Within the Armament Works


I woke up this morning, unaware in any active way of Daylight Savings Time, and my first thought was “Yes! I can get back to my book!”

This is a rather thrilling development – as thrilling as any the book itself contains.  Since last night I’ve read 200 pages and have pried myself away to do a few things I need to do.  Eating, laundry, exercise, otherwise I am tempted to say, they will not get done until I finish.

And as I am reading, I am stopping to google the definitions of words I don’t recognize.  Perhaps I knew atavistic once, but coming across it now and relearning its meaning: “being related to something ancient or ancestral” puts butterflies in my belly.  It feels like being handed a weapon that can fire further with greater accuracy than the clumsy, scattershot “old.”  It is, in many ways, building up your arsenal.  It is gathering your power to you, able to unleash such words as macadam or lateen at a clip.

I used to, in college, pin up notecards to my dorm room wall of words that were new to me.  Words I found that little flutter of discovery when I scanned my eyes over them.

Since then, with all of this anxiety and worry that I’ve nurtured and claimed, one idea that’s silverfished its way into the book of my brain is that I don’t have the hunger anymore.  I don’t have the focus, the skill, the desire to engage with the written world.  Really, what this is about is being afraid I can’t get to the quiet, restorative, contemplative peace that was my domain as a child.  The girl who wandered about the gardens telling stories, who was constantly checking books out of the library to live in, who feasted on the possibilities she could invent and knit together in her own mind.  It was scary to speculate that maybe I am locked out of something beautiful and personal about myself.  Like so many things, I imagined that I don’t have to feel the shame of that being true if I never rattle the door handle and see.   It’s Schrodinger’s Self-Awareness.

And partially, I understand, I needed to get out of that place so that I could figure out how to be in a social, person-focused job.  How I had to give up that extensive private time reading so I could hang out online with friends and clue into pop culture, so I could consider being a grown-up.  I needed to get some other skills.  I also had to learn to scan rather than read to get through college and reading I really didn’t want to do.

It wasn’t the same when I came back to a book, hoping to lay there and spend a weekend in another world.  So much anxiety that I couldn’t focus for even five minutes, so much to do, so much I should be dealing with but couldn’t because all I wanted to do was lay somewhere and read.  But it didn’t mean I was broken.  Not permanently.

I just needed the right book and the realization that I don’t have to worry about reading perfectly, with a cape around me, the rain at the window, the sea foaming around my tower.  I just have to let it be as it is and the book will reach me if it wants me.

This one truly has.

Between Frying Pan and Fire

So, I manically need to type this out and get it done so that I will not ruin this streak.  This streak is not something to mess with.  I would…beyond cry if I broke it even for so lovely a reason as going to a Mumford and Sons concert.

It’s already midday and I haven’t done that much, but I have been busy.  Got my hair colored and I feel much more at ease, also got the hair ripped out of my face which makes me feel so much less like Frida Kahlo’s more hirsute cousin and I don’t mind myself so very very much right now despite the fact that I am considering this a day of fallowness and fallibility.   Tomorrow, at this moment, I know I can get back on track and re-defined towards my goals (though I know that the overwhelming emotion that tonight will invoke will be hell towards that plan, but I want to feed on the experience, not let it feed on me) and I know this because even with this vast mandate to fuck around with food – I blew off Starbucks.  It’s just coffee and sugar and diuretics and I am already high as a kite.  Having to stand around for more than a few hours, that cannot possibly be a super great plan.   Yes, I am a deeply aged person, concerned with my fragile bladder situation.

No, seriously, tonight is going to be ridiculously fun and I’ll be so glad that this is done and I can enjoy like the full-on idiot I am.

So, yes, got my hair done and it took a long time.  I meann, I guess I don’t really know how to gauge these things but 2 and a half hours, wow.  Still, my hair is quite silky soft and this kind of blonde that is so lightly slightly tinged strawberry and I feel great.

Then I saw my mother and aunt and it was momentarily weird because my hair salon is across the street from where I work and I didn’t and don’t want to go anywhere near the office on a day I’m on vacation – not only just on principle, but also because I will surely be drafted to fix some piece of equipment or open some email or do one thing and what I want and deeply need is to be my own human being for just a little bit.

So I met them in the parking lot and we went and had lunch and it was lovely and I felt like a real human girl with real human interests and not some mental ward escapee with a lazy eye and a hunchback.  Against my will, even, I felt pretty.

Box I needed to drop off is dropped off, got gas, got my tickets and my liner notes in case (one hopes and prays) I could get an autograph, and no Starbucks as of yet.  How bizarre to just be in the universe, undocumented and beautiful without anyone’s intervention.

Rex Manning Day

Here is today’s foothold of truth.  Keep busy.  The days will run by and you may have your regrets and your little troubles, but keep busy and you’ll keep yourself above board.  And that’s a safe place to be until you get a grip on your bigger dreams and better name and your wisdom starts to turn a soft yellow in front of your eyes.

There was a cashier at Office Max.   He had a giant belt buckle.  A belt buckle bigger than God.  And when you go up to the desk with your USB drive that you aren’t even sure you need to buy, but doesn’t everyone need a spare flashdrive for general flashing purposes and it takes all your willpower not to gaze at that belt buckle, so silvery-steely and cast in the shape in the shape of a giant lion head with an impressively coiffed and vicious mane blowing in the hypothetical wind.  Such a belt buckle must mean something, you think, if not psychological, then it must imply some geekish interests, some simpatico of understanding that you both must have.  And you are utterly aware of the shirt and the push-up bra and the precarious state of your apparel and you smile and ignore any implications in the situation and take your USB drive and your receipt and some finagling with the card reader and go, leaving the young man with the massive belt buckle to whatever devices such a man would employ. 

My love life, ladies and gentlemen.

What am I thinking about tonight as the sands slip through the hourglass and the countdown begins before I attempt the bed and dreamlife of a much better person, one who makes glib light of belt buckles and can rest soundly on a bed of nails is this.  I am profoundly graceless, I am messy and self-involved and terrible.  These are personality flaws I cannot disavow because they are embroidered in the fabric of my body, little colored flosses of defect that flourish and border my white linen.  But I am not incommodious.  I am not ungenerous.  I do not fail to try hard to make things pleasant and to cut away the frayed, stained bits.  This is not so obvious, perhaps, not 100% of the time, but I hope and I pray that tomorrow, my grand idea of ease and delight for this process will go as it should.  I have worked my fingers to the bone and I think some of my aches and pains can be owed up to this devil-may-care attention to the project and I want, more than anything, for the images to load and the jurors to review them and for the day to quickly and well.

Once tomorrow is over, somehow, we can lower the dial and get back to summer, frenetic and ridiculous, but not belonging to me.  Summer is a whole universe of change and motion and progress and plans and I can be a cog in them.   Not a fancy pants director of anything.

Mainly, I don’t want anyone to yell and I don’t want to be late.

Pig Atin-Lay

Copy a post?  Hah.  Hah!  That makes me laugh.  It might have been a hell of a lot easier to get to nigh on 500 posts if you could just copy what you already had.

Tonight, I do feel like laughing and I do feel joy though it’s mostly survivor’s joy?  The adrenaline rush of escaping unscathed from a day determined to buckle you at your knees.  We were told there would be snow this morning and those damned newscasters that lord their imperfect knowledge over us like permanent seniors and permanent freshmen were proven once again wrong.  They’re wrong a lot of the time, but none of us ever graduate to get the kind of positions where we’re allowed to acknowledge this.  It’s all just tarot and cloud-gauging and a mother’s intuition which is not more than a poet would use to tell your your future.

We were told there would be snow and instead there was sunlight and an easy drive in (aside from the two loose dogs scampering back and forth across the road while they stopped traffic and everyone screamed at the woman who appeared to be their owner seemed to throw up her hands as if this was some act of some god to loose these creatures and let them have the run of the right of way. I did not run over either dog.)

There was sunlight and there was busyness.  Enough to keep me away from my yogurt for breakfast (I did eat something before I left), but also enough to keep me well away from the spontaneously purchased doughnuts that everyone was craving.  If you’re going to be sensible, you’ve got to at least try.  So, I didn’t eat much after that, though what I did eat, I minded its calories and now that it’s 9:30pm, I am well and truly done with any and all snacks and if I must open my gaping maw once more, it shall only be for a glass of water.   Mostly, I found myself ensnared in a 200+ page color photocopying shenanigan from which I barely extracted myself hours later.   Oh, and we had a board meeting, too, which for whatever reason, made my stomach roil and boil like some kind of cosmic, frothing, acidic sea and it was fine.  It was just fine and there was kindness towards me and compliments towards me and for a brief time, I kind of remembered why I liked my job and why I liked myself in my job.  Then, after 5:00pm, I stuck around now that the co-workers are out on their various vacations and it’s just  me, the boss, and volunteers and we shot the shit for a little while about everything going on and being glad that the co-workers were on a little break and we know we have a hard summer coming but that I am a good employee and he is a good boss and we’re just going to go once more into the breach on this puppy and it’ll be okay.

Of course, it wasn’t wholly permament.  I could have had a more nutritional dinner and I could have had fewer pretzels, but I’m not knocking today.  Not for a moment.

Tie Your Apronstrings

There is something deeply, deeply satisfying about cooking your own food.  It is work and hassle and while not necessarily more expensive, it sometimes feels that way when you don’t keep staples in your pantry.  It’s something that in our culture you can easily talk yourself out of knowing how to do – many people end up not having to know how to boil water – and opt out for microwaveable, pre-made, pre-portioned, pre-seasoned meals.  Something a generation or two ago would have been unthinkable and perhaps, a delightful dream for some housewives.   But sitting here, smelling the cumin and cinnamon as it heats and melds with the onion and the tomatoes in my crock pot, I think this is really fantastic and something that organically agrees with me.

I’m making white bean ground turkey chili, something that I’ve been craving for a while, for no real reason.  It always seemed like that would be a hell of a lot of work to put together.  That it would take days and beans would need to be soaked and it was just never going to happen unless I found white bean chili in a plastic cup at the grocery store and I could heat it up in the microwave and eat it.  But there’s been just enough time and space in my head and the kitchen’s been just clean enough for me to up and decide today was the day for the chili.  I’ll have to let you know how the taste test goes, but thus far, it has not been an extraordinary trial.  I bought the ingredients, I opened our unused crock pot which someone gave us in the last 6 months or so, I cooked the turkey and onions, and I put it all in the pot and turned it on.

Yet, somehow, this feels marvelous.  There’s no plasticware and paper sacks and the smell of vegetable oil and grease to contend with.  I get to be excited to eat this versus desperate to eat this.  It’s healthy and it can feed all of us in one go.  And there will be some left for tomorrow and the next day and it’s symbolic chili.  Ahem.  I know that’s stupid, but it’s about nourishment and epicurean delight and self-care and slow food and experimentation.  Not getting the cookie cutter fast food, same each time, emotional sedative stuff that I don’t know what’s in it.  I work at a farmers’ market and I believe in this even if it’s only once a year that I get it right. It’s what this whole diet, I think, needs to be about.

This is not to say I am seeing my way clear in every direction.  I have not yet done the exercise, though I know it’s coming, and I’m not dreading it but I know it’s going to take something in me to get up and get it done.  We’ve had a busy day, and bought a new washer and dryer, something we’ve needed for a year and I’ve had a mental battle with my sister after she screamed at me in the parking lot of Habitat for Humanity.  I could go into it but I’ve spent all day in it and pulling triggers on imaginary guns and raging and feeling completely impotent and having Starbucks (albeit low-calorie, skinny caramel macchiato) which is entirely accounted for on SparkPeople.  I could go into it, but I’m really the only one who is upset and dwelling in the upsettedness punishes only me and frankly, I don’t deserve to be punished in this case.

So, I’ve got dinner, I’ve got to do the cardio and the strength training, I’ve got to watch Primeval with mes amies. I’ve got this quiet universe to oversee.

Oh, and I got a new scale.  We’ll see what it says in the morning.

Your Moment of Zen

Ugh.  I have a Christmas carol as sung by the perky singers they hire to sing in the street (not the lovely Victorian caroler), instead teenagers with bleach-fried hair and whose voices unfortunately have gotten progressively worse since they were first hired three years ago.

I did not give Santa Claus the boot, instead, I blearily managed to make it through the day. We had a manageable crowd, and a parade that went overlong but was fun enough, and Mr. Rochester complimented my Sinatra hat.  I felt sort of Michelin Wo-man in this fluffy white coat with a red coat over it and a had and an askew scarf and realizing this, I once again booked it out of there, though not before making a fool of myself by staring into the middle distances and nearly tipping a whole stack of books over.  Nobody cares, really, but it’s these things that add up in your head and make you think of yourself as a spastic rather than the graceful swan the good Lord intended.

I did see a lovely sunrise and for a moment I remembered the good in the world, natural good without any human mediation or control.  No jingles or theme songs in a sunset.  There was an instant recognition and calm and being up at six in the morning to see it was a blessing and shut me up with my whining for a brief moment.  Being able to click into that mode means a lot because right now, you almost think that your circuits are burned out in that regard.  You meaning me.  Now meaning the holidays.

Tips for what to do when you’re feeling psychically thwarted: one.  watch Holiday with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.  This just softens up that tough, weather-worn exterior of your dippy heart with the idea of the right people finding each other despite the world’s best intentions.  Two:  sleep.  Just stop fucking around and go to bed, bench yourself for a few hours and you’ll wake up a little bit more able to face reality (or your distorted, funhouse mirror version of reality.)  Three:  get in a car with someone and shriek and holler and stop pretending to be a creature on some track to redemption.  Just be a funny mess.  Talk about monkeyballs.  Talk about the stupidity of Starbucks closing at 9pm on a Saturday night.  Talk about the car in front of you and run over cats and make terrible noises.  Stop measuring acceptability.  Be stupid.

In this way, you’ll stop taking yourself so damn seriously.  You’ll stop looking around with this disparaging eye like the world is supposed to go a certain way, or bend to please you.  Your plans stop being  life and death.  This instant isn’t the critical instant and not everything’s on you.  You’re not Commander Shepard and you can be okay and dumb and laugh without grace and love people without reason.  You can forgive yourself for not emotionally nourishing a universe at your own expense. Did I mention the monkeyballs?

New Heart

I feel, in the wake of the non-breakup nonness, sort of happier than I have been for a while.  Maybe it’s just because I figure, what’s the point?  Keeping my eyes closed and keeping my head down has kept me from being aware of what might be out there for me and while I feel a little scuffed, I’d rather just say, hey, okay, so, we ain’t Romeo and Juliet and follow that up with my plan, my vegetables, my writing, my future (the one that will unfold itself based on what I put into it and I’m not keen on a future based on giving up.)

We flew a kite tonight, or tried to, after taking a long walk.  I almost died laughing.  It was amazing.  My sisters and I don’t do a lot of things like that anymore and as child, as children, we were always out in the wind, screaming and playing and dreaming like these prowling, roving, merry fae more of the air and dirt than not.  I may over-exaggerate, but there were times when I felt so free and connected to my imagination that it felt magical.  It made me who I am.

I feel sort of like that now.  Having put a toe in and not died, having drawn up to the edge and kept my balance, I can keep looking.   I can keep evolving in the my own way, my own time, and I am no longer beholden to the firstness of things.

Tomorrow is the zumba class I’m taking with my sister at the local gym.  I’m pretty darn excited about it since apparently zumba involves just controlled spazzing out and I figure I can handle that and I think it might help me clear my head and continue on the path towards become America’s Next Top Neurotic.   I haven’t taken a public exercise class since my roommates and I took yoga in college and decided that even for a yogi, our instructor was a whack job and we’d rather go and get a drink instead.   Always clear-headed, your dear journalist, I tell you.  So it’s awkward, but what the fuck, life is wildly awkward to begin with.

So, food today was better but that’s very relative to yesterday.  I’m doing much better just on the basis of my choice to not be buggered and weepy over this and to instead, embrace the day.  Since tomorrow’s the shaking thine ass in public day, I’m going to add much more water than usual and try and definitely only grocery store food.  With a little grace, I’ll get through the day without having any kind of episode.   Small pieces, breathing, taking the overwhelming nature of change and acknowledging that it’s scary to be a person on her ownsome without some other person’s personality and will to subsume your own.   You have to pull up your big girl panties and move on, because everyone’s too busy holding their own up to bother with yours.

Unfortunate underwear analogy aside…

Stabilizing.  Ass kicking.  Full of vim and vigor and bobby pins and a brand new heart, right off the factory floor, ready to be broken.