Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Saga of Too Many Sagas.

Friends and followers (all FIFTEEN OF YOU!!), I bring you, unabridged and undiluted and only marginally exaggerated for humor and readability, the thesis of the past twelve months. Otherwise known as The Year in Review. No gimmicks; no sorting by alphabet. No month-by-month rundown. Simply this:

Dear 2010, You Fucking Sucked. Good Riddance. Love, Rachel.

This could have been the Saga of D part Whatever Number We're On, but it would have been all the old bads (the Dumped, Depressed, DUI) and then some (the Dogshit my neighbor put on my windshield - I kid you not. Bitches be crazy).

But I'd like instead to say this. I left the radio station today, after accidentally interrupting the President (our breaks are prerecorded and broadcast on automation, so out of nowhere, when Mr. Obama decides to monopolize the NPR airwaves for some press conference or whatever, my chirpy little radio voice cuts in at 2:39 as per the schedule and Barack is midsentence and I am all "Sunny skies this afternoon! Wind chill! Talk of the Nation! Who cares about Obama listen to me!!!"), and decided I needed more sweaters. And so I tromped out to the Goodwill and navigated the wild road design that is Carolina Beach and did not feel guilty about not attending immediately to my young beast because I looked away for like 2 seconds this morning and next thing I know my brand new (albeit Wal-Mart) shoes were essentially demolished. (But then I scolded him and made him go in his crate to think about what he'd done and when he came out he was about the most sheepish and lovable creature ever birthed and so I forgave him.)

So. I am in the thrift store, and I am, as usual, grabbing way too many things off the racks--though now I actually look at the tag, which is to say that while I still shop at thrift stores, the days of old-man-polyester pants and ironic State Fair t-shirts are long gone--and trying them on and long story short, I spent $30.

At the Goodwill, $30 means this: two Banana Republic sweaters, a Coldwater Creek cardigan, a Gap turtleneck, a lined blazer, a cowboy shirt that's dry clean only, a Loft cardigan, and--wait for it--a little black Calvin Klein dress.

The point is not that I have become incredibly shallow and brand name obsessed (at least not wittingly). The point is that I can wear these things, and I look fucking good in them, because that's what I did this year - I changed. I dropped 45 fucking pounds. I did that.

The sheer colossus of what happened in my life in 2010 gives me vertigo, and yes, this has probably been the unluckiest year of my life. But then I think how I could still be compromising my happiness and living with an insincere individual who I only stayed with because he purported to love me, and, because I did not love myself at all, that was enough to put up with unspeakable amounts of bullshit. I could still be as miserable as I was with him, and still suffering through how wrong we were together just because I was too afraid to be alone.

And then I think that yes, I now have a DUI, I am now a felon in the eyes of Canada (though who cares--sorry, Meg), but I could still be drinking myself stupid with alarming regularity and blithely getting behind the wheel to procure a Big Mac from the other side of town--and maybe I would have ultimately sobered up and realized what a dipshit I was being without any ill consequences, but I feel like it's a heck of a lot more likely that what did eventually happen--my crying in the cop car, being handcuffed to a wall--would have happened in a much uglier way. A car-wrecking, pedestrian-hitting, serious jail time kind of way.

I go to my new therapist now and think, goddammit. I don't want to be this way anymore. I wish I'd never started this whole treatment business. It's annoying. I doubt seeking psychiatric help will ever not be annoying. But at least now I know what's wrong with me. I am not intrinsically bad, as I thought during high school. I am not innately hideous, as I thought all through college. I just have a lot of bad, hideous habits that have royally tampered with how I live my life.

The sum of all of this: I'm changing, and it's for the better.

Plus--and you know you couldn't read an entire blog post without my mentioning him--2010 was the year of Pinto. I cannot believe--literally, I'm trying and I physically cannot believe--that this time last year there was no dog in my life. I was working at the mall, Rob was working at Inclinix, and I'm pretty sure we spent most of our time avoiding one another and, at least on my part, looking forward to going home so I get away from him for a whole month. Which led to a lot of hiding in my childhood closet and weeping when I did finally get home, then going out drinking myself stupid, then reading to distract myself from how fucking awful everything had become.

And now? Now I am decreeing 2011 the Year of No Badness. This will be the year I finish my novel; the year I knock off another 10 pounds and keep them off; the year I make sure my rug is usually vacuumed.

I didn't want to write a month-by-month synopsis of 2010 because I knew I'd realized how much the good outweighed the bad. When you line up the days, there were really only about 10 that authentically sucked from start to finish, versus this, which I'd like to call: Okay 201o I Take It Back You Kind of Kicked Ass Too.

Karlena Janelle Riggs, aka The Love of My Life, visited me twice. Twice! And on one of those trips, we went to Universal Studios, and we rode like a hundred roller coasters, and then we got drunk and road more roller coasters, and it was so unfathomably glorious I am kind of dancing in my seat right now. And--and!--let it be known that she not only drove from Oklahoma to see me, she also brought me QuikTrip, which is actually the most wonderful thing anybody may have ever done for me.

All summer long, actually, my house was full, even though its previous tenant was the reason I needed so many folks around in the first place (AKA IT'S HARD TO BE ALONE WHEN YOU WERE SO BRUTALLY DUMPED). My mom came and we went to Wal-Mart actually every single day. My dad came and we ate oysters every day. My brother came and we ran with Pinto on the beach! Or he ran with Pinto and I just stood by and cheered.

I worked at the Census, and though it was probably the most ridiculous work environment ever, it was also far and away the most fun. I worked on campus, and then I made the only smart decision I may have ever made and quit. I work at the radio station--yes, I, and I'm saying this more to myself than any of you, little old me who used to sit in her bedroom as a wee bowl-cut-bearing child and sing into a microphone to make Rachel Radio, is now a bona fide radio announcer. At a real radio station. I mean--I interrupted the president today!

And I went to Maine. And I emceed a bluegrass festival. And I wrote--I wrote stories and I wrote essays and I wrote some of this novel and I wrote letters and I wrote this blog. I won some awards. I read some books. And I somehow made some of the truest bluest friends who have a porch and like when I'm on it. And I moved from a shithole of a townhouse where we parked in spaces to an ancient enormous downtown apartment where I listen to the noise of playgrounds every morning and where right now the fireplace is burning and my beast is chomping on a bone and my walls are green and covered in photographs that prove how loved I am and how incredible my life has been--there's a picture of Annie covered in snow in Sweden beside a picture of my brother in Cooperstown beside a photo of my mother at Bald Head Island, Karli at Village Inn, my father in our kitchen, the girls at Senior Formal, Dogs in the Back, the Reisenrad, the Rockies, the Big Blue Whale of Catoosa.

You can call it sentimental, but I took all of those photos.

My moms is coming out to see me on Sunday, and then we're loading up my Toyota and driving to Oklahoma. Pinto will be in the backseat, possibly on Benadryll. And the Sunday after, we'll be flying to Seattle, where we're having Christmas on an island, and then we're flying back to Oklahoma and I'll ring in the new year in the heartland of my own heart, and then I'll drive back to North Carolina with Pinto in the backseat, possibly on Benadryll.

That's a pretty dizzying itinerary, but I think it's in keeping with the year itself. I want as many miles between me and 2010 as possible; as many miles to show how many I've come.