I’ve kind of had a rant brewing for awhile about how much fucking WORK it takes to make things look effortless.

But first, tunage! (It’s one of my favorite songs to blast while I’m driving — and it’s my heroine Melissa Etheridge.)

Anywho …

I have a low tolerance for martyrdom. We all have a cousin or a family member whom we absolutely avoid because they try to make everyone feel their pain. They cannot do someone a favor or complete a simple task without letting you know the excruciating agony they experienced and the great sacrifices they had to make to achieve something. And, worse, their flair for the dramatic extends to trying to make you feel like they did all of this for you and that you somehow owe them, even if you never asked for anything in the first place.

That said, I went to a school that’s world-famous for its performing arts programs. (I, however, learned how to dance in the local gay nightclubs, instead of in the conservatory. I’m sure I’m just as good. LOL) But, oftentimes, I would stand in the doorways of the dance classes and just watch. Not that I was a fan of emaciated, sweaty, smelly dancers (who would somehow pack 16 of their kind into our tiny elevators and make me fucking sick as I rode 18 floors with them to my dorm room, but I digress).

But watching them was fascinating. Not that I am any kind of critic, but you could tell who was going to end up in the Rockettes and who would end up working at a theater box office. Simply told, many people showed the effort behind the movements, while a select few others only showed grace.

And those, well, let me put it this way. Point Park has had some famous graduates. Those are the ones who only gave beautiful, effortless performances.

And that leads to today’s rant about how it takes twice as much work to appear that you are giving an effortless, well, effort.

“She wakes up in the morning
With a pain in her jet black head
A decaf coffee in her hand
And a marlboro red
She drives down to the office
In her Japanese car
With the radio blasting
She dreams of taking it too far
But today she’ll pay the bills
She won’t think about the thrills
That pass away.”

I’m going to toe the line of martyrdom for one minute to say that for all I tell people and for all that they see, they don’t know the half of it. Really. Not only do I work my ass off, but like many women (and many men, I’m sure), I am constantly overcoming something … even if it’s only in my own mind.

I was talking with one of my guy friends awhile back, and I was expressing some mild hysteria over a perceived professional screw-up. And sure, in hindsight, I was overthinking it and making myself crazy over what possibly turned out to be nothing much. But I had all these delusions and fears and grand schemes accumulating in my head of how to make things right. Seriously, my head was about to explode.

Said friend had also experienced a similar screw-up around the same time. And while, sure, it bothered him, he didn’t lose his shit the way I did. I flat-out asked him if he rehearsed a thousand scenarios in his head the way I did. He smiled and said, “Nope. I’m pretty blank most of the time. Works for me.”

I swear, that was a turnaround point for me. Not that I changed my behavior, mind you, but maybe it’s why most of the men I know spend most of their lives unruffled, stoic, not passionate about much of anything other than sports and hooters.

I almost envy that ability to shut off one’s brain simply as if on command.

Years ago, I was diagnosed with tension headaches. I was working at a high-stress job with a staff that caused me even more stress. I was doing the work of four people and, unfortunately, getting the equivalent punishment from above if GOD FORBID a detail slipped. And I’m very detail-oriented. To a fault. Talk about your head exploding — holy shit.

Now, this may explain, in part, the song choice for today:

“Her eyes are black as leather
And her hair is killer red
How could she keep the baby
When she can barely keep her head.”

I will say nothing more other than that I had a huge personal situation going on amid all the other chaos. Nobody knew. I did not let on. Nor did I let on that the “why” was “the job.” I asked for no time off, nor did I even let anyone see me taking my tension headache pills. I smiled every minute of every day — I was “on” all the time … even as a part of me died, both literally and figuratively.

The same thing happened to the most braindead of my staff at the time. She expected preferential treatment and accommodations and sympathy. She shared with the world. I was quietly supportive and even went against all things holy and defended her to my superiors. The only thing I said was, “I’ve been there.” Little did they know that it had been only three months earlier.

But that’s what I mean about making things look effortless. There are some people like a cousin of mine who will, say, buy you a gift. Then they will tell you how fucking hard it was for them to get out of the house and brave being around people when you KNOW they’re agoraphobic and they have this hangnail on their toe that makes it hard for them to walk so they had to ask someone to drive them and then they needed one of those wheelchair shopping baskets but then their credit card was declined and so they had to call their bank and hold up the line at the store before finally getting the gift and then needing to go get it wrapped before getting it home so WHY CAN’T YOU AT LEAST CALL THEM ONCE IN AWHILE TO SAY HELLO, AFTER ALL THEY DO FOR YOU?!?!

In case it isn’t obvious, that’s a direct quote from a relative. But I digress. I will also not mention how they will bring up said gift in any conversation for the next five years to ask you how you are enjoying it — Jeebus Crisp, I thought we give gifts because we wanted to brighten people’s days, not to fish for a fucking pat on the back every five minutes. Sheesh.

I will also not bring up that, after they whine that you don’t call them and you finally do call them, they bitch at you for NOT CALLING THEM BECAUSE THEY COULD HAVE, LIKE, DIED OR SOMETHING FOR AS LONG AS YOU HAVE NEGLECTED THEM.

And we wonder why I am a hermit sometimes. 🙂

“Something’s gotta give somewhere
Forcing circles into squares
She keeps pushing on.”

But anyway, lately I feel like I’ve been working twice as much (in all areas of my life) and accomplishing just enough to get by. I guess I’m just exhausted. And what frightens the shit out of me is that my guise is slipping — I am starting to let people see the — well, not the “real” me, but the “me” I gave up so long ago. I talk about nothing, but I keep talking. I am so tired of being lonely from being camped out inside my head that I will do anything to start or revive a conversation, just to keep people near. Even when I can tell they are ready to dismiss me and get on with their lives — tough shit. 😉

Not only that, but when I’m tired, the language gets more colorful (than usual!). The snark pokes through like a broken underwire snaps through your bra and impales your armpit (yeah, had that happen this week, too. Hooray. First wearing of the bra, too). And when people don’t know you *that well* just yet, you just hope they laugh it off and forget about it instead of taking you too literally.

It’s weird to be around new people. I guess I always am, in a way — I’m always in different situations after I get bored or insanely frustrated with previous ones. And again with the effortlessness, I try to appear comfortable and jubilant and capable … because I AM. And I manage to make it happen despite the fact that my mind is in no fewer than 35 places at any given time. Why don’t I look at you when I’m talking to you? Either I’m immersed in the memory OR I’m planning what to say … or NOT say … next.

But I don’t want you to know this. I don’t need you to know that I’m multi-tasking every minute of the day. I don’t want you to know that I’d rather have a cup of coffee and a blog chat with you instead of either worrying about something or taking care of it so it’s no longer on the worry list.

And that is why I must go shower and prepare for my mani/pedi today — I am totally treating myself for the first time in FOREVER. I want to be as polished on the outside as I can possibly be, first of all so that you only see a cool, calm, collected exterior and, secondly, so that maybe my insides will behave similarly when they see how glossy and pretty the outside looks when it’s all dolled up and ready to be seen.

And maybe I won’t be so nuts when I have more things crossed off of my “to-do” list. But first, I have GOT to find the time to MAKE the list!!! 🙂

On iTunes: Melissa Etheridge, “All-American Girl”

One Lonely Response to Effortlessness

  1. PrincessLeee :

    i know wat ya mean some ppl only care aboput them selves and wat they can get out of the ppl around them, but on the other hand of the pendulim i tend to be the opposite, always givin and helpin which is who i am, but it would be nice if ppl recognise the difference between self sacrificing love and selfish love