Oh, and happy birthday to me. I’m now the same age Jesus was when he did all that great stuff for humanity. But I’m not about to sign up for a cross just yet.
When I was 7 or 8, my older sister took mom and dad aside for a very serious discussion. For a 12-year-old, she was very astute.
“I’m worried about Annie,” she said. “I think there’s something wrong with her.”
Bless their hearts, but my parents diffused the situation and told Z it was just a phase. I was fine and I’d be alright. I had no idea anyone was concerned about my mental health or life choices.
So what was all the fuss about? These pictures:
To my sister, it looked as if I was headed down the psychopath route. First, I was drawing pictures of animals with spears and arrows coming out of their midriffs, next it would be experimenting on dead cats in our basement. But what she failed to understand was that I was just drawing the scenes from books I was reading. In particular, the Redwall series. To me, it was perfectly normal to draw the good guys vanquishing the bad guys, even if everyone was a “varmint” of some kind. I bet she would have no qualms if I drew Hobbits fighting Smaug. Maybe it was the cute animal thing that got her.
Fast-forward to last month. I’m in snowy Vermont for another graduate school residency. To maintain a semblance of a healthy lifestyle, I wake up at 0600 to go to the “gym,” a cinderblock room the size of rich people’s walk-in closets with little insulation and a few machines that are clearly in need of life support. My workout friend grabs the one treadmill that works, which is fine by me because I can’t stand the things, and I look dubiously at the reclined bike machine and the elliptical. I pick the latter. It’s a squeaky contraption and the built-in fan doesn’t work, but it gets the job done. So I bounce up and down like a girl on a giant rubber band for thirty minutes nearly every morning. There’s none of those fancy televisions to distract me, no noise outside in the -20 degree (F) weather, and not even an iPod to listen to. I like it like this. I choose this environment. It lets my mind wander and solve problems I didn’t even know existed. Like how I can incorporate MadLibs into my graphic novel project in England, or why I liked Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Snape better than any other book-character-to-screen-actor I’ve seen.
But I digress. When I am stuck in an airport on my way out of Vermont, or maybe during my layover, I hear a talk show on the radio. I hate talk shows, but I can’t turn it off because it’s an airport and there are speakers everywhere. The host has a caller on the line and they’re discussing people at the gym. I’m mildly interested because I am someone who has spent a lot of time in gyms. They’re talking about people’s habits in the gym and some of the more unusual ones. And then they describe me.
It’s weird to hear a stranger bash what you consider totally normal. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about it until the woman started going off on how creepy this particular habit made her. The habit in question? Turning off the machine’s T.V. and not even plugging in headphones to listen to music! Oh, the horror! Has humanity become so dependent on entertainment and electronics that to not be hooked up to one of these sources is considered weird? That is disturbing to me. And sad.
The woman further explained that people who work out without anything to distract them are probably people who are psychotic. And we should watch out because they might snap and go postal.
So, as you can see, I’ve turned out quite differently than my family or society expected. But for the better. The only psychopath episodes I plan on enacting are in untold stories, and even then, I’m not really into stuff like that.