A Posie


This song is in my life today.  You are in my life today and I am blessed to have you, little book, to keep my weeping and my wailing.

Work, in all its unnamed stresses decides, to name itself.  It’s the S word.

We, dutiful, less dutiful, earnest, less earnest, loyal, less loyal, peons are not giving our all. Apparently. The task that was asserted a few weeks ago, we haven’t worked much on, and that task that no one has really mentioned is the hinge on which we all swing. We’ve failed and this has resulted in anger and resentment.  Because things have been done to protect us, to ease the way and now, no more.

We peons suspected, but did not know this.  Now we know.  We can now struggle even more rapaciously to meet a new deadline struck down from the heavens, or it’s lay-off time.  This means that I have to magic a universe hungry to provide enormous financial remuneration for us whom they so hardly know in eight hours on Thursday, or I suspect, find some way to do it in my off of hours as a salaried woman, despite that salary having been halved and in other ways problematic.

I…feel…of two minds.  The old way and the new.  The old mind wants to absorb all of the negativity presented to me and convert it into warm fuzzies and just knuckle down somehow.  I was the one at the meeting who spoke and said we could try busting our asses harder.  I didn’t say that, but it was presented as either/or.  Try harder or the gravy train stops here.  I don’t regret suggesting we should do something, but honestly, that’s as much as I meant.  Something.  The communication level, at this point feels…well, not good.   And communication includes me, it includes all the things I might have said at all the various junctures I might have said it, and didn’t.  I will take on my piece of it.

The new mind says, I am starting, albeit a completely entry-level position, a new job tomorrow.  It is a job where I don’t have to try and untangle knots I didn’t make and my presence is ultimately most of it.  Also, they think I’m swell and they don’t want my opinions on anything and they’re next door to a coffee shop and down the street from where you were so long ago and there is nothing to be gained by thinking of those old feelings, but there’s no longer anything to lose.  And this is my day to be spent, making money to keep me fed.  I cannot be in two places. And maybe I can’t have two masters, but I have to try this rather than burn myself alive trying that.

I think the crux of the thing today, the pearl of it, was watching someone hold in their troubles and for the first time getting caught in the fallout when they give up holding it.   It doesn’t encourage sudden participation, all it can do is distance and discomfort.  Like…don’t yell at me when I’m skipping lunch, when I’m racing and trying to help.

But if I lose the job, the what-ifs crowd in.  The what-ifs coil close.  I always used to wonder how I could cope with such uncertainty in my life.  Now, I just sigh and carry on.

The startling thing is realizing you do not give a fuck.

A Velleity

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So, if I can learn from yesterday for once in my life, and learn from my desperate desire to just have organized my head two moments in advance for once, I will start writing a few words at work despite not having a moment of time to actually do that.  Funny how it all rattles in my head.  Knots, a sea of knots to navigate, marbles to jumble through, jungles of rain-soaked banana leaves gripping at the skin, trapping the heat beneath where they lay.  A tropical fever of the mind.  A calenture, funnily enough.  I ought to begin right where I am.  Drop the anchor right here, roll up the map, pull up the oars, lower the sails, and let the waves lap the sides of the boat.  Give it a bit of a think before we start sailing off the edge.
The last of my old co-workers is gone, having resigned her post today.   Whatever my life meant for eight years there, whatever I martyred myself to, is, essentially over.  I  don’t quite believe that, but now all the physical ties have been cut.  When I return, even for a moment, people are sick and I see crow’s feet where I used to see smile lines.   You got out at just the right time, you saw the writing on the wall, they say.  That’s not true at all.  God, I know in absolute terms that if the rope hadn’t have been flung my way, hadn’t clocked me in the head, I’d be circling the drain along with everyone else.  I’d have the same future, uncertain in the usual way.  I don’t know if I’d be making the strides I like to think I’m making.  I know that the worry would be that comfortable oatmeal color and not this technicolor dreamcoat of anxiety I wear for a few hours and then fling aside.
Those friends, those hangers-on, the courtiers of old who have lingered to act out the last of their unspoken contracts: they cock their heads at me, note my new red hair, and endearingly sigh, they, too, are planning their way out.   I nod, yes, do, go, leave.   Leave the place where we laughed until I thought I’d be sick.  Leave the streets that left me blistered as I marched up and down in ugly promotional t-shirts and hats, knowing that it didn’t matter if I was carrying thousands, I was invisible.  I was in service.  Leave the place where you got to touch him for joking’s sake and I got to hope for nothing that a tipping point was coming.  Leave the dinners, the hugs, the gleam of good gossip.  Leave it.
I thought all of that was forever and it wasn’t.  So maybe this too is impermanent.  Maybe this epoch is nearly over, and your arms are on the other side, outstretched.  But this is not the lesson.  The lesson is not to wait, Benjamin, on the shore, but to dare the boat, dare the waves, the calms, the starless skies, and sail on after you.

Most Nights

Well, the computer is without its cord so it’s apt to die within the next twenty minutes or so.  But I’m playing Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, drinking lemonade with some Midori in it, and frankly, I don’t give a shit if it does.  Sorry if that reveals yet another unappealing layer of the onion of my character, but them’s the breaks.

A day of three parts, I went to work to get our decorations up.  This is a tradition long before I ever started there, but for whatever reason, I’ve been given the charge of photographing the proceedings.  It is the same pictures every year despite the fact a few of the volunteers’ faces slip in or out.  Same locations, same decorations, and the sense of necessity and urgency about it.  I was really trying to take my aunt’s advice and to learn to say no in more situations.  It’s just hard as hell when it’s essentially saying that you’d prefer to sit on your bed and click around on the internet than get in the car, get free food, and just have to take a couple pictures for the posterity of the program.  It makes you feel so lazy and like you’re blowing off your family when they have these expectations of you and I know it’s not healthy to consider your co-workers family, but so much conspires to make us feel that way.   Like my hunching shoulders, I’m just trying to be aware that it happens.

At any rate, I went, took the necessary photos.  Found no college boys I wanted to try and make eyes at.  There probably were some.  There probably always are.  I was not caught up in the idea of the rain turning into snow, but it was on my mind.  Mainly, I just wanted to be out of the drama churn.  The energy vacuum that seventy-five people with egos and opinions and situations can sap right out of you, leave you feeling exhausted.  So finally, I got up the will and told my boss that I’d done the critical stuff and I wasn’t staying for the volunteer lunch and I think he was so all over the place that he said fine.  And in that fine, I made like a shot and went to my parents.

Part Deux.  Mall with Mother and Sister 2 for really shitty Chinese (like food court from hell Chinese) food and trying to just dip my toe in the pine-scented waters of the Christmas spirit.  Just casually remember that I need to give gifts and I should probably think about that.  Ended with a random, inexplicable accidental gum situation and being told off by Sister 2 which is essentially like standing in front of a human gatling gun.    I can’t really communicate with her when she’s like that and I kind of went inside and wigged out for a good ten minutes about her and everything in me she triggers.  All the terrible feelings.

And then, the third, went with Sister 1 to part of her job, got some Starbucks, got some Chipotle, got a plan for making tomorrow a better day.

Same plan, really, but it’s nice to hold it in my hands.

The Threshold or the Thresher

Alright, so here’s the thing:  none of this has anything to do with them.

Not one nth or one iota.

Much as I would like to claim the reason I went flailing home, swallowing tears, bag of un-eaten bean dip and chips in hand was about the people at the reunion barbeque, I wasn’t upset because of them.  Nor the fact that I was the only single, childless person there.  Nor the fact that I was typically  alone and awkward sitting there at the picnic table, observing exactly as it happened day in and day out during high school.

It was completely and utterly about me.  It’s about the way I just keep waiting for something to happen.  The way I relive what was, warm the milk of memory and escape in its sugar structures to this place that never really was.  This knife-blade’s width place where I was writing and reading and full of potential and every year that place gets more real and my real life becomes harder and harder to bear.

I don’t want kids.  Or necessarily someone there with me at all.  I don’t not want that either, but  what it really is, the nutshell: I just want to finish something.  I just want to reach some goal that is so much bigger than just breathing and eating and waiting for death.

I knew it would be like this, but somehow, I thought that maybe some of the invented magic, that concentrated blood orange, was real.  And what was bitter could turn sweet in time.   As I sat there, smiling, checking my phone, I think that ten years gone isn’t bitter, it isn’t sweet, it is strangers meeting and parting.

I find the way the sky looks right now so beautiful, such a fierce and heavy blue as the dusky sunset pumps in cracks of red veined light which break it like a creme brulee.  I didn’t give in when I felt so sore and so deserving of food.  I have a mother who calls me back six times when I don’t answer to see if I’m alright and then makes me eggs and lets me think my way out of the morass I swear is my new party dress.  I can leave all of that behind.  I have a party with rock stars to go to.  My hair looks beautiful.   I have a story that needs me.  I have two legs.  I have plane tickets.  I am sincere in my hopes for love and peace and adventure.  I am a decent person.  I don’t live under the overpass.  I have a personal fan.  I have aspirin for my headaches and time for my heart.

The scale says I’m losing.  Then I swear I’m gaining.  I don’t know.  I’m wearing the fitbit.  I just crave the discipline, the doing of things.  I crave purpose, identity, friendship, being known, producing, a good haircut, music, dancing, and most of all, I want to get my hands on the next ten years.

This isn’t about you, my high school acquaintances, but I do thank you for being kind.


Vim and Vinegar

You may have found me at the very first stage of a holiday-induced existential crisis.

I am sitting shortly after seven p.m. at my parents house after being told to please, please come over.  But my mother’s asleep so that she can get up at midnight to go work on Thanksgiving morning for one of our country’s great retailers.  My father, at another great retailer, will be returning home at about midnight tonight.  My sister is out with friends.  My other sister is at home.  I am sitting in the quiet living room which should be some vast and epic relief to me, but it feels sad and awkward.  It feels very lonely.  I will be 28 next year.  That’s high school reunion year.  My friends are having children. They’re getting married.  They’re becoming something.  I can’t judge whether they’re becoming what I would want to be. They are, however, definitely becoming something.  I feel this great sense of being left behind.  Before she went to sleep, my mother told me that on Sunday we’re all going to brunch with my sister’s new boyfriend for her birthday.  This is fine.  This is nice.  There is no caveat to this for me. However, she adds one, saying eventually she’ll get settled and find the right person.  As though, we from our elevations, can condole and bestow pity upon my sister as she struggles through the romantic vagaries of modern life.

Why does no one ever care that I’m not dating anyone?  Why does no one insist on intercession in my life?  Why does no one forecast my future at all?  As if by inaction, I have signed away rights to matter in that regard.  Another year passes.   I ponder if what’s going to happen to me is a lump will emerge, from stress or strain or genetics or just bad luck, and off I will be rushed into a dying.  Having wasted time on pondering lumps and death and loneliness.  Such a strange thing to be crying over tonight in a still, undisturbed evening.  Strange what rises to the surface when there is so much to be sorrowful over.

I am thankful.  I am, in so many ways, happy.  I just cannot shake the feeling that given my particulars, my assets and liabilities, my story just as it is…that I am the embodiment of wrong.
I get so embarrassed about everything I can’t do or haven’t done, that trying at such a late stage seems akin to running down the street naked while holding a blown-out match.  You’d feel some comfort in being set on fire, but to keep the fire lit, you’d have  to stop.   So I don’t tell anyone who I am or how I am, my friends consider me mysterious, and I keep running.

It’s not all vim and vinegar.   I am excited for having bought some wine for tomorrow, for having left work early, for convincing myself to stop caring for the foreseeable future, for knowing five chords, for my charitable project mattering a bit, for driving home the normal way, for controlling panic attacks, for wearing cute tights, I’m watching the second season of Parks and Rec to catch up, I have tomorrow off and I will take a walk and I will write and read and remember that I choose all of this.  All of this.

Independence Day (On the Nose)

Woke up in Minneapolis in the sweaty, overloaded air.  Am home in the Denver area now in an equally charged, though not so moist ether.   The computer feels like it’s about 9000 degrees.  Does this mean I’m going to take it off my lap?  Not hardly.

So, I was pretty sure this post was going to be about my sister again and how she pretty much destroys all vacations and all self-esteem and all semblance of a normal familial experience with her psychic vampirism and her philosophy of Manifest Libido.  Which is, of course, she wants to get laid so the universe had better bend to her will including all laws of physics, time, space, any of us errant dependents she’s managed to pick up as barnacles on her great Pussitania.  Disgusting analogy, but entirely appropriate given her response when it appears that we can’t just making the plane take off or make my parents be any less overzealous about the safety of our family in a rental car on in a new city where they haven’t driven the roads to the point of deep memorization.  Those being our cases, she screams, she curses, she rips the earth right along the horizon.  She snarks and rages and confesses to sins to justify herself.  She throttles you with her voice and how little she cares that it bothers you.  She does it to resolve her frustration and she does it because she’s bored and she does it because no one can stand up to her.  And that’s the facts.  But that is old news, just forgotten until this weekend.  And I’m home now and I don’t live with her and as sad as I am that she treats my mother exactly that way while living rent-free, I have a whole other sea of fishes to fry and my own terrible problems and my own frustrations and loneliness.  I am definitely sitting in a glass house and pitching bigger and bigger pebbles at my pretty walls.

So,  here’s what I know as of right this very instant.  I am going to keep writing until I finish this story’s first draft.    I am going to take a cool bath.  I am going to set out my clothing for tomorrow.  I am going to get a trash bag and throw away five things.  I am doing 30 days low carb + exercise exercise starting tomorrow.  This includes tomorrow for both items.  Like it or no.  We said we would, so we must!

Freedom doesn’t always mean being a layabout.  In fact, it hardly ever does.

Freedom is about not having to be a wretch in your own head when you have all the tools to make yourself into whatever it is you want to be.

Me, I want to be airy, comfortable, loving and loved, in beautiful places, dangerous with a pen, safe with money, full of dreams, not bothered by screaming because I’m settled in myself and my path, less egotistical than I currently feel, with access to venom but no reason to loose it.

I am worthy of a good plan.  But more than that, I’m worthy of action.

Weep Little Lion Girl

It’s like a word train, one hooking right after another and frequently stopping to block traffic for no obvious reason before chugging along again, slightly briefer or longer though never quite making sense.

After a long session of preening and poking about and taking pictures of myself with my bright red lipstick and my cat’s eye eyeliner until I found one I really, really liked, we went to the mall today.  My little sister and my mother and I.  I didn’t buy anything because I was kind of in a daze.

So I’ve mentioned how my back and really my neck have been killing me every morning?  Well, it’s sort of extended well past morning right now and it’s been stiff and painful all day and after the mall goings on and my pre-menstrual emotional upheaval, my dear mother was getting concerned for me.  And this is not in the basic attention way I like and crave.  She was actually concerned that something might be wrong with me which, whether it’s true or not, is not something I actually want to share with anyone or actually try to face and resolve.   But my mother has read books on pressure points and massage and really, at this point, my neck was bothering me so much that I felt entirely meek and sort of past defending my completely false sense of personal gravitas that would usually prohibit me from letting someone take care of me or touch me or anything like that.  So naturally, she’s appalled at the knots in my back and how stiff I was and my little yelps of pain as she pushed into the knots for 8 seconds and eventually she had me lay down on the floor and she was rubbing this pain cream into my back and shoulders and it hurts so much I just start involuntarily crying and all my liquid eyeliner pools below my eyes and I can’t explain to anyone that the tears are not just because she’s pressing where it hurts and it’s hurting but because it’s foreign touch, a sensation so foreign to my skin and I’m laying there in front of the both of them just completely wracked with agony and loneliness and emotion and all the stress of work and the way I sit and my hunched over shoulders bent to protect me from any stray eyeballs and the empathic trailings of the hundreds of randoms at the mall battering around in my head like a bird at a window.  Just overwhelmed with emotion, so it’s spitting out of my face, and it’s making my mother’s concern even more severe.  She says it shouldn’t hurt like this and my little poetic brain so flush with all those hormones that have the semiotic gift, reads a thousand layers into that statement and more tears come and I can say nothing but thank you.   Thank you for helping me.

Of course, then my sister says “Maybe your back hurts because you have such gigantic boobs.”  Which is funny, now, to type.  But then it felt pretty shitty because when you’re in this sort of semiotic free-fall, everything connects to the meanings of everything else and you sort of trip through your own memory, illuminating everything as you go.  I think about tits.  About being among the first in fifth and sixth grade to have them, about feeling swollen and broken and unready to own any of it.  Completely ashamed.  Back then, I figured that if you bent your shoulders and hunched a bit, you weren’t thrusting anything out at anyone.  You weren’t asking for anyone to be aware of you at all.   Long hours of computer work, abject shyness, whatever it is, I am slowly crippling myself just by living.

She says these kind of things in an effort to help me.  Or so she thinks.  She points out that my lipstick is too bright and messy.  She tells me my jeans are too short.  Am I wearing that?  Why am I not answering her? She rhetorically asks.  If I’m going to be such a bitch, we’ll just go home! I used to think that she thought she was better than everyone, but I’ve seen enough of her insecurities to know that’s not true.  What’s true is this: she just thinks she’s better than me.  I try and consider if there’s anything in that to motivate me, but right now, I just don’t…know.   I want to be mad at her in the vein of our usual rivalry, but what rises to the surface is that if she thinks she’s better than me, maybe she’s not the only one.  Maybe given every thought in my head today about how she dares to walk around in the world without pulling at her clothes to better cover herself, her appraising eye turned outward instead of in, I must think she’s better than me, too.

But I always forget that the revelations I come to when I’m in that sort of headspace are not always coming, whole cloth, to everyone else.  So I gather myself up, slowly, dab out my raccoon eyes and breathe and try and have a good dinner and I drive home and have  a nice visit with my friends, however brief and try and keep pushing my shoulders down.  I do feel better, but maybe also more keenly aware of how big the hurt was and how much could come back.

I am a good person, but sometimes I just feel so stuck in a quagmire.