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.

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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.

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When Vegetarians find comfort in hamburgers

Some days, I just feel like bitching. Today was a rotten day through and through, and right now, at the end of it, at the very late end of it, there is no one home to complain to. My boyfriend/commonlaw husband/domestic partner- let’s just call him CLH for short, is in Brazil right now. He has stopped writing involved letters to me and has instead starting writing really involved blogs. So, standing here hunched over a 3,000 piece puzzle in my pajamas and Peruvian wool hat, listening to jazz and eating microwavable hamburgers for comfort... it occurs to me that if no is home to bitch to, I’m going to have to seek consolation somewhere else. The hamburger in plastic wrap was step one.

I shouldn’t even be feeling this way. It’s my job that does it to me. My clients. The problem with making a career out of being anal retentive is that when your clients aren’t, it really bugs. Why should I feel exhausted and defeated if my clients can’t get their acts together once a month? How hard is it to turn in receipts on time? How many times do I have to repeat myself about where things go? How can you leave for a vacation and not cross-train ANYONE in your office? How is it that exactly half of your whole bank statement has been entered incorrectly into your financial database? How is your response to my frustration always a pure and utter mystification that things can be this bad even though I tell you how to fix them every time I see you? Why are you still plying me with compliments about my thoroughness and loyalty when what I do IS NOT THAT COMPLICATED? HOW ARE YOU STILL IN BUSINESS?!!! I want to shout these questions to my client. I can’t give away too much about the identity if my clients. One day, though, I will. They and all their shitty bookkeeping practices will be exposed to the masses when I publish my book.

I thought about taking a relaxing bath- but, I’m sure the tub is just dirty enough to make that an experiment of human immunity. So, that’s out. I had a very small, greasy dinner and I ate it in front of the computer. The American Dream.

Kevin’s been bugging me about not updating this very often. He’s right to complain. I am crappy about the upkeep of this blog. I’ve got to let go of the notion that these entries are supposed to be tiny, perfect novellas. Forgive me, Kev.

I’m leaving in 4 days to join my CLH in Brazil. I practiced some Portuguese tonight but I quit after two lessons because my mouth hurt from trying to imitate the native speakers. I think learning Polish is much easier. I’m going to have to get by by pointing and pantomiming. I’ll be okay. I took Latin in high school and much of the written language is familiar enough to me. It’s the speaking a combo of three languages at once that is a little tricky on the grey matter. My mouth just can’t switch from the French words to the Spanish ones quickly enough. Ah... sun and more sun. It can’t come soon enough.

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I spent the morning with my head cold and The Narrators. My head colds are like older relatives that come and inhabit my space for a week at a time, delaying and distracting me from my routine, leaving in their wake balled up tissues and half drunk cups of liquid and pill bottles and dried up tea bags... They visit at least four times a year and they are one part hurricane, and one part cause for watching lots of TV.

I cried listening to This American Life. I cried watching the History channel. Not good for an already stuffed sinus cavity. Maybe i just needed a good cry and a visit from Aunt Snot. What is it about being sick that makes me so emotional?

I wrote this on the couch this afternoon.


It’s not that I am ungrateful
for modern conveniences
it’s that they give me pause
Like when I slough dead skin from my feet
with a luxury tool crafted for me
by the same forces that buried
thousands at Pompeii

and fire
vapor screaming through a tiny hole
the elements at work
like they have been for years
and then I have tea
I can wrap my hands
around pottery
the simple things, at least,
I imagine
don’t change much
after millennia
heat still soothes
liquid still equilibrates

it’s when I need my teeth to be especially white
or my water especially clean
that I am willing to
forego the caveman simplicities
and engage in a conscious relationship
with the castoffs of industrialization
polishing with fluoride
entertaining children with manufacturing byproducts
stuffing bras with liquid death
taking temperatures with poison

turning the dials on a machine
a Calutron Girl
never knowing how much
I am contributing to the
fabrication of the bomb
simply by being alive

never knowing how much ash
my best living is done in.

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Unsolved Mysteries

List of things done this morning:
Dreamt strange things. My sister was involved. Again
Exercised while watching a re-run of Oprah
Watched 15 minutes of an Unsolved Mysteries, circa 1992, on Lifetime, about the Unibomber and the Zodiac Killer while brushing teeth

Has it really been ten years since Ted Kaczynski? It's been a long time since a lot of things, hasn't it? Who knew the Zodiac Killer started his killing spree in the 60's? Who knew that Kaczynski and the Zodiac Killer were, at one time, thought to be the same person? Not me. How much of my young life I am finally starting to understand some 15 years later? How much went on around me as a child that I can only now put into context?

I listened to a program on NPR last night about the conflict in the Middle East. When hostages were taken in Iran and planes being blown up and cities being carpet bombed... how could I have known what to do with this information? I am having it all re-explained to me now, as an adult, via television programs and radio broadcasts, interviews with historians and professors, retrospectives, books, articles...

Growing up while the Berlin Wall came down and planes were downed over Scotland... these events were like people. They were players whose nervous ticks and habits and missing limbs and appearances in my life other adults would explain away with cryptic assurances and smiles that indicated I would "understand when I was older". Now that I am older, I see what those assurances and simple answers were trying to protect me from.

It is amazing to have lived for so long without awareness. Not that anyone, including myself, was expecting a young girl to absorb the historical significance of anything, let alone remember what was for dinner in 1983. How incredible it is to be alive in the aftermath- to have survived to tell about anything, to have a story to tell to children that starts with "I remember when..." How amazing to be able to see history through. To remember when the Target on Mountain Avenue was a grove of trees. To remember when so-an-so was the president of Israel, of the US, of Chile. How amazing to have so much informational schrapnel flying around me as a child and to not get hit by a single piece.

Only now, as I brush my teeth with a toothbrush that does the work for me (the technology that guides it probably being developed as I breathlessly directed 3/4 of a yellow pie chart through a digital maze to gobble up white pellets in 1984) can I understand what it meant to die and how that "weird thing that Nanny did" was actually battle colon cancer, and that people were dying in international conflicts and from bombs in brown paper bags all around me ALL the time. Now things like "Iran-Contra Scandal" and "Unibomber" own their rightful definitions in my head. They aren't vague soundbytes and snapshots.

And when will I understand all that is happening around me now? In another 15 years? I want to call the White House and tell them not to make any decisions today, tomorrow, or next year. I want them to sit on things, for, say, 15 years or so, and see if they reach better decisions then. I want them to tune in to the History Channel and watch the bit about the landing on the moon, or the assasination of Kennedy, or something about the Panama Canal, or the acquisition of Hawaii, and I want them to think about when that became REAL for them. When the schrapnel of their youths finally caught up to them and they realized that history had been happening all around them the whole time.

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