December 26, 2007

75% recovery of health + the approach of 2008 =

Changes, purges, experimentation, and attempts to do things outside of my comfort zone.

I'm starting small, but I'm thinking big.

December 24, 2007

I'd take it again just for five minutes.

I miss the way Christmas felt when I was a little kid.

I remember feeling like I was glowing for days beforehand--like electricity was actually shooting out of all of my nerve endings. The sense of anticipation was glorious.

I can remember leaving reminders all over so that no one would forget what I wanted. I'd leave the JCPenney catalog open in conspicuous places (e.g., on top of the toilet, under my grandpa's pillow) with items circled emphatically. I'd make personalized copies of my Christmas list for everyone I knew so there was no danger of someone NOT being aware of what I wanted for Christmas. When I knew someone was within earshot, I'd sigh dramatically and murmur with longing, "Oh, how I *wish* I had a Fresh 'n Fancy..."

I was such a drama queen.

On Christmas Eve I always left milk and cookies out for Santa, and at my insistence we had a tradition of leaving the Christmas tree lights on all night long. I'd always talk to my grandpa on the phone just before going to bed. He'd ask, "Have you seen him yet? Have you been watching?" I'd cry, "No, not yet! I'm watching! I'm watching!" He'd tell me he heard some sleigh bells off in the distance or that he thought he saw the red glow of Rudolph's nose from afar. I'd squeal, giddy with excitement. As we said goodnight, he'd advise me to listen closely to see if anything landed on my rooftop, or to investigate for reindeer tracks in the snow the next morning.

Early on Christmas morning, while it was still dark, I'd sneak out of bed and tiptoe to the doorway of the living room to size up the situation. Then I'd examine the empty glass and plate from where Santa had eaten the milk and cookies. I was so weird--I'd touch the lip prints and everything, thinking, "These lips have been to the North Pole! These lips have been around flying reindeer!"

Then I'd wake up my brothers and get them to wake everyone else up--it was much easier to blame the little guy even though I was the one who couldn't wait.

Merry Christmas.

December 17, 2007

On why I am sending a Christmas card to Eugene.

I’ve always been a sender of Christmas cards. Even when I couldn’t afford much else, I always sent cards to old and new friends, immediate and extended family—even the racist ones in Warren, Michigan and the ones with the Hank Williams Jr. impersonator in San Antonio, Texas. Last Christmas I didn’t manage to get any sent out, and it’s not looking like I will this Christmas, either. But there is one that I will be sending. This one will be to Eugene, an elderly dairy farmer in western Pennsylvania.

Eugene was my grandmother Juanita’s boyfriend for years. After my grandfather died in 1993, she spent a year or so in intense grief. And then she got going. She volunteered at the hospital where she’d worked as a nurse for so many years, she joined women’s groups and senior citizens’ groups. She signed up for senior citizen bus trips to places like Branson, Missouri, and it was on one such trip that she met Eugene.

They quickly became a pair. They’d sign up for the same trips, he invited her to join his family for holiday dinners, they began driving the 2 ½ hours to visit each other regularly, they bought each other little presents, like boxes of tissues and hot water bottle cozies, and they talked on the phone several times a week.

These phone conversations made me crazy, actually. Both of them were hard of hearing, but especially Eugene. He’d call her at 7am shortly after she got up and, when I spent the night at her house—though I was sleeping at the other end of the house—her end of the conversation woke me up.

“Good morning, how are you?” she'd begin happily.

“I said, ‘How are you?’” she’d repeat louder.

“I said, ‘How ARE you?!’” she’d cry, and then, “Okay, I’ll wait while you put your hearing aid in.”

[After a moment’s pause…]

“I asked, ‘HOW ARE YOU!?!?’….Oh, nevermind.”

It pretty much went on like this the entire phone call.

Though she occasionally spent the night at his house, she told me all the time, “We’re not sleeping together, you know.” I always told her this was her private business and that she didn’t have to justify anything to me. “But we aren’t!” she would insist. “I promised your grandpa I would never sleep with anyone else, even after he died, and it wouldn’t be right.” During one of these conversations when she assured me that they slept in separate bedrooms and did not have sex, I suggested, “Maybe you SHOULD.” She was rather shocked.

Actually, my aunt and I used to tease her about sex a lot, because she was so shy and embarrassed. We’d give her a glass of champagne, and after half a glass she was giddy and her tongue was loose. She’d say, “When I’m sitting on the couch, Eugene likes to get down on the floor on his knees in front of me and hold my hands and kiss them. He’s older than me and can’t move very well, but he certainly seems to like to get down there on his knees! I can’t figure out why…” We’d laugh and remind her that she’d had six children and wasn’t exactly virginal, and that she could probably figure out why he liked to do this. She'd gasp in horror and say, “Oh! You girls are TERRIBLE!”

Once she confessed to us that she hadn’t even known what a blowjob was until she’d been married for eleven years. We cried, “What!?!” and collapsed with laughter as she blushed fiercely.

Though she apparently never allowed him more than kisses on her hands and a chaste peck on the lips, Eugene was my grandmother’s boyfriend for about thirteen years. She insisted that she didn’t want to get married again because she had cleaned up after a man most of her life, but he brought her a lot of happiness during the time they spent together.

When she got sick and started staying in the hospital with increasing frequency, she refused to allow him to see her because she was embarrassed by how she looked. He would still call her all the time and write her passionate love letters. He would tell her he missed her and that he didn’t know what he would do if anything happened to her, and then he would cry.

In March I returned to West Virginia to attend my grandmother’s funeral, and this was the last time I saw Eugene. My family was gathered in the front rows of chairs as the funeral was about to start, and my aunt noticed that Eugene had come in and had taken a seat near the back. She went back to get him and led him by the arm to join us in the front. He was a frail little man in a shabby jacket, and he had big fat tears rolling down his cheeks. “You sit here with us,” my aunt told him, “you’re part of the family, too.” Everyone hugged him or grabbed his hand and squeezed it, and this was about the time when my own tears refused to stop flowing.

I don’t know how Eugene is doing right now, or what he’s been doing since then, but he will get the one Christmas card I send out this year. I want him to know he’s in my thoughts and how grateful I am for all the love he showed my grandmother when she thought that part of her life was over.

[I say, “How can you live so high in the mountains?”
“It’s cool in the shade of the woodshed,
Baby, say, can I stay awhile?”
She said, “No. How dare you live up
So high in the mountains.”
“I got chased by a hundred snakes in the morning
Got away from a hundred snakes in the night.
Sing, how can you live up so…”]

My favorite quotes from the last few days.

"I don’t want to go home. Home is stupid. Plus we still have 2 ½ hours of music to listen to."

"Has anyone grabbed your boobs today?"

"I need you."

"Are you hungry like the sloth?"

"I think the auditions for Juliette and the Licks consist of one question: Can you rock hard and, like, all the time?"

"That reminds me: I have a funny story about Chevron."

"I found the other two Sweet Tarts. So I wasn’t holding out on you."

December 10, 2007

On being cared for

During the last week and a half, I have been cared for by people in ways for which I cannot even begin to thank them.

Letters and messages and phone calls of encouragement from friends I haven’t seen in years and friends I just saw the evening before;

Long talks with two old friends about everything from ceramic squirrels and how to find them to travel to life to crack juice and number one fans;

A road trip with a dear friend who spent 22 hours in a car with me and offered an ear, boob jokes, unfailingly wise advice, personal anecdotes, and the encouragement of honest self-reflection;

A friend who spent three nights in a row with me, made me laugh, ate the food I didn’t want, gave me music, and, on one particular night, put up with my “I think tonight is a night to do shots” drunken ass during which I told bizarre stories, blended phrases that didn’t belong together, and inexplicably misheard everything as “cocks”; and

Gifts from someone who has known me my entire left that are intended to inspire me, make me smile, and keep me warm.

Thank you, my lovelies. My gratitude is deep, and my memory is long.

December 8, 2007

My god, the irony is overwhelming.

One of my favorite things about Facebook is an application you can add called an "Honesty Box." You can send anonymous messages to your friends, and the only thing they know is whether it came from a male or female. I love this little feature.

Yesterday someone left a lovely little message in my honesty box and it really made my day. (A day that needed making, believe me.) After I read that message, I noticed another message left for me on Nov. 5 that I didn't remember. The message said: "Amie, you are lovely and wonderful. It's going to be okay. Hang in there, sweetheart." I thought, "Wow! Who sent that? I wonder how they knew what I needed to hear?"

So I replied to that message to tell whoever sent it that it really meant a lot to me. And then I was startled when a new message immediately popped up in my honesty box.

I got my own reply.

I had completely forgotten that I had sent that message to myself when I was having a really bad day. I even wrote a blog on here that day entitled "The sending of anonymous messages of encouragement to myself."

At first I laughed and felt like an idiot. And then I thought..."Jesus. The comforting words that I needed to hear came from myself..."

Goddammit. I suppose I should probably learn from this.

November 28, 2007

[blah blah blah]

I am multi-tasking at this moment. Laundry, dishes, open suitcase only 10% filled, phone calls and emails in the process of being returned...

But I needed to write for a few minutes. About big things and little things, but mostly about nothing at all.

On being ready to go:

I find it so funny that I'm never sure whether I want to leave a place or not until I've decided to go. I've been this way about Shepherdstown, WV, Richmond, VA, and now am in the process of it with San Francisco. I can think and ponder and wonder and weigh my options but, suddenly, when I've decided, I've DECIDED. I'm ready to move (literally and figuratively). I guess I'm this way with lots of things in my life--things that I have to think about or work on (papers for school, work, or more creative tasks), and decisions about whether to say something to a particular person or whether to take a particular action.

The annoying part is that once I've made my decision I can't stand to wait around or be delayed. It's agony. How do I get through this?

On my increasing annoyance with my cell phone:

I talk to friends and family a lot, but I'm coming to hate my phone more and more. Perhaps I should clarify: what I'm coming to hate, in particular, is voicemail. I love to call people and call them from all over the place: from under the covers in my bed, while sitting on the beach trying to talk over the wind, while wandering aimlessly around my neighborhood during a period of angst, from the bathtub, from parking lots, while riding on the bus, while sitting in the dark in my backyard, and while sitting at a bar. I often leave babbling and incoherent messages (e.g., Thanksgiving Day). But I hate checking my voicemail! It's like this snowball that keeps rolling down a hill and getting bigger and bigger.

It usually starts like this: I've missed three calls from my mom. I don't bother to listen to her messages because, 1) she says the same damn thing every single time with varying levels of annoyance in her voice depending on how many calls I've missed ("Amie, this is your mother. [insert my eye-rolling here, because there is no doubt about whose voice this is] I was just calling to chat with you but I guess you're not home. I'm at the Legion right now. Call me back if you get a chance, ok?", and 2) not only does she leave the same message every time she calls but she leaves an actual message every time she calls. I don't think she's ever hung up on a voicemail or answering machine in her life; I keep hoping she'll magically start. So I see that she's called three times, skip the messages, and go straight to calling her back.

Later I miss a call from a friend. I know he or she has left a message, but I know that I have to skip through my mom's three messages before listening to it, so--again--I bypass the messages altogether and call the friend back. Said friend always finds it rather offensive and/or surprising that I didn't bother to listen to the message. I'm not sure why given that this has been going on for years.

Anyway, this progresses and progresses until I get a message from someone that I actually NEED to listen to. Then I have to go through the other 25 new messages before getting to that one. Any pleasure I might have gotten from the silly messages from my friends is greatly diluted. And just when I feel relieved that I've finally gotten through them all, it starts all over again.

I won't even describe my irritation with the student that has called me at least twice a week every week since the second week of class. He was abusing this so much that I completely stopped returning his phone calls or acknowledging receipt of his messages. If he asks me in class, "Did you get my message?" I say, "I didn't listen to it. Send me an email next time."

This may be the most boring blog ever written.

November 27, 2007

We exchanged smiles.

To the left side of my house lives a multi-generational Chinese family. I mostly see the grandparents, because they're the ones more likely to be puttering around in the front or back of the house.

Shortly after I moved here I got into the habit of taking a cup of coffee out back and sitting on the stoop while I woke up. I always do this unless it is raining (and sometimes even then). I quickly discovered that this routine frequently allows me to see the little grandmother from the family next door outside doing her morning exercises.

You have to see these exercises to believe how hysterically funny they are. They seem to be a cross between tai chi, warm up drills for a high school football team, and movements never seen except in this lady's own mind. I get great amusement out of watching her. I've never met her or spoken with her, but this little part of our day we share together.

This morning I was having my coffee and I soon heard the shuffling of her feet and saw her little trucker hat (a bright white one that she wears every morning) bobbing around on the other side of the fence, with her arms swinging wildly in unpredictable and strangely hypnotic motions. She started doing some strange adaptation of jumping jacks and, for the first time she looked over at me while she was engaged in them. Of course I was staring at her with fascination and when I caught her looking at me I grinned. She grinned back and I interpreted it as a 'I know this looks silly but it keeps me young' smile.

It made me happy.

November 24, 2007

"If I was young, I'd flee this town..."

"I'd bury my dreams underground
As did I, we drink to die, we drink tonight
Far from home, elephant gun
Let's take them down one by one
We'll lay it down, it's not been found, it's not around...
And it rips through the silence of our camp at night...
And it rips through the silence, all that is left is all that I hide."

List in progress

pastry brush
coffee pot (French press maybe?)
In Remembrance of Things Past
blank book
can opener
2 towels
2 wash clothes
large spoon
vegetable peeler
pictures of grandparents
hair clasp
flip flops
wooden spoon
2 dish towels
2 dish cloths
pastry cutter
good pens
measuring cups
a few envelopes
measuring spoons
meat thermometer
adapter for laptop
wine bottle opener
flash drive
recipe box
pillow cases
key ring

November 23, 2007

But there are certain things you need to know

I am trying to learn this language
The shapes and forms feel familiar somehow
But my tongue is thick and dumb
I don’t know how to keep a piece left for me

November 20, 2007

Two quotes for today by way of the back of my bathroom mirror:

"In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways."

- Edith Wharton

"What's terrible is to pretend that the second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love when you do; or you like your work when you know quite well you're capable of better."

- Doris Lessing

November 18, 2007

We writhe and we burn, and not a head turns. Does anyone see this but me?

On the day that I left Richmond for good to head to San Francisco, I was exhausted.

The previous two weeks had been a non-stop series of good-bye parties and activities with friends and co-workers. There was a lot of, "Let's do this one more time..." I was still teaching a class up until a couple days before I left. I knew that I was severely neglecting my packing, but spending time with those that I was leaving behind was more important to me. It meant that I pretty much packed up, donated, and/or threw away everything in my entire apartment in three days, but it was worth it.

After slamming the door of the moving truck for the last time, I climbed in the driver's seat of the car, resigned to begin what would be a multi-day journey. Chris was feeling emotional, and he looked at me incredulously and said, "I can't believe you're not more upset about this." (Usually I had enough emotion for several people bubbling out of me constantly.)

He was wrong, though. On that late afternoon in the summertime in front of 3333 W. Grace Street, the emotions were so intense they were about to boil over. My grief at leaving the best friends I had known to that point, the city that had come to be my home, and the place I came into myself; my intense fear of what was to come and whether I'd make it; my desire to go, move, and change--the only way I could keep my shit together to be able to drive down the street was to put a heavy lid on it for the time being.

I told him, "Please. I can't. I just can't or I'll never be able to leave."

Then I turned the car on, checked on the birds one last time before starting out, clicked the cd player on, and drove down the street and out of town. I didn't look back once. I couldn't, or I would never have gotten anywhere.

November 14, 2007

Sleep on your back, stave off the attack of carnivorous things.

Had to share these. Loveliness.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You are perfect.

...if you saw her in these moments, you might think she was collecting her thoughts in order to go forward. But I see it another way: her mind is being overwhelmed by two processes that must simultaneously proceed at full steam. One is to deal with and live in the present world. The other is to re-experience and mourn something that happened long ago. It is as though lightness pulls her toward heaven, but the extra gravity around her keeps her earthbound...

The Pleasure of My Company, Steve Martin

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let us touch each other
while we still have hands,
palms, forearms, elbows . . .
Let us love each other for misery,
torture each other, torment,
disfigure, maim,
to remember better,
to part with less pain.

— —

We are rich: we have nothing to lose.
We are old: we have nowhere to rush.
We shall fluff the pillows of the past,
poke the embers of the days to come,
talk about what means the most,
as the indolent daylight fades.
We shall lay to rest our undying dead:
I shall bury you, you will bury me.

--Four Poems, Vera Pavlova

November 13, 2007

Family vacations

My brother Dan is in the Navy and is supposed to be coming home from his tour of duty in January. My mom has become somewhat obsessed with the idea that she’s going to get all of us together to take a vacation. She first suggested a fishing trip. I flatly refused this idea because the thought of spending a few days cringing while hooks were stuck into worms, tearing up when fish were caught and breathing their last thrashing, flopping breath, and gagging when they were cleaned sounds like no kind of vacation to me. It sounds only slightly more appealing than finding my significant other in bed with another woman while I was being simultaneously punched in the face, audited by the IRS, and told I had an inoperable brain tumor.

Mostly, though, she has become fixated on the idea of us taking a cruise together. From her fantasy world perspective, I can see why this sounds appealing to her. She has visions of the four of us sipping strawberry daiquiris and staring off into the sunset, bonding and reminiscing over our idyllic childhood while a waiter named Jose replenishes our drinks and a maid named Maria slaves away in our rooms, folding our towels into the shapes of anchors and leaving little chocolates on our pillows.

But I have been on vacations with these people before and I know how they go.

We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, so if we did anything it mostly involved small day-trips. There was one ill-advised trip to Disneyworld in 1992. We went to Red Lobster in Orlando—what my family considered to be the epitome of fine dining—where my mother and step-father got into a no holds barred fight in the middle of the restaurant. He ended up throwing his lobster’s claws at her after she accused him of “fucking dog-face again” and stormed out in dramatic fashion to fume in the parking lot, still wearing his little plastic ‘Seafood Fest!’ bib.

On that same trip we had a rental car. Riding in this car was like being in the fiery pits of hell because we couldn’t get the air conditioner to work nor the windows to roll down. This was in Florida. In the middle of summer. Anytime we had to go somewhere in the car there was a lot of screaming at each other and howls of “Stop looking at me!” and “Get your sweaty body OFF of me!” [Side note: Eventually we broke down and called the rental car company and the problem was easily fixed. Something about having turned the key “too far” in the ignition. All that suffering. For naught.]

We came home from that trip sun-burned, not speaking, and with a time-share we couldn’t afford because my parents were dazzled by free tickets to Universal Studios.

That same summer we had a big outing to a Pittsburgh Pirates game. During this trip one brother threw the possessions of the other brother out the window and this resulted in a knock-down, drag-out brawl all over the back of our van as they tried to kill each other. On the way back to WV that night, my step-father got mad at my mother in McDonalds for something else she said (it probably had to do with “dog-face”) and threw French fries at her as we sat and ate in silence. They bounced off her forehead one by one as she tried to maintain her dignity by ignoring him and continuing eating. She later paid him back by refusing to get in the car, and we drove for at least a half a mile down the road at 4 mph as they argued about whether she would be joining us for the return trip home.

Finally, there was a second ill-advised trip to Disneyworld in 1993 in order to use this time-share that we couldn’t afford and had been struggling to pay for during the previous year. My mother and step-father were separated by this time (big shocker, I know) and she’d woken up in the middle of the night to him pointing a gun at her head and saying calmly that he was going to kill her. I don’t know how it all played out except that my mother survived and he left, and then suddenly we were on the run. My mom rushed us all into the car without all of our bags packed, convinced that he was coming back to kill her, and we peeled out, spewing gravel from our country road behind us. We didn’t have the money for hotels en route, so we slept in the car in motel parking lots.

My heart swells with nostalgia.

November 12, 2007

No, I will not hold your Vienna sausages.

Minor bus incident:

I was on the 38 Geary today, and a pretty rough-looking man was struggling to get on the back of the bus by sticking his arm inside the door, pushing the handle to get it open, and dragging large garbage bags of recycling up the steps. I was standing near this back door as he was getting on with a Vienna sausage pursed between his lips and a couple more clenched tightly in his gloved hands as he tried to hoist his bags up the stairs. As he braced himself against the door to keep it open, he looked up at me and asked (with his lips still pressing down on the sausage in his mouth), “Will you hold my sausages?”

I am inclined to be helpful and, reflexively, started to reach my hand out to take them, caught another glimpse at the shiny pink saliva-covered one between his lips, and thought better of it.

“I’m sorry,” I said apologetically, as I withdrew my hand.

“Bitch,” he muttered out of the corner of his mouth as he continued the drawn out process of getting on the bus.

I felt like I should offer him a reason. I’m a vegetarian? I just sneezed into my hand? I just petted a dog? I have a contagious skin disease? And then I felt a little indignant that I should feel compelled to give this man a reason. Besides the weird situation and being called a bitch, Vienna sausages are gross. Period. I don’t want to hold one ever.

Birds, pictures of birds in oil

You have probably heard that there was a large oil spill in San Francisco Bay at the end of last week.

It breaks my heart.

Environmental issues, endangered and extinct species, global warming...I find all of them to be painful and heart-wrenching topics, but there's something about oil spills that particularly hurts me. Maybe it's because so many other issues are bigger and more pervasive and more gradual with multiple causes, while events like oil spills are specific, isolated, and preventable occurrences.

I am angry that it happened (how in the HELL do you run into the Bay Bridge?) and I am angered by the city's response to it, but what eats at me most is what happens to the birds. I can't stand it.

Trying to contain the oil:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Boxes of dead birds:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A cormorant that did not survive:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I've been having a lot of dreams about birds the past few days. The most usual situation is that I'm going along, taking care of my birds like normal, and then I enter a room in my house that I had forgotten about. There are all these starving, skeletal birds in there that haven't been fed or watered or loved or played with for months. I am horrified with myself for forgetting them, for neglecting them.

November 11, 2007

List Slam

Last night I attended a "List Slam." People brought in their to-do and not to-do lists and read them to others. I love odd stuff like this. Because I am a gargantuan dork, I sat and made lists of other people's lists because I wanted to remember them as much as possible. (I know: sad, isn't it?)

Here are a couple of highlights:

1. A list that a man new to San Francisco made of the things he wanted to do:

--look for meaning and insignificance
--stick head in sink full of water and try to hold breath as long as possible
--stare with longing at the sky
--stare at the bay; ask the bay 'why?'
--play music loud in room for 5 minutes while dancing naked to Bullworth soundtrack with cock flapping

2. A list a man made of advice to give to his son when he turned 21 (the son is currently 17, and I would argue that he could use this now, but anyway...):

--invest time in a hopeless cause you believe in
--when talking to a child, kneel down so you're on their level
--when your true love stands before you naked and asks you if she looks fat, tell her the truth: she is beautiful
--learn to salsa and tango--you'll never be alone
--find male friends who can talk about things other than sports, cars, and gadgets. Guys can be soulmates, too.
--send your little sister flowers for no particular reason. She'll always remember that moment.

3. A young woman sitting next to my friends and I had made a list of 'Reasons to stop seeing Mike.' She'd decided not to read it and crumpled it into a ball. We urged her on, "Read it! It'll be perfect!" She kept saying, "No one else wants to hear this stuff!" We finally convinced her, and she got up in front of everyone, smoothed out her list, and read it. It was, indeed, a wonderful list. But one reason to stop seeing Mike stood out, in particular:

--Because I know you better than you know me.

November 9, 2007

A dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect and that exaggerates emotion...

I admit that I am ridiculous. Okay? I admit it.

Take this past week, for example. It was a bad week from the first few seconds I opened my eyes Monday morning, and it didn’t let up the whole time. I was filled with overwhelming anxiety and doubt. This is pretty much the stuff I was anxious and doubtful about:

1. I will never, ever get a job.

2. I will never, ever have health insurance again.

3. Because I will never, ever get a job and never, ever have health insurance again I will lose what is left of my mind and end up wandering the streets, wild-eyed and ranting, and giving blowjobs for crack, turkey sandwiches, and cups of coffee.

4. I am crazy.

5. I am a fundamentally unlovable person.

6. Because I am a crazy and fundamentally unlovable person I will die alone, and should I somehow manage to bypass #1 and #2 and get a job and health insurance, I will die alone in a scary house on a hill with a bunch of pets as opposed to alone in the street.

You get the idea.

I called friends. I drank much alcohol and called friends. I took long, meandering walks. I called friends after drinking much alcohol and while taking long, meandering walks.

I used a lot of analogies for myself: a piece of driftwood on the ocean! A sinking bag of stones! A horse with no name! (Okay, I didn’t use that last one.)

I bemoaned that I had nowhere to go, nothing to do, and that if I disappeared tomorrow no one would notice for days.

I laid on the floor of my shower and let the water run over me. I laid in the backyard staring upward. I laid with my head under pillows in my bed.

I posted blogs only to take them down again because they were too intensely dark and personal.

I cried. About everything. Yesterday I cried when some school kids made fun of a ranting homeless man (that will be me one day, after all) and I cried when a different group of school kids made fun of one of the little girls in their group and wouldn’t talk to her or sit with her on the bus.

Fuck school kids.

Fuck my amplified emotions.

Fuck me.

I am pleased to announce what seems to be a break in the aforementioned ridiculousness. I hope this break lasts a long fucking time.

I’m surprised my wonderful friends still answer their phones.

November 6, 2007

I will NEVER...

...wear a dress over a pair of jeans. I would feel like I was confused when I got dressed that morning and couldn't decide, so I tried to cover all my bases.

November 5, 2007

The sending of anonymous messages of encouragement to myself

A weird question:

Do chocolate chips give off some kind of gas or emission? I ask because I have two bags of them for cookies I planned to make for an event that I ended up not attending, and the Nestle Tollhouse bags in which they’re sealed have swelled up like balloons on my pantry shelf. They’re only a couple months old, and I’ve never seen this before. I am highly suspicious of them. And strangely fascinated.

Haiku for Monday:

Does it rain in Spain?
My mind asks from behind my
fragile liquid pools

November 4, 2007

The remnants of 'maybe I don't know how'


whiskey, cigarettes
Are you still reading?

And if I die before
half asleep

give a fuck

passionate love
At this moment
highest highs (Jesus! I can see for miles. And everything is suddenly so fucking clear up here! Poor little people down there...)
and lowest lows

fingers crossed

when I'm away from you

comes in pieces
bring your own broom and dustpan I can be swept right up

Destroying every bed I've made'

private sanctuary
real world
built up a fortress
only let in what we chose to let in

woke up
just how far away
my life

I'll go anywhere.
Okay, weird choice, but yes.
I don't know if I can get to.

terribly cryptic

I’ll keep them still


helped me leave
the last thing
what I wanted,
wake up
calling out

all relative

Just for fun...

...and because I have no energy to say what's on my mind, some missed connections:

(From have been stored in my computer for awhile now...)

Date: July 15, 2007
Subject: A chunk of connection missed - w4m

I saw his face unguarded once. The mask of “it’s cool” was resting in his lap as he stared off into nowhere in particular. Anxiety and burden filled his face, watered his eyes and set his jaw. I hesitated - just a moment for re-entry - not wanting to embarass him. He glanced my way, the mask went up and everything was "cool" again. Authentic, naked feelings. Nourishing fluid for true connection, gone in an instant. Seems to be hard to find these days.

* * * * * * * * * *

Date: October 28, 2006
Subject: Your beautiful voicemail - m4w

Hi, I'm afraid I can't take your call right now, but if you'd like to leave your name, number and a short message I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you.

Sent yesterday at twelve twenty eight PM.

Hi, I have the wrong number but you...have a beautiful voice. Anyway... umm...sorry...umm...anyway, just...had to say that because, have a nice voice, you should do voiceovers, anyway...uh, sorry to bother you. Bye bye.
You forgot to leave your number!

* * * * * * * * * *

Date: November 12, 2006
Subject: Kissing behind the buildings

Remember when we were walking back from dinner in North Beach, it was you, me, and about 6 of my friends. We were new. Still touching(hugging)(holding hands)(kissing)(petting) any chance we got, young lust. We started to walk to my friends car after dinner to pile in, we were a little behind everyone, and talking about silly MTV shows we'd watched. Everyone turned a corner. You stopped me and pushed me up against the wall, just before the corner, and kissed me, and held my face, and looked in my eyes. That moment. That was so perfect. I just wanted to keep you forever. And I sat on your lap on the ride home, cause the car was so crammed. And you were sneaking kisses the whole way home, like it was a secret. I miss that so much. I'm sorry that I wasn't her. That I was too late, too little and too late. I hope you are happy with her, and that you did find something permanent.

* * * * * * * * * *

Date: October 10, 2006
Subject: I willed you to IM me last night - m4w

you were suddenly on IM after I was thinking of you. I tried to will you to call me later. You resisted. I know it's hard. Give in.

* * * * * * * * * *

Date: April 11, 2007
Subject: i like you way too much

i'm glad i met you. and here in missed connections of all places. i like you. i can't keep my hands off of you. the very thought of you makes my cheeks blush and my panties wet. i want to be your good girl and your bad girl. i want you for my own. i want those amazing kisses of yours all to myself. i want to be the only girl you're wrapping your arm around in the morning with soft kisses and warm breath on my neck and shoulder. but i'll play it cool and won't let on that i'm already yours for the taking. but please take me. and soon. tell me you want me all to yourself. that you don't want another man brushing the hair from my face. that you don't want another man taking my clothes off in the dark. take me D.

* * * * * * * * * *

Date: October 10, 2006
Subject: Aimee

MY CRUSH.... maybe in a month...

I can see why you think you belong to me.
I never tried to make you think or let you see one thing for yourself.
But now you’re off with someone else and I’m alone.
You see I thought that I could keep you for my own.

Amie, what you wanna do? I think that I could stay with you,
Bm E
for a while maybe longer if I do…

Don’t you think the time is right for us to find.
All the things we thought weren’t proper could be right in time and can you see,
Which way we should turn together or alone?
I can never see what’s right or what is wrong…
(yeah you take to long to see)

(Break/solo-good luck)
(chorus again)
Now it’s come to what you want, you’ve had yer way.
And all the things you’re fight’n for just faded into gray and can you see,
that I don’t know if it’s you or if it’s me?
If it’s one of us, I’m sure we both will see…
(won’t you look at me and tell me?)

(chorus 2X) -then-
E A(finger picking) G D A G D
I keep, fallin’ in and out of love with you. Fallin’ in and out of love with you.
Don’t know what I’m gonna do…
D A G D Amaj? A(w/hammer-on)
I keep, fallin’ in and out of l-o-v-e, with y---o----u…

November 3, 2007

November 2, 2007

Waiting like a dog for a bone...

Alternative title: Ask and every once in a great while you shall receive...

Woo hoo! Nannette and I are going to Portland!


Today I feel like a tiger pacing in a cage. I need to get OUT!

I started by thinking small. Making some plans for here in the city. I decided that tomorrow I would go across town to the Ferry Building to the amazing city farmer's market to get some stuff. I don't know what yet. And then I'll figure out what to make with it all. Maybe I'll do some kind of pie--I've been wanting to do that awhile.

That sounds good, but it's not enough.

Then I started thinking about a weekend trip. One that involves driving. I've wanted to go to Portland for seemingly forever. So I emailed a couple of local friends to see if they had any interest in going one weekend soon. The rental car's on me! I just need a traveling companion/traveling companions! [Fingers crossed]

I still want them to say yes, and if they do I'll plan it so fast it'll make their head spin. But it's not enough.

I have a friend going to Barcelona soon, and though he'll be doing work/school-related stuff most of the time, he was wondering how to spend the rest of his time. In my desire to live vicariously through him, I bought him a Lonely Planet: Barcelona guide to get him started. (I haven't sent it yet, so hopefully I'm not ruining the surprise by writing it here.)

Yeah, that's definitely not enough.

My conference submission for Portugal is due soon, and I plan to go there. But late Spring seems so far away. Not enough.

I'm back to my pricing of apartments in other cities and countries, and there's no one around to say it's a stupid idea.

But just looking and dreaming is not enough.

When will it be enough?

October 31, 2007

Lord, grant me patience

(I am burning up inside)

I dreamed of terrible things...

...death, destruction, grief...

Not so surprising since we had an earthquake and I'm still feeling a little jarred from it. I heard it before I felt it, which is really eerie. And for hours afterward I hallucinated that it was starting up again.

I wanted to call someone for reassurance, but it felt like there was no one I could call. So I did the only thing I could think of to comfort myself. I exfoliated. A lot. I'm soft as a newborn, now.

October 30, 2007

I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies.

Today, between lunch and a 2:00 meeting, I went to a baby shower for a friend at work.

I always have such mixed emotions about these. On the one hand, I've never been to a baby shower for someone I didn't like or feel some sort of attachment to, so I am genuinely happy for the expecting mother and want to share in a little celebration in anticipation of her big day.

But there's a lot of things working against it, too.

One is a general dislike I have about opening and/or giving presents in public. I absolutely adore giving and receiving presents--don't get me wrong. But I like to do it individually. A private moment between two people where, no matter what the nature of the relationship, one can say, "I picked this just for YOU because I thought it would make you happy." There's something I can't stand about handing someone a present in front of a group of people waiting expectantly for this thing I have chosen and then evaluating against other opened and unopened presents. I There is no special moment. No matter how much the recipient likes the present, there are other presents to be opened and that one is deposited in a pile along with all the others.

Even more strong is my dislike of receiving presents in a group setting when all attention is focused on me opening the presents and catching a glimpse of my facial expression that captures exactly how I feel about said presents at the moment I open them. I find it nearly impossible to mask my emotions as they flicker across my face and I spend the entire time in terrible anxiety of offending someone. Plus I'm just shy and hate having all the attention focused on me.

But I'm wandering away from the topic.

The second thing that bothers me about baby showers is that it always seems that a huge proportion of women who attend them are mothers already. I feel like there's some special cult of womanhood into which I have not been inducted and have no way to relate. Today, for example, the women attending this shower exchanged stories about their birthing experiences--most notably the length of delivery. One woman had been in labor for 24 hours. She announced this dramatically and murmurs of "Oh, my," and "I don't know how you did it," fell over the shower attendees munching on fresh fruit and cakes. Then there was a small contingent who'd had impressively speedy deliveries. One woman described her first birth and declared with pride, "I was 2 cm at 8am and by 10:45am he was born." She closed her eyes and sat back with satisfaction as we all "ooohed" and "ahhhhed" and took a moment of silence to contemplate the wonder of her uterus and vagina.

This is all well and good, but what the hell can I say to this?

(I won't even get started on all the CRAP people buy for infants. My distaste at the idea of receiving 50 outfits with little variations of puppies on them and a little baby bomber jacket is extreme.)

Similar scenarios have unfolded numerous times at work even outside of the more formal baby shower setting. On multiple occasions I was part of a group about to start a meeting and we took the first 20 minutes to discuss the logistics of breastfeeding and breast-pumping. I listened politely, but found myself exchanging meaningful looks and silent plans with the gay man and lesbian of the group. [Via telepathy and slight facial twitches and glimpses at watches: 'Drinks after work?' 'Yeah, 5:00?']

Just recently, this lesbian friend has joined the contingent of current and future motherhood. I have to say that I've been fascinated to hear of she and her partner's experiences. They get asked the usual questions of heterosexual mothers, plus a whole host of other ones. (e.g., "Was it, like, a turkey baster?")

I like hearing this new twist on familiar stories.

Alexis (pregnant) and Ilsa (not pregnant) joked about Alexis' moods and irrationality and hypersensitivity to smells. Apparently for a few weeks she couldn't stand to have Ilsa within two feet of her because Ilsa's natural smell repulsed her and turned her stomach. (My God!) They laughed about it and looked into each other's eyes with love and then continued to share their trials and tribulations. This part was wonderful.

I would also like to note that my stance on childbirth is not the most popular here in the Bay Area. I would want to give birth in a hospital, and I want all the drugs available to me as soon as they can possibly be given. So many women here are horrified by this. Maybe it sounds closed-minded or "Westernized," but I don't want any fooling around. Stories I've heard of special music and scented oils and candles and massages...screw all that. Get it OUT.

I feel I should add a couple of things here. I'm not trying to say that I dislike mothers and expectant mothers and want nothing to do with them. That's not the case at all. I just have a difficult time relating to them. I've changed a lot of diapers, made a lot of bottles, and stayed up a lot of late nights with other people's children (usually those of my mother). I'm not completely ignorant on the topic but obviously my experiences in no way compare to having children of one's own.

I also feel the need to add that I like kids. I find them interesting and amusing and amazing, and I don't mean any of this to sound like some staunch advocate of not having children sitting around and complaining about "breeders." I just felt the need to express the mixed emotions of today.

A sad update.

There is a homeless man who sits with his dog next to the 38-Geary bus stop at Market and 1st Streets downtown. I see him whenever I go to my Beale Street office. He's generally the first person I see when I get off the bus, and this has been true as long as I've lived in San Francisco.

He always has a sign that says, "Turk and I are hungry," or "Turk and I are down on our luck." Turk is a mottled black and brown pitbull, and he's often curled up asleep against the man. He actually appears to be more well-fed than his owner. I regularly see people squatting to pet Turk, talking to the man, and putting money in his cup.

This morning the man was alone and the sign was different. It read: "Turk is in Animal Control. Please help."

It made me sad. I tried to provide what help I could.

October 29, 2007


I woke up disoriented and slightly afraid.

I dreamed I had written. I dreamed I had been written to. But when I looked, neither was true.

It had started to rain.

October 26, 2007

Laced with quiet (and not so quiet)...

It was pointed out to me tonight that this blog is like the innermost workings of my brain without context. Perhaps.

Okay, yes.

But at this moment I need to pretend no one ever reads this and just...write. And, uh, listen to music under a fog-covered sky. And drink this Sierra Nevada. And wonder what the fuck that weird noise is. (Seriously. Scratching?)

"You ring your bell and smile at me; I drink from your well and fall down."

I find that I keep thinking about the girls who are in shampoo commercials. Girls who are secure and smiling and carefree. Their long tresses glisten as they toss their hair, knowing fantastic things are in store for them because their hair looks so good that night. There's not a trace of shyness, doubt, melancholy, hesitation, fear, or insecurity in them. And you are led to believe that good things DO happen to them.

I need to get some of that fucking shampoo.

I've mentioned this countless times, but here I go again...

I'm trying to collect myself and figure out where to go and what to do next. I know exactly what I'm doing until June 30, 2008, and beyond that it's...blank. Occasionally I am thrilled with that openness. Other times I am overwhelmed by that emptiness.

(It all depends on how I spin it. Kind of like "freedom fighters" vs. "terrorists.")

"Take it with the love that's given, take it with a pinch of salt..."

A friend told me a story of his parents recently that touched my heart deeply. His mom confided to him that on the weekends, she and his father lay in bed in the mornings and hold each other for hours because they know they won't always be able to do that. Grabbing it while they can, I guess.

"Your mom would stick a fork right into daddy's shoulder......and dad would dream of all the different ways to die...each one a little more than he would dare to trrrryyyyy...."

(Incidentally, my mom DID drink until she was no longer speaking and my (step)dad DID throw the garbage all across the floor.)

"Like an animal in your care...but give it time, you will outlive me..."

There's a blog I read frequently by a guy whom I just stumbled upon. I think I was doing a search for a song and he mentioned it in his blog and I found it that way. It's called "Everything is wrong with me" and he's says something like he's "28, bipolar, and hungry." In it he recounts his attempts to find a serious girlfriend, massive amounts of masturbation in an attempt to "inseminate his apartment," weird mental hang-ups, etc. It's mostly pretty amusing.

But I wonder: Is this what I'll be? Blogging about my thoughts and experiences and ridiculousness forever? I fantasize about a day when I will have no use for the blog, because my life is full enough. I imagine myself in that hypothetical future position thinking, "Remember those days when I used to blog all the time? Yeah, I think I wrote about a bunch of shit I was thinking and stuff. That was fun. But this is better."

"We drift in and out...sing into my mouth..."

"The images stuck in your head
People you've been before that you don't want around anymore
That push and shove and won't bend to your will..."

October 24, 2007

Will _____ for sleep.

I realize that my near constant insomnia of late is responsible for my wildly fluctuating emotions, but I just can't seem to fix the problem! I'm all over the map, especially in the last few days: heart-stoppingly high, alarmingly low, always exhausted.

Last night and today I felt absolutely desperate. There's a lot of stuff I'd be willing to do for some sleep at this point.

It makes me worry about my health, because I'm going to make myself sick. It just feels like nothing can quiet my mind. I long to slip into the quiet dimness of my bedroom, slip in between the soft sheets as the lanterns sway overhead, and surrender for the next 24 hours. sounds blissful...

Until then, thank God I have friends to monitor my actions--keeping an eye on me to make sure I don't do anything irrational. I make a decision, start to stumble forward with it, and someone cries out, "Wait! No!" I stop, nod dumbly, and try to close my eyes again. Most of the time I would resent this, but right now I need it.

I am just so tired.

October 20, 2007

Aren't you...?

I guess not.

"Calmly crashing, I pace and I figure it out again."

Ugh. I can feel myself getting blocked up this very minute, like a tide coming in.

You know, I've long wished I could receive a daily reading of my neurotransmitter balances every morning. That way, I would have a better idea of what to brace myself against.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Daily Readings for A. M. Ashcraft


Serotonin - check
Dopamine - check
Epinephrine - check
Norepinephine - ++

[Sweet. I should be feeling pretty mellow today. That sounds good.]


Serotonin - **LOW READING**


[Uh oh. Better stay home. I'll batten down the hatches, get out the lanterns, wrap myself in blankets and wait it out.]
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It would be so much easier to make attributions about the way I am feeling.

October 15, 2007

My God.

I'm ready to move out of this fucking neighborhood.

Please. Oh, please.

Just stop.

October 14, 2007


winter stifled shivering on the curb phone in hand panic resolution hesitation it all fell together this is not my home yet I saw her red coat out the bus window and it was one of the most comforting sights of my life long long phone conversations a dead end that I kept turning down a false alarm spring green pants to match the green walls new people a loss of a dear one documenting writing angry Polish people why does he write summer better and better disbelief the ability to be surprised alarm an act of resistance a moment of being shattered goodbyes all around no one to walk with I hate when it becomes important it’s the little things that are getting under my skin it feels too ridiculous to talk about this is when the humming feeling began in the base of my throat wild ideas fucking do it relief terror happiness terror disbelief because it’s for other people this? this? whatever this is that I am real pleasure fall dreams dreams dreams more questions than answers all this relief mental preparation and crushing disappointment you would not believe the acceptance at that moment I could barely express my gratitude oh jesus fuck support and checking in waiting okay near miss fairer than expected not an issue joy amazing water never before sleek and soft almost like a shampoo commercial to memorize for the long days I lost a bit of my dignity and it seemed the only way to recover quiet catharsis I love the way repeatedly pessimism optimism it is unfortunate that I can’t control the movie projector in my mind boring meetings and suddenly it goes back there again lingering hands lips tongue the best one ever your voice changes when you talk about it

(It's not so hard now.)


was terrible.

October 13, 2007

Highly liberated

Somewhere between last Sunday evening and Monday morning I made a decision. This has been weighing on my mind for awhile now, and I was feeling completely oppressed by it.

Since early in my graduate school career I've been groomed for a job as a college professor. It's what I know best, it's what I have the most experience doing, and it's the kind of job for which I know how to look.

Don't get me wrong. I love teaching and I love interacting with my students. And there's a fair number of appealing things about this profession.

But a tenure-track faculty position is a pretty major committment. It normally takes about seven years (with enough publications, conference presentations, and favorable student evaluations) to be awarded tenure. I was invited to apply for the position in Human Sexuality Studies at SFSU for Fall 2008, and I was incredibly flattered by their request that I apply and offer from professors within the department to write me letters of support. But even if I got this I want it right now?


I'm not saying I won't apply for a position like this eventually; I likely will. But at this moment I am unable to answer questions about where I'll be and how long I'll be there, and this is not the kind of job you just take for a couple of years and then give up. Not if you want another one, at least.

It was only a small mental event to make this decision, but it felt like a rather large seismic one for me personally. I am so relieved. And so...unencumbered. It's still rather scary, though. And it just adds to the general free-wheeling, 'what the hell?' approach to life I have been taking as of late.


October 11, 2007

I don't know what in the hell a 'writing meme' is, but I've been tagged...

The wicked flower girl thinks out loud tagged me for a writing meme. Of course I will answer the call. I'm supposed to write about my greatest strengths in writing. Damn, these greatest strengths/weakness questions are always so hard! But I will do my best.

(Incidentally, Beth, I must confess how extremely flattered I am that you tagged me as a fellow "writer." And if, for some reason, I have misunderstood this, please don't tell me any differently.)

I've long been frustrated by my writing because it seemed like the only things I could remotely make come alive were things that actually happened to me. Yes, I was pleased with my ability to recall and describe the minutiae of conversations and interactions from long ago, but "big fucking deal" was always how I looked at it. I didn't want to be so bound by those chains of reality. To break free from them, I tried to write poetry (for YEARS!), fictional short stories, song lyrics, and on and on. With the exception of one four line poem I wrote in the middle of a fitful night when I was about 14 years old (ahh...sometimes it is so boring to be so dark, compulsive, and overly expressive, but it was there from a very early age...), I've hated them all.

Interestingly, although I feel like I'm pretty good at describing actual events, I feel my greatest strength in writing does not count because it is not a personal strength at all: I'm good at using other people's writing--bits and pieces from various authors and musicians mingled together to form a different kind of whole--at expressing myself. (See my last blog entry for an example from just today.)

What the fuck kind of thing is this to be good at?

It's just that I'm hooked on words. words Words WORDS. In every form. They move me to the utmost emotion; they have the power to shape exactly what I'm feeling, thinking, and experiencing AT THAT MOMENT. Sometimes it's almost embarrassing. And occasionally a little inconvenient.

I've often bought books and cds based solely on one line that I read or heard. Sometimes I was disappointed, and sometimes I was not.

Even when I'm reading for pleasure, I have a neon-colored highlighter in my mouth to mark the words that move me or make me laugh or make me think. Like a big old dork. I would like to be the kind of person who reads without a highlighter. Who can enjoy a book for what it has to offer at that moment, and then put it down and never look back. But I am not.

I'm a collector of blank books. Many of my books have writing in them, and some do not. They all have an empty first page because there was nothing I had to say worthy of being put in such an important spot.

From the time I learned to read and write, I can remember days when my head was racing beyond my control and the best way I knew how to soothe it was to write down other people's words. Any notebook that I've ever had, including the one I'm using every day right now, shows evidence of this. In between the to-do lists and the notes from meetings are words and lyrics scrawled across pages and in margins that served the smaller purpose of amusing me for a few moments and the larger purpose of working the bugs out of me.

Not even an hour ago I wrote a long letter to a friend in which I did this. I was trying to describe something, and in the end I had to revert to providing her with a list of quotations that touched on the range of emotions I was feeling. The people who seem to understand me best are, more often than not, people who do this themselves, at least to some extent.

Sherman Alexie. Now here is someone who understands words:

"Junior dreamed of the western that starred Lynn as Lynn and Junior as himself. During the love scenes, the camera would fade out just as they fell into each other's arms. But in real life, Junior and Lynn fell onto the bed, drew circles on each other's naked bodies, and counted moles.

Junior ran through his vocabulary in his mind: make love, sex, do it, fuck. He wanted to climb out of bed and find a thesaurus. He wanted Lynn to whisper synonyms in his ear."

I'm never really sure how other people take it when I do this. I think at times it works out to be fairly cryptic--sometimes I like it that way and sometimes I just can't find a more direct way to say what I mean and this is the result.

So...yeah. Plagiarism is my biggest strength. How attractive.


People said, --Now that you're a senorita, cuidate. Take care of yourself. But how was Soledad to know what they meant? Cuidate. Take care of yourself....But no one told you how to...well, how exactly.

Really, there was no way once it began for her to find where or how to stop, because it was a story without beginning or end. And why was it her responsibility for her to say enough, when in her heart of hearts she never wanted it to end, and how sad she felt when it was over and he pulled himself away and she was just herself again, and there was nothing left of that happiness but something like the juice of the maguey, like cold spittle on her thighs, and each person went back to being just themselves.

For a little, for a moment as fine as una espina de nopalito, she felt as if she could never be lonely, she felt she was not herself, she was not Soledad nor was he Narciso, nor rock nor purple flower, but all rocks and purple flowers and sky and cloud and shell and pebble. It was a secret too beautiful, to tell the truth. Why had everyone kept such a marvel from her? She had not felt this well loved except perhaps when she was still inside her mother's belly, or had sat on her father's lap, the sun on the top of her head, her father's words like sunlight, --Mi reina. She felt when this man, this boy, this body, this Narciso put himself inside her, she was no longer a body separate from his. In that kiss, they swallowed one another, swallowed the room, the sky, darkness, fear, and it was beautiful to feel so much a part of everything and bigger than everything. Soledad was no longer Soledad Reyes, Soledad on this earth with her two dresses, her one pair of shoes, her unfinished caramelo rebozo, she was not a girl anymore with sad eyes, not herself, just herself, only herself. But all things little and large, great and small, important and unassuming. A puddle of rain and the feather that fell shattering the sky inside it, the lit votive candles flickering through blue cobalt glass at the cathedral, the opening notes of that waltz without a name, a clay bowl of rice in bean broth, a steaming clod of horse dung. Everything, oh, my God, everything. A great flood, an overwhelming joy, and it was good and joyous and blessed.

--Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo

October 7, 2007

The part that was left behind.

I had an unexpected good-bye.

Well, it wasn't entirely unexpected. I figured it was bound to happen eventually. I just never knew exactly when or how.

As it turned out, it was on Friday evening on the sidewalk of Geary Blvd. as I was illuminated by the fluorescent lights of a convenience store. I looked up and briefly froze mid-stride--possibly looked like a deer caught in headlights as my brain took in the information--and then I looked away and kept walking, kept walking.

September 27, 2007

"Okay. I'll stop running. I give up."

These lines came from a dream I had last night and it’s spawned a million little whirlwinds of thought. One of them is the following:

I feel like I’ve spent most of my life running. It was almost always running away from something. Running toward something has always seemed like a luxury. Running from the past; running from fears; running to avoid the feeling of being trapped; running away from the realization of mediocrity; running because a moving target is harder to hit.

I’ve struggled with depression since I was a child, although it was a long time before I was able to recognize it for what it was. For a long time I just thought I was an extremely sad person. It wasn’t until sometime in my early 20s that I caught glimpses of another way of being. I am self-reflective, ruminative, sentimental, and overly-sensitive and these characteristics can bring on frequent bouts of sadness, but I have gradually discovered that the true me is rather…joyful. For lack of a better word.

I was still very much learning this about myself when, around the age of 24, I could feel an overwhelming blackness trying to overtake me. I felt like inside of my own brain I was running, running, ducking, dodging—trying to get out of it’s way. Trying to hide inside my own head, in a sense. I felt completely powerless over my life. I worried that there wasn’t enough love in the world to fill me up, that I would always be this big, black well: the bottom of which no eyes would ever see into. The vast expanse of emptiness was overwhelming.

I finally admitted to myself that I should probably talk to someone about these things. And when I did, I likened the running to trying to run out from under a tidal wave: the shadow is looming over you and it’s growing larger and larger behind your back and all you can do is try to get away. He said, “What would happen if you stopped running? Maybe it won’t be as bad as you think.”

I did. It was. And no one that loved me knew how to help me. I didn't know how to help myself.

I smiled all the time because I didn’t know what else to do.

One day I was leaving the psychology department where I went to school, and I passed my advisor, Faye, on the way out the front door. On that bleak winter day I was feeling more like an empty shell than ever. I smiled and said hello to her, and she said, “Amie, you have the prettiest smile. You’re always smiling about something.” Without thinking, I blurted out, “It’s completely fake,” and kept walking out the door marveling at what I’d just admitted and, yet, still feeling nothing, nothing.

I’ve come a long, long way since then. Much of it came by allowing myself to admit that I needed to make some changes in my life. That I needed to feel some sense of control over where I was going and what I was doing, over who got pieces of me and who didn’t.

I’ve never quite been able to shake the sense of running, though. It feels like as long as I keep running I can always chalk not having what I want up to the search, and not admit that it’s actually me that could be the problem.

My dream last night where I said, “Okay. I’ll stop running. I give up” is particularly poignant to me because I’ve never actually been able to utter those words until that moment in that dream.

I guess I feel ready to be found.

September 26, 2007

September 25, 2007

Some prisons

"Get in the house!" she shouted at Nemo as she pushed him up the steps.

"I've gotta go!" Nemo called to me, trying desperately to keep his dignity. "I'm thorry!"

The screen door slammed behind them. The inner door closed, too, with a thunk of finality.

The birds were singing, stupid in their happiness. I stood on the green grass, my shadow like a long scorch mark. I saw the blind on the front windows close. There was nothing more to be said, nothing more to be done. I turned around, got on Rocket, and started pedaling for home.

On that ride to my house, as summer-scented air hit me in the face and gnats spun in the whirlwinds of my passage, I realized all prisons were not buildings of gray rock bordered by guard towers and barbed wire. Some prisons were houses whose closed blinds let no sunlight enter. Some prisons were cages of fragile bones, and some prisons had bars of red polka dots. In fact, you could never tell what might be a prison until you'd had a glimpse of what was seized and bound inside.

Robert R. McGammon, Boys Life

(written in my journal in 1996)

September 24, 2007

Forgotten knowledge

I was taking a walk the other day when I ran across some flowers I hardly ever see and of which I would really like to know the name. My grandmother used to have these flowers hanging in a pot on her porch, and she liked them because they reminded her of tiny ballet dancers.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I can remember one later summer evening, in particular, in what must have been 1983 or 1984 when we talked about them. A couple of my cousins and I were sitting with her on her front porch watching the sun go down and eating peanut butter and celery. She was telling us how much she loved these flowers, and called them by a specific name that I can no longer recall. She said, "That's not really their name, but that's what we always called them when I was a little girl."

When I saw these flowers in front of someone's house the other evening, I had a brief moment when I thought, "I need to call her and ask her what she called those." And then I remembered, of course, that I could no longer do that.

I came home and tried to find them on the internet to at least find out their proper name, but to no avail. No one in my family seems to know what I'm talking about. But this evening I went for a walk to find them again, and took a picture so I could at least remember what they looked like.

I wish I could ask her about them.

September 23, 2007

Favors for friends

My good friend's mother is coming into town tomorrow to stay until January 22. (Christ!) Awhile back she asked me if I would be willing to keep her vibrator at my house until her mother is gone.

She's got a decent-size place, and I asked her why she couldn't just hide it somewhere at her house (top of a closet? bottom of a dresser drawer?). She said that while she was at work her mother would most likely entertain herself by reorganizing her shelves, closets, cabinets, and drawers. (Double Christ!)

I said, "What's the big deal if she finds it? It's not like you have porn with animals or small children."

She said, "As far as my mother knows I've never even had sex, and I don't want her to know about this, either!"

So I said, "Sure. I'll hide it for you. Just, uh, wrap it up in a plastic bag or something."

I hadn't thought about that conversation in awhile, and just a short time ago she called to see if I wanted to meet her for dinner. After we made plans for when and where to meet, she suddenly started talking in a more rapid, high-pitched voice and said, "I'll bring my thing for you to take, too."

"Your what?" I asked.

"My THING!" she repeated with emphasis.

"What THING are you talking about?" (I was clueless at this moment.)

She groaned in embarrassment, and said, "You know! The thing I asked you to keep for me!" She was silently begging me to understand.

Suddenly I did understand. "Oh! Yeah, right. Okay bring it. And wrap it up!" So the vibrator transaction will take place in a few hours. It's probably one of the stranger favors I've ever done for a friend.

A list of 30 things.

Jesus! They were startlingly easy to come up with! I guess that's good. No, I know that's good. In no particular order of importance.

September 22, 2007


I'm having a 'fuck everything' kind of day. Fuck days like this.

September 18, 2007

"My love is..."

This morning I was on the bus going to work, and I was only about 3 stops from my destination. An older, shabbily dressed man got on the bus and took the seat directly in front of me. At first glance I thought he was homeless and (I'm a little ashamed to admit) I immediately braced myself to hold my breath. But he smelled just fine. He sat down and turning diagonally in his seat and opened up a large sketch pad. There were words beautifully scrawled all over every page.

I was immediately intrigued. Of course I had to take a peek.

He was just aimlessly leafing through his pages, and it was hard for me to read more than a word or two. Some pages appeared to be lists, others seemed to be essays, and still other looked like poems. On the first three pages, the title "My Love is..." was written at the top, and many, many sentences were written below it. I was dying to read that. Was he describing the love he has to give? Or was he describing the characteristics of a person he considered to be his love?

As he continued to flip through the pages I caught several titles: "Dreamer," "Nature Walk," "Maiden," and "Lamp Light." On one page I caught one lone sentence that struck me: "The happiest moments in my life were spent quietly against your breast."

At that moment I loved that man. Loved that he was bursting with things to express and needed to get them down on paper. Loved that he read back through it. Loved that (did I imagine this?) he was holding it in such a way that others could look at it, too.

September 14, 2007

The beginning and end of my engagement

When I was in kindergarten I got engaged. Sort of.

His name was Jamie Gizzi, and I loved him from the very first day of school. It's unclear why my affections were pinned so firmly to him since, even at the tender age of five, he was a man of few words. He often wore striped shirts of red, blue, and black, along with jeans or corduroy pants rolled up at the cuffs. He had silky fine brown hair in a little bowl haircut. I found this irresistible.

In addition to looks, Jamie had two other things going for him that I believe ignited my passions: 1) He was a fast runner, and 2) He was good at feeling wooden letters and guessing what they were. It seems that I liked speed and intelligence—apparently somewhere in the mammalian parts of my brain I sensed the evolutionary advantages of his skills.

I also rivaled him in both of those things.

We regularly organized our own races on the playground. Sometimes I beat him. I couldn't understand why this seemed to annoy him.

The "feeling letters" game was something we did in Miss Wilking's class to help us become more familiar with the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they made. She had a small black felt bag, and would slip the solid, weighty letters into it one at a time. The entire class would sit in a circle and pass the bag around, taking turns at guessing what letter she'd just put in. Once we got better at it, we started having races. Jamie was always really good at this game. He would make his way around the circle, racing and beating each kid one by one. When he got to me, I put my game face on. I wanted to win. I got the capital Q before he did. Jamie was pissed and his face reddened with embarrassment.

I was puzzled as to why my attempts to beat him at everything weren't getting my message across, so I decided to try a more direct tactic. I went up to him during morning playtime one day and said, "After naptime's over, meet me in the boys' coat room."

He looked at me suspiciously, "Why?"

"Because I want to give you something."

"What?" he asked.

"Just something," I replied mysteriously.

So after naptime, he obediently followed me into the boys' coat room and looked at me expectantly. This is where my memory annoyingly fuzzes out. I know that I kissed him, but I can't remember where. My mind hints that there may have been dry, childish chapped lips briefly pressed against mine, but knowing how nervous I was and how short he was, I think it is more realistic that I planted one on his forehead. Regardless, he ran out immediately afterward. 'How disappointing,' I thought. But for a brief period of time after that, Jamie and I were in love.

We laid on our towels in the dark at naptime, holding hands and watching "Sesame Street" together. I remember at one point, Ross Friebel slithered closer to us on his stomach and said, "Are you guys gonna get married?" Simultaneously we said, "Yes." Ross said, "Where will you guys live?" Jamie and I looked at each other with puzzlement. We hadn't thought of that. Jamie said, "We'll probably just live with my parents until we can afford our own place." I nodded my affirmation. That was good enough for me; I wasn't marrying him for his money, after all.

Since we didn't have a ring, Jamie gave me a sticker to wear on the back of my hand. I wore it the rest of the day, and on the bus ride home I tried to think of how to tell my mom I would be moving in with Jamie's family. Again, I decided to be direct.

My mom's friend Tammy was visiting, and they were sitting on the couch drinking canned Budweisers when I got home.

"Mom, I'm getting married," I announced. She and her friend looked at each other and laughed.

"Oh yeah?" she said.

"Yes," I insisted and, sensing she wasn't taking me seriously, thrust the back of my left hand toward her to demonstrate the gravity of the situation.

"Oh, a gold star," she said mildly.

I hesitated. I hadn't considered the fact that she might not believe me. Getting down to practical business seemed to be the best route of persuasion. "We need to get a dress," I persisted. "My party dress is too little now."

"Oh, okay, okay," she agreed. "Are you buying a house, too?"

This was more of the reaction I was looking for. "Some day," I answered. "I'll just live with him and his mom and dad first. So we need to pack my stuff so I can move out." I lost her attention around this point, and she went back to laughing with her friend.

My mother's lack of participation in her only child's (at that point) wedding didn't get me down. Jamie and I continued our blissful romance for the next couple of months until it all came crashing down one day near Christmas.

Every year at school we were allowed to shop for gifts for our families. I think it was called "Santa's Workshop." Our parents provided a nominal amount of money, and class by class we were led to tables in the back of the cafeteria where small gifts were displayed for us to buy: little things like key-chains, potholders, and miniature screwdrivers.

I was most excited about buying a present for my mom, and I immediately spotted the rhinestone rings near the end of the table. 'She'll think I'm getting her a real diamond ring!' I thought excitedly. There were only three left, and Jamie had already picked up two of them for his mom and sister. I quickly grabbed the third one for my mom.

"Hey! I wanted that for my aunt!" he protested.

"But you have two," I argued, "and I need one for my mom."

We argued for awhile, and the volunteer who was working at our end of the table looked baffled at how to resolve our dispute. I held my ground and bought the ring for my mom. That was the last time we spoke. Just like that our relationship was over.

After kindergarten, Jamie went to another school and I didn't see him again until my junior year of high school. In Mr. Vincent's 6th period psychology class he re-entered my life. I tried to make eye contact with him to see if he had any memory of our intense love affair, but he would never meet my eyes. I'm guessing that he did.

Brainstorming clusters of details

- 1 -

“disappearing” from school
shiny black car with tinted windows at far end of the mall parking lot
Fairmont/Marion County
feeling important
Jelly bracelets
“Billy Jean” and lying that I like Michael Jackson
disappointment at what older girls talked about
a longing for tacos
hierarchy among women
cement lot
flat sound of attempting to bounce a basketball without enough air
kids’ diapers that weren’t changed often enough
the same stars are over my grandparents’ house
pictures of bruises
he’s gone
waiting on edge for him to show up again
letters to a confidante

- 2 -

whiskey and sprite
the smell of cigarettes and hair oil
fingernails black and blue from being hit with a hammer
“What was it like when the world was blue and grey?”
the removal of watermelon seeds
watching me eat strawberries
knees creaking on the stairs
“Pay attention to me.”
“I’ll squeeze you to pieces you mices.”
Baby and cat-bird
“You’re going to eat me out of house and home.”
Combing his hair
coffee in Bonanza cups
“My heart cries for you” / the world’s smallest violin
talking to my barbies on the phone
giving me a “guy’s perspective” when I was 12 / “weenie”
Italian wedding soup
a quiet strength
the look in his eyes when he lost
I regret that I was afraid

- 3 -

Sneaking out
Sneaking in
Sitting down for a meal
“I give up” / "I will never be in love"
an 8 hour phone conversation
first vicarious impressions of California
“river style” vs “ocean style”
“Forever your girl”
the glow of the red digital numbers on the alarm clock radio
October 3-4, 1992
Neck up / below the waist
Praying for him to look away from me
The day after
Feeling different, emptier somehow
“you don’t seem very happy about it”

Introspective retrospective

I was just looking over a MySpace comment I left for a friend a year ago on his birthday. I was remembering what was going on in my life at that time, and what I was dealing with.

I also talked to an old friend last night who was a great help to me during that time (thanks, Brian). It was interesting to describe to him my feelings and experiences over the last few months in comparison to now, and to have him describe his own.

How quickly things change! And from directions you never saw coming. How wonderful to discover you still have the capacity to be surprised.

September 11, 2007

Estaba pensando sobre viviendo con mi sister en New Jersey.

AKA: The good thing about a gay friend.

When I bought the ticket it seemed like ages away, but this weekend I finally got to go visit my friend Tony in L.A. It was a great weekend.

There are certain wonderful things about having a close gay friend that don't happen (or might be very confusing if they did) in straight male/female friendships. Of course, it also helps when your friend is an extremely considerate host.

Tony likes to eat fruit with his cereal, and both mornings he cut up a bowl for me, too. I came into the kitchen to find him getting things ready with my bowl of fruit, a bowl and spoon waiting for my cereal choice, and a pot of coffee brewing (he doesn't drink it in the morning). I'm not used to this and it was blissful.

I like to drink my coffee outside in the morning and he sat on the back porch with me and we talked while I sipped my coffee.

When he took his multi-vitamin and Vitamin C he set some out for me, too.

Saturday morning when he woke up I was still lying in bed, so he climbed in too and we laid and talked until he couldn't stand my fans blowing on him anymore.

In the late afternoon, we were tired from the heat of the day and he wanted a short nap before we went out. So we laid on our sides and talked until he fell asleep.

At night, I asked him if he needed the bathroom before I went in to wash up. He said, "Are you just washing your face and brushing your teeth?" When I said yes, he said, "Great. I'll join you." So we took turns washing our faces and then he sat on the side of the bathtub and I perched on the top of the toilet and we brushed our teeth.

Anyway, I tried to be a considerate guest by washing up dishes, folding up bed linens, and cleaning the bathtub. It wasn't much, but I wanted to thank him in some way for his hospitality and kindness. And I hope I made him feel half as loved as I felt.

September 10, 2007

I believe I'm ready.

Am I ready? Yes, definitely.

(That's good 'cause it's probably too late.)

September 6, 2007

What a little bitch...

...that Indecision is. And add to it her friends: Fence-sitting, Chicken-shit, Wishy Washy, and Hesitation.


September 3, 2007

My goodness.

I didn't think it was possible to embarrass myself quite so thoroughly, but apparently I've managed to do it. Great. Yay me.

August 28, 2007

Today I was

poised like an animal about to take flight.

I was also so stuck on this song that I just listened to for the first time:

Well I hope that I don't fall in love with you
'cause falling in love just makes me blue,
Well the music plays and you display
Your heart for me to see,
I had a beer and now I hear you
Calling out for me
And I hope that I don't fall in love with you.

Well the room is crowded, people everywhere
And I wonder, should I offer you a chair?
Well if you sit down with this old clown,
Take that frown and break it,
Before the evening's gone away,
I think that we could make it,
And I hope that I don't fall in love with you.

Well the night does funny things inside a man
These old tom-cat feelings you don't understand,
Well I turn around to look at you,
You light a cigarette,
I wish I had the guts to bum one,
But we've never met,
And I hope that I don't fall in love with you.

I can see that you are lonesome just like me,
And it being late, you'd like some some company,
Well I turn around to look at you,
And you look back at me,
The guy you're with has up and split,
The chair next to you's free,
And I hope that you don't fall in love with me.

Now it's closing time, the music's fading out
Last call for drinks, I'll have another stout.
Well I turn around to look at you,
You're nowhere to be found,
I search the place for your lost face,
Guess I'll have another round
And I think that I just fell in love with you.

--Tom Waits

A wild itch.

Every once in awhile I get in these moods where I feel this pent-up energy and these wild urges to do something completely ridiculous and/or insane.

Fuck. It's late at night. Everyone I know has to work tomorrow and would not be up and interested in acting ridiculous. Most of the things I can think of need to have someone else present to be fully enjoyed and appreciated.

I'm not in the mood to water the lawn in the middle of the night. Or cook. I'm not feeling a drinking alone night tonight.

All I can do is clench my teeth and imagine taking wild actions. These actions are only vague and murky in my mind, but they are wild nonetheless.

"If you close the door, the night could last forever."

August 24, 2007

"If I am out of my mind, it's alright with me..."

"He had fallen under a spell and was writing letters to everyone under the sun. He was so stirred by these letters that from the end of June he moved from place to place with a valise full of papers....Hidden in the country, he wrote endlessly, fanatically, to the newspapers, to people in public life, to friends and relatives, and at last to the dead, his own obscure dead, and finally to the famous dead....

[He] had been overcome by the need to explain, to have it out, to justify, to put in perspective, to clarify, to make amends....The table creaking, he wrote on scraps of paper with a great pressure of eagerness in his hand; he was absorbed, his eyes darkly circled. His white face showed everything--everything. He was reasoning, arguing, he was suffering, he had thought of a brilliant alternative--he was wide-open, he was narrow; his eyes, his mouth made everything silently clear--longing, bigotry, bitter anger. One could see it all....

Considering his entire life, he realized that he had mismanaged everything--everything."

--Saul Bellow, Herzog

August 21, 2007


with your feet grounded
your thoughts turn toward the sky
and you start to float
you see your shoes are tied

and you close your eyes
imagine that your shoes
had those velco straps
so you could be set loose

so you hold real still
believe that it is true
and your shoes move forward
leaving without you

and you laugh so hard
it hurts your sides in pain
as you approached the sun
it rains on everyone

you float away
you float away
and find yourself, laughing
into thin air

Moderate comments

The cycles of hurt, sad, pissed off, and indifferent used to take months to play themselves out. Today it only took about 6 hours to achieve the full spectrum.

Is this a sign of progress? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe soon there will be no cycles at all anymore.

August 15, 2007


Alarming! So much nothingness!

August 12, 2007

The reminder that it can be different.

"I have always found the times when another person recognizes you to be strangely sad; I suspect the pathos of these moments is their rareness, the way they contrast with most daily encounters. That reminder that it can be different, that you need not go through your life unknown but that you probably still will--that is the part that's almost unbearable."

--Curtis Sittenfeld

August 9, 2007

Slapped across the face by the errors in my own perceptions

Crap. I don't know where to begin.

First, I posted these words quite sometime ago:

I have noticed that if it appears that someone likes me, I am immediately suspicious of them. This is because I assume that:

1) They obviously don't really know me.
2) They are really screwed up themselves.
3) They have very low standards.
4) All of the above.

It just occurred to me that a perfect example of this--this thing I'm trying to be more aware of about my own mind--happened to me last night. The majority of this realization came through a conversation with a friend after I explained what happened at a bar last night as I was out with my friend Scott. I recounted:

I think I must have been releasing some special pheromone that only weirdos could detect [this statement also referred to a bizarre bus encounter from earlier in the day]. Scott and I were sitting at the back table next to the pool tables talking. There was a table of people behind him, and most of them went home and one of the guys was left sitting there drinking a beer by himself. It was about 1:30, and I had been telling Scott some story that ended with me saying, "God, I sound so California-ized when I say that."

The guy behind Scott stood up and stepped over to our table and said, "I couldn't help but overhear..." I said, "What, the "California-ized" thing? Do you have something you want to say about that?" He said, "Yes, I do actually." He stuck out his hand and said, "Hi, I'm ____ (Dan? Stan? The man with the plan? I forget.)" I introduced myself and then Scott did, too. I briefly filled him in on the context of whatever I was talking about (it's hard to tell what it was, I don't even remember).

He said, "I want to talk about this more. Can I see you again?" I looked at Scott who started to laugh. I said, "Well, we'll probably be back here next Wednesday, so we might see you in here again." He put his hands up in mock defeat and said, "Ok, ok. So I guess we'll leave it at that then. You guys have a good night, and maybe I'll see you next week."

After he left I said to Scott, "Jesus Christ! What the hell was that? And for all he knew we are TOGETHER." Scott said, "Well, it's not like we were acting intimately or anything." I said, "I know, but who does that? Just walks up to a table where a woman is sitting alone with a man and hits on her?"

So I explained this to a friend and he said, "That's not so odd. Maybe it was more obvious than you think that you weren't together." I was very surprised that he didn't think this was as bizarre as I did. And when I started to think about it more I realized: I just assumed he was insane because he asked to see me again--because in my head it wasn't even conceivable that someone would or could ask me such a thing after only talking a few minutes.

I wasn't interested in seeing him again for many reasons, but that's not the point.

I assumed there was something wrong with him!

And then the ramifications of such conclusions and assumptions on my part over the course of my entire life began to quickly multiply in my brain. Suddenly, this explained my lifelong tendency to assume that people wouldn't recognize or remember me, and my persistent surprise if and when they did.

It explained my confusion in grad school as I was first getting to know my friend Linda. She'd asked me if I wanted to have dinner one night, and I agreed. We ate Thai, and had a nice conversation. It never occurred to me that she might want to do it again sometime. A couple weeks later she said, "Amie, I keep wondering if you're going to ask me if I want to get dinner again sometime." I was like, " want to go again?" She said, "Yes!"

It explained my surprise when a certain lovely someone I'd written to a couple of times on MySpace seemed to want to continue writing to me. I'd send a message, assume that was the last time we'd probably talk, and then go on about my business. When I'd get another message later on, I'd think, "He still wants to talk?"

How can I possibly be a social psychologist and be so fascinated by observing other people's interactions within their social world and be so completely fucking clueless about my own? It boggles the mind.

There's really nothing to be said about this, I suppose. I'm mostly just processing what felt like a very earth-shattering event in my mind. I'm not completely sure what to do with this new knowledge but, according to G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle.