MisterRogersMamaRu

When I was younger, my siblings and I used to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I say “younger” instead of “a kid” because I watched the show well into my adulthood. Though Fred Rogers has passed, one thing I’ve never been able to get over, is the spelling of the title.

I mean, possession would be indicated by the “apostrophe before the s” at the end of any singular noun (or proper noun). So wouldn’t Mister Rogers, the singular man whose neighborhood we’re visiting, be the host of Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood? It’s not like there is more than one man named Mister Roger, and they’re both living in the neighborhood and hosting the show. That’s what the title leads me to believe, and I don’t know if I like it, because I feel like that is what that means, and I’m missing out on an entire other Mister Roger! I would like to double my fucking pleasure, please. If I’m watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, I’d better be looking at two dudes. At least.

An important thing I learned from watching Mister, is that every one of us has something that nobody else has: ourselves. I forgot to spoiler alert you about your mind being blown. He says, “there’s only one person in the whole world like you… and I like you just the way you are” which is also kind of weird, because it sounds like he’s telling me that there’s someone in the world like me. Is he telling them that he likes them just the way I am? Who is it? Are they old? Are they a baby? Are they a dog? Those are really the only three choices.

I took that idea of there only being one Me in the world, and I ran away with it. I used to do the most outrageous shit to get a reaction from people. I did dances, I wrote songs, I mastered different voices and impressions, I created characters, and on top of being my own biggest fan, I was extremely loud (voted Biggest Mouth and Class Clown in my senior class, thanks). If there is only one of me in the world, the world has long since gotten their money’s worth. I’ve forced friendship on people who didn’t really like me, because of the fact that I was so loud, but I thought I was funny, so they must have thought I was funny too. I used to talk to my friends’ parents like they were my friends, even though they probably thought I was too young to be saying some of the shit I was saying to them, but it didn’t matter because it didn’t feel wrong to me. I was just being myself. And I wasn’t sorry about it, because nobody told me to stop.

As much as I learned from Misterogers, I have to give credit where credit is due, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for ten years has taught me more about being myself, than Fred Rogers ever could. It taught me that I could not only be myself, but that I also shouldn’t feel bad about my lack of giving a shit what anyone thinks about it. Everyone has their darkness, and everyone has their suffering, and we all deal with it in our own way, and we all just try to do the best we can, until we die. I never heard that on PBS. And I probably could have used that wisdom in my teens, because the ’90s were brutal, and being a feminist back then was not very popular, especially in Bumblefuck, Maine. Wanna know who didn’t like me? Pretty much everyone, at some point. But I won them over with my humor and lack of shame, and then they had no choice but to hear me when I wasn’t being funny (but still loud), at least for a little while, until they could get out of earshot. And I wasn’t sorry about that, either.

The difference between what I learned from Mister Rogers, and what I learned from watching RuPaul, is how it pertains to me. I found Mister Rogers to be informative on how to be a good person, but I never felt like it was realistic to my world, because when I turned from the TV to the window, I was sadly disappointed in the disparity. People weren’t good, and they weren’t nice, and the sun wasn’t always shining, and things didn’t always work out in the end, and there wasn’t always a lesson to be learned, and nobody helped anybody that day, and everyone returned home with a frown. It wasn’t the same, so why should I try to be that nice person? RuPaul and the queens on the show are open and honest about ugly struggles, and have seen that people aren’t always kind, and the sun never shines on some people. It doesn’t set the expectation that everyone is doing good deeds and being selfless to make the world a better place, because the world is not like that. It can be made up to look pretty and sweet, but underneath, it’s really a hairy man with a dick.

I don’t love everything about myself, but that’s mostly because I hate feeling the physical pain that comes with being out of shape and almost old. The fact that I have stretch marks, cellulite, uneven boobs, body hair, a lazy eye, E.T. fingers, and hobbit feet… doesn’t bother me one bit. I will gladly take those things, because they’re just little things. I don’t apologize for being myself, even still. I realize not everyone is going to like me, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be liked by me, either. They’re just doing their own thing, and trying as best as they can until they die. I’m a blip on their radar, if they want me to be.

I don’t even think my big mouth is my biggest drawback, to be honest with you. I’d say my lack of follow-through and ambition is probably the worst thing about me, besides the fact that I’m always right. Kidding about that ambition thing. I’m totally ambitious, just not in the way that everyone else is.

Don’t apologize for being yourself. No matter what it is, even if someone can rattle off 20 things they hate about you, so what? Fuck it. You’re you, you’re gonna be you when that person is a distant memory, and nobody else is going to be you, so you might as well fuckin just do that shit to the fullest. My kids have asked me for good comebacks for when people are putting them down, and I always tell them “Fuck off” works for me, because it literally does not matter what someone else thinks of you. It’s what you think of yourself, and how you want to represent your time on this planet.

“There’s only one person in the whole world like you… DON’T… fuck it up!”

-jg

Please Will You Not Be My Neighbor?

Recently, Matt and I weighed out the pros and cons of moving. Again. Some of you who know me more personally are probably rolling your eyes, because you never know where the fuck to find me. My grandmother has replaced my last initial page in her address book so many times, it scrolls out. My ex has (effectively) used my roaming ways against me in court, as a means to imply I am not stable. Why he chose that for the example, I’ll never know.

In the time Matt and I have been together, the longest we have lived in one place has been less than 4 years, and it’s the place we’re currently in now, which is most likely why I want to move so immediately.

It’s always nice being able to move, because I think I might be a gypsy, somewhere deep in my heritage, and I don’t like being in the same place for long. I also don’t like things to look the same for too long. I have to move furniture around, or switch it out for something else, or re-decorate, or cut my hair, or alter my clothes, just to keep things interesting. I wouldn’t say my need for shaking things up has caused me to change my boyfriend scenery multiple times, but you won’t hear me deny that fact (read: FACT) either.

(It’s okay, Matt and I are still together, as of this post)

In this case, we are desperate for a change of scenery around our neighborhood. When I say the “neighborhood,” I am referring to exactly that: the neighbors.  If there’s a medical term for pain and suffering at the hand of your neighbors, I have it. We currently live in a side-by-side duplex, and the family on the other side of the wall is a full-time anxiety attack. There are, at any given point in time, anywhere between 5 and 10 people living there, depending on the day, and only 3 of those people are adults. They wake up early (not the adults), and run around the house, jumping up and down the stairs, screaming, hitting the walls, playing on our stairs outside, hitting baseballs around our car, ripping our roses off the vines, oh, and did I mention shouting? I can’t understand how the acoustics in their apartment are so clear and vivid, but my kids can’t hear me shouting to them up the stairs (even though I can hear every word they’re yelling saying). Everything is amplified in the wall that separates our apartments. I’m sure next door it seems like “just a crayon” dropping on the floor, but it sounds like they’re dragging a body down the stairs.

They are a church family, too, which is fine by me. Whatever you want to worship is your own thing, but my problem doesn’t stem from their theological preference. It’s the stuff that requires *me* to live the church life. Like when they’re up at first light on Sunday (weekend) morning (when you sleep), so they can all take showers before leaving for church, so they wake up everyone in the building, including those of us on the other side of the fucking property, with loud industrial fans that don’t do anything to dampen the shrieks and thumps that echo through the frame of the house. I’m saying, those kids are LOUD. They need boot camp for sure. At least.

On top of that, they’re incredibly afraid of us. Like, super scared. I don’t know why, because we’ve never been anything but kind and outwardly sweet to them, smiling way more than I normally would (or should), but there they are: whiny little quivering babies. Even if they’re having the best time outside, and the sprinkler is going, and there’s a parade, and there’s ice cream, and Spongebob is outside asking them to be his best friends… it doesn’t matter; they will still run into the house as soon as they see us coming. They scowl and frown, too, immediately, from smiles and laughter, and stare at us like they are preparing to see something unexpected. One day, I heard one of the kids tell the others that Matt was evil, which I thought was weird, given that the kid was waving around one of the roses she had just freshly murdered out of my yard. I guess killing things makes you less evil, somehow, but okay, Matt is the scary one. I used to be confused by it, and then I didn’t care, and now I think it’s funny and have even toyed with the idea of really playing up the part of the mean lady that hates all the kids. Just flex the shit out of my “acting” chops, and really make ‘em believe I don’t like ‘em. (I don’t.)

Speaking of all the kids in the entire god damn world, it isn’t just those kids next door. It’s a whole bunch of houses of kids who all want to play in MY yard. I know what you’re saying now: “Isn’t it everyone’s yard?” and you’re wrong. There is a clear line of demarcation between “their” yard, and “our” yard, and they are going to the far side of my yard, to the fence that divides our property from the other neighbors. That’s where they’re picking the roses from; nowhere near their yard. That also happens to be where they prefer to play, and have invited every kid in town to join them. They must love how shiny my beater car (that I’m stuck with, out of necessity) is, or how uninviting my glaring out the window is making the curb appeal seem. They obviously aren’t out there for me. They like the kids next door. (I don’t.)

So, we have kids from our street, and the next few streets over, all congregating on our front porch. It’s a shared porch, but as I mentioned, there is a divider down the center, which is invisible to children, I guess, because they use it as a tool to drive me to drink. It’s that weird kid shit that I don’t find fun. I didn’t like it when my kids were little, and I especially don’t like it, now that it’s a bunch of kids that I already wanted to send to boot camp. No special feelings there. I wish no harm upon them. I just don’t like them.

Perhaps it’s hardly their fault. I mean, I used to roll up in people’s houses uninvited and unannounced when I was younger, even when my friends weren’t there. I just didn’t know any boundaries, because my dad didn’t teach that kind of stuff. I stole things, I destroyed property, I spray painted a lot of things that weren’t mine. If that happened to me, or something of mine now, I would probably go directly to that parent and tell them to send their kid to boot camp. It’s probably the parents’ fault anyway, right?

Is it really too much to ask, to be able to go out on my porch and watch the sun set, without tripping over bikes and McDonald’s toys? Can I please go outside and write for a few hours in the breeze, without catching foam bullets with my teeth, or at the very least, some major 8 year-old side-eye? Can I sleep past 5:30 AM on a Sunday morning, just once? I leave everybody alone. I mean, I clearly don’t like neighbors, so I do as little as I can to attract their attention for any reason, believe me. It just so happens that every single time I go outside, they’re sitting out there. And any time I pull up into the driveway, and they’re not in the yard, they arrive within five minutes. This sounds like I’m embellishing, but that couldn’t be a bigger wish for me right now. I get no time away from the kids next door, and I BARELY want to hang out with my own! (Kidding). What makes them think I want to sit awkwardly in my witch rocking chair, while they stare me down? I’d rather they just go spinning off into the alley to play, but they don’t. They sit there scowling and it’s weird as fuck.

I don’t get down with the neighbor scene, even if they’re cool. I’ve seen some situations where all the tenants in the building leave their doors open, and they just walk in and out of each other’s places. Fuck that! That would never be my thing. Ever. The minute I saw that happening in my building, I’d be putting a guard dog outside my door. Don’t try to walk in my house without being invited, you fucking vampire. That’s against the rules. You need to be invited, just like Jesus. What makes you think you have privileges over Jesus?!

Speaking of lords, we didn’t tell our landlord we were thinking of moving, because we really really like them. They’re lenient when we need extra time on rent, they fix something as soon as we report it, they don’t come around and get nosy, they care about our kids, and they want us to be comfortable in this place. That goes a long way with me. Plus, they love us, even though I just made us sound like nightmare tenants. We’re actually very cool. Trust me. I’m also trustworthy. And cool.

Nevertheless, if I told them that it was, in fact, the neighbors who were driving us away, he might try to kick them out instead, because we’re so much cooler than they are. As much as I think they should be in boot camp, turning those brats into homeless kids would be something my conscience couldn’t handle. One of those kids is almost a little bit cute. So, I worked hard to avoid that whole conversation altogether.

It ultimately worked out, because we decided not to move. Instead, we’re fixing up the place we have, and NOT moving the hoard of shit we have accumulated over time. The rooms have been switched around, AND painted, and everything has new life. Including old Jupe.

Now if I could just convince the neighbors to send those kids to boot camp, all will be perfect.

-jg