I'm going to squeeze you a little harder than feels good.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The moon was like one of those gummy orange slice candies.
We were driving to Birmingham at night and listening to Belle & Sebastian (Beatrice loves it; she's much more emo than Elmo, haha, and with a frequently furrowed brow, and I see this and realize "she is being herself," "she is becoming herself," a process about which I can do precious little, a staggering thing, really, to see a small person becoming a person, with or without you, largely without you, I suspect, the first stirrings of all the letting go yet to come) and I was thinking about how very much I love being in the car, in the passenger seat, particularly at night. The horizon disappears so that it feels like we are driving straight into the night, that we are actually creating the road as we drive. I have this same thrill when I read something good, that I am creating the story as I read, that in my hands the book is becoming exactly what it was meant to become.
Beatrice, the road, the book; Beatrice, the road, the book. All three things becoming.
I don't know, lately it seems to *know* things that it doesn't actually know. Like I will get a lot of answers right while watching Jeopardy, even though the category is one that I recognize only hazily. Or I'll have an idea about someone or something that turns out to be spot on. I can't think of specific examples without making it sound as though what I'm explaining is some kind of sixth sense or a keen discernment faculty or whatever, and maybe that is what I'm talking about, but in its moment it feels more like I learned something while I was sleeping, and upon waking, the essence or aura (or is it the trace? I'll always love you Walter Benjamin) of the thing, the residue of the sleep-lesson, collects within me at a certain precise moment, which is maybe the same thing as recalling a kind of dream, but a very lucid one that can be applied to actual events like Jeopardy and the plots of movies and details about characters in books.
Meanwhile, I feel bored by almost everything that purports to be interesting or innovative (shut up everybody, just please shut up), and vastly entertained by exceedingly banal forms of leisure--television (not the "thinker" shows, either), food blogs (this one is smarter and more compelling than most lit-blogs that I habitually stumble around; it's cooking *and* theory; this post is maybe my favorite so far; Rachael Kendrick, let's mingle), Facebook. So while it seems like one lobe of my brain is getting sharper, completely of its own accord, the other lobe, the one that I'm supposedly more in control of, and probably supposed to be feeding nutritious bits of literature and culture, feels like it's on standby. (I know I'm not using "lobe" in an anatomically correct way here, but it still feels right.)
My diagnosis of this current condition is that it's probably the exactly-right climate in which to start writing something new...my front-most mind is pleasantly dulled, but its hindquarters are snapping and popping and noticing a lot. It's hard to leave The School but I feel like I must commit to trying.
In general I'm into the whole tagless t-shirt movement. It makes a shitload of sense: why attach an additional piece of fabric or paper to a shirt, when you can just stamp the inside-back with the necessary info.
But when I'm trying to get dressed in the dark--that is the exception.
* A bunch of months ago, Brian and I tried making up some new idioms. The only one that has seemed to stick is "sniffing 'round my/your/his/etc doghouse." It's pretty effective, as in, "I tried to leave the party unnoticed, but a bunch of people came sniffing 'round my doghouse." Or: "Can you skype from work, or will your boss start sniffing 'round your doghouse?"
* Currently wearing jeans, a shirt, and a sweater. Shirt is from 1994.
First of all, ever since I turned like 26 or 27 or something, I've been having a really hard time keeping track of how old I am. When I turned 29, I was somehow convinced that I was 30--all of that baseless, media-induced dread about 30 somehow got inside, and 29 just seemed like a pointless, brief layover of a number, so all of my tumult happened a year early. (I am prone to anticipatory anxiety.) So then actually turning 30 was a very serene experience; I felt happy and sort of relieved to be on the other side. I have loved my time in this decade. I spent a lot of energy in my 20s spinning my wheels. Some people might feel like getting married or starting a family are the things that make the wheels stop spinning, the signals that mean the crossing over (from instability and uncertainty into a kind of safety) has occurred. I didn't get married to feel "safe." If anything, it was almost the opposite: I got married to have adventures. Love is really the least safe activity, I think. We keep growing and, I don't know, molting together, and apart.
Time for a list because I am getting off track:
1. Thanks to my sister, I resolutely believe in even numbers more than odd. So 32 feels, by that standard, nicer than 31.
2. Last year, I was newly home from the hospital on my birthday, and the only thing "birthday" meant to me was Beatrice. Still there was a celebration, for me, or for the person who was turning 31, who was me, who was having a very out-of-body experience. I'd already received so much attention, and now there was this human who would receive so much attention, that opening presents and eating cake felt gratuitous, almost embarrassing.
3. In general I am filled with hope. This is, I'm learning, some fundamental part of my character--I hope. Back in September when I got the horrible flu, I spent about two weeks completely devoid of hope, and it was maybe the most frightened I've ever been. I love new mornings and new weeks and new years, for how they automatically refresh the hope that has dwindled, and give the sense that however badly we fucked up last time around, this time, we will do better. We will do great.
4. I have an earnest desire to live in another country for a while. This has been building over the past year.
5. I am at peace with my vanity, I think. I feel generally cheerful about how I look. I believe I am an odd-looking person with odd features that I have grown fond of. I am happy and grateful that I did not grow up "beautiful." I feel as if I have earned the right to play about with clothes and makeup, and I enjoy doing this.
6. For the most part, I have stopped comparing myself to other people and feeling covetous. I am a person of many jealousies, but they are of a fiercely intimate sort. I long for many, many things, but they are self-designed, ambitions that I've had for many years, that shift slightly in character but mostly stay intact. When I put them in concrete terms, they sound ridiculous, impossible, so I usually don't. They just hover around my life and become visible when I am alone and quiet--like stars in the daytime and then stars at night--and they feel so reachable and amazing, and just looking at them fills me with something wild. And then I feel: I need to act! I need to do more! I'll never get there unless...! But then they blink out and I take a deep breath and go about my life, but perhaps with a little more intensity. I think this is at least partly what I mean when I talk about hope.
7. I thought for a while that there was a deep chasm between my cynicism and my tenderness. I'm beginning to think, though, that these things work in concert.
8. I used to think about myself all the time, and I definitely still think about myself a lot, but I feel that a rather riotous change has occurred, like a great coating of ectoplasm has been pulled away from my most primordial layer, deafening suction sound and all: these days, I think about love. All the time.
9. I want to get better at it. My nicer parts are getting nicer, I think, but my horrible parts might be getting more horrible also. On the other hand, I think that my opinions about things are getting stronger, but my ability to keep them inside is also getting stronger. I used to consider keeping things inside as some form of cowardice, which of course it can be. But it can also be a form of love.
10. I say my prayers. I pray for good judgment. I pray for more love.
11. I love reading US Weekly, etc., at the gym and if I get my nails done, but I have stopped spending time on the corresponding websites. No real statement to make about that--one day, I just sort of stopped. My obsession with famous people is now a bit more limited to people writing books and such, or people doing other small things with great focus and at least the semblance of honesty, people whose lives have been marred and inconvenienced with some need to make art.
I think eleven is plenty. To practice: "I am 32." Thirty-two. Yes. Good.