Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Boys and Girls Part I

Ah yes. A most popular topic amongst (whoa, apparently "amongst" isn't a word) most people. It pops into my brain...usually....and now I can't think of the actual blog I've been brewing for a while. Oh well. That one was probably overly sentimental anyway.

So, boys and girls. Why is it that we get into these debates over what people think, and how things are, and how they should or shouldn't be? Is it just me? Am I target because I happen to enjoy "goofing off" (that's what I'm calling it. You can call it what you will) at parties and/or gatherings? Someone always asks my big ol' mouth what I think about it all...about the debate...or the state of things...whatever. And I carefully (I give myself some credit) dive in. Why? I'm pretty sure I'm better at debating the realities than the people that try to rile me up.

When I was a little one (girl, that is), I used to surf the channels on the radio to find a girl singing. It's not that I didn't appreciate music sung by boys. I did. My parents mostly listened to oldies, so there was a lot of Frankie Valli, Brian Wilson, Simon and Garfunkel, etc. All boys, I know. There was also A LOT of Judy Collins. My dad LOVED Judy Collins. I still listen to one of her albums, Sanity and Grace, and think of my dad. BUT, for me, and my time, the station changing/searching for female voices lead me to Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, The Bangles, etc. I don't know why I wanted to hear girl voices, other than the fact I felt that I could emulate them (magnificently at age 6), or the fact that I KNEW, I KNEW there was something different about us.

So there it is. My rebuttal to the first argument that people throw out against feminism: You can't deny that men and women are DIFFERENT. Correct. I cannot, and I do not wish to do so. Some propagandist had the grand idea to toss that one out to the women all over the world fighting for equality. Can't you just see him right now? "Hey, y'all! How can y'all be equal if y'all don't have no penis? Y'all are different. Get over it!" And the tragedy (the familiarly American of all tragedies) is that it worked. People are still using that same DAMN argument. OH FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE! Read a book.

Yes, I knew at a young age that I was different. Even before I really had any idea about the anatomical differences. I never wanted to be Van Halen when we played pretend. I was always Cindi Lauper (even though I totally wanted to be Madonna, but my friend Melody HAD to be her, and I HAD to be Cindi...so...whatever. I woulda rocked The Apprentice). I was always a girl because I always wanted to be a girl.

And just as I never wanted to be a boy, the women who first began to speak out,  step out, and stand up in the name of equality had no interest in being boys, or men, or what have you. They were always only women.

So let's start there. A dialogue. It's not a trap. It's a dialogue. There is so much to say. Margaret Fuller, an early proponent for women's rights (my favorite, actually), organized "conversations" wherein she encouraged men and women to talk about what they new, and how they felt, and what they wanted. It was a place for men and women to teach each other, and it was, if not ground breaking, the beginning of something as such. Elizabeth Cady Stanton attended Fuller's conversations. She wrote the women's declaration of independence (using a great deal of Fuller's teaching), which was signed in 1848 at Seneca Falls, NY by 68 women.....and 32 men, and that was only the beginning.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

For the Sake of Having a New Post

OH goodness. It has been quite some time since we had ourselves a little chat, and the last chat was a bit of a downer, I suppose. I will say, that I had a great response from it. I got exactly the response I was looking for: People that were silently dealing with the same mud I was wallowing in came out of the woodwork to talk to me about their own struggles. It's good when we share.

I'm sitting here listening to Big Star with my sleepy dog beside me, like a personal heater, and the rain is plinking on my tin roof. It's 66 degrees right now, in November, and THAT, my friends, is why I love living in the south. It's humid and misty, but not unpleasant in any way. My windows are open, and the rain smells good.

As I was driving home last night from Relapse through patches of dense fog, I was reminded of my time in Shenandoah National Park a few years ago (....10?). I was working at a gift shop/camp store/cafe as a slave to Miss (a carton of cigarettes a day) Dolores, but that's a different story entirely. On my coveted days off, when I wasn't rushing down to the nearest town off the mountain to drink real Dr. Pepper (Dr....Best? is just not the same) (and, yes, these are the things I voted on as important...10? years ago. Shut. Up.), I was exploring the park.

The great (hahaha) thing about Shenandoah National Park is that it sits on the top of a 105 mile ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. It sits on top. ON TOP. So, anywhere you might find yourself exploring, you are going to be going down, and to return to your starting place, you are going to have to go up. It took me a while to figure this out. I was determined to spend the summer running the trails.

It was a lovely foggy day up on the ridge at Skyland when I set out on one of my seemingly simple jogs. I was running along the drive, headed for a trail head a mile *down the road. It was so easy. I felt like I must be hitting a runner's high awfully soon in the run, but I was pretty much a bad-ass, so this did not surprise me in the least. I took a little break at an overlook of an ancient hemlock forest. I read the information marker, and played a balancing game with the stone wall that separated the highway from the drop into the forest below. It was here that I saw my first bear of the summer.

Everyone had been talking about bears. People would run into the store randomly shouting about how everyone needed to run out to see the bears eating the garbage (ah, the great outdoors), but I was stuck behind my stupid counter restocking film (stuff that was once used to make pictures), or gum. GUM. I wanted to see a bear, dammit. Instead, I just stuffed my face with fudge when Delores wasn't looking. BUT TODAY! Today, I saw a bear. A bear cub, my friends, a cute bear cub, foraging on the side of the road, the edge of the woods, across the highway from me. THIS was an accomplishment. Not only had I run a delightful mile (entirely down hill), but I had stopped at just the right spot to see a bear.

I stared for a moment, then slowly tiptoed away (despite the noisy vehicles on the drive). I kept balancing on the stone wall. Someone may have slowed down to warn me of the dangers of my behavior, but I didn't care. I had totally just seen a bear. On my left, Skyline drive wound along the ridge, and on my right, a thick fog rested on the tops of some of the trees down in the valley.

I found my trail head and made my way...up. Tried running a little, realized I wasn't quite the athlete I had assumed, but finally made my way to the overlook....I assumed. I knew where I was because I had been to the overlook via a different route a number of times, but this time it was a bit of a mystery because of the fog. I sat on the edge of the cliff, and rested my body against the wall of cloud in front of me. I was sitting in a cloud. It was misty and cool, but not cold. I knew the cloud was hiding the drop directly in front of me, and that felt amazing. I was sitting in a blind cloud on top of a mountain, a huge invisible drop beneath my dangling feet.

I suppose there should be a point to this, a wrap up. But there isn't actually. It's just a story. A day I spent in the woods/not the woods. Shenandoah was like that. This bizarre amalgamation of actual wild-life and the people that are terrified of it watching it from the comfort of their cars. I saw many bears after that. They mostly hung around the employee dorms eating our trash. I never really saw one in the true wild, but I saw plenty of deer. One of my first days in the park I was exploring a trail early in the season that was delightfully empty. It crossed the AT at one point and got pretty narrow. This is where I saw my first buck. It was standing in the middle of the trail, inches from me. I had to keep going forward to get back to the dorms, so I slowly made my way towards the buck. He watched me the whole way, but he never moved. He allowed me to slide myself between him and the drop off the trail into the hollow. I could'v touched him, but I didn't. I didn't make any noise either. We just watched each other. I don't know why, but I too was a bit nervous as to what he would do.

Then I went back to my dorm, ate some fudge, and listened to the guy in the room next door watch episode after episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bleak House

I'm about to do something that might not be too safe. I like to present myself to the public of the world wide interwebs as a person of clear mind and outstanding character, a girl that laughs in the face of adversity and walks with a spring in her step. I certainly don't want to make anyone uncomfortable or come across as melodramatic and lame. I have been known to be both of those things, and I do not wish to propagate that personality aspect with this particular blog. I just want to be honest, and I just want to share. Maybe someone out there needs to hear this. I don't know. I could certainly use it.

I suffer from a delightful disease that was once called "depression," but has now been upgraded to "major depressive disorder." I guess that sounds more medical. Maybe because so many people like to whine about how "depressed" they are, the mayo clinic (or whoever's in charge of that sort of thing) decided it might be easier to give it a more technical/medical sounding name. It IS, after all, a medical condition. I have a history of it, and I come from a long line of afflicted who, if not properly diagnosed because of their generation, were terribly misunderstood. It is, as they say, in my blood. And this one is heavy.

I bring it up now because I seem to have slipped deep into a bout of it over the past few months. It's a funny feeling watching things slip out of your grasp, sinking, but spinning uncontrollably. I could not tell you, if you asked, when it started, or give you an outline of my descent. The pictures are never that clear. That's what it is: a fuzziness in your brain, a cloudiness, that fogs the reality, the logical order of every day life. Maybe it happens in slow motion, but a blind slow motion, not one during which you see all the little nuances of every single move made. Slipping into depression is like sinking slowly underwater. It's comfortable, yet suffocating, calm, yet terrifying.

I feel it in my whole body. Every muscle aches. Sometimes I think I can't even move under the weight. Every single decision I make throughout my days, is tossed up against this wall that I watched building around me, yet said nothing. It's a heaving of myself into each task, and it's exhausting. Sometimes I have to convince myself that I have to talk. I have to will myself to communicate. I have to fight myself to keep from crying.

And sometimes I do cry. I cry until I laugh at myself because I know exactly where I am. I made it home a few days ago and sat myself back in the far corner of my house, and I cried out loud, "I don't want to be sad anymore," and then I laughed, and I breathed, and my dog licked my knee.

And it's no one's fault. It's not even my fault. It just is. Just hovering there, completely unrelated to the earth's rotation. Simply a wire or two in my brain that is malfunctioning. But it's very lonely.

I suppose that's why I'm writing this. Depression is terribly lonely. Sometimes I don't even want to be with people because it feels more lonely than when I'm alone. Because I have no idea what to say. Because it takes so much energy to keep from responding to "hello" with "I'm so tired of being miserable." I can't find anyone talking about depression online except doctors talking about how we need to talk more about it. To whom? Who among us is able to take on, even for a brief moment, the cross we, the depressed, flail beneath? Who would we want to do that to?

Yes, I take medication, and, yes, I am a believer. Sometimes it takes work, to find the right drug and the right dosage, and sometimes everything changes, and you have to go back to square one, but it's worth it not to feel this way. It's worth it to have hope that the world isn't quite ready to write you off. I'm also a believer in therapy. NOTHING feels quite like having an hour a week during which to talk while someone listens. So few people really listen to each other. So many people need someone to listen to them. Someone that takes the weight for just a moment, and then helps you grow strong enough to bear it yourself. The weight is always there. We do have the capability of carrying it, and that's a relief.

So, I hope someone reads this, and feels relief. I hope someone stumbles upon this, and it soothes the dull pain of waking up to depression again and again.

Even with medication, depression is a tough road to travel, but it doesn't last forever. It can't. As soon as this room becomes too dark, a light will find its way in.

Friday, August 19, 2011

How To Be a Feminist Runner

Many of you might consider yourselves to be runners. Many of you may consider yourselves to be feminists. But, do any of you consider yourselves to be feminist runners, or have you ever experienced a truly feminist run?

The feminist run begins at home. Mental preparation is of the utmost importance. I like to listen to the Tron Soundtrack. This is feminist because the girl in the movie is a sexy fighter. I am preparing myself for a sexy fight: me and the road. Ladies: you must wear a sports bra. Your body must be solid. You can wear a skirt. You have the choice to exercise your femininity while running, or you can wear shorts, but sometimes they ride up. How can you focus on the fight for equality while you are pulling your shorts out of your butt? I recommend a good layer of corn starch between your legs. The thighs of the maternal are big and powerful. They also chafe. Don't let this defeat you.

Step out into the night. I always run at night because I live in a small town, and I can. No one bothers me. If you live in a place where you don't feel safe, but you still want to run at night, carry some mace...or a gun. Not everyone is a feminist. No one takes advantage of you! No one crosses you!

Choose music that speaks to your soul as a woman in charge of her own destiny and riles you up (this is key). I recommend: Aretha Franklin's "Respect," Ladytron's "They only want you when you're seventeen," Metric's "Help I'm alive," or anything Liz Phair prior to her brush with pop fame. If you like, you can also listen to incredibly degrading, hard-core rap. I find this to be just the ticket when needing that extra push to keep running. Nothing makes me want to bulldoze someone like listening to a rapper degrade his woman.

Do I need to buy an arm band for my iphone? No, you do not. I put my iphone in a sock, and I lodge it safely between my shoulder-blades inside of the back of my sports bra. Make sure the sock is good and absorbent. You don't want the phone getting moist.

Finally, end your run with a song that lifts you up and makes you feel like you've won the fight and can do so again and again. I like Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory," but, "Born This Way" works really well too.

"I'm a dude. Can I be a feminist runner?"
Yes, you can. Follow all these instructions, but leave out the sports bra and skirt bits...unless you really like wearing skirts. There is nothing wrong with that. Skirts are awesome. Instead of thinking "manly," "misogynistic" thoughts, think empowering thoughts for all human beings. Listen to "Born This Way" at least once during your run. Maybe twice...and definitely Madonna. Then eat some chocolate ice-cream and call that lady you've been thinking about. Tell her how awesome she is. And, ladies, if that's you he's calling, thank him. Then, return the complement. Everyone is awesome.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A New Home

I took a class in grad school on the Literature of the American West. It was taught by a Canadian and was probably my 2nd favorite seminar in grad school next to my Emerson class. I didn't love it because the books we read were astonishingly good. I mean, we read James Fenimore Cooper, for crying out loud (He wrote The Last of the Mohicans and the rest of the adventures of Natty Bumpo in the Leatherstocking tales. That's right. Daniel Day Lewis's ACTUAL character name in The Last of the Mohicans was Natty Bumpo. So sexy). No, I loved the class because it opened up the idea of a broken history to me...the idea that the American hero was a myth, and the atrocity of that myth is just as important in upholding American culture as the myth itself. There really were no heroes, just people...that took a chance.

We read a book by a woman named Caroline Kirkland, A New Home, Who'll Follow. In this book, Kirkland tells the story of her move to the great western frontier of Michigan. Michigan. But it's not drama and romance, nor is it bravery and heroism. In fact, she writes more about the hilarity and ridiculous culture and manner of the people she encountered in the land her husband informed her she would be living. By the time the book was published, everyone in town knew who wrote it and hated her for it because she refused to write heroes into corners where heroes did not exist. She wrote what she saw and what she experienced, not what the rest of America expected.

I think about her and her book, which I hurriedly read during my lunch hour before the class, when I go out in Dahlonega, when I bump into locals and listen to their stories, or when I read their stories in my conversations with other people, or when I just watch...and occasionally join in on the life that is Dahlonega, GA.

Warning: From this point on, the names have been changed to protect the innocent (me), but my guess is, if you're reading this, and you're from Dahlonega, you know who you are and who I'm talking about.

I began the evening at Shenanigans Irish Pub with professors. Mostly gay, all southern. I could listen to a cd of those people talking about their lives and their jobs and the other people in their lives for hours. I had to lean back, cross my legs, and fan myself while I sipped red wine and let the sounds of the south dance around my ears. I went from Shenanigans to The Historic Holly Theater to watch a show I had directed. Great fun. Nothing feels better than FINALLY relaxing to watch a play you've been blocking and coaching and tweaking to some semblance of perfection for the past month. The old people loved it. The young people loved it. It was okay for me to let loose.

So, from the Holly, I walked to everyone's favorite bro bar: Johnny B's because American Anodyne was playing, and the show was guaranteed to be a hit. Should I tell you what I was wearing? It seems insignificant compared to the antics I lovingly witnessed. I was wearing a dress from Banana Republic that my mother had bought me when I was 22. I'm pretty sure she had no idea at the time that I would be able to fill it out as well as I do now. The dress, a military chic, hit my curves like nothing I've ever experienced. My hairdresser and I had decided, earlier, that I had to wear heels tonight, no matter what. So I did, for six hours, until it didn't matter what was happening below the boob line. I put on my sandals and danced with Dahlonega until the bartenders kicked us out.

It's funny when a town like this comes together. You can spend night after night, month after month, seeing the same people frequent the same bars, grow weary of the familiarity of it all, but nothing feels quite like a night when it all comes together. When the locals overrun the bar most frequented by fraternities. There were beautiful women, in beautiful dresses, with a slight sheen on their skin from the humidity that the bar tried desperately to combat with large fans mounted on the walls. Nothing cuts the humidity in the south. Nothing. And there were men, in jeans and t-shirts, cowboy boots, and hippie sandals, drunkenly gazing at the women, looking for a way into their world.

There was Brian Scheltz, who, even if you've never met him, has a personal motto that you'll never forget: "I'm Brian Scheltz, I do what I want!" He hit on me early on, and finished off the night dancing with a beautiful, voluptuous woman in one hand, and a pitcher of beer all to himself in the other. Ever seen a bear (straight) dip a woman and kiss her passionately during the move? You should meet Brian Sheltz.

Then there was Brandon, a skinny boy that works at the local superstore, manages actually. You see, everyone in town has a weird feeling about Brandon. They figure he must be gay, but he keeps hitting on women. All I know for sure, is that the boy can dance, and there's not a woman on the dance floor that won't lovingly give him a moment of their time to shake hips and knock knees.

Of course, Riley, who had performed the ceremony at a wedding that hitched up two well loved locals, was dancing like a fool, with his dress shirt off and his very own pitcher of beer. Apparently, his final words in the wedding were, "And now, by the power invested in me from the internet, I now pronounce you man and wife." We danced. He instructed me to set down my wine so that we could dance like they do in the movies. It's hard to do that with a guy that can't quite see straight.

Everywhere I looked there was a picture to be taken, a moment to be captured. Students, teachers, locals, transplants, dancing and drinking together and raising a glass to the music with its roots in the deep red clay of the mountains. It was worth a bit of a sweat.

I finished my evening on the balcony of the new Chow at school, alone. The panorama from the west end of the drill field is breathtaking, even at night in the moonlight. I could see the silhouettes of the hills and mountains in the distance, against the deep purple of the night sky. A cool breeze hit me from the east, and I looked up at the moon to feel, all at once, terribly insignificant and incredibly imperative at the same time.

It smells like trees here. It smells like cut grass. And the people want you to find a reason to stay. And, sometimes, you do too.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Talking it Out

I wish I could tell you that things were great or things were terrible. I can do neither. Things are neither great nor terrible, but they still seem to be weighing on me a great deal. I'm in a blank, still, muggy place that shakes me to my core while at the same time boring me to death. Sometimes I think I'm losing my mind. I'm just going to be honest. Sometimes I think I'm going insane. I feel like I'm too busy to think straight whilst getting absolutely nothing done. When my therapist cured me of perfectionism, she left me with this unique ability to be satisfied with mediocrity. Yes, I no longer explode over the tiny details, but I don't seem to hone in on them ever either. I feel content yet stifled to be sauntering through my days.

Do you know what I'm saying?

I'm also feeling the weight of being alone these days. I sit at home, surrounded by my animals, and I think, "I'm incredibly lonely." The only contact I feel I have these days is with people I'm telling what to do, and people that are telling me what to do. I'm losing my ability to have a rational, normal, inspiring conversation with anyone. Oh...and nothing inspires me these days. And that makes me sad.

Am I losing you?

Maybe...maybe...for the first time ever...I feel age. I don't feel young, fun, or energetic, and that is daunting. I probably haven't eaten enough today, and that is part of the problem....but...even when I do eat enough...when I eat a lot, I feel dragged down. I kinda wish something super awesome would happen to just knock me off my feet. I could probably find it myself, but that would require motivation and inspiration...BLURG.

Perhaps...just maybe...I need a new goal.....Oh...wait...now I'm a little bit inspired....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane

(I hope you don't think I'm too lazy)

Here is a post from my old Myspace blog...when I used to spend all my money running around the world.
Remember when we used to be able to take liquids on planes? This blog is about the day that all ended:

August 11, 2006

When You Don't Buy Me A Drink, You Let the Terrorists Win

Thursday morning, 6:15 a.m. London: I arrive at the check-in for my United airlines flight out of london....there is a huge line. i get a little nervous that i'll miss my flight. I ask someone. "Oh...there are just a 
few security concerns, we're taking some precautions."

6:45: airport staff starts looking for people are two specific flights, one being mine. they take me out of my line (queu...because i don't want to confuse anyone) and move me to another one, where they instruct me to put all my carry-on luggage into a huge plastic bag they have given me. "only keep your money, passport, and prescription drugs." can i take my chap-stick and my book? "nothing." but...."nothing."

7:50: I am escorted from check-in to security with a group of other people on my flight. i throw my "things" in the little bin and ask about my shoes....don't worry about it...the guy tells me...i'm wearing flip-flops. i go through the detector thing. then....oh joy of joys...cause i really needed it...a woman searches my body. you know how usually when this happens, they're real careful, and tell you everything they're going to do...and touch...before they do it...and touch....well...she just felt me up. it was hot. then she yelled at me for not sending my flip flops through the xray thing. "shoes are shoes." but...the guys said....whatever...not worth it.

7:55 we are instructed to run to the gate or we will miss the flight. I get there....i didn't need to run....they search my body...again. then i sit...for about an hour and a half.

8:10 this is when i notice the news on the t.v. apparently some peeps were trying to blow up my plane...and some others. I get a little sick to my stomach. i lean forward and put my head between my knees. i can't get anything to drink because i don't have any change...and i can't take it on the plane.

9:30 we start loading on the plane.

10:00 maybe...i had no concept of time at this point...i had no watch or phone to tell me. we take off.

11:15 i get something to drink...for the love of everything that is holy. i feel like crap. the movies are crap, i don't have a book, and the music eventually starts repeating. i sleep for a few hours.

1:00 p.m. chicago time (7:00 p.m. London time). 8 hours and twenty minutes have passed since the plane took off. we are greeted at the gate by armed homeland security guards that can't believe i've been out of the U.S. for upwards of five weeks. who would want to leave this place for that long? your mom. now give me my damn passport and get me away from this plane.

1:10: baggage claim. announcement: it will be around 45 to an hour before we can get our bags. they are going through a second screening. it takes about an hour and a half. there are no phones before you get through customs. i cannot call my mom. i am tired.

2:20 i get my bags. i go through customs. "czech republic? what'd you do there?" teach english. "did you drink a lot of that delicious beer?" too much. "well...you don't seem like a threat. you can go on through."

2:25: someone grabs me outside of customs. do you have a connecting flight? yes. they tell me where to go...they tell me the wrong location...i have 20 minutes before the flight leaves. i check my bags. outside there are crowds of people yelling questions at me. did i just get in from london? what's taking so long with the bags? blah blah blah? how long were you stuck there? i call my mom. i get on the train to go from terminal 5 to terminal 1....sonofabitch. i get there. i need a boarding pass. i have to go through security again.

2:38: i'm waiting in security for this guy to stop being mad about them throwing away his vitamins.

2:40: my flight has been delayed.

2:45: I start thinking some french fries might be good...and a dr. pepper. oh wait...i haven't changed my money. shit.

3:20: i get on my plane....an hour and a half to m-town....right?

3:30: the pilot speaks. "hey folks. I'm (whatever his name was) and i'll be your captain today. i'd like to able to tell you that the flight will be smooth, BUT it probably won't be. so....sorry about that. we'll get you to memphis though....where it is....um....hot and humid."

3:45 we leave the gate and begin to taxi around the airport.

3:55 we arrive...back at the gate. the pilot speaks again, "um...so...there are a lot of storms up there, so we've been redirected around them, but we don't have enough fuel to make the new route...so we're going to fuel up. also...i'm going to make a phone call." because we care...about the phone call.

4:10: the pilot speaks again, "okay. we've probably got enough fuel now to travel around the country, but we'll just go to memphis. enjoy the flight."

5:20: the pilot speaks again, "go ahead and buckle your seat-belts, we're coming up on some really bad storms, i'm going to try to get around them, but i may not be able to. we'll be landing in about 20 minutes. the weather in memphis, i hope you're sitting down for this (i love a pilot with a sense of humor) 105 and sunny. 105. yes. 105."

5:30 i look out the window. half of the sky is clear and gorgeous. i can see the world below. the clouds all around me have built cities out of themselves. we are flying around them. i can see the curve of the plane's course. for the first time ever...i wish i could fly outside of the plane....but not actively fly...just float. some of the clouds are pure and white...some are angry....deep in the core of the cloud city there is a lightening storm. i catch my breath.

5:45: we land...smoothly....i close my eyes and feel memphis wrap around me. home has a feeling. just the feel of the ground beneath the plane...and then my feet. reaching up through the soles of my shoes....grounding me....the soul is connected to home....always.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Safe Distance Book Report

I finished reading Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres exactly two years ago, and I now feel that I have had ample time away from the book to be able to look back on it with discretion and far less emotion than I would have at the original time of completion. I found the book at a charity shop in York, England while on my way to Newcastle, and I was excited to find it published by the same UK company that had published the copy of Smiley's The All True Travels of Lidie Newton that was given to me by my "Literature of the American West" teacher during my final semester in grad school. Matching books!! YAY!

I began to read the book on the train to Newcastle, and immediately fell in love with the language:

"I was always aware, I think, of the water in the soil, the way it travels from particle to particle, molecules adhering, clustering, evaporating, heating, cooling, freezing, rising upward to the surface...The grass is gone, now, and the marshes, 'the big wet prairie,' but the sea is still beneath our feet, and we walk on it."

A Thousand Acres is about a family farm in Zebulon County, Iowa. Beyond that, it is a remarkable retelling of Shakespeare's King Lear. All the books that I have read by Smiley (all two of them) have been about the prairie. The harshness of the landscape and the constant battle to tame nature may be a bit of an inspiration. She writes about women, and their endeavors in such a climate, always environmental and always political.

If you are not familiar with King Lear, I will sum it up for you. While Hamlet is considered to be Will's greatest play, King Lear is probably his greatest "achievement." SO, it's not really all that funny. It's a lot more tragic. Maybe not as tragic as Hamlet, but probably a lot more relevant. In short, Lear is about the aging and undoing of a king, a man, and a father. King Lear decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters. In Smiley's version, it is land (an American's "kingdom" I suppose). However, he requires that his daughters each profess their love for him. His two oldest daughters gladly step forward to make daddy feel good about himself, but the youngest, Cordelia, refuses to make a spectacle, "Nothing, my lord." "Nothing?" "Nothing." "Nothing will come of nothing, speak again." "Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond, no more nor less." And, thus, she makes dad real mad, and he decides to divide his kingdom between his two eldest, because they clearly love him so much more.

Smiley has her Lear (Larry) divide his thousand acres between his three daughters, the youngest of whom (is that right?), Caroline (tee hee), feels doing this is a bad legal move ('cause she's a big ol' lawyer). The story is told from the point of view of one of the eldest, Ginny, and her story is inspired by the fruits of dysfunction.

Shakespeare's Lear, at first glance, is about a crazy old king that likes to talk a lot and is eventually exiled by his mean, selfish daughters. Smiley is not one for surfaces, from my experience. She digs down to the heart of the matter, which is more than I can say for myself upon reading Lear for the first time. I can talk a big game and glibly pronounce the validity of Shakespeare, "We can all totally connect with every subject he writes about, y'all," but I suppose an education at Vassar requires a bit more of a lady. I believe a review I read used the word "illuminates," to describe the actual effect of the work.

I think, and maybe this is just me, that we tend to look at the basics of Shakespeare's work: Romeo and Juliet is all about tragic love, Hamlet is about revenge, A Midsummer Night's Dream is about doing acid, etc...It takes a true scholar/artist to break beneath the surface to find the heart of the truth that Shakespeare's work truly touches on every possible human experience.

I'm not going to summarize the book, or tell you the way it ends. That would be mean. I'm also not going to recommend you read the book unless you have a strong constitution and someone close by that has also read the book when you finish it. That would also be mean. I finished A Thousand Acres over the course of an entire evening in a dorm room in Pilsen, Czech Republic. It was during this time that everything...EVERYTHING...caused me a great deal of anixety, not the least of all being feeling the sunlight come into my room while sitting in bed pouring over a book about the dissolving of a family and an idealism.

A Thousand Acres is an immensely emotional novel. It is a truth to be reckoned with. I had been told by people I didn't even know, that happened to see me reading the book, that it was a book that had an intense effect on them emotionally. I suppose that is part of why I kept reading: to figure out what they meant.

There is no lost love (of a noble nature per se), and there is no build up to an insanely tragic conclusion. Like the reality of life that Shakespeare set out to portray with King Lear, Jane Smiley paints for us a picture of the gradual decay from within that is derived using the metaphor of the poisonous ways we attempt to control the ever changing landscape. Nothing is overtly romantic. Nothing is terribly evil. People hurt each other. People hurt themselves. And everyone will grow old and die. Nothing more. Nothing less.

In the Epilogue, Ginny, our storyteller, is looking at her sister's children, and she observes, "I see in them what I am too close to see in myself, the fusing and mixing of their parents. I see how their inheritance takes place right there, in the shape of their eyes and their glance, the weight of their bodies and their movements, in their intelligence and their thoughts...my inheritance is with me, sitting in my chair...All of it is present now, here; each particle weighs some fraction of the hundred and thirty-six pounds that attaches me to the earth..."

There is nothing that can separate us from our kin.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


In case you didn't know, that is my name. My name is Nancy....Caroline Allen. I am a middle name-r, and I have been for most of my life, save one day...

Let's go back bit. All the way to back to: where my parents are from. My father grew up in the south, and my mother grew up in the mid-west (Oklahoma), but they met each other while working in Washington D.C. They fell in love, mostly to insure my existence, and got married. Then, they moved to Hickory North Carolina where my dad worked selling cars (I NEVER go to a car dealership without him), and my mom carried me around...in her belly. This is a brief version. I'm sure my mom did more. She's kind of cool like that. Anywho...

It was in Hickory, North Carolina on October 12 that I was born--in case you're wondering why I'm so pretty...it's because I was a C-section baby, and my head did not get smooshed. I'm not sure the process, but I know my parents had decided that I would be named Nancy Caroline after my mom's sister, Nancy Carol, who was named after their aunt: Nancy Elizabeth Irene Caroline (THIS was ALMOST my name). If I had been a boy, the name of this blog would be: George Thomas Loves You More. Seriously. GEORGE THOMAS. I digress. A birth certificate was signed, and I'm pretty sure my feet were rolled in ink and stamped on the fancy government document: NANCY CAROLINE ALLEN.

The morning after I was born, my mother was feeding me, and probably falling madly in love with me, when a nurse walked into the room and asked in a big ol' pretty southern accent, "How's Nancy?" (In the south, Nancy is pronounced as such: Nane-see, with a long "a." This is quite different from the mid-western pronunciation: Nan-see; thus, it startled my mother) For a moment, a very brief moment, my mother was taken aback by the nurse's butchering of a name she held so dear. Therefore, she was able to respond promptly, "Her name is Caroline." I suppose in the brief moment after the nurse butchered my name, my mother saw my entire life, but all she saw was children and adults alike saying, "Nane-see!" over and over again. It must have hurt terribly.

My father was not present at the time, and had to learn the news later, I'm sure after dreaming big dreams for me as Nancy.

And this is how I became Caroline. It's funny how much a name can affect a person. People often ask me if they can call me Nancy, which is absurd to me. Why? It's my name, but it's not my name. Insurance and payroll companies refuse to call me by any other name. Sometimes people call me Caroline Nancy, but that doesn't make any sense either. Nancy Caroline flows a lot better. Right?

So, yes, my name is Nancy, but you can call me Caroline.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Out and About in Dahlonega, Georgia

I feel like it's been quite a while since I reflected on the wonderful complements I often get paid when walking down the street or shopping for cds (a long time ago) or shopping for the newest version of Strunk and White. Maybe it's just been a while since I found these encounters entertaining. OR, it could be the fact that I live in a pretty calm place for..."compliments"...

Yesterday I set out on a trek from my house to The Holly Theater to sweet talk businesses into advertising for us and sweet talk the managing director to overlook my laziness. It's not uncommon that I wave to a lot of people on such walks, nor is it uncommon that I have conversations with people I don't even know; thus, when a large man in a striped polo shirt carrying an oversized Nascar photograph made eye contact as I was passing by the antique mall, I geared up for the usual "hi, how ya doin." Instead of "hello," however, the man's first words were, "WOW! NICE," in a voice that one can only learn after living in a frat house for a few years or gearing up for marathon tailgating in the fall.  Being me, I don't usually assume that people are referring to...me?...when they make comments like this...especially not passing by in front of the antique mall in Dahlonega. I turned and smiled, and he continued, "you live around here?" To which I responded with the truth, "yeah." He then used my tattoo as an excuse to get a little closer and ask his next question, "but yer not from here, right?" "No," I responded, "I'm from Memphis, Tennesse."

Then he launched into my FAVORITE pick-up strategy: "Well, what the hell'dyou move here for?" Right. 'Cause I'm an idiot. Because I'm slightly mentally handicapped. So I could meet a man like you. It's almost as complimentary as "I'm sorry," when I tell people I'm from Memphis. THANKS! Really. Not enough people have apologized to me for my coming from MY HOME. Oops! My panties just fell off. It's so hard being me, and no one quite understands. If only I could live in a place like you...a suburb (undoubtedly)...surrounded by strip malls, churches, and a false sense of security. Maybe I could get some sleep.

I digress. If you thought his strategy couldn't get any worse, you would be wrong. Remember, this guy likes Nascar (yeah, I'm just that judgmental). He then explained that he comes into town every now and then on business and dropped a delicious cherry on top of the whole encounter by asking, "you wanna go out sometime? I mean, it's just me in my hotel room."

Yep. He said that. He said that. He did. He actually said that. Don't believe me? He did. I'm not lying. That is what he said.

Gee. How does a girl reply to something like that? Let's brainstorm the possibilities:

-OH, HELL YES! I'm so bored! I can think of nothing better to do than hang out with you in your hotel room.

-*giggle* okay. What are you doing tonight? *wink*

-You think you can afford me?

-YOU DISGUST ME! *biff* *wham* *pow* IN YOUR FACE! (this is my favorite/preferred)

I'm sure there are plenty more, but I just calmly and politely responded with a simple no thank you, and I may have made a face that suggested disgust. I don't usually know when those faces happen, but I do know that I have a difficult time holding them back.

So there it is. My first indecent proposal in Dahlonega. It's almost hard to believe it took this long. But, then again, Dahlonega is a pretty mild, laid-back place to live. I know. I know. How lame is that? It totally sucks, and I appreciate your apologies.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spray Sunblock

I recall a day back in 2003 when I was wearing a skirt and teaching a theatre class to a bunch of 13-14 year olds in Dallas, TX, and a girl, when called upon to answer a question, responded, "Ms. Allen...the sun is not evil." A few years later, I had upgraded from teaching to waiting tables at the illustrious Outback Steakhouse in Midtown Memphis. I was wearing some cute short shorts, and I had been layering fake tan on my legs. Despite this fact, one of my managers, upon being greeted before the shift, responded, "your legs are so white, they're practically transparent."

So, you know what, fine. Fine. I'm sorry, but someone told me that the sun not only causes aging, but it is also responsible for a great deal of cancer. And, if you must know, I had a killer tan last summer when I was farming...a killer farmer's tan. The clothed part of my body was still pretty white. 'Cause I'm white.

Thus, based upon my aforementioned attitude towards the sun, one can probably conclude that my trips to the beach involve a great deal of SPF. I'm pretty down with 50+. And now it comes in handy no rub sprays. The best part of all of this is that, instead of the awkward "I clearly couldn't reach this part of my back" sunblock white hand print, users get the "I had no idea the spray didn't get to this part of me" tan lines. Mine look like bruises. I have a nice sunburn bruise on the right side of my stomach and on my right shoulder. LOVE IT. This happened to me despite the fact that I reapplied the SPF 50 more than once during about a two hour stint on the beach in Savannah.

I don't care though. Srsly. I don't care. So there. I'ma be a patchwork of age. Maybe parts of me will be old and damaged from the evil sun, but I'll just turn your attention to the sexy, youthful, milky white skin on the other shoulder.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Today I did Bikram Yoga again for the first time in over a year. If you aren't sure whether or not you're in or out of shape, doing Bikram Yoga is a good way to let you know. Holy cow.

All my memories of Bikram Yoga include me with a bright determined face, a spring in my step, and a farmer's exercise regimen. I forgot how healthy working 5 hours a day digging ditches and pushing wheelbarrows makes a person. I also forgot how unhealthy eating out every day, sitting around watching Netflix, eating cookie sandwiches, and drinking beer beer beer makes a person. I learned today.

Maybe I went into the room too soon. I was lying on my back about 15 minutes prior to the beginning of class, focusing on my breathing. Then, I started focusing on how much time till class started. Then, I started focusing on whether or not I should be stretching. Then, I started focusing on whether or not I was directly in front of anyone. Then, I realized I was focusing on way too many things, and I tried to focus on not focusing on so much, which made my body even more uncomfortable. Then I got scared that I wouldn't be able to shut my mind down in time for class to start. I was breathing heavily before we even began half moon.

It's amazing the power the mind has over the body, amazing that the body cannot be truly separated from that power. The instructor told us at one point to ask ourselves if our minds were telling us we couldn't do it instead of our bodies. She stated that the body is actually much stronger than the mind, but the mind is more powerful. If that makes any sense. Our bodies can do more than we often give ourselves credit for. The mind can make a strong body weak. It's terrifying.

Even while lying on my stomach, my left ear to the ground, staring blankly out the window in between postures, I couldn't get my mind to allow my eyes to stop shifting from one spot to another. Moving one's eyes around during resting poses literally deprives the body of much needed relaxation and recovery.

The pièce de résistance of the entire 90 minutes was the fact that, despite all of my reassurances to other people that even though you might feel like you're going to throw up, you won't, I still highly doubted my ability to finish without booting at more than one point in the class. My face was the color of a beet. My sweat was so salty, it burned my eyes, and I was starting to get some intense chills. 

Now, I'm sore, and tired, and my head hurts, but my mind is actually clear. I've been giving myself quick and easy answers for all my questions these days, but I haven't been giving myself solutions because solutions take too much time. My body taught me today that I cannot continue to be unless I allow myself and my mind to slow down and sit in the quiet. There will always be another challenging pose to keep my interest in life, but the times in between, the times when I'm resting, I really ought to rest, and allow my mind time to regain confidence in my body. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

In Comes the Fog

uuuuugh. It's that time again: time for Caroline to bemoan her existence.

Yay. Summer is here. It's beautiful outside during the day; it's beautiful outside at night. Everything is green. Everything is warm. Everything is easier and lighter. Except I made the mistake of falling for someone over the past couple of months, then being pushed away by someone, then pushing someone away, and now wishing everything would have gone differently. I feel about as heavy as an elephant, physically and emotionally. I'm actually sitting here being sad. Just sitting here. Being sad.

What a grand time spring is. You've been dating and dating and miserable and hopeless, and then someone pops up out of nowhere, and you can't get enough. They are so NEAT. Except YOU can't get enough. Just you. And you think, "hey! I deserve to be with someone that feels the same way! Feel the same way, dammit!" But they don't, or, at least, it FEELS like they don't. And you get scared. And everything falls apart. And you go back to dating and dating and being miserable with all that. No one sparks.  No one really grabs your interest. Nothing seems to fit. Especially not your pants.

That was the part where I help you empathize with me.

So, I'm sitting here. Being sad. Feeling broken. Feeling like I've irreparably malfunctioned somewhere along the line. But mostly just feeling lonely. Surrounded by people, and completely alone. And I'm too pissed to even make jokes about it. Right now, at least.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Well, Duh.

Man. It is so damn hard, right?

This weekend has been a roller coaster. Back up. The past two months have been a roller coaster. I keep tumbling into these positions where I know EXACTLY what I want, but I'm surrounded by someone else's fear/confusion/subconscious games. We do that, don't we? We play games without even realizing it. Someone holds us at arm's length, and we dance around the fact hoping we'll find an opening at some point, but the game is too hard. And falling in love is easy.

It is. Relationships are hard. Falling in love is the fun part. I believe in that. I've never had an experience where the falling in love was hard and the relationship was easy. The falling in love is the easy part. It's hard to let go of that fear, though. I know. But it is a glorious free fall, isn't it?

Here are some things about me:
If I like you, you will know. You'll never have to wonder...does she like me? You'll know because I'll look you in the eye and tell you...repeatedly.

I've fallen in love more times than I ever thought possible (and don't take this to mean that the number is high. It's not. I never thought I'd fall in love again after my first love). It's always scary, but it's always totally worth it.

Someone once told me, "When you know, you know. When you don't know, you know." I think I was probably bitter at the time, and groaned at the words, but the more they bounce around in my head, the more sense they make. When you know you KNOW. When you don't know, you KNOW. The heart is wild, fickle, many things, but NEVER a liar. Trust your heart. Or whatever it is you trust inside yourself.

If you tell me no again and again, I will stop asking...eventually.

Sometimes all it takes is one act of courage...sometimes one act of courage is required almost every day. NO, usually.

Stand up for what you want, for what you need. Don't be afraid of falling and having to rearrange a lot of things in your life. That's the fun part.

Go outside. Take a deep breath. And, as Eudora Welty said, "Never think you've seen the last of anything."

Just some chicken soup. No organization. Just sodium. Lots and lots of it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


How hard is it to live in the moment? How hard is it to be present? Do you want to know? I'll tell you.

It's pretty damn hard. I spend most of my time and my brainpower making plans for the future and inventing outcomes. I did a workshop with my acting students yesterday wherein we practiced being in the moment, taking the time to take things in, listening.

That's the key word: Listening. Ha. How often do I catch myself hearing a friend talk to me about his or her life while my mind jumps back and forth from what they are saying and what I'm going to to say in response. It must be incredibly difficult to be a therapist. To sit and listen for an hour while doing nothing more than ask "the right" questions (and, contrary to popular belief, if your therapist is talking to you more than asking you questions and repeating back to you what he or she is hearing, something's wrong). Do they have classes that require them to practice listening? I suppose we could all use a semester or two in one of those classes, if they do, in fact, exist.

Listening requires us to take things in, or being able to listen, I should say. I cannot react to or properly respond to the words of my friends, or even the goings on around me if I cannot take the time to absorb it all. I guess that means sitting still a lot. Clearing my mind (which is TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE...I think). My favorite word of advice from meditation practitioners is that the hardest part of meditation is not clearing your mind, but being gentle with yourself when you find it difficult to think of nothing. This says to me that the act of properly taking things in, properly listening is an endeavor that I must be able to forgive myself for failing (does it feel like I'm dancing awkwardly around my words? 'cause it totally feels that way).

Thus, living in the moment demands brave caution. Right? I account for my current state of being. Without forgetting what's behind, I walk away from the past, and without anticipating an outcome, I move forward from the present into the future.

Hi. It's been a while. I got caught up in a lot of living. Then I got caught up in learning how to live without. Now I'm back, taking stock of what I've lost and what I've gained. Count me in, please. Count me present in this particular moment.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Laugh Out Loud

at the most juvenile things. I do. This evening (around 1:00 a.m.) Linus and I were walking in the snow and enjoying the quiet, when I stepped in a small pothole, slipped a little, and simultaneously farted a fart that sounded a bit like a low pitched clown horn. Well, you know how it is when it snows, quiet, peaceful, never too cold. This echoed. My laugh echoed. I couldn't stop laughing. It was better than an episode of I Love Lucy. Linus just stared at me with his furrowed brow concerned look: concerned that I hurt myself, concerned that I was actually crying, or just concerned that I was going crazy. 

Random, unrelated bridge: I'm in a bit of a pickle. My penchant for peace these days is putting me in the position of peacemaker, naturally; however, treading lightly is not always my strongest suit, and peacemaking often demands it. I meditated tonight, but all I could concentrate on was the fact that my back is currently so weak that it hurts to sit up straight for a long period of time. It's good to know but doesn't get me any closer to a solution. I realize I'm being vague. It's on purpose.

Anyway, back the fact that farting out loud is probably one of the funniest things in the world. I enjoy the irony of it. The fact that it's so frowned upon in civilized circles. I made a joke once when having fun with a whoopie cushion. Someone asked me if I could sit on the cushion and make myself burp at the same time. I did my "laugh that morphs into a cry" to indicate the fact that being able to do so would secure my place in the realm of singledom forever, and we were just talking about a whoopie cushion. A few months later, while chopping vegetables and listening to NPR (the most civilized of activities, in my opinion) I actually farted out loud and immediately burped this long drawn out belch. I froze. I had DONE IT. I was officially too disgusting for words. SO, I laughed out loud...for a LONG time. I gave myself the hiccups.

I believe it was Benjamin Franklin that said, "Fart proudly." If I am correct, doesn't that make me the most patriotic of Americans? I should say it does.

P.S. yeah. I know I just grossed some of you out. Especially my mother (well, I really just embarrassed the living daylights out of my mother). Apologies.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dear Future Caroline

Dear Future Caroline,

Worrying doesn't do anyone any good. Remember how you always worry about money, and SOMEHOW, everything works out? Yeah. Keep remembering that.

Also, don't forget how freeing it is to DELEGATE. Trying to do everything yourself because you'll do it the best is WRONG. It's actually a sin. The worst of all the sins. Worse than public displays of affection (unless someone else is PDAing...then that's worse). Other people want to help, and they will bring new and fresh ideas to you. Other people are talented and good. Yay for other people!

Gaining weight in the winter is warm. Do not fear it.

If you put your clothes away now, you don't have to do it later...after your cat pees on them.

Never click on a link entitled "Secret Crush Revealer." Boooooooooooo.

If a cat headbutts you, it is because the cat thinks you are cool. Guess what: you are cool in the eyes of many cats. This also means that you are "crazy" in the eyes of a lot of "people."

If your pants don't fit. Buy pants that fit. Stop being lame and uncomfortable. MR. PANTS loves you regardless of your muffin top (again...a lot of people will not think this is sweet...but rather "crazy).

Star Trek is awesome.

Antibiotics WILL give you heartburn. Be prepared.

Trust your friends. They don't sit around judging you. They really really don't. Right?


Go sit on a beach in Mexico right now...or, you know...soon.

You are, more than anything, YOU. Don't try to be anything else and never compromise the things that make you THAT. It is more painful than having really bad gas on a first date....and you KNOW how painful that can be.


P.S. Sometimes cheap Chinese(ish) food really hits the spot.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reason Number 78 That I Defy Intelligence (because saying I'm dumb is too harsh)

Sometimes I can be really dumb. I mean, I'm such a smart lady and then I go and do a thing like this: I got sick, as you've read, and I thought, ten days later, that my cold had run its course. I was wrong. My cold never went away. It seemed to get better, and I assumed that it was going to continue to get better...and I guess I thought I was better, just really tired. I got used to being sick for about two weeks after the worst of it. Then, luckily, my mom came to visit and told me after about a day of being here that I had to let her take me to the doctor because I was clearly too run-down to be healthy. So, we saw a nurse, and she told me that once a cold goes past 10-12 days, it's safe to assume that your immune system isn't going to kick in, and you're stuck with an infection. 

Since I started having bad luck with antibiotics fending off infection for longer than a couple of months back in 01-02, I decided to wait out my "sick days" and let my immune system try its hand at keeping me healthy. Before, I had always run to the doctor at the first sign of illness. Of course, another reason I decided to let my immune system do the work was that I had fallen off my parents' healthcare at 22 (yeah, the dark ages) and couldn't afford (or get accepted) to buy healthcare for myself. I couldn't afford to keep going to the doctor every time I felt the exhausting sadness of a cold coming on. And whatdya know? My immune system turned out to be pretty rad. I had to wait through a good 4-7 days of grrrrr + ickiness, but, in return, my body fended off infection a lot more efficiently. I stopped getting colds all the time. In fact, I only had to deal with a cold twice a year after that...which is pretty normal for adults (pause, Alexander the Great is giving Mr. Pants a sweet, thorough bath right now-they are my cats). 

Moral: sometimes you can't beat it. Sometimes the cold decides to make it's soujourn in my body a little longer, and ends up turning into an infection. I'm hard-headed though and try to avoid going to the doctor at all cost (mostly because it's expensive--STILL, and I have insurance now....and I pay for that too....GAAAAAAAAAAH MONEY!!!!! I digress). In this case, my staunch immunosuperiority got the best of me, and I had to spend two weeks wondering why the hell 9 hours of sleep still left me feeling like I'd been run over by a truck by lunch time? Coffee lost its effect and hence its joy (Now Mr. Pants is washing Alexander the Great). I could barely make it through one song at karaoke. Something was wrong,  I ignored it, and I paid a price.

Well, I tell you, since I started the anitbiotics and steroids, I feel so much better. I didn't even realize I felt as bad as I did, I just kept going, feeling like, somehow, I was never getting enough sleep, even though I totally was...more than enough, or I was spreading myself too thin, which I wasn't. Hooray for moms!!

Hey. What can I say, I'm an incredibly irrational/hard-headed (really intelligent) lady. The big picture, people. It's the only way I get by. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

I'm a Puzzle Even I Can't Figure Out

Tonight, when we got home from a drive, I opened the car door to guide Linus out and into the house, but he slipped passed me and went running. This happens on occasion, and it's never a time when I feel like I can handle it emotionally. It never happens when I can laugh it off and say, "What a jerk. He'll come back." Of course he always runs past the house in which that old lady that stuck her tongue out at me lives. She stuck her tongue out at me once when I stuck my tongue out at her yappy dogs on the porch. It's a long amazing story that I'll tell you sometime, if you're nice. He runs past her house and riles up her dogs. Which means there's a chance she'll come out and yell at me for being a delinquent or something.

When I could get close enough to him, I'd call for him to come, and he'd stop briefly, size me up, then dash away from me. When I say I can't handle it emotionally, I mean, I take it personally. I admit it. I do this. I pile on all the reasons that he has to want to run away (I've been sick and not taking him out for long enough walks, I don't have enough toys for him,  he doesn't get to play with his friends every day, he doesn't get to run free as much as he wants, he hates his food, etc.), and eventually I get a little stifled by it all. AND I cried. Like a little kid whose dog has run away and she doesn't understand why, except I felt like I knew exactly why, and it had more to do with me than the fact that HE'S A PUPPY and LIKES TO RUN.

This is what I do in almost every situation in life. There. I admit it. I am ridiculous. I take everything personally (to an extent). I'm a little better about it than I used to be, but I still have my glorious moments of ridiculosity. I can't help feeling that the world's ailing might be slightly my fault. Where, in the name of all that is holy, does this NONSENSE come from? Is it religion? Is it childhood trauma? I can't figure it out. The only thing I can do is maintain a calm dialog with myself when it starts to overtake me. Yep. I talk to myself, slowly and methodically explaining that my immediate thoughts are not necessarily rational, or based in reality. I think the thing we need to focus on here is the fact that I'm aware of this. That I figure it out.

Here's where I'm going with this. A friend of mine recently described a fight she had with her partner in which her partner was making a horribly irrational argument and she was fighting back...until she realized how irrational the argument was. Once that happened, she simply said, "you're right," and left her partner, who eventually came around and apologized, alone to suss it out.  I have never found someone that would do that with me. I have never found someone that would recognize my irrational thoughts as irrational, disarm, and leave me alone to come around. Because I ALWAYS come around. I'm actually pretty sharp. Despite evidence against the fact. It's true. I'm a smart kid.

A neighbor eventually helped me trick him into coming home, and he pouted, of course, which made me even more sad. But I sat down on the couch, ate my pizza and watched my movie, and, eventually, he jumped up and plopped down next to me, half in my lap. So, I gave him some pizza, which is probably all he really wanted. Whatdya gonna do? He's a dog, for cryin' out loud. And he freakin' needs me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

This Blog Sponsored by Nyquil Cough

Oh jeebus. I've been sick since Tuesday. It is not something I like. I am currently trying to stay awake under the influence of night time cough medicine. Hopefully, when I do go to sleep, I will be able to stay that way because my coughs will be suppressed. 

I'm actually writing to let you in on something. I don't know if it's the fact that I've been watching a lot of Heroes and am inclined to think that I have a special power, or if I actually might have quite a powerful subconscious. In any case, I've been having incredibly poignant dreams lately. Maybe poignant isn't the right word. My dreams have been surprising me. Earlier this week, when I was staying at my friend's house during the snowpocalypse, I dreamed that she got locked in the back yard with the dogs while trying to feed them in the morning, and I found her there (in the dream) after I woke up, after she had spent a good deal of time yelling and screaming for someone to let her inside. Well, it turns out, that at right about the time I was dreaming this (I know because I woke up and then went back to sleep and dreamed it during the second sleep), she had fallen down the stairs that lead to the backyard while feeding the dogs. This may not seem like much to you, but it weirds me out.

THEN, a couple of nights ago, I dreamed I was playing in band again, and the director handed out a piece of music that was in one of those crazy keys that you hate to play in with, like, a million sharps. The next day, I walked into my classroom for theatre appreciation, and there was a bar of music on the board with a million or so sharps.

Okay. Writing it makes it seem kind of lame. It's much more heroic and important when it's my own personal achievement (dreaming such things on my own). Then I dreamed my dream last night...

I had been writing to a...guy, and he had asked if he could come to see me, to stay with me, live with me (we had developed this history long before the dream began) and I said okay. He was not a guy that I have ever met in waking life, but I recognized his face somehow. He moved in, and he immediately began spending time with another woman. She was not a woman that I had ever met in waking life, but I knew her somehow in the dream. I think she was some woman from a tv show, but not wholly. They began to treat me with disdain, to mock me, even, for allowing them to continue in their relationship when it was so clearly against and in spite of my own relationship with the guy. I remember in the dream, the woman kept trying to get my attention, while in my house by repeatedly calling me "miss? oh miss?" It was condescending, and it hurt. I remember being deep in my head, being silent, until finally, while she was giggling and trying to get me to look up, I raised my head, and I said calmly and firmly, "You have to leave. You both have to leave now." The guy was confused, maybe played hurt a little, and definitely apologized profusely on his way out the door, but I shook my head while maintaining eye contact. I remember going to my car as they were leaving, and pulling out a large bouquet of flowers from the front seat. "Where did those come from?" This nameless guy asked, and I replied, "It doesn't matter. They're for me."

Then, in the dream, I remembered. I had bought them for myself.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


A friend of mine loaned me her copy of the first season of Heroes because I have never seen it. Now, I'm hooked. And just when I was beginning to think I had caught up on the all the television that I could possibly ever want to spend hours at a time watching. BLAST.

I've been struggling with a little lapse into depression that often snags me in the winter months. I've been spending a lot of time in my head. Not sure if that's the best place to be, but it's definitely forced me to listen a lot more. People will tell me the most interesting things if they feel that I'm really listening. And THAT, my friends, is between people and me.

Tonight, I accomplished the daunting task of thoroughly brushing and flossing my teeth. Sometimes I feel that I have to muster up the strength of a super hero to complete certain daily tasks...or tasks that should be daily, but are usually not, for me. So, tonight I mustered up the courage and the super-human strength to clean the inside of my mouth. It required a lot of staring myself down in the mirror over the sink, and a bit of out loud commentary...and some commentary in my head, while my mouth was unable to talk through the rinse, or the floss. I cleaned the living daylights out of my teeth and gums. It was no small task. But I met the hell out of it, and I usually do...at least once a month. I mean, I brush my teeth twice every day, but I don't always floss, even though I KNOW I should. How long does it take before something becomes a habit?

The snow days this week have been surreal. They were needed (after an arduous three days of classes), but they were surreal. I spent the first two at a friend's house in the woods. Each day, we took the dogs out for a long walk in the forest, and to the neighbor's land to check on their home. It's hard walking in 7 inches of snow. It's exhausting. We would walk out of her driveway and back up her neighbor's impossibly long drive to their home. The woods in the snow are eerily haunting enough, but this house was something else. It was a log cabin. Beautiful polished wood, so light that it almost looked gray, unpainted, and the roof was red. It was obvious that no one was home. I could feel it whenever the house came in view. There was a stillness. Everything around the house was quiet, pausing. I have no memory of the sound of our footsteps in the snow, or the dogs trudging around and ahead of us. Just silence. Stillness. Solitude. I wanted to touch part of the house, to lean against one of the red doors and listen to the silence inside. There was something being said in the peace of that clearing, and I wanted to hear it.

But we kept walking. As we so often do.

The snow is melting. Linus is getting a little annoyed by it too. The top layer is ice, and walking through it is more of a challenge than actually trying not to fall down. He doesn't like the breaking of the ice beneath his paws. He also doesn't like having to walk around in it to find a place to relieve himself. He looks at me, and I shrug my shoulders. What else can I do?

May I recommend an oatmeal bath to you for these cold cold winter nights? So soothing.