i'm a white writer. in new york. original, no? i've been blogging since october 2002. this blog picks up in october 2008, when i moved from DC to NY...(and then I moved to Maine in 2012)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Premature Evacuation

These are the beginning paragraphs for my December post on RealMental.

I work at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. As you may know, each year around Thanksgiving, a giant evergreen tree is trucked in and trussed up in time for the televised “Lighting of the Tree.” The tree is big. It’s so big that decorating it takes weeks. And scaffolding. Lots and lots of scaffolding.

Now, this is only my second Christmas in NYC, but I’ve already got my own ritual for this event. I, along with everyone who works in the building, evacuate at 3pm before the crowds gather to watch the tree get blown up and sung to by rock stars.

Occasionally, I get irritable in New York. Sometimes when I’m walking and people (confession, I call them tourons, but I don’t mean you) stop on the sidewalk and impede the flow of foot traffic, I clench my jaw and widen my eyes in exasperation as I pause and wait for a path through to make itself known. I walk quickly, but I don’t run over people—they more or less veer into my path, like cicadas bobbling into a windshield.

As I’ve said on Twitter, if you lack the spatial awareness to step aside when exiting a door, elevator, or escalator, you’re probably really bad in bed.

Occasionally, as I walk through the city, I’m glad for the jostling, because it makes me feel connected in a sea of well-dressed anonymity. At these times, I’m filled with the spirit of kum-ba-yah, and I’ll often find that I’m smiling to myself. It’s not forced, it just happens. Who knows what brings it on—maybe I had a really good doughnut that day—but I certainly prefer being at peace with humanity rather than being a steaming bowl of annoyed.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about managing mental illness, right? And, as I type this, it’s 8 days late according to my self-imposed monthly deadline. I’ve known I wanted to write about the holidays for at least a month, so why have I stalled?

Because I kind of hate the holidays.

And believe me, there are reasons.

This is a whole book, this here topic of me and the holidays.

It’s genetic.

No, really.

It started with my grandmother.

Okay. [Deep breath.]

My grandmother was a Jehovah’s Witness. She wasn’t born that way. She chose it. And she was one of the 144,000 who are actually going to join God in Heaven. Well, she’s there already. She died six years ago this month.

I hardly knew my grandmother. My few memories of her center around rare visits during which I watched her shove vitamins down her Siamese cat’s throat and slather enormous quantities of hand lotion on herself and anyone within arm’s reach. Once I turned age 12, these visits stopped. With a complete lack of irony, my mother said she didn’t want my grandmother to hurt me the way she had hurt her. There were a few feeble attempts at communication over the years, but that ended when I got a note from my grandmother saying how worried she was because I was going to burn in hell for going to college.

You may know that Witnesses don’t celebrate holidays. My mother grew up never celebrating her birthday or Christmas. This of course meant that the holidays assumed an importance to her that was…spectacular.

To read the rest of the post, click here.