I’m an academic. And my guess is that you wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t told you, so I thought it best to get it out in the open first thing. When I approach matters of faith and religion, I tend to do so with my academic hat on. I detach from whatever vestiges of ingrained and indoctrinated belief remain within me, and I become instantly able to discuss and question anything and everything faith-related with Continue reading “RomComs in Academia”
I’m really not as bad as I used to be.
In 2011, I read a few TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) books and occasionally watched (with a smile on my face) the crazy people on Doomsday Preppers. I was also going through a bit of a nesting period in my relationship; it was on the rocks (to say the least), and planning for the future there (even if it was apocalyptic) let me delude myself into believing there was a future. Continue reading “Organized insanity”
I’ve said it before: in the past seven months, it’s been impossible for me to watch the news. I have about a 60 second window before my limit is reached, and then I just start screaming profanity at the television. (Doubtless, this makes me even more of a delight to live with than usual.) Because I can’t handle any mention of Trump (or of the institutionalized racism, misogyny, and overwhelming Continue reading “I’ll just be over here hiding under my blanket, reading.”
Sometimes, I feel a little less than inspired. Granted, I haven’t let the lack of inspiration stop me in the past couple weeks, but before that, I went months without writing at all. I’d feel bad about my inaction when I remembered — which was usually about the time I looked in the direction of my bookshelf and caught a glimpse of the beautiful, empty notebooks stashed there — but usually, I really didn’t think about it. Obviously, my urge to write has not always been so easily forgotten or dismissed.
In high school, for example, I carried a mid-size, spiral Mead notebook wherever I went. I wrote in class and at home, at band rehearsal and play practice. I didn’t bother to hide what I was doing, and I took more than my share of flak for doing it. Truth be told, somewhere in the back of my head, I’ve always felt a bit like Harriet the Spy when I carry around my notebooks. I can write whatever I want and it’s true and no one can debate me on it. I can think what I want to think and how I want to think it.
Writing in this forum has been an adjustment.
Nowadays, of course, my fallback excuse when I don’t get the writing done is the children, the chores, the cats, Donald Trump, The West Wing, and/or the insurmountable and all important READING LIST. Naturally, I’m only making these excuses in my own head; I set these arbitrary deadlines and quotas for myself. No one else is asking for my word count. But for some reason, it feels important that I (figuratively) get off my ass and do something, in some area of my life. There’s no two ways about it: our current political situation (which is also very personal and immediate to me and so many of the people I love) has got me down. I end up saying “fuck the diet” every day, regardless of how honorably I begin. I also say “fuck the cleaning,” “fuck the reading,” and “fuck everything else,” because even seven months later, sometimes it’s still difficult to put one foot in front of the other.
Writing makes me move. It makes me get other things done first before I can allow myself time to do it.
Today, while I was staring at the blank screen and fishing for a sentence with which to start, my sweet husband managed to convince me that instead, I should really come lay down with him and take a short nap. I never take naps, but Step-son was gone to a friend’s house, and even the cat looked exhausted. I had nothing in my head to write, so I decided to take the hand of the man I had to wait half my life to marry. Sometimes, it seems like I don’t choose him often enough or well enough, even though I try to be grateful for and mindful of every moment I get to spend with him. I slept draped over his chest like I haven’t since we were dating.
When we got up, I cooked supper and ran a load of dishes. My husband went to the store for a Coke and ended up with a pack of cigarettes and a pair of lottery tickets. We hope the lottery tickets win us enough change to send us to the Netherlands for the rest of our lives. The cigarettes are because they won’t.
Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll quit again tomorrow.
I still don’t know what to write.
First of all, I love you. You need to know that. You need to see it written down and really take it to heart and believe it, because I don’t say it very often and you tend not to hear schmaltz (You are 13, after all.) I also think that you are reluctant to admit that you share my feelings of affection, most likely owing to the very existence of your biological mother. Please know that — contrary to what you probably believe — I understand that you feel pressure to love your mother…both from her and from the universe at large. I also understand that you’re a teenager, and therefore you automatically want to do that which will annoy your father and me. You think loving your mother will accomplish that, but it’s not true. She’s your mother and of course you love her. What you don’t know yet is that some people don’t get the best moms, and they spend their whole lives wishing they could un-love their mother and undo all the damage she did to them. I’m so afraid that’s where you’ll end up. Please believe me when I say that this is my only feeling on the subject. If you could love her without danger to yourself, all I would have to say is “that’s terrific!” (and to be honest, there are times I could use a break from all your teenageryness). But you choose to love her up close, to spend more time with her than you should, and in so doing, to put yourself repeatedly and needlessly in harm’s way. When you come home from there — after several days of bar food, not sleeping at night, and only seeing her drunk if at all — you’re a total shit to us. I’m sure this is because you imagine yourself greatly inconvenienced to be back again in a house where you are actually looked after and parented. Regardless of how misunderstood you might feel at these moments, your father and I understand a lot more than we let on. We try not to pick up the horrible things you say to us, or even all the ways you act out. We make these allowances (for a little while) because we figure this behavior won’t last forever. Also because we love you. Both of us, not just the one you’re cloned from.
Have you got it? Great.
Now that the serious stuff is out of the way, here’s one of the many reasons I’m writing: Your Axe products are slowly killing me. Yes, I breathe better now that I quit smoking, but I also breathe better now that I quit smoking, if you see what I mean. Where I used to only react to about half of the smells in my environment, I am now subject to all of them, at full potency. When you take a shower and a bath a day and use far more than the required amount of product for both, it makes me think you want me dead and you’ve grown tired of waiting for nature to take its course (or the cat to take his revenge). In retaliation for this everyday attempt to end my life, I have started to rather passive/aggressively do a few things I never did before where you are concerned. First, I no longer go looking for the missing socks and underwear that are not in your laundry basket. This means you run out of both items a few days earlier than usual, and you are forced to make that pouty face because you can’t change two or three times a day. I am secretly amused by this to such an extent that I find it extremely difficult not to laugh like Renfield and wallow joyfully in your misfortune like Kitty Boy in catnip. In addition to vowing never again to search for your missing laundry, I have also gleefully stopped making tea. Admittedly, this used to bother you a lot more than it does now. But be on your guard, kid; I’m looking for something new and innovative with which to torture you as we speak.
Second, I know you don’t share my opinion on this, but Jesus, Spaghettios stink. Granted, this is another one of those smells that I notice more because of the non-smoking thing, but they reeked even when my sense of smell was compromised. But the actuality of the stench is not why I’m bringing this up; please, for the love of god PLEASE, stop making Spaghettios at 3AM. They wake me up out of a dead sleep, and I have to fight the dry heaves. The same goes for eggs, although I love those — when you’re sleeping, happily cocooned inside a fluffy cloud of blankets that smell good, anything being cooked is undesirable. Stop it. Eat when we eat. Sleep when we sleep. You are not a vampire or a drunk, you’re not on mood or behavior altering drugs, and there’s no reason for you to be awake and eating at that time of day.
Third, stop distracting me with stupid YouTube videos. More to the point, stop distracting me with endless and pointless chatter about stupid YouTube videos. There’s nothing for me to learn there, and engaging in “conversations” with you about something that took ten seconds to watch and was virtually incomprehensible does not make me feel as though I’m spending quality time with you. Remarkably, I also don’t find the endless videos of commentary about video games at all interesting. In fact, I’m not particularly interested in the video games themselves. Unless you’re talking to me about Final Fantasy or old school Mario Bros., count on getting nothing but a blank look back from me. Now, if you want to talk to me about the books you read in school or even about South Park and American Dad, I’m there. Unfortunately, it seems like you stopped watching quality, inappropriate television shows a couple years ago, and the truth is, I am still kind of reeling from the loss of my favorite kid’s perspective on the subject. Come back. At least sit on the couch with me for the Trump Show (formerly known as the news) and help me yell obscenities at the screen. I miss you.
Fourth: boy, I will cut you if you don’t start lifting the lid and hitting the bowl. Please note that this is a two-part statement. Both pieces are necessary to prevent my screaming my head off when I enter the bathroom after you. Now, I understand (from my brief time living in the house with your older brother) that this is some kind of a natural teenage boy thing, but come on. I knew you two years ago, and at that time, you were perfectly capable of putting your bodily fluids where they belong. If anything, my presence in your life has made you more civilized, so I seriously don’t understand this recent turn of events. You are not living in a barnyard, boy. Get it together. Otherwise, cleaning the bathroom will become a daily chore that moves over to your list. Heh….you think it’s hard to get your allowance now.
Fifth: if you’re trying to irritate me with your love of sub-par rap music (when I can barely stomach the really good stuff), you’ve succeeded. But you should know that if I keep hearing it playing on a loop at a steady and monotonous drone while you’re otherwise engaged with playing a game and chatting online, then I cannot be responsible for my actions. Your phone (from which the music streams) might just up and disappear. My little brother needs an iPhone, and I know for certain that I can trust him to use it to play decent music.
Finally, please PLEASE make an effort to be the boy I know you can be this year. Last year, you lied to us about homework, you didn’t study until you had nearly flunked out, and you hung around with the only thug in our corn-fed, miniscule town. I know you’re smart. I’ve talked to you. I’ve nearly fallen out of my chair a hundred times from laughing at some hilarious and undeniably smart thing you’ve said or done. I damn near have a master’s degree, I’ve read a shit-ton of books, and I have more life experience than I can stomach; you couldn’t possibly crack me up like you do if you weren’t above average. Please, show your teachers that side of yourself this year. You’re handsome and you’re charming, and nothing in the world could stop you if you stopped trying to stop yourself.
I love you, step-son. Get your shit together.
A month or so ago, The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article about keeping a journal in the age of Trump. As a person interested in both first person historical accounts of traumatic events and journal writing, the piece spoke to me, though probably not in the way (or for the reasons) the author intended. For one thing, I already keep a sporadic paper journal, though it mostly contains the extremely malleable and changeable nutso thoughts that run around in my head on a day-to-day basis and not so much commentary on the utterly sickening and terrifying political goings-on in our country. Obviously, I wouldn’t choose to ever have those personal pages put on display in a museum, and it’s likely that no one would want to see them anyway. Secondly, though it’s been many, many moons ago now, I once kept an online journal (with several names and incarnations) that covered all sorts of topics–from political to personal and back again. Point being, I don’t imagine the article above had my type of writing in mind with its call to action, nor do I think that the author was advocating any kind of online notation of current events…there are plenty of news and personal sites doing that already. No, I’m fairly certain the writer was attempting to convince its readers that future generations would thank them if they would take pen to paper and describe what effect the current political climate was having on typical individuals trying to live their normal lives (and if there’s an Anne Frank among them, so much the better).
Well, needless to say, I am not Anne Frank. I do have an on-the-ground perspective of the world in which we live, but I doubt seriously that it’s any different from others; mostly, I just use a lot of profanity and try not to throw things at the television. Nevertheless, I am a person “of a certain age,” and I remember fondly the days when people wrote on the internet because it was there and because there were other awesome people doing it. I want to go back to those times, and I cannot help but hope that this pilgrimage back to the ‘net of my misspent youth leads back to those ridiculously amazing people and that I find myself still among their number. But even if there are no nice and/or brilliant people left writing on the web these days, I’m spending this evening pounding on the keyboard because there was a call in that article a few months ago, and I heard it: IT’S BEEN A FREAKIN’ LOT OF YEARS, BOO, AND IT’S TIME TO WRITE ON THE INTERWEBS AGAIN.
Here goes nothin’…