Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We Were Magnificent Then

The town was too small and we were far, far too big.  No one cared like we cared.  No one wanted to live like we lived.  No one was interested in tasting, breathing, going, seeing and doing what we wanted to taste, breath, go, see and do.

We were magnificent then. 

We found each other, our little big unique selves that caused heads to turn and look back.  We commiserated with each other in our experiences of constant explanation, justification, and rationalizations of the irrational and nonsensical ways we lived our lives.

We read books.  We read books that others had not read, books that inspired us, challenged our thinking, urged us towards creativity and those dangerous thoughts that school and pastors and parents and bosses try to stamp out. We wrote and traded our writing and laughed and wanted to be better, write better, think better, create more and more and more.

We ate food, oh god did we eat food.  We ate and cooked and ordered enough and too much and too little until we licked our forks and our fingers and our plates and our spoons.  And with the food, we drank wine.  We drank gin and vodka and absinthe and beer and rum and cucumber mineral water.  But mostly, we drank wine.  We mulled it and chilled it and spiked it and sat on the floor of my empty apartment and drank it after he had taken all of his furniture and my happiness and whole-feeling with him.

We were magnificent then.


We talked about the men.  We talked about what we wanted and what we needed and what they did and what they didn't and what they couldn't and what we could live with and chose to live without.  It was always our choice.  Always.

We talked about God and gods and the universe and life and death and our childhoods and our parents and our siblings and what we wanted to be when we never grew up.  We agreed that it was so much better to be many good, little big things than one large and boring and long and dreadful thing.

We rented cabins by the lake, filling the rooms made of wood and strong beams and furnishings nicer than any of us had ever seen and experienced with our families.  We lit candles and blared music and drank some more and danced around wearing little and drank and laughed and wandered around the cavernous house feeling like real grownups that take vacations with other couples.  We took our bikes and rode from the cabin into town, still drunk and happy and our faces numb and tingling from the patchy sun streaking through the leaves.  We let go of the handles and raised our arms and threw our heads back grinning widely and wildly and wonderfully letting the wind comb our hair and our too-big sunglasses slipped down our sweaty noses when we shot back up feeling that moment right before we lost our balance.

We were magnificent then.  

We would travel.  We would get on planes and take cabs and fall asleep in one place and wake up in another and see things and eat their food and drink their wine and rent hotels and rooms and apartments and we would consider what it would be like if those were our hotels and rooms and apartments.  We ate food so good and so healthy and so rich that we left with buzzing bodies, full of nutrients and coconut pasta and kale crisps and pureed berries and avocado soup and matcha ice cream.  We walked for blocks and got lost and were found and laughed and talked and puffed our hot air and hot dreams and clouds of our hot breath visible just beneath the too-close stars in the pitch black sky.  We were not afraid of being alone.  We were not afraid of being together.

                                                         We were magnificent then.

And like meteors we have dispersed.  We shot streaking and shining through, leaving a glimpse a memory a tail a story that others will tell about us after we have gone.  We have ended up on so many different sides of this country and this world and this life, our too big selves seeing if there is another, better, bigger place that can hold and encourage us.  We are doing what we always said we were going to do.  We did it.  We got out.

We left.

We have given pieces of ourselves, left fingerprints and made impressions on the people that are still there, behind us, below us, looking up for traces of us.  

We were magnificent then.  We ruled our own little kingdoms.  We made lives for ourselves.  We made plans.  We were hungry.  We were thirsty.  We were looking for something.

We dreamt.

And then we awoke and made all of it come true.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Same Side

I had a conversation with a busser at work the other day.  We were talking about movies, and comic books and comic book movies and he told me that there would be, in the very near future, a movie about the epic battle between Batman and Superman.

Now, please be aware, that I know very very little about comic books, comic book movies, multiverses, superheros, super villains, or any of the other things that go along with that huge and expansive culture.  But I do know, or thought I knew, that Batman and Superman were essentially on the same side.  They had the same goals, same motivations, and same gravely-voiced disdain for those that "just want to watch the world burn," right?

I was shocked after learning I was wrong, and asked this eager-eyed 21-year-old busser what Superman and Batman could possibly fight over - a fight so epic that it would warrant a feature-length film?  He shrugged his shoulders and simply said that maybe they disagreed about how best to handle a situation.  Or maybe Batman killed one of the bad guys and Superman would have preferred he hadn't and just imprisoned him.  This sweet and informative busser told me that he was certain Superman would win and that they would each learn a lesson and the film would only be a setup for another movie where they would join forces having settled their grievances towards each other.  Justice League, maybe?

I had always considered my sister and I to be on the same side.  We are on the side of having grown up in a house, an environment, in different states, in a totally different family model than anyone else we had ever known.  We are linked and connected in ways that no one else would ever understand.  We sat for hours in my car trading stories about the hilarity of our childhood, our parents, our friends, the world.  We would laugh until our throats ached and our eyes streamed black from tear-pulled mascara.  

And we fought, don't get me wrong.  We used to fight so hard and cut each other so deep and would so profoundly strike with the force of our tongues that we would each be left shaking with disbelief that those secrets, those hushed and whispered confessions would ever be used as ammunition.

But we were always on the same side.

Nothing was ever so epic, or would ever count so much against each other that it was worth anything more than a disgruntled few days without talking.  We marked our bodies, our wrists with black ink, one of the most visible part of one's body in tribute to our constant connection and ability to carry each other's heart.

Because Batman shouldn't fight Superman.  Sure, they live in different cities.  Yes, they have different jobs and strengths and skills and demons and struggles and hardships.  But their quarrel is not with each other.  Their ability to rule the world is only possible if they are a team, if they can agree, if they can set aside their differences and just be on the same fucking side.  I'd like to be on the same side, again.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

That Great and Terrible Voice in My Head

So I've got this thing, this obsession some might call it, with doing well.  I haven't posted in a while because I have not had a day off of work since July 16th.  And while nineteen days straight is by no means my longest stretch, it has been a very difficult nineteen days - and I'm staring straight ahead towards at least seven more.(For those of you counting, that's twenty six, my record is thirty three days between two jobs).  

Here is an excerpt from a post I wrote in December of 2010:

"Why I am being left behind so much recently? I hate it. I'm the one that is supposed to go, travel, visit, depart, LEAVE, not you! I want to go to Chicago. I want to go to Ann Arbor. I want to go to a fucking movie! It's not fair you get to go! You didn't earn it! You don't deserve that freedom! I DO!

But I don't. I did this to myself. I obligated myself to another second job. Why is it so hard? Why is life so expensive? Why can't I just have one job? Everyone else around me does - I'm literally the only person I can think of that works as much as I do. I hate it, I really do. I quit UK because I started hating the people enjoying omelets on Sundays and I had to work. NOW, I'm hating anyone that isn't sitting behind a desk (and sometimes even them too because they don't have another job to go to once they've clocked out of that one). I hate people in stores, in cars, at restaurants, in bars, standing on street corners holding a sign, my sister making crafts all day and getting a massage. I'm filled with hate, my account balances are higher than they've been but where's the fucking joy? Why did I leave one job to have more freedom only to immediately jump into another? Money? Seriously? I don't need it!"

I have apparently learned nothing in three years.  I continue to pick up shifts, offer up a ridiculous availability and still cannot say no.  I am only working one job, but within that job I am enacting three roles: server, bartender and manager (and in that order).  As a result of this, I am constantly tired, I have avoided and rescheduled the necessary things like going to the dentist for an aching tooth, the optometrist for an updated prescription, giving the dog a bath, cleaning my kitchen and spending time doing what it was a initially came here to do - write.  
I am not resentful towards anyone at work (mostly) as it was my doing - no one asked me to pick up those extra shifts, it was my call.  There is no one to blame but myself.

And I do this, I tell myself that I am working this much because I have not yet figured out to afford to live on my own, pay all of the bills, be the only one to walk the dog, clean the apartment, put gas in the car and buy groceries that more often than not are left uneaten and spoil in the refrigerator.  So please, if anyone knows, can you please tell me?

I sometimes look out at my future (as far as one can when nothing is promised, nothing is sure and can possibly be predicted) and consider just how much more work I have yet to do.  I cannot help but feel a twinge of jealousy and at times, just the smallest bit of hatred, towards those lucky enough to have been born into a wealthy family, their education paid for; or those who have chosen a more marketable degree thereby securing a job straight out of school or soon thereafter; a partner than is able to help financially rather than hinder ones progress; or during my darkest days, those that have had wealthy relatives die leaving them with inheritances and trusts.  

I fear and sometimes resent that I have not and probably will not be like or as lucky as any of those described above.  I look forward with a bit of dread knowing that I will be the only one that I can count on to take care of me.  Sure, there are those in my life that I could turn to for help.  There are things that I could do, fat I could trim, and places I could move that would make things easier, alleviate the nagging feeling that I have every hour I am not on the clock that I should be so that I can prepare for the future and the unseen.  But, all of that would require the swallowing of the engorged, bitter, and tough pill of pride.  

If I asked for help, if I changed my schedule and my situation, I would no longer be able to hold up my independence as a shield, and if I'm honest, I would no longer have that "success" to throw in the faces of those that have not been able to do what I've done - rely on myself and myself only.  I was able to succeed.  I am able to do it everyday.  Sure, it's hard work.  Sure, there are things that I've sacrificed.  Absolutely, I am tired and stressed out and missing out on so many good and great parts of life.  But at least I'm not asking for help.  I'm not a beggar.  I am not weak.  I depend on no one.  I am successful.  I am secure.  I am all by myself.
The voice in my head screams and shouts out: 


But let me tell you the deepest secret that no one knows, the root of the root in the tree called life (thanks mr. cummings, I wish I have the brilliance you had)...

I don't want to be like this.  

It is so hard to be so responsible all of the time.  It is no small thing to always be on time.  It is a constant struggle to pay for everything.  It is exhausting to always be right.  It makes me sick that I so often fall victim to judging those that fall short of my own standards and work ethic and goals that I have "reached".  

But perhaps the fact that I am not writing, I am not doing what I set out to do and am essentially ignoring the fact that I worked for eight, long years to acquire a master's degree, is my great justice.  Working in a job that I would have qualified for LONG before enrolling in my first college classes to pay for said college classes is karma smacking me square in the jaw.  It is my life's great irony that I am paying so much for something that isn't paying me back.  I have succeeded in raising my credit score, moving out of the Midwest, and have found a job that feeds me physically and financially.  However, I am not enjoying it.  I am not having any fun.  I might as well have not gone to college for all the use I am getting out of my DEGREES. 

I would like to say or think or imagine that I am brave and strong enough to quit my job, burn some bridges, starve in the way that all good artists do.  But I know myself too well to say that it will ever be a real possibility.  I would plan for a long time to jump ship and live "freely."  But that is no real freedom.  Perhaps I'm not cut out to be an artist.  Perhaps I am not free.  Perhaps I am my own warden.  And at the end of my very long days, when I return home crumpled and drained and unable to do much more than stagger around my apartment complex walking my poor neglected dog, perhaps my own self-imposed prison is where I feel the safest.  I can only quietly sing through the bars of my cage, too afraid that I'll falter and fail should I ever allow myself to escape.