Firstly, I’d like to say how thrilled and indeed blessed I feel to be here today, with you people, on planet Earth. For it is no exaggeration to declare that I very nearly died last week.
Not because of a failed attempt at jaywalking or because I ODed on Nyquil (which I swear I’ve almost done before), but because I quite nearly had a complete meltdown: an emotional, psychological, mental, physical, Total System Failure.
April 1: Day of foolery for most, and Sister’s birthday to my Beloveds and me. [Momentary aside: the morning started off a little rocky as I signed onto Facebook (damn you, Stalking Machine), and found that my then-dating-partner was in cahoots with…well I’ll just say it…America’s Next Top Model. Now, in my defense I’m not usually the jealous type. But things between Manfriend and I had been damn confusing for a hot minute anyway, and at 8 in the morning my judgment is generally skewed. My logical brain immediately spoke up with a resounding “be cool, bitch…be cool,” but my illogical brain (which is far louder and more outspoken) began hollering “does he like her?? Will they date?? ARE THEY GETTING MARRIED??! WILL THEY HAVE BABIES???!” What can I say; I’m blessed with an active imagination.]
Lucky for me I had bigger fish to fry that day, and so I powered through and pushed past my suspicions that my dating partner was betrothed to a younger Giselle Bundchen. (Let posterity note that the aforementioned manfriend and I are no longer dating. WAH wah. Relationships are fun, no?)
But the real issue at hand, the true ticker that was causing me ulcers and clammy palms and blurred vision and impaired driving, was one I had been anticipating since the start of this semester. For April 1 was my personal day of reckoning. My day in Satan’s grasp…my day of 1.5 hours of public speaking.
I hate public speaking.
If you know me well, you probably know that I’m not a fan of talking in front of large groups of people. If you know me very well, you know I’ve loathed presentations since age 4 (when I had to be bribed with popsicles to be in my preschool play), and that I avoid such scenarios like an outbreak of Ebola or the Bubonic Plague.
So needless to say, the day was doomed from 12:01 AM. But God, being the kidder that He is, decided to have some fun with me…and see just how much torment I could take before losing it completely and cackling about like Archimedes from Sword in the Stone (which I’m told I did most of the day anyway…yeah thanks, Aubrey).
Total System Failure: A Synopsis and Overview
Unfortunate Incident # 1: I drive to campus at 9:45 AM, and begin my usual hunt for a parking spot. Typically I park in the garage so conveniently located across from Gaylord, but today I’m sh*t out of luck finding a free space. So I go to pursue plan B…and cannot get out of the garage. Can. NOT. Some damn Pepsi truck has lodged itself in front of the garage exit, and so I find myself trapped like an ant in an ant farm. (Remember ant farms? Those were fun…though Sister’s ants always made far more intricate tunnels than mine. I may have some unresolved issues from my childhood - but I digress.) So I sit there. And sit there. AND SIT THERE. For twenty effing minutes.
(One adverse side effect of a creative mind is that it often comes with some (to a lot) of neuroses, and I’ll admit to being no exception to that rule. So sitting in a line of jam-packed cars, surrounded by cement walls and pillars and dividers and what have you, did no good things for my claustrophobic tendencies.) So finally, finally the damn truck-driver learns how to drive, and I’m freed from my paved-coffin-of-doom.
Unfortunate Incident #2: I then begin meticulously perusing the nearest-by parking lot (and by “nearest-by” I mean it’s in BFE) for an empty space. Upon finding one I zip Little Red in, open my door with great speed (as I’m now officially late for work), and find myself in a Marilyn Monroe-esque type scenario. My lovely peasant skirt, which I’ve worn so as to feel pretty during my Presentation of Death, lifts itself as if of it’s own accord up around my ears. I’m not kidding you. And I of course have seven different bags in hand, so there’s nothing I can do but stand there and think “which pair of PINK panties am I now displaying to the entire Sooner World?”
Unfortunate Incident # 3: After realizing only a parking-meter-maid has seen my unda-carriage and I’m thus able to regain composure, I take one, maybe two steps in the direction of my destination. And trip. And fall. And this isn’t one of those, “whoops, caught my shoe a bit and now I’m just fine” moments, this is a “OH HOLY HELL I’M GOING TO SMASH MY FACE ON THE GROUND” kind of trips. But I didn’t…instead I flailed about like a drowning cat and merely slammed my torso into the rear of somebody’s (dirty) car. Of course my right boob took most of the fall. Which felt awesome. Then I hear a husky male voice not far from where I’ve landed (grasping for dear life onto the back of said car, my seven bags askew across the pavement) and I hop up to respond to what I assume to be his, “oh darling girl, are you alright?” questioning. So I turn, plaster a “damn I’m a dumbass but I’m okay” look on my face…and realize he’s not talking to me at all. He’s on the phone, and merely looks at me in a disapproving (and perhaps mocking) manner. So I’m sure my attempt at a brave-face read to him as a “hiya I’m a schizophrenic” expression. AWESOME. So I gather my things and start once more for Gaylord Hall.
Unfortunate Incident # 4: I make it all the way to Gaylord without another embarrassing moment, and I’m just about to hoister myself out of my pit of sorrow and self-loathing when I walk through the doors. And trip. AGAIN. Now mind you, I’m wearing flip-flops. Not heels; not stilettos that make one’s ankles wobble or one’s knees bow. I’m wearing the simplest of simple flip-flops, and I’ve tripped AGAIN. This time I’m in the atrium of Gaylord, which means at least 17 undergrads, 9 grad students and 4 professors have witnessed my graceless entrance. So I force a laugh (which sounds just as forced as it is) and proceed to the stairs. OF COURSE the library where I work is upstairs.
Unfortunate Incident # 5: I make it up 2 steps and see my dear friend Chris descending the stairs towards me. I smile at him, begin babbling about how sh*tty my day’s been thus far, and you guessed it…I EFFING TRIP AGAIN. I’m indeed lucky to have Chris there to catch me, as otherwise my shinbones would be irrevocably scarred from the fall. But the only thing more embarrassing than falling in front of strangers is falling in front of friends. So I mumble something about my shoe being broken or SOME nonsense, and being the gentleman that he is Chris goes to examine it. Damn thing isn’t broken (which I of course knew to begin with). I’m just a douchetard.
(It’s worth mentioning that Chris himself tripped on the exact same stair a mere hour after I did. That made me feel better…until Unfortunate Incident # 7).
Unfortunate Incident # 6: I stumble into the library, and my boss greets me with an icy “WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN” look. Deserved, I know, but it only adds to my desire to crawl into a ball on the floor and hum “Yesterday” to myself. So I grab a laptop, sign into my OU email account, and find I’ve received an ominous email entitled “Puerto Rico: An Update.”
Side Note: I have been unabashedly excited about my upcoming study-abroad trip to Puerto Rico. I never got to do an abroad program at my lame-ass undergrad school (my life is dreadfully unfair; I know), and one of my top goals for grad school was to do one through OU. So when I found this program, which would grant me 6 hours credit in Travel Writing during a two-week stint in Puerto Rico, I was ECSTATIC. Freaking blissful, I tell you.
And the email reads: We have had several people contact us regarding this trip and although the ones who have shown interest are ready to hop on the plane and start learning and writing, we haven't had enough people sign up to make the trip economically feasible. And, sadly, taking a smaller group would be cost-prohibitive for everyone. We are disappointed, as I'm sure you are.
It goes on to say that I shouldn’t fret, as they’ve already started planning another trip. For next May. WHEN I’LL HAVE GRADUATED. I sit there, staring at the computer, in absolute and complete disbelief. If I was a public-crier, I would’ve cried. Instead I did something worse; I opted to go talk with someone (anyone) about it in the Dean’s office. Which is upstairs.
Unfortunate Incident # 7: At this point I’m literally dragging my feet as I make the slow and agonizing trip towards the third-floor staircase. I run into Man Candy (one of two fellow JMC students Hot Librarian #2 and I giggle about when we’re bored at work), but all I can muster is a “hhmmello.” I begin climbing the steps, grasping tightly to the banister (as I’ve learned my lesson from falls number 1, 2 and 3). I make it juuuuust almost to the top of the stairs, let go of the banister…
AND. I. TRIP.
This time I stop. I do not laugh, hop up to regain composure, curse at my shoes, or cry (which is becoming a more realistic threat with every passing moment). This time I simply lay my forehead on the banister and breathe. Several people pass me; they look concerned, but I do not care. I’ve lost the ability to walk, my trip to Paradise Island has been canceled, and I have to give a 90 minute presentation in a matter of hours. TO HELL WITH YOU AND YOUR SEMI-CONCERNED GAWKING.
The rest of the day went without notable incident; when I finally regained the will to live and walk I proceeded to the Dean’s office and glared at his assistant Tyler for at least 9 minutes. Poor Tyler has nothing to do with the trip or its subsequent cancellation, but he was the nearest human person when I entered the room and by that point I was nigh out my mind. So I sat at his desk, told him how mad I was and how I’d tripped four times and how April 1st is the Day of Satan and his followers, and then descended (without misstep, miraculously) back to my library to endure the rest of the day.
From 6:30-8:00 (or 8:30 or 9:00 or Eternity - I lose track of time in that class), my dear partner and I spoke on globalization and its effect on gender equality. I was a little apprehensive, but mainly I was numb…the day had quite literally kicked my ass, and I was then on autopilot until I could crawl into bed and pretend none of it ever happened. At one point I snapped at my friend Alex for laughing at one of our videos; I thought I was being funny and sarcastic, but later he apologized so profusely that I realized he thought I absolutely hated him and his gender as a whole. Epic Fail on my part. After the presentation was over everyone clapped and began gathering their things to head home, and I walked up to my fellow Hot Librarian and said quite simply
In front of the entire class and my professor (who was still obviously mentally deciphering my presentation grade) I asked Aubrey to hug me. And to her credit, she did…she gave me a nice big hug, and she made me laugh by referencing our v-neck shirts and how they were forcing men to stare at our tatas (it was part of the related presentation-debate…you had to be there, but be thankful you were not). But after our impromptu hugfest I realized something disconcerting: I’ve not been that emotionally drained in a very long time. When I’m at my veryveryvery wit’s end I ask random people for hugs, so that just confirmed that April 1st had waged total war on me…and quite obviously and unfortunately, it had won.
BUT. I survived. It is now a new week, I have a new Happy Flower Bracelet I bought at the Medieval Fair, I LIVED THROUGH MY PRESENTATION, and Man Candy should waltz in here any minute now to try and borrow a laptop from me (he won’t be able to do so as they’ve all been checked out for a class, but I’ve conveniently neglected to tell him that. I never said women aren’t manipulative). So I guess I should feel somewhat achieved, if for no other reason than for not letting my day of dysfunction, disappointment, and dreaded public speaking get the best of me. April 1st may have kicked my ass, but I kicked April 2nd’s ass by living to see it…and while I’m at it, I think I’ll go ahead and kick the rest of April’s ass as well.
For what’s the point of living through it if you can’t laugh at it later?