Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Years Ago

In November, I wrote 43 pages of blog posts, albeit some of that was poetry. In December, I wrote 89 pages of blog posts. On December 1st I wrote a bit about my falling out with Christianity, the difficulties I had after my separation and divorce with friends who were no longer comfortable with me. Somehow I managed to segue to the following about Tori Amos:
I am listening to Tori Amos in my car now. Little Earthquakes. I especially love the song "Silent All These Years." My daughter gave me the CD because I love that song so much. But I didn't listen to it for months. When I first got it I played it a few times then didn't listen to it anymore. I couldn't even tell you what songs were on the CD besides that one song. Why was that? I didn't know at the time. I pulled it out of the collection and listened to it. *lights come on* She sings a song called "Me and a Gun" about her rape experience. I listened to this song and realized that I had chosen not to listen to the CD because of the memories this song stirred in me. Interesting realization. Since then I have listened to the CD many times. I pulled it out again, today, because of the song "China" which keeps running through my mind.
Later that same day, I shared another incident.
I haven't been to a reading since Sept and there was a reader there last time who read some really remarkable poetry was there again. He absolutely had me in awe of his poetry and I knew I didn't want to read after he did because I don't think my poetry can stand up after his. I was sitting at a table, surrounded by my former students (from my student teaching experience) and their friends when this man approached me. He: I want to ask you a question and if you answer no, you may be horribly offended but are you the girl who reads the sex poems? Me: Yes! And no! I write poems which are not about sex but yes . . . I write poems about sex. He: I remember your poetry. It is very good. Me: *speechless* He: It is good to see you back again. By this time, I finally find my tongue again and say something complimentary in return about his use of mythological allusions and such. But here I am being complimented by someone I truly and sincerely admire so that was just wonderful! When he read later I was again thrilled as he wove Shakespearean quotes in and out of his own work.
Had I not written about this experience, I would have forgotten it altogether because, even now, I cannot recall the moment although I remember the poet very well. However, I can’t help but confess that I think much of my success at the open mic was more about my personal charisma than my writing because, in the same post, I say he complimented me on a particular poem and, having recently re-read this same poem I have to say that it is not good and absolutely not worthy of praise. Hmmmm . . . Here’s another moment I had forgotten.
I was saying that I had not posted about Josh . . . well there is a great story/lesson in this so I want to make a point of writing about this. I logged into his webcam and he puts little messages across the screen for those of us who actually log in. Yesterday I log in and there is the message: I'm going to be in the Superbowl half time show, so watch it! Well here I am thinking that this is great news and how exciting for him! I get all hyped up and then realize how stinky it is that I had to find out by logging into his cam. After all, he and I are friends. We have slept side by side in the same bed. We even say we love one another! So why should I hear this great news as if I were some anonymous web surfer who logged into his cam? Why didn't he call me? Or tell me over aol/im? Or email me, for crying out loud?!?!? So there I am pouting, waiting for him to wake up and when he finally does I tell him I am mad at him and why. He says, "Oh that. No big deal." And it wasn't a big deal to him. So why should he call me or email me or do anything else? It isn't a big deal! Perspective. My reality was that this was a big deal. For him it was nothing.
Although I think it is interesting, how one person’s significant moment can be another person’s no biggy, the part of this that most intrigues me is that way back on 9 December 1999 I was already struggling with how real life people will use messages shared online, meant to reach an “anyone and everyone” audience, as a means to keep in touch. Now, I can probably think of quite a few people I have known in real life with whom I would be perfectly content communicating through facebook or other social networking type means. However, I can think of a few people who are too near and dear to my heart for me to settle for so shallow. It is a curious thing that I am still struggling with this and I suspect my journal will continue to be a place for me to express my confusion and concern.
(BTW, I didn't watch the show let alone the game. If he had any camera time, I didn't witness it.) I wrote about the office party. I had a date cancel on me, a friend. So I asked another friend but he also said he wasn’t feeling up to it, had been sick for two days and then two days later when the office holiday party took place, I ended up going as the date of one of my coworker’s friends who was in town. I met him at her place, met her husband, and her dogs, etc. We went to the party where I had a mediocre time.
On the way back in the car, the other couple we were with started talking and, the more the three of them talked, the more racist and narrow-minded they all became in my mind. I even tested before we got back in the car and mentioned that I saw a woman who had a tat on her leg. The setup responded negatively. Guess he hadn't noticed mine on my ankle . . .
(As an aside, the coworker was actually one of the most negative people I have known, a whiner by nature. She also drank to excess and one of the other employees accused her of sexually harassing him at the party. I don’t think that last event occurred so much as she was too drunk to filter herself properly but she wasn’t fired because the event occurred outside of the office and there was some doubt as to just how sober he was or wasn’t, as the case may be.) That was on the 18th, one week before Christmas. The next few posts are about my weight loss, about how Josh and Schuyler were going to have a New Year’s Eve party but canceled it, and mostly about shopping, wrapping gifts, and other fun stuff. I even wrote a brief background about my mother, her relationships and how they informed my own life. On the 21st, I shared this:
Did I ever tell you about the paper cranes I made for Craig? I made 1000 paper cranes in all different sizes. All different colors as well. Large to small, bright to pastel, metallic and patterns. It was amazing. I filled a box 16" x 16" x 16" . . . (a little less than half a meter if I am correct, which I probably am not . . . sorry). Anyway, I sent them to Craig because in Asian society it is believed that if you make or give someone 1000 paper cranes you will get/give a wish . . . and our wishes were so many, being apart as we were. When he received the box, he was living w/ the roommate and they spread out most of them along the wall in the living room. When he moved to his own place, he didn't even take them out of the box. I asked Jason what he would have done with them. He sat back and thought about it for a moment then looked at me and said, "I would have hung them from my ceiling."
That was truly a perfect answer! I think that is what I had hoped Craig would do with them. But he didn't. Instead, they stayed in a box. At this time, my ex-husband was involved with some woman who claimed that they were married but I found out that they were only dating. Later, she would claim to be pregnant with his child. This would also turn out to be false—she was pregnant but not with his child. But all of this didn’t come out until later so I digress. Here is what I wrote about his situation:
I guess what frightened me is the evidence that history repeats itself. Not in my life, I hope. But here he is reliving his mistakes only with an older woman. Not older than he. I was only 17 when we met. I was pregnant by 19 and a mother by 20. She is 34. They met 18 months ago and her child is 4 months old, which means they were not even together 6 months before she was pregnant. Why is it that I find it shocking that a woman that age would be living like this, making these choices? I guess I do not find it surprising that Jerome is doing this. In fact, I really do not know what I find shocking or surprising about any of it. And what about me? I am so quick to recognize patterns in others. Am I unable to see them in myself or do I focus on the evolution so much, the increasing honesty, etc.? Am I blind to my own faults, pointing out a splinter when I am walking around w/ a beam? Or am I over analyzing myself and my life?
Jennifer and I finally managed to catch up with one another, long enough to exchange gifts. Josh and I were bickering. Jason was telling me about his new job, which required a suit and tie (which, if you knew him, you would appreciate how surprising this is). And I’m just realizing how many people I knew back then whose names begin with the letter J. Even my ex husband’s name begins with a J. On Christmas Eve, I wrote nearly 900 words but here is the highlight:
So today is Christmas eve. At 10:30 we will order pizza. By 12ish we will be ready to leave for the movie. Toy Story 2. . . I saw a commercial yesterday and they are going to be showing some of the out-takes from the movie starting tomorrow. My first thought was to say maybe we should just go see TS2 some other time and go to a different movie today. But then I know that our finances are pretty tight right now and there is no way that we can afford to go to a second movie so I don’t need to put myself through that. Just go see the movie and hope that the out-takes are on the video, I guess. Because we are ordering three large pizzas (cheese, pepperoni, mushroom), we should have enough for dinner as well. I have enough to buy some popcorn. I will probably grab snacks from here before we go into the movie so I don’t have to buy the expensive stuff at the theater. I know that the popcorn there is expensive as well but I am a sucker for movie theater popcorn. I am a sucker for popcorn any time. And chocolate. And pizza. And ice cream. I find them all irresistible. All of them perfectly irresistible. Oooh . . . add a really good cup of coffee to the list. The movie theater we are going to has a café and I intend on having a cup of coffee. Yummmmmm . . . .
You cannot imagine how much I wrote on Christmas day! I wrote about the gifts we exchanged, rambled about the collage on my closet door, shared about my own confusion regarding my ambivalence regarding dating, and mostly about my children. I write about the past, about books I’m reading. I mean, seriously, it goes on for pages and pages. I even write about my son having in school suspension.
For instance, I called the school requesting that my son’s teachers call me. Of the four, only two called and the second one called only after I had put in a second request for a call. The other day I received a request from my son’s teacher, one of the two who chose not to call me, for a teacher’s conference. My son explained to me that he was given detention, either before or after school, for something he says he did not do. Now I realize that children will lie about such things. I am not saying whether my son is telling me the truth or not. But he refused to serve the detention, preferring to take the harsher discipline of "in school suspension." He told me about this. I explained to him that if he was going to make this choice then he would have to write a formal letter of complaint to his teacher explaining his choice and the motivation behind it. I read the letter. It was polite and straight-forward, explaining that the punishment was unjust. I am assuming that the teacher wishes to speak with me because of this response from my son. Ahhhh . . . don’t you wish you could sit in on the conversation when I ask this teacher why she did not call me when I requested a conference over a month ago? And why she punished my son for something he may not have done. (I suspect my son is telling the truth because he is so adamant about not serving detention and is prepared to take a full day of discipline over a few minutes of detention. Remarkable, isn’t it? And that is exactly what I shall ask this teacher . . . if my son is guilty, why would he not choose the less harsh of the two disciplines? Why choose a whole day of isolation from his friends and classmates when he could just as easily have me drive him to school one day, which I offered to do, and serve the twenty-five minutes of time before school began?)
I finished writing about Christmas before a college friend of mine, Jim (another J!) called, drunk and wanting to hang out. He came to my place and suggested we go out to a club or something but I was not the least bit interested so he called a cab and went out on his own. On the 28th I opened the post with the following:
Okay. Either the cat dies or my daughter dies. I haven't decided which it will be yet, but one of them has to go!!!
Rei had a habit of closing her door at night and, hours after we were all asleep, he would start meowing at the door, wanting her to let him in. I suggested she should sleep with her bedroom door slightly ajar so he could move in and out as he wanted but she wouldn’t do it. So I told her that if she wouldn’t do that then she had to leave the cat outside her room. Eventually, maybe after a few nights of meowing, he would figure out that she wouldn’t open the door. But she kept opening the damn door. This is the same cat that died earlier this year. He was a sweetie. In other words, I didn’t kill either one of them. On the 30th, I summarized my concert experiences for the year while waiting to hear back from Jennifer about whether or not we were going to go out with two of her friends.
I went to the following concerts in 1999: Alanis Morrisette, Music Midtown (a music festival where I saw jazz, bluegrass, country, pop and rock musicians so I won’t list them all here . . . just imagine how many performers one can see in three days and you will get an idea of what that was like), Dave Matthews Band, the Acoustic Café (a bluegrass one day music-fest), Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette’s 5 ½ week tour concert, and Goo Goo Dolls. There were other concerts I wanted to attend but I didn’t have the money or the time. This year I expect that I shall see DMB, if they tour, which I assume they shall, and Tori. Otherwise, there is no one in particular I would like to see. Alanis gives an amazing show. She has more energy than I can even imagine. Watching her is exhausting. Hopefully I will get better seats this time around for DMB. That is my only regret . . . that my seats for that concert were terrible.
On New Year’s Eve, I wrote about going out with Jennifer although I nearly didn’t make it. A tire blew on my way to her place but I had AAA so all I had to do was make a call and there was someone there to replace the tire with the spare. We went out to Masquerade to dance but the three of them wanted to come home earlier than I did, too tired to dance much past midnight. Weird. I was the oldest one there and not even close to ready to stop dancing. The next day, I woke up feeling sad and lonely, spent over $100 on a new tire, and my ex husband called, wanting to talk to the children. Here are the last words I wrote in my blog for 1999:
I took a nap and the phone woke me up. I must have been more than napping because I struggled to come back to wakefulness. He finally wanted to talk to his children. He didn't make any promises or anything. When I hung up the phone I realized something pretty wonderful. I may envy him the fact that he is in a relationship with a woman who loves him enough to give birth to his child. Then I was thinking about how this relationship is just a repeat of our relationship, although I was too young to know any better so at least I had an excuse for being so destructive. However much I may envy him his relationship, it doesn't take much for me to realize that I am doing much better even if I am not in a committed relationship. I would rather be alone in the morning, even this morning, than to be in a relationship as unhealthy and self-destructive as our marriage used to be. And not a one of my relationships since my divorce has been anywhere nearly as insane as my marriage had been. All I can do is keep hoping that whatever man there is in my future, he is not in my distant future. Eventually, I will be right, after all. A year ago I hoped he would be here this year. I can hope the same thing for this year. Any year now he will show up and then all the waiting . . . well, it is better than giving up or despairing, isn't it?
And that is some of what I wrote in December of 1999.

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