Camouflage

Posted: September 28, 2015 in Army
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Basic training was really hard for me. Not because of the physical stress, but because I was ugly for 6 weeks and had nowhere to hide. I was forced to go with no make-up or haircare and every ugly molecule, cell,  and hair was out in the open taunting me, reminding me that I was ugly.  I had never been confident, nor beautiful, and had never been referred to as “hot”, and now, I had no make-up to camouflage my large Jewish nose, and my limp hair layer against my face and if it was framing my ugliness like a photo that would always be there.

I realized at an early age that I was not cute, and would never be popular.  Read the rest of this entry »

Resting Bitch Face

Posted: September 22, 2015 in Army
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In less than a month I leave for the U.S Army, and I am in for 5 years. I am alternating between not wanting to go and not caring. At 17, with one year of college behind me, I hated living at home.  I lived in the borough that invented the “resting bitch face”- Staten Island. I had blamed as much as I could on my home life a venom seemed to come out every time I opened my mouth. Any time my mom asked me anything I would reply with the bitterness of a wife who just learned her husband of 15 years was leaving her for a cute waitress.

I couldn’t study at home because it was too noisy and my grades were suffering. It was miserable to live on Staten Island and I suffered a suicide inducing 2 hour commute into Manhattan to school. My life was a mess because my mom couldn’t afford a new car for me, and I was angry at my whole family because she couldn’t afford an apartment for me in Manhattan. The Italian guidos who surrounded me on Staten Island made me feel like I was living in an illiterate leper colony- I ran from them, afraid to make any contact.

Read the rest of this entry »

I met this nice guy named Will once. I liked him, then hated him, and then liked him again. He wasn’t the typical guy I go for- he was actually really nice. We first met out one night, at a bar right outside our base when we were stationed in Korea, at the point in the night where everyone is feeling confident. He even invited me over to a BBQ in his barracks and introduced me to friends in his unit. This was nice of him, because he knew I just arrived and didn’t know too many people. Especially since my unit was small, and full of dorks. He was funny and his friends were all really cool.

But I wasn’t hot for him in the same way I was for Jason. Jason is my usual type- a total pretty-boy, player who made me feel good about myself when I was able to get his attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Not being in a relationship was like the box of doughnuts left out in the office when you are on a diet. You tell yourself that the hummus and carrots you have is just what you want, but you can’t help but look. You see people picking out something delicious, while you try to convince yourself that you don’t want one. It’s the same things I walk around in NY City- surrounded by good looking men and wondering why I can’t get one.  Seeing couples around every corner and telling myself that I am happy with what I have. Read the rest of this entry »

Contrary to most teenagers, I didn’t drink much during my high school years. But by my senior year I had done almost every drug possible. My Dad like to tell of the time he asked me if I was doing drugs and my response was “Which ones?”.  My years of teenage angst were during the high point of NY nightlife back before Giuliani took over as mayor and cleaned the city up. Before there was bottle service at clubs, there was rampant drug use and overpriced water bottles. Before there were transgendered reality shows, there were transsexual club kids who could put any supermodel to shame. And this was my playground.

My rationale for drug use was twofold:1. It’s better to experiment as a teen, rather than a 40 year old with a family. (Logically speaking, it just makes more sense to go through this phase early in life.) 2. I was in honors classes, kept up my grades, and also worked almost 30 hours a week waitressing. Hence, I was a responsible person who would could be trusted not to let recreational drug use affect her. By the end of my senior year I had done every drug, except smoke crack. And I had taken most of them together, in the same night.

After telling my waitressing job at the mall that I was taking an art class on Sunday’s and needed the day off, my Saturday evenings were free to delve into a variety of drugs, realities, and experiences.  None of which included hooking up with guys. Apparently, my lack of guys or sexual experience was beyond the help of illegal mind altering substances. I even remember paying to purchase half a roofie one time at a party. I guess thats when you know the drug and party scene is hot in NY, nothing is free, and everything is marketed as a fun new substance that’s out on the market now. I bought a half roofie, from a cute bleach blonde kid, who was apparently the boy-toy of a well known gay club kid/promoter (yes, back then we didn’t call them promoters, they were called “club kids”). He was really hot, and hot enough that I knew I didn’t stand a chance with him. That’s why I was really surprised and almost suspicious when he started giving me complements. By the end of the night he had asked for my number, and when he actually called to tell me he would be going to Disco200 party at Limelight (a huge church that had been turned into a mega-club filled with various themes rooms) the next week, I didn’t let anything get in my way of going.

That Wednesday night I trooped it into the city on the Staten Island ferry with my side kick, an Indian girl who I corrupted and was now into clubbing just as much as I was, although with less drug use. We sat outside the church which was now crawling with all types of crazy looking people, and split a 40 oz of beer between us that we bought from the bodega on the corner. We didn’t have any drugs on us, so getting our buzz on that night consistent of some cheap beer. Eager to get inside, we were rushing the drinking process and chugging it down. Due to my high drug use, my drinking tolerance was pretty low. We drank too much, too fast, so we could get inside the Limelight before the bridge and tunnel guido crowd got there, so we could have all the cool kids to ourselves. (To clarify, Staten Island, where I lived, could technically be considered bridge and tunnel, but anyone with substantial piercings or dressed as a legit club kid got a pass).

We got inside and wandered around the different themed rooms playing all kinds of techno and filled with lots of latex made outfits, mega-high platforms, and an abundance of piercing and hair colors. Soon enough, I ran into my cute boy. He immediately offered us a bump of Special K, which we immediately took. (For those of you who have never experienced Special K, its actually a horse tranquilizer that, when used on humans, gets you pretty fucked up) I then split us from my sidekick to accompany him to a couch, where he gave me another bump of K. Due to my lack of drinking experience, I was unaware at the time that Special K does not mix with alcohol. I remember not feeling well and laying back on the couch as he kissed me (does it count as a kiss if you didn’t kiss back?). And I remember going into a K-hole, which basically means I was really fucked up.

I don’t remember when he left my side, but I remember finding myself all alone on a red couch feeling horrible and wanting to throw up. I got up to go to the unisex bathroom and ran into my freind. As a friend, it was her duty to help me throw up with dignity. I threw up in a stall and then sat on the bench in the bathroom area. The place was full of drag queens and regular club goers all walking past to go into the toilet to snort their drugs, fix their hair, or give a quick blow job. I sat there sick and unable to get up. My head was between my knees and I was just sitting there with puke running down my lips and onto my nose and then dripping down on the floor.  Nothing but sitting and throwing up was possible at the moment and all I could do was comply and wait for it to pass. The good thing about Special K was that it passed through your system fast. It was probably one of the best drugs to do if you were a responsible person, since there was no crash or hangover from it the next day and it wore off quickly. This was of course, as long as you didn’t mix it with alcohol. Then you are fucked. Just like I was at that moment.

I sat there heaving with my head down, leaving the puke to just drip off my nose. I gave my friend permission to leave me alone and go off and enjoy without me, but to come back regularly to check on me. After what seemed like a month, the need to vomit passed, my head stopped spinning, and I was already feeling better. Again, I give credit to Special K being a great drug, in that as miserable as a k-hole can be, it passes and then you feel almost no effect of it. Aside from embarrassment. I was finally able to wipe the vomit off my face and sit up and I look around to see just how busy the bathroom area was. I faintly remembered a few people coming up to me asking if I was ok and rubbing my back as I managed to grunt out a believable  “uh-huh”. No one is nicer in the world than complete strangers who show genuine compassion for someone that has done too much can drugs. This was a world where bouncers don’t kick you out for getting too fucked up. As I said, this was the time before nightlife in NY became sterile and sanitized.

As I sat there regaining my strength, and drinking from a bottle of water that a concerned club goer got me, I saw my cute boy. I saw him walking out of the bathroom area holding hands with a cute blonde girl, with whom he obviously shared a bumb of Special K with in the bathroom stall. I thought about how they looked good together. How she was probably much more fitting of a girl to be dating him, and how she will probably kiss him with no issues at all. Easy come, easy go.

Even club kids need to eat after a long night out

Even club kids need to eat after a long night out

“I’m freakin awesome! Like, seriously, I am such a good catch. What man wouldn’t want me?” This is the part where, all of your girlfreinds now chime in with how great you are…. “You have the career, the killer wardrobe, the house- and that killer shoe collection, OMG!” The conversation, usually had over drinks, typically ends with someone telling you: “Men are just intimidated by you.”

Lets take a look these awesome traits:

  • You are F*in HOT. We know- you are that woman that is considered hot and never has a problem attracting a mans gaze. We see how stylish you are and how you know what works on your body (and you do work it!) We see you always walk into a room with confidence.  But, there is the irony of it all …. Hot, always having men drool all over you, yet, always single. This seems to be the case until one looks further into the situation and realizes…You’re no different than any of those other girls, desperate for attention. 
    • Lets look at the facts here: Are you really hot, or is every man looking at you because you are wearing a top that’s so low cut they are just waiting for a breast to pop out? Perhaps every gaze is following you because they are all figuring out how to get you to go home with them. And…most importantly, if you have your own car because no one plans on giving you a ride home after. So yes, maybe you feel sexy, but the truth is- that its summer and your shorts are too short. You over accessorize and  wear too much damn make up for a trip to the grocery store. The fact is: You’re desperate, and every outfit, every swipe of eye make up trying to recreate that youtube video tutorial you watched,  just screams it. But most importantly, you have to realize why you are still single. You are single because you mistake the attention you are getting for respect. All these men are drooling over you, but none of them would ever have a relationship with you. While you are sitting with your girlfriends wondering why you don’t have a boyfriend….check yourself, and make sure you aren’t walking around like Rihanna in a music video.
  • Men are intimated by you. You ARE the woman who has it all- the high-paying job, the car,  the house….but no man. Naturally, men are intimidate by your achievements, or at least this is the theory thrown around the womens-only roundtable discussion over margaritas every Friday night. Most likely, you are a Bitch.
    • Its really easy to tell the difference between a successful woman and a bitch. A successful woman is confident and doesn’t have to show it off, or look down on every one around her. A bitch, on the other hand, is  always ready with her opinion, which just so happens to be the opposite of what a man just said. “It wasn’t Friday night when you last texted, it was late afternoon”. You criticize everything about him, make constant demands, never once actually listen to his opinion, and expect to be treated like a queen when you’ve gone all day long treating him like a serf in the feudal period. There’s the difference between a bitch and a confident woman: a confident woman has her shit together, but actually respects her man. A bitch is….. single.
  • You are relationship minded. This is what puts you above all those “other” single women out there. What man wouldn’t want a woman like this? Done with the clubs, tired of all the game playing in dating, and just ready to settle down with a good man. And, the best part, you can get along with any mans momma, cook for him, and hand him a beer while he watches the game. But something just doesn’t smell right.
    • This is the woman who turns into a nagging bitch after 6 months when she starts in on “Operation: get-him-to-the-alter”. This is the woman who calculates he price of the engagement ring to make sure it costs 1/3 of his salary. This is the woman who turns into bridezilla in the months leading up to the wedding and then turns into a bitch right after the wedding. She is the one that eventually realizes that “till death do us part” is a long time to spend with a guy she doesn’t really care for. If you haven’t already guessed it, this is the “relationship-minded woman”. Just a woman who wants to be married regardless of the man, and men can smell this the second you lift up that glass of wine on your first date. No need for the men to worry….. Most of the time these “relationships” don’t make it past month two because your speed is way too fast, and you have already given him the title of boyfriend without even asking him if he is looking for a relationship. You dropped all your friends and activities by the third date, and started packing up your apartment so you can move in with him by the end of summer, even though you started dating in July. You’re single because guys can smell the desperation and, they would rather find a woman who likes them for who they are rather than just looking for a ring on their finger.

If can see some of these traits in you, can you maybe admit that you’re not as awesome as you think? And if you’re really serious about finding a man, perhaps you could just chill out with the hyper-dressed, hyper-confidence, and hyper-marriage focus, and just go out there and be yourself? You may be surprised to find that men like you for just who you are, and nothing more is needed.

However, if you are one of these ladies, things could be worse. You could be the “I-end-up-with-a-different-guy-every-weekend-and-I-am-still-single” girl.

 

It’s difficult to believe you, harder to trust you, and even more excruciating to give you the benefit of the doubt when every part of me wants to scream out in terror and tell you what I have always known: I knew you would disappoint! I knew you were too good to be true!!

It’s only a matter of time…….

Have I gotten so used to being let down by men that I can’t even bring myself to believe that what you say is true? You’ve never given me reason to doubt you, but it lingers behind every smile. A sickly cloud of grey hangs around behind every simple question. The doubt and the fear never truly go away, no matter how much logic and assurance is present. It’s always around me, bathing me in its fear.

ME: “Hey, I’m free tomorrow. Thought maybe we could hang out after work.”’ HIM: Just looking at his phone saying nothing. “Oh”

What?<<<<

“Oh”…what the hell does that mean? Is that a definitive or negative response? Is it a yes or no? Damn it!! I have no idea and now he’s gone to start his day. UGH! I bet he did it on purpose! NO…. I KNOW he did!! I know he did it on purpose! He did it to try and control me. He did it because he had to prove that I cant control him, that I cant own a piece of his time. Now he is playing a game where he wont directly tell me no, but he has no intention of ever coming over and will leave me hanging on a thread of hope over a canyon of fear. I will hang like this all day, all night, into tomorrow, every decision framed by this unknown.

I lay in bed that night as heavy, vile thoughts swirl in my head, getting faster and faster. Do I leave tomorrow open for him? Well, F*@k him!! He is the one who is playing these sick and twisted games. I should make a bunch of plans…on purpose! That will serve him right! The jerk. The sick, twisted jerk!!! I wake up the next morning with the energy of a prisoner of war who is set to show his torturer that he cannot be broken down. I will not let this man break me down!! I will preserve and fight to the death. I will go through my day and I will not let him win this game!

Its now 6 pm and I have arrived home. We texted during the day, but I did not bring up our hang out. I would not give him the power of decision. I would not give him the power to make me happy. Because…. It would make me happy. One word, “yes”. Then string that onto another word to form a sentence: Yes, see you later tonight. One small sentence like that has the power to keep me alive, to sustain me with vital nutrients. It has the power to keep oxygen flowing through my lungs, blood pumping through my heart. One small sentence like that can erase the animalistic urge to attack my tormentor and fight to the death. It can remove the murderous thoughts and replace them with hope. Perhaps there would even be room for a smile to linger, and maybe, the sound of laughter can escape from my throat pushing all blocked air trapped in my lungs out and allow me a release.

But, I see the game must go on. I see I must be a non-willing participant. I will send a text. If I send a text he will obviously know I am home from work.

ME: “Ah, so nice outside!” HIM: “It is beautiful!!”

A$$h@ole!!! WTF???? Is he coming over or not?!?!? He is doing this on purpose!!! He KNOWs I am home, He KNOWs I am waiting for him and yet he purposefully is denying my blood the answer it needs to move through my veins. My blood now begins to boil. I can no longer think straight. I can see nothing but a veil of red before my eyes, its everywhere I look. It gets so heavy that I need to lay down, need to take a nap, a nap that will bring some quiet to my thoughts. But, instead of quiet they run around in my head, swirling faster and faster until I can no longer string two thoughts together.

I shoot up from my bed, grab my phone, and dial his number. I will ask him why he isn’t coming over. I will ask him why he couldn’t just say no, why he has to play these childish games.

ME: “Hey. What are you up to?” HIM: “Nothing, I though I was coming over today. Did you make plans or something?” ME: “No. I was waiting on you to tell me when you were coming over.” HIM: “Oh, I was just waiting for you tell me you were home. You’re home already? Then I’m on my way.”

OH <<<<

I guess I could have just asked directly. Maybe he was planning on coming over the whole time.

I really wish these prisoner of war thoughts would leave my head so that I could be free of these shackles of doubt and fear. I really wish that I could let go of my doubt and be free. I wish I could tell the grey cloud that hangs above me, that it is OK! It is ok, to remove the doubt and fear because this one is different. He does what he says. He actually tries to make me happy. But the grey cloud wont listen. It won’t listen and wont go away even though time and time again this man has come through. Over and over, he follows through what he says. Day by day he keeps his words. There is nothing, no concrete evidence to think he would not keep his word.

But the grey cloud still hangs there… still lingers around every conversations. It still bathes very word, it still hangs there ready at any moment to remind me that I am his prisoner. I will never be free from uncertainty, never be free from doubt, and must always be ready to fight for power.

He moves out in two days and I feel giddy with excitement and liberated.  But then tears will  jut down my face at odd moments, reminding me that I have feelings. Surprising even myself, that I feel so strongly, and reminding me that this relationship is over. 
 
But there is the other part of me who is happy and who actually believes in the corny cliche of really being able to be freinds once this is over. And why not? Isn’t that what we were the whole time we were dating? I really think that our being friends is what ruined our relationship in the first place.  Friends are always equal. Always up for anything, always open to plans the other person suggests.  I wanted a man to date me. To court me. I wanted a boyfriend who would plan a night out. One who would take me out to dinner and pay for everything… And not just on valentines day. I didn’t need it all the time, but sometimes. I didn’t need expensive gifts or lavish dinner, just the thought and a plan. 
 
What I got instead, was a really good friend.  He didn’t come up with many plans but was always happy and excited to do what I suggested. Most times we split bill and even though many times I offered to split it, I held my breath hoping this would be the day he snatched the bill away before I even got to look at it.  My resentment grew more and more each time that bill came and I placed my debit card down on the table.  I had let him stay at my place while he got settled with work and found his way around the city he just moved to. I picked up foods he liked during trips to the grocery store. Was it really too much to ask that once in a while he took me out to dinner and snatched away the bill before I could see it??
 
I looked for fun events to do and suggested new things to try. But one day … I stopped. One day I stopped navigating the relationship and let it be. And it was. It was boring. So I started to do things without him. I started to go with other friends when they told me of something new and fun they were doing. Some nights when we were home, and he sensed my boredom, he would ask me if I wanted to go out. He would look at me and ask me if I wanted to go take a walk, and my anger would bubble up.  It would slowly boil and warm up my insides.  If felt good to feel anger. It felt good to stop pretending that my anger didn’t exist. It felt good to exhale and see the tiny droplets of anger flee out from my lungs.  Then I would look at him and see how he earnestly meant it. He genuinely wanted to try to make me happy. And he was trying.
 
But it wasn’t the actions of a man who would put me on a pedestal. It wasn’t the same actions as the stories he told me on our ride to work of his friends dating. Stories of his male friends being excited to go on a date with a woman they were courting, of dinner reservations, restaurants, various menus, and carefully thought out plans would make me smile while I pretended the knife stabbing my heart wasn’t there.  These stories would engulf me like a giant hand wrapping around my chest and squeezing. Squeezing me hard until all the air inside of me was gone and formed a smile around my lips as I bled out. It was jealousy, anger, resentment, and more jealousy that I pushed deep down I to the darkest part of me. How could I desire those things when I had such a sweet and considerate man? I had been wrestling with these emotions for weeks already.  In one corner was the evil shallow Queen B$tch. She was cold, vain, materialistic, and of course, beautiful. On the other side of the ring was Sweet Susan. She was kind, compassionate, and valued character and morals above all. She also loved rainbows.
 
Each day was a giant and never endng wrestling match between the two. There would be certain moments you would swear one would overtake the other, and then, just like that, the other got free and there was no clear winner again. I would come home from work and be greeted with his smile and hug, with him asking me how my day was. And sweet Susan would deliver a sharp front kick to the Queen B$tch sending her tumbling back and hitting the floor. We would go out and he would open the door and walk right through it without holding it open for me.  Just when it seemed certain that sweet Susan would win the round the Queen B$tch regained her footing and delivered a sharp left hook.  It went down like this every day.
 
I didn’t need to be treated like a queen… Just someone special. And I didn’t need fancy dinners, just the effort in planning a special night out. Eventually Sweet Susan got tired trying to defend herself and went down. The fight was over.  The relationship was over.  I no longer felt attracted to him because he no longer made me feel special.  We were friends. Equal in every way.

He said I hadn’t kissed him in a while, that I don’t kiss him. I don’t. I stopped. For so long, I had craved a man who kisses, and kisses often. Craved being kissed when we greeted, longed to be held at a crosswalk while waiting for the light to turn, and dreamed of walking hand in hand across the street.  Now I had it all and I was crumpling inside.  Drying up and withdrawing inside myself. No feelings, no emotions.  Unable to respond when being kissed, hugged, or held. And now, he was sitting next to me, wondering why I was not being affectionate.

It was almost 15 years after high school, yet I couldn’t help but feel that I was doing the same thing I did the year I finally got a guy to be interested in me. I had spent my entire adolescence, pretty much every day since I began noticing boys, wishing that one would notice me back. Day-dreaming about having a boyfriend, longing for companionship, and hormones raging for the feeling of a kiss.  When my Senior year of high school came around, I couldn’t understand how it could be that I was the only one of my friends who never had a boyfriend. The only one who never kissed a guy. After all the years of trying so hard to be popular, but missing the mark, I actually felt like I was pretty cool for the first time in my life.  I had my own sort of style, but it took a long time for me to grow into it and learn how to express it. I was still eccentric, but at least now I was the cool kind. By Senior year I had actually started making friends with the skater kids, even though I was a raver kid. But when you are in Staten Island in the late 90s, they are close enough.  Most people didn’t even know the difference back then.

When I got my license I got even cooler.  People were asking me for a ride home after school, and I found myself with an actual crew of friends. Finally. One of my skater guy friends told me his friend had been asking about me. His cute friend. His friend who was cool, and normal,  and, who liked ME. We all hung out in the city one Saturday and I enjoyed hanging out and being cool. We went to a skate competition and I felt like I had made it. It was the equivalent of landing the big promotion at work that I had tirelessly worked for. I had arrived. I was immediately validated by shear proximity of being around skaters who were obviously super cool. I was in.

It was my dream day, and when my cool guy turned to me to try to sneak a kiss, I found myself extremely shy an unable to kiss him back. I froze. Faced with the prospect of being uncovered as just a dorky girl from Staten Island, I got stage fright. I had landed the big promotion at work and was now everyone would find to that I wasn’t a smart as I portrayed myself. I couldn’t be “outed”. And I certainly couldn’t live up to the immense expectations I set for myself. I stood there …. awkwardly fidgeting and trying to crack some type of joke to make him forget he was trying to kiss me and hope he didn’t realize I wasn’t kissing back. We lasted as a quasi-couple for another two outings, with my bag of tricks coming along and ready to be deployed a the first sign of a kiss. And then he got  a real girlfriend, one who kissed and much more.

Now I was finding myself fidgeting with my current boyfriend. Although I had gone way past kissing with him in the 4 months we were together, I now found myself back to day 1. Back to being unsure wether I liked him and not finding any desire inside me to kiss him. I froze. Each time his arm brushed against my thigh I braced myself, holding my breathing waiting for what would come next. The rubbing my thigh, his arm around my shoulder, a sweet hug, and a multitude of kisses that began on my neck and traveled elsewhere. Sirens blared inside me. They were going off in full alert mode. It was coming, it was going to rain down a spray of chemical bombs and fear was in the air. I wanted to run. I wanted to escape and find a dark hole to provide me shelter. My skin was crawling and if I allowed myself to look down at his hand on my thigh I knew I would see hives forming on my leg. I smiled, and asked him if he wanted some fruit, gave him a kiss on the cheek, and got up to get an apple.

I had avoided this round of terror, but I knew it was not safe to let my guard down yet. There were bombings and sirens going off constantly now. Fear hung in the air and I wasn’t safe without some shelter nearby. I was constantly ducking kisses and hugs for fear that he would know the truth. Fearful of him finding out I no longer felt anything for him beyond friendship. A terrorized a the prospect of actually having to admit this and end our relationship.

The fact that I have been feeling like shit lately has prompted me to take an improv class. 
The improv class is fun… and scary at the same time. It’s exhilarating in the same way that riding a motorcycle for the first time only becomes the most amazing thing you have ever done the moment you get off and plant your feet on the ground. The fact that you barely managed to breath, and couldn’t bring yourself to look at the road,  completely fades away and only the adrenaline rush is present leaving you feeling like it was thrilling.

Improv was supposed to conquer my fear of speaking aloud, in addition to curing my boredom. A fear that has only been present in the past 10 years of my life. I never had a problem telling someone off  or speaking up for myself. Lately, my voice begins to quiver. And while I still have no problem telling people off, having my voice quiver in the process really puts a damper on it.

But improv class has brought in a whole new devil to slay. It’s brought in my high school devil. Hanging in the air during the three hour class, holding onto me in every exercise, and choking my words during my small improv bits is the same gaggle of mean girls who were there in high school. The girls who I hated, and couldn’t wait to get away from. The judgement, the laughter behind my back, the feeling that I would never belong. I ran from them as far as I could, only to discover that they came with me. They followed me wherever I went. They lived deep in my head. The Queen Bee of the mean girls, the loudest and harshest of them all, had been living in my head all along. A non-paying tenant who was constantly judging me and pushing me forward.

Sometimes she was my best friend and pushed me to be the best I could be. She lead me to the gym and pushed me to get fit. She helped me get toned and sex, right after she told me that I looked like a chubby piece of sh*t. She taught me all about make up and pushed me to learn to cover up my flaws. She made me beautiful as she led my eyes to land on each and every flaw in the mirror. She spurred my creativity when she showed me that I could use my sewing skills to create my own clothes. She told me that I could become unique and be different, because I was not good enough to compete with the mainstream. She made me who I am today. I owed it all to her.

But when she comes out in improv class, she becomes my frenemy. I hear her in my head taunting me. Telling me that everyone else is among friends and forming cliques, except for me. She whispers in my ear that I am old. She tells me sweetly that I am the oldest girl in a class full of 20 year olds. She puts her arm around my shoulder as she  tells me that everyone else is so cute, so pretty, so funny, so…. Better. She tells me they are all better then me. They are funny in their skits. They are better actors. They don’t get nervous. And I don’t belong here.
But I keep pushing. I force myself to come to class. I force myself to show up each week, drag myself through the exercises, laugh along with everyone, and eventually I realize I am having fun.

Eventually I volunteer to do a skit, go up there and enjoy it, and sit down and can’t wait until the next one. Then a smile comes to my face and it’s actually genuine. It stays there for the perfect amount of time. Not too short because I am uncomfortable and can’t wait to get the smile off my lips, and it’s not lingering for too long because I am trying to prove that I really am just as happy as everyone else. But it’s just perfect.  A genuine smile that lasts as long as it should. It leaves me feeling happy and I let it lay on my lips like they have been parched for water, filling all the cracks. For that moment I AM happy. I have let go. At that moment, the queen bee has never existed and everything about that moment is pure.  It’s vulnerable, open, honest, and real.  And I think to myself, “this is the reason I took an improv class”. To remember what it felt like to be free. To play like a child, alone in his room, free to dance silly, sing badly, and snort while laughing.  For a moment, this freedom exists.

When the class ends I feel refreshed.  The clique of teenage voices that I carry around in my head in gone. I feel lighter. I feel free. One guy announces that they are all going to grab a drink around the corner, it’s where everyone goes after class, and I think that it sounds like a great way to become friends with everyone.  But then I realize that they probably don’t really like me. The Queen Bee is at my side, helping my put my jacket on. She’s bolder now, due to being silenced for the last hour of class. She tells me that they all have their own cliques and I am not part of it.  I’m an outsider.  An old outsider and they all see it. Everyone knows that I am old and trying too hard and I don’t fit it. I walk out the class to the elevator alone, leaving them all to become better friends, without me.