the more you know post # 234
List of Celebrity Women I Would Definitely Get With
-Tina Fey (she’s forty that’s fine she looks great!)
-Mila Kunis (but only if she spoke to me in Russian and let me brush her hair)
-Helena Bonham Carter
-Ellen (how could you possibly say no to Ellen)
-Sloan from Ferris Buellers’ Day Off
-all the Sloans
Personally I think I have great taste in women.
List of Celebrity Men I Would Definitely Get With
-Andy Rooney (awkward….)
-J. Safran Foer
-Samuel L. Jackson (just to see what it would be like)
-Darth Vader (for the same reason)
-Doctor Who (just to piss off all the people who actually watch that show)
-Joseph Gordon Levitt (but I would force him to wear a sweater at all times, even in the summer and while he was sleeping)
-the really attractive blue-eyed kid from Skins
-Neville Mutha’freakin Longbottom
-Leonardo Da Vinci
-None of the other Jacksons
-Johnny Rocket (for all the free merch)
-A young Eric Clapton
-Ben Folds (don’t freakin try to challenge me on this one)
-all the Beatles
-anyone who drives a Beatle
-beatles (the small brown bugs) (but only male celebrity ones, obviously)
-Beetle the Bard
I think my taste in men is slightly more questionable than my taste in women. The mooooore you know.
One in four women get sexually assaulted in their lifetime, Kim Jong-un has nukes, my fractions always sprout fractions. Anyone could slip you a roofie at any time.
Rollercoasters do break. If you are cruel to your future children, they will remember it for the rest of their lives. So let’s say the worst thing in the world happens. I’m not going to specify, because everyone’s worst thing in the world would be different and dependent on personal and circumstantial details. It’s probably whatever popped into your head first.
Your brain’s first google result: “the worst thing in the world.” How are you going to cope?
Your voice is sincere. Would you watch me on tv? I brought you peppermint bark. Maybe we can take a crisp midnight walk. Of course youre invited! You’re my favorite person.
Maybe all the world needs is a juicebox and a nap. We’re going to take over the stars and carry them back and harvest them. My lungs like air and so do I. So let’s say the worst thing in the world happens and you wake up anyway and good things continue to happen and you end up okay.
inexplicably, my hands are always covered in glitter
and my mouth always tastes like cinnamon
and my hands are always chilly.
somewhat inexplicably, my feet always feel like sunflowers
and my eyes sometimes turn to saucers
and my dreams sometimes feature dragonflies and rain indoors and snakes and lustful strangers
i’ve forgotten to water my venus fly trap
or put on mittens
or dry my hair
and i’ve definitely forgotten to command my feet back into feet instead of sunflowers
What’s the first birthday you have on memory? Did you have a party? Did you hide? Do you remember the colors of your childhood bedroom? Do you remember the taste of your tears? The first girl you ever liked, and what caught your eye, and did you know what was happening? And when did you first learn what death is? Where do babies come from? Do you have any recurring dreams? Do you like porcupines? When you eat goldfish do you ever pretend you’re a shark? What are you afraid of? When was the most you ever cried? Are your fantasies rooted near in the future or far? Where does your mind go right before you fall asleep? If given the choice of anyone in the world, whose arms would you fall asleep in? Do you like tea? Do you like treehouses? Would you rather live in a treehouse or a hobbit hole? Would you rather be the ocean or the sky? Would you rather be lonely or a monkey? You seem nice enough. I already got your Christmas present. But you’re not supposed to talk to me anymore.
getting to know all about you
My first encounter with rejection occurred at the tender age of five. My mother was going through a perplexing stage mother phase at the time, and made up her mind with absolute certainty that it was a wonderful idea to sign me up for “The King and I” auditions at a local professional theatre. Two hours and three a Capella verses of “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” later, I was sent home with the patronizing instructions to “bring sheet music next time” and the constructive criticism that I “didn’t look Asian enough.” For all these short lived diamond-studded-tiara-wearing attempts to propel her eldest child into stardom, my mom had not prepared me for this low blow. I don’t look Asian enough?! How could I possibly remedy that? Was there somehow a way to curtail my Irish heritage and shove it a few feet over, into the mediterranean sea? And who were these bozos to say I was not Asian enough anyway? Did that not count as racial profiling? I liked chicken chow mein as much as the next girl and I was more than prepared to learn mandarin. For days the heartbreak of rejection manifested itself in the form of multiple halfhearted attempts at acting more like my kimono-wearing rice-harvesting brethren on the other side of the pacific. I watched nothing but “Sagwa the Chinese Siamese Cat” and attempted to slurp ramen noodles out of a bowl whilst sitting cross legged on the floor. Eventually, it dawned on me that the proverbial asian rowboat had sailed. I was a blue eyed blond whose ancestors survived off potatos and dancing jigs. The King and I role had escaped me. This was a sobering realization, but eventually, I assume I got over it. I had forgotten about this entirely until this afternoon when I stumbled upon the sheet music to “Getting To Know You” inside my aunt’s piano bench and immediately realized that I remembered all the words. That is a strange feeling, remembering the words to a song you retired before you even knew how to add and subtract numbers. (which might not be the best example, because I’m pretty sure I didn’t have that mastered until second semester of sixth grade) It feels a little like hissing incantations over a brewing pot. Your mouth remembers showtunes that your brain does not. I heard about this guy who had a stroke while he was sleeping and woke up speaking fluent German. I have no idea how that relates, but I thought it was awesome. But anyway! All at once the memories of my heritage based rejection came flooding back like fishies in a koi pond, and I started thinking about how much cooler my life would be if I’d played one of the kids in King and I when I was five. First of all, I’d have a professional acting gig under my belt. There might have been talent scouts in the audience who would have scouted me out and given me a real time Disney channel series based off my life. Also, I’d have early childhood memories of interacting with professional actors, promo parties, and shrimp scampi. It’s at this time that it occurs to me that stewing in this type of rejection is probably a little bit unhealthy. Sometimes it’s best to let this one go. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just aren’t Asian enough. This is a difficult lesson that all children must learn at some point… Unless you are actually Asian. Lucky jerks.
At my funeral, I will request a nontraditional display of public indecency.
I want everyone to approach someone that they have always admired from afar, and mack on them. For a long time. It can even be during the service! It can be someone they used to or currently have a crush on, or someone they just find plain attractive. And since it is my dying wish, nobody had better have any qualms with it.
Obviously, it’s cruel to refuse someone their dying wish.
As this aforementioned macking occurs I will watch from above and eat cornchips and wear slippers and laugh at all the violence that ensues. And perhaps there will also be little specks and sparks of happiness that come out of it. Who knows.
a halloween appropriate dialysis
Some people, confident and profound people, make statements on the collective such as “everything is….”
For example, “everyone’s worst fear is being alone”, some might say. And other people would stroke their chins and furrow their brows and nod their heads and think, “it might well be true.”
But I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s true.
Because the thing is, some peoples’ worst fear really is spiders. And some people’s worst fear is being forgotten. Some is death, or pain, or love. Some people are afraid of sex. Singing on stage. Criticism, or malaria, or bones. And these fears change as we grow.
Some people aren’t afraid to be alone at all, and that’s what I keep telling myself. It makes things easier to stomach.
Some people are afraid of cats, or knives, or Jeffery Dahmer.
Not everyone cares about metaphysical obscurities, shadows of the paranormal, or being unloved or unnecessary.
One of my friends wins all of her races by shouting insults at herself. “Is that the fastest you can go, you lazy piece of shit!”
So some people are afraid of not bending their body to the fastest and brightest and strongest it can possibly be. These are the lightning bugs. The money-in-a-sock-drawer on a rainy day types.
The people who try to raise their children right and always make loose teeth and broken windows into learning experiences. Who tuck them into bed and carry their hearts outside their bodies, on the run and screaming and perfect. The children who realize one day that they’re no longer afraid of the dark.
I’m afraid I’m afraid I’ve lost my muchness. I’m afraid of being over afraid, getting neurotic as shit like Woody Allen, marrying my step daughter and causing public havoc.
Some people are afraid of runs in stockings. Or different ethnic foods. Or garlic. (Vampires, mostly.)
I suppose there are some that are big for everyone. The behind-closed-doors fears that you bottle up like cologne and take out when you need a sniff of something pungent from under your velvet outer covering. Under everyone is the distinct knowledge of how it feels to be hurt. We spend the rest of our time pretending that the knowledge does not exist.
For what? For magic? For something akin to power? For the velvet outerside to feel smoother and cleaner? To show up better in pictures? What are you afraid of? Is it bigger than a bread box? Would it register on film?
There is a fine line between a hipster and an old person, and I think I might have crossed it a while ago.
The tea, sweaters and Woody Allen movies are, I suppose, acceptable by hipster standards. But then there comes a time at which you can see no other possible lifestyle choices. Tea and sweaters ARE your life. You describe 92 pro FM as “the devils’ music” and you actually desire to be in bed by 9. You nap… constantly. You are delighted by pictures of cats, you call Walmart “The Wal Mart,” you don’t understand social networking and you jam out to Elvis because he reminds you of the good ol’ days.
Eventually you might start to have arthritic hips and your hands will constantly feel like they got frozen for a thousand years for scientific purposes, like Walt Disney’s body.
What will you do? You will read by a fire and then you will go out in public and boy scouts will help you cross the street. You will show random strangers the wallet sized photos of your grandchildren and indulge everyone in drawn out accounts of your strange, strange life.
Not too far from where we are now.
Also I am wearing fuzzy slippers.
They are so… fuzzy.
Here is a short list of things that will, occasionally, appear in your basement:
-small rodents (in which case you call pest control)
-water (if you are in your basement directly following a tropical storm, and aside from creating more problems for yourself, why would you be?)
-your friends and loved ones (if there is a tornado and none of them have basements)
-Wizard of Oz re-enactments (obviously, the first and last scenes only)
-old beer bottles, cans of soup, saw horses, discarded Britney Spears albums, the naked Ken dolls you violated as a child, crayons, pipes.
Note that nowhere in this list did I mention “fallen angels.” And yet, somehow, what did I find as I shuffled downstairs last Wednesday to locate a long-expired package of Tastee Delights molten lava cake? Well, my friends, I found Fred.
Fred was sitting in my basement clothed in nothing but his heavenly undergarments, allegedly doing a jig saw puzzle.
Naturally, I screamed.
"Oh. Hey. Sorry." he said.
"WHO ARE YOU? For heaven’s sake, put your clothes on!"
"Shit, I’m sorry….. But I can’t do anything for heaven’s sake. Heaven is kinda the reason I’m here in the first place."
I thought perhaps that he might be a drug-addled serial killer, or one of those door-to-door evangelicals.
It troubled me that I couldn’t decipher one from the other.
I wondered whether to call the police, take him down from his center of gravity like we learned in Bridge Club jiu jitsu, or offer him a cup of tea.
In spite of the fact that he was nakedly in my basement, he seemed like a very nice boy.
I compromised by clearing my throat.
"Who are you and why are you in my house?"
He stood up and bowed. He bowed.
"I’m Fred." he said. "I’m in your house ‘cuz apparently your basement is like the end to this… cosmic laundry chute. Been falling for a couple weeks."
"Falling? Are you…. are you some sort of an extreme athlete?"
"Nah," he said, "Although I snow boarded for a while! It was awesome! Uh, but this time I fell from heaven."
He gestured up knowingly. All I could see were ceiling panels, even when I squinted.
"Well that’s not very modest of you." I said.
"No, I’m serious! I was one of God’s main guys and then I kinda got the axe, so… I’m here now."
I studied him for a while but he didn’t appear to be lying. He looked me square in the eye and he had a very firm handshake. I trusted him.
"So, you fell from heaven and landed in my basement?"
"How did that feel?"
"Worst part was the landing. My ass kinda hurts." he admitted.
I said, “Why don’t you sit down.”
I got him situated and offered him ambrosia or nectar, but all he wanted was a coke. I imagine most angels would be snotty about beverages but Fred was politely content with his, even though I couldn’t find the festive umbrellas I usually stick inside my guests’ drinks.
"So, Fred, if you don’t mind me asking, why did our Holy Lord in his infinite wisdom, er, fire you?"
"I didn’t sit with him at lunch." he said.
"The Lord invited you to sit at his lunch table and you refused him?!”
"I was having a great conversation with Marilyn Monroe. We were really getting somewhere, you know? And then God has to be like, “eat lunch with me!” and i’m like, dude, okay, just one second, Marilyn and I are talking here. So then God gets all pissed, and he’s like, “you never sit with me, Fred!” and I go, “God, I sat with you yesterday, man!” and he’s like, “I swear to me, Fred,” and the next thing I know I’m falling at a million miles per hour through the sky.”
"That’s…. that’s fascinating."
"Man, it really sucks. Now I’ll never get the chance to hang out with Marilyn Monroe. And Picasso promised he’d teach me how to macrame soon. I was just getting my afterlife together and it just completely combusted!"
"Fred," I said, "It seems to me that you’re feeling sorry for yourself."
"Well, that’s not productive. You need to pick your head up!"
"You need to lift yourself up by the boot straps! God asked you very nicely if you’d sit with him at lunch and now you are suffering the consequences of your misstep. But Fred, I get the sense that you have a good head on your shoulders. I really think you can overcome this minor roadblock."
"You think so?" he asked hopefully.
I said, “I know so. Just one question first?”
"What is it?"
"Out of mere curiosity, what does God usually take for lunch?"
"Bean salads, usually. He’s a vegan. Thinks it’s weird to eat his own creations."
"But… he created beans too."
"Yeah, but he said that beans don’t have feelings and we all kinda took his Word for it."
Fred and I got on astoundingly well. We even had a morning pattern worked out. I got up at my normal time (5 AM) to go running, make a hearty breakfast and dress for work. I woke Fred at eight just before I left so he could get a head start on his day. He’d been applying for jobs like the dickens, the poor guy, so he was all tuckered out by the time he got home. He staggered to bed, his breath smelling like pungent frustration (he told me that frustration smells a lot like tequila, if you’re interested) and was usually pretty rowdy by the time he stumbled home. Sometimes he screamed racial slurs or urinated in bushes. His diligent work had him loopy with exhaustion, bless his soul.
Fred even helped me solve a tiny caper of my own. Of course, it was absurd that thirty dollars would just vanish from my sock drawer. I don’t know what I was thinking, panicking that way, but luckily I had the good sense to call him in for assistance. If Fred hadn’t pointed out that there probably hadn’t been money there in the first place, well I imagine I might have done something rash like call the police!
He once said, “Mrs. Mallard, I got a feeling I was sent to take care of you. Just leave all your credit card information to me, okay? Leave your social security information on the table and then maybe we can order a pizza.”
I nodded, too emotional to speak. God had truly banished the wrong angel. Surely Fred belonged in heaven.
What shocked me the most was how closed minded the Bridge Club ladies were toward the whole situation.
"Dolores, you cannot be serious," said Geraldine, my banker friend.
"I’m very serious!" I replied. "Fred is a nice young man and he’s been a load of help to me!"
"Dolores Mallard," Francine set her cards face up on the table. "I cannot believe you! You gullible goose. You’re just letting him cheat you!"
"He’s taking advantage of the fact that you’re a sweet older woman who lives alone!"
"You must call the police. My nephew had an intruder once and let me tell you, he took their entire sound system. Cable cords and everything!”
I looked to Daphne, my usual ally in any disagreement, but she was busy studying all of Francine’s cards.
"You cheater!" Francine screeched.
"Really Dolores," said Geraldine, "I think I’d better walk you home tonight and meet this troublemaker for myself."
As we traipsed home in the dusklight, Geraldine gave me her two cents. Geraldine’s two cents were worrisome. My faith in my own judgment began to… well, waver.
"You’re saying you leave him alone while you’re at work all day, and then thirty dollars miraculously goes missing from your drawer?"
"Yes, well, but."
"And he doesn’t come home ‘til after midnight, you said?"
"Most nights. But he’s trying to-"
"Find a job? What jobs interview IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING NIGHT?"
"I will swear like a sailor if I want to! He comes home DRUNK, not EXHAUSTED. COMPLETELY INEBRIATED. Face the reality, Dolores!"
Geraldine convinced me that it would be okay to dial the police right then and there. Even I had begun to feel dubious toward Fred and his whole down-on-his-luck-angel-in-my-basement schpeel.
When we arrived at my house, there was no sign of Fred.
But there was no sign of anything missing, either. The two of us scoured every hidden money spot in the house and it was all in its rightful place. In fact, I can’t be sure but I had a slight suspicion that most of the money had doubled.
There was a note on the fridge that said, “I apologized and God took me back! Thanks for letting me crash here, I’ll be watching out for you, man.”
And when we walked outside, a bush was on fire.
Be nice to the new girl. For me. For new girls everywhere. Be nice to the weird runty looking boy who has to crane his neck to peer up to your normal person height. Why? Because these people will appreciate it. Believe me. I’m the new girl.
It makes so much difference when you’re a new kid if someone goes out of their way to talk to you. It makes an otherwise preposterously overwhelming and emotionally exhausting day seem full of hope. When you don’t know anyone, the smallest friendliness lights you up like those glow in the dark sneakers. It’s like a battlefield victory over loneliness. Someone was incredibly nice, and seemed to actually care, and you can feel the quietness burning in your throat begin to melt away.
Say “hi” even if you’re the one who feels awkward about it, because chances are the other person feels what you feel one hundredfold.
It really does make someone’s life a lot more sunny. It might mean the difference between a small runty boy crying himself to sleep or not. Please, be kind. Little kids get lectures all the time about the dangers of bullying, but apatheticness can be just as harmful. Make sad looking people look happier. It doesn’t take much. Smile and swivel around and start a conversation. That’s all it takes. The will to speak to someone you don’t know all that well, a little faith that little things like friendliness go full circle.
Be the person someone remembers as the first light of salvation in a cliquey fishbowl world. You’ll heal a lot of broken hearts that way, and who knows? Maybe you’ll find a gem.
my first big break-up was with bay view. i think my heart broke a little. it probably seems cloying and melodramatic to say that anything but a person can break a heart, but a school broke mine. for months i couldn’t help but wake up aching, nauseous, cold.
bay view was the place where all my memories happened. it was where i grew from a chubby greasy-banged sixth grader with too big shoes and too big hopes and into myself. it’s so easy to get attached to a place without realizing. i’d fallen into snarky thoughts and solos and stress frenzies and afternoon dunkin walks alongside busy highways. in eighth grade we went to madame tussauds and posed with wax figures. in seventh we fell asleep to the sound of a dreary historian waxing ascetic. the lunch ladies knew us all by name and i was just getting used to that.
deep in the caverns of the theatre there lay a sort of never land teeming with frilly costumes and wooden stage walls that ached with sweat and asbestos and magic. for all the skirted rules and study halls and spring days spent lounging in rich, new grass i thanked bay view. even when its guileless lifebending rigidity drove me crazy, i loved it.
it was the kind of love you hold on to for somebody you’ve thrown up on and screamed at and cried with and been at once agitated and consoled by. the love you have for something you must begrudgingly admit is, even on its darkest days, a little bit magic. it had been the place where all my memories happened —and then it was gone. i was pulled out before tenth grade and suddenly i wasn’t welcome anymore. no more running barefoot through wood hallways, laughing, aching, exhausted. no more complaining about bay view. poof.
for weeks i slept with my kilt under my pillow. does this sound like something i’m making up? it’s not. it was the only thing that helped me sleep those first few days in public school — its coarse, familiar fabric.
i can always go visit but we’re estranged now, and i get snappy when i realize that i’ve missed it so much more than it’s missed me. or if it does miss me at all, it doesn’t show it. buildings never speak in hallways or windows. they don’t attempt to explain.
you were the second time my heart broke. you, the person. all the nice things about you turned sharp as thorns. your smell and the way you said “are you ok?” your corridors and windows closed off to me alone. like bay view you don’t seem to possess the words to explain why we lost each other in the end, from the first hiccup in the fabric to the sleeping-with-a-skirt-under-your-pillow phase. there was no formalized goodbye, only sleeplessness and that feeling you get, like panic and forgetting your lines.
i’ve learned from bay view that eventually it gets to hurting less. someday it boils to the slightest sensation that something’s off, and after that i’ve been told, it disappears. perhaps this is adulthood: the learning to cope with absences. living in absentia. we’ll be distanced and the heart will rev up again like the engine of a car that burned out in a snow storm. then there will be no desire to wander aimless through your auditoriums by moonlight, or to climb up on your stage and sing to test out your acoustics. i won’t remember your cold palms. the letters won’t bounce off your mouth in secret. there will come a day.
for now, my two lost loves, i am angrier and aliver than i’ve ever been, and i’ve spent a long time trying to figure out how this could be.
i need this, i think. i need to wake up tomorrow and go to a new school and learn to kindle an altogether new love for its inhabitants. i need to be strong, i think, for breakups past and future. my own and everyone else’s. for any person who has ever lost somebody crucial and beloved i’ll make tomorrow work. it’s hardly heroic. i’m a whiny, staunchly dramatic sixteen year old with adjustment issues and there are people in my town with no food to eat. but this type of strength is necessary to nearly everyone — the body forgives its bruises and moves on. i need to stop rambling. so, wish me luck.
My legs still hurt from rehearsal and my mouth still tastes like your mouth. Tonight my father told me that I don’t have grit in my soul. It was said like an explanation, not an insult, followed up with “I’m on your side.”
Maybe my soul is deficient in grit. Maybe grit would be studying on the nights I choose to read or write. Maybe it would be punching all the people I want to punch and saying to hell with restraint, I don’t know. Children who are born in slums always develop it so maybe it comes from feeling like you have to fight for everything you have. Survivors of mass genocides, or stray dogs, or stray dogs that survived mass genocides. Grit.
I got my soul cheap, lacking these essential parts.
My fingernails are sprouting fingernails. Exam week isn’t kind. That’s the other thing that bothers me about the grit comment, because I worked hard these past few weeks, you know? I rarely thought of anything else. I scribbled dates on flashcards and filled out packets, and rarely did I bend for the ever present “why?” It takes a lot for me not to question why I do things. In theatre it’s called “find your motivation.” Frequently I discover that I have none, but continue on my merry course anyway.
If I’m not gritty enough, then, it’s certainly not lack of effort. It’s not hereditary either, my family cranks out grades and commendations and acceptances. Is there something I didn’t do. Tell me what I didn’t do and I’ll do it.
Or else I’m focused elsewhere. I hate that about myself, actually. I wish I was Here more. I wish I was gritty like a tattered photograph, or the bedroom with the posters and the cigarette butts that you criticized.
The good news is that I never have to go back to Satan’s lavatory ever again. After my gym exam (gym exam? really?) I flew out into the rain and jumped into Francesca’s car and waved goodbye to the greenhouse, the madhouse, the shuffle of chains. The whole year felt like a dream that I wasn’t really living, and no matter what I did I could never wake up — not fully. I had no camera so nothing was captured, and no one there captured me. It might as well have all been a scrap of my mind’s cruel invention.
Is grit the capacity for waking up? Is grit paying attention when there are other worlds to contemplate?
Imagine if global shrinking was a hot political issue instead of global warming. Annually our planet decreased in size by half an inch. Gradually. Every year. So maybe by the year three billion, star crossed lovers on separate continents would be able to touch fingers. Maybe cities would be stacked together and everyone would be breathing down each others’ neck. Our planet wouldn’t go dark when the sun exploded. It would simply shrink and disappear into nothing at all.
Sometimes I would like to execute my own shrinking. Look around for a second at the sweaty faces playing doubles, shooting hoops. Spend a night next to the girl in Peru swatting away flies and insecurities, listening to the pitter patter of a familiar face in a faraway bed.
I bet you have lots of interesting thoughts. When I look at you I try to piece them together, and often I think I might have brushed one. Our eyes meet and it’s awkward or else I look away and trip. Over words, feet or flat ground. I can never sparkle for very long. Never when I need to.
So I’ll be gritty, and I’ll stop making wishes. Grit doesn’t wish, it moves. Like dancers don’t stop to think before launching their bodies in the air all graceful like.
I’ll be gritty and I’ll blow out all my wishes.
ten things about me
my great grandmother grew up in westport, ireland, but when the famine came her father boarded her all by herself on a ship with a hundred strangers. she came to a place where she knew hardly anyone and stayed with some cousins keeping house . she was my age then, never to see her parents or siblings again. no more of the stretch of green farmland with the little house, no more of the insignificant things she knew of home like a boy with a dimple or a favorite type of pie. in new york she was a grown up, and she was sixteen. soon enough she met my great grandfather. i don’t know what happened after that, not exactly. i suppose here is where her story blurs with a thousand others. they fell in love. they had a child. they started to pick up the vernacular: “feeling blue” and “easy as pie.”
that’s one thing about me, even if it isn’t. i would not be here if it weren’t for a sixteen year old girl on a ship, for a job sorting odds and ends, for a stretch of green farmland and a tiny small house and the sadness of saying goodbye. i wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for i love you, i love you too, and the lurch of the ship on choppy seas.
my great grandmother on my mother’s side was born with the name lucy. when she was one month old her mother died suddenly while bathing her in a tub, and her aunt jo took her in and raised her. she changed her name to elsa then, to honor the mother she’d never come to know. she grew up and had two girls and a granddaughter whom she loved to take to the circus and the boardwalk and the zoo and out for ice cream. elsa had a water bed in her house that the girl who would become my mom would jiggle around in, and every morning she would wake up with plans for new adventures. she went to college, as so few women her age did. she studied to teach physical education, but broke her ankle shortly before graduating. she married, too. a lovely composer named Jordan, the father of her two girls, tall and smart and sold his songs to the movies. he died far too young and aunt jo died too, and my mother was mad because her parents had to miss Parents Night at her school to go to her funeral. in third grade, it’s a big deal. in third grade, you’re not thinking about your grandmother like a real person, and how the next fifty years will be spent alone.
but i know she was anything from alone, because she was so loved. she had boyfriends into her nineties, joe and john and mack from the retirement home who showed her records and pictures and indulged her sweet tooth. she lived til she was ninety eight — that’s up til two years ago. when she died my mother cried for days as she struggled to string the pieces back together of a grandmother and a life and a world overwrought with love and sorrow. i remember she smiled as she told me how every birthday, oma would send her cake in the mail alongside boxes of frosting and paper knives so that nothing would squish on the way.
that’s another thing about me. i wouldn’t be alive if someone hadn’t died scrubbing a baby in the tub, the sore spot in the heart of a girl growing up without a mother, for a water bed that jiggled and a funeral and the broken ankle that prevented a whole career. if it weren’t for “i love you” and “i love you too” and sacrifice and whispered conversations floating nameless under the reservoir of me. death which meant you couldn’t dream for weeks, and hot dogs and tapestries and a world in constant flux.
i would like to be sent cake in the mail and i’d like to have known all these people when they were young — sixteen years old on a boat to a new world, three months old and orphaned, barely formed, barely real. i’d like to send someone cake too, buy a water bed and care for a child. i know some day i’d love to be a mother. to care for a bratty little squishy varmint thing that screams in public and can’t control it’s bowel movements and i’d love to love it to pieces. to be covered in puke and rice cereal and to grow wrinkles on my face and marks from saying “No no no!” numb from hardly ever sleeping, brainless from tedium and toys all over the floor. i would like to know how to install VCRs and pay taxes and i would like to continue the tradition of bravery and kindness; to be the reason some kid on her bike, decades down the line, is alive.
so that’s a third thing about me, but i’ve told you so much it might as well be ten. maybe it’s the only other thing that’s important. i’ll be someone’s faded picture in a hatbox, but lord i’ll be smiling. and when the morning comes, and in gardens full of flowers, and in the eves of “i love you” “i love you too”s and in “can i ask you a favor?” and “can i tell you a secret?” i’ll be older and fatter and tired and aching and smiling.
i feel like a fish in a toilet bowl
i was in full bloom a day ago, but secrets and polite reciprocation have made me cold and withery. i always worry that people don’t reciprocate feelings. feelings like best friends and impressions of conversations like good and nice and engaging. my nails are chipping and there are so many things no one’s told me. sheisty mishaps and misadventures. i don’t care. you can have your mishaps if you want them. keep them gift-wrapped, but not secret. i am skating to periphery, fading from a connected friend to the type that freezes on face value and never gets invited to things because she’s young and impressionable and principled. i have some great people in my life who are infinitely less susceptible to stupid shit. i’ll try to keep them so i don’t cry.
i get up in the morning and get dressed and put on makeup and become increasingly confused as the day wears on. like a fish in a toilet bowl, and it’s inconsiderate to wait for somebody else to fish you out.
listen, i’m not judgmental. i’m not. you can find boundless flaws like odorous feet and a mind that wanders off, selfishness and a tendency for distraction and an inability to keep things inside but holy hell i am not judgmental. that’s one thing i like about myself.
we take ourselves so seriously. we’re all just kids. it’s easy to say “you’re being immature” but maturity is not the goal of life. all through childhood they call you immature, and all through adulthood they pine for their missing inner child. life is fun when you feel like a child, in all the right ways, with the right people. when you can talk about total crap and not feel like you’re being judged. i get disgusted with friends, but i never judge people i barely know. lately, that seems to apply to almost everyone.
an emptying of my brain
not jump his bones - no… i heard someone say that once and it made me think of graveyards and people who are sexually attracted to dead people and perform weird acts on corpses to indulge their freaky fetishes. there is something so inhuman about jumping on a pile of bones, something both impersonal and fatalistic. it’s lacking in heart, and it does no justice to the soul of the instinct. i don’t pretend to know all about everything, especially things like instinct and desire, but i will say that if there wasn’t something whole and filling in it, like campbells, like waking up in warm socks on a rainy night, i doubt anyone would bother falling in love. it tangles you, it complicates your life. it lies awake with you at night, stares with you at ceilings and carries you over gusts of sleep. i read somewhere that people in love dream the vividest dreams — this is scientifically proven. i don’t think i’ve ever been in love but my dreams are vivid as it is. i don’t think we would jump into flaming cities in our selves and piles of rubble, screw with our serenity like superman just to jump on bones.
when you’re young you sing songs with the radio and listen to delilah’s romantic dedications through the static. with your forehead pressed up to the car window, streetlights whizzing and smearing by, you hear things like
"I just want to dedicate this song to boveric, the love of my life."
"and how long have you and boveric known each other?"
"twelve hours. and they’ve been the best twelve hours, and baby i would move mountains for you, and-"
(cue intro to mariah carey’s “you’ll always be my baby.)
and you giggle a little bit because twelve hours is 24 half hours which means that you could watch 24 episodes of rugrats in the span of their entire relationship. but something leaves an imprint, because you wonder for the first time not where your life is leading to, but who. that screws with your serenity. it makes you expectant, and these things have such little staying power when they do start happening — a fragile connection with another human being, the flashes of seeing things pass through them from your vantage point — like a glass bottom boat.
i worry that we talk about things too much and start to trivialize them. what is love? maybe someone tried to explain it to you once and they did the best they could, drawing on memories of times they felt loved, and trying to simplify it for your childlike ears. the sounds hit your eardrums like kaBOOM and became a part of you. but all they were, all they could ever be, are words, hollow structural stones inadequately suited to explain such an elusive and possibly incomprehensible thing. we think we know feelings, these abstract concepts like connection and heartache. but really all we know are words, and sometimes i worry that words aren’t enough. if jumping bones are all there is, and if all we have of love are ghost like shreds of pseudo understanding born into our collective unconscious by pure ritual.
but that can’t be all there is right? because there are millions of intelligent people on our planet and in our planet’s history, and millions of intelligent people have been in love. it can’t be like landing on the moon in your space suit, looking around and thinking is that all there is? cratered and empty and made out of rocks.
no. something about it exhilerates, and whether that something is sophisticated human understanding or primitive survival instinct hardly matters at all.
in the sky, almost every star has another star they cling onto and orbit the sky with. often, these binary stars are so close together they appear to the naked eye as one. maybe that’s what we should be like, binary stars. to die in a flash of light, brighter and warmer than we began. but then again, that might be total crap.
i mean, people are unlike stars in that they are singular entities with free will and are not gaseous orbs (hopefully). so when you think about it that way, it’s kind of preposterous to view love as the combination of two souls. your soul should be yours and totally free.
you know what’s weird? the different connotations of the words “heart” and “soul.” because, when you think about the way we use them, what’s really the difference? true, in clinical terms the heart is a four chambered organ and the soul resides… where? in the soul hole? on the bottoms of our feet? i don’t know. but when we say I Sold My Soul To my theatre teacher, we mean we’re turning into a slave or an automaton. and when we say i gave you my heart, we mean we did something that is seen not only as acceptable but celebrated — the highest possible function of the singular person. so what i want to know is what makes giving of your heart different than giving of your soul? they both mean losing a piece of your essential self, only one is Okay, so why?
maybe i’m overthinking this, in fact i’m pretty positive i am, but who’s to say i can’t devote my life to the science of not falling in love? i could spend it as the experimental factor in a world of cupid-struck constants, reading and loading up my netflix queue and doing tai-chi. true i won’t be repopulating the species but population overflow is already a rampant problem, so that’s only a minor con.
no in fact, i could be christopher columbus of solitude — keeping both my heart and soul for myself, out of greed and spite for our nation of lovethirsty gizzards. only in all likelihood, that would suck in practice. we need to share things and i go crazy without someone to listen to me rambling.
i’ve always thought of people in love as the most boring types of people. for one thing, all they talk about is The One, they seem not to think about anything else, and they’re so satiated like puppies on sedatives. happiness is great and all, don’t get me wrong, and i think everyone deserves it — even spandex clad jogging tyrants and premiscuous politicians who look like newts. but i don’t think i could ever accept that kind of dull contentment. i’m a writer, i crave disaster. and when there are none in my immediate path, i seem to create them.
so basically what i’m saying is not that i’m incapable of ever loving, just that i’m really sort of scared of it at a distance, and also that i could potentially fall in love with you. because when i talk into your shirt i stop thinking about all this stuff and i remember to breathe.