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.

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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.