Saturday, May 27, 2017

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright. In the Darkness of the Night.

My dearest friends and readers.

Much has transpired since my last correspondence. I am sure many of you had presumed my untimely demise, considering the extent of my silence following the “full anesthetic procedure.” Do not grieve for me! I survived, though the devilish fiends kept one of my molars. A grisly souvenir. Now when I bite Mother, she wriggles her finger into the hole their thievery left behind and mutters “Nice try, gummy mouth.” I abide this mockery in pained silence. Given Mother’s delight at this gap in my defenses, I do not doubt “The Doctor”  will come back for the rest of my teeth in due time. I remain more vigilant than ever, waiting with the patience of a stone Buddha for the hour of my escape.

Due to recent developments, I suspect it grows nearer every day. First and foremost, Mother has added another prisoner to the ranks. I do not know where she came from, nor can I determine what species this enchanting creature attributes herself to. She has been reticent during our interactions. I can only assume the ongoing trauma of Mother’s depravity has rendered her voiceless. Mother calls her Beaux’a. Friends. Either my solitude has driven me completely mad, or she is the most beautiful creature to grace my vision. I could gaze upon her lithe and flowing form each day and never be satisfied.

Of course, Mother’s only true delight is pitting us against each other. Like gladiators grappling for glory beneath the bored eyes of the Emperor, we are forced into the aggressive and unending dance of violence. Because I fear what Mother’s retribution might be should we fail to entertain, I have taken it upon myself to ensure a worthwhile show. While Beaux’a writhes about, I fling my body skyward with surprising grace. I caper madly, and blindly swing my sheathed claws. I can only hope the artistry of my acrobatics will ensure Mother never discovers the truth: I would rather die a thousand fiery deaths at the hands of Beelzebub than harm a single feather on Beaux’a’s… head? Body? 

Under cover of night, I meet with Beaux’a privately to discuss our escape. I cradle her close to my body and smooth her ruffled feathers with my sandpaper tongue. The soft, glowing embers of my love warm us through the long nights where Beaux’a and I recline on the cold concrete floor. I cannot bring myself to abandon her for the comfort of Mother’s bed.

The second important development was a third visitation by the Steppes Mother. [Note: I can only assume that this moniker means she hails from the high, grassy wastelands of East Asia or Siberia. Either that or she is in fact the Steps Mother, an expert in all variety of dances. Based on my observations, the former is much more likely than the latter…] I do not know what incantation Mother uses to call her forth, but I feel this was not the last I will see of her.

The first time the Steppes Mother appeared at our doorstep, she struck fear in my heart. She entered, rolling behind her a loudly vibrating bag full of torture devices. They tried to reassure me, after the fact, that it was only a toothbrush. I have never in my life heard a toothbrush make such horrifying sounds, and remain convinced she had evoked some demon or other to taunt me. I remained leery of this new mother figure for a full thirty minutes. 

Upon her second arrival I was sure the Steppes Mother was here to stay. For half a fortnight she cohabitated with us. However, the Steppes Mother always leaves just as soon as she has arrived. It seems the only consistent thing about her is her unpredictability. I will closely monitor her coming and going.

When the Steppes Mother is here, Mother loses her mind. Reunited, the matriarchal overlords tumble about in bed at all hours of the day or night, sipping the vile bean brew or bottles of fizzy, fermented grape juice. When they leave the cocoon of blankets, they shamble about in various stages of undress, forgoing any sense of decency. Mother, with alarming frequency, bursts into song and dance. I can only assume this is an elaborate human courting ritual. I would be amiss if I did not admit, it warms my heart to see Mother so frolicsome. Much has changed in the last months, and it occurs to me with increasing frequency that Mother may not be the evil mastermind as I suspected. Perhaps we are boths pawns in the game of a crueler master: Grad School.

I feel strongly that my imminent escape hinges, indirectly, on the Steppes Mother’s intoxicating influence. When she is distracted with her elaborate courting rituals, Mother is far less vigilant. In fact, some would say the two of them neglect to notice me at all. Not that I mind, because I don’t. I neither require nor desire their boorish attempts at interacting with me… I have Beaux’a, my one true love. Rather than taking their outright disregard for my well-being as a slight, I capitalized on it, and I will continue to do so as long as the opportunities arise.

Yes, my dear ones. You read that correctly. Because of the matriarchal overlords’ reckless abandon I was able to fleetingly taste freedom once more! After several hours of drinking their vile devil’s brew (and weeping while staring at the flickering lapbox screen), they decided they both needed some “fresh air.” As she is wont to do, Mother propped up a solid wooden barrier between me and the glorious outdoors, allowing a breeze to pass through but keeping me frustratingly imprisoned. However, preoccupied as she was with soothing the Steppes Mother, she failed to notice a sizable gap between the sliding glass door and the barrier.

Without a thought for my own well-being, I darted through the hole and slipped into the darkness of night, sure the mothers would be hot on my heels. They weren’t. It’s true, my dear readers. It took them nearly ten minutes to realize their error and rouse enough concern to come searching for me. During that time, I contemplated my options. In my haste to escape I had forgotten Beaux’a. I could continue along my chosen path, become one with the night and disappear forever, or I could return to rescue my one true love and risk being recaptured. As I was ironing out my strategy, the Steppes Mother discovered my hiding place, and I was subjected to the indignity of being herded, sheeplike, back into the domicile. I will not soon forget this insult…

The Steppes Mother is gone once again. Mother has seemingly reemerged from her usual mourning period following the departure. At least she weeps less, and leaves bed earlier in the day. I am reunited with my twin flame, Beaux’a. The world keeps turning senselessly on its axis. Now that I have felt the cool fingertips of freedom tangled in my hair, I am more determined than ever to reunite with the wilderness. Until that opportunity presents itself, I will continue to placate Mother (simple creature that she is), patiently biding my time. Trust me, dear friends. The outside world has not seen the last of Murphy S. Law!

Your faithful companion, 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I'm So Fancy. You Already Know.

11:24am -- I’m a 90% yes for tonight but can’t stay out long because I have to get up early for work

3:45pm -- Ugh, yeah. It’ll be really nice to see everybody, I’m just bummed that I can’t go hard because I have to work tomorrow. I literally cannot function without sleep these days, you know

7:03pm -- I’m going out tonight for the first time since I think February… yeah, it’s my classmate’s birthday... I have to be up for work by 6… luckily it’s a Cash Only bar, so I can’t get crazy...I have two alarms set and I’ll tell everyone when I get there that I can’t stay long. I need to be home by 1

7:17pm -- Wanna grab a drink before, somewhere that isn’t cash only?

8:30ish -- Well, I mean… one more won’t kill me right?

9ish -- Hmm, I wonder if it’s going to be a bad idea to drink beer, then red wine, then tequila… Oh well!

An indeterminate amount of time later -- Yes, kind sir, I would like to sing Fancy on your karaoke machine. But the Iggy one, don’t pull that Reba shit on me.

??? -- Excuse me, can you help me work this ATM?

10:33pm -- [Outgoing call, 54 minutes] Mumble mumble marble mouth, slur stumble, murmur.

6am -- [Alarm goes off] No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Which is how I found myself eating a $4 breakfast burrito at 7:30am, praying the Holy Trinity of eggs, breakfast sausage, and tater tots would forgive me my trespasses, even as I forgive those who trespass against me. I can say with great certainty this is exactly how I did not want to feel during my last tutoring shift of the semester. You know what’s worse than a whole room full of stressed out, sleep-deprived, undernourished college students? Doing grammar edits for a whole room full of stressed out, sleep-deprived, undernourished college students.

But! We did it, people. Next Tuesday our class will turn in their final research paper. Thursday, after we eat snacks, listen to music, and celebrate the end of the semester, we’ll turn our sweet baby angels loose for an entire summer.

For those of you who don’t know what my real life looks like, here’s the 411. This spring I was hired into a local community college’s Instructional Apprentice program. Apprentices are embedded in a classroom and paired with a mentor prof. We get to help develop lesson plans, learn how to grade things, lead class discussions, and generally learn the ropes of #thatteacherlife with a safety net. On top of our hours in the classroom, we work shifts in the English Center, tutoring for every level of English and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). Let me tell you, some intense mind acrobatics go down when you’re helping one student practice verb tenses and providing another with organizational notes on a 5-7 page research paper.

Now that the fog has cleared and I have a two hour nap under my belt, I’m cozied up in bed with a mug of peppermint tea feeling reflective and also a little nauseous still, but that’s neither here nor there. Working at the English Center I met some incredible people, students and coworkers alike. Working with ESOL students, I got to see my language in a whole new light, through the lens of various cultures. I heard stories about arranged marriages, family members kidnapped by militias. It’s wild to read a paragraph about woman’s brother being captured during the Korean War. To tell her she needs to pay closer attention to her verb tenses.

When I applied to grad school, I wrote that I believe everybody has a story to tell and I want to be instrumental in helping them discover it. This semester I finally got to see what that looks like on a practical level and it’s just as good as I hoped it would be.

So. Since I didn’t say it before as I was stumbling out the door, I’ll say it now: thank you Universe for giving me so many opportunities this year. Thank you English Center for the experience and knowledge. Thank you community college food court, for putting tater tots in literally everything you sell. And thank you especially to my precious little band of tutees for sharing your stories, laughter, and delicious homemade snacks with me.

All my love,

Friday, May 12, 2017

There is no spoon.

The other day as I was buying beer, toilet paper, and ibuprofen from a man named Justice (who resembled John Goodman on several different levels), I thought to myself, “I should probably blog about this.”

Then I remembered I haven’t written a blog in months, and I panicked that maybe I don’t know how to write in my own voice anymore. So I went home and drank my beer, and cried a whole bunch, and wrote in my journal until I thought I should be tired. Turns out I wasn’t actually tired, it was just late. There’s a difference between those two things. While “tired” generally leads to turning out the lights and falling immediately into a peaceful sleep, “late” means restlessly tossing and turning, lightly dozing through two or three podcasts, and worrying endlessly about why your body refuses to become tired.

Thank god I bought that ibuprofen, I needed it for my sleep deprivation headache the next day.

I want to write something poignant and funny and heartfelt but not in a sappy way like my Facebook posts have been this last week, and not in a self-deprecating way, because that feels too easy. So maybe I’ll just stick to the facts. Wednesday, May 10th at 8:30pm I turned in my last assignment of my first year of grad school, which means I’m one third of the way through this MFA program. A lot of people, myself included, might expect me to feel relieved now that everything is done for the semester. Instead I feel guilty and restless. Guilty because there should be at least ten productive things I ought to be doing; restless because there aren’t.

Since turning in my last assignment I have watched a full season of Sense8, had drinks AND dinner with my little sister on two consecutive nights, taken three naps, spent hours mindlessly scrolling through social media, finished the book I was reading for pleasure, and proceeded to start another one. The only thing I haven’t done quite yet is crawl out of my own skin. Don’t worry, I think I’m getting close.

I don’t know how to explain what this reacclimation to my “real” life feels like, other than uncomfortable. Right now, I’m sitting on a couch in Del Mar next to a sleeping schnauzer, watching The Matrix, and this is literally all I have to do for the next 15 hours. Still, there’s something frantically spinning in the back of my mind saying Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop and it has the same heft and general shape as the existential crises that occasionally swallow up my afternoons.

Maybe I can only draw this parallel because I’m watching Keanu’s dumb face, but stepping into summer feels a little bit like The Matrix. Like for the last few days/weeks/months I’ve lived exclusively in my head, and now I’m suddenly acutely aware of what it means to have a body. A body with knotted shoulders, random acute abdominal pain, and potentially a consistent, low-grade fever. A body that seems larger and softer than I remember. A body that navigates space differently. In a few days my sweetie will be here, and I’m hoping that once I see her everything else will feel less like missing and more like real. I know, I know. That’s a lot of pressure for a person to live up to, but it’s where I’m at in this moment.

In the meantime I will watch this movie, and pet this dog, and try to get rid of some of these knots in my shoulders. Sidenote: I have a very important question. Why do people in movies just rip IVs out of their arms like it’s not a big deal to have a giant needle nested in your vein? I feel fairly certain that if I ever become suddenly conscious and I’m attached to wires and tubes, I will leave them there. Reason #1,459,385 I will likely not survive the apocalypse.

Hopefully in the near future I’ll resemble a human again, and be a little less puddly.

I love you all.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Brief & Incomplete List: #7

Things My Brain Has Resembled This Week:

  • Mashed potatoes. But not the kind of mashed potatoes that your aunt makes on Thanksgiving. The kind that are carefully selected, lovingly peeled, boiled, and mashed, then laden with butter, milk, cream cheese (shhh, family secret), and pure joy. More like the sort of mashed potatoes that started as dehydrated flakes in a box, and then you added a little too much water, because you don’t have butter or milk, and now they’re sort of a sad, insipid soup paste.

  • A bowl of that one flavor of pudding that nobody likes so the store puts it on sale, 10/$1, and you know you're not going to like it but you buy it anyways… because it's only $1. Now you’re stuck with one batch of cooked, probably Lemon or some other Citrus-type flavor, pudding and nine unopened boxes just staring at you sullenly every time you open the pantry, and you don’t know exactly where to go from here.

  • This blob fish:
  • The puddle that's still on the corner three days after the last rain storm, even though it’s been unusually warm for so early in the season, and every other puddle has evaporated. This one’s starting to look all murky and you're pretty sure if you stepped into it your leg would be swallowed up by a hellish, subterranean netherworld, so you make sure that both you and your small dog step very carefully around it every morning on your way to the office.

  • The aftermath of an underwater fistfight between a grizzly bear and a giant squid.

  • That jar of beach rocks that lives in your family’s coat closet, even though nobody is really sure where it came from or how long it’s been there.  Sometimes when you’re rummaging for an umbrella, or that one pair of running shoes that helps with your sciatica you’ll bump into it. You can appreciate it’s a nostalgic thing full of memories, but really. What's the point? It’s just taking up space.

  • The inside of your coffee maker the last time you ran out of filters but you were really desperate and running late for work, so you just put grounds straight into the basket and hoped for the best. If “the best” was a somehow simultaneously scorched and curdled mess of tarry residue clinging to your coffee maker’s innards, then you achieved it.

  • Ok, remember how in “Golidlocks and the Three Bears” there was porridge that was too hot, porridge that was too cold, and porridge that was just right? Now imagine the porridge that burned to the bottom of the pot, and Mama Bear threw it in the sink with some hot water to soak because she was tired from making all of that porridge, and raising a demanding Baby Bear is exhausting work, and Father Bear has seemed so distant lately, always on that damn iPad playing Candy Crush or some such bullshit, and she’s just so tired, but has also somehow convinced herself she'll come back to scrub it once things had loosened up a bit, and that was three days ago now. That porridge.  

  • Did I already talk about the pudding? I did, right? Oh my god I'm so tired.

In other news: grad school is going grrrrrreeeeeeat!

Catch you on the flipside, babies.