Since the paper I write for doesn't have up the link for my latest column - I'll include it here - for your reading "pleasure"!
There are times in every girl’s life when she must question her holding on that elusive thing called sanity. On two separate occasions within the past few weeks I have felt that my sweaty, white-knuckled grip on the sane part of my brain was dangerously close to lifting off, taking flight and leaving me forever. I have decided, for the mental health of all women and girls out there struggling to juggle a career, schooling, family, hobbies and social pressures, to let them know – they are not alone.
I have been doing quite well as of late in my Graduate School online poetry class. I have learned terms, studied poets, and counted lines, stanzas, forms and rhymes all to better understand what makes a poet tick. And now, many assignments later, I was to begin writing “The Big Paper” (hereinafter to be called “TBP”). I was to fill ten pages of precious Microsoft Word space with an American Poetry topic of my choice. I proposed to my professor the following: “I would like to study the very different poet Stephen Crane and maybe compare and contrast him to other Literary Giants of the day, like Emerson or Browning.” My ever-prompt prof quickly wrote back via the wonderful (complicated and ever-bug-filled) WebCT: “Good, Holly. Emerson would be a great comparison to Crane.” I copied down his suggestion in my notes and immediately developed an odd case of schizophrenia-dyslexia as I printed: “Crane v. Browning” at the top of my page.
Eight and a half pages into “TBP” I developed a nagging migraine that left me wishing I hadn’t purchased such a psychedelic rug for the family room as it was triggering a nice vertigo to go with the burning, smacking sensation that was working its way up my neck. I log in to WebCT and quickly submit my Rough Draft, also known as “I’m embarrassed to have even have typed this load of poetic-based rubbish” and crawl up to bed. At one in the morning I’m jolted by the following realization: I did it all wrong! Yup. After sending it in is when I realize that Browning is not even an American Poet! So, I do what any other girl would do in my situation – I commenced a massive freak out.
Earlier this week was when the second instance of my slipping sanity manifested itself for all the world to see. Harry, my loving hubby and the cleaner-upper of the yard, begged, pleaded and whined until I finally agreed, reluctantly, to go to the shooting range.
Let me pause here to ask one general question: If you knew your wife’s stress levels were zooming somewhere past the planet-formerly-known-as-Pluto – would you stick a pistol in her grubby paws? I thought not – but Harry did.
We met another couple at a local gun range and I listened carefully as I was taught the basics of firearm safety. I fought the urge to let the Lifetime Movie of the Week titles stroll across my mind like a doomed marquee: “Bang, Bang: A Woman’s Accident in the Woods”; “The Holly Shivel Story: Itchy Trigger Finger of Death”; “Why I Wore Lipstick When I Accidentally Shot my Husband’s Big Toe Off.” I shook my head and tried to pay attention to the life-saving techniques my friend, Mike, was calmly explaining to his wife, Meghan, and me. He was detailing the trick to “releasing the action” when I felt my mind wander again, and began listing off a carefully mentally bulleted “To-Do List” across my brain.
“Okay – now release the action,” Mike said and looked at me expectantly. My tiny right hand tried to wiggle up to the little button – but to no avail. So I put one hand on top the gun and used the other to pop the action – and promptly got my finger stuck in it. I got my finger stuck in a gun! was all I could think as I began an internal countdown to my next psychotic break. 10, 9, 8… “Okay, now keep your arms loose..” Mike warned as I fired and cringed. 7, 6, 5.. “Okay, Holly, your arms were too tense, the shell got stuck. Try again…” 4,3,2… “Nope, still too tense, it’s stuck again…” One. LIFTOFF! I insisted that Harry take me home, as a meltdown was imminent.
“Will you call HCA for me? Book me a penthouse suite, please?” I beg my husband on the way home as tears streak my face and I search for a napkin in the glove box. “I’m just too stressed-out…”
“You don’t want to go to HCA, baby…” he said sweetly. “Besides, I’m sure they don’t have 500 thread count sheets.”
I stared at him and then dried my tears. “Really? Oh, right. Think they’d keep my reservation –just in case?”
But as the semester end looms before me like a bright, shining beacon of hope and as my Poetry professor assures me that my rough draft was just that – rough – but possessed good “bones”, I can feel myself relaxing. I’m sure things are going to be just fine.
Unless they continue to jackhammer the street below my office window.
And then, I can’t be held responsible for my actions: “The Holly Shivel Story: How I Beat Up Construction Workers Wielding a Knee-High Payless Boot.”