Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Expanding/Contracting New Year

My spouse and I are exchanging home offices. This means all the crap that we have each collected has to be transported several yards to another location. I already knew about my crap. I didn’t know about his. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I have to DECIDE what matters. All this memorabilia; it’s kind of pointless, now that I realize no one but myself is interested. All the newspaper clippings, notes jotted in notebooks, brochures I worked on, printouts of photographs, it’s all ephemeral. It represents a person I no longer am. Sometimes I wish I was that person. That person had a lot more energy. That person was capable of following an illusion to the very end (and the end is never a dramatic cliff, but a foggy expanse of nothing). So where is it that we embark from when we embark on a new venture? It’s not exactly the same mindset that we had last year, or last week. Every night, as we sleep, we change. It may not be to our liking. Things are shuffled off and allowed to fall into some abyss. I don’t even know if I am a “writer” anymore, even though that’s what I always thought I was. I can type pretty fast, that’s all I know. I like Christmas, because it means I get some time off; but the synchronicity of expectation of goodwill with my mood is not ideal. I no longer understand any of it. It’s as if, given my age, I have no reason to get all worked up about either Solstice or Savior. What I’m worked up about is much bigger. And because it’s so big, I feel small. I will be happy to have a door I can close. At least in my new room, I’ll be in control, and therefore, cosmically larger. I am introvert; hear me roar!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Through the looking glass, without a glass

I don’t know if it’s real or not, this change that’s happened. I sit here sipping a non-alcoholic beer, not having had any regular beer or wine in eight days. In fact, I haven’t wanted any that badly. I wonder if I’m just kidding myself, or if this “sobriety” thing will stick. I’m preferring myself and my life this way. I like being in a state each evening where I can fully perceive what I’m feeling and how I’m interacting with others (and with material objects). I’m enjoying or at least tolerating my own thoughts. I’m getting more done after the regular work day is over. It’s as if I have finally realized that the person I am with a buzz on is a less sensitive, less feeling, less intelligent person. So I would like to choose the me without the buzz.
But does this mean I have to use words like “alcoholism,” and go to AA meetings? I’ve been to AA meetings in the past; I discovered that “the program” helped me lose weight, mostly because it gave me something to do and people to hang out with—people with whom I didn’t have to feign perfection or even competence. This kept me from eating between meals, somehow and, coincidentally, from drinking alcoholic beverages for about three months. I never admitted that I was “powerless,” or that I even had a “higher power.” That was 30 years ago. I’ve been drunk quite a few times since then, of course, and in recent years had settled into drinking a little every night. By a little, I mean one or two beers; two or three glasses of wine. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But it was steady, except for the time my doctor asked me to cut back because something showed up in a test. So I stopped for a month, and it seemed easy. This time I’m stopping for no reason.
OK, there was a reason. I watched a TV show, and later, talking about the show with my husband, I realized I hadn’t understood, or perhaps hadn’t remembered the plot. This bothered me so a lot, because as a teacher of short stories, I need to keep plots in mind. Maybe it also bothered me that my husband calmly said, “I think you were buzzed, and that’s why you didn’t get it.” I don’t want to be thought of as someone who can’t “get” a TV show because she’s had too much to drink! So, I will become that other person, the smarter, more perceptive, more agile one who can remember everything. That’s the person I want to be. Can that person have a drink now and then? I don’t know yet.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Early on in the history of being a girl on earth,
The feeling comes with the song: “Get ready.”
Because you don’t know yet!
You don’t know yet what’s going to happen.
It could be anything
And that’s exciting. “Get ready, ‘cause here I come.”
Here WHO comes? Who will it be?
Your world could change with one kiss.
Or so you believe.
By “world,” you mean, a set of sentiments, layers of belief
Between what you perceive
And what those perceptions signify
In the culturally prepared environment
Of your young brain.
“Like a rolling stone,” you say.
But you’re tethered. Winding the chains around you as you roll.
“Chains of love,” family love.
Love is just another word for dysfunction.
And dysfunction is just another word for narrative.
But no one asks you for your story.
Some can live without words.

Without music, it’s more difficult.
Thoughts not worth a penny, pennies lie all around, worthless.
At the school I visited in my dream,
I ascend the stairs, only to find students in costume,
Preparing for a play, and they want to know
What my part is. But I shy away
From their eagerness, and stare out the window
Out of which I can see the football team
Marching down the road victorious, coming home.
I know it’s all classic American stuff; and as usual
I’m not invested. My approval is expected,
But not examined. I wake up, but am not awakened.

Speaking of which, have you ever heard such nonsense?
Virtual mini-gurus make pronouncements;
You are supposed to respond. No matter what your concerns,
They are wrong. The trick is to think of nothing,
Followed rapidly by writing nothing. Only then
Can you say you are awakened. Because no one will know
That you’ve said it, and therefore will not contradict you.
I can really become absorbed by the patterns in the floating grease
That come into being when I run hot water into the chicken pan.
Depending on how hot the water is, the patterns are clear or blurred.
Right now there’s no hot water in my life. The patterns are way too clear,
And have solidified. Bits of tasty meat stick to the roasting rack.
I do not retrieve them, either for the cat or for myself.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Light at the end of the tunnel?

I have recently been considering "retirement." Of course I couldn't afford to live on the pension that would be provided (although I could have with style back in 1970). I never intended to stay this long in any job. It's as if I looked away, and then turned back, and found myself in some kind of mainstream method, if not attitude, toward LIFE and CAREER. Please, I am not an administrative professional! Go to someone else! I know nothing but the Byzantine ways of my particular academic institutional employer. This is what I have "learned" during the last eleven years: how to fill out the variety of forms considered important by various offices, and how to plead and beg for forgiveness if those forms are not received on time or filled out incorrectly. Kafka would be proud. Oh, and I've also learned to consider interruptions an essential part of the job. My office is public, really, so I have no privacy. My privacy consists in what I don't reveal. And since I'm very forthcoming if a human being is in my presence, I reveal too much, always. It's not that I'm everyone's friend, it's that I feel obligated to everyone. Especially my boss. She's an accomplished, beautiful, liberated woman. Why does she need me? Someday, we'll both find out.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Too much to do

Possibilities for communication have increased considerably in the last decade or so; that communication includes all kinds of obligation-transmissions (real or perceived). People who used-to-couldn't reach us to ask for things can now reach us at any time of night or day, unless we deliberately "block" them by turning our phones off, or avoid checking our e-mail. This situation will be impossible to keep up. Either communication will become more and more MEANINGLESS, or people will just break down. It's particularly damaging for people with a sense of duty and kindness. I think I'll try to rid myself of that sense of duty and kindness so that I can at least survive into the first part of the 21st century.