Tag Archive: processing


The Burning Giraffe

Once upon a time, there was a girl. “Sometimes,” she said, “I feel like I’ve been somehow torn out of a surrealist painting.”

Normal is relative, she knew. What is normal for one person is not for another– however, she concluded that we can all agree that there are some things that there is a sort of agreed upon definition of.

This girl feels she is taken from a surrealist painting because her perceptions, compared with others, are abnormal. This girl’s normal is made up of giraffes on fire.

What brought all this on for her was seemingly innocuous: her class was discussing birthdays as a child what they entailed culturally. She followed everything they said at first, knowing what “should” happen: There’s cake, a party, everyone gives you presents… but then she nearly laughed out loud at another condition that is supposed to be in place that seemed absurd to her mind.

“It’s almost impossible to get in trouble on your birthday, isn’t it?”

Everyone around her nodded and agreed. Her laughter quickly died, and she slid down in her chair.

This was not an isolated incident for the girl. Another one, brought up by a web comic one evening:

“Hey… your parents go through a few different names before they remember yours, right?”

The confused expression said it all. It was confirmed by the response of the girl’s new shrink.

“Occasionally my parents, who are in their 70s, will call me my brother’s name, but it’s always followed by ‘Oh! I’m sorry, Scott.'” He said.

“So it’s not normal to go through your mother’s name, your sister’s name, and whatever before they get to yours fairly regularly.”

“No.” Not in the way described.

“Okay, well… when you talk to me, you have to tell me that shit isn’t normal. I don’t know.”

The Burning Giraffe doesn’t stop there.

She watched a youtube video of a director throwing a fit on set, guided there by an article on the insanity of the film industry. Most people watched it and laughed at absurdity of the reaction: it’s a grown man throwing a temper tantrum like a five year old. She was amused and disappointed in humanity, just like every other viewer, at first. However, she also had the addition of a knee jerk reaction of sick terror at the point where the director comes back into the set, through a side door and seemingly out of nowhere to resume his tirade. She honestly and truly felt, for a split second, someone was coming through her bedroom door to do the same to her. And this was in her room, in her house a city away from where this could have happened. She had to wrestle that stupid fear to the ground with logic before the sickness would leave, and even then, a lesser form lingered.

That disturbed her. She didn’t mind being unusual, that was her common state. Perhaps her family is just a little strange. Auto-immunity on your birthday not existing and almost no physical contact can’t be that unusual. Not all families are huggy. Not all parents will let you get away with setting the couch on fire just because you happened to be born that day, expecting the same standard of behavior they always expect. That seemed reasonable.

What doesn’t seem reasonable is a grown woman, in her own house an hour away from her parents’ house, terrified her father is going to come through the door and start screaming, complete with exactly what the director said at the end of that youtube video.

“I DIDN’T FUCKING YELL AT YOU.”

… off runs the burning giraffe. It’s normal to the giraffe to be on fire, and it’s normal that it is running around a desolate setting with strange people without faces.

It’s normal for the giraffe to be on fire here. Most giraffes would be grazing or chilling at the waterhole. Now, what is truly normal: to be on fire, or to be going about life?

She never used to know it was abnormal to live in this world of zoo animals aflame. She used to say “Well, my home life sucks, but so does everyone’s.” Apparently it doesn’t. Apparently other people’s birthday memories don’t include hysterically sobbing on the couch while being screamed at as a teenager and not being allowed to move or leave until their older sister forcibly rescued them. Apparently other people don’t have the recollection of being spanked so hard as a kid a handprint stayed there for the rest of the day, possibly longer, they just can’t remember, and are terribly frustrated that interferes with the comforting lie that “Well, at least they never hit me.” Apparently other people don’t rationalize away that pesky, interfering fact and say to themselves, “everyone was spanked when they were little,” leaving out the fact that other people don’t have stories like that one (or have problems with anyone touching their ass with an open palm to this day.) Apparently other people never had to deal with their clothes being yanked on, or inappropriate comments about their body. Apparently most people don’t have the disturbing realization that some of the shit that has been said to them falls under the definition of sexual harassment. Apparently, none of this was normal, and no one bothered to tell her.

Normal people probably don’t worry about libel when talking about their lives, she knew. She knew names in true stories were often changed to protect the innocent, but that wasn’t what would occur should she tell someone. It would be to protect the guilty. Having a strong sense of what is just, that made her sick. Angry.

So, instead of writing it herself, she asked her friend if she would tell her story on her blog. Looking at the words there in print, identity hidden, she felt better. No one had to know, but the process of it being written down made her heart lighter, even if it did make her cry a couple times in the process. She asked her friend to add a last note as to why she wanted her story told.

“Some people don’t know what normal love is. Or what normal life is. Be patient with them.” She paused a moment in her dictation. “And don’t feel sorry for me. That’s not what I want. If anything seems weird in your friends’ or families lives, if they seem not to know what a normal family is, reach out to them. Adopt them into yours. Help them find someone to talk to that will help them realize that even after years and years of not normal, things can be okay.” She lost her voice for a moment, then continued: “Tell them they don’t deserve this.” She turned away and it took her a few moments before she could finally say the last, most important part of all her tale: “Please-” her chest jerked, forcing a pause, “please tell them it’s not their fault.”

And with that final statement, she wept.

****

Sort of a PSA, but not really, considering it’s true. If you know who the girl is, please don’t mention it in your comments or responses. She’d really rather not have her parents find this and sue her ass for libel, no matter how unlikely that scenario is. Leave responses or well wishes to her below if you want, but if you really wanna help, go talk to that person you know whose life sucks balls. They’ll appreciate it.

*ahem* Now, if this sounds like you, or someone you know, call 555-…

Watching Sherlock Holmes (the newest movie) and contemplating what it is about this movie, and about the older episodes of House, that I find so very calming.

Yes, ladies, gentle folk, and those in between, ’tis a trip inside my head time. Do feel free to skip if you’re uninterested, but I will try to make it entertaining, despite its egocentric nature.

As many of you have probably noticed, I have a take on the world that is a bit unusual in some ways, not so much in others. The differences in my mind, in how it works as it processes is in some ways a blessing, some ways a curse.

I am good at school. I can twist and argue things well, which is why I do well as an English major. I have good grades there, not spectacular but a respectable B average after almost four years there. However, this same ability to twist my mind inside out around Kafka’s The Trial and work my way into a character’s emotions like a happy heartworm. For those of you that are scientists out there, ignore that “heartworms” mostly reside in the arteries in the lungs and run with the simile.

However, this same ability turns reality into a nightmare, where paranoia is justifiable by the sheer number of negative outcomes that can be thought up for every action and its reaction. It whirs, an overclocked CPU, taking the smallest pieces of information and expanding it, tracing it’s origin, route to the present, and the many ways it can meander into the future to significance or none, wanted or not. I cannot control when it decides to run off on these tangents– They can be summoned when needed, but once they appear, they cannot be stopped. If this process takes a dark turn, it can end with me turning into an angry, suspicious, cynical, inconsolable mess and there is really no way to properly explain how or why to most individuals. Not only does my mind run in all directions– it has the sadistic ability to convince me that whatever conclusion it comes to is right, or at least has a high enough possibility of being right that it will cause me to worry and take precaution.

My mind has the remarkable ability to synthesize the past, future, scenarios, sensations, reasoning, logic at a speed that would shame a cheetah. Despite the above problems, it does come in handy, and not only with school. A large part of why I am a writer has to do with the fact that if I try hard enough and harness that power, I can hack my way into a character’s mind to the point I feel the stitches of their clothing over my skin, the weight of their jewelry, know the breadth of their shoulders and how they have to move because of their shape and build, their inflections when they speak and the sound of their voice. I know their biases, their fears, their reasoning. Due to this immersion technique, I will pick up moods and mannerisms for whomever I am writing occasionally. Hell, I’ve been told I have a certain expression on my face when I write some of my best loved characters. I can synthesize a person from a touch of perfume, a tea, a turn of phrase. It’s alchemy. Beautiful, glorious alchemy of a god, where I turn not lead into gold, but clay into flesh.

My mind eats input, craves stimulation, and consumes itself when left idle, usually for the worst. My… sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Sherlock Holmes or House, both are brilliant detectives and utterly kick ass at what they do– they can solve things no one else can solve. They also are drug addicted, eccentric, and a complete and utter bitch to get along with.

It is arrogance to compare myself to those two, lowly being that I am. However, even in my most self loathing of moods, I can see similarities. I have a dangerous fondness for alcohol and painkillers that (thankfully) is kept carefully in check and under constant watch by myself and my dearest. I have eccentric tendencies. Where House sets the hospital on fire or Holmes lures flies into a bottle to experiment with how they react to his violin, I have been known to write compulsively on any flat reflective surface I can find and mutter River-esqe nonsense while gnawing my nails and lips until they bleed.

I suppose it is their kinship, perhaps, that is so calming. Their sound flowing of ideas and reasoning, the timbre of their voices as they explain their latest theory. Their own immersions into the minds of the criminals they’re chasing or the patients they’re treating. Or perhaps it is simply the fact that when Holmes and House go off on their flights of reasoning, it ends well. It doesn’t turn around and impale them. Usually. Perhaps it is even more soothing when it does.

Maybe what is most comforting is that for all of the shit that has happened to me, how people seem to avoid me, how I seem to have some repellent air about me, people like me can be useful. Needed. Needed enough that what little relief simply drugging myself into a stupor or worse can provide from the constant tangled blur inside me, I am worth more to the world awake, alert, functioning. Useful enough that someday, I will find where I am needed, much as House and Holmes have. Somewhere I am needed that will keep my mind active, awake, and busy so it does not consume itself. Somewhere that prevents the consumption and destruction without halting my mind or blood completely.

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