"Things that interfere with writing well: Earning a living, especially by teaching."

-William H. Gass

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

A few years ago I had to sit through the funeral of a kid my age. This guy was kind of an asshole, in the way that most high school boys are assholes. He was on the wrestling team, very cute, obnoxious, got away with terrible breath. I was two grades behind him, and had trouble breathing normally when, after the break up of some awful cops-chasing-us-through-the-woods kind of party, his hands came at me in the dark northerly portions of a friend's barn. He was most assuredly cheating on some pretty girl or another. And there's nothing particularly fabulous about the coming of age shit that happens in the northerly parts of barns amidst handled bottles of brown liquor and red plastic cups. However, on every Memorial Day, I think of him. I'm really not sure how this 26 year old kid falling from a blown up helicopter thousands of miles from home helps America. So, this is me, remembering our fallen, in my journal that is NOT on the internet, which I feel like putting up here now:

The church is so white your eyes hurt. At noon the sun is right above it, and the steeple is constructed so that the shadow cast is a long cross, falling over everyone who passes under it. It is late fall; the trees are mostly dead. The leaves on the ground are mustard and the now only occasional brilliant red maple leaf. I’m wearing borrowed shoes, with toilet paper stuffed up into the toe. My heel keeps slipping and I’m holding onto a boyfriend’s hand. We join the line three yards from the church, watching the cross spread out over the mourners. The governor is there, shaking hands solemnly. I pass under the shadow, and refuse his hand, as he gracefully rolls away to another hand. He says anyway, “I’m sorry.”

Travis’s casket passes through the aisle, preceded and followed by incense and prayer. The hymn books are straight in their pockets on the pew backs. The wood is making me sit too straight. I don’t look at anyone. My feet are hurting and I can see the back of Travis’s mother’s head. Her lines are soft and slouched. The governor sits with the family.

The family speaks. The clergy speak. The governor talks about honor and country and freedom and love of one’s family and nation and fellow men. I roll spit around in my mouth. The boyfriend squeezes my hand. I say, “Bastard” and start to cry in the quiet way you cry at funerals.

At the close of the whole thing they play Bob Dylan. We all walk out behind him, his mother holding the folded flag in her fingers like a dirty sock. The squeal of the harmonica bounces around the rafters. And I can see Travis in his flannel shirt and ripped jeans with a guitar across a campfire. His face blurry and warm through the heat. It smells like the woods, like pine and thick, dark, meaty soil.

Monday, May 19, 2008

eating wasabi peas in rapid succession

Depending on your goals, this could be either a good or bad thing. Since I had no blocked nasal passages to clear, it's not really helping me out much.

I am what the kids call "freaking out." Not the immediate kind of "holy shit I just got hit by a bus" freaking out. Rather this is a slow, painful build up to freaking out crescendo.

You see, for many years I longed to live alone. For anyone who has endured years of roommatedom, as I have, the reasons for this are clear. There are the roommates who eat your food. The roommates who constantly remark that your living habits belie an upbringing "in a barn." The roommates who actually WERE raised in a barn. The sex party throwers. The suicide attempters. The non payers back of loaned cable bill money when you never watch the goddamned ass box in the first place. The fuckers of your ex boyfriends. I've shared mail slots with them all.

Thus, when both of my roommates left last week, and my house was to be my own for nearly two months, I believed myself embarked upon a journey of peace and joy!

As Howard Dean would say: "That turned out not to be true."

Due to overwhelming popularity, this is actually the first day I've had zero social engagements and zero people waiting for me at the house when I arrived home from work. Thus, today was the first day in the life of a person who lives alone.

Already, I blog.

I walked in the door, put down my stuff, and kind of just stood there. There was no Nayad running down the stairs at high speeds, telling me why it would be so great if we all had cocks, just for one day. Or Gina, offering me a nice big slice of salami without looking up from her computer. There was no food cooking and no crisis to deal with. I could do whatever I wanted, as loudly as I deemed necessary. I could make a mess. I could play with myself on the kitchen counter. I could...

Actually, hang on a sec...


Or I could eat whatever was in the fridge without worrying who it belonged to. I only had two responsibilities: clean the bathroom upstairs and put out the recycling.

When you have eight hours to complete two tasks that will take about 45 minutes, something terrible happens. They become impossible. I have often wondered why I keep my life so busy, but I think it is because that if I had too much free time I would never get anything done.

Itinerary: Day One Without Roommates

5pm: stare at the entry way
5:15 pm: enter the house
5:23 pm: walk upstairs
5:27 pm: put stuff down
5:28 pm: sit down
5:28 pm: look out the window, breathing
5:39 pm: check email
5:40 pm: check email
5:47 pm: turn on public radio
...proceed to spend two hours getting overinformed...
7:47 pm: realize you are starving
7:48 pm: frantically run around the kitchen assembling a dinner that could feed four
8:15 pm: wrap up leftovers
8:25 pm: think about putting out that recycling, and the upstairs bathroom
8:32 pm: check email
8:33 pm: listen to the counting crows for an hour
9:33 pm: think about the recycling, mentally table the bathroom issue for another day
9:41 pm: feel guilty about neglecting your blog
9:42 pm: procrastinate blogging by putting out the recycling
9:53 pm: put on pajamas
10:00 pm: blog with a sad face, eating wasabi peas in rapid succession

Sigh. I miss my little overeating, dirty talking, mess making, food stealing, loud screwing, leg humping, shoe borrowing, endless trips to the grocery store buddies. Ohhh the sorrow.