Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dead Crush #15

(At the end she turns into a storm of butterflies and she’s finally, finally free.)

Being married was ridiculous. Ridiculous. I feel like a pack of butterflies (among other things). It’s not good or bad…it’s just me, finally, breaking apart into all of my pieces.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The plane, the plane

This is about tattoos. People often ask me why I have the tattoo I have, and I often struggle to come up with a reponse that sounds significant. I usually give them a story about one of my exes, who did play a role in why I let a hippie jab me repeatedly in the shoulder with a needle full of ink. I was in a such a haze of disbelief and pain that someone I loved so much had cheated on me for pretty much our whole relationship, that a tattoo seemed like a good idea. It did feel good to have that physical pain to momentarily replace the psychic pain. And when it was all over I had this trendy scar.

It's the symbol itself that I have trouble justifying. I guess I don't really feel like justifying it to myself most of the time, but a few others want it to have MEANING. (Ok, so I want everything to have meaning most of the time too--part of why I write. Another reason why I write: to remove meaning.) I think the meaning was this: to look tough. And to show my parents that I'm someone who would get a tattoo. I'm getting ready to get another one. It was one thing to be a grad student with a tattoo, but now I'm going to be an academic advisor (and whatever I'm going to be after that) with multiple tattoos. I feel happy about being that person. I'm also a poet with tattoos. And apparently I'm also a person who occasionally tries to define herself with phrases based on what she does and what is on her skin. I think the thing that I find interesting about tattoos is that they are permanent and therefore seem to imply a static message about the person wearing them. I don't see it like this at all, though. My tattoo is like wearing my 25-year-old self with me all of the time. It doesn't represent me now. It doesn't even represent me then. It doesn't represent anything. Because I was as undefinable then as now, in the same way that all humans are undefinable all the time. If I were define who I am now, I would say "rapidly changing ether." Or "gray puddle."

So why bother tattooing? Answering this question kind of negates what I've written above. Here's a lame answer: I found this really cool collage that I want to steal and put on my body. Another answer: it's what I want to do now. There's also a part of me that wants to do it in this state where I've spent most of my life. The symbol I'm going to get tattooed on me somewhere (maybe my waist? I'm not sure yet) somehow implies leaving, freedom, and bondage all in one dainty picture (it's from a Joseph Cornell collage). Contradictions. One thing I do know about myself now: I am contrary. I am a walking paradox like all people are. I have no good reason to get a tattoo, which is why I'm going to get one.

PS--I will buy anyone a drink who'll go with me to get it. The drink will be purchased immediatly after the tattooing, and will be consumed outside.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Things I Will Do Before I'm Divorced

That's right, I'm not fucking divorced yet. I'll explain what's happening, but if you find all of this as stupid and boring as I do, please go read something more interesting. Or skip down to the list, which may be more entertaining.

My lawyer is pregnant and has terrible morning sickness, which is why she's been AWOL. Don't go feeling all sorry for her. I don't. I'm going through some trauma myself and somehow manage to keep going to work and doing my job, or at least contact my students and tell them that I'm going to be out of town if they're expecting something from me. And all they want is a letter of recommendation, not a divorce settlement. But she's finally, FINALLY hired an assistant. She's one of those "invincible" (read narcissistic) type A people I seem to attract like flies to poo.

Anyway, so a full month after she told me I could sign the settlement agreement, I finally get it in the mail to sign. Choad, that choad huffer, had already signed it. (A pox! A pox on him and his stupid signature!) There was some stuff in it that I didn't totally get, so I tried to call her and of course she didn't call me back. I asked a coworker who has a law degree to translate, but she really wanted me to talk to the lawyer because she didn't want to feel responsible if I suddenly lost half of my savings account. So I called the lawyer from work yesterday and She Answered The Phone. This is the first time in 9 months of dealing with this woman that she's done so. But then she tells me that she wasn't really sure what the sentence in question meant either (really? you don't know? I pay you $150 an hour and you don't know?), so she called his lawyer. So now the other lawyer is going to remove this one measly sentence and then print out the damn thing AGAIN, sign it and get Choad to sign again, send it back to my lawyer who will then send it to me, I'll sign it and send it back to her, then she'll send it to the judge who will sign it. Given the history of what should be a very simple divorce, the above proceedings could easily take two or three years. But I'm going to try to be positive about it. Some day I will be divorced. I swear to god.

In the meantime, various other life events will take place. Because you see, I have like 10 zillion other things going on in my life besides the divorce, though at times the divorce is like a mountain and the other things are mere ants, or aunties. So, in my new resolution to believe that the marriage will end soon, I'm going to imagine that in two weeks I'll be divorced. Our court date (which we waived) is set for June 24, and if we don't sign before then we'll have to go to court, and if that happens over a walk away settlement, I will laugh so hard that I'll choke to death on my own mirth. So here are some things that will happen. After they happen, I'll be divorced. And then I'll have to deal with that.

1. I will purchase flowers for my mom for Mother's Day. I will not go home for Mother's Day.

2. I will try to address this very huge issue that has come up in a dream. I will attempt to address it in therapy but will most likely end up changing the subject as I often do.

3. I will go to a woman's prison to give an inmate her diploma.

4. I will answer the phone at work 1,222 times; 122 of them will be from a woman named Mrs. Dent.

5. I will have 35 phone calls at home (I think I hate the phone).

6. I will feel guilty about not returning approximately 4 phone calls.

7. I will reply to 3,303 work emails.

8. I will have 6.2 conversations with any given dean.

9. I will write 14 poems (no really, I will).

10. I will send out to 3 more contests.

11. I will clean up 42 pieces of dog poo.

12. I will listen to 53 stories about my coworkers' grown children.

13. I will listen to 23 stories about how my mom hates her job.

14. I will consume 20 gummy cherries.

15. I will purchase tickets for a bluegrass festival.

16. I will sleep.

17. I will update my Netflix queue.

18. I will buy healthy food and then go to Target. This will probably happen 3 times.

19. I will get drunk 4 times.

20. I will hang out with my friends who have lived elsewhere for a long time. 2 of the drunk times will happen with them.

21. I will be a host to another out of town friend and her baby who is afraid of dogs.

22. I will try to present myself as someone who has her shit together.

23. I will not be someone who has her shit together, but I'll be ok with that.

24. I will not be ok with not having my shit together.

25. I will spend 13 hours worrying about moving, worrying about a job, worrying about a place to live, worrying about being alone.

26. I will spend 8 hours staring at a wall.

27. I will be interrupted while doing something important. This will happen about every five minutes.

28. I will attempt to avoid ex-fling, but will hang out with him approximately 9 times in an attempt to distract myself from the above.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

And then there's Maude.

Someday I’m going to be old. I mean really old. And I may still be single. All of the things I thought I’d do as an old lady like grow my hair really really long or keep pet squirrels and/or ravens—I may be doing these things alone. I don’t really feel sad about it, I’m just noticing it, the way one might notice that Oops, I forgot to reproduce. Guess I’ll be taking care of my own self when I finally get one of those debilitating diseases my family is so fond of.

The summer after I turned 16 my parents made me do driver’s ed, even though I hated driving and was terrible at it. I had driver’s ed every morning at the high school for about a month and it was awful to have to get up and go to that torture chamber when school was out of session. To make matters worse, my driver’s ed teacher was the football coach, a fat stupid bald man who was really mean and who didn’t like girls who weren’t bubbly or hot (I was neither). He yelled at me about once a week for driving on curbs, cutting people off, and doing the other bad driver things I was so good at. He made us drive to the crappy city south of the lame ass college town we lived in so he could pick up his Richard Marx or whoever tickets at a record store. I hated him. Hated. Hated. The other people in my car were the quarterback and a hot “slutty” girl whom all the male teachers pretended to hate while they were staring at her boobs and flirting with her. Driver’s ed was kind of like hell on earth, only it was actually one of my more positive high school experiences, considering the other horrible things that happened to me as a sullen teen. And, oh yes, I failed it. But I’m actually an ok driver today, though I’d much rather walk if given a choice.

After driver’s ed each morning and before I went to work in my dad’s lab in the afternoon (my summer job throughout high school and college—I mostly washed test tubes) I would collapse into a fetal position in front of the TV and watch Maude. Maude came on every day at 10 am. I watched with amazement. Why had no one ever told me about this show? Why did it not come on with the other parade of early evening reruns: Little House, All in the Family, Three’s Company? I remember my dad zoned out in front of all three shows before they went into syndication, but I guess he wasn’t into the shows with feminist themes, watered down and prime timed though they were. But the Seventies clothes (caftans!)! and interior design, the Seventies situations! and Bea Arthur in all of her Bea Arthur glory! I loved her, especially when they’d do those close ups of her looking like she was about to kill you. In one episode Walter (Maude’s second husband) leaves her for Bernadette Peters (does it get better than the 1976 era Bernadette?) whose name I remember to be Cathy Rivers or something equally Seventies Alternative Lifestyle. For some reason Walter brings her to some kind of function at Maude’s house, maybe something to do with Maude’s daughter. Maude takes one look at the girlfriend’s chest and says, in her bored voice, “The bigger they are, honey, the harder they fall.” Being the late-bloomer I was (I still hadn’t entered puberty at the age of 16—don’t ask), I found this to be excellent advice and proceeded to think these words each time I was faced (or looking down at, as I towered over most of the girls in my class) with yet another popular girl’s boobies.

Ok, so why am I thinking about this? Getting old. Appearances are really important to my family. My mom, for example, hinted on many occasions that certain someones may not like unshaved legs or my old habit of dying my hair pink. But what’s worse than the grooming habits of a makeupless pseudo punk weirdo? A saggy unmarried used-to-be-kind-of-cute-but-is-now-just-kind-of-old. I still don’t have a whole lot for gravity to work its magic on, but there’s more there than there used to be. I know it’s the lamest thing ever, but I feel kind of mad that if I’m ever with any significant other ever again, he’ll never know that I used to have a cuter butt. All he’ll get is the middle-aged butt. I think I’m ok enough with my body to like it for what it is, but then there’s that voice: If you would have gotten married at 21 like I did, this would never be an issue. Whoever would just have to accept your butt for whatever it turned into. Forever.

I think part of what spawned this is watching the movie Manhattan last night. When Woody Allen tells his 17-year-old girlfriend (he’s 42) Mariel Hemingway that he’s in love with someone else, he says “Someone my age. Well, not as old as me, but in my age group,” I felt so mad. The way he says “Well, not as old as me,” as if he thinks that the thought of a 42-year-old woman would be too unappealing even for his girlfriend he’s breaking up with. I realize that that was the Seventies and that I probably wouldn’t want to date Woody Allen anyway, but I just feel mad. Because, you know, fuck that.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Anger Mismanagement

I’ve wanted to write an entry here for some time, but each time I attempt it here at work, my anger or busyness take over. I hate it when I feel overwhelmed at work. And I have been extremely pissed off ever since I got back from a four-day visit to a huge city far away from here, a city which houses many many of my friends. I’m exploring the reasons for my pissed-off-ness, and there are many. I’m trying not to hurt too many people during this period, but I don’t think I’ve really succeeded. Here are some examples of how bitchy I’ve been:

1. Several days ago near my house. I was attempting to have a five-minute conversation with ex-fling while walking the dog on my lunch break. Since ex-fling doesn’t work or seem to need to be anywhere EVER, he clearly didn’t understand that I needed to go back to work or people were going to wonder where I was, because it’s a JOB—you know, that thing grown-ups have. Here is the humiliating transaction:

He (referring to a book that I’ve wanted to read for awhile but haven’t had time for): Have you read this? I think you would really get a lot out of it now.

Me (in a sudden and forceful bitch voice): No. I don’t have time to read. I have that book but I haven’t been able to read it yet. I have like 4 hours a week that I can read.

He (clearly wanting to engage me in a long conversation about a book I haven’t read even though he knows I have to go back to work: starts talking about it as if I have not said the above).

Me: I said I don’t have time to read that right now. Anyway, I’m sick of reading books by men. I’m actually kind of sick of men (sinking sick feeling over how mean this sounded).

He: Maybe you could read at work. (What?? Did you not hear that mean thing I just said? No. It’s called selective hearing and it’s turning out to be a defining characteristic of ex-fling).

Me: I have to WORK at work (in head: you dipshit). That’s what you do at work (though I actually do about 5 hours of real work in a 9-hour work day). I have to go. I’m going to be late. (Turn and walk home quickly, dragging my poor little beast who didn’t even have a chance to pee).

If I really wanted to analyze this, I could: I’m projecting all of my shit about choad’s shabby listening skills; I’m upset because I spent four wonderful days with REAL friends who reminded me that I barely know ex-fling; I keep hanging around ex-fling to gather anger ammunition so it’s easier to stay away from him but this is CLEARLY using him in a bad way. I need a break from him. I need a break from all people I don’t know really well, I think. How long am I going to be a hermit? Maybe forever.

2. Getting into my car at the godawful hour I have to leave for work:

Neighbor: Are you going to vote today?

Me: No.

Neighbor: If I tell you who to vote for, will you go vote for my people?

Me: Uh, I don’t think so. I don’t feel like voting.

Neighbor: Come on, do it for [Name of this shithole town].

Me: Fuck [Name of this shithole town]. (Nervous laughter in an attempt to counteract the meanness of this statement. But I do hate it when people try to force me to vote for a judge in a town I'm leaving in 3 months).

Neighbor: (Nervous laughter).

3. In ex-fling’s house trying to explain to him how I feel because I’m such an “open” and “emotionally honest” person:

Me: (Silence, trying to think of the right words to say) I feel….I feel…

He: You feel resentful?

Me: No. Shut up. Don’t tell me how I fucking feel. (The next day, after I apologized for telling him to shut up, he said “You didn’t tell me to shut up.” But you, readers, see here that I did, so you know I’m not crazy and that he has these weird listening issues).

Several minutes ago I was explaining to a coworker about how I’ve been so mean lately. I said, using my best Al-Anon language, “I mean, I know that no one is responsible for how I feel. I decide how I feel about all of these situations…but I keep wanting to blame someone else…”

She interrupted me: “What are you talking about? Other people are COMPLETELY responsible for how you feel.”

And then we laughed for about five minutes. Because this really is how I feel right now, as much as I want to be healthy shrew. Right now I’m just pure concentrated shrew. And if you’re not me, there’s a chance I think you’re responsible for how I feel about this.