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.