A New Kind of Heartbreak

I’ve had enough girls break my heart over the years that it should’ve been my minor in college.  That’s how bored I am with it – I view it through the lens of cold, hard academia.

The shadow of my parents’ divorce provided a twisted sort of shade from any other hurt they might cause, much like how stubbing your toe almost tickles after being kicked in the balls.

My unrealized ambitions of medical school have now made the transition from “shameful failure” to “hilarious pipe dream” alongside playing for the Braves and being Inspector Gadget, somehow.

I’m not trotting out the low points to garner sympathy, but rather charting a pedigree of resiliency, providing my resume of heartaches that have only served to make me better and stronger.

 

And then my friend died.

 

“This is a new one,” I thought, staring at the ceiling until 3 AM the night after his funeral.  Suddenly my toolbox for dealing with heartbreak looks like my actual toolbox, full of strange things that are theoretically useful but felt awkward and foreign in my hands.

“Talking it out” felt like hammering a screw.  “Cherishing the memories” left me drunk and crying, same as when I use a socket wrench.  Nothing is working, meanwhile the dishwasher is barfing brown water and I’m falling apart.

Make no mistake, the fact that this experience is a new one at 25 makes me one of the lucky ones.  I’d hate to be an old pro at handling this situation.  But I would’ve been perfectly happy to go my whole life without getting this square in Character Growth BINGO.

But then one day, miraculously, I felt better.  I didn’t want to cry anymore.  I could look at old pictures and smile.  I told my family I was doing OK, that things were looking up for ol’ T-bone.

 

Two days later I was drunk again, talking out loud to him in my living room.  I’m no grief expert, but I don’t think that’s a stage after Acceptance.  And therein lies the problem.  The 5 stages of grief are a crucial coping device, simultaneously acting as a barometer for how you’re feeling and a map for what lies ahead, going where so many others have gone and, most importantly, survived.  The problem is the common misconception, in pop culture or otherwise, that this is a meticulously timed assembly line with a sad person entering and a happy person emerging, something you go through once and you’re good.

 

“Well I got through Denial sooner than anticipated, putting me ahead of schedule for Anger.  If I punch a hole in my wall on Wednesday night I’ll be able to knock out Bargaining on my lunch break Thursday, enjoy my weekend, then I’ll double up on Depression and Acceptance Monday morning.  Setting a calendar notification for ‘Acceptession’ with a calm and zen emoji that’s also crying so I won’t forget.  I am kicking grief’s ASS!”

Instead, I go through the full cycle about three times a day and I don’t think I’m unique in that.   I feel as though I’ve lived 20 years in the last month, with easily 10 of those years coming just from the day I got the news.  Some days I feel like he was never alive, like this was always the reality I live in, with a best friend who was always gone.  Other days I think about how I’ll give him a big hug and tell him how nice his funeral was the next time I see him.  I feel like I’m losing my mind a little.  I keep dreaming about him, but instead of feeling “haunted” or “tormented,” I cherish it.  I spend my nights roaming the halls of our high school with him, laughing and teasing our teachers and hugging him and then I wake up, laying in bed a few extra minutes while I remember.  The Rolling Stones song “Waiting on a Friend” just came up on Spotify shuffle and I want to laugh and cry at the same time, something I’ve become very good at these past few weeks.

I want to carpe the shit out of some diems, but then the guilt demon immediately shoots me down.

 

“Spend time with the friends you have!  Let them know how much you love them!”

Why didn’t you tell him how much you loved him more?  

 

“Don’t worry about money!  Don’t stress about anything, ever again!”

Must be nice having a paycheck.  You know what isn’t?  Being dead.

 

“Life is all about love!  Man up and tell your girlfriend you love her!”

Hey creep.  You don’t have a girlfriend.  Quit staring at that girl.

 

 

I’m better for having known him.  I’ll never forget him.  I’ll never stop missing him, though I know it’ll slowly get easier to handle.  I don’t want it to get easier, not right now anyway.  In the grand scheme of things, I’m approximately the 107,000,000,000th person to lose someone they love.  But the heartbreak is new to me.

Pop Culture Sins

I considered starting this article with a bunch of jokey-jokes about why I haven’t written anything substantial in over a month, but the realization that most of you probably didn’t even notice the hiatus stayed my hand.  Plus, there isn’t anything  funny about spending a month with my blonde girlfriend who lives in California and cheered at USC and is considering modeling and yes she exists and you’ll meet her when I’m ready.  Her name is, uh, Keyboard.  Keyboard, umm, Glass.  Of Whiskey.  Keyboard Glassofwhiskey.

She hates when I take candid pictures and don't give her time to remove her watermark

She hates when I take candid pictures and don’t give her time to remove her watermark

In order to get back into the swing of things, I figured I’d write about pop culture and save my 5000 word treatise “Psychosomatic Hallucinations as Coping Mechanism for Acute Loneliness” for a later date.

Just to clarify, a pop culture sin is one that goes against a widely accepted norm and defies common logic e.g. hating a universally loved movie like Goodfellas or being unable to identify an actor as ubiquitous as Johnny Depp or George Clooney.  Not seeing a popular movie/TV show doesn’t count.  There’s usually a reason for the sin but it’s irrational and steeped in personal anecdotes.  I think it’ll become clearer as I explain my four examples.

1) I Just Don’t Get What The Big Deal About Ghostbusters Is

By no means am I calling Ghostbusters a bad movie.  I first watched it all the way through a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Still, I couldn’t help being disappointed when the credits rolled.  Ghostbusters is frequently near the top of “Best Comedies” lists and even makes it on lists of best movies of any category so I had high hopes going in.  I always knew about the films, having grown up with the cartoon spin-offs and that radioactive juice box flavor.  I knew the main bullet points like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and all the actors involved.

In a case of the whole being less than the sum of its parts, all the ingredients are there for a movie I should love but I just don’t feel that strongly about it.  I love Bill Murray and Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver, just not as these characters.  I’m a big sci-fi/fantasy fan, but found the story kind of boring.  I have nothing against 80s movies,  I like the director’s other movies, I understand the effects were amazing for the time, and yet I still don’t think I’ll ever go out of my way to watch it again.

I think this is a good example of how a movie’s impact is tied to the age of the viewer.  It doesn’t matter that Ghostbusters came out before I was born- so did the Star Wars/Indiana Jones/Back to the Future trilogies and they’re some of my all-time favorites.  The difference is I saw all of those sometime in elementary school, whereas for one reason or another I never managed to see all of Ghostbusters before getting it through Netflix.  The window of opportunity for me to fall in love with it was long closed, but that doesn’t mean I don’t understand why people do.  After all, I wouldn’t expect anyone who saw Jurassic Park over the age of thirteen to love it as much as I did as a kindergartner.

I was going to make a joke about still wearing dinosaur pajamas, but have you ever seen such a punchable face?

I was going to make a joke about still wearing dinosaur pajamas, but have you ever seen such a punchable face?

2) I Have Turtle Blindness

And by that I mean that not only can I not properly identify each Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, I had no idea that they each had distinctive personalities like “party guy” and “the one who computers” until a few years ago.  I knew the four names and most of the weapons but couldn’t match them to the corresponding turtles to save my life.  Which would be the stupidest Saw scene ever.

I just see four turtles.  Not sure if that makes me very progressive and open-minded or racist, somehow

I just see four turtles. Not sure if that makes me progressively open-minded or racist

Unlike the Ghostbusters entry, I have no excuse for this one.  I had all the toys and spent every Saturday morning getting in trouble for kicking walls after the cartoon got me amped up.  It also can’t be that I was too young to comprehend because I was a Power Rangers fan as well and could easily match all the teenz with their armor and Zords and weapons, ladies.

The craziest part is that all of this information is in the show’s opening:

3) I Liked M. Night Shyamalan Way Past His Expiration Date

I don’t think I’m breaking new ground by saying M. Night is pretty much a joke now.  He got super lucky with The Sixth Sense, then got cocky, now he’s universally despised.  However, I disagree with most people on when he started to suck.  The general consensus is that Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were good but Signs was when the cracks appeared and it was all downhill from there.

I know I’m gonna catch flack for this, but Signs is the scariest movie I’ve ever seen not counting a traumatizing childhood event that I plan on writing about in a later post.  I had trouble sleeping the night after seeing it despite being fourteen at the time.  

I don’t get scared by movies, excluding the previously mentioned life-defining trauma and seeing Jaws when I was young.  While I can enjoy Jaws now without getting scared, I still tear up during the scary scenes in Signs.  You know, the ones that I know exactly when they’re coming.  When I say tear up I mean I literally have a visceral reaction of terror that I can’t control but is somehow different from crying.  I cry in movies all the time and have no trouble admitting when I do, but it’s usually during bittersweet moments.

Here's an unrelated and randomly selected image

Here’s an unrelated and randomly selected image

Even The Village didn’t lose me.  I thought the monsters were pretty spooky and the twist was decent, but I was also a stupid teenager at the time.  I haven’t rewatched it so I might feel differently now.  I haven’t watched anything else he’s done, but I still shamefully keep quiet when I’m talking about his movies with people and Signs gets brought up as the beginning of the end of his career.

"Why is he crying?"  "Why are slowly walking towards him?"

“Why is he crying?”         “Why are we slowly walking towards him?”

4) I Think I Like Batman And Robin Better Than The Dark Knight Rises

Woo boy.  I saved the worst for last.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose friends over this one.

"We don't like you anymore!"   "Once again, why are we walking towards him?"

“We don’t like you anymore!”       “I think we’re sending mixed signals….”

The explanation is simple: one movie gives me exactly what I expect it to, the other disappoints me by falling short of its potential.

To revisit the general theme of this post, I was eight when I saw Batman and Robin.  It was my first experience with non-cartoon Batman and I was too young to realize how cheesy and campy it was.  I saw bright colors, fighting, and ice puns that were better than anything I could come up with at the time.

"Hey Mom- CUBE to see you! Wait hold on..."

“Hey Mom- CUBE to see you! Wait hold on…”

Uma Thurman also instilled in me a lifelong love for redheads as evidenced by my redheaded girlfriend in Colorado.

I’ve seen BaR since, and I know it’s terrible, but I have too many memories associated with it to give up on it.  It’s my deadbeat brother who I know will never change but I keep loaning him money anyway.  Cuz of love and stuff.  Also, it knows it’s terrible.  The same cannot be said for The Dark Knight Rises, mostly because it isn’t terrible.  It is, however, a very frustrating movie with a very high opinion of itself.  I loved The Dark Knight just like the rest of the country so I had high hopes that weren’t even close to met.  I know fulfilling my nerdy predictions isn’t the movie’s responsibility, but there are so many plot holes that I have trouble enjoying the movie.  Batman and Robin is so ludicrous that anyone examining the logic of the story deserves to be slapped.  TDKR, like the rest of the Nolan trilogy, prides itself on its realism and serious tone, making the leaps in logic stand out in sharp contrast.  Basically, I can sum it up like this: Batman and Robin is a terrible movie that I enjoy watching because of its place in my childhood, The Dark Knight Rises is a good movie that I find unwatchable because of all the plot holes and inconsistencies.

Also, anyone accusing the other Batman movies of cheesy dialogue should rewatch this scene:

Or this one (at 0:30):

Ice puns are rough, but “cat got your tongue” might be the worst/most overused movie line ever.  I know I groaned out loud during that part in the theater.  My Cancun girlfriend hit me in the ribs, but what else should I have expected from a fiery chestnut brunette?