Wondrous Clever

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RIP George Michael.

2016 doesn’t allow for you to generate full-throated platitudes as it winds to a close.  It just reaches out and reaps another spirit we need here with callous contempt for the suffering the world already is irradiated with.  All this on Christmas Day.

It is a sour note after a genuinely pleasant day.

A Christmas that just involved food and tv and family and kindness, and for the most part, there was no need to perform.   Just sit around in my pajamas and float in the middle distances.

I continued to have a few messages exchanged with the guy – mostly about the sous vide and cooking.  I have a bit more illumination about his life, tried to offer a bit of illumination on mine.  I know it’s not an easy day, especially if you’re alone.  I have this idea of how nice it would be to have my own person here to tell about our traditions and who would have some vague expression of interest about it.

I don’t know…the tension exists, but it’s hard to sustain it while talking mostly about cooking and TV and feeling completely as though I’m fucking it up.  Like…I am weighing every silence and pause and the things I’ve said and what is said outside of me and not to me.  It’s a very screwball sort of crush wherein the performance I hate is required. Dancing along the line of, hey, I’ll reply intently with sincerity when maybe my first thought is not to say anything and then, silence when every giddy tendril in me says to make the joke, make the assertion, blur the line.  I am so unaware of how to do this and the uncertainty if this is a tree not to even bark up is significant.  Bothersome.  Not a barrier, but a hitch.

And yet, I do have this ridiculously strong feeling of fondness.  Like, I suppose this is so because I haven’t impeded its development, in fact, I’ve insisted upon it, wished for more of it as a novelty.  It’s this sense that I’m comfortable in some way that I have not earned at all.  Just comfortable saying many things.  And now I wonder if I am just an irritant.  Irritant, perhaps is not it…I think I just don’t know how to handle the emotions that come out of giving a damn about people who are not friends and family, who I can’t serve or please or track.  Manipulate, maybe.  Maybe not.

It has a certain Stray Italian Greyhound vibe, which is curious, as one of my lovely gifts this year was tickets to go see Vienna Teng in a few weeks.

So, I am sort of helpless to do more than time can do which is to spread me out and allow me taste after taste of the possibilities.  Let me start back in on the 2017 version of myself who has so much empathy and concern for where I am now that she is ready to try harder than I have strength right now.

 

Squish

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Things that are true.

My laptop lid will not always stay open.
My water does not have enough ice in it by far.
I have a lingering headache that is not making this post easy to write in a sensible form.

I’m discovering Christmas carols I have never heard before in my life.

I have painted my nails in what I thought was a golden hue, but actually has a greenish-gold tone that makes my pale fingertips look a bit gangrenous or in other lights, casts me as though I’ve got a case of colic.
I have watched a horrific Christmas film about a clown and do not know if I will ever fully enjoy the holiday again.
I need to appreciate the fact that I was given flowers and loads of chocolate and hugs and kind things from my coworkers and not just feel as though they are another task on my list of endlessly required reciprocation I’ve yet to reciprocate fully.

I am really quite tired and will probably go to bed at least by midnight in the hopes that I can just run through the day tomorrow and get over to my parents because I want to just be on vacation or not so mentally connected to anything or one right now.  Providing the laundry is done.

I am actually proud of myself for carrying on this long, long, long writing spree for 6 years.  6 fucking years.  Lord.  I don’t know how this transition to doing something different will work, but I know I have to, have to in ten different ways.  Still, this has been a commitment of my life.  This has taken some iron will.

The guy and I are still talking 99% of which is regarding this D&D game.  I have zero sense if he likes me or dislikes me, or…if I am honest, and speaking in terms of truth, I know exactly how much he likes me…which is the sane amount for someone you’ve had an extended facebook conversation with.   Nothing has been decided yet.  Nothing has been created yet.   I have not even determined if I want things to be decided and created and happening.  He could be an axe murderer! He could be a saint! He could be a dour bore.  He could be a sexist prick (I think he is emphatically not that).  He could be completely fine and just not that into me.  He is also not here and and mostly not the most viable option.  Yet, he’s willing to talk to me off and on for the better part of two days so even if I’m just filling a slot at his D&D table, it is bigger than nothing. And I do have to acknowledge that working at the shop does sort of challenge my ability to provide entertaining repartee via my phone whilst I am on the floor.

I am so looking forward to being able to get back in some healthy patterns and habits in the new year.  I can feel my body screaming for it in countless ways.

Scream!

Rip Hardmeat

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I come to you as the humble sous-chef.   Ever humbled.  Irritated by being humbled.

It’s complicated when you know you’re pre-menstrual and you know your emotions are predicated by that subtle shift.  That I sit down here today grumpy and frustrated on a day that is both intended to be about appreciation of all that you have and all that you might have been spared and a day that is never as intended is not lost on me.

As I did not have a laptop at hand yesterday, I have another thousand word debt day.  There are enough words today for both anxieties and gratitude.

Nothing is constant or irrevocable.  The negative, shitty, egomaniacal feelings can be both true and fleeting.  How I can be so grateful that my mother is okay, in the short-term, generalized, knock-on-wood, doctors pleased with current trajectory way that she’s okay – that she felt as though she wasn’t sure she was going to be around for Thanksgiving all the while I feel frustrated that I stood there, standing next to her all morning cooking and caught hell for it? She literally hovered over me explaining how to open a new coffee container and how to use the coffee maker, holding my arm as I did the scooping. I couldn’t cut the vegetables in pieces of similar size (only they were and it was fine) and therefore, the joke, a joke! A JOKE I know was a JOKE, was that if I was on Chopped, I’d already be cut.  Then, this exhausted, nobody helps me, I don’t want to do this again line when I was there from appetizers to gravy to stuffing to turkey to just about everything we did.  I pulled meat off the godforsaken neck for her.  Ugh.  It’s fine.  It’s petty.  It’ll be forgotten.

It’s familial energy and patterns clashing against one another.  It’s the holiday tension that overtakes everyone.  It is not unique to my life.  Every even somewhat sensitive soul survives holidays in the same way.

I just feel like sometimes I’m not even there.  I’m as consequential as one cool breeze blowing into another.

…I begin to think that there isn’t anything about reviewing my feelings right now that’s worth doing.  It feels like throwing everything soft and juicy and vital in a dryer, just to get it back, starched and stiff.  Is it “okay” to feel crappy on a nice holiday?  Sure.  Is it okay to feel joyful and good about yourself without anyone’s leave or pre-approval?  Sure.  Is it anything to do or be anything that doesn’t hurt or otherwise negatively impact anyone else?  Of course.

Can that be resolved?  Can anything in my life be resolved and set aside if only for a moment?  Is every question forever open for debate? Does having this blog make it seem that way?

I don’t have the time any more to bleat.  A signal, perhaps, for the need of further evolution.  The banner line said it all and said it since the very beginning:  I will change.  Insofar as I am this blog, here, too, must change take place.

Interrupt anxiety with gratitude.  They’re oil and water.

  • I am grateful for a full belly.  And cream soda, even if it is not diet, with ice cubes to keep it cold.
  • I am grateful that we were able to have a Thanksgiving meal all together with all the trimmings. That my mom could make it – in all shades of meaning. That I could confidently, if frustrated by condescension, assist. That the gravy ended up being good.  That it all ended up being really excellent and good.  And imperfect.
  • I am grateful that we were able to have political discussions and didn’t have to feel guilty for it.  Would have been willing to still have those discussions if there had been dissenters, to hear those different points of view when they are argued with any sort of evidence, but it was far less stressful than it might have been to have to dance around topics.  As Fuck Trump seemed to suffice, I was grateful that in the end, we hardly had to talk at all, save about the befluted squirrels.
  • I am grateful for Rieslings.
  • I am grateful for sisters who drive for half an hour to sit in the quiet and august company of strangers for an hour before the tryptophan/social anxiety/surreality overtook us and we went home.
  • Intractable, truculent.
  • I am grateful for the MSTie Turkey Day marathon.
  • I am grateful that we could all agree on Loreena McKennitt’s Night at the Alhambra live concert as an appropriate soundtrack for lunch and that I could feel peace as I listened to it.
  • I am grateful for my terrible impulses, even if I reason them away. They do remind me that I am alive in this body.  I do experience wants and needs and human shades of fallibility.  Not that I walk around feeling otherwise, but the reminder, when you feel that those wants and needs are invisible to others is helpful.
  • I am grateful that if is possible to get to five hundred words, it is equally possible to get to a thousand if one just doesn’t give up.
  •  I am grateful for challenging thoughts – the North Dakota pipeline protests and how they inform the way I think about Thanksgiving.  How the history of the holiday looms large this season and how painfully easy it is to just say it’s okay when it’s not okay.  Not fully, not wholly, not for everyone.
  • I am grateful for the work I do have, the bursts of progress I make, the times when I don’t let the dark and fearful thoughts impede me, the times when I don’t remember I am dogged by those thoughts at all.
  • I am grateful for the hope that buoys me and pulls me to being creative and doing something whenever I feel down and self-centered.  Eventually.
  •  I am grateful for all the people out there doing the same and making their way as best they can with as much kindness as they know how.

 

 

 

A Jet All the Way

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Today – let me alert you –  was the Fourth of July.

It was nice to sit and watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with my mother who was delighted by my fresh eyes.  I hadn’t seen it before and I thought it was a remarkable little film, the spirit of which is almost painful in the way it rings true today.  Obviously, it’s not what it should be as we’ve grown as a nation in terms of representation, but that overarching message of honorable politics.  Well…

For my part, I thought there was only the one true pairing of Jefferson Smith and Clarissa Saunders and watched on tenterhooks to see if the sarcastic, sauced-up cynic was going to win over the gleaming beauty it seemed he was head over heels for.   It was so lovely to watch the scales fall from her eyes and drive Saunders to embrace an optimistic point of view, even as Smith reckons with all that Washington demands from a man just for the privilege of standing in its halls.  I loved that and I loved being able to sit there, quietly, and enjoy it with my mom who instilled in me a love of the old black and white movies.

Then, we tried to go for some West Side Story, but my father came home along with a whole horde of other people (three other people) and suddenly, everything was a whirlwind.  We made ribs, we made chicken, corn on the cob, watermelon, hot dogs, ice cream, pasta salad.

It’s odd to think, oh, there’s risk, there’s danger.  She’s not okay.  It’s just us cooking together. I keep having the forced realization that, oh, I can laugh still.  I can still think about dudes.  I can still want to lose weight.  I can still be all messed up and kooky and self-involved.  I can still tell my mom about my day.  I can still sit with her and listen as she talks to my aunt. I can still let her cook food and gobble it up.  I can still just bumble along without every moment needing to bear the sanctity of the diagnosis.  Whatever that is, anyway.  I wish I could just get this lesson and live it and not freak out about how I am being in the world.
I also had a lot of caffeine and sugar.  More than was necessary. Nobody watches what I eat anymore, there’s no peanut gallery, no Greek Chorus, save the drowsy, understudy version in my head.  And sometimes they sing and castigate me, but mostly they stumble around looking for the libretto.

Then, I drove with the sister, the boyfriend, the sister’s friend, the other sister out into the hinterlands and then back around to end up right smack in the single best fireworks-viewing spot that I can ever remember having.  The caffeine and sugar, for just a moment, made me think I was fair game for a panic attack.  That passed, though, and I could almost enjoy the display.  There was a crying dog next to me and its upset made it hard to stare agog at the sky as it boomed and blazed my hearing and sight away.

Still.

Les Demons En Haut

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+460 words and an odd impulse to write more once I can get out of this desire to make it better than it could possibly be on the first pass and to stop researching islands.  Though, maybe that’s thematically appropriate.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  Maybe take a minute and drink some wine or some coffee or both or eat some cake or have a cry or read a book or think about Ireland or read your Tarot or lay very still and imagine laying outside in the snow, having it covering you but not chilling your skin at all.

………….

Echoing through the foyer, she heard a warm voice rasp: “She’s returned! Let the games begin!”

The woman had arrived in London via Capri. A journey by boat and rail that left her comfortably swaying, her mind firmly settled in the Grotta Azzurra. She had been meaning to take a stop there and the opportunity finally arose when she completed her task in Rome. Her cargo was light, easily carried on her person and acquired with surprising ease. This meant she could spare a week to explore. The fourth of their four could still taste the limoncello, could still picture the water lapping against the row boat, the Sphinx of sorts that lined the villa of Dr. Axel Munthe.

She had returned, she reminded herself, almost entirely on time. If only to attend this dinner.

A maid gathered up her raspberry velvet cape and if she had any misgivings about where the final guest’s chaperone was located, she wisely held her tongue. She stopped the maid, and gathered from the silk-lined pocket the mail that had been delivered while she was away. This entailed a single letter addressed to her from her tormented prisoner on L’Epine, on L’Ile de Noirmoutier. She had yet to read it, but she knew what it said. Come home, come home, come home.

Pas maintenant, Maman! There is no home. But there is a world to see.

Passing through the foyer, the locked door was swung wide open to the drawing room. A fire was crackling to ease the soft rain that had, predictably, carried through the entire day. The room looked fit to suit the men within. Dark corners, dark furnishings, cigar smoke flowing through the air.

She was, as ever, an interloper. Surely, the gentlemen Carlisle, Smith and Shelburne, would rather their colleague take a more traditional aspect. But if this was a game, it was one that required far more than trousers to succeed at. Amelia picked up a glass of champagne from the table. Smith, full of vigor, had taken Shelburne aside, and appeared to be engaged in some sort of frantic pantomime.

“Giving instruction to the lad as to how to take a punch.”

“I don’t find myself in situations where pugilism might concern me.” Shelburne drew a shy smile and uncrossed his arms to pull a dark blade of hair back from his eyes. He was a few years younger than she, and could fall into giggles at the bare breasts of a Bernini. His calling as a treasure hunter as inexplicable as her own, at least on its face.

“You’re in this room, aren’t you?”

Amelia laughed to herself between sips.

“Now, the lady, she might be able to get away without carrying a weapon.” Smith glanced in her direction. “But when you’re going after something that maybe somebody gives a damn about, there might be a bit of maffickin’ required to get it out of there.”

“I wouldn’t make a plan that did not first include the likelihood of resistance and devise an alternative.”

“As if things don’t go wrong.”

Amelia called over her shoulder, now quite preoccupied by the scurrying bodies of maid, assistant, and honored host as the rushed about behind the east-facing door. “Why don’t you take him out and let him practice upon you, Mr. Smith? Might motivate the spirits before you’re overly motivated by spirits.”

“You have a dark mind, Miss Crevecoeur. Just like that father of yours.” Smith muttered to himself with good humor.

“At every turn, my good sirs, at every turn.”

To Have Done

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Happy Day, beginner of things.   Happy Day, continuer of things. Happy Day, ender of things.  We are all sparks and conduits and keepers and quashers.

It is frightening to have a mission.  To know what you are meant for, to know what you love in the world, to know that you bear gifts that exist in no other combination, in no other form and they will not exist again once you pass through this existence.  If you don’t acknowledge this, there is no one else who possibly can.   You have but one entrance and one exit.

It is also deeply comforting.  If you let go of others’ plans for you, if you can embrace what it is you’ve been given, you can get enough answers to tide you over.  To work with.

I know I am a writer.  I know it with Elizabeth Gilbert-style assurance. In blood and bone and when I wake and when I sleep. I know it as Robert Louis Stevenson knows his little shadow and it has gone in and out with me every day of my life since I made the first discovery of language.

I also know I’m a cute thing.   Maybe more like a stuffed animal cute, but cute, kawaii, Bee-ish.  I’m endearing and good-hearted and supportive of others.  I am empathic and attentive to the heartaches and discomforts of others.  I am clever, sharp-witted, bent towards the light, but with that shadow stitched to my ankles.  I am not so very different than any person who spends their time looking about.

I can also be the absolute opposite of all of those things and when I’m in stress, fear, anxiety, frustration, yearning, shame…I am rarely any of them.

It can feel embarrassing to nakedly say you’re lonely, you want help, you’re trying to get better, you’re afraid that you won’t, you’re struggling with money and weight and absence of love.  But I think over time, not letting yourself look and see the wound of that is far more dangerous than any collective laughter or rejection or pity you might receive by allowing your mess to be lived on paper.  To have it be spoken and plotted on charts and recited back at you.

Oh, there’s the girl who’s trying to lose weight.  Okay.  There she is.  There’s the girl who is trying to get over her driving fears.  Alright.  I see her, blinking at us with her girl-like eyeballs.  That’s the girl who wouldn’t like to be a one-girl show the rest of her life.

Deep breath.

Yes.  That’s her.

….

It feels rather nice to be wearing the waders, to have exercised and to be getting ready to sort out my assigned chapter, to know that my body feels different because I’ve driven it to be that way.  That if I keep going, it will come with me. I’ve taken steps.  The momentum is on my side.

No real pithy end line is coming to mind.  No big tears today, I know I’m working on this for me.

Time to write!

But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way Anymore

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My new favorite thing to say is “But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.”

I want to say that all the time now.  About nearly everything.   I want it to be my new catchphrase.  Is the sky blue?  Yes….But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore.

Oh, we can’t go out for breakfast – we woke up too late and now life is blurry and I’m already exhausted.  True.  But it doesn’t have to be that way anymore! And it wasn’t! So now I am full of the Universal’s Cornbread Rancheros and

So, I’ve made a firm decision.

Tomorrow I am not starting a diet.  Everything says yes, gung ho, now, do it, 20 carbs, total comfort, 30 minutes on the bike, throw in a walk, strip all the sugar out of my meals, start doing yoga, start to the power of 20.  Because this is the window.

No.  I just am not going to play the three-weeks until my birthday game, then I throw myself on some chain restaurant food because I “deserve” it and then guiltily struggle through the next three months, have a another summer surge and then because of stress and life, spend fall and winter trying not to think about wasting time.  How many years has that happened?  Only every year since I became aware that dieting was a thing, more than that, “my thing” and high and low tides aside, it hasn’t worked out.  I am just one of the statistical masses.  Hate to say it, but it’s true.

So, it doesn’t have to be that way any more..

That’s kind of a relief.  I may, in fact, drink an Atkins shake.  I am going to do some cleaning and some (10 mins+) time on the bike. Try and suss out some vegetables to eat.  Drink some water, write it all down as best as I can recall.  But that’s it.  There is no carb limit.  There is no step counter (yet). I might check my weight for the first time in six months.  I might not.  There is no perfection. It’s just a start to get a few good habits comfortable enough to take root.  There is nothing to flub up.  No promises made.  I just want to be elsewise, so I’m doing other things.  Goals are distant guideposts.  My focus is in here, on me.  On writing and reading and showing up and building up capacities to be open and ask people into my life and keep progress I’ve made over the past two years rolling and growing into something easier for me to show.  Validation is okay.  Wanting to have someone talk to you about your life and choices and your struggles and absences and tell you they see you is not shameful.  I want to be able to do some work and get it packaged up and sent out into the world.   The greek chorus only knows what it knows.  What I know.

Also, princess stories, Kate Beaton, Miranda, hot bath, talk of bummer moon wars, the delights of Mark Hamill’s twitter account, Regina Spektor (as is required), and so freely not sad about a goddamn thing.