Public F*ing and The Art of Selling Out

Alright. Enough about the house already. The grass has grown back. I cut it. The library got painted yesterday. It’s “coming along”, people. Thanks for asking. Really. Onto bigger things.

Like public sex. Like the kind i saw yesterday on my way to an outdoor music festival. It appeared, from a distance, that a guy was rhythmically pumping one of those drop down flexible security gates, his hands above his head, clutching the rungs of the gate, his legs spread slightly, his pelvis crashing into the gate, causing it to shudder. It wasn’t obvious right away, but there was a girl up against that gate. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed her, had she not moved. As we passed, she reached for the hem of her denim mini skirt and tugged it down (for effect really. I mean, come on, sister. One more square inch of flesh isn’t going to send anyone over the edge. You’re having public sex, for chrissakes.)

Yes, the boy definitely was either stoned or drunk and his pants were about 3/4 of the way down his legs. His oversized shirt covered his backside. What was most striking was this: while they guy looked like he was enjoying himself immensely, the girl looked embarrassed and maybe a little scared. She was just a touch taller than him and her head poked out just above his right shoulder. She looked right at us as we passed. Weird.

Afterwards, I thought to myself: this is the kind of thing that always happens to other people and never to me. Almost everyone I know has some sort of “i saw people doing such and such in a public place”. Not me. Not ever. Do I have some instinct to avoid this stuff?

I remember a bus ride home in high school. It was my first year of high school. I was still a naive little girl, fresh from Catholic grammar school, on her her way to Catholic high school and ignorant still of the inner workings of human sexuality. Nancy P., all ninety pounds of her, leaping up on her bench seat, revealing the rolled up waistband of her her too-big plaid uniform skirt, pointing to the window and screeching and giggling that the guy in the car next to the bus had his pants around his ankles and was masturbating as he drove. We all rushed the side of the bus Nancy was sitting on, but, by the time we got there, the guy had sped off. Nancy, breathless and smiling, told us the details. He was looking up at her. He was an older guy. The car was an older model. He was hairy. I sat back down in my own seat, disappointed that a few seconds had separated me from another opportunity to glimpse into the adult world of sex and its secrets.

After a few more blocks of walking away from the kids on the street, my thoughts took a turn. Was she there by choice? Was that a rape I had just witnessed? Did i just walk away from a CRIME, stifling nervous laughter and averting my eyes? Geez. She DID look a little scared. She WAS really young. She WAS tugging her skirt down so we couldn’t see her… She did look right at us. Was she saying HELP, or, Man, I am embarrassed. Hurry up, drunk boyfriend, so we can get the hell out of here. I hate that I have to think that way.

***

Earlier in the day, I sold a little piece of my soul to eBay. I’ll let you know if my “cute, perky” mug (their words, not mine) makes it to Internet. I was standing in line for a smoothie when a woman with an eBay t-shirt approached me and asked if i had ever sold or bought anything on eBay. Turns out, i had just sold my Simpsons figurine collection to a Canadian via CLH’s eBay account. Made a cool $600 (i bought the damn things for almost $1200.00 seven years ago, so you could call that a really sound investment). I told the lady with the t-shirt the story and she called over her producer. I repeated the story to him. It wasn’t much really- just that we had made all this money on the eve of moving into the house, and that, when all was said and done, I had essentially used that cash to pay my first mortgage payment. That, and after frantically wrapping up more than one hundred figurines after 51 simultaneous auctions on the eve of moving day, we moved with something like 12 less huge boxes. They ate it up (i think they ate up more that i was “cute and perky”, “had great energy”, and that i was wearing my hair in pigtails. I was asked three times if i was over 21 years old). So, i may be an eBay spokesperson soon enough. Here’s the thing i took away from that: I am frighteningly good at taking direction. The producer made me do three takes, and by the third take, I was a 12 year old, telling the story in an almost-falsetto about my dolls that i sold on eBay and how thrilled i was that eBay was able (with a dramatic wipe of brow with back of hand) to help me make my payment just in the nick of time! Scary, huh? From jaded to juvenile in three takes. Who knew?

A Conqueror and afeared to speak

That was the subject line of a junk email I received.

Having cut the grass yesterday, I sort of feel like the Conqueror of the Back 40 (that’s what we’re calling it these days: the vast, untamed expanse of a backyard we “own”.) I also feel like there is so much to say about this place that I am a little intimidated about what to report. I’ll start with the lawn and work from there.

A year ago (hell, three weeks ago!) I didn’t understand what it was to cut your own grass. Power tools? For the birds. Definitely not for me. But, we bought this lawnmower at a neighbor’s garage sale the DAY we moved in. We weren’t quite sure how to start the thing, so we had to go back and learn the trick from the neighbor. Sure enough, it started, and its low hum was probably the most satisfying song i’d heard in a great while.

CLH and I did the front the next weekend. If I wasn’t feeling like a suburbanite before, I was feeling it then. When I was finished, I stepped back, wiped the sweat from my brow, and admired my handiwork. The dandelions had been leveled. So, it wasn’t so much a “lawn”mower as it was a “weed”mower. Nonetheless, it provided the illusion that I could manage the stuff growing in my front yard, even if for just a short time, and NOTHING beats the smell of fresh cut grass on a hot summer day. The interior of the house was such a freakshow… so, having just 10 square feet of order and simplicity felt hugely satisfying.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day rubbing my hands together mad-scientist-style in anticipation of mowing the BACK yard. Comparatively, the backyard is 6 or 7 times as big as the front… and even though I knew I’d only be able to get to one sixth of it last night, it was exciting. In some parts, the marshmallow (flowers) had to be trimmed before I could even get the mower over the grass. The lawnmower choked over most of the grass under the fruit trees. It was probably no less than a foot tall. A foot. I tried to recall the lawnmowing lessons of my perfectionist father- cut in even, symmetrical swaths, go over what you’ve cut, and incorporate just a few inches of the next swath on your next pass, continue like this to make sure you get everything… tilt the mower back on its back wheels and lower it onto the tall stuff, should you encounter it. Of course, my father never let our grass get a foot tall. It never was more than 2.25 inches long on any given Saturday afternoon. Towards the end of the night, as the sun was setting, I started to throw the rules out the window and was pushing that thing around like it was a vacuum and I was a crazed housewife expecting the inlaws in exactly three minutes.

There is so much more to do… but at least we can walk under the fruit trees and not have to wonder what on earth is tugging at our ankles. I must have found a dozen or more peaches underneath our peach tree IN the tall grass. This was in addition to the ones i found ON the tall grass. The previous homeowners said the peach tree wouldn’t bear much fruit and that the fruit wasn’t very tasty. We have found the exact opposite to be true. CLH and I picked about 10+ pounds of peaches a few days ago and they were delicious. My housemate and I skinned and cut them up last night and stuck them in a freezer bag for future smoothie making.

That’s another thing: peaches. In my mind, they are reserved for the southern plantation. Any literature I have even encountered around peaches usually details lazy summer afternoons in the deep south, the cicadas buzzing… and now they grow right in my backyard. It’s surreal to me. The cherries in my former backyard I could handle. Cherries are the pride of this state for a few short weeks in the spring/early summer. But, peaches? Peaches, too.

The Italian plum tree is so laden with fruit, there are more plums than leaves. I cannot wait to pick those suckers and turn them into prunes.

The apple tree is nearly 40-50 feet tall. I know, i know. Apple trees are not supposed to be that tall. But, when you’ve seen the rest of the house and the other forms of neglect it has suffered, you will understand how a fruit bearing tree gets to be 40 feet tall. We can’t even see the fruit at the top of the tree. You wouldn’t even know it’s a fruit tree save for the beautiful, perfectly round deep red apples it drops underneath it every few days.

So much to do… I’ll try to update this thing more regularly. And, I’ll also try to avoid making this house the subject of every entry. It’s a slippery slope…now that you know about the lawn, you’re going to want to know about the kitchen and the bathroom. Camp bathroom. That’s what we call it. The reason? Another time.

This is not my beautiful wife…

So, i bought a house.

Hmmm.. That should probably be accompanied by more fanfare.

I bought a house!

Even that looks odd.

I just bought my FIRST house!! WOW!!

The “wow” might have been over the top, but I’ll live with it.

It’s an old farmhouse. It’s in the suburbs. I live in the suburbs. It’s a jagged pill to swallow, having lived in major cities most of my life. It’s not quiet either or peaceful either. I live in a flight path, bordered by a highway. So, when the roar from the planes dies down, the roar of the traffic takes over.

I’ll have more to write later; I am overwhelmed with having to add a commute to my morning time, with having to pack my life on my back to head into the city for the day. I’m trying to avoid words like “transition” and “life change”, so it might take some finessing. There is so much to tell.

Intertubes and Balanga

So, in talking with a friend tonight, I learned that one should never publish original work in her blog. Who knew? Who knew that someone might be so stupid, so devoid of creativity as to actually lift something from someone’s blog and call it their own! I mean, I’m embarrassed enough to be publishing my own small thoughts… I can’t imagine publishing someone else’s and calling them my own.

I’m still conflicted over the whole notion of having to update this thing regularly. That’s probably obvious by now.

Here is what I know:

This week, I had to stand in the back of a crowded courtroom and watch one of my clients testify before a judge that he was a fit enough father to his two young sons so that he might win custody of them. Before he stood at the cheap wooden podium, his sweaty lawyer at his side, he taped a paper doll cutout to its side. There were three dolls. The one in the middle was my client. The dolls flanking him were his sons. I knew this because they were labeled in a child’s handwriting. The middle one read “DADDY”.

This week, I had to tell other clients of mine that I would be leaving them because I’d just bought a house and the commute was going to be too long and the workload not enough. I was expecting a congratulations or two for the house purchase… but not knitted brows and looks of sheer panic, the-don’t-leave-me-please-i-can’t-do-this-by-myself look. I didn’t give myself a whole lot of time to sit with the feeling of being needed. I am needed. Somewhere out there, people need me. They don’t tell me regularly. But they need me. It is an odd feeling to be reminded so suddenly that I am so needed. Everyone is needed in this same way. Somewhere out there, someone needs you.

This week, I got another horrible sinus infection and had to spend most of July 4th resting. I read The Poisonwood Bible in about two and a half days. What an amazing read. Africa. Poor, poor Africa. What haven’t we done to you? Africa calls to me and repels me at the same time. The idea that there I share a planet with microorganisms that eat away at the membranes of the human body makes me appreciate the balance of it all, that a millimeter or three of porous material holds my insides in, and the atmosphere over our heads.

I can’t even really articulate right now what it is I want to say about all this. In general, I’m still ruminating on the theme of feeling purposeful on earth. My mind fixates on endtimes… and not because of any religious proclivities. Maybe I have been reading too much Jared Diamond, or listening to too much public radio… but it’s all very clear in my mind, more clear than most thoughts I have in a day, how this all goes. I live in a wealthy country that can’t stay wealthy forever. I watch as standards change, as I am being governed by a patriarchy of scared old men who make frequent and hollow public statements. I am watching security tighten, fears rise. I find my hope dissolves a little more every day when I hear that a little girl in Egypt has died of a botched female circumcision, or that we are in the middle of a mass extinction right now, the fastest one the earth has ever known. The Holy Roman Empire is in the valley below me, and I feel one part Chicken Little, and one part soothsayer, a history book in the one hand, and a notion to go run in the sprinklers in the other. I keep telling myself that when the year rolls over and a new president is elected, my hope will be restored. Even I know better than to entrust my precious hope to one man. But I need something to hold onto. Until I find it in myself- until I go to the place inside where my science melts into faith, and my doubt turns over into hope for the future, the infinitesimal spot where life begins inside me, I look for it all on the outside. I am morbidly fascinated by the shipwreck, observing it from the shore, praying I had nothing to do with it, wondering what it means that I escaped.

Spinnet Circa 2003

3/11/04

It’s 9-11, isn’t it? You want me to write about it. Don’t you? Or maybe you are trying to tell me that’s the answer to the question of time I keep asking. It’s when it all began, or ended. That was the beginning of this… this period. This pupating, this time when nothing makes sense, when everything gets to get in. Every little thing I see, I hear, I taste, I touch, it all gets an apartment in my heart. I have no choice in the matter. It all gets to go in. And it all changes everything. Everything shifts and changes, like the interior of a lava lamp, all moving, all shifting. It never rests, and the same pattern never forms twice. There is nothing that can happen to me now that won’t affect me immediately. Everything must be thought of- every little thing, from the crushing of a bug in my kitchen, to what socks I wear and where I do my job. It’s more than a Zen exercise in mindfulness. It is a permanent change in my chemistry. It is the new standard. It is a painful new consciousness. It doesn’t fit me yet. I am piling on the new without having finished shedding the old. I am still tender underneath, having just shaken off the first half of my life. While scabs were still forming, this new awakening happened, and all the information I now posses just clamped itself to my body, stuck like barnacles. I cannot shake it, shake them. It is too much work to remove them, and too heavy to move with them. I am stuck. I am immobile. I am waiting. For what, I don’t know.

I am changing all the time now. I thought this would be the time when things settle and clarity comes with me wherever I go. Instead, every new thing I learn becomes a part of me. Instead of feeling adult and confident, I feel baby deer, unsteady on my legs, nervous, aware that I am prey, my life body fragile, my life short.

It is not liberating, though I have a feeling that is coming. It is gut wrenching and full of heartache, this time. It is full of indecision, and fear. It’s got me wondering all the time, and questioning… this is not comfortable.

I demand of myself that I be happy all the time. That everything be certain. I am always so surprised and hurt when things are neither way. I do not know what to do to pull myself out of this. All I know is that every time I look at the clock, it says 9:11.

Into the Ether, Out of Mind

I’ve got “Comfortably Numb” echoing in my head: “Hello… is anybody IN there? Just nod if you can hear me”…

I never intended for this to be the place I post my feelings IN PLACE of expressing them aloud…

Frankly, I was pretty turned off to the idea of even having this blog for a long time. I knew exactly what would happen. I’d come here instead of to my friends to bitch and moan, to get something off my chest, to wax poetic about politics and brain tumors and the like… Something about the laws of energy just don’t allow me to tell the same story twice with the same amount of gusto each time. It’s either here, or in person… and the cycle is a nasty one; the more I do it here, the more I do it here.

And I think it’s happening. I’m coming here more. And I’m not happy about it. And I’m concerned that I live two lives: one here and one out there. Is this what happens when one converts their innermost lives into public content? If it is, then I’m going to have to stop with the Deep Thoughts, and trim this back to funny anecdotes about buying jeans. Because I don’t like the idea that I’m unreadable in real life and knowable here and only here. I don’t like the idea that everyone is talking to my face and having a meta-conversation with the space just slightly above my head. “Oh yeah? Really? That’s not what your blog said. I KNOW what your blog said and you’re actually pretty upset right now”.

I feel like I’ve got to refer back to this thing all the time, and it gets tiresome, frankly.

And I’m also tired of everyone asking me if i’ve read their blog. No, I haven’t. And I haven’t updated this one, so stop asking. And I have a life to live, and a paper journal to fill, where most of my writing goes. If you want to know, ask. And if you want me to know YOU, tell me. Is this what the age of information has done to us? Made us all foamy at the mouth with the thrill of thinking someone has seen us online, that we’ve connected to another human being in Ohio somewhere in some significant way, that we don’t actually put any effort into actual face time with people? And we brush it off by saying, “Well, I blogged about it, so…”

There must be a law of equilibrium out there with this kind of thing. As in: for every blog writer who doesn’t read blogs, there are three blog readers who don’t blog. I am the non-reading type. Is it right to presume SOMEone is reading this? And that my karmic debt to read (and care about it) is cancelled because I am providing something for others to read?

Here’s the thing about it all: for me, up until the moment I started this thing, the Internet was just a giant encyclopedia. If I wanted to find out when to plant my corn, what the difference between accrual and cash method accounting was, or who was playing the club on Saturday…. I’d just hop on the web. Now it’s become a place I can be found. And I either need to get used to the celebrity, (however minor), or throw in the online writing towel.

The Sound of a Zillion Crickets Chirping

That’s how one online article described the experience of tinnitus. “The sound of a zillion crickets chirping.” It also said that some folks describe the ringing in their ears as a loud roar. Mine sounds like those hearing test tones from my childhood. Sometimes high tones, sometimes low tones. Always comes in low at first, then finishes loud. Lasts about 6 or 7 seconds. Ironic, no? My hearing loss sounds like the test used to determine hearing loss.

Ridiculous, too, I suppose, that i would find poetry in having tinnitus.

I can remember when, as a child, i told my mother and her friend (who was a nurse) that I could hear these “sounds” in my ears. When I asked my mom’s friend what it meant when people heard these sounds (I presumed everyone could hear these tones…), she exchanged this look with my mom, and, smirking, she said it meant “my body was working properly”. I eventually invented my own mythology around it, believing that when my ears rang, it meant my grandmother was thinking of me, or that it was an opportunity to be extra aware of my environment. When she passed, i kept the myth going, thinking that she was sending out these vibrational tones from beyond the grave to make me think of her and give me pause for observation. As an adult, I’ve I’ve come to associate it still as an “alarm” of sorts… When the ringing starts, I try to take a breath, slow down whatever I’m doing, and notice where I am in my life. Even though I know tinnitus is actually a slow road to permanent hearing loss and not “my body working properly”, I appreciate it in a way. I have a built-in meditation bell in my head, set to random, for the rest of my life.

Lately, though, it’s taken on a slightly more ominous meaning: Meniere’s Disease. It started with periodic bouts of nausea and slight dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and a general feeling of not being able to concentrate. Last week I found myself in the stairway of a parking garage downtown thinking that if I passed out from the nausea I was feeling, no one would find my body for some time…

I finally was able to see a doctor about it, and now I have three very scary sounding tests scheduled: an ECOG, an ENG, and an MRI. The doctor wants to make sure it’s just my inner ear that’s “grumpy” (her word, not mine), and not some festering tumor pushing on my brain.

I’ve been thinking about this whole brain tumor thing for a while now. I started to think of it when the nausea and pressure in my head started to get really bad. I’ve always had this vision of writing a novel in a hospital bed. Something about being forced into a simplified, regimented schedule was going to eek this book out of me. How incredibly self indulgent and theatrical. I think it’s right up there with writing my own eulogies.

I asked a coworker today if he’d ever had an MRI. (Note: not the best opener for conversation with casual acquaintances). When I told him I was going to have one to rule out the possibility of having some mass growing under my skull, his eyes opened up wide and he searched for words… there were none, of course. Only the patients are allowed to be so flip about their own diagnoses. The rest of the population is supposed to struggle with their responses, supposed to make the appropriate cooing noises that indicate sympathy and understanding, but then elbow you right back in the ribs when you make light of having a potentially life threatening disorder.

And it occurs to me that being able to say you have something like Meniere’s Disease sounds so official and defining, especially to someone like me who sort of does the same damn thing day in and day out and doesn’t really have much else to talk about. It’s given me something new to answer “So, how are you?” with. It occurs to me that in a country like ours, financially rich but physically and emotionally bankrupt, being sick can be a full time occupation, can create celebrity, can give you reason to be noticed. And I’m a little scared of that.

Not that I’m planning on having a brain tumor. Because, of course, the flip side to all of this is: the more I understand what’s happening inside this tiny, tiny little nautilus shell of a structure inside my head, the more I can come to terms with what this REALLY is. Like when my menstrual cramps got so bad and I was told I probably had endometriosis… a disorder in which the uterus sheds little “mini uteri” and distributes them throughout the body so that EVERYthing hurts when you have your period. Having just moved across the country at the time (but still dragging all my emotional baggage with me), it made sense that my body was trying to tell me that migratory flight doesn’t cure the thing you migrated from.

So, now I wonder what a tiny snail shell shaped structure is trying to tell me. This little infinity swirl giving me the power to hear… with water swelling deep inside it… this tiny little voice (or is it an echo of my own voice?) in my head making me nearly fall down on city sidewalks to force me to listen…. this infinitesimal lake trapped in a foreign land, angrily making its way to its source…

Gettin’ My Craft On

Sure fire way to get yourself out of a funk: crochet a pair of yarn pants.

It’s the end of winter here. The irises and crocuses and cherry blossoms are just as confused as the rest of us.

So, to put all fears to rest: I am not suicidal. Not sending my personal belongings off to friends and family via UPS. Not writing my own eulogy (I do that about once a day during the non-funk times.) Not toying with methodology (I hate swallowing even a Tic-Tac accidentally, guns scare the hell out of me, and before I could actually slice my wrists, I’d pass out from the thought of the blood loss).

I was just having a little mid-January crisis. It happens. Twenty clients, two weeks vacation in Brazil when I should have been making file folders and archiving stuff, and a deadline of January 31st to get everything done was taking a toll. Spending eight hours a day serving others gives you reason to think: What am I doing this for, again? Spending TWELVE hours a day for two weeks straight serving others makes you wonder what the hell you were put on this earth to do. Spending the other 12 hours in a day fitfully dreaming of the IRS coming to haul you away… well, that’s enough to send you to the loonie bin… or else call into question your existence and then write a very dramatic blog about it. Either one, really.

So, in between filing a million and one forms with the IRS for twenty different companies, sleeping, and eating dinner standing up in front of the kitchen sink, I wiled away the hours crocheting a pair of yarn pants. The story is this: I had nine hours to kill on the plane ride to Brazil back in November. I’m compulsive about keeping my brain and hands busy, so I brought with me a pound of yellow yarn and a pattern for a baby blanket. By the time the vacation was over, our hotel room was strewn with hundreds of strands of yellow yarn.

Here’s the thing about the yarn: it used to be a wig. Last summer, a friend did this swim… swam from Canada to the US via some waterway about 2 km… and I decided that she should be welcomed ashore at the finish line by three beautiful mermaids. I was one of them. The other two other mermaids were men. Technicalities. Anywho, I crafted up for the three of us some shiny mermaid bras, some seaweed drapings, and bright yellow long wigs made out of said yarn.

After the swim, the wigs hung out in a bag with the rest of my yarn projects. Then the friend’s baby happened, and I wanted to make something for her… and I needed something to do on the plane, so I tied about 300 twenty inch long pieces together, end to end, and started on the blanket. Alright, to be fair: my best friend sat next to me on the plane and tied the pieces together. I crocheted them into the blanket.

But, I had to start over several times because I couldn’t get the pattern down, and I had a few “starts” started and stashed in different places in the hotel room. So, between the plethora of mini-blankets, and the yarn sticking to people’s clothing and shoes, the crap was all over the hotel room at the end of two weeks.

Which brings us to how the yarn pants got started.

My traveling friend, not sharing the same sort of mind/hand busy-ness compulsion, nor the desire to do anything as tedious and repetitive as crocheting (for God’s sake), could not believe that, in the middle of a Brazilian summer, at 80 degrees outside, and with beautiful men, women and scenery to gawk at, I was holed up in my spare time crocheting a hot, scratchy blanket. I mean what was I thinking? You’re young and hip, for chrissake! I mean, are you going to be one of those women crocheting holiday sweaters in their old age, or (gasp), worse, a BODY SUIT? Some kind of UNITARD made out of canary yellow yarn, not unlike the yarn I was crocheting with RIGHT NOW?

Well, that’s all the motivation I needed, really. Suggest something ridiculous and something ridiculous I will produce.

Friend got a little canary something for his birthday.

El Nina on the inside

Wallowing isn’t supposed to be part of the plan, is it? I mean, we are supposed to have exit strategies built in. We’re supposed to know how to get ourselves out of our own funks… there is no just “sit and wallow in it”. Isn’t that what evolution is? Rising above the status quo and seeking your higher calling? There is no “feel the bad feelings for as long as you like…” There is productivity to attend to. There are parties to plan and baby showers to go to. I don’t have time to feel shitty about my life. I’m supposed to DO something about it. But I can’t right now. There. I just reinforced the neural network that allows that thought to manifest. See? This is what it is to be human. To understand the interchange of chemicals that is depression, but to still feel powerless against it. To know I can perhaps do something to change this, but to not do it anyway. To pace the cage like a restless lion… and to know God is calling too.

Community. I’m supposed to reach out to my community. That’s what community is for, right? You lean on your peeps when the going gets rough. What if you are so ashamed of your own negative thoughts you don’t want to tell anyone about them?

This has a lot to do with my feelings about gratefulness. I’ve thought about what it would mean to leave all this, this hard work and reward and this small empire of success I have built. It would look like dumping a good thing, it would look like dumping a boyfriend that’s loyal and kind and madly in love with me. Or kicking the dog. That’s what this is. It’s about being so grateful that things have worked out that I am afraid to leave it. Of course, the deeper fear is this: that I will never again be able to create this. Every morning I wake up and the first thing that pops into my head is “is this what you really want to do today?” I have not had a leap-out-of-bed moment in a long time.

I could be a writer. That means I would have to write something. That means I would have to pick something to write about. That means I would have to weed out all the bullshit complaining and have some hope about something. People don’t want to hear about complaining. They want hope. They want transformation. They want babies and futures and dreams. That’s why I never won any writing contests in high school. I didn’t have hope. Not a lick. I saw the world one way and that was that. It was bleak. It was frank. It was honest. It was semi-delusional. My rebellion was against hope, really. I was angry at those people who were happy. Who saw the rest of us as hopeless. Those who wanted to slug me in the shoulder and wanted to tell me that things would get better, and why didn’t I try smiling, I wanted them to know this feeling too.

I’m feeling prolific, which always means that things are roiling around inside and they need to come out. Even the crows playing with the Pringles can outside is cause for a paragraph or two. I feel like a liar. Everything is not fine. Everything is not okay. I’m not even listening to you. Know what I am worried about? That you can see right through me. That you know I’m lying. And because I am worried you can see through me, I am not even listening to what you are saying.

I always leave a bite or two of food on my plate. I never noticed until a friend pointed it out to me. Why do you do that? I don’t know. I just stop eating when I am full. But then I started to notice this scenario in all parts of my life. I give up at the end. I carry things out to about 95% completion. I used to hit home runs in gym class until the 9th inning. Then I would crack under the pressure and strike out. I know how to get most of the way there. I just don’t know the house number. I know most of the parts, just not how to finish the project. I know how to sell the thing, just not how to close the deal. I always drop off at the end. I never eat the last bites on my plate. I am afraid, aren’t I? Afraid to complete because that will mean something new and unfamiliar and ultimately scary and unknowable. I will let that shoe dangle there for eternity. Dropping means I have to find a new shoe. And what does that look like? I have no idea. It means starting something up myself. It means taking initiative. It means choosing. Where are my guides on this one? They are all shaking their heads and shrugging their shoulders and telling me they don’t know. They never chose a damn thing themselves. They don’t know how to advise me. They have no idea what choice looks like. They were all servants and serving is all they know. It is the legacy they passed on.

Even my freakin’ cranio-sacral therapist doesn’t want to work with me anymore. Lauren, can you imagine the space? Can you imagine giving yourself that space? Letting that energetic dent in your field just find some space? No, I can’t. I just want my ear to stop hurting. Here’s a hundred bucks. Thanks for your time.

Okay, hope. Here’s something for you.

Novel Idea #1:
Woman, at the end of her life, waiting out death in an ocean front bungalow, writes the novel of her life. Her husband of 40 some years lives with her. A stable, loyal type, he loves his wife but does not understand her. She writes about having ultimately sacrificed her dreams to be loved by someone who would be her constant companion. She becomes so engaged in writing the novel, she makes peace with her life after being able to write it all down, learning, in the end, it was her gift to be able to create a life on paper she may have been too scared to live in real life.

Novel Idea #2:

A book of short stories, all using the unbearably unimaginative subject lines from spam as the opening lines. Here’s one: “Devoid asked Silicon”. Authors names are the senders of said spam.

Re-Entry

Got back from Brazil on Sunday. Yes, Brazil. No, I didn’t write a damn thing while I was down there. Just a few scribbles in my journal. Just wasn’t feeling the blog thing. Needed a break from the constant contact. It was all about being away from clocks and computers. It was pure bliss waking up every morning and having absolutely no idea what day it was.
Re-entry has been strange and slow. Waking up has been easy. Going to sleep has been easy. I am writing this in the half dark of the early morning, a time sacred to me because of its REM potential. (Read: if you wake me up between the hours of 6 and 9 am and I forget my dreams, death will come to you). But this morning, and every one since Sunday, has been easy, even pleasurable, to ease into. It’s those hours in between the sleeping and the waking that are really hard to get used to again.

I went to the wrong client on Tuesday. Didn’t really check my calendar or email and just sort of trusted from memory and a scribble somewhere that I was supposed to be North first and South second. Turns out it was supposed to be the other way around. Lucky for me, my clients are forgiving.

I can’t get used to not having at least three different kinds of tropical fruit available to me at all times. Not having the blinding sun wake me up every morning or the sound of surf lull me to sleep. The air is cold here. I have to wear layers of clothing. It’s Christmastime, for God’s sake. People are shopping. Commercials come like machine gun fire. I can still feel the still, muggy air of the coast all around me. I can still smell the inside of the rental car, the hotel room, the smell that says “we do no live here; we need this to be clean and usable; we will make this space that smells unfamiliar and sterile our home and we will pine later on for the smell of our own kitchen, our own shampoo, our own bedsheets.”

My nails have grown. That always happens on vacation. I like that.

I remembered my dream this morning. Something about carpooling too many people in a big white SUV and having to leave some people behind. Arriving at an unfamiliar grammar school, Catholic. Girls locker room… not knowing my way around.

Because we watched so much (bad) TV in Brazil, I can’t really bring myself to turn ours on. Just listening to the radio is awesome.

Christmas is coming and I am feeling really torn up about it. That’s probably what’s making this re-entry doubly difficult. I saw my sister on the east coast during our three hour layover in Newark. It broke my heart a little. I had sworn off going back for Christmas because last year’s was so traumatic (that’ll be another post). And now I am feeling regret. I really want to see them all. I was feeling so brave in my stand against the drama-filled holiday. I’m not feeling so brave anymore. I miss them. Drama and all. I miss the joy of the season, which I know lives in them. I miss the effort, which, at least for my sister, is there. Of course there will be drama. It’s not going to ruin my life, right? I’ve lived through the other 364 days of denial, drinking, neglect, and hazard. What’s one more day? It’s just a day, right? Just one day. Why is it packed with so much expectation? Of COURSE it’s going to be traumatic. It’s a holiday with a dysfunctional family, for Chrissake. What do I expect? Couldn’t I have sucked it up for one more year and bought the outrageously expensive ticket and been with them for 48 hours? There is limited time on this earth to make amends with them. I feel like i have surrendered an opportunity just to prove I can. It doesn’t feel very good. I want to be redeemed. I want it to go poorly. I want someone to injure themselves just so I can say I told ya so. It’s not going to happen. I’ve got plans to stay here for Christmas with friends. I have faith it will be great. But I’m going to be thinking about them the whole time.

Detaching. Re-entering. Welcome, December.