Tam Lin

Tonight would be a great night be able to vomit words.  That feeling of release, that catharsis, that inevitably results once you get all the bile and crap out of your system and it’s just out and you’re empty and done.  Not that I want to spew crap at you, I’m sure we all get enough of that in our daily lives, it’s just a matter of not wanting to do the rundown and not wanting to have to relive minute by minute my average, if anxiety-infused day.  And my fiction is requiring a different, less exercised part of my brain so it takes so much longer to produce 500 words that might flesh out or fit in this story, even if they won’t actually be used, so here I am…giving you the run-down.

We just came back from Old Chicago which my sister and I figured would make for decent refuge to get away from the flood of trick-or-treaters which is to say, one or two, who might venture up our stairs for Halloween.  As it stands, it’s just about ten o’clock and I haven’t heard a peep.   I think it’s pretty reasonable that most parents would not be interested in the stair stepping exercise it would cause to go through our complex, up and down stairs just for two doors – who most likely would be doing what we’re doing (pretending not to be home.)  And I know this seems like a jerky thing to do from someone who not so very very long ago milked the Halloween sucker system to get a plastic jack-o-lantern full of candy and sometimes very weird things (like pickles?), but I think this is the lesson of this economy.  That what always was will sometimes not be simply because your forebears get sick of your whiny, gimme gimme bullshit.

That sounded very Republican.  That’s not how I meant it.  I think I spent all day long watching parents parade their mostly very cute children down our town’s streets collecting candy and it just feels like they hardly even were thankful.  Just manic and screaming with their hands out.I passed out holiday literature feeling like a crazy person, not in costume, my head thinking back so wistfully to a year ago when I was standing there in front of Mr. Rochester’s shop, a complete anachronism in every respect.   Hard to remember a giddy childhood Halloween memory.  Trick or treating was never all that fun for me and I think I best preferred the Halloween our landlord scared me so much I ran home and had hot cocoa with my mother and watched the animated Sleepy Hollow.   I suppose every generation looks at what follows them and blindly can’t resolve the fact that nothing is the same because we changed because our parents changed because their parents changed and so on…they’re constantly telling me my generation has no work ethic and things I find ridiculous, so I should probably lay off the kids.

No sweets for a month.  There’s some work to get your ethics out over.

 

 

Weekend Quarterback

Here I am, on another Sunday afternoon, planning to alter the very framework of the universe.  Here in my clean room, in my caved-in bed, after a full marathon of the Fades (or soon to be once I finish the last episode.)   After some fast food, a drive to the Asian supermarket, some laundry and some general good intentions that didn’t go very far and definitely not very fast, let me provide you with a good list.

Things Which I Currently Am Doing Or I Currently Believe:

I am going to give up sweets as my sister is doing from Halloween to Thanksgiving.  Which I am looking forward to as sweets at the moment aren’t actually doing much for me and given that giving up soda has been a fairly shockingly easy transition, I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge of that, of that small awareness of what I’m doing in that arena of my life.  It’s making the thought of giving up, on a semi-permanent basis, fast food seem more feasible but what will make that change possible is really and deeply changing the way I make time for shopping and the way I think about where and how I eat.  At the moment, I drift my way through my day until I come to points of overwhelming hunger where spending 10 dollars to satisfy that hunger right in that instant seems completely reasonable.  That you’d spend twice that, naturally, to satiate that level of crazed famine.  And then, stuffed, I sort of do whatever it is I do…work or write or mostly, dick around on the internet until that point comes again.  The thought of going to the refrigerator and pulling out a meat, a vegetable, a whole adult-style meal of something other than a frozen pizza either never occurs to me or seems as onerous as counting grains of sand on a beach – an impossibly huge task that is going to irrevocably alter the state of the kitchen and if I have a care to ever enjoy the kitchen for any other use, I’d have to clean it up as well which is just a bridge too far in my simian brain.  I add it up so that I don’t question why I only have three choices for dinner – the fast food places immediately surrounding me.  I add it up so I completely understand why I could never drive just a bit further to the grocery store.  I add it up so that it’s not hardly driving anxiety or agoraphobia or a weird nesting issue, it’s just life and I like hamburgers and it’s normal.

It’s only when I have three days off in a row and have a moment to think about it that it seems bizarre.

I am also:
writing, re-organizing my book notes, slowly trying to reconnect with my friends, considering my popcorn dinner (I probably could do a little better than that), finishing keeping my room clean for this evening – somehow without moving I mess it up, considering if alcohol would make anything better, planning a bath, working out a logo, ignoring a request to go out to eat or having a drink with Mr. Politeness, planning for everything to somehow be different.

It’s not going to be easy.

 

Agog

Mallory tucked a bit of hair behind her ear, determined that there wasn’t a wave in the mirror, it was real.    She was definitively, not just scientifically, but undeniably pregnant.  She had to stop lying to herself.  There was a sidecar welded to her stomach, a sidecar that was driving like hell in the opposite direction from her.   Soon enough other people were going to see it too.

Fine.  Fine.

It was an objective completed.  But it was hard to be too proud of winning a race just by calling any mark the finish line and stumbling across it.

The women around her were buying hats.  One a peach box, the other was blue and covered with feathers.  Schurmann’s was busy on Saturday afternoons.  Once upon a time, this little store would have felt like Solomon’s palace.  She would have been in wonder at the racks of blenders, overwhelmed by the coverlets, down to the very hats.   That was before naivete had deserted her, and now, she looked about at Fall Valley’s department store and saw a few racks full of brightly colored garbage that church-going women were willing to gut one another for the chance to pay too much for.

Mallory used to wear a hat.  A beret with dark glasses.   And felt like a movie star.  Better than that, a movie star who.  She used to slip in with the shadows like she was made of ink.  Did pregnant women slither in the crevices of the world with the embryonic Samsonite luggage permanently in tow?  She’d never met one personally.  Pregnant women were sort of like movie stars in her mind, an occupation for women who didn’t have other talents.  And yet, here she was, quite occupied.

“You just going to stand there gawping at yourself – or are you gonna let someone else use the mirror?”   Mallory let her head spin to the side, an ugly, uncompanionable glare pushing to the surface fast as a cork in a bathtub.  It was Mrs.  Hammond. Only reason she knew that is because she heard Mr. Hammond bitch three times a week about her over whiskey sours at the Lucky and his eerie, almost feminine voice would always always permeate her head, saying “Fuck me if I can’t have one little drink while she needs another hat to cover that birds nest she calls a hairdo.  Fuck me if I can’t!”

It was never one little drink for Mr. Hammond, as his voice reached falsetto, and his gesticulations tested the stamina of the bar stool beneath him.  He chatted idly, but constantly and always about his wife’s love of birds.   Her caged parakeet, Francis, that finally made proper use of the daily paper, her bird-brained ideas, her gold pin that looked like the golden goose had shat all over it.   She had always, while opening another jar of maraschino cherries and reaching for the sweet and sour, pitied his poor wife who must be bound to him for some reason just as sick as any she’d had to stay with a man.  Or run.

She was usually able to stop herself from thinking of them in bed together, but she had never seen Mrs. Hammond until right now, with the lumpy, unmistakable pin fixed right on her lapel, her face cakey with makeup and condemnation and the thought just came up, unbidden.  As fitting a rebuttal for the woman’s snide comment as anything she could say.  Mallory found herself laughing, almost uncontrollably, the synesthetic jolt of the smell of talcum powder and lubricants, the strain of Mr. Hammond’s voice – mid-coital elation, Mrs. Hammond making just about the face she was making now, with her mouth slung open, agog at the wonders the universe presented her with.

Mallory did her best to collect herself and slipped out of the shoes she had been trying on and then stepped aside.  “Nice hat,”  she offered below her breath.

“What a nasty piece of work you are.”

Mallory tucked the twenty dollar bill she’d snagged from the woman’s handbag and slipped it into the pockets of her long denim skirt.  She’d heard it said that found money was only to be used for pleasure.

Nothing Further

Oh, goodness.  Vacation day is halfway done.  I’ll let you know about how the concert goes tomorrow as we’re just getting ready now, but all in all, I’ve given myself one gift today.  Letting myself enjoy it.  Not stressing about work or dieting (despite the fact that as soon as I walked in the door, my mother was in on it, as if she didn’t get the chance yesterday and had saved up all her best advice as to how to fix me and needed to unleash it right then).  But she’s fine and and I’m fine and I’m not letting it get under my skin.   Not letting the angst from the sudden wailing going on around me bug me either.  I am letting my shoulders drop.  This doesn’t make a great deal of literary excitement, but I am going to forge ahead since I don’t think I’ll get a chance later and I will not let this streak go just because there isn’t something amazing to say.  I’m a writer, there’s always something to say so long as I trouble myself to invent it.

So, I got my hair cut and it is lovely.  It is fantastical and light and makes me look so much better – the brow wax helps – and while I don’t think that this will change anything about what happens tonight, it makes me feel good and there’s value in that.  The stylist was actually nice and pleasant and didn’t make me feel like I need to run my mouth off.  Scalp massage.  Oh, that kind of convinces me I should invest in an actual massage given my whole neck crisis.

I also got my work project done.  I just put my nose to the grindstone shortly after I got up and did it this morning so I didn’t have to worry a bit about it.  This should be a good policy for me.  Just work hard.

So, I am in a good mood, suffice to say.  I haven’t gotten any dreaded phone calls.  I’m not perfect but I’m alright.

Things I love:  the sunlight coming through the big windows in my parents house.  The poor little gray skin and bones kitty who got shaved down and looks two-dimensional is doing much better.  Getting to go somewhere wonderful just on a whim.   Mumford and Sons existing and bringing joy to the world.

Things I am grateful for: funds for whims, a family that gets along, not being hungry or cold or suffering under the terrible situations that so many around me must deal with, general health, general calm, a bit of respite for my head. A creative urge.

Wouldn’t it be nice if: tonight I had a wonderful, banjo-filled evening.  Had a little drink.  Was delivered safely home with good memories and maybe a couple pictures.  If I took the rest of the weekend to enjoy and fill my reserves and get my mood settled and made up a halloween costume and didn’t plan anything further.

 

Miss Kittykat

So I was in the vortex of some stupid shit today and it made today weird and me weird and things feel all screwed up and my head needed shaking free and now I’m mostly better and not just because I’m off tomorrow but because I’m making the choice to stop wallowing and knowing that I still need to be gentle with myself and respectful of my feelings and where they’re coming from

Here is what all went wrong with me today.

So I woke up.  Hah.  No, not a wrong thing at all, just I woke up in a state.  In that it’s that time of the month where there’s not clear ownership of your ladyship’s head and that’s a whole fucking other thing to deal with.  I know the roads are clear, but I just cannot get myself moving.  At all.  Like my body is telling me that I need more sleep.  My mind is telling me, you need this day off, everything in me is just sedate and wants to stay that way.  So I come up with a plan.  I realize that this project I’m working on – I just got the second draft of it in my email so I can call in and say I’m working from home this morning and come in in the afternoon.   And more or less that kind of works out, I set to work as if I was at my desk and I plow through for a while and then, you know, take a tumblr break for five minutes and I start again.  It’s weird, random work and it takes longer than one might imagine and finally, I realize I have to get going.  So I pack up myself and go out to the car and scrape as far as my little arms are able, leaving a seven or eight inch thick layer of snow on the very top of the car.  I drive along, listening to music, until I go down this hill and Jesus fucking Christ, three pieces, in succession, slide down on my windshield, crushing my windshield wipers so they won’t work.   Very much a holy shit moment.  I could see enough out of my top half of the windshield to drive until I could pull over safely and get rid of the snow, but suddenly, I was just unnerved and felt like this was some sort of signal.    And that signal was confirmed when apparently they threw away a battery for a unit I have to ship back.  They aren’t sure, but they think so.  And I completely missed my window for lunch so that made my motivation and mood about zero, then I read the beautiful and hilarious, but one teensy bit close to home Hyperbole and a Half and tried to somehow finish this project, but kept getting called for meetings and didn’t get anything really done whatsoever and while the rest of the staff went to a post-work event, I stayed back and thought about how maybe I was actually, bonafide depressed.  Like maybe there was something wrong with me because I felt like crying all the time (let us not forget I was on the rag and hadn’t eaten all day, because in that moment, I kind of did or I pretended I did) and that maybe I really couldn’t take it one more minute.  So I swept myself up in a big ball of energy and just went to my mom’s.  I told myself I’d finish the project at home, but she hugged me and gave me wine and chili and cornbread and a kiss on the head and as the food began to hit my blood stream and the headache I’d been nursing all day began to lessen, I thought, well, as frustrated and exhausted as I am…there’s still that part of me that feels excitement and joy and has just been tamped down.  I can’t pretend it’s gone just because these other feelings are so powerful right now.

Then, I drove myself back home, got my caramel apple, ate it despite it being very unwieldy, and realized, oh shit, I never emailed the updates I did for my project back to me.   That means I have to redo at least an hour and a half of work.

I…ugh.  At this point, what is important is taking a bath, chilling out, and I’ll restart in the morning.

I’m not that upset.  I’m going to do what I can, as hard as I possibly can, and forgive the rest.

Butterfly of Night

I always think I’d like to write this in advance.  But I am in a board meeting….

The elipses signifies that I am not writing this in advance of my end of day deadline or in advance of having to write this after work as is per usual.  Yep.  I am right here on the couch, in my pajamas (which are so unsexy, they almost invert one’s extremities) and with my frozen bare toes sticking out, I am trying to cobble together five hundred words about how I sat on my arse and took notes all day for a meeting, went back to my job for forty-five minutes to check my email and then went back to the same hotel for a wrap-up celebratory dinner wherein I had a margarita, got offered more or less a job, started talking way too much and finally got myself delivered home.   Then, my boss suggested that I wipe off my car.  But in my thin, awkwardly sized and worn trenchcoat, no gloves, hanging on to my purse and computer bag, the operation didn’t quite go very far.  I swapped hands once one started feeling numb and then I realized that my house was warm and right there so I gave up and came inside and we are essentially where we began: without a form or a plan or a way to get the word count up.

“You have an active imagination and a keen mind.”  While that’s true, that’s really not a fortune, fortune cookie.

I just.  Don’t want to think about it.  It was too positive.  The meeting went too well.  And now we have to live up to all these expectations.  They’re planning a work trip to Italy which I won’t be going on, but may raise some money for us.  They’re talking about these little things which will need some administration.   I’m smiling and nodding along and it’s fine.  It is.  I’m glad that everyone’s thinking constructively and inventively and actually moving out of the staid material that sometimes is our basis for projects.  That said, the understanding is that we keep everything going we have going and we add in all these new things.

I don’t know.

I woke up this morning, with the sky that color, you know, that nefarious proto-dawn illuminated by human mechanics and not the natural approach towards the sun, the gray purple that hangs as though you are trapped beneath it.  And all day long, cramps from hell wracking my body and nobody, I assume, being the wiser, I dreaded tomorrow.  Tomorrow, I was sure, I don’t have a ride and tomorrow, I was just as sure, I was going to slide into another car and kill and destroy the remainder of the rest of my pitiful life.  My psychic boiling point was hit, and I seethed and roiled and every toxic thought just settled in my belly.

I was a mess.  The roads are clear if not dry and if not perfectly safe.  I am still petrified which is ridiculous.  I am still cramped.    I am not ready for bed, though bed is ready for me.  I should go there before I start believing any of this.

Because stranger things happen every day.

 

 

 

 

Earthly Ministrations

I was sure that today was going to produce from me an excellent post.  I had it halfway written, I think, and I’ll only be able to recreate some of it from memory.  It goes a little something like this:

I don’t hate snow, though I have come to regard as a source of a great deal of negative emotion.   There was a long time ago when the crystalline egg whites spread out over the lawn, I’d sit in the windowsill and imagine how long it could exist without a wrinkle or dimple to destroy that smoothness.  It would be so cold there if we hadn’t put the plastic sheets up and made them taut with our hair dryers.  It’s funny to think that there will come a time where you can write that and no one will even be able to conceive of what that was all about.  They won’t have draft dodgers for their doors, or rain collectors for their downspouts.  They may not even have downspouts.  They’ll have, I hope, other things, little human mechanisms invented to correct imperfections in other human inventions that have generally been deemed “good enough” but we humans, in practice, see that some alteration is needed and they’ll go about figuring out what’s on hand that can do that.  Like a sheet of plastic over your window from late October to mid-February.  You just can’t open your window.  But you can tap out songs on the plastic, that reverberate like a giant transparent drumskin.  And you’re fine with that because it’s winter and these are the things we do for winter.  We’re taught this almost genetically.  Our bodies react differently in winter.  We eat more.  We slow down.   We scale plans back.  We watch the calendar suddenly with an urge to fall forward, to trundle out of the failures of this year and into the potential of the next.  We see 2012 as that perfect sheet cake of snow, untouched by footprints or Picasso-styled snowmen or even just the slide of snow off the roof into a messy berm along the eaves.  You know it’s going to get fucked up.  It has to because you are going to get involved and you are going to kick things around or even just factors are going to arise that you cannot anticipate or control or resolve by your very best and most genuine intent.

But there’s the thing, the rub, the takeaway, the what have you.  And I think of this as I get up and look out from behind the curtains and find that the promised snowfall has indeed come for us once again.   Winter, for all Mr. George RR Martin would have us believe otherwise, is just a season.  And it takes a fourth or so of our year and makes it cold, it makes the roads wet and slippery, it brings the glittery, steely, impermanent snow, and it slows us down.  But it doesn’t turn the works off.  It doesn’t make the blood stop flowing.  We’re the ones who put the plastic up, and when spring comes, sometimes even sooner, we’re the ones who have to take it down and feel what’s going on outdoors.