Monday, February 29, 2016

A Big Pile of Dumb, Frayed and Worn Thread

It was my intention to submit my writing to a publication that has called for essays, short stories, or poetry on the theme of distraction. In researching my own writing for a seed to plant (I was hoping some crops would yield in time for a Monday deadline...or at the very least maybe,like, a small, bruised tomato), I was struck by the living, breathing irony of getting distracted by memories of writing about being distracted and distracting myself by writing about how distracted I am. When I first heard the theme, I assumed it would be easy to find something and expand upon it. I must have volumes of poetry, essays and stories on distraction. And I was able to find a bunch of stuff I could work with and expand. I just don't see it happening in time for this deadline. I am, ironically, so distracted by my own distraction and it isn't cute or meta. It is an obstacle. Ultimately, crafting a piece about distraction will boil down to honing in on one or two ideas and adding water, maybe some Miracle-Gro. Or I could show up to work on an average day and let an example of how distractable I am just unspool in front of me like a big pile of dumb, frayed and worn thread. Here's a great example:

Last week, the library patron I call the Haitian professor brought me both an article on feminism to read as well as a piece of violet chocolate so violently fragrant and rich from a Belgian chocolatier that I sighed when I bit into it. Chocolate and intellectual discourse... sometimes my job works for me.

I was able to kill around 30 minutes or so researching the brand of Belgian chocolates that made the delightful violet candies which then led me to look up those Belgian boys I met last summer and which Facebook provides ample photographic evidence that yes, they were incredibly good looking and no, I did not invent them. Then I got to reminiscing about the liquid gold of Orval beer and that glorious Belgian street waffle that cost me a euro and changed the way I look at and eat waffles for eternity. I remembered that one of those Belgian guys was on his Tinder account while we were at the bar and I remember thinking how easy it would be to date in Brussels. Or how easy it would be to date ME in Brussels since you would only have to give me beer and waffles. And moules et frites. And say something in Dutch.

Ahhhhh dating. In mining my archives I found some notes about the one time I tried speed dating. That glorious event resulted in my going on two dates with two guys, one of whom was just horrendous and the other of whom, looking back, I can only describe as vague and forgettable. I feel bad about that but, that's life. Sometimes people are a slightly more fleshed out version of a memory of a person. That was that dude. 
It was jarring to remember that I ever did a speed dating event. I am so spectacularly bad at dating, it is really just ridiculous. I learned early on in my life that I'm bad at small talk, bad at being polite for polite's sake, bad at inflating egos for the sake of being liked, bad at talking about myself (but exceptionally prolific at writing about myself, apparently), and really just abysmal at flirting, innuendo and taking things to the next level. I develop crushes easily but always assume they are unrequited and often need to be told directly "I like you, let's go out." So speed dating, at the time, seemed like a structured, direct way to do this. You'd see someone's face, hear his voice, pick up on any sociopathic vibes and fill out a handy little checklist and if the feeling is mutual, boom. Date. I've said it before, I'll say it again, we should extend the "If you like me, check yes or no" notes from childhood into adulthood.

And an hour had passed and I hadn't finished my essay and I hadn't done anything productive and short of turning off portions of my brain, I don't have a fix for this.

I just have this stupid blog.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


I don't have a mind made for meetings. This has always been true, from the moment I entered the working world. Sit me around a table with a group of others, pens gripped in their hands, fluorescent lights above us buzzing and my body appears present while my brain is out to lunch. My mind works in a way that absorbs every detail of the room around me anyway. So, when given leave to sit quietly facing other people and allow me to get away with half listening and I'm taking a trip. It's why I'll likely never be a manager anywhere. Managers of things see value in meetings. I see talking in circles and fodder for characters.

I took notes. Reading them back now, I learned a few things and none of them had anything to do with the other. For example:

  • There is still money in the budget to buy testing guides and my boss has incongruously sparkling nails. They match nothing on her person, not her age or style or personality.

  • A coworker was brazenly reading the paper during the meeting. If my boss noticed this, she ignored it. I suppose I can't point fingers since I wasn't listening to anything that was being said, really. 

  • Administration is pushing us all to do more things, regardless of whether or not they are needed or make sense and the break room where the staff meets, eats lunch, and takes naps is located underneath the public toilets. Whenever anyone upstairs flushes, there is a sound not unlike a dying lawnmower being revved. It is difficult to eat lunch in that room and not think about the general public flushing the toilet.

  •  I'm not being given a key to get into the building, ever and I've worked here for six months and I know for certain that it isn't for me and I'm depressed about it. 

That's what I learned in today's meeting and it was just as productive as every other meeting I've ever attended.

I had yesterday off, during which I did some freelance work and wrote quite a bit. I had started a long blog post about being very sick ten years ago but as I was writing it, it turned out to be the beginning of a short story. So it likely won't make an appearance on the blog but it marks one of the only times my writing a blog post functioned in the way I envisioned it would: as a jumpstart to my fiction. Who knows if it will become anything but I thought it was interesting.

Other than that, not much else is going on. February is mercifully nearly done and I reach out for springtime like Indiana Jones reaches for the Holy Grail. I can almost reach it.

I've been wanting to spend some time in an art museum lately. The last visit I took was to PS1 and I had a buzz going and it was just inundated with the one factor that generally ruins art museums for me: too many people. I just remember looking at a series of miniature cities that had mismatched landmarks and what I got from it was confusion. There was also a group of young women who kept asking people to take their photo in front of one of the art pieces. So PS1 is out. Where else should I go? I'm thinking about Expressionism. I just feel in the mood to see the world in bold colors and jagged edges, maybe a distorted face or two. Do you want to come with me?

Friday, February 12, 2016


I face the world with whatever courage I can muster. Most days it doesn't even feel like an effort but more of a rote habit, like the way I make my coffee or the pleasantries I exchange with the people around me most of my daily life.  I wrap myself up in a cocoon, in layers of cocoons that I've spent years spinning out of sarcasm and experience and humorous deflection but Jesus, sometimes. Sometimes I'm walking home from the train and the streets are empty and my head is empty and my apartment is empty and it strikes me as ironic how the absence of something has the identical impact of a million somethings. And then, when I get inside and I turn on a light it feels so good to let everything splash to the floor, disperse and trickle slowly in between the myriad cracks in the floor, like an offering to this old man of a building. This room has probably seen actual problems had by actual people over the years. So the eroded shadow of a silly little woman shaped bean is just a small addition to the hill.

So now that that's out of the way, now that I've had my occasional (still can't spell that word on the first try) good, hard cry,  now that I've gotten up and made myself something to eat and poured a glass of wine, now that I've talked myself out of feeling a certain way with all the rationale in my arsenal and now that I'm okay with being alone again, I can work on my epic sarcasm about how I have spent the better part of the last thirteen years of my life. The upside of all THAT is that this shit is writing itself, every single day I'm employed. It is, in fact, the only thing I enjoy about my current job....the potential for it to be part of my book.

So what else happened today?

During my lunch break, I went outside to get something and realized that the closest liquor store, to my job is quite literally called the following:

Wine + Liquor = 

I'm not making that up; that name is on the awning in front of the store. Just Google "Liquor stores on 104th street in Corona" and the image that accompanies the results proves it. I've gone in there a few times and, despite everything, including all of the inventory, being behind bulletproof glass, the owners seem to be savvy and have their shit together. So I have to assume they were dipping into the merchandise when it came time to name their business.

As I passed by this afternoon there was a group of about six men, all wreaking of booze and eating white rice and chicken out of take out containers, laughing loudly about some slurred thing or another. At what point does a group of friends convene of a Friday afternoon, pickled and laughing and eating rice outside the Wine + Liquor= Drunk Face? A question for the ages, really.

I also passed a man today who was unloading a truck of produce into the side entrance of a supermarket. I noticed he was holding a crate of avocados and I suppose my eyes were following the bright green fruits, nestled snugly into place and how they conjured warmer than 25 degree climates when I made Accidental Eye Contact (AEC), one of my lifetime weaknesses. He responded to this by saying, "Chulita adonde vas?" (Cutie, where are you going?) And I wondered how, underneath my heavy down coat and wool hat underneath a fur lined hood and scarf wrapped triple around my neck....I still managed to make AEC and about how, short of wearing a blindfold, I could prevent myself from doing it. I do practice with my cats from time to time, so maybe that'll stick eventually.

Anyway, I don't have much else to add today. Except that I was reading some old writing and I wrote the following about my day in February, 2005 and I like that I wrote it because, like today, I want to be able to read and remember what it was like on an average day, ten or eleven years before.

February 1, 2005
over a rather sickly, sticky, syrupy breakfast the young greek waitress asked if i was an actress and would i consider being an actress and "you just have one of those faces." she was glancing peripherally at the manuscript i was reading, droplets of coffee soaking through the top two pages as i stirred horrible sweetener and noticed my pinky toe sliding through an unseen hole in my sock.
"no, i'm not an actress." i said, and i wanted to add "but i feel so dramatic all the time. so, maybe i am a little bit of an actress." 
instead i just chuckled nervously and said i was reading an unpublished novel (the truth) that i was enjoying (a lie). she asked if i knew the author. i said no (the truth) but that i was kind of proofreading it(a lie). i had no real reason to punctuate with lies, small as they were. i just acting.
and i wanted to sit in there all day long. just me, my coffee, the manuscript and the waitress. just bullshitting the day away.
then, later, as i trudged my way up the subway stairs i tried to remind myself that someday very, very soon, i'm going to have to stop twiddling my thumbs through day after day.

....also, to remember that apparently nothing really ever changes. Jeez.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Number 16 is wine.

I'm feeling pretty low today, round and heavy all through the middle, like I'm anchored in place by something at my core. I'm forever stood at the end of a splintered, wooden dock and it's always the twilight of a long day of me trying too hard. Like Gatsby before me, I'm staring at a green signal that is so far outside of myself that it seems like a satellite bound for Neptune, flicking off and on and off again in unpredictable patterns I'll never discern. It's lonely but that little light reminds me that there are people out there, at the other end of the pier and if I just reach out far enough, I might get to touch them. And I keep looking, checking to see if its time yet, hoping hard for just the opportunity.

What is it about the middle of the week in the middle of a month set aside for heart shaped candies and construction paper I love yous that does it to me? I don't even believe in that kind of love, the one with the office equipment visible just behind the plastic smothered roses in the pictures everywhere. I don't like roses. Or diamonds. I DO like those Smartie hearts that say things like coax me and let's do it in the bathroom and come out and pretend we weren't. I also enjoy valentines made by children because the hearts are usually lopsided and off kilter and my kind of love is weird and expressionist and kids can do that so well without even trying.

I don't want a pity party here tonight. I want to be cheered up. So I'm going to try to think about the things I do find romantic. Here's a random list of the first fifteen things that spring to mind.

Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
The final scene in City Lights
Lloyd Dobler (just the character, not necessarily the film Say Anything)
The Apartment (particularly the dinner scene and the Robinson Crusoe line)
Roxanne (even though I kind of deeply dislike Daryl Hannah)
Johnsburg, Illinois by Tom Waits
Lovesong by The Cure
First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
Slow Show by The National
Chateau Lobby #4 by Father John Misty
One Day by David Nicholls
"For Grace, After a Party" by Frank O'Hara
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
"now all the fingers of this tree (darling)..." by e.e. cummings

Now, somewhere in this blog post I've hidden the easter egg of what number 16 would be. Eagle eyed readers will find it. When you do, send a self addressed stamped envelope to Pueblo, Co for your prize.