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.