Before I start my weekly ramble-session, I want to take a moment to ask for your nondenominational thoughts and prayers for my Gram Mary Lou. She’s not feeling well right now but she is among the toughest humans this world has ever seen. Offer one up for her, pour one out for her, eat a crab cake in her honor, whatever. If you’ve met her, you already know she rocks. Plus, she’s a fantastic version of “crazy” making her the perfect start for this blog. I once heard her argue about the locations of the different Polish Catholic churches in Baltimore for 45 minutes. She spots grammar mistakes in thank you notes. She can finish a Saturday crossword puzzle. Alone. Without the internet. And, she’s been kicking cancer’s ass for over a decade. Plus, she’s just so cute!
Crazy has not always been acceptable. In the olden-timey days, it was good for one ticket to misery in an asylum. The most minor mental illness could have you committed. Now, I submit that we’re able to let our freak flags fly a little more; although, we can likely all agree that our country has a long way to go in dealing with and caring for people with mental illness. I’m not here to make fun of anyone’s condition, I’m just here to say that we’re all a little nuts–and it’s time to see ourselves and laugh in the mirror. Life’s more fun that way.
You know that feeling of tears pouring down your face in a room full of straight-faced or even smiling people? You know those times when you leave a note on a car across the street because the driver parked like a jerk and you’re staring out of your window eating a bowl of Cinnamon Life © waiting for him to come out and “learn today”? You know that feeling of running the streets of Ghent with your husband trailing behind as you charge in and out of wine bars searching for a free place to go #2? You know when you’re mimicking Catherine O’Hara in Schitt’s Creek cooing “Alexisssssssssssss” in your best rich lady voice and then you remember that your next-door neighbor’s name is actually Alexis? You know when you’re standing forlornly in front of your broken coffee maker in your kitchen and you and your husband decide to drop trou’ and moon it while yelling, “Take that Mr. Coffee!”? No? You don’t know these common experiences? Hmm.
Lately I’ve said the sentence, “I am insane” several times per day to several different groups of people. I feel like I need to put it out there—although, they probably already know—because I must announce that I know what I am doing is not normal. While you may not relate to these exact situations, except for maybe mooning your coffee maker, I’m sure you, too, are convinced that you are crazy. We all are. I guess that means that the word crazy really just means “sane.”
In the past few weeks my crazy seems to have really taken off, like a 747 cutting through clouds of sanity, soaring into the world of lunacy. For two weeks, I have been somewhere between 3-4 different people all wrapped into one little body. SAT course co-teacher, Director of Scholar Development and crew leader, yoga student, and then just me, pretty much failing at being a good friend, daughter, granddaughter, sister, and especially wife. Last night I left yoga teacher training and just filled my Corolla with deep-from-the-belly, self-pitying sobs—the kind that sound like gaaaa-hook-gaaaa-hook-gaaa-hook. The thing is, I’m fine. Life actually feels great. I had just pushed myself to my maximum, totally sucked in my yoga teaching evaluation, felt menstrual, had too much laundry to do, and needed a real cry—it’s been a while. I now know that my maximum Amandas is 4. I cannot be more than 4 people.
The older I get, the more I get to know myself. It’s really been a journey—one of therapy, acupuncture, a meditation course. Lately, yoga has also really helped me do this—see me, know my needs, and then act on them. Do I sound like the most first-world diva? Probably. But, at least I can say that—and I don’t ever pay retail for anything. It’s like the more that other people tell me to look inward, the more I listen to them and then listen to myself. Thank you, Erica; thank you, Lauren P.; thank you, Shambhala Center via Chrissy K. Thank you, yoga.
I get better at reading my body and mind every single day. It’s so enlightening to actually pay attention to yourself. I don’t think I ever did this as a kid and maybe didn’t start until I was 25 or so. This might sound super meta but you are always with you. And that’s easy to ignore when it hasn’t occurred to you to realize it. While this phenomenon of knowing when I’m mentally exhausted or moving way too fast or about to “gaaa-hook” makes me feel even crazier, I think it makes me saner.
When I’m having full, two-sided conversations in my car, filling in an eyebrow without a mirror, tweezing my chin hair in front of anyone who cares to watch, letting my students braid my hair, watching Netflix while grading papers while texting while eating cheese, calling everyone babysis because it makes me giggle, I know I’m absurd.
Many times, I cannot justify my actions even to myself but I know that I don’t know why I am doing something. Ya dig? Knowing that I don’t know my “why,” ideally, helps me rethink that choice the next time. Should I pick off my left big toenail to the point of needing to wear sneakers instead of flip flops? Not this time! That’s why god invented pedicures—I call it “defense.”
With this, I encourage you to meet your crazy. Look him or her in eye, shake hands, and say “Welcome, I know you’re here to stay so let’s do this together.” You’ll both be better for it.
On top of being a total nut, all of the people I love are total nuts too.
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
– Jack Keroauc in On the Road
Some of the best “mad” ones…