Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guidelines and standards

Men lack the fine-toothed subdivision that women exercise over their underwear. For example, I have the flattering and slightly titillating first date panties. Provocative and decidedly skimpy first-time-for-the-big-reveal panties. Knickers that say, “I’m still new to this relationship and feel obligated to tantalize you but don’t want to get a wedgie while doing it.” These drawers move on to the comfortable every day wear panties that fall into categories like “looks good under jeans,” “goes great with a skirt,” or “definitely buttoned up enough for work.”

After all these panty parsings, however, we still haven’t gotten down to the two, maybe three, categories of “feminine needs” related undergarments. The first of these is “I could start my period today or tomorrow” panties. These usually have fraying elastic and gappy waistbands, and they’ve clearly been washed and worn a couple too many times. The “why, yes, I am on my period” panties are, decidedly, the sorriest of the lot. These are the gungiest, dingiest, most faded, unraveled underwear which are kept at the absolute back of the drawer. Sad. At last, period over, reboot the routine, starting over in the underwear loop wherever the lady-wearer happens to be in her relationship continuum.

Maybe because I have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of only one man--because I do admit I could be wrong--but guys seem to take a much more streamlined approach to underwear classification systems. The first tier are the “just did laundry and these are my most comfortable” undies. Second are the slightly less engaging knickers that are nonetheless fully functional. Third are the, “Woah! It’s getting’ near time to do laundry when you’re wearing the snowman boxers in July!” And last but not least are the extremely worn out, over-washed underwear that are absolutely the end of the line before the laundromat. Those are the last couple of pairs that men haven’t thrown out precisely for these laundering emergencies, when their schedules don’t quite sync up to their underwear cycle.

What has me thinking about this and overanalyzing it to death is that Matthew and I are at different underwear cycles ever since I had my ankle surgery. We haven’t yet managed to get back on the same load pattern. Yesterday, I told Matthew, “I need to do laundry before we go to your parents’ house for Christmas break.” His answer was, “I think I have enough underwear to last me until then, so I’m good.”

Simply lasting through the holidays isn’t the goal. The goal is to have the right underwear for the right outfit at the right time. For instance, I’m already looking at the last few stragglers of my absolute favorite cotton all-around dependables. I refuse to travel without them. I still have some rogue sexy panties and some uglies I’d not like to be taken to the emergency room in, but I’m certainly not packing them for everyday wear on family holiday. Matthew is just bottoms up “I’m good,” whereas I am, “but I need the right pair!” I think most women would agree with me.

I am going to reveal now that I think the women’s underwear hierarchy may be needlessly complicated, but I personally don’t see a way around it. Women’s fashions are more complicated than men’s, which does legitimize the jeans underwear versus the skirt underwear. But, as one of the characters on the British sitcom “Coupling” put it: “Women’s knickers spread the longer you’re in a relationship. You start out with skimpy things that are barely there, and the next thing you know, they’re as big as a sail.” So true.

And so now I reveal that I think the degree of a woman’s happiness is measured by her underwear drawer. I vote that the more plain cotton bikinis you find in there, the more satisfied the woman is. I once read a story in a women’s magazine about panties, and a fluff-and-fold laundress was interviewed. She said, “The woman with the most boring underwear—they were all cotton and gray—always seemed the happiest. And every time she came in to pick up her laundry, she always came in with a new hunky guy.”

I’ll stick with one hunky guy and armloads of plain gray panties, thank you.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Obviously blood related

I was talking on the phone with my sister when my nephew T.H. interrupted the conversation to proclaim, “Mommy! I got the booger!” I'm so proud of my little angel.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The saga of the bosom, ongoing

I’ve decided that my boobs are a weird size—44B. It is insanely easy to go to the store and buy a 32B. It is sort of easy to find a 44D. But 44B is unavailable in regular retail outlets. I took a chance; I ordered two bras online. One fits great. The other… well, it’s pretty crazy.

I put the bra on and it felt light and refreshing, but then I looked down. My boobs were pointing east and west, not sitting on the front of my chest. Hm. T-shirt test. I put on a shirt to see what my boobs looked like in normal view. Yep, still oddly east and west.

I have concluded that online bra shopping was 50% successful since one put my boobs roundly where they go—in the front—despite the other’s breast placement failure. Back to the mail-order warehouse with east/west bra, but boobies relieved that one worked.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I am grateful to have so many friends and family worthy of missing this holiday. I'm thinking of you, and I love you.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Breaking with the past

I got bad news yesterday, and I’m trying to get it into my head straight instead of how it’s stuck jamming in crooked.

I went in for my final examination, and my orthopedic surgeon told me that at this point, my ankle is pretty much as healed as it’s going to get. He said it was a very severe break and implied that I needed to come to terms with that. He told me that eventually my brain will compensate and the pain won’t bother me as much.

All of this sucks. My ankle still swells up like a sausage after even the tiniest exertion, and it hurts to walk, um, pretty much all the time. Yeah, all the time. I lie about it and say it hurts after a distance of four blocks, a number I’ve sort of arbitrarily picked, but, no, it’s pretty much always painful.

A different medical practitioner in my life thinks this isn’t how I’ll be eternally. He thinks that it will take incredible time, but that slowly I should feel better. Even if it takes more than a year, he believes my ankle will improve.

The tiny hopeful part of me wants to think that I’m not at the end of ankle road, but the much bigger suckier part of me says my life is over. Um, what doesn’t involve walking or standing? I love to nature hike, I love to be a tourist and walk everywhere, I love freedom to move, option, possibility.

I feel like this bank vault door has slammed shut and closed huge swaths of my life to me. I can barely walk across a gravel driveway, how am I supposed to hike on a dirt trail? My doctor said my brain will eventually ignore the pain, but when? Ignoring pain can’t happen soon enough. My brain power needs to kick in and tell my swollen ankle to keep going, that it’s not that bad.

Between the physical pain and its mental barriers, I feel trapped. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, right? But how am I supposed to even take that step? I can see the journey, but the threshold is so high and terrifying.

I used to tell myself that tomorrow would be the first day I would take that step to a better place, but I don’t feel like using that metaphor anymore. I need a new frame that says “tomorrow will be better” without referring to my feet at all. I want to learn to walk on my hands and bypass the problem altogether. Alternative means of transportation to better are what I dream of.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Follow-up to "Fun with traumatic memories #1"

TonyN asked for the rest of the story of my friend’s bitchy mom. What happened to the friend?

Betty (fake name) and I drifted apart. We had an incident involving a boy she liked, and that kind of sealed the deal on ending our relationship. I got new friends, I didn’t really miss her. That much.

Her family moved to Atlanta, and occasionally I’d get letters or phone calls from her. Her life seemed surreal and spacey when I heard from her. She was so happy, but none of it made sense. She told me that when she had sex with her boyfriend, it was so powerful that their bodies made perfume. His mother would ask, “What incense were you burning? You smell wonderful.” Is that as weird as I thought it was at the time?

Her letters sounded like a magical place full of non-reality and imperviousness to the ordinary slings and arrows of life. A friend totaled her car badly, and she spoke of it like a wonderful adventure with no consequences: “We ran up on a curb and he broke the axle…,” but no result. Just happening, now, no tomorrow. Maybe it was because her parents were rich: all problems could disappear.

I don’t mean the letters or phone calls stopped, but I lost touch with her. We had no connection anymore, no relationship to one another, though the communication continued. I didn’t understand her world, couldn’t live there or even see or comprehend it. My world was full of consequence and result, and hers was blank of external authority.

I still hear about her through the grapevine, and she’s back in Kentucky. She has two sons, but that’s all I know. I still imagine her magical world where life just happens like a swirl of dyed silk, and I can’t relate. I don’t know, maybe she’s changed. Maybe children have brought a grounding to her life.

I have a hard time relating to people with children—I hope that doesn’t sound cruel. I don’t want children, and I’m not around them, so I just don’t understand. She moved from one world of surreal disconnection from me to another.

So, no, we’re not in touch, really. I avoid large swaths of my past, and she’s part of that cloth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fun with traumatic memories #1

When I was 14 or 15, my best friend was someone I thought was preeminently cool. She knew how to skateboard, wore baggy flannel shirts, and wore long underwear under skate shorts instead of pants. Rock. She also knew what bands to listen to, like The Doors and The Grateful Dead.

Her family was much more comfortably middle class than mine, and they lived in a huge house out in the boonies of Jefferson County. It’d be what today we consider in the style of a McMansion, except they had a couple of acres of land.

Uncomfortably, her mom was a bitch. For some reason, my best friend’s older sister who had moved out on her own was worshipped in the household. Everything she did was better than what we did. At our age, the older sister was already awesome-er and liked better music like Black Flag and had a cat named Nixon.

Because we were 15 and she lived in BFE (Bum-Fuck Egypt), there was this constant tension between whose parents were responsible for transporting me back and forth. My friend never stayed at my house; I went over there. Sometimes, when her mom bitchily begrudgingly drove, she would let us listen to our music. My friend put in The Grateful Dead one day, and her mom laid into it. “This is horrible music. You have no taste. This music only sounds good if you’re on drugs,” she said in a cruel tone. Yeah, it’s true, we had no taste, but we were barely teenagers. Have you ever met a teenager with good taste?

One day, at my friend’s house, her mother sat us down at the kitchen table. We were in for a lecture. “You don’t add anything to your friendship. You don’t help each other grow. When your older sister was your age, she had wonderful friends, and they enhanced each others’ lives. You don’t do that. You’re just stagnant together. You don’t have a healthy friendship. You don’t offer any growth.”

I felt so betrayed by her mother. Maybe her mom thought my friend didn’t measure up to the older sister they worshipped, but did she really have any maternal right to unfavorably compare her children to one another? Out loud? To her impressionable teen daughter? In front of me?

And what about me? Not good enough? Not bringing enough to the relationship? Why on earth would anyone say that to their daughter’s best friend? I hurt. A lot. Her mother was always critical, but sitting us down to lecture us on what bad friends we were was profoundly judgmental, and I felt humiliated by her exposé on our deep and apparently developmentally threatening relationship.

In addition, I thought my friend enhanced me. She taught me about cool, and even though really I was walking her path, she taught me about individuality. Another barb. Even if her mother’s opinion was that I brought nothing to the relationship—unlike goddess sister’s amazing friends of wonderment—I got a lot out of my relationship with my friend. Why wouldn’t my friend’s mom respect her enough to believe that she could add to our friendship?

I got enough shit that I was doing the wrong things and not living up to standards from other people, but I had never had a friend’s parent sit me down and earnestly tell me I wasn’t good enough for her daughter. What a bitch.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Reading the comments on this former blog post, I forgot that for a while our favorite excuse for everything was, "Ooh, yeah... but I'm in a cult." I think we should resurrect that.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Slightly more sexually mature than some of my peers, by the time I got to health class, I knew that the cock-and-bull story that all penises were about the same size was a big ol’ rod o’ salami. I’m not saying I made the rounds of the track and field team, but I had a large enough sample size to know that every transmission is as unique as its owner’s manual. Even if I just watched porn I might have had a distorted concept of size, but I would have seen that penises have all different shapes, and some even turn off sideways.

I was so pissed in health class when our male gym teacher would talk about the variations in female anatomy, then, in a very earnest voice, declaim that all penises are about six inches long. I actually laughed out loud when he said that. I swear. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that myth, it wouldn’t be the last, but it was the first time I knew from hands-on experience that the teacher was lying about penises. I laughed so hard that I had to put my hands over my face. The entire class stopped and stared at me—all those teenage boys with looks of horror on their faces that maybe their penises were the wrong size.

I got myself together and wiped the laugh-tears from my eyes and sat up straight. “You were saying?”

What I couldn’t believe was that women were each unique, delicate flowers, but, goddammit, maleness was uniform! “Do not look upon your penis harshly, good sons, for—fear not—your compatriot at the next urinal is exactly the same!”

Women are implicitly inferior because our genetic variations are visibly obvious. Men, however, deserve by national decree from scholastic publishing headquarters to be told that, it’s OK, no penis is inferior if all men are the same. The superior form of male development being standardized meant that women’s deregulated bodily free-for-all was clearly less evolved.

Nerts to that. Even at fifteen I knew that no hegemonical force of maleness would keep me from believing that every body was unique, whether it be a delicate blossom or a towering beast. They may have looked at me with terror in health class, but I hope I made all those boys and that gym teacher reassess the ruler by which they measured maleness.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Always learning

The Spanish expression "Pura Vida" appears to mean "Pure Life." It really means "Everything's OK."

Pura Vida,

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink

I have writer's block. I just do. Sometimes if I blog about not being able to blog it unclogs me, so I'm hoping this is the trick.

I write and write, and then I read and read, and it is so banal and unworthy of publication.

I'm looking at my favorite apple, Honeycrisp. They have a short growing season so you should buy as many as you can if you see them. They're amazing, I swear. I see my favorite ink pens--black, blue, and red--Pilot G2. I just got them, and I'm in love. There's distilled water on my desk, my favorite thing to drink.

Banal. My day-to-day, ultimately devoid of blogging.

A guy who graduated from the same college I did several years ahead of me committed suicide over writer's block. He was a brilliant budding playwright, and everyone loved his work and encouraged him. Then, one day, the words wouldn't come. He had been such a shining star that no one ever thought to tell him that sometimes creation is fickle. His muse left him dry, and he left this world, not knowing that sometimes even genius struggles.

I wish I were a genius, but I'm glad someone told me the story of the man who committed suicide over dried up words. Now I know that writing is nothing to die over.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Goodbye summer

Today I washed and put away the beach towels for the final time this season. See you next year, you denizens of sunshine.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Going to my happy place

Shockingly—and I know, really, this is shocking—I am becoming satisfied with my lot in life.

1: OK, my house is kinda crappy, but it’s not a slum, the house is pretty big, and we live in a great neighborhood. And I’m getting used to the roaches, even if I’m not better at killing them. I have learned that hot water stuns them. That’s my Martha Stewart tip Christine Wy style.

2: OK, I’m not doing exactly what I want for work, but job pressure is like non-existent for me.

3: And, OK, I’m not getting paid nearly the compensation the national average suggests (not even on the low end), and yeah, I get paid like an assistant instead of a supervisor, but I’m able to pay my bills. There’s nothing left over for real fun, but I’m squeaking by.

So, all-in-all, maybe I actually am in the place I need to be at the moment. Sure there are lots of things that would be more perfect, but maybe this ain’t so bad as I’ve been making it out to be.

I attribute my new found acceptance to a lot of therapy formally with my psychologist, and a lot of informal conversation with my best friend, Monya. We’ve been discussing what sucks and what doesn’t suck, and trying to reframe the “suck” category to see what’s hiding in there of value.

The moral of my story is that virtue is everywhere, if you know to look for it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I’m not a political blogger. I think that’s become pretty obvious. I am so grateful, however, that our president elect is Barack Obama. Forget his skin color and how radical that is, I care that I really believe he’s the genuine article. Thank you, United States, for giving us this gift.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Thirty seconds that suck just the right way

Vacuum commercials really frost my cookies. I totally get off on the promise of suction power. I don’t know what it is, but I have to talk myself down every time I see a Dyson Ball commercial. I start scheming ways to get a Dyson, calculating how many Christmases I’ll have to barter away with Matthew to get it as a gift, or estimating how much is in my checking account versus how closely I am skirting my credit limit.

Point in fact, I don’t need a vacuum. I vacuum approximately every six months. Really, I do next to no housework at all, and I think that’s the source of the appeal of vacuum cleaner ads to me.

In an ad where a woman vacuums, dirt magically disappears, leaving her with a perfect white and periwinkle blue house. I want to be that woman. I want to smile at my vacuum and whisk my house into home décor catalog perfection, as opposed to the den of dust-ball iniquity I really run. I want a small collection of tasteful vases on a white-washed distressed pine shelf instead of stacks of library cataloging rules and Target photo albums on sagging Ikea shelves. I want allergens to disappear with a snap in a vortex of home hygiene, as I smile at my tail-wagging dog and obviously pleased cat.

Alas, what I have are a Dirt Devil canister vac and an apathy so intense that I’d rather say to people, “Don’t mind the dog fur,” than do anything about it.

That’s the real root of my designer vacuum lust. Laziness. Vacuum commercials make having a beautiful home and keeping it that way look like anyone can do it in just thirty seconds. I need a set decorator, faux natural lighting, and an off-screen fan billowing some curtains. Toss in a smiling, conservatively coiffed Lands End model, delicately waving around a vacuum, and I have true homemaker bliss.

In reality, I have a dog that sheds like a maniac and a personal predilection for couch time. Once the commercial is over, I remember that no matter the vacuum model, I would still have to actually work to vacuum, which I am just absolutely not prepared to do. No amount of revolutionary suction power, lightweight portability, or HEPA filtration actually takes the work out of house cleaning.

The commercial’s over. I’ve talked myself out of the Dyson. I’m back to looking at my furry couch with resignation. But then, oh! A Bissell commercial! Gee I want deep-cleaning like that to be such a snap.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

More things overheard in St. Augustine

At a hipster cafe on the beach, an easrnest surfer says to his friends, "Later y'all."

I always said I wouldn’t do it

I had a boss when I worked at The Alley in Chicago who thought if he tried hard enough, he could still be one of us. He didn’t understand that the boss-ness to employee wall could be made of plexiglass and seen through, but those crappy communication holes drilled through garbled the message so it was never received as intended.

Because an employee was once murdered behind the store, it was a rule that we all left together, en masse. We would finally get everyone finished tidying for the next day’s disaster, have all the lights off, and be jammed around the door. The boss would stand, with his hand on the door and the keys in his other hand, and force us to listen to stories of how he was once like us. No one but me understood that the sooner you gave in to the “You’re so rad!” exclamation, the sooner you got out the door. I must have looked like such a toady shouting, “Wow, you really stole a skull from a cemetery mausoleum? You’re so out there, man! That’s cuh-razy!”

Everyone else just twitched, release so close yet unattainable until the boss had had his way with us. I, though repulsed by his lame attempts at trying to be one of us, played the game to get away from him faster. Probably something I learned as a child. Say what’s expected, get along with reality faster.

I always vowed that I would never be like him. Every time he held us huddled around the door with the lights off and the keys jingling tantalizingly in his hand, I hated him, lost my meager respect for him, and I promised I would never be such an ass.

My friend (and library pseudo-mentor, J) recently introduced me to the term “creepy treehouse.” It’s like something adults do to imitate kids in order to attract them, but in fact the kids can see straight through the faux-hipster facade and are repulsed by it. In library terms, it’s like creating a Facebook page for your library and asking your patrons to friend you. Facebook users look at the library page and see creepy treehouse all over it, feeling a forced attempt at kickin’ it on their level that co-opts the personal cyberspace they intended for themselves.

There wasn’t a perfect name for it yet, but my old boss at The Alley was a creepy treehouse. Eck. He wasn’t on our side of the plexiglass divide, never would be again, and his forced communication only made us more leery of him. He didn’t lure us in with tales of wicked-bad head-bangin’ ass-kickin,’ he made us sick. “So help me god,” I prayed, “I will never be that pathetic.”

But, I totally did it. Just a couple of days ago. Even after just learning all about the creepy treehouse. Yep. I creepy treehoused all up in this joint.

I hired a new student-worker, and I liked her. That she had purple hair added to my affinity for her.

At the end of the interview—gack I’m going to barf—I said, “And I like your purple hair.” Here’s where it gets really barf-tastic. “I used to dye my hair all crazy colors, but then I got an office job. I’m covered in tattoos, you just can’t see them. Well, I guess it’s no secret, I wear a tank top to work then put on my long-sleeved shirt.”

The worst part of it is, I felt myself doing it. I felt myself sounding like my old boss. Hair-dying, tattoos, “really, I’m rock-and-roll just like you,” through those plexiglass air holes. I was too embarrassed for myself to notice her reaction, but she seemed to nod or something.

Two days later, I was walking the dog, and I realized, “I just creepy treehoused!” I felt miserable. I had done it. I was The Boss. That boss. No, I’m not cool. No, I’m not rock-and-roll. No, I’m not 20 and dying to be 21 so I can finally be legal. Me = The Boss. The Boss with the Excel spreadsheets and the nerdy Word documents explaining archival terminology. The boss who follow-up e-mailed and said, “We can play music really quietly so bring your ipod, and you can hang a poster over your desk if you want to.”

Yeah. I said all that. I’m on the other side of the plexiglass, deluded that I can speak through.

My only hope now is to keep my mouth shut and never do it again. Now, instead of saying “I’ll never be like that,” I pray ardently, “Please don’t let me be like that!” Patron saint of employers, I implore you to give me the strength to tear down the creepy treehouse and just be the boss.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hungry eyes

I think that by nature people are all sluts for something. There are insecurities in each of us that create holes, voids that must be filled by some tangible thing to make us feel validated and affirmed. For my husband, it’s Vans shoes. For me, it’s usually Birkenstocks and MBTs. But lately my hole is not full enough.

I confess--but let me count—I have bought eight pairs of shoes in the last week in the quest to fill the void. Eight. And one pair fit. How does a shoe whore feel about those statistics when faced with the void of inadequacy she was trying to quantifiably fill? Horrid. Whore-rid. I am slut-less. One pair of shoes does not make a fanatic. One pair of shoes is logical. And when the insecurity is obviously illogical, logic doesn’t replace the feeling of desperation.

I have heard fat women say, “Shoes always fit,” so they shop for shoes to fill their slutty needs. I’m too fat or something. My feet have sprawled to a size 8 ½ wide. Wide. I am a wide-footed whore. Shoes don’t "always fit,” as evidenced by my one of eight shoe spree.

I turn to my eyes. Eyeglasses really do always fit. I bought three pair—a serious pair, a fun pair, and sunglasses—but I had to confess my sin to Matthew. For some reason, he didn’t care about the shoe issue (maybe because he has his own shoe problem), but the eyeglasses sent him over the edge. Fortunately I was able to cancel two pair and keep the serious pair, but that slutty insecure whore inside me is really desperate for the fun pair of glasses.

Versus frames, model 8029, in plum and mango. Nothing could be hotter for my sassy slut face. Now, they’re gone. I’m left with the Silhouette in an edgy rimless shape, but they’re the business kind of frames, not the “I’m totally out there and you can see for yourself” kind of frames that the super-slut Versus showed.

Matthew and I are negotiating a shoe-whore versus eyeglass slut compromise based on relative prices of shoes to eyeglasses kept. If I only keep the one pair of shoes, I can explore the option of the inner inadequacy eyeglasses. If I keep more shoes, I can only have the necessity glasses.

I call poop to both options, because I want two shoes and two eyeglasses. What’s a slut to do when she can’t sleep around? You can’t keep a good whore down forever.

Skipping the obvious

I should probably have said something about Halloween. It’s just one of those things that ought to be mentioned. Taken pictures of me and Matthew in our “ghoulish outfits” to share.

As an aside, I wore Matthew’s old Misfits t-shirt with the Crimson Ghost skull on the front. People were really scared of me. It was supposed to be in good fun, but, um, it was taken a little too seriously. I felt the mother grip your child tighter syndrome all around me. And the don’t make eye contact thing.

I have nothing to say about Halloween in particular. I saw my psychiatrist and my psychologist on the same day, and it was absolutely draining. I had nothing left for fun on Halloween.

We were supposed to listen to a special radio performance of War of the Worlds, but I fell asleep. We were supposed to sing karaoke, but I didn’t have it in me. I was the definition of wet blanket. No fun. All my emotions were used up in therapy. Well, except unhappy emotions that felt shame and guilt over being mentally ill, but none of the good ones that want to sing were there.

Halloween was only fun for getting mental health more in order. No candy sprees, no costumes, no parties, just me, Matthew, the dog and cat, and a comfy couch with lots of pillows. Maybe that was all I needed. I hope it was enough for Matthew.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I heart Obama

Making a point about too many pictures of Obama talking to boys in the media, Melissa McEwan compiled a length of photos of Obama photographed with girl supporters. Thank you, Melissa, for giving me even more Obama love.

(The apparent siblings--a boy holding up a younger girl on his shoulders--is my favorite photo. They are so thrilled, together.)

My God, it’s full of music!

I never gave much thought to music. I went to live shows of small indie rock bands as a teenager in Louisville. We were an underground hotbed of underground sounds, and we loved our little secret. I enjoyed the live music, but never bought the vinyl put out by the bands, and that was OK with me. I jammed with my friends, moshed when it wasn’t too violent, and generally enjoyed the music combo on the stage.

Bikini Kill. I saw Bikini Kill 1992 Thanksgiving day in some guy’s living room, and I nearly swooned. Kathleen Hannah, my new goddess, but I still didn’t buy her music. I just knew I loved Bikini Kill on the inside and couldn’t wait til the next time they showed up in town.

I cared about books. I read all the time, to the point of ignoring other responsibilities from the time I was a pre-teen on. I don’t know how many times I read “Where the Red Fern Grows.” Millions of times, certainly, judging by the spine of the book. So, I had books. Loads of books, not cassettes or LPs. And I stayed that way for years, through college and two grad schools.

Who could have foretold that in 1999 I would marry a music nut. I loved the guy, and I was impressed by his CD collection, but I didn’t get it. Music just didn’t set me on fire like William Faulkner did--I still melt over “The Sound and the Fury.”

Post grad school, I’ve slowed down my reading somewhat, but still love Salman Rushdie and even a good historical romance now and then. Something new has happened to me though: I love music.

Becoming a hula hooper (shout-out to Lotus Hoops—shameless plug), I started looking at my meager collection of CDs for music to hoop to. I just didn’t have it. I turned to my HoopGirl instructor’s style and looked into trance dance. It’s cool, but not really me. Then, somehow, I stumbled onto alterna-rap and hip-hop by women. Who knew that this would set my soul alight? I didn’t—I never would have guessed.

I bought what to me were a gazillion CDs (maybe eight), and I fell in love with each one as its own little gem. Now I love Santogold, Princess Superstar, and especially M.I.A. Could M.I.A. be more amazing? I hardly think so. Listen to “Bamboo Banger” and “Jimmy” and tell me she doesn’t rule. Janelle Monae is kinda doing it for me, and I have a slight weak spot for Imogen Heap, but she is so commercial pop. I also grabbed up Gang of Four and Daft Punk. They’re not chicks, so I’m having a slightly harder time getting to their core, but I am totally feeling their vibe.

Love it. I have a secret music lover in my soul that I have finally tapped into and found. “Hello music, I didn’t know you were out there. Wilkommen.”

Hey, reader Johnathan!

Are you still there? This is an official shout-out. I'd really like you to use my e-mail link to contact me. M'kay? Please?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fishing for the right time

Inspiration is a fickle thing, difficult to grasp and hold onto. Virginia Woolf described it as a darting silver fish that was always there but not quite caught. My fish comes out of hiding only at the most inconvenient time. Bedtime.

I think I’ve even blogged this before. As I brush my teeth, brilliance flashes, and I think, “I need to blog this now!”

I used to give in and blog it. Sometimes I still do. I’ve talked about my depression. I’m going to call it mental illness because it is an inherited disease, not something I caught or just spontaneously developed.

Controlling my type of mental illness, every doctor, magazine, book, medical publication all says, “Maintain routine no matter what to help keep the disease under control.” Suck. Technically, that means no night blogging because it changes my bedtime.

So I pray my silver, darting fish of toothbrush inspiration will stick around until tomorrow, but it never does. I remember what I wanted to write, but the spark is gone. The creativity feels sapped.

Why at night? Why not during the day? Why my inspiration as I brush my teeth.

I think it’s primarily because it’s the one time a day I really turn my brain off and look inward. I think it’s when I see something inside me that inspires, when I am getting quiet and prepared to turn off for the night. Suddenly, the silver fish appears and it says, “Follow me to the computer,” but I have to be strong now and tell it “No.”

I hope I don’t quit blogging because of my need to control my schedule and not let the silver fish talk me into typing into the midnight hours. I hope I can update some of the time. I already feel my blog has suffered. But don’t let it turn you off. I swear there are still daylight hours that inspire. Keep checking in.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

End of the weekend shift

My library keeps reference desk stats with examples of duties and little boxes to write ticks in for each time you complete these tasks. The two I use most frequently are "Library related easy tasks, general reference," and "Library research."

A guy just came and stood by the reference desk for no reason for about five minutes. Finally, he spit in my trash can and walked away. I weighed what category this fell under and decided on "Library related easy tasks" since I didn't do any research on the topic.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh, to be Pope

Alexander Pope told me, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” Boy am I human. And so not divine.

I see myself as a series of flaws, endlessly wondering why I’ve made the choices I’ve made, where they’ve taken me, and why I have no self-control. I am “err.” Air. There is air between my ears. Matthew actually jokes that if he shone a flashlight against one ear he’d see the light on the other side. It’s too true, striking a blow to my stomach in its absoluteness. Err = Air. I am homonyms.

To be Pope, Catholic Pope, my fallibility would be infallible. Beauty in divine forgiveness. “Catholic” means universal, and aren’t we each Popes of our own universe? Am I Pope of my own universe and divine even in my fallibility? Lord, hear my prayer.

But to be Alexander Pope, author of all our adages, that would be divine. To control language to give ultimate truth in one sentence of utter pith, divinity. Pope, granted ultimate forgiveness of err to the manifold universes not our own through literary penance.

But I am just Christine. A culpable Pope of my own strange universe, lacking the grace of divine. I cannot forgive myself. My excuses are hollow even in my own ears, so lacking in meaning that I don’t even offer them to Matthew. When he asks why, I think of the millions of reasons why and reductively whine “beeecuuuz….”

Wabi-sabi, I am beautiful in my universe despite my imperfection. I am divine in my own air.

I’m one of those girls

It’s hard to look in the mirror and say, “This is me.” I’ve written about trying to accept myself for who I am, and I’ve written about trying to change. Right now, I’m doing best at being annoyed that I’m too accepting of who I am and not spurred enough to change. What gives?

I just went shoe shopping. I am so one of those girls. Fill my life with shoes, and I’m happy. I’ve always been that way. Chuck Taylors for every color, trainers for comfy, ballet flats for fashion, sandals for everything. It’s true. Look in the mirror, and I’m a shoe whore.

Fast forward. Fibromyalgia. Generalized pain disorder. Feet of fire, like walking on coals or crushed glass or barefoot on rough gravel. How’s a girl to be a shoe whore when she can’t even walk? Do you know how expensive orthopedic shoes are? How unattractive they can be and how difficult to track down the truly helpful in the face of fashion shoe whoredom? Trust me, it’s hard. Attractive orthopedic shoes are a journey of exploration and discovery.

I’ve become moderately financially solvent, and the shoe whore bell went off in my brain. MBT. Birkenstock. Onmyodo. Their siren song called much too loudly for me, and how could I not listen? “Christine… O’ Christine,” the sirens sing in their sweet, entrancing voices. I can’t help it. My fingers type the URLs. Zappos. Birkenstockcentral. Onmyodo. My mouse. “Christine, look, we are fashion AND comfort!” Click. Add to cart.

Why? I blame my dad for having no self control. He taught me that everything is just one desire away from reality, without teaching me how many mortgages he took out on the house. But is it dad’s fault still? I’m an adult. I’m a shoe-aholic. I have a shoe problem. I’m a whore for cute orthopedic shoes. Credit company, love me and charge me interest! I need Onmyodo!

Sorry, Matthew, I just haven’t found it in me to change. I’m a chrysalis still.

Friday, October 24, 2008

True love in a grocer's parking lot

"I can't believe you always forget that."

"Really? Have ya met me before?"

"Yes, lots of times."

"And didn't you ever feel like running?"

"Not yet."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Anomalies in basset anatomical hygiene

There is an art to basset hound washing. While I have chosen a major in Basset Studies, I’m still sophomore in the Art of Hound Grooming series.

I don’t know about other bassets since Blanche DuBois was brought into our life unexpectedly under mysterious circumstances, but her sternum is built like the prow of a Viking ship—which is covered in folds and rolls of blabby fur. And the back of her neck is no better, with one giant roll drooping from base of skull over her vertebrae.

Basset skin is incomprehensible until you’ve really spent time trying desperately to clean it so it looks at least sort of white. The folds are connected to nothing. They seem to just rest in drapes across the body completely independent of a skeletal relation. I used to gently massage the waddle and back of the neck roll, working the collar-stained fur into a delicate lather. Now I know better. I reach in and squeeze handfuls of skin—using two fists and still not getting it all—and just wrestle her layers into a deep lather. If my grooming were a style of massage, it would be Russian, not Swedish.

I’m glossing over the uterine waddle. I don’t know what else to call it. Her muffin top? I pull and hold her skin taut to get to the belly fur and scrub it clean. Rinsing is a series of pull, spray, release maneuvers that require the technical knowledge that the dog is fundamentally made of iron ore—no matter how severe the bathing appears, it doesn’t affect her in the least.

I feel like tonight was a success story in my Basset Studies. I think I turned out a pretty clean dog. There was some spousal debate as to whether I had missed a spot on her chest or whether she was just naturally brown there, but it was ultimately decided that she was mighty clean so it must be brown. Now, she’s laying like a princess in a towel burrito on the couch. She hates bathing, but for some reason being toweled is just the best thing in the world to her. Well, second best, next to bull penis.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rain on my cotton candy

Remember one of my ponderings about love? “The hardest-learned lesson: that people have only their kind of love to give, not our kind.” At the time I was thinking about how difficult I can be to love, how I only have my type of love to give, as imperfect as it is. Today I am meditating on the broader human aspects of that quote.

People can only give what is in them to offer. It is my folly to anticipate someone to behave differently when they’ve done nothing but demonstrate that they do not behave as I expect. What exactly about this wounds me? Is it my naivety that I expect people to behave according to certain codes and manners? Is it that I expect the best from people and am disappointed when they fall short?

One person in my life tells me that I need to lower my expectations of people, to expect to be disappointed. But I don’t want to see the world that way. I want to see a world where people behave to a higher level of social normative standard. I don’t want my life’s mantra to be, like a former friend’s, “People will disappoint you.”

On the other hand, I’m tired of the hurt. I am so let down when someone I felt faith in behaves in a way that doesn’t live up to fundamental standards of courtesy or thoughtfulness. But where is the hurt coming from? Hurt at myself for believing in them? Hurt for myself by being quashed by them--again? Both?

I grieve for the naïve part of me that wants life to be a well-cultured lawn party where we can all speak freely and civilly in the wide openness of sunshine. As much pain as that little-girl-dream brings me when civility and sunshine fail, I don’t want to see that hope go, either. Part of my self-perception of beauty is that I have the capability to expect the best of people. If I take someone else’s bleakly dogmatic view of human life and let hopefulness die, I’ll be losing a huge part of myself.

However, I do think I need to be a little more realistic. I can’t seem to learn the lesson that once someone has proven how wicked and cruel they can be, I should not let time heal the wound and keep returning for more emotional abuse. I get it, I was taken in by something I thought I saw, but the reality was that people can only give what they have to give, nothing more.

The beautiful part of naïve me can expect the best when entering a situation. Learning to find beauty in maturity also, I need to make more rational decisions based on evidence when cotton candy land goes stale.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Learning opportunity

I’ve had my final surgery and my second-to-last follow-up, so I asked my surgeon about the future of my ankle. He told me to expect the possibility that my right ankle may never feel normal again. He said, “With that type of break, at the very least, that is always going to be your bad ankle.” When I told him I also had fibromyalgia, he said I should expect pain.

The Real Christine says, “That’s sixty more years of ankle pain! How am I really supposed to live like that? What quality of life is that for someone who likes to nature hike?”

I’m right footed. Did you know you have a foot like you have a hand? Make like you’re going to do a cartwheel, get in that pose. No, you don’t have to do the cartwheel, but look at your pose. Whichever foot is out in front is your dominant foot. (You also have a dominant eye.)

When I used to cartwheel, my right foot was out front. When I hoola hoop, my right foot is in charge. I pivot from my right foot, I push off with my right foot, and I use my right foot as the foundation of strength from which to hoop dance. Learning Christine says, “Well, if we can’t use the right leg, we’ll have to learn to use the left!”

I love Learning Christine, god bless her, and I hope she’s right, but Real Christine is scared to death right now. I know deep in my core that, yes, I can learn to hoop left-footed and hopefully even extend that lesson to a left-footed life, but Real Christine doesn’t want to do the process of learning. Real Christine wants to wake up tomorrow having learned. Her brain wants her body to already know.

In the end, Real Christine is getting a life lesson from Learning Christine. There’s just no other way to live.

Like a really bad comedy sketch I once saw

My new thing is that I fart while walking a lot. Not like a lot a lot, but enough more than zero--which is the number of walking farts that I used to have—so that it seems like a lot of walk farts. Like chair farts in your own office are OK. Farts in the public bathroom are embarrassing but part of nature. But walking through the hallway launching a series of depth charges in your wake is humiliating.

OMG! Did they hear it? Did it smell? Is it going to stop? Can I make it stop???

I haven’t found a way to hold in the walking fart yet. It seems like the harder I strain at not farting while walking, the faster they squeak out. And they emit louder, too, as if amplified by a perverse opposite of my will to make them silent.

Usually, they’re pretty quiet, and I pretend like maybe it’s my shoes squeaking or something, but today was particularly bad. A student was standing on the threshold of a professor’s office, mainly with his body in the hallway. As soon as I got within five feet of passing him in the hallway, I started passing gas. And they got louder the closer I came to contact with him! “Squeak, squeak, squawk, SQUAWK !” I tried to squeeze and prayed, “No more farts!” as I turned the corner, but I was destined for another “SQUAWK!” and I tried to zoom by.

I don’t know who is aware of hall-fart lady, but I rue the day of having the reputation as the fart walker. If this doesn’t let up, I’m afraid of the sniggers behind my back as I walk by, holding my squawking backside together.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Take it away, Facebook!

Last night turned ugly. When Brook never replied to me, I went to her website to see if she was active or just ignoring her Facebook page. Nope, she was there. She accepted pokes, she commented on other people’s pages, and the kicker was that her most recent poke was like an hour before I checked. Yeah, she was there. I took TonyN’s advice and listened to my jilted side—I de-friended her.

What I didn’t expect was the internal furor Brook would stir up over contacting me and ignoring me. It reminded me of the hurt and the betrayal, the feelings of guilt and unworthiness. I wanted to cry and punch my pillow. Instead I blasted off at my husband, to which he replied, “Get over it.”

It is her problem. She wasn’t an adult then and for whatever reason she hasn’t matured into a respectful online adult. I try to remind myself that if she was that petty to leave me over something so trivial, then she did me a favor by getting out of my life sooner than later.

Like I mentioned before, I always dreaded her finding me online. I knew I would have some strange, mixed emotional reaction, but I didn’t expect to come full circle to the anger. I was so high on not feeling anger yesterday. So proud of myself for being mature. But I emotionally dissolved into that wounded young woman from twelve years ago. That added to my night-tremor by feeling guilty of being childish.

When I was proud of feeling no anger, I remembered all of our happy times when we laughed wildly (and soberly) over making up the word “smircles.” Watching “Great Castles of Europe” every Friday night before we hit the parties. Ditching dinner at 7 to run to the dorm to watch “Friends.” Whispering in class. Sharing secret crushes and agonizing over them.

When the anger returned, I remembered all the horrible, petty things she did to me. In particular I remembered the guys. If it came between Brook and a guy, I chose Brook. If it came between me and my guy, she stole my guy. Why? In retrospect I think she may have been so desperate for approval that she wanted the guys who chose me to validate her by choosing her instead. Really, they felt guilty and always returned to me sheepishly. I never took them back; Brook came first. Brook came first for Brook, too.

No, I’ll probably never find it in me to forgive her no matter how long ago and currently irrelevant her slights. It may seem petty, but she nailed shut and painted over the door to Brook when she left. It’s over. I’ll have to move on. Again. So long, Brook. Please don’t come knocking again.

Friday, October 10, 2008

An untitled chapter from the past

I always knew that one day she’d contact me. No, not in any vain, self-absorbed sort of way, but that it’s a small, microscopic digital world despite its vastness, and we still have people in common. No matter how many online pseudonyms I have (I can think of three off the top of my head), I just knew that bumping into one avatar would eventually lead to her.

She found me. I wasn’t looking forward to being found, but, feeling its inevitability, I was curious. Where was she, how had she changed, how had she not, what was she doing? I admit that I wanted to know, but not knowing was more comfortable. Not knowing meant that I could keep the feelings I associate with her compartmentalized in the past.

We were more than best friends—I thought we were like sisters. We lived together in one room and coordinated our class schedules to match. For years. And then, one day, she left. Completely. She moved out, she quit taking classes with me, she was “busy” when I’d try to talk to her, and she gained an entourage of new friends, none of whom I knew yet they seemed to know all about me.

She broke my heart. How do you go from sisters to enemies in the span of time it takes to move out of a dorm room? How do you share everything, and then, abruptly, nothing?

I had some sense of closure about six months after she disappeared when a mutual friend told me, “This is between y’all, and I’m not gettin’ in the middle of it, but this is what she told me.” My friend shared a few sentences about a misunderstanding, something changeable and repairable had she not just walked away from what we had built together. When my friend told me why she left, I wanted to go shake her and say, “That’s it? You never even gave me the chance to fix it. You never told me something was wrong, and it was something so simple. I’d have changed myself a hundred times over to have fixed it if you had told me.”

It’s been more than ten years, but I remember every detail of the conversation with my friend about why she left. And, here she was Thursday morning, knocking on my digital front door. All those years of knowing I’d see her again, and, poof, she showed up as I drank my coffee and got ready for work.

I thought about ignoring her. I thought about blocking her. I thought about what I really wanted to say to her. And I ended up with the curious side of me peeking around the door. I let her in, just to see. “Hi, I’m a librarian now. We have a cat and a dog. I still make jewelry. Tell me about you?”

I haven’t heard back from her yet—I do recognize that not everyone is quite so enslaved to their computers as me—but I can’t wait for the response. I know from glancing at her stats that she lives in our hometown. I know she looks like she hasn’t aged a day, or she’s using an old photo. I’m laughing now; I know she’s not online nearly as much as I am since I haven’t had a reply from her.

But what happens when I do get the answer? Curiosity satisfied, ignore her benignly? Grudge not lifted, blackball her from my IP? Or be honest?

My best friend says that I have nothing to lose. My friend says that I should tell her she broke my heart, not expecting an apology or an answer, but just putting the truth out there so it’s in the open. I’m leaning more and more toward honesty. Those years ago, I never got to tell her how bad she hurt me. I gave myself some peace over it, eventually, saying to myself it was her problem that she couldn’t be honest with me in the first place. I don’t want to hurt her, don’t want to slash back, but I want her to know that she killed me when she left me like that. I never understood why she destroyed a relationship I thought was so mutually valuable.

I’ve been thinking about what I would blog about her from the moment she showed up. Wondering all day what would eventually bubble up out of me from all the confused words that could be said. And it’s this. This is what I have to say:

Brook, everything in my life I owe to you. With you as my sister through the first half of college, I was driven, and I learned to succeed academically instead of just coast. With you, for the first time, I felt real intellectual accomplishment. I went on to get two Master’s degrees, and I work at a private college. Thank you.

With one exception, all my dearest friends from college, the only people from school I’ve kept in touch with, they all came into my life after you left me. Thank you.

And because of all the new people in my life after you left, I met my future husband. I don’t even know how to say “Thank you” enough for him.

Brook, because of you, I learned, I grew, I loved. I always thought of our split with such regret, but, today, after all these years of waiting for you to find me, I see how many gifts you gave me even in your absence.

Honestly, I’ll never forgive you, and I can’t foresee my having anything but the most superficial interest in your life, but I’m not angry. I can’t even believe it of me, but I’m not angry. I feel regret and grief still, like I always have, but, as of today, I don’t resent you anymore. And I feel liberated by not being angry. You gave me liberation, Brook. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Look at me I'm self-absorbed, I love to work at myself all day (sung to TCOB)

So, um, how do you focus on not being self-absorbed without being absorbed in yourself? If you're obssessing over yourself, aren't you self-absorbed?

I feel kinda stuck on this one. All I can do is look back on the conversations when I talked too much, and then try to rationalize with the conversations when I listened.

This must be like "Clementia," and it is a challenge I need to work on within myself to show it to the outside world.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mirror, mirror

Absently picking at my navel, I shouted down the stairs to Matthew in the living room. “Hey! Did you know Tracey went to Chicago this summer?”


“For a conference. For several days.”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Anyway, he has friends over at the newspaper where I used to archive. He said he got to go visit them at work and take a tour of the building.”

Silence. I pulled a spec of crust from my belly button.

“We talked about how beautiful it was, and how it looked so perfect, like a cake, and was right on the Chicago River.”

“So how was he?”

“He just said fine.”


“We didn’t really talk about him much. We sorta talked about me.”


“Am I selfish?” I dug in my navel a little harder, looking to get my fingernail on an elusive bit. “Am I so selfish that my conversations are all about me?”


“Or do I just have a lot to talk about?” I pulled the skin flake free from my belly button and went in to see if there were more.


“I guess since you’re not answering, you think I’m selfish.”

More silence, so I turned to walk away. Matthew stopped me, “If you really want an answer, what you’re talking about is self-absorbed.”

I walked back to the top of the stairs. “Am I self absorbed?” I could feel more navel crust, but poking at it was starting to hurt.

“Well, yeah, you kind of are.”

I stopped picking my navel.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Blind justice

My rear neighbors burn their yard waste all the time, and it drives me batty. Today, I called the non-emergency fire on them and asked if it were legal to burn yard waste. They said no and promptly dispatched a fire truck to deal with it. I wasn't here to see the confrontation, but I saw the fire truck leave, and I smell victory. Their revenge? They're weed-eating something so dense it's whining like a dentist's drill and making my teeth hurt. One battle won, same battle lost.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Halloween's not-crone

Halloween brings out the age conflict in me. Too old to be attending theme keggers, too young to care for the older, nostalgic crowd. It’s really a mirror of my life.

I look too young to possibly be in a position of authority at work. When I told someone I was the librarian in charge today, his jaw literally dropped and he stared at me agape as he said, “You are?” I wanted to take back everything I’d done to help him. I’m so tired of disrespect.

Last weekend, I helped a non-traditional student for more than an hour, teaching him how to use online databases and how to physically find books. The last thing he said to me? “So this is your job?” I said simply, “Yes, I’m a librarian,” and pushed the black tar out of my mouth and into my stomach in a clenching knot.

So how does a not-age dress for Halloween, and will there even be a party a not-age wants to attend? I told Matthew our “just in case” plan should be to go as rock stars since we have costume-y enough clothes and props to pull it off, but he said that wasn’t good enough.

Not good enough. Nothing I desire for Halloween is good enough for a not-age. I’m not too settled down to not desire something wild in secret, but I’m too frisky to have the grown-up version of fun. Settled down wins at home, but apparently doesn’t show opaquely at work.

I think I lack youth, and I think I lack age, but maybe what I really lack are locally relevant friends and an appropriate job. Two masters degrees may have made me uppity, but they haven’t translated to connections or respectability.

I don’t know what I’ll be for Halloween, should the need arise, but I know it will involve a prom dress and a wig from Target. Hell, maybe I’ll even get plastic fangs. Go wild, not-age.

Coming up for air

Remember the note to myself I couldn't find? The music artist I wanted so badly? I found it. It was on the mega-important insurance page I had filed in my desk under "Mega-Important Insurance." My brain. So peculiar.

Turns out it's J'DaVey. Who knew? Once I read it I knew for certain that, yes, duh, that was the name, but I couldn't remember it on my own.

Enjoy the performance. It's sweet.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Five-second soul-mate

“Sorry, I just have to talk to everyone--it makes my sister so mad.”

My heart sped up a little: “Me too! It drives my husband crazy!”

“But, you have to talk to people.”

“I know; you never know who you’re going to meet.”

“Mm-hmm. See you later.”


Stunned, I’d just met the parallel me. I was so happy with my discovery that I couldn’t even share it with Matthew. I had to hold in the savor just a little longer.

She’ll take 12 inches of cock, or, A dog’s best day

Yesterday was vet day for Miss Blanche DuBois. Vet day involves lots of things Blanche loves: car rides, attention from strangers, and random treats. Perfect! The only thing that makes the vet even better is all the AMAZING smells outside to pee on. Every inch, there’s a wonderful new aroma that needs to be marked. I usually leave ten minutes early just to walk the ten feet to the vet’s door.

In the vet’s, Blanche wagged her tail through weighing, ear and eye checks, three vaccinations, and a tartar tooth scraping. Never stopped the happy tail once. The one thing she didn’t like? Getting her blood drawn. No tail-wagging for that.

In what I just realized is a theme for our pets, Blanche has kinda crummy teeth. She’s more prone to plaque and tartar than other dogs and has receding gums on her canines. I asked the vet, “If you think she doesn’t need a full dental cleaning, what should we do to help keep her teeth clean?”

“Well,” he said, “that dog treat you just gave her is actually tartar control dog food. You can buy a bag of that and use it as treats and not food. Does she have any chews at home?”

“We were giving her meat bones, and she would eat the whole thing, which was keeping her teeth clean, but she quit chewing them. Now she chews the meat off and leaves the bone alone.”

The vet said, “You could try a bully stick. We sell them here, and they’re great for teeth.”

“Oh really?”

“They’re actually dried bull penis.”

He said more intelligent things about bully sticks being tough to chew and great for the teeth, but my brain stopped at “dried bull penis.” I thought I might die of laughter. “We’ll take one,” I said, with nary but a little chuckle.

The vet tech brought in a foot of shrink-wrapped dried penis. I still couldn’t get over this, but I kept my cool. “So this is what a giant dehydrated penis looks like?”

When we got home, I gave Blanche her 12 inch cock. She ate it non-stop in about 8 hours. I think it was supposed to have taken her a couple of weeks gnaw. Blanche loves penis.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Bang-banging my head

I deleted this because my mommy said I should. It was too close to being about my workplace.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bang a gong

I deleted this because my mommy said I should. It was too close to being about my workplace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

OK, so I’m doing it

I had no intention of blogging about my political views, but Matthew said it was obligatory. He planted a bug in my ear, and now I feel like I’ve got to get it out via Christine Wy.

Yesterday I joined a (useless) Facebook group, St. Augustine college for Obama. I semi-publicly declared myself Obama-ite.

I wish I had a deeply heartfelt and insightful reason for voting Obama versus the typical Dem v. Republican rhetoric, but, no, I ain’t got it. What I can say is that I like him. I just do. He oozes like. I guess that is deeply heartfelt, but not very insightful, I fear.

When Fox shows Obama accidentally stammering over lines in a speech, I feel sympathy, not the resentment I feel toward Bush. And McCain? Is the guy a robot or what? OK, here’s an insightful (if obscure) metaphor. McCain is like that episode of Futurama where Bender hallucinates that he’s on the island of obsolete robots who refused to be upgraded. McCain is totally the wooden robot that runs via water wheel.

There it is interweb. Enjoy my pointless political offering.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An inhale and half an exhale

I just started doing my dramatic interpretation of Samuel Beckett's 1969 play Breath, when I realized I was sitting publicly at the reference desk. I'm not afraid of looking silly or unprofessional, but I don't think my boss would appreciate complaints about "the creepy chick who works Sunday nights."

At least I got a breath and a half in before I aborted my performance piece.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Travis Barker, I secretly hate you

In case you hadn't heard (and I don't know why I did), former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker is in critical condition after a plane crash. Do you know what I thought when I saw his slick Hollywood picture with the announcement? I took a quick breath through my nose, and thought about how I will never afford to be that tattooed. The guy is probably in intensive care, and all I can think is that I'm so jealous I sort of hate him, thereby confirming the suspicion that I'm a bitch.

But it's OK because you know I love you. I only get kinda jealous when you have a tattoo I want.

Do not remove this tag under penalty of law

Update: Right leg saga installment number 5001.

I finally got the hot pink cast off, but, honestly, I was a little sad to see it go. It was pretty cool to have a hot pink leg. I need to figure out how to replicate that. Leg warmers? Hmm. But, now I’m free to at last exfoliate the bound leg and remove the fungal-like dead skin covering my right leg. Ew. The goo that sloughed off from between my toes last night was epic.

When I got the cast off, the nurse gently removed my stitches. She put some sort of surgical tape over the stitch-hole. “If the tape falls off, here’s some extra.” OK. Cool. She bandaged it all up with an ace bandage type thing (but way cooler), and I was released into the wild.

The problem? I had assumed I’d get a walking cast, so I hadn’t brought a right shoe or sock. The nurse made me a sock out of tubical gauze used for building plaster casts, and I flapped on the little plastic shoe protector I had been wearing over the hot pink cast. The result was me walking with a floppy limp, begging Matthew to stop at the house and find me a shoe. I’d survive with the surgical tube sock, but I needed my shoe. Fortunately, he grudgingly indulged and found my shoe. I can only imagine what I would have been like to flop around in the plastic over-shoe ten sizes too big while at work. Scrape, flop, drag, limp. Scrape, flop, drag, limp. “Christine is coming.”

Last night was the main event, the first shower since getting the cast off. I removed the stretchy bandage, and looked at the surgical tape. “I guess it comes off for a shower.” I started to pull, but it had the tenacity of a pit bull clamped onto my leg. I had already started though, so it seemed too late to turn back. I got to the stitch holes. My god. Such pain as the super-magic-cling-ultra-serious tape began to peel off my stitch scabs. I wanted to cry. But, I had come so far, there was just no way to re-adhere it. I stopped half-way over the stitch scabs, knowing I had to go on. I screwed up the courage to pull. The sharp stinging pain was like thousands of tiny needle points grinding into my delicate ankle hole. But I did it.

I got the rest of the tape off, and looked at the tape. My skin and all the scabs clung to it in a perfect formation of where the stitches had been. Echoing through my mind: “If the tape falls off, here’s extra.” What she meant was, “Don’t remove the tape.”

I looked at my leg, and there the poor delicate skin was raw and exposed again. I felt set-back, and at my own doing. I finally told myself, “Oh well. Scabs will grow back.”

As soon as I finished the shower, I reapplied the surgical tape. This time, it’s not coming off until it falls off on its own. No more stitch scab shadows.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Crying conscience

"You! You are obsessed with germy keyboards and hand-washing! And you’re letting the cat lick your hamburger?” I’m going to have to learn new words to describe the way Matthew talks to me because incredulity is just part of it. Exasperation? Is there a word that combines incredulity and exasperation? If so, that’s the way Matthew was yelling at me—incredurationed.

Giddily, “Yeah!”

And indeed, Loki was standing to my right licking the hamburger I proffered him. The crotch-licking, cat-poop-walking love-machine was licking my hamburger. I giggled more. Loki grew adventurous and took a little bite with his one remaining front tooth.*

At that point my memory of exact events gets bubbly. I started laughing hysterically as Matthew fumaroled at me about the imprecations of letting one of our pets share the food that was about to go into the mouth of his germ-obsessed wife. I was laughing because Loki actually did it, he actually took a bite, and Matthew was completely right that I am a germ-phobic tightwad.

Loki ran away when I started laughing. He doesn’t do well with loud noises, surprises, or sudden movements. I definitely fell under the “loud noise” category, as tears started to well in my eyes I laughed so hard. Loki running made me feel bad since he’s my special baby, and I really enjoyed being wicked, so I wanted him to come back and eat hamburger.

“Loki,” I called soothingly. “I’m sorry baby.” He loves me so much he came back right away. Instantly he was back in my lap.

Matthew said, “It really is ‘I Can Has Cheezburger,’” and we chuckled at that. Then, sweet, innocent Matthew went back to his own sandwich. I turned to Loki and proffered the other side of the hamburger. He didn’t waste any time grabbing a hunk or wait around to find out if I was going to do that evil thing where I scare him away. Oh, no, Loki ate wolfishly like one hounded by higher pack members.

I tried to hold in the laugh, I did, but it was too much for my little pea brain. I laughed again, though not as hard, not wanting to attract Matthew’s attention. Matthew finally looked, but he misinterpreted my merriment as the continuation of the first insult against feline-human germ relations, giving me the freedom to laugh harder. Now I’d fed the cat hamburger twice AND duped my husband, and the tears just spilled down my cheeks.

That cat. My greatest fears in life may be E. coli and taxoplasmosis gondii, but I can deny Loki nothing.

* Loki has severe periodontal disease and has about three teeth left. It’s not our fault, and he’s not that old. Life hasn’t always been kind to my dearest pet, which is why I always am.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Too many tear drops

I cried. My latest adventure in leg surgery has broken my spirit. I can’t quit crying and whinging over it. I do mean literal tears. I retreat to the bedroom, turn on the air conditioner to be comfortable while I wail, and let it rip. Totally in the gutter over this. Demoralized.

I have felt like my life will never be pain free or normal for a year now, but surgery has taken me to new depths. At least when I limped and had terrible pain, I wasn’t leaking bodily fluids. I physically felt better after surgery, but the risk of infection and general grossness was not worth the improvement. I needed it desperately, but I sincerely regret it.

And what if this doesn’t work? What if under the pink cast there’s an oozing wound still dribbling clear fluid? I won’t do it. I won’t do more surgery. I don’t care if it means I won’t walk for a year, I won’t do this torture anymore.

Or is the leaking the torture? At least the leaking didn’t hurt. It may have been disgusting and inconvenient, but at least I could live my life. I want to take a sledgehamer to my life right now, but lives aren't made of cinderblock, they're just air, so that would be useless.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now there’s jitters

I suppose I have mostly recovered from last night’s particularly bad “I hate me” attack, but now I have butterflies. I phone interview soon, and I want to be good enough, and I want them to be good enough. Both sides of the equation must be equal. Or it’s one of those logic problems: If A and B then C. If they like me, if I like them, then we’ll get together. I’m nervous for both going according to plan. Or for a total backfire because they’re awfully far away. I don’t know what I want from this exactly, except magic. My life needs more magic. I must need to find a Wiccan.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mental discord

I’ve hit my maximum output for the day. It’s that time of night where my daily allotment of self-esteem has evaporated. I’m left with the brain-gnawing grudges, angsts, and self-flagellations. I had a psychiatrist who called it “negative obsessive self-talk.”

Every night--the precise time shifts from evening to evening--I reach the witching hour of negative obsessive self-talk. I’m starting to think of it as like a wind up clock, and my self-esteem just needs recharging.

I hide from Matthew during these black moments, knowing I’ll only start a fight. It won’t be his fault or anything he’s done, but, he’ll be there, and I’ll want to sharpen my claws on someone other than me for a change.

Instead, I try to remind myself that this is my Brain Dysmorphic Disorder talking and that tomorrow I’ll wake up as Christine as usual. I try to make jokes with myself. Imagine how ridiculous I would sound to say what I was thinking out loud. Maybe that’s one of the tricks one of my therapists tried to teach me that I didn’t quite learn: say it out loud to hear how preposterous it is.

My current therapist tells me to listen to the negative self-talk and say to myself what I would say to a friend. “That’s not true, and you know it.” “It will be OK tomorrow; you just need to sleep on it.” “Maybe you’ve made some bad choices at times in your life, but you’re still here, and you’re still thriving.” “But think what you learned from that mistake.”

Tonight was a bad one. It was another bed rest day. I tried to be as active as my leg would let me, but it stopped me and firmly said “No.” I listened to it, trying to be sympathetic. If you aren’t depressed before you lay on a couch for an entire day, you will be afterward. Or at least I always am. Laying around never solves any of my problems, just makes me wish I weren’t laying around.

Surviving today’s couch-surf, I hear the swirling waves in my head telling me … such horrible lies. “Tomorrow is another day.” I’ll sleep it off, and I’ll start the whole process again, each day, a new self-esteem tide rolling in and swooshing out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Finding enthalpy

In therapy and in my friend-talk unofficial therapy, one of my big crisis points is tidiness.

I am a slob. I know I am a slob. It’s physically evident, and therefore very difficult to deny.

My specific disorder is untidiness. I do not leave dishes out or food bits laying around, but all the beads, hoola hoops, itinerant papers, purses, candles, toy cameras, and my endless stream of flotsam is strewn about like a cyclone around me. I’ve literally always been this way. I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t supposed to clean something up.

In therapy, I’ve worked on recognizing this as a behavior and not an innate flaw of my being. Being a slob not a definition of who I am as a person.

My best friend has watched me mentally fight the wave of untidy, trying to keep my head above the papers and toys. She said to me, “Instead of fighting it, maybe you need to accept this as part of how you live.” Brilliant words. Instead of hating myself at being a miserable failure at life because I can’t move the perfume bottle from the coffee table to the bathroom vanity, accept that in my mind the place for the perfume bottle may be the coffee table.

I fight the untidy self-loathing, and feel like I am winning, until a little someone in my life reminds me … I don’t live alone.

My roommate, my best friend, my husband. He reminds me, “But I don’t want to live like this.”

Notice I said “roommate” first and “husband” last. I never lose sight of my husband, but I forget that he has to live as my roommate amidst the swirling tidal pool of my works in progress. And he doesn’t like it. When I met my husband, he was a tidy bachelor with a few belongings and a penchant for video games. Now he’s caught up in my entropy, and he’s gotten some untidy habits as well.

Lately, though, I’ve seen him breaking free of me. He keeps his clothes neater in their drawers and in his closet. He has organized a motorcycle gear area. He has a desk/office I’m essentially not allowed to touch.

He’s climbing out of me. I watch him fold his t-shirts and open a drawer to put them away, and I feel a skeezy red neon sign above my head weakly flickering “LOSER.” I’m back in the judgment. If Matthew can be tidy, then I am a failure at life because I struggle to be tidy.

Matthew just wants a balance between the entropy and a little enthalpy. Isn’t that what some theorists think the universe wants too? Pushing and pulling to find a cosmic balance between entropy and enthalpy? The magnetic influence of Matthew’s tidiness needs a stronger pull to get me into balance. But I’ll try. I’ll try to reverse polarity and find that even space.

I hope. I hope to try. I may be coming to terms with being a slob, but my husband doesn’t want to. I hope I can come to terms with living with my roommate, my spouse and come to terms with my character traits.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Transformation 99 percent complete

Florida has changed me. I leave indoor crap on the porch, I wear flip flops in public, and spaghetti strap tank tops are de rigueur. Now, I’ve nearly made the full-on deep-South transformation—trailer park queen. I bought a nightgown, but before it even saw the bedroom, I discovered it was the best house dress ever. Now, I get home from work, look for shorts and a tank top and remember, “Ah! House dress!”

I don’t think I’ll ever make the full conversion, though, because my house shoes of choice are Birkenstocks. I may be trashy, but I’m well shod.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Don't avoid kittehs

more animals

I chose left.

How’s life in the slow lane?

Dear Diary,

This most recent surgery hurts quite a bit, but hopefully it will be my last. I saw the surgeon last Tuesday, exclaiming that my incision continued to weep synovial fluid. He asked me to come in for follow-up surgery the very next day. He said he would read up on it to see if anything new had come up on synovial issues, and I thought of him studying for an exam and my leg the test.

I awoke from anesthesia much better this time, and didn’t rage that I was mentally ill so I couldn’t handle the stress of waking up. That’s a relief, because I was quite embarrassed later by the things I said while in a stupor. I’m also embarrassed I had such a hard time breathing on my own, but I don’t know why I’m embarrassed about that. It’s hard coming to after you’ve had a tube down your throat for so long.

Anyway, this time the surgeon changed his tactic on my leg hole. He opened the incision wider, and as the surgical assistant would later tell me, they found exactly what I described: a wound tract leading straight out for the fluid to weep to an opening in my skin. Opening the incision wider, the surgeon added additional stitches deeper in my tissue then sealed the whole thing back up. And he’s serious this time.

This time, the surgeon took no chances on my one-in-a-million odds status and completely immobilized my leg in a plaster cast. I got to choose my color this time, and my right leg is adorned with stylish hot pink synthetic fibers. I’m proud of my pink cast in my own weird way, because at least I had control over the color. Matthew and I want to write “LOL” on it so that it will be a “LolCast.” Approximately five people in the world will think that’s funny, so I have not had the courage to follow through with it yet. I have also considered having everyone I know draw a flower on it instead of signatures, but the cast comes off in a week and a half so that seems too excessive. If I get a second cast (which they are threatening), I’m definitely going ahead with the flower concept. It’s just a shame I don’t have more friends. I’ll have to sneak in a lot of my own flowers.

Diary, this surgery has sucked, even though I was the most prepared for it yet. Since I never tidy up, everything was pretty much already in “go” mode from the last surgery. I did need a new DVD player though. The pink one I bought last time may have had the advantage of being pink, but it skipped, so I went with something less pink this time. It’s awfully dull, but it works.

Anyway, this surgery sucks because it hurts a lot and I can’t move without the aid of my two buddies, the crutches. Or my BFF the walker. It’s the hurting part I can’t stand. Or the lack of mobility I can’t stand, I don’t know. I did have an excuse to buy new sweatpants though, so that made it kinda fun.

Oh, Diary, that reminds me! Matthew and I got to have a good time at Target because of surgery leg. I tried to use the electric wheelchair, and just laughed and laughed. It’s no wonder the people in those things seem so angry—the electric carts are hard to drive and frustrating as hell. Matthew coaxed me out of the electric wheelchair and into the regular push one. One which we’ve used before and it’s kind of broken.

The problem with the push wheelchair is there’s no basket. So I had to hold everything in my lap. I ended up with a coffeemaker, my new sweatpants, coffee, and some other sundries in my lap as Matthew pushed me with one hand while the other held an eighteen-pound bag of dog food over his shoulder. I decided this was the time for comedy. I decided I was going to try with all my might to pull the most miserable looking mug I could for the rest of my trip in Target, instead of smiling at how silly we are. I really put the blackest parts of my heart to work at frowning and hanging my head.

Guess what? Other people don’t make eye contact with people in wheelchairs. All that emotional strain of staying in character for nothing. Not a soul looked at me, which is a shame because I know we were comic gold. I gave up and laughed at my own joke. I’m funny enough for me.

I’ll add that to my list of mantras, Diary: “I’m funny enough for me.” I like that.

Good night Diary. Cross your fingers for no more surgery.

The title of this post comes to me courtesy of Monya's ever-humorous e-mails, when she enquired after my post-op health. The answer to the question is "Slow."

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Words to go to

At my therapist's office last week, I excused myself to use the restroom. My therapist's office is in an old building, dating from I'd guess late 1800's to early 1900's. The bathroom reflects this. Tiny stalls made from marble slab and closed by solid hardwood doors set the time period well. Even if the cramped space makes me feel like I'm in Lilliput.

Because of the original wood's antiquity, there is no way to gauge the age of graffiti. I sit and ponder it, wonder what soul was here when and wrote that little summary of their life.

I tried a new stall last week during my therapy appointment. I sat, and directly in front of me were the words, "Practice charity without thought of reciproc." My first thought was to take a pen and add "ity" to the last word, but my second through two million thoughts have been about the content.

Who would write such a gracious and caring message? Who would graffiti such a gracious and caring message? When was it written? Given the piety of this town, was this from a sermon? Actually from the Bible somewhere? Wait, who knew that this was the message I needed?

"Practice charity without thought of reciprocity." Isn't that what I've been working on in therapy the last year? Clementia? Mercy? Compassion? And now graffiti reminds me.

I mentioned it to my therapist. He laughed and said, "Is that still there?" He went on to say, "Don't you just want to correct the spelling of that last word?" Yes, yes I did. And, don't worry, he's not a bad therapist. We discussed the graffiti in the context of my life and the lessons I struggle with.

"Practice charity without the thought of..." "Practice charity..." Yes, "Practice charity without thought of reciproc." Questionably spelled words to ponder in life's restroom.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Category: things that only happen to Christine

We have an unspoken arrangement that I’m not to go to the ocean without Matthew. We go to the free beach, Vilano, which also happens to be the surf beach. I am no match for the waves. Numerous times Matthew has dragged me up by the arms as I lay fighting in six inches of water.

Today, nothing could motivate me. Not even the second cup of coffee. So many things to do, yet I couldn’t do them. I decided that the only thing that could motivate me was the ocean. But Matthew wasn’t at home.

I felt a surge of adrenaline as I pulled on my bathing costume, knowing I was doing something wicked (me, the naughty gnome, ineffectual but giddy). “This is just what I need,” I thought.

I got in the car wearing only my swimsuit—no cover-up for today’s foray—and I looked up to see a spider. It was the size of a dime, total, but its body was disproportionately large to its legs. The spider was black with yellow or green stripes—I couldn’t quite tell. I looked around for one of my half-used tissues, deciding to kill it. I jabbed, it jumped. I poked, it scurried. The spider moved much faster that the initial languorous pose I found it relaxing in.

Shocking me, the spider fell from the roof of the car and landed in my lap. I jabbed again. It dodged and landed on the floor, but I felt searing pain on my thigh. The spider bit me! Sitting in my car, a tiny black spider bit my leg. I don’t blame it. If someone were trying to jab me with a half-used tissue, I’d bite too, but it hurt quite a bit.

I drove to Vilano anyway, all of this having happened in our home parking spot, but the bite didn’t quit stinging. The ocean fixes everything, so I figured my little wade would solve the problem. It did not.

The bite now looks like a mosquito sting with a red ring about it, and it still burns. I’m trying to decide if I’m going into anaphylactic shock (something I’m fortunately familiar with the symptoms of from my allergy to chicken), and I’m trying to decide what a neurotoxin would feel like. Would I know to call 911?

I’m at home. I can’t find the spider picture on the web (har har), but Matthew read me some of the physical symptoms I should look out for. But, still, a spider bite in the car in the driveway? Come on. It sounds like some sort of put-on, but, no, this falls under the category of Things that Happen to Christine. I should be a Jeopardy column of questions. “On September 1, what poisonous encounter did Christine Wy experience?” Answer: ferocious mystery spider attack.

He also walks in his own poop

I want to say something, anything, about how I’m feeling, and not sound desperate and repetitive. Why does the leg saga continue? I leak synovial fluid, I get to the doctor’s office, it stops. “Call me if it leaks again.” I leak synovial fluid, I get to the doctor’s office, it stops. This weekend takes us to synovial siting the fourth, for those of you counting at home. And, yes, brilliantly my leg started leaking on a holiday weekend.

For some twisted Christine reason, I blame myself for leaking. “I shouldn’t have hula hoped so much.” “I shouldn’t have gone to the ocean.” “I shouldn’t have lifted those objects.” “I shouldn’t have actually stood up.” How are any of these sensible? I don’t know how many times both of my surgeons said there is no reason to hold back and to be active absolutely as soon as I feel like it. The sooner the better, within a couple of days of surgery. But, somehow, in Christine brain, this means, “Except the hula hoop. Except the ocean. Except lifting. Except standing.”

Wait. Standing? How is “standing” my fault? When did it become medically inadvisable to stand when given the direction “be active as soon as possible”?

There’s reality, and then there’s Christine reality. I know that we can argue the relativity of reality til the cows come home, but my nearest and dearest will eagerly agree that I’m a bit off the mark. Christine reality is a gift when I see something beautiful about the way pink, aqua and lime can be wrapped together to make art, but when it comes to interpreting the physically quantifiable (“By the way, your leg is leaking.”), Christine reality gets all fun-house mirrors. Suddenly, “Hm, your leg is a bit of a medical anomaly,” becomes “I knew I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed for two weeks even though they said I could!” It’s paranoid, it’s delusional, it’s twisty and distorted. I have BDD-Brain Dysmorphic Disorder.

My cat is twirling around my legs as I type. He purrs. Do you know what he’s saying? “Yessss Mommy dear, yes. More surgery, Mommy. More surgery, and then bed rest in my room. Just you and me, Mommy, you and me. Sssssurgery.” My cat may be eerily right (and not for the first time), and maybe my leg hole needs to be surgically resealed. And then maybe extra bed rest this time. My cat may be more biased than my doctor, but he loves me more than any surgeon ever will. Maybe I need to take more medical cues from cats.

Turbulent on a quiet sea

Originally written last week on a date I could possibly count backward to.

Wednesday morning, I tried desperately to think of a word when writing an e-mail to a friend. The perfect word, I could describe the word to you in paragraphs and talk about feelings and emotions this one word stirred. But not the word; I couldn’t think it at all.

A Germanic root word, two words put together. Archaic grammatical structure. Uncommon in contemporary usage. Nautical. But the word. What was the word?

Tonight: “Matthew, will you bring me the new William Gibson novel?” Of course he did. I married some crazy angel who thinks I’m ginchy.

I began Pattern Recognition, knowing I’d be in for the best read I’ve had in a while, but Gibson stopped me cold by page ten. He used the word. The word. In a sentence. In a paragraph. In a book. Did this mean I couldn’t use the word now because I’d be ripping off Gibson? Did Gibson own the word by his right of having gotten to it first?

“No,” I finally persuaded myself. Gibson can write as masterfully as he chooses, but no one owns each individual word. I can use it too. So, deep breath, here it is … becalmed.

We’ve been in St. Augustine a year now. My career path didn’t exactly trip lightly through the sun-dappled forest like I had imagined it would once I arrived here, and it’s taken me that year to find a groove, and discover new areas of my life that can be stimulating outside of work. In that year was the heartache of the never-ending broken leg, but then hoola hooping through the pain, and starting make hoola hoops for others filled a niche in my heart that had been aching.

In still better news, I was offered a chance at leg redemption through surgery. I jumped on one leg at the chance to get repaired at long last. But then the leaking. All that synovial fluid that just didn’t want to stop, remember that? All hope felt lost. The synovial fluid quit leaking, and I was given the go-ahead to hoop my heart out since it was great physical therapy and would help my recovery. Excellent!

News improved even more. My hoops caught the college intramural director’s eye, and he saw possibility. He wanted me to do a hoop dance demo to raise interest and for me to teach students hoop dance basics. Not only would I get paid to do something I’ve been giving out for free at the farmer’s market, but I’d be given the chance to offer hoops for sale to students. My heart’s hobby looked like it might be sprouting golden fleece to reward my days of tedium.

Now, I am a sailor, becalmed.

“Becalm.” Almost seems like such a lovely, fetching word. “Calm.” Sounds like “palm.” Which makes me think of “palm trees.” “Calm palm trees” sounds like a meditative place of perfection formed in one’s mind in utter peace. “Becalm” nautically means the palm trees are a little too calm. It means one’s boat is trapped—hopefully temporarily—by some uncontrollable sea force that has stopped one’s progress.

I am becalmed. The intramural director brought so much more hope into my creeping little life, and I could just see the good work I’d be doing and the happy place from within myself where it would grow. I made detailed lesson plans. I put together hoop dance workout music sets for different phases in the workout and for different sessions. I made fifteen hoola hoops from scratch with only a scant prayer that they return on their investment—all for this beacon. I was willing to give it my all, and I have been doing so.

I mentioned the hoop dance demonstration. I haven’t really hooped in a year, not since breaking my leg. Getting back up with the hoop and expecting my body to remember how to move was apparently more than I should have asked for. I’ve had to gradually rekindle the body memory of each new old move, syncopated, and coax them into transitions enough to consider dance. So I took my bag of the few moves I had time to pick back up, mixed them up, added some good music, and I’ve been rehearsing for my big hoop demo ever since learning about it a month ago.

“Go ahead,” more than one doctor said, “there’s nothing you can do to hurt your leg at this point.”

They were wrong. Tonight I started leaking synovial fluid again. Six days from my big campus debut, and I’m leaking. Again. I am, truly, becalmed.

I feel like a twitchy sailor trapped in an unreal bubble of inaction. What is the ocean but action? Yet, when becalmed, the sea becomes a glassine place where no one can act because of nature’s lethargy, all while you know that just outside that entrapped dome life zooms on. I feel angry, resentful, restless—anything that makes you want to lean overboard and just scream at the top of your lungs at the sea. No words, just primeval screaming at the height of human frustration.

Finding my sea voyage at last, I am becalmed. “Becalm” itself may be the perfect word. “Be calm.” Isn’t that what you say when the theatre catches fire?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


My first Florida natural disaster rains around me: Tropical Storm Fay. We laughed at Fay. The meteorologists told us that at any moment we were in for imminent demise, but it never came. Some cloudy skies, maybe this is it, then nothing. “OK, OK,” the meteorologists said, “This is what might happen with Fay…” I joked with my family, “There’s nothing I’m too worried about saving anyway.” Such a cavalier statement for such a non-event as Tropical Storm Fay.

Guess what? Fay went out over the ocean, picked up water, and is heading directly toward St. Augustine. Fay didn’t bounce and scud away as she looked. She didn’t make landfall and lose momentum. No, Fay defied all by delaying her grand entrée into First Coast Society, and by possibly upgrading herself to a Level 1 hurricane.

We have renter’s insurance. We have hurricane insurance. We have auto, scooter, life happens insurance. But what if we really did lose it all? What if all our camera gear and computer equipment drowned? What if I lost all my data? What if I lost my wedding photos? What if I couldn’t catch my cat and it was time to evacuate?

Not so cavalier anymore. I sat in my living room tonight, looking around, “What is most important to me to carry upstairs?” “Do I need an evacuation kit that has a change of clothes?” “What about my hoola hoops and the man-hours and monetary investment in my home business?” Most importantly, “Can my cat survive if we leave for a few days?” “What if it floods and the dog is locked in her crate?”

Now that Fay is not just a cute name affecting people so far away in Fort Myers, I sit in bed helplessly and wonder, “What can I save?” Not much. Fay happens. No matter how much insurance we have, there’s no coupon to clip for lifestyle rebate.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Triumphant return

Matthew's back. We begin right where we ended, and it feels so good. We went to the beach and sat on the shore with the dog, and now we're rinsing off the sand in our shower. So good to feel like home again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Setting turned to "off"

It turns out I’m useless without my husband. He’s been in Colorado for a conference for way too long.

I’m late to work because there’s no one to push me out of bed. I lay on the couch watching TV and have no one to talk to. I’m unmotivated to make hoola hoops and stare at my materials blankly.

I love the guy—I do truly—but I had no idea how necessary he was to my basic survival skills. I’m bored with eating. There’s no reason to cook. I went to the grocery store to buy milk and turkey without him. It’s been awful. I bought a tube of cookie dough to make me feel better, but I haven’t even been motivated enough to eat that. How sad is it that I can’t eat cookie dough? This is truly a terrible time in my life.

I call his cell phone three times a day. “I miss you. I wish you’d come home.” And then I imagine the other conference-goers not having such whiny spouses. Matthew has to answer the phone and whisper, “We’re eating dinner; can I call you back?” I be no one else has such a clingy mate.

And all this makes me wonder if I’ve become co-dependent. If I need him so badly, is this love and feeling absence, or is this medically an issue I need to deal with and learn to allow separation?

I think of my mantra, “Clementia,” which is the feminine form of the Latin noun meaning compassion. I am supposed to use clementia to learn compassion for others, and thereby learn compassion for myself. Somehow I feel this is a “clementia” moment. I need to feel the compassion for Matthew to let him be academically professional, but I need to feel compassion that I have a longing for his presence.

Or, is it co-dependent? At least I have new fodder for my therapist instead of the whole “I’m depressed, and I broke my leg” skipping record.

Clementia. Even if it is co-dependence, I need to feel compassion that I have something to deal with.