AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: DATE: 4/08/2004 01:37:00 PM ----- BODY:

Quickest Girl in the Frying Pan

Eastern Standard Time is kicking my ass. This morning I got up at about 6:20, a little late, but it's all good, got in the shower, and then SHA-ZAM it was somehow 7:20 about two minutes later, and there I was standing in my bathrobe, a towel still on my head, still trying to figure out which pants weren't too wrinkled to wear. So I had to do the old-comb-my-wet-hair-in-the-car trick just to be on the road by 7:30. Sometimes I think, often while staring dewy-eyed at the first star I see at night, that somewhere, somehow, maybe, just maybe someone or something will turn me into an adult. I don't know what kind of formative experience I'm precisely looking for, here; probably something along the lines of when the Fairy Godmother gives Cinderella her cosmic makeover in the Disney movie. Ta-da! There you are, twenty-five and successful, the first woman on the moon. Though I know how way leads on to way, and so I am (somewhat) resigned to the fact that I'll probably never really, deeply feel "grown up" or "accomplished" or "mature", because that's the way I am--I may hope otherwise, but I know I'll still be standing around wondering why I'm not the ship-shape squared-away go-getter I thought I'd be when I'm 30, too. Oh, God. 30. I've never been this scared of a number before. I had thought I was intimidated by 20, but that doesn't hold a candle to the way I can already just glimpse that third decade coming over the horizon like a "LAST GAS FOR 500 MILES" sign in the middle of the desert. Forty, at least in my admittedly myopic view, is when the vultures begin to circle. By then, you might be depressed, but you can pretty much give up. Thirty, though, is when you're expected to have something to show for yourself. A career and / or a kid are the usual two choices. The twenties are merely a bunch of procrastinating and freaking out about the final evaluation that comes at 30. Meanwhile, look at me. Already 23, and still walking around like I don't even exist most of the time. There has to be someone else that this happens to--you just float along, in your solitary little bubble, and all of a sudden you see your shadow on the ground and you realize that it's eight feet tall because it's five o'clock in the afternoon already, and then you realize that it's still light out at 5 in the afternoon already because it's April already, and then you realize it's April already because it's already almost halfway through the first decade of the 21st century, and you realize that the shadow is eight feet tall instead of four feet or so because you're 23, not 6, or 16 like you suspect you sometimes pretend, and then with earth shattering clarity it hits you that you are irrevocably attached to that shadow, because you are yourself, and it seems like such a truism, such an obvious statement, but when you actually really think about it, it's a terrifying thought. Because you kind of walk around inside yourself. Hidden behind whatever personality you broadcast, the monster at the controls but somehow something seperate from your awkward body slumped in the car seat, slouched at the desk, snoring in bed, and you can see yourself, you can conceive of yourself the way you glimpse the eye-holes of a rubber Halloween mask in your peripheral vision when you wear it, and hear the thoughts and whirring away at your mental switchboard amplified the way your breath is loud inside that mask, but all of a sudden those moments where you see your shadow painting your actual shape onto a parking lot, is like having a mirror suddenly held up in front of you, and you realize, Oh my God, I actually am this person, I thought I just answered to this name out of courtesy, and holy shit motherfucker how'd it get to be fucking Thursday, April 8, 2004, for Pete's sakes, because last I checked it was right around August of 1988. I don't even really know what it is I'm trying to say. I think this is the kind of thing--though I think about it often--that's stuck down in the mud at the bottom of my mind way too deep to pull up to the surface in one piece. Or maybe I've just had too much coffee.