Sunday, April 30, 2006


(**warning** this post gets hijacked half-way through by musings on sex. so if you don't want to read about sex, read until you hit the 'too much information' warning.)

My study day was partially hijacked by my friend Leo who insisted I come "study" with her in a coffeeshop on Alberta. Considering she called as I was walking out the door to cycle up to Alberta to study at a coffeeshop, how could I say no?

Needless to say, nothing got studied until Leo left at 1 for a lunch date. Have I mentioned that Leo is one of my oldest, dearest friends? That I've known her since 1993 and that we met in a mud-puddle when we were 18? Good times. Leo is my blast from the South and whenever we hang out, an accent comes out of me that I can't control or fake or do on command. It's kind of wonderful and frightening all at once. I love Leo.

Anyway, Leo and I always have great conversations, usually about sex and almost always about whichever woman she's totally obsessing over at the moment. Right now it's a super-hot friend of hers who is ambiguously flirting with Leo, who, in turn, is very *un*ambiguously flirting back -- pushing and pushing the envelope which is Leo's specialty, second only to obsessing over the potential consequences of the envelope-pushing she's just done. I listen to a lot of "what do you think it means if she says..." yadda-yadda-yadda. But because I love Leo, I indulge her.

Today we talked about the value of maybe not acting on every single whim of desire that strikes. And also maybe not being totally tortured by every unkissed lip and every unfucked crush. It's a liberating concept. Although, a healthy sex life is good too. (File this next part under "too much information" and stop reading if you don't want to know about sex toys.) I told Leo about my recent adventures cleaning out my sack of sex toys. A very neglected sack of toys they are -- everything was dusty and in need of a bath, having been gathered from the far corners and packed in haste when I moved out of CB's. I piled up all the multicolored, lovely, silly looking little guys on my bathroom sink where they sat for a couple of days because I was too lazy to deal with them. Every time I walked into the bathroom I was startled anew by the festive display. Funny little pile. So last night I finally dealt with all of them and packed them all back up into a nice, big plastic zip-lock freezer bag which will keep the dust off.

Those particular toys are nice and all, but they seem to function, for me, more like sexual talismans than real elements of my actual sex-life. There's something playful and exciting and fun in them, but when it comes to actually *using* them... I don't know. They just don't see a lot of action. And there's something a little sad about that -- something I can't put my finger on exactly... so to speak... There seems to be a hint of missed potential -- seeing that pile on the counter every time I walked in my bathroom, I felt a tiny start of excitement -- there was a hint of promise in that pile. But, will that promise ever be delivered? And what *is* that promise exactly? It's something that extends well beyond the actual intended function of any of those toys -- it's something in their essence. The promise of adventure and risk and excitment and... something else... something in their vibrant colors and slick plasticity -- something modern, inorganic, hip, radical, playful, frivolous. Something extravagant -- something outside the bare minimum of required activity.

One of my biggest complaints about strap-on sex has always been the disruption in the flow of the act of sex to get the strap-on arranged and ready to go. It's a relatively minimal diversion, but it has always felt clunky and inorganic. Now, though, as I reflect on the mystique of my pile of sex-toys, I realize there's something about that added element of complication that's actually pretty hot. It's the committment to the extra planning, the extra time -- the extravagance of going beyond the bare minimum to something more dramatic, more orchestrated, more complicated and more, sometimes, satisfying. Obviously, if your partner isn't into strap-ons or penetration, this is not a committment that's really going to pay off. That's not the point. The point is in understanding the allure of my pile of sex toys -- the promise -- I think maybe the promise lies simply in the committment they signify to taking sex above and beyond it's organically wonderful, natural elements and into some unknown space -- maybe a bigger space, a space set aside for frivolous exploration and extravagant adventure. Decadence and desire and something more than what is just necessary for sex to happen and be lovely.

I'm starting to sound a bit like Camille Paglia. I guess there's nothing wrong with that.

attention KA

Everybody else, just ignore this.

Hey, KA, email me when you get your email straightened out. Everything I send you bounces back. :-(

Saturday, April 29, 2006

i love my job

After five years working weekends at my job in some way or another, I'm switching my shift up and today was my last Saturday! Yay. Now I can do normal weekend stuff with normal people who do stuff on weekends. Like... I can't think of anything. But, I'm sure there will be lots of cool things to do... eventually....

So, no more Saturdays means no more Saturday games group and no more BINGO! Today was my last trip to the Dollar Tree at the Lloyd Center Mall for cheap bingo prizes. (I say it's my last trip, but I'm already concocting a scheme to start a Wednesday night games group that will kick Saturday games group's ass!) -- I've been loading up on bingo prizes at the Dollar Tree every week for a few months now and I always wonder what the people in line are thinking about the bizarre pile of shit I'm always buying. Like: "Why's that lady buying four pairs of cheap ass bedroom slippers, cans of shaving cream, 100 pounds of stale candy, packs upon packs of lighters, silver glitter make-up, screwdriver sets and crayons??" Among other things. These are the prizes one buys for homeless people who play bingo. Ok, they're not technically homeless, but they live in a shelter and they're "officially" homeless for the statisticians who keep tallies on who's got a home and who don't.

Today, because it was my last day, I treated myself to a very special bingo prize, all for ME, the bingo-caller. It was a surprisingly effective WATER CANNON and it only cost a DOLLAR! Amazing. I like to call it the Bingo Enforcer and I used it today to blast the hell out of all the people who think it's hilarious to call out "BINGO!" after I've only called two numbers, or the people who make me repeat numbers 100 times, or who otherwise act like smart-alleck assholes. Let me tell you, water-blast-bingo was *awesome* -- the best bingo ever. I also bought lots of extra chocolate, and that always keeps everybody happy. The best part was when my pretend boyfriend, Fat Tony, stole my water cannon completely right out from under my nose, before I'd even put water in it. I had no idea it wasn't still sitting next to me on the bench and then suddenly I was getting *blasted* with water from the kitchen. That rat bastard! So I jumped up and ran into the kitchen to wrestle it away from him.

I love my job.

Friday, April 28, 2006

harper is a cool name

Just thinking some more about Harper Lee and realized something: not only is Harper Lee, in itself, a cool name, but To Kill a Mockingbird introduced a handful of characters with equally cool names:

Boo Radley,
and the uber cool lawyer dad: Atticus Finch

God I love that book.

happy birthday harper lee

Today is Harper Lee's birthday. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, which is my favorite book of all time, the only book I've read repeatedly, and every time I read it, I find more things about it to be wonderful and moving. Maybe I'll start reading it again. If I can't have the Southern summer heat I miss, I can at least read a story in which it features prominently.

Having met Adrienne Rich, a wordlessly spiritual, inarticulably wondrous experience, the next soul-stirring woman writer for me to meet is Harper Lee. She turns 80 today. She wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and has published nothing since, living an utterly private life, granting no interviews, making no public appearances. A few years ago, people wanted to erect a monument between the two houses in Mississippi where she and Truman Capote grew up -- one side of the monument would celebrate Capote and the other side would celebrate her -- however, she wouldn't give them permission to use her name or quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird. A recluse. Which, of course, makes me want to meet her all the more.

What has she been doing for these 40 plus years after completing To Kill a Mockingbird? Can anyone imagine she's *not* still writing, even though she hasn't published? This is a woman who started writing two-hours a day with Truman Capote on a typewriter in a treehouse when she was 9 years old. Is it even fathomable that she finished her masterpiece and then put down her pen, sold her typewriter, gave it all up? Of course not! So, what's she sitting on in her seclusion? A stack of manuscripts a mile high, I imagine. Waiting to be posthumously published. That's my guess. Or maybe just my fervent hope.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

you are keeping me company

Oh my god, I'm so bored. I'm in my very last class of the semester, Consumer Law. The most boring class I can imagine with a professor who is a really sweet guy but who is impossible to listen to. I haven't done homework for this class all semester or paid attention in class and I'm relying on my "teach yourself" skills to study for the exam.

So why am I even sitting here in this last class? I don't know. I'm certainly not paying attention. Instead, I'm surfing the net. Usually in this class I surf the news sites, however, the spring air has rendered me incapable of concentrating on anything as complicated as news, so I was just reading my favorite funny blogs, specifically "Overheard in New York." But I had to stop because it was making me laugh. And, regardless of how little I care about this class, I'm still not up for laughing out loud from the back row while the prof is up there dutifully re-explaining the exception to the holder in due course doctrine. La-la-la, I'm not listening!


I saw a snake on the path on my way to school today and it was really cool. The end.

out of the toilet...

...endlessly rocking. (Bad reference to a good Walt Whitman poem. Forgive me.)

So, my mental health is greatly improved today. I realized something last night after finally shutting my laptop and turning off the music and just *sitting* with myself for a few minutes. I realized that shutting the laptop and turning off the music and just *sitting* with myself HELPS!

I'm always interested to know how people use their faith (whatever it might be, if they have a "faith" of some kind) to solve their problems or address their basic needs. For example, when Waspy is having a crisis of confidence, I'm curious to know how her Christian faith helps. (Sorry to pick on you for an example, Waspy.) Same with my friend Stubby who is also a Christian.

I have been disturbed, in my own life, to recognize how quickly my own "faith" seems to leave me in times of deepest need. For instance, when my brother died, I was shocked to realize I'd lost all feeling contact with anything spiritual I'd ever believed or drawn strength from. Sure, I sat at his funeral (somehow the most painful part of the whole experience) worrying a bracelet of prayer beads, repeating a mantra like a fool, but it was only a distraction and held no other comfort. It was many months, maybe even a year or so, before I was able to sink back into a meaningful spiritual life. I understood, then, what had never made sense to me before: the concept of losing one's religion. I'd always been so shocked and sad to hear people remark, when remembering a trauma, that they felt, during the hardest part, abandoned or forsaken by "god." I wondered what kind of faith could leave you feeling that way -- if a faith wasn't there to bolster you through the worst times, what was the use of it?

Well, what I've learned since (and what I learned a little more last night) was that you have to meet god or the great spirit or bodhichitta or *whatever* half way. The quickest way to do that is to be *present.* When I was desperately repeating that mantra as those beads passed through my fingers, I wasn't trying to connect with my spirit, I was trying to get as far the fuck out of the unpleasant experience of that funeral as possible. I wasn't even interested in being present and my presence is what I needed to be spiritually engaged.

So, last night as I sat with my computer bemoaning the terrible state of my mental health (while the radio hummed along in the background keeping at bay the silence I feared would engulf and drown me), I wondered why my faith wasn't helping. It was some of that negative self-talk that comes up when you're feeling low: "some buddhist you are, you're just as tossed around by moods and weather and crap as anybody else, what's the point of calling yourself a buddhist if it doesn't do you any good." And that's when the difference between "being" and "doing" came up. I could "be" a buddhist all day long, but unless I was "doing" the things I belived, I wasn't going to be miraculously comforted by a simple philosophy or belief system.

I looked at myself and my behavior and noted, sadly, that I was so scared of the feeling of sadness, I refused to look at it. Instead, I kept my head down, came home and opened up the computer, turned on the radio, surfed the net for something to distract me, something to keep me company. When I finally just *looked* at things, I started feeling much, much better. How sincerely lonely I was when I was abandoning *myself*! If I can somehow stay present for myself, I will not feel that overwhelmed, swirling down the toilet sort of feeling. And that's pretty promising.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

the definition of premeditated murder

From a Yahoo news piece about the Supreme Court's review of lethal injection:

"Florida's three-drug combination is similar to that used in other states. The painkiller sodium pentothal is followed by a chemical, pancuronium bromide, that paralyzes the inmate. The final drug is potassium chloride, which causes a fatal heart attack."

So clean and matter of fact. How can we fucking live with ourselves?

my mental health...

... is in the toilet. There isn't much point in trying to explain any of the details, all that matters is that my spring rush just sort of crashed today. I guess I'm rapid cycling (which, by the way, doesn't involve pedaling...), but at least I haven't completely lost my sense of humor.

I went to the last meeting of my disability law seminar tonight -- the class through which I have had the pleasure of working with birdlady. There are only 5 of us in the class, myself included, and my 4 classmates are just lame. That's all I'm going to say. The professor has this gorgeous, warm, liberal, activist, Jewish-mother vibe which promises so much (in terms of comraderie or comfort) but delivers very little and I leave every interaction disappointed. Though, the most endearing thing she's done all semester happened tonight when she was asked what law school she went to. She sort of mumbled "Harvard," and then said, when the class questioned her apologetic tone, "Well... you spend a lot of time convincing people you're not an asshole." Funny.

She's not an ass-hole but she triggers something in me I can't quite explain. There's so much "cool mom" in her demeanor, I just immediately need to be parented when I see her. I suffered from a dramatic lack of parenting as a kid -- especially mothering, and this woman just completely polarizes me into the space of being the unmothered kid, longing for the comfort of that maternal bosom. Obviously, her bosom has come nowhere near me and instead of comforting me when I complain about birdlady, she starts balancing my experience against birdlady's reasons or motivation and it drives me nuts. I want her to give me a big hug and pet my head and tell me she's sorry birdlady's been so mean and maybe offer to make me a sandwich.

But for christ's sake, I'm in law school, not head start. She's not there to nurture me. And really, my woes must seem pretty pale considering that she went to Harvard at the tail end of the "Paper Chase" era when professors seemed to believe dehumanizing and destroying their students was an integral part of a good legal education. Birdlady probably seems to my professor like a walk in the park. Oh well. I'll manage. I'm just weary of parenting myself after all these years. And I can't expect the lovers in my life to also be surrogate mothers. That's just fucked up.

Where does an adult go to find an appropriate mother-figure? I guess I could call my actual mother, but that wouldn't exactly get me what I'm looking for and that's the point. Oh fuck it. I'll just go eat some crappy supper and feel sorry for myself for a little while. Too bad I don't have a television...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the unromantic unmasking...

... of my blog moniker:

For anyone who isn't fortunate enough to have studied law, let me demystify the name I chose for myself when I set this blog up. It's a play on a common negligence concept -- the reasonably prudent person. The reasonably prudent person isn't the *most* prudent, or the *least* prudent, but is, like a good bowl of porridge, "just right." To determine whether a person behaved negligently, you compare their behavior to that of a reasonably prudent person in the same or similar circumstances. If, for instance, the reasonably prudent person would have known better than to leave the loaded gun on the dining room table within reach of the five year old, then, if that's what *you* did, you'll probably be found to have been negligent, whether *you* personally actually knew better or not.

It's totally unromantic, I know. And it holds no secret meaning or double entendre. I don't think. It's just one of those things you hear over and over until you finally take it and make something else out of it.

spring is for...

Caveat Lector: I'm gonna write about sex and if you don't want to read it, stop reading right now.

Trying hard to avoid all the easy cliches about blossoms and sap flowing and even, I guess, bunnies, I want to write something about how the spring season reawakens something in me that always manages to go dormant every winter. The most amazing thing about it, I think, is my own lack of awareness around it so that it is always such a happy shock when spring rolls back around and I realize I'm not the numb and lifeless lump I thought I was.

First, it reminds me we are animals, living on the crust of a planet in a geographic region with seasons which affect our moods and behaviors. No matter how much theorizing or psychologizing we do about things, and how high above the earth our big brains make us feel, we can't escape that hard-wired pulse sent straight from the spring air and into our deepest center which, to be perfectly frank, had me sitting in the coffeeshop yesterday practically overwhelmed by a completely impersonal and detached *desire,* such that I was nearly ready to beg somebody, *anybody,* to touch me.

So I went home and read a book. The thing, at the end of the day, that does separate us from most of the other animals crawling around on the ground and fucking at random is our ability to just sit with that knee-knocking desire for a few minutes, take a deep breath, and just move on without actually dragging the somewhat slimy coffeeshop proprieter into the bathroom and having sex with him on the sink. (The fact that I've never even had sex with a man in my life and that this was the first thought to hit me yesterday is testamony to the indiscriminate sexual power of spring. He was simply the first person I saw.)

Being the dutifully intellectual homo-homo sapien that I am, I cycled home and started reading "Full Exposure," a book about sex by "sexpert" Susie Bright. I got about 50 pages into the slim volume of essays about sex and, sure it's all interesting, but I keep waiting to get to the meat of it. She promises to help open my eyes to the power of my sexual creativity in all aspects of life, to show me how sexual energy is what fuels all creative endeavors, in or out of the bedroom (or coffeeshop bathroom, as the case may be) -- and I appreciate her efforts, but I'm waiting for the results. Feels, right now, like pretty wheels spinning.

She asks us, in the first page, to consider our own erotic storyline -- our history, our characters, etc. So, I think back over the thirteen years of my life as a sexual being (she would, I'm sure, encourage me to think back longer than that, even beyond the bad-high-school-hetero-gropings, back further into even my most proto-solo-sexual meanderings) and I am a little disappointed when I consider the trajectory I've taken. Like a dud firework, I shot into the sky but died without a bang. I made a list yesterday of all my sexual partners since I was 18 and I made up little symbols to denote this or that quality (whether I loved them, whether I slept with them more than a few times, what types of sexual expression was shared, whether there was sadomasochism, etc) -- I realized as my paper filled with names and funny symbols that my sex life has been different (and better) than I had originally remembered.

I also realized that, in the past few years, I have stopped experimenting, stopped reading about sex, stopped actively seeking new kinds of sexual experiences and have, instead, reverted to a kind of dormancy. A longer than seasonal dormancy. Why? I see, when I look at my list and chart, that I had a not-so-good experience with a leather belt that put me off to pain and power in sex. That was in 2001. And I think it would be very easy to say that's what sent me packing back to a space of sexual quiet. But that's too simple. Because, what also happened in 2001, is that my brother died and, shortly thereafter, I entered the worst depression I'd ever yet experienced and shortly after *that* I started taking anti-depressants, which worked wonders for my mood, but certainly squelched most of my mystical, dreaming qualities and left my appetite for sex somewhat limp. By the time I finally took myself off the meds, like taking the training wheels off a bike, in 2004, I was with CB, already feeling a strain and tension in our relationship which clearly impacted our sex as well. Instead of rising up from that dormancy then, I sank further and told myself that maybe I just wasn't a very sexual being (despite plenty of past evidence to the contrary) and wondered if maybe I shouldn't just go join some buddhist monestary somewhere where I could just practice in peace.

This is a complete oversimplification of my sexual history. Don't think I don't know that. But I'm writing a blog-post, not a doctoral dissertation, so I have to condense.

I find myself, right at this moment, opening to spring in what feels like a new body, a new life -- two years off meds, more than two years out of awful depression, out of a not-so-good relationship and hurtling towards May 4th (9 short days away!) when SK returns from Australia. Out of common decency, I will leave SK out of all this sexual-philoso-bloggin, but I will say that I am using my human powers of restraint to channel all my new, spring energy in one direction and that direction is hers.

Monday, April 24, 2006

poem of the day

First, it helps to know that, during WWII, small, glass encased balls hung under some bomber planes in which short soldiers would curl in the fetal position weilding two big guns with little protection against incoming fire.

Death of a Ball Turret Gunner
by Randall Jarrell

"From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose."

Sunday, April 23, 2006


What a gorgeous day! I was sitting outside my favorite coffeeshop, cooking in the full sun under the vibrantly blue sky, when my friend Leo of all people came strolling by. I was looking down at the transcript I'm working on for birdlady when Leo walked by -- I noticed her jeans and thought sort of absently that she must be a lesbian but I didn't look up to check. Next thing I know, she's standing over my shoulder saying "aren't you even gonna check me out when I walk by??" Funny Leo. I told her I checked out her shins and decided she was a lesbian, but couldn't articulate why. Good thing she is.

Anyway, Leo sat with me for an hour and caught me up on all her relationship troubles. Meanwhile, we both turned pink in the sun and Leo eventually decided to rescue me from melanoma and take me to her house which was only a few blocks away. She just moved into this super sweet house which she shares with some hot chicks and she wanted me to see the yard which she is especially excited about b/c she's a landscaper. Next thing you know we're at a taqueria eating tacos and salty guac and I'm on a soapbox about how tort law in this country gets a bad rap and Leo's eyes were glazing over and suddenly Leo's gone and I'm sitting at a coffeeshop working on my project for birdlady like Leo never even came around.

What a whirlwind. And all I have left to show for it are my lobster red arms. They itch...

disturbingly accurate word of the day


Main Entry: co·de·pen·den·cy
Pronunciation: -d&n(t)-sE
Function: noun
: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)

Wow. It is important to know that I had decided to back down from my recent proclamation that my relationship w/ CB had been codependent. I was getting on here to write about how it hadn't really been codependent, it had just failed as a relationship. So, I went to my trusty Merriam Webster site to get a definition of codependency that would be so obviously at odds w/ the reality of my relationship w/ CB, the foolishness of calling the relationship codependent would be obvious.


As you can see, that is *not* how it worked out. The definition of codependency describes my relationship with CB to a "T." I'm a social worker! How could I not have seen this from a mile away?!? (Duh -- b/c I was *not* a mile away. I was in it. And it's harder to see things when you're in them.)


Saturday, April 22, 2006

the way heat holds you

There are a lot of things I don't miss about the South and I am perfectly happy living out here as a Southern expatriot. One thing I do miss is the heat. Sometimes. And even the humidity. Heat and humidity make the air thick, amplify the smells of summer and spring, create a space that's alive, a space that holds you like cooler, dryer air can't. Heat and humidity, carrying the thick perfume of blossoms, grilling food, cigarette smoke, tanning lotion, all the smells of spring and summer, envelop you, hold you in a space that's slow, sweet, comfortable. Heat and humidity make you leave your doors and windows open even at night, make you wear shorts and tank tops, make you take off your shoes and socks, make you tie your hair back and wipe the sweat off your neck.

And while I'm on the subject, I miss the sounds of insects. I'm sure heat and humidity make a more welcome space for all the night creatures that fill the air with a sound so loud I never thought I'd get it out of my head as a kid. Now it is gone, long gone, and I miss it. I miss the night sounds and I especially miss the day sounds of the cicadas -- a sound I can never adequately describe. I miss lightening bugs too and I can't believe there are kids who grew up w/o them -- magical, luminescent bugs, caught on hot evenings as the sun was draining from the sky by me and my cousins, tucked into canning jars with blades of grass and drops of water.

So, as wonderful and gorgeous as the unfolding spring here is -- with the new-green trees and prolific blossoms -- there's something missing and I feel the absence of it deep in my heart.

Friday, April 21, 2006

i was a stepmom

I hung out with CB's youngest son, little T, tonight. All CB's sons were grown when I met them, but little T was 18 and still pretty sweet and sentimental and, of the three of them, he's the only one who actually saw me as something of a mom-figure. I couldn't believe it and still don't really believe it, but it's true. He would actually introduce me to friends as one of his moms. And that's the kind of thing that's so casually touching it brings tears to your eyes when you're not expecting it.

So, needless to say, I love that kid and I think we have a pretty good relationship. He can talk to me in a way he can't talk to CB or his dad, but also in a way he can't talk to his peers. I'm in some liminal space between parent and pal. Maybe I'm like a cool aunt or something. I don't know. I just know that he shares personal stuff with me that he might not share with anybody else and I use all my social worker skills to listen non-judgmentally and I try to never, ever treat him like a kid and... I don't know... it just works out. And I sometimes buy him stuff, loan him money and let him use my car. So... he's like the already grown up kid I never have to birth and raise. It's perfect.

It was really good to see him tonight. I picked him up from his work and we went to a Thai place on Belmont, ate some really good food, and I listened to all his trials and travails. He joked that it was his therapy session. Then we went down to the Pied Cow for some coffee because I was falling asleep, but the coffee didn't help and pretty soon we were ready to go, so I drove him home. Driving off, after watching to make sure he got in the house ok, I felt a little like I'd just had my weekly visitation or something. Life feels so strange sometimes.

life simply brightens

The sun comes out, the sky gets blue, the streets are full of petals as new leaves shove old blossoms out of place, and I suddenly realize I'm happy!

After that talk with Kiwi and the meeting w/ birdlady -- it's like everything's falling into place. CB's out. I'm done. No more foolish notions of maintaining a friendship -- that was bullshit anyway. The lightening flash I got from Kiwi was that I'd been in a codependent relationship and that I was STILL in a codependent relationship with CB. Once that finally sunk in, I realized how completely foolish I've been. Naive and optimistic, but foolish. And wrong.

Then, birdlady -- I am finally on solid ground with her and I feel suddenly very excited to know I'll be getting paid to do her drudgery in three weeks. I'm right on the cusp of stepping up -- my first paid legal job. Sure, I won't be paid particularly well, but I'll be paid in line w/ what other clerks in the area are being paid -- better than many, actually. So what if my job at the homeless shelter pays better and gives me insurance and a free bus pass. The legal job will pay off in the future.

Meanwhile, I just had a super long, super fun conversation with SK who called from a phone box in some tiny town between Melbourne and Sydney. I hate talking on the phone, but I could talk to SK for 100 hours. I'm so glad she likes me. So glad she's coming back here in one week and six days. And so glad she still wants to be my girlfriend.

Next trick -- to learn how to NOT be in a codependent relationship. A lesson I never thought I'd have to learn, and yet... here we are.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

put out an apb (all paperbacks bulletin, ha ha)

At minimum, three of my books are missing. I have a lot of books, even though I have tried to weed my collection. I probably have about 400 books. Almost all paperbacks and worth next to nothing. But they're great books. And out of my big, fat, no-monetary-value library, at least three books are missing. They are: 1.) Houston Smith's The World's Religions, 2.) Chogyam Trungpa's Training the Mind, and 3.) The English Patient by some guy whose last name is unspellable by me.

Ok, so, sure, I just moved and it's entirely possible that I could've left a few books at CB's. Maybe even the weird moving boys accidentally left a whole box of my junk in their dark and creepy van when they moved me. But here's what's uncanny -- these three missing books are books I have suddenly needed to look at or reference for some reason in the past couple weeks. And these particular three books happen to be missing. Does the universe sense that I will need to see a particular book and then does the universe come along and hide that book so I won't be able to look at it? Is the universe guiding me in this weird, quiet way?

Or will I find a bunch of books in the bottom of that one mystery "junk box" in my closet that I still haven't unpacked...

identity crisis

I had a five minute conversation with my friend Kiwi today that blows any previous counseling I've ever had out of the water. Kiwi (in addition to being from New Zealand) is a process worker and christ are those process workers brilliant! They really know their stuff.

Anyway, Kiwi's about to head off to Australia for the conference SK's going to (big process work convention) and today she came up to visit me in my office today for a bit before she left. She used to be *SK's* friend Kiwi, but I've co-opted her since SK's been away and we've been chatting more and more and it's nice. She's awesome and making new friends is fun.

So brilliant Kiwi stopped in and asked how I was feeling at a time when I was still feeling a little down about the ridiculous conversation I had with CB last night. Fucking CB... Anyway, Kiwi asked a couple of questions and then just *nailed* something so hard it almost made me shriek. I was describing my relationship w/ CB, b/c she'd asked what I miss. I talked a lot about what I miss, then started talking about CB's drinking and how confusing and complicated it was to be the partner of a drunk. After I went on for awhile, Kiwi said, "I think *you* were a bit of a drunk in that relationship. I think you got addicted to her. To her need, to her drunkeness, to all of it." She also said a few other things that would take too long to explain. Just know, the impact was immediate and intense. True. So true. She said, "What you're describing doesn't sound like love. Maybe you were in love with the house and the yard and the woodstove, but it sounds to me like she treated you like shit and I wouldn't call that love."

I started thinking about what that means for me -- how it's almost easier to be treated like shit, how I come to expect it somehow. I have a crazy family, crazy parents, crazy stepparents. I've spent a lot of time acclimating myself to being treated kinda shitty. I almost don't know what to do in the absence of shittiness. And that's pretty disappointing.

Then comes birdlady. I had a meeting with her and it was fine, relatively, but I realized as she started talking about my summer work for her (when I've been secretly thinking I really didn't want to work for her or ever see her again at the end of this semester) -- I realized that I've been hugely resisting the end of school and the beginning of my professional career. It's a lame fucking cop-out! I'm 31 years old, I can't stay a kid forever. Yet I've just accepted a new position at my totally cushy, kid's job (the job I've had for the past FIVE YEARS) and I've been actually thinking I'd decline a legal job offer. Am i CRAZY? My friends are falling all over themselves to secure jobs and, instead, I've got somebody falling all over herself to hire me and I'm actually thinking about DECLINING? Sorry for all the caps, I'm just feeling really enthusiastic.

So. Identity crisis. I don't wanna grow up. But I have to grow up. I was chatting w/ my land-person about it today (while the baby sucked on *her* pinkie this time... I guess sucking on pinkies is the only thing that keeps it quiet when it's not asleep or sucking on nipples) -- and she asked, with a kind of confused frown. "so what did you think you wanted to do when you went to law school?" Like... be a lawyer? And I think I don't wanna be a lawyer anymore? Why? Because I'm too much of a baby to step up and give up my cush, kid's job where I get to keep dressing like a bum and doing nothing for 8 hours and still getting paid. So I see the occasional dead junkie and sometimes fear for my life? It's still a cush job!

I guess this is the end of an era. Oh well.

hangin on the telephone

Last night, as I was just laying down to go to sleep, CB called. I saw her name on my phone, let it ring twice, debated, then answered anyway. Ah, CB. She sounded moderately drunk, but held it together for a long while, asking me mundane questions. When she started asking about my family, she started breaking down a little -- quiet crying in the background as I gave her updates on my grandparents, parents, brothers. Pretty soon there was quiet crying on both sides. Jesus Christ, why is all so sad?? Finally she asked if I wanted to hang out Saturday after I get off work. I felt paralyzed but said yes. I imagined meeting her for coffee, chatting, whatever. Could be ok. I felt nervous about it but I felt ready to give it a shot. Then, after a long preamble of disclaimers, she said she really just wanted to spend one night with me. "Not sexually," she promised. "Just one night of being close." Yeah. Right. That's when she lost me. Not that I think she's just trying to lure me over there for a wild horizontal romp. But she's just being selfish and clueless again -- not surprising.

Worst of all, I missed two calls from SK, who is on a very long road trip from Melbourne to Sidney and who hasn't been online or able to call for a couple of days. Needless to say, I am *kicking* myself for ever taking the call from CB in the first place. Fuck.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

love is strange

Ok. I admit it. I am completely in love with Julia Roberts. I can't help it! It just is. I have been in love with Julia Roberts since I was a teenager and saw her in the movie Mystic Pizza. My mom (god bless her) would sometimes buy me magazines w/ stories about Julia Roberts and I would cut out the pictures and hang them on my wall. I had a whole Julia section by the bed. And I still love her. It just doesn't fade. As we both age, my love for her ages with us.

Someday, I will write a screenplay that will be bought by a studio and produced and she will be in it and I will finally meet her. And we will have an immediate, startling spark between us. And she'll have a quick, homo fling with me, it will end up in the tabloids, we will lay in bed together and laugh about it. The romance will eventually end, but we'll stay in touch, become great friends, and I will be the godmother of her children. That's what's going to happen.

Anyway, I just thought I needed to share all that. Julia just turned up on one of my new favorite blogs, Go Fug Yourself, where she was, unfortunately, lampooned for her baggy, torn jeans. Whatever. She's a Broadway star now! She can wear whatever kind of jeans she wants! So, since I've had some beer and I'm feeling warm and fuzzy, I just needed to vindicate her on my own blog. I love Julia! And that's that.

the relative size of life's tragedies

I just heard on the Writer's Almanac that, on this day, in 1943, an armed uprising began in the Warsaw ghetto in Poland against the Nazis. A group called the ZOB (which, in Polish, or perhaps Yiddish, meant Jewish Fighting Organization) had formed once the Jews in the ghetto learned of the mass murders in the camps. They fought the Nazis for a month before they were overpowered.

I listened with chills, because I've spent the past few weeks reading about the Warsaw ghetto. SK's dad was there. All his family was killed, but when? Where? In the ghetto or the camps? I listen and wonder where SK's dad was on this day in 1943. Had he already been smuggled out? Was he ever smuggled out? How did he survive? I can't remember. Only remember he was raised with cousins by a distant aunt and uncle. Only know he was a stern, over-serious survivor and know that SK, child of a survivor, wears a near-constant frown and wonders how she has the right to laugh, do fun things, *survive* -- she went paragliding in Australia last week and heard her dad's voice in her ear as she soared above the treetops: "I survived the Warsaw ghetto so you could fly through the air strapped to a parachute??"

The answer is yes. A heartbreaking, glorious yes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

field trip

Tonight my Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and the Law class (let's just call it Queer Law, shall we?) went on a field trip to a "town hall" meeting about marriage equality run by the HRC gestapo. I'm sorry, I know the HRC has done some great stuff and without the HRC I probably wouldn't have had the joy of getting married on the sidewalk in March of 2004, but HRC has it's downside. (HRC, for those of you who don't know, is the Human Rights Campaign -- a queer advocacy group -- although I'm sure they'd blanche at the word "queer" and that's just the beginning of why I don't like them.)

My experience of the HRC is that they're a bunch of goose-stepping, conservative, white, middle-class, abercrombie and fitch assimilationists who are fighting hard core for the right of every homo in the nation to be a yuppie. They originally drew my ire when they specifically excluded transgendered people from their umbrella of advocacy in the '90s and they've done nothing to win my heart since. Fighting the good fight from the political center is, I know, a useful strategy. But if I'm gonna align myself with anybody politically, it's not going to be the HRC. Not to mention, their obsession w/ plastering their blue and yellow equality stickers all over you and everything else is creepily cult-like, in my opinion.

So, as soon as I walked into this town hall meeting and saw all the HRC propoganda, I felt like I'd just walked into a scientology informational session or something and I told the guy w/ the clipboard that, no, I did not want to "make HRC aware" of me (his creepy words) and then he regarded me with suspicion. I guess he thought I was probably some jesus freak there to whip out a bible and condemn the homos or something. Whatever. A jesus freak cleverly disguised as a big dyke.

We listened to a panel of voices instrumental in the "marriage equality" movement (sounds nicer than "same sex marriage" I guess): a representative from the HRC, of course; Roey Thorpe, the head of Oregon's queer advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon; another woman who is the plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the state's treatment of same-sex couples who choose to begin families; and another guy who is a Reverend in some Buddhist Church (Buddhist Church just seems weird, but what do I know -- I follow the Shambhala lineage and we don't call them churches...) -- he didn't have anything too interesting to say and he was wearing a suit. I'm always disappointed when I see Buddhists in suits. But that's just me.

The speakers were interesting, but I found myself staring out the window at the newly green trees in the distance for most of the night. Then I felt bad when Roey Thorpe reminded us that, while we tend to think nostalgically about the civil rights movement as though it was a discrete event that happened in the past, we are currently in the middle of a civil rights movement ourselves. Right now. I realized I haven't done enough. Yet, I'm staring out the window feeling jaded about marriage because my own marriage ended (in every sense) and instead of sinking my teeth into this homegrown civil rights movement, I'm wistfully eyeing possible emmigration to Australia or the UK, literally broadening my horizons, for personal but also political reasons. Escapism? I don't know. Don't we all need an ex-patriot period? Just to be well-rounded humans?

I had one realization tonight that surprised me: I realized tonight that I really am a buddhist. I've got such a love-hate relationship w/ labels and, for a variety of reasons, I have resisted labeling myself a buddhist (or anything else like that), even though I've studied it for years, I believe in its tenets and I've been practicing with an actual sangha for awhile. But tonight, when the Buddhist Reverend guy was talking, even though he was a big dork in a suit, and even though he said "sexual preference" instead of "orientation," a distinction that is maybe only meaningless to straight people -- even though a lot of him didn't resonate, I recognized in him a like-mindedness and a sense of the community, the sangha, that felt so comfortable and so familiar. When he said "Buddhists believe that all living creatures deserve respect," I actually got misty! I got tears in my eyes! I felt that feeling of belonging that was almost as big as the feeling of belonging that came from listening to a panel full of lesbians talk. And I thought that, even though buddhism doesn't completely encompass all I feel and believe spiritually, it doesn't matter. Because I can be buddhist and other things at the same time. That's the beauty of buddhism. And I love it.

poem of the day

I noticed, recently, while surfing blogs (because I'm chronically unable to do anything productive lately) that the content in many blogs seems to drift from the apparent original purposes of those blogs. For example, a blog with a name like "squashing the patriarchy" (which I just made up to illustrate my point) will still contain a bunch of mundane posts about how the blogger's cat has ear mites or how the weather was so gorgeous the blogger just couldn't concentrate on her work. That's all fine and good, but what happened to squashing the patriarchy?

So then I realized maybe I've done the same thing. I started this blog the day I left CB last December as a way to rededicate myself to writing. I've written 215 posts since then, so... in a way, I'm still fulfulling my mission. However, I named myself reasonably prudent poet and I named my blog after my favorite poem by my favorite poet and, in general, I held the blog out as having some strong tie to poetry... and... well.... it doesn't.

To help rectify that situation, let me present, today's poem of the day.

A Man Said To The Universe -- by Steven Crane

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

Short sweet and to the point. This little guy comes from a collection called "War is Kind and Other Lines" -- Steven Crane was an anti-war kinda guy. And that's pretty nice. These days.

Not to mention, this is the relationship I feel I'm having with the universe lately. And that's kind of a bummer.

walk down the memory hallway

Today at work I walked around and taped room inspection notices on everybody's door, warning everybody that their rooms will be infiltrated and inspected next week by clipboard weilding staff people. Fun. After five years at this job, walking door to door offers me the opportunity for such lovely, nostalgic musings as "Oh, that's the room I found that dead guy in." And, "Ooooh, this is the room CB found the decomposed corpse." And, "This is where me and CB found that one client with the needle sticking out of her arm after she OD'd on heroine." At least that chick didn't die. Yet.

My job is so fucked up and awesome.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I think I have completely alienated myself from my land-people by refusing to hold their baby. Ok, here's how it happened. As you may remember, I live in the basement of a really sweet little bungalo, the owners of which live above me. A few days ago, I was sitting at my desk w/ my front door open, enjoying the sunny, sort of warm day, when the guy land-person came walking along the sidewalk holding the brand new baby (named after my dead brother). He said "hi" and I jumped up and went out to greet him and to see the baby. I'd like to pretend I reacted so enthusiastically because I was feeling gleefully sociable. However, it was actually because I'd just stuck a nasty, stinky bag of garbage right outside my door (the limbo zone between under my kitchen sink and all the way out to the trash-can out back) and I was suddenly just really embarrassed to have that bag of garbage just sitting there and I had this irresistible impulse to put myself between the guy and the garbage to somehow obscure it. So that's what I did.

We made some chit-chat and he officially introduced me to the baby (which was tiny and fuzzy and fruitlessly sucking on daddy's pinky finger) and this is when I made my first, minor, baby faux paus. He said, "This is Isaac." And I said, "That was my brother's name." The past tense in that sentence just makes it creepy and I was really glad I'd at least managed not to say "that was my dead brother's name," which would have only been slightly worse. I had long ago decided to keep my own connection to the name "Isaac" to myself, regardless of how meaningful it is to me, b/c to anyone else it probably seems morbid. And there it was. I said, "That was my brother's name." And he said "Oh." And niether of said anything else for, I think, obvious reasons.

When I'm depressed (which I think I've probably been for a week or so now) I get even more socially awkward than normal. So, after the initial moment with the baby, the chit chat started to peter out and I wasn't sure what to say next. This is when the bigger faux paus occurred. It was so natural, so unplanned, there was nothing I could've done. It was just a spontaneous reaction. Daddy said, "So, do you want to hold him?" And I immediately put my hands up as though warding off some kind of attack, and said, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No. Thanks. But. No." Of course I felt like a fucking idiot, but too late to make it any better. Daddy was quick to try and comfort me, "Oh, it's ok. You don't have to hold him." He said some stuff about how they seem so fragile when they're that young, how even he was afraid to hold the baby at first, etc, etc. It was nice of him, but, what else was he gonna do? Tell me I was a freak for practically running back into my house and slamming the door in his baby's face?

And what's wrong with me anyway?

Nothing. It seemed silly for him to hand his baby off to me for no other reason than to just give me the pleasure of holding the baby. Have I blogged about this already? As I write it, it feels familiar. Anyway, yeah. The baby was perfectly happy just laying in his dad's arms, sucking his dad's pinkie. That baby did not have any interest in being uprooted just so some strange woman could have a moment of baby-inspired joy. Baby's are nice, but how much joy can they really inspire, anyway? Especially the fragile, week old, pink and fuzzy kind? I guess it's no shock to hear I don't really like kids.

Oh well. What are you gonna do?

make up your mind

This schizophrenic weather today is making me suicidal. Spring can be so trecherous for my mental health. One minute it's sunny, the next it's raining, the next it's sunny again and the next there's hail. All the while, lovely pink and purple and yellow and white blossoms seem to burst from every surface, like crazy faces, grinning through it all.

I need a drink. Or a week on a beach somewhere *warm* and consistently sunny. With a drink.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

belonging, revisited

A reader named Rufus posed an interesting question in a comment recently that's had me thinking. The question: are you afraid to be alone? The answer is simple: absolutely. I am absolutely afraid to be alone.

Another interesting question was posed by Waspy in an email: do you know who you are? I thought she was joking and wouldn't answer what I considered a weird and simple question. But then I started thinking about it and realized it wasn't so simple after all.

So. Two good questions. Am I afraid to be alone and do I know who I am? I put them together and ask myself: "Who is this Me who is afraid to be alone?" A few months ago, I wrote this whole long rant on the subject of belonging. How I've never belonged and don't want to belong because belonging would feel smothering. Ok. That's complete bullshit. I had to write that rant to realize that it was wrong, so it wasn't a complete waste. But it's simply not true.

The Me who is afraid to be alone is the Me who spent some formative years alone. After my stepdad divorced my mom when I was 12, mom moved us to a crappy trailer in the middle of a field on the outskirts of town. We went from living in a neighborhood with my friends, within biking distance to more neighborhoods with more friends, etc, to living in the country down a long road with nothing around us but far away neighbors who were old and didn't have kids, within biking distance of nothing.

Add to that: mom was never home. She worked full time and went back to school. She drove us to school and drove us home and that was the most we saw of her every day. Eventually we moved to an apartment in town, but we still saw little of mom and I felt a scary affinity to the kids in the book Flowers in the Attic. As time passed, we saw less of mom until finally she started sleeping at her boyfriend's house and then we saw her once a day. She'd come by for a few minutes, pick up some clothes, drop off some clothes, etc. Bring groceries. Bitch at me for not cleaning the house. Meanwhile, I was practically catatonic with depression. Pretty picture. I got older, I came and went and left notes that wouldn't be read by people who didn't care explaining where I'd be and when I'd be back. I did not want to be alone. And I was.

Fast forward, I go to college, I get a girlfriend, I think all my problems are solved because I live in the dorm where I am never, ever alone and, of course, that newfound joy only lasts 8 months. Meanwhile, it's that foundation of depression and aloneness which continues to infect every aspect of my life -- less a foundation and more a bottomless pit that is only ever just barely covered with twigs and grass, like a boobie trap which catches me over and over again.

But, of course, I'm a scorpio with a tremendous loner streak. So this pull towards relationship is always somewhat at odds with the equal pull into my own interior spaces. Like a pendulum, I swing back and forth between coupledness and uncoupledness. I have never found a balance.

I want a family. I believe humans aren't meant to be alone. But what's a family? I don't want kids. I don't want to go live in Georgia with my own family who are all fundamentalist Christians with a completely oppressive worldview I can hardly tolerate. I want a partner who supports my desire for companionship and whose love is large enough to hold my need for occasional solitude. I want friends who love me like blood relatives, soul friends, friends I carry with me through all of life. I want a community I can contribute to, that contributes back to me.

I want to share my home.

I notice I'm always preparing things for other people in my life who don't exist. When I bought my car, for instance, it was very importat to me that I have a four-door sedan with a comfortable backseat so that I could transport people. What people?? In the 9 years I've owned my car, I've driven a backseat full of people perhaps twice. When I moved into my new apartment, I made sure to buy extra towels for guests. Besides SK, what guests? I keep my bathroom clean for those guests and I lament the fact that, so far, no one (besides SK) has even used my bathroom.

I don't want to be alone. That's true. The Me who doesn't want to be alone is the Me who really does want to belong somewhere. The one who considers the needs of others. The one who is responsible and ready to engage. The one who wants a family of some kind. The one with a clean bathroom, extra towels, a four door car, etc, etc.

Of course, there's another Me who opposes all that, who rebels against it, who is afraid to be responsible, afraid to host, afraid to be a grown-up, essentially. But I'm hearing less and less of her as the years go by.

gives me pause

So, you know, I work in a homeless shelter, basically. And we have a clothes room where people who come into our program can go for anything they might need. The clothes room is stocked w/ donations, many of which come from us, the staff. It is, therefore, not uncommon to see your old clothes walking around on clients. Which, no matter how many times it happens, is always a little surprising.

This weekend I saw a full outfit walking around on the body of a woman who just got back from jail. Why was she in jail? Prostitution. My clothes on a prostitute. This has happened many times and always makes me wonder -- what is it about my clothes that appeals to the prostitutes? I dress like a man!

This time I felt a little regret -- those salmon colored courds and that greenish cowboy shirt looked really good on that chick. It had never even occurred to me to wear them together, though for years they cohabitated in my closet. Damn, why did I donate that stuff?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

last leg of a long journey

Today, SK picked up her ex-girlfriend in an airport in Australia. They (with other friends) will spend a couple days in a hotel then begin a several day road trip from some town to some other town for a big conference they're all attending. So, for the next several days, SK will be cozied up with the ex and out of e-mail range. Hmm.

Meanwhile, I sit home, listen to c.d.s, ignore my schoolwork, drink cheap beer alone, plot and scheme, etc. Blog and check my site meter and smoke cigarettes and wonder what the world is like outside my little cacoon.

There's a world out there, right?

last night's culinary adventure

During my sad meanderings last night, I had this idea to make crepes and stewed apples. I'm not sure why, but I started craving them. So I looked up recipes online, walked to the co-op for ingredients and went home to begin. It was like some deleted scenes that never made it into "Like Water For Chocolate" -- I was reading the recipe, blending the flour and eggs, and crying and wailing about CB. Kind of hilarious, really. Today it seems hilarious. Last night, not so much.

The crepes came out ok, but my frying pan is shitty and so they stuck a little more than they should have. And the stewed apples were good but too sweet. Together, they were similar to the carmel apple empenada from taco bell that I love so much. I guess that says a lot about my standards.

Like I said, though, the over-all effect was too sweet, even though I put no sugar in the crepes and less than the recipe called for in the apples -- and I used ultra tart apples too. I was thinking maybe I should throw in some diced jalapenos next time and grate sharp cheddar over the top. That blend of sweet and hot might work --I'm thinking of pepper jelly -- has anyone ever tried it? It's especially good w/ cream cheese on crackers.

I'm making myself hungry.

more slime

Stellar day at work so far. I've been here two hours and already I've been propositioned twice by a client whose been to jail for menacing women. Now he's leering at me. Give me five minutes and I'm kicking him out.

Friday, April 14, 2006

pain and the blank slate

I walk through my neighborhood like an idiot. A literal idiot, which is from the Latin *idiota* -- an ignorant person. I walk through the neighborhood wide-eyed and slow, like I've never seen houses, trees, landscaped yards or spring blossoms before. I sniff like I've never smelled flowers or wet cedar chips or woodsmoke. I hold out my hands like I've never felt the rough brush of tree bark, cold stone, slick leaves on stiff bushes. I walk with my mouth open, my neck craning this way and that.

I'm almost disgusted with myself tonight. I don't know why I say that. I just feel so sad, everything pains me. I miss CB. I am worried about CB. I called her, actually, after a huge internal debate, knowing she was probably drunk by this time at night. I sat at my desk and closed my eyes and fought the urge to grab the phone and tried to convince myself, instead, to write her a letter. A letter would be easier, safer. I opened my eyes and grabbed the phone anyway. Little T answered, thank god. He sounded so happy when he realized it was me. He immediately apologized for not calling me (as if I could be mad at him for that) and then he asked if I wanted to hang out this week. Of course. So I'm picking him up from his work Monday night. I love that kid.

He warned me that CB wasn't doing so good tonight. I asked if she'd been drinking and he said, "Uh... yeah." I hate asking him questions about her, I hate to put him anywhere near the middle. But this just happens. He lives there, I call, he answers -- what can I do? She'd probably be mad at him anyway, once she realized it was me on the phone and that I talked to him a few minutes before talking to her. She doesn't want me to talk to her kids. Maybe her feelings have changed, but that's how she felt right after I left.

The thing that pains me most, the one thing I have still not wanted to believe after all this time, after all we've been through: she lies to me. She has sworn over and over through the course of our relationship that she has never lied to me. And she's got this incredibly convincing way about her. When she says it, I believe her. And even when she has so obviously been lying, when I have *known* the words coming out of her mouth were not true, I have been so hypnotized by some love or loyalty to her that I have been willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I have been quick to make excuses for her and slow to accept that, like any addict, she lies. Even to me. She lies even to me.

I know, when I talk to her again, she will claim to have been clean for some length of time. Last time I talked to her she told me she'd been clean since December. I know from Seraph and little T that she's still drinking. I watched her lie to people left and right when we were together, especially about her health and her drinking. I know she lies. I know she's capable of lying really well. Why is it still so hard for me to believe she lies to me?

a series of fruitless endeavors

I decided, after eating a huge meal of canned vegetarian chili and tortilla chips (and vowing to stop eating processed foods and give my poor stomach a rest) to sit on my cushion for awhile, something I haven't been doing much lately. I sat on the cushion and almost immediately started crying about CB. Will this ever end? The slightest sinking inside myself puts me in touch w/ a vibrant strain of love still in there. The truth is: it takes more than love to keep a relationship alive. I love CB so much. She is so full of love and tenderness and care. I just couldn't live with her anymore. I could no longer find myself in a happy future with her. So I am surprised every day by my grief, which still holds me and shakes me and squeezes my heart.

So I sat on my cushion awhile crying and crying and then decided I needed to get out of my house. I had a bizarre errand in mind -- I threw all my piled up recycling into two cloth bags and hung them over my little bike rack like saddle bags and rode down to the Wild Oats down the street where they have a recycling center. A woefully inadequate recycling center. There was no container for paper or aluminum. Why?? I don't know. So I rode back home with my bags still full, having only been able to unload a few glass and plastic bottles.

Then I decided to cycle up to a thrift shop I recently noticed in my neighborhood. Cycling in the rain, getting soaked, getting tired. The thrift store, on 7th and Fremont, was nice, but overpriced. The staff were all sitting around a table in the middle eating lunch which smelled like thai peanut sauce and made me hungry. I found a pair of pants that looked nice and a few books, but forced myself to leave without buying anything. I wanted to look for kitchen stuff, to try and round out my pitiful collection of kitchen-ware. They didn't have anything I needed. I zipped up my rain-jacket and prepared to ride back home in the rain, empty-handed.

I thought, instead, that I would maybe just ride up to my coffeeshop. From the thrift store to my coffeeshop, about fifteen blocks, is all up-hill. I got about halfway there and just couldn't go another pedal stroke further. I am so out of shape. I'm ashamed. I turned down a flat street, then turned myself around and coasted downhill all the way home. Thank god for downhill coasting. Past the damp, blooming tulips and heavy, hanging blossoms, through sprays of tiny, blowing petals and the rain falling in fat drops. I was soaked and weak when I got home. My poor thighs... so weak. If I ride a little every day I will build these muscles. I have been so sedentary for so long -- I'll be like a new person riding my bike around. I wonder how I'll feel...

out my window, color

I live in a basement with three windows. One on each side, North and South. And one in the door. Technically, there are two small windows in the door, but I count them as one. The windows in the door are covered by a strip of bright cloth left by the woman who lived here before. Today, I have the cloth pushed back so I can see the bright pink flowers hanging heavy on the tree across the street. In between me and the tree: rain.

Out the North window, three fat weeds have sprung up directly out of a stone slab and now those three fat weeds are topped with purple flowers. Until the flowers bloomed, I imagined myself opening that window, popping out the screen, and digging those weeds out of the stone. Now I think they're lovely.

Out the South window: green grass and a stellar view of my landlord's shiny, black, plastic composter. Lovely. A few mornings ago, I was startled by a pathetic, screeching cat who was sitting outside that window and looking in at me. When I saw him, he screeched again. With each hoarse cry, his ears twisted back and laid flat. What a strange morning visitor. I ignored him and went to take a shower. It was 6:15am.

word of the day returns!


Main Entry: gen·u·flect
Pronunciation: 'jen-y&-"flekt
Function: intransitive verb
Etymology: Late Latin genuflectere, from Latin genu knee + flectere to bend -- more at KNEE
1 a : to bend the knee b : to touch the knee to the floor or ground especially in worship
2 : to be servilely obedient or respectful
- gen·u·flec·tion /"jen-y&-'flek-sh&n/ noun

Thanks to Merriam Webster Online Dictionary.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

permission to speak freely

Tonight, talking to SK on the phone, she gave me her blessings to write about her on the blog.

It's tricky with me and SK and the blog. She started reading it near the very beginning, before we'd ever gone on a single date. And it is, somehow, mysteriously, one of the foundations of our relationship. Early on, though, it became clear that, if we were going to date, I couldn't really blog about her. She asked me to be mindful of her on the blog and I already felt it would be tacky to say things on the blog *about* her that I hadn't yet said *to* her.

So, if I ever mentioned SK, it was only in passing, briefly, vaguely. When SK said tonight that she wouldn't mind if I blogged about her (for reasons I won't explain) -- I started wondering what I would've been writing about her, all this time, if I'd been writing about her freely. Turns out: lots of insecurities. I would've processed out all my insecurities. So maybe it's a good thing that I wasn't blogging about her so much then.

And now, now that I'm "free" to write whatever I want...?

I'll say it's hard to have her gone so long. She will be in Australia as long as we dated before she left. Seven weeks. Seven weeks is not a lot of weeks to lay down a foundation for a relationship and seven weeks *is* a lot of weeks for your new girlfriend to be out of the country. We've been in touch a lot, basically every day via email, with lots of phone calls and letters and cards in there too. But there's nothing like day to day knowing and seeing and being together in a relationship. Long distance is tricky. I never believed in long-distance relationships and I don't still. It's only worthwhile if it's guaranteed to be temporary. Otherwise, forget it.

I'll also say it's hard to be involved with someone as great as SK so soon after the demise of the relationship with CB. CB and SK are worlds apart. Such incredibly different people. Yet, I love them both. I see in SK tremendous potential. I mean, our day to day relationship is pretty tremendous already, after such a short time. But, beyond that, I see a compatibility and like-mindedness that could carry us really far in a relationship. Maybe as far as two people can go. But so soon after CB... it's hard. I'm still mourning. Fortunately, I'm past the stage of doubting my choice to leave and wondering if I should go back. I know that's not the path for me. But still, I was so invested in CB. We were married. And it was so recent. I left in December after two years and one month. And no, that's not a phenomenally long time, but the investment was huge and that's what matters most. December isn't that far away. I can't even begin, at this point, to start imaging a future with *anyone* else while the life I had with someone else is still so freshly ended. It is more than tacky, more than painful, it's impossible. And I'm pretty scared that my slowness will put SK off. I'm afraid she'll feel she's not important enough. I'm afraid she'll feel I'm not giving enough, or caring enough. I really, really hope she'll bear with me and understand. I'm still grieving. I don't know how long it will take. But I'm hopeful.

sometimes it just feels slimy

Two things, recently, made me feel slimy. Here they are:

1.) Even though I had a good time out with Dreadlock the other night, I ended up in a straight-guy meat market and it grossed me out. Dreadlock and I were there having an unusually animated conversation when another coworker, Fat Tony, showed up. I love Fat Tony. Sort of. In my secret little mind I call him my pretend boyfriend b/c he used to make me fried egg sandwiches at work. I don't want to "get it on" with Fat Tony, but I like thinking of him as a nice, relatively benign (and cute) specimen of the male species.

So Fat Tony sat down with us and soon a whole bunch of his geeky, awkward guy-friends constellated around us. They were all nice enough, but they were all there to meet girls, in their creepy, cruising-guy kind of way. Fat Tony openly acknowledged it when he sat down with us. He said "I'm here for dollar Pabst and to meet the ladies!" And he said it w/ such a creepy zeal it was obviously not a joke. Soon a very simple, sort of dumb, sort of cute girl sat down w/ us and started flirting with the guys. It created this weird, disgusting dynamic between the three guys and the three girls. It was like I could *see* the little adding machines hovering over each man's head -- calculating which of us was most attractive divided by which of us seemed most likely to accept advances minus which one of us was a big ol' dyke. It was grody. I wanted to make an announcement: "Don't look at me like that! I don't need to see your calculation of how I look too dykey or too old or too whatever! I'm off the menu!" Yuck.

As soon as the cute girl started talking about split ends (and all the guys leaned in to listen as though they were all working on their doctorates in split ends) -- I walked out. Yuck.

2.) Women can make me feel slimy too. Take, for instance, Gray. Remember, Gray is my coworker who manipulated me into a surprise "date" a few weeks ago w/ her and a friend I was hoping to mine for career advice. Well, Gray has been laying low since I clarified that I'm seeing someone. Today, however, she was in my office making copies and we started chatting. I noticed, more than usual, that just a normal conversation with her automatically started feeling creepy. I wasn't surprised, then, when the conversation took a turn for the objectively creepy. She explained that she had been on a coffee "outing" (not a "date" she insisted) with "T the Mover" -- this guy who moves people for our company. I've never met T the Mover, maybe he's a nice guy. But he asked Gray on a date so he could explain that he and his girlfriend were looking for another woman for the two of them to "date." Wow. She politely declined, but then, inexplicably spent an hour chatting w/ him on the phone last night. Hmm.

Whatever, Gray is crazy and obviously confused socially, but here's where it gets personal. I have to admit, though, that I walked right into it. In the middle of her explanation about why she wasn't interested in dating T the Mover (besides the obvious) -- she said he wasn't the kind of guy she would typically find attractive. So, foolishly (so, so foolishly), I asked what kind of guy she would typically find attractive. I thought I was safe since we were talking about GUYS and I am mostly not a guy. But no. She blushed like a school girl and said, breathlessly, "You are."

AUGH!!!!!!!!!! SQUIRMY, GRODY, YUCK, YUCK, WHY?????????????????

I thought I was safe! I wouldn't have asked if we weren't talking about GUYS!

So, I literally did start squirming when she said that and I made some spontaneous sounds that go with the feeling of being grossed out and she immediately started backing down. "I only said that to make you uncomfortable," she said. "Mission accomplished," I said.

What a fruitloop. What's wrong with people???

sometimes dreams

Last night, in a very long, very elaborate dream, I was visited by the best version of CB I knew. This was the CB I loved, the CB I enjoyed, the CB I really miss. Too bad, in real life, that CB hardly exists. She's fragmented and interspersed within the other CB, the combative, obnoxious, insecure, alcoholic CB.

So this dream was pretty disorienting. I dreamed we were on a series of outdoor adventures together. We were, first, kayaking through a high mountain lake, with snowy peaks all around us. It was gorgeous and magical and we were at our coupled best, engaged in a fun, outdoor task that we both loved. We never kayaked in real life together, but we did have an inflatable boat that we took out on lakes on most of our camping trips. The boat wasn't particularly aerodynamic (hydrodynamic...?) and we'd often talk, while watching people in skinny kayaks whiz by us, about upgrading to a more slender boat someday. We debated the pros and cons and tried to figure out how we'd pay for it.

In the dream, we were trying to figure out where to go next. The lake was like a series of fingers, dipping into the curves and creases of the mountains, and we were exploring. It was an incredibly gorgeous dream.

That dream morphed into another outdoor dream -- we'd driven up to this field in the middle of nowhere and parked. We were going to hike through the field to the woods beyond to find a secret trailhead. In this dream, it was CB's plan to go on this hike, and I wasn't prepared. It was cold out, there was snow on the mountains around us, and I didn't have my gloves or my scarf or a good coat. I was annoyed, but CB was (uncharacteristically) sweet and accomodating. She drove me to a house where I could gather my winter gear. The rest of the dream we spent hanging out in the house, just chatting, making food, living like we'd lived together before, when we were married. She also told me a long story about a medical problem she was having. Something very serious, something she hadn't wanted to talk about before. In real life, the last time I actually talked to her, she made reference to some kind of dire, physical malady, but she wouldn't give me any details. It felt sneaky and manipulative, but it worked. It made me worried.

So, I woke this morning feeling sad about CB. Long dreams of nothing but the good CB. It's almost unfair, really. I guess my deep mind is trying to remind me that I'm not done mourning my relationship. I'm not done missing her. And it's frustrating, because I just don't know what to do with the feelings. Just sit with them and feel sad. Oh well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I noticed, this morning, as I stood at the bus stop on the corner of Fremont and 15th, that a lot of people were driving up to the Starbucks on the corner there. It was about 7:30am. They would drive up, run in, and run back out again in a few minutes with one of those ubiquitous white, disposable cups. The Starbucks people are brilliant. The marketing, here, has really altered the market.

Plenty of people start their mornings with coffee. This isn't new, people have been drinking coffee in the mornings for years. I should do some research to see. But when did the morning coffee ritual begin to involve driving to a shop every morning before work to buy a single cup?? I grew up in a coffee drinking family and, literally, developed a taste for coffee when I was no more than four. My grandmother babysat me -- my mom's mom, a woman who brewed at least two pots of coffee every morning. The early morning pot and the late morning pot. She had a percolator, back then, and when mom would drop me off there, early in the morning, the house would be thick with that super yummy coffee smell. If I asked, my grandmother would make me a little cup w/ more milk and sugar, but only if the coffee didn't have grounds in it. I guess that was her excuse for not giving me any sometimes. My standard greeting every morning became "Does the coffee have grounds in it?" So, my deep coffee love started early.

Anyway, it just seems baffling to me that so many people drive somewhere every morning to buy coffee. I can only assume it's because they don't really like *coffee,* they like these weird Franken-coffees that barely retain any coffee characteristics -- white-chocolate-and-caramel-mocha-lattes, and shit like that. I guess nobody's waking up to brew a pot of that at their own house.

Meanwhile, those of us who are truly die-hard coffee fanatics roast our own beans. Roasting green coffee beans is fun and easy and CHEAP. You can do it in a hot-air popcorn popper (which you can often find really cheap at Goodwill, that's where I got mine -- but be careful because you have to use the right kind, i'll explain later). The green beans tend to sell for, like, half what you'd pay for roasted beans. And you have total control over the roast, which is cool. And if you roast your own beans, you're guaranteed super-fresh coffee.

Ok. You want instructions? I give you instructions.

1.) Get a hot-air popcorn popper. Go to Goodwill or another thrift store. Popcorn poppers come in two varieties: the kind with one air vent in the center of the floor of the popping chamber, and the kind with vents all along the bottom of the wall of the popping chamber. (This will make more sense once you're staring down into the popping chamber. If you can't figure out what the popping chamber is, I can't help you.) You DO NOT WANT the kind with the vent in the center. That kind won't move the beans enough. You HAVE TO GET the kind with the vents all along the bottom of the wall. These vents blow the beans in a circle and keep them moving so they don't burn. Oh -- and once you start roasting coffee in this thing, you cannot use it for popcorn or anything else. Coffee oils will accumulate all over it and it will get grody.

2.) Get green beans. Some towns have stores that sell green beans. For instance, there's an Ethiopian grocery here in Portland (on MLK) that sells them, but they don't have any variety, they just have one kind and they don't even know what kind it is, it just says "Green Coffee Beans" on the label. Whole Foods here also sells them, but not as cheap as they should be (go figure). I get my beans from a website, The guy who runs this website imports all the green beans he sells and he used to own a tiny shop in Columbus, Ohio, and he's the guy who taught me how to roast and who loaned me my first popper. He's great. His name is Tom. You should check that site out for all the home-roasting info you could ever need. Especially to learn about the different kinds of beans and why you might choose one variety over another. Personally, I try to get free-trade beans or organic beans or both. His stock is always changing, so I rarely get the same thing twice. And he has a HUGE selection. I just ordered 10 pounds of green beans for $50.00 (including shipping) and that will probably last me about 6 months.

3.) Get to roasting. First thing you want to do is set your stuff up near a window or outside. Tom seems to think you can roast inside, but roasting produces heat and smoke and will set off your fire alarm in two seconds. So don't do it. Also, the beans (unless they're decaf) produce a chaff that blows off like confetti (which is pretty cool, actually) and it will get all over your house. Tom's solution is to place a bowl of water under the popper thing or to aim the popper over the sink -- but, like I said, unless you want your house full of smoke and fumes, don't roast inside or aim your popper out the window. Supplies to have on hand -- a clock to keep track of the time (I use the stopwatch function of my digital watch) and a bowl to dump the beans in. You might also want a light to shine into the chamber to check the color of the beans as they roast. Also, you might want an oven mitt or a towel for when you take the lid off the popper. That thing gets *hot.*

4.) Dump as many green beans into the chamber as you would popcorn (about two inches). You want a decent sized batch, but you don't want so many beans in there that they can't move. They have to keep moving or they'll burn.

5.) Put the lid on (with the butter melter in place) and start 'er up. Also start your timer to help you keep track of the steps. I've been roasting for about 7 years now and I still use the timer just in case I stop paying attention for whatever reason.

6.) Listen and smell. The roasting process is made up of basically two stages: first crack and second crack. At first the beans will smell grassy and weird and the chaff will start to blow out -- that's the fun part. It's like a party! Yay! Chaff! That will slow down and then you should expect to hear the first crack. The beans will start to make a cracking sound that almost sounds like popping popcorn. First just one or two, then all of them. Listen for first crack and listen for it to die down. Check your timer just to get an idea how long it took.

7.) Listen for second crack. This might come just a few seconds after first crack, or it might take several minutes. It depends on the beans. Second crack signals that the beans are, technically, done. If you stopped roasting completely at the very first sign of second crack, you would have a complete, yet very, very light roast. The longer you let the beans roast during second crack, the darker your roast will be. If you let second crack peter out, you will soon find yourself with charcoal. You never want to let your beans roast that long. You'll want to experiment w/ roast time to see what you prefer. Some beans taste better dark, some beans taste better light. One nice thing about the Sweet Maria's site: for each bean, Tom says which roast works best. So there's some guidance.

8.) Once you've decided their done, stop the popper and dump the beans immediately. As long as the beans are still hot, they're still technically roasting. You want to cool them as fast as you can to stop the roast or you'll end up w/ a darker roast than you intended. Dump them into a bowl or onto a plate or pan and expose them to lots of air. I like to put them in a bowl and shake 'em up a whole bunch until they stop steaming. The smell coming off the beans will *not* be all that pleasant. Don't worry. The bean will still be good.

9.) Do not seal the beans in an airtight container for 8-12 hours after roasting. The beans are releasing CO2 and they need room to breathe. Also, you can't brew right away either. You have to wait. Once the waiting period is over (I usually let them sit overnight) you can grind them and brew them and you will be thrilled by what you did. :-) At that point, definitely put the beans in an airtight container and DO NOT put them in the freezer or fridge. That will not help keep them fresh. Keeping the air off of them is the only thing that's important.

Ok. That's all. Have fun. Don't burn your house down. I have to go meet Dreadlock for a beer now.


Here's a story about one of my coworkers, just because I feel like telling it. Let's call him Chunk. Chunk is an oaf. He's been working here since last summer and my opinion of him has slowly (very slowly) improved. I was talking to Dreadlock a few days ago and suddenly remembered the reason my opinion of Chunk was lowered in the first place. Amazing that I could've forgotten.

The day I first met Chunk, I was making the chit-chat with him down in the Drop-In-Center downstairs where we do most of our exciting work. I was asking him the usual questions (ie: "where did you work before here?" "where'd you grow up?" etc, etc.), and answering those same questions from him. He asked about my schedule and I explained that I wasn't working much because I was in school full-time. What school? I told him my school, but left out the law part.

"Oh, that's my school," he said. "I go there." Really?

"What's your program?" I asked.

"Well," he said. "Right now I'm just studying general law."

Ok. Now's when the redflags started to flutter, but I still had no reason to disbelieve him. "General law??" In terms of a course of study, "General law," at my school, does not exist. I thought maybe he meant something more like "Pre-law," at the undergrad campus. I asked a few more questions, to try and make some sense of what he was saying. First, I outed myself as a law student. Then I started digging into his story. I wasn't trying to catch him in a lie or confuse him, but because he was talking about my particular area of interest, he'd unwittingly attracted my deep curiosity.

Finally, he explained that he had not yet matriculated, but that he was going to be studying law at the law school and he was going to be starting in the "winter term."

Ok. Here we go again with the red flags. There is no "winter term" -- we have semesters. Fall and Spring. I suggested that he meant "spring" term, as Fall term had just begun.

"No," he insisted. "Winter."

By this point, I just didn't understand what was happening and I was too ridiculously invested to back out.

So I started educating. I said, "Ok, I promise. There is no 'winter' term at my school. We have semesters, Fall and Spring. Not quarters." Then I realized something else -- even if he *did* mean Spring, he couldn't *start* in the Spring. Unless he was transferring. So I asked, "are you transferring from somewhere, have you studied law already?"

"No." He said.

So I started educating more. "Ok, even if you mean Spring instead of Winter, you can't start in the middle of the year. Law school is very regimented, especially first year. In virtually every law school across the country, the first year cirriculum is identical and for several subjects (Contracts, for example) the second semester class builds on the first semester class. You absolutely CANNOT start in the middle. It would be impossible."

He tried to hold on. He said, "No, I'm pretty sure I'm starting in the Winter term." But his conviction was gone. I asked if he'd taken the LSAT. The LSAT is the law school admission exam, like the SAT for college. Law schools evaluate a combo of your LSAT score and your undergrad GPA to decide whether or not to let you in. You can't go to law school w/o taking the LSAT, unless some kind of miracle happens.

"No," he said. "What's the LSAT?"

Amazing. Finally, he said, "Well, I guess I'm not *technically* admitted yet." Not "technically" admitted? How about, you have not *technically* even started the application process. What a fucking jack-hole. He went from "That's my school, I go there!" To, "I guess I'm not technically admitted yet." Turns out, the most he'd done toward enrolling in law school was chatting up a lawyer he met downtown. That's it. One conversation with a lawyer.


Then, about two weeks later, he volunteered to pick me up some coffee while he was on a coffee run down at Stumptown. I gave him my plastic mug (so as not to waste a tree). When he came back, my mug was completely jacked. Coffee had oozed between the inner and outer insulation, leaving my once-white mug a sloshy brown, and there was a huge abrasion across the lip where you drink from. It looked like he'd dropped it off a bridge or something. I said, "Hey, what happened to my mug?" And he said, "Oh, sorry. I guess I owe you a mug. I dropped it." Yeah. You dropped it alright. Off a bridge. Jesus. I didn't make him buy me a mug, I just wrote him off and stopped interacting with him. I don't have time for complete fucking oafs. He *knew* my mug was broken when he handed it to me. All he had to do was lead with the apology. He could've said, "I'm sorry, I dropped your mug and I think it's broken." That's all it would've taken. Instead, he handed it back to me w/o a word, as though I might not notice how completely jacked it was. Ridiculous.

The end.

Monday, April 10, 2006

i rode my bike

I guess it's kinda pathetic that it's noteworthy. I'm so out of shape. Although, in my own defense, it's uphill all the way to my coffeeshop. (However, it's flat to the park, where I rode first, and that also wore me out.) (I am so lame.)

I will ride my bike at least a little every day and soon I won't be wheezing like an old man after three blocks and my freaking thighs won't burn. Jesus. How do these kids do it? As I sat at the coffeeshop with my book and the coffee I could hardly stand to touch (why don't they make coffee flavored gatoraid?), I watched all these cycling kids zipping around effortlessly, their chiseled calves fairly dancing above the pedals...

One of these days, that will be me. Something to look forward to.

bird lady = a little cuckoo

I saw birdlady today. I had to exchange one giant notebook for a new one. I've got 17 more hours of "work" to do to complete the 140 hours required by the internship and, since there's no point in starting another project, she's got me doing more, informative reading. Fun.

This is the first time I've seen her since I turned in my final draft of the brief. In case you don't remember, I spent the whole first half of this semester being chewed up and spit back out by birdlady once every week or so while flailing under the burden of this assignment which was, in my opinion, way over my head. I got little guidance and less positive feedback, I was chastised for asking questions, and all my work product was ruthlessly criticized. Keep in mind, I took every creative writing and poetry workshop available during undergrad (often taking the same classes repeatedly) -- and writing workshops are BRUTAL, at least they can be -- so I consider myself thick-skinned when it comes to taking criticism of my writing. But this was less like tough critiquing and more like school-yard bullying.

Anyway, when I turned in the final draft of that brief a couple weeks ago, I honestly had no idea how it was. All birdlady had been able to do for weeks was beat me up for overusing commas and other relatively insubstantial issues. She had neglected to mention whether the substance of my brief was at least in the right ball park. I feared I'd completely missed the mark, that she'd have to rewrite the whole thing herself, etc etc. It came as a complete shock to learn that she'd submitted my brief to the court "essentially unchanged." Unbelievable.

Today, she went out of her way to hammer home my success. She said "I spent the first half the semester beating you down, now I'm going to build you back up again." Thanks. I said "We have 17 hours left, so get to building." Ha ha. She told me that she'd given me extremely difficult, complicated work and that I'd done a great job. She told me that I had turned in work that was more than just professional quality, she said it was better than the work she sees from most practicing lawyers. She said I'd done work that practicing lawyers struggled with, and as proof, she showed me a brief that was written by a woman who's been practicing for 10 years. Birdlady was editing/polishing it for submittal in a few hours and she was clearly frustrated. I thumbed through the brief -- there was more of birdlady's ink on every page than there was type. Every line, every sentence, nearly every word had been scribbled over, rewritten, circled, changed. This was marked-up a thousand times more than any of my drafts had ever been. Wow.

She said, "You should feel really good about this. You did a really good job."

Wow. Too bad she was so screwy all semester -- now it's hard for me to have good feelings about this sudden, unexpected positive feedback.

She didn't have much time to talk today, but the whole time I was there, she was like a whole different birdlady. Super nice, super supportive. As I left, she walked me to the door and patted me on the back. Frankly, it was all just kind of sad. She's so socially awkward -- I think she's really just lonely and I think she has no idea that her attitude and behavior gave me PTSD. Now I feel sorry for cuckoo birdlady. But at least I know my brief didn't suck. For what it's worth. Maybe it'll actually get my client social security benefits. We'll see.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

morning contradictions (hipocrisy?)

After my Sunday trip to Shambhala, I followed up with a good old, all-American shopping spree. Maybe last night's righteous indignation was too much for me? I don't know.

Shambhala is such a strange, solitary experience. I drive across town (will bike soon, I swear) to sit for an hour (or two, or three) on a cushion in an incensed room full of strangers. My "sangha" -- which is your buddhist community, if you're buddhist -- yet a silent "community", a community with no communion. I've been going to Shambhala a few times a month since December and I still don't know anyone or talk to anyone while I'm there. The nature of the practice necessitates silence and respect. We don't even look at one another while we're sitting or walking, we keep our eyes low, a loose gaze at nothing, in the vacinity of the ground three feet in front of us. Only stolen glances now and then reveal flashes of the others who share the room with me. There would seem to be time for chatting and mingling before and after the sitting, however, I have yet to work this out. Sunday mornings start at 9, and even if you did show up a bit early, you're likely to be the only one there. Seems everyone likes to skip the "chanting" which starts the three-hour Sunday sitting. As far as after -- my time on the cushion puts me in a too silent, too contemplative space to launch immediately into socializing. I usually get up, stretch, and leave as soon as it's over. Or I leave early, which is what I did today. After an hour, my knees were hurting and I felt I'd put enough time in. I think the Tuesday evening sittings are more lively and, once classes end at the end of the month, I'll check those out again. It would be nice to engage just a little more with my so-called sangha.

After my sitting, I left with visions of a Southeast Portland shopping spree. Certainly, this was not the shopping spree of my mother or the mall-hoppers or others in what I consider the consumer classes, however, it was a tour-of-consumerism none-the-less. First I went to Powell's on Hawthorne. When I first moved from CB's in February, I took a ton of books to Powell's and got over a hundred bucks of store credit, which I've slowly whittled down since. Today I took the remainder from $80 to $30 and walked out with a stack of volumes about Israel, the Holocaust and the Warsaw ghetto. My most recent research topic. After, I sat in the crowded Fresh Pot coffeeshop, which is attached to Powell's, drinking coffee and reading through the first pages of all five of my new books. I love books. After the movie last night, I'm thrown into a very serious mood and felt my brow furrowed and my nostrils flared as I read a few lines, then stopped to stare out the window, thinking-thinking-thinking. So much to think about. Amazing how much time I've wasted in my life, afraid to dive in and learn and think and read and engage with the world. Amazing.

After awhile, I dragged myself off my little stool and down the street to Fred Meyer (like Wal-Mart, but smaller and owned by Kroger) where I had a few things to buy. Last week my grandmother, god bless her, sent me a card with a one-hundred dollar bill in it. Whenever I open a card from my grandmother and find a large bill, I gasp. Not a gasp of new-money glee. A gasp of startled dismay that she still runs cash-money through the post. First, I have tried to assure her that she doesn't need to send me money. It's not like she's rolling in money herself. But, if she insists on sending something, I have begged her to send checks. She won't listen. Why? It's sad, the reason. She won't send checks because she doesn't want to leave any trace of the money she's sent me. She has 13 grandkids and after she's dead she doesn't want anyone coming along and going through her books and seeing that, over the years, she's given me more money than she's given any of my cousins. She doesn't want anyone to feel bad. I'm the favorite. That's a story for another time, but long ago it became clear that my grandparents treated me less like one of 13 grandkids and more like their own (late-coming) sixth child. Which has always been pretty touching and when my grandmother (who is now 87) passes, I will be a fucking basket case.

Anyway, off I went to Fred Meyer with my hundred-dollar bill. I decided to buy the few things I felt like I needed: A new toothbrush. More boxers. Vitamins (which I haven't taken in months) and some MSM (to hopefully help with my knees and hips -- never too young, apparantly, to have fucked up joints). Shampoo. A bike pump. I saw, while checking out the pumps, that all bike equipment was 20% off. That's when I discovered that I *also* needed bike lights and a new gel seat cover. If I want to bike more, my bike has to be adequately outfitted. Now, I have no excuses. I made two impulse buys (besides the extra bike equipment): a new hanging plant and a set of bamboo wind chimes. The wandering Jew I bought when I first moved in isn't faring well, so it's getting bumped from it's prime spot and put in the hospice wing of the windowsill. Hanging now on its old hook is a gorgeous, green pothos, like the one in the bathroom. Maybe the sick little Jew will make a recovery. We'll see. As for the wind-chimes, they're pretty sweet. I was excited to see on the tag that they came from Washington state (ie: relatively local), but I should've read more carefully. After I hung them, I noticed the sticker on the bamboo that said "made in Indonesia" -- turns out, the Washington company has them made in "Thailand and Bali," according to the fine print on the tag. Whatever. Hopefully they pay the craftspeople a respectable amount for the trade.

Now. Lunch.