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Archive for March, 2010

 
|| March 18, 2010 || 10:44 am || Comments (13) ||

twenty-eight cents

Every now and again, Tess and I will either make or buy postcards. We then bust out the Sharpies and get to writing. One card might bear a knock-knock joke, one might have a quote that inspires one of us, but most of those postcards are simply free-form good wishes and encouragement.

The addressees? Random people from the phone book. We just pick names and get to scribblin’. It sounds dorky –and it really is– but it’s a great deal of inexpensive fun, because Tessa and I both get verra, verra excited at the notion of this little surprise maybe making the day of a person we don’t know. At the very least, it’s a puzzle to the recipient, and mystery is sexy, yeah?

Now then: I want you to participate in this endeavor with me, and you don’t really have to do much at all in the way of work. Just drop the name and address of someone you want to bless with a surprise bit of postal encouragement into my comments or e-mail (which is linked to my name at the end of this post). Hell, it doesn’t even have to be the name and address of someone you personally know….you can just pick a person or two from the phone book in your area. I don’t care overmuch who we try and reach so much as I care about just putting some good vibes out there into the world.

In concert with this I asked Tess to pick an arbitrary number: “Seven-hundred and fifteen!” Well then.

The number I had her pick, before I told her about this project, was to be the amount of people I wanted us to reach….so now we have a goal of seven-hundred and fifteen people that we want to drop some postal lovin’ on. Um, guys? That means I also need help with getting the word out, because the more people that know, the more addresses I collect.

Look, just so you’re aware: I don’t run advertising on this site. I don’t give a shit about numbers or page impressions or whatever it is we as voyeurnallers are supposed to be preoccupied with these days. I just think it’s important to bless people, and I think that small blessings are imperative in part because they are like little stepping stones between the bigger blessings that many of us long to encounter. Other things I think are important are purposefully doing good and having fun.

It may not sound like much to most of the populace, but to some people, getting a piece of mail saying, “Hi. You matter, chief.” might make all the difference in the world. Tess and I are committed to doing a minimum of twenty postcards apiece per week. At that rate, given we meet our goal address-wise, it will take us roughly five months to complete this project. It will take around two-hundred dollars in postage (assuming that the bulk of addresses are in the U.S; this is not a requirement, however), a minimum of seventeen trips to the post office, and whatever coin the actual postcards we scout up or make end up costing.

All we need is a little help rounding up folk. Will you throw in a name and address and then pass the word?

Just ’cause you’re the one shagging around the pompons, it don’t make you the cheerleader by default.

I met her one morning in the stubbornly hazy late summer. In the sea of grins floating above the popped collars of pink polos, I imagine we both stood out; she because of the bolero hat pushed way back on her head, me because of the stoic look on my face (“These people have known one another since the cradle, Christ.”).

I sat with my back to the cafeteria table and my posture on the defensive, genuflection never having been my style. She made a beeline whose trajectory through the crowd suggested that I was her aim. Everyone knew her, everyone gave their hellos, she paid them all mind enough before moving on.

“Hi,” she stood in front of me, shake-ready hand thrust outward and down, “I’m Catt. You’re new here?”

And that’s how I met my best friend.

I could tell you about how I lost her, about how I clicked on a random blog off of Blogger’s splash page one day and it turned out to be hers–a cancer journal, of all things–, about the roadtrips or the barfights (“How is it these things get started over you and I! always end up getting punched in the fucking FACE??!”) or the amazing hours spent comfortable in one another’s presence; I could talk about the jarhead she fell madly in love with, about her astoundingly failing out of college, about the eighteen months or so between the time I met her and the time we became fully inseparable save for showering and sleeping.

But what I’m going to tell you about is how bloody fucking honest that girl was, and how one crazy-earnest act of bravery on her part taught me every last thing I might ever need to know about social activism.

So I met her and for a while we drifted in and out of one another’s periphery, social circles barely overlapping; I hung out with a group of upperclassmen whose French class I had haphazardly tumbled myself into and she hung out with either the artsy kids or the holdovers from her Catholic elementary school childhood.

It just so happened, though, that Catt and I both had younger sisters who’d found themselves seatmates in school and had become easy friends. It also happened that our families had chosen the same Southern Baptist church to attend. She was the only person from school that I had anything at all for there in that church, so we stuck together on outings and in Sunday School. We learned enough about one another to know we had some basic similarities (fathers in the military, early learning at the hands of nuns), but in most respects we were about as different as night and day.

Still.

One week I called her up out of the blue and said, “I’m going over to the base this weekend to pick up my cousins. I know you’re seeing a squid that’s stationed over there, so I wondered if you might want to ride along.” She did, and we were not apart too often after that.

It was two weeks before I called her, however, that she did the thing that rocked everyone in that church back on their heels; it was then that my admiration for her took a great leap up out of my chest and became a thing all its own, urging me to consciously decide to be Catt’s lifelong friend even as I sat in awe of her flaming glory.

It was a nice enough church up until that particular Sunday, at least in my eyes. It was certainly much more relaxed and ingratiating than the one I’d moved from. I felt like when someone offered kind words at the new church, they actually meant them and weren’t concealing, with those pleasantries, a dagger that had my name etched onto it. It was a little more Jesus-forward and a little less God Is Just Itching To Smite The Fuck Out of You, You Shameless Sinnerly Girl You.

The hymns were sung, there were prayers, the plate was passed and more prayers and wait, what’s this? Is this the Rapture? Because, you know, the Baptist church does not deviate from the formula. Jesus must be parting the clouds just now, yeah? After that batch of prayers we’re supposed to be told to sit down and the piano player goes to that front pew and the preacher gets red for an hour (during ball season), hour-and-a-half. But that Sunday is when we were told to sit down and the pastor called up the music minister, a lovely man with a sweet smile and hair that was trying to sneak away subtly (even politely) so as not to embarrass him overmuch.

The music minister began to tell us how he had been caught unawares by the devil and how he was there to correct a grievous error; he had apparently lost control of his home, he said. He wanted to confess to us that his daughter, age seventeen, was pregnant. He was resigning his position as music minister immediately (the choir behind him looked like they’d been thrust into the midst of a great trauma that they were in no way equipped to deal with, all slack-jawed and gape-eyed) because of the great sins that were present in his family situation.

“My daughter has something she wants to say,” the man told us, and gestured for her to take his place at the front of the church. He left her standing there all alone, the whole population of the building a terrifyingly rapt sea of Sunday best in front of her.

The me of today still pictures her, so lovely, standing there sick and beautiful all by herself, not even substantial enough to obscure the big bible that lay open on the table behind her. The me of today wants her to open her mouth and sing in a strong voice. The me of today wants her to begin talking about the young man she chased into passion with, her eyes softening and her head dipping slightly as she tries to find words that adequately convey a love that can’t possibly give rise to sin.

But the music minister’s daughter stood there so pained, so shamed, that she may as well have been naked in front of the entire congregation. With great effort and blazing face she choked out her apology to the church, citing herself as no kind of worthy example to her peers, an abomination to her elders. She would go away to carry her child, give birth to it elsewhere. She was so sorry, so so so sorry, oh I, I don’t know what else I could ever say, I’ve let my family down and I can’t ever make this right, I’m….I’m.

It was an eternity I didn’t think we could ever traverse and I was so engulfed in my own morass of emotion that I didn’t even pick up on the first hint of what was happening to the left of me there in that pew. We were sitting three rows from the back, so when Catt stood she didn’t mess around with trying to be civil, she just wanted to be heard. And glory was she EVER heard.

“As one of the peers that was referenced, I’d like to weigh in on this matter. I love that girl. LOVE. What went on here today, how you tortured her, makes me sick. IT. IS. WRONG. All of this is wrong!”

I thought Catt’s mother, one pew up from us, was going to fall apart bit by bit, leaving Catt’s daddy and grandmother to carry stray arms and ears and whatnot back to the house to fix her up. She was a woman of convention, one of tiny stature, sizable hats and a great ability to haul back on a choke chain.

“I don’t care if Jesus himself grabs my hand and drags me here: I will never, ever set foot in this church again. You people are foolish and cruel.”

With that, she slid past me, turned out into the aisle and pushed the double wooden doors open ahead of her. Sunlight came screaming in from the foyer and Catt was on fire as she opened both glass doors and liberated herself from unfeeling expectation. She stepped right on the neck of her mother’s staid attempt at bringing up an Uppity Southerin Lady on the way out.

When church ended, I meekly handed Catt’s bible to her father. Catt’s sister had never seen her mother’s face quite so pinched, and she was afraid for what life might be like at home in the coming days. I don’t know myself what happened there, because I never asked my best friend about it. I just know that she was true to her word and declared herself no longer a Baptist, thank you very much. When she died at age thirty three she and
God were in the middle of a standoff.

If I were only allowed to tell the world one thing about Catt, it would be that she resides in me, as she helped to form a good chunk of the woman I have become and had much to do with shaping what aspects of me that others deem valuable. Ultimately, Catt’s the yardstick by which I measure potential partners-in-mayhem and those to which I’d bare the absolute guts of who I really am.

We sat side-by-side at our high school graduation, holding hands so tightly that my knuckles ached. Here and now, though, long and loud, my heart cries out.

I loved her, I love her still, and cannot wait to hold her hand once again in heaven.

“I know, I know, a thooousand questions. But first, the Tronya.”

I got the best score of my entire (narrow, haphazardly-approached) trading card purchasing career today:

ten whole cents for this trading card today (bargain of the century)
:: bargain of the century ::

This image, on a Star Trek card, for the tidy sum of one thin dime. It was just so horrifying and compelling and sheerly cheesy. Plus he’s wearing that sparkly blue getup.

“TEN CENTS?” I stood bug-eyed at the counter, “This thing is a marvel! I can’t believe you have it at all. I don’t know how it is that someone hasn’t snapped this amazing thing up!”

“I know, right?” said the salesgirl with the red shelf bangs and and the awesome knee-high boots. “Every so often I’ll go through the card boxes and sit the really crazy-great ones out front. I moved that thing up three months ago and nobody’s looked twice at it.” So great was her bafflement that her mouth hung slightly agape as she shook her head slowly.

That is because, oh cute and pop-savvy comic store girl, my dang guardian angel put blinders on everyone as they passed it. Jesus was saving that card for me. I now have one more life’s ambition: I need Clint Howard to sign this thing for me.

I was googling around trying to find a scan of the card (because, hello? LAZINESS.) to show you and I came across this tiny bit of magnificence:

I have never, ever seen this episode. Good Lord was I ever robbed.

 
|| March 4, 2010 || 2:06 pm || Comments (6) ||

PF3

One of the best things about being part of the Polite Fictions team is that I am presently writing more fiction with the thought of public consumption actively at the forefront of my mind. I’ve long had character upon character piled into notebooks throughout the house (AND in the car), peeking out and suggesting activities for themselves, but I haven’t decided who I want to place into public view as yet. I may never make that decision, for all I know.

I do like writing fiction a great deal, because it allows me the opportunity to try on different voices and to work out different points of view. I get to play a part, much as an actor would, but without the hassle of things like getting out of my yoga pants or continuing after the creative impetus has peaked. For instance, in our last PF round we each approached the topic of the Afterlife. As I neared my turn at bat I began to wonder what it would be like to lose faith at a very formative age (from a spiritual standpoint rather than a chronological one, that is), to grow disillusioned and frustrated with God at a time in one’s life where belief becomes an all-or-none proposition.

So for the span of a handful of paragraphs I was Lucia, believing with everything I had that God would never fail or deny me because of my faithfulness and affections for Him. And I was Lucia whose service held a somewhat selfish motive (“Look at me, I am the Truth-Bringer!”) and also Lucia who didn’t have the kind of faith to sustain her and found this out at age eleven rather than age thirty-one, when it is a different (and less jarring?) sort of revelation altogether.

I love that the theme of Polite Fictions 3.0 is ‘The Alphabet of Regret‘. It’s a genius idea. And, if you’re a writer charged with that as your assignment, it’s a somewhat scary one. I put my post, based on the letter D, up in the wee hours this morning. Sure, it’d make me happy if you’d go read and give me a thumbs up or thumbs down, but more than that I wish you’d start at the beginning. My friend TwoBusy set the bar extremely high with his gorgeous deconstruction of the letter A; three to four writers will be adding entries each week until we’ve made it through to ‘Z’.

Every entry may not strike something in you. Some may even bore or disappoint you. But I can guarantee you’re going to find some gold over on that site. I can’t tell you how many times those guys have amazed me with their words, and they do so with a great level of consistency.

Do I still have your attention? Now seems like the time to tell you that I’ll be killing off [Abuantg.] before too long. I’ve got something else in the works and when it’s finished this place will be vapor. I’ll still have the deca domain until October, though, so if one of you has need of it let me know and it’s yours. Cheers. I’ve been having fun in this space for a long damn time.

 
|| March 1, 2010 || 9:36 pm || Comments (9) ||

FIENDING (just like that, in all-caps)

Look, I want to be high all the fucking time. I haven’t talked about that in a long, long while in this space, but I do. I don’t want to carve up my veins with blades, I want them to pulse with all manner of pharmacopeia, to winnow out my central nervous system with teensy little chemical hammers, the striking of which in various parts of my head would make delicious chiming noises of rainbow-hued pitches. PharmaCOPEia, get it?

Goddamnit (see there, how I Used The Lord’s Name In Vain, so that you would see just how foolishly serious I damnwell am?), I love drugs SO much. SO MUCH. Tick your eyes back in your noggin a little and think about the way you love the thing you love most passionately in all your life. Now multiply that by about thirty and meet my gaze again while I tell you that is how very much I want my brain to be the egg in the pan. Every day, all the time, my addiction stands, its bony hand in mine, as a constant. Most days, though, I have my head craned to the opposite direction, so that I can’t even catch it in my periphery. That is because when I shake out the crick in my neck I start wanting to look it dead in the face, and once I lock eyes with it Addiction becomes this beautiful and cocky thing, dangerously sexy and erasing everything else.

I feel no shame about my want of chemicals. Seriously. I feel fury at the deprivation of a want. I feel frustration at my emotional weakness. I feel sorrow that I ever did this to myself because had I not then I would not know the want of it. But not for one second am I ashamed that I desire to be fucked out of my gourd on the pills and powders that most people are too afraid to touch.

You see that? You see how I don’t view straights as noble or honorable or brave? I view you as cowards. I view you as weak, because you’ve never pounded your synapses into gruel and lived to foolgrin about it.

Likewise the twelve-steppers: I tried a meeting. Okay, two. “Really?” I thought, “Really??” I looked around me and knew I couldn’t sit there with people I both pitied and despised in turns. I’ll take ten gutterjunkies for one NA automaton. I don’t care if meetings work for you; the only thing they ever did for me was make me feel sorry for people. I don’t like to be pitied, and I somewhat vainly imagine that others feel the same. If I can’t give someone my empathy I would rather leave them where they sit for fear of my view on them turning to scorn.

Oh, what an asshole I am.

I’m not at peace with my sobriety. I’m angry at my mortality. I’m fucked in the head ten days out of thirty, easy. Once every six months or so I jones so hard for a protracted hit of something, anything, that I lock myself in my bedroom and crack clean in two, blubbering and shaking and feeling the faint shadow of my extremely messy kick crawl up my back and clutch at the base of my skull.

It’s a terrible thing to love something so merciless, something that promises infinity but doesn’t love you back in the least and always goes back on its word in the end. Drugs are my favorite bad boyfriend and that’s completely fucked but it’s absolutely true.

“God, grant me the freedom to sneer at things I cannot change, courage to bear the changes I have made and the wisdom to not live in denial of any of it.”

I’m not superstitious.

I’ve learned for myself

What you cannot face will follow you around.