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Posts Tagged ‘insomniapated’

 
|| October 2, 2012 || 1:57 am || Comments (15) ||

Today I have been taking notes on mothers, on what they are, on what I am, on what we are to them. At first I took these notes mentally and then they began to sort of steamroll me and crowd for space and some of the better bits were sliding away while beseeching me to tether them to something more intractable than my headmeat. Then I remembered I have that fancypants phone with the infuriating Swype technology that makes plain ole straightforward words like ‘kale’ into messily unrelated, inexplicable nonlinear ones like ‘Kryzygstan’. How the fuck, brilliant technology, how the fuck do you imagine that a blip on the map central to nothing even remotely like the Piggly Wiggly down the street has anything to do with my grocery list? This part of technology, I do not get. This part of technology makes me want to abandon all the other parts of technology wholesale.

But the part of technology that is boon to me is the one that lets me forsake all the random scraps of paper and cardboard and envelopes that I’ve spent jotting ideas on and stuffing into a drawer until they come to fruition or I’m so embarrassed by them that they become lighters of candles burned too deeply down in the jar to reach (after that I run them under the faucet, so that not only are those terrible ideas and turns of phrase charred, they are damp and runny and pitiful, as well. They personify themselves on another level, and then I can avail myself of them peacefully…almost gleefully, in fact. It’s a good practice, the murdering of shitty ideas and sentences. It’s a holy and noble practice. It’s a practice I do not practice often enough, in fact — as is illustrated by this whole parenthetical hand job).

I once bought a hand-held tape recorder, a fancy one, with which to catch notes on the fly. I destroyed it or misplaced it or something. I bought another. It was summarily stolen. The two I got after that each got laundered. The first time was by someone ‘helpful’ who had never made a move toward helping –coincidentally enough– until there were copious story notes in my pocket and agony to bear witness to once my words were washed and warped and devoid of anything even approaching human sounds. The second time was by me, because life was getting in front of me at the time and I wasn’t on top of the details.

Fuck a recording device after that, right? Blackfeet pencils with creamy lead, paper with fixed spines, paper with adhesive triangles and see-through windows, paper announcing tallies for corn chips and Mountain Dews and Marlboro lights.

Note-taking. Drawer-stashing. Idea-marinating. Substance being grown there in dark, private places after the words were released from dark, private places. Writing starts in the stutter and sputter of a perplexed soul. Art starts in the confused cracks between points of understanding.

Oh Evernote, where have you been all my scattered, hyperfocused livelong life?

I downloaded Evernote several weeks ago but have only started using it in earnest over the last month or so and it is saving my creative beans, All You Folk. Now I can jot notes to my phone which are immediately synched up in a kanjillion other places in case I fuck one or more of them up with my frail analog tendencies. I can record snippets, too, and they are immediately swished up into the ether and synched to All The Places. I can scribble a note with my very fingertip, in my own handwriting. My literal hand, writing! I can snap a photo and jot to it with that same finger (or another one! if I’m feeling wacky like that). Save, swish, sync. I can sketch, saveswishsync. I CAN WRITE ON PAPER, SCAN IT TO MY PHONE, AND REMORSELESSLY DISPOSE OF THE PAPER IMMEDIATELY. Scan! *stick arms* Save! *exuberance* Swish! *triumph* Sync!

My God! Technology is bending to my mercurial but meticulous whims! Makers of Evernote, I owe you a baby, because telling you I owe you a beer doesn’t seem like a grand enough thank you.

So, babies.  Maxim said to me yesterday that he has been wanting to have a baby lately (Internet. Do not e-mail me. We are not going to have more babies.) and that made me thoughtful about myself as a mother. I try not to contemplate myself in such a fashion, at least not too very often, because being too self-aware as a mother is to invite yourself into all kinds of agony and also probably great heaps of nervous breakdown-ing.  I’m not being the slightest bit hyperbolic or tongue-in-cheek when I say that, either. You mothers know what I’m saying. I mean, be conscientious as shit, Moms, be present as all-fuck but don’t be too exploratory because your kids need you to make oatmeal and sign permission slips, and those things are hella hard to do when your cheese has up and taken a slide off of your cracker.

My own mother is going through something of a hard time, and I’m trying to be her cheerleader. My constant thoughts of her plus Maxim’s admission of baby longing made me think about what we are when we mother.

This song has been chasing me around for months now,

and it is wrecking me, wrecking me, wrecking me. Mary stays behind and cleans up the place.

I am about to mother my father into the grave; I can tell because he is making peace with things that I thought he’d outrun or abandoned.  He refuses to make plans. He tells me freely of the things that he has staunchly decided not to worry himself with any longer. He smiles while he tells me all these things, earnest. Still, he is afraid.

I am about to be the mother of someone who is halfway around the world being a man but who is still –somewhere in time– floating under my ribs as I coo to him, promising him future and love and arms that will always embrace him. I’ll will my ribcage around him when men who don’t consider my oh-so-painful love for him have their rifles and their hatred trained at him. I will rock and snot all over myself deep into many sleepless nights while I wish a vacuum around him where bullets are not even a thing, much less a danger to my boy’s heart, the one I carried in my own before it even had fancy trappings like chambers or valves or beats.

Today, unfathomably and up out of nowhere, I am a human being in a vast amount of pain and in need of mothering myself.

Tomorrow I may have a taste for lemonade and the mouth that comes away from the glass might be smiling, smiling, inviting you in, “Hello! I’ve missed you. Please come sit by me. Can I offer you some refreshment? Some peace? Some understanding or commiseration?

“I’m so glad you’re back. I miss you when you are away.” Tomorrow I may be mothering you.

Tell me something about you as a mom. It has to be private and it has to be liberating. I won’t judge you, and I will tear a strip off of anyone who tries to. Momming is hard, man. All we come equipped to do it with are these puny arms and these ache-prone innards, and that makes me proud of us for showing up, even.

If you’re not a mom in the technical sense, I want you in the fray, too. Tell me about your mother. When we take time to ponder them, they engender SUCH a profundity of emotion in us. Today I am sitting in that emotion and it’s surrounding me on all sides. It’s terrible. It’s transformative. The latter makes the former bearable.

 
|| September 21, 2012 || 5:17 pm || Comments (4) ||

You got two hours? Mash play and enlarge the view and be mesmerized.

 
|| September 14, 2012 || 3:08 am || Comments (7) ||

I once knew a girl named Laura whose mother wouldn’t let her watch the show ‘Square Pegs’ so I taught her the theme song. Laura used it like a weapon without even realizing it; she drove her mother crazy by singing it incessantly. I’d made sure she had Patty Donahue’s bored, slightly hostile whine down pat before I unleashed Laura on the world.

“If she complains,” I thought to myself one day, “Laura should just point to the poster above her bed.” It depicted a fat blue cartoon bird in the throes of soulful (constipated?) warbling. It was peppered with pregnant, drunken music notes and bore the caption ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’

In short, I’ve always been this way.

Later on Laura’s mother would figure out we were Without and find subtle ways to feed me and my sister a hefty meal once a week. We got a long afternoon of play on Sundays after church; we were largely unsupervised for hours at a time in the massive playroom over the garage. Laura’s mom always baked us a pile of cookies to snack on warm out of the oven then tucked a foil packet of them into each of our pockets. I made my sister ration them: If we made it home with three apiece, then we’d split one between us per day.

One time my sister gorged the second day and ate all but one herself; I wanted to pound her in half. We couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit, though, and I knew if I whaled on her I would hurt her terribly, so great was my sense of want and loss and frustration with our circumstances. It had nothing at all to do with cookies and everything to do with the dignity of having something more than what we were usually afforded.

I need to send Laura’s mother a thank you letter, I think. I never thought she liked me overmuch. I’ve figured out that liking is irrelevant though, really, as long as you are acting out of care and love.

You don’t have to like someone at all to do that.

Cockroaches: Every last thing about them conjures up the most profound grossed-outness that I can humanly muster. Where I’m from, cockroaches signify that you are Nasty and not in that fun-sexy way the kids all dream about. Cockroaches signify that you are white trash, and not only are you white trash, you are white trash, you diseased-vermin-having motherfucker.

So, you know, I have a huge aversion to them. I wouldn’t say I’m terrified, but I could say with a good deal of surety that more than five of them gathered together in one spot would drive me right up to the ledge of Seriously Skeeved In A Way That Might Make Me Irrational.

Where, you know, ‘Irrational’='blowtorching a twenty-foot surface area’. Okay. Now you’re clear on my stance toward cockroaches.

When my boots hauled me out of the South, I ended up bobbing in the Pacific on this hunk of lava that many people believe to be some form of Paradise. Okay, overrated, but whatever. My time in Hawaii was weird. Not your standard operational weird, but the kind of weird that makes you believe that maybe everyone has a ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ experience under their belt, just stretched out over several months, all skewed landscape and protracted pace instead of crammed into a jaunty weekend journalism expedition.

I’ve had a couple, but we are talking cockroaches here so I’m stuck with Hawaii for this story. Did you know that there are Big Mystery Bases in the pineapple fields? Well, one for sure (I’m surmising the rest). And I don’t know if it’s such a mystery anymore? My friend from work, a Navy wife, invited me home with her one day and I’ll be damn: We drove off into a sunset of pineapple stalks and arrived at the heavily-manned gates of a tiny military installation that I’d no clue existed until that moment.

While I was slipping my military ID out of my wallet, I asked her quietly, Your husband’s MOS?

Oh, computers and stuff, she said glibly. ‘Computers’ wasn’t really a throw-away word yet in 1990, you know? It was still very weighted with science fictiony overtones.

Right, cockroaches: One night I was watching television with my first husband (third time’s a charm). I’d been putting things back for my first home since I was a little girl, and by the time I was a senior in high school I had what I needed to modestly equip a house. I went into that marriage ready in ways that most people aren’t; I had already put the work in to make myself a standalone model, no relationship or kickstand required.

As a result, I had no obligations toward the frenzied buying of things like spatulas and rugs, so I was able to push some decent money toward a really fucking good console teevee.

Thus me lying in the floor on my belly, elbows crooked and hands propping head, watching I-don’t-even-know-what.

I just remembered part of the reason cockroaches skeeve me so: Their incredible speed. Their nervous system may be underdeveloped compared to your basic biped, but a cockroach can get the jump on a human every fucking time. Their speed is creepy. Their unapologetic will toward survival is disturbing.

I wonder if God ever thinks this way about us?: Their unapologetic will toward survival is so disturbing, so downright creepy. Reason number 10,428 that I could never be God. Humans are pretty dang creepy, film at eleven.

On my belly, one ankle kicked up in the air, foot at the end of it lolling in lazy circles. My eye catches it, my brain is slow to register it, and before I can even figure out what I’m freaked out by, my body has already coiled, leapt to its feet, and offended the air with a shriek. The cockroach whose carpet-scurrying had sent me flying in the opposite direction was approximately an inch long.

Which, you know, was what I knew of as a Bigun up until my residence in Hawaii.

I immediately became militant about bombing the shit out of our domicile, which was on the seventeenth floor of a forty-four story apartment building. Having never been an apartment dweller before, I had no understanding that such an endeavor was futile and that, unless you get everyone in the building to have a go at the Raid all at once, we were doomed to cohabit with roaches forever and ever amen. I also had no logic to tell me that I lived in a tropical locale whose mild climate and propensity toward moisture was not only Paradise for spoiled white folk and obnoxious Japanese tourists (yes. there are obnoxious Japanese. I was startled, too), but for your basic Periplaneta americana, as well.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m fancy. I had to look up that clever little snippet of Latin. I can’t believe how pretty the Official Scientific Name for cockroach is. Just look at that, would you? Periplaneta americana. That shit looks like whatever it’s naming represents pure possibility, dunnit?

Oh, cockroaches. I guess if you wore a bag on your head, you would live up to your fancypants name. In theory, you are possibility: You survive no matter what. I hold fast to my theory of thirty years that if we were to suffer a nuclear holocaust that you and Tupperware and Twinkies (preservatives) would survive. Let’s hope I never get to say “I TOLD YOU SO!!1!” on that one.

Anyway, I hadn’t the climate and dwelling logics to tell me that I needed to just get over myself where roaches were concerned. I was convinced that our immaculate new dwelling was somehow Nasty and that I needed to stage Cockroashima. The first bombing kept them away for three days, then they were right back to startling me when I opened the cabinets to reach for my cornflakes.

The second bombing bought us twenty-four hours. We started to catch on a little that they were just packing it in and moving to the neighbor’s until the air cleared. While I was fumigating a third time, a pretty Chinese girl laughed at me and my efforts. I had been bemoaning our situation over coffee at work.

“OH, you don’t get it, do you? In Hawaii EVERYbody has cockroaches. The clean people have the little ones”
(here she held her finger and thumb an inch apart)
“and the Nasty people have these ones,” whereupon she indicated a critter of about four inches.

It was then that I knew I’d never, never be home in Hawaii. Not ever. I was right. I appreciated my time there, but when friends from back home sent me missives about how lucky I was to be where I was, I rolled my eyes. I didn’t try to explain because I knew they’d not get it. Even Paradise is not without its troubles.

 
|| July 19, 2012 || 4:06 am || Comments (8) ||

My father has spent most of his adult life being a success.
Cancer is beating the shit out of him.
I feel terrible for him.
Lots of people might ask me,
“How could you spend and decade-and-a-half without someone
Who was supposed to love you, to be there for you

No Matter What

and then love him and tend him and fret in your heart over his pain
when he shows back up only to
promptly get sick?”
(It is indeed a long-winded and big-ass question)
My answer to them what would ask this is,
pretty much:

“Man. I don’t even know.
I do not know
and
I’ve come to realize that
I do not care

and

All I know is that this is in my heart, this thing,
a knowledge that says, concrete but sorta kind,
This is what You Are Supposed To Do.
Not just that, I guess.
There’s some sort of biological imperative
thing at play that won’t let me peel off
Or turn away
Or fall down and holler quits.
I guess I’m finding out, too

that

This is maybe just who I am.”
“Thank God, because seriously:
If you’d have asked me as early as ten months ago
to predict an outcome, well….
I’d have never put money on myself.”

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

(you might want to hold your breath a little for this one, y’all)

more missin’ than you’re worth, but I still do anyhow

Here I am in all this,
Last meal long gone and
Neck punching up a fierce crick,
Five or five-hundred miles
Past where you said the train would stop.
(I quit counting miles; I just listened
for the Johnny Cash in the hitch-gather of the wheels)
It’s not that you lied,
Or didn’t plan right.
It’s just that you underestimated my capacity
For saving you a seat.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

 
|| May 4, 2012 || 4:19 am || Comments (6) ||

Hello there, you—

So I set a fire.

That’s what you do in middle Missouri, it seems. You make a careful pile somewhere out in the back forty (‘back forty’ in this instance means ‘the pavers stacked together with military exactitude until a burn ring was formed there’) and when you can stand it no longer, you burn that pile. You’re supposed to have a burn permit. That’s what my father told me the last time I was here, anyway.

And because there was a sizable pile of thick honeysuckle vines, newspaper, and potentially-funky boxes (potentially funky because I’d gotten them out of a man’s warehouse and said warehouse was neither clean nor orderly nor without pests-slash-vermin), because I have a healthy sense of don’t-give-a-fuck, I did it without an official burn permit*. Probably it had something to do with the full moon, as well, don’t you think? A full moon and some sketchy, shifty-looking sort of clouds beg a fire.

See, one thing I’ve always been good at is arranging a pile of things so that they are combustion-friendly. I’ve never had any trouble, overmuch, getting a blaze to form up where there was none before.  I can make the kind of fire that melts your face if you dare turn toward it and I can make the kind of fire that you can cook a meal by and I can make the kind of fire that burns low and steady and, for the most part, is still there waiting to be stirred up the next morning when you rise, head beer-fuzzy and mouth dull with the aftertaste of marshmallows blazed to a non-sticky crisp over and over again.

I took myself and my black Bic up to the deck and leaned across the railing as the thing caught good, flames pushing back night, spinning and falling and tumbling into and over themselves. Flames! You are so rowdy! How can man not love you, you remarkable things? Fire, you are triumph itself!

The smoke was dense and sweet, and because I sometimes have an overactive imagination I wondered if some great mystery would be revealed to me if I stood in the middle of it as it billowed past.

Honeysuckle smoke is a new one on me, let me tell you. It was a happy accident borne of my father’s diligence. Because of the radiation he is taking into his brain and his chest, he is limited in what his body will allow him to do anymore. Even when the cancer had him near-dead, he was still able to do just about damn near anything he wanted. It infuriates him in his low, quiet way that the thing that is making him well (supposedly. all it’s really doing is prolonging his life, and nobody has any illusions about this bit of business, even though we don’t talk about it with him) is stripping him of his no-holds-barred go at life. He tries to do physically demanding things and, aggravated, resigns himself to the sofa with his Kindle, reading book after book set in Africa. When he tires even of reading he boots up his iPad and watches videos of African men dancing, shouting, celebrating, fierce. He is quiet and reverent as he does so.

I have no earthly idea why, in his cancer-soaked retirement, Africa calls to him, but it does. I hope he will treat himself and go there when he gets his strength back from the chemo and the radiation and the forced-march cadence of Being A Cancer Patient.

So yeah, diligence: He can only do one or two things on the days that he can can stay vertical for very long, and those things are usually very manly things like scrambling around a roof or hauling brick. He won’t quit and I don’t tell him to.

His energy was sorely lacking last week and so he attacked the overgrown honeysuckle ferociously and without prejudice. Out of his frustration, then, grew my full-moon discovery that a honeysuckle fire gives off a gently sweet smoke.  It is so strange, sometimes, how we make our way toward knowledge.

I do part of my work on the internets. The internets are a swamp of distraction (maybe you know this already). HOWEVER! This evening I found myself watching a video wherein Ms. Natalie Portman and Mr. Johnny Depp were signing –yes, S-I-G-N-ing, not S-I-N-G-ing—along to a song by one Sir Paul McCartney, the Most Ancient High Beatleperson. I was captivated by the complete dissimilarities between said Ms. and Mr., by the swooping and precise way in which she executed the American Sign Language to convey the words to this song versus the very grandiose and looser way that he undertook the same task.

Though I was leaning heavily toward making Ms. Portman my favorite in that instance, it was Mr. Depp (with woefully puffy face and sternly exhausted countenance, poor Johnny) who won out and it was because he made me take more careful notice of the way that the word ‘valentine’ was executed.

And here, now, three hours past the sweetness of honeysuckle smoke , as I pen this in order to get it in the post in a handful of hours, I find it intensely interesting to note that the sign for ‘valentine’ looks for all the world as if a bomb were being detonated just before tracing the heart.

Over and over my heart has been detonated. I guess this is how I’d assure a complete stranger such as yourself that I’ve had a good life thus far, an intensely satisfying life. In matters of faith, of art, of love, of politics, of travel and taking meals and having conversations, my heart has been detonated. Some explosions have been messier than others, of course.

But you know that: You have a heart, too.

I hope this finds you well, warm, and happy.

Blessings,
Jett

*oooh, Rebel Rebel, we’re afraid-a yoooou, making a FIRE in a RING after a two-day RAIN. Risk taker!

pee ess….not long ago I found a box full of vintage writing papers for a dollar. A DOLLAR! Such a great find.