REPORT A PROBLEM
She sat with her tanned, chubby legs swinging a full foot from the kitchen floor. In her hand, she clutched a giant red crayon, and concentrated all her attention on drawing random squiggly lines on a piece of construction paper. When asked, she muttered that she was writing a story and NOT TO BE DISTURBED. With her tongue stuck out from the side of her mouth, she "wrote" for five hours. Finally, she stacked her pages neatly and dropped them into her mother's lap.
Her mother, bemused, stapled the pages together and told her it was a wonder story.
Glow-in-the-dark stars sprinkle the ceiling and walls. There are so many of them that the room is never dark. The girl falls asleep tracing designs in their random patterns. Some nights she stays awake to listen to slow, deep breathing (with a little bit of a whistle) of her sister in the bed across the room, and pretends to hold silent conversations with the stuffed animals that overflow her bed.
"One day," she's whispers to her doll, "I will be a really neat person. I'll climb mountains and write novels, don't you think?"
The doll never answers.
Once upon a time, a little girl lived in a rice field town of southern Arkansas. All summer long she swatted at clouds of mosquitoes and scratched at the bites on her dirty, sun-browned legs. Her knees were always scratched and bruised from climbing and falling from trees, and her hair was always tangled.
She was convinced, as many little girls are, that fairies and dragons existed, if only one knew where to look. Her closet door was always left open, in case a fairy slipped in and couldn't get out again.
She was so naive.
When I go to sleep at night, I think about what I wrote in 100 words. Always, without fail, I think of a typo, a badly written sentence, a word that should have been sacrificed for a better one, and I shudder at the thought of someone noticing my mistakes. Great merciful writing gods, don't let anyone notice!
You will, of course. Notice, I mean. You will. You can't help it. Writing is in your blood. Some more than others (yes, I'm talking to you, grammar-rule-ignoring writers). All I can hope is that you will forgive my mistakes.
We were young. So much younger. One with freckles and long tangled hair--layers of skirts, scarves and construction boots. The other with hair too long to stick up straight and too short to politely lay down--a tutu and black tights. We marched down the sidewalk, half skipping when we forgot our dignity (which was often), with philosophy books tucked under our arms and our backpacks heavy with novels.
The world belonged to us. We said so as we rested under the over-pass, watching the cars drive heedlessly into the distance.
We were young then.
Today, it is white, as if God forgot to paint the sky on his canvas. The cat sulks in the windowsill, looking appalled at the rain that falls down and splatters against the glass. She keeps flinching, expecting the rain to get through the window and destroy her impeccably clean coat. Every few minutes, she glares at me over her shoulder and meows with a look that clearly means for me to fix whatever it is in the clouds that is leaking.
"Sorry, cat, that's not my department."
"Make it your department."
"I don't think I can."
"Humans. So useless."
Every once in a while I stumble across a song with the most beautiful lyrics, and I can't help but feel a little stab of depression. Could I ever, ever write like that? I think once I wrote better. Or, at least, prettier. But somewhere along the way, I began to cut off the fluff, which is what they tell you to do, and now my writing is nothing but skeletons. Bones. White, bleached, exposed under the sun and waiting for anything, anything, to make them move, to dance. Did that make sense? I'm not sure that made sense.
My birthday is the Christmas in July. I was not aware of this. It is as if I have suddenly discovered I am cooler than I knew. I have a power that was once hidden from me. I have the power to make people wear Christmas clothing items in the middle of summer. I am a god among ants, a deity deigning to dine among denizens.
My next birthday will be Christmas themed. Unless... wait... I forgot--I really hate Christmas colors. They clash. Red and green and white together? I shudder. Oh, well. I'm still awesome.
There is one lone cloud, hovering like a giant bubble in the sky. Half of it is a peachy-orange color from the setting sun, and the other half is nearly black. Every few minutes, lightening flashes inside of it, never quite escaping the cloud and touching the earth like it wants to.
I contemplate it--the way it acts like a prison for the raging storm inside, and I think perhaps it is metaphor for my life. Surely, that image must mean something truly profound! I realize, eventually, it is just a cloud, and I am not a storm.
If I could, I would take a picture of me right now. It's the perfect scene--girl in a black tutu, head bent over a laptop with tendrils of hair curling around her face, leaning against a willow tree and half cradled by its sprawling roots.
The apartment building of full of windows with their blinds shut tight, golden light squeezing desperately out of the cracks. If someone were to peek out of those windows and see me caught in the last rays of sun, if they were to steal my image in their camera... I would not blame them.
I tried a cigarette for the first time under the willow tree. It felt strange between my fingers. I kept trying to hold it like a pencil. I knew better than to inhale deeply the first time--I had no intention of coughing up my lungs and looking like an idiot--so I took one tiny breath.
I hated it.
Somehow I had always imagined the smoke to be smooth. Maybe warm and silky, the way it looks when it floats from talented smoker's mouths and into the air. It wasn't smooth and silky. It was ashy and nasty.
The sky hurled down its rain as if it meant to beat our car into the earth. Except for those moment when the clouds flashed and surrounded us with furious whips of light, we could not see more than a few feet ahead of the car. We drove slowly.
It was as we were blindly crawling our way across the desert, on that highway with nothing but shrubs on either side, that we saw her. Naked, her hair nearly to her knees and swinging in every direction, she danced.
In the rain. In the lightening. In the desert. She danced.
I wonder if when he runs he thinks of me. Does he know that if he fails that test, he will be separated from me until the next time he can pas?. Is that what makes him run faster? Does that fear force him to finish those push-ups in time? Does he do it so he can come home to me, be wrapped in my arms, be kissed by my lips? I like to think he does it for me. I like to think it is his gift to me. I like to think I am that special.
Life is the blur
of a slick grey train
and empty destination.
It does not stop
for the passive wraiths
who wait to board
in stations built
cling to hands
and pray the thrashing walls
will not collapse
before they reach
that endless end.
A few climb
with frantic claws
through open windows
and are thrown,
caught in slip-stream turmoil,
to blank and barren
They lay upon their backs
with eyes upturned
to a never sinking sun
that burns them blind,
and grass grows
into their skulls
so that their minds
are full of roots.
Vines will bind
"This," they sigh,
I want to dance. There is something wonderful about dancing. I don't know any moves, I doubt I'm any good, but dancing heals my soul. It is when the music grabs my body and moves it for me, when the flashing lights blind my senses, when the stage smoke weighs down my lungs and, somehow, allows me to breathe deeper... that is when I am free.
There is no thought, no worries. I dance until my legs become numb and my back aches and my breath comes in frantic gasps, and then I dance until the world grows black.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
Oh, I haven't met you, but I love you.
I love you because you read my words and imagine them something magical. I love you because you think I'm talented. I love you because you see my mistake--typos, grammatical errors--and you skim over them and forgive me. "That's OK," you tell yourself, "it's really more like she's writing a diary, anyway. It doesn't need to be perfect."
I love you because you will never met me, nor I you, and we will never learn each other's flaws.
It is the lack of company that makes me think these things. A husband at work all day, and with no available jobs, I am lonely.
I don't fit in with the Army Wives--no kid. I am not one of the Whore Wives--covered in tattoos, a perfect tan, and purposely sporting a bikini one size too small. I am not the Fashionable Wife--an outfit to die for and heels that probably stabbed someone... twice. Nor am I the Party Wife, the Divorced Wife, the Druggie Wife, the Working Wife, or the Housewife.
I am the Worst Wife.
Out of order. Backwards, probably. Too mixed up and jumbled to be read in a reasonable fashion. Likely, there is nothing worth reading, no great and wonderful meaning to be gotten from these drunken words. The words are drunken, I am not. This is the same confused, anti-poetic mess for me as it is for you. I apologize. My words are not themselves today.
Shh. You're making the readers nervous.
Shut up and sit down and listen, you twit. The world is not so black and white. What is logical is often wrong, and fantasy is really reality.
Still only partially dressed (boy-shorts, tank-top, no bra) and with no intention of leaving the comfort of my neglected rat's nest called a living room, it is three in the afternoon, and I have consumed more rice than the human stomach should reasonably hold. Luckily, as any rice expert knows, I will be hungry again within the hour--possibly with more starch added to my diet than necessary, but no worse for wear.
I should be cleaning. I can hear the unwashed dishes crying out for mercy, and the carpet's screams are muffled with dust.
Sometimes I look at a wall, and I imagine bashing my head into it. I've tried occasionally, but at that moment just before delicate skin meets solid brick, I pull back. Self-preservation? Or cowardice?
There are days when I look in the mirror, and the person I see isn't me. She's pretty enough. Nice eyes. Not sad, exactly, not frightened or angry or bitter or anything so negative, but certainly not happy. There seems to be something missing from the mirror girl. A spark of life has been lost.
It isn't his fault I can't see myself.
Today the sky rocks and broils and thunders. Today the sun--usually so blinding and fierce--is locked behind the steel wall of clouds. Today, the roads and paths are swollen and flooded, and the earth is cold and clean. Today the desert throws back its head and drinks and drinks and drinks.
This land, full of wonder and ancient magic, is waking up. What was once dangerous has become deadly. What was once wondrous has become terrible. Oh ye, little humans, beware lest you stray too far. This magic cannot be controlled. This world cannot be tamed.
I am awake now because I could not force my body to stay asleep any longer. This is what happens when you go to bed early--you wake up early. What a curse.
My dreams were nothing special, though I still tried to finish them. I failed. Like always, with everything, I failed to finish.
This is why I shouldn't be awake and alone. The Thoughts attack.
I fought them for months, but they're stronger now. More hungry. They hope I'll give up. I suppose, in a small way, I have, now that I'm choosing dreams over reality.
I will be productive today.
I will bundle my laundry into heavy bags and drag them across the great, desert expanse of my apartment complex to the laundry-mat. I will wash them, dry them, force them back into the bags and trudge my way home.
I will vacuum. I will do the dishes. I will wipe down the counter and make the bed. I will clean the litter box. I will finish sewing that skirt I started last month, and I won't throw it away in disgust.
I will write 100 words.
I will be productive today.
Under the searing Arizona sky, as my gaze followed the path of a vivid orange butterfly, I caught sight of Neo's son. He was dressed in all black, complete with a trench-coat that flapped around his ankles. His hair was bleached blonde, gelled into bristling spikes, and his eyes were hidden behind sunglasses that would make god look nerdy. I watched with a little bit of awe as he marched with deliberate coolness across the sweltering parking lot and into Wal-mart.
For the rest of the day, I waited for signs of a glitch in the matrix.
I had a dream. In this dream, a little girl was walking in a field, and every few moments she bent down to plant a flower. She would pat the soil around the stalks and smile and move on without looking back. Behind her, the flowers she had so carefully planted were wilting. Their petals curled up, turned brown and moldy, and dropped to the ground along with the rest of the plant.
My dream-self, having watched this with horror, said most wisely, "Good intentions rarely grow." Which I realized, when I woke up, is complete rubbish.
Sometimes thoughts get into my head, and I can't get them out, and suddenly I don't know what's real and what isn't. My mother says they're called "intrusive thoughts," which sounds pretty accurate to me.
I'm not crazy, precisely, because I know that those thoughts don't belong in my head, and I know I'm acting silly when I freak out because the thought "my husband is possessed."
Those thoughts could have any number of sources. OCD (that's not likely, just look at the house), depression (possible), and others that I don't know how to spell.
I'm not crazy... Right?
I realized (yesterday, but I had already written for the day) that I have been entirely unfair to you. I have been moody, lazy, and blaming everything on you. I couldn't see everything you do for me. I couldn't appreciate the cake or the dinner or the sweet way you kissed me in the morning and whispered "happy birthday, baby," because I was disappointed you hadn't offered to help me clean. I've been a bitch. And I'm so sorry. I know now that everything you do is because of me. You are the better half of us.
I love you.
You never hear about the beauty of this place. Just an hour walk to those hulking mountains (barely more than ragged hills) and few hours hike to the tip of them, and you find yourself in Mexico. It is hot, yes. The sun flings itself from the sky like a widow from a tower, and her body breaks on the scrubbed-raw earth and throws light back into your eyes. But there is color in the wind-whipped air. There are flowers--the most delicate, fragile petals you have ever seen, covered, as everything here is, in violent prickly armor.
There he is, in his blue Superman boxers that read "I'll save you" on the butt and--ahem--sexily swinging his hips to a song that was never meant to be sexy. He is also not in rhythm to the song. A drunk man could dance to it with more skill. Regardless, his grin is infections, and when he throws back his head to laugh, I join in.
"Dance with me!" he demands.
"Can't. I'm writing."
"Um... This weird dude I saw today. He really sucked at dancing."
"Maybe I could teach him,"
"Yeah... That'd be... great."
The internet committed suicide this morning. I mourned it for longer than necessary, then flipped on the television to console myself. The cable too had decided to end its own life. They were succeed by the toaster. My grief was immeasurable.
Left to my own devices, I took a nap. What should have been a thirty minute activity turned into three hours. I blamed it on loss. My husband woke me as he walked in and tossed his jacket onto my prone body before looking.
He's devastated to hear about our dear friends' deaths.
I have died. I am dead. I sit here as a corpse, the spinach I choked on still stuck in my throat.
Um... Did I say I died? How silly of me.
Of course I haven't died. That would be... awkward, seeing as how I'm writing still.
Actually, this was just a cheap ruse to make my last entry for this month seem riveting and readable. I thought, perhaps, if you were interested enough, you might seek out my entries for the next month. It's pathetic, isn't it? Well, at least I'm willing to admit my faults.
The Tip Jar