When I was but a measly third grader, we were assigned our very first expository essay
And tasked with writing a detailed summary of how to properly consume an Oreo.
Apparently being inundated with food references was their way of placating us
As we all typed away at our little desks bearing name tags with smiling apples on them
Our own paper and ink hamburger essays, since that way it was vegan no matter what.
The irony of this is now far from lost on me, but that’s why hindsight is 20/20, after all
And I hadn’t yet realized my eyes were in serious need of some bespectacled assistance.
Being the intelligent, albeit fairly recent inductee into the double-digit club, that I was
I decided that “Oreo Cookie Fun” was the reigning title supreme for chocolate and creme.
Alas, they were never able to coerce me into sufficient adeptness at using home row
So I pressed the O, followed by the R, then E-O-space-C-O-O-K-I-E-space-F-U, and then
In a similar “F U” gesture, my finger slipped and a K appeared in place of the intended N.
But I hadn’t yet been welcomed into the hallowed halls of the infamous Profane Gang
And blithely exclaimed, “Look! I accidentally typed ‘K’ and wrote ‘Oreo Cookie *beep*’!”
As luck would have it, it was March, so my sort-of-Irish card played its green self early
In the form of my then roughly leprechaun sized friend vehemently shushing me.
Were this a WebMD article, that would likely be the number one sign to look out for
To diagnose those who, like myself, now swear like the child of a sailor and a trucker.
I’d honestly put that impressive pedigree in my autobiography for shits and giggles
Along with choice descriptors like “unnecessarily verbose” and “terrible sense of humor.”
Isn’t it ironic, despite that this convoluted conglomeration certainly is no alt-rock song,
That I now visualize apples as having little horns and pitchforks and curse profusely?
See, if I’d turned out anything like my formidable engineer of a father, I’d say it’s irony²
Because just like Alanis, I’ve got some mental illnesses and often speak with great angst
And “angst” is often what I used to quiet my nightmares of having a broken mind.
But you can’t truly insist the sky is orange when you in fact know it’s a lovely cerulean
Just as I could never keep the malicious monsters in my mind silent for very long.
I’ve never wanted to be the “anorexic” or the “depressed” or the “stark raving mad” girl
I’d rather be mad like all the brilliant authors and artists whose works I keep shelved
In the archives of my brain, where they neutralize the poisonous words and images
That I can’t stop from playing like a broken record; the horrid audio at a museum exhibit
Which drones on even when you’ve wandered off to something more interesting.
Except to me, everything isn’t just interesting, but fascinating, even the most boring
Of facts I learned from the pages of a musty textbook that taught me how not to write
Lest I wanted to lure my far less inquisitive readers into post-preschool naps.
That’s the beauty and the curse of seeing words whether you’re awake or dreaming
Like ebullient particles of dust floating in the sun until they’re swallowed by shadow.
Sometimes they’ll take me down winding tangents, like this one, that only I can navigate
Others, they’ll staple “ironic” to pieces of my memories and leave them for me to find
Like when I’m asked why apples don’t smile beatifically anymore, but glare instead.
There are still moments where words give me memories forever vibrant and lovely
But all too often, they all stack up together like lemmings that wised up on a cliff face
Realizing that otherwise, they’d just fall to the ground and be labeled mindless imbeciles.
Just because I can spell things like “fuck” and “antidisestablishmentarianism” now
And see words everywhere, like burgeoning secrets, silent dreams, and untold stories
Doesn’t mean I have a damn clue which letters to smush together to define myself.
Yes, I know “anorexic” and “depressed” and “short” and “blonde” and “female”
“Arachnophobic” and “creative” and “loud” and “shy” and “friendly” and “quirky”
Put them all in a row and they’d be the rowdiest, most alternative ducks you’d ever seen.
Maybe that’s okay; my story is far from its closing pages and its heroine is her alter ego
Like if Superman never existed and the world only knew mild mannered Clark Kent.
I still have lots of time to write, and dream, and hope, and fight, and learn, and struggle,
Love, and cry, and hurt, and laugh, and run, and teach, and haphazardly create
A story which will never be a mistake to read aloud to anyone, nor impossible to follow
And that will have no need for labels other than the simplest and truest of all: “mine.”