My Dark Place, Ranting and Ravings, Short Stories

The story of why I want to be perfect.

In the 1st grade, my teacher asked all the students to sit on the carpet in front of the class and ask her ANY question we’d ever wanted to ask a grown up but never got the chance to. Other kids were asking, How do trains run? or How do plants grow? Me – I didn’t need to know that s***. I raised my hand eagerly and asked my teacher, “Why were we put on this Earth?” Swear that’s what I asked her. She looked back at me with all seriousness and said, “I don’t know.” Then proceeded to answer everyone else’s question. No one gave me a second thought. My little mind really wanted to know the answer to this question, and THAT’S what you give me? No one’s mind looked blown, no one was even thinking on that level. But this is what I’ve lived with for life.

My quest to find the answer to that question continued to follow me. I mean duh, it was a very important question and I needed the answer! My answer came a few years later in the 3rd grade. I remember this as a monumental moment in my 8 year life. My teacher, Mrs. Akinkoye, who was my first black teacher, came to my mother during the Parent/Teacher Conference and said to her, Mrs. Patterson, I think Marrissa is a very gifted student. You should have her tested and get her into a Gifted and Talented Program. So my mom, who has only ever wanted the absolute best for me (it all started with her buying Hooked on Phonics for me at 3 years old) made the arrangements and got me tested.

I took the test the first time and I was on cruise control. I was in my own zone, not thinking anything about the results. I just wanted to show people who I really was. I just wanted to match up the freaking shapes the way I just knew they were supposed to be matched. So I did what they asked and drew some lines and filled in some bubbles and handed in my test. I can still remember the tiny little room with the tiny little table they placed me at to take the test.

I failed the test. No clue what “grade” I got on the test. But I did not pass it.

I don’t remember being particularly crushed. I was okay. But I remember everyone around me changing a little bit. Everyone started to make me feel like this “fail” was in fact a “failure” in life. Like this was my first life test, and I’d just failed it. Like huh? I’m 8! Can’t I just run on the playground?

I remember distinctly that this was a crossroads for me in my life. I’ve always been the type of person who wants to make other people around me happy. It’s why I love to throw house parties and why I believe in other people’s ideas way more than I believe in my own. At the tender age of 8 I looked to my right and saw a road where I could continue on with my failed grade and just live my life, just doing me and maintaining status quo. Then I looked to my left and saw myself achieving a passing grade on that Gifted test. Can you guess which direction I chose?

When I made the choice to re-take the test, I didn’t realize what kinda path I was on. I thought, okay, you can pass this test, then you can get on with your life. I didn’t realize I was opening the door to more and more tests, that I was going to go to a separate School for Gifted and Talented, that I was going to try to constantly achieve 100/100 for everything I did in the future. But I came to realize that this was a relief for me. After struggling to understand my purpose at age 8, I’d finally figured out what my purpose was – to maintain this idea that I needed to be perfect. It gave me something to live for, it gave me an understanding. It became my comfort zone and it’s where I’ve lived for decades. I live in the make believe world of perfection and believe that I belong in that world. And my dark passenger is there to certify that I continue to live for this idea — that perfection exists and I must strive for it.

Just needed a quick side note to describe that short story. Go back to The Catharsis.

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My Dark Place

A mini catharsis.

I believe in the philosophy of catharsis. Without a catharsis, we can only continue to be the same person and never evolve to our next level. According to Urban Dictionary:

Catharsis – a therapeutic technique used to release tension by bringing repressed feelings and fear to surface

As some of you know, I had another mini catharsis last year when I realized my true passion: I’m going to be a travel show host. Every day since I made that decision I’ve been trying to turn that dream into a reality. If you know anything about the realization of dreams, you know that it can be a pretty long path. A LONG DAMN path. This is no walk in the park, and there are ZERO shortcuts.

My path towards making my dream a reality has been thwarted by several of my lurking inner demons. To clarify for the reader, your inner demons are those things deep within you that you hold you back from being as great as you possibly can. For me, these demons include, but are not limited to:

Over the course of my 24 year life, all of these demons have manifested themselves into what my boyfriend calls “my dark passenger“. If you’ve ever watched the show Dexter, you know Dexter is just a regular Joe Shmoe but living with a grim past. At a young age, Dexter’s mom was brutally murdered by a cartel his mother snitched on. Dexter watches the whole thing happen and is officially scarred for life. He is rescued by an officer named Harry, who adopts and raises him. Those grisly images, however, eternally haunt Dexter and he develops a desire to kill, I assume as a consequence or revenge for his mother’s death. This desire to kill becomes Dexter’s dark passenger. Not saying I want to murder people, that definitely was NOT where I was taking that metaphor.

Anyway, the demons listed above manifested themselves into my dark passenger. So as we speak, I have this dark passenger residing within me, always wanting to ride shotgun in my life, and constantly shooting down all of my good ideas. Some may ask, but why does the dark passenger exist? I’m so glad you asked.

I believe in the Inception philosophy. It is possible for ideas to become implanted in your head. Your mind then takes the idea and believes that it was your own. For me, it was many moons ago in my youth, when someone implanted in my head an idea. And since the implantation, that idea has festered in my mind, becoming it’s own thing, becoming it’s own entity and evolving in it’s own way. The idea was this: “Marrissa – you need to be perfect.” This was a profound idea for my young mind, and it caused a great relief in me (for why it was a relief, read The story of why I want to be perfect and then come back here). Knowing that I needed to be perfect gave me something to live for, it gave me an understanding. It became my comfort zone and it’s where I’ve lived for 24 years. I live in the unreal world that perfection exists and that I belong in that world. And my dark passenger is there to certify that I continue to live for this idea — that perfection exists and I must strive for it.

But as I get closer and closer to making this big dream of Taste and See into a reality, I realize that my dark passenger is a WHOLE lot of baggage. Because of all this extra baggage, I have been dragging the hell out of my feet. It took me almost 6 months to get the trademark paperwork done just to own the words “Taste and See”. It took almost double that time to even write the script for Episode One of the first Season. And I totally half-assed it, let’s just be honest.

But here’s the thing! I’m not defending these ridiculous thoughts from my dark passenger that come into my head, but I need to confront them head on! Locked deeeep inside me is the idea that I need to be perfect. As a result, I believe that every episode of Taste and See must be perfect. And if each episode of Taste and See is not perfect, then I’ve failed. And if I fail, then I’m right back where I started. Confused about what the hell I should do with my life and at a loss for what my next step should be. What I’m failing to realize is that my dark passenger is steering me on this crazy collision course of queer thoughts and misconceptions of perfection.

So how do I correct my course? I’m so very relieved to tell you that I’ve figured it out. It’s all in the Leonardo DiCaprio method: you must confront your demons head on. By confronting them, you will control your dark passenger and thereby replace the original incepted idea in your mind. You create a new idea. You manipulate your dark passenger to work for you, and not against you.

It took me a little while to think of my new idea. Like a long little while. I actually didn’t come up with it, let me not lie to you. My boyfriend did because I was half-stepping on that too. It can be downright hard to control your dark passenger, let’s just be real. But it’s so worth it. And it’s the ONLY way to get over what the hell you’re going through. Your new idea, one that is all your own, one that replaces the wrong idea, is actually pretty simple. A lot more simple than I was making it. Your new idea needs to be the opposite of whatever your dark passenger wants you to believe.

For me, my new idea is simply this: “You are awesome.”

KA-BOOM!!

Mind = blown. So my next steps are these:

  1. Believe every single day in the new idea that I am awesome.
  2. Accept my dark passenger for who she/he/it is but I won’t let them run my life. I’m in control of my destiny – I am the master of my fate, and the captain of my soul. What I say goes, which is cool, cuz I’m a control freak anyway!
  3. Thank God that I figured out He made me perfectly in my imperfections.
  4. Lemme say that again – God made me PERFECT in my IMPERFECTIONS. When he made me, He said, This child was made in my image, and for that reason she is perfect. She got her own lil quirks about her, but those quirks were made by God, and are thus still GOOD quirks.
  5. Remember God’s promises and pray for wisdom.
  6. Take a deep freaking woo-sa and make this Taste and See thing happen, acknowledging that every second, minute, hour of the show won’t be perfect, but that it will still be a great freaking show, because it was made by a great freaking team of people and came from the inner recesses of the mind of a fantastic freaking person.

Thank God I’m coming out on the other side of this.

I really hope this lengthy passage helps someone.

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Bring It Up a Bit

13 things to achieve in 2013

  1. The production of Taste and See Season 1
  2. Get out of debt, heavenly Father
  3. Incorporate my nonprofit org, Your Oyster, Inc.
  4. Publish some comic strips for the home team’s cartoon idea
  5. Earn some grant money for the nonprofit
  6. Instruct some enrichment classes for kids and expose them to careers outside of Doctor, Lawyer, Marine Biologist
  7. Become less selfish
  8. Learn how to draw
  9. Develop workshops on how to create a comic book
  10. Bring others onto the team for the nonprofit
  11. Publish some short stories, articles, etc. in literary magazines, trade journals, etc. for profit
  12. Start working on that food truck idea
  13. Finish my dream board
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Grieving Still

Last night I had the most vivid dream about my grandmother.

Well, I shouldn’t say last night. It was sometime between 6am (when my body finally surrendered to sleep) and 7am (when my alarm started blaring). It was a spectacular dream. The kind you wake up from but then desperately wish you could close your eyes and be right back in.

Except this time, I’d forgotten I’d had the dream until I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, washing my face. All of the sudden, I saw an image of her in the dream. This was in my  mind’s eye, and I instantly burst into tears.

She had been sitting in a sort of rocking chair, the way she always used to. That was her favorite sort of chair — maybe it’s a grandma thing?

And I was lying on the floor, watching tv with her, the way we always used to. Only, this time, we were in my house, which she’s never been to, because I moved here after she passed away. I wasn’t paying attention to her at first, honestly. Often in dreams you’re not really paying attention to the people around you. And I remember laying on the floor, watching tv, with my arms propped up the way I do, below my chin, and I just felt a sincere soul-to-soul connection with someone else in the room. And I felt the warmth, comfort and safety that you feel when you’re near a parent or authority figure. I look up, and I see her beautiful face, looking back at me, my grandmother Linda Allene Watson Norman.

She just looked back at me and smiled.

Grandma

She was perfectly healthy. She had two breasts, perched in those pointy Walmart bras she used to wear. No disfigured shoulders or back. No cancer in her blood and bones and lymph nodes. She looked so full of life, the way I remember her when she left me in my college dorm room my freshmen year. That’s the Linda I want to remember.

Once I’d come to terms that she was there, watching over me, in her typical Linda way, I remember saying to myself — Yo Marrissa, your grandmother is dead. You should really cherish this time with her. So I looked back at her for a few more moments and let it settle in. And she just smiled at me again.

That was the end of that, but the beginning of a million questions from me.

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God is real., Grieving Still

The beginning of a million (seven) questions from me.

For Part 1, please read HERE.

  1. God is real. I begged and begged and pleaded with Him to dream about her right after she died just so I could still feel some kind of closeness to her. It never happened. So why now?
  2. Why were we at my house? Why not her house?
  3. Why is she always in a rocking chair? What’s up with that?!
  4. Why is she smiling? Not to say my grandma was a scowler, but the majority of her expressions were NOT smiles.
  5. Is she still watching over me? Is that why I’m on the ground?
  6. Why was I so blunt with my thought to myself: Marrissa — your grandmother is dead. Why did I have to say it like that?
  7. WHY NOW???

This weekend, I laid out a master plan to set up a nonprofit organization that teaches young people about art and media careers, as an enrichment to the standard public/private school, curriculum. When I realized I needed a name for such a venture, the first that came to mind was,  “Your Oyster, Inc.”

When I was a kid, my grandmother would always tell me the world was my oyster. And the moment I decided to start a nonprofit and name it for her, then I suddenly have a dream about her? Is that why she’s back?

To encourage me?

Well thank God because I am SO nervous about this thing. I mean seriously, God? First Taste and See, with a full time job, writing magazine articles, maintaining 2 blogs, co-publishing a comic book, conceptualizing multiple novels AND a nonprofit on top of all that?

I guess He’s preparing my testimony. Gotta admit, though. I’m still a little nervous.

Grandma and me

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