Auditions closed

I’ve always been the bad guy.

I never even questioned the casting. It seemed like the role I was born to play. It was such a natural fit. It’s only now that I’m older and retired that I realize I never had any say. I was typecasted. It’s only now that I’m older that I realize how often I revert to the bad guy role, just because it’s what’s expected of me. Just because it’s so difficult for people to imagine me in any other role. 

I become the bad guy in all my relationships at some point. My friends get so confused, my siblings keep their distance, my boyfriends cry. 

“Take someone who does not keep score, who is not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing, who has not the slightest interest even in his own personality. He is free.”

You can’t raise someone to be opposite you and then mourn that you can’t relate to them. 

You can’t show the full force and spotlight of your personality when you know it will only hurt the one person you’re tired of hurting. 

You can’t forget to be small when the time is right. 

I often fool myself into thinking that once I’m comfortable with someone that they can take it. But then when I get quiet or opinionated, or stand up for myself, oftentimes I’m forced to realize they’re not as comfortable with me as I am with them. And then I retreat. Put the mask back on. Become the actor again. 

We rarely heed our own advice. 

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.” 

In the side

It’s a pleasant fucking evening, so I’m going to write.

I’m a terrible conversationalist.

Ask anyone that knows me.
That knows me well.

I didn’t know this about myself until Ireland. There was that day after the accident when Sarah or Robin (I forget which) told Clair, “well, you know Alaina, she is so guarded”… “keeps things so close”

I was honestly surprised when Clair told me they had said that. No one had ever described me in that way before. Am I that way?

My father has described himself as a man of few words. I remember when I read that letter. Are you, dad? I never noticed. You seem normal to me.

This is why I say I am a terrible conversationalist.

I will call my mom and she will say, “hello, daughter”

And I will say, “hello, mother”

And then there is a pause as she waits for me to announce my reason for calling. Sometimes, there is no pause as I jump right into my reason for calling. But then there will be a pause as I stop talking and wait for her to give back. That’s all, mom. That’s all I had to say.

I’ll be a thorn in your side til you die.

Then you know what, people will ask me how I’m doing or what I’ve been up to and I always respond as simply as possible.

“Good.”
“Not much.”

I just assume that people are asking out of obligation rather than interest. I just assume that people will block out whatever I say next. I just assume that the only person truly interested in my life is myself.

I haven’t adjusted well to this world of constant interaction.
I know people too well to give them any of me. I know what you’ll do with me.

I kind of liked when landlines were the norm and people could only reach you at select times. You wouldn’t call past a certain hour or before a certain hour, or on certain days. You were limited in time. I had to share that phone with 5 other people, for multiple purposes. I had an hour tops to myself on the phone most days. And usually with minimal interruption.

Then there was instant messaging. That was an ordeal in and of itself. The dial up, the logging in, the status changing, the waiting to see if anyone of interest was even online when you were. Then the inevitable kick off when mom picked up the phone.

I kind of miss those times. I’m nostalgic for the days of monitored, measured communication. I would even sometimes make up a reason for not talking to people.

“oh, sorry, my mom needs the phone.”

“I dunno, Rod, tell them I’m not here.”

“I’ll call them back later.”

Now it’s constant. People text me at all times of the day, every day. At any time, I am subject to communication, and it’s constantly wearing. I have to pace myself, time myself, put the phone away from me; distract myself, as I find I am annoyed and thin without cause. Or so it seems. And then sometimes, I forget. I forget that people expect me.

And then people assume the worst.

You didn’t respond.

You never responded.

Hours passed. What were you doing?

Does it matter?

This is my rant.

Does it matter?

And then there are days where I need some interaction. I need some human contact, and I am persistent. Poking. Incessant. But I need it to be meaningful, on some level.

When I want to interact I am all in, in some form: physical, mental, verbal, but then I find that most people don’t want to talk the way we used to. They don’t want 20-30 min of sustained conversation. They don’t want that ebb and flow. They want that steady dripping stream or nothing at all.

I don’t know. I don’t know what that means for our words and for our lives.
How we’ll end up.

When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?

Maybe

My eyes are tight and dry. The slightest movement makes my stomach slosh like a fucking dinghy on the open water. My head is swollen. As my dad would say, “I’m way hung.” 

But it’s worth it, in a strange way. 

I don’t know. I met some ladies last night and of course my initial reaction is, “no.” I think I do that on purpose so I then get to control the interaction. I can be uninterested and not worry about being disliked. I also don’t have to worry about picking up more people to pack along my life. Isn’t that nice. I’m still afraid I guess. 

But it was worth it to drown myself in vodka tonics and rosé and homemade bbq pizza. Even if I did fill the toilet with all of it a few hours later. Even if I can’t find a soft enough place for my head now. 

I take for granted the number of people on this planet who are smart and engaging. 

And maybe I’ve taken for granted all the love I’ve had in this life. The times the words have been said to me and the times I’ve imagined the words in my mind. I never thought of it that way before. I assume everyone’s had that love. I assume everyone can taste it in their mouth sometimes. But that is just not so. I assume a lot of things but I never doubt that I’ll go out into the world and not feel love. (Should that read, feel loved? Words are hard) Of course I will. Isn’t that strange? The privileges we have that we aren’t even aware of. I’ve been loved, I am loved. 

Beloved. Be loved. 

My mom called me last night and left me a message, “I just wanted to hear your voice and now I have. Call me. I love you.”

The woman that pushed me out of her body wants me around. Sometimes. 

Maybe that’s enough, right? What more could you want. Even though I’ve been told I’m loved and they have wrapped it all up in their garbage sometimes…I’ve never wanted for love because it’s always been there. I never doubted my capability to be loved. When I was 13, a boy told me he loved me and it’s only continued with others.    Sure, sometimes I’ve wished and tried for a love that ultimately wasn’t there. But I always figure I’ll carry on and it will be elsewhere. I’ll pack up and ship out to more, different, better I-love-yous. I’ve even had the privilege to pick and choose, to say, “no, thank you.” I’ve had unexpected I-love-yous, overdue I-love-yous, that bird has flown I-love-yous. I’ve been waiting for you to say it since the moment we met I-love-yous. Letters written after the fact and delivered to my home. Drunken phone calls and I don’t have your number any more texts. Quiet nights on the couch and long nights in the grass. Maybe that’s why I’m the asshole I am. Ever oblivious. Unknowingly confident in a space I conquered long ago. A gladiator of love. Unaware that this is one of the things that people lose sleep over. I never knew. You told me but I never knew. 

The chirping of the birds is like nails on a chalkboard. I need coffee and silence. 

the red book

I write because I don’t have a lot to say.
Last night I dreamt about sitting in a bathtub full of water, wet in my clothes. I dreamt about playing frisbee. I dreamt about a big bumblebee that clung to my arm without stinging me, even though I had agitated it.
I dreamt about curly hair and strangers I don’t know and mysteries I couldn’t solve.

I started reading Rumi in a red book. I don’t know why. I’m becoming my grandmother, with her positive messages written in lipstick on her bathroom mirror, with her strange self-love titles on her bookshelf, with her brief insights of whimsy. My favorite colleague on campus has The Essential Rumi sitting on the table next to the chair I always sit in whenever I stop in. I pick it up as she finishes her emails or answers a telephone call or pushes someone out of her doorway.
Who have I become?
This poem caught my eye, so now the thickest volume I could find at the library sits on my bedside table, at the tip top of the stack which I have mostly finished. “Nov 17 2015” bold and dark on the inside cover.

The Diver’s Clothes Lying Empty
You are sitting here with us,
but you are also out walking in a field at dawn.

You are yourself the animal we hunt
when you come with us on the hunt.

You are in your body
like a plant is solid in the ground,
yet you are wind.

You are the diver’s clothes
lying empty on the beach.
You are the fish.

In the ocean are many bright strands
and many dark strands like veins that are seen
when a wing is lifted up.

Your hidden self is blood in those,
those veins that are lute strings
that make ocean music,
not the sad edge of surf
but the sound of no shore.


“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

I’m bouncing between clever and wise, unsure which suits me better. Unsure which I am ready to commit. I wear my feelings out, but I’m learning to express them. I tell myself I’m wearing thin…but I think really I’m growing a second skin. I think…my cocoon is breaking. Do you know how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly?

From Scientific American: “First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on.”

Right now I’m caterpillar soup. It’s uncomfortable. It’s messy. It looks…I look disgusting. I need more time. I need more patience. When I was a kid, my mom had a dream. I’ve told this story so many times because the older I get the more relevant it seems. She came to my room in the morning, which she never did, usually so distracted with the routine of the morning, to tell me she dreamt I was running ahead of the group and was viciously attacked by a dog. She told me she interpreted this to mean that I need to pay more attention, be more observant, be patient with my surroundings. I was lacking in self-awareness. Later that day we went for a walk, and I was ahead of the family, typical for my siblings short legs and my eagerness for adventure. Out walked a black dog from the woods surrounding our house. Menacing, right up to me. I’ll never forget that moment. The surrealness I felt as I looked back at my mother. The look on her face. Her dream coming true. My timidity and my tenacity, always in conflict, brought to the fore.

I don’t mind. I’m not a magician. I can’t calm the masses with my hand gestures or soothe them with my flowing bubbling tone of voice. I can’t make them belly laugh with my cleverness. I wiggle my eyebrows and call into question what everyone thinks they know. I trip over my own elbows. I wake up tangled in the cord of my phone charger, soaked in sweat, and unsure of my geographic location. If that’s not enough to make you laugh, you need hobbies. You have to feel it, you know. Life is too short. You might get stuck in it.

Cake walk

It’s like each person, each undertaking, is a walk on the beach. You imprint. A memory…the person you are, the person you become. It’s a stamp of an existence. The best snapshot of who you are…What am I trying to say? Every relationship, every long-term encounter I’ve had, that person is a walking memory of me. That person carries around that version of me, forever. And it’s weird, it’s a weird thing to see and realize after a period of time how someone captures you. How you’re distilled and preserved.

I hate it and I love it. It’s so interesting to see someone that thinks they know you, or did know you at one time. How they play out that version of you. Offer up anecdotes of you. It’s so interesting to see how they haven’t changed, how they seem different. It’s so interesting to see the old version of yourself come up. Like slipping under an umbrella, for a moment, that shadow of who you used to be, that scent wafts up and you feel…you remember yourself. And because I’m so self-aware and so often outside of myself, I find myself always asking the other person, who did you think I was then? Who do you think I am now? The flip side is seeing that person you remember still intact. I remember the way you would look over your glasses at me when you would say something especially important. I remember how you would rub your hands together when you were thinking of what to say next. I remember how you would cover your mouth as you spoke with your mouth full of food. I remember how much you talk when you get nervous. I remember how loud and comfortable you are in public spaces. I remember how much you thought this meant. What does it mean to me?

And I’m so bad at expanding those chapters. I’m so bad at…letting people run through. The walk is over, it has passed, you can’t run and catch up now. I’m on a different beach, following different footsteps, making new prints. You want to know now, who I am, who I see, what I do. But I can’t just let you know all that. Those things belong to me now. Those are my own, and you can’t share in them. I know that’s odd. I know that’s not how people live. I know it’s better to maintain your connections, but I am so transient it does me no good to keep any leftovers. You knew me once, does it count if I didn’t know me then? Does it count if ultimately you wanted me to be someone I will never be? You wanted me to grow out a different way, prune a different branch. We were reading from the same chapter, but all along we were on different pages. Looking at the same view, but focusing on different details. I’m looking at the sun in the mountains; you’re looking at the rocks in the water. It mattered then. It shouldn’t matter now, but it does. It always will.

I mean, that’s the risk you take when you really get to know someone, when you let them really know you. Ultimately, it depends. Remember all the ways I knew you? It’s like putting on an old tshirt you used to love but that doesn’t fit so well anymore. You can hang onto it for old times’ sake, but that’s not very practical.

Do we even realize how much someone becomes someone else in our mind? The sum of their traits and mannerisms and likes/dislikes. There’s so much more to the view than that. There’s somebody behind all that. But with some people I put on that hat and I become who they need me to be. The sum of my parts. The ole automaton. Why don’t some people notice? Why is that all some people want?

Nucleus

What can I say? I can’t lose myself anymore in these people. I try but my perspective falters and I end up clinging to things that no longer are. I don’t want that. I don’t want not to see what’s changed. I don’t want to rely on my assumptions, on old knowledge, I don’t want to forget that change is constant and evolving. I don’t want to become stagnant. I won’t be stagnant. It’s hard. 

I’m tired of leaving. I wish I could just stay. But then where would I go? 
Why don’t they lose themselves in me? You value me because I get lost in you. Why should I value you? Have you ever asked yourself? I guess you’re probably afraid of your answer. I guess you probably know already that’s why I push off. Why I disappear where you struggle to pull me back. 
I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with. 
The best way I’ve found to deal with the turmoil is to let it be. Although I’m eager to make a difference sometimes the effort doesn’t have the effect you want. Sometimes it’s good to be a passing phase rather than a permanent piece. But if I’m temporary for everyone then where is my permanence. I guess I wonder sometimes about the constants. If everything is relative can you have any constants? I guess I don’t see my life as one of consistency. I guess that’s my problem or that’s what others see as the problem of me. I’m here only for a moment but I try to absorb as much as I can out of that moment. I try to be as present as I can when everyone around me assumes we will have more. Assumes we will have more moments exactly like this. Assumes we will do it later or again. I don’t know how to tell them that they’re doing it wrong. Maybe I’ll be here again but I’ll be different. I think I see people try to fight that off. The thought that we can never be the way we are again…
My family pulls me back into their orbit. They are my sun. I guess I never realized how hard it is for them to let me go. I guess what draws me to you is that you know. Maybe not consciously but you know how that orbit works and you let me be. I don’t want to go I want to come but you make me stay. You know I don’t want to fight it.  You know I won’t fight it. 
She felt attracted by their weakness as by vertigo. She felt attracted by it because she felt weak herself….

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Nothing.”

“What do you want me to do for you?”

“I want you to be old. Ten years older. Twenty years older!”

What she meant was: I want you to be weak. As weak as I am.

Exhilaration feels like

The night before Tucson. How many have I had? Waiting for the summer to unfold. To breathe in that brown air, to get sweaty and golden and blonde. To run around on the scorching concrete and swim until I was pruney, cold and starving. For milkshakes and fireworks and late night drives under the streetlights. Inclining my head towards the open window. For long mornings in front of the TV, solo runs at the gym, solo wrinkly paged reads at the pool, giddy nights with my brothers. 

It’s hard to believe that those summers are gone. I wish someone had told me then they would expire. For some reason I never fully grasped their precariousness. They seemed so permanent in my life. A constant. A marker of another year passed. 
My giant suitcase and clean room further indicators that I had survived another winter, another grade in school, another mindless march through the trials and tribulations of Illinois. And I would wait. Wait through the drive and the flight and the tearful reunion. Wait for monsoon and my birthday and the smell of rain to reassure me, confirm for me that I was home. Until it was time to turn around and go back. Those months which seemed to stretch out forever suddenly lost in the flip of the calendar pages. I can still smell those summers. Bounce dryer sheets and coffee and xeryus cologne with a tinge of marijuana smoke. Hot sand outside the window. Air conditioner and fan whirs. 
I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. This nomadic life of mine.