I called my sister, Melinda. “Hey, I need to warn you. I did a thing.”
“AWGAWD,” she cried out. “What the hell did you do.”
First, a little backstory.
Many years ago, after putting it off, I enrolled in a college. It was a community college, Saddleback, I think it was called. It didn’t really matter because shortly after my registration went through, my mother died and that keboshed that.
A few years went by and I tried again. Enrolled, was accepted, registered.
And then I got pregnant.
Enrolled again. My father died.
Enrolled again. Another pregnancy.
So, in case you’re not keeping up, if I try to go back to college, a price has to be paid. Either a birth or a death.
However, after years of depression and just tired of waiting, in 2000, I put my foot down and announced to the Heavens and to the Hells, I was going to college and getting a degree and NOTHING was going to stop me. I registered and waited for the inevitable.
It never came.
So….crashing back to NOW.
I did a thing.
I’ve enrolled in a Fall program to get a Bachelor’s. It’s all online at University of Virginia. It’s a degree in Writing, so, yes, a useless degree BUT it won’t really matter.
I’m not doing it to be useful.
I’m doing it for me.
It’s going to be expensive, time consuming and who knows if I’ll even finish it but, fuck, I’m going to try.
And, now we wait to see if the Powers that Be demand that price to be paid.
To whoever dies or pops out a womb gnome……Mea Culpa.
I’m having an antsy day. Nothing really amuses me or keeps my attention for long. I was perusing through Youtube and found a parody video of the Phantom of the Opera tune, Music of the Night, but done with a Quarantine twist.
It was amusing enough but what caught my eye was a video listed below it. Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman doing their version of Music of the Night, O.G. Phantom of the Opera circa 1988.
A little backstory:
Back in 1990, I was 25, living in California, no kids, husband was off in Desert Storm, and I had a shitload of time on my hands. A friend wanted to go see Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles. I was like, “Whatever.” I really didn’t care about it one way or another.
And then, I saw it.
I’m a fairly obsessive sort of person. I measure points of my life by what thing I was obsessed with at what time. 11 years old, I was mostly in cryptozoology majoring in Bigfoot. Around 13, I was big into Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars. Rounding into my teenage years, I was into Dracula. WAY TOO into Dracula. At one time, I could actually write out his family tree. Yeah.
And there were my Jesus Freak years….
There were a handful of other obsessions that came and went but, at the time, I was Obsession Free and feeling pretty good about myself.
Until Phantom of the Opera.
Gurrrrl, I went down a huge rabbit hole. I spiraled deep. And this was before the Internet so luckily I only had the local library and my the swamp of my own head canon to drown in. I played my CD* constantly, staring off into the dark as I created my own fantasy world, writing what would now be called Fanfic of the Phantom’s adventures Post Christine.
In these fantasies I replaced her (the bitch) as his love interest but it was never requited because….wow. Damn. What the hell Past Nik? Can’t even score in your own head canon?
It’s embarrassing but, fuck it. I own it. That is who I was. A lonely, 25 year old, fantasy driven kid dreaming of some ill fated love affair with a disfigured, definitely homicidal, possibly rapist, tragic Anti-Hero.
Hey, who hasn’t done that?
Crash back into Present Day Nik as I watched the MTVesque video of Crawford /Brightman performing Music of the Night.
A song, I also want to emphasize, that would grab Past Nik by her panties, twist them around my middle parts and pull me into ecstasy.
I’m not even joking.
During the high point (or low point depending on your POV) of my Phantom crush, there was concert in Irvine featuring the best of Andrew Lloyd Webber featuring, MY MAN, Michael Crawford. I scrabbled up my meager pennies and got a seat that was SO FAR AWAY from the stage, he appeared like a Pink Singing Blob on the stage. It didn’t matter. When I heard his voice, I felt myself become transcended. Listening to him sing Music of the Night, I felt like I was being pulled off my seat.
Yeah, it’s humiliating but I promise you there is a point I am slowly working my way towards.
SO, crash back (AGAIN) to Present Day Nik, watching the video, blah, blah.
And I felt nothing.
No. That’s not true.
I did feel something.
I feel annoyed.
Like, seriously….what the hell am I watching? He’s a manipulative maniac pretending to be an angel sent by her dead father. She’s a naive, social climbing, theatre kid wannabe.
The candles, the gothic atmosphere, the cape, the boat, the flowing gown.
Was this my ideal of Romantic Love? Who was that person? Why did my 25 year old dumbass self find THAT attractive?
Kidnap me from my bedroom, gaslight me, murder coworkers, attempt to crush me with a chandelier, terrorize my friends, garrote my boyfriend, stalk, kidnap me (AGAIN) and sabotage my career?
I’m too far away from 25 year old Nik. I’m so far removed from her that I can’t even begin to understand what the ever loving fuck she found romantic in such a character.
Present day me, 54 year old menopausal me, she doesn’t have the time, patience or the fucking energy to put up with that kind of shit.
I don’t want Romance.
I don’t need hormonal gas lighting.
What 54 year old Nik wants is someone who has her back, can loan her $20 when she’s short on cash, will rub my gnarly, dry, scaly old lady feet, watch Rick and Morty and keep my goddamn glass of wine full.
You can take your gondoliers and sewers underneath the opera house & shove it.
*CDs for the Younglings out there are round, silver discs we used to listen to music. Now, they are used mainly to hang on sticks and scare away crows.
I use to consult it every morning after catching the bus to work to get an idea of what sort of day was ahead for me so I could get ready for it. It was a strange way of arming myself to do battle with the day.
I haven’t looked at it since the Covid 19 lockdown.
In February, before all the shit went down, I was feeling very low and I started consulting my tarot cards. Again, it’s a harmless psychological crutch. I don’t think my cards have any sort of magical divining powers; I use my cards in a purely Jungian vein. Taps into subconscious archetypes, helps me to see outside of my head. And, back then, I was in a whirlwind of despair, lost and lonely.
I haven’t even thought about flipping a card in months.
Isn’t that weird?
You would think that now, of all times, NOW is when I’d be consulting oracles and looking for some sort of supernatural signs.
But, I don’t feel any compulsion to do look for comfort in any kind of magical thinking tricks.
Where I do find comfort is turning off the TV, logging off from internet and going outside for a walk. The sky is blue, the trees are blooming, grass is thick and green. Birds are singing and squirrels are effortlessly leaping from tree to tree like trapeze artists. The air smells like honeysuckle. There is a cool edge to the wind to remind me that winter is not exactly done and to enjoy the warmth, sweetie and remember: weather can change on a dime in April.
When I stop doom scrolling and look outside, I am reminded that Life is all around us.
And, as long as there is Life there is Hope.
Maybe that’s why I don’t feel the need to throw the bones to scry what might be happening down the road.
Now, I feel still. I listen to the wind. And I am content to wait.
Due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, going to see the doctor for a yearly checkup has a new twist: virtual checkups.
Unfortunately, getting blood work done is still very much pokey and hurty. I had to go to the lab, wearing a mask and gloves, roll up my shirt and let a stranger stab me with a hypodermic needle and drain out my precious blood.
For my checkup, my doctor wanted to do a Facebook Chat with me to go over my test results. And I thought, “That’s cool. I can do that. I chat on FB all day long. No problem.”
I sat by my computer and waited to be PINGED on my FB Chatbox.
And then my phone rang.
OH! A video chat! Cool!
I answered the phone. To accept the video chat.
AND PUT IT UP TO MY EAR!
For about five seconds, I could hear him talking to me….
AT MY EAR!
And then I realized….Oh yeah….VIDEO CHAT….and turned the phone to face him.
He said to me, “So…you feeling okay?”
SO….my bloodwork is the BEST it’s been in years. My weight is great (I was 163 when I first starting with him and now I’m at 152 lbs). He’s very proud of me.
Especially once I remembered how to VIDEO CHAT!
I’ll kick myself in the ass for the rest of the day.
Years from now, when I’m feeling pretty good about myself, my brain will bring it back up….”HEY, remember that time you forgot how to VIDEO CHAT?”
My son works at a Big Grocery Store chain. Today he told me this story.
“Have you ever heard of a Brazilian Wandering Spider?” he said.
“They are deadly as hell and, worst of all, they sometimes hitchhike in shipments of bananas.”
“Big Grocery Store has a policy on what to do when we find one. They have to close the store for three days to fumigate. And guess what? When I was on vacation last week, they found one in my store.”*
“But it was dead so they didn’t close the store. I guess they figured it didn’t have friends.”
“Jesus. That’s crazy.”
“But you know what I kept thinking? Because everything is so crazy now, can you imagine suiting up, putting on a mask, gloves and everything, to go to the store only to be told, “Sorry. The store is closed.” So you ask, ‘Why? The Covid Virus? Has someone gotten sick?’ And somebody in a hazmat suit says, ‘No, sir. Spiders.’
Because, frankly, Spiders make everything worse. Even in 2020.
*before you tell me this is an Urban Legend, he said they had pictures of the dead spider.