Tonight I am thinking about pain. After I decided I was going to write a book I discovered I needed some characters. I still remember talking to my middle sister about these people and I think she'd be surprised to see what where her contributions have carried me. Brad and Lana were my two main characters. It isn't a love story unless something goes wrong somewhere. In this case Lana's older sister Gretchen is also in love with Brad, or at least that's what she tells herself. When she was sixteen she went out with his identical twin. She liked Brad, but Brent asked her out and she said yes, not realizing what lay ahead. At first she can't believe that the guy next door is so easy to talk to, he's great looking, very athletic, and he isn't shy about letting people know that she's his. Gretchen is the sole extrovert in a family of nerdy introverts while Brent is even more outgoing and popular than she is although he's been going to school in that town since he started while she just moved there that summer.
Most of her decisions revolve around what to wear, she's not terribly deep, she tries hard in school, but it just isn't for her. She spends hours studying for tests that she doesn't do well on, she likes English, her father is a professor and her mother is a librarian so she grew up reading and since her parents are both extremely well educated she feels like a failure when she gets her report cards. She has curly blonde hair, large breasts, narrow hips and shoulders, guys like her because of her personality, her female friends use her, she sees this, but accepts it since she's the new girl at school. She tells herself that the other girls are school are just jealous that she's going out with one of the most popular guys, she's a cheerleader and guys are constantly hitting on her because she's very easy to talk to and actually knows quite a bit about sports since her parents made it a point to teach her the rules of the game even though nobody in her family is a star athlete.
Losing her virginity is a terrible experience. While she would deny that she wants romance, in her mind the first time would be a much more romantic event than what actually happens. She recovers from the trauma by crying and telling herself that the first time is supposed to hurt. She's a people pleaser so as long as her lover is happy, she tells herself that she is too. Her mother has her on the pill to control her periods, Gretchen takes her prescription faithfully, and still manages to get pregnant. It feels as if her life is over when she realizes why she feels so awful, she goes to school and cheerleading practice with a smile pasted on her face, but beneath that she is very pale. When she gets up the nerve to tell Brent he takes the news in stride as if he's not really surprised. Her temper rises, she starts screaming at him, he says that his mom will watch the baby and things will work out fine, in his head he knows things won't be fine, he's trying to calm her down, and it only serves to make her more upset.
Lana is headed up to her room when she hears her sister yelling. That's nothing new, but Lana has been on the wrong side of her sister's rage before, she stands on the stairs and hears Gretchen tell Brent that her father is going to kill her when he finds out that she's pregnant. Lana doesn't wait to hear anything else. She tiptoes back down the wooden stairs, starts running when she hits the hall, tears through the kitchen, and falls on the driveway when she trips on a branch she didn't see because she was crying so hard. Brad mows the lawn for her parents, he sees Lana fall, runs over to see if she's okay, she jerks her arm away from him, tries to keep running, and is easily overtaken by his speed. He can tell something is wrong, but when he asks she refuses to tell him. None of his brain power has prepared him for a situation like this. He's only known her for a few months, but Lana has a place in his heart since she could tell him and Brent apart as soon as she met them.
She denies this, he believes it, he holds her while she cries, eventually she tells him about the fight and what she overheard. He puts two and two together and all of a sudden he has a lot of mixed feelings because unlike his brother he's aware of how society will treat Gretchen. Planning is second nature to him, he asks Lana what she wants to do even though she's younger than he is because he recognizes she has a wisdom he doesn't in certain situations and this is one of those cases. Lana also realizes that something needs to be done, she gives him a teary eyed look and asks if he would take her to the library. At first he thinks that she wants to go just because her mom works at a library and this will be a more familiar environment, then she starts telling him they can check out books on pregnancy and his respect for her increases. Normally he wouldn't leave the lawn unmowed, but he views this as a crisis situation, especially when he sees his brother running out of the house next door.
One of the things I wish my dad would have gotten more credit for was his ability to see things from different angles. He had a lot of faults, but tonight I wasn to focus on his strengths. When you study history and the past, it helps if you can see motivation and how different parties or groups both claiming the same piece of land can start a war. I wish I could remember where I read, heard, saw, or was told that behaviors make sense to the people who are behind them at the time. When someone is behaving strangely I try to step back and think, under what circumstances would this type of behavior make sense? It doesn't always work, but it's still an exercise I value. Why would I sleep with a bunch of guys I don't love or even really like if that's against my value system? Maybe I just don't care anymore and I have such a low sense of self worth I figure I might as well let them take what they want. Maybe I'm so scared to go home I trade sex for feelings of imagined security. Maybe I just want to feel something and I think that one of these guys is going to help with that.
Gretchen drops out of college after she shops herself into an incredible amount of debt. For the first time in his life Brent is separated from his twin for a long period of time. At first he tells himself it's going to be great to be away from his parents, then the reality of dorm life sets in and he does everything he can to drive the feelings of homesickness away. He drinks, he sleeps around, he does stupid shit with his friends, he wanders around town and the malls, sometimes he goes to classes, but he finds those boring and can't sit still. Sports are still his life, but now he's a much smaller fish in a much larger pond. He isn't actively suicidal, but he stays up playing video games until he falls asleep in front of the whatever screen he has at the time. Sometimes he leaves parties and goes off by himself, the emptiness won't leave, but it's not manly to cry, and sometimes he wishes he could. Lana becomes the person he calls, his lifeline, the one who will listen to him at any time of the day or night. He tells her he made a mistake and that his brother and sister won't talk to him. At first she takes him literally, then she realizes that he feels disconnected from them.
He's a tremendous athlete, but then he starts having dizzy spells. He doesn't know why, he thinks he can just power through them, but it gets to the point where it affects his balance and he starts passing out or almost fainting. A coach of his calls his parents, he resists, but when he shows up at practice with a bruise on his shin and can barely stand, he gets benched. He waits on the bench thinking he'll start feeling better if he eats something, he lies down, and people have a hard time waking him up when they tell him his father is there to pick him up. Until he sees his son his father is somewhat skeptical of these dizzy spells, but he also knows a coach wouldn't voluntarily bench a star and call a parent without a halfway decent reason. Once he sees the color of Brent's face he tells the coach that they need to get him to a hospital so they can check his blood sugar. When they get there they find that his blood pressure is dangerously low and start an IV. This really happened to me when I was younger, I wasn't the amazing athlete he is, but I went through this period of time where my blood pressure was so low I wasn't allowed to get up and walk to the bathroom at work.
At the time I worked about an hour away from home. A friend and I took a short walk after work. When we got back I could hardly breathe. I laid down on the floor, someone got me some juice. I thought I'd feel better after that, but I didn't. I drove home and when I thought I was going to pass out when I was driving I stopped at an urgent care clinic that I never would have chosen given other circumstances. They were nice enough, they ran all sorts of tests, at least they took me seriously, I hadn't counted on being told I couldn't drive, but I could also understand that if you don't know what is wrong with someone, and you stopped by because you were afraid you might cause an accident that could possibly kill yourself, and or other people, it was time to make a call and ask to get a ride. That wasn't the first time that year that my car spent the night at a strange place. I left work early one day because I wasn't feeling well. The next day I felt worse, I took the girls with me to my appointment. They told me they were going to draw blood, I have trouble with this, and when I woke up there were nine or ten people looking down at me.
Eventually they traced these episodes to something I had been prescribed that lowers your blood pressure and thank goodness that they did because that was beyond scary. There are things you can take to lower your blood pressure, apparently it's harder to raise it, quite a few family members of mine have this problem. This past summer I went through something similar. I was at home by myself when I almost fell down the stairs at my place. I bruised my leg, came to, and probably should have called in sick to work, but went in anyways. I drank a juice thinking that would help, it didn't. After a couple days of this a woman I work with who is diabetic told me that I should have my blood sugar levels tested. I have trouble with this too. Finally I went in and they couldn't find anything wrong with me, eventually I decided that I was so sleep deprived that it was affecting other systems and until I got more and better sleep, this was going to be an issue in my life. I remember waking up thinking that I was sick because I was feverish, blood sugar and pressure management have been problems of mine for most of my life and tonight I'm reflecting on how incredible it is to work for a woman who gets things like this.
At work I told a couple to let me know if there was anything they needed. I recognized him because his skin is such a strange color it made me wonder why, she was heavier, she seemed familiar too, but I couldn't place her until she opened her mouth and started talking. She went on and on, I listened as I stood there, I do a lot of that at work. Something was going on between this couple and I didn't like it, but I didn't know what I could do about it other than let her talk it out. I listened to her talk about her holiday sugar binge, she had been around a bunch of sick people recently. There are products I take and can suggest to others, but really the key to illness prevention and better health is keeping your body strong by giving it plenty of sleep, water, the right foods, and managing your stress levels. This woman is stressed out and her husband is part of the problem. He sat on his phone while she rattled on, I could tell he had heard this before, I could imagine her as a broken record playing the same tune louder and louder, but people ignored her. I see a lot of women like this and it bothers me.
Eventually they left. He asked if they could get going, she kicked at him, that made me really uncomfortable as well. I wanted to sit them both down, have one of them tell their side, have the other person share theirs, and start giving these people some better tools and strategies to manage their relationship if it's even salvagable. Tonight was rough at work. I came in and there was a bottle of wine sitting out on the counter. The other woman in my department took off early and of course it got busy after that. I wasn't feeling fantastic, I woke up at two in the morning last night. I was able to sleep in, last night I made some meals, today I roasted squash and made two kinds of sweet potatoes. I ate lunch before I left, I had a great conversation with an aunt of mine, I actually started writing what I was going to post today, then when I was driving home I decided to scrap that and I'm glad I did. I said 'hi' to one of the Sunday crew. I've been working Sunday evenings for so long it feels strange when I don't. It was a strange day. I was in an odd mood and I couldn't even say why because things were actually going fairly well at home.
Fiction is one of the most important pieces of my life and I want to take this time to recognize the people who have backed and supported me over the past eleven years. What started out as an immature and poorly written series of interactions between two people who both love each other, but can't manage to communicate that has become a vital and life saving component of my life. I stood at work looking out the windows, but I wasn't really seeing anything real. I was thinking about these people and how I couldn't wait to get home and get this day out of my head. It wasn't an awful day at work despite my ankle hurting. I got some help cleaning from one of the cashiers and I know my manager will be happy when she comes in and sees how much cleaning got done. I couldn't have done that by myself, it would have taken a lot longer and I wouldn't have been able to keep going once we found out that one of the items had two tags with two different prices and another didn't have a tag at all. It's that kind of thing that makes my job harder than it has to be. I found two tags buried beneath others, that explains why those products haven't gotten ordered recently. It's nobody's fault, but everyone's responsibility.
I'm tired of this crap at work. I want some justice. I want people to be held accountable and I want to go through with a broom and clean house. I want brains to be used, I want the lazy and insubordinate to be disciplined, reprimanded, and terminated if appropriate. I want people in charge who know how to lead and manage, I want my efforts to be rewarded, and I want to be able to walk in there, do my job to the best of my ability, and walk out knowing that even if nobody else faced the cards or stocked the products by the registers, I cared enough about sales and presentation to do it anyways. We have a woman at work that I just love. Today I said that if everyone was just a bit more like her the world would be a better place. She brings her own jars, bags, and is very conscious of her resources. She's smart, bright, level headed, and I think she's one of the most beautiful people I know because her heart is pure and sweet. I don't care for the people who were working at the front desk. One of them is too content to just sit there, the other runs around and stresses others out. I could write a lot more, but I have to get the girls.
Much love, thanks for listening...