When I write, I try to give my characters realistic motivations. People aren't evil just to be evil--not your mother-in-law or your crazy ex, despite what you think. They usually have a reason for their behavior and feel justified on some level. I've written a couple of crazy characters and had to try to get inside their heads, so I started to wonder what could drive me to insanity. What would really make me act crazy? And then I thought back to those moments in my life when I had acted crazy. There are a few....

Being a die-hard list-maker, I've compiled a list of things that could or have made me crazy in order of severity and potential bodily harm to myself or others:

1. Someone threatening, annoying or in some way endangering my children
2. Lack of sleep
3. Irrational behavior from other people
4. Inexplicably losing something forever
5. Too much vodka

Threatening my children: I could kill for this. And I don't mean I get annoyed and I'm all "I could totally kill them." I mean I could see myself assessing a serious threat to my child and then making it go away through legal or illegal means if necessary. I'm normally a calm person. Some might say pleasant even, but there was that incident on the playground once upon a time where a grown woman was humiliating my 5-year-old and I verbally shredded her. It was a verbal shredding only, but it left mental scars and an almost palpable feeling of foreboding that lingered around the tunnel slide for months like a wandering spirit. It was with massive restraint that I kept myself from shoving her face into the dirt and kneeling on the back of her head until she vomited mud. Flash forward 12 years to when I rabid, minced and repeated with a vice principal, who called me back and offered an apology ten minutes later. I think he was sniffling. Crazy moments brought to you by Cynthia.

Lack of sleep: We all get crazy when we don't sleep. I go through bouts of insomnia, but refuse to take sleep aids because the idea of pharmaceutically incapacitating myself on purpose unsettles me. Instead, I stumble through my days half awake and babble incoherently at my coworkers, sometimes answering their questions ten minutes after they ask them. I see awkward and strange things in my peripheral vision and feel a one-sided kinship with Lewis Carroll, who must have written Alice's Adventures in Wonderland based on images from his sleep-deprived peripheral vision. Or drugs. Or a combination. I also remember a social worker telling me not to judge people who have random acts of terrible parenting, because extreme circumstances drive us to extremes and lack of sleep is a doozy.

Irrational behavior: The complete lack of common courtesy freaks me out. When a neighbor's random house guest parked their car in my driveway, I almost flipped my lid because WHO DOES THAT?! Also when the same neighbor's giant half-lame lab pooped on my lawn for the 57th time while the neighbor was watching, I may have picked up said poop, put it in a paper bag and deposited it on her porch. She was all, "Why would you put poop on my doorstep?" And I was all, "It's your poop. It was giving it back to you. You're welcome. At least I was nice enough to bag it!" I admit it was crazy, but that's the point, and I felt terrible about it afterwards. But it wasn't the inconvenience of not being able to park in my own driveway or picking a giant, steaming poop off my lawn that set me off, it was the fact that it never should have happened.

Losing something: Obviously, losing people is hard. And I've lost a lot, which is why one of my favorite poems is Elizabeth Bishop's One Art. I've had to say goodbye to family members and good friends in a scale of degrees ranging from semi-permanent to ultra-permanent. But I'm also talking about the phenomenon of sitting down with something on your lap and it suddenly quantum tunnels to nowhere forever. Like scissors. Or car keys. Or your phone that you were just talking on. Or those times you spend an hour looking for something that was right there a second ago. That doesn't necessarily make me act crazy so much a feel like I've already lost my mind.

Too much vodka: I mean...come one. Vodka, coffee, Red Bull, Twizzlers--water even (or dilutional hyponatremia) can be fatal. Too much of anything can make you nutty, right? You don't need the details. Just use your imagination for that one.

To read about more things that can make you crazy, see this page and be astounded.

Blog off.