Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Brief & Incomplete List: #4

Things I’ve learned in my adult life:

The word "ergonomic" pertains to my life.
I’ve long considered myself a fairly resilient human. It doesn’t take much to make me comfortable. I’ve used the same pillows since 2008. I rode my bicycle for over a year before replacing the tattered, cushion-less seat. I rarely consider the arches in my shoes, my lack of air conditioning, or the other myriad implements designed to make every-day living painless.

But after two years of slouching at my desk for 40 hours per week, I recently experienced Back Pain. Not satisfying, exercise related muscle fatigue. Not the slightly unpleasant tension associated with marathon Netflix watching. This was pinched nerve, shooting-fiery-agony Back Pain. For three days I prayed a very tall person would scoop me up and aggressively shake me until the pinched nerve became somehow un-pinched.

Due to MacGyver-esque utilization of a large rubber band ball, I can walk without dramatically clutching at my lower back. But the painful memory lingers in the back of my mind. The lesson: posture matters, and not even just a little bit. Seriously, it’s a real thing that you should all consider and probably be a little bit concerned about.

Driving barefoot is not illegal.
Considering my mother spent 95% of my childhood barefoot, I have a strange concept of what humans can and cannot do without shoes. Grocery shopping, hiking, marathon-running? A-ok! Operating a motor vehicle? Oh hell no.

[Sidenote: barefoot bike riding. How often does the toe of my shoe become lodged in my bicycle chain? Never. How often do I worry my toes will be ripped off my foot after becoming lodged in my bicycle chain? Always.]

I don’t know who told me driving barefoot was illegal. I do know the idea became deeply engrained in my brain, influencing my perception of the world and my position in it until approximately two weeks ago. For years I’ve felt a secret thrill getting away with barefoot driving. The same thrill I get from jay walking. Or hacking into my roommate’s Hulu Plus account, which she totally gave me permission to hack into. The little things keep me going.

Anyways. I don’t want to ruin it for my fellow thrill seekers, but driving barefoot is totally not illegal. Strongly discouraged, and considered the tiniest bit reckless. Still not illegal.

I’ve been a lifelong sunscreen shirker. When asked if I need sunscreen I’ve historically cocked an eyebrow while raising my arms in an outstretched, who- the-hell-do-you-think-you’re-talking-to gesture.

To everybody I’ve scoffed at: I’m so sorry. You were right. Sun safety is a legitimate concern and I’m sorry I ever doubted you. There’s nothing cool or sexy about weeping sunburn blisters. Or peeling silver dollar-sized clumps of dead skin from your ass and thighs. It’s actually rather embarrassing to raise a flurry of white flakes when picking your pants off the floor. Not a few flakes, a veritable blizzard. A skin blizzard. A blizzard of skin. Human skin. My skin. Human flakes.

I’m sorry to say I haven’t turned the corner on sunscreen avoidance. But I’m ready to acknowledge the validity of sunscreen use. I’ve come to terms with my mortality, and accepted the sun’s undeniable dominion over my pasty, Oregon skin.

Glitter and baby oil are equally difficult to remove from your hair.
And your bed. And your car. And the couch. And any clothing worn 48-hours post encounter.

Keep it real, dream weavers. I believe you too can make it through the night.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dear Allen Ginsberg: I don't know you but...

In 2006 I bought a little black, spiral bound notebook. 500 sheets of unlined paper, front cover stamped with blocky silver letters. I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness. It was the winter break before my senior year of high school, and I was visiting friends in San Francisco.

That was my first time in a city, my first time traveling of my own accord. My friends’ apartment: an upper-level studio. Mattress on the floor of the walk-in closet, couch beneath the living room window. Kitchen, bathroom, living room, closet. I could touch every wall with ten steps, but I didn't. I spent so much time being still there, on the couch beneath the window. Watching street lights, listening to street sounds. Laughter, and yelling. Broken glass, and sirens heralding strangers’ tragedies.

Starving. Hysterical. Naked.

Sixteen years old and my first time in a city. Wandering through City Lights Bookstore, running my fingers along spines, and spines, and spines. Everything feeling heavy; feeling meaningful the way you expect things to feel meaningful when you’re sixteen and realize a city could swallow your heart.

The day before, I navigated the slow-moving weave of the line wrapped around a Western Union. Bounced on the balls of my feet, eager to retrieve the emergency funds my parents wired 1,032 miles in the middle of the night. I remember my mother driving 30 miles into town, the babies in tow, after I called and said hungry. After I called and said broke.   

That day in the bookstore I weighed hunger against novelty. I forfeited dinner for two things: the book that would redefine my life and the one that would record it.

Epiphanies! Despairs! Ten years’ animal screams and suicides! Minds! New loves! Mad generation! down on the rocks of Time!

New Years’ Eve and sixteen. In the city that swallowed my heart I wrote:

“Poverty huddles in a corner, wears a blue stocking cap, scrounges up small change. While four gay men flirt shamelessly, and I wonder why I’m ashamed. Life dresses in white, head to toe. He has change in his pocket, liquor on his breath. The city blooms like a cancer you learn to love: a tumble of light and sound cascading down the hills. There’s always rain, some days it just refuses to fall.”

I remember a white suit, and a cane, and a smile. All teeth like something out of a movie, tipping his top hat with a flourish. The streets that smelled like piss and sparkled like gold. Little piles of white powder tediously measured in the back of the city bus. My friend elbowing me, whisper yelling Don’t look like you’re looking, but look. Everything killdeer before I even knew killdeer existed.

This year Portland, Oregon. The summer heat broken like a collective sigh of relief. This morning: my bare feet on wet pavement for the first time in months. Everything easy like suns setting, reflected in mirrored sunglasses. A blur of bridge and city and skyline. The dirty waterfront full of human being stories. Everything easy, like That Girl smiling the smile that makes my bones featherlight.    

Real holy laughter in the river! They saw it all! the wild eyes! the holy yells! They bade farewell! They jumped off the roof! to solitude! waving! carrying flowers! Down to the river! into the street!

Eight years later there are 15 blank pages in that black, spiral bound notebook. Across the top of one I scrawl I am 25 years old, and I am not sad. And I think perhaps that’s all I have to say right now. Sometimes I hold this book full of loss/regret/despair. There are so many selves caught between these pages. I am 25 years old. I am not sad. Scattered between the journal entries, I find letters to a future self. And tonight (for perhaps the first time) I’m glad I listened to their advice. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I am a magnificent, fucked up universe.

I am a body of extremes. Too hot to eat, too happy to write. Too tired to sleep. Hunger/nausea, sobriety/intoxication, exhaustion/mania. Teach me the meaning of moderation; this dictionary excluded it.

Tonight: sinking into my bed, with the fresh sheets, and the pillows stacked justso, and the heat that keeps skin from touching skin from touching. Sink into this bed. Sink into that space where the words live. Somewhere behind my throat. I unfold into this pulse. Into this taut and scraped body. Into these knees; into pain like a knife’s edge under the throbbing spider web nerve endings. I have been knitting new skeins of scar tissue, slowing the mechanism.

Entropy (entrəpē) noun:  lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder. See also: the way shadows drape across playgrounds. Our bodies clothed in moonlight, sunlight, the dirty crumbling streetlights. I never trust white sheets. I mean I never trust myself to be clean.

I want to write a poem about your hands, but every word sounds so trite. Teach me to transcribe the language of your forehead. The way your eyebrows says Come hither like my hips (shoulder width and thrust forward, chin to sky and eyes unfocused, kissing horizons.) The river divulging gifts as the sun sank behind my consciousness. 

There’s this thing I do lately where I’m talking. I feel my tongue moving. The vocal cords create a series of vibrations that resonate. Tongue, lips, teeth. The ears register resonations, forming coherent combinations of speech. The brain slips, disengaged, and I don’t know what’s coming out of my mouth until it’s said. Two nights ago the full moon leaned close to hear me say I’m scared. To hear me say I need. Or maybe I didn’t say those things at all. But we left anyways, bare skin and a stolen flower. Remembering daisies, the way bears sneeze, and sneeze, and sneeze. But I held it to my face like oxygen, walking the blocks that seem so long in the dark.

Then your kitchen. Then bones propped against counters and hard wood. Mouths, and hands, and words, and I don’t know how to explain what you mean to me. Let’s disregard chronology because it just makes us crazy. Or sad. And by us I mean me. Three days prior I tell a friend She is a good person to We with. You can wordify anything if you verb it. Friday night: Strawberry Wine and a slow-motion spin. Lessons in physics. Lessons in geometry. Straddling the tire swing, world careening, and entropy taking the backseat to centripetal force. The physics of our bodies stacked together under moonlight.

It’s easier when there are no boundaries, I said. I said, When there are no lines I can’t cross them. The slant of Katherine's mouth calls me chickenshit and I know she’s probably right. I pay her to call me out. I move in circles, and circles, and circles. I don't want to fuck this up. A yellow legal pad, and the words I’ll never see.

But there. Acknowledging the We of us in your kitchen, propped against cupboards and hardwood. Eventually, morning. Eventually wake up, wake up, and Did you know? you say. You say, They call it the thunder moon, while the horizon chafes and I wonder about rain. Memorize the ways yellow light and grey sheets cling to your body. What if you didn’t know what wind was? you say. You say How would you explain the way trees move? A green expanse of trunk shimmies over your neighbor’s rooftop, unexplained.

This is how I say I love you. Sprawled across the tabletop, hands outstretched thinking Hold this, hold this, hold this. Hold the Me of me. Sometimes I am terrified and small, and sorry. I hope you know that some days I have to be invisible. Or a bear. I guess that’s at the heart of this. I was worried that if I started needing you I’d never stop. I don't want to stop. Please, cradle me gracefully. Pour over me like moonlight on a tire swing.

I want to make a meal of your kneecaps. And I don’t know how to write, don’t know how to write, don’t know how to write this out. Or write about kissing hard lines and rigidity. A wrenching in the angle of the jaw. Between us: nothing rigid. Everything animal, somehow soft. Even when you sink your teeth into the meat of me. Fold me into the den of your ribcage. Claim my neck with your side-to-side wobble. Please fill this body’s empty space.

I’ll find words for your hands eventually.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hideaway with me some more.

Homo Hideaway
Room type: Entire home/apt
Accommodates: 16+
Bedrooms: 5
Bathrooms: 3
Beds: 14

This gorgeous home was perfectly suited for the 2014 Tranquil Women’s Overnight Crafting and Prayer Retreat. Nestled in a charming gated community, we rested easily knowing our activities wouldn’t unnecessarily pester the neighbors. The guaranteed privacy also facilitated an unanticipated amount of daytime nudity. The winding mountainous drive past the lake was breathtaking. Granted, we enjoyed the vertiginous scenic overlook much more before the debilitating two-day hangovers.

The two-story, 5 bedroom “cabin” comfortably slept the six of us. The heart-warming sayings and Jesus-chic décor reinforced our already strong sense of integrity. We appreciated but didn’t utilize the multiple bunk beds, upstairs living room, and creepy gender-specific playrooms. Unfortunately our stay was too short to peruse the extensive library of self-help and religious lifestyle books! However, we were able to huddle around the scrapbook and read aloud the Hideaway story. We noticed that somebody-definitely-not-us spilled red liquid in the binding. Grape juice, perhaps? Children are so careless! We thoughtfully tucked it into the bottom of the blanket hamper upon departure. We wouldn’t want it to sustain any more damage.

While we appreciated the house’s rules, the absence of a corkscrew made it very difficult to break the No Alcohol policy. Not to fret! We’re an incredibly resourceful bunch. Through sheer determination and teamwork, we successfully opened 2 bottles of wine before reinforcements arrived. The spacious kitchen was perfect for family-style breakfast as well as shoveling molten hot pizza into our drunk little faces.

The sports equipment in the garage allowed us to participate in all manner of non-homosexual physical activities. Between football, soccer, and basketball we were occupied for longer than anyone anticipated. We also tested the limits of how many balls a human can juggle while holding a mimosa. The property’s rolling green hills were perfect for rolling down, though we might suggest the owners install a safety net at the bottom? Nudity, high velocity rolling, and thorny underbrush made an unpleasant combination.

Our group was also visited by some charming wildlife! Vladimir the toad forever etched his small, slimy self into our hearts and souls.

The real star of the weekend was the hot tub (or the Tepid Tub as we affectionately nicknamed it). The first day we couldn’t figure out the broken heating mechanism. But once we put our thinking caps on/removed several of the clogged filters, the tub reached a comfortable 104 degrees. The hours of naked soaking really cultivated a sense of group camaraderie. We were able to participate in cooperative activities such as hand-feeding each other, and exuberantly singing our unofficial anthem, Fancy. The hardest part of the whole trip was leaving the hot tub. Literally, exiting the hot tub after hours of drinking was a feat! Luckily I had my elbows, shins, and face to catch my fall.

[Sidenote: the mucky human sludge that resulted from forgetting to reinstall the clogged filters overnight made avoiding the hot tub Sunday morning much easier.]

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Spiffy’s restaurant. Their charming buffet included a salad bar, breakfast bar, and a dessert table. The congealed gravy and weirdly sticky sausage paired well with ranch dressing and lemon bars. Several cups of lukewarm coffee ensured our stomachs stayed in a moderately distressed state for hours after the fact.

Overall, Homo Hideaway was an enriching experience in sisterly solidarity and bonding. We left that gated community with our hearts full of love and our cars full of empty bottles, cans, and wine boxes. Our livers and that house may have suffered irreparable damage, but the blurry half-memories will warm our hearts longer than a tepid tub.

Angels on your body.

                -b (+ the Tranquil Women’s Crafting and Prayer Circle)