Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cosmic Joke

I was probably 9 the first time I ever saw a picture of myself and thought, "wow, that is unflattering."
I guess I'm lucky it happened so early on, dulling the painful surprises that awaited me in subsequent years' candid pictures.
My mom was really into making photo albums when I was young.
There was one time that I looked through our family's vacation photos and felt mortified by the reality of what I looked like. I resolved then that before my mom could arrange our most recent family vacation photos into an album, that I would remove the pictures of me that I didn't like and throw them in the trash.
My mom also had a propensity for going through my trash. When I got bad grades, I would throw away those graded papers only to find them, miraculously un-crumpled and hung on our refrigerator. Mind you, she never hung up all my good grades, this was specifically done for the purpose of humiliating me. Worth noting, she also "lost" my law degree for a year; only for me to find it in a garbage bag in the back of my brother's closet one day while looking for vintage basketball hoodies.
I point this out (aside from the desire of revealing the horror of my childhood) to say that I shouldn't have been surprised when my mom came into my room later that afternoon, brandishing the pictures I'd thrown away and shouting, nay sobbing--my mom had a flare for drama--about how "these are our memories! Our goddamn memories, Lauren! & you just throw them away like trash! You are the MOST UNGRATEFUL CHILD!" It was true; children in Africa never got to experience the nagging anxiety that comes from sitting in the back of a toyota van for 2 days while your parents screamed at each other all the way to a dude ranch in Oklahoma. Or the soul crushing realization that you would have to endure a similarly hellish 2 day ride home.

I'd like to jump ahead in the story and talk about how my brother inherited our family couches when he went away for college. And when we moved in together several years later, they became our couches. And when he moved away for work in a different city a couple of years after that, they were my couches for another year until I graduated from law school and sold them to a friend of a friend.

Imagine my surprise then, when one morning I woke up to a group thread and noticed that my friends were all commenting on embarrassing pictures of me from a family vacation to Puerto Rico.

If you haven't pieced it together, it went something like this:

My eleven-year-old self never quite recovered from the episode where I had been caught throwing pictures in the trash. Having found several of the recent vacation pictures of me to be unsympathetic and unfavorable and harsh, I decided not to repeat my earlier folly. But what then of the pictures?
I couldn't just let them exist in the same world that I did.
& in my childhood home, there was no privacy. Nothing was sacred from the all-seeing mother.

& so I decided to hide the pictures.
I pulled a couch cushion from its place,
unzipped the leather upholstery,
shoved the pictures inside,
zipped the upholstery closed,
and put the cushion back in its rightful spot.

And then forgot.

But the universe does not forget such transgressions.

And so it was that I acquired this same couch 15 years later and needed to be free from them as I moved to a new home in a new city.
I sold them to a friend of a friend and was happy to be rid of them.

How could I have known then that this mutual acquaintance twice removed would find these pictures, a year later, while re-upholstering that same couch?

What do I want?

You know what is for my good.
If I recite my wants, 
it is not to remind You of them,
but so that I may better understand how great is my dependence on You.
If, then, I ask You for the things that may not be for my well-being,
it is because I am ignorant;
Your choice is better than mine and I submit myself to Your unalterable decree and
Your supreme direction.

--Bahya Ibn Pakuda

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Eggs

"After that it got pretty late, and we both had to go, but it was great seeing Annie again.I realized what a terrific person she was,and how much fun it was just knowing her; and I thought of that old joke, y'know this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken.' And the doctor says, 'Well, why don't you turn him in?' The guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, I guess we keep goin' through it because most of us need the eggs."

--Annie Hall

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Like a sonnet, like a pop song, like Paris in the 20's

I used to feel so pummeled and broken by the people I was in love with that sometimes even just breathing at the end of the day felt sensationally painful.
On nights like those it was hard, if not nearly impossible, to sleep.
I'd get into bed. Turn off all the lights. Clench my eyes shut. And beg sleep to come.

And sleep would always take its sweet ass time showing up.

You can feel so shitty that you'll do anything, even lie to yourself just for a brief reprieve.
The lie I told myself was, he's out there. He's out there and this will all make sense. He's out there and none of this will matter. He is out there and that's why this relationship with this person is shit.

And instead of counting sheep, trait by trait, I'd dream of him.

He'll have a big heart; he'll be so fucking kind it'll blow me away to see the way he talks to strangers, the way he plays with my dog, the way he loves his mom. 

He'll make me laugh and I'll make him laugh. Even sometimes with just a look. Even sometimes when one of us has said something that actually isn't that funny, only it will still somehow be funny. 

Being with him will make even the most mundane, every day tasks seem like phenomenal fun, and he'll feel the same way about being with me. We'll turn that romantic trope about being best friends with the person you love into a reality. 

He'll believe, like I do, that God is everywhere, in everyone. That the most important thing is to respect the other lives we come across and when you can, to be kind. He'd also believe, like I do, that you can almost always be kind.

He'll sincerely be interested in me; not because he thinks I'm some sort of character archetype (see: clumsy, neurotic, sex kitten, resident weirdo girl made infamous by Woody Allen). He'll be interested in knowing things about me like the first time I saw snow, the best day I ever had with my mom; the first time I ever won an award. & like the stories I'll tell him, the stories he'll tell me will become part of my own fabric. When I think of him, I'll imagine him putting a handful of snow into his mouth as a boy, learning to ride a bike with his mom, getting his first game ball in little league. 

And there were a million tiny, inconsequential things, I imagined about him; 
that he'd help me put away the dishes after dinner,
that he'd get along with my brother, smoke cigars with my dad, find common ground with my mom,
that he'd have a sense of style,
that his smile would make me want to be a better person.

But most importantly, I imagined that I'd know him, apart from anyone else I'd loved or known, because I knew:
I won't be afraid of him. I won't be afraid to be my full self with him. I won't be afraid of showing him my dark corners. I will know that his feelings won't change just because I become vulnerable to him. I'll be able to trust him with anything and know that he won't judge my journey. He'll trust me with his dark, with his full self, with his vulnerability and he'll know that those things only bring me closer to him. 

And I didn't know what he would look like, but I'd imagine myself nuzzling up beside him in the movie theater or on a long walk. I'd see us laughing together in restaurants, reading to each other in book stores, I'd imagine the way his skin would feel against mine as we fell asleep together.

Every night that I imagined him, I would tell myself to hope for it but not expect it. I would tell myself he was real; the relationship I was dreaming of was just that, a dream.

& then my best friend got married. & the boy I was paired to walk with in her wedding was charming, and smart, and funny. & he spontaneously bought a ticket to meet my family in Puerto Rico. & we stayed up all night just talking and marveling at how much we had in common, marveling at the things neither of us thought we would find in another person but were there, somehow, in each of us. & a couple of days later, there he was--having cigars with my dad, dancing with my newly minted step mom, taking pictures with my brother. & everyday he would make me laugh and ask me profound questions about my life, and hold me close to him as we fell asleep. Being with him was like being with someone who already knew everything about me; it was so comfortable, easy, familiar. We were already best friends.
And in the middle of it all, I remembered all those nights that I tossed and turned, all those nights that I imagined what he'd be like, and I realized that even though I wasn't praying, I was being heard.

Because of him, I know that God is listening, even when we don't pray.

Friday, August 29, 2014

An Epiphany

That old adage, "love is pain," is one I've readily subscribed to.
I can't say that subscription is unfounded; to love someone is to hand over to that person a box of your deepest insecurities and failures, a playbook of all of your vulnerabilities.

Today, I had an epiphany,
I came to Jesus,
I was (metaphorically) struck by lightning.

I hope you're ready because I'm going to fuck you up with some truth.

I realized recently that where loving someone will assuredly entail some pain, neither your ability to be hurt by someone, nor the extent of agony you endure on that person's behalf, signify the depth of your feelings for them.

Maybe other people don't struggle with this distinction the way that I have. I have, consistently over the course of my romantic history, believed that if someone caused me heartache, they were also the remedy. I thought this was love. And I would walk around wounded, writhing in pain from his indifference, the horrible way he would tear me down and make me feel like shit, the unrequited love he so readily bequeathed upon another.

And maybe I liked it.
Maybe I was so hungry to feel something that even pain would suffice.

But now, at least, I know those times weren't love.
I don't know when it hit me, all I know is it had something to do with meeting him.




Nonchalant in front of an audience

"Do you think things are moving really fast between you two?"

Whenever someone says it, I wonder if we've gone off the deep end without realizing it.

& I tell the truth, "It all feels really organic. We aren't deliberately rushing things."

But I never tell anyone how when I met him, it was like my favorite book of poetry, Cien Sonetos de Amor, came to life. All of these words, of these things I'd hoped to someday feel suddenly gained a personal meaning.

Instead I say, "yeah, he's cool. We're doing great."

I never talk about how we spend all day talking--texting from the moment we wake up until we can be on the phone. Being on the phone until we fall asleep.
I tried once. But the person I was talking to incredulously said, "What do you guys even talk about for that long?"

And I guess that would have been a great opportunity to tell someone, finally, about how we share the same beliefs on God; how we talk for hours about books we've read, movies we've seen; how sometimes we just dream together about the places we'll go, the things we'll do together. It would have been the perfect time to say that he's become my best friend.

But I didn't.

I never tell anyone about my mental catalogue of his beauty marks; or the face he makes just before he tells a joke. I never tell anyone about the way something inside me dances when he smiles at me;
when he kisses the back of my hand;
when I wake up to the sight of him sleeping beside me.

"We are happy," I say.

But it's only a half truth because what we have and what he brings into my life is so much more than happiness.

Someday, I'll be brave enough to be honest.

Friday, July 25, 2014

two insomnias

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you are not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

--Rumi

Cosmic love

"The stars, the moon; they have all been blown out.
You left me in the dark.
No dawn, no day; I'm always in this twilight
in the shadow of your heart."

x Florence & the Machine


-------------

She said, "A month ago, my favorite songs were mostly about the things people lose or miss out on. I don't even have the heart for them anymore. You've touched every part of my life and made it better."

& he said, "A month ago, I didn't know you and today I would rearrange the stars if you didn't like how they sat in the sky." 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I'd rather be left for dead.

"And if there's one thing in this world I've ever known for sure, it's that this girl is gonna crush me like a bug; leave me so fucking broken there'll be body bags beneath my eyes from nights I cried so hard the stars died. But I'm like, go ahead. I'm all yours. I would kiss you in the middle of the ocean during a lightning storm 'cause I'd rather be left for dead than left to wonder what thunder sounds like."

x Andrea Gibson

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sometimes, it just works out

"This isn't happening. Is this happening? This isn't happening."
I was in Puerto Rico and it was the day of my dad's wedding. I'd slipped into my bridesmaid's dress with just enough time to pick up my date at the airport and get to the other end of town for the ceremony. Bending over to put lotion on my legs I heard a small zipping sound. I raised back up and looked around the room, not sure where the sound came from. No sooner had I bent back over than I realized; the sound was my dress coming unzipped.
"B?" I called out for my brother's girlfriend.
She came into the room. I had my back to her, "What's going on with my dress? Am I unzipped?"
"Umm, sort of." She guided me to a mirror and I looked over my shoulder at my back's reflection.
"You can't be fucking serious."
The zipper was still in place at the top of the dress's back, but somehow I was unzipped.
"Can you fix it?" I asked, started to sweat with panic.
B tried and tried to pull the zipper down, to no avail.
"The zipper's missing teeth. Can you wiggle out of it?"
I tried jumping. I tried covering my chest and back in lotion in the hopes of sliding the dress off.
Nothing. Nope. Not going to happen.
I glanced at my phone; it was 3. Matt's flight should be landing.
"Fuck. This isn't happening. What do I do? Should I safety pin it?"
"You can't safety pin that," B said. "We need to pick up your date."
I threw on a jacket and grabbed a pair of jeans. She and I were on our way to the airport when I saw a dry cleaner/tailor. "I should go in there."
"We can't leave your date at the airport."
"I know. But I also can't show up at my dad's wedding like this. Let me off."
"I don't know how to get to the airport. & I don't have your date's number."
Directions to the airport were already pulled up on my phone, I tossed it in her lap, "Keep it! Come back for me once you've picked Matt up!" We were still in the middle of the street when I jumped out of the car and ran inside the dry cleaner.
The man behind the counter barely looked at me when I came inside. "What can I help you with?"
"I'm having an emergency. I need a dress repaired."
"My tailor has left for the day. Come back tomorrow."
"I can't come back. I have to have the dress fixed today, now." I heard myself and how rude I was being. "I'm sorry, I'm desperate," I told him. My eyes started to fill with tears and I felt hopeless. My dad is going to kill me.
The man was finally looking at me, "You're breaking my heart. Why are you crying?"
"I'm ruining my dad's wedding. I have to be there soon and my dress is ruined."
The man held up a finger to me to quiet my crying. He picked up his phone, "King? Are you busy? There's a girl in my shop who needs her dress fixed and it's an emergency. Can you come look at it? Great." He put his phone down and said to me, "I just called a good friend of mine. He lives nearby. He'll be here soon."
"Oh my God. Really? Thank you so much." I was literally kissing the shop owner's hands.
"No more crying. It's going to be okay."
The shop owner was named Wilfredo and he tried to keep my mind preoccupied by asking me questions about Texas and my home life until his friend arrived. When the tailor, King, came by, he drove me to his shop, just 5 minutes away. Inside his shop, I took off my jacket and showed him the back of my dress. He looked at it thoughtfully, tugged at the zipper gently and just once. And then, with no warning, he ripped the back of the dress apart. "Ya," he said, shrugging. Enough.
I changed into my jeans and put my jacket back on. I brought him the dress and he was already set up with a new zipper and thread in his sewing machine.
When I say it took King less than 10 minutes to change out the zipper of my dress and sew back the rips, I'm probably tacking on unnecessary time. It happened so quickly, I couldn't believe it. He handed my my dress and I slipped it on over my jeans and under my jacket. I pulled the jeans off and took off the jacket. King zipped me up; it fit like a charm. And then King was driving me back to the shop. It was 3:20 and I was still within the frame of time to make it to my dad's wedding venue on time.
While all of this was happening, a million things tiny complications ran through my mind:
though I'd left B with my cellphone, I hadn't given her the password. She had no way of getting Matt's number from my phonebook and she'd never seen him before. I'd once shown her a picture but that was it. I'd also not told Matt to be on the lookout for someone else to pick him up, it had all happened so quickly. And there was my dad--I'd called him in a panic and told him what had happened, but I hadn't since told him what was happening or that the whole thing was miraculously resolved. On top of everything, I had no way of telling B, had she gone to the original shop looking for me while I was with King, where I was or how to find me. All these things were racing through my mind when King's phone rang. He answered and had a rather efficient conversation with the person on the other end where all he said was, "Yes," before hanging up.
"That was Wilfredo," he told me, "He said your friend is waiting for you back at the cleaner."
When I got to the cleaner, I told B I needed to pay and she went back to the car to wait for me. I was pulling out my wallet, asking what I owed them and both King and Wilfredo waived their hands dismissively.
"No, I have to pay you, please," I was brandishing my debit card.
"Our payment is that you make it to your father's wedding and that you look beautiful," Wilfredo said.
I started to get teary eyed and Wilfredo hugged me, "Don't cry. It breaks my heart to see you like that. Go have fun! It's a wedding!" I gave him a kiss on the cheek.
I moved toward King, tears still in my eyes and repeating thank you, thank you over and over with each breath. King took me in for a hug and looked into my eyes. A tear was streaming down my cheeks and he wiped it away with the pad of his thumb. "Ya," he said. Enough. I gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Climbing into the car with B, she told me how easily she'd found Matt at the airport, that she'd dropped him off at the hotel before coming to pick me up.
We picked my brother and Matt up at the hotel, we caught a cab to my dad's wedding venue. As we paid the cab driver and stepped out of the cab, I realized something, "I forgot to tell you something: thank you," I said to Matt.
"For what?"
"For coming here. For being willing to meet my family literally three days after we met and for taking this big risk on me. For doing all of this even though our friends and families are calling into question our sanity because this is all borderline crazy, right? But thank you. I'm glad you're here. And also, thanks for not being mad at me for not being there to pick you up."
We were holding hands walking toward the venue and he kissed the back of my hand. "No problem. And honestly, I think it's better that you didn't pick me up. I got to meet your brother and B without the awkward formal introduction. It was good."
We parted ways as he and B went to find their seats and my brother and I went to find the rest of the bridal party. I saw my dad and he grabbed me and turned me around to look at the back of my dress.
"What happened? I've been calling you."
"I know, I'm sorry. B kept my phone. But it's fixed. I'll tell you about it later."
The wedding happened at sunset in Old San Juan. There was a violinist and a sea salt breeze in the air. As I took my place at the front of the ceremony space, Matt and I caught each other's glance.
You look beautiful he mouthed to me from his seat.
And it wasn't just the heat, or the Puerto Rican humidity, or the sweat beads forming on the small of my back that were beginning to trickle under the heaviness of my bridesmaid's dress, but I was actually melting.
Well, not actually, but you know.

Eight days later, it was my final night in Puerto Rico and I sat on my grandmother's patio, crying. I could go on and on about what Puerto Rico means to me. The island is my story and the story of my family. The island is my abuela singing in her kitchen; it's my titi combing my hair back for me on a hot day. The island is the stairs in Gurabo, that seemingly endless zigzag of stairs, that my dad climbed everyday on his way home from school as a boy. It's the lull of coquis chirping in the evenings, the last thing you hear as you give in to sleep. It's the heartbreaking beauty of the tropical hillside and bursts of red flamboyan trees. And above all, Puerto Rico is a community of people, like Wilfredo and King, who will go out of their way for you because you call the same place your home.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Change in the tide



"Because of you, I again seek out 
the signs that precipitate desires:
shooting stars,
falling objects."

--From Love by Pablo Neruda

And then, something crazy happened.

With my head resting on his chest, we laid together on a rocky beach.
Black waves rolled and crashed just feet away from me.
I was facing the sky; another endless sea where charcoal clouds dragged themselves across the stars.
In that moment, the oft spoken adage came to me; you find it when you least expect it.

Having endured literally a dozen fruitless first dates in the weeks preceding the day I met him, I had resigned myself to the idea of fun-for-now.

So, when I saw him at the rehearsal dinner for my best friend's wedding, I ignored the way something inside me fluttered when I looked at him.
Yeah. Whatever. Fine. He's hot. Enough.
As luck would have it, he and I were paired to walk together in the wedding.
After the rehearsal dinner, the wedding party met for drinks. Though he and I spent the better part of the evening talking to each other, I still thought little of it. At the end of the night, I excused myself for a cigarette outside.
"I'll come with you," he said.
He borrowed a cigarette from me and we kept talking. The groom came outside to take a phone call and seeing him said, "Matt, you don't even smoke." That small gesture was the first indication to me that anything was happening here.
The wedding happened. It was beautiful.
I spent the whole night with groomsman number 3 (as my brother's girlfriend called him later), dancing and stealing soft kisses when no one was watching.
And at the wedding after party, I wondered how long before, or if, I'd ever see him again.
"I'm leaving the country for ten days. My dad's getting married on Tuesday," I said.
It was a Saturday night in the small military town where I grew up. The wedding party and old friends of the newly weds were celebrating in a country western bar. Groomsman number 3 and I were sitting on stools and I was practically yelling into his ear over the noisiness and chaos around us.
"I could go on vacation," he said.
"Stop it."
"I could. I've never been to Puerto Rico. And what's more, I've got a feeling about you and I need to get to know you."
"You're joking."
"I'm not."
And I playfully called his bluff right up until the moment that he booked tickets to meet me in Puerto Rico three days later.
"It's done. I can't take it back now," he said, showing me his email confirmation from the airline.
"Hold on," I stepped away from the barstools we were sitting on and walked over to the bride and groom. I pulled them, literally and by their arms, away from the conversations they were having.
"Is he crazy? I need to know right now. Is something wrong with him?"
"Matt? No. Why?"
I walked back to my barstool and he casually handed me a drink he'd ordered while I was away.
"This isn't real."
"Tell that to my fucking bank account," he leaned over and kissed my forehead.

And even though that night, I stayed up talking to him in his hotel lobby until 6 am;
even though he called me everyday and we talked for hours each time;
even though every moment it seemed we discovered more that we had in common and
even though we were getting along so great, I didn't believe he'd actually show up Puerto Rico.
I kept waiting for the moment he'd tell me something had come up and he couldn't make it. The moment he'd realize this was all crazy
and ill advised
and plain stupid.

But that moment never came.
And there I was, laying on a beach at midnight,
suddenly in the middle of something special
with no idea how it all came to be.
Enamored. In awe.

The boy who smelled like a synagogue

He was all wrong for me
in every conceivable sense.

But he smelled like a synagogue and being beside him reminded me of
the rabbi's chanting and the way he'd pound the palm of his hand against the podium in rhythm;
cedar pews that were still oily to the touch from cleaning products;
rosh hashanah sermons that brought me to tears,
God may be a liar, but he's all we've got. 

And so I endured his company--
his insufferable attitude,
his misogyny,
his false bravado--
because the way he smelled reminded me of a place I belonged to.

A Marilyn

& to think, all of that melodrama of online dating happened because of something you wrote about her.

You called her the epitome of elegance.
You never said anything like that about me.
I remember
sexy
and sometimes
sohni
but mostly I remember the night you told me I was trouble.
It was a loaded moment; the moment I realized I would never be the right girl.

Foolishly, I clung to the past: John had Marilyn, even if Jackie was the first lady.

This isn't the prom.

"What kind of music do I like?
"Let me tell you something: I never imagined myself doing anything like this. I guess I always thought I'd be in a bookshop and a stranger with devastating brown eyes would bump into me in the poetry aisle. Something like that, you know?
"But this; I never thought I'd be here. Honestly, I've been on six first dates this week and if one more person asks me what kind of music I like, I swear I'm going to lose my shit. It's so disingenuous. In all the time I've been alive, nothing good has ever come of someone asking me that question. No one's ever ended a date early because I named a band they hate; and no one's ever invited me on a second date to a concert for a band we both like. It's such a bullshit question.
"And then what? At the end of the night we walk back to our cars together and we'll hug goodbye and one of us will lean in for a kiss and our teeth will knock together and we'll feel too embarrassed to try again. Or maybe it'll be a perfectly pleasant kiss and you'll convince me to 'go for a ride' with you, but really we'll end up in a poorly lit parking lot and you'll ask me for a blow job. Like I didn't just meet you; like it wasn't a rude suggestion. And I'll seem surprised and you'll tell me not to be offended because you just had to check since my face is 'so pretty you wanted to put your dick in it.' And somehow, still, I'll feel bad for putting myself in this situation because I should know better. Because I'm 27 and by now know that there's no such thing as a free ride. And even though this isn't the prom, somehow I'll still end up giving you a reluctant handy. And you'll ask me to spit on my hand but I won't because I'm trying to retain a shred, just a tiny shred, of dignity. And afterwards, you'll drop me off at my car and all the way home I'll wonder what became of the girl I thought I was.
"'What happened to her?' as I wash my hands in my bathroom sink.
"Or better still, maybe you'll charm me and we'll end up at your place so you can 'show me the view' from your balcony. And things will get hot and I'll ask you to put a condom on and you'll oblige but then lose your erection beneath the suffocating chubbiness of the latex and I'll pretend not to notice as you shove your flaccid penis into my inner thigh. And you'll apologize as I get dressed in the dark and I'll say it's not a big deal but my inflection will betray me.
"And on the way home, all the way home, I'll still wonder if I gave up on the girl who believed in meet cutes and the real fucking thing or if she's still in there and it's just that I'm impatient or if I finally just know better."
--the soliloquy, while I was online dating, that was likely the reason I didn't get booked for many second dates. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

80s comedown machine


It's not the first time that I've watched you passing by;
I've tried too hard to get back there
But you're not on time 
anymore. 

x The Strokes

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Test Run

Several months ago, I began the process of becoming a big sister with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. A few weeks ago, I got the call that I'd successfully navigated all the red tape and would be matched with a 10 year old girl, Olive. Three weeks ago I met Olive for the first time--she's shy and pensive and very girly. The last two Fridays since then, Olive and I have met up and spent a couple of hours together. Usually, I try unsuccessfully to draw Olive into conversation and she quietly considers what I've said and after more thoughtful consideration, she generally replies with, "uh huh," or some other quietly uttered and concise statement.
I blame myself--I have a track record of not being that great at real life conversation, once having told a girl at a party, "uhhh...I don't know how to talk to you." Not because of any language or philosophically based barriers but because she was giving me things that I wasn't sure how to respond to. Anyway, I'm not great at talking.
This problem is particularly exacerbated when I'm talking to someone who is outside of my own age bracket. I realized this recently while working at a local high school and having to scrape the deepest depths of my conscience to come up with ways to appropriately talk to my pupils. (Inappropriate conversation, it should be noted, is my forte; a student once asked me with wide eyes, "does size matter?" Without hesitation and almost without forethought, I responded, "only rarely." "How do you know?" asked the boy beside him. "I've seen my fair share." "I KNEW IT!" chimed the first boy).

If I'm being honest with myself, part of my motivation in becoming a big sister (outside of never having had a sister of my own, nor anyone younger with whom to pass on my wealth of phallic knowledge), was an effort on my part to become better at communicating with kids, in case one should someday slip past the goalie and I find myself expecting.

So anyway, yesterday when I went to pick up Olive, her mom said to me, "I hope this isn't too much information but Olive just got her first period last night. She's been feeling a little out of sorts, I just thought you should know." Having recently spent the better part of my 192nd menstrual cycle hiding in my house with the curtains drawn, wearing sweat pants, and sobbing intermittently and without provocation, I can totally relate.

We were pulling away from Olive's home when I decided to try to talk to her about it.

"So...your mom said you got your first period."
"Uh huh."
"I'm sorry. I know it's no fun. But it gets better."
"..."
"..."
"Do you have any questions about it?"
"No."
"Oh. Okay...Are you sure?"
"My mom gave me a book about it."
"Oh. Cool. Do you have questions about the book?"
"No."
"Did you understand the book?"
"Not really."
"Oh... You know what I always thought was cool? You know how the moon is sometimes a big circle, and sometimes it's just half a circle or a little sliver? Well, the moon changes on a 28 day cycle and you get your period every 28 days..."
"..."
"...umm, I guess what I'm saying is you become part of nature when you get your period. Part of the cosmic order."
"..."
"Okay, I'm not doing a great job at this. Is what I just said weird to you? Or confusing?"
"...Yeah."
"I'm sorry. Let's shelf this until...later. I'm going to figure this out & explain it better."


When I was little, I saw this episode of Roseanne where Roseanne gives a moody Darlene the same speech only it makes sense and is received better. I resolved then to someday give that same talk to my kid, which as calamitous as this test run may have been, has got to be less mortifying than my mother's reaction (she handed me a pad and a copy of the Vagina Monologues). I can't say for sure though because I didn't ask Olive how she felt about what I said since I didn't want to make her relive it.

So yeah...a little tweaking to this speech is in order, I guess.


Monday, May 19, 2014

All About Eve

"You're maudlin and full of self pity. You're magnificent!"


--Addison DeWitt, All About Eve

Friday, May 16, 2014

Like Paris in the 20's

"SO, YOU MEET SOMEONE and feel something instantly and then you imagine a thousand conversations in your mind and you become enamored with a fantasy and you know it's a fantasy but as you get to know the person really every new thing you learn seems to reaffirm the fantasy and maybe the fantasy isn't just a fantasy and you know it's crazy but wouldn't it be nice if it weren't crazy and your life really could be like a sonnet, like a pop song, like Paris in the '20s, and maybe, just maybe, if you wish upon a wish and hope beyond hope, that person is actually as crazy as you and is having all the same thoughts as you and just hasn't expressed them because they know they're crazy too..."

--from "Why 'Love Actually' Matters" The Case for Getting the Shit Kicked Out of You by Love, by Ben Dreyfus, posted on MotherJones.

A pregnant pause in photos

January forward :

Austin


February; Darlene's last days before moving to Idaho & a picture that made people think we were lesbians & getting married. 


April: visiting New Orleans.

St. Louis Cemetery No.1





Just a pretty face.


A little New Orleans Romance.


Final Night in New Orleans, my brother, myself, my brother's silly friends. 



The Louisiana tourist center on the Texas-Louisiana border. 




My dad visiting Austin in April. 

Hope Outdoor Gallery.





Lucy In Disguise


Jo's Coffee


Dinner with dad. 


 End of April: Las Vegas for Darlene's Bachelorette.

The Hoover Dam. 

Vegas Skylines


Nevada from bird's eye. 



A Pregnant Pause

"Her life was full of incident but not of accomplishment."

That's something E.B. White wrote about his dog, Daisy, in her obituary after she was accidentally run over by a car.
As I sit before my laptop at two a.m. this evening, when studying feels almost more impossible than failing the bar exam (for a third time, mind you), I feel like this could very well be the sort of thing written about me at my death.

Her life was full of incident but not of accomplishment.
She enjoyed many a lover but, alas, never found that special investor willing to purchase the cow, 
having gotten the milk for free. 
Though there were things she was good at--keeping her ever hopeful pets from escaping;
remembering lines from iconic teen films--
the longer list to be had was what she was not good at, 
specifically having never really made use of her Undergraduate or Legal Degrees.
She is survived by several tiny balls of hair she left laying around her home 
and her cat, Venkman, who finally succeeded in escaping.


Maybe all of this existentialism is being brought about by the fact that I turn 27 in less than a month. 
In October, having been unceremoniously dumped by Crane, having quit my first job and having no other prospective job lined up, and having received the news that I would be taking the bar a second time, I created a small point graph that I dubbed the "Chart of Twenty-Six-itude." It basically plotted all my high, low, and plateau points over the year. I carried it around with me, as if I needed a physical reminder of all the nagging failures loudly chatting consistently in my head, until one day I dropped it and had to retrace my steps to recover it, for fear that someone else would read it and understand how truly pathetic and disappointing this year has been. 

When I'm tired of self-loathing, I pull my head out of my ass for a moment and think about the things that *are* right. My chief happiness is being in this city and living so close to my brother. He's my family, in both the literal sense of our being brother and sister, but also by way of our relationship giving me a sense of stability, and belonging, and safety. I'm happy here because he's here.
Even still, if you take that away, I still have so much that I am grateful for.

I told a friend recently,
"It's not that I haven't actually done anything this year, it's just that it feels sometimes that even though time is moving forward, my life is at a stand still. It's like I'm not progressing. I feel like I've been paused."

And although that's an accurate statement of how I feel right now, I'm almost positive that if I call this part of my life a pause, (I can only hope) it's apt to be a pregnant pause.

 Wiktionary describes pregnant pauses as those giving, "the impression that it will be followed by something significant." 

& I have to believe that whatever happens from here, whatever is next, will be just that--significant.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I'll string along with you




"You may not be an angel, but still I'm sure you'll do;
So until the day that one comes along, I'll string along with you."


x Nat King Cole

Relentless

When I'm being honest with myself, I can admit that I still think (frequently) of Crane.

If you were here in October/November, you may remember that I wrote some not great things about him. If you can believe it, (and after the scathing things I've written here about perfectly nice people, you readily can) I said even worse things to his face.

If I could do it again, I'd take back all the shitty things I said and my temper tantrums and instead, would just have said, "I'm hurt that you gave away so quickly something I wanted."

At the end of the day, that's what this all boils down to.

Or Not

I tried to forget
but you grew roots around my ribcage
and sprouted flowers just below my collarbones. 
All day I pluck their petals 
but I have not yet ascertained
Whether you love me 
or not. 




-- Forget me not x Anna Peters

I thought I knew something about her.

I am an airhead. A regular space cadet.
I am constantly day dreaming and when I try to use my brain for anything productive, I often find that somewhere along the way, I've managed to put the horse before the cart.
It's probably because of this fact and a concern about what could happen to an unobservant girl that my dad started sitting me down to people watch and teaching me how to profile at an early age.

I rarely admit as much, but inwardly I've probably come up with twelve things about you within the first 5 minutes of meeting you based on your body language; your shoes; the way your eyes move when you talk. A lot of the time, I'm right.

And there are times, really humbling times, when I'm wrong.

Recently, I was selected to work on a political campaign.
"Smart move; you're doing this to schmooze?" everyone suspected as much.
But in reality, I was there because I believe wholeheartedly in the candidate and what I think she can and will do for our state. All of this hardly matters in terms of where I'm taking this post except that early on in the campaign, I met a girl.

The prospective campaign fellows were asked to help the campaign persuade targeted voters at their homes. At the briefing for this event, a girl showed up. She was blonde and as she tucked her bangs behind her ears, her perfectly manicured nails revealed diamond studs. Real ones.

She was wearing a banana republic trench and a burberry scarf, and her pale blue eyes were framed by thick tortoise shell raybans. I smiled at her when she walked in and she didn't smile back. As we were briefed, she couldn't have looked more bored if she tried. I remember thinking, as I left the briefing that afternoon, that she was some rich girl just there to meet whoever could help her get an internship at the capitol.

I was surprised, then, a few weeks later, when I saw her again at the fellows' orientation. She sat two rows behind me during the lecture. Alone, save another girl who was sitting next to her. The girl had short hair and was wearing a button down and tie tucked neatly under a sweater vest and khakis. She was unmistakably a lesbian and she was enthusiastically chatting up the snobby blonde who seemed locked in a perpetual state of ennui. I wanted to turn to the girl in the tie and say, "don't bother. She's not like you and me." But I refrained.

As we wore further into the orientation, I turned to look at the blonde.
Why? I can't remember. Maybe someone had coughed behind me, maybe someone came into the hall just then. Maybe I was turning around to see her reaction to something being said in the orientation. Whatever it was, when I turned and looked at the blonde, she was holding hands under the desks with the girl in the tie. Their fingers were laced and their clasped hands were resting on the girl with the tie's lap.

The orientation rhetoric was talking about equality, and why the idea mattered to Texas. Equality across economic lines; equality across gender lines; equality for all couples. The two women were nodding their heads in unison and I saw tears swell, if only for a moment, in the blonde's blue eyes. She gave her partner's hand a little squeeze and the girl with the tie smiled. And then, the blonde went back to looking bored.

And that was the moment I was reminded that I don't know shit about other people's lives. There are some things you can't tell about a person by their nails; their shoes; their tortoise shell glasses. Every once in a while, it's nice to have a reminder that everyone is fighting their own battles.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I always come back to

this segment of This American Life featuring David Rakoff.




I heard it once while making a late night drive through Austin on my way to my mother's house. I wasn't paying attention when they announced who was speaking. Without much to go on, I spent months trying to type in bits I remembered into google and hoping that anything would come up. One day, I finally got the magical combination, something like "man with dead arm talks about grating cheese." Since then, I always come back to it when I need a pep talk or even when I just want to hear some beautiful words. I've played it so many times, I can almost recite the entire thing by heart (and sometimes do, while taking long showers). 

The part that probably leaves me feeling hungry to hear this again and again, to come back to it is the part where he talks about trying to achieve our greatest selves: 

"At dinner with friends recently, the conversation turned to what about yourself was still in need of change? They all seem to feel that they were living half-lives.
One fellow hoped that he could be more like the god Pan, unabashedly lusty and embracing experience with gusto. Another wanted to feel less disengaged at key moments, able to feel more fully committedly human, and less like that old science fiction B movie trope: "What is this wetness on Triton 3000's face plate?" "Why, space robot, you're crying!"
We were going around the table, so the natural progression of things demanded that I eventually get a turn to weigh in as well. Suppose you're out to dinner with a group of triathletes, all discussing their training regimens. And you have no legs.
They can't flat-out ignore you, and they also can't say words to the effect of, well, we all know what your event is. Getting all that marvelous wonderful parking, you lucky thing!
It was uncomfortable, and I suspect more for me than for them. I have no idea. But thanks to my rapidly dividing cells, I no longer have that feeling-- although I remember it very well-- that if I just buckled down to the great work at hand, lived more authentically, stopped procrastinating, cut out sugar, then my best self was just there right around the corner.
Yeah, no. I'm done with all that."

This part speaks to me as a reminder just to live. To remember to live in spite of all the things I'd like to change, or all the things I feel are putting my life on pause. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

"You Should Date a Friend!" Or Something That Was Supposed to be Fun.

I want to save you the drama and skip to part where I decided I should go out with someone in my social circle.
Val (a guy: think Val Kilmer. & so named because I've previously mentioned him once on this blog as my valentine 2014) is my brother's friend. He's smart, he's funny, he's comfortably employed, he is nice. And, one night my brother hosted a tacos & board game night and Val came. I'd been thinking about Val long before taco-board game night but not in a serious way.
I'd had a few really good conversations with Val where I found myself thinking, "He'd be a good guy to date." But somehow, this thought didn't translate over to "I should date Val," until taco-board game night. What was stopping me? A thousand tiny things that I should have heeded because months later, those same things that had always kept me from seeing Val as a potential mate became my reality of why Val absolutely would not be a potential mate. Primarily, & it's stupid and vapid but still true, Val's way of wearing hoodies; always a half size too small and with the hood pulled over his head. Always.

Why does this kill me so much? No idea. None. But it does.

So, taco board game night happens. We decide we'll play clue and in a small handful of moves, so small all of us were freaked the fuck out, Val keeps winning. & when he left, I was thinking, "that was sexy. Really sexy. How smart is he?" & my inner reaction was obviously outwardly noticeable because it was followed by my brother's girlfriend prompting me to go out with Val.

& here it was: the first time I'd ever thought that it could be.
"Yeah, you should totally go out with him!" my brother's girlfriend urged.
"But like...do you think Val's funny looking? Like... does he sort of look like an owl to you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I don't know, never mind."
"He looks like an old guy," my brother interjected from outside, where he was smoking a cigarette.
"What?"
"He looks like an old guy. The way he moves around; that thing he does with his mouth--like he just took his dentures out."
"Don't listen to him, he's a hater," my brother's girlfriend said.

To be clear, Val is not funny looking. I can't wholeheartedly take back the owl thing, but he's not funny looking. A better way of describing Val is that he's not my type. He's neither tall nor dark; he was hairy in a way that I didn't find sexy (which is weird, because I'm really fond of body hair); the chiseled chin that I find to be the ultimate mark of manly sexiness was absent from his face and instead, he had a soft, short, round chin.
And then there were those goddamn hoodies.

And even though every time Val and I interacted, since that conversation with my brother's girlfriend at taco board game night, I kept a mental list of all the things about Val I didn't like, a stronger force inside of me beat down the terrible person taking tallies and reassured me that dating Val was a great idea.

A couple of days later, our social circle was out on the town & any inner conflict between the terrible person (who knew dating Val was not a great idea) & the idealistic person (who thought, "well maybe,") was completely obliterated by my having drank too much. Our group had stepped away, leaving Val and I alone for a moment. I somehow managed to slur out, "You look stupid in that beanie."
"What? Really? You think so?"
"Yeah, you do. You look like one of the characters from yo-gabba gabba."

To be fair, I had a point. He was wearing a green beanie pulled all the down over his eyebrows and a sweater that had wide, alternating stripes of  two different tones of green. "But anyway, despite your stupid outfit, I think I like you."

Val's expression--which was blank--alerted me at once that I'd made a mistake.

There was an embarrassing silence.
"So like...yeah," I mumbled.
There was a long pause.
"Well, we could go out some time," Val said.

It was later that same night & our circle had settled down at a friend's house. My inner terrible person was laughing, knowing I was making and had made a mess. I'd already started turning what I'd done over in my mind when Val pulled me to the side.
"If I seemed hesitant, it's because we're friends and I'm friends with your brother. If this was going to happen, I'd want it to be serious."
"Maybe this is a mistake. Maybe we'd just fuck things up for everyone. I don't know."
"Or maybe we'd be like Monica & Chandler."

& it was that line, cheesy as it may seem, that made me think this would all be okay.

I think I knew for sure that it would never be okay on our second date when Val walked me to my front and drew me to him. Oh God. He's going to try to kiss me. AND he just ate spicy chicken nuggets from a food truck. I started to cringe.
"This. This is going to be weird," Val said.
And no sooner had our lips grazed then I started to pull back. This is all wrong.

That night, I started thinking about creative ways to tell Val that this wasn't going to work but nothing sprang to mind. Eventually, I went to my brother about things. My brother, it should be noted, has a knack for being honest to a cruel fault.
"It's easy; all you have to say is, 'I don't like you, son.'"
"No, I'm not going to do that. Be serious"
"Ok, what about, 'Don't call me anymore,'? Or, 'You should find someone else, because it's not going to happen with me.'"
"No."
"What about: 'We should go back to being friends because I think you're gross.'"
"Seriously? Why are you so fucked up?"
"It may seem fucked up. It's harsh, for sure. But anything but being blunt is going to him false hope. You have to be honest with him, son."

Having decidedly found my brother's methods too cruel and still not finding a gentle way of breaking it to Val (who was becoming more serious about the very "us" I was searching for a way out of) I decided to use a friend as a scapegoat. I told Val I couldn't see him anymore because he'd once gone on a date with another mutual friend of ours who still had a thing for him. Conveniently, this was all true and revealed to me just as I was looking for an out.
So I did it. Over text. On Val's birthday.

The next time I saw Val, he wouldn't even look at me (which, considering the manner that I'd decided to end things, isn't all that surprising). Val and another member of our circle were celebrating their birthdays that night and many of our out-of-town friends came up for the occasion. Our group met for lunch that day and even Val's brother, who lives half way across the country, was there. I couldn't help but notice that members of our group were throwing a little shade at me, especially Val and his brother.

I found this really upsetting. Outside of my brother and his girlfriend, Val and I agreed we wouldn't tell our circle that we'd gone on a few dates. But the awkwardness was undeniable; everyone knew. If you need just one reason to never date someone in your social circle, there it is. Your dirty laundry quickly becomes something the rest of the group feels they have a stake in.

I decided I would show up late to Val's birthday party; it would suck to have to endure the entire night of our friends treating me weird, but to not show up at all would be to admit that I'd done something wrong.

At the party, Val pulled me aside and (drunkenly) tried to reconcile. When I told him I was going to be firm in my earlier decision, he cried. Our friends distanced themselves from me more. As I watched Val wipe tears from his eyes, I felt really pissed. "What have you been telling everyone?"
"Just what happened. I am really bummed out by your decision."
"IT'S BEEN TWO WEEKS! 3 DATES! YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL BUMMED OUT!"
"I guess we just weren't on the same page."

I left the party a little later and went home to think. I hated how our friends were treating me. The next day, I made the decision that I'd try things out with Val again. I couldn't stand to be on the outside of our circle. I told myself that I was deliberately picking Val apart because I didn't want to be happy. That if I could hang in there, we would fall in love and then I'd be set; the great guy, the regular group of gorgeous friends meeting for coffee, the witty banter. I imagined my life would be Friends.

Nothing changed, though. If anything, I became more passively-aggressively cruel to Val at every turn, and then coming back and apologizing later. For 2 months, I found excuses not to invite Val to stay over; excuses to not stay at his place; excuses not to become a real couple; excuses not to open mouth kiss or even do more than closed mouth kiss. I berated him about his clothes, his hair, that he was so fucking nice to me. I made it unbearable. But Val stayed true.

Things finally came to a head when Val came on a group trip to New Orleans for my brother's birthday celebration. Val wanted to hold hands in the car; he wanted to walk together down Bourbon Street holding hands; he wanted to share a bed in the hotel room; he wanted to dance together. None of these things were really outlandish when you consider that we'd been going on dates and spending time together for a full 3 months. I pushed back; I avoided him and when I couldn't, I was mean. & it started to take a toll.
"Why are you so pouty, Val?" our friends started to ask.

& he was being pouty. Really pouty. So pouty that our friends, who were on his side a couple of months before, began to turn on him.
I was listening to our friends make fun of Val for being so lame when I realized, I was doing this to him.
There was nothing wrong with Val. He had realistic expectations of what things should have been like between he and I. And, he is a great human. He's the kind of guy who bids on ebay for pins that look like the one you got in the girl scouts when you were four, but lost while at work. He's the kind of guy who always plays your favorite shows and movies on netflix when you come over. He's the kind of guy who introduces you to all of his friends and makes you feel included, and beautiful, and smart. My problem wasn't with his tiny mouth or wrists, or the tuft of hair at the top of his head that always stood up, it wasn't even all of his god forsaken hoodies that fit too snug. My problem was with me; that I didn't want to date him and found a million tiny things about him to validate why that was instead of just being straight with him and myself.

& I was being a heinous bitch; dragging him along while I hoped that in between being cruel and dismissive of him, I would maybe fall in love with him. In the end, dragging Val along and treating him how I did was much more cruel than my brother's suggestion of saying, "I can't date you because I think you're gross."

So Val & I talked.
Actually, my brother--tired of all Val's pouting--talked to him first and broke the ice. Then Val came and found me.
When I told him how I felt, he was cool.
"Sometimes, it doesn't work out," he said, "and that's okay."

Which really just made things worse; all that drama, all the snide remarks, all the cringing between kisses--that, had I just been honest, would never have existed to begin with.

But whatever. That's what happened with Val.

 If there's anything worth taking away from this, it's: be true to yourself. Listen to the nagging voices in your head. Don't do anything you have to talk yourself into. Be kind to others, even when you think it would be easier not to be. Don't be selfish.

So like yeah.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Distant Woman

This woman fits in my hands. She is fair and blond, and I would carry her in my hands like a basket of magnolias.
This woman fits in my eyes. My gaze enfolds her, my gaze that sees nothing as it enfolds her.
This woman fits in my desires. She is naked before the yearning flame of my life, and my desire burns her like a live coal.
But, distant woman, my hands, my eyes, and my desires save for you their caresses, because only you, distant woman, only you fit in my heart.

--Pablo Neruda

Monday, March 31, 2014

If only for one summer.


How like a winter hath my absence been

From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere! 
And yet this time removed was summer's time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seemed to me
But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute:
   Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer,
   That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

--W. Shakespeare, Sonnet XCVII

I make fun of people for loving anything too much; working out, their kid, their dog, their significant other. 
But sometimes something will remind me--a song playing in the background of a bar, a line from a movie, two people passing me hand-in-hand--and I remember a summer where every song was about new love, where my heart skipped beats when my phone rang, where even in moments of silence, my mind seemed filled with the noisy chaos of being in love. 

I remember being one of those people who wasn't afraid to be a fool in love, even if only for one summer. 





Tuesday, March 18, 2014

certain only of what she didn't want.

"[She] expected something very different out of love. She had reluctantly accepted suffering as an inevitable component of deep passion and was resigned to putting her feelings at risk. If you asked her what it was she was gambling her emotions to win, she would not have been able to say. She knew what she didn't want, however...."

--Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Spinster Superstar

As the summer draws nearer and I consequentially inch (or, rather it seems, fly at a calamitous speed) towards turning 27, I find that more and more of the conversations I have with friends and family (and admittedly as well as embarrassingly with myself) center around the fact that although I'm single, I very rarely mingle.
On Valentine's day, the teacher whose class I tutor asked me to collaborate with him and my co-tutor on write-around love poems, to give the students an example of what a completed cooperative poem would look like. & where the stanzas penned by my teacher and co-tutor were very romantic, profound, and touching, my stanzas were sarcastic, pessimistic, and wry.
"You should give up on this lawyer thing and become an angry spinster-writer," the teacher joked.
"Can't you tell: this IS me giving up on the lawyer thing; this IS me on my way to spinster-dom," I barked back. & if I haven't entirely exposed my defensive, translucent, inner layers, the thing is: I have been thinking the exact things.
Am I doing this wrong?
If there's anything I've asked myself more persistently as of recent, nothing comes to mind (a close second, however, being: what kind of rash is this? Which is not only a cheap joke but also an embarrassing truth, as I suspect I've developed a latent allergy to tomatoes).
& though I usually proceed through relationships at a pace that would frustrate even the most precarious of snails (& you may believe that the sheer amount of relationships I've had negates that statement, but trust me, I take my sweet ass time when it comes to romance), I've lately felt a pressure that makes me second guess my molasses-drip methodology.
Today, I talked to my dad about things.

"Dad, when you talk about me, do you ever feel embarrassed?"
"That's crazy, baby. You're the best thing I've ever done. I would never be embarrassed of you."
"Thanks, dad. But I mean: do you worry?"
"Sure I worry; I worry about you driving around Texas late at night & not looking for deer, I worry that you're not checking your surroundings when you walk through parking lots, I worry that you're too quick to trust people..."
"Dad. I'm asking you something specific. Do you worry that I'm not where I'm supposed to be in life right now?"
"& where is that?"
"Married? Or like, getting married?"
"Here we go again," & I can almost hear his eyes rolling all the way in West Virginia. & so my dad puts on his southern drawl, the one he uses when he means to be mocking. "Well, shucks; I reckon it's a right tarnation ya ain't seen fit to be married before turnin' the ripe old age of twenty-seven." & you'd think this sort of thing is kind of cute; my Puerto Rican dad doing his hillbilly impression to alleviate the pressure. But just imagine growing up with it & hearing it, for example: when your first crush rejects you in the fourth grade; when you get your first period on a day your wore khakis to school; when the computer-lab teacher consistently picks on you for correcting her every time she mispronounces your last name; and a million other childhood traumas, or even now...
"Dad, I'm serious. This is real. This is a real thing that's happening to me...or, not happening, I guess?"
& my dad, who is marrying for the second time this July said, "My thing is, Lauren, no company is always better than bad company. I don't think you should settle down until you're 100% about someone. & when I say 100%, I mean 100%. You know why I married your mom? I thought she was good lookin' and I liked her cookin' (momentarily using his drawl again). That was it. There were other things but those were the major ones; all together, what I liked about her was maybe 90%. Now, I know you didn't go to law school so you could solve math problems, but that means I didn't like 10% of her. That's all. But 10% of dislike is a lot when you have to get through the rest of your life with someone. I know that for sure after 27 years of marriage."

Later, I was watching 10 Things I Hate About You and a line stuck out to me:

"Don't ever let anyone
 make you feel like
you don't deserve what you want."

I heard this line and my brain was like, Well, what do you want?
All I know is that it's a feeling--an inconvenience; a nagging, persistent hunger; a hopeless addiction. More than that, I can't say for sure but I know now that I won't feel bad or apologetic or guilty for expecting it and holding out for it. I won't settle for anything less than 100%.





Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Where Does the Apostrophe Go?" A post about Valentines' Day

I've always struggled with whether it's Valentine's day or Valentines' day. Like, is it the day of your valentine, or is it the day of all the valentines of everyone?

Well anyway. Yesterday was Valentines' day.

A summary of events: I purchased candy for the students I work with as well as for some of my favorite faculty members. I'd forgotten what it was like to celebrate Valentines' day in a high school setting; there is candy EVERYWHERE.
Two students gave me heart shaped lollipops; the teacher I work with and a student each gave me a cupcake; yet another student gave me a home-made brownie; and another student gave me a packet of skittles. Additionally I ate two chocolate covered strawberries purchased from the home economics students. And I drank a can of cherry dr. pepper with my lunch.
What I'm saying is, at the end of the day, my heart was beating out of my chest and I was mentally preparing myself for the humiliation of my impending newspaper obituary reading only, "death by sugar."

& before I continue with my summary of events, I'd like to include some student perspectives on Valentines' Day:


& even though this student isn't sure what my name actually is, it's clear I'm touching lives. 
& just in case any school administrators find this post, it's worth mentioning that I lovingly call her Stupita Lupita. 

Later, our students created write-around love poems in their groups (meaning each member of the group individually came up with at least one stanza of the poem).  One group of boys (admittedly, a cluster of my favorite students) turned this in: 


Earlier in the week, the students had a group project where we gave them advertisements with the product and slogan cut off. They were asked to analyze the advertisement without these items and infer what the ad was for. Then they had to use persuasive techniques to create their own ad for the same product. The same group of boys from the "Nutritious booty" poem turned in this advertisement (note, the original ad they worked from is pictured on the left):

Anyway, so the rest of my day...

All hocked up and high on sugar, I came home and manically began cleaning my home. 
Why? Not just because I needed to burn off all the excess energy, but because I had a Valentine and I was worried he'd want to come inside & then I'd have to explain all the dust and piles of hair...
Anyway, so my date was coming over at 7:15ish and I had only just gotten home at 6.
Thankfully, because I'd spent the morning and afternoon harvesting diabetes, I was able to get my apartment clean and change clothes before my date arrived. 

I'm sort of not ready to talk too much about him; it's new & the situation is tricky but I will say he was very chivalrous, having showed up at my door with chocolate and white roses. He opened my door for me all night & was a great conversationalist. He's pretty dope and it was my best Valentines' day yet.

Friday, February 7, 2014

When We Are Dancing

"Your eyes are always saying the things you're never saying;
I only hope they say that you could love me, too. 
For that's the whole idea, it's true,
the lovely that idea that I fall in love with you."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I said this on twitter already.

I've heard that if a cat brings you a mouse, it's not that they're giving you a gift but that they perceive you as a weak hunter and have brought you food so you won't die. Probably because then they'd have to find someone else's furniture to scratch up.

The other day, my cat carried over & dropped on my lap an uncooked spaghetti noodle, which presumably fell on the floor last week while I was cooking. I ate it, anyway.

Well, what was I supposed to do? I didn't want to be rude.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Because I was watching this Harry Potter marathon...

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”


The Future of America

Sometimes I think I'm too severe when it comes to the kids I work with.
I hear some of the things I say & can't believe I'm turning into the buzz kill teachers I knew when I was in high school.
"Are you allowed to show THAT much of your mid-drift?"
"You guys, pokemon have absolutely nothing to do with Robert Frost!"
"THIS IS A TEST GRADE!!!"
"For the 10th time, put your phone away before I take it up!"
& then I feel shitty. Because this isn't the person I think I am. At all.

And still, there are times when I'm reassured that I could stand to be even more stern with them.
One of these such times was this past Thursday when we handed out a reading about the way the Presidential Election of 2008 changed American Politics. The reading focused on Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama as the faces of new American Politics, but also mentioned other notable figures who had aspired to this feat.
The school I work in is a tier one facility, meaning at least 80% of the student body are living beneath the poverty line, and the students are primarily Latino. Of 120 students I work with, there are among them only 8 who are non-Latino; 7 students who are Black American and one who is a Thai immigrant. So I was excited to hand out this reading to them and talk to them about how politicians are going to be more concerned with their votes and voices in the future.

Getting them to actually read this 2 page article was more painful than using pliers to pull out finger nails.

After they completed the reading, they were supposed to write a summary and a brief explanation of their own feelings on the article. As the class ended, one student turned in her essay to me; a meager 4 lines.
The story was about the first African American woman to be elected President of the United States. Her name was Edith Wharton. I'm glad she's President of the United States. This story was cool.

"Alejandra, did you even read this article at all?!"
"Yeah, Miss, look at my paper!"
"Alejandra, I'm really impressed."
"You are?!?"
"Yes. To turn this in is not only a total lack of concern for your grade in this course, but also tells me you've never read a newspaper or watched the 6 o'clock news in your life."
"Haha news is boring, Miss. & ain't nobody got time for that."