Lunch again. 1:30 pm martinis. For her. My work day doesn’t end until the last word typed before my eyes close. A bit dramatic, yet still, lavender double shot espresso blended iced latte for me. Yeah, I’m needing something lavender. From decay grows the lotus.
“My fantasies were filled with faceless men. No, actually the same man, I think. He never had a face, like any man of your fantasy fill-in. He was the kind of addictive cruel, one part sadist, one part devourer–obsessive and possessive. You know?”
“Any way, I always used him to start me off…like my go-to Playboy centerfold. A pre-pubescent boy’s wrinkled up centerfold he hides under his mattress to jerk off to when the folks are gone. I embarrassed myself with such a cliche fantasy: the cruel lover who made me do things. You know?”
I didn’t want to know. Not on an iced latte. I’d have to switch to martinis. I nodded.
“A writer should be able to masturbate to something less classic, more creative than a faceless fantasy fascist.”
“In your defense, you write feature stories not erotica.”
“Yeah, well…Johnny Depp, even as jackass pirate shows a little more imagination–and taste…
But then after a few years with Vincent, it hit me. The faceless fascist disappeared. And you know what an obsessive-possessive nut job he turned out to be.”
“So, you’re saying you manifested Vincent? What’s the moral of the story here? Was he really that demanding? Or commanding? Or I should say, commandant. Did he totally control your mind and body, violently, if necessary? Maybe just a little bdsm?”
“Yes, all of it. He wasn’t violent. I wouldn’t have stayed. He just…just…I don’t know…owned me. Subtlety. In inches. He crept up on me, and before I knew it, I was not going out with friends, and cutting down my hours at my job, and worrying if someone stopped by to visit and stayed too long, when Vincent would come home and wince at the sight of anyone ‘intruding.’ Well, you know. You called it my ‘leave of absence from myself.’ And it was. But he’s gone, and so are the faceless fascist fantasies. Now I slap a face on my imaginary friends. Like that checker at the food mart. He’s adorable.”
I reflected a second in between chuckles. Some fantasies are fantasies so long as there’s little possibility that they become real. In fact, the more far-fetched, the sexier, more enticing. But when fantasy becomes reality, the thrill is gone. At least I doubt women (or men) slapped faces of Stalin, Mussolini, or Hitler on their fantasy men. But I can’t be sure.
Published today on The Mindful Word:
Having spent the holidays in Europe with my two young adult children and their father, our family returned home jet-lagged and plumper. Well, at least three of us did. My oldest daughter lost a pound or two from her already…
Read more here
“Are you mad?” Much to my confusion, someone would occasionally ask me that question out of the blue. Apparently, my face looks unhappy and my attention elsewhere. And though I was not unhappy when asked, I was probably preoccupied. Always…
(One of my articles: Read more here.)
Unfazed, tuned-out people amaze and inspire me. I want to be them, wearing bullet and worry proof vests. Mind you, I don’t know who these people are, other than my great niece and nephew, 5 and 8, respectively, who seem to be very selectively tuned in. One knows all the Ducks and Lakers stats, and everything sports, really, and the other knows an incredible array of lyrics and lines from Disney’s Frozen. I’ve heard her sing every word of several songs. That’s what they know. Those comprise their obsessions. Awesome.
Me, on the other hand, I start each day trying out the Buddha disposition: be a sieve, let it all flow through. But by about an hour into the day, I fail miserably. Something of the world–outside and inside–disturbs me, disrupts my peace, unbalances promised equilibrium. My promise to myself to be dispassionate about things, all things. I try.
News flashes and bites remind me of Doritos Nacho flavored chips. They must be laced with heroin. Probably the only snack I can’t have. Because I can’t just eat one. It’s the bag or nothing. And it’s been that way since they hit the market dozens of years ago.
My news services and journal bundling apps, I’ve tailored now to filter out politics and current events–only showing arts, photography, philosophy, yoga, writing, books and music. Same thing with Facebook and Twitter (Not sure what I’m doing on Instagram). Yet something still manages to slip in, riling the perturbations, zinging my zen upside the head.
I may have to turn to something quicker and stronger than yoga and meditation, something kick ass to calm my ass. Maybe sucking helium balloons.
Maybe it’s because I was born in 1960. Or maybe it’s because of the two daughters marching beside me. Or the feeling I’ve always had that I was born too late or too early, caught in this in-between generation that is marked by unearned, random prosperity for me and the rest of the privileged–but not for far too many, not for my daughters’ futures.
I cried ten steps into this morning’s march.
It overwhelmed me to see so many marchers. Far too often I feel isolated, my ear attuned to the horror more than the hope. I burrow in the belief that it’s me, just me. No one else truly aches knowing how much hate and fear destroy. That it’s horrifyingly dangerous to normalize unabashed, outright lies–a constant stream of provable lies. Fatal.
Even in post-apocalyptic dystopian Cormack McCarthy worlds of brutally savage survival, we must take care of one another, no matter what. And this should expose me as the fraud I am, touting pithy little graduate school cool catchphrase, club affiliations like the post-human age subscribers or the three-cheers-for-robots-taking-over-the-world meet-up. Truth is, I believe in the Renaissance and that the human capacity to create is greater than its capacity to destroy. If only we…
I’m tired of beginnings. They’re exhausting, and it’s awfully hard to get them right. There’s nothing worse than starting something with a “meh”. Like reading a listicle that starts with a question: Are you getting enough vitamin B in your diet? Well here are 7 sources of that … blah, blah, blah.
I’m guilty of that sort of thing. It’s trite and boring.
Opening lines, like handshakes, create an impression. In grand literature, they’re extraordinary, memorable, once in a life time handshake that keeps on gripping you. Even my little-read college students have heard the line, “It was the best of times…” But Dickens is not alone or even the top of the greatest hits of first liners.
I like intriguing first liners like Philip Roth’s one about awakening one day to find himself an enormous breast–“It began oddly.” Or short punchy ones, like “I am not a total idiot.” I actually don’t remember the author of that one, but the line has stuck with me. Maybe that’s just me, and what sticks is random.
It’s challenging to be unique, innovative, and first in language. After all, we have only 26 letters at our disposal. How different can we be? Haven’t all the possible letter combinations been tapped? Is there still some one-of-a-kind combination yet to be splayed linearly across a page? Maybe that’s why I’m so fond of making up words that seem intuitively and associatively clear.
Though I suspect you don’t have to go that far to pen something new. Memoirist Patricia Hampl claims describing what you see, what you know, from your eyes alone is unique enough. No one’s lived your life or sees things precisely the way you do. Perspective. Lens.
It may not be a new alphabet, but it’s vision–and all that we’ve got.
Read the rest here
I couldn’t say I’ve ever come across a true love or ever will. I’ve had great love. I’ve had potentially tru-er love–but for the right person showing up under the wrong circumstances or vice versa. At least how I imagine the right person. How could I know without a long, leisurely test drive?
But true love is truly a cultural marketing scam. And it’s not for mere cynicism that I write that. I’ve no complaints about the loving in my life–all shades and degrees of it. I’ve slid in and out of love’s grasp by choice and force both. Yet, true love seems to have eluded me only because it’s been beamed into my brain by invisible designs since birth–without explanation.
Like waking up every day, there’s an impulse to arise and act, get the day started even when you don’t want to or know why you do. We just live as if there’s no choice, most of us. It’s incredibly difficult to kill a healthy human being, more than you’d think. That same blind instinct–get up and live–impels us to find true love without even knowing what the fuck that is.
No one believes Disney, so I’m not referring to that conception–princes and princesses and shit. Chemistry, kindred souls, soulmates, and other hollow terms language has fed us to conceive of the truth in true love make little sense. Like it must be fate. In myth and religion, there is an element of the divine in all truth, in language itself–in the beginning, there was the word.
And yet, all children are indoctrinated in the one true love story, even as they grow up to see the truth in that lie. It lies like death everywhere, not just in movies or television or books. It permeates culture like a dream or a virus, thinly veiled and ever present–potentially lethal.
January 13, 2017
Friday, the 13th. A writing day. All day. Buried in cybernetic space, capturing words and ideas like butterflies to the net, I emerged this evening disoriented. Have I been gone all day? Did I leave the house?
When I used to write papers in college, I’d experience that world spin standing still feeling, like just getting off the ferociously spinning playground merry go round where obstreperous middle school boys spin captives sick or flying. I’d spread papers out over the long, royal blue shag carpet of my apartment floor in the days before personal computers (gulp). I wouldn’t even get out of my pajamas for an entire weekend. Just staring at endless scribbled words. That was when I could write in nearly legible cursive penmanship.
I’d shuffle papers, pages and pages of written approaches, starts and stops, fits of penetrating insight overlaid with banal truths and just plain shitty prose. I turned and tossed the visions of literary geniuses and abstruse philosophical stalwarts of literary theory over and over in my head, never coming to a conclusion, never quite figuring it out.
But the stretch, though painful, felt like progress, growth and expansion. I felt my brain swell with inflammation and information. It hurt so good. I hated it. Loved and hated it.
The struggle is not the same now. I read better, comprehend more. Though merely a comp. lit major, I can write a short white paper section on patient warming techniques in the operating room through radiation, convection and conduction devices, condensing thermodynamics, biology and quantum physics into 750 words, like I did today. Before that I wrote about patient engagement strategies in healthcare, and after that I wrote about 5 superfoods for longevity.
No, the struggle is not so much in comprehension anymore as in attention span and endurance. I mean it’s all fascinating and boring at the same time. The process, the mechanics–blind fingertips smashing keys. But the flow–the lost time in some other realm–that’s what keeps me coming back for more.
I’m shrinking. Yes, I’m aging and so, inevitably ground down by the constancy of gravity’s punishing anvil. Heavy, relentless, like my 30 pound 5-month Husky puppy. A never-ending stream of energy that refuses to be relegated to neglect and invisibility.
I might be shorter, by an eighth of an inch or so. I’ve always regaled my 5”8″ and 3/4. I believe I was either shortchanged by an 1/8th my last checkup or I’ve shrunk. All that running, pounding the pavement with my spine upright, couldn’t have helped either. Helping gravity hammer the nail.
But that’s not the shrinkage I’m thinking of. My world is shrinking. Intentionally so. I’m closing up the shudders more. I open the blinds only when there’s something to see. I’ve arranged my world so I don’t have to partake of it but a little, just enough to get my fill of smiles, smells, complaints, grunts and questions. Since school let out mid-December, however, I don’t even get peopling twice a week.
And I’m fine with it. I’m only interested in the sun, grass, sea and trees, my daughters’ whining, my father’s banter, and my mother’s rheumy stare most days. And when I’m tired of them, I shut my door, lock it, pull the blinds, and put my headphones on.
At night, I pleasure in the reprieve from estrangement with a glass of wine and slice or two of cheese with my thus-far-in-life-long partner in house holding. I work at the corner of a corner desk. I write, research and read. It’s what I’ve always enjoyed anyhow.
More than before, I’m reading and writing about what I want. Not self-indulgent stuff I’m quick to slap up on my public pages (like this one), or clever tweets (at least I think so). Part-of-the-world stuff, like what business is up to and health culture and building things, tearing them down and rebuilding them in real estate and relationships. I work remotely–in my flip flops–for others all over the world.
I choose not to write or read about politics or injustice. Those are constants. Nothing new. By virtue of my birthright gender, I live by injustice. Whenever your body is public property, legislated and controlled by strangers, fearful white men–and the women they keep–there’s mad, mind-numbing, heartbreaking injustice. I’m slamming the door shut on them. I’ll wait for the right, gentle hands to fold me back in.