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


My friend Sarah and her husband Chris are expecting their first baby in early December. They've chosen to let the sex of the baby be a surprise, and have hence taken to calling him/her "Nipper."

This morning Sarah sent out copies of her ultrasound pictures. It's been awhile since I've seen anyone's ultrasound pictures and I'm obviously way behind on the technology.

These are amazing. I was awestruck.

Sarah's ultrasound 1

Sarah's ultrasound 2

Sarah's ultrasound 3

Sarah writes:

"...During the ultrasound, as you'll see in the pics, Nipper kept very busy with his/her arm and hand the whole time. We saw some eye-rubbing (#73 & 74 on pic 1), thumb-sucking (pic 7, though it's hard to tell; you can see 3 little finger dots up high on the right-hand pic), wrist-licking (#80 on pic 4; no clue whose side of the family this comes from), and some open-mouth/gulping action..."

I think I still envision ultrasound pictures from back in the 80s when my mom was pregnant with my brothers. All you could see was a couple of vague, gray masses that could have been anything from an organ to a child to a tumor.

August 23, 2008

Imagine all the terrain...

...between the ear and the other ear.

I just had the loveliest experience getting glass cut.

For about a year and a half, I have been meaning to get a piece of glass cut that would be a shelf in my medicine cabinet. It hasn't happened for a wide variety of reasons (which are not only due to procrastination and are much more complicated than you might expect from a need-to-get-glass-cut story), but today and I woke up and decided it was the day to go to Pacific Glass at 19th and Balboa.

Though the hours were posted as 9am-1pm on Saturdays, the door was locked when I got there at 10:00 and I thought, 'Curses. My glass-cutting plans are foiled again..." A tall Asian man with graying temples rushed up to unlock the door and let me in. He smiled pleasantly as I greeted him, explained what I needed, and handed over the measurements I had taken.

As he was getting the glass ready, I wandered around the cluttered, dusty shop. Some items that he had tacked on the wall caught my eye. One was a page with part of the lyrics to "Hey, Jude." The were written in careful penmanship by a hand obviously unaccustomed to writing the English alphabet. I was charmed.

"Do you mind if I take a picture of the song lyrics?" I asked.

He looked up from his work and smiled with puzzlement. "The words?" he asked. "You like them? It's Beatles. They are very famous old band."

I smiled. "Yes, I love the Beatles," I told him, "and this is a great song. But what I really like is that you put the words up on the wall. Is it okay if I take a picture?"

"Yes, but they are not finished," he cautioned, because it was only part of the song.

"It's okay. I like them just the way they are," I assured him. I pulled out my camera.

Cutting glass and more 002

He watched me curiously as I continued to amble around, taking a couple more pictures of things he'd put on the wall.

Cutting glass and more 003

Cutting glass and more 004

"You are artist?" he asked.

I laughed. "No, no. But I really like to keep my camera with me and take pictures. Especially of words on walls and signs."

"You are interesting girl."

I laughed again. "Did you draw these pictures?"

"Yes," he said proudly. "I am an artist."

He took me over to where he had some more.

Cutting glass and more 006

"Who is that man?" I asked him, pointing to the picture that appeared to be an autographed picture of an actor. He told me his name and I asked him to repeat it, but for the life of me I couldn't understand what he said and I couldn't read the hand-writing on the picture.

Cutting glass and more 008

"He is French," he explained. "He was actor in the 1950s in movies that weren't very famous, but he is my favorite. He is what I want to be if I get another chance."

"Another chance?" I asked.

"Yes. If I die and come back again, I want to be this man. Of course, he is old man now. But when he was young he was very handsome. And when you are handsome the women like it. When you are handsome the women want to...give you the love." He flushed and looked away.

"Yes, yes," I agreed. "It's true."

"Who is your next chance?" he asked.

I thought for a minute. "I'm not sure. Maybe Audrey Hepburn?" He frowned in thought. "She was an actress--also in the 1950s. She was very beautiful." I pulled out a scrap sheet of paper and carefully printed her name. I waved my hand in the direction of his computer where he had been looking up song lyrics. "You should look at some pictures of her on the internet."

"What is your name?" he asked. I told him, and bent over and also printed it on the scrap of paper. He gave me his business card, and introduced himself as Tommy. I asked him about himself.

He is from Mongolia, and has only been in the U.S. for five years. He says he loves it here, because it is more peaceful here and he can relax. He explained that he'd only started drawing a little bit again recently--he hadn't done it for twenty years.

"My country is very screwed up," he explained. "I didn't have time to dream. I have to work. I have to feed my kids. No dreaming and drawing allowed. Now that I have time to dream again, my friends say I should draw. So I practice." As I admired one drawing in particular, he pulled it down off the wall, signed it and gave it to me. I took a picture of him while he signed it, and I thanked him profusely.

Cutting glass and more 009

Drawing by Tommy Shabbu

"You are interesting girl," he said again, shaking his head and smiling. "Do you have web page?" I showed him the closest thing I had to a web page--my MySpace page. He liked looking through my pictures. "I hope you will come back to visit," he said. "I will practice drawing."

I promised I would, took a couple more pictures, and shook his hand and paid for my glass. It fit perfectly. And I'm still smiling.

Cutting glass and more 005

Cutting glass and more 010

August 22, 2008

Funny grocery store conversation

(Standing in a long line at the grocery store waiting to check out. The guy in front of me was holding a case of Anchor Steam beer. He glanced back at me, and I smiled.)

Him (sort of sheepishly): "I never come to the store and just buy a case of beer and that's it. Today's an exception."

Me (glancing down at the basket I was holding): "Well, I never come to the store and buy four cans of biscuit dough, but today's an exception for that, too."

Him: "Right on."

August 20, 2008

And now for two completely unrelated topics...

Nasty Biker

On Sunday night I was driving along Marina Blvd. around 10pm in front of Chrissy Field. An urgent text message came and needed my attention immediately (long story). Thinking I was doing other drivers a service by not trying to drive and text at night, I pulled over in front of the buildings across from Chrissy Field and put my flashers on so that I could respond to this message.

As I was punching the keys and staring at my phone intently, I guy on a bike pedaled past and screamed, "Turn your fucking headlights off! I've been riding into your headlights for 300 yards, you fucking idiot!" I heard him loud and clear because my windows were down. I assumed he would continue moving along, and ignored him. This pissed him off.

He made a U-turn, jumped off his bike, and came up to my car. "What the fuck's your problem?" he shouted. "I told you turn your headlights off. Are you not from America or something? Do you not speak any fucking English?" Up to that point I'd felt sorry that I blinded him, but that was now completely gone. I reached over and clicked the switch to lock my doors and rolled up my windows and, not wanting to engage him in any fashion, went back to my message. He was now enraged.


I'd had enough. I cracked the window and said, "Look, I'm sorry if I inconvenienced you, but I need you to back off now."

He slammed his hand down on the hood of my car. "Inconvenienced? You're sorry you INCONVENIENCED me? Fuck you! Turn your fucking lights off!" He hit the car again.

I started honking my horn and screaming, "Get the fuck away from my car! GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY CAR!"

He got back on his bike and rode off, shouting behind him, "You're a fucking bitch!"



One of my new co-workers is getting married in a couple of weeks, and today we had a little party for her. Everyone brought food and we sat around and talked and ate for about two hours--a fabulous way to spend time at work.

I'm still getting to know everyone so it was nice to talk to them in a less formal way. Everyone ended up exchanging stories about how they'd met their spouses and significant others, the things they remembered about their first dates, and how they knew they were "the one."

I completely eat this shit up.

"He had hair that stuck straight out six inches from his head, and I'll never forget how fascinated I was by the way it kind of pulsated in the breeze," T. said.

"I was his boss," W. reported, "and he hated me the very first day of work because I said, 'Oh, what's your name? I need you to do x, y, and z. Fast.' I'm still pretty bossy, so he must have decided that he liked it."

They told stories of things that worked in their relationships. "My husband has brought me breakfast in bed for the last 18 years," B. gushed. "I think it makes us argue a lot less. I weigh everything I say by whether it would affect him getting me another cup of coffee and, most of the time, I decide it's not worth it. I'll tell you, though, I'm lost without him when I travel. I love having an hour or so every morning to spend talking to him."

Others described the first time it occurred to them to turn their relationships into marriage. R. told us of meeting this future wife at work and, on the first day they met, his boss told him, "I think you should get married."

R. said, "Well, I expect I will sometime."

"No," his boss clarified, "I think you should marry HER."

B. told us, "I'd never wanted to marry anyone in my life. He had already been married three times. After we dated a year I decided I couldn't be with him anymore, because now I actually WANTED to be with him. [Somehow this sounds like something I would come up with.] I told him, 'Look, I think I love you and I want to take this to the next level. I don't think you're willing or able to do that, so at the end of the month I want you gone and I don't want to see you anymore.' Two weeks later we ended up getting married."

I never get tired of these anecdotes.

August 18, 2008

Is it wrong to call them my home girls? Yes? Well...

There are two lovely ladies in my life that are always there for me. They are the only two people in my life that I can and do say absolutely anything and everything to, completely uncensored. No matter what comes out of my mouth--rational, irrational, witty, ridiculous, insightful, clueless, and on and on--I know they will listen and, if it becomes necessary, tell me I'm a freak in the most loving and gentle way possible.

One is near; one is far. One has been one of my best friends for three years; the other for 13 years. Both of them have rescued my emotions and sanity this weekend during some difficult romantic turmoil.

One spent long hours talking to me and encouraging me to mentally and verbally flush out every aspect of my needs and expectations and desires. She shared the good bottle of wine that she'd been saving for a year and let me curl up on her couch by candlelight. She shared her own experiences and lessons learned and let me experience all my emotions--especially the anger and the sadness--over pizza and kitties. (We were eating the pizza, petting the kitties. Just to clarify.)

The other came to my aid as I was sitting in a parking lot, unsure where to go or what to think or how to feel. We processed the pros of cons of being with someone who's as batshit crazy as you are and who inspires your craziness and creativity and passions to bloom versus someone who is stable and grounded and secure and has absolutely no idea where in the hell you're coming from half the time but makes you feel safe. We debated the sustainability of each, and wondered if it was possible to find anything in between. She's currently in the safer kind of relationship and admitted, "It's been awhile since I walked past a bridge and wondered what would happen..." It meant a lot that she could say that to me.

I don't have any great wisdom or truth to share here. I told them both in person how much their friendship meant to me, but I felt the need to proclaim in some other way. I love those girls to pieces.

August 17, 2008

Grab it--grab it all

A letter to my 31 year old self from my 80 year old self; from an exercise Nannette and I are doing...

Dear 31 year old Amie,

I remember being your age like it was almost yesterday, and it's now been almost 50 years. Aren't you glad to know you made it to this age? (It's because you stopped smoking.)

I know that you spent much of your young life feeling insane and chaotic and lonely and in search of something that always eluded you. I know that at this age--as you read this--you are still looking for "home." You're wondering if you'll ever find it. You have hopes of having a family but you doubt it will ever happen. You wonder if it is possible to have a relationship that stimulates your mind and creativity, allows you to express yourself, makes you feel loved and safe and secure, and that is passionate and warm and cozy at the same time.

I'm not here to be your fortune-teller or to give you any lottery numbers. I'm here to tell you that you're not crazy for asking these questions, for searching for these things. It might be hard and lonely and scary at times, but you're doing exactly what you need to do.

Don't let the people and the situations that have hurt you fence you in and define you. You have a lot of love to give and that's one of your best qualities--you give it easily and freely. It might feel like some people take and take and that you'll end up used up and tapped dry, but there's plenty more where that came from. And there's the line you've heard--from a Beatles' song? I can't recall and you probably can't either (and, believe me, it won't get any easier)--that the love you make is the love you take.

I'm writing to tell you to grab it--grab it all. Explore the world every chance you possibly can. Try as many things as you can dream up at least once. Love everyone you can get your hands on, regardless of whether or not they love you back. Don't ever stop talking and writing, because when you do stop part of you withers up and dries. Find people who challenge your mind and expand your thinking, and be sure to let them in. You are really something to see when you're open and happy and excited and accepting.

You may be worried that the 80 year old you sounds like a hokey and sentimental old lady. Well, she is. But she's loved and been loved well. She has age spots on her hands and laugh lines on her face. And she's going to leave the world just a tiny bit better than she found it.



P.S. Drink more water, eat more vegetables, and get your ass to the pool.

August 16, 2008

You're like the messiah, pal.

It's been months and months since I've gone to Craigslist for any missed connections or Best of. My well is running a little dry.

I found some amusing things right off the bat, and I felt the need to share. Speaking my mind in any other fashion at the moment seems like a bad idea.

1. Maxwell's silver hammer

2. SERIOUS guitarist looking for like-minded bandmates to make it big

3. need a female companion 4 anything

4. To my neighbor who I saw pooping in his yard yesterday

5. MISS ME! Goddamnit!! - m4w

6. Dead Moose

August 15, 2008

Benchmarks and Informalities

It turns out I really like my commute to work.

I have a little clean linen scented air freshener in my car, and I've come to associate my commute with the smell of laundry and morning fog. And though I've only been doing this drive down I-280 to Los Altos for two weeks now, I'm learning all the nuances of the road and the 41.4 mile journey.

When I'm passing by San Francisco State University by 15 minutes after the hour, I know I'm on schedule to arrive on time. When I pass Half Moon Bay, I'm leaving the fog behind. At the sign that says "Los Altos Hills - 17 miles" there is a huge dip in the road, and I have to flip the little cover on my coffee lid to keep it from bouncing out. [Brief aside: except today I hit a dip in the road that was not properly catalogued in my brain, and coffee splashed out onto my right boob. With the pale pink sweater I'm wearing today and the brown spot that's now on it, it feels a little like I'm announcing to the world, "Please look at my nipple, won't you? Thank you."] At the sign that says "El Monte Road - 6 1/2 miles" I know it's time to get serious and picking the last song I want to listen to before I arrive. At the Arastradero Rd. exit, I know it's time to get serious about getting into the right lane to make my exit. On Foothills Expressway, I start turning my music down as I'm preparing to turn into the neighborhood of fancy houses and shops in which my company is situated.

It's a very comfortable process, actually.

I love driving and I especially love listening to music when I drive. Some days--like today--I need to hear the same song LOUD and OVER AND OVER AGAIN. You can't do this with anyone else in the car. Even with people who share my musical taste, it doesn't really work to say, "We're going to listen to this song a dozen times in a row. That cool?"

It turns out I really like my job, too.

One of my favorite things about it is that the hours that I work are flexible. There's not a set start and end time, and I love that. My eccentric sleeping habits can make it difficult to arrive anywhere at the exact same time every day, so this fits me perfectly. This morning, for example, I was awake at 5am and thought, "I might as well get ready and go to work and get it out of the way faster."

With my arrival there are 15 of us in the company--almost all women. Everyone kicks off their shoes in their offices and walks around in their socks or, in my case, barefoot. I love that.

In two weeks I'll start teaching in the Sociology dept. at SFSU. I've never taught in that department before, and so far the faculty members I met seem fantastic. Just yesterday I got an email from the department chair announcing that there would be a happy hour at a bar near the campus a couple days before school started "to squeeze out the last few drops of pleasure from the summer." Another faculty member responded: "Finally. There is an executive decision in the country that I can fully support." Amen.

August 14, 2008

I think I got punched in the face by symbolism.

I came home from work and--because I've been in a sleep deficit the last couple of days and look like the proverbial "hot mess"--took a nap. I slept deeply.

I'm meeting Jenny for dinner in a little while, and in my dream I was taking a cab to her house for some reason. (She lives about a block away.)

My cab driver drove all around the city, turning down random streets and alleys. For the first few minutes I wasn't paying attention, and I suddenly I looked out the window and realized we were nowhere near where I wanted to go. "Where are we?" I asked the driver. "And where are you taking me?"

Without looking at the road, he repeated Jenny's address I had given him. "You're certainly taking the long way," I told him.

"We'll get there," he answered.

I was frustrated and impatient, and said, "But I basically needed to go across the street. How did we get all the way out here?"

"Then why are you taking a cab?" he asked. "You're just making it more difficult."

He ended up dropping me off at Jenny's nearly two hours late and she was no longer at home. I had been trying to call her to tell her what was going on, but couldn't get her. Every time I'd try, the call would get dropped, or my fingers would hit the wrong buttons. Once I successfully connected with her but she couldn't hear me. At one point, as I was hanging up the phone from trying again to call her, a call came through on my phone. I didn't even look at who it was. I assumed that--at long last--I was going to get to talk to Jenny.

Instead, it was a man's voice on the phone. He said, "Hi," very casually; it was obviously someone who knew me. I was confused. I was expecting to hear Jenny's voice. "Who is this?" I asked.

He sounded wounded and said with confusion, "Um, okay..."

I looked at the caller ID, and saw that it was Jacob. "Oh! I'm so sorry!" I cried. I explained to him my confusion and my inability to get in touch with Jenny. He sounded relieved, and then I asked, "Did you get the email I sent you?" He obviously didn't hear me, and said something completely unrelated. "Jacob," I interrupted.

"Yeah?" he asked.

"Did you get the email I sent you?" I repeated. "It's really important." Again, it seemed he hadn't heard me and said something unrelated to my question. "Jacob!" I cried desperately.

"What?" he asked.

"Can't you hear me?"

"Only some of the time," he answered. "You're breaking up a little bit."

I asked again. "Did you get the email I sent you? It's so important. Please read it. Okay? You have to read it."

"Are you talking?" he asked. "I can't hear what you're saying." I took the phone away from my ear and moaned in aggravation and frustration. I was walking down the sidewalk at the time, and other passersby looked at me in alarm. I had the strong sense that time was of the essence, and I was running out of it. I couldn't get where I was trying to go; I couldn't make myself understood.

A second visit to the topic of walls

"...Though over the years I put enough internal protective walls to keep a large army wandering around in the mazes of my mind and emotions for years, I’m working to take them down. Or at the very least to draw you a map to help you navigate through them.

Please don’t lose patience with me. I’m not very good at drawing; my maps aren’t always exactly to scale; and there are places in my mind that I’ve not been to for so long that I have to re-explore them myself as I figure out how to tell you to navigate them. But I’m working on it."

August 13, 2008

"Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you're an asshole."

What's going on? Why do I feel so disconnected all of a sudden? I feel like I'm at the end of a long tunnel right now, and everyone else is all the way at the opposite end.

I dreamed I was furious.
I dreamed I was pregnant.
(They were not the same dream.)

Your face was buried in my neck. You woke up talking. You thought I was talking to you. You said, "What?"

In confusion, I said, "What?"

You said, "You told me to hold you back."

I answered, "No. You were dreaming."

And then there's you. You've been missing in action for so long; suddenly there is a sign of life. What brings these on? Perhaps it is boredom, but in the farthest reaches of my mind I hope it is something else.

You said you might never get me, because I was "out there" sometimes and that you were okay with that. I don't think I am.

You said there were a thousand ways you could spend your time, but that this is where you wanted to be; this is what you chose. Here is what no one understands: I have to be chosen every single day. Over and over again.

No one alive has the energy for that.

I learned so thoroughly to put up these invisible barriers that I can't even remember where they are anymore. I don't know where they are until I run into them. I just get up to speed and start moving around confidently and all of a sudden--fuck--that way's blocked. GodDAMN it. I can't access that, either.

If even I can't get through, how could anyone else hope to?

Serious Conversation

A: I need a lot of hugs, and I don't always know how to ask for them. So hug me a lot.

J: It's a deal.

August 9, 2008

"We all have our Africas."

Nannette and I have been completing some writing exercises together over the course of the last three weeks, and there are several of them that I've loved doing. I was inspired to expand one small line from one of the activities into a larger exploration of a theme that stuck a nerve with me. The whole point was to examine why I am afraid to dream--to really let my imagination and fantasies run wild. For me, these are the fears:

I'm afraid if I start dreaming I'd...

- leave my entire life behind because nothing would seem good enough
- make irrational or drastic decisions (e.g., one that I came very close to making a few months ago and still dream about)
- not meet the obligations I need to meet (e.g., being productive at work)
- discover the limits to my capabilities
- never be satisfied with anything I can actually hope to achieve
- get my hopes up and then be let down

I think part of the problem is that I can be very all or nothing about things. I'm either doing something or I'm not. Once I start dreaming and imagining, I start planning, and once I start planning...I'm fucking doing it. Seems safer not to dream sometimes.

Words I Want

The other evening I was having dinner with my friend Matt and he was telling me about this new book Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. Ammon Shea read the Oxford English Dictionary from cover to cover, and wrote a book about the experience. Included in the book are words that caught his attention, such as petrichor, which is "the loamy smell that rises from the dry ground after a rain."

Matt and I were both happy to know that a word for this smell existed, and it immediately got me to thinking about other words I want. I sat and jotted down a few specific situations and emotions for which I wanted words. Maybe they already exist; maybe they don't.

I did buy the book today, though.

1. A word for the complex combination of emotions that arise when you love someone dearly and want very much to protect and shield them from others' judgment, but you are embarrassed by or ashamed of them.

2. A word for the feeling in the air before an approaching thunderstorm. There are black clouds rolling in from the distance; the wind is kicking up; and there are occasional flashes of lightning and ominous rumbles of thunder. The air feels charged and electric and full of possibilities--like something dramatic and exciting is about to happen. (e.g., October 22, 1992)

3. A word that describes the feeling that you have when you bury your face in a bodily curve (e.g., neck, hip, thigh) of someone you love romantically. The word must simultaneously capture your feelings of love, lust, tenderness, contentment, urgency, and the fear that they will leave or be taken away.

4. A word that describes the experience of waking from a dream and feeling disoriented because you can't quite remember what it was you were dreaming or how much of it was just a dream and how much was real. You're only left with vague and fleeting impressions and images that grow increasingly vague as you awaken and the general emotions it/they evoked in you.

5. A word that succinctly captures the smell of someone you love and/or miss and they are gone forever or, at best, far away. The word must capture the feelings of nostalgia, loneliness, longing, and sadness that you experience when you smell this scent.

August 8, 2008

Teeny tiny work updates

I think I am making my first friend at work. Barbara is a web developer here and helps us put our programs and products online, design interactive web modules, etc.

Also, the company provides us with coffee, teas, sodas, etc. in our little kitchen. There are also a few snacky items that are available to everyone. I've been doing very well with eating a good breakfast every morning and with packing a healthy lunch. I was feeling sort of virtuous about all this. When I was looking for the Splenda in one of the cabinets a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon what seems to be a limitless supply of 1) cinnamon and brown sugar Pop-Tarts, and 2) sour apple Blow Pops.

It's like they read my diary of guilty pleasures. Curse these Pop-Tarts. They whisper to me every day.

[bangs on head desperately with eyes squeezed shut: "Shut up, shut up, shut up!"]

August 6, 2008

One last MUNI story (or "Take my dignity. Please.")

There won't be too many of these anymore, so I felt like I should get this one down for posterity.

I was on an overcrowded 38 Geary recently. It was about 2am, and the bus was jammed with twentysomethings making the drunken cross-town ride home after the bars closed. Admittedly I've been there once or twice, but tonight I wasn't drunk. I was just going home late and, for reasons not worth going into, I had a thin little black mustache penciled onto my face.

It made me look decidedly creepy.

Because it was so full, I didn't have a seat. Instead, I stood in the aisle holding onto a rope handle that dangled from the ceiling. I swayed and jerked with the bus's movements and tried in vain to keep the straps of my bag on my shoulder.

As we paused at a stoplight, I needed to give my arms a brief break from being up in the air over my head. I hadn't even let go of that rope strap for five seconds when the bus suddenly lurched forward and I was caught off-guard and went to the floor. On my knees. In between the legs of a surprised young Latino man sitting nearby.

I'm sure I flushed bright red. "Excuse me," I mumbled from under my little mustache. He didn't say anything. My eyes met with those of an elderly Asian man staring at me unsympathetically from a nearby seat. Because all the seats were full, there was nothing to grab onto as I was getting up. My shoulder bag and I bumped the knees and ankles of those standing around as I struggled to get to my feet while the bus was bouncing around.

Just as I was nearly in a completely upright position and reaching up to reclaim my rope strap, the bus lurched again. And I was sent to my knees in between the legs of this man. Again. This time my chin actually bounced off of his thigh.

"Oh, my God. I'm so sorry," I gasped. He shifted around uncomfortably and looked out the window.

"Dude, if you wanted to suck him off so bad why didn't you just say so?" I heard one young guy snicker to his friends.

So, um. Yeah. Did I mention I have a car now?

August 5, 2008

A poem I thought I lost

I wrote this almost exactly two years ago, and I had forgotten about it. I had forgotten about it because I thought I lost it. I just rediscovered it written (and purposefully hidden) on a middle page of an empty blank book that I recently started using. It's very, very simple.

Sensory perception more alert
A heightened sense of awareness
of where my body is in space
And a keenly felt absence
of hands, lips, and tongue

"You seem so happy now. I didn't even know you were sad."

Pieces of letters

beside me
you arrived at 4am
came to my bed.
I was still half asleep
talked and giggled and hugged
told me I didn't need to worry.
And I knew exactly what you were referring to.
I think you...
I like when you bite me because I know you are real.

wanting to tell you and show you things
hard for me
how easy you make it
I study your face when you are concentrating on other things.
I want to learn every curve and line of it.

August 3, 2008

Have car. Will travel.

I got a car! I have wheels! I got a 2008 Honda Fit. I wanted a lil' car to fit in tiny San Francisco spaces and that got excellent gas mileage since I'll be commuting...starting tomorrow. Oh! And it's orange! I named him Julius (the latest in a long history of naming my cars, peace be with you Fran, Maddie, Jill, and Maggie). Anyone know the source of the name? I bet one or two of you will understand...