December 31, 2008

When in the throes

I've resisted being completely open in this blog of late, mostly as a result of feeling a little inhibited by certain readership. I don't want you to:

- judge me
- use my honest words as evidence that I was, am, and always will be a fucking nutjob
- categorize me as some sort of ridiculous emo girl

I started fantasizing about starting another blog--one in which no one knew who I was. Then I thought, "Fuck that! I should write whatever I feel, other people's perceptions be damned!"

I recently lost a handwritten journal that I was keeping. God only knows where it ended up. Although I don't believe there was any identifying information in it, I found myself cringing when I thought of strangers reading the words I so earnestly and privately wrote. Then I thought, "Fuck that, too! If the things I wrote are shocking or disturbing to someone then they need to stop living such a one-dimensional life!"

Then I thought, "I spend a lot of time shouting at myself and at and about hypothetical others. Perhaps I should stop this."

Onward to the real point of this ranting madness...

Unfortunately, I acted very stupidly in the last few days. I know perfectly well that when you stop taking psychotropic medication that you have to taper off of it gradually. I've been very responsible about this in the past, but this time I wasn't. I just stopped, and I really suffered for it.

To be honest, I always kind of laughed when I heard commercials for antidepressants that said, "Stopping this medication abruptly can lead to adverse effects, including thoughts of suicide. If you experience this, call your doctor immediately." It wasn't that I doubted that this side effect was true, it's just that it seemed ridiculous and unrealistic to be self-aware enough during a severe depressive state to think, "Oh! Thoughts of killing myself just popped into my head. I need to jump on that. The proactive worm avoids jumping off the bridge!" My laughter was sardonic because those two states of mind just don't go together, in my experience.

They were definitely right about that side effect and, for better or worse, I was right about the fundamental incompatibility of those two mental spaces. But even if I weren't, what would one say?

"I'm wondering if going to that edge, literally and figuratively, would be enough to scare me into normalcy? Or would it be just that last push over?"

How can you succinctly and sufficiently describe the wide-eyed mute terror that leaves you grasping for something, anything, anyone? It all seems so real and overwhelming when curled up in a ball in the dark. Trying to describe it in the harsh light of day to a loving friend makes me feel ridiculous.

December 29, 2008

Bits of recent conversations

C (age 15): You mean you want to have sex?

A: Sure. Of course.

C: Ewwww.

A: Why is that "ewww"!?

C: Because you're old. You're too old.

A: How old is too old? What's the cut-off?

C: How old are you again?

A: I'm not telling. How old is too old?

C: 30 is the cut-off. And you're 31. You're practically ancient.

* * * * *

A: How long did it take you to get over a broken heart?

J (co-worker): A long time. 2-3 years.

A: Oh, my God. It's already been forever, I don't think I can take it anymore.

J: Well, that makes sense. It's really traumatic. You became so intertwined with another person that, when they were gone, there was this hole left. You remember the person you were before them. You remember the person you were with them. You remember the plans that you made, the memories you created. And you have to make all new ones after they're gone.

* * * * *

M: I don't know what it is about you, but I can't stop thinking about you. Are you sure we haven't met before? Because I really feel like I've known you for a long time.

A: No. We've never met before. I'm pretty sure.

M: Let's have dinner tomorrow. Or a drink. Or an ice cream cone. Or whatever you want. I just want to hang out.

I swear to God...

...if you just asked one more time...

December 26, 2008


Sometimes life is so surreal.

I have marveled on numerous occasions about the people whom MySpace and Facebook have brought into or back into my life. Just a couple days before Christmas, I was reconnected with a young lady for whom I used to babysit (C.) and her mother. I lived with them my senior year in college. It was a great deal for a poor student--free room in exchange for a certain number of child-care hours.

I was pleased to see what a beautiful young woman C. has become in the last 10 years was stunned to hear that they were just about to come to San Francisco for a stretch between Christmas and the new year. C's mother gave me C's cell number so that we could get in touch about when we could all get together while they are here.

I've been rushing around trying to straighten up my house for their visit, and tonight I got a text message from C. We sat here and texted about our lives and challenges for about an hour and a half. It was so strange. I mean, I used to take her to preschool and give her baths and we used to make up stories together! And here we are having an adult conversation! What a lovely surprise.

Testing (Part II)

Ballerina wannabe

"You know what? When I grow up I actually do want to be a junkie."

Great grandpa with phone

"Can't we just forget this restraining order nonsense?"


"It's my party and I'll go commando if I want to."


1. I recently fell in love with two songs and now I have to hear them over and over. And over.

Antony and the Johnsons - "Fistful of Love"

Bon Iver - "Skinny Love"

2. I want to go to Prague. I can't find the name of the cafe that lets you throw stale rolls.

3. I had the coziest Christmas with Nannette and Scott. I felt warm and loved and mentally stimulated. Prosecco, peach and blackberry cobbler, blankets, and decorating boxes. What could be better?

4. I didn't expect the box I decorated to become so personal. I was hoping to give it as a gift or maybe to sell it, and now I don't know if I can. My favorite parts say "It happened" and "At that moment, no one else compared." Other people's words that I made my own.

5. Tonight I am going through boxes of things, trying to clear out space in my office. Going through the strata of old letters from people I've loved, old pictures of myself, and the jottings I've made on scraps of paper over the years is painful and bittersweet. I'm trying clear space for the new.

December 23, 2008

I want it to be retroactive. Can it be retroactive? Please let it be retroactive.

Well I'd like to spread your perfume around the old apartment
Could we live together and agree on the same wares?
A trapeze is a bird cage even if it's empty and definitely fits the room
And we would, toooo...

And my dear, dear, dear Khalana
I talk too much about you
Their ears are getting tired of me singing all the night through
Let's just talk together
You and me and me and you
And if there's nothing much to say
Well, silence is a bore

I've gotta big, big, big, big heartbeat, yeah
I think you are the sweetest thing
I wear a coat of feelings and they are loud
I've been having good days
Think we are the right age
To start out own peculiar ways
With good friendly homes?

Sometimes you're quiet, and sometimes I'm quiet (Hallelujah)
Sometimes I'm talkative, and sometimes you're not talkative, I know....
Sometimes you hear me when others they can't hear me. (Hallelujah!)
Sometimes I'm naked and, thank god, sometimes you're naked. (Well, hello.....)

Can I tell you that you are the purple in me?
Can I call you just to hear you? Would you care?
When I saw you put your purple finger on me
There's a feelin' in your bottle
Found your bottle, found your heart
Gives a feeling from your bottled little part.

December 22, 2008

Balls to the wall

Today I applied for research studies, interviews, and focus groups on:

- Getting people to comply with documents requiring signatures and approval
- Examining how cognitive load influences pain perception
- Providing taste-testing and feedback on snack food
- Participating in a market research study on the topic of personal finances

I also applied to participate in a focus group on an unidentified topic. All it said was that it takes place in San Francisco for one and one-half hours on Jan. 6 and "if you feel you are the right individual, please call..." I don't what it is, but I feel I'm the right individual so I called and left a message.

I applied for part-time and temporary positions to:

- Interview Jewish women about working during World War II
- Serve as a pet food demonstration representative
- Proofread a 400-500 page opthamology textbook

Finally, I responded to something that said, "Make predictions, get paid." I can make predictions. I can't vouch for my accuracy, but I can definitely make predictions.

Looking for a condom alternative?

One of my friends from high school, Brian R., was in town last night with his fiancee. We went out for dinner and drinks and had a lovely time. I was reminded of why I always thought he was one of the nicest guys I knew in high school.

[As indicated in the previous entry] I tossed and turned fitfully last night and was unable to sleep until about 4am. I did a lot of things during that time, including watching YouTube videos. One of the videos I watched was my favorite scene from Love, Actually:

I also watched all the videos I could find on crows and ravens.

When I woke up this morning, all of my hair was standing straight up in the air in a most dramatic fashion. Seriously. Even my eyebrows were pointing upward. I was exhausted and running late for work and tamed it the best that I could before heading out the door. When I arrived, one of my co-workers said, "Wow. Your hair looks very...lion-like today..." and I burst out laughing.

I am researching opportunities to make money on Craigslist. I found a women's research study where you could make $500 testing out a new diaphragm. Unfortunately, it requires that you have sex once or twice. I asked my Magic 8-ball if this is in my future, and it said, "Not a chance."



I am awake stressing about money.

Because of budget cutbacks, I can't teach a class next semester. My income at my regular job is not enough to pay for the apartment, car to get to work, and the rest of the bills. I'm starting to feel a little bit on the verge of hysteria, to be honest. I'm strategizing ways to continue to feed the parrots and myself.

I've put in job applications, signed up for product testing and focus group mailing lists (because if you get selected for one they pay you anywhere from $50 to $150 bucks for a couple hours of your time), and started looking around my house for things I might be able to sell. I have a nice coat that my aunt got me that I've only worn once so far. I have a round-trip plane ticket that I got when I was bumped from a flight home. I have an extra TV. I'm getting rid of cable and downgrading my cell phone plan.

Beyond continuing to come up with ways to creatively advertise my greeting cards and putting in additional job applications, I'm not quite sure what else to do.

I don't have the money for Christmas presents. My grandpa is in renal failure. My car got towed and cost me $500.

I'm feeling freaked out and anxious and I needed to vent.

December 18, 2008

I think I forgot to post this...

Here is the link to my shop:

Six Birds Cards


I've been spending a lot of time coming up with creative ways to advertise. Between both the website and word of mouth networking, I've sold a few items so far! The two that are the most popular:

1. The chicken card ("Do you honestly think that slut Henrietta can love you the way I can?")

2. The card with my hand and the words "My hands remember how your body felt." (This one makes me especially proud, because it is my very favorite.)


Have you ever had one of those days when you find yourself standing naked in front of Walmart with a goat named Harold and a plastic baby Jesus?

Yeah, me neither.

December 17, 2008

Wednesday morning shiz-nit

As I was leaving for work this morning, I caught a portion of the Bay Area traffic update on the local NBC news from Mike Inouye. He's the biggest dork in the world, and often cracks me up with the weird little things he says. Today while reporting on traffic conditions coming into San Francisco on the Bay Bridge, he said: "Toll lane number 14 is closed this morning. So, if number 14 was your favorite toll lane, I'm sorry to tell you that you're going to have to find a new one today."

Maybe it was because it was 6am. Maybe it was because I hadn't had any coffee yet. But I found the serious manner in which he delivered this particular line to be unreasonably funny.

In other news, I made my first greeting card sale! Business is booming! Okay, not really. I sold one card to some wonderful soul in Illinois, but it's a start. I'm going to write her a special note when I mail her card to her. Kind of like saving the first $1 you make when you open a business.

December 16, 2008

Announcing the birth of 6 Birds Cards...

I'm so excited to announce I've opened a greeting card shop, 6 Birds Cards, on (a website for homemade items). It has taken a long time to come together.

For a long time I felt there were things in me that needed to be expressed, and this is one outlet for that. I've collected weird greeting cards for years, as many of you already know. I also have a long history of writing along with taking pictures of fairly random things (food I made, computer error screens, table tops, etc.). I horde old family pictures, too. It was only recently that it occurred to me that making cards might provide some focus to my eccentricity and melodrama.

I can't take all the credit for this. Scott has collaborated on the caption-writing of many of these cards. Nannette has viewed and made comments on many prototypes. Shayna provided the needed kick in the butt by hosting a day at her house where several of us made things and, um, drank mimosas. Some of you have seen me open my little beaten up suitcase like a traveling salesperson to proudly display them. In the last couple of years, many of you have viewed and commented on early versions of these pictures on MySpace and Flickr. Thank you, and your contributions are gratefully acknowledged.

At present, there are 31 cards being sold. There are many more on the way. I also happily accept donations--want me to use one of your pictures and make it into a card? Sweet! Bring it.

Regardless of whether you want to buy any of them, please take a look. I'm proud of them.

December 15, 2008

Beef stick?

I always feel rather emotional when a class that I'm teaching ends. I tend to get rather attached to the students and to the particular dynamics of a given group and am sorry to see them go. I've had the pleasure of having several of them get in touch with me after the class ended to say hello, either through MySpace, Facebook, email or just stopping by another class I was teaching. I am particularly sad to see this semester's statistics class end.

There are several extraordinarily outgoing students in the class, and I have a lot of fun joking around with them. They're also incredibly sweet.

The most recent example of this came last Monday. I wasn't feeling very well at the beginning of class. An observant student asked me if I felt okay. I mentioned that I hadn't had the chance to eat yet that day, and probably that's why I wasn't feeling so hot. He immediately reached into his bag, grabbed a Slim Jim, held it toward me, and said, "Beef stick? It's been in my bag for a couple of months, but these things last forever." Another student reached into his bag and pulled out chocolate. I laughed and thanked them and told them I was fine, that they didn't need to offer their food. At the beginning of Wednesday's class, one student brought an apple, another brought candy, and another brought Christmas cookies. I was incredibly touched (but also felt really mortified).

Maybe it was dumb of me not to go into teaching full-time. I don't really know anymore.

A disarming smile

Ugh. Sometimes I get so wound up and anxious in one-on-one interactions that I just start talking uncontrollably. There is very little filter between my head and my mouth. I speak in a total stream of consciousness kind of fashion interspersed with song lyrics, talking to myself, and meta-comments about the interaction taking place (e.g., "Oh, my God. Do you hear how I'm talking right now? I'm just telling you these random things..."). It must be quite a sight to witness when I'm really at maximum speed, and I imagine it must be overwhelming for the person on the receiving end. I mentally step outside of myself and think, "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" Then, when I proceed to keep talking, I mentally slap my head and groan.


I lost my wallet for the second time this year--I don't even want to talk about the extent of my absent-mindedness--and I'm still waiting for my ATM card to show up. This has been a huge pain in the ass.

A few nights ago I hadn't had any dinner and the bank was already closed and my card still hadn't come. I went to the grocery story with only a few dollars on me and was trying to be very careful about how much I spent. I went over the amount I had by twenty cents. I was embarrassed and asked the lady who was checking me out to put an item back. She said, "Don't you worry, honey," and reached into her pocket and pulled out two dimes. I protested that she didn't need to do that, that she couldn't possibly make a habit of that. She winked at me and continued completing my transaction. I was so touched. I thanked her profusely. It was one of those moments that makes you feel a little better about the world.

A couple days later I made another trip to the store and the same lady who'd loaned me the money checking me out. I said, "You loaned me twenty cents the other night and it was so sweet of you--I'd like to return it to you now."

She looked confused. "I did?" I handed her two dimes and smiled. "Well, that was pretty nice of me," she said laughing and accepted my two dimes. "Yes, it was," I agreed. "I really appreciated it."

"No problem, honey," she responded. "You have a great day."

December 10, 2008


I got an email from my boss yesterday. Let's call her "Janet" henceforth, shall we? (I'm glad you agree.)

I'd sent Janet a progress report on a project I was working on with a projected timeline of when various tasks were going to get done. She wrote to say she had some questions and that she would like to meet to get those questions answered. I was to plan to organize my time in the following fashion:

1. Janet and Amie sort out few remaining questions that Janet has.
2. Amie finalizes all questionnaires based on this discussion.
3. Amie prints out final questionnaires for Janet's final review vs penultimates.
4. Amie drafts and Janet approves letter to participants.
5. Pretests go out to 25 pilot participants.
6. Amie gives Janet correct answer sheets for all questionnaires.

Now, when I was four years old I needed some assistance with knowing when to brush my teeth, clean Kool-Aid stains off my face, put on a jacket, and take a bath. But Jesus Christ! I didn't spend 13 years after high school training to take a job that spells out at what time my every breath should be taken!

Janet attempts to account for my time down to the smallest detail on a given project, and then wonders why I begin to fall behind on other projects and why am I not "donating time" [a term thrown around often here that is just fancy-talk for "working for free"] to get caught up?

If you have wondered why I haven't been writing as much in my blog lately and/or haven't answered emails, it's because my two jobs are keeping me running around. Despite having two jobs, I am still forced to look for a third source of income in order to survive in San Francisco. Shit's expensive.

Thus, I have been brainstorming ways to make money or cut corners in order to make ends meet. Here are some of the thoughts floating through my puzzler:

1. From what locations can I steal toilet paper?
2. How many times can I eat generic bran flakes as a meal in one week without, um, negative repercussions?
3. How lucrative is prostitution? And what differentiates any skills or qualities I might have versus those another might have?

For what it's worth, I'm setting up a website on in order to sell my greeting cards. I'll send out a link as soon as all that's set up. Buy cards. Buy lots of cards!

December 4, 2008

"How the hell did I get here so soon?"

Grown-ups go to work when they don't feel good.
Grown-ups go to work when they're exhausted.
Grown-ups do things even when they don't feel like it.
Grown-ups have conversations and interactions with people even when they don't like them at all.
Grown-ups eat foods that are good for them even when they taste like hell.
Grown-ups don't pout and complain when they don't get their way.
Grown-ups probably even listen to their voicemail once in awhile.

I'd rather stay here in my room
Nothin' out there but sad and gloom
I don't wanna live in a big old tomb
On Grand Street...

- Tom Waits

December 2, 2008

"All the people you knew were the actors."

Well, all the apostles
they're sitting in swings
and I'd sell off my savior
for a set of new rings
and some sandles
with the style of straps that
cling best to the era

Some days I feel I’ve gotten off track.

And all of the angels
they'd sell off your soul
for a set of new wings and anything gold
they remember
the people they loved, their old friends
and I've seen through 'em all
seen through 'em all

How have I gone so far from where I thought I’d be?

Well, I'll go to college
and I'll learn some big words
and I'll talk real loud
goddamn right I'll be heard
you'll remember the guys
that said all those big words
they must've learned in college

And the people I thought I’d be with?

And it took a long time
but I came clean with myself
I come clean out of love with my lover
I still love her
loved her more when she
used to be sober and I
was kinder

But what if I’m exactly where I need to be?

December 1, 2008

Follow-up to "Cover Letter to Philip Morris"

Someone that I don't know in L.A. wrote to me today with a comment on my last post regarding my cover letter to Philip Morris. He says:

Second-hand smoke aside, no one's forcing you or your uncle to buy or smoke cigarettes. Tobacco and alcohol are legal, yet they kill hundreds of thousands each year. Marijuana is illegal, and it kills so few people that I can't find a statistic on it. How is that possible ?

My responses to stoner dude can be summarized as follows:

1. Sweetie, it's called sarcasm.

2. From where did you pull this uncle? I mentioned my imaginary husband Johnny and my yet-to-be-conceived youngest daughter Ellen with the lazy eye. But there was no uncle.

3. Start your own blog. You can be on your soap-box and cite epidemiologic data (or your lack thereof) as much as you want to.

So life-like and inviting!

On Saturday I the most horrible date I've ever had in my life and, let's be honest, in the last year there's been a LOT. At least by my standards.

[Brief aside: Please don't misconstrue that last statement about there being a lot of dates. It should be noted that 1) I do not enjoy this process; 2) Mostly they've been first/last dates; and 3) It's not like I'm out whoring around. Not that I should have to justify myself in that area. But still.]

I've gone out with twenty-some guys in the last year, and there's definitely been some highs and lows.

A few highlights:

- the DJ who used words like "hella" and "word" at regular intervals and spent 15 minutes on his cell phone during the date telling his friend to quit doing drugs and come and stay at his place and then pointed out to me how this was evidence of what a sensitive and caring guy he was

- the guy who called me EVERY DAY for two weeks (at times ranging from 5:15am to 11pm, and including times that I was at work) and later went on to explain that he COULD NOT have a physical relationship with me.

- the sweet guy who showed me his apartment in a high-rise in Oakland and, after we'd gone up on the roof to look at the view, accidentally locked us out at 3am. The last BART to the city was long gone and we fell asleep on the floor of the lobby of his building waiting for a locksmith. I made it home by 7am in time to get ready for an interview.

I've mentioned others before. There's no need to go further. I don't even want to go into details about the one on Saturday because it was so hideous. I cried and cried as I was driving home and called Nannette to ask if she could meet me somewhere so we could talk.

I've mentioned before that I'm keeping track of how many there were so that, some day if and when I meet the right one I can say, "See how hard I looked?" Some days I find it all amusing. Some days I wonder if there's something wrong with ME. Some days I think, "Fuck it. I don't have the energy for this. I should buy a blow-up doll. There's probably some Christmas specials going on."

Cover letter to Philip Morris

Dear Philip Morris,

Please consider this letter and my attached resume as my application for Brand Manager within your company. I am confident that you will find me a qualified candidate with a well-defined long-range vision for insuring the continued profitability of the Philip Morris brand.

Once upon a time I was a consumer of your products. My husband Johnny was, too, until we lost him to the cancer. I’ve seen many relatives die after battling long illnesses, but do you have any idea what it’s like to watch someone die of lung cancer, Philip Morris? I wish you could have heard him beating on the walls, begging to die as quickly as possible.

Can you appreciate how many of my hopes and dreams went to the grave with Johnny? We were supposed to be putting a roof on the house this year. We were finally going to be able to afford to take our youngest daughter Ellen to the doctor to see about her lazy eye. We had plans to buy of those inner tubes with the built in coolers so that we could spend lazy summer days floating down the river with ice cold beer. Have you ever known such carefree plans, Philip Morris?

I think you owe me this job. I might not have some fancy college degree or any marketing experience, but how can you compare those things to the education I have received from life, Philip Morris?

Help me dry my kids’ tears and put Hamburger Helper on the table. Help me to get the dog some flea and tick medication—dear God, we are being eaten alive in here Philip Morris. Help me buy the fancy panties I’m going to need to snag me a new man to help support us.

Please don’t be an asshole about this, Philip Morris. I look forward to speaking with you soon.


Amie [censored]

November 30, 2008

10 things to 10 people

1. I feel like you've saved me over and over again.
2. I miss you.
3. Sometimes I wish you would just leave me alone.
4. I feel unworthy of the esteem in which you seem to hold me.
5. Let's start driving. Now.
6. I feel more peaceful now that we've forgiven each other.
7. What if...?
8. Thank you for loving me.
9. I am so grateful that I can say absolutely anything in the world to you and know that it will be heard without judgment.
10. You give me hope for myself.

November 24, 2008

2 unrelated things

1. I woke up this morning to this message:

We need someone to write song lyrics for our band. We're a moderately terrible band with pretensions to be something between the melvins and kiss. We have not obtained a singer, but when we do, we need something for him to sing.

If interested, let's get a drink. If not, let's get two.

I don't really want to have a drink with this person, but the message did make me laugh.

2. One of my favorite websites, A Softer World, has t-shirts for sale and advertised them this way:

If you buy one of our shirts for your mom or your dad for Christmas, your parents will probably get back together. Unless they are happier apart. Then they will just look good.

November 23, 2008

Far from heaven

That was the day I stopped believing in love. That kind of love. The love in books and films. The love that tells us to abandon our lives and plans, all for one brief touch of Venus. So often we fail at that kind of love. The world just seems too fragile a place for it. Perhaps it's just that we are too fragile.

"There is hope. Make the call."

Today I worked on something that I started over a year ago for the first time: making greeting cards. It was an extremely satisfying experience.

For years I've felt there was something creative in me trying to get out. And for the last couple of years I've taken pictures of random things and never really knew what I would end up doing with them.

Here are some prototypes:

Bluff 019
Once I bluffed and fooled everyone, I stopped playing. It was enough that my eyes hadn’t revealed everything for once.

This one above I actually made last October, and I still like it. So after mailing out all those copies, I made another.

Momma wished for a bigger set of tits. See how that didn’t work?

My hands still remember 006

This one above was a postcard secret I made last October, and it's one of my favorite things I've ever made because it was so anguished and heartfelt. I felt like it didn't need any writing inside because it said enough already.

Paul's visit 005
We painted our bodies like savages and vowed to give our children names of towns we’d never been to. Then your mother called and told you to come home for dinner.

Cluck cluck
Do you honestly think that slut Henrietta will love you the way I can?

Portland 048
I heard, I heard. I heard it clear. I was afraid to follow. (Shel Silverstein)

This one above I have on my MySpace page entitled "run away with little boy blue." That title is appropriate for so many reasons. As is this caption.

Don't jump
Turned off the stove—check. Set the cat free—check. Told the landlord to go fuck himself—check. Gave you all my taped MacGuyver episodes—damn…

I bought stamps and put my brand name on the back of each: 6 Birds Cards

There are a couple that I want to re-work a bit. There are at least a dozen more that I've made and am still thinking about the captions. But I'm pretty happy with them. Also, I realize they're not for everyone, as has already been evident from the people I've shown them to. I don't care, though. I love them. I'd buy them.

November 12, 2008

All you need is...

I have this weird thing I like to do.

In Facebook there is this strange little application (among exactly 9,458 others) you can add to your page. It's called "send good karma" and I added it months ago when a friend spammed me on a list. You earn points when you send people good karma, and you can use those points to "purchase" different types of good karma to send to people--things like health, prosperity, love, and wisdom. You can send it to your friends and you can send it to strangers. You can also put out a general request to all good karma users for a specific type of karma you want.

At first I was amused by this ability to send and receive good karma to and from strangers. Then, as I started reading the reasons people listed as to why they'd requested a good karma, I was touched.

Take love for example. People give responses to the prompt, "I ask for this karma because..." such as these below:

"...because I have been unlucky in love lately."

"...because I feel like love is something for other people and not for me."

"...because I am lonely."

"...because the one person who loved me is no longer in my life."

It's true that I'm a sucker for sad bastard stories and this has been pointed out to me by more than one person. But after reading these responses, I started sending "Love" to every stranger I could. (Am I, like, a good karma whore?)

Then I tested it for myself. I typed the reason I was requesting the good karma of "love" be sent to me:

"...because sometimes I am afraid I only have a limited supply of it."

I started getting "love" and encouraging, supportive messages from people all over the globe. Somehow I never get tired of them. This application really cheers me up.

Conversation at work

Co-worker (regarding our company's 25th anniversary party this evening): Are you bringing a date tonight?

Me: No.

Co-worker: Thank God I'm not the only pathetic one.

November 9, 2008

A symphony in three movements

The song in my head right now:

I'll take advantage while
You hang me out to dry
But I can't see you every night
No, I can't see you every night

(I do.)

The book quote that just struck me:

Our backyard looked into the woods, and we'd sit out there when it got too humid to breathe inside. Charlottesville turns into a rain forest every summer; the sea winds blow in from Tidewater, a few hundred miles to the east, and then they run slam into the Blue Ridge, so all the hot, wet air just hovers over Charlottesville. We'd look out across our neighbors' yards and try to imagine their lives. Did the really live here, call it home? Or were the on their way to bigger things, like us? Did they get stuck here on their way somewhere else, or was this the town where they arrived and said, This is the place? Did they give up and blame each other? Were they lying low and planning their next move?

- From Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

The vivid dreams I've been having:

1. I dreamed about my bike. I barely know how to do anything to it, including ride it, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I dreamed I finally got on it to go for a ride. When I got there I had a flat tire and absolutely no idea how to fix it. I stayed in one place forever trying to get it fixed. I finally broke down and admitted I couldn't do it myself. I asked someone to help me so that I could finally get somewhere.

2. I dreamed I was flying. I haven't had one of those dreams in years. I would have dreams where I tried desperately to get off the ground--would run and run and hold out my arms, hoping the wind would lift me--but I never got there. In this dream, I was gliding over meadows as the late summer sun started setting in the sky, and I was thinking, "My God, it's been so long..." A voice of someone I knew in my past--I couldn't quite place her--said, "How do you do this? Can you show me?"

I shook my head and said out loud as I continued to fly, "No. I don't think so. You have to figure it out for yourself. It took me a lot of trial and error. I still don't always get it right."

She persisted. "Just tell me how you do it! Teach me how!"

I answered, "I can't. I can't teach you."

November 6, 2008

Confessions of a dangerous mind

I am bored.

I think I get bored way too easily.

I get lonely frequently.

I think I get lonely way too easily.

I would like to be having sex.

Going to Richmond--however briefly--has made me think a lot about what I want in my life.

I am planning my exit strategy now more than ever--on the drives to and from work, in the quiet moments before sleep, with my head underwater in the shower, while waiting for the coffee pot at work...

November 3, 2008

In between

I imagine there are only a few moments in your life, at best, when you have the opportunity to tell another human being--really tell them--the impact they've had on you. The funny thing about these moments is that it seems like each second should be momentous and dripping with meaning, and that usually isn't the case. It often seems that they could easily be mistaken as a moment of lesser import because they are sandwiched in between more mundane and trivial affairs: Did I remember to turn off the coffee pot? My foot itches How long would a piece of hail last if I were to save it in my freezer?

Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to say these things to my grandpa--my favorite person in the world, living or dead. I was exhausted and feeling rushed My hair was dripping from taking a bath and I was having trouble getting my suitcase closed. I needed to stop and get gas before getting on the interstate to go back to the Pittsburgh airport.

I felt self-conscious about asking my mom and my step-grandma to leave me alone with him for a few moments. I worried that I would lose my nerve to face up to this conversation. I wondered how to sum up a lifetime of love for and memories of and gratitude toward someone.

He looked small and frail in pajamas that have grown too big for him. I pulled a kitchen chair into the living room and sat next to him in his recliner. I took his hand into mine and looked him in the eyes. I told him everything I wanted to say. I wept. I thanked him for loving me and helping to raise me. I told him how important he was to me and I loved him very much.

He squeezed my hand and listened to me with tears in his eyes. He told me in a weak voice that I'd brought so much happiness into his life. He told me not to feel guilty about not coming home for his funeral because he didn't want one. He told me he would watch over me. He told me he'd had a good life. I stroked his arm and asked him if he was scared. "No," he said quietly.

I hugged and kissed him, called everyone back in the room, and said my goodbyes. Then I slipped back into business mode--loading my suitcase in the car, checking my watch, and returning to the life I've created for myself on the west coast.

October 28, 2008


My grandpa is dying quickly, and my heart is breaking. I will feel really alone when the last most important person in the world to me is gone.

October 19, 2008


I received an email early this morning that said, "I didn't feel anything special when we kissed. I felt like one of your birds. Except I can't compare myself to them, because you love them."

October 14, 2008

Best overheard conversation ever.

Sadly, it wasn't overheard by me!


Person A: Look, I’m telling you, they’re not bears. This should be the end of the conversation.

Person B: The Care Bear Cousins count as bears.

A: No, they don’t! Brave Heart Lion isn’t a bear! He’s a lion! You know why? Because he’s a fucking lion, that’s why! Brave Heart is a lion and Bright Heart is a raccoon and Fat Heart is an elephant. Now what do all of these things have in common? Oh, right, they’re not bears!

B: Look, they do the Care Bear Stare. They are honorary Care Bears. Maybe not by species, but -

A: Ah ha, but they don’t do the Care Bear Stare. They do a “call.” Only bears can Stare.

B: Cats stare.

A: We’re talking about cartoons, man. Don’t bring real life into it. Besides, I meant “Stare” with a capital S.

B: Need I remind you of the second Care Bears movie? The one where the fat motherly Care Bear and the unicorn - Super Heart or whatever - quite clearly took care of the baby Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins? It is obvious that the Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins are all sprung from the unholy union of bear and unicorn.

A: So you’re suggesting that the Care Bear Cousins are the result of interspecies breeding?

B: That’s why they’re all plushy.

A: That’s horrible.

B: Well, when you get right down to it, the idea of magical bears embodying emotions isn’t great either. Where are the evil Care Bears?

A: There’s Grumpy Bear.

B: Grumpy Bear is good-natured down deep. I mean an actual evil Care Bear. Nastiness Bear, Anger Bear, Hatred Bear, Racism Bear. That sort of thing.

A: Bad Heart Mongoose? Greedy Heart Ostrich? Brutal Heart Hippopatamus?

B: Wow, evil Care Bear Cousin names sound like the titles of David Lynch films.

Here's the original link.

October 10, 2008

"You're so fine, and you're mine."

I'm so over these Blue Angels and the constant sounds like the city is under attack today.

I got my teeth cleaned this morning, and I LOVE going to the dentist. My dentist, Jeremy Velasco, is a sweetie. Today he looked at my chart, looked at me, and said, "So, you're going to be 32 in a couple of months, huh?"

"It's nice of you to point that out," I told him. He laughed and said he was going to be 40 soon and that I had nothing to complain about.

While he and the hygienist were preparing "the Jet" (this awesome sandblasting tooth carwash that makes my teeth whiter than white), I sat back in the chair and listened to the music that was being piped into the office. It was "Like a Virgin," and I bounced my foot along with the music. Jeremy was writing something on my chart, the hygienist was lining up the necessary equipment on the little stainless steel tray, and suddenly we all burst into song together at the chorus: "Like a virgin, woo! Touched for the very first time..." Then we all looked at each other and laughed. It made me so happy.

Then I stopped at the bank and while waiting in line, "Another One Bites the Dust" was playing somewhat loudly. I found myself rocking back and forth and swishing my check for deposit around in time to the music. I halfway turned to find that the guy in line behind me was passionately (and silently) lip-synching the words and jutting out his chin to phat, infectious beats. We giggled at each other.

"And another one down, and another one down, and another one bites the dust-AH!"

October 9, 2008

Being without clothing or covering

The lovely Nannette and I had the most beautiful Sunday in the world this past weekend.

It was a beautiful day in San Francisco and we started out with a walk at Lake Merced which, apart from the rather jarring skeet shooting, was lovely. We had a leisurely lunch and then made our way to the Kabuki Springs and Spa. I'd never been here before and wasn't quite sure what to expect in terms of how I'd feel about the nudity part.

Though we were going on a 'women only' day, I still considered taking my bathing suit as a sort of safety net in case I chickened out. I ended up electing to leave it at home and was pretty proud of myself for such bravery.

The spa was lovely and relaxing. You bathe before you go in, and they provided lovely cucumber-scented shampoo and body wash. We did the dry sauna, wet sauna, salt scrub, and both the hot and cold pools. Plus, we spent a lot of time just hanging out on a bench and sipping tea.

I felt more comfortable than I thought I would, but I couldn't stop being aware of being naked. I just couldn't...I don't know...FORGET. It's a strange feeling to walk into a room of naked people. Going through my mind was something along the lines of:

Naked. I'm naked. I'm definitely naked. She's naked. She's naked, too. And so is that lady and that one. Holy crap, I'm naked with a bunch of strangers! Naked, naked, naked. I'm now laying down. Naked. Now I'm getting some more tea. Naked. I think I'll lay across this bench. Naked. In my birthday suit. Nude. Nekkid. Let's see...what are some other words for naked...?

That was pretty much playing on a loop through my head the whole time.

I also became startlingly aware of just how much I stare at people. It's not exactly a secret that I love to watch people. I observe them and make up stories about them and ponder what they're doing or thinking. But staring at others takes on a whole new meaning when one or both of you is NAKED. I'd forget myself for awhile and sit back and watch everyone, and then I'd feel suddenly creepy and self-consciously avert my eyes. Even opening the door for someone or smiling politely when passing them took on a whole new meaning. Naked.

My favorite part of the whole experience was probably the gong. It was on-hand in case people were ruining the serenity of the experience by talking too loudly. The bathers were gonged a couple of times while we were there, and I decided that if I worked there I'd gong people every day.

We were incredibly relaxed afterward and lingered over some Mediterranean snacks, wine, and a hookah--my first one ever.

October 7, 2008

Email goggles

Google has recently released a sort of designated driver for your email. On Friday and Saturday nights, when they deem you more likely to be, um, cognitively impaired, Gmail asks you to complete some math problems prior to sending out emails. I'm terrible at math problems in my head, but I could totally do these while drunk.

It's a good thing I've never needed this, though. I've definitely never needed it on a Monday night.

I want this speech at my own wedding...

This man makes me laugh so hard. I've never laid eyes on him, but I swear to God I'd marry him tomorrow. Blindfolded. And drunk.

October 5, 2008


When I was a kid, I was quite the prayer. Every night I dutifully said prayers that began with the well-known, “As I lay me down to sleep…” and ended with a list of every single person that I loved and a request that an eye be kept on them. I used to get confused, though. I was never quite sure to whom I was actually supposed to be praying: God? Jesus? I mean, I knew that one was the dad and one was the kid. I just didn’t know which one was directly involved in my affairs and which one was only loosely affiliated with the job. I used them interchangeably to cover my bases. Going along with my interest in prayer was my desire to find out about and figure out how to get to heaven.

One of my stepfathers was an avid fisherman, and I used to have to go with him all day, every day in the summer when I was 6 and 7 years old. I hated him, and I was convinced that everything he did pretty much guaranteed he was going to hell. I hated fishing. I hated having to be quiet and speak in whispers all day. I hated seeing him put worms on the hook and watching them wriggle frantically. I hated watching the fish die; I always cried. So I tried to find other ways to amuse myself and to remove myself from the hell-bound, worm- and fish-killing stepfather. I wanted to show God/Jesus that I wanted no part of this.

I was really interested in talking to people about what they thought of death and heaven and hell. I used to make my way around the lake or along the river to talk to all the fishermen who were old men. (I loved my grandpas dearly, you see, and in my mind all old men were somebody’s kind and sweet grandpa.) I would ask them if they were afraid to die and what they thought was going to happen to them when they died. Some of them were nice and would talk to me, while others just wanted the pesky, noisy little girl to go away. I kept this up until one old man tried to put me in the trunk of his car, telling me how good he was going to make me feel. Then I ran like hell, knowing he was going to hell. After that I contented myself with playing with my stepfather’s night crawlers.

If he was going to eventually kill them, I wanted to at least make sure they had an interesting life first before they went to worm heaven. It seemed like the Christian thing to do. I would make these worm families with names and personalities for each one. There would be Henry, the father worm, who came home and drank at night and took out his frustrations and insecurities on his family. There was Katherine, the mother worm, who would sit by the window looking out at the rain and clipping coupons—saving her pennies for the day that she could leave. There was Claire, the teenage daughter worm, who was sullen and quiet and who shut herself in her room and wrote dark poetry and song lyrics and waited for the day when she would be out of the house. Their blissful reverie ended, of course, when one of the family members was cruelly snatched out of my hand and impaled upon a hook.

In addition to my prayers and constant thinking about heaven and hell (and whether my doomed worm family was going there), I wanted to work on paving my own way to the great cloud playground in the sky. One way that I saw to do this was by being well-mannered and polite—like saying “excuse me” if I burped or “bless you” when someone sneezed. Except I didn’t trust myself to always remember to say these things. I was afraid I might suddenly forget or be distracted and miss the opportunity. The only way to ease my anxiety about all of this was to sit for long periods of time, usually rocking myself, and say enough of these polite phrases to last me a lifetime. Just in case I forgot to bless someone when I was 15, 29, 45, or 82, I wanted to have enough of them said out loud and built up that they would serve as an insurance policy against later rudeness or forgetfulness.

I’d sit Indian-style, rocking from side to side, saying, “Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me….” over and over. I would work on excuse me until I was tired of saying it, and then I’d switch to a long list of bless you’s. I’d work my way through every polite word or phrase I could think of:

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

“Pardon me, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me…”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…”

“Please, please, please, please…”

I’d spend an afternoon doing this every so often, convinced that I was building up a good supply and that Jesus/God would see the earnestness of my efforts and—even if I occasionally forgot to say these things in the future—would let me into heaven.

One thing that I knew was a big no-no was suicide. Killing yourself was the quickest way to get to hell. Unfortunately, I was very curious about it. Thoughts would creep into my mind like, would it hurt? Would I chicken out? Would I go to hell immediately or would I hang around and rattle chains for awhile? I felt incredibly guilty when I had these thoughts. If suicide was the ultimate sin, then surely thinking about suicide was something to be avoided at all costs also. I made a conscious exception once, though.

There was a small house that my school bus passed every morning on the way to Simpson Elementary. It was a modest little one-story house at the intersection of Johnson Ave. and Philadelphia Ave. Every Christmas they covered their house and filled their yard with Christmas decorations in outlandish contrast to the neighbors next door. I looked forward to seeing this house every morning around the holidays, because its colorful cheeriness stood out against gray, slushy winter mornings and the drudgery of going to school.

I made up my mind that I wanted to write the people who lived in that house a letter telling them how much I liked their Christmas decorations. I worried that they wouldn’t take a letter from a little kid seriously, so I tried to figure how to make them REALLY understand how much I liked their decorations. I decided to pretend to be an adult and write the letter, except this didn’t seem to have enough gravitas, either. Eventually my mind hit upon the perfect solution—I would tell the family in the letter that I had been just about to kill myself when I saw their Christmas decorations and changed my mind. I realized I was risking my own salvation by doing so, but it seemed that making them feel so good would be worth it in the long run. God/Jesus wasn’t an idiot and would realize that, wouldn’t he?

I decided to tell this family in my letter that they reminded me there were still good and beautiful things in the world and their Christmas decorations had saved my life. This, I felt, THIS was the way to make them understand!

I never sent that letter.

October 3, 2008

The tenth month

October has been my favorite month for a long time. It makes me crave the east coast though, and the colors of the trees, the smell of wood smoke, and the crackling of leaves underfoot. When I was leaving work on Wednesday, I heard a drum-line practicing in the distance and I was filled with intense nostalgia for fall the way I grew up with it.

October is still my favorite month, but as an adult it has become inextricably associated with people I’ve loved (a very short list). This weekend, in particular, makes me think of how filled with anticipation and excitement I was a year ago on this day. What a wonderful feeling. And in a couple of more weekends, my mind will drift to other memories.

For the first time in quite some time, I have no plans this weekend. It is just fine with me.

It is supposed to rain, and I hope that it does.

I am making a stew, and the scent of it is filling the house.

I am writing on my bedroom wall because I was running out of places to put my words. I want to see stories and poems and quotes and lyrics—words, just words--all around me. This endeavor is infinitely more satisfying than the covert wall scribblings with magic marker from my youth.

Today I learned to give myself injections, and it was easy. All my worries and fears and hesitations…gone.

Tonight I’ll drink a glass of wine and sit outside.

Thanks to Bob, soon my feet will be documented in the Berkeley Folklore Archives.

That is about all.

September 27, 2008

Pre-dawn, with foghorns

I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about how I could climb under my desk at work and take a nap and no one would know. This week I *did* need sleep so desperately that I went out to my car in the parking lot, laid the driver’s seat back, put a sweater over my head, and feel asleep. I didn’t quite stoop to crawling under my desk, but that day is coming. I can feel it.

I started a list. I want to be able to show it to you one day and say, “See how long I waited? See how hard I looked?” And then we will laugh and I will think, ‘That seems like a lifetime ago. Thank God.’”

I like the idea of being thorough now, so that later I can read about the transition. I can remember the lonely times. I can affectionately look back on my angsty, wandering self and think, “Awww, honey. You were trying so hard.”

I didn’t write back because I didn’t have anything nice to say. I thought that would still be okay, but—to be honest—the prospect of uttering/typing the words, “We have to catch up!” one more time made me want to retch.

This is the last one for awhile. I’m tired. I just need a break. I don’t have it in me right now.

I’m trying to mentally gear up to take the baby steps. Maybe the first one comes in the form of a Bodybugg. It took so goddamn long before, but it was so worth it. I at least want a 5K. I could totally do that.

I know it was a mistake allowing myself to be without them for awhile and running the risk of ending up back there. I can feel the slippage. On Monday it was so strong I could barely breathe. Oct. 1 will change all of this.

Why you wanna be an asshole and steer your shopping cart like a maniac through Safeway? We’re all in this together.

September 24, 2008

This minute

Oh, holy mother of God I need a few seconds to breathe...

I just came from one job, and in about 30 minutes I'll start another. Here's what I'm fantasizing about right now.

1. A hug. From anyone. I don't give a goddamn who you are at this moment. My bank teller who told me to have a nice day? Lay one on me! The dude in the elevator at the SFSU parking garage who sounded like he was coughing up a lung? That's right, baby--you know what to do!

2. A perpetual cold side on my pillow.

3. A leisurely afternoon of drinking sangria on a patio with my closest friends.

4. More rooty tooty, less fresh and fruity.

5. A bra whose underwire is not poking the bejeesus out of my boob and making me feel like I want to napalm small villages.

6. Toenails that never lose their polish.

7. A little pencil sharpener shaped like a duck.

8. Sunglasses that are more movie-star-like; these aren't cuttin' it.

9. One of those moonwalk bouncy things that you jump in. Except for adults.

10. A Wet Banana.

11. One of those places where you can rent a room full of dishes and smash it all up with a baseball bat to relieve stress.

12. An escape plan.

13. A trap door.

14. A secret entrance.

15. A hiding place.

16. A hollowed out book.

17. A juicy secret.

September 22, 2008

Big ideas, don't get any

("You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking.")

September 21, 2008

For a change

Alternative title to this blog: Meta-Blogging-Analysis

Perhaps you have noticed: I'm good at being fairly cryptic in this blog.

Sometimes I am deliberately vague. Sometimes I speak through song lyrics that others have written. Sometimes through a picture or poem or portion of a story. Sometimes through metaphor or dream.

I do this for two reasons. One is that I write about some pretty private and, at times, dark stuff. I know the majority of the people that read this blog, but STILL. This level of protection allows me to feel that I am laying myself completely bare while still having something to hide behind.

The second reason is that sometimes other people's actions cause me pain and confusion and anger, and I end up directly or indirectly processing them here. Other than the sharing of funny stories or partial conversations or tales of my mother, it isn't my intention to write about other people's business in here. This encryption is a way of protecting them, too, even if at the time I'm writing about them I want to kill them.

When I first began writing this blog in the late summer of 2006, it just seemed fun to have an outlet: somewhere to put odds and ends even if no one ever read them but me. In the beginning I tended to write about lighter things. But as my fourteen year relationship was unraveling and I was (what felt like) leaving nearly half of my life behind and starting over again at the age of 30, I began writing in here in earnest. I really cannot emphasize enough how much this has helped me over the last couple of years--to know that I have this outlet, to know that you are reading.

For a change, then, at this moment I'm just going to come out and say what I mean. I need to share this with someone, need to actually say the words, and I don't feel like hiding behind anything. I still have someone else's privacy to protect so I can't say absolutely everything, but I can come pretty close.

As many of you know, since C. and I broke up I've been involved in the murky world of dating. I've met some very nice people. I've made one very dear friend. I fell head over heels in love and was hurt deeply (and I still struggle with that). I had a couple of short but nice relationships. I had a couple of serious disappointments. In a nutshell, I guess my experiences are not so different than everyone else's--I just got started a little later.

Here are some things that I find myself coming back to over and over again throughout these experiences. Some are questions. Others are doubts and fears:

- How much can/should you know about someone or should they know about you?

In my ideal relationship, I'd like to be able to share everything. Not everyone agrees with this.

- How much honesty is too much?

Again, in my ideal relationship, I want to be able to say anything and know that it will not be judged or ridiculed or held against me, and I'd like to be able to offer the same to my partner.

- Is it possible to be known thoroughly and loved deeply at the same time? I wish I could say "Yes, absolutely," but so far my experiences have just not shown that to be true. I am still hopeful. I am still incredibly hopeful.

The last three people I was in a relationship with said they wanted to KNOW me. They wanted to know what I was thinking and feeling, no matter how crazy or weird or dark it seemed. They wanted to listen; they wanted me to feel like I could tell them anything. When I eventually started taking them up on it and trying to say anything, *poof* they vanished. I have become highly suspicious of anyone who says this and--for the right person--I don't want to be.

On Friday night I went out on a date. This has been happening a lot lately, but on this night I was nearly sick to my stomach with anxiety. I was so nervous. On the way to the wine bar where we were meeting, I played the most lovely and calming song I know over and over and over. A dear friend of mine sweetly texted me messages of love and encouragement, and I tried to keep it together.

Considering how unconventionally it started (i.e., spreading false rumors about T.S. Eliot--it's a long story), it was the best date. It was so easy. It was so much fun. We sat and talked for over four hours right there at that table and, other than the occasional punctuation of getting more drinks, I was barely aware of time passing. Of course I talked my brains out. But I tried to make myself shut up frequently, too. We laughed and laughed. I consider myself reasonably well-traveled, but he's traveled at least five times as much.

The more we talked and the more I gazed at him across the table, the more I thought, "I can't believe you're sitting right here in front of me. How is it possible that you even exist?"

Near the end of the night we were trading lists of places we wanted to go. I was naming mine in between his encouragement of, "Don't think! Just say them!" When I said, "Southeast Asia," he said, "Oh, God. Bali is beautiful. Let's go. Do you want to go?"

My eyes widened and I said, "What, NOW?"

With complete seriousness he said, "Yes, we would have an amazing time. We could be there in 13 hours."

My heart started to thump. The person who would say something like this to me has always been my fantasy. My brain started to search wildly for ways to make this work. I tried not to completely lose control.

We continued to talk about it; I felt just couldn't. If I hadn't just started this job. I said, "I'll plan a trip to Bali with you; I just can't go tonight." He smiled and we went on to continue our conversation.

At a couple of different points he mentioned how much fun he was having, and I was glad he'd said it and not me. I felt so dorky because I kept wanting to say, "I'm so happy!" I gave him a ride home and, when he invited me in, my God I wanted to go. I declined politely because I don't want to fuck this up. He kissed me gently and we said goodnight. As I pulled away, I rolled down all the car windows. I felt so alive and excited. I wanted the night-time air swirling around me.

Now I'm left wondering about "the rules." Who should say what and when? I had promised to send him a poem that we talked about. I haven't sent it yet but shouldn't he first say...? Or, he asked me out the first time and now is it my...? I hate worrying about this bullshit. I kind of just want to say, "I really want to see you again," but it feels so hard. I'm afraid.

So there it is--where I'm at now. I won't always be able to provide this level of candor.

ADDENDUM at 8:54 am:

I did it. I said it. No matter what happens, it cannot be said that it happened because I lost my nerve.

September 19, 2008

September 17, 2008

"Every planned occupation..."

I am getting settled into my job.

I was describing the things that freak me out about it to someone last night (at least one of which I've mentioned here before), and it seemed worth writing about it here. Before I go down that path, let me begin by saying that I feel really, incredibly lucky to have gotten such a good position so quickly. I am pleased to be working in the field in which I was trained. I enjoy having a job that challenges me, that makes me think.

Now Ima set this thing off.

Even though I do like my job, this whole working five days a week business leaves a lot to be desired. There are so many days where I leave work feeling satisfied with what I accomplished that day, but then I'll think: "I have to go back again tomorrow? And again the day after that?" And so on. I can't let myself think that way too long, because I start to get freaked out by realizing that I am doomed to repeat this pattern for the next 35-40 years. Then I think, "Is this it? Is this all there is in life? Oh, my God!" And then, in the middle of the parking lot I throw my hands in the air helplessly and scream, "Why, God, why!? There must be more...."

I'm just kidding. I don't really do that. But I can't say that I won't do it tomorrow.

I think that part of what is feeling so weird to me is that in the past there was always something very specific I was working toward, and I knew pretty clearly exactly how long I was going to have to work to get to it. In high school, it was college. In college, it was grad school. In grad school, it was a postdoc. As a postdoc, it was a job. Now the job is here--okay, great! But...but...what else? I was being carried along on this forward-moving momentum for so long, and to suddenly come to an abrupt stop seems strange and uncomfortable.

It makes the future seem like a vast but hazy expanse.

September 16, 2008

At the very thought...

Sometimes it would be nice if I weren't such a baby.

Today at work a letter and a sign-up sheet went around. Apparently, every year my company donates $250 to an organization of every employees choice. We were supposed to write down the name and contact information of where we wanted this money to go. Sociometrics sends a check and a letter to the organization saying that this money was donated on behalf of the employee that chose it. I quickly selected The Bird Rescue Center. The BRC is a nonprofit organization that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned, injured, or sick birds.

I was so happy to be able to help them out more than I can afford to on my own. And at the very thought of birds that need help, I immediately burst into tears while filling out the necessary paperwork.

Honestly. I need a thicker skin.

There are no words.

September 12, 2008

Antichrist superstar

I've now gotten two urgent phone calls from my mother now about how she is convinced that Barack Obama is the antichrist. She cites the following evidence: He came out of nowhere. His Chicago zip code is 60606. He is charismatic, and claims to be a leader we can "believe" in--this is obvious blasphemy. It is prophecized that he will survive a near-fatal injury, and who is more likely to endure an assassination attempt than the first black president?

Think about it, won't you? And then shoot me in the head.

P.S. Happy birthday, J. H.

September 11, 2008

Funny conversation #10

[Conversation via Facebook status update and subsequent comments.]

S's status update: "S. is wondering if anyone ever determined who it was that let the dogs out, and, if so, whether the culpable parties were punished appropriately."

A's comment: What *is* the appropriate punishment for letting the dogs out, anyway? Could it ever be enough? Would punishing the culpable party or parties even be able to begin making reparations to society?

S's comment: At this point everyone is just so exhausted from the search for the missing dogs and those responsible their unwanted liberation, as well as weary from the countless investigative dead-ends that have caused so many worried and sleepless nights, that the punitive aspect would take a backseat to the overwhelming collective sense of relief that can come only from the resolution of what can only be called the greatest mystery of our time. Indeed I would venture to guess that even the guilty parties themselves would feel a sense of unburdening second only to Sisyphus, were the true identities finally unearthed. I, for one, will always remember where I was when I heard that the dogs had been let out, and, not to put too fine a point on it, my life has ne'er been the same since.

A's comment: Okay.

Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet...

September 5, 2008

"I no mean to hurt you."

On my way home today I thought it would be fun to get some hair ripped out of me by the roots. So I went to my little neighborhood Vietnamese salon to see my favorite esthetician, Penny. I was way overdue. For everything.

When I came in, I motioned to my eyebrows and one of the other employees cried, "Penny!"

Penny was washing her hands in a back room and she poked her head around the corner and grinned at me. "You want bikini wax?" she called across the salon. An old man getting a pedicure rolled his head in my direction with mild interest. She didn't wait for my answer, thank God, but wiped her hands on a towel and, flushing, I followed her upstairs.

The little waxing room at the top of the stairs was hot, and she pulled out a fan saying, "Oh, my God. You going to die here."

I laughed and said, "Penny, I think I want to get my legs done today but I don't know the hair's long enough."

She furrowed her brow. "Why you shave?!" she demanded.

"What do you mean?" I asked. "I have to shave."

"Take pants off," she demanded. "I look." And then she continued with her previous thought, "No shave. Make you feel like rubber. And hard."

I didn't really know what she was talking about, but I giggled while I took of my jeans. Penny handed me a Hello Kitty pillow to lay back on, and leaned down to examine my legs. "I don't know. I try. Is baby hairs. I try. Be good girl." Then she set to work. This woman takes her job very seriously. She applied wax, ripped it off, and turned my leg every imaginable angle to examine the thoroughness of her work.

For some reason, I imagined that since the last time I was here I had a bikini wax that I could handle anything. I was wrong.

"Oh, motherfucker!" I cried after a particularly painful strip was pulled off of the inside of my calf.

" good girl. Beautiful girl. I no mean to hurt you. I never mean to hurt you." I couldn't help but collapse into laughter. I admit that with the fan blowing my hair in all directions I felt a bit like a fashion model getting waxing done. Or possibly a porn star. I'm not sure if the Hello Kitty pillow added to or detracted from that mental image.

"You a very good girl," Penny assured me. "You no make no noise. Some girls, they very loud. Ouchy, ouchy, ouchy!" she cried, in a high-pitched voice, imitating these theoretical girls.

"Penny, are you crazy? I'm scream every time you pull it off!" she snickered and I got a glimpse of her sarcastic side as she went at it again, RRRRRIIIIIPPPP!

"Owwww!" I cried, biting down on my hand.

"You know why it hurt?" she asked.

"Why?" I was expecting some interesting piece of waxing trivia.

"Because I pull out hairs," she said simply. This time I couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or not, but I burst into laughter anyway.

"No more shave," she admonished again. "You come to me. I make nice. So smooth. So beautiful."

"Is it coming out okay?" I propped myself up on my elbows to have a look. "Are the hairs long enough that they're coming out?"

"Is eighty percent," she said, showing me a strip of used wax. "See? Baby hairs."

"But I don't want to wait four weeks to get the rest out!" I protested. "I go to the pool and I don't want to be all gross with my hairy legs."

"You suck up," she said firmly.

I tried another tactic. "But what if, let's say, I start dating someone and I don't want to wait four weeks to come back?"

She looked at me sternly. "Is another story! Don't make me mad!"

"What?" I asked in confusion.

"Don't make me mad! Date is another story!" she said again. (I have absolutely no idea what this meant, but she didn't seem to want to talk about it.)

Next she did my eyebrows, and while she was applying the wax she scolded me--as usual--for waiting so long to have them done. "Is like bush," she said. After ripping the wax off she sighed with pleasure, "Finally, I can see eyes."

We finished up, and I got up to get dressed again. "No bikini wax?" she asked.

"Noooo....not today. Too much waxing. Maybe next time."

"Next time we go deeper," she reminded me with a smile.

September 4, 2008

To counteract the sadness...

My friends Nick and Kelly are having their baby RIGHT NOW. Nick announced this news on his blog by way of the title: It's happening, party people. He's making promises to blog updates during the delivery and, for his wife's sake and his own safety, everyone is advising against this plan.


I once knew this guy. His name was Phil Soden.

He graduated a few years ahead of me in high school, but I was in school with his younger sister. Phil worked with me at my first job.

To be perfectly honest, I was rather intimidated by Phil when I was so young and shy. I'd heard that he did a lot of drugs and he was never particularly friendly to me. So I avoided him when I could.

This morning a friend that knew him much better than me told me that Phil killed himself back in October. It seems that he had struggled with bipolar disorder for much of his life and had gone off of his medication in an attempt to "fix" the problem and to stop masking it behind drugs. He was married and had two kids.

I looked at his MySpace page where friends had posted the funeral announcement and their thoughts and sadness on his comments. I read his wife's blog about how angry she was with her husband for leaving her and their babies.

I am so, so upset by all of this even though I barely knew him. It breaks my heart that someone lost their battle and gave up. It breaks my heart for him, and for his family.

September 3, 2008

Conversation at a party

N: [finishes the telling of a sad story]

A: Oh, my God! That makes my heart cry!

S: That makes your heart cry?

A: [laughing] Is that what I said?

S: Yes. What are you? A fucking Bright Eyes' song?

September 2, 2008


When I was riding the bus all the time, I used to play this little mental game to entertain myself. I would look at people around me in the bus seats and imagine where they had just come from or where they were going. I would imagine that that woman over there had brochures for her dream vacation inside her bag. She was on her way home to pour over them and make plans for saving her pennies to make this trip come true. The man over there is going home to make dinner for someone he loves; they will exchange stories about their day and put the dishes off for later. That sad-looking little girl over there is wondering if there is a way out--if she'll ever be old enough and big enough and far enough away that his hands can't reach her, that his fists can't touch her. I want to tell her that she will.

September 1, 2008

Two conversations

Conversation #1--With my mother

Mom: This guy that I've been seeing...I know you've never seen him or anything, but he's really interesting. You'd like him. He reminds me of Dr. Phil.

Me: [thinking she obviously has no idea what I like] In what way?

Mom: Well, he looks a lot like him. And he kind of has that Texas drawl, too. And he's really, really smart. He's kind of an odd guy, I guess. Really smart! And, you know, he doesn't fit in with anybody. Kind of like you.

Me: Um, what?

Mom: Oh, you know. You never did fit in with anybody.

Me: Wow. I never knew.

* * * * * * *

Conversation #2--While waiting to meet someone downtown at Powell and Market near the cable car turnaround. I was standing between the dude holding this sign:

Jesus Christ Loves You

and the dude holding this sign that I've had up on my page for ages:

No Unlawful Sex

The guy holding the NO UNLAWFUL SEX sign: No sloppy seconds! Women turn into whores! Just fresh and clean between each other. [Then addressed to me:] You have to be a virgin to get married.

Me: Uh oh. I think it's too late for me.

Guy: No it's not! No more sex from now on!

Me: Yeah, it's too late for me.

Guy: And no more masturbation from now on!

Me: [laughs] It's definitely too late for me.

Guy: Well, let's see how hard you're laughing on Judgment Day when you get sent straight to hell.

Me: [laughing again] That'll be something. Won't it?

Guy: [shakes his head in disgust and continues yelling] No sloppy seconds!

A memory

I was just searching through a long series of emails that I wrote to someone a little over a year ago. I was looking for something specific, but I found a variety of things I'd even forgotten that I'd written about. One of them was a memory of a conversation I'd overheard that I recreated to the best of my ability. I thought I'd share it.

When I was 15 or 16, my mom developed a habit of disappearing for several days at a time and then showing back up unannounced. On one of these occasions, she drug home a dirty, unemployed and very redneck guy wearing cowboy boots named David. She had met him the previous weekend and invited him to live with us.

David was rude, crude, and lewd. He liked to describe himself as "straight-up honest." He ate earthworms to prove points, settle bets, and earn extra cash. Shortly after he moved in with us his 16 year old son "Randy Lee" moved in, too. There was talk of Randy's pregnant 15 year old girlfriend moving in with us, too. I was out of there long before I had the joy of that experience.

It probably won't surprise you to know that David was really, really...stupid. There's just no nice way to put it. Not only was he stupid, he was ignorant, arrogant, hot-headed, and LOUD. The level of conversation when he was around was pretty bad. I stuck to the walls like a shadow in an attempt to draw as little attention to myself as possible. I tried to use that house as just a place to sleep as much as I could.

One night I was in my bedroom, and I was overhearing a conversation between my mom, David, and Randy. (If I remember correctly they were watching the Super Bowl, but I won't swear to this.) Most of the conversation involved trying to prove that each one was smarter than the other two, and no one was really getting very far.

My mom: "I'm just saying there's some things that women know that men don't. Or things that women can do that men can't. We're very sensitive and soft. Men are just supposed to be tough and strong and rough around the edges."

David: "What the fuck kind of shit-talk is this, woman?"

My mom: "It's proven. Scientifically proven. [Yells] AMIE! Come in here! I need you to tell them what men and women are like."


Mom: [in a low voice] "She thinks she's too good for us."

Randy: "I bet you two don't know how to spell that one word. You know that one in that movie with the flying broad and the umbrella? Supercalifragi-something or other?"

David: "What the fuck you talking about?"

Randy: "I'm just saying. You can't spell it."

David: "Neither can you."

Randy: "Fuck you."

David: "Fuck you, boy! Fuck YOU. [pause] Sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'"

Randy: "You sing it."

David: "No! I fucking told you to do it!"

Randy: "Fuck you."

Mom: "I can sing it."

David: "No. I wanna hear him. He doesn't know the words."

Randy: "I know the words, I just don't feel like singin' it."

David: "Randy Lee! I said sing it."

Randy: "Fuck you."


Randy: [sings] "Oh beautiful...for spacious skies....for amber waves of grain..."

[At this point, the other two join in and the three of them proudly sing "America, The Beautiful" to it's final, miserable finish. I had the distinct impression at the time that there were hands being held over hearts, but I can't be sure.]

David: [after the song ends] "Play ball!"

Mom: "That wasn't 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'"

Randy: "Fuck."

David: "What!? Randy Lee, I told you to sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner! The fuck's your problem?"

Yeah. It was pretty much like that all the time.


The ratio has gotten much better.

August 27, 2008

Del Martin

They were together 55 years, and they only got to be married 72 days.

I want to show you something.

There's always one. How is there ALWAYS one?

I started teaching this evening. I'm now teaching in the sociology dept. as opposed to the Human Sexuality Studies Dept. which is an interesting change of pace. Every semester there is one crazy student. This semester he made himself known immediately.

I came to class early since it's the first day and I like to get the lay of the land before the students start to arrive. One man (early 40s?) arrived about a half an hour early. The first students come in tentatively, as they always think I'm another student and not the professor. He came in and asked if I was teaching the course, and I affirmed that I was. He swept up to the front of the room and intertwining English and Portuguese, introduced himself as M. from San Paulo and--grasping my hand in both of his--told me how pleased he was to meet me.

M. proceeded to talk my ear off before, during, and after class. After the last few students who stayed to ask me questions left, he came to the front and said, "You are a wonderful teacher!" I told him I hadn't even taught anything yet; we'd only gone over the syllabus. "Oh, but I can tell. I can already tell," he said emphatically. "I was signed up for this course last semester but I dropped it. I can tell that this one is going to be unbelievable."

"Why did you drop last semester?" I asked.

"I have a lot of medical problems," he began.

"You certainly don't have to go into your private issues," I interrupted. "I just wondered if you had trouble with the course and that's why you had to drop it."

He didn't say anything, and instead began unbuckling his belt.

"What are you doing!?" I cried in alarm. He didn't answer, and proceeded to hook his thumbs into the top of his pants to push them down.

I jumped back and squawked, "Stop!"

He paused and said simply, "I want to show you something."

I started grabbing my things while saying, "Don't show me anything! Stop!"

"No, no," he assured me. "I just want to show you my surgery scars."

"I believe you. I don't need to see them. Don't pull your pants down!"

He ignored me again, and pulled his pants down far enough so that the top of his pubic hair was visible and, said, "See this scar? I have to take a lot of medication and last semester it affected my attendance. But this time it won't. I can feel it. It's going to be good." He pulled his pants back up and began buckling the belt and said, "I'm not here for the grade. I'm here because I WANT it. I want to know."

Heading out of the room--more than a little flustered--I babbled, "Well, good. That sounds good. I think it will be good. Good."

He laughed and said, "Did I mention that I was crazy?"

"I can tell," I told him.

"I kill people, too!" he cried laughing.

Then I got very serious. "Don't even play games with me. Everything you're doing and saying is completely inappropriate. I was in a room alone with you and I felt threatened. Don't joke about this stuff."

He seemed genuinely alarmed and profusely apologized over and over again. "I'll be your best student!" he promised. "I won't miss a class! I'll get top grades! I'll email you and I'll stay after class to ask you questions."

(That's what I'm afraid of.)

"You won't have any trouble with me. I'll be your best student," he promised again.

"Sleepless long nights (that is what my youth was for)"

I was talking to someone recently who encouraged me to put my wishes out into the universe. A sort of "ask and you shall receive" without the religious overtones. In response, I said:

My wishes to the universe are these:

1. to find "home"
2. to stop putting the cart before the horse.
3. to find something for me. Just me.

We talked about these more, and I felt the need to expand on a couple of them a bit. I have written about the theme of finding home elsewhere (e.g., All the lives I'm not living), because searching for "home" has been a long-running theme in my life. For as long as I can remember, I've never quite felt like I was where I belonged. This was true in WV as far back as at least age 13. It was true the years I lived and went to school in Richmond, VA even though I consider that to be the place I sort of mentally grew up and came into myself. It is true here in San Francisco even though I have better friends than I've ever had in my life and, by all external benchmarks, am relatively "settled."

In the sense that I mean it, "home" is much more of an internal psychological state than a geographic location. I still don't know where to find it, though.

I was on a plane back from Poland a little over a year ago, and I was scrolling down through my in-flight movie choices. I elected to watch "Finding Nemo." There's part in the movie where the dad clownfish (I can't remember his name) gets frustrated with Dorie and her memory problems, and decides he wants to continue looking for Nemo on his own. Dorie gets really upset, and stammers something along the lines of, "But you can't leave! You're my friend. I remember things better with you, and when I look at you it feels like home."

I felt like someone had just sucked the wind right out of me, and I burst into tears and put my face in my hands. My friend Alexis was sitting beside me, and the stranger on the other side of her said, "Um, is your friend okay?" Alexis nodded and said, "She just gets very emotional sometimes." I felt ridiculous bawling during this movie about little cartoon fish, but I couldn't help it. I wanted to feel at home, too.

As for putting the cart way the fuck ahead of the horse, my friend said, "Put your cart wherever you want! Fuck it. It's a horse. It'll get there eventually." I enjoyed and appreciated this comment, but it's not always so easy.

Sometimes the horse takes so long to get there that you forget where you were supposed to be going in the first place. And sometimes the horse gets lost or confused and goes in the wrong direction and you have to drag the goddamn cart yourself screaming, "I'm here! I'm over here! Come find me--please, for the love of God, come find me!" And still other times the horse changes its mind and decides, "Fuck the cart. I don't want to be weighed down by that," and you're left with a cart in the middle of some field wondering, "What can I make of this?" Then you make something. There was no horse and you had no other choice.

August 26, 2008

Today I kept driving.

I was driving to work this morning and I was immersed in my thoughts and music and I just kept going and going. Eventually there was a break in my reverie and I looked around and thought, Where am I? Nothing was familiar. I had bypassed my exit and was heading south for parts unknown.

How much money is in my bank account? I wondered. How far could I get?

I remembered I was still waiting for a large paycheck in the mail from my summer teaching job. My heart sunk further when I realized that I couldn't get through the Darien Gap without having a jeep or being held at gunpoint, and I sighed.

I turned around.

August 25, 2008

The way we get by

In the last 24 hours, I have managed to do the following things:

- spill Mocha Frappacino on my leather chair and in a puddle underneath it
- drop a soft taco (with salsa, sour cream, everything) face down in the middle of my bed
- drop a razor on my foot
- catch my sweater in a doorway and tear a hole in it
- run into a step-stool in the darkness of my living room at 5am and put a huge knot on my shin
- spill milk inside my refrigerator
- catapult a piece of chicken across the room as I was making a salad to take to work

Even by my standards, the situation is dire. The day is still young—it’s not even 9am. To my knowledge I have not had any black cats cross my path, walked under any ladders, stepped on anyone’s grave, or disrespected anyone’s ancestors. I’m just a clumsy girl trying to get by.

Universe, can you please take your curse off me?

August 24, 2008

"i prefer you real."

There was once a Velveteen Rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy's stocking, with a sprig of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.

There were other things in the stocking...but the Rabbit was quite the best of all. For at least two hours the Boy loved him, and then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner, and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of parcels, and in the excitement of looking at all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.

For a long time he lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor, and no one thought very much about him. He was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys quite snubbed him....Between them all the poor little Rabbit was made to feel himself very insignificant and commonplace, and the only person who was kind to him at all was the Skin Horse.

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away...[O]nly those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side....Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become REAL."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

--Margery Williams