If I could rewind the clock:
I’d tell myself at thirteen that I don’t need to be messing around with boys yet. I’d tell myself that sex is not the same as love. I’d tell myself that I could be a complete and whole and loved person without turning myself into a commodity. I’d tell myself that my father didn’t show love because his heart was broken, not because I was a deficient child. I’d tell myself that it does get better.
I’d tell myself at sixteen not to use the internet.
I’d tell myself at eighteen not to make a stupid, stupid crack at my best friend that kept us from talking for months. I’d tell myself not to get off the phone when he called me for the last time. I’d tell myself to tell him to go to the hospital right away, not to delay.
I’d tell myself at twenty to pick a major–pick any-goddamn-thing–and just finish school.
I’d tell myself at twenty-two not to start smoking.
I’d tell myself at twenty-three not to give up my life for love. I’d tell myself not to quit my job. I’d tell myself to get help with the stress that overwhelmed me. I’d tell myself not to shut down and never to quit moving. I’d tell myself to buy a real damn bed instead of sleeping in a windowless room on a pile of clothes.
I’d tell myself at twenty-five not to worry about people’s judgments of me, and not to believe others’ judgments of the world. I’d tell myself that real friends don’t hide from you, and that people who love you shouldn’t just love you when it’s convenient for them. I’d tell myself not to stop calling my grandma, even though it hurt me and it was hard to talk to her. I’d tell myself that my mother was doing the best she could.
I’d tell myself at twenty-six to consider it more deeply. I’d tell myself to keep those jobs. Any job. Because I’m strong enough to do anything when I don’t let fear beat me down. I’d tell myself to get out of the house more.
I’d tell myself at twenty-eight to push for an apartment with a dishwasher and a shower.
Next year, I turn 30. I’ve spent over half a decade now in difficult solitude, despite the people around me who love me. The walls have gotten so high I can’t seem to climb them, and I seem to have crash-landed in a Gordian knot. Every time I come close to unraveling one part, another part tangles hopelessly. In other words, I’m a hot mess.
Amy posted a poem at IB that I find particularly striking. I’m feeling particularly morose today (could you tell?) so I’ll leave you with it:
Not Waving but Drowning
by Stevie Smith
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
Even though I could and probably should host this list over at IB, it was weird trying to find a place to fit it in where it wasn’t kind of in the way. Do I make a page? Make it its own post? But does each of our 1000+ email subscribers really need to be notified of that post? Fuck. So I decided to host it here, on my blog, since most people are hosting it at THEIR personal blogs.
The challenges that I am accepting from the Award-Winning Reading Challenge:
Full-Frontal. You are not fucking around here–you want to read the best and the brightest, and a lot of them, even if it kills you. Your challenge is to read three (3) full-length books written by Nobel laureates; three (3) full-length novels that won the Pulitzer Prize; three (3) books that won the Man Booker Prize; and one (1) book (or one book from one author) each from the following: the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction; the National Book Award for Fiction; and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.
Jet-Setter. You find variety oh-so-spicy; it warms you up like a summer curry served you by a handsome, muscular cabana boy wearing a brilliant smile and little else. Ahem. Anywho, your task, should you choose to accept it, is to read the following, which may come from the Nobel list, the Neustadt list, the Jerusalem Prize list, the Ovid Prize list, or the literature category of the Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service list: 1 book from Canada, the U.S., or Mexico; 1 book from Central America/the Caribbean; 1 book from South America; 1 book from Africa; 2 books, one not-originally-English, from western Europe; 1 book from Eastern Europe; 1 book from Australia; 2 books from Asia (preferably one from western Asia and one from eastern Asia).
Oh, but that’s not all! I’m also accepting these challenges from The Global Domination Reading Challenge:
Day Tripper. New to foreign literature? Short on reading time and need to be economical? Start with this challenge. Read the following for a total of six books: 1 book from Latin or South America; 1 non-English book from Europe; 1 book from Africa; 1 book from Asia; 1 non-United States English book; and 1 book from the Middle East. (Note: If you’re not from the U.S., and you don’t primarily read U.S. literature, please make an appropriate substitution if you like–ie, if you’re from France, read an American book instead of the European book. Or you can do the challenge as-is. If you choose to sub in an American author, please let us know where you’re from wherever you keep track of the challenge.) (Six books total.)
Conquistador(a). Oh, what’s that? You’re a world literary master? You’ve got so much global cred you add “Int’l” after your name? To complete this challenge, do the Day Tripper requirements. Then choose three regions and read two more books apiece from those regions. (Twelve books total.)
Check out my list-specifics after the jump.
Long time, no write. Well, not here, anyway. This was supposed to be the Year of Win, but, as always, life started kicking everyone’s ass and just about everybody I know has had a piece of shit year.
Well, something amazing finally happened. I got an internship. I’m going to learn to make ice cream like a badass. I wrote a letter to our local ice cream maven and basically begged her to let me work for them for free, so I can learn to make excellent ice cream. (This so that hubs and I can, in the future, head back to sunny CA and open a scoopery of our own.) (Yeah, I just coined the word scoopery.) I met with the head of production at this excellent ice cream shop that I won’t name but that you can probably figure out, if you’ve been paying attention and know where I live. He, luckily for me, is a real kitchen guy, a cook who worked in kitchens for over a decade before moving into his present job–that’s lucky for me because 1) he values free labor, 2) he understands that hands-on is how we learn in a kitchen, and 3) he and I will understand each other beautifully. In fact, we got on very well at our breakfast meeting, which leads to the fourth reason that I am lucky, in that I don’t believe at all that I will have work-related panic attacks in this environment–good because I eventually have to go back to work and get a paying job if we ever want to see this ice cream shop in action. (And fingers crossed I will do excellently at this internship and it will turn into a paying gig someday. Oh, bliss.) I haven’t had a real job since 2007. I “worked” for one quarter doing work study, but let’s get real–most of that time was spent checking my Facebook and doing homework because I had precious little else to do. (Believe me, I asked–if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s to be at work not doing my job.) Another lucky break for me, actually–since I am working for free, I was able to be totally forthright and admit to the kitchen/production manager that I haven’t worked, so he’s starting me on a wee bit slower pace. And because I’m not a paid employee, even my slow starting pace will be a benefit to the company. By the time a job opens up, I hope I am back in the swing of things, able to power through work like I used to do before that pesky little nervous breakdown I had.< I am excite. Finally.
Adults cannot legally be interns. Internship lost. I am not excite.
Lately, all signs for me having been pointing homeward for some reason, and the common thread has been southern confections. Weird, I know, except that I have been obsessed with dessert of late–watching dessert-themed shows, reading books, perusing websites. A Facebook friend was making white chocolate lollipops, something that my great-grandma always had in supply during the holiday season; it made me smile, thinking about the little Santas and candy-cane-shaped chocolates that we always had at Christmas. A few days ago, I caught a show on the Cooking Channel that highlighted little diners and bake shops that focus on classic southern desserts. All this stuff got me thinking about other sweets from my childhood, which led to me looking at the above YouTube video; I wanted to make divinity, a candy that my grandma always made; when I was a child, I could eat it until I got sick, I loved it so much.
Watching the ladies make divinity also made me sad. I’m a southern woman without traditions, mostly due to the . . . . inconsistency I experienced during my upbringing. I only have hazy connections to what makes a woman southern, other than her geography. The tradition of candy-making and cake-baking is one that I missed out on; I ate cake and candy as a child, but I was never brought into the kitchen and shown how to make divinity, or pecan pie, or coconut cake. Circumstances prevented this, and I don’t fault anybody for it (my relatives were dealing with things more stressful than candy, for sure); but, I’ve decided to admit to myself that these things are important to me, and that I will learn them so I can teach my children, and they can teach their children. I will learn to make fudge, I will learn to make divinity, I will learn to make a stellar coconut cake.
That having been said, if you have any good traditional Southern recipes, send them my way. I have some catching up to do.
Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring.
The first time we went to Mexico, we walked across the border into Tijuana. The sky was clear and bright; it was a great day to take my first stroll on foreign soil. After marveling at Big Pink, I had been nurturing my excitement to explore the real deal; even though I was well aware that Tijuana has all of the authenticity of a shopping mall when it comes to Experiencing Mexico, I couldn’t contain an inner squeal (and possibly a few outer ones). Despite the high level of laziness that set in after I moved out of a city where I walked everywhere to a state where one must drive everywhere, I didn’t even mind (at first) that we were setting off on foot.
We breezed through the border crossing, to my amazement. I was under the impression that crossing the border was a to-do, but at that point, nobody was terribly concerned with people entering Mexico. Navigating the border structure was a bit of a hike, but all over there were distractions to keep me from bemoaning the physical activity–namely, merchants. Selling things. All over the place. As we moved closer and closer to Tijuana proper, I felt a creeping sense of déjà vu; the vendors had begun repeating themselves, offering literally the same merchandise as someone else had been selling a few paces back. Children approached us with Chicklets and hope. (Actually, some of them were pretty street-hardened, and barely batted an eyelash when we said “No, thank you.” Or perhaps they weren’t good at English yet.)
I would discover later that the soul of Tijuana clashes brightly with the general feeling of the rest of the country–even the rest of Baja, even the other tourist cities. Walking through the city, we found block upon block of shops spilling their wares out into the street, selling anything, everything, and cheap–tchotchkes, t-shirts, all manner of decorative items, pharmacies, liquor stores. Restaurants promising excellent dinner deals featuring bad margaritas: slushy, weak, tasteless, and tiny for all that. Street vendors selling churros and cigarettes. We turned a corner onto a seedy avenue, and I saw my first honest-to-Christ prostitute, framed in a dark doorway and looking out into the street; maybe looking for her next embrace or simply taking a moment to herself, for reflection. The streets brim with the hustle of trying to eke out a living, against the odds and a significant amount of competition.
We ate, we smoked, we walked. I would later remember the sensation of being real among illusions during our first and only trip to Las Vegas, a colorful veneer over down-and-dirty life. This may be what draws me, or what drew me, despite the obvious tourista bent of the city; unlike so many places in America, places crammed with strip malls built to corral the gentry into mindless exchange of cash for goods and services, places that have a false sense of propriety whitewashed over the wildness of human desire, the dirty places, the unkempt, seedy places, have character under the facade. Other places are all facade.
The only hiccup to an enchanted day–crossing back stateside was a nightmare for your faithful blogger. I stood hours in ill-equipped shoes, not a bench or even a likely curb on which I could rest. By the time we crossed back into San Diego, my crankiness level had escalated from “tolerable if sarcastic” to “ready to embark on a five-state killing spree.” My lovely husband put up with my kvetching as only he has the patience to do. I was sour the whole drive home. But I was also in love with a strange and wonderful place, the likes of which I’d never before encountered.
Yes, I have been an obsessive blogger since blogging was a thing–I had a site on GeoCities, then on LiveJournal, then on MySpace, then, finally, WordPress. I found this crazy description of a dream that I had, which I had written up and posted on MySpace. I was thinking about blogging about this sort of thing soon, so . . . I figured I’d post this for you now. I’m not editing it, so if it’s not up to my current writing standards, I humbly apologize.
“So, in my dream, I’m sitting in my apartment, playing Nintendo. It’s old-school Nintendo, but really graphic (and, believe it or not, this isn’t the first time I’ve had dreams about graphic Nintendo). When you fall to your death on this Nintendo, the camera angle follows you all the way down, flailing and screaming.
Meanwhile, in the corner, some kind of fucked-up Rosemary’s Baby action is going on. I’m not sure what was giving birth, exactly–in my hazy memory of it, it might have been a Morticia-esque creature. But the baby turned out to be more like a frog/lizard thing. It had this big hair and some fangs, which leads me to the description of the father…. he was a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Robert Smith, a tall, lanky motherfucker with big, out-of-control black hair. And white, white fangs. He looked at the baby-frog-thing and seemed surprised that it was his spawn. “I must show my true form to my son,” he declared, or something equally lame.
So he disappears into my room to undergo this transformation thingy. Around this time, I notice I’m roughly an hour late for work. (Still in my dream.) I go into my room to get dressed. I am having a rough morning already. Late for work, losing at Nintendo, having the devil’s spawn born in my living room . . . and now, I can’t find a shirt. I must go through a hundred shirts that I don’t, in any reality, own. But because I’m late, I can’t find a shirt. Meanwhile, this demon thing has turned into a sweet-looking red butterfly, and I can feel him watching me, which is even more nerve-wracking than being late. I mean, this thing, as delicate as it looks, could fucking kill me at any time, right? It’s a demon. So he, as a butterfly, up and asks me why I’m scared of him. I tell him I’m allergic to red butterflies. I even have a pamphlet made up that has all of my butterfly allergies: red, black, green, blue. The demon hops onto my pamphlet and decides to follow me to work. I am distressed, I am frightened. I am walking down the hall from my apartment in what looks like an office building–of course, I do live in an old office building, so it’s not that much of a stretch. Somewhere along the way, I decide that I need to smash the demon-butterfly in the pamphlet like it’s a rogue spider. I start crushing it against the wall. It refuses to die. Then I decide to flush it down the toilet.
And as it goes down, I wake up. Right before my alarm goes off.”
This is so going into my workout mix:
That is all. P.S. Also this one: