21 July 2009

da bell jar

Ever since I got back from New York, while unemployed, I've kept up a pretty strict regimen of reading and writing. I've tried to alternate between reading new books and re-reading old books that I read when I was a lot younger. The last one I finished was The Bell Jar.
The copy I read was the copy I first read from when I was 12. What made this so good are all the great notes and markings I made. Such as underlining a passage and writing "WOWEE!" because I was fucking 12. Or underlining a passage about categorizing people not based on gender, age, social status, etc, but rather on whether or not they were virgins, and writing "Thank god," because I specifically remember being comforted by the fact that I was not the only one who thought this. It was pretty cute getting little glimpses into my 12 year old self. What was also weird was how when I first read it, I hadn't had my epic mental collapse yet, but I think I still felt a connection with some of the things she said, like there was a part of me deep down that sensed what was going to happen eventually.
And then there's this passage, from Chapter 20:
"To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream."
And then a few pages later:
"I wasn't sure at all. How did I know that someday -- at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere -- the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn't descend again?"
Re-reading The Bell Jar was scary and emotional. I knew that the book was good. But now that I've been through what Plath/Esther Greenwood went through, it's absolutely terrifying how completely spot ON Plath was about what happens. It doesn't matter that it was the 60s and I was in the 00s or that she was 19 and I was 17, it's the exact same thing. And when she gets (successful) electroshock therapy in the mental hospital and suddenly feels the bell jar lifted, and is amazed at how much clearer the world is . . . it is identical to the way I felt, also in the mental hospital, when my antidepressents kicked in for the first time and I could just breathe. I could stop crying and breathe and think.
So if you ever wonder what it's like to go nuts, get better, and still live in fear of going nuts again, read The Bell Jar.

10 July 2009

plane adventures

July 2nd - Early morning flight going from Savannah to Dallas . . .

Was seated next to lone traveling boy, who at first glance, I placed around the age of 13, given his short height, cracky voice, lack of Adam's apple, and hairless legs. He struck up conversation with me almost immediately, which I tried my best to wiggle out of, though I admit I probably could have done more had I not expected whatever he was going to say would turn out to be gold (though I still think I underestimated it).
He made a first glance age judgment on me, too, which I suspect put me in the 10th-12th grade range (especially when, while waiting at the gate to board the plane, a crew member called for all unaccompanied minors to board first, and the woman sitting next to me nudged me to remind me that they had called for me). He stumbled around with his words a little bit when I told him I was a senior, in college, after he had asked for my opinion on AP classes, and said that he was "Uh, well I mean I'm 15, about to be a sophomore, you know."
I was reading Lolita (ironic? misleading on my part?) and he said, "Hey, if you like reading so much, wanna read this book for me and do my book report?" It was Gulliver's Travels. When I turned him down he kept talking to me ("Where I come from, we shoot what we want - but not with lethal weapons,") while I kept ignoring him. A baby cried a few rows ahead of us and he said that SURELY that baby was HIGH perhaps on MARIJUANA and that to SHUT IT UP the best tactic was OBVIOUSLY to give the baby ALCOHOL although he was quick to inform me that when HE drinks alcohol he actually gets LOUDER so mayhaps that's not the BEST solution.
These comments, along with the throwing in of a "fuck" more often than even I feel is necessary made me a little suspicious that he was flirting with me. I never think anyone is flirting with me, I'm not the kind of person who gets looked at and then is sure that I'm being flirted with. But it didn't seem completely crazy that if anyone was going to flirt with me, it would be a prepubescent (or at least brinkpubescent) boy.
I sat on the aisle seat, he sat on the window seat, and about halfway into the flight he tapped my knee (which he had already grazed a few times searching my seatback compartment for the in-flight magazine that he clearly had a copy of in his own seatback compartment) to indicate needing to get out of the row to use the bathroom. I scooted and manuevered accordingly, not ever really taking my eyes off my book. But I could sense him standing in front of me, instead of moving toward the back to the bathroom. I looked up at him, glanced really.
"Want to join me?" His intentions, at this point, completely baffled me and my first thought was that perhaps I had completely misjudged this person, maybe he was handicapped in some way and expected my assistance.
"What?" I said, leaning forward a little and squinting, looking for signs of gimpiness.
"You know, join me in the bathroom. You know." About halfway through this sentence was when I realized what was actually happening was this child was propositioning me to have sex with him in the airplane bathroom. Immediate reaction: laughter.
"Are you kidding?"
"Well I mean I thought we really hit it off here." I'm going to be honest. Not often do people hit me up for sex, or even hint at wanting to hit me up for sex. This leads me to consider every offer, at least for a second, despite grossness/consequences, mostly out of fear of it never being presented to me again.
However. This was the first time that I can recall being so outrightly offered a sexual encounter and without even the tiniest nanosecond thought of consideration. Instead I sort of stared at him, said "No," and kept reading. Essentially, that ended that.