I look throver to the passenge seat. My mother sleeps as I drive us through cities. I’m taking her to the outlets in San Marcos, Texas. Nothing Fancy. Just a day trip. Just here and I. And as I drive, it’s crazy to sit here behind the wheel and realize that I’m taking care of my mother, just as she did when we were small.
Brown: The color of my skin.
Kids made fun of me. I had all kinds of nick names. “Hershey” hurt me the most, so “Hershey” was their favorite. On sad school days when other second graders would make fun of me, I would ask my mom, “Mami, why do I look like this?” “Mija, it’s because of the sun. We walk too much and this happens sometimes. Don’t worry. You’re still pretty, negrita.”
When we were smaller, my mother did not know how to drive.
“Ninas! Es hour to picorr. ( It’s time to wake up).”
She would wake us up at 6:30 AM every day, ready to head out the door by 7, in order to get to school at 7:45. Right on time before the first bell would ring. At times it seemed like she was a single mom, doing it all on her own. My father was away working, absent on those hard times when we needed him. When my mom had to walk down Chicago streetw towards Farias Elementary with her seven-year-old by the hand, her five-year-old on her back, and her new born in the stroller.
The sun burned. We were sleepy. Whe had to stop at certain corners for breaks. But there my mother was, making it her mission to get us to school on time.
There is something so great about knowing that she trusts me that much; her, falling asleep, motionless, loose and vulnerable. The fact that she decided to put her sluombering life in my hands, making sure we arrive.
An emotional gate has opened up. I was alone when it happened this last time. I actually prefer for it to always be like that. But I want there to be someone waiting outside my door, waiting for it all to be over. Once I’ve calmed down and have almost numbed myself from the storm that rages inside of me during that time, I want someone one to open the door and come inside and hold me. Wipe my tears away and tell me that everything will be okay. That what I did was not something bad. That it’s okay because I too will be okay in time.
There’s so much going on.
I tried so hard to suppress the feelings and the thoughts and the memories of everything but I just could not do it this last time. Something much stronger than myself came through me. That was almost a week ago today, and I am still emotionally reeling from the way that I felt. The loneliness. The lack of understanding and the lack of support from the one person who has repeatedly said to me that would be there. Where were you? Why do you cause me to cry myself to sleep?
I hold on to this as much as I can because he is such a big part of me that I wouldn’t know where to stand if he were to disappear from my life suddenly. I tell him this but not always to his face. Because I don’t want him to believe that he is in control.
The truth is that he is. He is in control of my heart.
I want to be with him all the time.
My life is like movie. This part of my life, I like to close my eyes to and listen to a specific song: The Cinematic Orchestra’s “Arrival of the Birds.” I like to start from the first time that I saw him. His smile. His eyes. His voice. Everything about him so captivating. I like to imagine that part of my life playing out to this song. Pictures of us. Moments that can only be described as magical. Everything about this time that I have spent with you so far.
The first time we had our first conversation. That first night, laughing and drinking with friends and talking and you. So different. So real. The day after that first night and the way that I felt when I woke up and I realized that I wanted you. I know that I was still invisible for a while and did not make myself noticeable until I decided to give you tiny hints of what went through my mind exactly. Then that first time when it was just you and me and on the ride in your car, back to my dorm, you held my hand. And I thought out loud, “I really want to kiss you but…” and suddenly you swooped in, and kissed me. And my dream had come true. You said to me, “We’ll be okay.”
Getting the chance to go into the job that I love and seeing you there. It never once felt like a mistake, like this was wrong. Never. Not then and not today.
The first time we made love in the back seat of your car.
Dressing up for you, waiting for you at that bar. Looking at you come inside. You told me I looked cute and kissed me, right there, in front of people, like I had never been.
I asked you if you wanted to stay over and you said yes. And we fell asleep together and we woke up together. And when we woke up we talked for hours. Then I said goodbye to you but not for long because we would then see each other again soon, like we always do.
The way you held me when my grandmother died and the moment I realized that I loved you.
I felt it. And every time I tell you that I love you, I go back to that wonderful first moment. It is a moment that stands so apart from anything else I had ever experienced with another human being.
Then came the first time you let me down. You say it was not your fault, and in the haze of my love for you, I ignored the obvious hurt and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
Then the next one and the next one.
The time when you walked me into your home and walked me towards your mother. Having the honor to stand in front of and finally meet the woman responsible for the birth of the love of my life. I said hello, feeling so important. You then said to me that she said I was cute. So she liked me. I could not wait any longer for the most important woman in my life to meet you, either. I video called her. She had just gotten back from work, and as tired as she was, you still said she was so beautiful. She was so shy but so happy that I finally showed her who Josh was.
I went away for a while to go back home for Christmas and I could not believe how much we missed each other’s presence. It was crazy. I could not help but imagine that you had gone home with me. That we both had made our way through the front door of my home and that I introduced you to my father, telling him, “Dad, this is my boyfriend. And I never told you until just now.” Just like his dream predicted I would do. I did not want you to be alone then, or ever. You let me know that you were finally realizing just how much I really meant to you. My heart melted and my head spun at the thought of never being missed by someone like that. Everyone else before you were just not the right people. But every day I realize that you are worth so much more.
New year’s day came along and although we couldn’t touch each other at the end of the count down, we looked into each other’s eyes as the final seconds of a very long year came to a closing end. “Three, Two, One…HAPPY NEW YEAR!” We both whispered I love you to the wind and space that stood between us. When we got home, as we laid there from a long day of work, we recreated the count down and this time we kissed. It was the first time I had ever kissed anyone ringing in a new year. A new start.
The time we went ice skating, and how you took care of me, making sure that I would not fall down. And you never did let me go. Every meal I eat with you- I want to take care of you.
And then we finally came to a time when you were feeling so vulnerable against everything and everyone around you. I could not immediately come to your rescue, since I was unaware of what exactly was going on. But I did come to you as soon as I figured that you could not be alone. And I never want you to feel like that. Never in the life, for as long as I am alive. So I came to you and I held you. Although you stand so much taller than I, I still managed to take you I the bosom of my chest and cradle you like a child. I wanted to make you feel wanted and understood and safe.
I opened up to you as well, letting you know that now that you have me, that you will never be alone, again. You have someone whom you have to be able to trust and open up to. You have someone who genuinely cares about your well-being. And most importantly, that you have someone who will not desert you because of who you are and everything that makes you, you.
The other night when we went to dinner and a concert, another in our list of concerts from the past and those we are yet to go experience together. It was so cold. But just like that we made our way through downtown Dallas. We ate, then went to the Reunion tower. It was bad weather but it was a great time with you.
You held me the entire wait outside before the concert began. You held me in your arms. You tied my hair up in a ponytail, the best that you could. You did a good job. You held me the entire time we were inside. We enjoyed the live music. The essence of happiness and joyfulness, not just ours but everyone else’s contributed to the great time we had. I was so tired and was about to tumble a few times, but I stuck through it for you. Because I know how much you wanted to be there. I would do anything for you.
Then came the darkness that crept over me like a hovering cloud of rain, hiding the sun from me.
It happened about a week ago. Exactly a week ago in a couple of hours.
I got home from work. I got home from a great day at my favorite job and being with you.
I walked into an empty dorm room, my roommate wasn’t there. I was glad she wasn’t because that helped when it all started. I was so tired. I was feeling so unwanted by everything and everyone around me. I did not know what to do exactly when it began.
I began feeling worthless, degrading myself. Feeling guilty for everything that I had not done for my grandmother, for not seeing her one last time. Looking at myself in the mirror only made it worse. I could not stand the image of the person staring back at me. How fat she looked and then I wondered how someone like you could be with someone like me. I do not want to disappoint my parents, and I made damn sure I reminded myself of what could happen if I fuck up. I tried hurting myself. Just a little. Just enough to feel something and pair it together with the way that I was abusing myself mentally.
Later on that night I messaged you, telling you, “I never ask you for anything, but right now I need you to tell my how you feel about me. Reassure me of this.” You replied to me with your sweet words that I try to think of even right now, a week later, to remind me that everything is okay between us. Because truth be told, fear creeps into my mind. The fear of losing you.
Days went by and the communication between us was not satisfying to me. You didn’t say much. All I needed you to do was maybe call me, ask me how I was doing. But nothing happened. I wanted to pull my hair out. I cried so much. I cried myself to sleep thinking of the disappointment my heart felt at not having you there with me, in both an emotional sense and the physical.
I could not take the quiet of the days without a word from you, so I caved in. Because I had promised myself that I would not be the one to go to you. That I would wait for you to come to me. For you to call me and tell me to go outside because you were waiting for me. But nothing. So I decided to go to you. There I was, going against my own word.
You opened the door to your home, the place that you tell me is also my home.
And we talked, but we went in circles. You told me you love me so many times. Sometimes I feel like that’s all you can do: tell me to remind me or just tell me to shut me up and make me feel at ease. I don’t know.
I tried to hide the fact that I wanted to raise my voice at you and be more assertive and be more demanding. So instead I asked you how your day went. We played around. We kissed. But I lied to you, because I was pretending to be happy and okay when I really wasn’t. We made love and we came together. It was explosive and so wonderful. When we finished you laid on top of me, your heart was racing and breathlessly you said to me, “I love you,” like you tend to do when we have both satisfied our sexual needs. After it all, I went back to feeling the same way that I felt when I stood outside your front door, just a few hours before. I laid on your chest as you watched Master of None. I had already seen the entire season. You had not, so all I did was lay there, looking up at you laughing at the jokes of Aziz Ansari. I scratched your beard and slowly let the sleep come over me.
A gate has opened and I don’t know how to close it. My mind is running in circles. Where is it? I need my mother’s embrace and advice. I need your love and your warmth. But I don’t get it. I don’t know how else to ask for it from you and make you see that I really am in need of it. I am not the kind of person that ever expect anything in return for what I have given. But it would be nice to know that you are the person outside my door, waiting for my episode to be over so you can come inside and hold me and tell me that although you don’t understand completely, that everything will be okay. I wish I didn’t have to speak to paid strangers to listen to me and pretend like they care. I might be wrong. They might actually really care but I don’t want strangers to be the people that I hug after a long, intimate talk. I want that person to be you.
Where are you?
In this movie of my life, I always want the part where you come in to have the prettiest music. The love I have for you and the many memories and moments that we have created out of this opportunity to be with one another deserves to be played out for us to see with the best music, I believe.
There is much more ahead of us.
There is much more for us to see and feel and talk about and cry about.
And there will be time. Time for you and time for me. There will be time. Time for us both.
I close my eyes and I am looking at you from the passenger seat. We’re listening to music on this car ride. It’s a nice evening. There are many trees around us. There is a little bit of fog, preventing us from seeing what lays ahead. And I don’t know where we’re going. But that’s okay because I’m with you.
Tis’ here will be a quick recap of my final year of college.
So much has happened since I moved away from my tiny city, to one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the United States.
Q: What prompted the “big” move?
A: I wanted to explore a different environment than the one I had been living in for the past 20 years of my life.
Q: What’s the real reason?
The latter answer to the question seems fairly selfish and maybe even stupid of a reason to leave everything you ever knew behind and move some 500 miles away to be alone. But by the honesty that I vowed to always have in these little blogs of mine here, I am not lying when I say that concerts where one of the three reasons why I decided to move to Dallas, TX, specifically.
Back home, in Laredo, TX, the artists that every play at our “Energy Arena” are Spanish artists. I’m okay with this, you know, whatever. 99.65% of the Laredo population is Hispanic and speak Spanish, so I guess that’s…good? Anyway, anytime any “American” artists try to get a show going, either 1.) They don’t end up selling enough tickets, so they end up playing to only half of a small “Energy Arena” or 2.) They don’t end up selling enough tickets, so they cancel the show altogether. Which sucks! Because clearly, if other artists see this, then they never come to us.
I love music.
I dance to it.
I sing to it.
I shower to it.
I fall asleep to it.
It’s simply the best. And if moving to a big city because I got accepted to a university here meant getting the chance to go to as many shows as I want, then by all means, let that be a reason.
Throughout my college years, I was never the person to go out and party. I mean, if you count birthday parties, then yes. But in a way, that was a good thing? I know there are people that say that they can party and still be wide awake for their 8 AM the next day. Fully alert. No interruptions. Yeah, right. Who are you? You’re not real if that’s you!
The reason I say that I feel not being that person who sees college time as a time to let your inhibitions run wild is because I’m my mother, in a way. I believe that education comes first and that temptations should not derail you and plumb your GPA? Or maybe, I just never had the chance to do it all during my first two years when I was still at home where I was under my father’s surveillance and a curfew. I turned out okay, I guess? I did good my first two years back home. I had to deal with seeing the same people I had seen all my life for those two years. That was definitely a motivation to get out of that cycle that everyone from my graduating class had fallen into. But after those two years, I was out.
The move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area was big. I didn’t really say much to anybody but my family about the decision to leave because I feel that if you’re going to be doing something, just do it. Don’t brag until you’ve accomplished something. Something that you’re proud of telling others about.
My first year here was scary. Lonely. Intense. Nothing really works out to your favor if you don’t have a method of transportation to all the cool spots. But then again, you can make things turn out the way you want them to if you’re willing to get on a Greyhound bus to get from here to there and back. By move out day of Spring 2015, I was ready to go back home. I had fun, but I was ready to go back to where I came from, for a while at least.
I had initiated a friendship with a boy and we made plans to meet sometime when I got back to the DFW area. I would finally be a senior. And this time, I was going to take my car with me so I could get around, and maybe even get a job.
I was excited for what was to come the following Fall.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END:
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS CLASS OF 2016!
My year started off with a BANG! I changed my major to English with a concentration in Creative Writing. That gave me a chance to finally have a good excuse to write and read all the time. My adviser let me know that I had taken enough History classes to become a Social Science minor, so there I went, adding even more classes on to my already heavy schedule.
I finally went to down town Dallas. Visited the JFK museum and blew 300 dollars in just JFK memorabilia. Be careful if you ever go there. By the end of the tour at the famous book depository, you realize that JFK is you favorite president and that no one has come close to what he had to deal with in the 60’s. I visited the Arboretum on a very hot day. Always, always choose your outfits wisely when you’re going to visit a fucking jungle.
I went to my first senior year concert: Passion Pit at the House of Blues Dallas. And that same night I met the boy I had been talking with for five months now.
I got my first job in the city for a very fancy hotel. And with a job now came the responsibility of having to balance work life and school life, as well as trying to squeeze in a little bit of social life.
One of the great things about getting a job where you immediately feel at home is that everyone is opened to hanging out with you outside of work. I quickly became friends with all these people that just a month before were complete strangers to me. Not even that! I was not even aware of their existence! One of my favorite things to do on weekends (or sometimes weekdays, depends on how bad of a day it really was) was going over to “FRY STREET.” This is a section just outside of the school property where the English building is that is all restaurants and bars. Yes. Perfect! I thought when I first got here. Of course, my first year here I wouldn’t really go there with the fear of being seen my someone and having that someone think that I was an alcoholic. Well, by senior year, I really didn’t give a shit, so on a casual Wednesday or Friday or Saturday or Sunday, you would find me at Cool Beans. Cool Beans is one of the smaller bars along Fry Street. After I had my three drink and felt like it was time to go home, I would walk across over to Jimmy John’s, buy my Turkey Tom and stumble all the way back to my dorm. All this alone.
Having all these new acquaintances to have drinks and conversations with now, there were no more lonely nights of walking over to my dorm while chugging down an entire club sandwich wishing it wasn’t the next day.The bar scene that I had never experienced before arriving to the DFW area, was now a fun one.
New people. Good people. Special people.
November brought forth one of the hardest times in my life. My grandmother suddenly got sick and passed away on the Friday the 13th of the month. It was too sudden. And it happened without me being there during her last days. The amount of guilt that raged inside of me cannot be measured. It was too much and still weighs heavy on me when I think of it. I began to really think why it was that I decided to leave my family and come all the way here to be alone, making it difficult to run home whenever it was needed. 500 miles seemed like 1,000.
Christmas time came around and I had never appreciated the chance to be with my family more than I did the week I went home.
And then the count down began: Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One…….HAPPY NEW YEAR!
I really do not like when people say, “New Year, New me!”
Like, no. New year, same you. Only, if by “New Me” you mean a better version of you, then do it every day. Try to be a better person that you were the day before. Don’t just start at the beginning of 365 days.
It was finally the beginning of my final semester as a college student. I woke up the morning of the first day of my last semester and I realized that it would be the last time that I would get that nervous feeling. The feeling of walking into a classroom and not knowing who your classmates would be. The feeling of having the chance to start over and take better notes and sit closer to the front of the class and finally ask questions that everyone else was also thinking.
More shows. Fun shows. Different shows.
My class schedule is composed of two English classes, one History and two political science courses. It’s crazy reading about completely different things and having to write about completely different things. It gets hard sometimes to actually have sometime for myself to do things that are considered a luxury in the life of a college student like, taking myself out for a movie or dinner, or shows, now with how tight my time is compressed. I always knew that it would happen. That there would come a time in my now busy life when I would have to choose to either read and do homework that is not due for another week, but that must be done ahead of time, or go out and socialize. A time when I have to choose sleep after a long day of school and work, back to back, or homework. It gets tough. But here I am. Using some spare time that I have from my final Spring Break to write about stuff that has been going on since I last wrote back in September.
Sometimes it’s nice to stand against a wall and take a look at all the things that I have been able to do since my big move to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It’s also heartbreaking to know that I missed out on some great times with my doggy, Duke, before he passed away a year ago. The times that I could have gone over to my grandma’s house and hugged her and have a last conversation with her before she left from this world.
My cap and gown sit in my closest, ready to be used when the time comes. I walk over to it sometimes, and I know this may sound pathetic, but I like to wear it and pretend that the day is here. But really, the day is near.
It’s Saturday, March 19th, 2016. I only have a month and some weeks left here, in the comfort of my dorm, walking distance from campus. A campus with a cool bar street right on the outskirts of it. Where I get to have drinks with friends when I have time. The time is near.
Graduation day is Saturday, May 14th, 2016.
I’ll see you after I walk the line.
Often, I recall a memory deep in the vault of my childhood history. Its a good memory.
Its probably the one and only time in my life when I have been praised and genuinely congratulated by people above me for doing a good job.
The year was 2002, and third grade and the war on Iraq were both in full swing when the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks was being remembered. I think back on third grade as being the time when kids do as they are told, especially back then. Nowadays, kids are the fucking worst. Any who, on the day of remembrance, we were given the assignment of drawing a huge american flag on a standard white sheet of copy paper. Many, if not all, of Mr. A’s class took this time as “free time.” And I mean, why not, right? The television that hung on the top corner of the class where the chalk board and the supply closet intersected was turned to CNN; that ribbon of information that runs at the bottom of the screen is undeniably a trademark. I can’t say I remember very clearly what was being said in the newscast. What I am certain of is that it was all about “new evidence” of Bin Laden’s incrimination and Al Qaeda’s motive and you know, all that good stuff that resurfaces after a year or so.
A year prior to that day, I remember arriving at school wearing this cool little jacket that resembled the Texas flag. I got off the bus and headed straight to homeroom with Mrs. T. I placed my jacket on the back of the red desk chairs and was excited to begin another great school day. After reciting the mandatory Pledge of Allegiance and Star Spangled Banner, we waited for Mrs. T to come back into the classroom to instruct us to get our vocabulary books so we could begin the lesson for the day. Mrs. T finally made her way back into the class, and immediately turned on the TV. I can speak for my ex-classmates when I say that we all thought we were going to have a free day. The TV was on, but we couldn’t quite understand what was going on; the cartoons were not on. Instead, the news were on and Mrs. T shifted quickly from the hallway to the classroom, to Ms. L’s class across the hallway, back to our class. Maybe it was my precociousness that noticed anxiety and anguish in my teacher as she made her way without letting us know what was going on. Maybe it was just that. She finally entered the classroom, for what seemed would be for good this time and shut the door behind her. She said to us, “Kids, listen. Do you see what’s going on right now? Its a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Its bad people hurting our country.” And then we saw the second tower get hit by the second plane.
It really is weird and is still so absurd to me how it is that I remember all this. That morning, her actions, her words and my reaction and how I felt.
So the year after all that, remembering everything from that day was easy and that assignment was nothing, really. But I decided I wanted to do something else and not follow what the typical activity was. I was aware that every single student in that class room was going to do the same: A drawing of an American Flag, with crooked stripes and an incomplete number of stars because their box was either too small to fit all fifty or simply because they were stupid or lazy enough to do it right. No. I was thinking outside the box when the the rush of sensory memory came over me. I was on a fucking roll, and I was going to do something that I thought really represented what I thought of that day and what it meant to me.
So on that standard white sheet of copy paper, I drew two men. One of these men was wearing a black robe and a turban, the other wore the uniform of a soldier. I still didn’t identify who these men were or what their actions towards each other might of been. It wasn’t until I drew hands on them, one centered in the middle, extended towards each other, the other at their side. The Soldier held the Iraqi flag and the Muslim held the American flag, as they shared a little flower as a symbol of peace between them. I colored everything in, but then realized that wasn’t the assignment and because nervous at the thought of getting a bad grade. I took my drawing over to Mr. A hoping for the best, but really expecting the worst. He looked at me in surprise. He said to me, “Wait for me here.” He walked out of the class and didn’t come back for a while. In the mean time, the little shitheads working on their flags kept teasing me saying, “Ooh, he’s gonna go get the principal,” “You’re in trouble!” I have to admit, their words got to me and so did the urge to piss my undies.
Mr. A came back and with him were the rest of the teachers from down the hallway. “Who is she?!” They asked, as if I was being incriminated of a wrongdoing. “This is her. This is Gabriela.” My heart sank and a gulp of saliva made its way down my trachea…ever…so….slowly.
“CONGRATULATIONS!” “Its very good!” “Good job!” “How did you think of this?” “Who taught you this?”….the questions and compliments came from all of those adults standing above me like skyscrapers. All I could do was smile. But looking back, I think of how sad/cool it was that teachers didn’t think third grade students had it in them to think outside the box and deviate from a mundane assignment to make it their own and make it different.
Every time I think of this time in my life, I realize that this has been the only time since then that someone with authority has said to me, “Good job!” and really meant it. I don’t get that a lot nowadays. I’d hate to think that my third grade achievement in drawing a mirage of a nonexistent reality is as far as I’ll ever get. That drawing happened 13 years ago. That drawing has since then disappeared or was misplaced or something. Maybe its not in my life to look at anymore so I won’t be reminded that that is as far as I can go. Because, let’s face it, if I had the chance to draw that all over again, I’d totally make my 9 year old self’s drawing look like an inferior piece of shit.
I didn’t get to write as often as I wish I would have this summer.
Quick recap of everything that happened:
People get really excited for about five minutes when they haven’t seen you in a while. They want to get in on the hype of “OMG she’s coming home after so long! yay!”….after the five minutes of excitement are over, they just forget about you.
When you’ve been away from home for the first time, and in a long time, going back home you want to try and enjoy and appreciate your hometown because you know that no other place is like it. In my 20 years of living there, I had never noticed just how beautiful my city really is. Yes, there are parts of it that still need improvement, but its growing into a pretty little thing.
Then you meet people that, out of nowhere, turn your life around. In a small but significant amount of time they change everything up. And just as it begins, its over. But for some reason, you get to smile at everything that happened, and you bit it farewell.
Summer jobs come and give you something to do. They also force you to interact with people…so that’s always FUN! (level of sarcasm: 8/10)
Summer school to get ahead of your school game. It also serves as a good excuse to get out of awkward gatherings. Seriously! I got to say, “Sorry guys! Gotta run! This homework won’t get done by itself…see ya!”
So you didn’t miss out on much. You’re good.
Its 11:17 postmeridian.
AND it is the night before my last year as an undergraduate college student! WHOOO!
I know, I know!
“Happy about almost finishing? Wait till you get out there in the real world! It’s gonna be tough finding a job right away! You have to pay back the monies you borrowed!” Blah Blah Blah. I know!
But look, this is a real exciting thing for me because there is so much that is going into me graduating from college.
As the first child of an American Dream, there has always been this pressure in the air about what would be of me. I had to set the example to my siblings and be the beckon of light for my parents and their hopes.
Graduating from college is a big deal to me. I’m proving to myself that if I set my mind to anything, regardless of the many obstacles that may have once laid in my path, that I can fucking do it. I don’t plan on stopping. I want to keep on going. I want more!
But let us get through this final year of undergrad first. So here we go!!!!!!
Pictured below is my not-so-fancy view of my campus. But look at that sunset and the way that through the gray clouds, shines on and makes the evening sky look majestic.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with listing my favorite things. I kept an index card with all my favorite foods folded in my wallet, just in case anyone asked me what they were. Then people walked away, I imagined they’d say: “Whoa, Gaby is so cool and self-actualized. Pizza is her favorite food, and she was able to tell me right away.” I was prepared for all kinds of potential fun situations when I was a kid. I kept a bathing suit in my backpack in case I went anywhere where there was a swimming pool. I grew up in a town that has only 4 public pools for the community, but still, I planned excessively.
When I started getting into comedy, my listing became even more important, because I thought having my favorite comedy moments on file said so much about me. I thought it’d be fun to share my favorites.
This list is pretty mainstream, so other comedy nerds will be made I didn’t include alternative comedy stuff or 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s stuff. That’s yet to come! This list also doesn’t include stand-up, because that would be its own can of excellent worms. I know there are probably glaring omissions. Come on guys, I’m not a professional list maker. Just be cool.
1. Will Ferrell Shouting from the Phone Booth in Anchorman
Anchorman is a strange little miracle of a movie, with some historic comedy film significance, too. It put together an all-star team of comedy actors that includes Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, and David Koechner. No other pairings of these guys would ever be as funny as this. I’m sure I’ll go see and really love, Uncle Retreat or whatever movie comes next, but it won’t make my mouth drop like Anchorman did.
When Ron Burgundy- amazing names in this movie, by the way- believes his dog has been killed by an angry motorist (Jack Black, used perfectly), he is so overcome with grief, he can’t do the news that night. He calls from a phone booth, in one of the funniest, most theatrical displays of grief I’ve ever seen. It’s like grief with a capital G.
There’s a heightened style of acting that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay employ in their movies that is incredibly difficult to pull off. If done poorly, heightened comedy acting can seem like you’re watching an inadvertently campy kids’ production of 12 Angry Men. But it is Will Ferrell’s sweet spot. He has made a career of making unlikely things not only totally work but also be the funniest things I’ve ever seen. (I’m of course referring to the movie Elf, whose premise reads like the ramblings of an insane little kid drunk off Christmas egg nog.)
2. Liz Lemon Crying Out of Her Mouth on 30 Rock
Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy Convinced Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon to get eye surgery on she’ll be more TV-friendly for her new talk show. Unfortunately (and fortunately) the surgery makes her cry out of her mouth. I believe this joke is a perfect joke. Funny in theory and thinking, and even funnier in Tina’s execution. Plus it is hilariously visual. I’m jealous of whoever wrote this.
3. Chris Farley as Matt Foley
The best parts of the great book Live from New York, by Tom Shales, are when performers like Chris Rock, David Spade, and Adam Sandler talk about Chris Farley. They speak of their friend in the most reverential ways. Chris Rock says that when anyone ever asked him who was the funniest of the group there, it was always, always Chris Farley. I totally get it.
Matt Foley, the motivational speaker, is probably my favorite recurring Saturday Night Live character, ever. The level of commitment from Chris Farley is astounding, almost disturbing. The famous one, when he picks up David Spade like king kong, and then later falls and smashes a coffee table, is one of the deliriously funny things I’ve ever seen in my life.
4. Amy Poehler as Kaitlin
In just the past ten years or so, Amy Poehler has produced a life time’s worth of awe-inspiring performances. Her hyperactive eleven-year-old Kaitlin is my favorite. There’s an innocence to the performance that is such a surprise. Kaitlin’s adventures with her subdued, kind, put-upon stepdad, Rick- played with the perfect amount of listlessness by Horatio Sanz- make me laugh but also make me want to take care of Kaitlin. One of my greatest pet peeves is women who infantilize themselves in real life, but I have a special place in my heart for women who can play little girls convincingly. Amy, all awesome, all woman, kicks ass as a little girl.
5. The Racial Draft on Chappelle’s Show
If you watch this sketch, you can’t believe it actually aired on television. The sketch portrayed all the races as professional teams, picking celebrities from a draft pool of all races to form the strongest race. Chappelle’s Show did consistently edgy sketches that pushed the envelope with political and racial comedy but was so funny that it never got in trouble.
6. Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer
Paul Rudd plays the funniest dick boyfriend of all time in this movie. The scene in which he refuses to pick up a tray is the moment when Paul Rudd transformed in my eyes from handsome comedy in a handsome guy’s body. His past performances as nice guy in Clueless and Romeo + Juliet make this turn especially unexpected and fun.
7. Ricky Gervais as David Brent
Only people who have seen the British Office will remember the moment when David Brent says, “I think there’s been a rape up there” in a sensitivity training seminar he is holding. With the character of David Brent, Ricky Gervais guaranteed that he would live in the pantheon forever, even if he did years of terrible, mediocre stuff. (I’m not saying he will, but he could if he wanted.) He’s like Woody Allen, and the original The Office is his Annie Hall.
8a. Frank the Tank Getting Shot in the Neck with a Tranquilizer in Old School
Sorry, so much Will Ferrell. I just love this guy so much. This series of moments is a masterpiece of editing and excellent blocking choices by Todd Phillips. Here’s the sequence: Frank the Tank gets hit in the neck with an animal tranquilizer meant for a petting zoo animal. Groggy and heavily drugged, he meanders around a yard, knocking over a child’s elaborate birthday cake He then immediately falls into a pool- and while he’s under-water, the movie is scored to the somber and dulcet Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence,” in homage to The Graduate. It’s just a dense brownie of sweet comedy.
8b. Tied with Will Ferrell stabbing his own thigh with a knife to prove he’s paralyzed in Talladega Nights
9. Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
Sometimes you watch something so funny you realize after the moment is over that you’ve stopped breathing. You’re actually breathless. That’s how I felt the first time I saw Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids, in the scene where she first meets Kristen Wiig’s character and tells her she hasn’t been doing so well because she “fell off a cruise ship,” and then “hit every rail down,” and finally “has several metal pins in her leg” from the experience. You don’t often hear the words captivating and gross used to describe the same character in a movie, but Melissa McCarthy managed to evoke both in the very best ways. I could not keep my eyes off her.
10. Michael Scott Hitting Meredith with His Car on The Office
There are many moments in the history of the The Office that I appreciate for the level of wittiness and writing style. However, one moment stands out. I believe the top, single funniest moment is when Michael Scott hits Meredith Palmer with his car, just as he’s talking about how much he loves his employees. I have seen some amazingly funny acting on the show, but when Michael Scott screams as Meredith’s lifeless body hits his windshield, I just don’t think anything that has been done is as purely funny as that. I think tribesmen in a remote jungle in the Congo would find this moment funny.
Tomorrow will be three years since I graduated from high school.
Older folks laugh at me saying that three years is nothing in the scheme of life. My life as a public school, 8 am to 3 pm, quiet, shy, introverted, student is far behind me as summer camp.
Moving away from my hometown, was both a feeling of both freedom and independence, but it was also a feeling of wanting to stay behind, and take the easy way out of the life that still lays ahead of me.
He looks at me blankly. There’s just me, him. Us.
The next morning I leave at 8:00 am. Driving through town, I see my memories plainly. There I am in the cafeteria, not satisfied with the small, designated portions of food served on my Styrofoam plate, asking for seconds. There I am during gym class, afraid of being picked last because of my physical appearance, and those big, faded pink glasses that dominate my face. There I am falling in love by the bike rack. There I am slowly realizing that my bike has gone missing from that same rack, stolen while I stayed behind in class, helping the teacher put up the classroom chairs. There I am calling my father from the steps of the library. There I am, half listening to my speech teacher when she tells me I need to start attending class more regularly, and disregard the fear I have for public speaking.
If I had known how much I would miss these sensations I might have experienced them differently, recognized their shabby glamour, respected the ticking clock that defined the entire experience. I would have put aside my resentment, dropped my defenses. I might have a basic understanding of European history or economics. More abstractly, I might feel I had truly been somewhere, open and porous and hungry to learn regardless of everything. Because being a student is an enviable identity and one I can only reclaim by attending community college late in life for a bookmaking class or something.
I’ve always had a talent for recognizing when I am in a moment worth being nostalgic for. When I was little, my mother would come home from work, her hair cool from the wind, her perfume almost gone, her lips faded red, and she would coo at me: “You’re still awake! Hiii.” And I’d think how beautiful she was and how I always wanted to remember her stepping out of the elevator in her pea-green wool coat, 27 years old, just like that. Sixteen, lying on the dock at night with my camp boyfriend, taking tiny sips from the bottle of beer. But high school was so essentially repulsive to me, so characterized by a desire to be done.
I didn’t drink in the essence of the classroom. I didn’t take legible notes or dance all night. I thought I would marry my boyfriend and grow old and sick of him. I thought I would keep my friends, and we’d make different, new memories. None of that happened. Better things happened.