n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Monday, February 21, 2011

favorite mispellering, procrastination, sickies

....eyes have a magnanimity to cameras...
It's small, but it made me happy.

1. I hate being sick.

1b. It is yucky and annoying.
1b. Plus it seems to eat the weekends away.

1c. And this one was a larger one to eat away.

1d. Which pisses me off even more.

2. The thing about ending your dating relationship with your local best friend is that you discover you have few local best friends to lean on.

2b. Maybe just one.

3. Nobody to bring you tea, or call and ask how you are.

4. And she's only in the right to tell you she's too busy.

5. And so you have to do your work.

6. But you still feel fevery, coughy and bleary.

7. So it's even less fun than it could be otherwise.

8. And when your closest non-local best friend calls, you feel impatient and cranky.

8b. You worry about this becoming the norm.

9. And then you keep reading about the GOP cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, and NPR, and PBS.

9b. And trying to redefine rape.

9c. So they can force rape victims to bear their rapists' children.

9d. Who would now have no healthcare, Sesame Street, or food programs at school to help nourish them.

10. Which makes you want to destroy things.

11. Which makes you even more fevery, coughy and bleary.

12. So you remind yourself you ordered seeds. Lots and lots of seeds.

13. And they should be coming soon.

14. So should spring.

15. And you're going to take a trip this summer.

16. With your dog.

17. And your computer.

18. And so you shouldn't be cranky about working.

19. Or worried about your perpetual inability to form a nurturing and sustained romantic relationship.

19b. Or upset that your friendships with your closest best friends are strained or shifting.

19c. Or furious at the idiots who are given power in this country.

19d. Or down on yourself for not writing enough.

19e. Or guilty for not having walked your dog this week.

19f. Or guilty for not having spent enough time on your students' work.

20. Plus the cold is going to go away sooner rather than later.

21. And the current GOP will rot in hell.

21b. As will their legislation.

22. And you'll finish all the work just in the nick of time.

23. And one day write marvelous and impressive things.

24. So all is fine, really.

24b. Or at least that's the moral I'm sticking to.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's hard to know when to answer the phone

I always think about not answering, but sometimes curiosity or guilt is enough to counteract my instinct towards self-preservation. This instance, I thought very quickly: why not? It's valentines day and I might be soon visiting, plus I am sad about my own love failures...

In this instance, my friend was dismal and muted, having fallen off her bike, having lost her love, having lost her sanity, having lost her assurance, having lost her sense of what she might say. It is very dismal, the conversation. It makes me wonder again why people bother having conversations.

"I think," I tell my mom, "I will stab my earballs out if I have to hear one more time about Marian."

Medium-sized pause.

"Paybacks are hell, aren't they?" I add.

"Yes, I think they are," she says, articulated and punctured at the ends of each corner of the font.

I swear to god... no, I don't really. But then again, I do.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

not even..., part II

When they operated on the wrong hip in Anchorage, I visited you in the Seattle Children’s Hospital, which I had to get my father and his student lover to agree to, which meant I rode in the back of a farm-used white Mazda pickup with a bouquets of flowers and my irritated sister, and I didn’t mind that you were so drugged up you didn’t even remember I was there. After I moved two thousand miles, I would be willing to call you, and after you moved one thousand miles in the middle of our freshman years of college, I would be willing to call you. To ask your mother, to ask the phone machine, to ask your Bernese Mountain Dog with her calico answers, and your sister who hated mathematics and dirty dishes more anything else in the world, and wasn’t she an example of how sexuality is no result of gender characteristics? Even if it took you a year to tell me, the blood you dreamt dripping off your bed, your roommate Yolanta’s bed and the blood that explored the channeled corners of your body, and the ghosts that reappeared. I’d send you pine cones on April Fools and because of your fear of pine cones, and sending you something like a pine cone on your birthday is better than admitting I am a lesbian, and I miss you so badly I pound cockroaches into my carpet and find cul-de-sacs with my 1970’s Oldsmobile and think of the shrimp gathered within bridge nets, cast like water rainbows out upon the oil-glistened waters.

I spend the year away from you gathering recycled materials and returning them in exchange for donuts; I spent the year exploring the state-of-the-art landfill they had upon the border of Alabama and Florida, where I remember a white lily growing in the ditch they called reclamation and all the garbage floating along a conveyor belt they said was ninety-five percent efficient in excavating the donuts I bought along the toll bridges to the white sands that were ninety-five percent warmer than Alaska and the only place I could find where I didn’t feel like a vacuum for the refuge gathered and recycled along ditches made of gravel and lonely flowers; I spend the year being a child.

I held your child. He was so beautiful, and I always felt I did the best I could to hear. Then I tried to get your lover like me, and when you stopped responding to my letters and phone calls, I tried to blame it on myself but then social networking and your acknowledged friendship with the girl who plagiarized a poem in seventh grade, which you were the one to tell me about, which had once made me feel okay again—because she was the one who told the boys at the party turn away from me and say ewwww, and I was just again the outsider, never not in love enough, never normal, even though I knew you too were something different, someone I always thought adult, and maybe I thought adulthood could wipe it all away and turn her plagiarism and also my strangeness silent like the way adult words even out, sound just real enough, and maybe everybody would be worth reaching back for—turned out to be overly educational, like your mother, like your reading list, like the brewers yeast you sprinkled over popcorn, even when we were in sixth grade and trying to flirt at the movie theater. I remember how you played the violin, the resin you rubbed and rubbed against the strings, and the way you pulled and rotated your knuckles for mobility. And how you never once let me hear you play.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

even the non break-ups, part I

You were ageless and spoke to me as I pottied on the first toilet. Let them call you complex, let them call you ageless with your name God's Son. To me, you were very much like me, only "up there." Things between us were philosophical, complex. I told you about my forts and the irritation brought down upon me by my sister. Then I told you about the neighbor boy who locked me in his shed and wouldn't let me out until I touched his and his eight-year-old brother's penis. You were enraged. Actually, you were silent, but I took that for silent rage. When we moved, you disappeared. So quietly I didn't notice.

Your grandfather insisted I call him grandfather after he drove you to school on his motorcycle, slid in the mud of the school's driveway, turned both of you under his machine, right in front of us, we watched the whole thing. So we picked you up. "I'm your grandpa," he said. And that's what I called him as he and 'grandma' arranged macaroni & cheese on silver TV platters during the nights I visited. From watching Footloose in your one bedroom mobile home, I sensed things were more complex, but we still managed to kick off one shoe in the middle of the night, under the black sky, in between your house and grandpa's house, right in the middle of nowhere. And I always loved grandpa and his tractor, how he lifted us high in the claw as he slowly churned us down the muddy driveway, after he let me ride on the back of his motorcycle for a few minutes, making me promise I wouldn't remember, but I did, but I never said. I always wanted you to have a farm, with an apple tree and fields that stretched out past our school with its driveway and apple tree.

We fought over who lost their parents more thoroughly. You won, in that your dad disappeared and Greg + Tori grouped their desks next to you, and together you all sought out the school counselor to deal with my awkwardness. He facilitated, for sure, what with his what-do-you-think's and is-that-what-everyone-believes-about-this's, but I was given a white rabbit's foot with beads rooted to their leather-magic frame by the teacher's aide who took me on a tour of her campus and then a powwow. Plus a new dog. And life temporarily seemed more than love, more than loss or divorce or my mother's operation to never again have another child. So I lost concern for you.

You had a picture of Tom Selleck on the inside of your bedroom door, and I asked you if maybe he was too old, and you said he was hot beyond all that. We were eleven and thirteen and you told me about sex with your brother (step-brother, you amended) and your mother was an old withered blonde who didn't seem to fit your story, and I worried, and when you smoked I grabbed the cigarette from your fingers and ripped it away, snuffed it out beneath my toes. When I later smoked, I thought of you, the way you walked next to me, carrying the boom-box, Salt N' Peppa loud right down the middle of the Alaska gravel road lined by spruce trees we ignored. Then you ignored me during the school year after telling me about being adopted and sex with your brother and dad, and later you got pregnant after you moved to Seattle, and I still thought of you whenever I heard music that made sense in spite of the setting, specifically in spite of the setting. You were the first woman I longed for. The first I longed to save, too.

You played video games with me in your basement, and sat contra me on the teeter-totters. Approximately 29 days younger, we were sacrilege... you grade school, me junior high, you special ed, me - a smart shadow borrowing books from the 400lb-ish diabetic reading teacher who loved me because I loved stories more than I could maintain a cruelty towards her, or others -- barely distracted, but still distracted, we had a real truce. You were still a boy and we went to the movies together to grow like the sponge-capsule dinosaurs that become more than a factory product, supposedly, when introduced to water. I have to admit, I mostly liked fishing for dolly vardens with you, near the coastie gates, trucking down the rivers, boots too large for both of us, both of us intent. Later, we played water shadows and you rubbed my cheekbones and told me you cared. I loved you but didn't ever get too close to believing.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

1st person multiple

1st Person MultipleI had a moment of pause last weekend when I got totally furious at NM as I drove her through a horrible rainy Seattle while she cried and moaned over her former g-friend. Let's just say I hate driving, I despise driving in Seattle, and I loathe driving in Seattle in the rain with a whining and weeping friend who can't seem to hit the reboot button in order to enjoy the few minutes she has left with her friend before I have to drive a friggin two hours to get home, where I will have to slog super-hard because I took two days off to come and be with my friend. I was so bloody angry, and I realize that part of it (most of it) was the driving... NM knows I hate driving, and I've asked her not to make me do it, but she's such a god-awful driver that I won't risk letting her drive. But that wasn't all of it.

Anyhow, we were heading to her home after a nice morning and she pulled a prototypical NM which is to misdirect me while saying she "knows her way around just perfectly." So there we were, stuck going the long circuitous route, up and down hills, and I asked her to try to avoid any of the super-steep hills because my car almost can't make them in 1st gear, but then she took me up a super-steep hill to near the top where we were stopped by the traffic light on a slope, my tires spinning when we started up again, and then more winding, more rain. And all the while she's going on about how crappy her life is, how she's doomed, how she'll never have another relationship, how she can't understand how someone who says they loved her could be so cruel, could abandon her so easily, how it was only three months, how it wasn't even that bad, how she hadn't even tried, how etc etc etc.

And all I could think was that I never liked her girlfriend in the first place. That she was a dullard, and insecure, and slightly condescending... though certainly cute. That when I was talking to M on the phone during the crisis, everything was all about her. That I had to deal with two freaking-out people on the phone, all the time. That she tried to control the situation and when I tried to encourage her to wait a bit, she lied to me. Mostly just that I didn't think this woman was worth all the whinging and grief. And on top of that, there was something almost insulting about the fact that N was grieving her so intensely that she couldn't step back from her own woes to appreciate the effort and will and love her friends give her. That she couldn't breathe through it for a few seconds so that I could have a nice time, having gone out of my way for her ALL weekend.

All of this was compounded by the fact that we had stayed the previous night with her other friend, who had just been left by a prick who mooched free rent off her for 1.5 years, then jetted when she asked that he begin pitching in a modest amount. Sounds like a real winner, right? Well, N's friend was seriously grieving his loss, near tears and deeply sad. Every other word out her mouth was his name. M this and M that. And all I could think is why are two beautiful, smart, interesting, adventurous, creative women wasting even a minute grieving their asshole ex's?

Starting to ring any bells? 'Cause it was for me, let me tell you.

Chinese New Year - SeattleLet me also take a break to talk about how we went downtown to Chinatown and watched the celebration for the new year (of the rabbit). We took the metro, which was instantly enough to put me in a good mood.

(I was surprisingly cheerful all weekend until the car incident... even though N lost her wallet and we had spent at least three hours tracing her steps, re-unorganizing her room which we had spent an hour organizing (me folding clothes!), and making phone calls. It was kinda funny because N had borrowed $20 from me the previous visit and was hell-bent on not only paying me back, but also taking me out as a thank-you... so we went to Indian food, which is where N realized she had lost her wallet. So I had to pay. Heh.)

Anyhow, good mood, rainy day, metro. We got down there and watched kids doing martial arts in the square, and then drummers, then the dragon dance and ceremony: Two dragons, one from the previous year (black) and one for the current year (white), going around blessing each place of business in Chinatown.

The ritual involved stringing up a ball of lettuce from the doorway of the business, and opposite it in the stairwell a chain of firecrackers. Then the dragons run into the building, go around to the various rooms, backing out through the doorway as they leave. Then they rove around to all the children, who feed them dollar bills. And after that, they leave, backing out the main door. At this point, the white dragon goes over and grabs the lettuce, chews it a little, then tosses it to the other dragon, who chews it a little and tosses it back. They do this -- shreds flying everywhere -- until the lettuce is fully 'eaten' (all over the sidewalk).

Chinese New Year - Seattle
Chinese New Year - Seattle
Chinese New Year - Seattle
Chinese New Year - Seattle

Then they light the firecrackers:
Chinese New Year - SeattleChinese New Year - SeattleChinese New Year - Seattle

After the crackers finish, the dragons move on to the next place of business. I had the pleasure of watching it once from the outside, and once from the inside of a restaurant, where I was eating a dish called Buddha's Pleasure -- a very mushroomy concoction I liked quite a bit, but had N convinced she was eating tripe.

We met N's friend's friend there. And friends of N's friend's friend. A beautiful radio announcer -- for a political NPR type show -- who I found fascinating actually. N told me she was French Indonesian, and she had these incredible eyes that reminded me a bit of a friend I used to have at the Bville U... blueish green with flecks, or something like that. She was in a wheelchair, which, I think, she must've been in since a child; I thought polio maybe.

Chinese New Year - SeattleAnyhow, this woman, R, had a son who was also part Native American, with long black hair and black eyes. He jibber-jabbered the whole time and was a strange collection of darkness and light, having clearly come from a ghetto where violence must've been a main way of communicating. He kept trying to get me to pretend to stab or shoot him, so he could show me what he would do... which was pull a stoic face with lowered lids and try to stare me down. Yet the other half of what he said were blurbs and bits from books, tv shows, films, radio. I wonder what kind of man he'll become.

As for his mother, R too was an interesting combination. Lovely smile and highly conscious of the world around her. I thought her dissembling for a while, but actually I think maybe she has a way of looking at the world straight, but through the corners of her eyes, if that makes any sense. R was interested in me, and I think we shared a connection of some kind... intellectual, certainly, but maybe poetic? Hard to put a finger on that kind of thing sometimes. We talked about this and that, and she said she would look me up if she made it up to Bville.

Chinese New Year - SeattleSo on back to N and her friend, their grief... it really made me wonder about a lot.

For starters, I wondered if I had been that god-awful during the two years post-E that I mourned not just her, but the loss of friends and faith in the academic world, in writing, in love. I remember being miserable, but I also remember trying to hide it around other people, trying to suck in some deep breathes and act as if everything was okay. Thinking that maybe if I pretended for long enough that it was okay, that it would be okay.

And then after the two years, I remember giving myself permission just to let it all hang out... thinking that maybe pressing it back down was part of the problem... and I think it turned out better then. At least I finally started opening myself to nurturing friendships.

But in retrospect, what the hell was I thinking with E? Why did it hit me so damn hard?

On the other hand, it also makes me question my reading of everything. See... the deal is that N really did traumatize her former g-friend, and it was her actions that destroyed the relationship. No matter how much she tries to spin it in her mind, she did some horrible horrible things that will certainly never be gone from her former g-friend's mind. Even if her ex figures out how to forgive and act like a decent human being, there will be no going back and getting rid of the violence that N did. And yet, N didn't do any of it with intention. She was sick, hallucinating, wasting away, and completely out of her mind. This too was caused by events outside of her control.

But was her ex supposed to be willing to pay for the actions of others? Is that what love is? And if she was willing to take that beating, what is the responsibility of N now that she is recovering? She keeps talking about owning up to her actions, but 'owning up' to her means saying she did it, but it wasn't really her. Anyhow... it reminds me of things. Of questions I had back in the day. I kept hearing how 'fucked up' the girl who broke my heart was, but ultimately I ended up with too many questions about how long I was supposed to accept that reason and understand, about how I was supposed to side-step the agency taken, about whether need ever becomes love if one waits long enough and tries hard enough... which it didn't.

And looking at N, as an outsider, as a friend, I just say: fuck-it. Her ex is being a bitch and being purposely cruel. I get why she does this, and I suspect that N has her moments as well, but N has to has to has to take care of herself, and spending days weeping and having nightmares again and getting panic attacks is no good indicator of recovery. And this is what happens every time she tries to re-connect with her ex in some loving way.

Anyhow. Mental note.

Another mental note issue I'm having is that N is asking to borrow money again. This time, she really needs it... without it, she cannot get her PhD. But I feel like when she has money she spends it willy-nilly, and I'm a saver, so now I'm supposed to help her out again when she should have been frugal in the first place. I would just straight up say no, but she's worked so daaaamn friggin hard for her degree, and has been set back by disease. So I said if she set up a clear budget and a reasonable plan (not just 'starving to death' until it's paid back), I would think about it. But I'm praying something else happens. How do I get myself into these messes?

Other than that...

Chinese New Year - SeattleTeaching creative writing is going well! I find it exhausting though, for several reasons. For starters, the classes are three hours long, twice a week, which is a really long time to maintain the creative juices. I will have to try letting out early from time to time. The other is that I'm having to prep everything from scratch. The picture at the top of this post (with the two radar camera eyes) is one of the ten I put together to talk about Point of View. I did a Powerpoint (laughing here). Forty-five slides of each different point of view, a picture illustration, advantages and disadvantages, example, and exercise. It took up the whole three hours, but dang... tiring to put together. I was pleased though; I had the students tell a myth, fairy tale, or fable from a bunch of different perspectives.

But it took me such a long time to put together that now I'm backed up on commenting and grading. So that's what I'm supposed to do today after I finish this and take my dog on a walk on this beautiful but cold winter day.

The perks of teaching creative writing are getting to talk about some of my favorite pieces of literature, exploring and re-enforcing my own knowledge, generating exercises that are good for me too, and helping others see writing as I think it should be seen - a mode of exploration, expression, and interaction, and not a race to the finish.

I nevertheless feel like I'm still racing... and that I'm far, far back on the track... huffing and puffing with a stitch in my side keeping me from still going. But I'm coming to a realization. I will always be a writer, and I will always write, but maybe I won't precisely be a successful writer. Maybe I just need to shut down the studio, get a career, and keep on writing without the pressure to be a success at it. Then maybe success will happen one day, and maybe it won't, but at least I won't have my identity and ego invested in it. Anyhow, I'm almost there, but not quite.

Chinese New Year - SeattleMy mother is in the hospital today (and yesterday), coming home tomorrow. She had knee replacement surgery, which seems to have gone well. I stopped by yesterday with flowers/chocolate/smoothie and she was fuzzy and lightly awake. I'll visit her later tonight after walk/commenting/writing group. Strange to have her in the hospital. I had flashbacks to N when I went into her room. I think that hospital in AZ will always be firmly etched onto my mind.

Writing group tonight.

And last-like, SP and I are having struggles. It always seems like we are having struggles. Damn frustrating, truthfully; I don't think two more opposite personalities ever existed on earth. Or maybe we become opposites. That's a question I've always had about relationships - do people become different so you don't have too much of the same energy in the same room? But why then do lesbians in a relationship so often end up resembling each other? (Is that just me?) But the main problem seems to be that SP wants more from me than I feel, and I can't force the way I feel. But I don't know anymore what makes for a successful relationship: is it being madly in love, or is it respect, hard work, and affection?

You tell me.

Two other things I nearly forgot to mention but were notable this past weekend:

I visited with C and her two-week old little boy. A dor a ble. I could totally get me one of those.

And secondly, SP told me this story about how she was in a restaurant and one of the managers got all verbally abusive with the staff for no good reason in front of everyone. Everyone was apparently aghast, and the more SP thought about it, the more it pissed her off. So she stood up, went over and politely told the manager off, who groveled at the time, but then came back over later and said it was all a "misunderstanding" and a "joke." Apparently people were pulling SP over and saying "Good job" and "Thank you" on her way back to the table. Yet another thing I like about SP.