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?