My internal hyperactivity gauge has reached the red zone. In previous phases like this, I have created and suffered on homemade roller coasters, bought a plane ticket to England and checked out every book at the library on the mafia.
This phase (called “the crazy time” by my family) is my refueling time. While I figure out where I’m going next, my mind is swirling internally so externally some strange things happen. While I’m ruminating on how to stop fistulas in Afghanistan, I’m also picking up spray hair foam (I didn’t know such a thing existed) instead of hairspray in my friend’s bathroom and spraying it in a liberal white halo around my head. And the bathroom mirror. Five minutes before going out.
I exercise. A lot. Several times a day. I sit blankly looking at things. I suggest bizarre impulsive activities. I say words wrong. I get odd research interests. I compulsively google and come out with occasional remarks like “There is this awesome special on flights to North Korea!” that frighten those who know my penchant for travel. I read voraciously. At least 4 books at a time. I will be interrupted from an activity and give “the crazy look”, a signature wide-eyed stare similar to someone with really bad thyroid problems.
This probably makes me sound like I belong on my own personal island.
Come to think of it, my own personal island would be really nice. I should google tickets to Vanuatu. Wait. I already did.
So while summer swirls past, my mind is a little summer carnival with a carousel spinning around. The carousel is full of passengers, including a nurse who is an expert on fistulas and a Martha who actually knows what spray foam is/should be used for. Here’s a look at some of the other passengers…
1. A girl in a white dress with no use of her arms.
I should be too mature to succumb to dares. I know this. But did I really deserve losing the use of both arms for two days? I think not. During a pleasant shopping trip with my mother and sisters, I was twirling in a dress that had just gotten three thumbs up when I heard the ominous click of the dressing room door behind me. I get why they design dressing room doors to lock behind you, but it’s the most annoying thing in the world. The dressing room lady was just scary, so I dreaded asking her for an unlock. Mom smiled.
“Just go under.” I looked down. The gap under the door was less than a foot tall.
“Uhhh…I don’t think that’s the best idea.” (See? I was trying to be good)
*grins* “You could have done it when you were younger.”
It was over. I looked around quickly, and dove for it, both arms sticking out in front, abs and rear lifted to keep the white dress off of the floor. I was halfway when my flipflop fell off. For reasons that escape me, a reccurring high school injury decided to act up, and both shoulders rolled out of position, rendering my arms useless. So there I was on the dressing room floor, with Nazi attendant ready to come around the corner at any second. Panic set in. The little white dress suddenly felt like a straight jacket. I somehow snaked the rest of my body through, abandoning the flipflop in the middle of the dressing room floor. My shoulders popped back in. It took me about 6 minutes to unzip the dress.
I kicked off the summer with a wedding. As maid of honor, you’re supposed to be responsible for the ring. But when your sister is marrying a freaking massive person, this is a problem. Dresses hardly ever have pockets, because that would involve adding fabric at your hips. And heaven forbid it look like you have hips. This means you carry everything in a purse, in your shirt, or in your hands. Pulling a ring out of my purse or shirt at the altar hardly seemed appropriate. The only solution was to wear it on my biggest finger–my thumb–and let it slide around. When the moment came to hand off the ring, I stuck out my thumb to the officiant like a hitchhiker and he pulled it off. I felt like I was Frodo with the weight of the ring lifted.
Perhaps it would have been better to drop the ring. Then people would remember that I was the horrible maid of honor with skinny thumbs. Not the bride. My sister and I are known for looking alike. I don’t get it at all, but I have answered to Sarah for years and gotten used to creepy “I saw you today” references from people saying they saw me in places I definitely wasn’t. As I was crankily taking her wedding dress to the dry cleaner, returning cake stands, living on leftover coconut chicken from the reception and missing the heck out of her while she was on her honeymoon, fielding questions about my supposed recent marriage was something I should have seen coming. In case you are confused, too: No. I did not get married. If I had, I would not be here, honeymooning with 80 swimmers at country clubs.
I love Kellie Pickler. When I heard she was giving a free concert at the local Tin Roof, it was a no-brainer to go. Apparently it was also a no-brainer for every other girl in Lexington. And we all got to be at the same concert with no brains together. Imagine being one of 4 sober girls in a room so packed with adorable but horribly inebriated women that the collective value of our clothes could probably buy us a Super Bowl ad about why Kentucky girls love country music. Now put all of those drunk girls in stiletto heels or cowgirl boots and make them fidgety. Now play some breakup songs really loudly. Boom! You’ve got my concert experience. I don’t mind standing for a few hours waiting for a concert, but some girls are just mean–especially when there are few guys around. I was surrounded by at least 8 girls who were alarmingly like the kind of girl Kellie Pickler sometimes writes about throwing rocks at. I’m not into throwing rocks in public, but I was sorely tempted to pick up a few of the beer bottles dropped by my feet and start chucking those. Instead, I went the southern lady way: give a smile that says “Sweet, pretty girl: If you dump that beer on my new dress again, I’m going to accidentally step on your foot in these stilettos. They are six-inchers.”
My impulsive desire to cook during the crazy time is legendary. Trips to Kroger for ingredients with my little sister riding shotgun are iconic summer staples.Moments of caloric brilliance abound. Cooking disasters are likewise numerous when I am in this carousel-minded state. This week’s fiasco involved me 1. Having to double a recipe because I put twice as much cocoa in as was necessary. 2. Telling my sous-chef (Virginia) to put ingredients in the wrong bowl. 3. Forgetting something key.
Later in the evening after the mini lava cakes we were making were completed, mom found a melted stick of butter in the microwave. Turns out I had doubled everything except for the butter. Hey, it was diet-friendly.
5. A librarian.
There is something about summer that gets me excited about reading. Without required reading, I get so
excited that I get into 3 or 4 books at once. Since I’m currently in the “crazy” phase, I have 5 going: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Assassination Vacation,” “Three Cups of Tea,” “In a Sunburned Country,”and ”Crazy Love.”" Yeah, I don’t see a theme, either.
6. Lots of kids wearing goggles
A long time ago I made a pact with myself to try to take every question or comment a kid comes to me with seriously. I was a hyper/curious enough kid that I figure it’s karma if I get a ton of questions/unique observations. But if you are trying to do that, sometimes it’s really hard to answer “silly” questions without sounding silly yourself. Maybe they aren’t that silly after all. Maybe we are the crazy ones for not dreaming these things up.
Hesitant 7-year-old looking tentatively at the water: ”Are their spiders in the pool?”
Coach Martha: “I don’t know. (Before thinking, to lifeguard getting out of pool after setting up lane lines) Are there spiders in the pool?”
Concerned 10-year-old, while Coach Martha is talking: “Coach Martha. Coach Martha. Coach Martha. Coach Martha. Coach Martha.”
Coach Martha: “Yes, dear?”
Concerned 10-year-old: “I think there may be a dime on the bottom of the pool.”
New swimmer: “Is this a real-life race?”
Coach Martha: “Yes. This is real-life.”
Put-out 7-year-old: “Why is there is no sign over there to tell you no diving?”
Coach Martha: “Well, I think they didn’t think it was necessary to do that in the kiddie pool–especially when it’s drained.”
As a swim meet incentive, I promised the swimmers they could decorate the cars of all of the coaches if they could meet a point total goal. Still wringing out my clothes from the last incentive (pushing me in the pool, then dunking me repeatedly and splashing me in the face), I purposefully set an unrealistically high goal and didn’t even bother telling the other coaches of my promise. I can be so dumb. When the swimmers beat their goal by 5 points, the look on my assistant coaches faces was unforgettable. And I mean that in the “I watched Psycho and will always be terrified of showering” sense, not the “I saw Cape Town at sunrise and will always have a happy feeling inside when I think about it” sense.
I almost made it a lot worse when the day arrived. I took the swimmers, frighteningly ravenous for the window markers I clutched to my chest, in a mob out to the parking lot. I gestured to the cars and said, “These are our cars. You’ll be decorating these three.” Fortunately, the other coaches spoke up and informed me that I was pointing to the wrong cars. In hind sight, they could have played it off coolly and let someone else’s get decorated. But then they wouldn’t have the lovely “I LOVE PONIES” and “CHLORINE IS MY PERFUME” messages scrawled across the back.
They shouldn’t complain. In addition to a plethora of autographs and a large cartoon chicken on the windshield, mine has “I LOVE JUSTIN BIEBER” and “JESUS WEPT” scrawled across the back. Still trying to figure it out.
Other passengers on my current mental carousel include a graduate school counselor and a travel agent from the country of the next international trip I’m planning (Stay tuned!! I hope to make the reveal soon).
Oh, and the girl who fainted in line in front of me at the amusement park and hit the ground like a ton of bricks. And the guys in line who got into a fight at the top of the water slide. Maybe everyone from the amusement park should be on the mental carousel. They all seemed crazy that day.
I can joke about the crazy mental carousel, but the truth is, I have the power to shut it off. Summer is heart-breakingly brief. Maybe the crazy time has less to do with “reloading for the next step” and more to do with panicking that I have nonproductive, blissful free time. I do need to take some time to think and pray about the months ahead, but I can do that just as easily floating in a pool, laying on a blanket under the stars or curling up with an iced tea as I can blazing across town in my graffiti-ridden car with white foam stuck to my hair, dislocated shoulders and a batch of butterless mini lavacakes in the back seat.
So, from my summer so far to yours: May you slow down. May you get pushed in the pool. May you have a little kid tell you he loves you. May you OD on mangoes when they go on sale. May you watch Ryan Lochte swim every time you get the chance. May you watch fireworks at least 5 times. And may you get off of the mental carousel ride and get onto a real one.