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First of the month and I've promised myself discipline, so I'm writing before I go to bed. I spent three days before the long weekend relaxing alone on the Washington coast and much of the last two days with the new man in my life who is smart and playful and thoughtful and holds me like I am something that he cherishes. I have cut myself free from my safety net (ok, my artistic one, not my financial net) and life looks good. Discipline, focused attention to what matters, is what will make it wonderful, so I begin with this.
One recent theme of my dreams is that I've returned to Wisconsin in defeat and all I can think about is the life I've left behind here. In my latest dream, I flew back to Seattle and knocked on the door of Theatre Babylon where the artistic director, in a particularly condescending manner, sighed and told me that they weren't interested in my personal "overly female" plays. I pestered him until he offered to read something I'd written just to get rid of me. Then they offered me an improv gig.
I know it was a dream, but fuck them.
Over the past week I've spent a lot of time cleaning out the corners of my apartment. The place doesn't look much better than it did seven days ago, unless you consider the missing piles of papers, the removal of boxes destined for goodwill, and the stunning appearance of the floor of my closet, which hasn't touched human flesh since 2001. The project is getting to the point where is starting become creative, even obsessive. After a long period of metamorphosis, I finally have the energy to sweep out my cocoon and create a space for myself in this world.
It's fun to look forward to spending time with you, but it was fun too to get a call out of the blue and make last minute plans for dinner. To walk down the street and stop to kiss in front of the incense shop because it smelled so nice. To turn off into the quieter neighborhood and stumble on a playground and there, in the hot night becoming cool, in the twilight becoming dark, to play like children, and then not like children, sitting close on the steps of the jungle gym and kissing while passersby walked their dogs.
I know that I shouldn't say anything, since my day is less than half over, but I'm actually having a really good day at work. I have a steady flow of projects (with just enough time in between to dash off 100 words or check my e-mail) that are challenging enough to keep me engaged and keep up my ever important billing goal, yet aren't so messy and urgent that I'm panicked and unable to do a good job. I am well slept, having had the perfect balance last night of social time (sigh) and relaxation. A wonderful weekend awaits.
Only because this is the point, I'll confess that I'm writing two days at a time right now because I spent all of "today" and most of "tomorrow" swimming, cooking, movie watching, smooching, and otherwise playing with Ben. It's funny how easy it is to disappear into a new relationship. This is the first that I've been alone in nearly 36 hours, which is an odd rare state for independent me. I'm not complaining, but I will consider this a reminder not to get lost in it. In his company or not, there are certain things that I've promised myself.
I know that is a ridiculously petty thing to complain about, but I miss
Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Yes, the last couple years have lost some of the joy, but I long for something on television that I'm not ashamed to be addicted to. I admit that I have a problem. I'm not a rapid worshipper of the tube, but I'm overly capable of wasting time watching trash. O network programming geniuses, please send me a
, hell, I'll take a
, anything that will help me rejoice in my slothfulness without paying for cable.
Note to self: never, no matter who is pouring or how good an idea it seems at the time, drink champagne on a Monday morning. The progressive environmental firm that I work for celebrated its sixth birthday this morning with mimosas. I got to work late because, even after sleeping like a cat last night, I couldn't bear to get out of bed. This slow start, in addition to the high alcohol to juice ratio, has me left me in a sleepy, tipsy fog that is much more conducive to lingering over omelets and hash browns than editing data reports.
There is nothing that will ruin a potentially good day quite like a sick pet. After spending time that should have been productive last night worrying about my poor kitty's freakish refusal to eat his dinner, everything today was a struggle, leaden with lumpy roadblocks and interruptions. So even though the cat now seems just fine (we're going to the vet tomorrow just in case) my mood is grudgingly gray. Of course I know that there are many things that will ruin a day more than a sick pet, but the dramatic dark cloud is resolutely stuck over my head.
I took a new apartment today, no turning back. Notice to my landlord is given. Tomorrow the lease will be signed. I have 20 days to clean, purge, pack, and haul. I've made just enough progress on the old place to start getting really excited about the new one. A 50's motel style one bedroom in a more residential part of Capitol Hill, just five blocks from my favorite coffeeshop. There's lots of light, little architectural detail, but an oddly textured mixture of cinderblock and wood walls, and beautiful wood floors waited to be uncovered for me on October 1st.
I was at a baseball game last night, my first in this city, in this expensive taxpayer-subsidized stadium, when the lights suddenly went out. It was kind of amazing, really, to be at such a large public event and have something completely unexpected happen, unscripted, not planned for our entertainment value. It was peaceful, despite thousands of baseball fans still buying beers and cheering and trying to start the wave.
It wasn't until much later, at home in bed, that I considered the date and the possibility of menace, but by then I already knew that it couldn't be true.
Maybe we are starting to forget. Not to forget the horror, but to forget the immediacy of it. Maybe because I'm so far away, or maybe it's just the way any terrible loss works, like when my father died. Each year the anniversaries become easier, and the realization that they are easier makes it harder, but only temporarily. Yesterday it was two years since our country's worst tragedy; on the 23rd, it will be five years since mine. Both events changed something irrevocably and we are defined by how we react to that change. Are we strong? Did we grow?
We are sprawled on my bed, not talking, but bodies overlapping occasionally as we change position, reading (or writing) together. The cat moves between us, first to stand in front of his book, then to sit on mine, finally settling curled between us content. Occasionally I find his hand stroking my back or I turn to place a kiss on his shoulder. There will be time for adventures and romantic dinners and passion, but even better there is time for doing nothing in particular, together. No one else in the world would think this the perfect date, but I do.
My hand moving pen across notebook.
Still life on table of notebook, calendar, latte glass, plate with crumbs.
Young man at table across from me, in profile, reading newspaper, tapping his feet to untappable music.
Another man on the other side of the window, just beyond the first, reading another paper and facing another direction.
Two women talking earnestly, the back of one head nothing but shaggy black hair.
Four men in a circle raise their coffee mugs in a toast.
Man with mohawk with dog walking between them.
Woman in impossible heels crosses street towards us all.
There were a few months in college when I used to make stream of consciousness lists of words. It was something that I'd do absently and constantly so that while studying for a geology midterm, I'd often come across a passage like: "…tranquil, center, spiral, swirl, swing…" It was one of those activities, like doing crossword puzzles, that I did at that time of my life to keep the momentum of my brain functioning without having to think critically. I remember achieving almost a trance state, when my whole focus would be words on a page in front of me.
I left the improv cult to focus on projects that are more important to me, but so far I've done very little work on any of them. Ok, it's only been a couple weeks and I'm allowed to take some time for rest and play, but I'm starting to feel that nagging voice, saying "what next?" And, ouch, I'm noticing a tiny little twinge of jealously at friends' victories because I'm afraid that I'm letting my own challenges slide. So I am determined to have a draft of the new play done by the end of next month. No excuses.
I want to know your stories. I want to meet your people. I want to listen to you talk about what's on your mind. I want you to tell me about your obsessions, even when you fear that they border on nerdy, even when I don't share them, like your process for memorizing Chinese syllables. I want you to risk boring me because there's something that might seem really small to most people but to you it's not small and you want me to understand that. I do. Because I think, I hope, that you want the same from me.
My greatest love today is my bed. Last night, Ben and I spoke on the phone well past when I should have gone to sleep, but wrapped in blankets and his voice was just as good. This morning, too, too early, I forced myself out of that warm cocoon and into the world but before rehearsal I stole an hour nap, pointless for real rest, but an essential retreat into a world where there are no demands that I can't dismiss as dreams. Maybe this is a sign of depression, or maybe it's the only thing keeping depression at bay.
This has been an incredibly long week. This week has been frantic activity with long waiting spaces in between. My good mood Monday night seems far distant, Saturday even more so. There have been pockets of delight, simple moments to carry me through, but right now I can only consider those spaces in between: the demands, the frustrations, the long hours unappreciated, the work left undone, the sanctuary that I have to miss this weekend that I've become accustomed to in a very short time. I want to live in the moment, but right now that's asking for the moon.
I can blame my foul mood on everyone but me. The egotistical actors. The disorganized patronizing leadership. The camera man who keeps insisting on impossible distances when I'm running tape. The stop watch that stopped running. The constant reminders among that group that I'm just not one of them.
But I also have to consider that it is all me. My awkwardness. My grumpiness. My awkwardness. My spending time on something that I don't care about. My own ego that keeps telling me that I could succeed at this if I was just a little better at everything.
I am taking a break. A coffee break. An iced latte break. I have made a careful list of everything that has to be done to get my through my moving day and beyond despite a three day business trip to San Diego tomorrow. I know I can do this. I have done more with less and what I have to remember, above everything, is that I am doing this entirely for me, so I can have a home. It's worth the upheaval, the sleeplessness, and the headache pounding in my skull right now to make it happen. For me.
The woman across the aisle from me is afraid of flying. As we begin our descent into San Diego, she clutches her husband's hand, fans herself, and checks her pulse. He closes the window shade so she doesn't have to look outside. As we break our speed on the ground, she puts one arm out to brace herself against the seat in front of her. All of this would be sad, a little pathetic, were it not for the wide smile on her face as we taxi now to the gate. The pure gratitude and unrestrained joy of disaster averted.
Sad. Five years ago today, my father died. I know it's arbitrary, but today will always be the day we lost him, no matter what else it is.
Happy. I called Ben tonight from my hotel room after margaritas and Mexican food. I agonized for awhile about whether to call, weighing my desire to talk with him against the fact that I'll be home tomorrow anyway. It's funny being new with someone. I thought of how happy I'd be to get a call under the same circumstances and so I called hoping that he would be too and he was.
Shhh. Don't tell anyone, but my mother was right. Coming here this week may have been an interruption, but it was good for me. Three days of no obligations outside of work. I can't pack or make the everlasting moving arrangements so I can't worry about them. When my work day is over there is nothing to do but relax. No dirty dishes, laundry, or social obligations. Now, in the airport, I take out the list that I started Sunday and am trying very, very hard not to let the muscles in my shoulders and jaw resume their accustomed clench.
Unable to start anything. I have never had so many messages in my in-box and my brain is spinning around them, unable to sort or prioritize or even delete. Got here early. Staying late. Nothing to show for it. The crazy thing is I like my job. It's not my passion, and I do complain about it a lot, but more than anything else that I've tried to do so support my lofty artistic ideals, this fits the bill. I've been here almost three years, longer than any job since college. Days like today are just the price I pay.
I made soup tonight, a Caribbean shrimp soup that had many of my favorite things in it: fresh ginger, cilantro, red peppers, coconut milk. A perfect recipe that calls for sautéing each set of ingredients for just enough time to chop the next batch, and one longer stretch of simmering time to enjoy the smells mixing together. Cooking soup feel like witchcraft, stirring a huge pot with steam rising, listening to a little voice that tells you as you're measuring spices that just a little more cayenne will do the trick. A spell to let you know you are loved.
I believe in mind over matter. I think you can make a bad situation better by adopting a positive attitude, but I also think you should be very careful about when and why you do so. There are some situations that just aren't good. Struggling to make excuses for manipulative idiots and other despicable forms of power hungry bastard is dishonest. Some things are just plain wrong and I feel obligated to find these things painful so that I'm motivated to rail against them and make a change. No one ever started a revolution by turning that frown upside down.
My apartment is so empty that I can hear an echo whenever I speak. There are outlines on the wall where the paint is a slightly different color from the pictures I had hung and the edges stand out in such sharp contrast that they look dimensional. A few of my possessions remain. A couple hundred square feet to be scrubbed down and removed of any trace of five years' occupancy. I remember the first time I walked into this room, the overhead light shining on my brick wall view just as it is now. Nothing but stark clean potential.
I don't usually like to give in to the "meta" entries: writing 100 words about writing 100 words so you can read 100 words writing about 100 words on a website called 100 words. One word 100 times. I have a personal rule against stopping to count until I'm "done" and I try desperately to keep judgment about my writing out of my writing. (If you think I suck, you don't need me to tell you so.) But I want to acknowledge that this month has been a testament to discipline over inspiration. And I'm kind of proud of that.
Work until 3:00. Buy additional cleaning supplies, new cat box, and litter. Pack remaining necessities. Put everything that isn't in a box already in the trash. Clean closet. Disassemble bed and clean under it. Move all remaining possessions to closet. Sweep and wash floors and woodwork. Clean bathroom. Clean oven. Pack cleaning supplies and make final trip to trash. Move possessions to storage. Move cat, clothes, and self to friend's apartment and camp there until Saturday. Collapse into sick, sore, exhausted, crying heap on the floor. Be polite houseguest and hope that I at least get my security deposit back.
The Tip Jar