Friday, July 28, 2006

A process in the weather of the heart...

Feeling generally run down and weary last week, I completely crashed into myself. Starting on Friday - no conversations, no phone calls, no checking of the email, no communication with the outside world. After about 48 hours, it had the effect of making me feel like I no longer exist, or like I exist in someone else's reality. Too much anesthesizing, too much never-minding, too much sleeping, and I turn into a ghost.

It could have been a spa weekend, a productive weekend, a weekend spent painting walls or cleaning or working on third and fourth drafts. Instead, my schedule consisted of:
*Sleeping. Power napping. Light napping. Heavy sleeping. Couch sleeping. Bed sleeping. Chair sleeping. Bath sleeping.
*Reading in various locations, all of them indoors. Collected stories of Amy Hempel and A.M. Homes's This Book Will Save Your Life.
*Watching movies. Happy Accidents because of Vincent D'Onofrio, The Minus Man because Janeane Garofalo had a small part, The Tenants because it was based on a novel by Bernard Malamud, Broken Flowers, and Perception.
*Writing first drafts, which isn't the same as working because the work part starts with the second draft. I can't say anything was accomplished, since the dialogue I get out of spending so much time inside my head is wobbly and sounds like someone else wrote it. It reminds me of how my best friend in high school used to say that his mother was a walk-in and he suspected it happened during her electroshock therapy. I haven't had ECT, but I sometimes feel like someone else has taken over for a walk-on part until I'm ready to be my charming self again.

If it is possible, I am a shade paler. My eyes hurt from too much reading, TV, or sleeping - I'm not sure which. I probably have a vitamin deficiency because the only green vegetable I ate was iceberg lettuce. I bought milk and cereal from CVS for dinner on Saturday because I only wanted to go to one place and come back home. It was also lunch and dinner on Sunday. My phone rang and rang and rang. I didn't answer it. I didn't even look at the caller ID until last night. I keep thinking, "one more month, one more month" because I know September will take the summer away. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder in reverse, but I don't think a light box would do much good. Do they make a dark box? I can't spend so much time inside - my head or the house - without feeling like I'm a little bit nuts.

Now I need music, conversation, exercise, movement, a hold on my Netflix queue, noise, my sense of humor, a change of scenery, a new pair of shoes, paint samples, the opposite of a hiatus, and some forward motion.

A process in the weather of the world
Turns ghost to ghost; each mothered child
Sits in their double shade.
A process blows the moon into the sun,
Pulls down the shabby curtains of the skin;
And the heart gives up its dead.

~Dylan Thomas

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Because I'm pretty on the inside...

Before I get a stress fracture in my jaw from clenching my teeth so hard, it's time for another episode of "Things I Should Be Happy About Instead of Worrying About Unimportant Crap."

What I think is freakin' sweet:
Pad Thai for lunch. The special edition DVD of my favorite movie, The Boondock Saints, that Erin brought me just for watering her plants while she was away. A new Parker Posey movie. They took the scaffolding off the windows. Poems that make my heart hurt. Days of the week magnets. Plum tomatoes from Michael's garden that I ate like apples last night after my bowl of cereal dinner. Iron-on letters. Daydreaming about how to spend my next vacation. Elegant prose. Participatory art. A new musical revolution. Being an Alpha female and not a Gamma girl. Summer afternoon thunderstorms. Kitty porn. Electronica in the background. Putting stamps on envelopes taking care of the Business of Me.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Is that available stitched on a pillow somewhere?

It's not a secret that I used to drink a lot and that I'm a former addict. What I'm not so open about is that no matter how short-lived or how long ago it was, things tend to carry over for a long time after you've let your life get out of hand. I'm commitment-phobic. I don't like to make plans for the future. I seldom answer my own phone. I shun. I evade. I avoid. I try not to Do Important Things so I won't Let People Down. Friends ask me to water their plants while they are out of town and it suddenly makes me feel very Sandra Bullock in 28 Days, taking baby steps like I'm fresh out of rehab.

Except I'm not. The last time I was in rehab, I wasn't even old enough to drink (legally) yet. Since then, I haven't gotten evicted or arrested. I've supported myself. And I think I've even proven myself in the tricky Keeping Creatures Alive department; I've had my high maintenance cat for six, almost seven, years. I have three plants that grow no matter what I do (or don't do) to them. I have a guest bedroom with a bed in it (as opposed to it's former use as wardrobe closet/dressing area). I've made some good choices (or not chosen, as the case may be) with regards to the relationships in my life. I feel my feelings, even when I don't share them. I'm probably healthier emotionally from having gone through a rough patch when I was younger than I would have been otherwise. I know what the damages are.

What's my point? According to the 12-step timeline, I'm running behind. I've passed the stage of being Caring Nurturer enough to: (a) water plants, (b) buy a bed frame and assemble it, and (c) sustain the life of a domestic housecat. I was supposed to move on a long time ago and (d) have a relationship with someone who won't turn out to be crazy and isn't 10 years younger than I am. Except there's that part of me that wonders what will happen if choose incorrectly, if I screw it up, if it makes me want to dig another hole for myself. I've had a few exceptionally wrong answers in the past 10 years. I want to make sure I'm asking the right questions this time.

Or I could just get another spider plant.

"There's a time when you can share and you hold hands and be on the same path. But there's always a fork in the road... at some point. And sometimes you have to go on one part of the fork and they gotta go on the other part of the fork. Or just down the back part of the fork while you go forward. And they're like *sigh* Or they got a salad fork and you have one of the big dinner forks and you have longer to go but they're like done because that's it, they're stuck on a piece of food, that they *sigh*. A dessert fork or like one of those, you know small little shrimp forks or crab forks and you're trying to get out a crab. They're like that and you're over here jumping to the huge serving fork or something like that, or a ladle, you know." ~Gerhardt (Alan Tudyk), 28 Days.

Friday, July 21, 2006

For &$#@'s sake...

I need to clean up my language, so in lieu of "sh*thead," "asshole," and the veritable fountain of profanity I spew on a daily basis, I've been thinking about the other things I could say. Some ideas:

Turkey.
Nerd.
Airhead.

I've been trying them out and none seem to fit. I feel like a dubbed movie on basic cable when I say "airhead" in place of "asshole." But I do want to be a better person and try not to say things like "whore" in front of 10-year-olds. I think profanity is marvelous, but unless I want to be blamed for my nephew's stint in rehab 15 years from now (and more immediately, for him dropping the f-bomb at daycare), I need to think of some G-rated replacements that roll off the tongue just as easily. I'm usually not at a loss for words, but it's a hard habit to break. Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Reason #11* why I'm probably going to hell**...

On the night of my 12th birthday I punched a boy in the face for calling me a stupid whore.

Kevin was my best friend Shelley's older brother and picked on us a lot. He was a freshman in high school, the sort of dorky kid who liked to hang out with younger kids because it made him feel smart and strong; we were in middle school. I was laughing at a joke or something else, and he leaned over and whispered "stupid whore" into my ear, whispered it so no one else could hear, whispered it like a verdict. It's a little fuzzy now, but I'm pretty sure I recoiled. I remember being angry like a white flash, being temporarily blinded by it. And remember very distinctly the feeling of my balled-up fist hitting his flesh, the sound it made when it connected. It was the first time I ever hit someone in anger.

Even though I had to act like I was sorry when my mother apologized to his, I wasn't sorry. I wasn't sorry when his mom came to pick them up because his nose wouldn't stop bleeding. I wasn't sorry the next day at the bus stop when I saw I'd given him a black eye. I think I even smirked at him. And other than having an adult perspective of feeling sorry for him (because he was probably teased mercilessly for being a weenie), I'm still not sorry.

* I'm starting with #11 because I'm pretty sure I've broken all but one of the original commandments.
** If the universe is guided by an omniscient and/or monotheistic presence and if we really are sentient puppets and if there really is a heaven and a hell...

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's not the men in my life...

It's the ones who aren't in my life who are running through my brain lately. I'm hoping it's just a subconscious purge and not a notification that one or another will pop up again, because there's not a single one with whom I secretly wish to rekindle/revisit/renegotiate. The following have been in my dreams/night terrors in the past couple of weeks:

* My biological father, in a Santa suit, trying to take away my legwarmers that I got for Christmas. Strangely enough, one of the first things I thought about after shaking this one off was "why couldn't I be the kind of person who has a child if I wanted to?" I don't want kids, never have. But I think a lot of it had to do with not wanting to pass along the crazy genes. Something about that dream got me thinking that I've been assuming incorrectly (for a very long time) that I am damaged just because he is. I still don't want a baby, but it's nice to know it's because I just don't and not because I'm afraid I'll screw him or her up.

* An old friend who I used to spend a lot of time with until a few years ago. I dreamed that he called me on the phone to tell me he needed "closure." I told him I'd give him all the closure he needed. "Listen," I said, and then I hung up the phone.

* A beautiful, smart, talented man I watched deteriorate emotionally and mentally until he was no longer the person I loved. In my dream, he forgave me for pushing him away because he knew I was afraid of what he had become. And to stop being so Blanche Dubois about it and that he isn't the last person who will love me. Of course, he also told me that he can still see through my eyes when he wants to and about a secret utopian society he created so he can be Lord of All Creatures there and no longer be part of the world that hurts him so much.

It all feels more like purging than torment, and a couple of these have come up as topics of conversation and/or my writing in the past couple of weeks, so it makes sense. So in a nutshell: (1) I am not f*cked up because my father is, (2) your closure is not my responsibility, and (3) I don't have to be tragic love affair girl anymore.

Thanks for listening and for being my shrinks for the week. Our 50 minutes are up, but it's been a pleasure sharing the dark cobwebs of my subconscious with you.

"I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or remembering, whether I have lived my life or dreamed it. Just as dreams do, memory makes me profoundly aware of the unreality, the evanescence of the world, a fleeting image in the moving water."
~Eugène Ionesco

Friday, July 14, 2006

A rough week by the numbers...

Monday: How many pieces of Nicorette gum does it take to bring on TMJ headache? Seven.

Tuesday: How many Xanax can you take and still be able to answer the door for Chinese food delivery? Four. The answer is four. But the dosage is .25, and I have a high tolerance, so don't judge.

Wednesday: How much money can you scrounge from your bag and car to pay for gas because the "fill me NOW" light is on and you can't find your credit card case? $12, $2 of which was in QUARTERS. And it was about a quarter of a tank's worth, but enough to get me where I was going. [insert generic note about bitch-ass government, bitch-ass oil companies, and bitch-ass gas prices here].

Thursday: How many hours can you go before feeling diabetic effects from skipping a dose because you forgot to call in your freaking refill? Almost five, but that was only because I had to make three trips to the pharmacy to complete the task.

Friday: How early would you want to go to bed last night to make you suspect blood sugar problems? 9:30. I haven't slept for nine hours straight since...I don't remember since when. The last thing I remember thinking before passing out was, "should I test? F*ck it, I don't care." But it probably wasn't a diabetic coma since I'm here writing this now. You know how I like to live on the edge.

But let me add that the rough week has been balanced out by good things, like teaching a class I really enjoyed, meeting one of my favorite authors of all time, another three lbs. off (probably due to heat), and a coming weekend that will be full of rest and relaxation. And reading Jay McInerney's new book. And watching Chinatown on DVD. And a BBQ at a friend's in the neighborhood (I do love summertime porch parties).

"You've got a nasty reputation, Mr. Gitts. I like that." (Noah Cross, Chinatown).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Because I cannot help it...

Someone once told me that writers write, but "normal" people actually live their lives. "I live my life," she said blithely. "I don't write about it."

At the time, I was wounded by those words. Maybe I am wandering on the fringes instead of jumping into the fray. Maybe I am criticizing on the sidelines instead of playing the game. But I don't know how to be any different than I am. And I know what happens to me when I stop writing. I act out. I stop feeling my feelings. I turn into someone I don't like very much. The only way I know how to make sense of anything is to write it down. I like to mull things over. I've never been the kind of person to tell someone in the throes of grief, "try not to think about it." I ponder. I ruminate. I dwell on things. That's what I do so I can find the right words.

I am teaching the first class of a two-part essay writing workshop this evening. Every time I lead one of these workshops, there's a tiny part of me that wants to scream: "Get out, get out while you can! Go and live your lives! Stop paying so much attention to what's inside your head!" A tiny part, mind you. The rest of me is inspired, wired, and fired up to be in a room full of people who want to make something beautiful from words on a page.

So back to that original someone. I didn't have a response then, but I do now:
First: f*ck you for being a jealous, judgmental bitch.
Second: I was (am) living my life.
Third: I went out with your ex-boyfriend the night after he dumped you and...let's just say we did some living.
Fourth: I wrote a short story about it and have been saving an extra copy for you to read, should you ever decide to look me up again.

"I am going to write because I cannot help it."~Charlotte Bronte

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This is my bicycle...

There are many like it, but this one is mine.


* I wanted a bicycle like this one for a long time.
* In February, I found it online and ordered it the same day.
* It arrived in a box. Erin put it together for me.
* When I took it to The Bicycle Shoppe for a pre-road checkup, the guy asked me if it came free with my car.
* I was very proud of myself the first time I rode it to work.
* Once I had a flat on the way home from work and cried.
* I love to ride around the park by my house and to the farmer's market on weekends.

This is my bicycle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Hooah.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Just another manic Monday plea to the Universe...

This lovely card by talented artist Janice Taylor, along with my desktop stash of Nicorette, pretty much sums up my day.

Universe, I have changed my f*cking life. I take the horse-pill vitamins every day. I walk, ride my bike, and lift weights. I have a 10-lb hand weight sitting on my desk RIGHT NOW. And I use it. I no longer drink alcohol or soda, eat refined sugar, pork, saturated fats, white rice, pasta, corn syrup, or fast food. The last time I had unprotected sex was years ago while in a committed relationship. I've never used IV drugs. I wear my seatbelt WHILE driving defensively. I laugh a lot. I eat an apple or apple-equivalent once a day. I choose my friends wisely. I keep stress to a minimum. I never go to sleep with makeup on. My RealAge is probably around 25. Additionally, I now like Mondays, quite possibly because I'm no longer on Day Two of my three-day hangover. I'm nice to people. I haven't made anyone cry intentionally in SO, so (so!) long.

So, yeaahhhh, if you could do me one teeny little favor? Either 1) create a wonder pill to kill nicotine addiction in 24-hours and make it never come back or 2) have a bunch of scientists discover that smoking isn't bad for you after all, I'd appreciate it. Alternately, since you are The Universe, you could also go back in time to the girl's bathroom, 1989, when one of the cool girls accused me of not inhaling and I was all like, "I do too!" even though I didn't and then I did and I became a for-real smoker that day after I threw up. Go back to then, take the cigarette out of my hand, knock my head into the stall door, and tell me to never, ever do that again.

Thanks for the Nicorette, though. I think it's prevented a few homicides. And it makes me never want to eat, which on one hand is great and on the other makes it really hard to choke down those six meals a day. Someone suggested smoking weed to offset that problem, but I think that would be counterproductive, don't you?

p.s. Nice job with the weather this weekend. Having one night to sleep with the windows open IN JULY was most excellent.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The existential crisis returns with a vengeance...

Today, I blame it on:
* The unusually cool weather making me restless.
* Hormones and/or PMS.
* The waxing moon (it will be full this coming Tuesday) making me feel crazy. The moon mocks me.
* Extracting self from couch in order to spend an evening in a bar (The Living Room) on a Friday night listening to Momma belt out some kickass blues made me happy, but stopping by AC's on the way home made me feel like I'm 100 years old. (ACs is packed with the college kids on weekend nights after midnight.)
* Having too much time on my hands is dangerous. I don't handle boredom productively.
* After living alone for six months, still feeling lost in this big house and haven't been able to summon the energy to move into the larger bedroom.
* Alternately feeling like I'm not having fun because I don't drink anymore and wondering why other people can't be more entertaining instead of putting the onus on me.
* Getting hit on by men who use "party" as a verb.

And then it escalates to:
Why am I here? What's wrong with me? What am I missing? Where do I belong? Am I being tested? Will I pass? Did I peak in my twenties? Did I trade my heroes for ghosts? Does everyone feel this way? Am I wasting my life? Why can't I just bury my head in the sand and quit worrying that I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time all the time?

I'm going to do what I usually do when this happens: Make someone else take care of me. I'm plan to bring my Netflix three to MK's and take up residence on her couch until she throws me out. I'm going to make her watch Saw 2 with me. I'm going to drink all of her Crystal Light lemonade. Even if she gets mad when she finds out I haven't even read the book jacket on the copy of The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm she gave me the last time I was on the ledge. Even if she wants to smack me when I tell her that self-help books are crap. Existential crisis or no, having friends who love my crazy ass no matter what I do or say makes me feel better.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Brought to you by American Greetings and the word "duh"...

My sister Katie recently mailed me a card with the latest Cute Nephew photos.

The card:

And the interior (along with Cute Nephew photos):
Right, I know, he's freaking cute. But read the card. Because I don't get it. Why would I mind? She knows I like brawny, tattooed guys. Is the ostrich supposed to be the joke? I don't really have anything against them. It would be better if he was on a Harley instead of an ostrich, but I'm not going to be nitpicky about it.

I've never been "math smart" or particularly "logical," but now I am also not smart enough to understand a joke on a greeting card.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The microfamous effect...

The name for this blog came from the title of an essay I wrote about being "microfamous," or having minor name recognition in a small-ish town. I've had strangers come up to me at parties and ask if my family still speaks to me (because of things I've written about), letters and emails attempting to convince me that having children is god's way (after I wrote a piece about not wanting my own), and random encounters with people who know way too much about me because I have an inherent need to expose myself and those around me to criticism. Despite what some may believe, I don't write because I want to be famous. It's a bit anomalous that writing is a solitary occupation. We're always hanging back, listening, but since we're writing about our own lives, we grow accustomed to our family members speaking in whispers when they don't want what they say to be used as material. We expose our own darkest secrets. And we've been dumped by boyfriends who didn't want their lives to be open books. But we wouldn't have it any other way. And with that, this...

Reasons why I would not want to be a celebrity:
1. The horror of seeing my mug shot from a teensy little misdemeanor in high school (that has since been expunged from my permanent record) on TheSmokingGun.com.
2. Having to hang out with shallow, vapid people. I already want to run away screaming when people I actually care about start talking about celeb crap.
3. Being photographed while exercising. I don't look pretty when I sweat.
4. About 95% of the time, celebrity gossip bores the living crap out of me. I stopped watching E! and reading about celebrities online last year and I don't miss it.
5. I already have ex-whatevers, people I used to work with, and former college friends track me down and email me because they want something (or maybe not). My philosophy on that: If I still wanted to hang out, we'd still be hanging out.
6. I lose a few lbs now, all I get is a new wardrobe and friends who tell me how great I look. If I was a celebrity, there would be message boards discussing my "eating disorder" and whether or not I'm taking veterinary medication to rid myself of body fat.
7. I can't stand people who are famous, but who are not talented. I like musicians (with talent), actors (with talent), and writers (with talent). Being famous for nothing is a waste of valuable space that could be occupied by someone interesting.
8. Name dropping irks me.
9. Botox. It freaks me out when I talk to someone and they have no facial expression or their upper lip doesn't move.
10. I think being famous for an extended period of time (Tom Cruise), or even a short burst of fame (Sebastian Bach), makes you slowly go insane. By the time you're crazy enough for anyone to be straight with you about it, you're too crazy to care anymore.

Perhaps I was born too late. I think I would have enjoyed a bit of fame in the 1930s, 40s or 50s. A literary, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Zelda Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, vicious circle kind of fame. I think the only one who would enjoy today's celebrity garbage is Truman Capote. He did love a good scandal. And maybe Tennessee Williams, though all of his beautiful belles are long gone.

Off to find my cigarette holder and opera gloves...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Walkin' around on those (whad'ya call 'em?) oh - feeeeeet...

When I tell people I worked for Disney in Orlando for almost two years between high school and college, they always ask what ride I worked on or which character I was. I tell them that I was Ariel in the "Voyage of the Little Mermaid." In the dark. Under black lights. And they always look skeptical. I understand; it's one of the park's most popular attractions (or it was at the time, in 1992 or 1993). I do what I always do in the face of skepticism: Bust out in a top-of-the-lungs stage singing voice: "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my collection's complete? Wouldn't you think I'm the girl, the girl who has everything?"

And so on, and so on. By the time I get to: "I wanna be where the people are, I wanna see, wanna see 'em dancin'...Walkin' around on those (whad'ya call 'em?) oh - feeeeeeet. Flippin' your fins you don't get too far, legs are required for jumpin', dancin'...Strollin' along down a (what's that word again?) streeeeeeeeet" they usually believe me. If there's still any doubt, I offer to act it out with the choreography. Or add a bit from the reprise ("Watch and you'll see, some day I'll be, part of your worrrrrrrrllllllld...").

Maybe they think I'm more of an Ursula than an Ariel? I would have happily played the sea witch, however her part was played by a giant puppet. Most of the other characters were either puppets or film clip animation. How else can I explain why I can't remember my own home phone number, but the lyrics for Part of Your World have taken up permanent residence in my brain? It is also possible that people are skeptical because I'm such a deadpan liar.

I once worked for Disney. Whether or not I did so in a mermaid costume is open for debate. I hate to blow the persona I've spent years creating (angry rock chick) by admitting to another (cheesy Disney character), so let's just focus on what's really important here: In the end, they all lived happily ever after.
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