Monthly Archives: September 2010

Off To A Terrible Start

I just realized that my first two posts on here are very LiveJournally and boo-hoo-ish, so I felt the need to clarify something:

You guys, I’m not a victim. I am having hot water poison ivy orgasms over here. Be jealous.

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Perpetual Nightmare

I’m covered in poison ivy (well, my right arm is) and the basement has been flooding for two days.

I’ve been pretty depressed for the past two weeks … probably to the point where I would hibernate like I usually do, except I have a boyfriend who wants to see me and 67 year-old roommate I need to escape on occasion. But aside from the lingering sadness, life has been pretty relaxing.

I forgot what it was like to have stuff like this on my mind … to live in this state of permanent anxiety and worry. When you’re in a semi-caretaker role for a year, that’s how you live. You get used to this thing lurking in your thoughts, always hovering over you even when you’re not acknowledging it directly.

These days, I get nervous when I’m too relaxed. For someone with a life like mine, it simply means something bad is coming. I’m almost relieved to be worrying about itching and Benadryl and fans and towels and stuff. Maybe that means I’m ready for parenthood? I’ll bet that’s what it’s like. (Did I just imply that my future children are a perpetual nightmare? Maybe.)

I suppose the point on this entry is, if you haven’t seen me in a while, it’s because I’m hibernating. And if you do see me and I smell like old dirty water and medicine, it’s because I’m covered in it.

Also, did you know that running hot water (not boiling, but the kind that turns your skin pink) over poison ivy feels like an orgasm? Well, it does. How have I never noticed this before? If showers didn’t flood my basement, I would probably still be in there right now. Woooo.

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Why Secretly Stephie?

Secretly Stephie has been my online moniker for years, but there’s a story behind it. But first, I have to tell you the story behind me.

When I was a kid, I wasn’t one of the popular kids, but I was well-liked and pretty confident. Better yet, I was good at everything I tried (except sports and history. Always terrible at those). I won blue ribbons in art shows, had solos in the school musicals, speaking parts in plays, and was usually sent to represent my class in the math and spelling bees. I could play the piano, sculpt, and I even had published poetry in the second grade. My parents and teachers told me I could do anything, and I believed them. I would talk to everyone. Better yet, I’d make them laugh.

Then my dad got sick. My family got poor. I got sent to public school and was mocked from the start. I was the poor dirty kid. I ate to deal with the stress of home and school, and soon I was the fat kid, too. I stopped sleeping. I stopped talking. I was nine. I was miserable.

Being bullied – not the normal teasing and mocking that everyone goes through, but daily shoving and name-calling by 90% of your grade – is one of the most traumatic and damaging things that can happen to a person. I stopped doing anything that could make me stand out. I refused to raise my hand in class – one time I peed my pants because the thought of asking to go to the bathroom in front of all the mean kids was terrifying. I remember very vividly the moment it sunk in, when I looked in a mirror and thought, “Oh my God. I’m that girl.”

I did make a few friends that year, in 4th grade. Two of them are still two of my closest friends to this day. I was myself around these girls, and no one else. By the time I hit middle school, there were 8 of us, and we ate lunch together every day. At least once a month, we’d get together for an awesome slumber party.

One year, a new girl named Jen joined us at our slumber parties. One night we were all at my friend Kristy’s house, and I was my usual self. Joking, singing, making up games – I never shut up when I was around my friends.

“You’re different,” Jen said out of nowhere, staring at me from across the room. “Why aren’t you always like this?” I asked her what she meant. “Well, you’re … cool. And you’re funny. You’re not like this at school.” She looked at me thoughtfully. “You should be like this all of the time, Stephie. Why aren’t you?”

It took me a long time – until I went to London when I was 20 – to figure out how to be myself all the time, and not just around the people I’m close to. These days, I feel like I’m the person I was supposed to be all along. But before that, I was only myself around people who made me comfortable … people who smiled at me, people who seemed to like me, and people who always, for some reason, called me Stephie.

Stephie used to be a secret part of me. It took a long time for me to introduce her to people. But now that I have, I’ve realized that Stephie had a lot to say. In fact, she never shuts up. I hope you like her.

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Like Sunbeams

If I ever have a daughter, I’m blowing this up and putting it on her wall, so it becomes one of those childhood things you see so much that it ends up embedded in your brain forever:

I love this so much, even if I can’t remember what book it’s from.

Also, because I love you:

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First And Foremost, I’d Like To Mention You

I used to spend a lot of time on this blog writing about this dude who broke my heart. It’s why I started the blog in the first place, admittedly. I would say hundreds dozens of entries are about how that affected me, and the entire spectrum of emotions that come from a loss like that. (I’m hurting! I’m over it! I’m reflective! I’m empowered! I’m pathetic! I’m hot shit!)

Since I’m moving to a new blog and it will be a while before I transfer this over, there’s a part of me that feels like I’m officially moving on, even if I moved on emotionally 3 years ago.

But I feel like there’s one more thing I have to admit; one regret I really have about that entire relationship: I really wish I had known more about my city when he was here, so I could have shown him why St. Louis is so great. The only places I really showed him were West County and that stretch of Natural Bridge Road where he spent a semester at UMSL. Not the best representation of the Lou, you know?

I don’t regret it because I think he would’ve moved here instead of dumping me for that band. These days, I’m glad he didn’t.

I simply regret it because St. Louis is so fucking amazing. Every day since I moved to the city (and these days, when I spend every weekend downtown) I discover something or someone new and I fall in love with it all over again. The architecture. The history. The revitalization. The diversity. The quirks. The landmarks. The food. The bars. SOUTH CITY. And so on, and so on.

People from the East Coast have such a strange perception of everything below and west of them, at least until they reach California. They consider the rest of us uncultured and ignorant, when they’ve never driven through the rest of the country and interacted with the people (or even acknowledged that underneath the southern accents, they are people at all). This was my chance to show some kid from Connecticut why my city was so rich – why people left his homeland, met up here, and called it expansion – and I blew it.

Some people think it’s sad to live in the same area all your life (and I’m not even sure I will; I would love to migrate north to Michigan or Wisconsin someday, and so would J). But I love how every corner of this area is mapped in my heart, through the various groups of friends who lived in each neighborhood, the people I was with when I explored each street and discovered its haunts. And I love that in the past year, I’ve realized how much of this city I DON’T know and how astonishingly gorgeous it is, despite all it’s faults. Last week, I watched fireworks in the playground where my dad used to play, without even knowing, and I felt him there. Next month, I’ll be able to look out my window and see the building my mom worked at 50 years ago, directly across the street.

So yeah, aside from stories about London, heartbreak in general, or that time he knocked my tooth out (or if Justin dumps me some day and I go on another heartbreak bender), I can’t picture myself writing about him the way I used to. But I had to put this out there. B, if you read this, St. Louis is fucking beautiful, and I’m so sorry I couldn’t show you why.

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Balloon Glow

The Balloon Glow is absolutely one of my favorite things to do in St. Louis. Usually I get there pretty late, but this year Justin and I made a point to be early and we got to watch the balloons inflate. Totally the way to go – it’s so exciting!

Here’s my favorite balloon that I mentioned last time:

And here’s my new second favorite:

You can find the full album here . And here’s a video of an actual Glow. I had to swap out the audio to something lame because it was so loud but I don’t know if it’s working so if you watch it here, CHANGE THE VOLUME:

It was so crowded that they had to block people from coming in, and it took some folks hours to leave. I think next year Justin and I are going to get a room at the Cheshire and walk over.

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How Ghosts Work

Last night, much like two years ago, I watched fireworks from a carnival at Jen and Ron’s church. Having narrowly missed the display last year, I opted to drive to a nearby playground ahead of time instead of meeting at their house and walking there.

I was about 10 or 15 minutes early, so I climbed to the top of the tower with my tiny bottle of wine and nestled on the floor next to the cave-like entrances of two slides. For some reason I started thinking about my dad. I realized it had been exactly two months, and I mulled that over for any meaning. I dangled my feet off the edge, laid on my back, stared at the moon and told my dad about my day. I poured out a tiny bit of wine for him, laughed to myself about it, then tried to recall if I had ever seen him drink wine. I decided that I hadn’t. I wondered why he was so present in my thoughts right then, right there, surrounded by empty swings and wood chips. I bit my lip, tried to absorb the tears back into my eyes before they spilled over, and then I glanced over and saw the silhouettes of Jen, Ron and Nick making their way toward me.

Then: fireworks. Slow but loud, thanks to the chill in the air. I shrieked with joy during the unexpectedly huge finale.

This morning my mom asked me where I was the night before. I described the carnival and the parish school. I said the name of the road and she said the name of the church with surprise. “By the train tracks,” she clarified, not a question. I nodded.

“Did you know that’s where Dad went to grade school?” she asked. I hadn’t.

After the fireworks, we had relaxed in Jen and Ron’s living room and talked about ghosts. They mentioned a friend of Ron’s mom who claims that she summons spirits.

Next year during the fireworks I’ll remember to say hi to my Dad’s kid ghost, who was probably sitting right next to me and not on the moon like I had assumed. And I’ll pour out a juice box instead, or maybe a beer, because my dad was the type of Norman Rockwellian 1950’s kid who would probably sneak up behind his dad Findley and steal a sip or two. That’s obvious to me, now that we’ve hung out and all.

I drove all the way downtown just to tell you that story. Wasn’t that nice of me?

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