Monday, January 31, 2005

Exploding Sex in Slumberland

Finally I've learned what parasomnia is. It's the one sleep disorders I'd been having trouble understanding by context clues or by linguistic breakdown. I'm a person who likes to figure things out for herself by looking and researching rather than just asking (that's how I managed to learn geometry; I am not, however, one of those who refuses to ask for directions when lost; and sometimes I have episodes of ADD and start asking all kinds of questions with little regard when someone begins answering the questions; maybe I can't classify myself after all.)

I'm working on some powerpoint presentations for The Good Doctor (2 currently, to be 4 within the next couple of days) for when he travels to India. The first one is on how to approach a patient who has sleep complaints. The second is on parasomnias. Here is the definition straight from the presentation: Abnormal movements or behaviors intruding into sleep intermittently or episodically without generally disturbing sleep architecture.

Sleepwalking, night terrors, nightmares, and bedwetting among others are included as manifestations of parasomnia. There also are subtypes of parasomnia. One of these includes SEXSOMNIA. There is no direct definition for this in the presentation. However, an
article posted online tells me that sexsomnia is when someone initiates sex while he or she is asleep. For example,

Mr K had admitted engaging in attempted cunnilingus and sexual intercourse with his sleeping wife. He claimed he was aware of these activities only because his wife told him. Apparently, he had no recollection of the events. He admitted to past voyeuristic activities and sexual arousal from having sex with his wife when she was “tied up.” In addition, they had engaged in mutually consenting “swinging.”

Another parasomnia subtype is ye olde Exploding Head Syndrome, which came up in a previous post about insomnia. I have what I call exploding head syndrome, but I thought that was just a joke between me and me when we are fighting with one another about who's really going to conquer the world.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Letter from Grandma (with careful omissions)

Glad your doctor's appointment went well.

Just finished recovering 4 of the dining room chairs - had 4 to go, but decided that was enough for today as Papa kept telling me I was doing it wrong, etc. I stapled his mouth. My new staple gun worked very nicely and made the job much easier. I'll make sure he is in bed when I start next.

Take care of yourself, sweetheart.

Love you.


* * * * *

Helpful note: I call my grandpa Papa. I love my grandma. She's a woman who does what she needs to do, and with feisty spunk.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Wacky Accents

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It'll be a bumper car kind of week, Aries. As long as you stick to the designated course, you can expect lots of thuds, jolts, and caroms that won't hurt a bit. In fact, most of them will actually be fun even as they knock some sense into you. That's why you have cosmic permission to raise your normal quotas of raucous laughter, boisterous horseplay, and madcap adventures. For extra credit, sprinkle wacky accents and silly voices into your conversations.

You hit the nail on the head, Rob Brezny. I am sticking to the designated course, thuds, jolts and all. I can’t say the technological breakdown yesterday was fun. In fact my typing/mouse hand is still numb from all the backtracking and repeated repetition. Today’s remedy: said raucous laughter and Smurf dialect. If I can really pull this off, I will really be put some place special and white, where I will be overmedicated into utter dullitude.

Dear Dr. Lyons,

Enclosed you will find our smurfin’ letter requesting revision to your smurfy manuscript, along with the smurfy comments of both smurfy reviewers. Please let me smurf if you have any smurficulty opening any of these smurfiles.

Smurfy regards,

Sara S.
Smurfy Assistant, Smurf Medicine

Smurfiles? Another nail hit on the head. Smurfile: One who admires Smurfs and their culture. [Editor's note: Possibly it should be Smurphile, but anything Smurf needs an f in it.] Probably this is nothing new, like everything else everyone comes up with. O dull, overmedicated drudgery: life reproduced into dissolution. This will be the name of my first intellectual death metal album. And this will be my first criminal offense as a death metal icon: I will gnaw the head off of Vanity Smurf--on stage.

You were right, Rob Brezny. Already, despite thuds and jolts, I feel knocked up by sense. My breasts are enormous with milk.

* * * * *

Appendix: I just got the fucking runaround again. Please pardon my hot air. heart palpitations I called the help desk because I need a program installed on my computer for some work I need to do for The Good Doctor. I waited and waited through terrible music and a computerized voice. Finally, an answer.

He says:
You need to fill out an Action Item Request form on our home page.

Ok, thanks, I say brightly.

I go to fill out the form. A message tells me to change my pin number, then a message tells me not to change my pin number. Then a message tells me to fill in my employee number, but I can't by way of an error page. With slightly pursing lips, I call the help desk again. I wait longer this time. More music, more computerized voice. I get the same guy and tell him what happened.

Well, you need a supervisor to fill out that page. Are you a supervisor? he says.

I could have said, "Why didn’t you fucking tell me that when I called before?" But of what good? Instead: No, I'm not. Click.

So I have now sent an e-mail to the supervisor of the department, who isn’t here right now, who has little to do with me anyway because my job here thankfully involves only me and The Good Doctor. To get this fucking program installed on my computer, which—raucous laughter—I could have fucking done myself except that the computer requires a password from the help desk to do it, I have to go through her to go through the help desk to come back to me. Inanity! Fucking inanity!

Smurf smurf smurf smurf smurf smurf smurf smurf smurf smurf

Deep, deep breaths and Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation train me through this smurfing morning. For smurfing real. All is well the end.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Finding Traction in the Black Afternoon

It’s been another day of constant technological rebellion, exponentially worse than yesterday. Despite having sputtered an exasperated "fuck!" every few minutes, I’ve done well to remain relatively calm.

Finally I got my first laugh in the workplace. For some reason that I haven’t untangled yet, The Good Doctor sent me an e-mail with which came a Word file titled: movementsextraction. Probably it’s supposed to be movements extraction, but I read it first to be movement sex traction, or Movement: Sex Traction, as in a cultural push for change. No more slippery fucking. We’ll tract and chafe with the best of them, we will.

p.s. Somebody send me home before I climb in the fax machine. Oh, yeah, it’s broken.

It's On My Nightstand Anyway

Ahhh. Everybody’s fighting in the hallway. If you believe you have been receiving an e-mail newsletter from my office, you are wrong.

This morning it took me an hour, on the long-ass nose, to get to work. This hasn’t happened in a while, but once in a while is more than plenty. Quality of life, a phrase I’ve picked up from reading countless articles on sleep research, is seriously depleted by sitting in barely moving traffic for extended periods of time. I’m at a point where I don’t get riled up and angry because, despite fantasies of Turbo Boosting the hell out, there isn’t anything I can do but sit and wait. During this time I think, though it isn’t optimal thinking time. From a certain angle, though, it’s a different kind of thinking time than I usually have which therefore makes it valuable. Nonetheless, the sitting in traffic prompts me again to conjure an out. It’s been a little more than three years since I moved to New Jersey. Is it still an experiment (like everything else) or am I becoming a resident, a Jerseyite? I don’t think I’ll ever be a Jerseyite; my voice simply isn’t loud enough, my opinions not loudly unyielding enough. These are gross generalizations that I can see through; settle down. So far here I’ve come up with a three-year boyfriend (yes, picked him up just after I dropped in) and good lasting friends. I don’t think the time for out is just yet. But I might rather this thing called living be ever-surprised by an ever-shifting setting rather than stop-settled in. On the other hand, surprise could be a matter of shifting perspective: Space Asians Exploding, Exploding Space Asians, variable fires in the same hole. Patience, Luke.

Cat Power’s covers album smoothes and soothes the moment, counters bad traffic energy and fighting in the hallway. My chum in Ireland just called. Blackberry brandy is in the air.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Suddenly I was surrounded by Latino midgets wearing scrubs, and the stranger behind the cash register told me that what I was wearing looked very nice. It's true. And it all happened in the hospital employee cafeteria. I decided to laugh incongruously at the day's ills (see below) and, like salad in the wind, the shit day transformed into gold. The hospital's computer system is up and running again (although the rest of technology--printer, fax machine, cell phone--are acting mischievously). Gummy bears are in the air.

Cold Extremities, or Today Is Ridiculous

Over snow, I’ve made it to work and everyone is talking about
1. how they made it to work,
2. how much snow they got in their town,
3. and how they need to get better boots.
Sometimes I become weary of this sort of predictable chattering.

On my way here, a woman in a black car, dark hair, whose face turned more tightly into the shape and contour of an asshole the longer she drove behind me, clearly angry, rode the ass of my car for miles until we hit a T in the road, where we turned off in opposite directions. Excuse me, the sky dumped snow on us over the weekend and I’m trying to avoid fishtailing or sliding off the road, fuck off.

This morning, while I was buying coffee in the hospital’s café, I felt irritated by women who buy a small cup of coffee, often decaf, and put into it a packet of Sweet ‘n’ Low and a swallow of skim milk. This kind can be spotted from afar. Usually they are skinny to the point of grossly delicate, wear a safe hairstyle held solid into place by chemical spray, and bear a distinct sort of neurosis that causes their head to bobble lightly. I know, I shouldn’t judge, and I rarely do. I can honestly say I heed the “to each his own” way. In the end I don’t really care what these women do with their coffee; it doesn’t affect me any, and if the inanity of it pleases them then so be it. Every time I open a can of diet soda, which is not all that often, someone says something about my body and how I don’t need the diet drink, and every sigh time I tell them I don’t like the sugary film regular soda leaves in my mouth. Every time, whatever. While I stand at the counter capping a tall cup of the stuff stark black, or dumping in the real-live sugar and thick half-and-half, I am perversely compelled to shake these decaf, sweet ‘n’ skim women out of their tightly wound watches. “Do you like sugar?” I will ask. “Then eat it,” I will say. “Live, why don’t you.” And then I will look in the mirror and convince myself at long last to sing and dance in public.


The day's gone awry. It's in the air: My mom, whom I called this morning and forgetful of her day off woke her up after I couldn't get her last night after she'd called twice worried the snow had murdered us all, has a terrible headache and cramps. And my chronic neck pain has returned. People in the hallway outside my office are talking badly and upsetedly about other people in the office. In addition, I just heard a voice in the hallway say the hospital's computer system will be down for the rest of the day. Just now can I access the internet as long as it doesn't involve the hospital. I was in the middle of a few things at once when I received a confusing phone call from the secretary of an author of an accepted article, and when all the programs and files I was using shut down, which I needed to deal with her problem. The fax machine, which ran empty late last Friday afteroon, no new ink cartridge in sight, keeps beeping, wanting to receive a fax, but it can't. A horny sort of frustration. When the mothership ails, the world ails with her, except for Zeus who can and will fuck anything.

I think I may have
Raynaud's Disease. Or Raynaud's Phenomenon.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Snow Day Decadance

We're having the snowstorm of the century here in Jersey right now. At least that's what my mom said. She may have been joking or embellishing. I'm not sure. Given everybody's comments on my recent post about mom and the memory, I think I should take it lightly. Nonetheless, it is snowing furiously and birthday plans have been postponed.

Earlier I drove my boyfriend and his friend to the start of a trail so they could hike up a mountain and camp during this snowstorm of the century. My toes get no circulation so camping in the the nearly zero weather is not an option for me until I find a cure. The roads already were a little slippery, and I drove my boyfriend's car whose tires are like ashtrays turned on their sides. No good in slippery conditions. We both have Mazdas with the tiptronic business going on for the shifting: the option for manual or automatic, how keen. He told me to use the downshift more instead of the breaks in the snow. Yeah, whatever, I thought. Even though I'm from the Midwest, any skill or brain I have for driving in the snow gets overshadowed by mild panic. And I used to own a car with stick shift, but for some lack of reason I thought the manual shift in our cars was unaccessible to me. As I drove away, or rolled away, slipping as I tried to break, I gave the downshift a whirl, however, and it's totally bad ass. I downshifted giddily all the way home.

It has occurred to me that when Mark and I slept in the tent he and his friend brought with them today, there was some room to move around in it, but really we pretty much fit into it, the two of us. Tonight there will be two 6'4" guys drunk and cold squeezed inside. It keeps me laughing like Christ.

Now I'm sitting in the basement, a decadent timeless creature. On the table in front of me are the following: a bottle of wine with a turtle on the label, along with my glass filled with wine; four magazines: Scientific American, Wired, National Geographic, and The Big Takeover; two books: Infinite Jest and the Norton Anthology of Poetry. I just finished leafing through one of the books I use for my guitar lessons. I'm kind of getting the hang of the bar chord, even though my fingers didn't want to move into that shape at first. However: the dominant 7th bar chord--root 5. (I can't find a good quick picture.) The fingers can do some fantastic, contortionist things apparently. Some day mine will be those fingers and I'll rock out on a mountaintop, wind blowing my tresses like Slash.

So here I am with all my things, guitar prone on the pool table, laptop in my lap, Elliot Smith out the speakers, with more CDs chosen into line to follow, fresh soup up on the stove. Onward, ho.

Friday, January 21, 2005

What's Troubling Osvaldo?

If my last name were Ng I would feel very different from the way that I feel now.

This morning I received junk e-mail in my work account. I never give out that address to non-work-affiliated people because 1) there’s no reason to and 2) I receive many very large attachments and have the damnedest time keeping my account within my required space. Almost every day I open my account to messages that I’m about to go over / have gone over my limit. And then I spend a wrist-aching amount time searching for messages that would be ok to delete. Anyway, I received this e-mail, which I didn’t open because I could see it was not S____ M_______-related. It comes from Osvaldo Lin, subject line: important, and was sent at 10:28 this morning:

I’d love in 1860 what’s troubling you stars battle in 1962 Wimbledon

This is the most intriguing piece of junk mail I’ve received. First there is the very human emotion love oddly reaching itself into a time long past, but with no object. This is followed by, and without punctuation, a question which also isn’t punctuated, directed at me I assume since the message came to me. What’s troubling you? How did this person know something is troubling me? Wait, is something troubling me? Usually one thing or other, however major or minor, is troubling me. Osvaldo knew and cared to inquire. This is followed by the metaphorically spun "stars battle". Oh, do they, I thought. What sort of stars? How interesting. Stars battle. Stars battle in 1962 Wimbledon (the only word that’s capitalized, by the way). I happen to be reading Infinite Jest, which includes intermittent passage involving tennis. Osvaldo knew. When he/she sent this message, Osvaldo knew something. Notably, stars battle at a major tennis tournament almost one hundred years later than Osvaldo loves, intransitively. Very curious.

Let's get the couch outside this weekend which, this particular Jersey week's end, is proposed to include snow and birthday celebration.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Peppermint Fence

A righty by habit, I began using the mouse with my left hand earlier today, because overuse is killing my right hand and wrist.

Some of you may know the following little bit. For a long time I thought that as a baby I’d begun using my left hand as the dominant one, but that my mom had trained me to use my right hand to eat, write, throw, et cetera. I’d been telling people this for as long as I could remember. When I was younger I would try to activate, or re-activate, my left hand and practice writing alternatingly with each hand. Almost three years ago my boyfriend and I, about a month or so after we’d met, went to visit my family in Illinois for my birthday. This was when my boyfriend, who by the way is a proud lefty, and my family first met. He said something jokingly to my mom about how she’d switched me from lefty to righty. After a nano-furrow of the eyebrow, she said, "I didn’t do that. She’s always been right-handed."

What?! I was in total disbelief. That I had been a lefty switched to righty had become a fundamental component of my identity’s architecture.

This changed everything. I won't ever know who’s right. Times before, my mom has had no memory of an event involving the two of us that I remembered vividly. Like when she’d told me her favorite candy bar was 100 Grand, and then later when I said it in passing, she denied it vehemently. Why would I make that up? The 100 Grand is not part of my sphere; I have no political agenda with that chocolate bar. At the same time, I have always had a vivid imagination; e.g. the Smurfs waited around the corner for me in the hallway at my grandma’s house; I used the
Candy Land board in my white-sand sandbox--topped with a red-and-white striped canopy--at my grandma’s house to physically get to Candy Land. Probably I did get there. And probably my mom at some point did tell me her favorite candy bar was 100 Grand. And probably I used to be a lefty.

What difference it makes I don’t know. I am on a fence.

A FENCE = sinister(left) + dexter(right) < looping = infinite doorways

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

One hour twenty minutes in counting; by the way, it's snowing

I love what you’re doing with your hair. I just heard someone in the office next door say this. What could a person who doesn’t know you well really mean by it?

The you’re-so-cool factor when a person complains about the stupidity of others only goes so far: a fingernail’s width as it scrapes across a block of cheese, cheese clogging underneath the nail. There is a group who come together outside the office next to mine and complain in such a way. Often I shut my door. People do stupid things; so it goes. Venting, I comprehend; making it the constant in the equation makes Jill a fast tumbler down golden hills.

Tumbler!—as in a drinking glass without a handle or stem. I tried with empty tongue-tip to come up with this word while working at a poem a few days ago. I had also considered complaining about my office neighbors a few days ago (o bad irony…bad, punish me with fists!—no, no, don’t now—I’m not into that, spank me) but didn’t. I guess complaining about my office neighbors and thus doing what I chide them for was my access to this word. Probably, like most things, this transfers to other situations, like doing unto others as you would like done unto you, even though you may not be done unto as kindly until your carriage gets cross-country and then some. At the crossroads are deer with devil-horns and pats for the back.

I love what you’re doing with your hair, all of you out there.

Baskin' in the Taboo Afterglow

I’m in that part of the cycle where all my thoughts and those of others seem insignificant to me. I begin to consider a topic, like the gross overexposure of actors’ lives, and then decide it doesn’t matter and that as much gross as there is about it, there’s probably something positive about it, too. Maybe the details of the Jen and Brad’s split, exposed as they are in magazines, can teach us, the non-celebrated, about how to handle our own relationships, or how not to. Then there’s the counter-argument that they are nevertheless just people too and anyone who thinks of their relationship as some kind of model is sadly deluded and pulling a less honest human experience out of another. However, if one of the non-celebrated apes actively acknowledges that Jen and Brad are just people too and is still able to make decisions about his or her own life thoughtfully juxtaposed with the personal details of the overexposed relationship, then maybe that person really is gaining insight. That person, though, would likely draw such insights from any other relationship whether overexposed in magazines, kneaded into a novel, whatever. Jen and Brad just happen to be readily snatchable Doritos for the heart and mind. The details of their relationship, however they might influence, are fabricated and skewed. People start luscious, vicious rumors, then other people with false banners of saviorhood come out with the "truth". Thank god when we finally get the truth of their failed relationship, even though it's just predetermined guessing and vies for reward. In this way the fabricated model breeds loosely threaded disciples. This is a behemoth problem with respect to the crude display of human interaction on television. I don’t watch much television, but I see enough to draw conclusions. People outside the TV imitate the thoughtless sarcasm and needlessly dramatic relationship situations in their real lives, probably not even aware of their aping because we are unconscious malleable apes, we are. This continues and people become dumbots to exponential degrees of dronehood. First this makes me grumpy, then it makes me sad.

But what is the truth anyway but each person’s fabrication from what they perceive and/or choose to be the truth. I was thinking about this yesterday. I had been carrying on an e-mail dialogue with my grandma the whole day. When I got home, my boyfriend’s dad, who also has a continuing e-mail dialogue with my grandma, asked me very dramatically,

Did you talk to your grandma today?

Yes, I said, we’ve been e-mailing all day. We had.

Did she tell you then?

Tell me what?

She has to go to the doctor tomorrow. She failed some tests, and they need to do blood work.

Oh no, I thought. I said, No she didn’t mention it. I’ll ask her about it tomorrow. I began to wonder if this was really true, why she didn't tell me, if something was really wrong with her, why she told him and not me when we'd been talking all day.

The next day, I asked her about it. Her response: the guy was confused. She did have to talk to the doctor, but not that day--the day after that, and not about failed blood tests but something more benign. This is not the first mix-up. Recently he said my grandma had told him my dad didn’t like spicy food. The fact that my dad likes spicy food is as solid as him being male. He eats the hots until he sweats. Everybody knows it. My grandma, even though she too tends to get details confused, would never say my dad doesn’t like spicy food. I don’t mind this kind of mix-up, but I’d rather facts about my grandma’s health not get set askew. This got me thinking about what my boyfriend’s dad’s reality-scape looks like. He embellishes, but even more, he flat-out makes things up. Apparently he doesn’t realize this, although a few times I’ve caught him fabricating in the know in attempt to sway a situation one way or another. Always achingly seeking truth, I've begun calling him on it. However, sometimes I let it go. Sometimes I wonder how much I unknowingly fabricate. However much of my weave is made of flat-out falsities, I won’t know unless someone calls me on it, yet I will still act on it all as if it all were true, because it is to me. Infinite things go on under the surface in which each person’s reality-scape is rooted. Separate molecules, we can never meet. Sometimes this excites me; sometimes this makes me sad.

Below is my weekly horoscope, which I received today. Note to self: remember this one:

"When you reach the top, keep climbing." This Zen proverb is especially applicable to you, Aries. Though you may feel as if you've accomplished as much as you can for now, I assure you that even more progress is not only likely but desirable. So don't bask in the afterglow yet. Claim the once-impossible prize--even at the risk of being called greedy. In the process, you might finally break the taboo that you've been keeping a secret from yourself.

Below is an excerpt from important internet news, which in company with other jumping beans, incited the above. Note to self: must show off figure at the Globes:

Boho Uh-Oh: Who knew Natalie Portman could perform magic tricks? At the Golden Globes, she manages to make her entire figure disappear in an amorphous white tank dress that puts the "hee" in bohemian. While the "Closer" beauty's filmy Chloe flapper frock is perfect for frolicking with a bunch of Greek nymphs, it's a tragedy of epic proportions on the red carpet as the tiered, wedding dress-like hemline and wide sparkling black cummerbund overwhelm her petite frame.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Grandma and Other Beans

Busy at work today. Non-stop. I took time out, however, to explain in an e-mail message to my grandma the CPAP and device used to treat sleep apnea, which I've learned from editing various manuscripts on the topic, after she wrote to me that her doctor said she might suffer from it. Dr. S. at her service. Feels good.

Today I lack blog-spark but don’t want to leave a blank. Up, up, and away.

I think I’ve been consuming toxic levels of gummy bears containing Vitamin C and Echinacea, both for health reasons and to feed an oral fixation complex. Thanks, Kate and Melissa, for the supply. I will be one healthy motherfucker. Now cinnamon gum. Next: fingers and rubber erasers. Then the dictionary itself.

If ever I start a band I will call it Space Asians Exploding, or Exploding Space Asians. I can’t decide. If anyone out there has a preference, send it on. I’ve already got cover art in the works.

Cereals I get excited about:
Grape Nuts
Cracklin’ Oat Bran
Smart Start, with raisins which I add myself

Vegetables I get excited about:
Brussel sprouts
Frozen peas
Red peppers

I am also fond of beans. A bean here, a bean there...

I’ve begun collecting stories about my grandma. She’s one of those who excessively sacrifices herself in order to please others. Perhaps if it’s what she enjoys then it isn’t really sacrifice. Nevertheless, as a result, nothing ever is revealed about her inside, no stories, no likes, no dislikes. I know she's got fantastic stories; I've heard a couple. They can't be the only ones. I couldn’t tell you what kind of music she likes, or if she even likes music at all. My boyfriend’s dad recently gave me a book full of questions to ask a grandma. Yesterday I gave her the first one: tell me the names of your grandparents, how close you were to them, and at least one story about them which includes you. Today, the same question, but about her siblings. What I do know about my grandma’s past is that she's dealt with a difficult gamut of deaths, including her brothers, one in WWII, and a guy she dated when she was younger, which might contribute to her deceptive pessimism--and maybe to her unchecked threats of violence to every guy I’ve brought to her house. I'll kill you if you don't bring her back safe.

More later after the ground thaws.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Bits and Blasts

This morning I noticed that the McDonald’s billboard in Hillsborough is advertising burritos. I don’t like their food anyway and almost never go there, but I am a proponent of integrity. What next? That’s Taco Bell’s fast food territory. Soon they will dilute their roots totally like the rest of the world and begin carrying fried rice and sashimi, tofurky and chicken parmesan, a catch-all. Be aware of the others, Ronnie, but it is not necessary to become them. I remember when I used to sit in his plastic lap.


This morning I didn't wake up on time, not having set the alarm correctly. I did not freak out. I did not shower. I got to work 15 minutes more quickly than usual and got a parking spot I normally wouldn't have gotten at the time I got to work today. Working with the Energies reaps goods.


I do believe I've caught the travelin’ bug. I want to visit:

Stone structures in Ireland
Redwoods in northern California
the Japanese countryside

in no particular order. This is also a call for a Sugar Daddy, both the candy and the fund-doler.


Last week I bought the Elliot Smith CD:
from a basement on the hill. I didn’t get into his music when he was alive, but a friend who also wasn’t into his music recommended this CD to me, and days later I stood for a long time in Wal-Mart in Effingham, Illinois (my hometown) reading a long article about him in SPIN. I bought the CD when I returned to Jersey. Maybe I was already emotional, though there was no markable reason for it: no PMS, nobody close had died, coffee had been administered with regularity. The songs on this CD spun me quick and deep into dark, poignant chaos. Had a night-long psycho-emotional breakdown in which there were no handlebars or answers. I began blogging drippedly about days past. Everybody at work was crabby. A tire blew up in my brother’s face*. The alchemy was palpable, a real Hades-trip bliss-out. "Memory Lane" is my current favorite. I played it on repeat and got it stuck in my noggin. Flood of memories, and then a flushing. The odyssey was good.

*While my brother was putting air in his car tire it blew up in his face. It caused a concussion, and blood came out his ear. There was debris in both his ears and eyes. By fate’s good winding ways he came out with good spirits and no damage to either his ear drum or the lenses of his eyes. A fact about my brother: something dramatic and/or dangerous has happened either to him, in his presence, or to someone close to him, one out of three times I talk to my mom: the tire, a friend in a nearly fatal motorcycle accident (which happened four days before the tire incident), a friend in a deadly car accident, stolen motorcycle, to name a few. (…All of these are transportation-related…) My brother is nine years younger than I am. Despite all the mess, and given on-the-spot temper tantrums, he is still the fearless, optimistic kid he’s always been. I admire that.


How can the phrase "knuckle-friction on the sphincter walls" sound so delightful? (Regretfully, I can't claim authorship.)

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Best Day in the World Part II

[See below for Part I]

The sun was beginning to dim when we entered the park, blue-gray sky. The park was empty but for us. We swung on swings, we slid down slides, we climbed on monkey bars and jungle gyms, we spun. There was a spinning-ride in the shape of some animal, a skunk, a squirrel, a fish, I don’t remember. Two people would stand on it, directly across from each other, holding on to a bar, the weight of each together spinning the thing round. The thing spun fast, so fast I decided that day that it should be illegal. It was not safe, though I would of course break the law to ride it.

A group of unruly bullies entered the park at about the time I sat in a black swing and swung. The bullies wore black leather and white t-shirts and jeans, red accents. It was an invasion full-on, hoodlums cast in from the ’50s. About this time, Kyle lost his lighter from his pocket while swinging high. We took my lighter to the hunt—it was dark now—in the wet grass behind the swing set. The bullies were getting louder and crossing over. When we found Kyle’s lighter we all decided to leave before the bullies soiled the good times.

When we reached the street we saw a bright, bright white light in the sky. It was brighter than a planet should be. It was too low to be a star, too high to be a streetlight, and too bright to be anything we could name. Was it a UFO? If not, then what? We decided to follow it northward and figure it out, which brought us dead-end into the cemetery at the north edge of town. This was a nice cemetery with wide winding gravel paths. We followed the bright light to the back where the trees made a wall. Gregg and someone else sat on an enormous cube-shaped grave. I was reluctant to, figuring bad karma for myself if I upset the dead, though I circled it many times. Engraved in capital letters on the front was Hutton. We’d made our home base on top of the remains of the Hutton family.

We all faced the bright light, monitoring its movements. It would fade and fade and then blink out. Then come back. It repeated this sequence again and again. We watched and monitored. Soon a helicopter appeared, circling above the cemetery, its spotlight searching the ground, flashing on us, then away, in circles. Each time the light came into the cemetery Gregg dove paranoid flat to the ground. The rest of us hunkered and watched. Were they after us? I didn’t really think so, though my imagination brewed a conspiratorial adventure involving the feds and aliens and us. We watched with impenetrable alertness for an indiscernible timespan.

At some point, Kyle and I walked to the end of the row of stones where there was an enormous cube-shaped grave identical to that of the Huttons. On the front of this cube was engraved in capital letters "Sutton". What were the odds that our friends were down the row at the Huttons’ place? Obviously, the cemetery was organized by rhyme. How novel. Kyle, who hadn’t eaten anything but acid all day, in a snap became the funniest man alive and gave me a quick tour of The Rhyming Cemetery, listing names and pointing to each rhymed section.

Finally we ended the indiscernible timespan in which we watched the bright light be bright and fade and blink out and return and were surveillanced by Big Brother’s helicopter. We let the mystery be and left the cemetery. We walked south back past the Springer house and on to mine and Gregg’s apartment. The acid was winding down in us. Inside, Travis picked up a fetish magazine from the kitchen table, which Gregg had recently bought, and positioned himself into the sofa chair for storytime. In a soothing grandfatherly voice he read to us a piece about a man and his lascivious adventures being pissed on by ladies. We were captivated.

We were also hungry. It was dark and quite late now. Late enough that one of the only places open for take-out was Domino’s Pizza. We do what we must. The five of us filed down the stairs toward my car.

As I said, Gregg and I lived in a second-floor apartment. Indians, as in from India, lived in the apartment below us and in the apartment below us on the other side of the stairs. Their apartments opened to the outside. These people were quiet. Sometimes we felt guilty because some amount of excess occasionally occurred in our apartment, late nights. How rude to disturb quiet neighbors. Weekly around nine in the evening we enjoyed their spices wafting upward.

This best night, however, they were letting loose. My car, an ’89 red Escort, was parked right in front of the building. All five of us squeezed into it and sat facing the apartment building, facing this rare party. The door to the apartment on the left was wide open. A dark-skinned girl dressed for a good 80s time stepped to the doorway and, giggling, reached to the light switch and began turning it off and on, off and on, quickly. Instant strobe. Then two guys began dragging the couch from the living room outside onto the grass.

We sat watching, stunned and speechless, except for Travis. In a rare boisterous voice, he said from the backseat, "Let’s get the couch outside!" This phrase became for me code for Hey let’s do something fun. You know you’re really doing it up when the couch has been dragged outside.

Having seen what we thought was the pinnacle of the party, we drove off to Domino’s. We parked, got out of the car, and walked inside. We decided what we wanted and Gregg told the guy at the counter. We waited inside. After several minutes we were told that because it was after one (or whatever time it was, I don’t remember) we had to go through the drive-thru. What? But we just told you what we wanted, and you agreed to make it. Nope, that was store policy.

The five of us filed back outside, squeezed back into my red ’89 Escort and drove around the side of the building. A guy’s face appeared in the drive-thru window and Gregg (he was driving—I have spatial difficulties without chemicals dancing around in my brain; driving at this time, no) told the guy again what we wanted and we sat in the car until it was ready.

So there it is. We brought the pizza back to the apartment where the couch party had begun to settle and so had we. The story begins and ends with eyebrow-wrinkling fast food scenarios. So why is it the best day in the world? I have tried to write about this day before but could never quite capture it. I don’t think I have here either. Part of magic is in the moments so purely unto themselves they are unable to be put into words at all, places beyond poetry, parapoetic cruces.

It was the best day also because we were unbound and weightless, having recaptured kid-ness. We shifted through a series of rides and games like might be found in an amusement park. We did it, though, in the same physical world that everyone lives in, but on this day we were able to put this world solely in our hands. Also, this is a day that could never happen again in any proximate or remote configuration, inscriptive of itself and something quite close to divine.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Best Day in the World Part I

This is a tale about the best day in the world, which took place five or so years ago in Carbondale, Illinois. I don’t know if it still stands as the best day in the world, but it still ranks high. I tell it in two parts, for it was an eventful day.

Sara—that’s me
Gregg—that was my boyfriend at the time; think decadance and its opposite, black and maroon garb, off-and-on cigarette smoking, off-and-on heavy drinking, always a project carved out; one of the most unique people I know but with the most normal set of social worries; a charismatic specimen dropped into the now from some other arena
Kyle—one of my best friends, quiet like me, maybe moreso, plays guitar, drums, writes songs and poems and stories, though most people don’t know his fruits; watches and gambles on sports, and he’ll kick your ass at Trivial Pursuit
Masaki—when I met him I thought he was several years younger than me; turns out he’s years older, very funny, very cracked in a most loveable way, makes great mixes for tape and CD, and is one of the tiniest people I’ve ever met; he also raps in Japanese, and he’s hipper than hip could ever hope to be
Travis—another one of my best friends; we think we’re brother and sister with parents from outerspace; picture him wearing browns and greens, with shaggy brown hair sometimes bright red, black thick-rim glasses; plays guitar and just about any other instrument you give him (he’s one of those); he also is quiet like me

It begins. It was the summer, a beautiful crisp sunny morning, a few clouds only for decoration in the crisp blue sky. The air was the right balance of springtime and warm. It would be a great day to be tripping. What better than to intensify a perfect-weather day? Gregg and I had a few blue gel tabs, so we ate some toast or sandwiches or something, then called Kyle to see if he would join us. We swallowed the blue tabs and waited for Kyle to arrive.

Some time after he arrived and partook, we set off to a gas station to buy cigarettes and beverages. All three of us bought a pack of Camel Lights, a medium-size Fierce Lime Gatorade, and Kyle and I each bought a sucker (lollipop, for you east-coasters who don’t understand). As we were leaving we saw our friend Dave across the street, walking into Burger King/Hardee’s (I could never remember which one was there on the corner), so we crossed the street and went in. Gregg sat down in a booth with Dave, and Kyle and I sat at a table next to it.

Dave and Gregg were talking as Kyle and I were quietly and contently finishing our suckers. We both placed our empty, chewed-on sticks on the table while we sat. Suddenly a BK/H employee appeared at our table. Pointing to our white sticks, he said, "Excuse me. Are you finished with those?" I looked at Kyle, Kyle looked at me. We looked at the employee. I burst uncontrollably into laughter. What? Where are we? I couldn’t stop laughing and Kyle kindly told the employee that indeed we were finished with our white sticks. The employee took them and put them in a trash can.

This is further confirmation that odd things happen to people on acid. It isn’t the acid that makes things seem weird. Rather weird things are attracted to the acid. How often does a fast food worker come to your table and ask you if you’re finished? That’s a service I’ve never otherwise gotten. And to top it off we didn’t even have burger wrappers or fry containers or a tray or anything, and Dave was eating so it wasn’t like we were loitering. The only things on that table were the sucker sticks.

When Dave finished eating, we parted ways. Gregg, Kyle, and I headed to the Springer house, where Masaki, Travis, and others lived. I believe only Masaki was home at the time. He too partook and the four of us sat on the porch, the day still crisp and getting crisper. I had brought some bubbles with me. So I took out the pink serrated blower and made bubbles, catching them, watching them drip inside themselves, adding bubbles to bubbles. Everyone watched quietly.

Through a big one I could see Kyle and watched his face dripping upside down. I stood and began to walk to him so he could see. "Look at you in all your dripping," I said. Everyone stopped and looked at me, and what I’d said suddenly seemed overtly sexual. My face turned red and I sat back down. I blew more bubbles. All was still and quiet.

Aside: During college, Gregg and I lived together in a second-floor apartment, had been together for nearly three years but were about to break up and part ways for grad schools states apart. This had caused emotional difficulty for both of us for the past six or nine months. He drank a lot, I studied Greek a lot, and neither of us wanted to talk about it at the same time, i.e. one of us was either too drunk with liquor or translation to bear talking about it much. By this day we were close to the end.

Out of the quiet Gregg looked at me, said, "I’m gonna miss you." Immediately I felt sad deep in my body. The end, the real live end. I felt suddenly raw and spiraled inward and outward at the same time. Everything would change. I quit blowing bubbles, put my head in my knees and cried. Kyle and Masaki continued sitting and quiet. What could have been an uncomfortable moment for everyone was rather purely itself. When the moment was over I made more bubbles.

After a while Travis pulled up in his car. He’d been visiting a friend somewhere. We filled him in and he joined us.

We decided to take a walk. Indiscernible time had passed. Afternoon sun was in the sky. We walked north and stopped at a park.

[Tomorrow, part deux.]


Fucking bureaucracy! I here bestow upon you the hardiest tranquilizer!

More later after the office cools down.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Back-Page Bridge

My mom called me a couple of days ago and read a news clipping to me, which came from an old newspaper from my grandpa’s hometown, Hardin, Illinois. Hardin is a very, very small town on the Illinois River. When I was younger I used to go with my Grandma first to Hardin to visit my great-grandma Mildred and then on to Pleasant Hill, a little further down the road, to visit my other great-grandma Velma.

Mildred is big woman with big boobs. Big boobs alternate from generation to generation in my family; e.g. my grandma and I have small apples; my mom and great-grandma are very well endowed. Mildred is also blind, or so she says. My mom claims to have seen her pick up lint from the floor upon seeing it from across the room. Mildred also once refused to get a glass of ice water for my mom, who was pregnant with me at the time, because, she said, she didn’t have any made.

Velma is a smaller woman whom I never got to know very well. She drank a lot. One of my few memories of her is going to her house in Pleasant Hill for a family dinner. She made chicken and noodles from scratch. Usually she used yellow food coloring to enhance the visual appeal; she chose the wrong bottle this time, and we had pink chicken and noodles for dinner. There is also a tale of Velma being found down by the river, wearing her bra on the outside of her shirt while fishing, drunk. Eventually she ended up in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s Disease. I visited her regularly on the weekends with my grandma. By the end she didn’t know who anybody was.

Memories of the nursing home: Once a lady who lived there, also with Alzheimer’s, thought I was her granddaughter and gave me a red hat she’d knitted, filled with chalky pastel mints. Another day an old degenerating man flashed my grandma as she walked past his room down the hall. I guess that’s a memory of a report. Still a memory.

We drove over a large bridge—large to me at the time—to get to Mildred and Velma. Sometimes we had to sit in the car for a long time and wait while the bridge was up for barges to pass through. I liked this part.

Here is the text of the news clipping, headline and all. Jack Etter is my grandpa, no longer with us after suffering four heart attacks over a number of years. I don’t have a scanner in my office at work or I’d be more appropriately higher tech.

Jack Etter, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Etter, of Hardin, celebrated his 10th birthday Sunday, and his mother treated him to a sumptuous dinner. His dad treated him to a new suit, with long pants, his first pair, and Jack was proud. Mr. and Mrs. Chris Ledders and family of St. Louis were guests at the Etter home during the day.

On the phone my mom said my grandma had explained that poor Jack’s dad always made him wear short pants, until this day. It must have been a special birthday.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Fatal Insomnia--NOT MINE

Thank you, Great One, for bread and the capacity to sleep at least enough to carry on. This morning when I got to work The Good Doctor had more for me to add to his syllabus on sleep disorders, which included insomnia. Today he asked me to prepare his detailed outline on insomnia. Sleep last night was fine. Round of applause. Thank you.

Particularly after reading and putting together the outline, I see that my insomnia (or just plain dread sleeplessness) is probably just psycho-emotional twerks that I can control with some mind-over-matter efforts, which I had been doing for the past couple of years except for an occasional flap. This is to say that, for example, I do not suffer from neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, which I now know might cause insomnia. Nor do I suffer from headache syndromes, such as hypnic headaches or exploding head syndrome, which are part of neurological disorders.

Thanks for that to whoever is in charge of the doling.

Neither do I have
Fatal Familial Insomnia, a rare prion disease. A prion disease, as I learned upon a little research, is as follows:

"Human prion diseases: Diseases of human and animals that affect primarily the nervous system. They can be sporadic (spontaneous), transmitted by infection or familial (inherited). The hallmark of these diseases is the presence of microscopic vacuolization of the brain tissue, called spongiform degeneration, and of an abnormal form of a protein, called prion protein, which is a normal component in brain and other tissues. The abnormal prion protein is resistant to digestion with enzymes that breakdown normal proteins, and accumulates in the brain."

Should you choose not to visit the link to a description of Fatal Familial Syndrome, a few fun facts on the stages of the disease are as follows:

The first stage develops over approximately four months and includes a collection of psychiatric problems such as panic attacks and bizarre phobias. The second stage includes hallucinations, panic, agitation and sweating and lasts about five months. The third stage lasts about three months and is total insomnia with weight loss. The individual at this point looks much older and may experience incontinence. The fourth stage is around six months long and is recognized as dementia, total insomnia and sudden death after becoming mute.

Apparently it doesn’t set in until a person’s in his or her late 40s, or after child-bearing age. Check your family history. Me, I am immaculate. I have no history. So it's cool.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Renaissance Insomnia and the Bunnies That Be

Oh the tired irony that since I’ve begun working for a journal called S____ M_______ I’ve developed a brawny insomnia. Last night it was dark except for the alarm clock and for hours I lay there, eyes stretched tight open, brain sparking in memory of warm past events and devising ways to put them in written word. This was not another rageful night of insomnia and MNOTS; my brain was just excited about life, but unfortunately during hours when I needed to sleep so that I wouldn’t trip and err all day at work and life, which at 8:30am I’d already accomplished twice in one shot. I suppose I’ll need to readjust to accept an alternate day-night pattern and sleep at rare hours. I like my brain excited. Anyway, stories of past events to come, willy nilly.

At first I thought I was having a renaissance appreciation of
The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow. Then I realized I’d never properly appreciated it--its melodies catch and its lyrics keen.

Then I realized I never really properly appreciate music in the first stage, after realizing that I receive new music in two stages:

1. Lennie stage (as in
Of Mice and Men): I like soft things furry things, melody that carries me and harnesses no thought--it doesn't even occur to me to listen distinctly; I like the ups and downs and turns of guitars and voice, the heartbeat drum thump and levitating in it. (One of my before-I-die fantasies is to levitate.)
2. George stage: I begin to hear and absorb the words and see from where the writer might be writing, and revel in the deeper and sometimes new places the words take me to.

When I was in high school I noticed this bi-stage listening pattern with regard to songs here and there, but only this morning did see that it’s pattern absolute. When I noticed it in high school, always the songs I gravitated to in Lennie stage impressed me intellectually, too, in George stage, which indicates a strong relationship between content and form inherent in the source. What do you think, Doctor?

The Doctor thinks...

I think she needs to sleep more.
I think she needs a chipotle enema.
I think she lost her skirt in the printer.
I think the chicken’s on fire. Two aspirin.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Reconfiguring Babies and User-Friendly Cyclotrons

I know animals do it and we humans having been doing it, but I just can’t believe that a human came out of the body of Mark’s sister-in-law. I’ve been there with her at holiday dinners and other family get-togethers, where all was conceivable to me, and then one day a human life started growing inside her. Last night the little human came out, and I keep having explosive epiphanies about it: Oh my god! A baby came out of her! It’s alive! She’s alive, and she’s going to grow and be adult-sized one day! Oh my god! It’s revelatory! I woke up this morning and wondered if it really happened. I think it did.

If so, then the new baby is a she, and—I know everyone thinks the baby associated with him or her is the most beautiful—but this baby is truly beautiful. Big dark eyes whose creases extend far across her temples, a head of naturally coifed black hair. And she literally made only a peep. The family were the paparazzi and then some. The chka’s of the cameras were going from the time we finally got to see the baby until we left hours later. By we I mean the herd of us, all 9 of us, plus Mark’s brother, who by the way had daddy-grin and big-eyes all over. Mark and his dad retrieved me from work around 11am for the event. I had thought the relationship was too distant to justify my leaving work; i.e. it wasn’t my child having a baby, not even my sister (I don’t have a sister, but if I did she’d be perfectly normal). But the boys wanted to come and get me, so I explained the situation to The Good Doctor (who is having a painfully busy time lately, which when he was sorting of confiding to me put tears in my eyes), who generously told me to go. The baby wasn’t born until after six, so probably I didn’t need to leave that early, but—a baby was being born. It was a major event. We dropped Mark's parents off at the hospital, and then instead of sitting there for hours, Mark and I went shopping and awaited The Phone Call.

First we went to
Campmor, where Mak purchased some dried campin’ food for us to sample (Beef Chili Mac (appropriately for Mak and for me the namer of Mark to Mak) which I’m damn excited to try), a shovel to dig holes for the bodies, and some extra-biodegradable toilet paper in which we will wrap the bodies for the sake of fashion. Then on to EMS, where I purchased a large zero-degree penis, a large camping and outdoor survival guide, and a new National Geographic with a large article on caffeine, its history, and our crazy consumption of it. Apparently a guy in Wales committed suicide by swallowing 100 caffeine pills, and apparently the jolt hits you more quickly if you chew it (as in gum) rather than drink it. The survival guide has been placed on the coffee table for easy access so that I can peruse it bit by bit regularly and learn about fire, trees, and attacks by wild animals. Next, Burlington Coat Factory, where I tried on a pea green faux fur coat that was at least three sizes too big for me. I looked like a polished animated character from some urban monster legend. The coat was not purchased.

What are the odds that two days ago I would decide at random on a name for my pattern psychological looping, Cyclotron, and then today, while searching for more information on PET and SPECT imaging for a work task I go right to
a web site that defines them as "lower cost, more reliable and user-friendly cyclotrons"? Do not answer that question; please do not answer that question. The magic is in not answering.

"Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged... it's how I arrange my mind." This comes from one of those forwarded e-mail pests that threatens you with bad luck or with the absence of a miracle if you don’t annoy at least seven other people with it. I willingly extracted this line to spread around and tossed the rest. I’m open to all possible stimuli and configurations, be it insomnia, white noise, Kool-Aid, outdoor chemistry and survival experiments, whatever. Onward, ho.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Life and Death in the Key of Green

The water broke. A baby is about to be born. Not mine. Mark’s sister-in-law. That means I’m about to become the girlfriend of a new uncle. Some strange sort of aunt, both industrious and sensitive. Somebody send me a Hallmark for this true occasion. Somebody? Somebody.

Insomnia and MNOTS have tracked me down, honed in with their needle-stingers. Soon they will take me into their green-glowing ship and use my body parts for fuel. Fuckers.

Mark's dad suggested I get a white noise machine, which I had considered but not taken any further than that. Then last night I saw end of the preview for White Noise, from which I got that THE DEAD speak through white noise. Maybe they'll kill me and that will cure this demon sleeplessness.

Change the channel: I love insomnia and MNOTS. I will use them for my better good.

Listening with emotional drip to Iron & Wine (thanks, Kate).

More later on babies and the dead.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Like in the Pron Movies

This is the subject line for a piece of junk e-mail I received today. I’m gonna be a pron star when I get big misspelled tits.

This from Mr Anigans. Watch your back, in light (or dark) of the faith-based takeover. I might have to become a political activist; what's next--Smurfs are real? That's what I thought when I was four. Now I am many.

Yesterday when I was walking through the parking lot to leave from work, there were several cars idling in anticipation of other people leaving and opening up a spot for them. My car was in the back of the lot. I could feel the idles rise as I walked by, the drivers thinking I was going to get into a car near them. I wasn’t. My initial internal response was to smirk and laugh, "Suckers, and you thought you were getting a spot."

This response interests me. I’m not a mean person, as far as I know of myself, and as far as I’m told by others who know me. In fact, I’m more likely to extend the niceties so to be walked on rather than to bitch off and away coldly. The above has been my response to those cars before, though. Maybe those times I was just feeling grumpy, or maybe there’s a clear pattern, e.g., when I’m leaving after a dark day of work. Or maybe I’m a delusional rot-head daily offending the innocent, which could explain the recurrent askew responses people have to me when I speak, such as when I tried to tell someone I was going to Las Vegas and she said, "At least your boss won’t interrupt your work since he will be in Prague that week." Maybe what actually comes out of my mouth is equivalent to or worse than that thought in response to the cars, and people are too shocked to respond directly and so change the subject. Or maybe I’ve got Jeckyl & Hyde written through and all over me.

I’m (re)newly fascinated by the way different combinations of people affect each other. I’m affected and behave drastically differently depending on who I’m with (which I think I've blogged about before). Some people think I’m impossible to talk to (as I’ve been told and can sometimes sense); other people think I’m very friendly, easygoing, adventurous, a ham. I’ve been called all of these things and all of their opposites.

This morning one of the resident doctors was sitting down the hall waiting to be interviewed for some upper position. She’s the one to whom I raise the Hitler arm when I see her in the hallway, and she returns the gesture. I had to pass her to get to the printer dozens of times. Finally, I said to her,

"Are you a spy? You’ve been sitting here all morning."

She said, "How did you know?"

"Because I’m a spy," I said, "Don’t tell them I know you’re here."

And I returned to my office. If I had had this conversation with most other people here, for example, the woman in the office next to me, I would have gotten the Freak look and maybe nervous laughter. Some people seem able to talk to anyone. My distaste for small-talk, which I think is cocktail with my incapacity for small-talk, silences me involuntarily around people I wouldn’t be able to lightly have the above conversation with.

Where am I going with this? I forgot. I may be on the verge of another split-brain. I may be about to be four again. I guess everyone is varied within themselves and varying arms reach out in varying situations, and people are labeled by others accordingly varyingly. The unpinnable nature of things drives me loopy sometimes and today. Here's the word I've found for the recurring split-brain induced by this sudden explosive awareness of the unpinnable out from the otherwise even-keel:

Cyclotron: A device that accelerates charged subatomic particles in a spiral path by an alternating electric field in a constant magnetic field.

A little faith in the cyclotron and those pron flick offers should start rolling in, all funded by Mister President, you blind narrow prick.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hercules's Letter Jacket

Last night I got an e-mail from a former student, who was in the only creative writing class I’ve taught in the classroom, asking for a letter of recommendation to get into college; i.e. a more substantial college than Raritan Valley Community College. He also reiterated that my class was his favorite of all he had at the college. Flattery is nice sometimes.

Now I have a writing assignment. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a writing assignment outside of work correspondence and occasional here-write-up-a-quick-announcement. I did put together a presentation for a colloquium (I hate that bitchy word, mainly because of the bitchy stiffs I’ve heard use it; otherwise it’s kind of nice, now that I’m looking at it, the Latin formation and all), to enlighten the English department and whomever else about my philosophy on teaching creative writing. I was the English department’s creative representative.

Center stage has never been a comfortable place for me. However, I have to toot the horn and say it was the best presentation I ever gave. I wrote this thing out and practiced it. I wasn’t going to look like a fool in front of the English department, for my own dignity and self-satisfaction, and also because there were a few haughty ones in the department who had let me know in various ways they didn’t deem me worth much, particularly the department chair. I was the fourth of five to present. While I spouted my thoughts and then read a few of my poems, the people in the room showed interest with nods, turns of the mouth, dilations of the eye, and they laughed at appropriate times. I even saw people taking notes. I felt like a rock star. At the completion of the colloquium, people lined up to talk to me, including the department chair who made a point to let everyone know how smart she was for hiring me.

Anyway, I haven’t had a writing assignment in a while. The presentation I wrote out but altered ad-lib-wise when I delivered it aloud. I didn’t have to perfect it into impressive granite print. This request for a letter of recommendation got me thinking about my spontaneous writing ritual. As per the Flaming Lips, "I feel happy but nervous". When I know I have to write something I want it to be perfect. This desire causes my brain to begin to separate. My brain runs highly nonlinear.

Before I begin writing I beat myself down for being hopelessly incoherent and for being a failure. I tell myself: you will never get this done, and if you do, it will be only sub-par, your thoughts are a mediocre mess and you’ll never be able to sort and order them. I put my face in my hand, I yank at my hair, I change clothes, I write a big bang of notes, I step outside, I smoke a cigarette, I listen to a CD on repeat, I holler, I lie down, I write, I type, I draw maps, maybe have a beer, I delete, I write more, I draw more maps, and then when it’s all in order I print it out (for the thousandth time) and see that the sentences in each paragraph need to be in reverse order, and the paragraphs of the whole beast need to be in reverse order. I cut, I paste, I edit, I step outside, I try to unclench my jaw, I dance, I holler, I print again. This goes on in varying rhythms and melodies. Finally I print again, staple and cast the product onto the seat of a leather chair, and I feel like Hercules come back from Hades, worn and raw, uncertainly valiant.

And it still stands that I love writing, I love the process of writing. I even love the pre-writing self-abuse, I even love the hating of the loving of the pre-writing self-abuse. It’s part of the game. I look forward to writing this letter. I may rent a cabin in the woods for this episode and during the turmoil ride deer, with a whip in the pen-hand.

Onward, ho. I have work to do, besides going on about myself and then attempting to excuse it. It occurs to me that the above splatter might suggest that I think I'm some kind of writer so necessary that mythological upheavals must happen to achieve my goods. Ho ho ha he hi huh uh. Neurosis. I'm really hopelessly fucking tired today.

The math:
insomnia x basement noise x MNOTS = Sara feels like falling rock

Monday, January 03, 2005

More Inanity in the Office Space

Where I work I get holiday pay for several holidays, which is cool. However, it is the employee’s responsibility to key holiday pay hours into the time clock. For a while nobody told me I had to do this, and getting someone to show me how to do it is proving food for slapstick:

1. Somebody keyed it in for me the first time, too quickly for me to stop her and say, "Hey, how does it go?"

2. Since I don’t know how to do it, the office manager has had to plug in the hours herself on a couple of occasions, either because I neglected it entirely (before I knew I had to do this) or because I did it wrong (when I attempted to follow an instruction sheet somebody tossed on my desk one day). I’m no good at reading instructions; however, I am swift enough to follow a basic step-by-step. When I tried to follow the instruction sheet, however, the steps on the sheet did not match up with the steps the time clock took. The office manager said to me that someone should go to the time clock with me and watch me. Because I’m fucking half-brained child who needs supervision for complicated tasks? This is not a complicated task; I just need to be told how to do it.

3. Two people have told me to ask other people to show me how to do it, neither of which people I ever talk to for any reason. I haven’t asked these people because a) it seems illogical for me to show up at the desks of people I've never met, and don’t even know what they do here, to ask them to show me how to key in my holiday pay (And you are…), and b) I refuse to participate in the INANE DELEGATION that goes on in this office environment. Why don’t you show me yourself, or tell me? A minute, two long could it take?

It’s only difficult when I or anybody else has to travel through a freight train of people. And now, having tried repeatedly for the second half of the day to talk to the office manager about this minute situation (which is actually large because it regards my minute pay), it is time for me to leave. Still no answers. Just like life itself and the prospects of God.

Eating Out the Dream

For New Year’s Eve I disappeared into the woods with my boyfriend; when I emerged I learned that soon I can be invisible at parties. We hiked up a mountain we aren’t supposed to camp on, with bags the weight of bears on our backs, and after trekking across a sketchy rock garden wound our way into a cozy pit surrounded by cyclopean rocks. It was a real mythological tour.

We arrived during daylight so we could see to collect wood for the fire and set up our new bad-ass orange tent. Usually we don’t use a tent but just sleep in bags out in the cool open night. When I say we, I mean I follow Mark’s lead. I had been camping only once, when I was 23, before I met Mark, when I was 25. At 28, I’m still an outdoors rookie. What was I going to do—bitch and cry until pampered? No, I proved myself a tough girl with deep affection for violatory bugs and for squatting to pee in the grass. I must also mention that every time we go camping I have started my period the day or two before, which makes for a situation less than ideal. However, I’ve decided to make the most of it and try to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for dropping the most tampons in the woods. Support me with cheers and cotton party hats.

New Year’s Eve. We at first weren’t going to bring alcohol since we had so much to carry. But I wanted to bring champagne for the NYE celebration. Fortunately we found little 10 oz. bottles at the liquor store—neither of us like the stuff anyway. Then we decided to bring a 12-pack of PBR and two left over tall-can Scotch ales from the fridge. After the sweaty hike up the mountain, cracking open a beer is the best thing. And that’s what we did, and we carried on with that cracking.

When it got dark and Mark had revved the fire back to blazing, we roasted hotdogs and finished the PBR. Around 9pm we became desperately sleepy. What the fuck? We set the cell phone alarm (I know—cell phone in the woods!) for 11:45 pm so we could catch the year’s turn and then fell asleep. When the alarm went off we promptly turned it off and slept until 8:30am, like a couple of poppy-inflicted Oz-goers. All night a witch-like screech off in the distance ripped into the silence. It sounded far away.

Upon waking we decided to make oatmeal. Mark got another stellar fire going, set a pot on a rock in the flames, and boiled some water. We ate maple and brown sugar oatmeal and drank hot chocolate. An hour later we grew sleepy, and like a couple of poppy-inflicted Oz-goers were drawn back to the tent and slept for another two hours. What the fuck? Sleeping was good, but was there something sedative in the fire’s smoke? Only the monkeys know.

When we woke again, around 2pm, my head was pounding. You may have noticed above that we drank hot chocolate with our oatmeal. Not at all like coffee. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but I do drink coffee every day. My body and brain know this. Every time I leaned over, my head throbbed harder. It weighed 300 lbs., I’m sure of it. There was possibility of two people coming to join us the second night, and they were my only hope: bring caffeine in any form I don’t care, I pleaded. Neither of the potentials made it, and my head ached until I woke up the next morning, despite champagne, Scotch ale, Alleve, and Tylenol. Damnable slinking addiction. Mind over matter, Beast.

Anyway, when we woke this second time, Mark got another stellar fire going and cooked a can of chili on the rock. While it was cooking we drank our Scotch ales, and afterward we popped open our tiny bottles of champagne and toasted to the new year. The chili hit the spot, despite every vessel in my head expanding to the size of angry snakes. We played rummy on top of a rock. I don’t know how the hours passed. There was a fire and the still woody air. Later we cooked beef stew on the rock. As per pattern, we grew sleepy early.

It was chillier the second night. We both had zero-degree bags inside our tent, mine which Mark had very recently procured for me. This would do just fine for a normal person, but I am a reptile. I do not retain heat. I have no circulation in my toes. I fell asleep and woke intermittently, shivering. Finally I put on more clothes then mummied myself back into the bag, after which I realized I had to pee. I said Fuck it and went back to sleep. Then I began having the have-to-pee dream. Here goes. It gets racy…

Mark and I were sleeping in an orange tent. There was a rustling about outside the tent. Something was trying to get in. It ripped a hole in the side of the tent, making a window. It was a black dog with small white patches, curly hair, floppy ears, harmless. We shoo-ed it away. Then our tent became a little car, a Chevette or something, and we were driving. I had to pee. We found some freezer pops on the side of the road. These freezer pops had been all over the papers. Someone had stolen them from Big Lots. We drove until we found Big Lots. I think we wanted more freezer pops, or at least legitimate freezer pops. We went in. I had to pee, so I waited in the vestibule area. The store was about to close. Three workers came out and lit up cigarettes in the vestibule. One of them had short curly blonde hair, an effeminate boy wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and cut-off denim shorts, cuffed. The right leg was rolled up higher than the right. I could see he did it to show off a black swirling tattoo on that leg. Soon Mark came out and we got in the car. I had to pee. We drove and parked in front of a tall nasty hotel. Nasty. You could tell from the outside. Apparently some people lived there for weeks or months at a time. Where we were parked we could see right into three of the windows. There were girls showering in each of them. The one on the right wore a brunette bob cut, black thick-rimmed glasses, and a black lacy thong, the front of which was cut out in a triangle around her pubic hair, while she showered. The middle girl was nothing memorable except for her bare vagina thrusting up and down in the window. The girl on the left, unlike the other two, seemed uncomfortable being seen but stood there and washed anyway. We got another close-up of the middle girl and her thrusting pelvis in the window lit yellow. Mark turned to me and said, "I feel like I’m eating her out, she’s so close." We laughed. The girl on the left said sternly to us, "This isn’t going to work. [pause] We know you’ve been sitting here. You can’t." Her voice was ominous. We drove away before demons came. I had to pee. A cop drove past us. Mark put on his seat belt. I had to pee. We drove off onto a country road, away from the cop. I had to pee.

I woke up. Mark was awake, said he’d heard the screech again, but it was much closer, very close in fact. We lay there and listened. I had to pee. It was very close. We were going to be another Blair Witch project. Finally it moved farther away. Probably an owl, Mark guessed: there were no footsteps and it moved quickly. I concurred. I had to concur to make certain in my head that there was no witch, no saliva-drip-toothed raccoon, or no serial killer standing outside the tent, whether there was or not. I had to get out there and free my bladder. And so I did.

In the morning we boiled water on the rock for some oatmeal and hot chocolate, packed up our stuff, and hiked down the mountain. As we were walking over the final bridge out of the woods, a woman was hiking in. A cunt rather. Generally I don’t use this term to refer to people, but this woman was Cunt Manifest. I could tell just by looking. She said to us, "Oh, are you allowed to camp up here, or are you just training?" Fuck off, lady. You know the answer, and you know you know the answer. Mind your own business and enjoy your day. We will. A friend was in the parking lot waiting to pick us up. He drove us straight to coffee zen.