Personal Quest

January 4, 2011
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Tuesday, August 10th, 9:17 AM. Today is day 23 of the Quest to find within me a personal essay. The thirty milligram eight-hour time release Adderall that I take for my ADHD has been coursing through my veins for the better part of an hour, yet even as I write these words the cream cheese and pretzels that I left out on the kitchen sink call to me a Siren’s song, “eat me, dip me, enjoy me… salt so so good.” It’s too much to resist, and I am only human.

9:52 AM. My laptop reopens with the reluctance of an exhumed coffin. Radiating with the enthusiasm of a mortician’s stare, I gaze upon an electronic carcass of decaying and disembodied words, evidence of my umpteenth attempt to unearth from my barren psyche one personal essay. It is my firm belief that Torquemada could have discarded all of his Racks, Chairs of Spikes, Iron Maidens, Heretics Forks, and other tools of medieval persuasion forcing his victims instead to write a personal essay, and his results would have remained largely unchanged.

10:46 AM. BANG BANG BANG… My mom’s friend Christie is finding it necessary to hang her beloved imitation Andy Warhol picture of soup cans in then living room, right now. She moved in with my mom, younger brother, and I a month ago, but the pounding, banging, and general rearranging seems will continue into the foreseeable future, but I digress, back to the common app and my personal hell, I mean essay. How about, “Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you…” I’m thirsty, I can’t think and thirst at the same time. Christie brought with her an espresso machine that even steams milk! It was a little strange that neither my brother nor I were ever told Christie was moving in. Being consulted would have been nice, but given a choice of that or having the fabulous cappuccino machine, I’d have opted for the in-house Starbucks.
11:15 AM. Google… “Ending writer’s block.” “Sit, breath deep, drop your resistance, open your mind, and the words will flow in like a rushing river.” That sounds like it’ll work. Okay, I’m sitting, I’m breathing, I’m dropping, and now I’m opening… I feel something flowing.

11:42 AM. Just woke up. Indentation marks of my keyboard spackle my right cheek and forehead. Note to self, computers make bad pillows and next time I have insomnia treat with writer’s block. I need a change of scenery… The family room!
12:02 PM. As I plug into the family room outlet I see the clock on the DVR, a sudden wave of panic gurgles through my stomach. Only four hours left on my time-release assistant, after that my rock steady concentration may fracture. Although my brother is next to me watching television, this room feels right. I can sense words racing from me like, like, like, rats from a sinking ship. Okay, not such a great simile, I’m a sinking ship and my words cowardly rats, what college could possibly resist such an appealing candidate? Stop. Keep it positive. Save the editing for the end. “Bumm bumm.” “Law and Order” is on, “Criminal Intent.” No big deal, I’ve already seen all the episodes, I can resist, I can resist, just don’t look… Oh, it’s the one where Goren’s mother finally dies of cancer and he finds out that the crazy serial killer who’s on death row and about to be executed is actually his real father. The profound irony this presents to Goren, to find out that his father personifies everything he works to fight against yet to know that those very talents he brings to bear in his pursuit against evil are rooted in an inherited ability he would not possess but for his father. A real Darth - Luke relationship. Two sides of the same coin, conjoined personalities representing the light and shadow within each of us. Stop! What am I doing? I’m now writing Goren’s personal essay, why not, it’s so much easier than mine, at least he has something to say. Again, stop! Now I’m envying the life of a fictitious middle-aged man with psychopathic lineage? What is wrong with me? Back to my room! Not until my Quest is complete and the Grail in my grasp shall I reemerge!! (I mean unless I’m thirsty, or hungry, or need to use the restroom.) Other than that, I am in exile and my room Elba!!!

12:42 PM. “Relax, Lael it’s just an essay.” The last insensitive utterance tossed at me like a grenade before I dramatically slammed shut my door. What does Christie know, she went to school so long ago essays were chiseled into stone tablets. She’s just my mom’s girl friend, I can’t let her upset me. That’s kind of funny the way I wrote that, my mom’s girl friend, when the truth is she’s my mom’s girlfriend. Maybe my dad was right, he told me last night that I’m in the closet. He said that my mother may be a lesbian, but I’m the one “in the closet.” He was of course wrong, I am as liberal and open-minded as they come, my politics are left of Lenin. So what if none of my friends from school know of my mother’s sexual orientation? I just never wanted them to ever feel uncomfortable. I’m 100% fine with it. I am, really. Okay, maybe 99%. It’s possible I’d be 1% more fine with it if it were someone else’s mother and not mine, but I would never say that because it’s mean, and I would never want to hurt my mom’s feelings. The only reason this whole subject even came up was because my boyfriend, Tim, came over to the house for dinner last night. Afterward I talked to my dad, who possesses the irritating trait of always asking me the type of question that makes me wonder why I called him in the first place. He asked me how Tim reacted when I told him about my mom. I hadn’t yet, which led to my dad’s “closet” quip. My mom, Christie, Tim and I had a perfectly wonderful time and the subject never came up. Tim and I, my mom and Christie, four people just enjoying a nice dinner and each other’s company. Anyway, I’m sure Tim figured it out, explanations are often overrated, at least that’s what I told my dad. He told me to prove it and ask Tim: “Go call him” he dared. I said, “fine, I will… tomorrow.” “Tomorrow?” he scoffed. “Yes, tomorrow!” I declared, which is technically now today. I just haven’t done it yet because I have to write this personal essay, otherwise it’d already be done, it would... Is it possible though, am I in the closet? If I’m not then why is it so hard to dial his number or any of my other friend’s numbers right now? I’m just now realizing that the person I am is not the person I thought I was or more importantly the person I want to be. I love my mother more than anything, I even love Christie – even with the soup cans. The words of a recent fortune cookie echo in my head, “for one to make a change one must be the change.” If I want out of the closet I’m the one who needs to open the door. Dialing…
Phone call after phone call text upon text,
Until both my ears and thumbs demand their rest,
Back to my opus I must now return,
To complete the Quest for which I yearn…
6:35 PM. Two hours past the Apocalypse but my focus remains intact…
As it turned out I was right and my father was wrong, Tim knew the whole time. As for the rest of my friends – they were completely in the dark, but likewise, it was no big deal. To quote the Bard “Much Ado About Nothing” or was it? It’s odd being relieved from a weight I didn’t know I was carrying. I do feel a little freer, a little lighter, at least I think do. By making this realization part of my college application process, I’ve hopefully exited the closet not just for today, but for tomorrow as well. From this experience I’m sure there are wisdoms to be gleaned, even gems to be unearthed, but they will need to wait for their day under the pen. Today was for my mom, though she’ll never know it. I gave her something she always deserved and something she already thought she had. Today I gave her my last 1%. I learned this year that the genome of a chimpanzee is 96% the same as that of a human. At the time I remember thinking about that 96%, and how similar our two species really were, but that was then. I think now of that paltry 4%, and that it is in those few percentage points, barely a rounding error, that makes us human. 1% really can make a difference, at least it did for me. If to make the change one must be the change, I would only add, that for me to write my personal essay I needed to be my personal essay. Though my psyche may be no less barren, it is now at least a bit less burdened. So with my Quest complete and the Grail in hand, or rather in computer, I return triumphantly into the world. One of great potential and lofty ideals, but also of beloved reruns, irritating noises, and right now best of all, salty crunchy things.

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