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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
Friday, September 30, 2011
Happy Birthday To Me
I've actually been having a nice month o'September, including the birthday and starting to teach, visiting with friends, and even the weather (so far).
I started teaching two weeks ago, and it looks like it's going to be a busy quarter. I took an extra class to make more money, so have about seventy or so students, most of whom are sixteen and male. Actually, all three of my classes are about 65% male, at the very least, and the vast majority are Running Start students. I've had my gripes about Running Start over the years, but I still think it's a nice group of kids. One thing that worries me is that, despite me mentioning that I feel uncomfortable teaching people I know, SP's former stepson is in my class--a kid I've known since he was about seven. And, like, I've, um, been intimate with his mother. It's weird. And that's all there is to say about it.
I haven't spoken to SP in a couple months, not since I called from Kodiak to talk about how weird it was to be in AK and yet not to see her. She moved to Valdez after finishing her BA... things were rough between us those last six or so months: me not feeling the way she wanted me to feel about her, her getting passive-aggressive via other women, me confronting her and our talk, breaking up, then more passive-aggressive interactions culminating in me not being able to go to her graduation party because it was sprung on me at the last moment that the party was at her new girlfriend's house... the one she was jerking me around with when we broke up, and even after that. I was so angry at the time I could have ground nails with my teeth, but also depressed and sad because it was her graduation and should have been all about her. I felt like I should have been a selfless, chillaxed friend who goes to say congratulations and celebrate, but I was once again put into an emotionally compromised position, which she should know after all these years is one of the most terrifying positions for me.
I guess we roughly kind of patched it up and have been okay, but now that she is dating yet another person, and I get to find out yet again over Facebook (plus making-out pictures), I find it more difficult to be happy for her than it is to just feel irritated and upset. What is it with people who date for a month, and are in a relationship? Why are public announcements of relationships on the internet so important? Why is it that those who leave me fall fully in love with the second-to-next person they're with, and always so quickly?
NM has been visiting and she has a few things to say about it, and I think she's right about one especially: the constellation of conclusions I draw from such regular occurrences in my life are often flawed. Truthfully, it makes me feel like romantic love is nothing but BULLSHIT, and I am a completely swappable loser. It makes me feel like making yourself that vulnerable is never worth it, nor ever will be, and that everything experienced had merely been an illusion in the first place. It makes me wonder what is so wrong with what I would like out of a relationship... is it so wrong to want something slow and meditative and sweet and honest and independent and mature and mutual? Maybe if you're a lesbian it is... as far as I can tell, lesbian relationships play out either in fast-forward or scene-skip. Is that true for straight ones? I don't know.
Anyhow, NM is right. It's not about me. It's not about something I'm doing wrong within the relationships. It's maybe that I am unhappy in Bville, or maybe that I haven't become the person I want to be yet. It's maybe that relationships take up a lot of time, and I haven't been willing to give up that time. It's maybe that I haven't found the right person, and maybe that 'right' person doesn't exist in Bville, or maybe anywhere. It's maybe what MH says: that you often have to give something up to make room for something else to enter.
Whatever it, is, I am working on not feeling jealous or irritated, and instead being happy for SP and happy for the rest of the world that seems to find success so soon, so quickly, so cheerily. Like I've told myself before, seems is an important qualifier. In the meantime, it is weird having SP's kid in my class, rolling his eyes just like the rest of the sixteen year old boys.
NM and I have been doing incredibly well since we had our talk. I feel about 105% better to not be hiding my emotions, to not be trying eternally to be patient. I feel good that I've understood, and I have been very clear with myself about not being picky or critical, but rather direct and clear.
NM and I have been talking about passive aggression lately, because that's what she accused me of when we had our discussion, which stung a bit. And it's what I've noticed within past lovers and friends. I guess anger and resentment always slips out one way or the other. Just when you think you're being kind and keeping your temper in check, it turns out that it has permeated the interactions you've had.
I don't really think I'm passive aggressive though. But sometimes my comments apparently come across that way. Sigh.
But back to the doing well... It's been pretty stellar, and everything feels better now... both of us are trying, and because we know each other pretty well and care, I don't think the trying feels painful or awkward too much.
NM came up yesterday... surprising me in my pajamas actually (embarrassing)... in part to support me because I was going to a reading that I thought EC and her wife might be attending. I often avoid events or places where I think I might run into them, so it was a step on the wild side to go support an old college professor and listen to her reading when I thought a bump-in a distinct possibility. I mentioned it only offhand to NM and she right away knew what was going on in my head...
"Um, Brenda's having a reading I'd like to go to. You interested in coming?"
"I'll be there, girl. You don't have to go by yourself."
Apparently I'm not as subtle as I'd like to believe I am.
I also invited MH and my dad for back-up. Dad didn't come but MH did, and EC wasn't even there (!!!), and the three of us enjoyed the reading (I bought books!), then went out for a walk followed by some Oktoberfest Leavensworth, and the shoveling of spicy baked chicken wings and celery into our months, licking our fingers, giggling about mutual friends and Paul Simon's Graceland. M observed that N and I were wearing the same red thread as a necklace and asked about it... thinking how close I am with that girl, and how sweet it is for us to run our fingers over the same red thread with its history of texture. Then after the beers, we were walking around the area, looking at the plants in the window-boxes... M and I look over at each other, and we were independently both pulling our fingers through the rosemary and pressing our tips to noses to inhale. We start laughing, and N tells us she thinks we are crazy, and then it is time to go home, where I cuddle up with my dog, reading a trashy mystery and NM nodding off to sleep though pretending to be doing work, and it is quiet and peaceful and okay.
At some point in the conversation at the bar, N mentions how her friend Sean feels like a loser at 45 because he doesn't have a great job, family, wealth, etc. And I say, "Tell me about it! I am ten years younger and that's exactly how I feel!"
Both N and M look at me, and M asks, "Is that really how you feel?" and I say "Yeah."
Because I forget sometimes that my friends don't know how crappy and unaccomplished I feel. How sad that I don't have a partner with family or even a lover or stable job or book out. How much anxiety it gives me on a regular basis to be living on my mom's property with no prospects in sight, and a mere two local friends. But MH looks at me and says, "I want to beat you up really badly right now."
It makes me laugh, but I have to remember that my future is not a black hole, and that I am not finished with the living I have to do. I told Mary that I would try to align my self-perception with hers from here on out.
For my birthday, I was teaching, so mostly I just treated myself to some damned good food that day.
Breakfast: Eggs scrambled with chard, kale, and scallions fresh from my garden, plus herbed chevre, spicy sausage, and a touch of sour cream on top. With Ezekiel bread.
Lunch: Greek soup & lentil salad from the local co-op.
Dinner: Zucchini casserole & cream cheese cupcakes.
Delicious, no? But nicest was the next day, a Friday, which I took off and went down to an old 'insane asylum park' with my dog and camera. It was roasting hot... I was a bit too warm and dehydrated by the end, but wandered around stuffing my face with heated blackberries, and smelling the hay roasting, and laughing at Herald as he rolled around in something deliciously nasty. Afterwards, I went over to a berry farm and bought a flat of jam-strawberries, and a flat of blackberries, and some pancake syrup, and the coup--a blackberry milkshake. This from the place my sister told me had the best milkshakes in the world. She was right: it was pretty perfect, as was the rest of the day, where I rolled down the windows, bent my left elbow into the warm heated wind, and lilted around the sunny flat valley with my golden sunglasses on, and a milkshake raised to my lips.
The next day I made jam.
Here are the pictures from my birthday (equinox) walk at the insane asylum park:
Like I said, happy birthday to me, happy year-on-the-cusp.
Monday, September 26, 2011
She says it's not sweetness but the necessity of seeing my work out there. I asked her if she would be a reader for me... I'm kinda hunting for a writing group because this solitario stuff ain't working well for me. So, looking for a local group that includes MH, and looking for a less local few that includes JS... maybe the other writathon crew, who knows?
But she put a piece of my work up at Necessary Fiction, where she is currently the writer in residence. The other work she's been putting up has been great, so you should go back and read it all! (I have my favorites: the list of allergies, the essay on comic books, and the list of things to do when lonely) I would say this is an odd piece of mine, part of something that's ongoing and one of the many pieces I'm allowing myself to multitask work on.
Feeling pretty pleased.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
oops, I forgot to mention I survived
My trip and return and the beginning of the new quarter have all participated in the highlighting of certain facts of my existence.
[Some reiteration of past comments here.]
--I almost got eaten by bears. That may or may not be an exaggeration.
--How is it possible to forget how time operates on a fundamentally different fashion out at a gill-net site? I forget it every time, how good the tides feel.
--Alaska is also an exceptional place for reflection. I actually could have used a significantly larger amount of tide-time.
Aside from life-angsty type frets, I especially reflected on my friendships, in particular, as I have been getting angrier and angrier with so many of my local 'friends', who haven't asked me to a single party, event, hiking trip, etc this summer (except MH). I even started to wonder if my father figure is right to denigrate the fine people of the pacific northwest (I've defended them to the point of turning red in the face, leaping up and saying "I need to go!!!"), which is actually utterly sacrilegious, self-loathing, and defeatist as well.
I was so angry with NM by the time I got up to AK that I bought a great card of a biodegrading fish, and wrote a long letter that started and ended nicely... with a bunch of complaining in the middle. I read and re-read it, trying to decide whether to send it or not. Then I sent it.
Followed by horrible nightmares and near panic attacks.
Luckily, I sent it c/o my own address and thus was able to collect it when I got home and hide it away in a cupboard.
I recognize that letters are not the best place for such 'conversations', as it has not once in my past worked well for me. One problem is that I get such anxiety about talking in person, in part because most of the time when I initiate these conversations, the topic gets turned around to my own failings. Even my own mother confronts my anger by getting angrier. At best, all I can apparently hope for towards a meaningful conversation about my gripes and needs is a kind of tit-for-tat negotiation. More frequently, I feel like somewhere along the line, such conversations become about my BIG FAT suckiness... and nothing ever gets solved, especially not my self-esteem issue: You have to accept people for who they are and not expect (desire) change, but instead change yourself!
I have problems with communicating I guess. (Ironical? I dooooon't knowwww). Frequently I spend too much time picking at people in lieu of actually addressing the real issues... a bad habit I actually do think I need to work on.
So I've been very irritable with NM, increasingly over this past year, to the point where I don't even want to hang out with her anymore, though I do love her. My thoughts in Alaska centered somewhere around excavating the real problems, and understanding the small problems' connection to the most important ones.
Real Issue #1 - I don't trust that NM will be there for me, whether in crisis, or merely in the events in life that we have planned for and I have gotten excited and happy about, or invested energy in preparing for. I.e. trips, readings, events canceled at the last minute.
Real Issue #2 - NM needs a lot of care-tending, which I don't mind when I feel like I am being tended back. I don't mind cooking for friends (enjoy it, in fact)... but NM and I had a 'disagreement' when I told my mother that NM hated cooking. NM got angry at me, told me she felt like I didn't even know her very well, and that in fact she loves cooking... I got pretty pissed, because in all the many, many meals I or my mother have cooked for her, NM has not ONCE cooked for us. How am I supposed to know a specific part of a person who has not shared that specific part of herself???
Real Issue #3 - NM instead shares many of her emotions with me, and I am an emotional sponge. I suck it all up, remember it, imbibe it, act it out, stew over it, and feel like shit about it. My emotional boundaries are often not solid with the most important people in my life. My response to seeing my mother cry, my whole life in every instance, has been to cry. I can't take all of the emotions NM gives me, and process them alongside the emotions my own life (and sense of failure) has generated. I always feel like a friggin' mess.
False Issue #1 - I jump all over NM about her aesthetic values... specifically the types of women she is attracted to (all baby-doll model types), or seeks to be (intellectual jennifer lopez type). The make-up. The prep. The clothes. The attitude. The dismissal of 'ugly' women. In Alaska, I realized this is my problem. Insecurities generated vis-a-vis having a friend who is more physically beautiful and has higher body standards than I do. NM just doesn't even think about what half the world would give to have even one day looking as good as she does on those days she dubs duds. But that's not her issue, that's mine.
So I decided to feel better about myself. And fuck all the jerks who hit on NM when we go out and don't even say HELLO to her hulking silent friend! On a side note, I have been exercising every day, which is my new goal... particularly biking, which doesn't seem to negatively affect my back. But I decided that even exercise won't work if I can't simply appreciate my own body.
Going back a bit. So, after a good think, I confiscated the letter I wrote and followed my own rule about having a real conversation, even if it opens me up to defensive criticism (which it did). I talked about some of the above... particularly Real Reasons #1 and #2. She reacted badly at first, telling me my standards are too high and under-articulated. Then she admitted that I wasn't the first person, but rather the latest, to bring up these issues. We ended peacefully, I think, with an agreement: I will articulate my needs more, and she will commit more, and be responsible about being a part of my family (taking out the garbage without being asked!).
Now that wasn't so hard!
Sigh. Why does it have to be so hard?
And why do I have to have these problems with friends? Couldn't it at least be with a partner?
--I didn't write diddly in Alaska, and even must admit to having become addicted to a gameboy game similar to Farmville (which I always mocked and shunned).
--I've written since I got back, and have plans to carve out a small portion of every day for both exercise and writing. Two types of exercise. I've also, with a sense of trepidation, decided to not try to force myself to finish the damn story I've been trying to force myself to finish, under a ban of all other projects. If I need to work on ten different projects and never finish anything, then so be it... at least I will be working.
--Working at the gillnet in AK was a totally different experience without a freakish, overbearing boss having panic and screech attacks at all hours of the day. The woman who normally runs it broke her ankle, so stayed in town while I closed it down with her daughter and the crew-guy. Basically, I was running the close-down. It was smooth and sweet, except:
--The tender Sierra Seas was run by a condescending shit who procrastinated on taking our skiffs to town, so we had to delay our flight out, then he procrastinated again, but assured us that he had been doing this for years and knew what he was doing, that he heard everything we said about tow-lines, safety-lines, etc. So finally we had to fly out... and on the day we flew out, he at long last grabbed our skiffs, but placed the 200-lb anchor in the bow (front) of our old wooden skiff, so it took water over the front, sunk below the water line, was hauled up at the cannery without bailing, busted up, and hidden in the storage yard, where I can only assume, they didn't think we would go check it before we left town. Oh, but we did.
By the way, placing all the weight in the front of a boat is so ridiculously stupid that even a water-savvy toddler could have foreseen these events, but when the cannery was called out on it, they tried to shift the blame by saying the lines we had put on the boat were badly frayed and at fault. Like, um, not a single line snapped, you butt-junkies!
Anyhow, I was pissed. I am glad that I am not an owner, though, because then I would have to kick some ass.
--As I approach 35, my mother treats me as if I was getting younger and younger. She's started telling me recently when to go to bed. The whole living in the house next door and sharing dinner has worked super up to now, but it's obviously time for me to move. Move, damn it!
--Did I mention I was almost eaten by bears?
--Here are some pictures:
P.S. Text messages are a bad place for passive-aggressive notifications. Just so you know. Young people of the world.
P.P.S. Probably blogs are too.
P.P.P.S. Can't believe school starts on Monday. ug ug ug