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December…just the sound of it signals change. It’s not that impending buzz of possibility that I sometimes feel, it’s a knowledge that somehow this month will happen with or without me. There will be work and shopping and parties and travel and holidays and at the end of the month I will be contemplating a different world. December is the fakest month, where we smile and struggle and know that on January first we’ll promise to do better. December looks like a tree stripped bare of leaves; it smells like snow that never falls. It feels like quiet desperation.
My mother claims that I used to see auras when I was a child. She has a way of rushing to the new age-y explanation about some things, but I think that maybe there is some truth to the story. I know that I used to think that everyone had a different color blood. And even now, I always think of people I know in terms of what color they are, even though I have no awareness or memory of actually seeing people surrounded by colored light. If this is true, I’d like to know what made them go away.
The body remembers. Where the heart has put the past to rest, the body curls up next to it and purrs for more. The body betrays. The body demands. It clamors, it aches, it pines. The heart denies. The heart closes the door and keeps its eyes on the path ahead. The heart shivers and tries not to remember warmth. Here’s a secret. The heart is even more ravenous than the body. Where the body goes the heart would follow and devour and finally be lost. Where the body continues blithely, the heart would stop. The heart knows its limits.
What is more important: the concept of “love thy neighbor” or that it was said by Jesus? (I’m substituting the quote and speaker for an actual argument I was involved in at post-rehearsal happy hour tonight.) Now there are those who believe in worshipping the creator, but I tend to go for the creation every time. Some say this isn’t right, that you should love god more than the world he made. But if I created a world (or a painting or a philosophy) I think that I’d much rather have people believe in my creation than believe in me.
Some days it’s all about propelling myself through space. It’s about the shoes that hurt the feet and the contact lenses that have been burning the eyes for a little too long. It’s about figuring out when it’s ok to leave the party and how to drink enough but not too much so that I’m leaving with my full senses. It’s about giving all that I can while still keeping myself intact. It’s about the extra mile I have to walk to run errands and counting the steps until I can finally take off my shoes. I hate these days.
Grate three potatoes and drain the liquid. Add to that a grated onion, 2 eggs. When it’s well mixed, slowly stir in a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs, a little baking powder, salt, and pepper. Fry in small spoonfuls in a little bit of oil on a hot pan. I always thought of latkes as being more difficult. I’m dubious as I wait for them to turn golden brown. These seem more like glorified hash browns. I take a bite and they are everything that I remember from childhood. Sometimes the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.
This is futile, but I’ll try to describe the fog tonight:
It was like being blind. I could only see silhouettes up to 20 feet, lights maybe a block away, but touch, taste, smell and sound were all heightened.
It was palpable, but not to human touch, only to light.
The world looked like a painting of itself. It told you exactly where to focus.
When I exhaled, my cold breath rose into the fog while I inhaled the fog into my lungs. So the longer I stayed outside, the more I became the fog and the fog became me.
I’m not a shopper. I hate malls and I go to department stores in a spirit of penance. So I entered the store today with a goal: one pair of pants, any color except black. Instead, I became the proud owner of a new khaki suede jacket for $55, marked down from $159. And when I say proud owner, I mean it. I walked out of that store feeling sexy, with a spring in my step and my head held high, envisioning all of the fabulous things I will do while wearing my hot new coat. I can’t explain why.
I’ve noticed that I’ve been singing a lot lately. Not just in rehearsal, or at home to the radio, but walking down the street or waiting for the bus. Not loudly, but not just in my head either. I realize how obnoxious this is. I know this doesn’t bode well and that I’m likely to end up one of those muttering bag ladies that everyone avoids. But my head has been full of music lately! Oh jeez, now the pressure to become successful is on. That way when I’m old I’ll be considered an eccentric instead of merely completely insane.
I ran into a guy that I went on a date with summer before last. I’m not positive it was him, but he looked familiar and I smiled at him and just had a flash as he passed by. I think that I inadvertently treated him badly at the time. It was my first foray into the dating world after a bad breakup and he was behaving more seriously than I could handle. I freaked out a little, stopped calling him. I kind of wish that I’d recognized him sooner. I would have offered him a drink and an apology.
Wednesday is my marathon day. Work, then rehearsal, then the obligatory cheap happy hour at the bar. I usually get home at 11:30 or 12, spill 100 words of outrage out of my head, and crash into oblivion. These are the days that producing these words are the hardest, but also the days that they happen most organically because I’m writing from a state of desperation and all I want is to go to bed. Here’s what you can count on: if the date above these words is a Wednesday, I’m probably extremely tired and just a little bit drunk.
Tonight while I was talking on the phone, my cat kept headbutting the receiver out of the way and rubbing his head under my hand begging for my affection and attention. The man I was talking to was a potential blind date that I met online and, in a much more subtle and clumsy way, he was doing the same thing. I really don’t think that he was being swarmy, just lonely. (I think I know the difference.) It would be easier if we could all be like cats and show our need for affection without fear of bitter rejection.
I had a meltdown at work. All day I felt like a mother cat with 38 yowling kittens. The proverbial last straw was when someone actually yelled at me because the caterer didn’t give him the right (free!) sandwich. After over ½ hour crying at my desk, someone finally took over for me. I calmly took the specs I was editing out for coffee and got something accomplished for the first time all day. After all that, I had to put on my slinky dress, paint my face, and go to the company holiday party tonight. I hate being adult.
I am tempted to follow a path for no other reason than to see where it leads. I know that it’s the wrong way, but something tells me that there is a story there and I can’t resist the lure. Of course it’s more than the story. There is the promise of something that looks a lot like what I most desire. The scary part is not the unknown. I know that where this is going is not where I need to go. Is it possible to take a detour and trust that I’ll end up on the right road?
I’ve been revisiting my music collection. It started last night when I innocently thought to myself “I should make a mixed CD.” The past 24 hours has seen every CD that I own dumped out on my bed. The Paula Cole I got at a garage sale for $1. The Peter Mulvey that I found used and bought cause I went to high school with him. Why don’t I ever listen to Liz Phair anymore and why the hell do I own three Barenaked Ladies CD’s? I can’t sleep because every song I’ve ever loved is running through my head.
Exhausted. Every light or sound originates from behind several layers of fog and when it finally penetrates my consciousness it hits me right behind the eyes: Florescent lights. Christmas commercialism. The new reality show where they get greedy women to fall in love with a millionaire and then tell them that he’s worth $19K. Piles of laundry. Ringing phones. Trent Lott begging for forgiveness. I think I’m going to sneeze. I can’t drink coffee this week. Another damn Gap ad. Arrogant assholes who have forgotten the word please. Dark too early. The weather outside is frightful.
I have a headache.
Less than a week before the winter solstice. When I walk to work (usually closer to 8:00 than I like) the sun still hasn't risen. When I leave the office at 5:00 it's completely dark. Occasionally there's sunlight during the day but we're in grey Seattle mode now. I've always believed that this is why we're the coffee capitol of the nation. People trade remedies for SAD, from vitamin combos, to aromatherapy, to lightboxes, to visits to the Pacific Science Center to see the butterfly exhibit, to California. When the sun comes out, we all stand in awe. So primitive.
I woke up this morning with a sore throat. Missing work is not an option. Slipping rehearsal is not an option. I croak my way through the day and now bailing on rehearsal makes much more sense. Learning to say no to this kind of thing is hard for me. The idea of getting on an airplane Friday morning feeling like crap is worse so I call in sick. I sleep for a little, sort some laundry, get my ducks in a row so that I can get everything done tomorrow night. Nine hours of clockwatching tomorrow and I’m outie.
I’ll get up in the morning. A short walk. A bus ride. Two airplanes. From Washington to Wisconsin, from rain to snow, from 49° to 27, from my toasty studio apartment to a big drafty 3BR house, from “can you fax this?” to “can I get you a glass of wine?” From adulthood back to childhood all for a week. I’m never sure which is better or worse. But I do think that I need this once in awhile, even when it frustrates me. I need a reminder that I choose my life. Working, struggling, being alone, I choose this.
I've been trying to start this for the last half hour but all I have is airport delays. A host of cliches: my dream of a white Christmas home for the holidays has led me to O'Hare. I sit at gate F-7 with a mess of other delayed people who all seem to be traveling to various points Wisconsin. None of our planes are allowed to land. Most of us are a 2 or 3 hour drive from our destination. If it takes that long to leave the airport we'll be lucky. I hate how freakishly dull this is.
I began my week as a daughter with a true test of my patience: a trip to the mall. The thing is, it wasn't really all that bad. Ok, it was bad. There were crowds and lines and piles of idiot people. There was Radio Shack and Foot Locker and The Fucking Gap. I hate malls even under the most ideal circumstances. But I managed to remain good funny Rebecca throughout. I didn't lose my temper. I finished my Christmas shopping. I even bought myself bras. I feel like the saint of disenfranchised former suburbanites. Bring on the nose ring!
A trip to Wisconsin has never been so much fun! It's like an actual vacation. I saw a great production of
with my brother this afternoon–just how I always imagined it. Tonight I went to an acoustic Christmas concert with my aunt. It turned out that a friend from high school played a set and he was there with another old friend, the first time in years that I've run into anyone that I know here. The next set was One Drum, truly amazing world music and the performers are so full of joy. I am genuinely inspired.
Confidential to J: I haven't written about you yet–even though you are very much on my mind–because you are not quite real to me. Or maybe it's that you're too real. When (if!) you read this Jan 1st we will either be at the beginning of something amazing or we'll have already found each other lacking. To write about you now is to voice so many hopes and desires that I'm not quite ready to admit to. If this is right, I want you to hear me tell you these things myself instead of reading them here after the fact.
Slightly white Christmas, there was a dusting of snow today, mostly gone now. I am in balance between home that was girl that was then and home that is woman that is now. I am so glad to be here but I'm carrying a secret. It is a smile that dances on my lips and jumps into my heart. It stretches over half the country and waits for my return tucked under my pillow. It reminds me constantly of who I really am and most importantly everything that is to be. It tastes of possibility and excitement and fear: delicious.
Every year around Thanksgiving my mother calls to warn me "I'm not going crazy this year. I'm keeping Christmas really simple."
"Good," I say.
Every year I arrive and the house looks like Martha Stewart exploded. Insanity is in full bloom. She runs around monologuing as to whether two desserts are enough and should she make three and who is vegetarian this year and what if the gifts don't come out even. She drinks and collapses Christmas eve with a sigh "Well, we pulled it off again."
But this year was different, calm, relaxed, fun. Oh, silent night! Yes, good.
Went to coffee with my brother at this old pump station on Lake Michigan that was converted into a café. I wanted light and space. Instead I got McCoffee. Most of the floor space meant for waiting in line instead of cosy tables with a view. Everyone was too well dressed and groomed, all at leisure and in a bad mood anyway because they want their half caf skinny with sprinkles right now. I saw maybe 100 people go though the place and only five of them genuinely laughing. I was so grateful, I wanted to pay for their drinks.
Sometimes tradition is smaller than it seems. Every year we have our annual girls’ lunch. Big Tradition. Smaller traditions. The same food: shrimp soup, guacamole and enchiladas. The same questions: “What are you doing for New Years?” “Any interesting men?” The same answers: Lisa snorts “Hardly” and rolls her eyes. Jenny shows the progression from engagement ring, to pregnant belly, to baby pictures. Emily giggles, stalls, but finally confesses a crush. Me, it seems like I always have some flirtation on the brink of dénouement. My life isn’t really like this. I’m no femme fatale. It’s just tradition, I guess.
I’m writing this now on the plane before my day really happens. An adventure that I didn’t really expect when I left is waiting for me at home and I want these words committed before anything changes. I don’t want to write about how I am alone tonight because it was all an illusion. I don’t want to write how I am swept up in infatuation or love or lust. I don’t want to expose whatever happens while it is still raw. Whatever happens or doesn’t, I need to sleep on it, cry on it, sigh on it. Maybe tomorrow.
Not yet, not yet, not yet. To write about this is to think about it and I don’t want to think. I want to be. I want to accept whatever gift this is without labeling or considering its wisdom. I want bask in the phantom sensations that are still leaping out of my skin’s memory. I want to sleep and dream. I want to feel, physically and emotionally, whatever rises to the surface and dismiss everything else as unworthy. I want to be in the moment and hope that he is there with me. I’m scared, but I want more.
The hardest part about living in the moment is that some moments suck. I’m not talking about anything more overwhelming than boredom. Back to reality, I am tempted to escape into memory or fixate on uncertainty. Instead I’m taking it moment to moment knowing that what I love best about the world are its small surprises. If the contents of my inbox at work are less than fascinating, I might just find an old favorite song on the radio. If the bus ride home is slow, I might catch a glimpse of the early sunset. Happiness, I am all readiness.
Don’t read this, sing it! Make the tune up as you go and sing loudly, soulfully, without any thought that the neighbors might hear.
Something in the way you touch me
Makes my heart do double flips
I don’t need to find the future
As long as I can taste your lips
We’ve both got our share of baggage
We’ve both got our fears and doubts
I keep on counting reasons why not
Until you turn me inside out
You provide the transportation
I’ll provide the double bed
Let’s not think of where we’re going
Let’s enjoy the ride instead
The Tip Jar