reading emily

December 13, 2012

the town celebrated emily dickinson's life tonight at a small pub on the square. the room was filled with scholarly types, girls and boys young and old. i clapped as each approached the stage. i clapped after they read another poet's work. i clapped after they read their own, even though i didn't think much of it. of the dozens of poems i heard, i only liked one.

i sat there, silently. waiting for it to be over. patiently. staring at the floor.

the godawful floor. and suddenly i wanted a pen and paper. thankfully, my mother always packs one in her bag. and someone left a paper napkin on the table.

slabs of concrete, colored like dried vomit
crossed, counted off, divided by thin, dirty, red lines
like fresh cuts or scabs touched too often
glass--frosted or clear
framed by tiny white lights
and big, velvety red bows
thin plastic, red like cherry popsicles
melting on cheap, wood tables
topped with red, green and white balloons
too much christmas
too much cheer
in too small a room
too many words
and yet not enough to keep my attention here

thankfully, when it was over, i picked up a battered, gray hardcover of dickinson's poetry someone had left on a table, flipped it open and found something new to me:

number four ninety-one

while it is alive
until death touches it
while it and i lap one air
dwell in one blood
under one sacrament
show me division can split or pare--

love is like life--merely longer
love is like death--during the grave
love is the fellow of the resurrection
scooping up the dust and chanting--"live"!

random quarter

October 7, 2012

one. i spend sunday mornings watching cbs sunday morning, face the nation, and this week with my parents.

two. i can't stand david axelrod. the words that come out of that pompous, styleless moron irk me SO much.

three. a friend posted as his facebook status "be that 53%". and this is the best reaction to the bashing romney's taken for that video about 47% wouldn't vote for him. not too long ago, i heard ann coulter vehemently defend romney's comment, saying that the quote was taken out of context and twisted around so that the democrats could use the soundbite as a weapon to deflate romney's campaign.

four. i watched a bit of that debate. i have to get up supremely early, so i didn't stay up for the whole thing. but i waited to hear each candidate response to the first question. and i gotta say, romney did a helluva lot better than obama. and i was SO glad of this.

five. and the democrats, as quoted by george stephanolopous (who's a democrat himself), are calling romney masterful, theatrical and dishonest? really? those are words i would use to describe obama's campaign speeches from his first run.

six. i love james carville and mary matalin. i love how vocal he is, how animated, how firm he is in his convictions. like when he's bashing obama for not reacting more quickly to the gulf's oil crisis. i like how cool matalin is. how they are complete opposites and yet so perfect for each other. so complementary.

matalin on obama's presence in the debate: can i state the obvious here? he didn't bring his game because he doesn't have one. and in response to krugman's idiotic arguments: yes, it does, professor, doctor krugman... you're hardly credible on calling someone else a liar. and i love watching her face when her husband speaks. she cracks me up.

seven. and the stupid politicians keep going on about romney and big bird or that stupid tape. oh, good lord.

eight. i have great respect for new jersey's governor christie just because on a previous episode of this week, george asked him if he liked a guy and he said no. and that was it. and when george prompted him to expound on that, he said, again, no, he didn't like him. and that was that. and i love that about him. i love that when a question required a yes or no answer, he gave the simple and concise. the one that lacked any bullshit.

nine. the unemployment rate's gone down? well, of course it has! christmas is in two months! retail business are hiring part-time help. look at that statistic again mid-january.

ten. my mother just showed me a blurb in parade about the african american version of steel magnolias to be shown on lifetime's network. i really don't see why anyone would feel it necessary to regurgitate a story that's already been told (and superbly well, at that), and justify the retelling by changing the color of the cast. i find this despicable, really. we should be past this by now. i think this disrespects the equality so many civil rights leaders fought for so long ago. it's the twenty-first century, for crying out loud. a white film version and a black film version? come on. i've complained about this before. but it chaps my butt a bit, okay?

eleven. ten biggest pet peeves: A.) an inability to respect others' personal space, especially on the interstate. GET OFF MY ASS. you are driving a metal box that weighs TWO THOUSAND POUNDS at seventy miles per hour. you can do some serious damage to someone else's metal box, possibly causing damage to the person driving that metal box. you are driving it like you are the most important person on that road, and YOU ARE NOT. at night, if your headlights are illuminating the stickers on the rear windshield of the car before you so well that you can read the words on it, you are too damned close. your lights shouldn't be on the car in front of you at all, actually. BACK OFF; B.) alarm clocks; C.) brothers; D.) false kindness, as in don't be sweet to my face and stab me in the back. this is the most hateful lie. if you don't like me, fine. be civil. but don't hug on me and smile at me as though we're pals; E.) production companies spending millions of dollars on really bad cinema; F.) my father preferring to watch bad cinema as opposed to football G.) jesse palmer and craig james serving as commentators for any football game; H.) the volume levels while my father is watching television; I.) having to repeat myself to my father multiple times because he can't hear (i can't imagine why this could be.); J.) laundry.

twelve. i think cloud atlas is gonna bomb in the box office. there are some films that should NOT be made, and this seems to be one of'm.

thirteen. i am SICK of seeing advertisements made by bp trying to redeem themselves for the destruction they caused to the gulf. you suck. you will always suck. i don't want to hear about how much you've invested in the u.s. or how committed you are to the gulf. if that were the case, you wouldn't need to make those investments or convince the public of that commitment.

fourteen. five weaknesses: A.) jedi mind tricks would work wonders on me (and it's usually me doing the tricks on myself); B.) bread; C.) carbonated, caffeinated beverages; D.) cheese; E.) vulnerability.

fifteen. five strengths: A.) resiliency; B.) compassion; C.) generosity; D.) talent; E.) style (though this isn't always evident).

sixteen. i wish i were better with people, especially guys.

seventeen. on my body, i like the color of my eyes the best. just the color, though. not the shape.

eighteen. i've never read moby dick. my father's watching the encore version of the tale. i'm not impressed.

nineteen. i don't like ethan hawke. never thought he was cute. couldn't understand the fascination with him and his character in reality bites. i recall so many people loving that movie. i didn't get it.

twenty. i think i've only gone sailing once. and it was so long ago that i don't remember if i liked it or not. i do remember it was with someone who was a friend to me at the time, so long as no one else was looking.

twenty-one. i'm getting my allergies tested tomorrow. i'm not looking forward to it. supposedly you get pricked a whole bunch. i've a hard time getting pricked once.

twenty-two. lately, i've been having very bad dreams. the kind that involve worms crawling out of me. very unsettling things.

twenty-three. i watched the perks of being a wallflower last night. loved it. and while i watched it, i wish i'd had the courage in my youth to eat my lunch in the cafeteria, alone, rather than in the band hall, alone. or forced myself to go to a dance and dance, even as clumsily and awkwardly as i do it, rather than hiding in my room instead.

twenty-four. i've not been to california in more than twenty years. i go next week. i'm kind of excited.

twenty-five. and i go to attend my first writer's digest conference. i'm kind of excited about that, as well.

random quarter: the erin's list edition

September 9, 2012

one. i prefer to sit at the macy's mac or clinique cosmetics counters to do my makeup. otherwise, it doesn't get done.

two. i like looking at all the colors and such for makeup. the cases and whatnot. but really? i could live the rest of my life without the stuff and not feel a void or lack because of its absence.

three. my undergarments hardly ever match, although when i buy them, i purposefully choose colors and styles that work together. it's just that when i wash them, they never make it to the dresser. they land on the floor and i grab the first things i see.

four. i've never really liked going to art museums. and i was an art major the first two years in college, so you would think this would not be so, right? that i'd be all about'm. i'd rather spend my day in a football stadium. or in a pool. or a movie theater. i can't paint worth a damn, by the way. i'm pretty good with pencils, though.

five. i like live music well enough. house of blues is my favorite place to watch a show. i like smaller venues, where it's less about getting smashed and/or crazy and more about the music and watching the performance.

six. i get my news from my friends and family. really the only time i watch newsy stuff is on sunday mornings with my folks, when i clue in on all the political mumbo jumbo via george stephanopolous and the this week round table. but the evening news? i hardly ever watch that. 

seven. nine times out of ten, if i'm lounging on the couch or in my father's recliner, my mac is on my lap, the television is on (either tuned to football or a film), and there's some sort of beverage within reach. always with my laptop, though. always.

eight. i've never been to new york city. and that's okay. i've been to london. once you've seen that, new york seems kind of... meh. the only times i've wanted to see it are when i watch one fine day or serendipity. and even then, the inclination isn't that strong.

nine. i'm not a fan of yankee candles. they have maybe two fragrances i like, and i don't love'm enough to spend what the company's asking for them. there used to be a shop in the mall here call inspirations, i think. i liked their candles the best. but of course, yankee candle bough them out or something. 

ten. i love nail polish. but my nails, both on my hands and feet are so short, that coloring them would look funny. i hardly ever have my fingernails painted. i'll get my toes painted maybe three times a year.

eleven. i'm not sure what compelled me to buy half the things in my closet. i tend to wear the same dozen articles of clothing, usually a denim skirt paired with some aggies t-shirt or khaki cargos with a red t-shirt or a shirtdress, depending on what i'm doing at the time. i've folded stacks and mounds of clothes on my floor, most of which i've not worn in months.

twelve. i don't have any tattoos. i've debated getting one. if i do, it'd probably be a griffin or a celtic symbol of some sort, probably on my arm (cause that's the only part of me that doesn't have much fat on it). but seriously? i hate needles. so the chances of my getting a tattoo are supremely slim.

thirteen. i don't like roller coasters or bungee jumping or anything thrill-seeking like that. i'm a wuss. and i'm alright with this. i don't get motion sickness. i'm really glad i don't have that problem.

fourteen. i'm not nearly as comfortable in a car as i used to be. once upon a time, i'd get in my car and go driving on the back roads near my house, sometimes for hours. happily. i often felt most like myself when i was in my car. safest and strongest, which is weird considering the number of accidents in which i have been involved (i promise you, they weren't all my fault) and the number of times i used those aimless drives to vent or cry or wallow, i'm not sure how many would call that safe or strength. nowadays, though, i'm really only in my car for the shortest route from a to b. maybe this is because the roads are way too crowded nowadays, and people so frequently crowd each other on the roadways that i'm more often irritated by being in the car than relaxed as i once was.

fifteen. never owned a convertible. i think i'm alright with this. the only reason i would not get one is that i hate combing out the tangles in my hair.

sixteen. i can't remember the last time i wore a pair of shorts out in public. the last time i wore a bikini, i was three.

seventeen. i'm bad about volunteering my time and energy. i'm pretty good about giving folks money if they need it, though. assuming of course i have it to give.

eighteen. my dream job, i guess, is writing. i'm best at that, and i'd make my own schedule and stuff which is infinitely preferable to the way things are at the moment.

nineteen. i've never drank an entire cup of black coffee. i've had cafe mochas before. coffee's not so much my thing. tea and coke. and water. if i'm trying to be good. but it's almost always tea.

twenty. i can't garden worth a damn. and i'm alright with this, too.

twenty-one. my biggest fear is that i will never amount to anything.

twenty-two. my relationship with my parents... i feel like i'm too much the child, too reliant on their support, too reluctant to change my circumstances (because i'm too afraid to try to do better, i guess... or too lazy). my father and i butt heads about everything. my mother and i have never had that strong mother/daughter bond that i see other women have with their mothers, that she had with hers. i've never felt like i was a good fit for them. they are so opposite me in my so many ways. i feel like i am more often than not a great disappointment to them.

twenty-three. the most important thing i'd tell my sixteen year-old self is to stand up.

twenty-four. five things that make me happy right now: i've had two really good days at work at pbk, numbers-wise; football; sleep; writing; def leppard (i've not listened to any other band in a week... it's kind of nice to remember how much i loved their music in my youth, that i still can appreciate it).

twenty-five. the hardest thing i've ever experienced is rejection. 

random quarter

May 8, 2012

one. i found this on facebook today. LOVE it. we should get rid of mirrors everywhere. okay. well, almost everywhere.

two. i don't understand why jermaine paul and tony lucca made it to the finals on the voice. seriously. bad. hurts my ears to hear them sing, jermaine more than tony.

three. god damn. i love this advertisement. whoever thought of this is a genius. if a got an email like this from a guy i'd dated, chances are really, really good i'd be giving that guy a helluva second look. i mean, there'd have to be some hellaciously good reasons to say no.

four. i am sick to death of people being nice to people when they don't care to be nice. it's bitchier, in my opinion, to put on that sugary sweet smile and use that incredibly false voice and lie to someone you call a friend when you don't truly value that person's friendship. hell, i'd rather you be the bitch you are. that's infinitely preferable to me than fake.

five. my goals as a writer: craft good dialogue; create likable characters; conceive of decent conflicts; be awesome at describing things (this is my greatest weakness).

six. the biggest lack in my life is faith.

seven. the greatest joys in my life are my niece and nephew.

eight. my largest time commitment is writing.

nine. i feel guilty whenever i am depressed.

ten. i worry that i will never be self-sufficient.

eleven. if my dreams come true, my family will be relieved as well as proud.

twelve. i sabotage myself, so people will not know me.

thirteen. if i let myself feel it, i'm angry that i sabotage myself so well and so often.

fourteen. one reason i get sad sometimes is because i sabotage myself so well and so often.

fifteen. most of the time my life feels as though i am only serving myself. i lean toward self-destruction.

sixteen. i don't trust myself too often. hardly at all, actually. i do it most often when i'm writing. sometimes i think the stories in me, the stories that have, for some reason, chosen me to tell them, are good and were right to choose me. sometimes, i see my stories as being as wounded and tragic and unwanted as i am. and it breaks my heart to think my babies--my characters, the only children i will ever know--will be rejected as harshly as i have been.

seventeen. philadelphia is my favorite tom hanks flick. the scene in the law library... love this movie. so much. directed by the same man who brought you the silence of the lambs. also, the song springsteen wrote for this film is awesome, the best he's ever done.

eighteen. i wish there weren't so many reality television shows. fashion star? really?

nineteen. and now i am watching the finale of the voice. kind of makes me feel a little hypocritical. BUT this is the only one i watch. i gotta say, though, i'm a little disappointed in it. i had thought that the best coaches were gonna be adam and blake. but i've been more surprised, more impressed with cee lo. he's a pretty cool dude. like the shirt he wore for the finale with all the names of all the individuals he'd selected for his team from the blind auditions. that's neat.

twenty. i CAN'T STAND justin bieber. seriously, girls? i CAN'T STAND christina aguilera. seriously, boys?

twenty-one. i wonder if the reason the music industry sucks so much right now is because so many schools have taken music education out of their curriculum.

twenty-two. i am SO tired of working at target. gah. GAH.

twenty-three. and i'm tired of chris rock.

twenty-four. okay. i'm just tired.

twenty-five. i am not a fan of html coding. at all. i had all kinds of nice eyecandy for yall, but every time i inserted something, it would jack with the spacing, and every time i would fix the spacing, it would jack the candy. and i got tired of messing with it, so you get boring text. sorry.

random quarter

April 1, 2012

one. the only film in which i've liked timothy olyphant is catch and release.

two. i love the music in seabiscuit. hell, i love seabiscuit. which is odd, because i don't like tobey maguire or chris cooper. and i'm not crazy about jeff bridges. he's good in this movie, though. i never get tired of watching this film. ever.

three. i rarely get tired of watching miracle. this film's got some of the best opening credits i've ever seen. and i love its music, too. it's perfect. i like that buzz schneider's character is portrayed by his son. i think that is SO cool. and jack o'callahan? he's a badass. LOVE him.

four. the great raid has one of the most powerful opening scenes i've ever seen. i am horrified by what man is capable of sometimes. but i'm immensely grateful that this film exists, because it also shows how amazingly resilient the human spirit can be, how brave, how beautiful. i am astounded by what man can accomplish when he's embraced those traits. a battalion of army rangers go up against ten thousand japanese to rescue five hundred american prisoners of war. it is the largest rescue effort in the united states military's history. one of the best stories i've known. i love joseph fiennes, marton csokas and benjamin bratt in this film. love them. plus it's got sam worthington and james franco in it. and there's a pretty good love story, too.

five. the film beautiful boy makes me weep. not the whole thing. well, i only caught the last half. but i'd managed to get through it without being too affected until the last scene. and i won't be able to watch stories on the news about an adolescent or young adult doing something heinous without imagining the hell his or her parents is enduring right then. not that the hell the victims' family is in isn't horrific. but i've only thought of theirs. and there're other people hurting. and their pain is so different.

six. i'm over kitkat ads. i thought they were kind of clever at first. but i'm tired of'm now.

seven. kind of like the pappadeaux's barstaff is probably over my camping out there. i had to wait nearly twenty minutes one sunday just to get a glass of iced tea, because there were other guests. like because i'm there so frequently means they don't have to be as good at serving me. that kind of pissed me off.

eight. i have a hard time motivating myself to get moving. a lot. like sometimes, i'd rather watch things like reruns of deal or no deal on the game show network or millionaire matchmaker on bravo than go to the gym or write. there are some crazy people on these shows.

nine. i'd concluded the gist of writing on the first novel in the trilogy for the gang on march second. i do have a few scenes to input here and there, and there is one chapter that will need some serious tweaking, but i reached my page-count goal and am close to my word-count goal. so i'm saying the writing is finished. on to the editing ...

photo snagged here.

ten. the only reason i'd want to go to new york city is to see central park at daybreak, before it gets lively.

eleven. i heard some woman in an advertisement for the bravo show shahs of sunset say something like the two things she hates are ants and ugly people. i don't like that i automatically assume she meant physically ugly. i forget to consider that there's a chance, when a person uses that word to describe someone else, that they are referring to physique and personality. but that word offends me more than any other word in the english language.

twelve. there's an advertisement for cotton that features zooey deschanel singing, the music reminds of camera obscura. and i love their music. not sure i love that ad, though.

thirteen. baseball bores me. i don't even much care for films that are centered around it. field of dreams? blah. bull durham? BLAH. major league? ridiculous. (i used to like that one. when i was a silly teenager. and then i got tastes.) there are exceptions, though. i love fever pitch. i LOVE for love the game (even though it's got kevin costner in it. i am so not a fan. kelly preston's character's pretty cool. and she's really good in it. and i like the music. and i like its opening credits (probably because of the music). plus, john c. reilly is in it. i love him. he is so cool here. but the biggest reason i love this movie is because of the story. here's a guy who's facing major changes in his career and his relationship with the woman he loves, and he's gotta pitch in a baseball game that means little to his team in their playoff efforts but a whole lot to the opponent in theirs. it's full of upheaval, and i like how it depicts costner's efforts, his thought processes as he works through it to make sense of it all.

fourteen. every time i see brian cox now, i think of his portrayal of william stryker in x2 or of ward abbott in the bourne supremacy. he creeps me out.

fifteen. i have had cinema on the brain for most of the past month. heck. i have cinema on the brain all the time. i suppose there are worse things about which i could obsess. like boys. i hate doing that.

sixteen. i don't like cracker jacks.

seventeen. i keep hearing people talk about how much better they feel after they've gone gluten free. and there is no way in hell i would be able to to this. for several reasons: breads, cakes, cereals, crackers, lunch meat, pasta, potato chips and soups. that it is basically my diet. if i were to go gluten free, i would starve to death. i quit smoking. i hardly ever eat ice cream. now you want sandwiches, soups and cereals? gimme a break.

eighteen. every time i focus on how i should better myself, i hear the eagles: these things that are pleasing you will hurt you somehow. bah. it's like everything i do is wrong.

nineteen. the past few times i've prayed, i would start to ask for something, and before i could finish the question, i'd stop. i don't know how to ask it the right way. i don't even know what to ask for. that the things i think i need are the right things. or that the asking even matters. the monk would not be pleased with me. my mema (his sister) wouldn't. my mommy wouldn't. i'm not. as i typed this, images of my niece and nephew came to mind, on nights they would stay with us, just before we put them to bed, they'd look at us, with tears brimming and their lower lips jutted out far in a sad pout cause they wanted their mommy. that is the face i made as i typed this. so childish, i know. but there it is.

twenty. i've never danced with a man.

twenty-one. my room is a wreck. again.

twenty-two. i am very tired of having to get up at three and four in the morning.

twenty-three. i tried to give up iced tea for lent. that didn't go so well, as i'd ended up drinking many, many more cokes in the past few weeks than i probably have in the past few months. so i apologized to the almighty and went back to tea.

twenty-four. most of the clothes i own are too small. some of these would be garments i purchased just a few months before. as unsettling as this is, as gross as i feel, i cannot find enough motivation to do much about it.

photo courtesy of l. tuthill

twenty-five. i miss our cabin. the wife of one of my cousins posted a photo of her sisters-in-law and she sitting on the sofa in their cabin with a comment that she loved being there, and my first reaction was to wonder if she was in the one that's always been theirs or the one that used to be ours that her family now owns. and i was jealous. and sad.

not even the trees. also called nine.

March 11, 2012

night terrors

half past midnight
his body fails him, falls, breaks
his spirit flees

miles away, my parents sleep

more miles, my pain begins
stomach cramps and surliness

a stranger finds him
fifty feet from the entrance
broken, face-down, dead on concrete

they sleep

the pain is fierce
i leave my friends for my apartment
the streets are slick with mist
i worry i won’t make it
it won’t rain, but it can’t be dry

another stranger, an officer
bound to protect and serve
wakes my parents

they lie in bed holding each other, crying together

i weed my musical garden
stop for a second to admire one of its blooms
a song of loss, of grief, of forced solitude
not even the trees

i step outside
smoke a cigarette
white smoke rises and fades into white sky
it won’t rain, but it can’t be dry
i sleep on the sofa

the phone

my father wakes me

my brother’s gone

the twenty-ninth question

February 24, 2012

this post is one of many for a project i began several years ago, the griffin inquisition. i asked my friends and family to pose questions to me, things they would like to know that would require an essay-type answer.

the most recent essay topic was offered by a fellow blogger.

honestly rank which of these is most important to you: family, love, money, having children, looking good -- cristina.

family. i doubt i would've lived half as long as i have if it weren't for them. in fact, i'm quite confident i would not have bothered to get past seventh grade. that was hell, and i'm amazed, even now, even when i've blocked so much of it--i can't remember most of that year, but i can remember, quite well, how i felt--i'm amazed that i got through it.

money. and, more importantly, the ability to be reasonable and responsible with it. because at the moment, i am relying on my family too much for too many things. i can't support myself, partly because of the jobs i hold and partly because i am lousy at managing my accounts.

looking good. i know. it sounds shallow. it is. but my face and i, we've never been on good terms. even as i'm typing this, i'm feeling the wrongness of it. the whole right side is feeling odd at the moment. in most moments, actually. and there's nothing, nothing at all that i can do about it.

love. i'm so over this stuff right now. last saturday, some guy bought me a drink and then paid for my lunch, which was really sweet. he was nice and passably attractive, and i think pretty intelligent. but my gut told me he liked to drink. too much. and he was sort of stocky, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes.

the men in my family and most of the boys i knew in school were long and lean (even my father was at some point, though you wouldn't know this to look at him), so this is what i'm used to, what i prefer. and one of the shuckers was giving me shit about my standards being too high.

so what? i've done that whole lowering-them-so-they-appear-to-be-more realistic thing. you know what happened? i felt guilty for not being true to myself. and for not being fair to the guys for whom i'd lowered the bar.

i've a preference for dark-haired, dark-eyed men who are noticeably taller than i and built more like swimmers and less like offensive linemen. and i'm rambling because some part of me feels like i have to justify this. i'm not sure why that is. maybe because i've heard too many times that i'm too picky. like i don't have a right to be. also? the boy at the bar? he'd prefer to be in places like montana and alaska, and that, for me, ain't ever gonna happen. i am not a cold-climate kind of gal.

and, most irritatingly, there's this small part of me that feels like i should've given the guy more credit. probably because i've been told so many times that i'm too picky.

anyway ... it's too much work, takes too much out of me, messes with my head WAY too much.

having children. yeah. that's a no. i'm not built for that.

the last two? i wish i could put them higher. i really do.

cristina is an aggie, living in arkansas, raising one little girl with her doctor husband and expecting a second baby girl soon! her blog, is there a doctor in the house?, is here.

random quarter: my kabuki

February 1, 2012

one. kabuki is my older brother's nickname. he got it in high school. i don't remember how.

two. he was born on october twelfth in the year nineteen sixty-eight, four and a half years before me.

three. he died on march twelfth in the year two thousand three.

four. he was older than me for thirty-four years. now i am older than he. forever.

five. in high school, on the nights he would go out with his friends, before he left, he would stand in front of the mirror in the foyer, marvel at his reflection, grin his cockeyed grin and exclaim, "i am a goddamned good-looking man." this habit of grand self-reflection continued on through college and adulthood. while at a&m, his corps unit commander found this habit incredibly amusing. as did i, even though i'd roll my eyes and bitch about his stupidity.

six. the reason two of my friends became involved with each other is because my brother had dared the boy to go over to the girl and smack her on the ass. the boy, who is actually quite shy when it comes to stuff like this, was just drunk enough that he could do it. and when the girl turned, her hand raised to slap his face, she stopped short because it'd registered that he was pretty cute and she'd better not slap him. and they dated for what seemed like a decade. and then they got married. and now they have two of the cutest kids i've ever seen. not the cutest, of course. those would be my other brother's children. but close enough.

seven. i used to hate when he would come and stay at the house when my parents were out of town, because all he did while there was get drunk and trash the place, and i'd be the one doing the cleaning up. it never occurred to me that he was there because he was trying to be the good big brother, knowing his baby sister didn't like being home alone. i'd always thought he'd just wanted a house of his own rather than an apartment and that he wanted to take advantage of my folks and their place while they were away. i'm well aware it could still be the latter there. but i like thinking that he was trying to do the right thing.

eight. the reason i can't be sure if it's that right thing bit is because he had this incredibly uncanny knack for showing up within an hour after their departure and vacating the premises within an hour of their arrival.

nine. he could befriend anyone in a matter of seconds. literally. anyone. he could be standing in line at mcdonald's talking to the guy in line behind him, and they'd be acting like they'd known each other for years by the time they'd placed their orders.

ten. he used to wish i was more like his friend's younger sister and less like me.

eleven. the best memory i have of him isn't a good one at all, really. he'd been in houston, on a binge. my mother'd become quite certain that he wouldn't be home for christmas. my father was in his office, working. my mother was in the kitchen, getting breakfast ready. i was taking turns keeping them company. and my brother shows up on the doorstep at around eight a.m. i'd never seen him look so fragile, as though it hurt him to breathe. and all the years of my being angry with him, all the hatred i'd felt for him got shoved out of the way, because all i could think was my bubby's hurt. it didn't matter that he'd done it to himself. he hurt. he looked broken. and for the first time in a very long time, i'd wanted to make it better.

twelve. the worst? the night he passed out in the upstairs bathroom my brothers and i shared, in the bathtub with the water still running. he'd flooded the house. i yelled at him. he laughed at me. it was like looking at the devil.

thirteen. he was almost always the last person to get the christmas shopping done. when we'd spend christmas in colorado, on christmas eve, he'd come back to the cabin from skiing at two or three that afternoon to shower and change, then he'd go back to aspen to shop. we were never allowed to go with him. he would always, always have the best presents for us.

fourteen. he had the best laugh. it's hard for me to recall it now in perfect clarity, but it was like his whole body, every feature on his face laughed with him.

fifteen. he also had a very short supply of patience. he could not tolerate stupidity in others.

sixteen. he was bigoted. sometimes i had a bit of trouble stomaching how opinionated he could be.

seventeen. he gave me a bottle of ralph lauren's romance for women for christmas. i can't remember if it was the winter before he died or the year before that. once in a while, i'll think i should change that fragrance, and i do. but i always come back to it.

eighteen. he hated how crass i can be. i embarrassed him often because my mouth is so vulgar.

nineteen. he helped my mother wash my mouth out one day. she'd threatened to do it when she got off the phone. he didn't see a point in waiting, so he dragged me over to the sink, yanked my head back and downed what seemed to be half a bottled of dawn in my mouth. i could not stop foaming. so gross. and it didn't do a damned bit of good. obviously.

twenty. he was the easiest person to shop for.

twenty-one. he had AMAZINGLY BAD tastes in music. some of it so pathetic that no record station around in a thousand mile radius would take it back. so i'm stuck with bon jovi, two live crew, eazy-e, taylor dane and whitesnake.

twenty-two. he could not sing. could not carry a note. the man was tone deaf. oh, but he'd try. and he knew he sucked, so he'd just grin at you, come stand right next to you and serenade you right there. and if it was me who was receiving the serenade, there were a lot of kidney shots being snuck in there. my shots. his kidneys.

twenty-three. he was spoiled and lazy and stuck on things having to be just so.

twenty-four. he'd owned a motorycle for all of three days. my parents found out and made him sell it immediately.

twenty-five. in one of those blissful moments where mama's three children aren't tearing into each other, we decided we were going to create a castle made of cups, one that spanned the breadth of the den and reached to the height of its ceiling. kabuki was in college. i was in high school. my other brother was in an intermediate grade. we gathered around in my mother's living room, full of so many things from her mother's. so many things we needed to be mindful of. so many cups. that's what we were mindful of. how many would it take to get to the top and how wide could we get it.and then when we'd finished, the best part, the thing that made it all worthwhile, flicking on the fan and watching the blades send the cups flying.

and there. there's my brother. marvelous, seemingly formiddable. engaging and inspiring and eager to fly.

this (rq post) was a (two-timing) matlock project. learn about that here.

all i ever learned from love

January 23, 2012

  but all i ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
(leonard cohen, as sung by jeff buckley in hallelujiah).

(nobody sings that song better, by the way. nobody.)

imagination only gets you so far. you ride the rest of the way on the tide of experience.

below is the best example of my experience. this is what love has taught me.

the structure outside in the park reminds me of a whirlpool, of you, of drowning, of lying on your sofa with your arms around me, your legs entwined with mine, your words beating on, then breaking my happy, idyllic bubble, sinking me, my
tears leaking onto your shirt, mopped up with your tissue. a boy whizzes past on his skateboard. the wheels over the concrete sound like water down the drain. there i go. there we go. but everything goes on around me, just as it had
seconds before, reminding me that this was years ago and not yesterday, that i have resurfaced. memories of you pull me
back under, but not as deeply as before, and not nearly as long
there’s laughter, squeals, joy in almost everything. a
girl hangs upside down and
grins. i watch
from inside

this is what my childhood taught me.

that one was taught at a catholic school by a sour-faced, plain and unremarkable woman. the only concrete memory i have of her is that she wore the black and white headpiece of a nun's habit atop her straight, chin-length, dry, dirty blonde hair.

my mother says this teacher placed me in a cardboard box.

i've no memory of this. i can, however, recall feeling segregated.

i can also recall the day we'd made valentines for our classmates. first we decorated those plain brown paper lunch bags and placed them on our desks. these were for the valentines we received.

and then we made valentines (or filled in the to/from on our storebought ones) for our classmates.

i remember that my peers' bags were stuffed with cards.

i remember that mine was not. in fact, mine was practically (if not) empty.

thirty years have passed since this.

and i feel as unlovable now as i did then.

i suppose that's my fault.

i'm not afraid to say it. i'm a firm believer in that if you have a thought, you speak it. because holding on to it, letting it fly around such limited space in such protected air, that's not being true to the thought. speak it and be done with it. no matter how heinous and hurtful the thought could be.

i've been called sir more than i've been called ma'am. most people who have committed this infraction (and it is an infranction ... not only are you not seen as a woman, but after closer inspection, you're found to be an ugly woman. and all this does is separate the parties. i've been looked upon as though i am lesser because of my face.

i've learned enough,  gone to enough bars and such that i can see who's interested in whom and who's interested in him or herself.

take this date, for example, that a friend of mine witnessed at some taqueria (that it's at a taqueria should tell you alot about the thing from the get-go).

and the lady--who is the avatar of geek hot, speaks arabic and spanish, and has a great sense of humor--is clearly more interested than the dude. she keeps flirting and asking engaging questions...

...and he keeps playing with his phone and talking about his house, and past vacations with other girls. and he hasn't asked her. one. single. question.

a barkeep asked me why i didn't flirt with a guy a little. ask him out. i said, i'm tired of having to do the asking. it's his turn.

i've made these four couples, and they will find success. i've made them pretty. i've made them with at least one redeeming quality apiece.

the basic bones of the story are there.

i know crushed and anxious and overwhelmed. i don't need helping writing those things. i've got'm down. really, really well.

so this is what i suggest.

i need to know joy. that time when you like every single thing about that person because neither of you have opened the dungeons yet.

i don't remember that point in things from my experiences. not well enough to write them.

if you bother to read this maligned post (most of which was written as the ambien kicked in--i've been pretty sick and haven't been sleeping well), and feel compelled to contribute to the creative process at all (PLEASE) ...

leave a comment telling me about a cool thing that you and your guy/gal did. a nice conversation. good quality time. that sort of thing.

a long, long while ago, i asked for bad date stories. now i want the good ones.

so go ahead. brag a little. thanks.