Sunday, February 27, 2011

Criminalizing My Body

So, I'm angry.

I'm angry about what's happening in my country. I'm angry at the undercurrents and spillages-over and misplaced righteousness of the right, the conservatives and the Christian Right and the Tea Party, and its war on women across the United States. Between H.R. 1 (House Amendment 95) which strips all funding from Planned Parenthood and other 'family planning' clinics around the country (also known as Title X), which puts millions of women in jeopardy of losing their only affordable access to HIV tests, cancer screenings, contraception (which, ironically, prevents the need for most abortions), pap smears, and basic check-ups (while simultaneously funding contraception for wild horses under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management); to the South Dakota legislature introducing a bill that would justify the killing of abortion providers; to Georgia seeking to criminalize miscarriages and impose the death penalty (!!!) on women who suffer them; to another South Dakota bill which seeks to restrict girls' and women's access to abortion further by requiring that patients to receive (Christian) "counseling," wait at least 72 hours before having the procedure, on top of convincing medical personnel that they aren't being "coerced" into having the abortion; Republicans have gone berserk. Fucking madness.

HOW IS THIS OKAY? How is it possible that in 2011 women's equality is still up for debate? Because that's what's at stake here, and that's what both the Republican lawmakers recognize and their idiot constituents don't - it's not a moral issue, it's not about prohibiting federal funds from paying for abortions, which the Hyde Amendment ALREADY does. No. This is simply small-minded men, intimidated by women's increasing independence, freedom, and choice, seeking to impose their will on half the populace to keep them down. Ultimately, the fundamental right to choose when, with whom, how many, and the spacing of children is every woman's most inherent right. Without this, ladies, our only choice is to stay abstinent, which really means single. And because most women are likely to take the risk rather than to be alone, unwanted, unplanned, and unintended pregnancies will throw off, derail, and, in the BEST case scenario, postpone, women's plans for achievement, success, and power/recognition in society. Once a child or two comes, it's more difficult (in most countries, near impossible) to go back to school, to obtain a high paying job with upward mobility based on performance, and to break the glass ceiling that would finally allow women equal status in this country. And that day is precisely what Republicans are fighting so hard for. Once women have the ultimate freedom and ability to decide their reproductive fate, they are destined to reach equality. Many men, in this country and elsewhere, don't want that.

What's so frustrating and so painful for those of us who realize our rights are being taken away by those elected to 'lead' us and represent our interests, is that they've accumulated so many women supporters! Who ARE these self-hating women who vote to strip rights from themselves and from their fellow women? Show yourselves! This isn't an issue of your tax dollars paying for abortion, as I've heard countless conservatives use as justification to explain the rampant sexism of the House's leadership (namely, that limp dick Boehner, but also Mike Pence from Indiana, whose 'wisdom' produced this atrocity of an amendment). The IDIOCY! You KNOW the Hyde Amendment prevents federal money from funding abortion. So, what again is your problem? Ohhh, oh, you don't want your tax dollars going to pay for someone else's 'mistake.' You get birth control cheaply (because you're lucky enough NOT to be one of the over 60 million Americans who lack health insurance in this country, the richest and most prosperous nation in all of human history) so you don't understand why others don't just use it, right? But your tax dollars go to pay for abstinence education, do they not? The kind that teaches children and adolescents, not ways to prevent pregnancy when they inevitably have sex before marriage. Nah, that'd be too practical. Instead, my atheist tax dollars go to teaching children that God tells them not to have sex before marriage, and thus, they shouldn't. And wa la! No unintended pregnancies, no need for abortion, right? Problem solved?

The outright ludicrousness of this thinking has been proven by the (predictable) rapid increase in teen pregnancy among the generation whose schools supported abstinence only education. Right, but I digress.

The conservatives' two-pronged (1) fiscal responsibility and (2) "not with my tax dollars" argument fails on both accounts. First, for every $1 that goes to Title X funding, the US government saves $4 down the road, in decreased medical costs, decreased costs to social programs (used by women who are forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies to full term), and other cost-savings. So, hypothetically, Republicans and other so-called 'fiscal conservatives' should be all about funding family planning clinics, right? Especially because no federal funds fund abortion? But no. And here's where prong two comes in. Many of the very religious conservatives are against not only federal funding for abortion (obvi) but also federal funding for birth control, and, by extension, subsidizing poor women's healthcare in any way. But you know what? My majority of my tax dollars are spent on war, two wars in particular I neither voted for nor believe in in any way; prisons, prisons before schools and educators and social programs which would prevent the need for prisons in the first place (!); subsidies to oil and agro-business (corn and soy in particular, but other GMO crops as well); and a host of other causes I am diametrically opposed to.

However, I accept it because that's the price we pay to live in a civil society. I pay taxes for the privilege of living in a society in which I generally feel safe from civil war, and coups-d'etat, military dictatorship; which provides cops, streets to drive on, and free education through high school. And this means paying for a lot of things I hate. And that is what these misogynistic pricks don't understand about the way life works. You don't get to pick and choose what your tax dollars are spent on. Sorry! That's why we elect representatives that generally protect our interests. However, when they do not, as in this case, and when they aim their animus and misunderstanding and discrimination against a protected and vulnerable class, such as women, we the people are fully empowered to protest, sue, and otherwise prevent them from doing such a thing.

In the wise words of Justice Kennedy, any policy which has the "peculiar property of imposing a broad and undifferentiated disability on a single named group, [is] an exceptional and...invalid form of legislation." Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 632 (1996). Common sense, when applied to the legislation under consideration across state legislatures and even on the federal level, leads any thinking person to this conclusion. However, it never hurts to have a little precedent on your side.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

confused, maybe.

It's frustrating when you realize that people's perceptions of you are not really you at all, but someone other than you. For some reason they impute a personality to you that isn't true, that is based on weird assumptions and quick judgments. I feel judged here, I feel like people don't know who I am and thus act toward me like someone I'm not. There's no reason to treat me like a Mean Girl; I'm not one.

In all social situations it's common for me to feel baffled at the people who end up having the biggest following. Why you? What's so special about this person? What do you all see in him, or her, and what am I missing? Perhaps it's just an aspect of my personality not to be too keen on those who sell themselves out to be close to everyone in sight. I don't think it's possible to be honest with yourself and with others and still be 'friends' with everyone in a given social situation, especially the ones with a large number of people.

Anyway, is it too negative to say I don't like all that many people on this trip? I feel like I'm poisoning the well, like I'm rushing to these judgments myself, but it's so hard to stay open while constantly feeling slighted. Not that I'm exactly feeling slighted, but I am in the sense that so few of these people I actually want to spend any amount of time with. So many are so...young and obnoxious. That's it, most of them are younger than me, like much younger, and are interested in using this experience as a chance to bond over drinks and treat the city and country as their own playground. Which is fine, you do you, right? I'm having a hard time understanding that motivation. I feel like such an old person, I'd rather stay home and blog to everyone so my people at home know what's happening here than go out drinking with these kids. KIDS. That's what they are. The girl downstairs was born in 1989, she's still in undergrad. Wow. Like...that's fine, but she's younger than my little sister, you know? I'm just not interested in a 21 year old's perspective on life. I had it once, it sucked and it was boorish and immature, and I'd rather not waste my precious brain cells getting hammered with them.

On the flip side of that thought, though, is realizing how much these younger kids are teaching me about being confident and forward with your own thoughts and opinions and selves, and how little experience I have actually doing this. It's hard for me, based on my past history and also the family and culture in which I was raised - it was very much stressed not to do this, not to make waves, not to call people out. The unfortunate consequence of hiding behind politeness, however, is that you get stepped on, and taken advantage of, and passed up. You stay unnoticed in many situations because you're perceived as too flimsy, or malleable. As much as we're not (my family and I), as I've pointed out above, so much of the time the reality doesn't matter if your image across the group is one of being a flake or a needy, clingy person with no opinions.

I'm feeling really homesick; well, not homesick. People sick. I'm really learning to appreciate my people, the incredible friends and amazing boyfriend and family that I have. You ladies and gents are standing out, your sense of humor, your loyalty and kindness. Apparently (and of course, I should know this by now, but I was trying to have a positive attitude going into this experience) almost no one has these qualities, at least not together, all in one. So many just bitchy people (and I don't mean just girls). So many people I can literally say "I don't like you" about. It's incredible. Maybe it's because we've been forced to work so intimately with each other, that these differences are stark and really burdensome, whereas in most situations you just associate as little as possible with the people you find disagreeable. That's just not possible here. Many of us live in the same household, and those of us who don't see each other and work together every day anyway due to the orientation and our weekend activities.

Funny, too, I haven't had the urge to go out at night, or drink, at all. I don't know why, usually I really enjoy socializing and drinking with the people that I'm with; maybe that's a comment on my age? Or the seriousness of our jobs here? Or just my opinions of the people with whom I'd be drinking? I'm not exactly sure; perhaps it's a combination of all of them. That's more likely, I think. Not to give the impression there's no one here who's fun or kind or sympathetic; there certainly are. Luckily for me, most of the people who will be staying in Chiang Mai and living in my home with me are part of this minority. There are a few I'd rather not stay here, but the majority of the interns staying in Thailand are definitely the most pleasurable to be around. And the lack of alcohol has really helped my body and mind, I can already tell my memory is improving. There's definitely something to be said for a cleaner lifestyle, although a few beers or glasses of wine here or there with my friends (at home) and the Pirate sometimes just hits the spot.

I just wanted to let you all know I'm missing you, even though I'm happy to be here and glad to be doing what I am and will be doing this summer. I was meant to do it for a reason, I know that; sometimes it's just easier to get caught up being homesick. This has turned out to be a fantastic lesson in working closely with detestable people, and learning to cope with really strong personalities and people whose opinions are shouted over the crowds at every possible point. It's interesting to see another culture too, to be immersed in it, as much as we are. Living in a local neighborhood, working so closely with Thai people, learning the language. It's everything. It makes me appreciate home, but at the same time I couldn't imagine not being here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I'm feeling the desire to reconnect with my tried and true blog readers. Whenever I have an empty minute I've been concerned with updating the Thai blog, so the wider audience knows what's happening, and so you can all feel like you're on the ride with me, like I'm not so far away, like the distance is more just a silly construct rather than an actual barrier separating us.

I think things here are getting better. New situations, they always take a while to get acclimated to, especially in situations such as these which are almost entirely composed of moving pieces, some as fickle as humans. The weather continues to be oppressive, but the food is absolutely delicious. Oh shit! Here I am reporting on Thailand...I wonder how I'm going to do this separation.

See, I would like to use this blog more as a journal, which was my original intention, and thus I've limited the audience to my friends, the Pirate, and my family. The problem is, there's some stuff I only want me to know and think and acknowledge, right? Although I'm warming up to the idea of sharing a large portion of my life, reporting on it like a journalist and even letting others know my inner thoughts, which isn't a habit that comes naturally to me, I still would like to keep some things private. You have to have your own stuff, I think. Your entire life can't be an open book, exposed to all for criticism and review; the more eyes that see it, the less you have for yourself. Maybe? Maybe that's not right. Maybe that's the mistaken assumption I've internalized that has kept me from being able to be close with most people in my life.

I'm trying to take everything as it comes, not rush it, not force it, not feel bad about things not progressing the way I'd like them to. It all works out eventually, with or without your stress and worry and frustration. Which is easy to say when I'm feeling alright. Another day, I'll say to hell with it and momentarily give up on the whole bit.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

trembling; on the verge

I thought I was braver than this. I considered myself more of a pioneer. I assumed I was the trailblazer, not the follower, not the scared one who hides behind in need of a shield from the foreign, the new, or the just plain unknown. The things I don't understand.

But I don't feel brave. I feel small and scared. I feel defeated already, and I haven't even really yet begun. Yes, that's exactly it: I feel defeated. Like my presence on this trip is pointless, like why did I even bother screwing everything up for this? I haven't even given myself a chance to try yet. Why? Why do I do this? Why do I concede failure when I've yet to break from the gate?

Things never start the way I think they should, they NEVER do. I should learn this, learn it, breathe it, be with it. Everything is ultimately fine. The Universe is protecting me somewhere, behind the scenes, underneath the haze; it wouldn't have propelled me on this journey for no reason. Maybe I should start by clarifying my goals for this trip.

I want to learn to be an advocate.
I want to spend a good amount of time in a very foreign country.
I want to make friends outside of the context of law school, but in a law-related function.
I want to be an adult. I want to grow into an adult.

I think many people perceive me as one, the problem is, I don't. And my approach to the world is colored by the fact that I don't, for some reason, truly believe I deserve the respect of other adults as their peer. So I'm always looking for a mentor. Always searching out a big brother or big sister to carry me under their wing, to protect me, to shade me from the harsher bits of reality. But no! I've done so much on my own, why can't this actuality seep into my perception of myself?

My guess is that I put too much emphasis on what others think, or, even more wobbly and perplexing, what I perceive their thoughts of me to be. I'm too sensitive to social signals, too cognizant of others' minor body language and the cutting aim of their ambiguous words. On purpose? To fancy myself a victim? I don't see how that suits me, except that it acts as its own ceiling on what I can and cannot do - what in reality is what I will and will not let myself try at, either to succeed and move up, or fail. It's frustrating, this reaction. I'm afraid to do what in my heart I know I really want to do. I've cut a path already and can't diverge from it. I can make myself happy in the -to be honest - mediocre life I'm in the process of creating. Why should I, though? Somewhere, at some point, I have to stop stopping myself, I have to cease acting solely as my nemesis and start believing in and nurturing my abilities. I have to begin taking actual risks, rather than things that just appear to be risks. What does this mean, though? What do I have to do?

Maybe this is part of the challenge of this time in Thailand. To see what I'm really about. I thought I knew; I get shaken, and it turns out I don't. Who am I? What am I doing; why; and am I happy doing it?

I feel lost.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Okay, I realized today that anything that might be destroyed or undermined or weakened during my absence will likely be a product of my own (un)doing. Like assuming things that aren't real. Or projecting my feelings onto someone else. I'm already doing it, but I'm trying to recognize it for what it is and diffuse it. Unwind it. Expose it and let it go. I'm trying to have faith in the feelings of my friends and my Pirate, I'm trying my best to believe. Believe. What's so difficult about having a little faith? I don't know, the shit is hard to handle though. Like a bird you're trying to cage, something like that. It would rather just have the window open, ready to escape when necessary, but all you want to do is lock it up and shut it in. Make it safe. Keep it real.

I have lots of things to say, so much so I don't even know where to begin. I don't feel like I'm living my life. I don't feel like I'm living someone else's though, it's quite a conundrum. I don't really know what I'm doing. Drifting, floating, waiting. I'm about to be shot out of a catapult though, bolted ahead a few steps and plopped into so many new situations. I think my brain needs the challenge though, I've dulled it with the regular, and the ordinary, and the predictable. I need the new, the different, the incomprehensible. I forgot so much of what I love. I spoke to it, but didn't do it. The Pirate's uncle told me, "this isn't something you're getting out of your system, like everyone seems to think. This is you." I hope he's right. I don't want to be normal. I don't want to do what so many people do. I've always wanted to be extraordinary, I've always been a little off-kilter. We spend so much time and energy, though, trying to do what's expected, seeking to be the normal, looking for our place in line, it's hella (heyooo NorCal) easy to lose what we used to want to be. I used to sport this bumper sticker on my old red Volvo (Sylvia) that said
'remember what you wanted to be'. Even when I was 16 I could see this being an issue. Hopefully this trip reignites that need in me, I don't want to lose it. I want to keep going. I want to keep digging. I don't want to be ordinary; strangely, that thought frightens me more than most things.

I'll keep you posted. I can't believe I'm leaving! It came! The day is finally here. It makes me hyperventilate a little, but I'm happy to be going. Too much anticipation is killer. I need to just do it.

Monday, May 10, 2010


So, I normally refrain buying into the mass graduation hysteria and hype that comes every year around this time. Even my own graduations never seemed very important to me. I don't know, is it not the process that really matters?

That said, I can never turn away from a good graduation speech. There aren't very many, in my opinion, but every once in a while a speaker will just WOW me with short, often simple and common sensical, snippets of wisdom that just work.

Here are some excerpts from Steve Jobs' commencement speech at Stanford in 2005. Consider me WOWed.

"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."

Because, yes. Sometimes that's just it. Yes. I'm taking it. I hope it strikes someone else as much as it did me today.

The things that are good for you get better with time, they don't erode. That's my favorite part. I've hardly lived enough conscious, understanding life to really be able to see this in practice, but I believe I'm witnessing it in progress in a few areas of my life, and it's true. Why wouldn't the real things just grow the longer you're with them? And why should the flimsy stuff not weaken with time, too? It just makes good sense. Maybe some things will surprise me.

I'm thinking soon is a good day to take up the ukulele. This will be my next short-term goal.


I leave on Wednesday morning at 7:30am. Today is Monday.

It's coming, I'm feeling nervous and excited. I want to leave, so I can return. That makes sense, right? The sooner I leave, the sooner I can come back. The sooner I can embrace biff and my Pirate. The sooner I can re-fall in love with my city.

My visa came. The Royal Thai Embassy went to work and processed it in a day. One day! Which they said they were too busy to do. Assholes, they were the root of so much frustration and stress and tears. So I have it now; I guess I'm going for real. That was really the last thing that could have stopped me from taking the trip, and now that potential impediment is gone. I'm going. I'm going! It doesn't even feel real, I cannot comprehend that one week from today will be my first day of work in Chiang Mai. How impossible! How crazy.

Now that it's basically inevitable, it feels more doable. Trying to understand exactly what I was embarking on was an insurmountable feat even a week ago. Did I get through the hardest part? Hmm, I'm thinking probably no. But that was the first hard part, maybe. We survived. We weathered it. We stayed together, no one has left yet. No one has turned away. Only one more final and two more nights of snuggling, one more meeting with all my friends, and I fly away.

It's only 12 weeks. That's what I'm saying to myself. It's only 12 weeks. 12 weeks. 12 weeks. And worth it. It will be worth it. I needed to go, I had to explore and see and risk and experience. I traded freedom and independence for love and friendship; this trip is a test to see if I can have both. Why can't we have both? I want it all. I think, sometimes, if you ask the universe for what you want, it figures out a way to get it to you. It opens up a space for you to claim it yourself, you just have to ask. You have to inquire, check into it. So I am. Universe, can I manage friendship and biff-dom and soul mateness with traveling, exploring, staying open to the new and dangerous and scary and risky, all at the same time?

I'll keep you apprised of the answer(s). How can you know unless you do it?

Often, I find myself feeling thankful that life doesn't allow me to back out of things. Like the passage of time: days breaking upon days unfolding on more days. Because sometimes I think if life didn't compel itself onward, I wouldn't have the strength to do it. Mechanically wind the days every morning. How tempting it would be to just stay, to remain. When it's working, it's hard to want it to change. If I had the opportunity to back out, I'm not sure if I would still be going; so I'm glad it's not an option. I have to go. I knew that when I sat biff down last fall and told her, do not let me not do this. Please. Hold me to it. And she did. And I'm doing it. Even though she suffers for it, she was my eyes when I didn't want to see what I needed. Pirate was my legs when I didn't feel like I could stand, when I wanted to sit down in the middle of my life and stay there, pretending to be happy. I love you both so much, I don't know what I would have, or could have, ever do without you. What I would have done. You are me, without you I'm sure I would have visible leaks and holes. Everyone deserves that, everyone deserves what I was lucky enough to find. You just have to ask the universe for it. Ask it for what you want. And remember to aim high.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


My Pirate says I repeat things a lot, and he's totally right. When I'm trying to convince myself of something I tend to think it over and over and over again, or I will say it aloud ad nauseum, trying force the belief into my head that whatever it is is, of course, true. Today I just want to remind myself, I'm trying to dig a trench in my mind that lights up when I'm feeling insecure about leaving, that just says, "it's okay it's okay it's okay." I hope it is; I want more than anything for this to be true. It will be okay, it will be okay, it will be okay. Everything is fine. Nothing is really at risk.

I think the truth is somewhere in between my catastrophic thinking and this repetitive mantra. Most things are probably going to be okay, that's true. But some things are at risk, I'm exposing some things to destruction or rip tides, being undermined from the bottom, being torn away piece by piece from underneath. I'm trying to keep it in perspective; I feel like, if I aim high, if I aim for everything is fine, everything will be okay, maybe I'll fall somewhere in between total obliteration and peace. Which, I think, is the best I can do at the moment. At least that's a marked improvement from Monday, when my heart was breaking and I couldn't stop falling. When I felt like everything was already lost, and I couldn't catch my breath.

As an aside, has anyone noticed this weird trend about people not fastening their flies? I've been seeing it at an increasing and frankly alarming rate recently. Are all these people unaware that their pants are unbuttoned or unzipped? Or is it intentional? What leads me to believe it's become a new fashion statement is it seems to be a predominant practice among hipster-type folk, or at least these are the people who supposedly keep forgetting to close their flies. I don't get it; what a strange way to proclaim identification with a group.

That's a little off topic, but I've been wondering about it for a while. I keep seeing it more and more.

I keep experiencing waves of sadness. Sadness and numbness, they alternate. Yesterday I felt happy for the first time in almost a week; the problem with this, though, is that it's tinged with melancholy because I soon won't have it within reach for at least three months, I hope that's all. I hope three months is as long as the separation lasts. I hope we can stay so much connected that it's hardly a separation at all. I hope to build mature and eternal communication skills that buffer the Pirate and I, and my friendships, from any subsequent parting. I'm sad. I just want it to hurry up and come already, so I can focus on getting back and holding my love and laughing with my friends again. Like it never happened. Like we were hardly apart. Please please please let this be the result. Please let this summer be a good thing. Please don't turn it into something I'll regret.

I already miss everyone so much, I can hardly even recognize that I'm with my friends or my love when we're together. It's as if, somewhere in my mind, I've already left. I have to close myself off to the experience of now or else I'll be so overwhelmed by grief about my departure (in 6 days!) I will, doubtless, break down in tears. I feel as if I'm in a daze; I know I've numbed myself to the point where the usual things about life in which I find snippets of pleasure and gratitude can't even prompt a smile. I just want to leave so I can come back. Every day I'm here that inches closer to May 12 feels all the more heartbreaking. I am vulnerable and exposed. I've taken to wearing my sunglasses indoors so people can't tell when I've momentarily begun crying, without any provocation whatsoever.

I want to go home, but home is you, home is my people, and I can't come back until I leave. So I have to leave. Please stay by my side. Please don't leave while I'm gone.

"Let me go home, I'm just too far from where you are, I wanna come home. Maybe surrounded by a million people I still feel all alone; I wanna go home. Oh I miss you, you know....And I know just why you couldn't come along with me: this was not your dream, but you always believed in me."

I miss you I miss you I miss you all. I'M JUST TOO FAR FROM WHERE YOU ARE.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

getting heavy

I'm really trying to stay positive. One day at a time, she says. One day at a time.

But it's getting heavy.

I can handle things one day at a time. Like an addict. I suppose I am in a way, addicted to my life and my people here. I have to slowly undo the stitching linking my heart to theirs. I have to quietly back away from the situation so that I refrain from leaving a vacuum to be immediately filled. I have to stage a neutral exit so that I can easily slip back in, where I want to be, when I return.

The problem is, I'm not quiet. I'm not neutral, and I'm not slow. I'm impatient and rowdy and angry and loud, I want to scream and cry and fight the approaching date of my departure, one week from today. I want to straightjacket myself and my love together, so he believes I won't stray. So I stop myself from leaving while I'm away.

Last time I came back from three months abroad, everything was different. My friends had moved on. My person had preempted me. I had even less than I started with; I suppose the root of my fear of leaving my people is feeling those feelings again. It was different though, I have to remember to use my lawyer skills and distinguish between then and now. The people are different, the relationships are different. I'm counting on the outcome being different, too, or else this may be a group of decisions and a period in my life that will never shed the taint of regret, no matter how great the experience.

(I don't need people to be strong, I need to know how you feel. I'm feeling, I want to know how you feel too, so I know it's real, we're real, and things will probably be alright. I don't need a tall tree; I need to see you feeling my loss.)

One problem I always have when looking ahead to an upcoming journey is my debilitating fear of flying. I can't get excited for a trip when the date is within a few weeks, because all I can think about is how there won't be any adventure if the plane doesn't make it. This anxiety is quadrupled in this case due to the sheer number of flights separating me from the beginning of my internship: five. FIVE FLIGHTS. Five planes, five crews, five take-offs and landings. Five different times things can go seriously wrong. Five is a lot. My plane anti-anxiety meds have begun to lose their effect, as I can no longer sleep all the way through any flight, and thus spend the last few hours with my hands cemented to the armrests, my heart racing racing racing trying to escape my ribcage, and my jaw locked in terror. I've grabbed a good number of arms of nearby travelers during turbulence (when I was 16, alone on a flight back from Germany, I met a very handsome Kiwi this way, so it's not all bad). I'm pretty convinced that, if ever anything dire did happen on one of my flights, it would be while I was taking a pee in the restroom, also out of which I'm convinced the floor could fall out at any moment, especially while I am the occupant. As biff and I always say, if it's going to happen at all, it's going to happen to you.

So many irrational thoughts about flying. It's terribly unfortunate, too, because I adore traveling. I just have to drug myself up to the point where others perceive me as a lobotomy victim before I can board the plane, and then just keep swallowing the meds until right before we land. It's easier flying with someone, especially my Pirate. Because I can grab him anytime I want, with no weird stares or calling of flight attendants to report the touchy, drooling woman in 16B. Because, just as irrationally, my mind thinks he can save me from any dangerous situation that might arise while we're flying. Or at least we'd be together if he couldn't.

I'm trying to repeat, rinse, repeat this song, It's only fear by Alexi Murdoch. I'm scared. I knew this was why I needed to go on this trip, too. I'm losing my edge. I wavered, for a second, but still. For so much of my near-adult and adult life, I've fancied myself someone who could and would pick up everything in a second when adventure presented itself. Thinking about it now, I think much of that impulse and bravery had more to do with having so little to lose, rather than being an awesome character trait of mine. Thus, now that I feel like I have so much, in quantity and quality, to lose, it's not as easy, or painless. And I questioned it. And now I'm questioning it more. Yes, assuming the people at the Thai Embassy decide to go to work for a few hours this week, I'll get my visa, and I'll be going. Even if the plane tickets weren't purchased, I'm almost positive I'd still be going. But it just feels heavier this time. It feels heavy, it's more burdensome. It's a good time to learn that everything costs something, I guess. One of many, many truths I'm sure to be discovering out there on my own.

There's fear there too, in what will change in me. We don't know what we know until it's tested; and what a test I've subjected my life to! I picture a colander: I'm pouring my life through the holes to see what makes it out on the other side. I am looking for the holes. Seeing what's worn out, seeing what fits in, seeing what's solid enough to make it through the journey. I worry about what won't be there. I worry about who will be missing from the end pile, from the result, from my life when I come back. I worry about what will have warped in the process, what will have made it only in pieces, what will get stuck in the holes.

"There's far too many questions to ask, to answer any of them tonight. Confusion casts a shadow upon me, like a great big cloud in the sky. And now I pray for rain, because it's been so long since I let myself cry."

Monday, May 3, 2010


This is everything I want to say to you, you, that I can't. Or that I've already said to no avail. All I want is for you to understand, but you don't. You can't or you don't want to, I haven't decided.

For various reasons, I have to start with this song. Of course it's the song of today, listen: "Nine times out of ten, our hearts just get dissolved. Well I want a better place, or just a better way to fall."

I'm really uncomfortable right now because my entire life is wrapped up in the generosity of someone else, and I really don't like to rely on others to such an extreme degree. It's too much. I don't want it all there, it means I don't have a choice. It means I'm indebted to someone else; it means he has control over me. I don't like it. It doesn't feel good and it doesn't feel right.

I'm feeling overwhelmed. Three finals in one week, immediately after which I fly to San Francisco for a day-and-a-half, and then on to Chiang Mai for three months. It's a lot, I feel heavy and concerned and worried. Nothing feels good or settled. I'm angry that certain people aren't taking it as seriously as I think it is. Is this merely because one person always becomes the strong and stable one when the other is falling apart? And why am I always the one who seems to be coming undone? I'm leaving, you! I'm going away. It doesn't seem to matter to anyone.

That's not true; my friends care. They're going to miss me. They're visibly sad, it seems. It's just hard to believe him about it. I almost think he's looking forward to it, like he's going to enjoy this new-found bachelorhood. Which makes me even angrier at myself that everything seems to be wound up in him and us. I have fought these ties, secretly, but they grew anyway; now I want it, and he is ambivalent. Isn't that always the way it works.

I'm angry, and embarrassed, basically the only two emotions I have no idea what to do with. I just feel like, if you want it, you want it. If you want it, you make sure that nothing gets in your way. If you really do want it, you fucking make it happen. And if you don't do that, you don't want it. Is that faulty reasoning? I can't see the right thing to do, all I know is what I want to do. I know that, if I hadn't gotten myself so dependent on this person, I would feel better. Because he's not there with me, he's just not. I thought he was. I thought he was even more there than I. Turns out I miscalculated: I laid it all out, I exposed everything to him, and it was met with a big nothing. Nothing.

What does one normally do in that situation? Back away, leave, exit, right? Detach. And I want to. I want to so much, but what can I do? I feel like a hostage. I feel so stuck, all I wanted was to be stuck with him, but now I'm stuck alone. I fell too far, I loved too hard, and here I am, again, alone. And there's nothing I can do about it. I want him to know what he lost, even though he doesn't know he lost it yet. I just thought it was it. I thought I had it. Instead, I found out he was an illusion. It was all a mirage. It all slipped away so easily.

I feel sick. I never thought, I didn't plan, I bet everything I had against this possibility. Which makes me the loser. It was too good to be true. I knew I didn't deserve something so great. Somewhere, some part of me knew it wasn't real. It's funny, I thought I was immune because I've had so many terrible affairs. I thought I beat the odds, I thought I outsmarted the universe. No, I just forgot the first canon of being human. I forgot that falling is how you get hurt.

Was it my fault? Did I do something wrong? Did I mess everything up, or did he? I lost my person. I just...I thought he was there. I thought we were it. No; it is nothing. It is never. It was never nothing. It was me, I misread.

Someday, someone will make it happen. Someday, someone will know. He'll meet me there. He'll feel like this. Today just isn't that day, and perhaps my someone just isn't that someone. The fact that he wasn't there when I was says more than I wish it did.

Someone has to, right? He has to be somewhere. Someone will. Someone will. Someone will.

I guess my fear is that if he's not there by now, if he can't see it after this much time, he never will. Maybe I'm not his it. I guess that's what that means, doesn't it. I asked this couple once, individually, whether they thought the other person was their soul mate. One answered yes, the other answered no. I wondered if that could be possible; which one was wrong? In my scenario, I am. I'm wrong. He didn't tell me, but that's what he means - I'm not it. If I was it, there wouldn't be any questioning or doubting or waiting. But there is, that's all we have now. Wait-to-see. So I can't be it. This can't be it. It was for me though, I thought it was for me.

Friday, April 30, 2010

on love, Love, and friends

This is the thing about things.

I don’t have an answer, and it doesn’t seem like anybody else does either. Today, I’m happy because I’m ridiculously in love. And my friends care. They’re there; I hope they’ll remain there. I hope everyone stays.

I feel more peaceful today. I feel happy. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, besides that I feel so blessed and lucky. I found what so many of us spend our whole lives searching for. I found him. I met my soul mate. And he loves me back. He loves me back!

I was thinking yesterday, as we were walking arm-around-waist back from dinner, about how the person that you love morphs into a being that’s more than human when you love them so much. When your love for them reaches a certain level, it becomes more than love. It’s more than love! It’s not trite, it’s not immature, it’s not love as we know love. It’s something more, it’s deeper, it’s more important. It’s not an unhealthy or an obsessive or a codependent love. I’ve had that; I know what it feels like, I’ve lived the incessant ups and downs and ins and outs and back and forths. It’s a terrible and destructive way to love. I’ve worked hard, throughout my many caustic love affairs, and loves, and codependencies, to become a person who loves without needing to be encompassed by, or to control, the other person. You have to coexist; one of my prior people always used to say, we have to complement each other, not complete each other. So my person, my other, my mate, seems like this being beyond all other beings; even the things that might have bothered me before have a taint of cuteness. I feel like he’s a miracle, and every attendant thing about him likewise is as well.

I know he loves me too. I just hope he loves me enough. I hope he loves me that way. I hope he lovesmelovesmelovesme. You know what I mean.

It’s hard to be happy, though, you know? You feel feel like you don’t deserve it; or that the higher up you are, the further you fall, so why not stay low; or that it’s all an illusion anyway. It’s hard to know what’s real. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so lucky; why do I deserve this? Why don’t other people find it? Why can’t other people have it too? I wonder if I should hold back in case he decides to leave. I wonder if I could ever recover if he did. I wonder what my life would look like without him in it; he’s “the butter to my bread, and the breath to my life,” as Paul Child would say.

I'm really proud of the progress I've made in the context of friendships; I have learned so much about what it means to be a friend, what it means to have friends, what friends aren't. I've tried to shed the vestiges of the past, the memories of terrible and treacherous and vicious friendships. I've tried to unlearn, and am still in the process of uninstalling and rewiring the wiring of my past experiences that inform the present.

I love my friends; I've worked hard to start and maintain my friendships, because, as much as I love my love, he can't be everything. Friends are the glue. My love is the sun, my friends are the water. I need them both. I need them all. I was relating to one of my law school girlies the tremendous, and sometimes crippling, fears about being left behind this summer, or having everyone in Philly grow out of me during my absence, when she said to me :

"it'll be great. don't worry. i think you just gotta trust. you want to go on your trip with a total open mind and soul."

And of course she's right. Who could argue? Yes, I need to trust. But trust is hard. Because what happens when you trust and your expectations fall flat? What happens when you believe, and people just don't hold up their end? You're left looking like an asshole, and an idiot. A damn fool. I suppose, though, we're always taking that risk when we do much of anything in the way of hoping or counting on or expecting, especially when whatever it is is dependent upon other people.

All I wanted to do today was write and write and write and think about my love. I feel the need to be solidified in things before I leave, which I know is impractical, and unwise; unfortunately that doesn't mean the desire and the urge dissipates. Logic sometimes can't counteract our evolutionary instinct to tie things up neatly, to package everything and declare it known. Conquered. Perhaps it would be foolish because it would ultimately lead to our early demise, I just can't stop thinking about it. What is wrong with me? I can't stop! It's become an addiction, one I hope will naturally peter out as most of my momentary obsessions do. My prediction is that after I leave, I'll be happy things weren't wrapped up, no promises were made, but in the meantime everything feels like it's flailing around and I just want to know. I want to know for real. I'm real, the way I feel is real. I want to know that what I have is real too. I suppose in some ways we never really know; people are fickle, feelings and thoughts even moreso. Moments are fleeting. Life itself is a temporary condition, it's natural to think that everything within it would be just a microcosm of that brevity.

At the same time, I think the anticipation is really what I savor. In anything. Anticipation and remembering. Often living it isn't all it seems like it should be. I must relish the now, the lead-up, the almost. The time before. I will, this is my new goal. Heed the now. Heed the now. I don't want to be locked down, confirmed, or owned; I really just want to know that that love is there. That it will last. That it persists and won't burn out. I just don't want anyone to burn out on me. Especially him.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

what it is

Is it me? Is it really impossible to believe anything anyone says? Once it's in their self-interest, they'll change and adapt their positions to suit whatever it is they want, regardless of principles, or past statements of allegiance to or repulsion by the thing they can magically now fit into their lives.

This is a chance, it's a test. To disengage. I have to remember to calm myself and not link-link-link this up with the past. To disembowel it before it grows into something more significant than it is. Because it's not. It wasn't aimed at me, and if it was, fuck 'em. I am a tall tree.

It would just be nice to be able to believe anything anyone said, to depend on it, without, somewhere down the line, having it unravel and slap you in the face unexpectedly. Everything makes sense in the context of self-interestedness. Everyone acts calculating to get a payoff.

But some parts of me are dinging and lighting up; the hypothesis planted and hibernating inside me has, once again, been confirmed: you can't ever really trust anyone.

It can be rewarding; it can polish up and smooth out and hydrate your life. It can be a welcome respite from drudgery, from strangers' scowls and bristly acquaintances. But it always has an edge. The more you care, the more open you are, the bigger the inevitable wound. Nothing is constant. Everyone is changing. The only consistent thing, the only person I can hold onto, is my love. He's steady and unwavering. "'Come in,'" he said, "'I'll give ya shelter from the storm.'"

Perhaps this is why people take refuge in their other, in their partner, in their person. It's not as if my babe doesn't, sometimes, put his needs above my own. Of course he does - this is central to self-sustenance, to survival. Friends seem never not to think of their effect on you though, that is the difference. It's always about what meets their needs, even at your (obvious) expense. I think I (must?) relate to people differently than the way most people do; I get attached, I weave threads between myself and the other, I link into him or her. The distaste comes when these ties are cut, by pointy words or thoughtless actions, on purpose or unintentionally. I missed some rudimentary developmental phase where we learn the ability to reattach and get over it, it would seem.
The Two Fridas, Frida Kahlo 1939

This is my internal nemesis. I'm flummoxed sometimes, when friends, and people in general, are unkind. When they treat you badly. It's impossible to know how to react properly to such an affront; my strongest urge, inclination, instinct is to recoil and renounce. To flout attachment. I know this reaction is unwarranted; I can see it, floating in my mind and taking up an undue amount of space. It's too big! It's burdensome and unjustified. Mantra mantra mantra: nothing is personal. It's not about my ego. They're acting this way because of them; it has nothing, fundamentally, to do with me. I'm just an object. A thing in the mix. Something to bounce their stuff off of. We're all just trying to do the best we can.

I wonder if anyone else has a similar inability to process friendly fire.

And a parting thought: we all grow out of people, sometimes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

meh, or merp

It's probably going to be okay.

I think it is a snag that can be mended. I think it is a hole that can be stitched.

The problem is, when you depend on someone else to tie the two ends together, to fit the last pieces in place, the situation is perpetually unresolved. Until it isn't. Until that day my visa comes in the mail. Until I see my beloved and well-worn passport once again, sporting a most important piece of paper for my trip. Aside from my plane tickets, that is.

The time I have left before I leave, the time I have to wait and wait and think and stew about my upcoming adventure, is crushing. It's anxious and important and stifling and exciting. I feel pressured to horde bonding time with my guy and my friends and my biff; every moment I'm not spending with someone else seems like a waste, and a risk that when I return, things can't or won't be the same. And maybe they shouldn't be. But that's ignoring the fact that, as humans, we basically abhor most change. Especially a change in something that's functional, that's working, that serves its purpose and adds, even minutely, to our lives. Differences, though, changes and alterations in the usual, even if not completely welcomed or enjoyable, are memorable and, strangely, can even be fun. Fun simply because they're different. Fun because they're out of the ordinary, because our brains relished processing the new information.

This happened the other night when a group of us girls went out to dinner; we ate at a completely new restaurant for our posse, a place we'd never been to together. Aside from that, it was a trek far beyond our usual neighborhoods, and, although we've surely had objectively better times, and things between some people have been on better terms, it was still an experience I'd label 'fun'. Perhaps it's just something about my brain in particular; I have, I think due to being moved and uprooted throughout my childhood, developed a knack for adapting to new and varied situations, so much so that now, when I haven't moved or changed something rather significant in a while (like, within a year) I feel not me. I don't feel good, inexplicably. My soul begins to wither, I suppose. Change to me is like water to a plant.

I'm not sure if it bothers anyone that the titles of my posts seems to have little to no relation to their subject matter; of course, they make perfect sense to me, but from a perspective outside of my mind, I could imagine that being annoying. How can you pick out which to read if the title gives you no indication of what you'll be reading about? Other people's blogs have relevant titles; other people's blogs are and do a lot of things that mine isn't and doesn't.

Speaking of which, I spent two hours in class last night perusing a range of other blogs, surfing through them until something interesting popped up. There are so many talented bloggers out there! So many amazing writers, designers, photographers, and cooks or bakers. I was rendered extremely humble upon reading waves and waves of interesting or beautiful or creative blogs that seemed so much more multi-faceted and remarkable than mine. Ugh. I hate comparing myself to others, but it's so hard not to! Inevitably, truly without exception, the result is I feel completely paralyzed by incompetence. It's my fault, I know I have this problem. Eventually, the paralysis wears away and a little inspiration seeps through cracks in a wall of embarrassment I've erected to shade myself from view of these elusive others. The others among whom I'm discomfited to coexist; the people with whom I'm humiliated to share the blogosphere, taking the present example. That feeling has shaped my entire law school experience; taking one step forward in my confidence level, being destroyed by a professor's hypo in class, or a mediocre grade, or another rejection letter from a summer internship. It's hard to stand back up, but as I've learned, and as one of my good friends is learning presently, the only real option is to try your best to stand once again. Which is a subjective thing. One person's success is another's collapse, I suppose. It's all about our personal perspective on ourselves and on our lives. There's one person who always tells me, go easy on yourself; take care of yourself. Which is easy to say, and hard to do. Who even knows what that means? Again, subjective. One person's cigarettes is another's green tea.

Sometimes I wonder what the purpose of all this working soooo hard is. All this toil and anxiety and pressure. For what? What does it do for humanity? What benefit is it to you? A paycheck, of course, but beyond that? Is it worth a thing? People rushing around, consumed in self-importance and business and hurry and worry; it all seems so ultimately pointless. The girl who inspired me to take my trip to Thailand this year, who participated in the same summer internship in Cambodia last year, said to me yesterday, "I don't do much of anything unless it advances human rights. I ask myself, 'will this help sex trafficking victims?' If not, I don't do it." And that pretty much spans the course of her life, affecting romantic relationships, school, work and play. What a spectacular and refreshing point of view! Her words are swirling around my thoughts today, they're dripping into my sight and delectably framing my day. It didn't strike me so much at the time as it does now, but why don't more of us adopt that kind of approach, in the context of a cause about which we are fervent advocates? Surely most people can name one thing outside of their immediate lives that incites a passion in them to work for something better, something more, something beyond themselves. I would think that living without that spark would make for a futile waste of a life.

After really considering what she said, I realized that I too was familiar with that way of thinking, in my more youthful, idealistic, and passionate phases, but I had become so burnt and abused by the heavy feeling of not being able to have any meaningful impact on the problem, by my frustration at people's wilful ignorance or even disdain for causes that seem like no-brainers to me, such as protecting the environment, feminism (the simple yet complicated and somehow refuted notion that women are equal to men), or racism inherent in the application of the death penalty in the U.S., that I dulled it, I trimmed it back, I lost it in the hullabaloo. I'm looking forward to savoring the feel of this feeling again, of tasting the desire to be and do good, sometimes at the sacrifice of some of my comforts. That's life to me. It's troubling how easy it is to forget that.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I f*d up.

I hope I can still go.

Perhaps in my almost two full years of law school, I should have at some point prior to now internalized the lawyer's mantra: always-double-check-your-shit.

Especially the important shit.

Instead, I wholly relied on information from someone else, a non-native speaker working for the organization in Thailand with which I'm interning, a girl with whom I've already had substantial communication issues in the couple of months we've been corresponding, for information about a crucial step in my travel plans. But she's supposed to be a professional! This is her job, to guide us through the process and get us our damn visas. So, at the moment I am visa-less and have less then three weeks to fix this major problem before I depart for Chiang Mai. I'm too scared to tell the program directors my flub. I guess my fear is that they'll tell me I won't be able to get the visa in time and, thus, can't participate in the program.

What if I can't get it? What if it's too close?

Okay, so I wrote to her, the girl. I laid it all out. What I have to lose is my entire summer abroad, right? Only this trip I've been looking forward to, counting on, preparing for, for months and months. So why not be honest abigail at this point. I hope I'm not fucked. I hope it's just a soon-to-be-hilarious bump in the road. I hope to compare this story to other interns' similar situations, and chuckle at our collective incompetence. When I think about it, though, I just want to shake myself. Really? Really? Was I truly that lazy, I couldn't write a clarifying email, or check the Embassy website myself, to make sure I followed the directions? What's especially frustrating to me is that I had this strange but subtle feeling that it wasn't right. After all, how could the Embassy send the visa back to me if I included no information about myself in the packet? The problem was all the paperwork was in Thai, so I didn't know what was there and what wasn't. Regardless, though, it appears now that I should have included my passport in the collection of things I sent to the Royal Thai Embassy in D.C., which, of course, I neglected to learn until this morning. April 26. I leave on May 14. Sooo...I'm in a precarious position. Hopefully the Thai girl from the program gets back to me shortly. Hopefully she says, "no need to worry, I just pulled some strings and oiled some wheels at the Embassy. This is all just a silly misunderstanding; you'll get your visa in time."

I'm waiting.

In some ways, it's so much harder to forgive yourself for your own mishaps than to forgive someone else for theirs. For their trespasses against you. I mean, depending on the mistake, the person, and the offense. Some things simply can't be forgiven, i think. The grudges I've held the longest, with the exception of a select few that I consider to be 'war crimes' in my life, are mistakes I've made that I just won't let myself transcend. I can't forget them, and I relive the disappointment I felt in myself for committing such obvious errors over and over again. For lapsing in judgment. For not doing what I should have. And whenever I do another stupid thing, I have to stew on it.

I'm stewing now, I'm steeped in a pot of discontentment, distress, and prickles. Spiky lizards and snapping turtles and prickly pears. I can't sit still or relax; I'm gritting my teeth at all the horror stories I'm concocting about why this problem won't be fixed, about the ways I won't be able to finagle a visa in time. About everything I could have done to prevent this situation. About how it was all in my control and I let it slip. About how I let my inertia and angst hijack my common sense. About how I allowed myself to justify not doing everything I could to ensure this process went smoothly.

Yeah, I'm pretty pissed at myself.

"And I've been consistent to the fucking dream, and I've paid my dues, just to get them all back. I'm a simple man with simple desires." Skeleton, by Bloc Party.

Friday, April 23, 2010

snap a trap

You're right; you're all right. I have to snap out of it.

It's not that big of a deal.

It's going to be okay.

The things that don't end up okay were going to fall apart anyway; they just disintegrated faster than if I hadn't gone away.

Someone said to me today that "being left isn't a feeling." Which is extremely thought-provoking to me because, up until she said that, I had always considered it on par with feeling sad or being elated. As far as I'd always experienced it, it was a feeling of its own, with roots and personality and girth. It certainly felt like a feeling. I remember it as something distinct. Hopefully she's right and I'm simply projecting my insecurities on my friends and my love. There's no reason to believe everyone I care about here makes the exact same or sufficiently similar traumatic connections when a person they are close to departs for a time. She's right about one thing though: I'm not leaving; I'm going away for a while. Right? It's not even that long, in the grand scheme of things. How much changes in three months, she asks. Indubitably. How much indeed?

So I'm getting more excited again; I'm regaining or perhaps sprouting new bits of confidence and luster for my summer in Thailand. It seems like everyone has a connection in Southeast Asia! Which is spectacular for me (and my parents who seem to think it's basically inevitable I'll be kidnapped or assaulted or wind up in a violent political demonstration for which I'll accidentally be arrested and sent to Thai prison) because who doesn't appreciate an ever-expanding circle of people, especially in places like Southeast Asia? I'm doing it. The tickets are bought. A few more 2L exams and I'll be on my way to 3L year via my internship in Thailand. Wow. I'm so lucky!

In other recent news, I reconnected with an old college friend this week, through the miracle of facebook and spurred by pictures he'd posted of his recent (and coincidental) trip to Thailand. It's a relatively new feeling for me, as I've tended, until coming to law school in 2008, to be a rather hermetic and introverted person; rekindling old friendships was about as foreign to me as the glockenspiel. Assuming it's a joyous reunion, I'd recommend it (with some clear caveats). There's something different about your friendships with people who knew you 'before,' whenever you define that term to mean. I can't, in my current state of mind, elaborate very eloquently, but I think it's related to them catching glimpses (or more, depending on the relationship) of you when you were less developed than now. It follows, then, that once you move into a new situation from the one you're currently in, the friends of today will feel like that too. I wonder if at some middle point, then, we start devolving, so that we're actually our most developed during our 40s, or 50s, or even 30s. I suppose depending on what you're speaking of (physical, brain, emotions, memory, etc.) it's variable. Again, I always circle back to that faux-Vonnegut graduation speech; in particular, the part where the author says something along the lines of "youth is wasted on the young." Or maybe it's beauty. Either way, they're both true, aren't they? My main point, though, is that once you've moved on or out of prior situations, the people you knew from then seem to have a deep connection to you, if you happen to reconnect. Which in some ways angers me because it appears that that would mean that those who were familiar with, or close to, us in high school, are even more deeply interwoven in our stories, our fundamental frameworks, than those who come later but are perhaps more meaningful, and there exists no category of humans I'd like farther from me, or to be more dead to me, than the people I knew in high school. I wonder if an exorcism would work for ripping them from my blood vessels and aortas and
amygdala. It's not fair! They gained access before I learned how to put up walls, or even why you would need such things in the first place.

Quiet time is nice sometimes. When it comes, unexpectedly, it can be such a welcome respite. Who even knew you needed a break? But once in a while we can like ourselves enough to just hang. I heard today, in the context of a serious conversation, that it was good I could laugh at myself about this thing, this particular subject matter. I hope I can continue to bring that into my life and others', because sometimes there's just nothing else you can do. Life gets terribly ridiculous every now and then; it's important to nurture and maintain our ability to chuckle at its kinks and pitfalls. Oooh, and when you find one of those people whose laugh naturally incites hysterical and uninhibited laughter in others, around whom you can't not laugh, strive to keep her company.

One from my favorite band ever, a song I'd, regrettably, not heard until today. One more chance, by Bloc Party.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

the thing (or "it")

More Space.
Need Space.
Too much Space.
Not enough Space.
Please, no more Space.

I suppose today is a day that I feel it all.

Hmmm okay. I'm dealing with how to deal with other people's stuff. How much it can infiltrate and overwhelm you. How to balance others' expectations with your own needs and desires. Perhaps it is a product of your feelings for the person; or maybe it has more to do with you, your nature and the way you interact with others.

I realized yesterday though, in the midst of battling with myself over whether I should take a specific action in the context of a friend in need, that my fundamental fear, the apprehension that underlies and permeates the fabric of my life - the reality I was forced to acknowledge as an adolescent, that everyone will leave when it's most convenient for them, that people aren't to be trusted or relied upon, that we are all, in fact, islands, and that it would be prudent of me to operate under that presumption - was hiding behind my decision to abstain from being noble. What's so terrifying, though, is even after I identified the flaw in my thinking and realized all the legitimate reasons not to apply those rules to this person, I did anyway. I stayed away. I did as little as I could without completely avoiding her and the issue, so I could never be accused of being a bad friend. Thinking that I could rightfully be deemed a 'bad friend' sends me into hyperventilations and a feeling of panic one step below a full-blown attack. I think it's a precursor to feeling that, if I'm considered a bad friend, it's likely that friendship will soon disappear, which dredges up a toxic plethora of negative connotations and panicky, hyperbolic thinking.

A tribute to being strong.

It may appear as though I'm a little discombobulated. Which would be a correct assessment. Good advice seems to have come my way though. I'm trying. And sometimes I wonder why good things happen to me as opposed to other people. Sure, I've dealt with my share of shit, unwarranted and undeserved trifles, but haven't most people?

I wonder this because someone special to me seems to constantly be the butt of life's practical jokes, and I can't figure why. Is it all karmic? Something we can't understand with our conscious minds? That seems to be an easy way to explain it. In some ways, I hope it's true. That we are a product of our good deeds from past lives. That those who are cruel and arbitrary and murderous will be served in the next lifetime, will return as a cockroach or a tapeworm or a sewer rat. To be honest, when I'm feeling overwhelmed with anger and sadness at the plight of the environment, or the subjugation of women worldwide, or child prostitution, horrific dictators and greedy profiteers, I imagine that all of the perpetrators of these crimes will suffer for their deeds the next time around. Hopefully, with any luck, a Congolese warlord will be a cockroach in my home that I poison to death; Pinochet will come back as a slug that I crush underfoot (not that that's a regular practice of mine, but many people take pleasure in it, oddly); and all baby rapists become factory farmed cattle sent to the slaughter (as a sidebar, if that video doesn't make you go vegetarian, you have no heart).

The thing is, my friend is not a war criminal. She's not an oppressor or an egomaniac or a greedy corporation. She is a person, a real human being, who lives with her full heart, one who cares about others so much that all of her energies channel into her life's work of supporting and helping and hearing everyone else. I don't understand. Why is it so hard, then? What justifies the number and severity of wrongs that continue to befall her? It makes me feel sad and powerless, lucky yet guilty.

I wish I had some Stephen Hawking-like device where the words I'm thinking are automatically transcribed on my blog, because, naturally, I have the most enigmatic and philosophical and provocative thoughts when I'm not in front of the screen or pad and pen aren't handy. So here I am, lingering, with nothing to say. But really I have everything to say! Where did it go?

I do have to share this, though; it's fucking incredible.

Also, this is the coolest collection of pictures I've seen in a long time. In honor of Earth Day and all of the magnificent beings with whom we share this wonder: the 15 most bizarre sea creatures of the sea.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

the missing peace

I can't seem to find it.

Reading my past posts (stuck in the good, for instance) I sound like a person completely at peace with everything that's about to happen. Frankly, I sound high. Perhaps with the impending departure looming nearer and nearer I've finally lost my balance and my grip and won't regain it until I'm settled in Chiang Mai for my 90-day stay. That doesn't seem so long, does it? I've already devised an indirect way to measure how close I am to coming home (how backwards is that! I'm already looking forward to returning, and I haven't even left yet); rather than marking a calendar or counting down days, my plan is merely to look at, not too hard, but briefly, not long enough to count, but perhaps to guesstimate, how many malaria pills I have left. My prescription mandates one every day, starting two days before and continuing for two weeks after. So as the numbers start dwindling I'll know, deep deep deep, fundamentally, without even really 'knowing,' that I will be home then ("stems and bones and stone walls too/could keep me from you/skein of skin is all too few/to keep me from you"). I'll feel it (or perhaps by that time I'll simply be be delirious from Japanese encephalitis; either way). I hope my people will feel it, like a force. The force of our reunion, the force of our symbiotic love together once again.

In other news, onto my drug of choice: music. Most of the time when I first hear a song, even a song that ends up being a great love of mine, I don't immediately like it. Or it's just okay. In any case, I feel nowhere near about it at first the way I ultimately do - like my life would be missing a chunk had I not heard it. I'm having that experience today with a song that, although I was fond of it upon an initial listening due almost solely to its subject matter, I didn't really appreciate its depth, or the creativity and complexity of its lyrics, and, hence, its message. Or maybe it just resonates more with me because I feel this way about my person today:

"there you are right in front of me
a brand new day
sunrise over sea
no longer my cup half empty
cause there you are"

Because sometimes it's easier to give up than to try and fail. After all, we might lose it anyway. I'm fighting that urge. It's going to hurt! Lately I'm drowning in constant fear of everything I have going away. Last time I left for so long, I didn't have that much to lose, I was afraid of the unknown, yes, but I wasn't afraid to squander that which was left at home. There was so little to shed, and not much worry about losing it. Now there's everything.

I know I need to shake it, shake it out, and let it fall away from me, but it's clinging, it's embedded. I just can't concentrate on work until I unravel it, until I divorce it from my being and dissect it. What are you? And where are you hiding?

I suppose my challenge is to make room in my heart and mind and soul for this new experience, for the infiltrating of my self with unfamiliar people and smells and sights and thoughts, without pushing out what I know to be true from my prior life, from my baseline life. Without replacing or painting over them. As an aside, what would I ever do without youtube?

I'm just having a hard time with it today.

wave goodbye

I'm writing today because I haven't in too long, much too long, hours and hours too long, and I'm torn up about it. I feel incomplete.

Lately I've been worried about the ramifications of my leaving for over three months this summer, to a place where I likely won't be able to call my people, my guy and my biff, my family, and will rely heavily on email (hopefully gchat) and the fact that almost everyone can get to the internet via their cell phones.

Yesterday one of my friends said that leaving is better than being left, and although it seems to make good logical sense at first blush, in reality, I don't necessarily think it's automatically so. The last time I left the country for three months - to travel around Central America when I was 18 - it's true, I did feel a sense of power and detachment from the ones I left, especially a certain someone with whom my relationship was deteriorating. At the same time, and I think this phenomenon is rather common based on my conversations with others who have traveled for reasonably long periods of time: when you're the leaver, you tend to have someone, perhaps more than one, a person on whom you focus and rely on for your connection to your old life. In my previous experience, the person who became it for me wasn't prepared to handle that task; and to be honest, as someone who was recently this 'point person' for a friend who left for a while, it isn't easy. It can be begrudging, it can seem like a burden, because not only do you feel obligated to communicate with them whenever they make the time, but there's the added element of having to plug up their loneliness and sense of disconnection with your own emotional energy. Does that make sense? My point is, although it seems easy to think that the ones being left have a harder time of it, and in one sense that's very true, I think people don't appreciate the plight of the one who's left, the overwhelming feelings of sadness and guilt; fear about those they've left replacing them, or detaching from them, to handle their own sadness; being resented for seemingly abandoning the people at home, and their related realization that perhaps you weren't as close as they thought. After all, you did leave for three months! You can't care about us too much!

It's not true. I'm scared, and as the date of my departure from my city and my beau and my friends creeps closer, I feel more desperate to cement the attachments I have here. I feel on the verge of losing everything I've built, my close friendships and an absolutely stellar relationship with the person I want to spend all my life next to (near you always). It seems like I'm powerless to stop whatever distance will naturally result from my absence; I guess what I can't handle is thinking that it will never be surmountable, even after my return. I worry the feeling that lingers with those I've left can never fully dissipate; mistrust and a reluctance to be close will forever poison their feelings about me, like a residue on our interactions, or the slightest taste of onions on pancakes (oddly enough, this happened to me at a restaurant, and I thought for the longest time I was crazy until I lifted the stack up and found fresh, sliced onion underneath. Really gross.)

I know it will be worth it. I think it will. The thing is, that balance changes depending on what I lose back home. What if I don't return to my love? What if my biff has a new biff? That seems to change the calculation, and itself might condemn the memories of my trip, my hasty decision to apply and forego any other opportunities here, to my well-established and reinforced box of regret. Might it be a cleansing, though? Perhaps I'm doing nothing more than separating the wheat from the chaff, which would (with any good karma) happen, regardless, before commitments were made and years were wasted, opportunities were passed up and the regret box grew even larger. Perhaps in an even more difficult circumstance, after dependence and unhealthy attachment fester and rot the relationship.

All I have is maybes. And hopes. I hope they still love me when I'm gone, and when I return; I hope there's no resentment, or anger, for me leaving; I hope it fortifies our connection, rather than kinks it.

I miss you already, you and you and you, I miss our things and our talks and our bodies and nights and fun and you. I hope I don't get left as a product of my leaving. I'm just taking a temporary hiatus in order to pursue one of my great dreams; my wish is that there are no permanent rifts because of this. Note it! And I'm sorry. All I know is, all I know is that I love you, yes, I love you. You fill my half empty cup.

I want to feel like this, carefree, happy and light, sure both in my choice, and in my people at home. Things are going to be okay. Nothing that bad will happen.

Instead, I feel alone, waving goodbye to a home that I'm leaving, and which might soon leave me too in pursuit of its own great dreams.

So I must wave goodbye, wave goodbye, wave goodbye, wave goodbye. Manhattan Skyline, by Kings of Convenience.