Monday, June 27, 2011

words from a very long time ago, part 1

Semi-recently, someone reminded me that Myspace exists still (whoa, 2002! What are YOU doing here?) I decided to log in to remind myself a) how bad I am at picking a decent wallpaper/background thing and b) how very different (though not always in good ways) I am from my mid-2os self.

The thing I had actually forgotten was how often I used the notes/blogging function of Myspace. So I was unprepared for the onslaught of pre-breakup/pre-Mom-loss memories. In an effort to keep these words safe-ish somewhere, I figured I'd reprint them here, as a way to remember and honor who I was and am no longer and may be again. (Also, umm, in re-reading them, please note that mid-20s Cat has a MOUTH on her which makes most of this relatively unsafe for work/children/upstanding citizens)

Thoughts on Profound Loss

I was going back through some poetry I wrote during the winter, and found this one I’d written about my mother. I reflected on what her loss might do to me, and, although there’s a lot I was very wrong about, I felt like it sort of summed up a large part of how I feel now.

This is also an incomplete way of saying thanks to everyone who’s supported me recently, and who’ve supported me throughout my mom’s illness. It’s appreciated more than you’ll ever know.

The Final Depot

In the end, it’s just an ending,
it’s just the end of a really beautiful tunnel
and the pulling up of all the inevitable train tracks.
there will be no detours, no stops between here and that great light.

There will be only one passenger left, and in her luggage she will have only love,
and pictures of children who have grown up wild. And it will be alternately too much and not enough for where this train ride ends.

And we will stand, waving, on the platform until she can no longer be seen. And we will continue to wave, even after that, in case she can feel our hands from where she is.

And we will go home with the knowledge of a train, and a passenger, and the intractable pain that a one-way ticket causes. And we will carry engine whistles with us wherever we go.

too much time...

in the past two weeks i have:

-received pictures of aborted fetuses in the mail

-been accused of naively encouraging attendance at an "indoctrination camp for children" (a local peace camp)

-seen my father accused of nepotism (apparently, I got my job due to his fantastic ability to fix the computers of many Catholic organizations. He is a mighty wielder of power!)

-been accused of attending a church which is, apparently, comprised of only gay people and heathens

i truly have the strangest job ever. on the plus side, there's always free red licorice (oh, and 99% of the people i deal with don't hate me/pity me/pray for the state of my soul. which is nice.)

walmart's tomatoes...

come from a plant in a tiny, gorgeous town in Baja California Norte.

The people there didn't smile, except at Charlie Chaplinesque Franciscan monks.

They work 14 hour days.

The poorer of the migrant farmers leave their five year old children to care for two year olds.

One of their children suffers from epileptic fits and there is no medical care.

They don't want you to feel sorry for them

The hothouses come from Israel and the computers come from France.

The owners of the plants own a house that is visible anywhere on the plantation so you know someone's always watching.

Their isn't anything that's harder to see than people robbed of the dignity they should inherently possess as human beings.

Just thought you'd want to know - enjoy your tomatoes in December.

confronting the demons

it's new year's day, the day that everyone starts their resolving-to-be-better cycles of dieting, changing, evolving. also, i turn a year older.

this is the part where i am stuck - 27 is that magical age where i thought i would find a family, professional success, intellectual prowess, and general american-dreamness. instead, i am confronting the worst parts of myself with an eye towards changing them permanently. which is cool, but also hard work. which is all supposed to be done BEFORE i turn 27, so i can have the family/job/brain/coolness that is undeniably due me before i turn 30.

at least i didn't make my sister feel awful, like i did when i turned 25.

but the new year and it's eve were full of enough excellent signs that i cannot say that being 27 will be at all awful, just different than i thought when i was 15 and the mere thought of being 30 creeped me the fuck out.

and so, since i love lists, here is a list of wonderful omens for this year:

  • although he will be soo embarassed, i am going to say partner is fucking awesome and carefully, caringly helps me to balance my brain out and not freak out all the time, or live in that paranoid space where everyone hates me, i am totally fat, and we're all gonna die. thanks, sweetie!

  • i am meeting (and re-meeting) the most fabulous people. and, although it often makes me wish i had been a more mature person at 19 and 20 (still really sorry about everything, missoulians), i am psyched as hell to be mature enough at 26 and 27 to recognize that i have met some really wonderful people in my time on the planet

  • i am really learning to be unembarassed of either my body or my brain. not in an "i'm better than you" way, but in an "my stretchmarks and your stretchmarks should be friends" kind of way

  • we saw whales and spent time on the ocean and drank whiskey to ring in the new year, which sounds weird but was so excellent

  • last of all, i think i am getting back a little of that fire and energy that fueled my activism and general may look a little different now that some of it is reserved for my family, but it's sort of back and that makes me happy

my self-suggestions for the year (anyone else want to share theirs?):
  • more reading

  • less consuming

  • more appreciation and graciousness

  • less egoism

  • more adventures out of my geographical and intellectual comfort zones

  • less fear

  • more brussel sprouts

Edjumication of the Innocent

i recently watched this video on the life and death of the original Black Panthers (find it below!) and was immediately flooded with all these thoughts about how fucked White America's views of race are (and always have been). All I ever learned about the Black Panthers was so negative and fearful and wrong. When Eldridge Cleaver came to our high school, it was the very first time that anyone had stood in front of our group of mainly white, mainly rich "young women" and told us how life might turn out if we believe the wonderful lie that luck/fate/etc. had made us better than some other people. And he told us how totally wonderful life could be if we just fought against that notion everytime we got it and learned to recognize that we had been given more than our fair share and it was time to give some of it back and start trying to deserve the power we had left. I kept the autograph he gave me on the back of a postcard depicting the earth with an asterisk and "You Are Here" next to it. My favorite coffeeshop calls its 20 ounce drinks Eldridge Cleaver sized which is nonsensical but makes me smile. I like to think that Eldridge might have liked to have something named after him that wasn't fraught with misunderstanding or hardship.

It makes me angry to think that there are people, here and around the world, who are right now, right at this very instant, being hurt or killed for their belief in justice, equality and freedom. We will, most likely, never learn their names. We will, most likely, never hear their stories in the voices of our history books. They may not make the difference they thought they would. Their children may learn to get by without them. But I just think that, every once in a great while, it is just good to stop and give praise to them for not giving up.

the end and the beginning.

a short, illuminating list

entitled "Why I love the Greek Festival"

the list is as follows:
1 - loukamades
2 - it gives me the ego-boosting (albeit slightly claustrophobic) feeling that i know lots and lots and lots of people
3 - spanakopita
4 - talking with an 8 year old about the various ikons around the church
5 - listening to an explanation of the orthodox view of Mary's death and realizing how peaceful they make it sound and how much I wish that for my own holy mother
6 - baklava
7 - the modern greek language
8 - hearing this gem (out of the mouths of drunks, indeed): "do i?!? is my middle name Abby?" "umm, no, that's your first name"
9 - talents
10 - community

the pointless list down, several million to go

riddle me this...

how, oh how, has my descent into old ladyhood accelerated so rapidly?

i have noticed the following alarming symptoms:

a - i have periods of knitting feverishly. now, i know that knitting is now the latest thing to help bring down the patriarchy ("here, Patriarchy - I knit you a scarf") and restore feminine arts their rightful import, which i am all for. But I got sooo excited about the fact that my friends (whom I love and adore) just had their first-born child, Zola. Main reason I was excited - the possibility of knitting baby booties. (Side note: do modern babies still wear booties? Inquiring minds want to know)

b - I cannot stop reading mystery books from the forties and fifties. Seriously, this is the most damning of the recent "spinster-esque" (sorry, love) qualities I now possess. Who, aside from the advanced-in-years, would gladly pass on reading (or viewing) the Da Vinci Code, but is planning to read Agatha Christie's Passport to Murder and The Big Four until she can decipher all the hints?

c - My senses, mostly my sense of smell, have become increasingly delicate (read: fussy) recently. I just want a day where I don't have the urge to say to someone "Seriously, back away. You're making me nauseous." Because who says something like that? Crotchety old people (or, most probably, spoiled B-list celebrities in love with their own fame. So apparently this trait is not particulary damning - perhaps I am merely turning into Vickie Lewis of Newsradio fame?)

d - Both my elbows and my knees creak. Thank you, Laskowski and Willett genes.

e - This I was hoping to hide for a very long time, but, alas, my sister has found me out. Dear God I hate confessing this, but everyone will, I am sure, realize it eventually: I have a very large patch of grey hair on my temple. Instead of making me look very Jean Grey or English-Professor-Gone-Wild, I think it looks more like I either perpetually have paint in my hair or as if I dyed my hair from grey back to its original (lackluster) color, but was drunk and missed a spot. The truth: I am really too lazy to fix it.

I am hoping that, ala Star Trek, this advanced aging is really an episode involving the Holodeck. Hopefully, I will emerge, 50 minutes into the episode, with a new lease on life and an understanding of star dating. Really, I have no idea how that works...
(None of the above is really a condemnation of the "over the hill" or on the concept of aging. I am actually excited to be elderly. I just want it to happen when I am actually old.)

the oppressive weight of sadness

so our family is going through this thing that is huge and difficult and scary. and now i have become a writer with no words, and a future-thinker who cannot bear to think of the future. and a really shitty optimist. and i just wanted to write something about it, because crying just sucks and robs the time i have for being present and (bonus) makes me really dehydrated. so this is the second best option, and even it makes me feel itchy and restless. because everything makes me itchy and restless. and if my fears of being "kicked out" of my family were bad before, they are crippling now, because i realize that i will have to make time everyday for it before i leave, and also deal with the fact that, unsurprisingly, my sister is ultimately the best at dealing with all of this. she and my mom, the most hurt by this thing are the absolute best at helping me along. which is humiliating for a professional helper for yours truly. and i don't know how i feel about God. that's all.

beware the tiny child...

so i woke up incredibly anxious today, and the day itself has done jackshit to alleviate my feelings. for a long time, i have been worried that my poetic sensibilities are atrophying...i am unsure how to explain it to anyone sane, but i think that my lack of time to write down all the little lines that float through my head has caused the words to come less frequently. and then last night i dreamt that monk and i had a baby who we only referred to as "the tiny child." the tiny child, or ttc, was actually made out of all the poems i have not written recently (which just shows how totally fucking pedantic my brain has become since i stopped writing shit down.) and ttc was always getting lost, and i couldn't find him/her and then i stopped caring, which was really emotionally fucked up in my dreamworld...anyhoo, i am pretty anxious about that, especially because everytime i do the natural thing (actually put pen to paper) it rivals hallmark in its crappy linguistics... so then i get to school and am freaking out about having to re-add physics which i stupidly dropped...and then i began to seriously hyperventilate because the class was exactly like a dream i have had. everyone knows each other, there is no syllabus, the teacher is german (i don't actually dream about that, but it seemed relevant somehow) and the "review" for the class had all sorts of greek letters and waves and math and things i have never even heard of. and then i learn that, a little later in the term, we will be learning "the basics of atomic and nuclear physics." oh, you must be SHITTING ME! i promptly re-dropped it in favor of biology, but can i just say - i hate required classes! and that brings me to my big, overarching worries - not graduating and graduating. this fucked-up dualistic approach to my life wreaks havoc on both my brain and lower back. i am worried that some mysterious requirement will appear that i have not fulfilled and which will cause me to be a perpetual senior. and i am worried about what this next year holds for me. i desperately want to be in the jesuit volunteer corp, but keep psyching myself out because i do not think i am worthy of nice things. but if i don't get in, i am afraid everyone will laugh at my next best plan of going to palestine. actually, my parents won't so much laugh as shit their pants. hmm, actually, please forget you ever read any of this. although, i do strangely feel better now.

the things my job teaches me

1. the spanish word "misericordio" means "mercy" in english. 2. Scissor Sister's "Take Your Momma Out" inspires me to new heights of cubicle dancing. 3. covered bike racks are a necessity for any workplace. 3 1/2. the lack of covered bike racks makes me wander around post-lunch, afraid everyone will think i have pissed myself. 4. there is a reason why no really good songs or literature have been written by proofreaders. 5. everyone should email me more than they do.

much talk, little action

so i am feeling out of sorts with the current protest trends. as most of us know, today was the inauguration of our fair leader. and people are still focused on one of two things: A - whether or not the election was fair (a valid point but one about which jackshit can be done now.) or B - the continued presence of US military troops where they do not belong (which is an EXCEEDINGLY good point, but one which should be acted on, not just shouted on). I felt like most of the "action" i saw today showed a lack of deep, introspective thought and a simplification that i have not seen before (perhaps because i was not looking). So then it threw me into this whole crisis about what i want to do with my life and whether activism is really where my heart is at. thankfully, the answer is still yes, but i am massively frustrated with what i saw today - much talk, little action.

polyphonous inspiration

so, having never used the "blog" for its personal aspect, this is all new to me. but i am on cloud fucking nine. i just saw three of the most amazing poets (Christine Orby[?], Christa Bell, and Saul Williams) speak about activism, feminism and their personal experiences of race and racism. it was good to sit back and watch people who are marginalized in mainstream society speak their piece (peace). one thing happened, though, that was a big jolt to me. during the question and answer, this girl started talking about how being blonde was something that had "oppressed" her all her life. and she was shouting at saul williams and everyone was shouting at her to shut up except saul who was really trying to dialogue, and i realized that the whites and the african-americans were having two different reactions. other whites were the ones being most vocal against this girl. but her attitude - that oppression is just when people are mean to you - was obviously familiar to many of the people of color. it made me realize how little attention white people pay to what their white friends, colleagues and fellow students say about race. it was really a disturbing thing to realize and be witness to. but, aside from all that, the night could not have been more beautiful and i am gonna love it for a long, long time coming.