Saturday, July 28, 2012

But That Christian Bale Is Kinda Sexy, Yeah?

One Batman-theme potluck ('Bane of my existence' pasta salad, anyone?) and the second viewing of The Dark Knight Rises later, and I feel a bit overindulgent. I do want to revisit The Dark Knight at some point, and start reading the Detective Comic series. Anyone out there with pointers about where to start? Pre or post the New 52? Also, I wonder if there are any non-skeezy archs with Catwoman out there. I read all the complaints about the New 52 reboot. Hmm, I suppose I should take these questions to the nice men and women behind the counter at the Phantom of the Attic ...

It was nice to geek out tonight, though. Good to know there are folks out there who care passionately about comic books and sci-fi and anime, and even that scary board game business, of which I was briefly exposed to, and might want to learn more about. He he. 

It's also nice to hang out with people whose paths don't usually cross mine. No writers in the bunch, or MFA-ers, or anyone with advanced degrees in the creative arts. I love my writerly, teacherly friends, but sometimes it feels good to break away for a bit. I wonder what other little subsets of Pittsburgh culture I can discover? I have no interest in sports-fanaticism, and am frightened of the hipsters ... is there some fringe crafty community out there? People who are a bit out of the demographic for yarn store culture, but who still knit/crochet cowls like speed fiends? Hmm, I wonder. 

There is a scene in TDKR that brings tears to my eyes. Both times I watched the movie. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but let's just say: it seems especially apt right now. Searing cinematography, simple, beautiful. I felt it on a very personal level. It resonated in my bones. 

Anyway. There's cookie baking, hair cuts, thrift store rummaging, running, writing, agent-searching, and more generalized socializing on the horizon for tomorrow. If I can scrounge the time, I may even break out the mason jars and can a few bottles of cherry-strawberry preserves. Anything's possible at this point. Right? 

Friday, July 27, 2012


I overheard a conversation I wasn't supposed to hear today, having to do with myself. Overheard gossip is normally cringe-worthy, but this one was nice. Really nice. 

Basically, it was about how I had made a total 180 in my attitude, appearance, and personality, and started embracing life. The women having this conversation agreed that it was great that I had done this. Am continuing to do this. How it's fear that holds most people back. 

It was the best compliment I've received in a long time. 

And they're absolutely right. Fear is what holds people back. Fear is what held me back for as many years that I was cognitive.

Fear still has an insidious way of creeping in, now and then. It's that little voice, telling me I'm not good enough/smart enough/pretty enough, so I shouldn't even try. The same voice encouraging me to stay at home and watch TV. Why bother going out, meeting new people, strengthening the relationships I already have, experiencing new things? I can shop on Etsy instead. Or just lie in bed and read. And every time I hear it, I have to make a conscious effort to blast it back out. 

So it frightens me, being physically too sick to go out tonight. Yesterday, I pushed myself despite my low-grade fever and scratchy throat. I went out, attended a meeting, had a late dinner in good company. And I'm glad I did. But today, all I could manage was a brief trip to the store for girly supplies (face mask, shampoo, mascara). I almost thought I was going to pass out in the middle of the shiny-floored store. 

So -- apartment bound. I've decided to give it a nice spin. It's a home spa night. I'm dyeing my hair a cheerful color, painting my nails a pink that might not survive the week (we'll see how nauseating it becomes by Monday), watching ridiculous movies, and reading short stories in my pajamas. I may even pop some popcorn. Because I have a crapload of interesting things to do tomorrow. And staying at home does not mean that I'm waving the white flag, giving up, or burrowing myself in.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In Which the Body Says: Cool It

Woke up with a sore throat today. Achy. I drank a lot of hot tea and water, and then did what my body wants as opposed to my mind (which yearns for greasy french fries, preferably waffle fries smothered in daiya cheese and jalapeno peppers and vegan ranch dressing, and god, do I ever miss REAL bacon), which was to go to Whole Foods after work, buy a shitload of beets, carrots, and apples, juice them, and then make a rather macrobiotic dinner of mashed yams, brown rice and roasted brussel sprouts. With chia seed chocolate pudding for dessert, and a few crumbles of buckwheat groats with white chocolate peanut butter/raspberry agave nectar.  Maybe this food diatribe belongs in the other blog. But I feel like writing about it here.

Walked through the graveyard instead of ran, and will forgo my new grueling sit-up regime for tonight. No writing of my 1) new short story, 2) last few chapters of my new novel or 3) my new cycle of poetry. No looking for agents. I'm going to lie down and read, and hope for the best in the morning.

It's been so long since I've been sick, sick enough that my body runs out of juice before my mind does. It feels infuriating somehow. Like progress is being stopped, all my forward motions temporarily halted. 

So yeah. I do this every night while running. I make lists of what I'm grateful for, whizzing past gravestones and gazing up at the sky. It's important to include gratitude in one's life, I feel. Just as long as it doesn't slip into complacency.

I'm in a sharing mood today, so here it is. Off the top of my head.

1) Reading three good short stories in a row (in the Ray Bradbury-inspired collection I recently bought. This is supposed to be spontaneous, so I can't get up to find the title).
2) Cats hiding in Whole Food grocery bags, with just their ears poking out.
3) Raspberry flavored agave nectar. 
4) There is no part of my body currently flaking, oozing, or requires shielding from the sun. Healed tattoos are lovely.
5) Passing the weirdly demonic elderly woman (think: Rosemary's Baby) in the graveyard, who is always carrying a giant tape recorder/cassette player, wanders in at dusk, and says something to me that sounds remarkably like curses  (it's hard to tell, my ipod is always on really loud). But with a lovely smile on her face. There's a short story, right there.
6) Catwoman played by an actress channeling Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn Catwomans are sexy! Smart catwomans are sexy!
7) That I get to see DKR again this weekend. :) 
8) It no longer freaks me out to meet new people. 
9)  I joined a book club. I've never joined a book club before. Much less one discussing sci-fi at seafood restaurants. Sci-fi and seafood go remarkably well together.
10) Every day. Really. I'm grateful for every day I get to breathe and wake up and be who I'm supposed to be.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

No Need for My Own Words Today

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with Richard, and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily delectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment take place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.
Anais Nin's Diary, Volume One (1931-1934)

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Hello, you.

The you you denied yourself when you were seventeen and listening to "Crucify" on your Walkman, and thinking complicated thoughts that remained on infinite lockdown.

The you wanting to leap with five young deer over crumbling gravestones into the twinkling night.

The you yearning to decorate your body in the lights of the universe and the bright gleaming hope of the solar systems, all of them, real & imagined.

The you who wants to live dangerously/hard/fully, and then have the tenacity & cold steel will to sit down and write it all down, and write it well.

The you pounding your fist, demanding to live beyond the ether of thoughts & dreams.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Salt in My Mouth

Tumultuous. When I was a kid, I'd wade waist-deep into the ocean and face the approaching waves. It seemed necessary that I do this, that I let myself ride alongside the cresting sea foam, to give in to the rhythmic pull of nature. But sometimes a wave would rush in, too large for my skinny little-kid body, and I would tumble feet over head into the current, salt rushing into my nose and mouth.

I never learned how to swim. For those few seconds I lost myself in the wave, lost sense of gravity and the sun and the comforting tug of earth, I thought I might drown. Each and every time. It was terrifying. 

Don't ask me why I kept doing this to myself.

I'm tumbling through a gigantic wave as I type these words. My heartbeat caught in my throat.

I want to know where the goddamned ground is. That soft layer of sand, solid under my feet. Right now, life is uncertain, stormy, and scary as hell.

I feel a confession coming on.

There are things that haunt me. I know I intended trying to live without regret. I'm working on it. But I still have some. Old ones, fading thin-white like scars. New ones, crimson and wince-painful.

Everything I didn't say. The courage that slipped out from under me like an unreliable Peter Pan shadow. Walking away when I shouldn't have. Or staying when I should have walked away.

Just. Know that I feel more strongly than I let on. Sometimes feelings rush and burn through me like a brilliant summer day. I'm afraid of getting hurt. I'm afraid of letting other people in. 

I used to like the idea of pretty little vignettes, with a beginning and an end. I wanted to keep my life contained in that way, compartmentalized, without messiness or drama.  To keep people at arm's length. To say definitely to myself: and that's the end of that.

Just. Know that I meant to do things differently. There are so many yous I'm speaking to right now. So many invitations I should have accepted, or extended; eyes I should have looked into; notes/emails I should have written; phone calls I should have made; people I admired who I let walk out of my life without a word. A casual "hey, want to get dinner sometime?" is so hard for me, even in the most innocuous of situations. I don't remember the last time I asked anyone to lunch, or coffee, or just to hang out in a smoky bar.

Just. Know this. Even if you don't read this blog, or know I have a blog, or that blogs even exist in the world, because you no longer exist in this world. Know this somehow, anyway. That I wish we had that lunch/dinner/coffee/drink. That I could have known you better. 

And if once I tumble out of this wave, I will reach out and tell you this. And I will try not to be afraid. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

In the Thick of It

I hate this groggy weather. I wanted to walk down Murray Avenue, for a bagel or a movie or at least a few distracting minutes of people-watching.

Instead I stayed inside. Where it never got cooler than 79 degrees, even with the air conditioner on full blast. My dog is weary with panting. My cats lie on the kitchen floor as if comatose.

There's so many things I want to write right now.   Let's start with what I can write.

Saturn was colored in, along with a bonus surprise of the milky way perched on my shoulder blade. I love my finished robot tattoo. It's colorful and vibrant, and I can't help but smile when I see it (which is every time I look down, hee hee). That said, some part of me mourns the fact that it's finished. I enjoyed my sessions, despite the moments of extraordinary pain. It feels like something good has ended. 

Here's wishing for a lot more color in my life. Not necessarily in the form of tattoos, but that might be okay too, once my life settles down and my skin has had time to heal/forgive me. Wounded and healed three times since the end of the May -- I don't blame it for being pissed.

I haven't written anything except three pithy paragraphs of my novel yesterday morning. This is unforgivable. I have a draft of a poem over a week old that still doesn't have a satisfying ending. Also unforgivable. Instead I have to deal with "life." For over four months, I've been living in the ethereal space of art/exploration/beauty/thought.

Eerily, my novel has become an exploration of my day-to-day existence. Right now, my characters are preparing for an epic battle. This is not a coincidence. Sometimes the momentum drags, just so I can keep working through issues via my characters. I do feel sorry I'm using them this way. My characters should be independent entities that spring up and surprise me with their autonomy, not pawns in my personal psychodrama. I'm going to have to do some serious editing, once I'm done with this first draft. 

Random things I learned today:
Nine hours of Netflix instant and computer searches turns an ordinarily sharp brain into oatmeal-mush. 

Spring mix salads taste superb with low-fat ginger dressing, and nothing else. Sometimes, just sometimes, it tastes better than anything else in the world. 

I wonder what will happen next. My eyes are wide open. In wonder. In disbelief.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I keep bombs in the fridge.

My stereotypical weaknesses infuriate me. Food is such a girly weapon of choice. 

One piece of apple pie = 411 calories. I don't know this intrinsically, at least. I googled it.

It wasn't even a good piece of pie. It was Giant Eagle variety, complete with a horrible sugared crust. I ate it anyway.

At least I didn't buy the whole pie.

There's that.

Why punish myself? Is it because of the looming storm of change/the unknown/loneliness/freedom? I had a relatively good night, at first. I went to the movies, and then to the grocery store. A small child made me smile outside the theatre. "Mommy," he said, "Why is the sidewalk sparkling? Is it magic?"
I liked his mother's response considerably less: "Don't be stupid," she said.

I wanted to tell him, "It's not stupid. You're right, it's wonderful that the sidewalk sparkles."

Instead, I walked silently to the car. And I found myself shaking. The wave of sadness is overwhelming sometimes. It's exactly things like a sparkling sidewalk that matter right now. Those small things. A pretty girl riding a red bicycle in Shadyside. A kind friend's text message. A poignant line of poetry, which I run through my mind like a strand of jewelry. Solace can come from anywhere.

And that, I suppose, is how I wound up with the pie. I'm a fragile little eggshell. Even a stranger's comment (and not even directed at me!) has the power to make me shatter, just a little.

I need to be stronger. My bones filled with titanium, my skin sealed with diamond. Impervious.

When I look in his eyes, I feel ??

Too much? Too little?