My underarms are v strong

Trying not to die is so taxing / You take a breath just to let it out again

There’s like always this slight emptiness just off center in my chest. And I thought when I was younger I thought this emptiness is depression and depression is bad and you are broken. I thought of all the circumstances in my life that had contributed to this broken feeling and I thought oh but there’s a way out yet and I thought being in love would fill me up and I thought having a crush would make it better and when I was in graduate school I thought having a career will definitely make it all better and having a home and having things and knowing it’s all sorted will chase the emptiness away once and for all. Always chasing. But none of those things have made it any better. I think now the emptiness is a part of me, a familiar, a way I am. It just is. I have traveled to the center and I have touched it and now it is.

I said it once at a meeting, spoke out loud about my depression and a lady I’m friendly with passed me later in the day and had to mention it. Had to share how sad my depression made her and only, mainly, probably because I am a little self centered all I could think was, think of how sad it made me to be so depressed, but that turned into inner laughing and then I was smiling like a maniac at her as she expressed her deepest sympathies and maybe that’s when I could finally distinguish between empathy and sympathy.

Waking up is an exercise in trust

I don’t want to get dressed every morning. Every morning it’s the same, every night before I fall asleep it’s the same, what do I wear tomorrow, what clothes do I combine, where are the clothes and where will I put them on my body, how will I get them there and in what order, and it’s those thoughts that are exhausting, planning out the clothes and the food and the days.

All the thoughts and all the plans. And everyday it’s a trust that I can get through it, that I will achieve it, that it is worth it. I just want to show up to my life. I just want to wake up and be there, step into it, start it for real, rather than this careful organization. This step by repetitive step. I want to sleep, I want to cry, I want to masturbate, something to put the distance between myself and this emptiness. To un-mind it again. I want to feel warm and soft and full without any of this nonsense echoing in my mind. I want to be.

I think being a part of this world demands that you ask hard questions and find spaces for the mess. To live this mess, instead of messing to live. Eek, argh. Sometimes I think the breathing feels like work. The breathing is work, and I don’t think any amount of anything will make that abate.

A student told me today I was a one of a kind person and I’m not so sure that is a good thing. It’s been a lonely place. It’s been a bird’s eye view of existence sometimes.

I put the days away, but where do they all go? I do such a good job of putting the days away, but where does it all end up?

And what does it mean, to put

Sun daze

I am full of food. I spent more than I intended at the grocery store today but now that I am home I do not care. I open the cabinet or the fridge and catch sight of the things I bought — pecans, yogurt, pesto, and feel gratitude. I look forward to eating all these things in time and don’t understand why I don’t always have things on hand I love to eat. What is joy if not an easy decision when you open the fridge. A plate of food without an ounce of regret.

I get an urge to take off my socks. Like if I don’t take them off immediately I will die, and so I remove them, quickly, as if putting on socks was the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life. I have to take them off. And then sockless, I can breathe and think again. I am free.

I thought going to the football game would be torturous. Would eat up my day and leave me feeling horrible, unhappy, restless. But once we got out of the car and were standing in the sun, I recognized the feeling as good. And I felt good in the sun and in the cold. And I was trying to decide in my usual shortsighted way if I liked anyone standing around the table and somehow I managed it, I asked just the right question of the lady and we fell down the rabbit hole into a genuine, intense, consuming conversation and I want to call her up and ask if we can talk some more. I wish it could always be like that. I find the button and I press and off we go and it is easy and I am free.

We hurried over to the stadium and I sent a few photos to my dad. I know it annoys you how much I adore him, but I also know you find it comforting. I know you think he is worthy of being adored.

I didn’t even feel bad in the crowd. It was warmer, huddled up with all the people, and it was fun, watching people and realizing for some it was an element. This is a thing they’ve always done and how little they think about it. We watched in amusement and amazement. We were clueless and awestruck.

When we got to some seats it was even nicer, to be so close to the field. It was fun when the crowd was happy. It was even fun when we all got disappointed at the same time together. It was fun to be so close to you and to feel cold but not freezing. It was fun to finally get it, like this is what the people do and this is why they live here and this could be all it is. This easiness.

I kept watching the boy sitting in front of me. He would look down and his neck would be exposed and I worried about him being cold. Could he feel the air on his neck when he did that? We were trying to figure out the rows, the numbers of the rows, because someone was sitting in our seats, and we tried to confirm or deny the way they were labeled, and the boy turned around to me and said, “this is 41.” And he said it so plaintively and so confidently and I smiled at him and repeated his words back to him and he just did this little nod and turned back to the game. And I wonder what happens in little boys’ lives to make them so sure of themselves and the world and what that must be like.

I tied your shoe and we ran out of the stadium. I ran light on my toes with my sock hat bobbing, ensuring the feeling would come back to my legs and toes. We stood out in the sunlit parking lot and watched the skydivers fall from the sky. Just like that they appeared. We saw the plane and waited for something but at first saw nothing, and then they bloomed in the sky like that, their parachutes opening up and giving them shape. They delicately floated about, circling around like birds over death. They floated down like nothing into the stadium and I felt small and grateful to be on the earth with my feet on the ground and my head out of the sky. We ran some more to the car and I thought about those parachutes. Relying on nothing in the big space of something.

When we finally got home you fell asleep and I tried to read. I ask you again to marry me and in my head the words make sense but the second I say them aloud they seem wrong. It’s what I want, but not what I mean. Not what I was interested in at all. You heard my grandma’s voice on the phone and you were impressed, not expecting me to come from someone like that. But doesn’t it make sense, in its way?

Have you any wool

I think it’s fine if you want to be with that person, but don’t you have an interesting reason for it? Something other than the nots…they’re not this; they’re not this; well, then, what are they? What do they offer you that’s different from what all the people offer you? Or is it only that they are giving back to you what you cannot give yourself?

What is it you think you should have, what is it you think you should do, what is it you think you should be? What do you think you should be able to give back to yourself? That is not what love is for.

We exist in mediocrity. It can swallow us whole; it’s only by trying that we can make anything outside of it, despite of it. I’m trying not to become mediocre. It’s like resisting one of the the Matrix pills. (Red or blue, who can even remember) Back when the world was still surprising.

I want to write you a long apology letter. I am not interested in apologizing for my anger, but rather in the way I treat you when I get angry. You want to distract me, to make me forget, to remind me of emotions other than anger. I don’t need that. I need you to tell me my anger is beautiful, that you love it, that you want to reproduce it. I want you to tell me that my anger can be productive, constructive, that you will help me see it through, that you will be my trainer and I the boxer and we’ll do something legendary, we’ll make something momentous with my anger. I want you to rush into my anger and hold it tight. I want you to cherish my anger.

I want you to understand how important a woman’s anger is.

Forgive me for being angry, and I will forgive you for being afraid. I’m sorry you don’t know anger. I’m sorry you don’t know how to react to your own discomfort. I’m sorry I pull away because you won’t celebrate with me. But I am not sorry for being angry. You cannot make me small again.

The passage of something

Tabasco on chicken. Meat melting on a plate. The fire in the place. Objectifying the face of James Baldwin. The visuals of my week. I have not been writing. I have not been writing because I need to limit my screen time, and although I hate to admit it, I never feel as highly motivated to write as I do when my fingers are resting on a keyboard. [The typewriter keyboard in my great grandmother’s office]. Someone awwed when I mentioned I have my grandma’s couch and I wanted to say, ‘she’s not that kind of grandmother.’ but I didn’t. Her birthday is on Sunday. She will be 79. I have had the urge to call her for weeks, but I put it off, saving it up. I want to get a new phone, but I should probably listen to my brother’s voicemail first. The voicemail he left me a year and a half ago. I just can’t be bothered. 

I ate burgers with some friends, and it made me sad to watch them eat. Chomp chomp swallow. When they were finished, they were ready to leave. It made me sadder. Is this how you live? Constantly consuming? Let’s sit and breathe and think about our food. We didn’t. 

My sister is pregnant. Just quickening. Just a tiny, non-human thing. It is too soon to know, if it will take, but I feel the potential of it. A new human, and with them a new channel opening up. All of our channels opening up. The valves of our hearts. If only. If this. If we. The loops of life. Let’s do better this time. Let’s fix it now. Here is our chance to right our trauma, to stop the cycle, to have another ending. I dreamt once that my sister was my mother, and I think she is ready now. Or maybe I like to think that I am ready now. She’s grown me and it’s time to move onto the next. Another being. Another body. We multiply like… germs? Fungi? What creeps in and grows out and takes over? That’s what humans are like. That’s how we do. Ivy. Or mold, maybe. We fester. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by all the human-ing. You want me to what with whom? I am tired. We spin out of ourselves. Why does it matter so much? Everything matters. Anything for anyone. 

It feels good to get this out. Treating myself like a character. Drafting my character sketch. Working through my character analysis. It’s like baking, maybe. What baking is for other people. Or cooking. Or crafting. All the other forms of doing. I do it here, with my words, with my quiet. I don’t know how to make the words come out, how to make the sounds with my throat all the times, but I can do this. I can move my fingers and pull up the words and feel like this is right, this is better, this I can do, and this will give me my space. Now I have it. Now I have the words to put here and there. Here is a series of signs left by my passage. Here is my mark.

Silence is … accessible.

Can’t you always see it spreading out of you? Spreading all around you. 

Silence is honor. Silence is to honor as I am to you. 

We don’t belong to each other, but we belong together. 

From my lungs

It’s only the exhaustion that makes it hard to write. Makes my eyes go inward. Makes me forget the words. If I can get the words out I’ll feel better, but the exhaustion makes it hard. 

I try to expand my lungs. I try to breathe in and force the air out. An intuitive therapist said to me, “Tell me about your lungs” and I faltered. When is the last time I thought about my lungs? “I don’t know my lungs,” I told her. She said she was connecting with the spirit of the lungs. She asked me if I had forgiven myself for being a smoker. “I think so?” 

Have I secretly been angry with myself for having been a smoker? I know it is a metaphor.

So now, I talk to my lungs. We are hanging out. I run through all the things we did together today: we breathed through getting dressed, we breathed through the slow, tense drive to work through the wet cold streets. We made our way up all 3 flights of stairs. We rushed gracefully to the gym. We breathed through all the weight lifting even though I forgot to feed us breakfast. We breathed through both awkward meetings. We languished in the shower with the lavender essential oil. We made it. We did it. We are so good at this. 

I’ve never been married, but I have always felt: Now that I’m divorced, I’m never making dinner for a man again.

“I stopped cooking because I wanted to feel as unencumbered as man walking through the door of his home with the expectation that something (everything) had been done for him.” 

My mom’s relationship with my stepdad was like this. Everything was done for him. Even as a child, I didn’t know the word unencumbered, but it was a tangible part of his experience. What was hers suddenly became his. She lost all claim when he walked through the door. I didn’t need her to tell me not to be like her, but she did, and so I’m not. I wish I were a better cook, but I know I’m not because it was part of the Plan. The Plan to Salvation. Another something to something else. 

I keep thinking about breathing and silence and the space between moments. You are doing great. 

Women in brain

Women in Clothes, women in clothes, women in clothes

I liked it at first. At first I read it feverishly. I felt that this was somewhere I’d always wanted to be, in the heads of strange women. Feeling them feel out their relationship to clothes. Their life in clothes. So I read it almost in a trance at first, refusing to look up from the hundreds of pages I flipped, flipped, and flipped.

But then I got to the part where I noticed the pattern. I got to the part where I felt myself stretching away from the book, holding it away from myself, lightly skimming over the words I couldn’t feel. The responses like, I feel sexy after sex. I feel good when someone says I look good. I liked more when people were able to square the function of their dress with the beauty of it. The loose silk dress that made the breastfeeding mom feel comfortable but pretty. I liked the interview pieces with the garment factory employees, who relayed tales of shock at the things American women wear and discard. At the cost of adornment. But the woman getting upset at her bra fitting that she was a 38 instead of a 34; the woman who kept name dropping her dead boyfriend and his opinions and thoughts. Those tales left me feeling icky. Separate. I know the point of the book was to present, not to judge, but I want more pushback in my life after the presentation. I want someone to articulate the trouble with or the problem of or the tension when.

you don’t like feeling fat because someone told you fat was bad

The Gift is this terrible film I watched over the weekend.

Because it was on Netflix and because it had a 90% on rotten tomatoes. 

So I watched it and I became intrigued but as the movie unfolded I started to get what was being done and I started to understand how it received a high rating [from men] and I felt that same icky-ness I felt when reading women in clothes, like, all the things we think are because men think them and not because they actually feel true to us.

The wife becomes the object becomes the tool to break the master’s house and I felt, wrong.

I so often need to read and need to hear the words of others because I can only feel it sometimes, and when I try to push the feeling up into my brain to turn it into words it runs dry and I feel vacant and stupid.

“using rape as a plot device is just plain lazy”

“Descends into emotional idiocy and insufficient intrigue to end in a disgusting place that presumes that a woman is an appropriate pawn in games men play.”

The way I feel but the words I do not know how to fit together unless I see it written and then I know, yes.

Sweeping up the back patio and the godforsaken berries which live there because the neighbor is oblivious to this tree that grows on their side of the fence yet wreaks havoc on my back patio. I turned on This American Life because I am a millennial in my 30s and feel like I must be educating myself even in my leisure time. I took a walk through the neighborhood because the sun was shining and the leaves have all fallen and the sky feels incredibly close and scrubbed clean because that is how it feels in winter.

This American Life– But That’s What Happened

And I’m glad I wasn’t raised by people who made me interact with other people who thought I needed a bridge to God, who thought I needed a path to God, who thought there was one way and one way only to God, but also… why are women made to feel so bad about sex? What is it like to have a relationship with sex that is more like a man’s?

I am grateful for my feelings about sex and the way I’ve grown into sex. I do not know how I got here but for the most part it feels healthy.

What if I had studied philosophy or ethics and realized I was someone who liked to think about the big picture? What if I’d had someone around at an early age who could have pointed me out to myself, who had given me the words to match my feelings? That is something I find myself wondering, thinking often these days, as I try to say the words aloud to others, do you see yourself as the world sees you? Well, you should.

That’s the question women should be asked…I mean I liked reading women respond to the questions they were asked about their dressing habits, about seeing themselves yes as an object but also as an actor…, but this is what I really want to know, what it is is this, is who pointed yourself out to you? Who has asked you the question that prompted you to ask of yourself–what is it I can do and want to do?

What is the thing that I do all the time that I have not named because I did not know you could have a name for everything?

This is on sale

Some books you read, I don’t know, to have a visual, to see something. Other books you read, to feel and taste the words. To write.

I feel as if I’m unraveling some days, underneath, in my deepest layers. I can feel myself unspooling, falling, floating. I don’t know if it’s really worth trying to hold on, I’ve grown quite tired of gathering up all the threads as if they mean something, as if they lead somewhere, as if untangling them and relooping them nicely truly matter.

Another pregnant friend and I had to ask my questions: what is your pregnancy story. Who are you turning into? What have you become?

It’s worth it in the sense that you might bring someone truly wonderful in the world, but I worry all the women are forgetting how truly wonderful they are. In this moment. Alone. Before they have given themselves over to another. The gifts of the flesh that remain our own.

Yes, I feel loss in the sense that I feel I have lost everything. That everything I once had was the narrative of the woman who brewed me from her flesh. Who grew an organ and extra skin to make me whole. But can I be whole out here when so much of what she gave me was hollow?

Is it too much to be here and to feel like nothing when all the things are false? Sometimes, I don’t know what to do with the knowledge that life is one big expense.