms) and live the rest of our lives together. With the end of our relationship, I felt completely lost in the world, and somehow the whole country seemed too small. Thus, when I met the douche bag at the pool and he put the idea of “finding myself” in Europe in my head, it seemed like a perfectly sane idea….