OK, so in the last entry I was all into riding my bike, and where did riding my bike get me? In a pickle that's where. I fell off my gd bike and now both of my palms are basically skin-free and you know what is connected to your palms? Your fingers, thumbs, and arms. You know what hurts? Typing. Turning the pages of books. Picking up things, including cups, forks, and slices of pizza. Opening doors. Turning on faucets. Zipping my pants. Operating a cell phone. Playing video games. Hugging people. Basically doing anything that is a) necessary to life, b) helpful in doing all the homework I have to do and c) fun and/or able to distract you from the stinging pain of your bloody, disfigured hands. Plus, I deeply bruised my pelvis, so you can add standing up, sitting down, and walking to the list of hurting things.
Obviously the typing is possible b/c I am doing it right now, although very slowly and with two beaked hands, like how The Penguin would type. making capitals is the most painful b/c sometimes you forget your new shifting system which involves two hands and try to do it with one hand. no caps in these last two sentences b/c i used them up on the penguin
ok this is starting to hurt see you guyz lata
I've been trying to ride my bike more lately, and I did during my spring break a week ago, when the sun was out and I felt mobile. But my building is tall and it's annoying to shove my bike into the elevator, and I'm scared of keeping my bike in the underground parking lot, which kind of seems like a rape factory (although that's an unfair thing to say and maybe insensitive to people who have been raped; at any rate it makes me nervous.) Now that it's daylight savings time I really have no excuse not to ride my bike everywhere, all the time. Well, I guess I still have the elevator excuse, but I'm getting better at that, and my other excuse, that if I rode my bike after dark I would be murdered, is less relevant because there is less dark. I can totally ride it to class if I want.
And today I went for a ride at about 5:30, when it was still sunny and breezy and warm, and let me tell you: I love this city! Everyone in other cities lifts an eyebrow when I tell them I live here, and people who do live here make knowing comments about the crime and the cruddiness, but where I live it is just adorable and beautiful, and where I don't live I suppose it's cruddy and shabby and dangerous, but I like that! I like rust, and shambles (in the figurative sense; I am, in my advancing age, tiring of blood, as I learned from watching V for Vendetta the other night. After about the eighth beautifully-choreographed jet of blood arabesqued out of someone's neck, I was like, "I get the picture! Enough already!) Apparently this is not uncommon: people come here and get really, really into it, and mope about it when they leave.
Anyway, I rode my bike down to the harbor, where I saw a magician being heckled, and the magician stopped his show for like five minutes to CALL THE POLICE ON THE HECKLER, and the crowd just sat there patiently in the sunshine waiting for him to be finished with his phone call to the police, and then he started up his trick again (but only after a lot of business where he was bending over and saying to the wheelchaired man behind him, "Pardon the view," and the man was like, "You're great," and the magician was like, "Wow, you think I'm great?" and so on) only to stop when the police showed up, and I thought, "Well, this could be interesting," but then I thought, "This is interrupting my bike ride." And then I rode down to this other harbor and everything smelled like old, bilgey harbor water, and also subtly like watermelon, and I myself was heckled by a gentleman in an SUV who may have yelled, "Want to get in my car?" or "Want to buy my car?"--I couldn't tell. I guess it was reasonable to ask if I wanted to buy his car, since the truth is I don't have a car of my own, and maybe I need one, but on the other hand if I don't have a car, isn't it probably because I don't want one or can't afford one? And then I was going over cobblestones and every bone in my body was jangling and all my flesh was vibrating crazily and there was a post office with big barn doors. And then I was back downtown and all the magnolia trees are in bloom! And there is this church made of greenish and reddish and black stone and it has tall pointed spires and it and the blue sky and the magnolia and all the little charming Italianate/classical villas all around the square were slashed with that soft gold pre-sunset light. And now I am home at my writing desk, which I never use, and looking out the window at another window, tar-black, set in a black mansard roof, with a brick chimney jutting out,and the black frame of the window is glowing rose-red with the light that comes even closer to sunset. O happiness. The trouble is I am not spending the summer here and I think I will miss it. But of course a summer is nice everywhere, except when it's too too sticky and you have to lie around on the porch pouring water on your head and drinking whiskey and refusing to move.
O Christians and heathens and heretics and other dear beloved brethren,
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! I write to you from a tiny white column of a corner computer workstation from Ikea that I helped my mother to assemble for her semiredecorating of the rumpus room. Now we call it the TV room but when I was a child we called it the playroom and for some reason the walls were bare plaster and we were allowed to draw all over the walls in chalk. My father drew an enormous Easter egg on it in chalk one year and we filled it in with squiggles and curlicues and broad stripes. There was a daybed in there and I guess we used it for sleepovers. Then there was a period where Caraway Jack was living in there, smoking and drinking and sleeping and occasionally telling us yarns. Once I crept in when he was asleep and put chewing gum in his hair and he was FURIOUS because by that point Caraway Jack was going pretty bald and of course the gummy hair had to be snipped off close to the scalp. After that the room was painted kind of a sickly yellow and had a TV in it (maybe it always had a TV) and I remember watching the Olympics on it. And then I don't know what it was used for when I was married to Irwin--much the same, probably--and then I remember when I came back I had to sleep in here one night in the summer, the summer I was fourteen, when I was taking sailing lessons, and the summer I began to wear that purplish-brown lipstick, and the room was bare and yellow and it was a hot night (maybe why I had to sleep in here?) and the fan was on, and I felt obscurely like I was an adult. Then the room was painted this buttery yellow color and all the woodwork was painted white and a nice couch and table were bought but it was still awful so we are trying to fix that. AND also it was the sewing room once and may be again.
Today I did some dishes and put some of my mother's records (Clancy Brothers, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, also children's and Christmas records) in boxes, and I stood out on the porch in the balmy moist dark air and watched the darker trees agains the dark, gray-silk sky, and all the trembling white tiny Christmas lights, and thought about how much I love and miss Christmas AND about how I am different when I'm at home--much, much nicer and more polite to strangers and much, much angrier and more explosive and uncharitable towards those people I know and love.
But our Christmas was formidable. We iced cookies and put them on the tree with strings of gumdrops and candy canes. My mother heaped Santas on the fireplace. On Christmas Eve we caroled with the whole family. I gave my mother an enormous quilt and she gave me knives. Also pottery plates and the Joy of Cooking, which I did not have, and a copper-colored silk skirt with dark-brown velvet tracery, and a brown lace blouse to go with it, and a broad velvet headband to go with those, and an exquisite white evening dress in which I look exquisite and "very Directoire," according to Maman, and which I will wear to various weddings in white raw-silk Louis XIV mules & hopefully not compete with the bride. You can see the dress
here if you wish.
Also on Christmas Eve I made the desserts and everyone praised my bread pudding although it was no different from any other bread pudding. Also we went to a local Catholic shrine which always gets covered up with lights at Christmas and is tremendous. And on my mother's birthday we went to Dreamgirls and it was GREAT! and I made dessert then, too, although I mucked up the kitchen: a hot-pink-velvet cake with marshmallow-pecan-coconut frosting--three layers!! and delicious, although having somewhat the consistency of Play-Doh. Maman made the same cake for my birthday last year and it has haunted my memory as the best of all possible birthday cakes--like the cakes in books that are described as being perfectly stuffed with frosting and nuts.
AND before Christmas Maman came up to my new city where I am at school and as I (disastrously, and inaccurately) calculated my students' grades she cooked things, and we went out shopping and the city was jewel-bright and twinkling and filled with incredible, incredible shops. and also I had a nice New Year's Eve but should that be another entry? Should I perhaps return to cleaning up this place and helping to renovate?!
The smell of cigarettes coming in from who knows where. I don't smoke in this place; there's too much carpet. The window is so enormous that the street outside has taken on the quality of a huge, wall-sized painting: an eternal, nearly static view of a city, staring at me, the one wedding-cake historical building, the collection of little charmed roofs, the enormous cliff of another high-rise with its staggered lit windows, a crazy quilt of lit windows and indifferent brick, taking up half of the composition. Exhaustion. Hatred of smoking pot. Why would I? The pot plump and sticky with resin, pale-green and succulent as a small cactus. It smelled like a real plant, not like drugs. No hint of shame or secrecy or even grooviness in that little jar, just the smell of real grass or shrubbery or maybe a sweet tea, maybe I am Jack Kerouac. Then I smoked and I suppose my pupils grew and I stood in a room of near-strangers and made grammatical and logical and sexual errors over and over, like a little machine. Then the clear autumn night with one of those trees that looks like it's partly on fire, with a great big round green crown and one big patch suddenly all red. And then sleeping in and feeling drowsy all day while I shopped for Halloween costumes. I am going as Winter in a quartet of mostly reluctant Four Seasons.
Sitting in my new apartment amid the disorder of packages and boxes and plastic bags spilling shoes all over the carpet. The enormous windows are open and cool air is rushing in & the awful construction noises have stopped. I am typing even though the polish on my fingernails is not really dry.
Everything's in disorder maybe because I've been so fucking ill every fucking day since I came here. First of all, I've had ridiculous cold symptoms since mid-August, when I came back from a week at the beach with the I.R. & some other friends: a prickling high up in my nose, a sore throat, fatigue. When these symptoms first appeared I steeled myself for a full-blown cold: spent whole mornings in bed, drowned myself in fluids, literally injected myself with vitamin solutions brought over by the I.R. and other insane self-medicators I know. Nothing happened. I got neither worse nor better. I walked the sunsoaked streets of hip neighborhoods for hours on end with no ill effects; I stayed up all night with an itchy throat and managed to spend the next day very pleasantly waiting for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park (but it was really Brecht.) I moved, and all that happened was that this itchiness in my nose increased, and that I had a near-irresistable urge to pick my nose at all times.
Everyone said it was allergies, and even though I've never had allergies before I was willing to accept this as a solution. But what a horrible sentence! You have to feel crummy when you go outside! and feel crummy when autumn comes, which is the best season! and also you have to go about your normal life feeling crummy, which is the worst. When I'm not at peak health I like to completely wrap myself up in a comforter and put various kinds of hot scented compresses on my face and refuse all visitors and telephone calls. Instead, I'm going to have to trudge around and have meetings and teach classes and do work and not get any sympathy from anyone! Quel private hell.
And on top of that, I spent last weekend vomiting everywhere. I went out on Thursday night with some new friends who served me gumbo and different kinds of wine, and then we went to this bar that used to be a funeral parlor and I drank two margaritas, one because I wanted one and one because someone offered to buy me a drink, and also because these two other girls I know were completely wasted and falling over themselves and giggling and I--for some reason--thought it was important for all the ladies to prevent this united inebriated front. So then I got pretty drunk and borrowed a cigarette from this kind of pompous untrustworthy pale fellow and told everyone my complete sexual history, with almost no impetus. And then I was drinking out of one of the other girl's rum and coke and her what-have-you--maybe a screwdriver. And then I was in a cab going home at 4 and I was thinking that I had to get up the next morning and that it was going to be difficult but no! it was fine, I felt fine, very clear-headed and clear-skinned, and I put on a dark conservative outfit and walked through the early-morning drizzle to this meeting I had convinced everyone else not to go to. And everyone at the meeting was like, "You look pretty good for having been out drinking until 4!" and I was like, "Yes, and I will have another munchkin please." And then I went home and slept for a while and did some work on my syllabus, and ate all this cereal and all this macaroni and cheese! and then suddenly just as I was finishing the syllabus I felt very ill.
And then for the rest of the afternoon and night it was puke, puke, puke. I would get into bed and read for five minutes or pretend to sleep or just lie there staring at the ceiling and rubbing my stomach, or staring at the top floors of a hideous adjacent apartment building and the colorless night sky, or staring at a page of notes I had taken during teacher training that said, "- as long as you teach the same proportion of poetry and fiction; - as long as you give the same assignments" and just loathing my longhand writing and the shape of the composition book. And then I would know I had to get up and I would get up and go into the bathroom and wait for the waves of pain and nausea to result in something, and sometimes I would sit in there reading this historical novel about Mary, Queen of Scots, and sometimes I would rock back and forth and ask God to make it stop, and sometimes I would just kind of moan and cry like I was maybe being murdered, and sometimes I would lean over the toilet and eject quarts and quarts of everything I had eaten, and wonder if it was over, and it wouldn't be over. And then sometimes it would be over, and I could go back in the bed and get like five minutes of sleep until it was time to get up again. And the light is horrible and harsh in the new bathroom, and this mirrored panel of the sliding showered door had fallen out and was sort of wedged in next to the toilet and made it hard to get around the bathroom, and the tiles are these horrible different colors of pink and blue and green and white. And the Mary book was open to two pages about how she was faking cramps and pain due to pregnancy so that she could formulate an escape plan from Darnley and Lord James Stuart. And that was interesting!
Also I took a bath and that helped but I kind of fell asleep in the bath and what if I had died? Because you can die that way.
And eventually I slept for a few hours and then the next day I was better but with a fever and then the day after that I was well enough to walk around and eat soup! And then as soon as I didn't have the stomach flu anymore the allergy symptoms were back. So now I was grateful not to be puking but still tired and feeling incapable of doing anything productive. And then I had this sore throat and a swollen gland! And what if it were mono? That would ruin everything! So I went to the doctor and she can't really explain the swollen gland, but apparently when you have allergies your nostrils are blue inside and mine are blue. Pale blue. How poetical.
So now I and my allergies must go to Polly's wedding this weekend and I have to wear a kind of unflattering brown dress that I picked out myself so it is my own fault. And I'm flying there and they don't let you bring makeup! But it will be nice to go to a nice wedding in a vineyard and eat something nice and sleep in a hotel which I hope is luxe as it is very expensive.
So guess what! I've moved. I've moved into a new apartment in a new city in a new state! I won't tell you explictly which city and state--and I certainly won't tell you which apartment!--but there is a clue in the title of this entry.
This is the city where I'm getting my MFA in the erotic science fictioniness. I'm a little old to be going back to school, and it's a little weird to be back in a university library after so many years--the last time I was really a student I had waist-length Kennedy-style hair and square Kennedy-style glasses and wore long, loose flannel shirts and occasionally (I will not lie!) even stirrup leggings. (I guess now it's probably kind of acceptable and hot to wear stirrup leggings again, so maybe it's a good time to have gone back to school.) I haven't done anything classroomy yet, though; I've only moved with great strain and anguish out of my last apartment, racing against the clock to cram mattresses and portable sewing machines and crystal punchbowls and scanners and individual sheets and towels into a ten-foot Budget rental truck, desperate to leave by eleven so that I could conceivably reach my destination by 2 PM. In reality we left at noon and even then the apartment was only half-painted (the landlord had wanted me to paint my acid-green and violet-blue walls white; I'd succeeded with the violet-blue bedroom, but there was only time for one coat in the living room, and it had to be left pale and patchy and hideous and much worse than if it hadn't been painted at all) and we ended up leaving all kinds of crazy things behind. Also we left all my beautiful flowers on the terrace--my brilliant cascading hanging supertunias, my climbing morning-glories and black-eyed susan, all the various pots, also the deck furniture, which won't be useful to me now but might be useful to a future tenant?
But it turns out I am a kick-ass truck driver. You know how when you're driving a car on the highway you hate all those big long trucks that get in the lane next to you, because they kind of exert this sucking force on your car, and you feel this desperate terror that you'll be sucked into the next lane and collide with the side of the truck? And you're always racing to get past the truck, but it's scary because if you go faster the inevitable truck-collision will surely be eight times more fatal. But when you're in a truck yourself, however small, you coast alongside those eighteen-wheelers with ease. YOU ARE ONE OF THEM. They cannot hurt you. They welcome you as a friend and comrade, and also they beep at you a lot for not going fast enough.
And my new apartment is in this 20-story building, so you can't just walk right into the hallway with your boxes like you normally would, you have to reserve the loading dock and use the freight elevator and it's awful. Also since I threw so much stuff away I had to furnish the new place entirely in Ikea furniture (amazing tremendous deal on an as-is eggplant-colored couch for $120!!!) which means that any second now I will turn into that Edward Norton character in Fight Club and start beating myself up in alleys. Wouldn't it be tremendous if girls did that? I suppose men would line up by the millions to see "Girlfight Club: This Time It's Personal." Or maybe not, because maybe they like to be the ones beating us up. But they could imagine themselves in the picture, like they do with lesbian porn.
Well, now I'm having trouble sorting through my stores of filmic conventions and popular-culture cliches: Girls fighting in alleys would be sexy; a girl beating herself up in an alley probably wouldn't happen; if it did, would boys like it? Would it seem tough& badass, like Lara Croft? Would it seem disturbingly erotic, like maybe a nun flagellating herself or something like that? Also, I know girls self-hurt all the time, but I think it's more like tiny cuts and burns, not slugging ourselves in the face all the time.
Why am I talking about this? Anyway, I have a lot of Ikea furniture. Now I have to run along to the registrar.
So I think the best fightin' words ever uttered in the history of time might be:
"I made you CUPCAKES! You didn't make ME any cupcakes. Bitch!"
I said those words out loud, although I didn't actually say them to anyone. I said them in the street as I walked alone, except I was accompanied by a Pooh-sized raincloud that dropped its hot reproachful water on my head and dress with measured patience. I was on my way to hear a friend give a literary reading at a bar and after the reading I came out of the bar and the cloud(s) had cleared and instead there was a slowly drying world and a watery blue-and-gold light and I felt better.
But in general this has been a really anguished, embattled, angry summer. Here I am: seething with anger under the bedsheets, on the subway, deadheading petunias on the terrace. I think it's righteous indignation, but I could be wrong. The cupcakes enemy: someone from work who has decided not to speak to me, and who is leaving work soon for a while and who would not even speak to me after I made incredible cupcakes for her going-away party. They were fluffy white cupcakes with pink and blue and yellow icing, trimmed with coconut flakes and edible pearls, filled with lemon curd. Once she knew I had made them, she didn't even look at them, and when people complimented me on them she kept silent, cast down her eyes; meanwhile she raved about someone else's cupcakes. That's crazy!
The other stuff: can I even get into it now? Suffice it to say that everyone is super mean. My current strategy is to ignore them and to try to ignore my own righteous indig.; I throw myself into video games, curl up into little balls and sleep. It's hard to tell which is the more mature reaction: doing that, or engaging in hours of agonizing confidences and outpourings of the heart. I feel, you feel. A friend recently told me that lesbians call it "processing." If anyone can confirm that this is actually exclusively a lesbian term and not just a new-age term, I would be interested.
Oisin V. will be 3 very soon!! the best kid age! I love it.
Hello, I'm a big jerk antifolk musician who puts his fucking napkin-doodles on his Web site.
[here is where I am too chicken to link to this guy's actual Web site.]
It's been rainy in the mornings. I think that one of these days I'll fill you in on what I was up to in the PAST. So maybe start reading my archives. If you are an old, dear, faithful reader, maybe you'll see something new. If you're a new, dear, flippant reader, they're all good. My life is FASCINATING.
Also will you marry me, and if so will someone else marry me too so we can have an enormous, complicated family like on Big Love? I really like that show, partially because it has such an amazing child bride on it. I love how she is a wilful, spoiled, manipulative, manipulated child bride. And a stealer! But I was a better child bride still. I didn't steal, I drank! Also I have a friend who thinks that her personality is more suited to being a second wife, but I was at a friend's photo exhibition--her MFA show--at the time, and was distracted by a photo of a snake, and didn't have time to find out why she would be a good second wife. It might have been something about being deferential or a wallflower or something, but maybe that's a quality that's equally suited to being a regular wife? Dear friend, if you're reading this, let me know what you were talking about.
Meanwhile the IR was looking at the color-saturated snake pictures (snakes on different patterned fabric) and she was kind of jealous and she was like, "Whatever, I could do an awesome snake picture, except I'd put the snake on my tits like I was Elizabeth Taylor, you know what I mean?" and I was like, "I guess so." Then we went out front and smoked lettuce cigarettes and contemplated the smoky violet air. Then everyone went out to a bar that gave you an entire free pizza if you bought a beer, and I didn't buy any beer but there was so much free pizza that I still was allowed to have some. And then I have no stamina for going out anymore--I'm so, so old--and so I stumbled home and read [i] The Thirteen-Gun Salute[/i] on the train.
Also! For Mother's Day my mom came to visit me and we went to see a revival of "Jacques Brel" and it was pretty great! A crazy, junky little theater with a dark upholstered labyrinth of a bar/lounge before you got into the actual theater itself, with middle-aged moms jostling each other & questing for drinks & seating under the low-hanging tangles of Christmas lights and in between the looming shadows. Something about the whole thing reminded me of the one semiavantgarde circus I went to in Paris. There was a popcorn machine. Then you went into the small theater which was better-lit than the bar and you sat with your mother on a little loveseat made out of a carseat, and you watched a man in a fedora and enormous 60s-hip-nerd glasses mount some precipice over the stage & throughout the show he just beats the hell out of an accordion and piano and guitar, and you watched a very small-scale, perfectly-proportioned, veteran-of-playing-Edith-Piaf chanteuse woman with her hair in a loose chignon and her features like the weathered, chiseled features you want to have when you are fifty, or forty even, and the most perfect tiny stockinged legs come onstage and sing a song about the devil (Ca Va) in a rough, full, whiskeyed, joyously savage voice, and it is great. And also there is a tall enormous man with a kind of cynical and threatening French businessman's face who sings that song "Jackie" in just the cynical, savage, tortured, hilarious way he should, and also a kind of goofy lovable guy who looks like two of your friends, and a beautiful quirky younger girl, and it is a lot of fun, and the only bad part is that you thought the woman could have been rougher and more desperate with "Marieke," which is the best song and which is why you were almost named Marieke Toast-Vinciennes, and were almost not someone who had no name at all.
The weather is cruelly, cruelly beautiful. Oh, T.S.! This is always my problem in April. I'm always mixed up in some stupid business that makes me take all the blossoms for granted. Right now it's that I'm going to get an MFA in erotic science fiction & there's been a lot of business and trouble about where to go. I bet you didn't know they offered MFAs in genre-fiction like sci-fi erotica. Well, my poppets, they do for me. And o how I've longed, through all of my entrepeneurial enterprises, to go back to school. And anyway it won't be so different from my long recent lifetime of getting grants to do things; I don't have many classes, and they're giving me kind of a lot of nice money to live on. But! I have to teach youths about writing, and not just how to invent different funny devices that aliens can use for sex. That's something new for me. I've never taught anyone anything, except I suppose I taught the staff at my phone-sex company how to talk real sweet & real dirty.
Anyway, I'm going to switch cities, and in all the trouble & bustle of thinking about moving, the blossoms might end up falling on deaf ears. Again. What a fool I am.
I figured out non-base-10 number systems! OK, I didn't, like, invent non-base-10 number systems. But ever since I was a very little girl--back when I was struggling with long division but somehow got placed in this advanced math class where they taught about prisms and parallel lines (all mildly comprehensible) and base-5 number systems (not comprehensible in any way), I have been puzzled and confused and have begun to sweat a little bit anytime anyone mentioned the concept to me. When I was a child bride in Georgia my husband, Irwin, used to try to explain it to me over breakfast, writing in ketchup on my huevos rancheros. He would get really intent on making me understand it--his face would get all grave & his brow would furrow, and he would push his spectacles up high on his nose like he really meant business, and I would sit there and watch my eggs getting cold underneath numbers I could not grasp, and I think those were the times when I felt the most desperate and trapped in that illegal, unethical marriage.
But I was reading this article about teaching place value to second-graders, and I just thought I would google base-5, and I saw some example that was totally incomprehensible (AGAIN) and then! then, I saw it written out: 549= 5x10^2 + 4x10^1 + 9x10^0. And I thought, "OF COURSE!" And now I can do it with anything.
At any rate, it is an epoch in my life. And a chapter of my life is closed. And so on. Triumph. I think I will become a computer programmer.