Wednesday, May 31, 2006

sex, gossip and the important differences between words

At work last night, my coworker Simba started telling me about his sex life. I guess it's the book I'm reading or the season or a combination, but I've got sex on the brain lately and my mind is perpetually in the gutter. This vibe must have been pervading the atmosphere, b/c Simba just started spilling it last night out of the clear blue sky and I just sat and listened.

He was telling me about his current, unsatisfactory sexual relationship with a coworker. He didn't begin by divulging her identity, he started by saying "I've been sleeping with this girl..." But, after a few minutes, he lowered his voice and said "It's Gwen." Suddenly, the picture sprang to life more clearly and I listened to the rest of the story with an almost embarassing movie-projection of the action in my head.

Things between Simba and Gwen have been less than ideal. They've been, in fact, absurd and comical and I listened to Simba with all my curiousity thumping full-throttle while I carefully ignored the caretaker who said "You know, Gwen probably wouldn't want this very graphic, very personal, very potentially humiliating information spread around." That little voice stayed quiet while the curious 13 year old said "Shut up! I'm trying to listen!" The 13 year old won.

Later, debriefing with SK, I was surprised to realize I felt like a lecherous asshole. I was embarassed and ashamed to admit that the 13 year old won out and the compassionate caretaker stayed quiet in the background. But, but, but... I'm a good person! I'm not going to spread it around! Simba didn't say any of it with cruelty or malice! I'm just *curious* for christ's sake, I just wanted to hear! I foolishly described myself as a voyeur. Bad move.

SK and I spent some time deconstructing the word "voyeur" -- for your edification, here's the definition from Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary:


Pronunciation: vwä-'y&r, voi-'&r
Function: noun
Etymology: French, literally, one who sees, from Middle French, from voir to see, from Latin vidEre -- more at WIT
1 : one obtaining sexual gratification from seeing sex organs and sexual acts; broadly : one who habitually seeks sexual stimulation by visual means
2 : a prying observer who is usually seeking the sordid or the scandalous

Yuck to number one, because that's not what I was doing in that moment. Sadly, though, I might qualify under number two, except that I wasn't prying. That saves me. SK's astute observation was that the voyeur is trouble in part because the voyeur's passivity implies the absence of responsibility for something. The voyeur can sit back and watch something for her own gratification as though her presence is not relevant. I, for one, believe (and this is articulating this further than SK and I did last night, though I think she would probably agree) that the observer's presence is *always* relevant. The moment the observer begins to observe, she, in some way, becomes a part of the thing being observed. It's true in physics, I'm sure it's true in human interactions.

So to save myself from the creepy fate of the voyeur, it was reframed. What if I was an anthropologist? Merriam Webster didn't seem to have a definition for "antrhopologist," but they did have a definition for "anthropology" and here it is:


Pronunciation: "an(t)-thr&-'pä-l&-jE
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin anthropologistogia, from anthrop- + -logia -logy
1 : the science of human beings; especially : the study of human beings in relation to distribution, origin, classification, and relationship of races, physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture
2 : theology dealing with the origin, nature, and destiny of human beings

If I was listening to Simba as an anthropologist, something creepy disappears. Instead of standing by, exploiting the exposure of Gwen's supposedly private sex life for my own sexual gratification, I was listening to Simba like a scientist might listen to a subject -- I was gathering data to help me better understand people and relationships, etc.

Truthfully, though, as I write about it now, the distinction strikes me as bullshit. Either way, I'm exploiting someone else's private information for my own curiousity. As a responsible human being (voyeur, anthropologist, buddhist, process worker, whatever I might be in the moment) -- as a responsible *curious* human being, I might have acknowledged my role as an "observer" -- I might have asked Simba some questions about *my* role: why are you telling me this, who am I in this, how would Gwen feel if she knew about this conversation, etc, etc, etc.

SK is 100% right: gossip with awareness is the best way to gossip. No matter what spin I want to put on it to justify having my curiousity satisfied last night -- I did it all while ignoring the small voice that said, "this is kinda fucked up, you should say something." And regardless of Simba's feelings or Gwen's feelings, *I* am the one who ends up feeling a little creeped out when it's all over.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Now that I am home with my copy of the New York Times Book Review from two weeks ago, I can let everyone know that the article I mentioned in my last post was searching for the "best work of American fiction of the last 25 years," and my current dirty-book du jour, "Portnoy's Complaint," is NOT among them. However, my debacauched-darling Philip Roth did write *six* (count 'em, SIX) of the other 24 books in the running, none of which have I read. I have, however, read Toni Morrison's "Beloved," and that was the winner. Yay Toni Morrison. That was a pretty incredible book.

portnoy's complaint

I'm reading a dirty book. It doesn't look like a dirty book, but anyone who knows anything about it will know exactly what it is and I wonder if the people in the coffeeshop are looking at this book and looking at me and thinking "that girl is reading a dirty book -- a heterosexual dirty book!" And I wonder what ever happened to that creepy guy who was in here a couple weeks ago with his wandering gaze and his prominently displayed copy of "Your Sexual Self" or whatever it was called. Like a beacon to the world. Do I, with this book, look like someone shining a beacon to the world? I hope not.

It's not *just* a dirty book. Sunday before last it was featured in the New York Times Book Review among the top 25 best books of the past twenty years. Or was it the past twenty-five years? Or maybe it was the past fifty years? Portnoy's Complaint was published in '67 originally... Oh it doesn't matter, my point is that I'm not reading porn-shop-smut, I'm reading a classic of contemporary literature that just happens to be full of sex. That's Philip Roth for you and that's one of the reasons I love him. He's right up there with Henry Miller and Jean Genet. Great men writers writing about dirty sex.

Years ago, in Durham, when I was living with Erin the librarian (great failed romance that it turned out to be) she introduced me to her mentor, some Queen of Cataloguing, some Siren of the Stacks, her librarian hero and friend Diane, who she talked about every single day, "Diane this," and "Diane that," all the time. She introduced me, finally, to Diane, and to prove Diane's prowess as a brilliant librarian, she said, "Tell her what you like to read and she'll make great suggestions, things you've never heard of."

Erin was excited and there sat Diane, a sweet woman, smiling at me with an open face and keen, kind eyes. I'd just finished reading Roth's "Goodbye, Columbus," which I'd originally chosen because I'd just moved from Columbus, without the slightest inclination that it would be full of sex and longing. Damn that Philip Roth. I was looking for something else of his to read, but standing there in the library, the mentor and the protege both looking at me expectantly, I couldn't bring myself to say his name aloud -- as though his name was synonymous with prurience and lusty filth. But he's a superstar of American literature! (But he's *also* a nasty, masturbation-obsessed, cock-obsessed, cunt-obsessed, sex maniac MAN and I'm a nice lesbian living with a nice librarian in a nice little mill house just off Ninth Street in a respectable, if not rich, neighborhood in Durham just down the street from the School of Science and Math, under an ancient canopy of stately southern trees, etc, etc, etc.)

I got flustered and said I didn't need help finding anything to read and Diane smiled and nodded wisely and Erin looked at me like I was crazy and gave me a hard time about it in the car on the way home. Oh well. Now, six years later, I'm sitting in a coffeeshop in Portland, Erin and Diane and Durham long behind me, reading Roth again and wondering what signals this book is sending out to the world -- to anyone who bothers to look. And then I remember that I'm the only one on earth who pays that much attention to anybody in public. So I guess I should relax.

this is what happens

I get stuck. After an initial burst of energy or creativity or whatever (which happened a couple weeks ago when the weather was gorgeous and sunny), I peter out and then fall into some kind of stupor. A rut. I fall into a rut. SK says I'm liverish -- that my chi stagnates. I know it's true. It's absolutely true. If I just move around a little, I'll feel better. On that theory, I walked to the coffeeshop this morning. I moved around for about ten blocks. But now I'm here and I'm starting to stick to the seat again. Reading and reading and my brain just goes to mush and I want to take a nap. A nap! I hate naps. I'm gonna go walk around the block and see if I feel better. See if my computer is still here when I get back -- I'll cure myself with exercise and a homeopathic dose of anxiety. Rad!

Monday, May 29, 2006

one bad dream

I'm taking a class about dreams at the Process Work Center for the next few weeks and so dreams become even more noticeable than before (although, in my opinion, dreams are always noticeable)...

I dreamed last night that CB and I were clinging to the lowest branch of a very tall, skinny tree on a cold, dark, winter day, in the wind and rain. Even though we were on the lowest branch, we were still very high and, looking down, I could see that we were on the hill in Georgia where my dad has his house. We were high up, it was cold and getting darker and I was scared and uncomfortable. CB and I were talking about firewood.

In the dream, we weren't trying to get out of the tree, we were trying to stay in the tree. At one point, I leaned too much in one direction and and we both fell out of the tree -- it had the makings of one of those classic dream moments: the scary fall from very high that feels so real and ends when you jerk awake, terrified. It started out like that, but I didn't jerk awake, I found myself bounced right back into the tree with CB, unhurt.

I felt so trapped in the tree and I realized that CB and I were back together. We didn't have any firewood at the house and she was explaining what we would have to do to get some. It was impossibly complicated. There were all these trees at the bottom of a lake -- we would pull the trees from the lake and drag them to a particular place and saw them up and split the bits into firewood. She presented this impossible plan with enthusiasm and I looked down from the tree, all around us at the dark, sodden landscape feeling dread and weariness -- everything was thick with wetness, nothing would ever burn. I thought of those logs at the bottom of the lake and wondered how on earth they would ever dry enough to catch fire. Maybe in one whole summer season, laid out in the sun, but it was winter *now*, we needed wood to burn *now* -- what would we do?

That was the dream. When I left CB last December, it is true that the firewood was low and I worried after I left that she wouldn't be able to get more. Without firewood, I knew she would use the electric heat which was so expensive and already she would be too broke to afford it because I'd left her with the whole mortgage and her work had become sporadic. I pictured her sitting in the house, wasting away, drinking every day, not working and freezing. This dream seemed to want to throw me back into that misery. Fuck, what an awful dream.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

my missing culture

After a loungey morning in the bed with SK, we parted company and I headed home to regroup. SK had lunch plans at noon and I was anticipating a nice, sleepy afternoon with the Sunday New York Times, my subscription to which had just restarted when classes ended. Well. When I got home awhile ago, no Sunday Times greeted me on my doorstep and I was really, really annoyed. As you may have gleaned from other posts, I live in a basement and I have my own entrance on the side of the house, down a set of long, concrete stairs. My address contains the descriptive (and confusing) "Lower Unit" and, to make matters worse, my upstairs people get the Sunday Times as well. The fucking nimrods who deliver our papers can't seem to get it through their heads that two sets of people live in this one dwelling and each set wants a separate copy of the paper. Two out of every three papers never showed up last winter and that's why I originally decided to cancel my subscription, but the woman on the phone talked me out of cancelling and talking me into simply suspending delivery until school was over (I wouldn't have had time to read the papers if they'd been coming back then, anyway). She also offered to give me six-months at half price and that's what sealed the deal. When I called a couple of weeks ago to restart, I clearly explained that I have a separate entrance and gave instructions for the delivery people to leave my copy at the bottom of my stairs, not on the front porch with the upstairs people's copy. That worked last week, but I guess it was just too complicated to retain, because it didn't work this week and now instead of reading the book review I'm kvetching about it all on my fucking blog like an idiot. Ah this modern age. It's kind of depressing.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

nothing pithy comes to mind

This weather is sending me into complete confusion. It was summer for two weeks. I wore shorts and tanktops and got a sunburn and cycled all over and started getting in shape. I lay in the grass at the park and stared up at the blue sky and nearly fell asleep. I gardened. I was happy.

Now it's back to being winter. Cold and incessantly rainy. I'm wearing long trousers again and layers upon layers. It's so gray outside my seratonin levels are dipping danergously low. Is it seratonin or melatonin that's enhanced by the sun? Can't remember. Whatever it is, it makes you happier. Now I'm in a constant dreamy haze, never quite sure I'm awake, never even sure I'm still alive. It's not so bad, it's just happening at the wrong time of the year. My body just isn't calibrated to appreciate dark-winter-feelings when bright-summer is supposed to be happening. I can't even write anything interesting in my blog. I'm just too confused.

i'm a real live blogger

I just spent some time putting the goodies back on my blog after changing my template awhile back and neglecting to change the goodies too. So now the exciting moon calendar is back and so is the exciting rotation of all five pictures I've bothered to put up on flikr. I might put more pictures up if I still had my digital camera -- as it is, I have to scan them in from hard copies and that's just not how the whole thing is supposed to work.

Anyway, I'm most excited about my links bar which I have finally learned how to edit. I only pasted in a few sites for now, I don't want to sit here all day tinkering with my template, but I am excited. And Joolie gets top billing b/c, whether she knows it or not, she's been with me from the beginning of my bloggingness and she's great. By the way, Joolie, I have a neti pot now and that thing is fucking awesome. I can breathe like I've never breathed before. Thanks.

Friday, May 26, 2006

poem of the day

I heard something yesterday on Writer's Almanac about Theodore Roethke which made me remember this poem. I have always loved it for it's sweet, simple rhythm and it's lovely, equally simple images. It's very nice.

To A Young Wife

by Theodore Roethke

My lizard, my lively writher
May your limbs never wither
May the eyes in your face
Survive the green ice
Of envy's mean gaze;
May you live out your life
Without hate, without grief,
May your hair ever blaze
In the sun, in the sun
When I am undone
When I am no-one.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

we're all so bad at it

Why are we all such shits? Why are people so nasty to each other? Even in our most well-meaning moments, we manage to hurt each other, step on toes, miss signals, selfishly monopolize attention or energy, demand too much, ignore impulses, give in to other impulses, fuck up in general. We are hurting and we hurt each other. Right now I want to wound someone. I'm feeling tired and unappreciated. I feel I haven't had enough attention. I feel, in this moment, I need to learn to be more selfish. Or something. Tomorrow I'll wake up rested (hopefully) and with a new perspective. Maybe I won't anymore want to hurt anyone. Maybe I'll feel a full wave of apology for my attitude or behavior tonight. But for right now, right in this moment, I feel a bit unloved and childishly brutal. And it sucks.

eyes wide shut

It is 12:08am and I am at work. I could be sitting on the 12:06 bus, rumbling towards my house (and my bed) right now, but I missed the 12:06 bus. Instead, I must wait for the 12:36 bus and there's no reason to stand out there and wait on the corner, so here I am, at work, at a computer, passing this time in the only logical way.

I can hardly keep my eyes open. I have to be up and showered and back here in this building by 8am tomorrow. That's my brutal turn-around. Once a week, every week, this turnaround, which doesn't usually bother me so much, but missing my bus tonight feels a bit like a personal insult from the universe. If I'd only packed my bag faster, counted the narcs faster, etc, etc. If I'd walked out of the building thirty seconds sooner I would've caught my bus. Instead, I walked out the building thirty seconds later and, three-quarters of the way down Third, I saw the eight bus roll by, too far to run for, but close enough to make me angry.

Tonight was busy. Dinner at 6, Bingo at 7 and then an intake which lasted until 9. Paperwork. Boring. Next thing I know, I'm sitting at the desk with Fat Tony and the Drop In Center is deserted. Fat Tony had the guitar out and he was looking up Tom Waits songs online and mangling them, though he does a pretty good impression of Tom Waits's voice, which is already pretty mangled. He does a better Tom Waits than he does Fat Tony. As it is, Fat Tony is pretty lacklustre as a musician. He's pretty lacklustre as a human being, really, but he gets by somehow. All night he hogged my new copy of the Paris Review, but I was too busy to care. The fact that he'd want to read it at all is mildly endearing. Eventually he showed me a page he'd bookmarked: a Japanese cartoon depicting a monkey being killed by other monkeys. What are they putting in the Paris Review these days? Wow.

Ok, now it's time to go try and catch the 12:36 bus. If I miss that one, I'm screwed. I'll just sleep here tonight.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

word of the day


Main Entry: nu·mi·nous
Pronunciation: 'nü-m&-n&s, 'nyü-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin numin-, numen numen
2 : filled with a sense of the presence of divinity : HOLY
3 : appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense : SPIRITUAL

Thanks to Merriam Webster Online.

poem of the day

I just read about a climber who died on Mt. Everest and it reminded me of this awesome, haunting poem by Adrienne Rich (whom I love like no other). So here it is:


Adrienne Rich

(Leader of a woman's climbing team, all of whom died in a storm on Lenin Peak, August 1974. Later, Shatayev's husband found and buried the bodies.)

The cold felt cold until our blood
grew colder then the wind
died down and we slept

If in this sleep I speak
it's with a voice no longer personal
(I want to say with voices)
When the wind tore our breath from us at last
we had no need of words
For months for years each one of us
had felt her own yes growing in her
slowly forming as she stood at windows waited
for trains mended her rucksack combed her hair
What we were to learn was simply what we had
up here as out of all words that yes gathered
its forces fused itself and only just in time
to meet a No of no degrees
the black hole sucking the world in

I feel you climbing toward me
your cleated bootsoles leaving their geometric bite
colossally embossed on microscopic crystals
as when I trailed you in the Caucasus
Now I am further
ahead than either of us dreamed anyone would be
I have become
the white snow packed like asphalt by the wind
the women I love lightly flung against the mountain
that blue sky
our frozen eyes unribboned through the storm
we could have stitched that blueness together like a quilt

You come (I know this) with your love your loss
strapped to your body with your tape-recorder camera
ice-pick against advisement
to give us burial in the snow and in your mind
While my body lies out here
flashing like a prism into your eyes
how could you sleep You climbed here for yourself
we climbed for ourselves

When you have buried us told your story
Ours does not end we stream
into the unfinished the unbegun
the possible
Every cell's core of heat pulsed out of us
into the thin air of the universe
the armature of rock beneath these snows
this mountain which has taken the imprint of our minds
through changes elemental and minute
as those we underwent
to bring each other here
choosing ourselves each other and this life
whose every breath and grasp and further foothold
is somewhere still enacted and continuing

In the diary I wrote: Now we are ready
and each of us knows it I have never loved
like this I have never seen
my own forces so taken up and shared
and given back
After the long training the early sieges
we are moving almost effortlessly in our love

In the diary as the wind began to tear
at the tents over us I wrote:
We know now we have always been in danger
down in our separateness
and now up here together but till now
we had not touched our strength

In the diary torn from my fingers I had written:
What does love mean
what does it mean "to survive"
A cable of blue fire ropes our bodies
burning together in the snow We will not live
to settle for less We have dreamed of this
all of our lives


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

how drunk was i

Today is gray and rainy, but the temperature isn't too bad. Typical spring day in Portland, I think. A little depressing after a couple weeks of premature summer, but still, it could be worse. I've been sitting in my little cave under track lighting, reading my book "The Victim," thinking about drinking.

I love to write about what a horrible drunk CB was, but I don't like so much to write about how much *I* drank during our relationship. Can't blame it all on CB though, can't even blame it on my dead brother. I came to Portland in 2001 and started drinking cheap beer like water. I guess I was depressed. I had a ten dollar bicycle and my friend Leo helped me bungee a milk crate onto the back -- I called it my Pabst mobile. I would cycle down Vancouver from our house on San Rafael to a little market to buy a half-rack of Pabst and some potato chips, then I'd cycle home and start drinking. Alone. I think I thought: this is Portland. We drink in Portland.

I was lonely, depressed, new. Portland was a grand mystery and in the face of that mystery I drank. Of course, I worked like a maniac -- I still had a car payment to make, even though I'd left my car in Florida at my mom's, and I had to pay rent and buy food etc. I worked on-call in the place I still work today. I worked any shift I could, any shift they called me for, I was desparate to work, constantly worried that I wouldn't be able to patch together enough shifts to make ends meet. I worked and worked and when I wasn't working, I was drinking.

Then September 11th happened, then, a week later, I found out my brother was dying. Etc, etc, fast-forward through the return to the East, the inevitable death, the packing up and moving out of all my stuff, my car -- February of 2002, I'm back in Portland. Drinking and working. I got together with my friend Carlson. We eventually moved-in together. She drank a lot. We had that in common. Together, we drank a lot. All she wanted to do was play the Sims on her computer and watch teevee and drink. I hated it. I even got sick of all the drinking, but when I left Carlson it was for CB and that was like hopping from the frying pan into the fire. (Or from the shot-glass into the punch bowl...?)

By then, though, I was in school. I didn't have the time or inclination to waste my days on alcohol. I was also on anti-depressants which helped remove a lot of the impetus to stay altered all the time. CB's drinking was masked, shrouded, she normalized her extremes somehow and soon I found myself forgetting to question the wisdom of our early afternoon trips to stale smelling bars because we couldn't think of anything better to do.

Today (the gray and rainy spring day, lush green, a little humid) reminds me of a phase we went through together of visiting a bar called the Basement on 11th or 12th, whichever street runs North. We liked the Basement in this kind of weather because you could look out the huge front windows and see the trees. Inside was a fish tank which glowed a lovely, clean blue and there were also lots of plants. It was always so dark inside, the only light coming through the front. They had great beer specials, though I always got Pabst, so cheap, and drank so many pints. So many pints. How could I drink so many pints? And, of course, it's no surprise that I've lost 15 pounds since I left CB and stopped drinking so much. Imagine the cut in daily calories! Incredible.

I mostly don't miss the afternoons spent in stale bars drinking cheap beer and playing cards, wasting time, wasting money, getting drunk often enough that being drunk became somehow normal. I don't miss forgetting what it's like to go to sleep sober and to wake feeling clear-headed and well-rested. I don't miss the lifestyle of boredom that accompanies the lifestyle of drinking. But there *is* something about it I miss, some tiny element. The taste of the beer, the afternoon spread before me with nothing else to do, no one else to see, the giving over of all my concerns for the moment, the acceptance that I was not happy, that I had walked into the bar not happy and that I had, therefore, nothing to lose in drinking except maybe my awareness of my unhappiness.

I miss the naive hope that swelled up quietly when the first pint was before me, in the first few sips, crisp and sweet, when the cards for gin rummy were dealt or the dice were brought out, the tiny hope in that threshold moment: maybe this will be good. To foolishly put faith in something simple -- I will drink this elixer and maybe this will all become good. Maybe I will be happy. It was wrong-headed and oversimplified and it never worked, never, ever worked, but I miss the hope and the simplicity of it. The faith that something easy might fix something otherwise complicated. I miss the delusion.

word of the day


Main Entry: (2) kind
Function: adjective
1) chiefly dialect : AFFECTIONATE, LOVING
2) a : of a sympathetic or helpful nature b : of a forbearing nature : GENTLE c : arising from or characterized by sympathy or forbearance (a kind act)
3) : of a kind to give pleasure or relief

With thanks to Merriam Webster Online

A year or so ago, I had a conversation with my friend Dutch. I was talking about compassion and Dutch, who pays attention to words, said "I don't like that word compassion." I was pretty attached to what I was saying, I'm sure I'd just read some new-agey self-help book and I think I thought I was really on to something and here was Dutch, once more, shooting me down just as I was taking flight. She said, "It's full of judgment. 'Compassion' is something you beat yourself up for not having enough of." So, this much time later, here I am agreeing. Compassion is a nice concept but it's true: it's a kind of sanctimonious word. Its usage has outgrown its bounds. But "kind" is nice. Kindness. Maybe we are too numbed by the "Random Acts of Kindness" bumper stickers to remember that kindness is not just a slogan, but is a genuine, meaningful action that would like to happen more and more in daily interactions.

Monday, May 22, 2006

i feel like a bachelor

My new schedule leaves SK and I apart Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, all day long. She works day shift and I work swing shift on those days. I sleep at her house Sunday night and see her for a moment Monday morning as she's leaving for work. The next three nights, I get off work at midnight and ride the bus home where I sleep alone. I spend my days alone and it's easy to forget I have a girlfriend now, easy to fall into a bachelor's sort of grumbly quiet.

Today I came home at 8 am and boiled some eggs. I ate them with crackers and read about twenty pages of Saul Bellow's "The Victim," a book I don't love, but a book I'm committed to finishing. Then I got on the computer. Then I read some short stories and decided to eat again. By then it was after twelve. I looked through my fridge which I'd recently filled with food, but such a random selection of things, I couldn't at first figure out what to put together. I grabbed out the red cabbage which is going to go bad soon if I don't use it, and I grabbed also some carrots and an onion. Ten minutes later, all this was diced up and in my new cast iron skillet when I realized I was out of Bragg's. I love Bragg's. I needed Bragg's for this weird little stir fry, so I turned off the stove and gathered things for a walk to the store.

The walk was lovely. Yesterday's storm was loud and the rain fell hard and the evidence of it all was in the streets today, leaves and debris everywhere. The green trees and bushes were lush and heavy with water and as I walked the heavy clouds parted and some sun came through. I dropped off a book at the library and picked up a novel I'd had on hold. I also picked up "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" which I happened to see, one of those classics I never read. Then I quickly grabbed a few groceries from Wild Oats and walked back to my house. I cooked. I ate. I read some more short stories and I worked on a story of my own for awhile and now, suddenly, it's time to get ready to leave for work. So here I go.

word of the day


Main Entry: tac·i·turn
Pronunciation: 'ta-s&-"t&rn
Function: adjective
Etymology: French or Latin; French taciturne, from Latin taciturnus, from tacitus
: temperamentally disinclined to talk
synonym see SILENT

Thanks Merriam Webster online dictionary.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

in the garden's (spot)light

Lovely evening with SK. We sat in silence on a blanket in the park during the last of the dying afternoon. She flipped through a magazine while I studied all the breeders, brooding over their profligate children. Children everywhere, running around, and parents standing here and there like cones, watching, watching. I'm starting to realize the parents are in my peer group -- or what *would* be my peer group if I was on a slightly different path in life. These parents -- some are even younger than me. It is strange to identify with the parents now and not the kids.

I watched also a group of three teenagers as they played among the smaller kids. They were young, maybe 14, two boys and a girl. They had an easy physicality and SK and I agreed that they looked like kids who'd grown up playing together, who had suddenly grown into adult bodies together, suddenly aware of each other in such a new way. The boys were lanky and sweet and vied for the girl's attention. The girl had an athelete's build and wore soccer shorts with her hair up, she did not seem to have a favorite and she played and wrestled with them both with equal joy and fierce abandon. They were sweet. They swung on the sings, hung from the monkey bars and wresteled in the grass before finally laying down together, all in a row, looking up into the sky and pointing at clouds. I could've watched them for hours, they were so sweet together.

I, of course, shellacked the scene with a thick crust of melancholy. I thought how happy they are now, how together they are, and I imagined this summer as their last summer in such happy freedom. Something will happen amongst them all, together and separately, they will become sexual, they will become involved in adult-seeming-intrigues, their social worlds will get complicated, they will drink or use drugs or they will avoid drinking or using drugs, they will grow apart, they will change. They will look back and remember this as their favorite summer. Their happiest time.

When the sun went behind the hills it got cooler and SK and I packed up our blanket and walked back to her house. We ate supper and watched the third bad movie in a row and SK is now forbidden to choose movies for the time being. Afterwards, feeling a little restless and melancholy (both of us) SK suggested we share a Guinesse and sit in the garden. SK's garden is a tiny, lush strip behind her apartment which has been planted with irises and poppies and the remnants of daffodills all, now, tied up and laid aside. The strip is also full of ferns and pots with tomatoes and tiny seedling starts of basil, arugala and the thousand sunflowers SK is planning to grow this year. The garden, such as it is, is lovely.

The downfall are the spotlights which are beyond our control and which shine from other apartments. They make the garden look a little like a movie set, lit for the filming of an urban garden scene. Aside from the glare in my eyes, the lights actually give the garden at night an ethereal feel and they cast a sort of heavenly halo around SK who was looking particularly gorgeous in her new shirt and her mild melancholy. She rolled a cigarette and smoked it, exhaling roughly through her nostrils. This is a side of SK I find mysterious and intriguing -- the SK who rolls a cigarette and smokes it in the garden. I stared and stared at her last night, completely smitten, taken, crushed out and awe struck. I felt like I'd stepped back to a time before I knew SK as well as I do now, to a time before our courtship, before our first date, before any of it, back to a time when I only just watched SK from afar and wondered about her and sought her out and pursued her. When she was, in many ways, more object to me than dynamic person. I watched her like a worshipper last night. It was disorienting. But, also, gorgeous.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

more slowly than usual

Today I've had terrible cramps. They started while I was doing laundry down the street and they haven't subsided, despite the handful of Ibuprofen I took hours ago. They make me tired, make me sort of sink into myself, make me stare ahead, unfocused, daydreaming about nothing tangible.

I was sitting here earlier, trying to write, unable to concentrate, when Dreadlock walked by outside. My door was open and I looked up and there she was. She confessed last week that she walked by my house once and looked in the window because my car wasn't there. "Your place is looking pretty messy," she said. "What's going on?"

"What's going on," I said, "is: don't ever look in my windows again, you lunatic." Who goes around looking in their friends' windows? That's just creepy. But I think Dreadlock just doesn't know any better. She also doesn't know that I hate to be dropped in on, I especially hated it in my crampy, spaced-out state, but I invited her in anyway (after letting her stand in the doorway a few minutes while I pet her dog who stank but was sweet anyway).

Dreadlock and I chatted awhile and I probably seemed like someone heavilly medicated. Slow and wispy. Then she left and I dragged myself outside to sit on my top step in the sun with a book. The landpeople were home, in the living room right above my seat, basically. The infant was crying and crying and the dad was trying to get the two-year-old to put on his sandals for a walk. I could hear them like they were next to me -- they practically *were* next to me, though I couldn't see them. I heard the dad speaking in low tones to the mom, occasionally stopping to remind the toddler to keep putting on his sandals. The baby was squalling, squalling, but what can you do? What can they do? It sounded so miserable, all of it, and also sweet in the middle of the miserableness.

I'm so glad I don't have kids.


SK convinced me to enroll in a class at the Process Work Center which started last night. I was an easy sell -- already I'm interested in Process Work and I went to the seminar on the coast in March. For SK, I will convert to Process Workism, a little like a religion, but not quite.

The class is about dreams and dreamwork -- I know some things but I am a novice. SK has finished her studies, she is a professional process worker. I sit next to her in the class and feel at turns proud of her and shy about my own lack of knowledge. I scribble in my little notebook while she scribbles in her little notebook and we sometimes scribble notes back and forth to each other and it's very sweet.

Gray is in that class. SK has a low opinion of Gray which was not helped at all by the fact that Gray orchestrated an under-cover date with me while SK was in Australia (in Gray's defense, she didn't know SK and I were together). Gray has also continued to flirt with me after SK's return, which SK also doesn't like. I like getting the attention from both creepy Gray and slightly jealous SK (even though Gray makes me cringe a little and I hate to think of SK suffering at all from my subtle yet foolish encouragment of Gray's misplaced attentions.) Anyway, SK very scorpionically set the record straight with Gray recently, confirming that yes, SK and I *are* an item and have been for some months now -- and now perhaps the flirting will stop. Or perhaps not. Gray is stubborn and intentionally bratty. I wouldn't be surprised if she continued to flirt just to spite us both. We'll see.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

working with sk

Now that I've changed my schedule, I'll be working one day shift a week with SK. We won't be working *together* exactly because she works in her office upstairs and I work downstairs in the Drop In Center, but we will have lots of opportunities to cross paths... Like when I go up to her office to get a box of pens or to carry her the inter-office mail or to update my timesheet or to check my box or to check the fax machine or to look for a chart or to do whatever else I can think of to get me upstairs and into her office.

It was nice today. We took a quick walk together to the Casbah for a bagel and I visited her a million times. That will eventually start to annoy somebody, either SK or my coworkers or both. We'll see. For now, it's fun. Too bad I get off an hour ahead of her. We won't be able to stroll out together, which is probably for the best since she strolls out on a cycle and I stroll out towards the bus stop. Oh well.

Now I'm heading across the river to pick her up for an evening of prolonged shopping. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

word of the day


Main Entry: cloy·ing
Pronunciation: 'kloi-i[ng], 'kloi[ng]
Function: adjective
: disgusting or distasteful by reason of excess (cloying sweetness); also : excessively sweet or sentimental (a cloying romantic comedy)
- cloy·ing·ly adverb

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

poem of the day

Lest I find myself accused of not practicing what I preach about content, here's a sad poem about a horse.

by Maxine Kumin

How pleasant the yellow butter

melting on white kernels, the meniscus

of red wine that coats the insides of our goblets

where we sit with sturdy friends as old as we are

after shucking the garden's last Silver Queen

and setting husks and stalks aside for the horses

the last two of our lives, still noble to look upon:

our first foal, now a bossy mare of 28

which calibrates to 84 in people years

and my chestnut gelding, not exactly a youngster

at 22. Every year, the end of summer

lazy and golden, invites grief and regret:

suddenly it's 1980, winter buffets us,

winds strike like cruelty out of Dickens. Somehow

we have seven horses for six stalls. One of them,

a big-nosed roan gelding, calm as a president's portrait

lives in the rectangle that leads to the stalls. We call it

the motel lobby. Wise old campaigner, he dunks his

hay in the water bucket to soften it, then visits the others

who hang their heads over their dutch doors. Sometimes

he sprawls out flat to nap in his commodious quarters.

That spring, in the bustle of grooming

and riding and shoeing, I remember I let him go

to a neighbor I thought was a friend, and the following

fall she sold him down the river. I meant to

but never did go looking for him, to buy him back

and now my old guilt is flooding this twilit table

my guilt is ghosting the candles that pale us to skeletons

the ones we must all become in an as yet unspecified order.

Oh Jack, tethered in what rough stall alone

did you remember that one good winter?

reality check

I had a strange moment today. I was doing some cleaning, killing the last few minutes before 2:00 when I would call my professor for our scheduled phone-debriefing session, to bang in the final nails in the coffin of my relationship with birdlady. I was listening to NPR and Fresh Air was about to come on. Terry Gross was giving the preview of what would be on the show today (the soundbites she gives before saying "but first, the news") -- and she said a name I knew. Rebecca Clarren. She would be talking to Rebecca Clarren who had just written something about something important. I stopped taking in new information as my brain churned to remember how I knew this person, then it struck me. This is Mog's friend Becca who I met at Mog's housewarming party back in December! This is the freelancer who publishes in the Nation and and other awesome places. This is the woman with the huge smile and the unselfconscious goofiness who made the most hilarious gestures in a game we played like charades, we all laughed and laughed and I watched her and thought "this is the woman who researches and writes serious articles about farm-worker safety and environmental concerns that get published in magazines I actually *buy*?" I talked to her for a long time and walked away from the party feeling excited to be a writer, excited that somebody out there was actually getting paid for this stuff, somebody really nice and really engaging. I kept thinking I'd ask Mog for her number, just to pick her brain, talk about writing, find out how she managed to become so successful with the freelancing. And there she was, today, being fucking interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. Unbelievable. And worst of all, I couldn't even listen to it because I had to do that phone debriefing with my prof and I was at work at 7 when they ran it again. Oh well. Maybe I'll download a podcast or something. I've never known anyone important enough to be interviewed by Terry Gross. That's pretty cool.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

proving an old point

I went to log onto my blogger account and noticed a blog called "Girl Fag" on the "recently updated" scrolling list. It caught my eye, so I clicked on it. The tagline said something like "One Leatherperson's Take on Life and..." something. There was a leather pride flag on the screen and a few other symbols and hints of leatherness. The S/M and leather scene is fascinating to me so I was looking forward to interesting posts.

Too bad for me. All the posts were detailed chronicals of the blogger's housework for the day and mundane plans for an upcoming trip. Nothing about leather. Nothing about pain or submission or anything remotely to do with that scene.

Ok. Fine. I checked out the links on the page and saw many more leather-themed blogs. I clicked on one called "singletail" -- a "singletail" is a type of whip with one strip of leather. They're especially painful and I figured whoever decided to name their blog "singletail" must mean business. What did I find? A recipe for fried chicken.

What is going on in the blogosphere?? Can't anyone stay on task??? If you claim to have a blog about leather, write occasionally about leather. Or, if you're going to write about fried chicken, at least make it interesting. And maybe even just pretend you were wearing leather chaps and ball-gag while you were cooking, just for some authenticity or something. Jeez.

operation: not-so-happy hour

SK and I spent a chunk of Sunday planting assorted veggies in a huge pile of organic mulch in my land-people's yard. While poking around under the straw that had been laid on top of the mulch to keep it moist and intact, SK found lots of huge slugs which she picked up and threw across the garden one by one as she found them. A million huge slugs did not bode well for the newly planted veggies, especially the delecate row of assorted lettuces that SK had just put in. So, operation not-so-happy hour began.

Just so you know, the best way to deal with slugs is simple, easy and cheap. (Works great for bad dates too.) Beer. A few little dishes of beer scattered here and there in the garden attracts the slugs and kills them just as they're getting a bit of a buzz without also attracting and killing all the neighborhood cats (which is one of the problems with slug bait). Why use poison when you can use Pabst?

So SK and I walked up to the seedy market on Prescott and bought a 24oz can of cheap beer. SK, who is sometimes smarter than me, was drawn to the giant 40 of Old Milwaukie's Best and asked "what is malt liquor?" in her lovely English accent which sometimes sounds so sophisticated and other times makes her seem so sweetly innocent of the wicked ways of the American underbelly. We should've gotten that 40 with the handy screw-top, then I wouldn't have to walk back up to the market on Prescott in a few minutes for more beer. I don't mind the walk, though. It's a gorgeous day.

Anyway, operation not-so-happy hour was a raging success. I checked the dishes yesterday and found several fat veggie-eaters floating belly up in each dish. Sorry fellows, it's you guys or my veggies and I vote you guys. At least they died happy. Or too briefly drunk to care.

Monday, May 15, 2006

poem of the day

The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

word of the day


Main Entry: ten·e·brous
Pronunciation: 'te-n&-br&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French tenebreus, from Latin tenebrosus, from tenebrae
1 : shut off from the light : DARK, MURKY
2 : hard to understand : OBSCURE
3 : causing gloom

Thanks Merriam Webster online.

new summer look!

Same great blog, great new look! I tried a white page, now I'm trying a blue page. Thoughts? I just felt like a change...

now what?

Here I am, back in the coffeeshop, like nothing ever changed. Except lots of things have changed. My exam Friday was absolute shit. I was so unprepared and the exam was so unnecessarilly complicated, I wanted to laugh all the way through. Laugh or cry, whatever. For four hours. I left campus in a complete daze and passed through several stages of grief before I recovered... if I've recovered. I was stunned with a gaping mouth and a puzzled frown, then I was delirious, singing and laughing in the car, then I was angry. Really, really angry and I called SK and told her I was feeling brutal. Feeling brutal, in my mind, is like what I imagine Cam Coor felt like in high-school. Cam Coor was this strikingly sexy redneck who had a fluffy trucker moustache in the tenth grade and who carried himself like the kind of guy who *should've* been wearing a fluffy trucker moustache: a middle age, hardened trucker guy. I was hanging out in McDonald's one night with what passed for my friends and Cam came in, looking super-sexy with his crew-cut and his moustache and his tight, worn out old jeans. He came and stood at our table, joking with the boys, explaining that he was just dying to fight somebody. His plan was to go "cruise Benson" (a nearby town where everyone drove around in circles staring at each other on the weekends), get "shitfaced" and "find some motherfucker's ass to kick."

I never understood that feeling although, as I crossed the Fremont Bridge Friday after my exam and fantasized about smashing my head through a plate glass window, I imagined (as I said) that this is similar to how Cam felt that night he went out to kick some ass in Benson. I didn't kick any ass, though. I went home and saw that SK had lovingly placed some marigolds in pots on my front steps and left me a card. Sweet SK. The flowers and the cards didn't touch my mood, but once I talked to SK I started feeling much better. She offered to come out to dinner with me and my school friends and I was thrilled. The dinner was creepy and weird and sweet and fun at the same time and I won't bore you with anymore details. Just know that SK and I went on to have a very lovely weekend taking walks, planting things in my "garden" (which is just a big mound of organic mulch in my landlord's yard) and getting reaquainted after what feels like a million years.

Now it's Monday. My first Monday of the summer. No school, no birdlady, no SK (she's at work)... Now what? What can I do with myself? I have a bag full of books to consider reading. I've had so many things nagging at me, pulling me while I studied or worked for birdlady or wrote papers. Now that I'm free, I'm beside myself. I don't know how to handle it.

For now, I will take books outside and enjoy the sun before it gets too hot. Then I'll come back and in and see what happens.

Friday, May 12, 2006


T-minus 31 minutes and counting until I can pick up my only exam and take it. I'm sitting in the LRC near a table full of my friends, listening to them have ridiculous conversations that have nothing to do with whatever exams they're all here to take. I'm not interacting with them. I don't need to. I just like being near enough to hear them. I also like knowing that they'd welcome me into the conversation if I felt like joining.

I can't study anymore. I didn't study very much, not compared to the amount I've studied for other exams in the past. I have lots of excuses for why, but it's also in the field not to study this semester. I was listening to my table of friends earlier and they were all commiserating about their lack of motivation. After three years, we're all a little burnt. The urge to make good grades is dead in all of us and the fear of failing is also pretty dead. Taking these exams (which are grueling and hard by objective standards) has become mechanical for us. And that's almost scary.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

the thing about fat tony

Of course I have a crush on Fat Tony. He's a perfect funhouse mirror, flashing up visions of some potential version of me. Fat Tony is a writer who writes, who has manuscripts coming out of his ears, who had a play produced, who might suck at it, I don't know, but he *does* it, which is more than I can say for me most of the time. Writing in this blog doesn't count. Fat Tony also plays guitar and sings at work. He definitely sucks at both of those things, but he doesn't care! That's the annoying beauty of Fat Tony and exactly the quality I lack. I am, after all, only *so* cavalier. I'm not like Fat Tony, but I *want* to be like Fat Tony. Completely oblivious to the inner (and outer) critic. Just throwing myself out to the world, whether I suck or not, without constant self-stifling and worrying and pondering and hiding. I don't want to hook up with Fat Tony, I want to steal some part of his essence and use it, add it to the thing that is already me. Fat Tony is lazy and makes bad decisions sometimes, but he's not afraid to stand up and be a dick sometimes. I back down from that too easily. I don't set boundaries well enough and then bad shit like birdlady happens. Fat Tony would've been so angry with birdlady he probably would've just walked out the first time she started acting like an ass. When he gets mad his eyes bulge and he usually stands up dramatically, like in a soap opera. Or at least that's how I've created it in my mind. He's funny when he's mad because he's very concrete about it. That's what I'm not. Concrete. I've got too much water in my chart maybe. I need to add cement mix and firm myself up a little. But for now I should go to bed so I can get up early and study tomorrow. Maybe dream about turning into Fat Tony, or some variation on that theme. Maybe turning into a giant, cement garden gnome...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

brutal self-assessment

I lied about laying low for a couple of days. I'm at work and trying to study for half an hour during my break is pointless. So, here we go.

I was thinking tonight while laying on a bench in the Drop In Center, staring out the window. Thinking about myself. These are the things I thought:

1.) I am lazy. (But I'm dreamy.)
2.) I am lonely.
3.) I don't think I'm all that cute anymore, but I still want attention.
4.) I talk too much and what I say isn't important, but I can't decide if I should just shut up or if I should find people who like listening to me anyway.
5.) I think I have a "good heart," but what does that even mean? Who doesn't think they have a good heart? I'm really an ass-hole a lot of the time. But who isn't an ass-hole a lot of the time? Are we all ass-holes with good hearts?
6.) I don't trust that people like me when they act like they like me and I spend a lot of time second-guessing their signals, if I care about them. It makes it so I can't enjoy myself.
7.) I like to enjoy myself but sometimes I can't remember what is enjoyable.
8.) I don't know how to be alone, but I also don't know if I believe being alone is a viable option. People are social creatures, pack animals. I want to be in a pack, even just a pack of two.
9.) I also don't know how to be in a relationship quite right: my boundaries aren't good, I say too much, I forget to think about what it probably sounds like on the other side to hear certain things.
10.) I get jealous.
11.) I have a crush on my pretend boyfriend Fat Tony but I think it's all in my mind.
12.) I want things to be simple but things are always complicated.
13.) I couldn't stand up to birdlady because I think, somewhere inside, that I deserve to be treated like shit.
14.) I want to have fun but I forgot what I think is fun.
15.) I miss my family and I miss the South, but only a little bit. Only enough to give me jolts of nostalgia.
16.) I want more attention. I want an endless supply of attention until I can't stand it anymore.
17.) I'm shy. So it's against my character to do too much to get attention, so instead I fantasize about the things I would do to get attention if I was less shy. And I write in a blog.
18.) I wonder if I'll come out of this shell someday? But if I did, then who would I be? I would be somebody else.
19.) Right now, I like my job.
20.) I went to law school and I don't want to be a lawyer. And I don't care.
21.) I want somebody else to stand up for me. I think I will just lay down until somebody else comes along to pick me up. I'm tired of holding myself up all the time.


I've gotta study. No more blogs till after my exam on Friday. Enjoy life w/o me for a couple days. I'm sure you'll all survive.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

every day more surly

I don't want to be a lawyer. I don't know what I want to be, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to be a lawyer. I went to a ten-minute hearing today, but before I went to the hearing, I spent two hours in an attorney's office looking over the case. After the hearing, the geriatric attorney rambled almost incoherently to me about the pros and cons of particular career paths then doddered off to use a coupon at Borders. I felt like I'd spent the day with an escapee from the dementia ward of a hospital. Sweet but confused and sometimes combative. He actually got into a little fight with two women at the bank on the way to the hearing. Later he waxed poetic on the luxury of his dumpy office. This is what I have to look forward to: 12 hour days in fluorescently lit rooms pouring over paperwork to prepare me for ten minutes of ass-kissing in administrative hearings so I can make so little money I need a coupon to shop at Borders.

I'm just complaining. I feel like complaining a lot lately about a lot of things. I guess I'm just a spoiled rotten brat. After Friday, after my exam, everything will be done and I'll be free to think and explore and read for pleasure and do whatever else I want and I won't have to get on here and whine about how unsatisfied I am with every aspect of my life right now. And we can all look forward to that.

Monday, May 08, 2006

agitation is physical

I'm having one of those days where agitation grips me around the chest like a vice, makes me angry with everything, makes me want to clear the table with one sweep of my arm, makes me want to plant my fist into the center of my keyboard like a giant bulb into the soft dirt of a garden because my computer is going too slow. Agitation makes riding my bike in front of a TriMet bus seem like the most relaxing thing I could do.

I'm at the coffeeshop, trying to study, gripped by this agitation, and there's this guy here who has easily become a target for all my misplaced loathing. He's been on my radar since I first walked in (two hours ago) just because he's mildly creepy looking and he's been staring out the window (directly over my head) the whole time I've been here. He's got a curly, man-bob haircut, which, by itself is creepy, and I've been imagining only the worst of him since I first saw him. All the creepiness was ratcheted up about 1,000 notches just now when I finally noticed the paperback book he's been holding up prominently while he stares wistfully out the window. The book, which he's holding so everyone can see it, is called "Your Sexual Self" -- the title written in sweeping, water-color script, a book that seems clearly intended for new agey women.

Grody. Now he seems to be looking at me a lot rather than over my head out the window. Grody, grody, grody. It's as though the book is some kind of advertisement. It would be one thing if he was just deeply engrossed in the book (putting the "gross" back in "engrossed") -- but no, he's holding it up and staring into space, like he's waiting for some likeminded individual to come along and bite the bait.

I want to kick him in the face. But I won't. I'll just sit here and feel agitated and try not to punch my computer.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


The bloggers over at Mind the Gap, a feminist blog from the UK, recently posted a piece called "fun is feminist." I think the piece was a call for submissions for a "blog for fun" day, but the basic idea behind it all is very compelling: that in the face of oppression, we are not allowed to have fun. Whether we don't allow ourselves to have fun or whether we are not allowed by others -- fun is forbidden. Fun is something so frivolous, so seemingly antithetical to whatever dire situation we find ourselves in, people who are having fun seem disrespectful, even blasphemous. In the context of feminism, the ban on fun is a second crushing of women's spirit. Fighting the patriarchy is serious business and we impose an absence of humor on ourselves because, by god, if we don't take ourselves seriously, the patriarchy never will. We fight too hard against the notion that women are silly. Where, in the queer community, fun has always been a part of the struggle for queer liberation from the first, campy revolution at the Stonewall Inn, led by a bunch of drag queens and fairies. The existence of camp allowed queers oppressed by the dominant hetero-paradigm to fight back with a sense of humor, bolstered by the humanity that humor embraces and nourishes. Whichever population is oppressed, in whichever region, class, country, whomever is fighting against oppression: all are fighting for more than just the bare right to breathe and eat and exist. All are fighting for a full existence -- alongside the right to breathe and eat and exist is the right to love and the right to laugh and the right to spend a few moments here and there being frivolous and having fun and there's nothing disrespectful about it. In fact, it is only disrespectful to suggest otherwise.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

word of the day


Main Entry: 2cavalier
Function: adjective
2 : marked by or given to offhand and often disdainful dismissal of important matters
3 (a) capitalized : of or relating to the party of Charles I of England in his struggles with the Puritans and Parliament (b) : ARISTOCRATIC (c) capitalized : of or relating to the English Cavalier poets of the mid-17th century

I am definition number 2. I would rather be definition number 3(c).

jet lag

Nine-thirty am -- SK is sleeping on the other side of the river. I am home, in my apartment which is dark, the clouds having moved back in last night after two especially warm, sunny days. SK is jet lagged and I am lagging a little myself. I am reality-lagged or something. I am catching up to myself.

Yesterday, gorgeous day, we drove up to the Salmon river and took a long walk. Had a nice, long chat on a mossy log. Ate salad and sesame candy and walked back to the car, went home. SK cooked chicken sausages and we watched a movie about an aboriginal tracker. Then we went to bed. It was a good day.

Now I'm home while SK sleeps much longer than I could sleep -- sleeps off her jet lag. My first Saturday in a million years not working day shift at my job. I will eat my granola and yogurt, then cycle up to my coffeeshop to study. I still have an exam to take, I can't forget about it. I feel, already, done with school, done with everything awful. I feel, already, free. But that feeling is premature.

And anyway, summer is postponed. Yesterday, summer seemed upon us, but today the clouds are here. Tomorrow, the rain. And it will be much cooler and I see now how I've gotten ahead of myself. So I will slow down a little and remember where I am and I will try to be here fully.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

i have slain the evil spirit of birdlady

I woke this morning to a response from birdlady. Just so everyone knows, at the suggestion of my prof, I wrote her a very nice, very clear email yesterday explaining that I will not meet with her Monday and that I will not work for her this summer. I was braced for angry phone calls or, at the least, angry emails, but no. I got a very kind, relatively contrite message apologizing for making me uncomfortable and explaining that she was just trying to give me the advice no one had given her, but acknowledging that she probably "overstepped."

Wow. If she had only been so kind and respectful throughout the semester, we wouldn't be here right now. The lesson, I think, is this: only the attorneys with money can afford to treat their underlings like crap, b/c at least there will be some financial incentive for some of the underlings to stay. For me, making the peanuts she was going to pay didn't even begin to balance out the misery I would have worked under. Now maybe birdlady will be nicer to the next poor student who comes along.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

utter joy

Ok, so the bookend to my last message is the complete, thrilling bliss I feel because I'm picking SK up at the airport tomorrow! Yay!! She's been in Australia for 7 and a half weeks!! Amazing! And she's on her way back right now, as I write this, she's on a plane over the Pacific Ocean, winging her way in my direction. Very exciting. Unbelievably exciting, actually. I'll get up tomorrow, go to work, then go straight from work to the airport at 2! Yay!! Now I have to go clean my house. Some more. :-)

sheer terror

Just closed my eyes and hit "send" on my exit-strategy message to birdlady. Why does she terrify me so??? It's a real bummer. Instead of feeling relief now, I feel sheer terror that she will somehow turn up to traumatize me further. She will, no doubt, turn up in my email in the next day or so, asking me what the hell is up. Or some variation on that. But I must be strong. What's done is done. I don't have to see her and that's all that matters. Before long it will all be over. Yay!

you mean the american lifestyle isn't healthy?

Has everyone heard about this study which indicates that, across the board, white, middle-class Americans are less healthy than white, middle-class Brits? Despite the fact that the US spends, like, double the money on healthcare. Interesting. Epidemiologists have varying theories to explain the discrepency (we're fatter, we're more stressed out, we get less exercise) -- but at least they know it's not race or socioeconomic status (b/c they didn't study poor people or people of color --they just looked at middle-class whites).

I have to say, when I first heard about this I could not stop a giant "DUH!" from coming out of my mouth, but now I can't quite pin-down why this is so "duh"worthy. There's just something very toxic in the American ethos. I guess I'll have to spend some time in the UK to make a proper comparison. Or maybe I'll just ask SK. She'll know. She, by the way, comes home tomorrow. :-) And I'm fucking thrilled. :-D

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

in the absence of anxiety

Today turned out to be a good day.

I started out feeling a lot of anxiety. The anxiety started the night before my last meeting with birdlady and continued through the meeting and after the meeting and into today, where it hovered in my body like a virus and made me uncomfortable and nervous all day.

The one thing in my day which I would have guessed would only add to my trauma was actually the best thing to happen to me all week: I had my first grown-up-lady exam at the student health center. At 31, I've managed to dodge these lady-exams for a really long time, much longer than most, but I recently decided that the time had finally come, so I called up the health center and made an appointment. The nurse practitioner there who does the exams comes highly recommended and now I know why. She was *awesome* -- super sweet and super kind -- she is exactly the kind of person who needs to be in healthcare.

So, crazy as it sounds, my time with that nurse was the most comforting, kind, beneficient experience I've had in awhile. And after that ego-whooping from birdlady yesterday, I really needed the help. However, it wasn't long after I left the appointment, that all my worries about birdlady bubbled back to the surface. As soon as I got home, I wrote my disability internship professor an SOS email explaining how bad it had been recently and begging for advice.

As I've mentioned before, this prof hasn't been one-hundred-perent helpful in the past, so I wasn't sure what her response would be this time. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when she called me later and expressed a great deal of support. She was really sweet and helped me plan an exit strategy that does *not* involve ever having to see birdlady again! Yay! Let me just say that again (because I don't fully believe it yet): I never have to see birdlady again!!! Wow. That's wonderful.

We talked for almost an hour (during which time I missed two of SK's calls, unfortunately) -- and when we got off the phone I felt such a relief! The absence of anxiety in my body feels so wonderful. It's like finally being warm again after being teeth-chatteringly cold. It's like I'm finally comfortable in my skin again. Ahhhh. So nice.

word of the day

In an effort to stop myself from continuing to complain about birdlady:


Main Entry: tau·tol·o·gy
Pronunciation: to-'tä-l&-jE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -gies
Etymology: Late Latin tautologia, from Greek, from tautologos
1 a : needless repetition of an idea, statement, or word b : an instance of tautology
2 : a tautologous statement

Thanks Merriam Webster Online Dictionary

P.S. -- Because I can't resist, here's a bonus word of the day:


Main Entry: hu·mil·i·ate
Pronunciation: hyü-'mi-lE-"At, yü-
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -at·ed; -at·ing
Etymology: Late Latin humiliatus, past participle of humiliare, from Latin humilis low -- more at HUMBLE
: to reduce to a lower position in one's own eyes or others' eyes : MORTIFY

Monday, May 01, 2006


I met with birdlady today. Can I just tell you that I hate birdlady more than I've ever hated anybody? Can I tell you that birdlady is the biggest bully and if I could kick her in the stomach I would? Can I tell you that, rather than kicking her in the stomach, what I actually want to do when I'm with her is curl into a fetal ball and cry?

Today birdlady was a big mean bully and she added new levels of humiliation, including criticizing my clothes and patronizing me about dressing and acting like a grown-up. Just when I thought all my dignity was gone, she decided to also critique my diction. Apparantly, when I'm being mercilessly humiliated, my mind sort of goes blank and the word of assent that comes robotically out of my mouth is "gotcha." As in, "gotcha, you think my clothes are sloppy, gotcha, I need different shoes, gotcha the bookbag is out and the leather breifcase is in," when, in the back of my mind, I'm screaming: "YOU ARE THE MOST SLOVENLY PERSON I KNOW, HOW DARE YOU TELL ME MY 'DRESS-CASUAL' ISN'T DRESSY ENOUGH! YOU WEAR T-SHIRTS UNDER CHEAP BLAZERS WITH JEANS AND SNEAKERS TO THE OFFICE!!!"

Anyway, birdlady doesn't like "gotcha." It drives her nuts. Sure, maybe "gotcha" is annoying, I had no idea I was saying it. However, I think it was a bit much for birdlady to make me sit back down with her so she could write "gotcha" on a peice of paper, then cross it off and write seven different examples of things that were appropriate for me to say. "Ok," was at the top of the list. As in, "Ok, how'd you like your ass-handed to you right now, you mean and nasty sack of shit? Ok, I'll take all that under advisement while I'm firebombing your house tonight."