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Yeah, I'm going to try another one. This is just too good a thing to stop. Such a fabulous exercise, keeping it down to 100 words, 'cause baby, I can ramble. Teaches succinctness. And the every day part too, it's all such excellent discipline. Did I mention I don't get a lot of discipline? I get responsibility, not discipline. Having some rules that I don't own myself and can't change is surprisingly refreshing. Like a cool drink of water, like wine in the afternoon, like fresh lettuce and cucumber, like a warm washcloth after sex. Okay, maybe not that good.
I really should sell the Mustang. I don't want to, I really like the little guy. Me and him have had some adventures. And I want to drive him across the country in August. But having looked into it, I know that I can't possibly afford it. At least, I'd need someome to come along and split expenses. And then that guy would have to be tolerable, no dorky music, no explaining your faith to me, no telling on me if we share a lap dance in Las Vegas. Damn, I suppose I'm really going to have to sell it.
Over my balcony I saw a pair of crows, nuzzling together in perfect Japanese relief, black against green branches with sunlight behind them. Beautiful. The kind of thing that makes me wish I had camera skills. The world is full of so much beauty, and I'm afraid I'm going to miss it, like a child who doesn't want to go to sleep because she believes they're bringing out the ponies as soon as she drops off. There is so much beauty, dazzling, sometimes all you can do is look through tears and promise never to worship the wrong gods again.
I saw a boy on a bicycle in the alley behind my building. I thought, nice, until I saw him swerve to the dumpsters and check inside one. I thought my God, this poor kid. Don't you just want to take him out to breakfast or something? But I leaned back and said, no, I'm not going to do anything, and stopped the fantasy short. It would be ugly, ghoulish, to bask in my own magnanimity, maybe even shine brightly in front of my friends for how much I care, when I'm not doing anything. To profit from his suffering.
Whatever kind of madness this is, it's not the "Repent, the end is near" type. It's more the type where I have trouble dealing with all those people in my head clamoring for attention, in addition to all those people out on the street clamoring for attention. I mean, I'm not schizophrenic, it's very clear which ones are real and which ones are not (the real ones are much less pleasant). It's needing to be alone when under stress so I can carry out this full-scale imaginary mad tea party without having to worry about freaking out the sane people.
Well, I was diagnosed obsessive-compulsive. I suppose in a round about way, that's about as good a description as any. More briefly, it's like this: If you are troubled by demons at night, hang a sieve over your keyhole, or leave a pile of grain in front of the door. The demon has to count all the holes in the sieve, or all the grains in the pile, before entering the room. By the time he's finished, it's already dawn and he must go home. They tell it in that matter-of-fact, unquestioning way. You just have to count those grains.
Tired. Distracted. The physical expediency and mental immediacy of having a great deal to do. Getting things in order, taking care of business, preparing for change, planning change, effecting change. It's all very good. And it becomes quickly clear that I am still myself, that all systems are still functioning. It takes very little time, thankfully, to adapt to a new environment. And the pleasure in the novelty and freshness sets in at once and lasts, for as long as you want it to. I hope I've learned my lesson and will not let it fall by the wayside again.
What have I learned? That I am very different from the average person. Now, having grown up the way I did, I never thought being different was anything to feel good about. And it still gets my hackles up (just what are hackles?). You want to piss me off? Start going on about how incredibly unusual I am. Imagine me clawing at the heavens, shouting, "I am not a freak!" It always sounds like an insult somehow. It's always some girl trying to protect her status as small town queen who wants to draw attention to how different you are.
Anyway, what's different about me? Okay. This guy I used to date once said I was "extremely independent." Well, I just got irritated at the time, figuring he was just extremely dependent, and there was nothing wrong with me. But I think there may be something there. At least, I may value independence more than the average person. To me, it's like eating or breathing, nothing you'd ever give up except under duress. Obviously those are lies we tell recruiters, about wanting to work for them. Obviously we need money. But I guess not everybody looks at it that way.
So what am I going to do about it? Considering this whole little venture of mine failed to purchase my independence. Obviously I'll still be keeping my eyes open to possibilities to do that. But meanwhile, I need to work out some kind of semi-dependence. Some kind of life where I can still travel, even though I have no choice but to spend a certain amount of my time making other people rich. But maybe I can manage to temp half the year and travel and sleep the other half. Or sell something with an inexhaustible supply, a creative thing.
How can people do it? Spending your life fetching and carrying for some distant master, and being grateful for the opportunity, and in the most far gone cases being proud of it, like the master's wealth reflects on you somehow. Christ. I get suicidal. If this is it, if this is all there's going to be, then you're just at some dismal point on a long slide to the grave and you might as well slit your throat and get it over with. Put yourself out of your misery. You're already dead, you just don't know enough to lie down.
So anyway in finding new friends and, unlikely as it may seem right now, finding the love of my life, I need to pay extra-special attention to how people feel about their independence. If you're able to live with the idea of a steady job for thirty years and a grateful retirement in Arizona, then you're not the person for me. Incredibly, this is okay to a lot of people. Incredibly, the goal for everyone is not having the time and money to travel, to study, to volunteer on archaeological digs. Incredibly, many people aren't lying about loving their jobs.
Distasteful, all this scrambling after cash. But like I said, it's under duress. I know things will work out somehow. Because they have to, things have no other choice. That's always a good way to tell whether something's going to happen or not. If there is no alternative, then you can pretty much count on it. Well, there's suicide, but I'd like to exhaust all other possibilities first. It's not nearly so dire as I like to make it out. I'll always have a place to live and enough to eat. It's that pursuit of happiness thing that's eluding me.
So what was different about the way I grew up? Heck, what wasn't? I have never heard anyone else with a story that sounded similar to mine. It was an odd mix of overwhelming family history and wretched poverty. Or maybe the poverty wouldn't have been so wretched without the family history to live up to? All those people. All watching everything you do, everyplace you go, everything that happens to you. The little feudal kingdom of the family. Nah, the poverty would still have been wretched. Probably worse, we wouldn't have had a place to live. Without the family.
It is very easy for the plump blonde girl in her white-painted bedroom with the pink canopy and the gold trim to complain to her daddy who loves her very much that she wishes she were different. It is quite another case for the dark girl who's only in town for three days with the goddamned carnies. When you get the view of every tiny town from the last bar that still hasn't thrown your stepdad out, when everyone in every diner turns to stare at your entourage when you come in and whisper, you feel different about being different.
And then on the other hand you have the family. The vast, ancient family. Which sprung indigenous from the soil of your native town, that's how long they've been there. You're related to half the state, that's how long they've been there. They talk about themselves like royalty, by degrees of relation and where they live. And the stuff! Vast, huge, giant amounts of stuff. Not money in particular, but stuff, the sheer accumulation of generations living in the same hundred square miles. You take access to this stuff, and to everybody's houses, for granted. It's just always been there
Fine combination of drugs and alcohol. I feel liquid, like Robert Patrick in Terminator 2. It's lovely, truly lovely. Singing old torch songs in the kitchen in a quiet voice, "Love me or leave me or let me be lonely…" and stumbling into things. From now on I am looking for love. Over is that self-protective "relationship" talk. "Dating." Nope, I'm searching for a grand passion. Un grand amour. What am I protecting myself from, anyway? The scorn of strangers? I've already got it – next! And it's only fair to the guy who's going to be my one true love.
When I said I'd never heard a story like mine? It wasn't entirely true. The image of the impoverished aristocracy always resonated with me. You know, the guy who's the last in his old and noble line, with the crumbling mansion, the dissipated uncles, the mortgages and pawnshops and the antiques that are pretty but worthless. And he's got to make good and reverse the family fortune, or it's all going to go to hell and the next generation won't be anything but merchants or something. Which would probably be just as well considering how rotten and parasitic everyone's become.
I dunno. I've done without for a long time now. It might be better for me to continue to do without. It only seems to mess up my life, in ways far bigger than the pleasures received. And after this long, you're shortened, tightened, healed over into a virgin again, and the first encounter is going to be painful. Probably you won't be able to get a guy willing to go through with it. Anyway, that's always a pain to deal with. So maybe it'll be just long skirts and sensible shoes and dorky black coffeeshop glasses for a while.
I took a half an Ambien and dropped off fairly quickly, and even though we spent about two hours flying through a storm resulting in moderate turbulence of exactly the quality of an old truck with no shocks traveling over a bumpy dirt road, culminating in a distinct odor of burning throughout the cabin, I didn't do anything more than open my eyes halfway and feel grumbly every so often. The burning smell remained unidentified. It might have been a kitchen mishap, but I like to think we were hit by lightning or lost an engine. Maybe it was gremlins.
They're here, the family is here. It's nice to have them here, wacky as they are, because they are robust and straightforward and strong and I am the weak one, I am the sensitive one, I am the precious girl, I am the princess. It's lovely. I suppose they're the only people in the world who can know me for what I am and still consider me a rather silly and harmless small-time prima donna. And not need to change me into something else. It's soothing. I suppose it's really too much to ask of anyone else. Me as me.
It is lovely to look down at my grandmother's feet, and see my feet, every cuve, every bump, every angle. Except they're older. Much, much older. Fragile and veiny and sensitive, but still beautiful. And those are going to be my feet. That's where my feet came from. It's convenient on a personal level, having family. You get a sneak preview to your own future. After the initial shock (I look like my Mom!) it's just nice, I'm glad there's something positive to look forward to in the personal appearance department (I look like my Mom!). Strength and beauty. Good.
I've been thinking about dyeing my hair jet black. Well, why not? The geeky black glasses turned out to be far more wonderful than I'd anticipated, why not try some other look I'd always admired but figured I didn't have the bone structure for? The highlighted blonde look is hard, because there's so much red in my hair. But black would get full coverage. Maybe after the folks are gone. I still have this urge to chart my progess in flesh. I'd still like to file all my nails off, buff down to the soft, and watch them grow back.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be shot at. To be a soldier at war, to be a low-ranking gunman in a crime family, cognizant of, familiar with, real violent death. How would it change you? Would you become sweeter, more apt to appreciate the good of this world, having been pointed out its frailty? Would you become a crazed killer, with nothing left to be afraid of, already dead and just waiting for the bullet to hit? Does it come down to the individual this is happening to, or do all follow the same predictable path?
You know what you do, when you are out walking? You know where you look? You look at the ground, a few feet in front of you, to make sure you don't fall over. Don't make eye contact. Don't look at men. That's inviting attack. For a young girl to look at a grown man, that's inviting attack. Don't look up. Just keep looking at the sidewalk a few feet in front of you. Mind your own business. Oh, you don't know what these men are like. Men these days, television, movies. You just mind your own business. Make sure.
Sex and violence. Violence is clean, sex is dirty. Violence can be shown to children, sex can't. Many people have a problem with this but I am not among them. Sex is far too complicated and dangerous to bandy it about lightly. And violence is, after all, nothing. A means to an end, and that end might be anything - noble, savage, dumb. In the end, violence is a substitute for sex. Violence titillates. You can read all about it, and remain clean, because there wasn't any sex involved, only straightforward violence. Even if the violence is sexual in nature.
Sketching along, my feverish mutterings, careening between crippling repression and savagery, trying to find my voice, trying to come up with a plot and stick with it, trying to get my characters into predicaments that are actually interesting to me but about which I know enough to write intelligently, skidding between afternoon intoxications, trying not to let on to the neighbors how nuts I've become, plotting and scheming and trying to get out of the country, and where's the next dollar going to come from? Both mother and daughter, working for the Yankee dollar. I don't actually drink rum anymore.
There is nothing to compare to the first drink of the day. I'm not talking about some watery beer and lemonade mix you had because it was hot, I mean your first something with a solid snort of vodka in it. Strong enough to seep through your stomach wall and straight into your liver. God, the rush, the ecstasy. Especially if you've gone without for a couple of days. It's enough to make you put your drink down and moan, shiver, tremble. You can feel it, feel it going down, going in, going through, and it's nothing short of breathtaking.
Fuck you. It's not a rebellious adolescent fuck you, it's a tired old one. Fuck you, and your mother too, and the horse you both rode in on. I have seen your standards, and I am glad I don't measure up. I know what you want me to be, and I know you think it's right, it's holy, it's the only and it's everyone's standard of cool, but it ain't mine and it just shows the gulf, the yawning chasm, between us. You are a rube, with a rube's ideas of high livin'. I am turning around, and walking away.
I don't even care anymore. I have gone through a lot of trouble to make myself palatable for my fellow man, but it's gone. I don't care if you don't find me attractive. I don't care if your friends don't, either. I mean, I can get laid if I want to. It's not a big deal. But why align myself with someone who expects a difficult and expensive standard of beauty? Waxing, bleaching, plié, relèvé. File and paint and wait and wait. I still enjoy a finished look. I'm just not real motivated right now and that's not bothering me.
It's not all about sex: fashion and makeup. It's a mistake to think so. Makeup is armor. If you look finished (cleanly made up, good shoes, hair other than God intended), you will be served first, you will be given better tables, strangers will be more polite to you. Now don't go getting all sociopolitical on me, that's inapplicable at the individual level. This is just the way it is, looks are just a currency, same as if you'd slipped everybody a five to be nice to you. You can conduct an experiment easily enough if you don't believe me.
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