Friday, November 27, 2009

Need to write

I can't find my journal, and I need to write something. I don't care what it is, I just need to get SOMETHING out and you guys are part of my outlet this morning, ok? Good deal.

The other day at the coffee shop I heard someone say something grammatically fucked, and apparently I wrote it down because I found a draft of a post that started a few weeks ago and it just contained this sentence, "That girl just looks the same for years. The whole time I' known her she's had the same way hair." I need to start writing dialogue like this.

My agent is reading my book this week. This is the scene I imagine if she sends me an email with a list of changes I need to make: I'll be sitting at my laptop Monday morning, sipping my coffee, and I'll excitedly click on an email from Agent Sarah (that's what I like to call her), I'll read the words, "This is great! But I propose the following changes before we send it out to publishers," and I will spew coffee onto my computer screen. The computer will short out, I will be unable to make changes to my book, and she will have to sell it as is. This is a winning scenario because it involves both coffee, and the publication of my book.

Thanksgiving was exhausting but overall good. First I went to Chris's apartment, ate with him and the kids, took the babies to my parents', and then to my Paw Paw's house.

Four scenes from Thanksgiving that are in no particular order, and will contain lots of run-on sentences:
At my parent's house-My grandfather slaps me on the back as I'm taking a bite of stuffing and I think, "Why did I sit next to this man?" He says, "What's going on with your book, fella?" I give him the update and he says, "When can I read it?" I laugh nervously and then realize he's serious. I say, "After it's been banned." Then follows a discussion about how some of the finest books in history are outlaws, which is a much less stressful conversation and I'm able to finish my stuffing. There's something unnerving about the thought of my grandpa reading a piece of my work wherein I use words like, "motherfucker" and "vagina breath." Ok, I made up that last one. Still, you get my point.

I'm at Chris's apartment, feeling very awkward that it's our first holiday separated, but we're physically together in the same kitchen, he's stirring the mashed potatoes, I'm carving the turkey, and I'm thinking about how our roles are reversed because usually he carves while I work on the side items, and while I'm thinking about this and starting to feel depressed I cut my finger and though the cut isn't deep, it bleeds a lot. I am relieved of turkey duty.

Early that morning, while I'm roasting the turkey to bring to Chris', I'm standing by the sink and I'm crying, and I remember that there's rum in the house. It's a stressufl holiday, so no harm, right? I take the rum, pour some into my coffee, take a sip or two, then I remember something my aunt told me about my mom. When my mom and dad were separated Mom was really stressed out, and so she would have a glass of wine a day. "Just one glass," she told my aunt. That's how it started. So I call an Al-Anon friend and say, "This is a bad idea isn't it?" He agrees, and I pour it down the sink.

I'm at my Paw Paw's house that night and the kids are running around with their cousins, while I sit at a table with my grown cousins, talking about the obscene amount of food we've eaten. While I'm talking I'm secretly envious because the four people at the table with me are each part of a couple, and they all have jobs. I begin to feel sorry for myself, and then am suddnely sick of feeling sorry for myself. I make a gratitude list in my head: I am grateful for being fed today, I am grateful that my children are with me, I am grateful that I'm sober and not crippled with depression, and I'm grateful that I have arms and legs that work and opposable thumbs. I feel lighter. I am able to eat more carrot cake.

And now I am unable to look at food. But I feel better having written. I'll let you guys know what Agent Sarah has to say. And I'll maybe let you read it after it's banned.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hell's Bagel

It's 4:30 in the morning and Emma is awake. I got up at 3:45 so that I could get a head start with writing before the chaos of the day began and there she was, right outside my door at 3:50.

I used to have this theory back when Claire was a baby that the sound of my pen moving across paper was somehow loud enough to wake up children. Every time I tried to wake up early enough to get some good writing done, Claire would sense it, wet her diaper and start crying. The only evil streak that my children possess so far is that each one of them has an innate awareness of when I'm writing and an uncanny desire to stop it.

But onto the church ladies at the Waffle Cafe. There are about seven of them and they come in with this priest who's about 25 years younger than them, and the who is the object of their devotion, like the son-who-is-a-gateway-to-the-afterlife that they never had. What I find classy about them is the way they dress and carry themselves. Dove gray suits, heirloom jewelry, and those diamond pendents on their blazers, like angels or turtles. Hair always done just so. Lots of makeup and bright pink lipstick. I wonder if the AARP deals out pink lipstick to women when they turn 70.

A couple of weeks ago they came in during a busy time and they were insistent that the priest get his bagel as soon as possible, even before other people who had ordered before him. They called him "The Father."

"The Father needs his bagel," one of the old ladies said, creeping up to the counter with severely pink lips.
"The Father?" I asked, thinking that if this woman's father was alive I would be impressed if he could choke down a bagel without blending it first.
She pointed to the priest, who was sitting patiently at a table of old ladies with his hands folded. "Yes, The Father. He's in a hurry, and he needs his bagel, please."
"It'll come out soon. He's got a few orders in front of him."
"But it's just a bagel. Can't you get it out now?"
"It's not a matter of what it is. It's the order in which he, um, ordered."
She frowned and shook her head, possibly thinking, "Say hello to Hell for me."

Two minutes later a lady with a darker gray suit and pinker lip stick shoved her way through the crowd and said, "Excuse me, young lady."
I was pouring coffee out of the thermos and turned around. "Yeah?"
"The Father as been waiting for his bagel. He needs it now."
I handed the fresh mug of coffee to the customer who'd been shoved aside by God's Bagel Police.
"Should be soon," I assured her.
She bore her pink-lipstick stained teeth. "Where's the owner? Where's Brad?"
"He's not here this morning."
"Well, tell your cook The Father needs his bagel now."

So I went over to Henry the cook. "The Father needs his bagel."
"Who's the father?" he asked.
"That dude over there. The church ladies keep calling him 'The Father.' He told me his name was Bob."
I pointed to the order ticket above the stove, the one that said, "side bagel - cream cheese - Bob."
"Tell him he's third in line," said Henry.
"The ladies say he needs his bagel now."
Then Henry said something that I'm sure I'll see him in hell for. He popped a bagel in the toaster and told me to stay put. Thirty seconds later he tossed the half-toasted bread on a plate, threw in a side of cream cheese and said, "There's your fuckin' bagel."
"It's not mine, it's Father Bob's."
So I delivered it to the table. And there was much rejoicing.

You know, I started this post about a week and a half ago. Now I am sitting in a different coffee shop that I am not working at, where there are no priests, gray suits, or Bobs in sight. I'm at Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, the place where the pretty hippies go. You know, ones who bathe, and have jobs and laptops. So i guess I should broaden the term "hippie" to "hippie posers," ones who wear long skirts they make themselves with their sewing machines, and dred locks but also stopped smoking weed five years ago. This person would be more of a hippie fashion kitten. And once I get a sewing machine, that kitten will be me.

I've got to finish the book by the end of this week so I should get started back on it. Just needed to finish this post because it's been bugging me that I left it half done. Been busy lately. But haven't we all?

Monday, October 26, 2009


Woke up an hour late. Have to get the kids up, dressed and fed. Have to brew the coffee. Then take kids to beforecare. It's my first day of work. Um...why am I blogging? Oh yeah, WISH ME LUCK!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hamsters with jet lag

I have to rush this morning, but I must share something I read on The Writer's Almanac yesterday. Apparently, there's an an annual ceremony called the Ig Nobel Prizes. They are "held on the campus at Harvard and handed out by real Nobel laureates. The prizes, established in 1991, are a parody of the Nobel awards and are for achievements that 'first make people laugh, and then make them think.'

And they really do! "Recent science and technology awards have gone to Argentinean scientists 'for their discovery that Viagra aids jet lag recovery in hamsters' (Aviation); and a Princeton professor claimed the prize in literature recently for his 17-page cognitive psychology report entitled 'Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.' The awards ceremony, held in early October each year, always concludes with the proclamation: 'If you didn't win a prize — and especially if you did — better luck next year!'"

This is the kind of stuff that rekindles my faith in the silliness of mankind.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Loud music for breakfast

For the last two months I've been working at a breakfast cafe Uptown on the weekends. I would name the place but I got in trouble for talking about the fire department that I worked for and ended up having to go back and delete every post with their name in it. This makes sense. They're political, they rely on votes to keep them up and running. Their name in this blog can only bring them ruin. In fact, did I say fire department? I mean, the sewage and water board.

Anyway, moving on. This breakfast joint which I will call "Waffle House"...what do you mean that name's taken? Ok, no problem. So "Waffle Cafe" is in a pretty neat part of Uptown. Lots of bohemians and lots of rich people who started out as regular bohemians, but ended up making lots of money and still listen to Phish. There's a piano player who comes in every day and sometimes a dude on a stand up bass will join him. On Sundays there's a guy who come in with a horn, which always makes taking orders interesting.

Customer: I would like a [sudden trumpet blast] with a cup of [blat!]
Me: Did you say an eagle with a cup of syrup?
Customer: No, no. A [blatty! blat! blat!] with a [pianist sets piano on fire, horn player plays with teeth and crowd goes wild].
Me(pretending to write something): Excellent choice.

Five minutes later I bring him a bowl of oatmeal and hope for the best.

My hearing has gotten so bad over the years and the music and the chatter in the place always drown out whatever desperate plea for food a customer is giving me. I should learn to read lips. The only word I can understand by watching someone's mouth move is "coffee" but that's just because coffee and I have a symbiotic relationship. If I was blind and deaf and someone said the word coffee from across the room I would still approach them with an empty mug and demand that they share.

This is my heroin, people, my shameless addiction, and it makes total sense to me why whenever I'm in desperate need of a job I gravitate towards places where I can get it on tap for free. During my interview my boss asked, "So what draws you to the food service industry?" I glared at him with blood shot eyes and said, "Coffee." He said, "But surely the customers-" And I said, "Hand over the coffee and there won't be any trouble." And at that moment he knew I would be a faithful employee with an everpresent mug in hand.

Until this past weekend when I gave him notice. Oy. I hate giving notice. He understood, and he and the cooks are sad to see me go. I always put in the most interesting orders. "That guy over there would like eggs with a side of hammock." "Do you mean ham?" the cook will ask. "Maybe," I'll say, looking hopeful.

This weekend will be my last two days there, then on Monday I start technical writing for a company which I will call "Big Technical Company With Lots of Engineers and No Trumpets." As long as they keep the coffee comin'.

Tune in tomorrow when I share about the cafe's church lady groupees. This is the entourage of a priest who all come in on Saturday mornings, and it is these ladies' goal in life to make sure that the priest is taken care of as if the fate of their souls depends on him getting his bagel in a timely manner. Hopefully the Catholic church will not ask me to delete that post in a couple of weeks. In fact, did I say "Catholic church?" I meant, "Jay Leno Fan Club."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mmm...that's good cheese

A couple of weeks ago I bought one of those refrigerator magnets that say things. I was never one to boast a magnet or a car decal that advertised my state of mind, other than the name of a band I liked or (in the case of refrigerator magnets) a place I'd been. And the places I've been haven't been too exciting. People don't pass by a refrigerator magnet that says "Biloxi Beach" and say "You've been there too?! Well, goddamn!" Once, I had a sticker on the back of my car that was a silhouette of Bill the Cat from Bloom County. There he was, tongue hanging out of his mouth like Gene Simmons, with his tagline next to his head, "Ack!" That pretty much summed up my state of mind at 18.

So now I've got this refigerator magnet. I saw it at Barnes and Noble and when I read the first few words I thought, "This would be good to read when I get up in the morning. It's cheesy, but I could stand some cheese in my brain food diet." Here is what it says, "Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life keep peace within your soul." It's helped. It helped this morning in fact when I was getting the kids ready for school and there was, well, a lot of noisy confusion. It's the "be gentle with yourself" part that helps me, really. It's so easy for me to beat myself up for not doing a perfect job in the mornings of getting everybody out the door.

I've got some good news. I got a technical writing job! It's like a real full-time writing gig that I can support myself on! This is a first, people!

I'll write about it some more later. My timer is about to go off. Yes, I set a timer for this blog. It was hard to wipe the dust off of this thing and start writing again. The last few months have been really hard and painful. There have been good times, though, and Chris and I are getting along. That's the important thing. I've resolved not to write much about our breakup out of respect for Chris, my kids, and my in-laws. There will be no rants or anything like that. I'll write about how the kids are doing though. They're having a rough adjustment, as expected, but they are still their wonderful little selves. We're falling into a new routine, which helps. Claire starts guitar lessons on Wednesday, Christopher's gonna start basketball in a couple of weeks, and I found art lessons for Emma.

I will leave you with an Emma quote for the day. It's taken out of context, but even put back into context it's still just as whacky: I learned the hard way not to fall asleep on a lamp.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tadpole kisses

The day before yesterday Emma asked me to step into the kiddie pool with her and I hesitated because it was loaded with tadpoles. This happens every summer. I fill up the pool for the kids to play in, they have a fantastic day splashing around in the sun, and drinking from the hose, then the pool sits out for a couple of days and WHAMO! We walk outside one morning and find a pool full of tadpoles. It's like a pregnant frog hides in the grass somewhere just waiting for the pool to lie low a few hours so she can jump in there, have her babies, then sit back and say, "Go ahead! Dump the pool! Kill all of my children! I dare you!" And we don't. We just can't.

So what are we doing with our summer now? A lot of tadpole study. We're watching them grow from little sperm-like things, to much uglier, fatter, tear drop shaped creatures with legs and googly eyes. Emma and Christopher like to step inside the pool with them, a kind of "swimming with the dolphins" experience in our own backyard. When Emma invited me to get in there with them I curled my lip at the idea. Not only is it loaded with tadpoles, but the water is greenish-yellow and there's some sort of fuzzy green stuff floating around, which I think is what the critters are feeding off of. But the kids have been going through so much disappointment lately that I had a hard time saying no.

Chris and I are splitting up. I know it must be strange to announce this on my blog, in the middle of a tadpole post, but really there is no good time to bring this up. And I won't go into details but let's just state the obvious and say that it's hard and painful for all of us. We've pushed back his move-out date a couple of times but now it's officially August 2nd, and in the mean time we're all in this strange, painful limbo.

We're trying to make the things as easy on the kids as possible. Not fighting in front of them, letting them know they're loved and all of that stuff. One thing I need to work on is remembering to not take out the stress on them, or to just walk around constantly stressed out. They're learning right now, right at this very minute, how to handle stress and they're taking tips from me whether I like it or not.

That's why I decided to get into the tadpole pool with Emma when she asked me to. At first I said no and then I thought, "What am I gonna say? No, I'm kinda busy. I'm going to go look at our family pictures, cry, and feel sorry for myself." So I stepped into the pool, and for a few seconds I regretted it. The water was warm, and I imagined that I was wading in an enormous puddle of baby frog pee. As I slid my feet acoss the bottom of the pool, I stirred up all that green fuzzy stuff it settled on top of my feet, like slimy dust bunnies. The tadpoles darted away from me like they were little Japanese people and I was Godzilla.

"Stand still," Emma said. "They'll come up to you if you stand still."

"I'm good," I said. "They can stay over there and I'll stay right here, you know. Diggin' the slime."

"But they tickle your toes!" she squealed. "It's like they give little kisses! Stand still!"

I stood still. She just seemed too delighted by the idea of it to refuse her. And in a few minutes I understood why. The tadpoles got curious about those size 11's standing in the middle of their pool, and they swam up to investigate. The way the tadpoles investigate you is they mosey on over and nibble your feet. And it really does feel like tiny, tickly kisses! In a few mimutes Emma and I were both standing still in the pool giggling while swarms of tadpoles kissed our feet.

Maybe this will be something she remembers. I can't control that though, what my children will rememeber out of all of this, and what they're going to feel and learn. But I'm going to remember it, how on an excruciatingly painful morning, when I was feeling like a failure as a spouse and a mother, I took a break and giggled in the backyard with my daughter. She's a good kid.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lose 20 pounds by reading this post

I don't know how many of you check out MSN but there's an awful picture of the Octomom person, who, in her defense, looks pretty pissed off that a phtographer is leaning into her car to get a shot of her. What's awful about this picture is (if I may edge on catty here) that her lips are absolutely enormous. It's details like this that you can't study on a person when you're face to face because it would be rude to stare. But luckily, there was a rude photographer who took one look at her lips and thought, "I gotta get a shot of these" so that the rest of us can sit on the internet and stare unabashedly. Although we may irrationally fear that she'll suck us up like a vaccuum tube.

So now that I've insulted the lower half of this poor woman's face, I will go on to say that I think it's unfair to lump her and all of the other people who are included in the article entitled "The 10 Most Tiresome Tabloid stories." Why do I call it unfair, you ask? Do I feel that these people who have put themselves out in the public, people like Heidi Fleiss and Monica Lewinski, are treated with less respect than they deserve?...I meant that as a rhetorical question, but now that I think about it, my opinion of the tabloids is pretty damn low. Possibly lower than my opinion of brothels. With the exception of someone who puts themselves in one purposely, I don't think that anyone deserves to be in a tabloid. It's like a human rights violation.

But the point I'm driving at is the irony of an article featuring scandalous people who, according to the writer, are the "most tiresome." So logically it should be the single most tiresome article of all time! WOW! I never thought I'd find it! I thought I'd probably write the most tiresome thing of all time some day but to have it tossed onto my lap like a present from a drive-by Santa is a dream come true!

These are the times I look at news headlines and think, "God, that writer was desperate for a story." That's what I think when I read titles like "Why Aren't Men Calling You?" and "10 Reasons Why Your Child Will Not Grow up to be a Lawyer if You Don't Feed Her Organic Grapefruit." The people who wrote these things needed to write something and they needed to write it now!

Speaking of which, I was desperate for something to submit to my writing workshop for tonight so I took my post from the other day, the one about song lyrics, polished it up and submitted it. But instead of ending it with the Mary Oliver poem I gave you guys, I polished it off with this:

The other thing I think I might be overlooking is that it’s not an entirely bad thing that my children are singing along to a song about love and hope. I shiver and squeeze my eyes shut whenever they insist we listen to Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb,” which is about climbing mountains, or overcoming adversity, or some crap.

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa.

Miley Cyrus is sixteen year old millionaire. Her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, is a millionaire. Her greatest adversity is perhaps when her masseuse is late, or when the back up dancer she falls in love with leaves her for her limo driver. Ok, I admit that I don’t know her and that she might have actually gone through some harrowing times. Maybe she didn’t want to be a singer like her dad. Maybe she wanted to be a goat herder, and life dealt her a bum deal.
I don’t know if my children will face a similar struggle, but given the way that life generally goes, they will eventually face some great challenge or journey of self-discovery. Maybe they’ll remember songs like “The Climb” or the rainbow-dream-believe-love song we heard the other day, and maybe they’ll smile at the thought of them. I will try to remind myself of this whenever I hear Miley’s voice on the radio and I develop little facial ticks. The cheesy chick could someday help my troubled children. Keep the faith, baby, keep the faith. Believe that they’ll never lose hope that their dreams will come true. Because they’re lifted up by rainbows of love. Whoa.

The End! I will let you know what my group thinks of it. And speaking of letting people know what people are thinking, I've been very opinionated lately, haven't I? Or am I just noticing it for the first time?

Friday, June 26, 2009

No, not Twitter!

With Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett's death yesterday I was reminded of 12 years ago when Mother Theresa and Princess Diana also died in the same day. News of Mother Theresa's death came in the morning and everyone was sad. Princess Diana was killed later that evening and the world went crazy. Suddenly everyone was like, "Yeah, Diana and somebody's mother died too."

Now, am I really, seriously drawing a comparison between Farrah Fawcett and Mother Theresa? And if I am, could that still be in any more poor taste than this headline from Tech Crunch: "The Web Collapses Under the Weight of Michael Jackson's Death." This is an article that talks about how Twitter couldn't take the stampede of searches for information on Michael Jackson. They make it sound like the dude took one last look at his cell phone and said, "If I go I'm taking you with me!" and then died. And now, as if America wasn't already stressed out enough about the deaths of a former Playboy model and a singer who, to my knowledge, hasn't released any music in 20 years, Twitter has let us down. Dark times.

There's something about Twitter that repulses me. It could be the trendiness of it. I've always been repelled by anything way too popular, but this could also be because I've always longed to be popular myself and I'm projecting my own bitter feelings onto something that, God help it, just wants to overload me with information. I think it's also partly the name. "Twitter." It's, well, ridiculous. It sounds like the name of a pepped up squirrel in an ADHD freak out, leaping from tree to tree without pause. And, as I'm sure some comedian has already pointed out, it's got the word "twit" in it. So to turn that term for "stupid dude" into a verb, "twitter" should mean "to carry on like a stupid dude" or "to actively be a stupid dude." Which is ironic for an information resource.

"My," you're thinking at this point, "you're rather uppity for someone who has a blog. Miss Trendiness Sucks." And you would be right. You would be an asshole, but you would be right (I'm kidding - no seriously, I'm kidding. "Asshole" is a term of endearment. Ask my kids - no seriously, I'm kidding). But I'm going to ignore my own hipocrosy to poke fun at the term "lol." One of the comments on the "Web Collapses" article was this: "i did not lol this time." For an internet commentator, this is a grim statement. You know some shit is going down.

What's sad is how long it took me to figure out what "lol" meant. I used to look at it and try to pronounce it as if it were an actual word. "Loll?" I'd think. I could tell from the context that it meant the commentor thought something was funny, but beyond that I was stumped. Kind of like the first time I came across "omg." Five years ago, if you would have looked at the wall above my laptop you would have seen tacked-up slips of paper with web terms I had yet to figure out. "Omg," "imo," "bff," "Google."

Luckily for out of touch people like me there is an on-line internet slanguage dictionary. For the hell of it, I went to the "D" section and found a handful of terms that I'd always wondered about like "dah" which means "dumb as hell" and "d/w" which means "don't worry." But there are others that are, shall we say, revealing. "Dih" - "dick in hand." Hmm, what kind of chat could that be from? Or how about (and I am not making this up) "dnimb" - "dancing naked in my bra." Now, how often does that last one come up exactly? It confounds the nerd in my head. If she's dancing then how is she typing at the same time? And if she's weaing a bra then technically she's not naked. Most disturbing in the sex slanguage though is this one, "dilf" - "dad I'd like to fuck." Are there words to express my multi-level confusion? No. Keep in mind, this is just the "d's."

And now, if you have any questions about internet slang that eludes you, you may post them to the commentary. I'm curious. Did anyone else not know that "dafs" means "do a fucking search?" Twitter must have come up with that one, and then last night came up with a new one "psfsfrwfdh" - "please stop fucking searching, for real, we're fucking dying here."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three minute songs

The other day after I wrote that post about song lines I do and don't like, it got me to thinking about the whole thing. And I thought, "What am I saying? That I'm some sort of writer snob? Do I not, indeed, like The Misfits? With lyrics like 'Flesh ancient monster design/Unlit pornographic sign?'" What does that even mean and do I want to know?

Then I remembered that, really, when it comes to a song it's the energy more so than the words that get me. To quote Joan Jett, "I think there's nothing better than seeing a three-chord straight up rock 'n' roll band in your face with sweaty music and three minute good songs." And as a prime example of a good less-than-three-minute song that I've been listening to a lot lately, click here: The video is brilliant, especially during the part with the line "trying to pick up a girl."

I'm all twisted and confused today. I'm having racing thoughts, and not all of them are bad, but much like an ice cream cone falling from a sky scraper, anything can become dangerous when it's going sixty miles an hour. The "I'm digging this song" thought becomes as dangerous as the "why don't I still have a job?" thought. I think it's because they run through my head at the same time, along with about fifteen other thoughts and so it all just becomes noise, like being in a crowded train station. Throw in the fifteen times a minute I hear, "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!" and after a while I become a blubbering mental patient, lying in bed with my hands over my ears. All those thoughts race across my limp, energyless body like angy, frothing cattle.

The "get a job" thought is particularly menacing though. While the others sweep across me, "get a job" will come back and dance on my face some more. Sadistic bastard.

I think I might be feeling too ADD to finish this post. Sadistic ADD.

Friday, June 12, 2009


This morning I woke up and had three consecutive thoughts: I need peanut butter, I need coffee, and I am generally repulsed by songs with the words "dream" and "believe" in them. There was a song that came on the radio the other day and the first four lines (and I am not kidding) had the words "dream" "believe" "rainbow" and "love." I don't know what song this was. It was on a top 40 station that my daughters insist we listen to, and each one of those words hit me like tiny, sappy fists. "Dream" - ouch! "Believe" - ow! Dear God no, not in the next line! "Rainbow" - Aaaaah! Make it stop! "Love" - couldn't you people have spaced this shit out??? It was like someone took the songs "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Wind Beneath My Wings" and put them in a blender.

So in my advanced, lyrical snootiness what words do I prefer? Lately I've been digging some lines form the Black Eyed Peas song "Boom Boom Pow."

I like that boom boom pow
Them chickens jackin' my style
They try to copy my swagger
I'm on that next shit now

The words "Them chickens jackin' my style" and "copy my swagger" make me laugh every time. I swear, if I'm ever plagiarized my statement to the press will be "Them chickens jackin' my style." And there's something so charming about the word "swagger." I imagine a jaunty little man sashaying confidently down the street. It's got dignity with a bit rauchiness to it. One of the next lines "I'm a beast when you turn me on/Into the future cybertron" is also great fun. I think it's the words "I'm a beast" and "future cybertron." What's not to love?

But to step back from my theory for a bit (the theory being that songs about dreams and rainbows that are not sung by Kermit the Frog are lame, and songs with future cybertron beast chickens are infinitely superior), I know that songs about love and hope are meant to speak to a wdie audience who like a direct message. Usually about love and hope.

Al-anon program slogans are like this. At first I cringed at them because they're little cliches, like "One day at a time" and "But for the grace of God" and "Easy does it." But they're not meant for their literary greatness. They're meant to help as many people through the day as possible. I know that the song "I Believe I Can Fly" touched many a soul, even though it made me put my hands over my ears and go, "Noooo! Make it stop!" At the time I much preffered songs Warren Zevon songs like "Something Bad Happened to a Clown." And honestly I think that no matter how emotionally healthy I become I probably always will.

And now, for something seemingly contradictary. The poem that I am about to share (indeed, most poeple have the same reaction to the word "poetry" that I have to the word "rainbowlovedream" but those people have no idea what a raunchy beast a poem can be), does have the word "clouds" in it, which often times implies a cliche, but this does not. Also, do not be turned off by the fact that the title is "The Journey." I was at first. Then I read it and it has now taken a hold over me for reasons that will become obvious if you know me very well at this point in my life. If you don't, then it's still a good poem and might speak to you. It's got a general massage meant for a general audience. If you're an originality snob like I am and don't like thinking of yourself as part of a general audince, then do what I do. Just think of yourself as "The General."

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Emma is hard at work + a job search update

Emma's standing next to me making a laptop out of paper. One flat page is a keyboard and another piece of paper taped to the top and curved in a way that the "screen" tilts up. She keeps moving my fingers so that she can see what keys go where on a keyboard. So I'm correcting many a typo. I said "Hey! I'm typing here!" and she said, "What?! I'm making a computer here!" Well, pardon me!

Yesterday I took a tour through River Oaks Mental Hospital. Despite popular belief, no, I'm not having Chris commited. One of my Al-anon buddies is a nurse there and she called yesterday afternoon to say that they needed counselors. Like NOW.

"All you need is a degree," she said. "We do the training."
"But my degree is in Enlgish."
"Oh so you have a history of mental illness!" she said, excitedly.

She said that the pay isn't glamorous but the benefits are good, even for part-timers. I told her that I've registered to get my teacher's certification, and that I guessed being a counselor wouldn't be a bad idea in the meantime. Especially if I get to work with kids.

She laughed. When I went to River Oaks yesterday so that I could pick up an application and take a tour, she took me through all the different units (the eating disorder unit, the chemical dependency unit, ect.) and whenever she introduced me to different staff members she'd say, "This is Genevieve. She wants to be a psychiatric counselor. And she wants to work with kids." And then they would laugh. Even the ones who worked in the unit with bordeline people and people with multiple personalities, even THEY laughed.

"I hope you've got a lot of energy," one of them said.

When we got to the children's unit I saw what she meant. The kids were pretty hyper. What was sad was that they reminded me exactly of some of the public school kids I've been substitute teaching. The kids who other teachers would warn me about. "I saw Gerald get off the bus," one of them cautioned, looking grim. "I'll bet he hasn't had his medication. Good luck."

The only River Oaks employee who didn't laugh at me was the lady who was in charge of the children's unit. She was an older, stout black woman with bags under her eyes that sagged like full purses.

"You can start today," she said. She beckoned me with her hands. "Come on."
"I haven't been interviewed yet," I told her.
Her eyes widened. "COME ON."

I'm going to turn in my application on Monday, along with a resume. I really need a full-time gig and this is the first place I've been to where I've heard the words "you can start today." It would be challenging, but I've been looking for a job that will exercise my care-taker personality in a constructive, detatched way. The challenge will be to be constructive and detatched. On the upside, I'd have tons to write about. On the other hand, there was all that laughing. When I expressed concern about this my Al-anon buddy tried to reassure me.

"It's hard, but the good thing is everyone loves this job. The woman [whose name I've forgotten] in the children's unit has been here for 35 years."

She mentioned other staff members that have been there for 20 years and over because they find their job fulfilling. I am looking for something like that.

We'll see. My friend Amanda worked there, so I thought I'd get her opinion. I wonder if she'll laugh.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Swiss Cheese Post

To make the most of time I will write this post sporatically while I get the kids ready for school, feed them, and dress myself at some point.

Ok, I really wasn't kidding about this "writing sporatically" thing. It is now 10 hours later.

So to keep up with the randomness of this post, I must share the latest thing that I am in complete shock over. I like the song "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can watch it in all of its pop rauchiness here Those of oyu who know me know that this is not my typical kind of music. But there's something about this that speaks to me. As far as I can tell, it's a song about a girl who's had too much to drink and is completely disoriented. One of the lines is "Just Dance, it'll be ok." Possibly this touches on my own confusion lately. Or perhaps (if you've watched the video) it speaks to my need to go out and get really trashed, a thing I haven't done in far too long.

And now, Christopher is begging me to go play ball with him. I haven't finished this post, but I promised you guys something, so here ya go. More later. Blame Christopher!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Holy bugs, Splatman!

It's been over a month since I've written? Egad! What's been going on with me?...oh yeah. All that stuff. It's been so very long, my dears. What do I update you on? My daily goings-on? Politics (bleh!)? The way I feel about the term "my bad?" Or maybe speculations about why the words "spinal nervousa" pop into my head for no reason, and I don't think that's even a real condition? How about a literary festival that I'm going to today? YES! That's it! We have a topic sentence for the second paragraph!

Later today I'm journeying to the French Quarter to attend the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. It's a shabang that spotlights gay and lesbian literature, so naturally there's a drag show at some point tonight but I will regretably miss that performance. Because! I am going to see a play! Hooraaaaaaaaaay! It's a mystery called Hand Over Fist and there's a Q&A thing with the playwrite after the show, which I think will be bitchin'. I do so love the theater. Good theater, bad theater, men dressed as Liza Minelli theater, and the list goes on and on. I will let you know how it goes.

In other news, I'm halfway through my edits in the 3rd revision of the book. My agent, Sarah, (may I call her Sarah? Yes, thank you) wants me to give the manuscript one more tummy tuck before sending it out the door. Sometimes I'm happy with the way the edits are going and sometimes I think, "Dear Lord, I want to write SOMETHING ELSE!"

In other big news, which I will save for another post because the children want breakfast and I need to get my ass off the computer, is that I've been substitute teaching. Well, I don't know if I'd really call it "teaching." It's been more like babysitting. But I'm getting some good experience, and it's made my resume look a little more like what a teacher's resume should look like. You know, with teaching experience.

So why don't I like the term "my bad?" The first time I heard it, I think it was in 1994, and I thought, "What an ignorant thing to say." And I still think that. How can someone misuse a perfectly good adjective such as "bad?" It's adjective abuse I tell you! What's next? Adverb abuse? Is my son going to come home one day and say, "Sorry, my badly." Honestly, people, where will it stop? If adjectives are up for grabs why not superlatives, or hyperboles? Quick! Someone hide the gerunds!! It's a language free for all!

Dramatically yours and glad to be back,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A thought...

And now I'm wondering exactly how much I should post about all that stuff because I'm looking into teaching and I don't know how parents would feel about having their children taught by someone who writes about the ocassional schizophrenic nature of sexuality. I don't exactly live in a liberal city. Perhaps if I lived in Austin...mmmmm, Austin. Good live music. Vegetarian foods. Public transportation and a top notch creative writing program at UT....slobber! slobber!


Girl's Room

Ok. This is the beginning of my new essay "Girl's Room." Eventually I will post the whole thing here. Lately I've been delving into my life long questioning of androgyne and sexuality, which is difficult whilst in a commited relationship and with three children to focus on first. So I'm talking openly about it with my husband and writing about it instead of sleeping with a lot of people. While the trade off isn't as exciting, hopefully it will make for good writing. (shakes fist) It better!

Oh, and by the way, for those of you who don't know what I look like I'm much more feminine now. Just felt like I had to throw that out there because, damn it, I'm still insecure about the way I look and still feel the need to let everyone know that I'm a girl.

"Girl's Room"

My first hint that I wasn’t a real girl came to me when I was kicked out of the bathroom in the third grade. I remember the little girl who’d gotten the wrong idea. She was shorter and stouter than me, her blond hair done up in a vertical ponytail on the top of her head. She was washing her hands when I walked out of the stall, and in the moment before she screamed we both regarded one another with wonder. She gaped at me because she thought I was a boy, and I stared back at her thinking, “Who did that to your hair?”
“You can’t be in here!” she hollered. She pointed at me and backed towards the door. “Boy! Boy in the bathroom!”
“I’m not a boy,” I said.
She ran out into the hall, and bumped into a teacher. As the bathroom door drifted to a close I heard the girl rat me out, and a second later a teacher who I didn’t know stormed into the bathroom and glared at me through thick glasses.
“Boy, get out of here! You know you’re not supposed to be in here,” she snapped, pulling me by the shoulder.
“No, I’m a girl,” I protested. “I’m Genevieve.”
“Who?” she asked.
She yanked me into the hall. Some kids had stopped on their way to class, and they were laughing and whispering things to each other.
“Genevieve,” I told her. “I’m a girl.”
Looking back I can understand her confusion. I was tall with a pixie cut, a Pac Man T-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. I looked like an 80’s version of Peter Pan.
A few minutes later a teacher I knew came around to vouch for me, and the other lady pushed back her glasses and shook her head at me, probably imagining that years later I would shave my hair down to a crew cut and wear my wallet on a chain hooked to my jeans. And you know. Sleep with girls.
All arrows pointed in that direction when I was a kid. Athletic +short hair+ hates dresses+ no makeup+ riot in the girl’s bathroom= lesbian. The devilishly comforting thing about stereotypes like this is that they’re supposed to tell us who we are. When the average person meets a woman wearing aftershave and a tie, they’re going to assume she’s gay because through their experience they have often found this to be true. And when a seven year old girl dresses as Luke Skywalker for Halloween (I looked awesome) odds are she will also march in some sort of pride parade later in life.
But none of this told me who I was. I was crazy about boys. In the third grade I avoided school work by daydreaming about the kid who played Elliot in E.T. There were other girls in my class who liked him too, but that was about the only thing we had in common.
If I was able to get past the roadblock of my shyness, my conversation with another girl sounded something like this:
Me (pointing to an E.T. lunch kit on a girly girl’s desk): I like your lunch kit.
Girly girl (tossing back waves of golden hair): I know. I love it.
Me: Elliot is so cute.
Girly girl (sneering, leaning across her desk, and sniffing at me): Are you wearing aftershave?
Well, maybe that’s not exactly, word-for-word how things went, but it never got much better than that.
Somewhere around that time I began to get the impression that the difference between me and these girls was that they were real girls and I was not. Boys, other girls, and even grownups felt comfortable with the girls who wore cute sandals and barrettes in their hair with ribbons streaming down, or the days of the week written on them. At recess they played Hopscotch, or pretended that they were My Little Ponies or Madonna. I wanted to run on the blacktop with the boys, play Keep Away, or basketball. I had no interest in playing dull girl games, and boys had no interest in competing with a girl who could do more push-ups than they could. So most of the time I just sat around by myself, wondering how to pull myself out of that social slump.

...To be continued

Monday, April 6, 2009

Need to write essay

I have to work on a personal essay for my writing workshop. I haven't written anything essay-like in a couple of weeks. I'm blocked.

GRRRROOOOOWLLLLL! I don't like blockages! They're never good! Writer's blocks, road blocks, artery blocks, The New Kids on the Block - all terrible! Terrible, I say!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fields of children and career (slight) changes

Claire started softball practice last week. She'd been looking forward to it from the time I registered her three weeks ago to her first practice last Tuesday when she stepped the the edge of the baseball diamond, looked out onto the field of 9 year old girls tossing softballs to each other, looked back up at me and said, "I want to go home."
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"I just want to go home," she replied, as plainly and seriously she'd said it before.
"You know some of those girls. Look, there're those twins Candice and Cassidy."
I pointed to two chubby girls whose arms giggled when they threw the ball. These poor kids had been pink-skinned and chubby since preschool. I looked at Claire, doe-faced, blue-eyed, and slender. What did she have to be self-conscious about?
"I'm not good, I don't want to go," she said, getting a little desperate now.
"But you've been wanting to play. We've been praticing. You're good."
"No, no." She stepped back. "I want to go home."
I put my hand on her back, and then followed that consoling gesture with something that didn't help at all. "Claire, I bought you a glove. We've paid for you to play. You have to atleast try."
Now she yelled, "Nooo!"
Luckily, the coach's wife saw the predicament and started saying soothing things to Claire, gradually getting her to step onto the field. I must have looked like one of those moms who forces their kids to play sports. I kept wanting to tell this lady, "No really, she WANTS to play! She likes to play! She's just shy! I'M NOT A CRAZY PARENT!!!"

Christopher was different. Yesterday was his first tee ball practice, and when I pulled up to the field, he jumped out of the car so fast I don't think I'd shut off the engine. (That's an exaggeration. I'd turned off the engine. But I hadn't come to a complete stop. Or something) The difference between the two kids isn't so much their athletic ability. When I play with them in the backyard, they both respond well to the things I teach them. Claire can even throw a football pretty damn good. But when it comes to performing in front of anyone but me, they're night and day. Claire's attitude is, "Oh shit, I'm in the spotlight and now I will wither like an insecure plant. Christopher's reaction is, "When these people see how I can throw this ball they are going to faint with ecstasy." He also believes that any ball hit in any direction is his, and he will knock over other kids for the chance to catch it, even if he's standing in right field and the ball is hit backwards towards the catcher.

So we're working on the teamwork thing. Both teaching Christopher to recognize other players on the field, and teaching Claire not to care so much about the other players on the field. Can a happy medium be reached? (you're all going to make a bad joke about the availablity of a happy psychic, aren't you?) We shall see.

In other news, I just registered to for classes in the summer. I've decided to get my teacher's certification for high school english. Why, you ask? Because I'm into pain. No, it's something that I've been contemplating for a while. I would like to help kids learn to be better, more confident writers. The Catholic school system will hire you if you're enrolled in a certification program, so I've started applying to high schools for the fall. So we'll see. I've been praying for guidance for a while now and I feel that this is where I'm being led. I'm not giving up writing, you understand. Shit, Stephen King was a high school English teacher when he published Christine. Obviously, he was eventually able to retire. I'm not syaing I'll have the same luck. But you know, if I don't that's ok. I want a steady job, but more than that I want a steady homelife. If I'm not the next JK Rowling it won't kill me. And speaking of that such stuff, who knows - maybe I'll get famous after I'm dead. Woo hoo!

Anyway, my mom was a stressed out teacher when I was growing up, so that makes me nervous. That's what's turned me off of teaching in the past, actually. But I look at my friend Christina and I feel inspired. She teaches English, heads yearbook, and the school paper, and she's functional. She gets stressed out, but she handles it in a healthy way. So I've got hope.

Here's hoping,
Madame G

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gorilla Mental Health Professionals

***Names have been changed to protect the Anomalous****

There was a pretty big group at Al-anon tonight, and I'd been hoping there wouldn't be. I got there about a half hour early, like usual, so that I can brew the coffee, set things up, and kick my feet up a while before people stroll in. Tonight when I sat back and gazed at the clock I was thankful that the meeting started in ten minutes and nobody else was there.

"Good," I thought. "Nobody will show. I'll say the serenity prayer, recite the 12 steps, give myself a hug, and go home."

I really didn't feel like talking to anybody, or even smiling at them really. It'd been a shitty day.

That was before Large Contessa strolled in, walking stick in hand. That's not her real name, that's just the name that pops in my head when I look at her - Large Contessa. She's enormous. Tall, wide like silly putty stretched across your hand, and morbidly obese. That's not a term that I'm fond of using (morbidly obese), but good Lord man, there are just no other words. She wears hiking boots, dirty brown pants, a black T-shirt and a green flannel. All that plus her wide rimmed safari hat and walking stick makes her look ready to hit the trail.

She sat across from me, was silent a moment and then said, "I didn't weed my garden all last summer."
"...No?" I asked.
"Not at all," she admitted. "The whole yard's a mess. I mean you let it go just a little while and..." She lifted her hands and waved them above her head, the gesture implying that if you let the yard go for just a few weeks it could explode.
"Yeah, I know how that is," I said.
"I got those long plants," she said. She sat back and squeezed her eyes shut, trying to think. "What are they called? Do you know what I'm talking about? The long plants with the long leaves?"
I waited for more details but she left it at that.
"No, I don't know."
Then another girl walked into the room. Her name was Pipi Longstocking, and she dropped herself into the seat next to Large Contessa.
"Hey," said Pipi. "Do you go to the zoo? Like, often?"
Large Contessa's eyes widened. "YES."
"I think I saw you by the gorillas."
"You must have, I go down there to talk to them a lot."
Pipi squealed with glee. "You talk to them? I talk to them too." Then her smile faded. "I think they're very sad."
Large Contessa gave a large nod. "I know."
There was silence. And then Large Contessa piped up.
"Some people like the orangutans," she said. "But I don't."

And while this conversation was going on I found myself thinking something that I often think at Al-anon, which is, "These are my peers. These are the same people who, when I finish sharing with the group, sometimes come to me, take my hand and say, 'I know eactly what you were talking about. We have so much in common.'" Is this ape conversation real or did they stage this just to fuck with me?

More people came in after that. Lots of people, acually, and I managed to chair the meeting without bitching about my day or losing it because life can be so unfair. I've got anger issues, man.

Looking back I realize that what I should have asked Large Contessa is how the gorilla consultation is working out for her because if it's helping AND it's cheaper than my therapist then this might be something I should look into.

Monday, March 9, 2009

This post meanders - bear with me.

What bothers me about the term "it is what it is" is that it doesn't describe anything. It's like that Faith No More song "Epic."

It's it!
What is it?
It's it!
What is it?

No it's not. You can't define a term using the same term. What is happiness? It is to be happy. Does this really define anything for you? No.

But my dislike of the term "it is what it is" doesn't just have to do with the fact that it gives you no useful information. It's because whenever I hear someone say it, they're just saying it for lack of anything else to say at a time when I'm looking for a real answer.

"It's so bullshit that I can't find a job. Why is it so hard for people to find a job nowadays?"
"I don't know. It is what it is, you know?"
"...I have no idea what you are talking about."

Why not just say "I don't know?" It is what it is does not sound all that deep and wise. I know that it is supposed to mean "there is not a great, complex answer. It will simply be itself, just as you and I and he and me and we are all together. Coo coo cachoo." Its atempt at simplicity only confuses me more, although it does make me think of John Lennon, which is kind of cool.

Or, and I HATE this, the term is used when someone is really pissed at you and they're being sarcastic. Like the term "Whatever." Have you ever known someone to say "whatever" and really mean it? No. Most of the people I know say "whatever" when what they really mean is, "Yes, what you have suggested and/or just expressed bothers me deeply and I have great concern for how things are going to turn out, however, I'm going to give you a sarcastic response that will make you feel like a selfish asshole who does not consider my feelings to be important."

And now I will completely change the subject. The other day I asked my grandpa if he wanted me to say anything in particular at his funeral. He had heart surgery last week and none of us, including him, were sure that he was going to make it. He's been so weak lately and that big artery in his neck was almost completely blocked. In the days leading up to the surgery he mentioned dying a few times, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to ask if there was anything he wanted me to say in particular.

I was sure he'd want me to talk about being a pilot in World War 2, which is a half truth (he was a pilot but the war ended before he got to kill anybody, something that's always bothered him), he flew B-52's during rescue missions in the Azores (true), he wrote a book (true) and he invented the six pack (though I don't have confirmation on this one I'm going to guess that's a lie). The things I'm sure that he won't want me to mention are that he beat the shit out of my dad as a kid, he once told dad and his brothers that women were like cows - only good for dropping babies, his mother was a stoic woman who didn't smile and never told him she loved him, his father beat the shit out of him even more than he beat the shit out of my dad, his five children don't like him, he had scarlet fever (or yellow fever, I forget) and was quarentined when he was ten, during which time he was so lonely that he made up stories and characters and lived in his imagination for a little over a month, and the last thing he wouldn't want me to say is that he's a compulsive liar.

He's also not a very good writer. I would have felt awful saying that before, but I don't now. Maybe it's because I've been so raw and angry lately. What I feel bad about saying is that I would rather not read the poem that he handed me when I asked him what he wanted me to say at his funeral. It's called "Sing No Sad Songs For Me." Not only does it rhyme (shudder), but it tells everyone, everyone at his FUNERAL, to stop crying. He says,

"Oh, no, no sad songs for me;
I have always abhorred the weeper."

This is a person who is so terrified of emotions that he even needs to repress people at his funeral. "I have always abhorred the weeper." Abhorred? Dear Lord, what a drama queen.

Anyway, he lived but we've got a deal now that I'm going to read the poem. So what will I actually say at his funeral? Should I just get up there and say "He's dead. It is what it is," and sit back down? Nah. I'll probably say that despite what he told my dad about women, Grandpa always told me that I can do whatever I set my mind to, and he always called me "Number One Kid." My grandma recently told me that he started doing that when my parents were separated and he noticed how down I was all the time. He would call over to me, "Hey, fella! Who's Number One Kid?" and I'd smirk all shy and self-conscious and say, "Me," and he'd give me a hug. He still does that. I will probably talk about how he always quotes poetry, and how incredibly smart he is. I will probably say that he recently told me that he doesn't know how to tell someone he loves them because he was never taught, and whenever he does it now it feels forced and awkward. But he does it anyway. I will probably say that other pilots have told me how beautifully that old guy can fly a plane, and that he saved lives flying rescue missons in the Azores. I will say that he wrote a book, something that he always wanted to do. And I will definitely say that it is because of him that I have a reverence for things that have a quiet grace about them, little things like the slow drift of tobacco smoke and that curve in the hand between the thumb and forefinger. Whatever else he might be, he is a man who points these things out.

In honor of that beauty and grace, here's a poem I read yesterday. I love the word "Madagascar" in the middle of it. Grandpa taught me to say a word and let it melt on my tongue like hard candy.

by David Shumate

I am seduced by trains. When one moans in the night like some
dragon gone lame, I rise and put on my grandfather's suit. I pack a
small bag, step out onto the porch, and wait in the darkness. I rest
my broad-brimmed hat on my knee. To a passerby I'm a curious sight
—a solitary man sitting in the night. There's something
unsettling about a traveler who doesn't know where he's headed.
You can't predict his next move. In a week you may receive a
postcard from Haiti. Madagascar. You might turn on your
answering machine and hear his voice amid the tumult of a Bangkok avenue.
All afternoon you feel the weight of the things you've never done.
Don't think about it too much. Everything starts to sound like a train.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fast breaking agent news!

The agent wrote me back. She says she loves the book!...So she wants me to write another draft [simmering smoke drifts from the top of my frustrated head]. She wrote a long email of suggestions, only a couple of which I have a problem with.

In the book, my main character is a tomboyish, androgynous kid who gets made fun of a lot. Actually, a few of my characters have this problem. A lot of my writing (go figure) has gender confusion themes, and the agent says that she likes the questions I bring up about gender roles and sexuality, but that "androgyne seems a little too complex for 15 year olds." She suggests "raising awareness of stereotypes instead." I cringe at this idea. The whole thing about Judy is that she is NOT a stereotype. She's a boyish girl who wants a boyfriend, but other kids keep lumping her into a stereotype. Tricia, one of my other characters, has a different struggle. She IS more of a stereotype. She's a boyish girl who likes girls, but she's trying desperately not to be. The theme that links these girls is that there's nothing wrong with either of them. Some people are a bit stereotypical and some people aren't. The important thing is that they're themselves.

This theme, the whole people-are-complex-and-difficult-to-define theme, also goes along with the obituaries that Judy and her friend Ana are writing. They write them because they're angry and frustrated, and they want to lash out at these other people but they're too timid to do it in a confrontational way. They don't really want to hurt anybody. BUT when the obituaries are discovered all that the principal and the school's superintendent see is that they are two girls writing stories about other students and teachers dying. The stereotypical Trench Coat Mafia, shy and quiet but deadly, school shooter kid pops into their minds. But the girls are NOT this way.

This is a very long winded way of saying that there are too many stories and after school specials that debunk stereotypes and I don't want my book to be another lame shot at a tired issue. Also, androgyne is not too complex for teenagers to understand. Even a grammar school kid knows what a tomboy is, and a tomboy is an androgynous person. Besides, I'm basing Judy on the way I was as a teenager, and believe me, I knew that sexuality was complex. I didn't understand it, and I didn't like it, but I knew it wasn't simple.

Plus, I don't want my book to dumb things down for kids. Yeah, kids can be stupid, but they understand more than we give them credit for. When I was a kid I read books that challenged me, not books that assumed I was dumber than I was.

So enough about that. That was the only one I had a big problem with. One of her suggestions that I dug in a major way was putting graphic art into the book. Judy is an artist, and Sarah (the agent - I might as well just use her name) said WHEN IT'S PUBLISHED [squeals with girlish glee] it would be good to have Judy's drawings next to the obituaries. I love this idea.

I apologize about my payphone absence. My facebook account has tumbleweed blowing across it as well, with a profile picture of me on the back of a milk carton. Things have been busy and frankly kind of shitty. But for my next blog, which will hopefully be later today (fingers crossed!) I will discuss my Grandpa's eulogy poem, and the way I feel about the term "It is what it is." No, my grandpa didn't die, but he had major surgery a few days ago and he gave me a poem he'd written to be read at his funeral. It's...interesting. Stay tuned! And until then refrain from saying "It is what it is." It causes some of us to go nuclear.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Holy hell, Joan Jett and Lita Ford kick ass!

I can only blog a moment because the girls are beginning to fight, but I had to share this. I was tooling around on youtube, wondering like all of us do, "what 70's punk bands are there that I haven't heard?" Then I remembered the movie Juno and how she said her favorite bands were Iggy and the Stooges, somebody else, and The Runaways, and I thought, "Oh yeah, I've been meaning to look them up." So I did. And forgive my ignorance if you guys have known this all your lives, but Joan Jett and Lita Ford were in The Runaways as teenagers! It was an all girl punk band! It kicked ass! Observe the link below, and note Lita Ford's guitar playing. You might have to wait for it to load. It's from a concert in Japan and it's not good quality, but DAMN!

A breakfast offering

I have to hurry out the door this morning, though I have set aside a time later today to blog further. There is so much further to blog. And to read! I haven't caught up with Tom, Billy, or Mel in a couple of weeks. But anyway, I read this poem this morning and had to share it with you. Consider it compensation for my silence at the payphone lately.

In the Coffee Shop
by Carl Dennis
The big smile the waitress gives you
May be a true expression of her opinion
Or may be her way to atone for glowering
A moment ago at a customer who slurped his coffee
Just the way her cynical second husband slurped his.
Think of the meager tip you left the taxi driver
After the trip from the airport, how it didn't express
Your judgment about his service but about the snow
That left you feeling the earth a tundra
Only the frugal few could hope to cross.
Maybe it's best to look for fairness
Not in any particular unbiased judgment
But in a history of mistakes that balance out,
To find an equivalent for the pooling of tips
Practiced by the staff of the coffee shop,
Adding them up and dividing, the same to each.
As for the chilly fish eye the busboy gave you
When told to clear the window table you wanted,
It may have been less a comment on you
Than on his parents, their dismissing the many favors
He does for them as skimpy installments
On a debt too massive to be paid off.
And what about favors you haven't earned?
The blonde who's passing the window now
Without so much as a glance in your direction
Might be trying to focus her mind on her performance
So you, or someone like you, will be pleased to watch
As she crosses the square in her leather snow boots
And tunic of red velvet, fur-trimmed.
What have you done for her that she should turn
The stones of the public buildings
Into a backdrop, a crosswalk into a stage floor,
A table in a no-frills coffee shop
Into a private box near the orchestra?
Yesterday she may have murmured against the fate
That keeps her stuck in the provinces.
But today she atones with her wish to please
As she dispenses with footlights and spotlights,
With a curtain call at the end, with encores.
No way to thank her but with attention
Now as she nears the steps of the courthouse
And begins her unhurried exit into the crowd.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Aaah! The Oscars!

I know it's been a while since I've written and the first thing I have to say is this - tonight I'm going to miss the Oscars!!!!! AHHHHHH!!! I haven't missed it in years. It's the only award/contest show that I watch! Not The Grammy's, not Miss America, not The Biggest Loser, not Survivor, not Top Chef, not The Emmy's, not Who Wants to be My Bisexual, not A Shot at Burnin' Love (a reality show that I just made up in which Elvis impersonators compete to win the love of one woman - as opposed to one man, in which case it would be A Shot at Flamin' Love). And tonight I'm going to miss The Academy Awards because I'm chairing an Al-anon meeting! Whyyyyyyy????!!!! Am I being overly dramatic, or overacting, you could say? Yes. Will it win me an Oscar? Yes. I would kick Kate Winslet's ass.

On top of that, I will also miss Uptown and Metairie parades. It's my mom's birthday and everybody's coming over.

But let's focus on the good things, shall we? First: I finished editing the book! I emailed it to Sarah (the agent) yesterday. Sigh. Sarah...isn't that a beautiful name? It suggests someone well-read, someone sympathetic to struggling writers, with a preference for young adult novels. So hopefully I'll hear something soon. I'm so used to getting on the computer lately just to work on the book. This morning when I fired up the ole laptop I almost went straight to the book and then I remembered, "Hey! I'm done!...for now. Until I have to do more edits." Because I know enough about publishing to know that if Sarah likes it she'll still want me to tweak some things.

Ok, this has nothing to do with anything, but that's the ADD place I'm at this morning. Yesterday Chris and I took the kids to the Luling parade, which is called The Krewe of Lul (take that originality!) We ended up having a good time, but there were a couple of times that I was uncomfortable.

Now, for those of you who have never been to Mardi Gras (ahem - Tom) you must understand that when you take your children out to a parade you run the risk of exposing them to nudity. Even at "family" parades, as The Krewe of Lul likes to strut around bragging about itself. There were people in obscene T-shirts. That, I expected. And I mean both obscene in a sense that there was pornagraphic artwork on T-shirts, and obscene in a sense that some women wore skimpy shirts with cleavage hanging out. It's cool, you know. We're all mammals here. But my tolerance for public nudity was challenged when the woman standing next to my 7 year-old daughter caught a bead with an enormous penis pendant. This woman, who I will call Trixie, was delighted.

"Woooooohooo!" she cried, brandishing the penis bead, and then swinging it over her head like a lasso.

Then she set down her beer so that she could put it on, and I was able to get a good look at it. At this point I was still in the "Is that what I think it is?" phase. She put it on, and adjusted the pendant so that it lay in the center of her boobs. It was, indeed, a large pink penis with a red straw, like a catheter at the tip. It was quite realistic looking if you took away the straw and added testicles. Trixie gave it an affectionate squeeze and the thing squeaked.

"It squeaks, y'all!" she hollered to her friends, like it was a clever pet that could do a trick. Trixie stuck out her chest and waltzed around so that everyone could admire her squeaky penis.

The problem was that Emma was standing on a cooler next to her, placing her at a height at which put her face to face with the crazy thing. I had to do something. Sure, Emma has taken a bath with her brother and knows that boys have those things, but I felt uncomfortable with one in her face. I also didn't know what to say to Trixie. Mardi Gras is a time of freedom in which anyone can act like a complete ass. They're encouraged to, actually. Trixie was drunk, loud, and crass. Maybe I was being a coward, but to avoid a confrontation and to rescue my daughter I grabbed Emma and moved her to another spot.

"Hey!" Emma cried. "I wanna stand on the cooler."

The cooler made her tall enough to see the floats passing by and gave her a fighting chance to catch something in a crowd of taller kids and adults.

"Why don't I hold you?" I asked.

This worked. And so Emma's purity remains intact. But honestly, and I don't mean to sound like a prude, but why are there exposed body parts in the middle of the day at a family parade? Can these people not make it downtown? Yes, drunken, crass nudity is kind of part of our culture, but must it rear its head during the same parade where Winnie the Pooh and Tigger march down the street?

I sound so old.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Movie for one

In my annual attempt to see as many Academy Award nominated movies as possible, later tonight I'm going to see "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." I'm as equally enthusiastic to see "Slumdog Millionare" but my friend Libby (who will be joining me) said that feelgood movies make her feel like crap. Libby has a way of putting things that bewilder me and win my sympathies at the same time. So "The Button" it is. I plan to see the "Slumdog" later in the week by myself.

Before you go feeling sorry for me, you must know that I love seeing movies alone. It's something I started doing when I was 13 because The Outsiders was my favorite book, and that's what Ponyboy Curtis did. The first movie I saw by myself was "Scrooged" and I remember feeling weird about it at first. During a funny part there was no one to look over at to see if they were laughing too. Laughing at a scene just because I alone thought it was funny felt kind of like talking to myself. I think it's because when I'm with another person or a group, seeing a movie is a true social experience. I'm more likely to laugh if the person next to me is laughing too and not because I don't have my own sense of humor. It's like I'm saying, "I think this is funny. Do you too think this is funny? Excellent. We are having a marvelous time."

But there are some movies that for me to fully experience them, I need quiet. "Schindler's List" comes to mind. God, after I saw that alone I don't think I spoke for the rest of the day. I don't think it would have been the same experience if I'd gone with a friend or one of my sisters. I would have felt pressured to talk when we stepped out into the daylight, and I probably wouldn't have felt like talking at all. A movie that is done well, or hell any art form that is done well, leaves me with too much to think about. Only, unlike most of the things I overthink, the thoughts and emotions I have after a good movie are not a burden. It's a storm that I leaves me happily soaked.

And yet for all this love of movies, I don't think I've seen a single one this year that I really wanted to see. Like "Rachael Getting Married," "Changling," "In Bruges," "Slumdog Millionare," "Schenectady, NY" and "Tropic Thunder." Yes. That last one was a joke. See how funny I am on my own? Ha. I need to get crackin' on the ones I can rent. Only 19 days until the awards (bites nails with anticipation)! I hate watching it without knowing a single thing about the movies that are nominated. Sure I could watch it for the fashion, the the social commentary, the tense moments when someone legendary like Peter O'Toole is run offstage by the symphany for talking too long. Because, damnit, there are commercials to think about.

And at the moment there is breakfast to think about. What does a sophisticated moviegoer like myself have for breakfast, you ask? Fancy bagels? Homemade grits with bacon puree and a slice of papaya on the side? No, no, nothing that Hollywood. Oatmeal and coffee. Not sheek enough, you say? I'll bet you a hundred dollars that Anne Hathaway wishes she could have a Pop Tart while she walks down the red carpet. Now, whether I see any of the nominated movies or not, THAT would be worth watching.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

For someone who needs it...possibly

****(In this post names have been changed to protect the anonymous)****

This is a brief update! I met with my sponsor (who I will call Maryl Streep) today for about two hours. I've just done the third step and am gearing up for the fourth where I make a "searching and fearless moral inventory" of myself. Heh heh- fearless! Waaaaaaaahahahahahahaha! I'm scared to death! Ah ha ha! [laughter dying down] Ha..ha!...oooh.

So what I am about to write is for those of you out there (Al-anon, AA, or NA) who might be going through the steps too.

Just in case you're shaking constantly, feeling raw and terrified most of the time, I'm right there with you. And when I saw "raw" I mean really, really raw. I'm a sushi roll. And I mean, like, not even the rice is cooked. On my Sunday night meeting I trembled the entire time. But Meryl Streep told me today that she thinks I'm doing awesome. She said she's seen a lot of growth in me since I showed up in Al-Anon last summer. Hooray! Approval from the big sister I never had! She said that the first three steps are really a daily continuing practice - admitting I don't have control, that a higher power can help me, and then giving my problems up to God.

On Sunday I met a new person, named Pat Benatar who is also new to the program. She said she was scared too and we bonded over that for a while. Then, without thinking about it, I volunteered to help for the next meeting.

The group moderator, Ulysses S. Grant, raised his bushy eyebrows. "Awesome," he said. "What do you want to do?"
"Uhhh...what do you need?"
He was unclear about this so he said he'd call me.

The group leader (I don't remember exactly what they're called) of the Wednesday meeting, Sophia Loren, was much more specific. That meeting is in the middle of the day, and it attracts mostly retired old ladies. This is a sharp contrast to Sunday's meeting which is mostly bohemian. Anyway, Sophia Loren, like most small old ladies I know, had a list of things I could do.

"First, honey, if you could lift this suitcase for me that would be wonderful," she said, beaming.
There was an entire suitcase of new books and meeting materials that needed to be carried back into the supply closet. So I am now the brute strength of the group. Feels good to be doing service.

Anyway, what I wanted to tell you if you happen to be new to all of this like me is that it is the most painful and wonderful thing I've ever gone through. Even right now I'm shaking and my stomach feels sick, but I wouldn't go back to the way I was before if you paid me. (of course, you never know, I'm willing to take offers) There's a new voice that's talking in my head, and it's the parent I never had. She's cool and calm, and maternal, and I think she's the person I'm turning into. I hope she is. She's so strong and groovy.

And amazing things are happening! My mom apoloized to me! She's on the 9th step and she said I was the first person she wanted to apologize to. At first I was nervous. I didn't know what she was going to say, and I was afraid for her to bring up really painful things. But she didn't get specific and I was glad. She just said, "I'm sorry for how much I've hurt you. I know it's a lot. I want you to know that I'll do anything I can to make up for it. Is there anything I can do?"

The kid in me thought, "Ask for a Wii!" but the new, stronger voice in me came out and said, "Take care of yourself. You know, I used to have all those nightmares that you were screaming for help and I couldn't help you. You're taking better care of yourself now, and it makes me feel better. You're doing good, just keep it up. It's nice to see you this way." I could have told her never to drink again, just promise me you won't drink or take pills again. But she can't promise that. So I guess I told her the next best thing.

For those of you who don't know my mom this was amazing. I never thought she'd say that. I never even thought she'd stay dry so long, but she's really working hard. I was proud of her because I know that must have taken a lot of courage to admit with your own kid.

Anyway, I just had this nagging feeling that somebody else needed to read this. It could just be the caretaker in me. We're in this together whoever you are, Meryl Streep, Sophia Loren, Ulysses S. Grant and Pat Benatar!

We belong to the light!
We belong to the thunder!

This is not a metaphor

I woke up this morning, dragged myself into the bathroom and turned on the light. My immediate reaction, when I looked in the mirror, filled me with joy. I said (out loud, mind you), "Hey! I'm pretty!" and hugged myself. Then I froze and looked at myself again. There I stood, arms wrapped around myself, an embrace inspired by my own perceived cuteness. "What am I, three years old?" I asked myself.

You see, my darlings, with all of this self-help I'm going through I'm a little worried about how weird and over the top New Agey I could get. April lent me a book on CD called "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay, a woman who survived severe child abuse and poverty, and then went beyond surviving to thriving like a one of those house plants that starts off small and then blooms like mad, with Audrey Two-like vines draping out of the pot and onto the floor. I jived with most of what ole Louise had to say, you know, all the thinking positively stuff, and how if you tell yourself that you deserve nothing then you're likely to get nothing. But there were times I felt that Louise went slightly off the deep end. She was talking about her body and accepting it the way it is - stretch marks, blemishes, wrinkles and everything. All very cool. She would say, "I love my face!" and I thought, "I love your face too, Louise! You rock!" And then she said (and I don't remember the exact quote except for the last four words), "Every part of my body serves me and I love it and respect it. Even my anus. I love my anus!" This is where I felt that our paths split. I feel that I can become a healthy, confident person without giving my anus the time of day. It will go it's way and I will go mine. Does it have a function? Sure. And I respect that. Will I annouce our love to the world? No.

But what if I eventually do? What if I become like some of the people I meet at Wild Lotus who talk constantly about "the universe." Don't get me wrong, I dig the universe. I acknowledge that I am part of it, and I even dig on karma. But I have this fear in the back of my mind that in about ten years I'm going to do something bizarre like change my name to Lilypad Lovinfields and teach a children's yoga class where I also play the lute.

"And now children," I'll say, as I strum. "We're going to learn to chant! Say it with me, "OooooommmmIlovemyanusooooooooooommmmm."

Am I playing on stereotypes just a wee bit? Perhaps. But everyone I know has a fear of becoming some sort of stereotype, and it's high time that I admit that, yes, I'm afraid of becoming weirder than I already am. And why am I afraid of it, you ask? Sigh. Because I worry about what people think of me just a tad much. I think it's healthy to have a little dose of this. It's why I don't do things like expel gas in public. I know a few people like this and I wish that they would worry about what I think just enough to stop, or go to another room.

I will say one thing, though, and if I sound all cheesy and New Agey then so be it. There's a serendipitous quality to all of the messages I'm getting lately. Yoga, Al-anon, therapy, and believe it or not FLY Lady (a website I visit that helps chicks like me get their houses organized) have all been saying the same things. They all tell me to love myself the way I am. When I first joined FLY Lday I didn't know that FLY stood for "Finally Loving Yourself." I thought, "Wait, I just want you to teach me how to keep my house clean so that I'm not embarassed when people come over." But it turns out that it's so much more! The first thing FLY Lady tells you to do is shine your sink, and then make sure when you wake up every morning to get fully dressed and wash your face. In essence, to take care of myself first thing.

FLY Lady sends me motherly reminders each day, and the one from the other day was so fitting it was creepy. She said this, "Each one of us has a light that shines. Some of our lights have been shaded by those negative words we have heard all our lives. We have to remove that shroud of sadness that has dimmed our lights and let our light shine! Let me start this process by reminding you that our parents did all they knew to do! Their little lights were dimmed too. We begin this process with forgiveness. Forgive them because they did not know what they were doing...Now go shine your sink! This is not a metaphor! Take this action and see that little ray of hope for yourself! Your shiny sink is just the beginning! Let your light shine and see the beauty that is you!"

Keep in mind, I originally joined this site to learn how to keep my house clean. So, like, the universe (insert a vision of me with my eyes all wide and trippy cosmic-like) is telling me in every possible way to love myself. Duuuuuuuuuuude! I must totally obey.

I'm off to make silly faces at myself in the mirror. Am I acting like a three year old? Yes. And I love it (insert a vision of me blowing a raspberry).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Boots of Chinese Plastic

I just discovered this song:

Damn, Chrissie Hynde is awesome.

I'm working on the end of the book. Stop me if I've blogged about this. I emailed the agent a synopsis of the new ending on Friday and she wrote back to say that it's "fabulous." Wooooohoooo! Fabulous! Yes, I cherish every nice thing that she writes about the book as if I were reading a love letter. So I'm finishing the damn thing, and then I'll ship it off to her. I've been sitting at the laptop today, writing steadily and youtubing songs that go with my mood.

Back to work, gents.

By the way,
You look fantastic
In your boots
Of Chinese plastic

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I'm better this morning. Gees, I don't think I've written a post like that before. I think that was a cry for help. Sorry guys, I try not to do that on the internet. I'm trying to compose my raw emotional posts in a way that if someone else indentifies with it they can feel comforted by it. The good thing is that this parental voice has come around in my mind and last night I was able to soothe myself to sleep - no beating myself up physically, or entertaining thoughts of hurting myself. That's a significant babystep I think.

So allow me to be more specific than I was last night. I was upset with myself for the insane way that I handle anger. Whenever someone I like, love, or even if it's just someone who I don't know well but want them to like me I'm extra, super nice. I know, I know, what an asshole right? Well, yes. Sometimes. For example, about six years ago I was a hostess at Houston's restaraunt for a very brief period of time. Like, just a few months. Eventually I was fired and it wasn't because I did anything horrible. I was told that I was not "seating aggressively." When my manager said this to me I imagined a hostesss politely leading a couple to their table, and then suddenly lifting one of them in the air, dropping them, and then body slamming them into their seat. But that's not exactly what he was talking about. Houston's is a busy restaurant and they want waitors and hostesses to be neaurotically fast and OCD on the ball. This is why my sister Stephanie was lead hostess. She was totally on top of things and damn good. I was kind of pokey and joked around a lot. But I also knew that the unspoken reason here was, "we want sexy hostesses who flirt." I knew this because I was told to put on more makeup, even though by more standards I was wearing a lot, and because all of the hostesses were very flirty and sexy. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Stephanie is a tease. She's just hot and she's got a good game face. If a regular customer came in who liked to flirt with the hostesses, she was able to handle him even if he was a real slime. I was not able to do this. If a dude was all weird and flirty I would maybe giggle and fall silent, or I would look at him funny before I had time to stop myself.

Aaaaanyway, the manager didn't like me very much. This somehow made me want him to like me more even though this guy was kind of a jerk. I wanted him to see me as sweet and genuine. But these qualities only seemed to aggravate him. A few weeks after I was fired I came into drop something off to Stephanie and when the guy (whose name I don't even remember) came to the podium to tell her something I told him hi and then gave him a hug. When I hugged him he back away and said, "No, no. Good to see you" and scurried off.

I actually hugged this guy, this guy who I didn't like, who didn't like me and who had fired me a few weeks before. Though it was rude of him to push me away atleast he was acknowledging that there was a problem between us. I don't like being angry at people. I don't handle it well. I can even handle them being mad at me better than I can handle my own anger, and that's not saying very much. This reaction is seemingly genuine. A lot of people have been touched by it. They're kind of like, "Wow, you really forgave me fast, what a great, merciful person you are." But how could I have forgiven them when I didn't even acknowledge that there was a problem in the first place? I wasn't being all merciful and wonderful. I was in complete denial, and it's only caused complications in every single one of my relationships.

It's because this stuff tends to build. And build. And build. And Until eventually I'm an enormous ant hill of supressed anger, like one of those mountain sized African ant hills that you see on Animal Planet. I've said before that it takes a lot for me to completely cut someone out of my life, but that statement is misleading. That makes it sound like the problem is all theirs when the truth is that with all of these people I let them hurt me again and again, and each time I held them closer. Until I exploded. There are times when I've even said "I love you" when I'm extremely angry. I can think of times that I've done that with both family and friends. The reason those moments stand out in my mind is because I remember thinking, "Why aren't I mad? I should be mad." The friend I lost once asked me, "Why aren't you mad at me?" And I thought about it and told her, "I don't know." I wasn't able to let myself feel it. I numbed it with, "She didn't really mean it. I know deep down she respects me," and also "She's aldready so hurt. I don't want to be mad at her on top of that." As if anger is the absolute worse thing I can feel for a person. As if love is "I'm totally cool with you all the time no matter what you do," and "I'm pissed at you" translates into, "I hate you." But that doesn't make sense.

You guys are all wondering if the times I've said "I love you" out of the blue were times that I was pissed, aren't you? :) Well, honestly, I might have been. But to make it up to both of us I'm trying to learn how to bring a problem to light without acting extremely one way or the other. Also remember that the "I love you" wasn't a lie. I love all the people (who I know) who read this blog. It was just beside the point. It was more like a distraction. Like, I could have said, "Oh look, there's a pretty rainbow. Let's focus on that instead of the problem." The reason I felt pathetic last night is because I've done that sooooooo much in the recent past that it makes me feel crazy.

I know it might sound weird that trying to be really nice has made my life out of control and unmanagable, but it's true. I guess I could have done worse. I could have hit you all over the head with a plumbing tool. I could have buried my anger with drugs, World of Warcraft, or alcohol. (right now Christy is totally digging that I lumped World of Warcraft with addcitive drugs)

And now, my lovelies, it is time to face the reality of the day. I need to pick up the cat from the vet, post something for Creature Feature House, and attack the looming pile of laundry. Also accepting that I'm human and that getting mad doesn't make me the devil. And it should be noted that from what I know the friend I lost is doing very well. I'm getting there, I think. May we both have happiness.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I'm having a really bad night

I'm on step 3 now. I'm supposed to give things up to God. What if I'm mad at God, though? Not always. Just tonight. This process is so fucking slow. The major highs and lows of this whole being-honest-with-myself-trip are terrible. I see things and accept them and then the next day I see them again, the same things, and I run screaming. And I've hurt people and I've lost a friend. I had another meltdown in November. What if I fall apart again next week? I'm supposed to be getting better. I'm looking back on the last year and a half and hating myself, I mean seriously loating the pathetic dweeb I've been. I just read back through my journal and a lot of e-mails I sent this time around last year to get some perspective on where I was when I was falling apart and where I am now. Oh my God, I was crazy. I'm sorry I put you all through that. The list of wrong doings that I'm going to have to write eventually is going to be a bitch. Sometimes I feel like I'm not moving forward at all. I'm just looking back at everything. But I couldn't really look at it when I was in it.

Arrrrrgh. I should go to bed. I know this mood I'm in.

Ok, I just reread my last post for 2008. Leather Fanny Pack Lady said that Al-anon lows are bad shit. I need to get to a meeting tomorrow. I need to get to sleep, it's 1:00 in the fucking morning.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Something rambling that I started writing the other day

I start to avoid things around the time I wake up. First I avoid changing out of my pajamas. Then I avoid washing my face, but I'll brush my teeth because after I that I can brew the coffee, and I throw myself as enthusiastically at the coffee as I run spedily away from the responsisbility of getting dressed. When Chris is out of town I realize I'll have to brew 4 cups instead of six, and then I avoid the thought of Minnesota and knowing that he'll be there until Saturday. When I walk through the kitchen I see the new puppy chewing a pencil and, sometimes, I avoid stopping her. Then when I get to the living room I begin to wonder if she could get lead poinsoning and I go back in the kitchen to take the ruined thing out of her mouth.

This drains just enough energy that I avoid waking up Claire, even though it's 7:00 and she has to catch the bus at 7:30. Then I remember that it's Martin Luther King Day, which means she has off of school and I relax until I start to really think about the holiday and eventually have to avoid the thought of how many other white people there are who are aggravated that black people are proud of this. That somehow makes me remember Ray Nagin's Chocolate City speech, which is depressing because as a mayor the guy is supposed to represent all of us, the best of us really, and to me that means he should be trying to unify us as a city. Then, before I have time to avoid it, I wonder whether I'm more of a republican or a democrat and I think I might be more of a democrat but I never allow myself to really think it through because I don't want to dissapoint my republican friends. By the same token, I don't want to upset my democrat friends either so I usually avoid politics all together and watch Nickelodeon instead.

My sister April fearfully avoids the news too.

"I watch the Today show to see if there's another 9/11," she told me on the phone the other day. "If there's not, I think, 'oh good, we're not all going to die,' and I turn the shit off. I don't need to know how broken hearted John Travolta is about his son. I feel bad for him, but what good can it do to think about it and then start worrying about my kid?"

April echoed the reason why I generally avoid the news. Sometimes I hear things that are useful like if there's going to be a freeze and I need to wrap my pipes, which in New Orleans happens once about every ten years, and sometimes I hear ways I can help the city like if there's a coat drive or something. But hearing about a guy in the French Quarter who murdered and then cooked his girlfriend before he jumped off a building (true) doesn't really get me anywhere. I can't go back in time and help the girl. I can't help look for the guy on Crime Stoppers because he's already killed himself. I can't offer him cooking recipes. And (feel free to tell me I'm horrible, which you've already done once because of the cannibal recipe joke that was in poor taste - poor taste! Oh!) but when I hear things like that my first reaction is, "Well, that kind of tidys things up. There's no big political, moral debate about whether or not to execute him, and he won't be killing and cooking anyone else." As a freelance journalist I see the newsworthy quality of the story, but as a human being who worries constantly and tries to offset anxiety with a bad, dark sense of humor, I wish they would stop broadcasting this stuff.

There are, of course, ocassional reports of fantastic news, like the recent plane crash in the Hudson where everyone got out alive. I'm sure when they were going down all of them thought they were goners. What immense relief they must have felt when they stopped wincing, touched their faces and arms to make sure they were still attached and thought, "I'm alive!" But as April pointed out, during the same phone conversation, it's disturbing to know that an enormous plane that can carry over a hundred people through the air can be taken down by birds.

"I'm not flying again until they build me a plane that's bird-worthy. I don't mean ducks or geese or anything, I mean I want a jet engine that can suck up an ostrich."

Thinking about all of these things, New Orleanian blacks vs. whites, murderers vs. girlfriends, birds vs. planes, can make a person go back to bed even if they've had a pot of coffee all to themsleves. I'm beginning to realize that it's better to ponder and debate these things, particularly the things I can help. So I'm trying not to go back to sleep, literally and figurtively. Even with Chris being gone for a week, I can't just let it depress me so much that I block everything out. Too much depends on me being mentally healthy.

But there's a balance, and my recent solution to avoidance of thinking and overthinking is this (feel free to roll your eyes): meditation. Last week I went to a meditation hour at the yoga studio, and I must say that when the instructor told us that we'd be sitting there with our eyes closed for three twenty minute intervals I was skeptical. Specifically, I was skeptical about my ability to sit there with my eyes closed for 20 minutes and think NOTHING. And during that time of course I thought of all sorts of things, but every time I did I would imagine that thought as a balloon and I would let it go. Which made me think of the song "99 Red Balloons" so I had to let that go too.

Dude, it's like letting your monkey chattering brain take a break in a hammock. Or something. A recharge, I guess I should say. It's different from blocking things out. I could drink or (much closer to home) become obsessed with needing to help a loved one to avoid my own problems and fears, but that's not giving my brain any rest. When I was meditating I was letting go without blocking anything out. Do you know what I mean? Maybe I could better describe it this way...I can block out things I don't want to know about myself and the world and keeping myself ignorant can give me temporary bliss, but knowing when to shut the thinker down is true serenity. It's a balanced acceptance, somewhere in between overthinking to the point of exhaustion and blocking out reality.

I can't wait to go back this Sunday night and meditate again! Yay! Does this mean that I'm becoming a true New Agey flakey chick? I shall meditate upon it...


ps- for your serene enjoyment: