Sunday, May 28, 2006

no hustle, no flow

I finally called him back. We spoke lightly of nothing in particular. He seemed to be just as I had left him only now he had a cold. I called with a goal in mind. It wasn't supposed to be difficult. I thought he was quicker than that. For a guy who lunches on a regular basis with his "MBA buddies", you would think he'd be more sensitive to up and down trends. I was sure he knew we were at the tale end of a sharp decline, which was why I was a little perplexed when he continued to call and email. I knew I had to say something. I had been hoping it would just trail off, but it didn't look like that was the way it was going. I thought about writing it in an email, but invisioned him receiving it on his blackberry while having dinner with friends. I knew it wasn't right, so I sucked it up and made the call, banking on the assumption that if I 'called it', in the time of death sorta way, he would shrug and concede.

Instead, to my surprise, he waived a carrot - albeit limp and pale.

"I don't actually agree.", he replied. "I think we could have had something here. I think we could have worked through this."

It was clear that this was just a last gasp for air, but it was enough to tug at some of my more vulnerable strings. I resisted the urge to respond. I trusted myself for once. I held my tongue.

"Ok then", he said after a moment. "Will you still say 'hi' if you see me on the street?"

"Of course."

"Alright kiddo, take care."

'Kiddo' - a final tug.

"You too."

Later, over the phone, Lana reassured me, "It's just like a band-aid. You had to rip it off."

I sniffled.

"And you did".

I did, but looking back, he should have lost me on our third date, at his inability to 'get' Hustle and Flow. We rented the movie (my selection) and he wrote it off in the first five minutes.

"It's like they're speaking another language."


How did I explain that away to myself? He's sheltered? He lacks empathy? Lacks depth? How did I let it slide for as long as I did? What's more infuriating is that I waited until this point to stop it, instead of saying it didn't work out weeks ago when I first detected and then denied it. Instead I tell him it's because we lost momentum, I let him think it was about my insecurity - my doubt about his feelings for me. I let him think I was the needy girl worrying that he was 'just not that into me'. When he told me that I was reading too much into what I saw as his apathy, I even wondered if he was right.

This is bigger than a dating issue. I keep doing this to myself and it makes me angry. I'm angry for not being sure sooner, for not always giving more weight to my own desires and needs, and for taking the blame. It's not me who has a lack of character. I'm brimming with it. My problem is that I spend so much energy trying to let it out in manageable trickles, stemming the flow, so I don't scare people off, put a bad taste in their mouths, make them feel uncomfortable. But that's what the world is, a dirty, tragic, uncomfortable, human, pathetic, and often hysterically funny and sad place. It's not smooth, clean, aritculate, witty, shiny, or pure. We enter this world in a stream of fluid, blood, and shit, and our departure isn't any prettier. If we didn't lie to ourselves a little, I don't think we could survive - out of our robot bodies, springs would pop, eyes would cross, and legs would give out. No, there will always be lies, but the ones I tell myself don't always have to come out of my own hide. I can't preserve everyone else anymore. I won't.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

hello toast

And here I am again, back at the same point. I want to run away and join the circus. I don't know if I'm coming or going. It comes through in everything I do.

Maybe this weekend I should prepare for writing my US nursing board exams. Nah, I should ride my bike. Buy a car or go to sleep? What'll it be?

Last night I dreamt I entered someone elses' kitchen, which was supposed to be mine. There were so many dishes and cupboards. I set the bag of groceries I had brought with me on the floor. I rolled four joints at the kitchen table, two with tobacco (?) and two with the real stuff, but then I decided against them and threw them in the garbage. I took something to calm me down, but then some faceless friend came over and she wanted to smoke a joint so I pulled them back out of the garbage and we took them with us. We walked across a familiar field near where I used to work. I took a couple of puffs, but then thought better of it.

"I'm the nurse in this place.", I told the faceless friend, gesturing toward the building. "It isn't appropriate." Besides, I thought to myself, the pill was kicking in. I didn't need anything else.

We were walking up some stairs outside of a building where people were gathering when I saw this guy who seemed familiar. We exchanged looks, and just like that I walked up to him, talked to him for a few minutes, and then I straddled him, circling my arms around his neck, whispering in his ear. Our faces were flushed. He held me like that for some time. Later he came home with me. In the morning he wanted to stay.

"Normally I get up pretty early, but I can tell that you like to sleep in. I want to stay here with you", he told me.

"Actually, I want to get up and get going. Maybe have something to eat."

He told me he wanted to take me for breakfast at 'Bonjour Brioche'. As we left I noticed the bag of groceries from the night before was still sitting on the floor. It was ruined. I had forgotten to refrigerate it. I threw it in the garbage and we left.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

it isn't safe

I could see his stick-like frame coming toward me, his cane hanging from his arm like a Christmas tree ornament. In his other arm he held a sack of potatoes. He had to be at least 90 years old.

“Excuse me”, he said, his voice raspy. I took out my earphones.


“Could you let me into the building, I forgot my keys?”

“Sure, no problem. I know you live here,” I told him. "I recognize you".

“Oh, I’ve lived here a long time. I’ll be ok if you just let me in the front. I don’t lock my apartment, ya see.”

I looked to my left and to my right, I wanted to tell him, ‘Not so loud, are you crazy? People might hear you’, ‘Don’t leave your apartment unlocked, don't you know it isn't safe?'. But then I figured he'd made it the first 90 years - who was I to tell him anything.

As I walked down the street in the spring sunshine, a gust of wind blew through. I pulled my coat closed and crossed my arms, holding it in place. I thought of the old man's accent and wondered if he was polish, or maybe german. Then I wondered whose side he was on, back in the 40’s. Chances are, it wasn’t mine. I tried to stop myself there - think of something else. My thoughts turned back to the old boyfriend again, and how he used to comfort me when we were driving on the highway and saw an animal, dead on the side of the road. I wished he was here right now.

“Shhhhhhh”, I could almost hear his voice, feel his hand pressed against mine. “Don't worry - It’s only sleeping.”

Monday, May 22, 2006

my [w]horoscope

For most of your life you have had no choice but to let others have their way [with you]. It was the wisest way to proceed, but things are changing. You are in control far more than you realize. Awareness of your personal power is set to increase.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

maple seeds

Maple seeds are pasted against the sidewalk.
I walk over them, under my umbrella,
And I think how the planet works
In mysterious ways.
The hard spring rains come
Just as the seeds are ready to fall.
The rains pull them from the branches
And force them deeper
Into the soil
Their chances for survival
That much better.

Maybe that's what crisis
Is to humans.
A torrential rain
A force behind a course of action
Pushing us deeper
Into the shit.
If only old Charlie was still here
To tell us
About the evolutionary advantage.
To tell us why we need rain.

Friday, May 19, 2006

bad for the screen

“Look”, she says.
My mother presses her index finger
Against the flat screen monitor.
She looks back at me smiling
Like a child.
She shows me how the image on the screen
Distorts around her fingertip
Like ripples in a pond.
“Mom! Don’t do that!”, I tell her. “It’s bad for the screen.”
I think I heard that somewhere...
“Oh!”, she says, startled, the rare innocent wonder wiped clean from her face.
But why did I have to say anything?
Why couldn’t I just let her have that?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I was here

In the beginning, there was his accent.
It fogged up my glass
Like a steaming shower
In a room with no air.
It reminded me of Eli
And the sound of hands
Against ribcage
The wonder and the wit.
Jackie Mason
And Ozzy Osbourne
In a teenage boy's body.
He reminded me of all of that
For a little while
But some illusions disintegrate faster than others.
Even bubble gum falls apart if you chew it for too long.
There are some things you just can't keep.
Silly me
Here I thought I found a way
Despite the apathy
the lactose intolerance
the homeless intolerance
the smooth ride
the sore knuckle

Instead it was just like that closet
Filled with over-priced concert t-shirts
And not nearly enough time to wear them
Trying to tell us
“I was here”.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

turning off lights

I stood up from the couch to go to bed. The pill had kicked in and everything seemed lighter.

“Sometimes you gotta do whatcha gotta do”, I said aloud.

A pill, cold metal, a glance over the edge.

A Christmas song popped into my head:

"Do you see what I see?", I sang, turning off lights.

Monday, May 15, 2006

mr. cab driver

“Can you press something so I can open the window, please? I think the window lock is on in here.”

“Sure, but only just a little cause sometimes it jams.”

“That’s fine, I just need a little fresh air”, I tell him, trying not to breath in through my nose.

“Oh, of course, with all of that stale airplane air and airport air”

“Yeah,” that and all of the farting you’ve been doing in here, I think to myself. I try to put it out of my mind, but it isn’t easy. Besides, I can’t just pretend he isn’t human, sitting in a car for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week. His body just keeps on keeping on.

Sometimes it closes in on you though. You know? Sometimes it's all too much.

Friday, May 12, 2006

all I hear

It’s 5 AM and I can’t sleep. My mother’s been telling me she loves me again and again and squeezing me every chance she gets. It occurs to me that what she needs right now is a grandchild, as much as I wish for a family. I’m heartbroken that this perfect time in both of our lives slides by.

All of this comes over me while trying to sleep in my childhood bed, listening to the low moan of the fog horns. Funny how I never really noticed them before - I have no recollection of hearing this sound growing up, even though it must have always been there, slow and urgent. Now it’s all I hear.

Monday, May 08, 2006

the tell-tale bag

Last week, all I could think is, here's that feeling. It's back. I wondered if it was my neuroses or my litmus paper. I like to say that I trust my instincts, but I don't. I haven't the capacity for that level of faith. If it isn't there in front of me, I won't see it. Especially when I don't want to. Oh, and how I don't want to see it. Instead I talk of walls and porridge, hoping to nose it into a better spot. Sometimes I just stop talking altogether. Recently, when the feeling got to be a little too much, I wrote it down. It was late one night when I came home after too many drinks:

'Do I have my contacts in still or don’t I? All I know is it feels like a fine layer of sand blew in my eyes and I feel slow and drunk, but not too much that a little sleep delay and water won’t fix it. Tonight I was at a party with some girlfriends and this guy kept looking our way. I kept telling Alison he had 'eyes for her', and we laughed. Later he approached me in the kitchen and told me he recognized me from online dating. Apparently I was the only person he had ever emailed, but I never responded. It could have been a creepy exchange, but it wasn’t really. There was nothing wrong with him. In fact, he was kinda cute and interesting, but I was relieved to be able to say I was dating someone. As the words came out of my mouth, I felt like a liar. I could hear the scratchy newspaper box voice taunting me, "Lies!". I took his email because I felt bad saying ‘no’ when he offered himself on an ‘if it doesn’t work out’-basis, wishing me luck. But what about the little voice? The doubt? I'm swimming in it. This is a vulnerable period, I guess. It’s like making blind investments and the stakes are getting higher. The last couple of times I 've found myself in this position, things went badly. Maybe that's what's wrong. Maybe not.'

As early as a few dates in, despite the surface excitement, I had a funny feeling. I even joked with my therapist, "watch, this one'll be gay or don't think he is, do you?" Of course he just shrugged.

Yesterday the 'guy' was a little snippy with me on the phone when we made plans. In response I was a little snippier back. Later that night at the restaurant, he asked me what 'that' was all about. I tried my best to explain. I reminded him of how the conversation went. He waived it off telling me, "Ya but I've been getting the feeling that something hasn't been right for the last week. You sound different." I wasn't sure what he was picking up on, so I didn't say anything right away. He pressed on. I turned the question around a bit and asked him if there was something that was bothering him. At first he said he wasn't sure. I waited for him to continue. Then he told me several things, none of which made a lot of sense taken together.

He's worried we're losing momentum because we haven't seen each other much lately.
He realizes he's the reason we haven't seen each other much lately and he's going away again.
He's unsure of how I feel about things.
He thinks I'm a great girl.
Alone time is important to him.
He's getting a bad vibe from me.
I'm not like the other girls he's dated, in a good way.
He doesn't want this to be the end.
He wants to see me again when he gets home.
He doesn't want to move too quickly
His work is stressful lately and timing isn't ideal...

He trailed off when he caught a glimpse of some friends of his we bumped into earlier in line at the restaurant. They were getting up to leave. He watched them approach. "That was quick," he said smiling, and then he continued under his breath, almost to himself, "look at Lisa and her Fendi B bag."

Are you kidding me? Did I just hear what I think I heard. Did he just notice a designer bag, recognize it, classify it, and admire it? A designer bag that I, being the girl at the table, didn't even notice? He didn't just do that, did he? Maybe I mis-heard. I looked up to see for myself.

And maybe not. The past few weeks rushed in. There was the impeccible dressing, the subtle homophobia, the myriads of friends that are girls, the not so dirty mind I mistook for gentlemenliness, the love for 'Desperate Housewives'...

And it all made sense.

Monday, May 01, 2006

goldy locks

As good as it is, all of this dating excitement, anticipation, uncertainty, and's also that bad. It's the kind of unbearable that keeps me coming back for more. Here the road feels more and more narrow, like every move I make is risky. It's ridiculous but it's me. I need to snap out of it. I can't let myself freeze up.

So, here I sit, on a precarious divide. Maybe it's not a road... I see it as a wall. Looking down to my left, I'm reminded of that guy from last year who was a 'perfect catch', but who dumped me quoting LL Cool J:

"Don't you call this a regular jam, I'm gonna rock this land."

I shit you not, that's what he wrote in the email. I know - kind of funny, and believe me, if it didn't punch the wind right out of me I might have thought it was awesome, but it caught me by surprise, soon after he spent the night for the first time, and the day after he invited me to spend the holidays with his family.

Down to my right, it seems, is my alternative - almost every guy I go out with fits into this category. When I meet these guys I can't breath and my life flashes before my eyes. I can see it clearly - a mundane existence with someone I don't respect where there is never enough air. Selling out, settling, just to settle down, like so many do.

It's funny, when you think about it. I always end up back at the same spot, seeing the same two things. It's because it's what I've come from. Now it's all I ever see. The right and the left. I haven't gotten very far in this recent venture, yet I find myself asking, what'll it be?

He's nice, funny, smart, sometimes self-depricating, and slightly neurotic. He's cute but doesn't know it. He's a good arm tickler. He tells me I look nice and seems really happy to see me. He's respectful and charming, but not to a fault. He dresses nicely and drives a sleek car, yet he bites his nails to shreds. He calls just to say 'hi' or 'goodnight', but never too much that I want to run.

So far, like Goldilocks and the third bowl, third chair, and third bed, he seems just right.

Maybe there's a third category. Maybe for now, I'll just stay right where I am - right here on my wall. I'll try not to notice how painfully thin it's getting. I'll try to keep looking ahead.

In the meantime, I just told my friend Camel, "I can't believe he emails me this morning to ask me how my day was and I emailed him back, answered his questions, asked him about his day and he hasn't even emailed me back! What's up with that? I feel like writing him to say, 'your morning's that good, is it?', but then I'd look needy and I'm not needy. I'm really not. I was fine before he came along. Just fine. I have my friends and my life and my exercise. I'm very athletic!"

I can see she is trying not to laugh.

"I am! I'm very athletic!"

We burst out laughing at the same time.

But I am...