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heard her voice bubble over 1500 miles of telephone wire and recognized it for the first time in months. it's as if a net has finally been placed under this high wire, and even though we could all still fall off if someone sneezes, at least we might be caught a few inches above the ground. at least we might be flung back up into the air, to marvel at the view. i think i may have just exhaled truly. i think i may have just have thanked a god i do not know exists. i think i may sleep tonight.
Fear isn't a too-small coat crumpled on the floor of my closet, so you're damn straight it better be cold out there I would put it on. And nighttime, too, so you can't see the sleeves riding up my arms. Go ahead and put pain in that category, too, at least that of the physical persuasion, because weakness can't match my footsteps unless we're tied for first place. Ah, the astute amongst us may wag their fingers and say, "But there-" whilst pointing, but by that time I'll be too far in the lead to make out the ripped seams.
Benin Benin Benin
In the twenty-some hours since I've known for sure, the word's been rolling around in my head. Spherical, lyrical, it will not fit into corners, knowing not of right angles. Papers, now; no-fee passports; and visas. Suddenly my future's become something tangible, a nickel in my pocket clanging against spare change, old strings, and gum
Benin Benin Benin
and suddenly my egg timer's begun, and every tick means something: the "before." Tick: This is what I did before… Tick: This is how I felt before… Tick: This is what I knew before…
Benin Benin Benin
The stories we tell are, at the horseshit end of the day, probably more important than what actually happened. That we repeat them, pass them on, even feel them as we recite--isn't that also a reality?--albeit one we've since constructed, but show me one thing that hasn't been fabricated, and I will kindly let you kiss my ass.
So many high aspirations of thorough inebriation tonight, but my body has steadily deteriorated. And now, feeling like a 50-year-old bullet-ridden building in East Berlin, I lie here and wonder if I'll make it until the fireworks.
All right, for all you idiots out there-here is how to swear:
You must visualize it.
"Fuck" is a round rubber ball, and when you throw it, it's gonna bounce. So say it like you goddamn mean it, and don't forget to pronounce the 'k.'
"Shit" is a large book, falling flatly on a wooden table. It has one syllable. One. If you say "shi-yat" to me, I will want to kick you.
You are not rebelling when you cuss, so don't swear to impress. At the same time, own it when you say it, and for chrissakes, annunciate.
His eyes are empty, vacant. He stares out the window, or else at his watch, and I have to say his name two or three times to get his attention. I read an email I shouldn't have seen and gather that he's about to quit, which is not odd in and of itself. What's odd is that he looks over people's shoulders and his words echo before they have even left his mouth. He used to sparkle on the water's surface, and now it seems he is drowning beneath it. Meanwhile we examine our fingernails and ponder the weather: "unpredictable."
So then anyways I ended up here. Here being the shores of the St. Croix River, practically in Wisconsin. Not a very long or exciting journey, as any cheesehead will quickly point out, but Afton has the ability to let me inhale and exhale completely. Hiking, I practically ran into a large doe, who blinked her large, sad eyes about five feet away from mine a few times before leaping into the woods. She was none too quiet in her exodus, tearing through the bush while looking over her shoulder...
Something less than pristine about this place, which comforts me.
He had taken Hawaiian Rosewood seeds, or some such form of LSA, and too many of them at that. By the time I got there, he and the others had already puked up whatever they had eaten for the last three days and he sat, looking at me and sweating like his skin was closing in on him. Later, we laid on the floor of his dark room and he said I think I'm going to die. He said Thank you for being so real For being my sanity. How's a girl with a breaking heart supposed to respond? You're welcome?
Sometimes I think I would make a damn fine lesbian. As we were growing up, my whole family was silently convinced I was gay and I believe were, when I got to college, truly shocked as it appeared that I shared my bed with at least one Y-chromosome at a time. Today, I read a book about (gasp!) feminism in (gasp!) public, and when people around me assumed my homosexuality, I felt strangely proud, as if I had somehow been paid a great compliment.
So, you ask, given all this, why men?
Because (sigh), amongst other things, they fit better.
Sometimes I forget that pain from my past also belongs to me. I just pull my sunvisor down and head due west at 8:30pm, like a cap pulled low over my eyes so as to avoid its gaze. My history flies with winged feet, and I'm too busy keeping my fists up to notice that it's no longer covering my back. To notice that I'm swinging punches in an empty room.
The voice on the answering machine hit my ears twice, leaving me dizzy and confused. I caught a glimpse of history as it slammed the back door.
Yeah, you. I've been ignoring you for months now, but I guess it's time to finally acknowledge your existance, you poor slob who's been slugging thru these hundreds of words. It's time to admit that you occupy space on this floating chunk of rock and are not just a figment of my imagination. So not only am I gonna meet YOUR gaze, I'm gonna challenge you, and I'm gonna win. Challenge you to what, you scoff?
To a staring contest.
Until the end of the month.
I bet ya can't make it to August's words w/o blinking.
So the big news is that I got an email from a rock star today. Melissa Ferrick. Okay, not a huge rock star, but I like her stuff. There's this huge drama regarding the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, which only allows admittance to 'womyn-born-as-womyn.' No small problem for Melissa's drummer, who is thoroughly male. So after this huge showdown, Melissa decided not to perform and stood by her man, splitting the femme camp into two. I wrote that, despite the emotionality, at least it's demonstrating several limitations of a separatist politic. She wrote back, hey, thanks jewels.
went to my first big Event today. yeppers, got me all gussied up & went downtown to mingle amongst the rich of the twin cities. it was a benefit for our festival; a last-ditch effort to envision black instead of red at august's end. escaped my schmoozing for a few minutes and wandered among the blue riders. while trying to regain my breath in a herd of marc's horses, i had to bite my tongue against a lady sloshing her $7 martini and assuring me that, yes, 'this guy's famous.' i looked at her mutely and wished for antitheses.
I (usually) make a habit of pulling the pins out of other people's grenades, but since she set this one down on my lap, my fingers have been too clumsy and twisted to do much. So I sit and stare down at it instead (unblinking, the both of us) wanting so badly to fold it into some beautiful, origami thing (a star maybe, or a cloud) aware of the explosion's portability, that this (bang!) bomb's origin will disappear with the blast.
The silence between her sentences was where I should have been offering comfort (but I am staring staring)
my shoes hurt my feet, so I took them off, and even though tit was night (
so dark, that new moon
), the sidewalk still radiated heat (
there you were [me?] not a vision of you, not you face or ands or laugh, not even you-in-relation-to-me--just a sort of abstract [but why me? and why then?] concept-you, maybe
), the sidewalk still warm [
you wanna go for a walk?
] as if the day had just blinked for a moment (
these memories, homeless, squat in my head
) and would open its eyes shortly.
My clothes are getting loose again, and I'm suspecting that this has much to do with my recent lethargy. I forget about things such as eating and vitamins and protein, all with the expectation that these legs will take me however far I want to run. God, I treat my body like hell sometimes, breathing polluted air, drinking coffee till my stomach churns, sleeping fewer and fewer hours, and then wonder where the glint of life has gone. Well, sister, I'll wager it's stuck on the bottom of yer shoes, or left in yer bed, or wedged someplace in the refrigerator.
all set to call friend Tina tonight, when the phone rang, my sister's girlfriend holding court at the other end. she was almost crying and more-than-almost drunk about a fight they were having earlier.
Gigi's boyfriend asked me my thoughts and feelings about open relationships (experientially and statistically--one for one--I've had categorically bad luck).
why people choose me to seek out advice is beyond all comprehension, as I am neither wise nor aged nor sage. but I can be fantastically silent on my end, allowing them to actually hear what they're saying.
aye, there's the rub.
What a great day today was!! I did lots of important, cool things!!! First I went--- (Hey. It's me, Jewels. I'm interrupting this entry because I'm starting to feel a little bad about that dare I made--the staring contest stunt. I can't get it out of my head--the image of some stupid idiot staring bug-eyed at his computer screen. So, all right, I'm calling it off. You can fuckin' blink already. Blink, dammit! ... Well, fine, don't blink if you don't want to--plow ahead to August, I don't give a shit. But the dare is officially retracted.)
told Matt a bunch of stuff that I apparently wasn't ready to articulate; he resonded by alluding to his own bag of worries with a similar sense of trepidation. it's strange, these things we convert into light and dark spaces and then relinquish to a bunch of tangled wires. that we seek reassurance or a sense of reality from something so transient and momentary that its own existance can be concievably debated. but that we can approach it with cautiously, so that we end up with is pieces of incompleteness. which I suppose is better than all of it.
at work, & stepped outside to squint at the 3:00-ness. recognized a man & nodded. he asked me my name. something drawing about him, so I stepped onto his curb. accent difficult to wade through, so i stopped asking him to repeat his to my unaccustomed ears. looked at my feet instead. greeted by his handiwork, crystals and stones, smiling sunshine back up at me. magnetic, this man, and when I opened my hands lamely to say I had no money, he said,
why money? we can trade crafts.
I blinked at the true definition of art and recognized a soul.
"Okay. Where do you see yourself in a year?"
I winced (which she took as a sign of my burgeoning independence, an unwillingness to commit myself to a place or a thing) because here is where I had to lie. "Y'know, that's a good question." (manufactured laughter)
"How 'bout in 5 years?"
The words came easier this time (this image of myself seeming somehow more pliant), "New York, maybe, or else San Francisco." (although the thought of being a creature of almost-27 years remaining unthinkable)
"So when can you start?"
So that, then, is how I got a second job.
He shifted slightly. The bed was narrow. Earlier that day he paid for a single room.
"What are you running away from?"
It was perfectly dark. She waved her hand slowly in front of her eyes, but the silhouette failed to define itself against the black. She wondered if any of it-the night, Spain, the aching muscles-was real, or some sort of less-than-dream, divorced from image.
"What would I be running away from?"
"I dunno. That's why I'm asking."
He paused. "Nothing. Nothing, okay?"
She moved her hand to the air above his head. No reaction.
A huge envelope arrived today, crammed full with paper and manuals, and as I sit and finger its edges and spiral binding, I think: This is what my future is: words. When people ask me how I feel about it all, I describe what my emotions should be, what some other girl would answer in the face of West Africa. Excited, definitely. Nervous, probably. But these responses float above my head and refuse to attach to me... I wonder if we all feel similar disassociation from our own futures, as if time is just a thing we borrow, never own.
I swallowed Michael Cunningham whole and am now sitting on the toilet, waiting for him to pass. He's wreaking havoc on my tract on his trip through my system: I don't want to sit still. I don't want to become the sort of person who bumps into the walls of their own house and wonders where the bruises come from.
[If I don't sit still, does that mean I shit on everything? I wonder what M.C. would think of that...]
Angst Angst Angst. Somedays it's a bubble in my gut, crowding up the space for the rest of my insides.
She speaks of motherhood in such glowing terms that I am hypnotized; I'm not so much interested in her daughter as I'm fascinated by her face's changing expressions. She is happy, so clearly so: this and living here: this while lugging a duffel bag full of history and hardship: this flying in the face of my Theory-Of-Life-So-Far. I've been trudging around for two months, jamming my Holden Caufield fists into the pockets of my jeans, staking claim to enlightenment; when here she shows up, with her perfect peanut daughter; staring into the eyes of some truth; emerging, smiling.
was asked out (1) by a guy (2) from work (3) (4) yesterday.
(1) out-out; on a date; to the theatre, dahling.
(2) Actually, not a guy. A man, old enough to be my father (a).
(3) The festival job (b), not the one that gets me up at 4:30am (c).
(4) I played hooky today (d), if you want to know.
(a) Not that I have any problem with older men, though I have had problemS with older men, natch.
(b) Which is coming up, next Friday, to be precise.
(c) Which I have to go to in a few short hours.
(d) Feigned a vague sickness, to enjoy sunshine and lake.
a Beautiful Man and I wave to each other just about every day now. I can't remember what his name is--- he works at the store next door to the office--- it must be something unusual or exotic--- I went inside once on a false errand and tripped over both words and feet--- my memory is so phonetic and if I can't spell it, it's lost--- Joe assures me that the Beautiful Man is straight--- almost every day; I suppose it depends on if he's looking out while I'm looking in--- and I suppose, of all people, Joe would KNOW---
We grew up with nicknames: cute sounding ones, all ending in "-ie" so that when we rattled ourselves off in chronological order, we resounded satisfyingly, five coins dropped into a jar. But as we've gotten older, we've somehow drifted back to the names on our birth certificates, slowly reclaiming old syllables and consonants. My parents take our phone calls with expressions of confusion, wondering for whom the person on the other end is searching. They look at us and ask: but why have you changed? We open our hands and shrug: but this is what you had chosen all along.
The Night brought in something cold & squishy, packaged in a plastic baggie, and plopped it down on the table. Grief tiptoed up and poked it with a hesitant finger, until Pain snuck up behind her and yelled, "Boo!", sending both out back to duke it out on the porch. That left me, Acceptance, and Tuesday, but Acceptance was too busy staring out the window, searching for shapes in the marshmallow clouds. So Tuesday and I did rock-paper-scissors to see who'd have to open the baggie, & I am happy to say I won. So till Tuesday, friends.
We were chopping vegetables on wooden cutting boards until a tomato fell; became its own world, right there on the linoleum. And here a thought formed, born in Colorado:
Is this where all happiness exists?
Leslie, here is what I think: We do not know our own strength until the house we were carrying falls on us; we do not know how strong we are until we choose to walk away from it.
My favorite dream was when I watched a solar ecilpse from outer space. Sometimes I think of it intensely before falling asleep so as to dream it again.
It's been getting harder to get it up these days, to really get feisty about the world. This at 21, which brings me to my next point--they don't make it easy to dream, do they? You get too far away from your IV needle too long and the Big Nurse is gonna find you, ain't she? Well, hide those pills under your tongues, kids; hide 'em good. And hold on tight to your balloon strings. One of these days we'll get high enough to see the ground and each other, and to realize that we've got the best view of all.
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