Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Records Have Heartbeats at the End of Them and June Beetles Have Hard-Shelled Backs

If you allow a record to continue playing past the last song, you'll notice a rhythmic heartbeat sound.

It goes ba-boom scratch scratch scratch, ba-boom scratch scratch scratch, ba-boom scratch scratch scratch, ba-boom scratch scratch scratch...

I'm sitting on my couch, and I've decided not to flip the record that I just played. I'm not sure if this is bad for the needle to just skip unendingly at the end of this record, but the sound is so soft and rhythmic, I can't see how it could be a problem.

I'm so tired and I also am feeling helpless. I feel helpless because the man at the Bryant Hardware store sold me a flathead screwdriver yesterday instead of a Phillips screwdriver. The reason I needed a screwdriver was because I have to put new license plates on my car. April was my month for getting new tabs, and the people at the Department of Motor Vehicles office surprised me by giving me brand new plates. They said it happens every seven years. I had "Get new tabs" on my To Do list for the entire month of April. The day that I went to get them, I did not get the feeling of satisfaction in X-ing out the box and crossing out the To Do (I do both) because finishing the tabs task only created another: "Get a screwdriver."

It was when I worked for a Fortune 100 company that I learned about drawing boxes next to To Do items and then utilizing a two-part process (first X-ing out the box, then crossing out the To Do). I had accidentally peered at the notebook of a much older, wiser and savvier colleague. Discovering the Box/To Do-X-and-cross-off technique was on a par with learning how to drive stick for me. It took a while to put it into practice, but once I got the hang of it, it became an utterly useful and effective skill.

It looks like this:

Get a screwdriver

You can imagine, I'm sure, that if that box had a red 'X' through it and if the "Get a screwdriver" were crossed out in red as well, you'd feel like you had fucking accomplished something.

Well, I don't have a screwdriver, and it's May now, so I legally should not be driving my car. I tried to change my license plates with the flathead screwdriver, but a friend of mine oh-so-helpfully pointed out, "I WOULDN'T DO THAT IF I WERE YOU, YOU'LL STRIP THE SCREWS," which only made me feel worse.

While riding my bike to work today, I fantasized about walking into that hardware store and talking to the man who sold me the flathead screwdriver. It would be a scene like in the movie Falling Down. I would be Michael Douglas (obvis.) and I would go completely ape shit on the nice hardware store guy. I would spell out what a shitty thing it was for him to sell me the wrong screwdriver when I had even specifically designated my intended use.

(Flashback to the hardware store: The cheerful bells on the door jangle as I enter in and skip up to the counter. "So. I need to change my license plates, and, being an Uptown girl, my only tools are a pair of scissors and five wine bottle openers." (Laughing and smiling from me, this was back when things were easy and good.) "I think I need a screwdriver for license plates?"... The hardware store man laughed and was even jovial with me as I told him I intended to come back one day and buy one of those full-set tool kits for girls. He so confidently handed me the flathead screwdriver that I did not even pause to wonder if it was, in fact, the proper tool.)

Here's what would make Hardware Store man feel really, really bad. Right now it's 11:00 PM at night, and I'm listening to the heartbeat skip at the end of a finished record; the ultimate soundtrack of lonely desperation, if you ask me. I really need to go to Walgreens because I am out of one of my meds and I can completely feel the wrath of it. I'm sitting on my couch, crying my eyes out, trying to figure out how to get to the goddamn pharmacy to get a Bipolar medication when my car is now officially illegal to drive. "Just get in your stupid car and drive the five minutes to get your meds and buy a new screwdriver at Walgreens! Change your license plates there in the parking lot before you drive home!" you might say. But, with my luck, I will get pulled over, I will be crying and the cop will see this. The level of complication in the events of this evening will skyrocket, and this will be just the start of Scene Two in my personal remake of the movie Falling Down.

So, here I am, stuck.

I called a friend tonight, and I awkwardly asked for help. It didn't go too well. I should have been more direct, but it was hard for me to do that because it is humiliating to explain mental illness to people. Sure, everyone has their off nights, but for some of us, we get so stuck, we get completely paralyzed.

When I used to get paralyzed, I would call my dad, because he is of the same ilk and I wouldn't have to explain anything to him. If I needed to have him come get me in the middle of the night to eat slices of coconut cream pie at the 24-hour Perkins while draining two metal carafes of black coffee, just to talk about some pansy shit like, existential anxiety or something, he was my man. I realize that most dads are not like mine. Most dads are more manly. But my dad gets me. He knows just how to fix things. Isn't it ironic that he cannot come save me these days because he himself is now paralyzed. Literally.

So, my To Do list item goes un-X'ed and un-crossed-off, and here I sit, alone on my couch, feeling so tired, yet so unable to rest because I am a smart, high-functioning Bipolar patient and I know that I cannot go one more night without this medication. So, what I'm going to have to do is get up and drive myself to Walgreens, illegally and by myself, even though all I really wanted tonight was to have someone come save me. I wanted to have someone come take care of me without my having to ask.

We each have varying degrees of neediness. We each have that sensitive longing for someone to just TAKE OVER and steer for us sometimes. Some of us convince ourselves that we like to get through it on our own and others of us roll over like the June beetle and wiggle our hair-thin legs in the hair until a peaceful youth has the decency to come along and gently roll us right-side-up off our hard-shelled backs. I am the latter. I am the June beetle. I am sensitive and I want to be taken care of, but I am also one tough bugger. I get rolled over onto my hard-shelled back without even asking for trouble, and I have to wait it out until some form of help comes along.

But sometimes, like tonight, no one is around to roll me up off my back. Sometimes, you just hang upside-down and you go, "Well, this sucks."

I make my To Do lists and I try to get stuff done. I try to move forward and I hope by the grace of God that I am able to 'X' things out and then cross them off.

So, with that,
❒ Go take care of myself, right now.

Alright, FINE. Let's go, Susan. Get in that illegal car of yours. It's time to go get your meds and a fucking Phillips screwdriver.


  1. Your writing simply astonishes me. Seriously...please publish a book...the world needs to read this!

  2. i would have taken you larry.