This piece was originally written for and performed at Write Club Atlanta on March 11, 2020.
Fuck, I have to do this fast.
I couldn’t find a seat near an outlet at this coffee shop, and my laptop is super old and I can’t charge it, so there’s no telling if I have even an hour to get this thing down on the page before it dies.
Also, you know, the show is tonight.
I have to do this fast.
I am slurping iced coffee, and I am shoveling this bacon popover thing into my mouth, because savoring is for chumps, and I am typing as quickly as I am thinking, and oh, I am thinking very quickly. I have eight tabs open on my computer right now, because dammit, I have things to learn and to study and to research, and I have to do that NOW. And I am panicky and I am worried and I am in a rush and I am not even remotely calm, and I FUCKING LOVE IT.
I love this feeling. I don’t think I am supposed to.
How is a “hare” different from a “rabbit,” you’re probably wondering. Don’t worry, so was I! So, hares generally have longer ears, and they prefer to live in pairs or in solitude. Baby hares are able to fend for themselves shortly after birth, whereas baby rabbits are blind and helpless. My research suggests that “bunny” is just a nickname for a young rabbit, but please, if there are any small mammal scientists in the crowd, do correct me.
“Lagomorphs.” Scientifically, they’re all called “lagomorphs,” so let’s just pretend that was the prompt, okay? Lagomorphs vs. Testudines!
(Fuck, I am rambling, and my computer is definitely going to die.)
Hey, here’s a fun fact! You know that line in Wayne’s World when Garth says to Wayne, “Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played a girl bunny?” And then Wayne just starts cracking up? That was real! Dana Carvey improvised that line, and Mike Myers just lost it.
For the record, I do think Bugs Bunny is attractive when he puts on a dress and plays a girl bunny. And I’ve been thinking a LOT about shit like this lately, and I find myself more and more appreciative of things from my childhood like Bugs Bunny playing a girl bunny. Because, yes, to be fair, it was played for laughs, but also he was a sincerely sexy bunny!
(I don’t really know where I’m going with this. You probably do. I am not known for my subtlety.)
I know that the mania is as bad as the depression is, but I like it. I like to feel fast. Feeling fast makes me feel powerful, makes me feel in control. I do not like taking my time, in writing, in talking, in eating, in kissing even! That last one is especially true when I kiss onstage. I am not a sexy kisser. I tend to just grab people and go for it. My Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream had to tell me once, “Dani, you’re slapping me in the face. Please stop.” Sorry, Dan.
Going slow terrifies me. I picture, like, those Quicksilver scenes in X-Men movies. If I am going slow, then everyone else around me must be going hyper fast, and they will be able to reach inside of my reality and alter the things around me, and I won’t be able to stop them. I have to go fast to protect myself.
Also, it’s not really like I have a choice, you know? This is just how my brain works. Technically, as a bipolar II kid, I experience “hypomania,” which is a mild form of mania. I didn’t have a name for this until 2016, but I’ve been experiencing this since I was a kid. Leaping back and forth among the high highs and the low lows. And depression is fucking exhausting, so I find myself craving the manic episodes. Again, I don’t necessarily feel “better.” I don’t feel calm or relaxed, but to have any kind of energy… It’s liberating. Going fast makes me feel free.
I shake lately. As I type this, iced coffee and anxiety rushing through my veins, I pause, and observe the tremor of my fingers against the keys. And it makes me sad, because it reminds me that, however powerful I might feel by going “fast,” I am not in control of this. I am at the mercy of this illness, and fuck, I hate to call it an illness, but I also need to call it an illness.
I have to keep going, have to catch up, have to get it all down before the computer dies. 21 minutes, says the little bar down in the corner of the screen. I still don’t know what we’re racing towards. Thank you for sticking with me.
(Fuck, you know why the hare took a nap in the middle of that race? He probably had fucking bipolar disorder, and he was fucking tired!)
I ran track and field in high school. I ran the 400 meter dash. I was good at it. I was fast. It scared me more than anything. The day of a track meet, I was just nervous all day. My stomach hurt. I am a fast, competitive person, but I could not derive anything like joy from competitive racing. Of all the things that I lost at in high school, and I was an involved little cupcake, so I lost at a lot of things, racing was the worst. There’s no nuance to the failure of racing. You can’t make an argument later about the possible bias of a judge or a referee. You just weren’t fast enough. You just weren’t good enough.
I’d stand there, shivering in the dark in February in my short track shorts, already hating my then-teenage girl body, beginning to consider hating everything, already crying after school like clockwork every Friday afternoon, already worrying my mother, brain already running away from me, already racing ahead to some place where I fear I can never catch it.
Sure, baby hares are able to take care of themselves shortly after birth, but I am still sad that they have to.
My other event was the high jump, simple bunny-creature that I am. And I was good at that, too, though never as good as I wanted to be. But there’s this moment in the high jump… You line up, and you do your fancy little footwork, and you run, and you are a perfect fucking gazelle, and then you leap, you allow your body to leave the familiarity of the Earth, and for just a second: time stops. And you are alone in the sky, and for the splittest of seconds, nothing else fucking matters, because the sky has only ever loved you for who you are, has only ever rained kisses of sunshine and snowflakes and, well, raindrops upon your sad, little brow.
And then you come back down to Earth, and it doesn’t matter that you lost, because for a minute you got to fly.
(I am still shaking. I think perhaps I am getting to the point. I have 13 minutes left.)
I am writing a lot lately. And I write very fast. I have to get it all down as quickly as I think it, because my brain goes too quickly for me to retain much of anything lately. I think a thought that I hope is beautiful, but wait, we are already speeding along to the next thing. So, I drink too much iced coffee and I type frantically. I scribble in journals until my hand aches. I cannot stop. Cannot take a break. Must keep going, must go faster.
Because, lately, and I’m sure you’ve figured this out: I’m writing to you. Wrapped up in something close to poetry, this is how I pass secret messages to you. Because when you are near, my heart beats too fast, and my brain thinks too quickly, and the whole of me shakes, rattles, and fucking rolls, and I will fuck this up, I know I am going to fuck this up. I know I already have. You are beautiful and careful and thoughtful, and I am a shaky, rapid weirdo, and I am sorry, but if you ask me to stand still, I think I am going to vibrate out of my fucking skin.
I do not want to stop. Please.
(12% remaining. 5 minutes left. This thing pauses soon, whether I like it or not.)
The Hare does not beat the Tortoise, yes. But according to the text, “the Hare slept on very peacefully.” So, you know what, I am happy for the Hare. I think maybe the Hare really needed the rest. The race is not always to the swift, says Aesop, but have you considered that maybe we already knew that we were never going to win?