Friday, March 31, 2006

Bye bye Angel

Yesterday, when talking to NU on the phone during both of our lunch breaks, I described the appearance of someone I like as “Victorian consumptive.” After hearing her reaction, I realized that this may not be appealing to everyone. I was kind of trying to promote the type of look embodied by the delicately frail men in Meat Cake comics, or by the vampires on Buffy. Then I thought, Sheesh. I find vampires sexually attractive (aside: so does Buffy)? What’s wrong with me?

Basically it’s probably this: I’m all about the damaged goods. I mean look at my relationship history: sufferers of horrible depression and panic attacks, Morrissey worshippers, goths (ok, just one, thank god), addicts, poets, and slaves to dark, brooding souls. (Or in Choad’s case, a slave to preconceived notions of what everyone else, including himself, was supposed to be. And a slave to cataloging useless information as a substitute for real human emotion. Though they’ve all been collectors. And D&D players, come to think of it, though no dungeon masters. I want a dungeon master.) Their appearances were even similar: 10,000 feet tall (at 6’3, Choad was actually one of the shortest people I’ve dated), about 100 pounds, ghost white skin, dark eyes, and a kind of ravaged look caused by various vices and mysterious ailments. Not to overanalyze (though it is of course what I do best) the tall/skinny thing seems to represent the kind of half-a-person thing I’m attracted too. This look seems to say: “I should be a much bigger person, but I don’t know how to take care of myself. I need someone to help me. Shrew, maybe you could, you know…enable me.”

Which makes it surprising/not surprising at all that the person I’m attracted to now is very vital-looking. Sure, he has crooked teeth (I don’t know if it’s my anglophilia or what, but I’m all about this) and he’s small, but he SHOULD be small. He’s kind of short. And his whole smallness thing goes really well with his demeanor, which often resembles that of an excited little kid (though he’s also good at being a serious adult). Don't get me wrong: he's a total geek. (Also don't get me wrong: we're just friends at this point.) But he doesn't really seem to hate himself. Meeting him has made me realize how much energy one could have for other things in a relationship if one wasn’t constantly monitoring behavior, placing cold cloths on foreheads, and worrying about what new kind of self-destructive behavior these losers could dream up. It's exciting but also a little terrifying, in that it might mean that someday I could have a relationship with a ME component. The thought makes me want to run, a little. It also makes me feel a very tiny little bit like going into one of those Moonwalk things and jumping up and down.

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Strange things are afoot at the Circle K. Or, whatever, where I live. Good things and strange things. Strange things that are good things. Good things that are only good things that may become strange things. I present three of them, but know that there are a good deal more.

1. Please send your pleasant vibes to this situation: my lawyer and Choad’s lawyer have finally come up with an agreement. A walk-away, where we each owe the other nothing. This is the best possible scenario. (Well, actually him giving me about 2 grand would be the best, but that’s never going to happen.) Not giving him vast quantities of my hard-earned cash will make leaving this cesspool infinitely easier. So I’m ok with the agreement. Two LAWYERS are ok with it, including his. We just have to wait and see how choady that loser can actually be. If he’s willing to go to court over what is probably about $1000 that I do not owe him (which is, in fact, the amount of money he stole from me when he moved out), then some sort of violent act involving a great quantity of bugs will need to take place. But according to my lawyer, HIS lawyer is very optimistic. HIS lawyer. If this happens, I'll be divorced by next week, savings account and inner being intact.

2. About 18 hours before receiving this news, I did a ritual. Fire and a marriage license were involved. I don't recommend performing this ritual indoors, especially when a miniature breed of dog is present (she's fine).

3. I have a crush. On a live person. Also, I went on a date with the crush person. Having a crush is pretty fun, as I haven’t had a guilt-free one in a while. The thoughts of cuddling on a couch or any other such heinous coupling activities remain as unappealing as ever. But talking to an adult about interesting topics is fine. So is making out, you know, if that should come up.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Good Old Haze

I just spent a few days with my twin, and I'm now writing from underneath a giant pile of emails and voicemails. So if I'm not communicating with you in the way that you would like or expect, please rest assured that I will soon, as it usually only takes me about 2 days to not care about my job anymore. Right now I'm in panic mode. And yet I still feel the need to share the following.

There's nothing like several days with your twin, a Vandals cassette, several hundred beers, and a 10-year-old photo album to make a girl feel like 22 again. A strange feeling descended this weekend: a long time ago I was an adult. In the not-too-distant past, ten years ago meant Kid. Now ten years ago means Seriously Fucked Up and Confused Adult with Unfortunately Dyed Hair, but Adult Nonetheless. While gazing upon a photo of my sister drunk on Boone's (proof indicated by the empty bottles in the foreground)with some skater dude, I felt panic and strangeness. She remembered the guy but not the night. Recognition of weirdness ensued. There were pictures of me obviously enraptured by best friends whose last names are now big question marks. The real friends are still a part of my life, but what about all of those random people who were so important, like that guy from my Biology of the Brain class? It wasn't that long ago, right? Wrong. It was 12 years ago. Many cans of Olympia beer ago. Hundreds of people ago...they're probably all married with kids. Back when I was an adult.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Dead Crush #13

After I graduated from college, I did what all of my friends did. I conveniently missed all of the deadlines for my graduate school applications and asked my parents for $500 to go to Europe. And about 6 months, $3000, various drugs, and hundreds of embarrassing mistakes with guys with names like Rhys later, I decided to leave my temporary home in Edinburgh to travel with my friends for a couple of weeks. I was dreading the return to the US, where I would live with my parents and face the reality of my credit card woes and what an irresponsibly trite excuse for a college graduate I was. I wanted to leave the UK with pleasant memories, so I charged a train pass to my one good card and loaded up my backpack with my ten outfits and cans of Stella Artois.

While I was trying to not starve in a city filled with ugly tourists and slimy clubs and annoying rich kids who couldn’t get into Oxford, my friends had been having a sublime time in Galway, Ireland—making out with cute hostel Australians and working in wine bars and hiking the dreamy hills. After the self-inflicted craziness I had been living with for the last few months, it was so wonderful to be in their presence again—to hear their Iowa accents, to do our inside jokes and create new ones, to get drunk and cry on a train and not feel like a total loser.

Somewhere between Liverpool and Cambridge, Raymond Carver joined us. Not the actual Ray, but a copy of his selected stories. A couple of years before, just as I was slowly beginning to fall in love with him, I found out that he had been dead for several years, and was faced with the crushing reality that there would be no more new stories from him. This made the precious few stories we had of his even more precious. We passed the book back and forth on various trains across England, and one night, as I lay in my bunk in a freezing hostel, I heard my friend C. mutter “I’m coming Ray,” as she climbed into the bunk above me and prepared to huddle under her duvet with the battered book of stories. Though I’ve read and reread and taught his stories dozens of times, each new reading always brings with it the twinge I associate with that time in my life: the new horror of being an adult, the sigh of relief that was my friends. Part of my crush on him lies in the belief that he would understand this: that I was a fuckup who needed love.

My favorite is and always has been the story “Careful.” In this story, a recently separated alcoholic moves into the third-floor apartment of a house. On the day his wife visits him to discuss some unnamed business, he has spent the morning drinking champagne and trying to clean out his ear, which is blocked with wax. He and his wife try various things to remove the wax, including bobby pins and baby oil. The point of view is dead on: drunk and tired and scared. The whole story is shrouded by the cloud of champagne and the fuzzy hearing brought on by the wax—the wife’s presence is merely a blur of questions and concern, no real person. The only reality is the fuzziness of this guy’s despair.

Now it’s no secret that I’m attracted to addicts. Which means I’ve had minor crushes on nearly all of Carver’s protagonists. But when the speaker in this story sneaks into the bathroom to get his stash from behind the toilet, it’s enough to make me swoon. Ridiculous. Alcoholism no doubt reduced Carver’s life to barely half a century, but without it, the stories wouldn’t be as painful or stark, as quiveringly shaky as my uncle’s or grandpa’s or cousin’s pre-whiskey hands at Christmas (they’re dead too). Or as mind-numbingly-I’m-alone-alone-alone-alone sad.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

So many double entendres, so little energy

Oh, lord. Last night I dreamt that I was making out with a ventriloquist's dummy. And every time I think about this I start laughing, including when I was in a meeting with the dean this morning. Hungover.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dude, I Met My Animus

First of all, I swear I’m not going crazy. I just have a lot of time on my hands. I mean, the 3 hours per day when I’m not at work or dog-walking or cleaning or returning calls from my worried family (but she’s alone! She has no man! She has no friends! She must need us!). But I was introduced to my animus last night. And then burned two candles in honor of him, because it turns out he has two faces.

Apparently, I’ve (or, you know, my unconscious) been waiting my whole life for Jungian dream analysis. And not only have I met my animus (one side of whom happens to be English and very attractive—or at least last night, this was his form), but I’ve met my shadow self. It turns out that all of the people milling around in my dreams are actually representations of me. And my shadow has chosen to come to me in the form of Choad’s girlfriend, which is wicked strange and off-putting. But actually makes sense. And Choad himself is one side of my animus. But they’re all me. There is a huge party going on in my soul, and I’ve gotten pretty good in the last few years at ignoring what most of them have to say.

I get freaked out occasionally by how deeply involved I am with my dreams. But I do believe that it is just as unhealthy for me to spend all of my time in the external world. I mean, for one thing, I'm a poet. And the inner world is pretty amazing. The symbolism alone is enough to make any English major giddy for weeks. And fortunately I have a really amazing therapist who is guiding me through a lot of this. The cool part is that once I start listening to my dreams and actively try to make them a part of my waking life, they’ll probably quiet down some. And I won't feel as nuts in the land of people walking around and doing stuff. But there is too much yelling going on in them right now to ignore them anymore.

Anyway, see you guys later. I’m going back into dreamland…