Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Holiday Query

You know the turducken? It's a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey? A beautiful example of how American excess can lead to art. I would definitely want to sample it, though I want to apologize in advance to my animal friends. I wish they could make a vegetarian version.

But if a tofu turkey is called a Tofurkey, what would a tofu turducken be called?

Monday, December 17, 2007

They Say One Was a Sailor

So my brother posted on his blog today that Dan Fogelberg died. He was one year younger than my Dad. My brother posted the lyrics to his favorite Dan Fogelberg song, "Forefathers." Just click here real quick and check it out.

Um, why did this post make me cry? It's Dan Fogelberg.

It reminds me of my Mom listening to this song in her car late at night driving back from the grocery store when she was super into genealogy.

Forefathers belong in faded black and white pictures. They have big beards and nobody except old people knew them. I don't want my Dad to be a forefather. I just want him to still be my regular old father.



I remember thinking that that song was off because those of us who don't have children don't become forefathers. I was wrong, though, because I'm Marley and Jack's Aunt Susanna. And my spinster Aunt Madge, my grandmother's sister, whom I would consider believing in an afterlife for just so I could ask her if she ever had sex, is certainly one of my forefathers.

I doubt I will be a spinster though, and if I end up with someone who is neither selfish, lazy, nor sexist, I might even consider popping one or two out. Consider. I do have excellent, sexy genes.

Now that I'm part of the dead-parent club (we have patches), I hear that many people, especially those who don't believe in harps and bubblegum clouds, find comfort in feeling their parent's presence in themselves. "Though the generations wander, the lineage survives."

I am quoting "forefathers" to prove a point. I have become a monster.

***

Friday, December 14, 2007

Study Break, Wait, Where's my Cardigan?

I finished my Freud class yesterday. Now I can go back to using psycho-babble without fear of infamy. I can throw around fetish, projection, resistance, and sublimation just like I used to when I didn't know what the hell they really meant. My Freud class was alright, but we never really questioned his the authority of his giant phallus. I think I sub-consciously resisted this throughout the semester by drawing curve after french curve in the margins of my paper. Freud isn't what you think his is, though. He's not an asshole, just a pessimist. My main beef with him was that he admitted he wasn't trying to make people happy; he just wanted them to be normally unhappy like everyone else. That's so black-turtleneck-coffee-shop. I like kittens and rainbows.

I celebrated last night by watching a few episodes of the American version of the Office and eating too many cookies and an entire chocolate bar. I can tell I'm stressed out when I eat too many cookies, can't sleep even though I'm tired, and buy $50 Betsey Johnson cashmere tights that I can't afford because they have hearts on them(!).

I had a dream last night that I worked in an office and it was just me and bunch of men. We were doing some sort of team building exercise that required us to be wearing work out clothes. One of the guys was wearing a Hooters shirt. I told my boss very forthrightly, "This is discrimination. It's sexual harassment. I will not tolerate it, and I think to make it up to me all of the men should take off their shirts and serve me."

12 pages down, 40 to go! Onward Ho!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I hereby do solemnly swear:

Today I have made a solemn promise to myself and to my fellow human beings. As my friends, family, and sympathetic subjects, I ask you to support me as I stalwartly uphold this solemn promise for the rest of my life. Should I deviate from this oath, I ask you to hold me accountable and take punitive action, including possible physical punishment, as recourse. If a person's word is meaningless, where lies the fabric of our great society? What can we rely on if not the solemn vows of a strong-hearted woman with sturdy hips?

I solemnly swear that I will NEVER EVER EVER title anything I ever write, including books, short stories, journal articles, crappily written term papers, even blog posts, with ANYTHING in half parentheses signifying double meaning. You will never see any "'World and Time': On the (De)Construction of Marvell's 'To His Coy Mistress'" or "Feminist Rewritings of Early Modern Message Books: The (R)evolution of Desire" or "'What Dreams Are Made Of': Problems with Miranda and Caliban's (In)Equality in Shakespeare's The Tempest" or "'Met Him Pike Hoses': (Trans)Migration in Early Twentieth Century Ireland."

I also pledge that, no more than 5 times in my entire academic career will I identify an absence-presence myself, unless I am citing another author.

This I do solemnly swear, on the 6th of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand and seven, in the ninth hour and fifty-seventh minute, Pacific Standard time. Amen.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I got herbs and spices in my stomach

I love Vic Chesnutt. He's one of the best song writers. Sometimes the bands he plays with are a little annoying, but usually if its just him, all is well. He's just so damn witty in the way that Southern folks are best at. And like a good Southerner, he can rhyme "epoch" with "got" and almost any vowel together. Mr. Chesnutt's been in a wheelchair since he was 18 and he writes songs making fun of people who patronize him for being so brave. And also like a good Southerner, the song isn't angry; it just makes them look like idiots. Chesnutt has a song about a eunuch who isn't one and who takes advantage of his job position to the delight of a whole harem. He has a song with the lyric "cotton briefs between her cheeks." One of my favorites is a song about how he should have died when he got into a terrible car accident when he was 18 that put him in the wheelchair he's in now. Part of the lyrics are:

"I should have been buried long ago
But they electric shocked me though
I oughta be pushing up the pine straw
But people can't die anymore

I'm embalmed
I'm a mummy
I got herbs and spices in my stomach
And I should be a dirty piece of solid red ground
But because of some cure they found
I'm still around
In amongst the millions
Cause people can't die anymore"



The song below is my little theme song for the next three weeks. I have a two presentations, two 20 page papers, and a 10 page paper due. Happy Christmas. God bless us all, everyone. Bring me some figgy pudding.


Deadline, it ain't moving
Deadline, stiff as a board
Deadline, end is ensuing
But I gotta get something done done done, done done done soon.

Deadline, under pressure
Deadline, it's gonna snap
Deadline, serious semester
And I gotta get something done done done, done done done soon.

Deadline, down to the wire
Deadline, it's bumming me out
Deadline, I'm already tired
But I gotta get something done done done, done done done soon.

Listen to it here:

http://www.rhapsody.com/vicchesnutt/10683059_lefttohisowndevices/deadline/lyrics.html

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Gone Daddy Gone

My father died. A week ago I flew home to Georgia and my family and I honored his wishes by taking him off life support. He ended up having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare neurological disorder that attacks your brain tissue; my Dad had every symptom. First you have insomnia, then psychosis. Eventually you can't see and you can't walk, you startle easily and your eyes track over empty space like you are watching a bird fly over your head. Finally, you can't breathe. There is no cure.

He died at 3:33 pm on Tuesday October 30th. Three three three. I'm 27.

My entire life I have always had a visual picture of my heart. The first time I ever fell in love, I saw my heart pierced with a needle, being sewn ever so slowly to him. When it ended, I saw the strings cut and slowly fall out. I've felt my heart swollen and pumping outside of my chest. I've felt it sick and black. I've felt a double ended arrow lodged in it. When I am in intense emotional pain, I often imagine something piercing the left side.

Right now I feel like someone has held a shotgun and blown out the left side of my chest. Or like there's some sort of ethereal mimicry of my real heart floating in an empty space.

Yes, I'm being dramatic, but for god's sake my father just died. This IS fucking dramatic. I don't know who I am writing this too, and I feel strange to be so personal, and there's a very real chance that I'll be misunderstood and people will think I am fucked up (which I'm not), but I just need to say some things and I don't want to write to myself or to one person.

I want to crawl up inside my father's chest and coil myself around his spine. I see him wherever I go; he's sitting across from me in class, he's on the other side of the student center, he's walking up the stairs from the bookstore. I think about him constantly. I want his body full of fat and organs and blood to sit in his chair and get up and walk across the room. I want his eyes to open and his arms to move. I want him to wear out his shoes and put something in his mouth and chew it. He used to hear me and write me emails and sleep. Now he is literally a pile of dust. I was with him when he died. My hand was on his forehead. Moments later, I looked at him and thought, "that's not my Dad." I don't believe in souls, but I do believe in life. My Dad's body was not him, but it was evidence that he existed. There was comfort knowing that his body existed.

My Dad was a star who held me in the sky like the earth and the sun hold the moon. Everything is different now.

I've faced difficult, heartbreaking shit at least a few times before. I know how to get through this, and I will. There are fires that refine you. This is an awful, beautiful, terrible, awesome beginning of the rest of my life. I have never loved my father as much as I do now. That is precious.

I don't believe in God. It's not my fault. If you do, pray for my mother who put her father in the hospital today, who has to go back to the hospital after she was there every day for six weeks. Pray for my brother who is trying his best to be a good father. Pray for my father's mother and father who buried their son.

If you own a copy of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, put on track 5, the funeral procession, and think about how there's an uncanny feeling of freedom when the absolute worst thing happens.
I don't understand that. Let track 5 flow into this:
The only girl I've ever loved
Was born with roses in her eyes
But then they buried her alive
One evening 1945
With just her sister at her side
And only weeks before the guns
All came and rained on everyone
Now she's a little boy in Spain
Playing pianos filled with flames
On empty rings around the sun
All sing to say my dream has come

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on

And now we ride the circus wheel
With your dark brother wrapped in white
Says it was good to be alive
But now he rides a comet's flame
And won't be coming back again
The Earth looks better from a star
That's right above from where you are
He didn't mean to make you cry
With sparks that ring and bullets fly
On empty rings around your heart
The world just screams and falls apart

But now we must pick up every piece
Of the life we used to love
Just to keep ourselves
At least enough to carry on

And here's where your mother sleeps
And here is the room where your brothers were born
Indentions in the sheets
Where their bodies once moved but don't move anymore
And it's so sad to see the world agree
That they'd rather see their faces fill with flies
All when I'd want to keep white roses in their eyes

***
If you'd like more details, including my Dad's obituary and eulogy, go to my brother Mac's blog.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Angel is a Centerfold

So, in case you've been in a coma (oh how darkly funny), I am obsessed with www.icanhascheezburger.com. This is a website for people who like cats; if you don't like cats, I'm sorry that life has proved so bitter and unfortunate for you. This is a website for people who like cats talking in bad grammar. It's Cute Overload mixed with Engrish. I kind of have a problem with this website: it's slightly less addicting than cocaine. How many brilliant essays on T.S. Eliot's Buddhist influence haven't I read because I have been reading "just one more page" of this:





I start to worry that Theo, my beloved cat, is getting jealous of me looking at other cats online. I tell him, "Baby, they mean nothing to me" and "They're just pictures" and "But you're real!" but he'll have none of it. I even made this piece of art to convey my utter devotion:



I mean, it's not like he doesn't rub up on other girls' legs. Sometimes he leaves and he goes out all night and doesn't come home until 2 in the morning. What am I supposed to do? Isn't it all just animal nature?

So I bought Theo a collar and a tag so that if he runs away, he'll find his way back home. Since he is originally from Alameda, and thus a sailor, I bought a nautical themed "beastie band" foam collar. The tag was a red heart, like my passionate, burning one for him. I put it on him one morning and he freaked out. He hid in the closet most of the day (which he never does) and cried ALL FUCKING NIGHT. It was like when your hijackers deprive you of sleep before they brainwash you. Finally, after several hours of epileptic spasms he managed to get it off, and I gave in. He wins. He can run around naked at the risk of getting lost and never being returned to me if it means he's happy.

I told my Mom this story and she jokingly suggested I get him an implant. I was like, "that's a good idea." They have those, you know. I came home tonight to this supreme manifestation of a mother's love:


That's Theo! And icanhascheezburger together! It's like when your wife takes sexy pictures of herself! Yay!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Stella Cathleen

Last night I had a dream about my Dad. I dreamed that my mother was telling me over the phone that something bad had happened to him and something else about what my oldest cousin Cathy was doing. I was in a house with clear glass tea cups and pink carpet. There were a few people I didn't know in the house with me: an old woman with a camping hat on and a tall, naked grad student girl. In my dream, my Mom told me that Cathy and Hannah, her daughter, (not the people in the house I was in!) had bought The Lake House (the house I grew up in, that my Dad and his Dad built when my Dad was a teenager, the house my Mom and Dad still live in) from Nanny and Papa, my Dad's parents. I was overwhelmed with sadness. I couldn't control my crying; I was moaning with grief. I was trying not to cry in front of the naked grad student girl and the lady with the camping hat, but I couldn't stop. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to ever go home.

The Lake House:

(Look Mac, the elevator is still off the porch!)

***
A few days ago, my Dad was transferred to Emory hospital in the psychiatric unit. The specialists there quickly realized that he had been having a gnarly reaction to the head drugs he had been prescribed initially. This was good news, because it meant that firstly, they knew what was wrong, and secondly, given time, he would recover.

This whole shenanigans has been going on for about six weeks now. I've been doing just fine with all of this. I'm doing my homework and I'm paying my rent and I'm not upset. To be honest, it doesn't quite seem real to me.

But life is mysterious and things are at work that we don't understand. For example, this.

I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the Buddhist principle that everything is interconnected. Literally, everything is made out of the same stuff. I am a collection of matter. I'm a wave in a body of water. Oh, don't roll your eyes; it's not a good time to be judgmental.

Things ARE at work that we don't understand. Remember my dream? Well, last night my Dad had an emergency and was put back into the ICU; not to be all melodramatic, but he could have died. Let's cut the shit: he stopped breathing; it's fucked up. And my cousin Cathy, who hasn't been to The Lake House in maybe a decade and lives two hours away, stopped by the house because her husband was buying some tires from some guy nearby. I see Cathy maybe once a year; I'm not even sure if her name is spelled with a "C" or a "K."

More than thirty years ago, my Dad woke up one night and smelled smoke. My Mom and he searched their apartment and, finding nothing, went back to bed. That night his sister's house burned down. She, her husband, and her two young children were unharmed. Cathy was one of those children. This story doesn't make sense, but I have to tell it.

This is a picture Stella Cathleen holding my brother:


Cathy went to see my Dad at the hospital. She's a nurse. She told my Mom that she feels my Dad is going to come out of this okay. How could I not believe?

Monday, October 08, 2007

...Mkay?

My Dad is really, really, really sick. He's been in the ICU for at least 10 days now, in a half-catatonic state. One of his best friends came to see him and my Dad didn't even recognize him.

About a month ago, he started acting really weird. He was super anxious, paranoid, and kind of crazy. He stopped sleeping. He got so bad that he let my mom take him to a psychiatrist. My Dad is a Republican, Vietnam veteran, ex-football playing, Patton-loving, commie-hater. When we were kids, he would yell "front and center" to call us. He's practically an archetype. He's not the kind of man who goes to see a psychiatrist.

So the doctor diagnosed him as bipolar, in the midst of an "acute manic episode" and loaded him with drugs. Sleeping pills and some other stuff that's supposed to "level things off." He got worse and worse. At one point my brother and I thought he was faking because he was acting so absurd. I talked to him on the phone and he acted like someone who was very, very drunk and silly. He was concerned with how nicely the window of the car rolled up. I was pissed off.

Then he got worse. He started falling down, so they took him to the hospital and that's where he is now. They don't know what is wrong with him. They've done MRIs and tested him for everything except pregnancy. He's been looked at by a neurologist who told my mother he has no idea what is wrong with him. He told my Mom that maybe it was the drugs. My Mom said, "did they like fry his brain?" and the neurologist said "that's not the term we use."

Now I'm really pissed off. Most of my anger is blind and reactionary; I'm completely powerless and frustrated. But another chunk of it is directed at how doctors jack people full of drugs when they are mentally ill. I'm so fucking sick of it.

We all know that head drugs (and that should be their medical term) are helpful for a smidgen of the population. I have at least two friends who have been helped by them. I have countless other friends, however, who have been prescribed Prozac or Celexa or that other one because they were going through a normal, early-to-mid twenties existential crisis.

The Summer after I left the church I moved home and lived with my parents. I got into a funk, which is to be expected seeing as how I had just made a huge, life-altering decision. There were other factors, too, which I'm not going to go into, that contributed to me being depressed. I talked to my family doctor and she gave me a two month supply of Celexa samples she'd surely gotten from some pharmaceutical sales rep, a six-month prescription, and the name of a therapist. I never called the therapist and I never saw the doctor again.

I took it on and off for maybe two years. I don't know whether or not it helped; nobody ever really knows what works or doesn't. I do know that after two years, right after I finished school, I started feeling really, really, really fucked up. Crazy awful terrible bad. I really wanted to die, like every minute of every day for months. I went to New York for a weekend (tickets were cheap; it was November 2001) and sat for hours and watched these kids play soccer in Central Park and I couldn't understand how they could just laugh and be happy. I got to this point where I decided that if I were going to die, I would want to do it sober, so I stopped taking the medicine. And to my surprise, a fog lifted off of me. I remember sitting in my grandpa's living room and thinking about how much my family loves him and how valuable his life is to all of us and how that must also be true for me.

About six months after that, I was reading and expose of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in Adbusters magazine. One of the side effects that the makers of Prozac (and other SSI inhibitors) have successfully played down is akathisia, or the sudden unexplained desire to die. This quote is from wikipedia:

Ironically antipsychotic drugs are many times prescribed as “mood stabilizers” but then have the opposite intended effect, which often leads to increased doses further escalating the symptoms when the intent was to ameliorate the symptoms.

Akathisia affects up to 10% of people who take Prozac (and presumably, other SSI inhibiting drugs). That's one in every ten. After reading this article, I realized that that was probably what had happened to me. It was healing to know that I was not innately crazy and fucked up, but it also pissed me off.

My Mom was given head drugs for a short period of time in the mid-80s. The doctor didn't tell her that they were addictive and she went through hellacious withdrawal symptoms. My mother's mother's personality changed completely when she started taking Lithium in the mid 60's. As a part of Kaiser's stop-smoking program, I took anti-anxiety head drugs a few years ago and also had a bad experience with them (mainly just a lot of crying).

I'm not crazy. My mother isn't crazy. My grandmother, both of them, aren't crazy. My friends aren't crazy (even the ones who think they are). None of us are fucking crazy. We're human beings who, as we move through life, experience inexplicable ups and downs. We are irrational, sensitive, quirky people who are artists and writers and musicians and cupcake bakers who have problems adapting to a world that wants us to iron and check our voice mail and have perky tits.

If someone lives in a cold damp house and smokes Marlboro Reds and doesn't wear a scarf
and eats frozen pizza and drinks too much and doesn't sleep, she is going to have a cold all the time. And if she goes the doctor, the doctor will give her antibiotics or tell her to get some Robitussin. And if she's really sick, she might really actually need antibiotics or Robitussin. But she also needs to take care of the situation that caused the cold in the first place.

So my Dad is really really sick, but I have no idea what he needs to get better. Obviously, drugs aren't the solution. This sucks.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Men Whose Heads Grow Beneath Their Shoulders

Disclaimer: This post is not for those who are sensitive to sickly-sweet-goody-goody-girl-sickness. If you become nauseous, click here

So, I have a whole new look, check it out:


I just have to say that I *love* grad school so much. I *love* all the work I have to do. I *love* that I have to read things that are almost too hard to understand. I *love* all the underlining and little stars in the margins. I *love* finishing my homework. I *love* it when my Freud class, my T.S. Eliot class, and my Colonialism class all allude to The Tempest and I had read three acts of it the night before. I *love* spending hours and hours reading everyday for days at a time.

I feel like those new mothers who go back to work and everyone tells them how it must be so nice to be out of the house and among and the living and they're all "I JUST WANT TO STAY HOME WITH MY BABY." I feel like that about T.S. Eliot.

I mean, I get to study weird pictures from the 15th Century from some book that some guy wrote who travelled god knows where and came back and told everybody that people out there looked like this:

I mean, what the fuck!?!

Monday, September 24, 2007

It should be easy for a man who's strong. . .

My friend Audrey is a bitchin' photographer and she took these pictures of me in my old kitchen the day before I moved. These are taken on REAL FILM like the dinosaurs used to use! You can tell because, in the second photo just like Cindy Crawford my beauty mark is on the other side. Unlike Cindy Crawford, I had mine put into my face by 400-pound sadist at Mom's Body Shop on Haight street.

Her web address is: http://www.audreyjones.net (the hyperlink thing isn't working, sorry)





If you get the allusion in the title of this post, post it in the comments and I'll mail you something cool.

Hypocrite Lecteur! --mon semblable,--mon frére!

So my brother, whose blog I'm copying, really, posted today about right-wingers who are afraid of all the "godless pinko commies" in higher education. The post is here: http://wuapinmon.blogspot.com/2007/09/liberal-bias-in-higher-education.html

My brother just finished his doctorate in Spanish Literature and right now he's scraping out a living as an Assistant Professor in some god-forsaken (or infested, depending on how you look at it) town in rural South Carolina where you have to drive 17 miles to go to a Shoney's. His male students are athletes and his female students were heavily influenced by the Spice Girls and Paris Hilton...and not ironically ("Whaaat?"). Let's generalize, shall we?

For those of you who just landed, I used to be Mormon. My brother, despite his high level of intelligence, still is (comments are welcome!). Unlike me, my brother was not the hairshirt-wearing-fascist-masochist-type Mormon that I was [see footnote 1]. He swore, he watched rated "R" movies, he skipped church sometimes, and he didn't tape moments of silence over the swear words in his Pearl Jam records. This, and the inherent patriarchy of the church (really, comments are welcome!) are, in my opinion, why he's still Elder Williams and I'm drinking coffee and beer MIXED TOGETHER. [Please see footnote 2].

Mac's post is interesting because he describes the epiphany he had on his mission where he realized that, although he thought he wasn't judging people, he was, and that there are a variety of ways to be ethical and moral in the world. One testament to his character and his intelligence (take note, there are only about four) is that, on his mission, he questioned whether or not the way he had chosen was best. That's pretty damn brave of him.

The point of his post is that if one has a set of values, or teaches one's children a set of values, those values are weak if one cannot participate in the world. In other words, conservative Christians who seek to isolate their children because they're afraid of the "bad" influence of society are really insecure about their values to begin with. I agree...BUT if I had a daughter reared on Our Bodies, Ourselves and whole grains, I'd fear for her safety if I put her in public school in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Our Mom and Dad (or Mama and Daddy, depending on how much I miss them) were big into values and ethics and morals. If our domestic scene were a play, the overall tone would be "self-righteous." And this was the case even before we converted. I believe part of the reason my Dad took so well to Mormonism [see footnote 3] was because of the impeccable moral structure [see footnote 4] and clear, well-defined codes of what is right and wrong. It's like the Jenny Craig diet where they give you all the food and help you along and, like the Jenny Craig diet, IT WORKS! I'm not being a sarcastic asshole here; if one wants to "get religion" (i.e. find purpose in one's life) and, especially, if one wants to orient one's life around the family, the Mormon church is excellent.

I agree with my brother. I agree that there are a variety of ways to live morally in the world. One of these, as shown especially well by my brother, is the Mormon church. Another one is showing kindness toward your friends by following this recipe:

* One pint Guinness Lager
* One shot espresso
* One scoop chocolate ice cream

Blend. Pour into a pint glass. Serve on tray with a Nat Sherman and a copy of The Delta of Venus. It takes all kinds.

* * *

[Footnote 1] Hairshirt: "A garment of rough cloth made from goats' hair and worn in the form of a shirt or as a girdle around the loins, by way of mortification and penance."

[Footnote 2] I should say here that our family converted to the church, staggeringly, between 1990-1994. I hold that those who were raised Mormon have different reasons for staying/leaving (such as, oh, belief). If you don't think I respect that, please reread this post.

[Footnote 3] I'm writing for the non-LDS person here. Mormons don't call themselves "Mormons." They call themselves "LDS," which is short for "Latter-day Saint" which comes from the name of the church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

[Footnote 4] A definite case can be made against an "impeccable moral structure" in the church if one looks at the church's historical relationship (as opposed to its present-day one) with African-Americans. Also, one could argue that the church privileges men. However, one can also argue that church doctrine itself (as opposed to the people in the church) is not sexist and, in fact, privileges women. I'm on the slightly-disturbed-about-everything-concerning-Brigham-Young bandwagon (comments welcome!). Also, several people I know would never call anyone who knocks at their door wanting to convert them "moral." I don't agree or disagree.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Doing Homework

1. Blog-posting
2. Taking really long showers (exfoliating, deep-conditioning, etc.)
3. Staring at the ocean and trying to count how many baby seals are in the water
4. Daydreaming about the raccoon that got into my apartment and how Theo defended us
5. Daydreaming about all the witty things I could say in class
6. Daydreaming about how someone would look with a pompadour
7. www.icanhascheezburger.com
8. Calling my grandpa or my Mama
9. Walking to the post office and listening to the one Neil Young song I own
10. Vacuuming in between the tiles with the hand-vacuum

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rambo Takes the Stairs

My favorite things about my new house in Moss Beach:

* Naked everything.
* I can leave shit everywhere.
* Cell phone reception is spotty.
* Theo climbs trees like a little badass.
* No sirens or car alarms or neighbors yelling.
* Local produce stands.
* AMAZING playground within walking distance with adult size swings.
* This morning I heard a man at the post office with a little puff puff Pomeranian tell his neighbor, "We always take the stairs cause Rambo is a macho man!"

My least favorite things:

* Recycling has to be separated and boxes must be broken down and tied with twine
* Population 400: Grocery store? No. Hardware store? No. Pharmacy? No. Mormon church branch!?!? YES!
* There's shit all over my apartment!
* Celery hearts cost $3.50 at the Safeway in Half Moon Bay.
* Rambo's owner was confused as to why I was laughing so hard.

Other than Rambo: Macho Pomeranian, this is my other favorite story:

Sunday I went to Farmer's Daughter, a local produce stand. I asked the older lady there if there was a health food store around anywhere because Safeway does not sell Strauss yogurt, which further proves their connections with the dark forces on the earth. After I paid she leaned in and said:

"Can I ask you a personal question?"
I nodded
"Do you have a college degree?"

What a nice personal question! I'm used to hearing, "did that hurt?" (referring to my lip piercing). I told her I did have a degree and she tried to recruit me for the "very active" Moss Beach chapter of the American Association of University Women.

I AM SO a University Woman! Hayyy!



(I didn't take this picture)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Grace

This Summer was hot. I walked everywhere and listened to songs on repeat. This Summer I wore out my shoes. I drank cup after cup of coffee. I sat in the shade and got paid to talk about Hegel, eventhough I've never studied Hegel. This Summer my brother sent me twenty postcards. I ate cilantro and sweet miso dressing. I drank every night and climbed ladders and threw bottles off of balconies. I walked to my friend's houses. I read Gunter Grass and The Master and Margarita and I memorized large sections of the Wasteland. I tried to walk to the Golden Gate bridge at 2 in the morning and fell asleep on the Marina Green. I studied Korean every day. I sent packages with no writing in them. I wore my mother's turquoise ring she got in Scotland when she was younger than me. I left it on the sink in a bar in Big Sur and someone stole it. I shook because I was nervous. I sat on a cold cement floor and read Tropic of Capricorn. I rode the ferry and asked strangers to take my picture. I ate seaweed and had dreams about elephant eels. I went swimming in a polka dotted bathing suit. I played Leonard Cohen songs on my guitar under a bridge on the edge of the world.

In the past two weeks, I've bought a car, sold a car, packed up my life, found an apartment, started grad school, quit a job, and had one hell of a cold.

And things are easy and fine. They've never been better, actually.

Today I gave a crochet lesson. It was like usual, but as she was paying me she told me that her mother had just died and her younger brother had just committed suicide. You never know where someone is at. We have a responsibility to each other to be kind and calm and a place for other people to rest.

If you love other people, you will take care of yourself impeccably so that you can do what you need to do in the world. I believe this, even if jaded people think I sound like Oprah.

Oprah's a badass. Fuck all.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Was Just Wondering. . .

How come nobody ever argues about whether or not the devil is a woman?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It hella be Arial font and shit

Well welcome back to you too.

I was looking at my profile, in one of my frequent moments of self-absorption, and I saw that it has been viewed 144 times. Now, I know I may have looked at it at least half of those, so that means that at least 72 of those viewings were done by someone other than me. My question is, who are those people? I bet you anything it's folks I went to high school with who take sick pleasure in watching the super-judgemental Mormon girl go bad and swear like a sailor.

To them I say: I understand completely. Read on! Witness my descent! There's so much further to fall. . . I'm tattooless and I still care about other people's feelings.

***

So I decided to jump ship and move my sweet little ass down south past SF state (where I'm beginning my graduate work in less than a month). I'm gonna live next to the ocean and read dramatic novels and write papers with too many quotation marks. I'm a little English teacher bonsai. Clip clip. I'm growing into your worst nightmare.

In the meantime, I have to get rid of shit I don't need, which means going through my old "memorabilia." I opened up the dusty box of notes I passed to Tina in 9th grade and pictures of my 8th grade boyfriend (total fox with a shark's tooth [?] or jagged Corey Haim-esque stone dangling from his shapely little brown little ear), sappy, lovely letters from my way-too-nice parents, and old Gap schedules to find a poetry submission to the New Era magazine.

The New Era is a Mormon youth magazine. It's not as creepy as you think; Mormons aren't Southern Baptists. The tone is akin to a Landmark Forum weekly mixed with a real estate brochure.

On July 6th, 1994, at the budding age of 14 I mailed them a poem and I got this letter back. And you know it's hella in Arial font:

Dear Contributor:

Thank you for the your recent poetry submission. Your writing has merit and we wish to encourage you in developing your talent. We publish only one poem in each issue of the New Era except in August when we publish works from winners of the annual contest. Therefore, chances of your poems being used even if we purchased them would be remote.

We wish to encourage you (if you are between the ages of 12 and 23) to submit your poetry to the annual New Era Writing, Music, Photography, and Art Contest. The contest rules can be found each year in the September issue.

If you are over 23 years of age then we suggest you enter the Ensign contest. Rules for that contest are found in the July issue of the Ensign..

Again, thank you for thinking of the New Era.

Sincerely,

{Signature}

Diane Hoffman

***

Back in 1994, when those crazy computers were all new and shit, ladies named Diane who dotted their "i"s with fat little circles didn't yet know that what used to be underlined on a typewriter should be put into italics. And business letters had colons after their salutations. And, Diane, I submitted only one poem, so saying "poems" in the fifth line is unparallel with the rest of the paragraph, particularly because the letter is addressed to a sole "contributor." And uh-oh, Diane, your third paragraph has a double period at the end!

But really, Ms. Hoffman was a sweetie for saying my writing had merit (she did sign her letter herself). Especially since this is the poem I sent:

Song

The essence of a spirit;
A creation of God
Mistaken identitiy
A seed without pod

The soul's imbibement
The passing of time
A comforting friend
Misunderstood rhyme

Rhythmic consolate
Memory weave
Killer of time
Without leave

***

At least I didn't end the damn thing with an ellipses. However I did write "P. S. Give me a chance, not an apology." Bless Diane for ministering to hyper-emotional Mormon youth in the mid-90s.

Bless her and her fatly dotted "i"s and her convuluted final sentence in the opening paragraph. . .

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'm in a State, I'm in a State, I'm in a State, I'm in a State, I'm in a State

I don't understand how I've been listening to the Pixies' album Doolittle for years but only recently have become absolutely obsessed with it.

I'm listening to it like Charles Manson listened to the Beatles. I'm not biking, I'm not driving my car, I'm walking just so that I can spend hours listening to my cd player. When the batteries run out, I go into some sort of primal psychological state until I can get to the next corner store and get some more. It's my blankie and I'm two.

I'm particularly obsessed with the son "No. 13 Baby." I don't have time (in part because I have to walk to where I'm going) to explicate the lyrics fully (oh but they are deserving!) but here they are:

Got hair in a girl
That flows to her bones
And a comb in her pocket
If the wind get blown

Stripes from her eyes
When she walks slow
But her face fall down
When she go, go, go

Black tear falling on my lazy queen
Gotta tattooed tit
Say number 13

Viva
Don't want no blue eyes
La loma
Want brown eyes
Rica
I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state

Choir in the yard
And the house next door
Where her grandma brought
Some songs from shore

Six foot girl
Gonna sweat when she dig
Stand close to the fire
When they light the pig

Standing in her chinos
Shirt pulled off clean
Gotta tattooed tit
Say number 13

Viva
Don't want no blue eyes
La loma
Want brown eyes
Rica
I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state, I'm in a state

***

I thought Muddy Waters' Folk Singer was the sexiest thing I had ever heard, but I can't handle:

Six foot girl, gonna sweat when she dig. . .Standing in her chinos, shirt pulled off clean, gotta tattooed tit, say number 13.

I think I'm gonna lose my shit. I feel like if I just repeat this song over and over enough I'll eventually transcend my body and go to a world where all women are six feet tall and dig trenches for pig roasts and tattoo their boobs.

Viva La Loma Rica

=Long live the Sumptuous Hill.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

EGO, the coolest girl in Provo, Utah.

Back in March, my old roommate Evonne Olson (now she has a different last name) posted a comment here asking if I remembered her. I wasn't able to write back to her because I don't have her email address. Evonne, if you read this, please email me at
susannawilliams@yahoo.com.

Evonne said:

I remember when you wore Gap clothes and had a postcard collection on our shared bedroom wall. I miss you. Do you remember me?

I remember Evonne very, very well. And I probably still wear those clothes! And my brother sends me postcards all the time, which I still tuck into my little book.

Evonne Gayle Olson (aka EGO) and I were roommates in Provo, UT, where I was going to Brigham Young University. Like many of my good girlfriends, Evonne thought I was an asshole at first because I got a little too competitive at Pictionary. [Oh, how many potential husbands I scared off in Provo the same way!] I won her over in the end, and eventually we became such good friends that I went into her closet and borrowed one of her dresses that she hadn't even worn yet.

Evonne was/is beautiful, with dark, straight hair, and dark eyes. She was olive-skinned and curvy and impeccably groomed. I used to love to steal her bath products from the shower. She and I liked to spend our time bouncing checks and borrowing money from each other to buy pajama pants at Old Navy.

The best thing about Provo is that nobody drinks. Now, I love to drink, but it's much more interesting when you have a town full of 25,000 young people who can't just get drunk and make out with each other. It's like the 1950's. People go out on dates--with people they don't want to sleep with! I lived there for a year and a half and I held one guy's hand the entire time and felt like a total whore. I mean I really held his hand, like really hard.

So instead of doing jell-o shots and dropping acid, people buy blocks of ice and slide down grassy hills. Here's a photo of us afterward:


Other people make short films parodying Mormon dating culture. Or go to ice cream socials. Or make fake fliers advertising piggy-back rides and hang them up. There is a lot of board game playing and skit happening. Or maybe, like, driving around and taking down oh, about 100 old yard sale signs and plastering them all over your roommate's room? Or wrapping up your roommate's possessions and giving them to her for her birthday? Or crashing AA conventions? Or starting a hair salon in your apartment even though you don't have any experience? Or anonymously and routinely heckling the boy who vaccuums the pool from behind the blinds in your living room?


This is a photo from our television theme-song/commercial medley skit. This part was The Facts of Life. I'm on the far left, playing Blair. (I wore that same sweater today!) Evonne is in the blue skirt. What a good sport; she played Natalie, and not very convincingly.

Have you seen Napoleon Dynamite? That movie was very BYU to me.

One April Fool's Day, Evonne had a make-up artist friend paint a perfect black eye on her. When people at work asked her what happened, she just looked down and said "I fell down the stairs. . ." Her co-workers were worried about her, but she never broke character, even the next day when it was magically healed.

At BYU, you have to wear shorts that come to your knee. You can't wear sleevless shirts and women have to wear one-piece bathing suits. But when I was with Evonne, it seemed normal to pretend to be Jenny in Forrest Gump, strumming (seemingly) naked behind a guitar to "I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing" in front of our entire ward (i.e. church) for a skit. I was Nell in Gimme a Break!, vaccuuming the fish tank in a tri-panel polyester mu mu with two pillows underneath.

Evonne and I drove to Denver overnight in a blizzard that was so bad, we didn't know if we were still on the road. We were the only car for hours and we had to roll the windows down and look for reflectors on either side of us to make sure we weren't in the median. It took us 12 hours and we were delirious, and when we got to Denver I spent most of my rent money at Urban Outfitters.

I stopped going to church a year after I moved to Provo. I finished the semester and then moved back to Georgia. You'd think people would have been super-judgemental and treated me like shit, but the majority of my friends there were great. My roommates were a little confused as to how I got so good at poker (I had recently learned how to play by betting clothes with my boyfriend back in Georgia), but other than one friend, everybody just treated me like I was going through a phase. And Evonne and I still had a very good time. I said goodbye to her in the Home Depot parking lot, and sang the words to "I Don't Want No Scrub" to her while I was driving away.

We stayed friends, but I changed a lot. I went through this really long, bitter, chain-smoking, contrarian thing where I shoplifted eyeshadow as a way of sticking it to the man. Bless my heart. I was so sad. In 2002, I waited outside the Oakland temple while Evonne was getting her endowments (i.e. like a super-important Mormon thing) in motorcycle boots with a hangover.

Since the one place that Evonne and I didn't meet was politics (the only time she ever pissed me off was when she told me I was overreacting to television advertising), as time went on, things changed and we weren't able to meet each other in the same way that we had before. She should have known I would go sour; I liked Alanis Morrisette a little too much. Below is the precursor of my descent into feminism, anarchy, and uber-liberalness, which (except for the anarchy) I still revel in: me burning a copy of Cosmopolitan magazine in the sink of my apartment at BYU. Note the pajama pants.



Last I heard, Evonne married a man named (god I love it) Beau, and has two children.

Those kids be hella lucky.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Rosalie's New Looks

Last Saturday I woke up too early with a sudden desire to walk in North Beach and go sit in the poetry room in City Lights and read Eavan Boland's poem "Outside History." I love Eavan Boland. I saw her read her poems in the Herbst Theatre in downtown San Francisco three years ago. She had such a strong presence; she would finish a poem and the room would gasp.

But I didn't remember what "Outside History" was about, and I didn't understand why I wanted to read it. But I walked to the BART and walked to North Beach and bought the shittiest coffee ever at Cafe Grecco. DO NOT ever go to Cafe Grecco. Their coffee tastes like Sanka made with old Sanka water. I gave it to a homeless guy who said, "Sure! Why not?" like he was on vacation and somebody had offered him a bay cruise.

I still don't completely understand the poem, but here it is and I welcome all interpretations (which I will judge and dismiss heartily):

Outside History

There are outsiders, always. These stars--
these iron inklings of an Irish January,
whose light happened

thousands of years before
our pain did: they are, they have always been
outside history.

They keep their distance. Under them remains
a place where you found
you were human, and

a landscape in which you know you are mortal,
And a time to choose between them.
I have chosen:

Out of myth into history I move to be
part of that ordeal
whose darkness is

only now reaching me from those fields,
those rivers, those roads clotted as
firmaments with the dead.

How slowly they die
as we kneel beside them, whisper in their ear.
And we are too late. We are always too late.

***

Looking at it again, I believe that this poem is about the tension between associating herself with timelessness or with time, with myths or with history. Myths are timeless like stars, but History is "clotted as firmaments with the dead." And I'm pretty sure she's suggesting that "fields, . . .rivers, [and] roads" emanate darkness the way that stars emanate light, and that both reach us years after they happen.

[Which reminds me that a friend of mine cracked me up recently when he fake-justified not wearing sunscreen by saying that he didn't need to worry about it because "the light is all 8 years old and used up and shit."]

And I guess the darkness from history is reaching her now, and she's choosing to be "part of that ordeal." And she's watching things (is it just the "fields" etc.?) die slowly, knowing that because there is a lag between when things really happen and when they reach you. Thus, that's why "we are always too late."

***

So after I bought the book and I was walking down Columbus I saw a mural on the side of a building. Imagine a woman with a ponytail at the top of her forehead, and a waterfall of permed hair down the side of her head. Imagine her mid-80's purple blazer (shoulder pads) and an Italian guy in suspenders checkin' her out. I was shocked that this mural was not faded and old, but had been either recently painted or at least maintained, which meant that someone thought it still looked good.

Rosalie's New Looks is a wig shop/full salon that has been open since 1957. When I walked in, it was dusty and a large Italian woman was sitting in a barber chair reading a magazine. There was an enormously fat, long-haired, gray cat in the other barber's chair next to her. And an old skinny Italian guy with a cross around his neck. The shop was full of mannequin heads and wigs, sticky costume jewelry, and stuff. Rosalie told me about the $5 earring deals.

"How much is a haircut?" I said

I'm a sucker for getting my haircut in a weird, fucked-up place. I hate the hegemony/guilt/corporate feeling of most salons, and they cost too damn much. It reminds me of going to the dentist. For years I had my friends cut my hair, until my elder friend Billie (who got me half my wardrobe out of the Mercy Family Plaza dumpster) just went chop-chop randomly to the back of my head. I had my haircut at an Asian place that just sliced at it with a razor blade. My favorite hairdresser until now was the bad-ass, brave tranny lady who wore ocean-animal collage t-shirts with the sleeves cuffed just-so.

Rosalie charges $30, which is totally reasonable to me. I was ready right then, so she pointed at the old guy and said "Leo, can you wash her?" Leo took me into a crowded, dark room with a hair washing chair. I think Leo didn't talk, like, in general, because when he dropped a lid and it made a really loud crashing sound, he just like held his hand out and shook it, like "oops!". Right before I leaned back, I realized I didn't have any cash on me, and thank god I asked Rosalie, cause they don't take credit cards.

But I went back yesterday and Rosalie's daughter, who I thought was a drag queen at first, cut my hair. Maria was wearing a black leather cabbie hat and her eyeliner was shaped like two tildes that almost converged in a v in the center of her nose. Her skin was all leathery and she was wearing dark, heavy foundation and matte coral lipstick. And she was really nice and cut my hair excellently.

Maria worked quickly and she was not the least bit tender. She jerked my head around, pulled my scalp away from the skull when she brushed my hair, and clamped the hot iron so close to my face I'd flinch. At one point I yanked away when it touched my ear. She didn't apologize, and I admired her. I only had an hour on my parking meter.

The best part of the whole thing were the different photographs of Rosalie and her family throughout her life that were pasted on the mirror and in frames everywhere. There were pictures of Rosalie's grandchildren with her in the background, heavy and sporting a high, pyramid-esque ponytail. There was a memorial photo of her son who had died in 2002 at 31 "after a long illness" according to the obituary. There were photos of Rosalie before then, thinner and happier looking. An awkwardly written newspaper article ("So come to Rosalie's New Looks for your Saturday night party") from probably ten years ago with a photograph of Rosalie in a Marie Antoinette wig. A 40s-ish Rosalie with her husband, her sitting on a diving board in shorts with thick, great legs and, of course, perfectly styled short hair-sprayed hair. Rosalie in the early 70s, busty and shapely in an immaculate white pantsuit with a black-and-white polka-dotted collar, with long, thick, smooth hair. And then there was a thin, cute girl in a fur wrap and short heat-set curls with an older man's wrinkled hands wrapped over hers. And finally, baby Rosalie sitting still and expressionless in her mama's lap.

A friend of mine lived in Italy and told me that the sickest thing he heard about was "Sicilian Divorce." This is where a man, living in an uber-Catholic society that doesn't condone divorce, pays to have his wife murdered so that he may remarry. He explained that old Italian men spend their time sitting out on the street corner playing games and ogling ladies, but that he felt sorry for old Italian women. He said old Italian women turn into trolls. I told him that was mean.

But then I saw how baby Rosalie changed from a sweet little sharp-elbowed girl in pin curls to the the mother of a dead son and the matron of a dusty drag queen supply store.

***

And I guess now when I think about sitting amidst all the mannequin heads from different decades, and seeing how something like a woman's bone structure, i.e. her bones, can be trendy, I see why Boland would say:

Out of myth into history I move to be

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's the Year of the. . .

My brother, who is much smarter and cooler than I would ever give him credit for, put a post on his blog just for me yesterday.

His address is: http://wuapinmon.blogspot.com/

It's about cats, and if you love me, you love them too. Especially fat ones with thought bubbles.

ESPECIALLY FAT ONES.

I have always associated people with animals. One day I just knew that my Aunt Connie WAS a raccoon. My first boyfriend was a duck, another one was a beetle, one was a bear cub/moth, and one was even some sort of large, carniverous cat, I swear to God; he'd nip the back of my neck like I was a weak gazelle he'd just run down and he wanted to be sure I was dead. Then he'd growl.

My friend Tristy? A sea otter. She agrees. I also think she could be one of the those cute sloths that live up in the trees is Costa Rica and sleep all day. Her husband is a polar bear (his last name is Hunter!).

My mother is one of those picturesque, beautiful seals, but she's also a rabbit. There are lots of rabbits. One of my roommates is also a rabbit, but a different kind of rabbit. My old roommate Brenda is a pretty, dope-y bunny. My friend Leslie is a foxy chipmunk. This girl who works at the local DIY co-op looks so much like a giraffe it freaks me out.

I once offended a very good friend of mine by telling him that I thought he was a monkey. Everybody wants to be a tiger or a deer or a shark or some sexy, strong animal--a barricuda, a snow leopard, a black widow. People want to be like basketball teams.

But there are beautiful and awkward versions of every animal. My Aunt Connie, the raccoon, is a lovely human being, but I wouldn't call her sexy. And I have seen some very sexy raccoons. Being a beautiful three-toed sloth is so much better than being an awkward gazelle. However, if someone ever calls you a hyena, they probably don't think much of you.

And I'm not sure if most people are really able to see what animal they really look like. I've been trying to figure out what animal I resemble most for a long time. I was starting to think it was a cat:

1. I have big, fluffy hair that I'm always tending to.
2. I don't like to take a bath or get my hair wet.
3. I like to run around the house when I'm excited.
4. I sleep a lot.
5. When I want to be left alone, I will walk away.
6. When I want attention, I will pester you.
7. I spend a lot of time staring out the window of my tall, tall apartment building watching people on the street and the birds on the power lines.
8. I SHED
9. If I'm really hungry, I freak out and cry.
10. I can be left alone for long periods, but after enough time I get mad and pissed off.
11. At crowded parties where I don't know anyone, I like to sit in the corner and watch.

I think I made a good case, but it all seemed too good to be true. In February, one of my Chinese students took a photo of me, and I realized that the animal I really look like is a pretty pink piggy:


(Sorry it's blurry. It's a digital picture of a picture. I don't have a scanner.)

I don't think I look bad in this picture at all, but I do think that I look like a pig. And that is fine with me. I don't particularly like pigs, but they are very intelligent, enjoy casserrole-esque food, and they're known to take a nice mud bath when it's hot. Plus, the South is full of pigs.

What's SO great is that below is the full photograph:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

High Compassion

Today, in a moment of self-absorption, I was thinking about what I would say if I were in some group situation, like a corporate conference or the first day of graduate school or some writing class and some group leader wanted everyone to name his or her greatest weaknesses. At the corporate conference, some douche-bag would probably say he was too much of a perfectionist and some witty, half-sexy lady would say "chocolate." And if it were graduate school, half the people would name something they thought was clever ("space and time") or slightly obscure ("Kraut Rock"). There would definitely be some girl who loves tea who tried to be clever ("the semicolon!") but then everyone who wasn't a complete asshole would kind of feel sorry for her. The other half of the grad school folks would be all witty and might even make you laugh and feel slightly intimidated: "my greatest weakness is gravity."

So this evening while I was driving in downtown San Francisco, I was just thinking about how I must be mildly retarded because I was fantasizing about how badly I would love to be able to say "I'm self-righteous and I talk like a 14-year-old girl in an internet chat room" (OMG, R U Serious!?!?).

Self-righteousness is integrity and compassion gone too far. It's idealizing a way of being right in the world so intently that ends up placing more emphasis on that than on the "beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh" who inhabit it [1]. In the New Testament, the Pharisees were so concerned with how Jesus didn't conform to what they thought the Messiah was supposed to be like that they couldn't see that he was him. It's different than being judgemental. It's wanting so much for the world to be full goodness that you are intolerant of people when they don't conform to how you feel you would act. It's some Mormons, it's some punks.

There's a fine line between having integrity and being self-righteous. I never knew this existed until today, when I thought about the poem "A Broken Appointment" by Thomas Hardy while I was driving. It's a poem about a man being stood up by a woman. What makes him sad isn't so much that she didn't show up, but that he realized that she didn't have enough character to show up and be kind, even if she didn't love him.

A Broken Appointment

You did not come,
and marching Time drew on, and wore me numb.
Yet less for loss of your dear presence there
Than that I thus found lacking in your make
That high compassion which can overbear
Reluctance for pure lovingkindess' sake
Grieved I, when, as the hope-hour stroked its sum,
You did not come.

You love not me,
And love alone can lend you loyalty;
--I know and knew it. But unto the store
Of deeds divine in all but name,
Was it not worth a little hour or more
To add yet this: Once you, a woman, came
To soothe a time-torn man; even though it be
You love not me?

--1901


In the third line of the second stanza Hardy says, "I know and knew it." What does "it" refer to? Is he saying he knew when he invited her that only love could "lend [her] loyalty" (i.e. that only if she loved him would she show up)? Or is he saying that he knew when he invited her that she didn't love him?

When you read it the first way, Hardy seems like he's testing her. Or like he's a martyr. This way is self-righteous. He creates a situation knowing that she will disappoint him and give him a reason to re-impose his view of the world on everyone else.

But if you read it the second way, that he invites her knowing that she doesn't love him, just to be with her, not expecting anything from her, then she is a fool to not show up.

And depending on how you're feeling at a certain hour of any day, either interpretation holds up. I think.

********

[1] That quote is from Walt Whitman "Children of Adam" in Leaves of Grass. Dear Lord, go read it. It's lovely!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sharks and All That

I just finished reading the book Devil's Teeth by Susan Casey. It's about the Farallon Islands, which are about 40 miles west of San Francisco. They're vicious. The Native Americans thought that was where evil people went to live for all eternity (and all along you thought it was Spokane, Washington!).

Nowadays, the islands are home to tons of seals and, due to this, a population of Great White Sharks that attack anything remotely resembling a seal (i. e. a surfboard). Sharks are so old they predate trees. Can you imagine a time when the world didn't have any trees? Or grass? But some giant fish with three rows of teeth was evolving its scale-y skin?

[Spoiler of the film Deep Water below:]

This woman I used to "work" for showed the film Deep Water on her 50th birthday. That's the film about the couple who was forgotten on a scuba trip and were never found. It's sort of assumed that they were eaten by sharks. Sorry I ruined it for you. It's based on a true story. If you get a kick out of imagining being eaten by large sea creatures, then this is the film for you. And I'm with you on that one.

I do think it's sad that a relatively "young" person (50 ain't old) tried to suggest that it's all over and the sharks are just coming to get you on your 50th birthday. Now, I may be only 27 (god's perfect number), but I do know A LOT of Senior Citizens and fifty seems so adolescent in comparison. I hope that I hit my stride by then and stop getting all pissy around 3:00 every afternoon.

Love ya,
Susanna

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I Just Hope That

That someday, someday, they publish a book about me, a book titled:

Susanna Williams: Mildly Retarded?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yelena

So since the last time I posted, I have become disgusted by dolphins. Whenever I see a photo of one, on a billboard, say, touting the innocence of children or the wonders of nature, all I can think about is some dude with a ponytail and a boner in a cove rubbing some dolphins' rubbery belly. Dolphins seem disgustingly sexual, like how I feel when I remember the drama club or I contemplate the furry phenomenon. I suppose in theory I support mutual consensual everything, but on a visceral level, it all just creeps me out. Like some dude with a cape on.

Instead, I have a new hairstyle. While trying to teach my friend Heidi how to change between D and E chords on the guitar, I realized that some part of me, essentially, is Eastern European. I have cramps and I smoke in bed*. I eat cold, leftover gefelte fish and I use vicks vaporub on a daily basis. While giving guitar lessons in my bedroom, I not-too-discreetly give a vigorous scratch to my crotch. I wear white eyeliner. I am YELENA.
Behold:


My favorite part of this new hairstyle is the bald spot on the left side:




She's just all about fun, really.






*Just in case you're not getting this, these things are not true for Susanna, although they are true for Yelena.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

When California Goes Too Far

I picked up this flyer at Rainbow Grocery two weeks ago. Can you believe this shit?





This is the text, verbatim, of the flyer:



Are the Dolphins calling You?


We are gathering a Bay Area 'Pod' to receive a remarkable gift. . .

the gift of Dolphin Consciousness


Get your flippers wet!


Attend Weekend #1

The Frequency of JOY!

April 27-29 * Fairfax, CA


Dolphin HEALING HEARTS. . .A Gateway to the New Paradigm


  • Study with these Masters of Consciousness & Joy

  • Receive the extraordinary Dolphin Attunements

  • Heal your heart & return to wholeness, joy, your true nature

  • Learn the Art of Dolphin Energy Healing

  • Create Unity-Community with a loving and supportive pod

  • And much more...

"Thanks and so much gratitude to you both for your courage to bring this incredible gift you offer to the world. I have been changed so deeply...!"

"Attunement #1 has been amazing for me. I feel I have access to part of my brain that I have not used before..."

April 27-29 (Fri. night, Sat. & Sun. days) ~ Circle Center, 17 Bolinas Rd., Fairfax, CA 94930

Tuition: $333 ~~~ Early registration by April 6: $300

For more information or to register, contact:

[contact information here, omitted just in case the guy googles his own name and finds my blog and I hurt his feelings]

www.dolphinheartworld.com


* * *

I've had this flyer on my fridge for weeks, just to frighten my students. Fairfax, where you are invited to get your flippers wet, is in Marin county, north of the Golden Gate bridge. It's so bizarre. I was lying in the park there with my old boyfriend and I heard *TWO* different people talking about their daily meditations for the week. They do have a bitchin' organic ice cream shop with flavors like lavendar honey.

And the most bizarre thing happened to me there. I went into a bookstore and there was a man watering the plants on the high shelves with a pesticide squirter thing. I said, "good idea" and he said "thank you." When I gave him the money for my book, I looked at his face and I was taken by him. I immediately loved him, like I had known him for years. I felt like I was looking at my boyfriend. But my real then-boyfriend was waiting for me outside, so I looked down and ran away like I was Joseph and the man was Potipher's wife.

I may be jaded about dolphins, but at least I'm an honest woman.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Graduate School

So I have finally, damnit, received notice from San Francisoco State that I was accepted into their MA program in Literature. I was also accepted by Mills College. I did not get into Berkeley, but I didn't expect to, so I wasn't disappointed.

I'm 90% sure I'm going to State cause their program is bigger and supposedly better and it's lots cheaper. Mills has a beautiful campus, but it's lots more expensive and they have a skunk problem. San Francisco State has signs with font from the early 80s. Maybe I'll start eating donuts in the morning and wearing brown blazers with corduroy patches on the sleeves and making carbon copies. And ogling the newly liberated office girls.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Nuh-Uh!!!!

AHA! So five or six or seven years ago, I was reading some web page about the weirdest web sites of the year. One of the pages was about people who do it with dolphins. That is where I got my crazy dolphins-have-14-foot-penises fact that shocked my friend Tonya (and made her blush, surely).

All any of you have to do is do a little google search on "dolphin sex" and instead of the big bad hippy porno sights you'd expect, you can still find the fucking craziest shit you've ever heard:

http://www.sexwork.com/family/dolphins1.html

This page contains no explicit photographs, so you can look at it on your church computer. However, if you are a member of what my brother refers to as "the sensitive Mormon set" you should really stop reading now; I hate to offend. The text below is taken from the dolphin website (I have bolded the parts that REQUIRE your attention):

Q3) What do I do if a dolphin wants to mate with me?

A3) Accept, if possible! I will go through the steps involved with males and females.

The Male: When a male dolphin is interested in you, about the only thing you can do, if you are male, is to masturbate him. (Unfortunately, I cannot speak for the female of the human species... it seems women just don't like dolphins enough... so I cannot say for sure if it is safe to mate with them. I would suspect not, due to a dolphins size, but then again, I cannot say for a woman.)

WARNING! In the considerations of safety, you should NEVER let a male dolphin attempt anal sex with you. The Bottle-nose dolphin member is around 12 inches, very muscular, and the thrusting and the force of ejaculation (A male can come as far as 14 feet) would cause serious internal injuries, resulting in peritonitus and possible death. Unless you are the masochistic type, you will have a hard time explaining your predicament to the doctors in the emergency ward....

A male dolphin's member is roughly S-shaped, tapered at the end. If you are in the water with them, it is best to support the dolphin on his side, just under the water, with one hand, and handle him with the other. Male dolphins, I find, tend to prefer the base of the penis to be gently massaged and squeezed, as well as gently rubbed along it's length. It feels very much like the rest of the dolphin (ie. smooth and rubbery to the touch, but firmer). It doesn't take long for the male to ejaculate, around 40 seconds to a minute, and this is usually accompanied by either shuddering just prior to ejaculating, and thrusting and tail-arching during ejaculation. The force of ejaculation can be powerful at times, so it is best to keep your face out of the line of fire, or keep his member underwater. You can attempt to lick and suck on the end of it while masturbating as well, but be warned, do not try to give full throat, and get the hell out of the way before he ejaculates! A male dolphin could snap your neck in an accidental thrust, and that would be the end of that relationship.

***
EWWWWW!!! I cannot accept this shit, no matter how open-minded I like to be. Alright, maybe if I lived on a deserted island and had lead poisoning or something. . .

Nah, not even then.

**I would like to note for my records that 14 feet IS a significant number in terms of dolphin penises.**

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Dolphins have 14 foot penises

So my dear friend Chris responded to my last blog post about Giant squid with an article on CBS.com concerning "giant squid" off the coast of San Francisco. I would just like to acknowledge that the "giant" squid talked about in article aren't the official, evil, elusive giant squid that make me go all weak in the knees. The author of this article is playing fast and loose with the term"giant squid." The measly creatures in this article grow to only about 8 feet long. Although they do attack people, which I greatly admire, the true giant squid have tentacles that grow to be at least sixty feet long. Stop. Pause. Look around the room. Imagine what sixty feet of squid would look like. Okay?!?! Okay.

I would also like to admit that, in the great Williams tradition, I greatly exaggerated the diameter of the giant squid's eye. They are, in fact, not eight feet across, but truly 12 inches. I didn't mean to misremember. Why, just the other day I claimed to one of my friends that dolphins have 14 foot penises. And I really believed it when I said it. I think I read it somewhere...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Annals of Susanna, Volume 1995

And now a selection from the diary of 15-year-old goody-goody Susanna!
April 7th, 1995
I broke the law! Not really. Today I went out with Tina [my best friend] and we went over to her rich 18-year-old, owning-his-own-house Boyfriend's house. She let me drive her mom's car and since Travis [Tina's boyfriend] was in the car it was legal. My parents just would not approve of it. The way I see it is, there's lots of rules. I follow most of them. If I followed all of them I'd get tired of it and rebel so it's okay to raise a little hell ever so often so you don't die of boredom. As long as you don't hurt anybody, it's okay. [Was I Dutch?]

All of the sudden I feel really guilty that I betrayed my parents' trust of me [here comes Mormon Susanna] I'm thinking maybe I should tell them---nah. They'll just get mad and overreact. I guess I just better not do that anymore. What if I'd gotten in a wreck? It ain't all good.

Last night I was talking to Shane [my boyfriend] and someone called for my Dad and I asked him if he wanted me to call him back and he said sure. My Dad didn't get off the phone till 10:15 and he can't have calls past 10:30 (on non-school nights). I'm kinda sick and I was tired so I just went to bed. He was so cool about it though. He said he was actually kinda glad because he want to bed at 10:00. The sweet little thing is definitely in bed right now (11:30). Who knows, maybe he's dreaming of me. I love to lay in bed at night and think about him and wonder if he's thinking about me at the same time. He's such a good boyfriend. He treats me so much better than John [my boyfriend from two years before this, whom I broke up with because he slept with two other girls and I had only hugged him, once] ever did. Today I was thinking about the crap I used to put up with from him and it makes me sick. I was so naive. Shane is so nice. He would never go two weeks w/o calling me. I don't think he'd cheat on me. Me being older [I was six months older!] has a lot to do w/it. He's like "Wow, an older woman!" Tomorrow I'm going over to his house for dinner and then we're going to watch a movie. It would be so dang nice if he'd kiss me. If he doesn't, oh well. I like to just hold his hand. They're so soft and not really sweaty anymore.

I [heart] Shane
Susanna

Awwww....I just browsed ahead and the next night, after the credits were rolling for Stargate, I macked him. It was my first kiss, too. Looks like I was a bit disappointed:

"It kinda stunk. It was like squidish."


Surely I adapted, as I kept on making out with Shane for the next six months until his balls were so blue he went and dated a girl known to have already done it. I, on the other hand, maintained the law of chastity until I just couldn't damn take it anymore. But that took a lot longer than six months.

* * *
Now I love squid, especially The Giant Squid. They're sixty feet long; their eyes are 8 feet across. They have giant, powerful mouths that eat sharks and small boats. Are you fucking ready for that!?!? They live so far down and in such darkness that no one had ever seen one alive until last year, when a whole team of Japanese scientists finally nabbed a photo. Until then, we'd just found bits and pieces of the 40 foot long tentacles that washed ashore. The tentacles would be lashed and scarred from battles with great white sharks! Holy fucking shit!!! I *love* giant animals that can eat you just out curiosity!






Monday, April 02, 2007

Suzanne Holds the Mirror

Yesterday my friend, Stephanie and I wore purple skirts with flowers on them. I wore a blue flower in my hair. My eyemakeup matched my earrings. She had on orange clown shoes and put her long dreadlocks up in a half bun on her head. When we went to the Mexican restaurant, she took the little paper Mexican flag out of the grapefruit margarita that we shared and put it at the crown of her head.

Stephanie (sometimes she calls herself "Steffy Sue") and I went to the carnival in the parking lot of the local community college. It was getting cold and as we walked under the shadows of the rides we would shiver a little bit. The rides were expensive, so we only rode a few: the kamikaze was like a boat at the end of a pendulum that hung you upside down. We rode the tilt-a-whirl (if you lean to one side you spin faster) and the zipper.

The zipper is a 30 foot high rectangle with a track that goes around it like a compacted ferris wheel. On the track are cages that can flip upside down and turn around 360 degrees. It was raise us up over Oakland and then we would flip backwards and fall forwards while it lowered us back and around. I love feeling like something terrible is about to happen, like you're going to hit the car in front of you, or you're going to fall out, yet knowing that you are completely safe and that someone has engineered this thing to not hit the car in front of you and that thousands of people have already been in this exact situation and have come out just fine.

Once, while we were walking around, a woman looked at us and said to her friend, "Are they the Charmed Sisters?!?!" referring to the TV show about witches. I wonder if I was Shannen Dougherty or Alyssa Milano. It's funny how you can only see what you already know.

Monday, March 26, 2007

How to Eat Food

Growing up in my house, one of us would regularly eat almost an entire box of Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies and blame it on someone else. One time, while my brother was babysitting me, he and I ate an entire 500 count bag of Hall's cough drops because there wasn't any candy and we just wanted something to eat. It's not like we ate a lot of fried food or sugar cereal. My mom even insisted that we eat wheat bread and drink 2% milk. However, we did eat a lot of fast food. The pizza guy knew our names. And everytime we went to the grocery store or the gas station, Mom let us get a candy bar.

Now my Dad, who is very heavy, has promised us that in the next six months he will make a good faith effort to lose weight. I'm very proud of him for realizing how important this is, not only for himself, but because our family needs him to take care of himself so he'll be around a long time to debate with us and make up facts to support his arguments.

If I'd been a guy, I'm sure that right now I'd weigh over 200 pounds. However, I had the hegemony of teen magazines to scare me into skipping lunch and doing push-ups before I went to bed. Over time, I have gradually transitioned in something of a healthy diet, largely because I moved to California. It's pretty difficult to live here and not eat well. The produce is fabulous.

So below I've mentioned a few of the secret diet tricks I have learned to trick myself into eating somewhat well:

1. Drink water, not diet soda. A lot of the time, we think we're hungry when we're dehydrated. If you don't like to drink water, then mix water with a couple of tablespoons of pure fruit juice. Or make herbal tea. Quit your bitchin' and just do it.

2. If you want to eat bad food, eat good food with it. If you want to eat a hamburger, then eat one, but eat some salad with it. If you want to eat an entire chocolate bar, then eat one, but eat it with an apple.

3. Instead of diet food, like the blasphemy that is fat free cheese, eat small portions of rich, fatty food like fancy bleu cheese with big portions of food that is good for you.

4. Eat your food on a plate at the table. Don't eat in the car.

5. When you make food that is good for you, like spinach or a salad, put little pieces of yummy things in it, like pine nuts and slivered almonds and chunks of fried something.

6. Spend more money for better food and eat less of it. Buy a nice piece of fish instead of a box of fish sticks.

7. Have a cutting board, a colander, a grater, and garlic press ready to use at all times.

8. Use spices on things so they taste good.

This is what I eat when I'm in a hurry:

Mix canned kidney beans with garbanzo beans. Cut up a few stalks of celery. Grate a carrot (you can do this really quickly once you get used to it). Maybe throw some radishes or cilantro in there. You can also add sunflower seeds or slivered almonds. Top it off with sweet miso dressing.

This is the best tuna fish ever:

Mix tuna with Best Foods (in the West) or Hellman's (in the East) mayo. No other mayonnaise is edible. Put a big ole pinch of tarragon in there. You can't skip the tarragon; it'll blow your mind. Add salt, black pepper, capers, sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, mustard, horseradish, grated carrot, raisins, grapes, chunks of cucumber, and any combination of these. Toast your bread, and eat it with a piece of lettuce and a slice of tomato (if it's in season).

Now go drink a glass of water and tell me your favorite recipe.