Soft Boiled Egg

Time enough to write today?
I think there must be.
I am feeling decent.  Sufficient.  Improved.  Supported.  Free.  Slightly masterful.  Lots of disparate concepts, but overall: good.
I got in early to help with a meeting where I did not need to help which I have decided means I can leave a bit earlier.  I paid my credit card bill.
I got requests to help from a few counterparts who really appreciated it and which I had time to focus intently upon because I am mildly without tasks, as I’ve mentioned.  One of whom always said hi to me in the hallways and I would smile back and it is only at this point that I realize what her name and department is.  Now, I hear she thinks I am great which is the thing that is said about someone who smiles at you when you pass in the hallway.  Apparently, they need help and they don’t have help.  And I can provide help and have oodles of time.  I am hopeful that in some way a few well-placed favors with a few people might save my skin around here.  That is the sense here, that in the end, like any society, it just works best if you go ahead and scratch someone’s back based solely on the tacit understanding that someone’s going to decide to scratch yours.  Eventually.  Work your nails down to the nubs and never tell anyone you’re feeling itchy.  Nobody wants a job, everyone will offer a favor, so scoot along little cowgirl and try and make friends.
Trying to make friends and not just endlessly curt and awkward circuitous conversations.  That’s the philosophy right now.  Just befriend everyone and say yes to the grunt work because, frankly, you can handle grunt work.  This higher-level tarantella everyone else seems to be able to accomplish in their high heels and pearls is not liable to be your dance.  Not ever, not after years upon years of knowledge being foisted upon you and experiences to teach you better than you know right now.  There will be no graceful flamenco.  You just try and do-si-do and promenade, do whatever the caller asks you do and hope no one pulls out the hook while you’re on stage.  I need to enjoy this time.  It is awkward to try and nose about, forage for the truffle of a task to keep me from seeming like I sit at my desk and write blog posts all day.  But somehow, I will end up in some spot that will demand more of me than this and I will look back and sigh that I didn’t keep it a secret so I could sit and spin on the company dime.
No.  That’s not in my blood.  The guilt, my friends, the unholy guilt of just trying to type this up before I go, oooh.   Still, the feeling of knowing the post is done is worth a twinge or two.  I like that I have that time.  Having the food there is so valuable, too.  So much easier just to let the refrigerator contain the wide expanse of possibilities and know that in just a few days, I’m going to restock and can make a whole fresh batch of choices so I don’t have to panic.  I can already tell that when I do have another meal out, it will be something that I look forward to, that will actually contain some element of celebration and achievement in it rather than an almost burdensome excess.  A demand to fill up on salt and fat and smile.  Quality vs. Quantity.
In the same vein, I’ve started making some lists – looking ahead to the holidays – realizing that if I can get a few stitches in now, how much more enjoyable it would be to have
If I can figure out who needs a gift, who needs a card, well, maybe I can print the addresses on labels, maybe I can draft a general Christmassy letter that people will be pleased to read, and I can actually take care of what I always want to – which is to make people feel joyful at Christmas.  I always run out of time, and in the past been embittered with the retail holiday gloom, but now, there’s a chance to both have the money and energy to be smiley and bake cookies and feel cheerful for more than just Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Of course, this does make me mildly irritated that J is too anxious about things to come and see me and eat turkey at my table.  This means I will have to be constantly pulled over those days to check in on him, mid-meal, even.  I will feel a compulsion to keep one foot in each world when I am so craving the silence of my own imagination, the quietude of being untethered to a computer desk, to making jokes with the family, to the congenial world that we make when we are all together at Thanksgiving.  A place he doesn’t know, and much as he would like to know it, it’s far too far a trip to consider.  It seems thus.  Not on a whim.  But this is well past a whim, past a favor, this is…the job.  The job of being together that neither of us wants to concede we’re employed at, despite finding ourselves clocking in and out everyday.
Eventually, I think I’m going to get stretched too far to come back together and I’ve never chosen this unknown world instead of my own mind to save me from being split.  Really, King Solomon’s never concerned himself with my heres and theres.  He is fine if I am bisected along my spine and useless everywhere they lug me.

In the taller grass

I am writing emails. I have one call to make to confirm something that I am hoping is not just an expectation I have, but is actually happening and a few I am waiting to receive, but otherwise, I am able to fully invest myself in the writing of this.  I have also spent a fair amount of time this morning trashing old emails.  Four gmail accounts that haven’t been spruced up in an age, and I’m just slowly clearing out junk.  That junk includes things from eight to ten years ago when I had made some strides and was talking to some people out there in the universe.
All of these people are now…more or less…lost to me.  I mean, I am friends with a couple on Facebook but we never speak.  In all cases, this is entirely my fault. Of particular note, there’s one who broke my heart and the other a friend I callously tossed aside out of some vile, repugnant perfectionism within myself that will one day require a reckoning.  He wrote to me then that I was someone who could read his impressions and know what they really mean. I have my moments, I realize, when I am deeply terrible.
But I note how solid was my view of self as a broken instrument at that point, how very different my desires were, the naivete that poured out of me. How much I longed to be open with people and how completely walled off I was. I am revisiting a world that has been shelved for a decade.   What it was to work at the office I worked at, to know the walls that I knew then. The minute someone was not the ideal, when they infringed slightly on what I expected them to do or be or say, out they went.  And now I am just left with ephemera we created together.
That I have progressed from that point does give me some hope for future days.  For this question of J and what it means.  It’s a big question.
It is a huge question.  What happens for us in the long-term supposing our eventual meetup goes well?  If the only manner in which we can exist permanently in one another’s spheres is for me to move there, well, no.  No.  I would find that really awful.  It’s the other side of the country, but it might as well be the other side of the world when it comes to my daily expectation of contact with family.  I would like to imagine myself having grown in ways that would allow it, but a visit is all I can muster any enthusiasm over.
Twas nice yesterday to come home to a fully-written post, to food in the house I was well equipped to cook and eat, twas nice to think about dollars saved.
Twas nice to be done with the bulk of the matter before my brain gave out which it has just at this moment.

Reify

I have no idea what it means.  Not the word, I know that one, just the newness around my life these days.  The thing that needs reification inside of my brain.  Where am I? What is my value-add? Why am I talking and thinking and being the way that I am?
I think lately I’ve been scaring myself.  Testing my memory and freaking out when I can’t remember, worrying about driving at night with bright lights, feeling flighty and panicky.  Stressing about stairs and heart attacks and bodies in motion rather than, as they ought be, in perpetual rest.
If I give myself this moment to contemplate, an opportunity I’ve experienced a certain dearth of these days, I can understand the paths that converge to bring me here.  The unresolved status I hold right now after the departure of my reason for being hired.  The unending eating out to salve and reassure myself that there’s money in the bank account and everything is okay because we can go to the burger place, the pizza place, the other burger place, the Mexican place, the Chinese place and on and on and on – to the point, the surfeit that I revisited the other day in my title, that I can’t even stomach it. At the end of September, I was just wasting food and burning cash. Ordering in meal after meal, despite not being much more than mildly hungry on any given occasion. Bringing home bag after bag, box after box. It almost was painful, but this compulsion remained because of the salutary idea of eating out that is affixed in my mind.  This sense of biochemical succor that overtakes me. Even now, the idea of a hot, prepared, aluminum-wrapped meal with all the accoutrements included in little plastic two tablespoon cups alongside it set in front of me has this magical, mirage-like appeal.  Like a smoker must contemplate a cigarette, I know it really would quell the yapping, roiling, confused sea inside me, even if the method requires a giant cannonball of heedlessly salted carbs.
But, for two and a half days, I have found some method of subduing this beast without having to get the deck wet.  Already, it’s Tuesday, yes.  The plan, thus far, is working. I have actual supplies on hand now so that I can circumvent the mental process of constantly interrogating myself for the answer to where do we want to go for food today?  It’s home.  Or I have it.  I don’t have to go strolling to the cafeteria for an inescapable Rice Krispie treat (or two) because I have to get something in my mouth so I am sustained.  I brought it and I can eat it and then this massive space opens up of…odd security.  I didn’t have to spend the money.  I didn’t have to go out in world and stumble about.  I can just do as I intended to do.
So it’s not low carb.  It’s not low fat.  It’s not really controlled portions.  It’s not dieting.  It’s just not letting myself go mad on guacamole and unprocessed stress.
And I have plenty of food set for the rest of the week – things I am interested and willing to eat and won’t throw over the plan for.  This is a good, good thing.  That I hope will lead to a sense of control again where I can plan out something legitimately healthy that I can stick to.
There’s just a lot of quiet here and not enough to do and it’s the nature of the calendar that it is logical for me to not be overburdened with tasks while everyone’s getting ready to head out on a business trip, so I can’t caterwaul and beg for activity and things to be thrown on my plate.  Might regret doing that anyway, but that’s the plan for when everyone is settled.  Today has just been a taste of what it’s like to be unoccupied. To find yourself deleting old emails, remembering ancient times, the importance of people who have since drifted into the background. To have fallow fields in your brain pan, an agenda absent of agenda items.  To float with achey muscles.  Maybe I’m getting sick.  I wonder if it isn’t just another layer of sabotage.  Can’t be distracted by a massive tray of tortilla chips, the brain has to rush ahead and think of things that might be broken .
Just give me some water, put me in bed, let me play, let me read, let me dream a bit.  Let me trace back the road to the Faithful Light, not to Mildred but to the child Mildred once was, to a crimson turning of the season.  To full-on autumn and not just a prelude to winter.

Surfeit, Revisited

October 1st.  A day of late in the year fresh starts.  I don’t know how fresh, but there’s at least some points in my favor to get me going.

I have determined not to become the Lich Queen.   It is really not worth the small bump up in power.

I have an eyebrow waxing appointment tomorrow.

I have ordered and picked up my groceries for a week – will try to stretch to 10 days – and am getting ready to start another load of laundry.  I am thinking that the time and money I am spending eating out, which culminated last week in a veritable frenzy of excess and over-caffeination, can be used for exercise, for clothes shopping, for reading, for stashing away to buy someone a ticket out here if we can just agree that should happen.

I’m not feeling very well, but, that’s only my fault.

I have a very fragile heart, but nobody is swinging baseball bats.

 

Goluptia

This is two weeks or so, maybe more, maybe less, of playing Wil E. Coyote, suspended in mid-air.
I don’t like the part of my brain that keeps clipping sentences.  That doesn’t want to sit and luxuriate in the possibilities of the white, blank page.  I don’t like the part that is mired in so many jutting, stuttered, action items that it can’t conceivably settle down and contemplate a wider world.
It feels safer just to not speak than to say something that might insist on being mentally accepted through the process of having said it.
Sure, I’m freaked out about the unknowable future.   The future that is reliant on me becoming more of this professional, be-yoked person with more of this tunnel-vision, more of this aggressively tight style of brainwork that I don’t like, that demands it else the bottom falls right out, but the future that presents me as a stronger person, a person who might have the strength of will to achieve some of the objectives that me, myself, and I have agonized over for millennia.
Essentially, they are keeping me on for now.  The for now of this for nowness is wildly fragile.  It’s ultralight glass.  I am to serve others, like some sort of chattel servant, until they find the next lord or lady where I may be installed as seneschal.  Or, deemed unworthy of service and shunted to the side, unceremoniously set out on my ear while some more polished and bold chambermaid takes over my duties.
A fellow from work was asking me about my future the other night at the party where we said the first of the long series of goodbyes to my current boss.  I said I didn’t honestly know.  He said, well, you should be fine, so long as you keep adding value.  And I nodded, lamely, subserviently, meekly, distractedly.  I nodded because what do you say to such an earnestly provided and frightfully mechanical statement as that?  Is my printing that email providing value?  Is my wiping down that white board value.  Yes.  On some level, it rolls up into the larger ability of the organization to function.  But the corporate speak, the sense of yourself as a unit, a cog, an ox at the mill, that’s so demoralizing.   Harder still to know how I once idly craved it.  Thought it would protect me from attempting to step out on my own as a writer, from walking against the storm. The storm comes with the fear and the fear comes with me.
But that’s not precisely right if we do care about the precision of language.  I am not a cog now, or I am not meant to be.  I am in the forefront of a lot of people who doubt me at the same instant they are required to trust me.  I am a name that is attached to other names, an engine of emails.  I warm a seat, but it is a well-known, important seat.
My boss hugged me at her party, after she’d had wine and there had been memorializing videos and technical difficulties on some of the videos and whispered “Thank you for everything.”   I said, “Thank you for everything.”  Meaning her basically not letting her doubt overtake her trust, at least so far as our short seven months together allowed.   Who will the next boss be?  What will they expect from me?  What will I provide them if my brain is half-hopeful that I can just write my way out of these places that I’ve always had to walk out of before.
So, one says, go follow thy passion, thy bliss.  Put your feet in the cold river, wander around in the dark, singing to the trees as you go.  Fear nothing, grasshopper girl,  Winter, as so many say, is coming. But winter only comes but once.
You’re supposed to have saved, one says, by 35, double what you’re making in salary.  That.  Will not happen.  That will not even be close.  We will be playing catch up to this benchmark until the end.  Greedy, fearful ants, burrowing in the heat of the lightless earth.
I say these things not to provide clarity of meaning, but to say…damn.
What a fretful, frightful time.

Two-Minute Conviction

I am in it for the titles, baby.  The titles and the glory.

If I didn’t have this impulse that I wanted you to read this, perhaps I would find myself breaking away at top speed to write about all the goings-on of now.  How we have leapt forward into some place new and how this means something I am nervous to decipher.

I won’t let you read it, though.  That’s a silly idea.  Not all the things I think are meant for direct transmission.

What a fumbling, stumbling, space I am in.  My equilibrium is gone.  We now have not only spoken, we’ve seen each other whilst speaking through the marvels of video-to-video simultaneous broadcast.  This has been a generally pleasing development.  But it drops a veil.  It raises a portcullis.  I am known in a way I cannot be unknown, not with him, or anyone.  We smiled, giddily, at each other.  I became, in some ways, a real person. At least for him.  He has always been realer than anything I am used to, but nevertheless, I imagine J. will not actually become a human being until I hold his hand for myself.

I am not complaining that this has happened. I am just mindful that these things – romantic connection, delight in another human soul, caring about someone’s well-being so deeply you shudder with the weight of it – things I have so pondered for so long and been drawn to since I were aware they existed in this wide and often heartless universe are happening.  They are unfurling their crimson sails and the ship is sailing where it is steered.  Straight into the mists where lie rocky shoals or else some far distant land of milk and honey or else just more waves and water until we all run out of food and look thirstily at the salt-sea that surrounds us.

And now, today, I feel softened and urgent and needful.  I put on makeup and set my hair just so in order to face this new reality of being visibly available, not just via voice.  I have let go of security blankets I have clung to for eons.   Negative and sour milk beliefs, deep sincere faith in my absence of worth, shackles of self-doubt to let this little engine that could, do have been poured out and run haphazardly down the gutters and gullies.  All away and not towards me. If I can be honest and analyze this choice that hardly felt like a choice at all when it was posed to me, this is a Tower crumbling to the ground.

This is a level of vulnerability that is profound, visceral, and truly, one I never reckoned I could find a way to evoke.  Now, regardless of what ends up happening in this relationship, this relationship I’m in, I’ve crossed this border.  I’ve set foot here and I can find my way back. Mildred has just been silent, face agog, as I have marched along without her towards a life that can’t allow for her to be in charge.

This is not in alignment with you today.  You want to not be solely these people who hit this pleasure button over and over again.  You want us to have conversations.  Be  edifying and surprising.  Give each other knowledge, tell each other about arenas and universes that are new, that we can be enlightened by, that we can be illuminated.

It is our remit and suddenly, he’s the raconteur with all the cards pre-filled with esoteric knowledge of grand cinematic or epicurean or psychological or miscellany and I hardly know how to take a breath.  The absence of an easy, pat answer frightens me.  I blank so hard I feel dictionaries crack against the front of my skull and break into individual letters.

I know about surrealism.  I know about gardening. Trillium, delphinium, rhubarb, nasturtium.  I know some French.  Je sais un peu de Francais.  Un petit peu.  I know about…the sound my dryer makes as it tumbles on a Sunday night.  I know about the route I take to work that snatches tires with its teeth.  I know about panic, hot air hanging where it shouldn’t in your chest and ballooning until you lift your mind out of position.  I know about feminism or the feminist lens as presented by academia ten years ago.  Cixous.  Rich.  Valerie Solanas.  A bit. I know about the red and the white, Emily Dickinson peering down through history at us.  I know about the sestina, the villanelle, the haiku, the heroic couplet.  I know about the saga and the fabliau.  I know about Wyf of Bathe.  I know about how to read a palm.  I know about David Eddings (only about Sparhawk and the Elenium and Sephrenia, and once I recall the spelling of her name).  I know about the river in the morning when you are the only one awake.  I know about riding with relative strangers through downtown Los Angeles in the middle of the night, falling asleep at four am.   Yet, he asks me for something interesting and I stutter.

I say. I don’t know.  I’m not the kind of person who can talk about things.

Which is such a baldfaced lie and yet it comes to hand so quickly I have to try and swallow the last of it back before I think I mean it.

I like listening to him think aloud.  I like drifting off under the melodic tones of his voice.  I like the trust that means I can luxuriate in his presence.

But there is more to me than that.  And more is needed to sustain us both.  A bore who doesn’t think for herself is a depressing self-definition.  What a grasping, anxious pit gets centered in my chest when I think about myself trying to be a lover who has no opinion but yes.  please.  okay.  Not one of being beautiful enough, but of smart enough and that is a shock to the system.  A piece I’ve taken for granted so long that suddenly my bluff has been called and I’m sweating.

How much has deserted me in this effort to keep myself away from the danger of being known?  How much has been paid to an internet with no vested interest in insuring my intellect is exercised?  How much of a quicksilver facility for fact and fiction has been mortgaged for a silence I did not want after the first day?

More than is fair.

Time to read up, fill this well, and let the awe of being changeable yet still, find the words that match its feeling.

The Body Is A Robot: Elsewhere

I am waiting on the stoop for a sunrise to appear.  I hardly know what to say these nights when I aim to be so occupied that the words in me dry up.  My thoughts are singular, not kaleidoscopic as the work demands.

Where does the need to write go when it goes, if it goes?

It goes in a scrap heap, with every other sort of faith and belief in intangible things.  Go to work, press the start button, buy the coffee even if no one particularly likes the coffee – it’s too bitter, type the emails, remember to check the mailbox, follow the steps, twitch and snort when out of view, taste the salted flesh preserved and simple, and constrain your metal heart.

If it goes, you go, really, with it to the scrap heap.  And the robot runs the work, while you nestle without pain into the witch jar of rusted nails and half-broken thumb tacks and sharp memories claimed to be forgotten.  You dream in the lemonade, you start floating around with the chili pepper, you burn and reformulate.

We do not say I love you afterwards, but it hardly matters when everything is kind and soft and urgent and sincere.  Sometimes I almost do, and I stop myself. We do not say the name so we do not conform with casings and shells and polymers and masks.  But we are somewhere while the body is the robot.  We are somewhere and we are there together.

I find it difficult to remember because I am trying so hard to recall everything about it.  Every breath and the way the voices sound as I make them, the one I lapse into without trying, this coquette, this flirt, this woman I never knew I knew so well.   I want to name her, this persona so casually undertaken, but already she feels like dream dust.  All of this feels like the sort of thing I would make up, with the bends in it to make it seem real even though it’s all a blue caravan trundling through the dark trees along the mountain pass.  Steady and not stopping, no matter your curiosity as to the nature of its contents.  It whirls in my head, that this is happening, and it’s heady like a drink first feels when the alcohol sets in.  It is chemicals, the scientists say, and I say, but the body is a robot. This is me and I am elsewhere.

Today has been marked down as Friday and perhaps the world will end soon.  Terrible things are happening – hate is just spilling out like so much acrid, poisonous sulfur bubbling up from caverns we had long held to be sealed.  So sealed as to be forgettable, paths forsworn, unnecessary for any travel reasonable souls would undertake.   Terrible things and as one of those things, we are given to watch from our robot eyes and these arms so new with such shoddy articulation that we have yet to finesse our grip.

Meanwhile, we are not there at all.