The Artful Homemaker

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Five hundred words only get written if you very slowly and systematically put yourself in front of the great white screen and let your brain slowly ooze down your neck and through your body until it can reach your fingertips and you can frantically tippie tap and pitty pat it away.

That isn’t exactly the scientific process, but I’m pretty sure that’s about how it goes.  It’s just that simple.  You just put your lips together and blow.

I am thinking about you.  It is a small thing, where I think my little sister is lovely and kind, but she gets a number from the valet boys whereas I open the door for them twenty-times with not so much as a how-do-you-do.  I don’t think any of those valet boys and I would have meant to be, and of course, my little sister is blameless.  The whole thing just carries a sourness in my mind, though.  Harkened back to childhood against my will.  It is a jealousy that isn’t against anything but my own hopes.

I looked at Mr. Rochester’s old, entirely defunct Facebook page where pseudonyms upon pseudonyms once made for some sort of inside joke I could probably puzzle out if I tried.  There’s no sign of him there.  I could also, probably, dig up the old youtube videos he did.  I won’t, though, as I already feel invasive as it is, kicking old tires and digging old bones.  I just wanted one bit of the old bird in the hand, the snide conversation that created this little glass cake cover and sat it over us on our shared pedestal.  I just wanted to remember how it was when I could make him laugh and it felt like, though I was 1000% wrong on this, I was the only girl who knew that trick.

I miss the thing about writing with the guy where at least for the time it took to read and the time it took to respond, I was Queen Shit.  I was it.  I was the recipient of the attention, the gatekeeper of the correspondence, I was the muse, I was the charm.  That’s about as narcotic a thing as I know of and I have gone without a hit of it for a long, long, long while.

I ache for it, really.  Some specialized attention.  Some badinage.  Some good times.  This is how I get myself into trouble.  This is the cycle come round again where I pretend I don’t know that there’s a wall up ahead that I am barrelling towards.  A real wall or a wall I have imagined is placed there, it doesn’t matter, it will still break my face when I fail to brake.    The body issues wall.  Where I know why she gets the valet’s number, and I get the valet’s complete disinterest.

In certain dreams, he squeezes me.  Not so tight that I can’t breathe, but just enough to know that he is there for me and no one else.  In certain dreams, I squeeze him back.

Don’t Mess with Jack Frost

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I remember very vividly my first episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.  It was a  SciFi Channel episode – Jack Frost.  The movie was a Russian-Finnish production of an old folk tale that is, essentially, Cinderella mashed up with Snow White, only with some key differences.  Those differences being the Mushroom Hatted Trickster Gnome thing, witch with the dancing house, and the mythically endowed (not as you think) Prince who had the head of a bear.   It was just weird enough that on some early Saturday morning when I was in fifth or sixth grade, my parents left the TV on and I strolled in and caught this odd looking movie that had a strip of black silhouettes covering up the bottom eighth of the screen.  And each of these silhouettes were cracking jokes at the movie.  I had never seen anything like it.  I was clever enough, I guess, and the jokes in this particular episode are fairly accessible as the visuals bring enough hilarity on their own…clever enough to find this show endearing and hysterical.  I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know the history, why Mike and these robots were stranded in space.  I just knew that the jokes were witty and weird and I could sit there with my mother and feel like I was watching something made just for me.

It could as easily have never happened.   MST3K was only on once a week, and I’d like to think I would have found it sooner or later.  This was way pre-YouTube, way pre-ETEWAF, and seeing something on TV never guaranteed you would ever get to lay your eyes on it again.  Instead, I’d go to Suncoast every few months and buy another VHS of Cave Dwellers or Pod People or one of these classic episodes where I probably know the riffs by heart by now.  There was something extraordinarily soothing about the frame of Mike or Joel and the bots.  Something about their worldview that felt both non-threatening and intellectually demanding.  You have to know a little bit about a lot of things, be able to follow quick context clues, and watch enough of the show to pick up the in-jokes to get the most out of MST3K, I think, and having those faculties was something of a point of pride with me.

As the internet became a more and more integral part of my life and I had the funds to buy a lot of the box sets, I’d say I probably have seen about 75% of all of the episodes.  I’d fall asleep to it, put it on as background noise, able to relax to those voices somehow.  It definitely made me feel much less lonely, much less like a one-off.

Like a lot of the things I loved around that time – X-Files, Are You Being Served, the Red Green Show, Xena and Hercules, it wasn’t anything that I knew any kids were even aware of.  That was one area where I felt, if not cool, then, at least esoteric enough that I respected my lack of cool.  If lack of cool meant staying up late enough to see the weird astronomy quarter of a show that PBS aired on Saturday nights – Jack Horkheimer – I was down with it.   If it meant getting to share in with these bunch of clever nerds who weren’t about anything but making one another laugh, I was fine on missing out on walking around the mall or go to a football game.   What might have been a terrible ache was, instead, a great joy.

So I hope the show can come back…it doesn’t have to take the form to match my memories.  It just has to be fun and kind and smartly written, I can find a home in that regardless of who hosts it.

 

 

We Are the Normal

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Another day that I would like to put up my words as fiction, but instead, the creative non variety will have to do.  It is cold and my hands feel stiff and slow and I am ready to be fast and fleet as fire.

I am reading prompts, perusing memories, and all of a sudden, I think of you.

What makes me special, what makes me real, what makes me me and not some other girl.  And some of that is your strange little friendship with me.  I was young, fourteen or fifteen.  I was in love at the time with Johnny Rzeznik and the Goo Goo Dolls.  I had nearly all their albums.  I must have picked up Hold Me Up along the way.  I remember it started with Iris and that music video which came on VH1 or whatever it was and I found it to be completely compelling.  This emotional, desperate man in something of period-style/distressed/punky looking red leather suit (oxblood is my favorite color) trapped in a tower where he views the world through a telescope had all sorts of fodder for my feverish teenage heart.  Then, because you do this as a fangirl,  I was into their older stuff, when they were this rollicking, searing, self-deprecating punk band that had songs like James Dean which was this melodic moan about “I want to be James Dean / I want to be oversexed and underworked / and look at me I’m such a jerk.”   When you’re a teenager, a song like We Are the Normal feels anthemic.  They had a really weird name.  They were boys, but they weren’t a boy band.

It was a soundtrack to a couple years.  They became something important to me.  I went and saw them a couple times before they eventually lost their luster somehow.  The first GGD show was the first time I’d really stayed out late and been exposed to weed, to live music, to the transcendent experience that it can offer.  I bought stickers and put them on my notebooks.  I bought magazines for Johnny’s face on the cover, I bought a guitar I attempted to learn how to play, I went online and found fellow fan people.

This was how I found you.   You were much older.  You were in your thirties, but you never patronized me.   I was never in love with you, but I was in love with our friendship.  You lived on the East Coast.  I sent you emails and talked about my life, openly, playfully, melodramatically, earnestly.  You were completely supportive about my writing desires.  You talked about being a teacher.  You sent me cassette tapes of rare Goo Goo Dolls interviews, the B-sides I didn’t have yet which I played over and over again, I would put in my walkman and go to school with.  All of it made me feel better in a time when, I was a teenager…I was an outsider…I was this thing.  All of it made me feel connected and alive.

I was young, though.  Too young for the sorts of conversations that we were having, really.  Not that you were ever inappropriate with me.  I’m sure I must have thought something about your attention in that way, but I knew you were married and I knew we were penpals.  That was how I saw it.  I talked casually about our correspondence to my family.  It did make me feel, I suppose, rather cool.

At some point, you let me know that you were cheating on your wife.  You wanted advice from me about it.  This sage, young person who could ply big thoughts into pretty words.  I remember this freaking me out.  I remember being hugely disappointed in you.  I wish that I hadn’t been as moralistic as I was as a kid.  I never saw it that way.    The absolutes were just that absolute.  It hurt me, but mostly, it weirded me out that you wanted me to keep this secret with you.  I know I stopped writing after that.  I also know if you and I had been friends now, I would have reacted differently.  I don’t know if I should have done something else…I was so naive and just young, but I see now how much I’ve tried to replicate the energy we had together over the years.  How much of what I think I need to seek in love, we shared.

 

Yes, We Have No Bananas

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It is just that kind of day.  I am not the shit, I am not the fan, I’m just the adjacent wall accepting both the cool breeze and the fine mist of excrement with equanimity.

It doesn’t matter.  I am enough numb right now that it doesn’t hurt as it should.  It doesn’t cause a clenching as tight as it once did.  I think I am insane, but I need that insanity to survive. Is that more than I mean?

…..

What rites of passage have you participated in?

I don’t know why as I scanned the list of blog prompts, this one leapt out at me with a memory.  A memory that drags a chain of other memories behind in loops of multi-colored construction paper.  It was Girl Scouts.  Yes, faithful readers, your diarist was a Girl Scout. And we had a ceremony at the church where we held many of our meetings.  A bridging ceremony where you stopped being one level of scout, a Daisy or a Brownie or a Junior and became a Cadette and then whatever came after that…LEET FORCE 12!, probably.  However, I remember this being my first real sense of ceremonial solemnity in real life.  There were candles and each color had a meaning and we walked across the stage, and we promised to be the most sincere girl scouts who ever scouted.

I walked around the neighborhoods, knocking on doors and cowering away from imposing suburban “mansions” set way back on their acreage, in an effort to shill the most Trefoils.  I stood gallantly at grocery store thresholds, stopping distracted mothers with unhappy, sticky-skinned children, and hoped to engage them in purchasing a box of Thin Mints they could eat furiously over the kitchen sink before their sneering husbands returned home from work.

This was all, of course, done, for a single reason.  To raise the funds to go to Girl Scout Camp.

Wow, this is making me think of extraordinary memories, I’d lodged way back in my mind.  I did end up going, despite never selling all that many cookies, at least two or three times.  Once, to a camp our troop leaders convinced our parents was the best option for some reason, and was actually some sort of Christian missionary conversion situation.  I remember being entirely conflicted after the strong encouragement to “agree to let Jesus into your heart.”  There was, apparently, paperwork involved in this.  They would put your name in a construction paper heart on the wall proclaiming to all that said you had let him into your heart.  They used this phrase repeatedly without ever explaining what was involved.  How did one do this?  It didn’t matter if you understood, though, you just had to commit.  Or you know, casually, they intoned, just burn in hell.  I remember thinking very hard about this in my little ten year-old or twelve year-old brain.  I felt the pressure.  We weren’t forced to do it, but every day we were encouraged at our little prayer meetings.  I also remember a girl from my troop bawling her eyes out and calling home to get permission to get her name on the Jesus wall.

I think I also remember telling Jesus that I knew me and him were cool, but I couldn’t get serious like that on a dime.  I see now that the camp no longer operates in this state.  Funny.

At another, more secular camp, there was a counselor who must have been named Willow or Birch or Blueberry something and I still recall at that young age the thrill it was to learn that perhaps she was secretly in love with another, terribly handsome counselor and that they would go off into the bushes and do “things.”  We didn’t know what those things were, only that they were illicit and magical as King Arthur and Angelica’s love in the nunnery.  They were grown-ups as I struggled with my art projects and hiking in the rain.  I remember gazing out on some rainy day when we were kept from our constant hikes and forestry lectures while enraptured by their love affair, trying to fathom being that age and being in love.

Funny what you think of when you think of nothing.

Lagan and Derelict: Day Five

It’s Sunday.  My sister does not want to do anything as it’s her only day off and I don’t want to do anything except that I want to do everything because Saturday was taken up with the strain of buying the car and the “social” event.

I feel the great rush in my blood that comes from feeling I should do.   But I’m trying to learn that what I need to do today is relax.  If I want to play a game, I will.  I have driven myself to the grocery store, and while I did not lose my shit, I could see it rolling away as though the table I’ve set it on is at an angle and I have to keep after it lest it all splatter on the floor.  The shit being a metaphor for my mental state and not actual feces.  I feel I must make that clear for some reason.

I don’t think I’ve talked about this once in four years here, but I used to really enjoy running around outside as a kid. I used to feel at home there.  I spoke to the flowers and told them stories and made mud pies and left the fairies syrup to drink (aside from the one I actually saw, but that’s a story for another time).  We looked after ourselves and had gardens to run about in and not yet the technology to draw our imaginations into this collective heaven, collective abyss that the internet has become.  I pretended to be a horse a lot.  I liked the feeling of the air running over my skin, the mysteries to be found in a grove of old trees, the sunlight enlivening the day and my body.  Nowadays the only time I go outside is to march to my car, to march into work, to march to some destination.  The idea of just going outside to be outside seems…I feel ill to write it…boring.

But boring is just a cover for fear.

You wonder how a life can create such wake of panic and resignation that even sunshine becomes suspect.

But I go out in it today and I peel back layers of memory, fall at college and the story of the men who bargained that I wrote in my head as I walked back to my dorm from Eddy Hall, from hearing of the Decameron and the chips they put in childrens’ brains, these men who would be dead ten years from that day and if she held true, are surely dead now. I think back to walking home from elementary school, up that long hill, wrapping my handmade sweater from my grandmother that I called my “parchment coat” against the cool autumn wind.  I think even further to piles of leaves, the smell of them having been raked into piles and set under an amber sun, the crunch as you dove into them.   The feeling of freedom, of being right in your own skin, loved just as you are but glorying in solitude.  Then autumn was not some terrible augury of the frightful winter to come, but was its own beautiful experiment in coming to terms with the self, the spirit, the waning of days.  To teach yourself to find peace in the dimming, hope that as the stores emptied above, the roots were resting below for spring.  To remember the everlasting heart within that no season can begin to touch.

I am outside for two minutes today, but all of this flooded through me.  All of this took over momentarily and I remembered how I keened then for complication.  Hoped for a life that would require so much more of me than simple joy.  Funny trick of life to keep you unsettled.  Unless you settle in, wear your sweater, and know that winter is not the end.  The end only comes when you stop.

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Goal: less than that.

The Moirae

Used to be I was a horse, silken skin, made to run on mountainsides between the spires of evergreens and spindly aspens, knotted, knobbled eyes winking I went.

Used to be there was no rut that could make me skip or trip, or ever spill, though I bled, merrily as I went, lathered and restless.   A being of the trees, of the cratered landscape, molded by root and rain, that feeds the trees.  And then of course, the leas, the seas of leas intermittent where my legs would span a thousand miles and yet never reach the ferned and mossy shoreline.   Run, and run, and run again.  Used to be I was a horse.

Seems quite long ago that I’ve given it up for rooftops and laces.  Bridles and troughs.  Simpler than that even, given it up for walls, and screens and a given purpose for the day.

This is the way of things those muffled french horns intone from offscreen.  And for the longest time, I nodded along as though I wrote the song.  But I used to be a horse and what it is to run along the water with all of yourself is what it is to live.  You can pretend you forget what it is to live, but it’s just that, pretend.   So sometimes you wake up in a sweat, in a shock, and it’s quicksilver slipping out of grasp.  But sometimes, when you settle down and start rubbing the eraser at the those lines you’ve drawn for yourself, when you drink from the cold water, and get air into the pockets of lung you dare not to breathe freely with, you get enough of a hold to start remembering.  You let the old ways take root, the best of nostalgia, the best of envisioning, and you start to craft like a man might dig out a canoe from a tree trunk.  All with the effort of one little awl.  One pass at a time.  One bite of the elephant.

I wrote rather beautifully back then, because I wasn’t trying to tell you how I was eating all the time (I was great, even through the luncheon, then broke down and had some frozen yogurt, but threw about half out but it was nice because we took a bit of a walk to get it and it was inexpensive.)  Back then, I was in love with a rage, I was in love with a furious energy, I was in love with nothing more than I love now but I could make out the outlines better in that light.  I was incandescent with longing and I could pin that longing down on one man, a man whom I might have some greater chance of seeing Saturday than at any other point on the celestial calendar in the past ten years.   And I, more likely than not, will leave him to the stars and to the fates.  Let Atropos cut back that wavy hair, make a cambric shirt out of the rest of him, and then I will take him back.  For then he will be a real thing, and not some Elfin Knight slipped from Nod for parley and parsley.

Then I will get some warmth out of him.

Day 1: The Ambushers

If you don’t keep to the schedule, little bugs find their way into the works.

And I suddenly find myself on a Sunday night with a ton of shit to accomplish.  This is what dedicating a fair portion of your day to a video game results in, I think.

But I have already gotten on the bike and wheeled about for 10 minutes.  I haven’t noted it here, but I’ve worked out/had some athletic activity every day this week plus done the bike and 10 situps.  This is my way of beginning a routine.  Today, however, despite as aerobic as doing a load of laundry and putting some dishes away might be, I’ve not done that working out bit mostly because I don’t want to overwork my legs into big muscley bricks.

These are the adult things I think about while shooting geth in the face.   That and considering how much I hate this enduring heat wave.  That and the sinking feeling that I’m still not really doing enough and that I’ll never be effective at dieting and I should really just stop and eat pancakes.  *Did not eat pancakes or anything, just committed the thought crime.*

There’s that and then this big treatise about fandom and fannishness that I wrote on Tumblr which somehow just got eaten by a read more tag that I have to re-write at a friend’s request.  So I can’t dally here.  And then the doctor wrote.  Unexpectedly.  And I don’t know what to say save I enjoy talking to him, but we are very much like Griffin and Sabine on disparate planes and even if we stood in the exact same London loft at the exact same moment, we’d never see one another.  I don’t know what to say whatsoever.  At the same time, the only risk I can take is to go forward.

I’m always looking for a moderately risky lateral jump.

I was really happy to note that there is just such a sideways Wonkavator for my reunion.  They’re also having a barbeque at the school that day.  I can get to that, I can handle two hours of that, I can feel really okay about that and seeing the few people and their kids that would go to that and not feel like I’m  facing down the barrel of a gun walking into a bar to greet people who were never classified exactly as friends.   It’s totally a classist separation for the reunion, the people who can afford babysitters, tickets for food, booze, and event at a fancy upscale bar, along with gas to get there, and the people who would bring their own food and haul the brood out for the barbeque,  but I don’t give a damn.  It’s a much better option than missing out entirely, especially if teachers may attend as well.

Yeah, I just have to get out of the way of myself.  Drink my water.  Avoid salt.  Let my shoulders fall.

Today’s weight was 159.4.   I feel like the week has tightened me up a bit.  It’s just a matter of not letting go.  And I am fucking good at that.