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Archive for November, 2008

|| November 25, 2008 || 12:10 am || Comments (12) ||

A thing of beauty is a joy foreverrrrr!

Laydehs and menfolks, I give you the Ibanez S2170:

Thin and sexy, with a burled poplar* front and naked mahogany back, she came through the door unexpectedly tonight; Maxim foolgrinned as he carried her across the room and presented her to me. Alas, she only came for a handful of hours and is not here to stay.

Made me appreciate playing with her all the more, I imagine. She was smooooth in that way all divine things are.

Now you: Show me an object of outright lust, a thing that drives you to crazy distraction. I’m often intrigued by the desires of others.

*the Poplar is one of my most favorite trees of all, did you know that?

this week’s prevailing opinion in twenty-five words or less

We should not have bailed out those nasty Wall Street Fucks (grrr); we should absolutely do what we can to aid the automobile industry.

|| November 19, 2008 || 12:02 am || Comments (8) ||

the big empty

Sometimes I think I am a catastrophe of otherwordly engineering. There are too many parts that seem incongruent, too many things groaning to quit while a handful of specific bits would grind themselves to dust from working so feverishly precise.

It seems that there is a good chunk of me always hurting, always holding its breath and waiting for the ensuing destruction. My heart. My heart a mere palm’s-worth of gravel I roll around in my mouth, trying to keep it in, but out of the way. God, how I fail so mightily. Containing my heart effectively zips my mouth, lest I show myself to be a clumsy-tongued, chindrooling mess of a person unable to effectively articulate a fucking thing I mean to.

I did something tonight I can only recall doing a couple of times in the whole of my life: I walked around wailing, from the very bottoms of my feet, in great pain and sadness, face an ugly sobbing grimace. For roughly twenty minutes, everything about me said I hurt unashamedly. The me that I usually am, the one that is terribly embarrassed to show weakness –much less tinged with grief and childishness–, got squashed down to a neat little compact thing that was pushed aside dismissively with hardly a glance.

These seem to you the rantings of an insane person, I am sure, but what they are, actually, are the admissions of a chronically tired person. I can’t decide if I was born old and chased after the exuberance of youth, or if I was born tender and forced to live ugly by forces I don’t quite understand. What I do know is that every day I struggle for better, for transcendence. What I also know is that each day I do this I rip meat and shred sinews. Complacency is supposed to be tedium, yeah? While I would not enjoy a coma of predictability and ‘normalcy’, what I would love is the rest those things might present. Maybe.

The harder I try, the more exhausted I get, and to accept the admonition of people (who, to a person, have my best interests at heart) to ‘Be Still’ feels like I am a sitting duck, waiting and waiting for Something to slam into me.

In all likelihood, that Something is merely my own fears and failings, for and by which I am infinitely sorry and mortified.

|| November 13, 2008 || 10:09 am || Comments (6) ||

Hey, have I ever told you about the time that….

We were jogging along, Tess and me. We were jogging along on the track, and there wasn’t much banter this morning, because nature has decided to stamp mornings ‘fucka* cold’ and we’ve yet to adjust to the change. We won’t be able to run outside much longer. Sharply cold air makes Tess asthmatic, so in the late fall and winter we are pushed indoors.

I didn’t used to hate winter, but I am becoming Not Its Biggest Fan because of three things. One, it never seems to snow here in the South anymore; as you may well know, extreme cold minus piles of snow equals sux0rs. Two, I’m very cold sensitive all of the sudden in the last two years; cold sensitivity means life is substantially less pleasant than when, say, I was living in Alaska and would tromp calmly down the drive to the mailbox in little more than a jacket, boxer shorts, and wool-lined Sorels. Thirdly, during the winter I have to do the hateful thing of being fixed to a machine indoors for thirty minutes to an hour, depending on how long it took me to wrestle myself from Maxim’s beautiful warm side that morning; I look forlornly outside almost exactly like I did when I was five with chicken pox and could not accept my mother’s very reasonable explanations as to why I must keep my face pressed to the front door, peering mournfully out, for just a little bit longer.

Pretend I wrote a paragraph here to skillfully steer you from that little rabbit-chasing endeavor and back to this morning’s events. You have a healthy mechanism for Suspension Of Disbelief, don’t you? I’m asking that you employ it here, which would make a record of some sort, because I’ve never requested that particular thing of you, oh generous Muffinasses. Not actively, anyway.

So there was not much joggy banter, and when this happens it is fair easy for me to get lost further and further into myself, allowing my body to auto-pilot, which is something it mostly likes, I think. If my body could reasonably hop up out of my bed each morning, leaving my spirit and emotions lolling there, I think it would do so with great relief and gladness. I’m pretty sure my body is of a mind that it has all its shit together and is only being slowed down by my emotions, which are unruly, and my spirit, which causes somewhat of a ruckus. My poor body, the responsible sibling, the structured one, the no-nonsense part of my overall being.

That’s where I was this morning, sliding further down, down, down into myself, into a still and concentrated place while my body handled the mechanics. Tess was focused only on breathing, her mouth covered by a loosely-knit scarf, so she didn’t much want to converse. I sometimes have a tendency to ball my hands too tightly when I run, so I was occasionally flexing in the opposite direction, shaking the cold off of my fingerless gloves, keeping everything flowing, keeping hand-sweat at bay. Frozen hands when you are a half-mile in lend sincerely to a desire to call a halt to a decent run.

So I was inside, coming up only just enough to release-flex-release my hands when two older gentlemen approached us going the opposite direction. The one closest to me, he gave a pleasant enough ‘hello’ while the one to the outside of the track waved. And so far inside was I still that I raised both hands in line with my waist, planning to wave, when both middle fingers shot up and I found myself giving double birds to two non-offending, complete strangers.

“WHOOPS!” I turned my head and shouted, “WHOOPS, MY GOD, I AM SOOOOOO SORRY!” A quick glance at Tess showed eyes so wide that the orbs themselves were on the brink of tipping full out her sockets to plink to the ground and roll away.

Somebody, someday, should save me from myself. Or at least point me toward somebody else who can.

*‘fucka’ is about four degrees more intense than ‘hella’

|| November 8, 2008 || 3:25 am || Comments (10) ||

And it will be Months of Sundays

He seems pretty certain of what he wants to do; it took me a little bit to start really accepting that. I mean, when he came to me and his dad last Sunday to talk about it, Sam had his facts ready and spoke to us in solid, earnest tones. He outlined how he’d like to explore his first handful of years post-high school in the military.

There was a part of me that was heartily bucking against my calm and reasonable demeanor. I lobbed a few mild counterpoints at him, like ‘If you want money for school then there are plenty of ways to go about it; this isn’t your only option’. With a shrug he told me that the G.I. Bill money was only part of this, and a relatively small one at that. He wants to get out of here, at least for a while, and damn my gypsy feet and itchy soul, for he seems to have inherited them both. He wants to learn more places and people. This child who –once when he was small– burst into tears when I asked him to walk five feet from me to deposit an ice-cream sandwich wrapper in the trash can. I was firm with him: I’m not going anywhere, Samuel. I’ll be watching you the whole time. One dozen steps there, one dozen steps back. One dozen steps straight back to me, because I’m not moving from this spot until you are right at my side.

He wants to go Special Ops. He wants adventure, he said, and now all I can think is that this is my fault: I have always encouraged these, my babies, to live vigorously and not be afraid to chase after big or scary things if they set your heart to throbbing or place a blaze in your eyes. I like to think I prepared them for the dragon should it come along, but I had not one clue that I might be enticing them to mount up and go the fuck after it. He seeks The Test.

I once said here that ‘Part of a boy becoming a man is having a momma who knows when to shut up and just sort of be stoic while cringing on the inside.’ I had to remind myself of this, my right index finger and thumb pinching the meat of my left thigh. Pinching it hard. He wants to be tested, to see if he will be found wanting. He wants to exert himself in a way that will make damn sure he is not.

The last-ish point Sam covered with us is that he has a desire to do basic between his junior and senior years. “I just want to get started,” he said. I protested politely, telling him enjoy being a kid while he could, to enjoy what would be his last carefree summer, to ship out post-graduation.

“Woman,” Maxim said to me (and he never, ever calls me that, so I took notice), “He’s no kid. In a little over a year he will be eighteen, in a year-and-a-half he will be striking out on his own. Let him go about the business of being a man.”

And there was not one fucking thing I could possibly say to refute that. Not in a way that didn’t say ‘I’m disappointed’ or ‘I don’t think you are entirely capable’ or ‘Don’t be silly’. I don’t think any of those things, so I nodded. I told him that I would sign the paperwork if that is what he really wants. At present he is not giving me any reason to believe otherwise. Sam is pursuing this in the exact same fashion as every other thing I’ve seen him be passionate about and, in turn, excel at.

Still. It’s one thing to have a parent, a sibling, a spouse on active duty. For all my strident belief and patriotism in this arena, I can’t for the life of me equate any of those to feeding your child into the machine and fervently desiring that he is one of the ones that come out markedly better for the experience. If I think too long on it, I get physically ill.

From the time he was in utero, I used to sit up nights worrying that Samuel would be taken early from me. I’ve never done this with Scout or Mathias, only Sam. At the eight-months stage in my pregnancy, the one where you cannot seem to sleep for the life of you and thus sit on the couch with a glass of milk in one hand and the remote in the other, I magically awoke at one each and every morning. So as not to disturb his father with tossing and turning (because he had PT at five each ay emm), I’d go on downstairs and watch a block of People’s Court. This was back when Wapner had the helm and the intro music sort of punched you out a little….this was groundbreaking stuff at one point, remember? Court. Live. ON TELEVISION. I swear, after that child was born he would hear that music or Doug Llewelyn’s voice and actively try to discern from whence it came, wiggling and turning as best as his minor motor skill level would permit.

On more than one of those nights, an infomercial about St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital would come on and I’d be powerless to change the channel. I was more than familiar with that place, with Danny Thomas, and I smirked at the irony that would have me sitting atop the cold tundra of Alaska only to watch infomercials about a renowned hospital in my hometown of Memphis; it was a hospital I’d done volunteer work and fundraising for, making my awareness even greater. Cancer kids and cancer babies would appear in and disappear from that box at two in the morning, when all things were weightier and infinitely more probable. Fear further and further seized my heart that my unborn Samuel would take the bullet of cancer to his developing innards after I’d had a good three or four years of being in love with him. How does one do that, how does one usher their child through something that is so singular by its very nature?

I never understood my father’s reaction to my announcement that I’d be joining the Marine Corps; I felt completely shafted at the time. But now I understand. Life has a funny way of illuminating things for you, especially if you begrudge them of others.

I feel like I’m now somehow paying penance on my begrudging him that particular instance for all those years. It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me as of late: If you require people to earn your forgiveness, rather than giving it cleanly and purely, then it has potential to tax you on their earnings.

He told me on a Sunday, my Samuel, and it occurs to me now that once he raises his hand –as I did and his father did and our fathers did– to be charged with his oath it will be Months of Sundays before the machine fully releases him back into the arms of his family. On my heart is stamped a soundless ‘Godspeed’ and already it aches.

|| November 7, 2008 || 3:56 am || Comments (2) ||


I will probably never, so long as I am alive, understand how I can feel so exhausted that I can scarcely function when I go to bed and then be wide awake a scant four hours later.

Off to fold clothes and watch old movies on AMC.

Which one of you is keeping me up? You need to dial your energy back about four clicks, thanks. The laundry is nearly caught up and I have no idea what Productive-Yet-Quiet-Thingtm I might do should there be no skivvies to square away.

sometimes I drop the box and the surreal skitters everywhere

I am going to write a monologue, and that monologue is going to be devoted to the process behind being driven to an emotional state that requires me to consume two strawberry pop-up strudel things at eleven-fifty-four in the pee emm. It’s going to be superimposed, this monologue, as a voice-over; the images playing behind it will be of me ferreting around the freezer for suitably heinous junk food(s?), looking on the strawberry pop-up strudel things with skepticism, and then favoring them over the ice cream because that would mean nuts and hot fudge and whipped cream, which is work, for God’s sake. And besides, it’s too fucking cold for ice cream, and that includes ice cream buried under the pahoehoe of molten fudge.

Strawberry pop-up strudel things require a toaster. And a tiny side of skim milk (skim milk was a lesson hard-won after the obsessive drinking of whole milk throughout my first pregnancy, which was coincidentally accompanied by fifty-six pounds of weight gain, so help me Jesus). They require pulling down a plate, not burning your fingers –which, truth be told, have their share of errant actions in their histories– and snipping off the top of that eedle packet of icing. “Oh Discoverer or Creator of Powdered Sugar, all hail thee. How might the junkie and the housewife, the latch-key kid and the bachelor show their gratitude for thy pure white evil sweetness?”

The voice-over would say things like that, tender Muffinasses.

It would also note, as I considered the little white smooshy package, pondered it, even, that I had just then considered the joy of being a complete evil bastard and doing the unthinkable.

“Yes, look at me…sorely tempted to –nay, PLOTTING to– use more than My Fair Share. Who says that one can’t double down on the icing? ‘I paid for them,’ my mind purrs coyly, ‘Disregard the consequences…’”

The voice-over would say things like that, too.

Then you’d see me tearing off three more evil-innocent little icing packets and crossing the span of black tile, barefooted, to retrieve the kitchen scissors from the knife block. Four snips, two more than I am entitled, drizzling the icing by twos on top of these disgusting strawberry pop-up strudel things, no remorse. “Neither am I smug,” the voice-over says, “These things Just Are.”

My face, resolute but quietly smiling. Greedy sometimes feels good, especially on nights when your emotional state has driven you to vile deeds; deeds such as pretending that you’re not one bit bothered by the fact that you’ve been driven to an emotional state that requires you to do things like consuming two strawberry pop-up strudel things at eleven-fifty-four in the pee emm, one right after another, slowly and between sips of skim milk.

“And look at that. By the third bite, the fact that I’ve taken more than my share has been eradicated from my mind. This is what comes of emotional strain.”