raybear: (tattoo)
This past weekend we went to South Haven, Michigan for friends' wedding. Despite tons of weekend traffic and construction on the highway, we got there right on time....except for the fact that Michigan is an eastern time zone state. Oops. This meant we got there right on time for the wedding, but an hour late for when [livejournal.com profile] dommeyourass needed to be there since she was reading part of the service. The weather was a bit choppy and changeable all morning, but by the mid-afternoon it cleared up perfectly, and we sat in folding chairs on green back lawn overlooking a bluff, with the backdrop of Lake Michigan behind the bride and bride. It was a fairly lesbionic wedding, but in all the good ways, not the painfully awkward ways. And yes, I cried. A lot. But c'mon, someone read Mary Oliver's Wild Geese early on and I knew I was done for after that.

Later that evening, after dinner and checking into the hotel and changing clothes, we went back to the house and watched the sunset over the water. Its funny how driving 100ish miled can completely flip your perspective on the time and space of the world, not just with the time change, but more with the sun setting on the water, rather than rising up on it, as it does here for us in Chicago. My internal compass is usually tuned not to the magnetic fields of the north, but to whatever direction a significant body of water is. I would be screwed if I lived in Kansas.

I watched most of the sunset alone, away from the cheesey dance music and the bugs and the children and chatter of adults, poking along the beach and looking for rocks, as I am wont to do, and the scattered thunderstorms from the west were coming towards us -- not dark ominous clouds, but smaller grey ones that looked like misty fingers touching the surface of water. They moved in front of the sun as it got lower, but I walked fifty yards up the beach to a piece of driftwood and sat down and could see the glowing orange perfectly, just on the other side of the clouds. Occasionally I would see lightning flash a few inches to its left, which was surreal. Especially since it was only the night before that I got home around midnight and was standing in our middle room, looking out the south-facing window at the clear sky and the near-full moon, then I walked a few feet to the east-facing window in the bedroom and saw lightning approaching there. Weather has been strange lately all over. I knew I would end up writing about it here, even though I don't really like reading about weather, if I can't experience it directly, I prefer paintings or photos of it, I suppose.

While in Michigan, before coming home on Sunday morning, we cruised around to check out all the houses for sale, we're not looking to buy right away, but we are plotting, scheming, looking, fantasizing. We found one house that was breathtaking. A 1950s yellow house in immaculate condition, with enclosed porches in the front and back. Between the house and the road was two acres of a maple tree grove. This house, like the one rented for the wedding, was also on a bluff up against its own private beach. It was for sale and it was empty, probably someone's seasonal home, and so we traipsed around, nervously at first, then getting more bold we wandered, the more we talked about all the things we loved about it. We knew it was too soon on our timeline, it would be expensive. We wrote down the info anyway. 'Its probably a million dollar home.' But the market is bad. Maybe its been on sale for awhile and it would have cut the price drastically. Maybe it would be close. Maybe it would be tantalizingly close to our range and we'd just be torturing ourselves. Maybe I could work full-time for a year or two and make it happen. Maybe, maybe. We got home and I looked it up and immediately started laughing. Cackling, really.

"How much do you think it is?"
"$1 million?"
"Try $3.6 million."

Well, so much for that dream.

Coming back home, I keep thinking about Virginia Woolf and her struggle with how the city overwhelmed her and made her anxious with its stimuli, but the country could be equally maddening with its silence and space. Right now, I'm longing for that silence and space, so I don't feel the latter, but I understand the mixed reaction to the city. Everything I love about it is also what can sometimes overwhelm my daily existence.
raybear: (sunglasses)
Guess who closed the office early because of snow and neglected to call me and say I didn't need to come in? Why, yes, it IS my place of employment! I'm mildly annoyed in a "I'm always the forgotten and overlooked worker" way, but for the most part I don't care because one, no work, no pay, and two, I was getting a little cabin feverish at home today so making the trip downtown didn't bother me. Especially since I anticipated such a closing and opted to wear baggy worn corduroy pants and snowboots, in lieu of legitimate business casual. I very quickly went from "Snow is delightful and beautiful and let me create a winter scene in my novel specifically so I can wax poetically about walking in it" to "AAARRARAAAARGHHHHHH The Shining makes so much sense now!!!!!!" I think I will go home early to drink heavily to dull the pain of monotony. I mean, enjoy a glass of wine as I gaze out the window at the lovely winter scenery. And by wine, I mean gin. And by window, I mean episodes of Friday Night Lights or Lost.

In the meantime, I will sit at work and eat leftover veggie pizza and research places in South Beach to visit on my vacation.
raybear: (red)
Don't get me wrong, I cry at television. It doesn't necessarily take much even, but still, there are times where I can stop and think, um, this is maybe about something else. I had an inkling last week, maybe Thursday or Friday morning I was watching Oprah for the first time in weeks, and it was a story about this college kid who got hit by a car and died but was an organ donor and all these people benefitted from his body and they all showed up and met the dead guy's parents and whoo, I just lost it so much I stopped watching and went in the next room to play scrabble or something.

Today it was during Lost, we're near the end of last season, and I was thinking about Juliet and how much she loves her sister and wants to get back to her and then I thought about how I have no idea what its like to love your sibling that way and have them be important in your life in any significant real way. I think that's sort of what's mixed into this process of mine, I'm not just grieving the loss and choices made by family in the past years, I'm coming to terms with general expectations and ideas of family. So I guess maybe it makes sense that random scenes in television shows make me all upset, because that's the idea of pop culture, capitalizing on common touchstones and ideas that are ingrained, retelling the same stories with occasional twists on new things to keep us interested, but for the most part, if its not actually reflecting life, its reflecting what we think life is suppose to be, or at least look like.

At one point this evening I looked out the window and was shocked to see it snowing more, so hard. I don't look at the weather, I guess, or I'm easily shocked. Maybe that's not the right word. Startled, if only because that afternoon while watching Sophie run around and rub her face in the snow (she is weird), I was imagining what this would all look like with another blanket put on, and then it happened. I think it won't be as much, its eased up, but I decided I needed to go out in it. I took a short walk, to a corner store to cream for coffee tomorrow, but mostly to be in it, to surround myself in the muffled silence on side streets, except the scrape of occasional shovels or breaks of my own footsteps as I went past the school and obliterated the perfect horizontal plane on the sidewalk in front. That block has been untouched all weekend, its a school after all, and its not a block that needs to be passed through, there are better reasons to go around. I chose that route specifically so I could ruin the placid scene, not out of spite or anger, but just because I knew it wouldn't last anyway, so why not have a go of it.

Yesterday I used the gift card my parents sent me for Christmas and I bought the game Apples-To-Apples, and played it with [livejournal.com profile] broqued and [livejournal.com profile] foxycoxy and [livejournal.com profile] keetbabe while eating delicious chicken tenders that Keet had made for us, and I think one of my favorite parts was when Coxy trying to choose between two cards, and after she picked one I yelled out, "whatever, both cards were mine, bitches!!!" to gloat at Broqued and Keet [because there was a small group of us, we were throwing in 2 cards per round, to liven it up and increase the illusion that our odds were greater]. I think they were slightly alarmed at my outburst, then amused. I like games. I like trash-talking during games. I love the dramatics and the sense of conflict that comes from being invested in outcomes. I love getting it and giving it. Also, I had just been playing Trivial Pursuit and Encore with [livejournal.com profile] vfc the night before, and I think near the end of the night, after a lot of drinking, every other word out of our mouth to each other was bitch, sucker, or motherfucker.

I woke up this morning and lower back was seizing up and causing major pain. I've been doing ice and took some naproxen and its maybe ok, just a slightly strained muscle, but I think I'm all traumatized by my injury last fall and concerned about spinal injuries. I think I'll just go distract myself with facebook before I start googling my way into trouble. Of course, having a hurt back didn't stop me from making the best pot roast of my life today. I love those moments, when you've cooked something, and you know its going to be good, but you put it in your mouth and it complete exceeds expectations, so the surprise is almost like someone else made it. We thought there would be leftovers, but there aren't. I think I ate more than a deck of cards size portion of red meat for the week. And its only Sunday.
raybear: (red)
There's a book meme that circulates about grabbing the book closest to you and turning to page 123 and typing the 5th sentence on the page. I don't normally do it because in the office with the computer, we don't really keep any books, except blank ones, or the thesaurus/dictionary/manual of style reference type. But today, I saw it on [livejournal.com profile] swampgirl's page, and I noticed I have Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet right next to me so I did it.

On page 123 it reads: "Any sunset is the sunset; one doesn't have to go to Constantinople to see it."

Hmmm. Maybe. I read the 6th sentence.

"The sensation of freedom that travel brings? I can have it by going from Lisbon to Benfica [a suburb], and have it more intensely than one who goes from Lisbon to China, because if the freedom isn't in me, then I won't have it no matter where I go."

Ok, I can get behind it, since he's not saying there's no point in travelling, he's saying there's no geographical cure for your inner lack of freedom. Also, there is something to be said for approaching your daily life with the same open eyes and wonder we apply when travelling to new places. I'm lacking some inner freedom right now, which is probably why I'm so fixated on this Miami trip this moment. Don't get me wrong, there are other pleasures and benefits and it will be great, but right now it has nothing to do with the trip itself, it has to do with my state of mind. One of the things I've been sort of parsing out since paying closer attention to my feelings and body and states of mind is separating out "sad" from depression, and for me, depression is extremely physical. There is the stage that sits in my chest, then there's the version that I have had for much of this week, which permeates my bones, which tingles all over my skin, and if I think about moving or doing something, it clenches up all over and I want nothing to do with leaving the house or anything really that doesn't involve lying on the couch in my office. Or possibly staring at the computer while compulsively playing scrabble or downloading music. If I had DVDs to watch, I'd probably be doing that. I don't even feel particularly sad the past few days. In fact, I've been downright clever, amused, hopeful. It is not my mood that is clouded with depression, it is my body. Last night at work I had it at 8:45 pm and for a moment panicked that I wouldn't be able to get myself home, that for a moment it seemed more appealing to just curl up under my desk and not leave, rather than be outside and sit on a train. I took a breath. I sort of intentionally forgot that I froze up and moved anyway and obviously made it home.

It is strange. So I do things like force myself to the gym (yesterday) or force myself to write (today) and sometimes I stare out the window and watch the snow and eat a pear. I also listen to the Yeasayer album All Hour Cymbals, and revel in its serendipity, with songs called "Sunrise", "Wait for the Summer", "Wintertime", and the final track "Red Cave". I'm in my red cave right now.
raybear: (Default)
After putting on work clothes, I stepped into the kitchen and saw the snow flurries out the window. I immediately felt a wash of relief, like the emotional tension broken by finally saying something. The day has been holding its grey over us for a few days, and so the swirls of white were finally a release. On the train into work, when the doors would open, it would swirl inside, a few bold flakes would make it all the way to my face, my pant legs.

Tonight is fried chicken for dinner at work, and I admit, I'm a little excited. Its not really the best fried chicken in the world, but it is free and I didn't have to cook it, so there are benefits.

I had plans for making a savory pie today, of my own invention, but worried it would take too much time, it was too much procrastinating on this residency application that I'm sending out tomorrow. Now is the season of summer workshop applications and fellowships and story contests and whatnot. I mean, I suppose technically some of those things are year-round, but there tends to be a higher number of them between January and April. I vacillate between feeling completely hopeful and inspired to utterly beaten down and doubtful, but even in the latter moments, I figure it out anyway. With this residency, I had to solicit two letters of recommendation with quick turnaround and I had two people who stepped up and did it for me, so I couldn't really punk out and drop the ball on my end. Besides, just because I feel a certain way about my writing sample doesn't mean the words themselves have actually changed. A few weeks ago I really liked them. In a couple weeks I will probably like them again. Right now I just need to make sure that I didn't forget the apostrophes in "it's" and all the verbs are present tense, and then just send it off and hope for the best. I'm actually maybe less nervous about this particular application and more nervous about the next one I'm sending out in a few weeks, which is a academic year fellowship that might be absolutely and utterly perfect. But then again, everything is perfect in my head, and my tendency toward fantasizing outcomes is a sign that maybe I really want this thing and that's okay, that wanting. Its a reminder that hey, maybe I'm doing all this for a reason.

When I was working out on Sunday, I realized that my role in the universe of gym caricatures is That Guy Who Is Too Into His Ipod.

May 2010

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