Category Archives: memories

From the musty files of days of yore

I’m not very sentimental about *things*, generally. I usually have no qualms tossing objects such as clothes, books, toys, and stuff into the garbage when they have outlived their natural life. The one exception to this is old writings and drawings. A testament, no doubt, to how important my creative output is to me.

I was shuffling though my old files of academic papers, laughing at much of the horrid writing, or nodding my head in agreement at some point or another, when I came upon an old essay I wrote way back in my Junior year of high school. This is, incidentially, the time I started saving all my creative stuff.

Today, I read this and wonder just what the hell I was thinking writing this tripe, and what crack my teacher was smoking to give it an A. My only defense is I was stumped, the paper was due first thing the next morning, so I just turned on my bullshit-spewing machine and started writing. The assignment was to write a narrative of some memorable or meaningful event in my life. Enjoy.

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Week of Blatherations: If you prick me, don’t I bleed?

Okay, so I forgot to mention in my weekend recap that I had also gone to Quest Diagnostics to get my blood drawn for some lab work. Last Wednesday, I went to a naturopath to discuss some chronic irritations: IBS, insomnia, persistent chilliness, to name a few. So he sent me to get some blood work to test for anemia and hypothyroidism. Doesn’t that sound FABULOUS?!

So I went and got my blood drawn, and now I have a large, quarter-sized (that’s less than 2cm for you non-americans) yellow and green bruise on my arm. It could have been worse. My veins are slippery, tricky little bitches. I learned that the hard way, after my first trip to the Red Cross, doing my civic duty. I wound up with two, very large, biscuit-sized bruises on both arms. Apparently, these veins are deep, and the needle needs to be angled steeper in order to get a good poke.

When I had my gall bladder taken out oh-so-many years ago, even the surgical team couldn’t find a vein. I spent nearly 40 minutes getting stuck in both arms (at once!) by a cadre of nurses and an anethesiologist, my arms spread out before me like many a Renaissance-era Jesus painting. Finally, the surgeon came in with a “what the hell’s taking so long?” and took matters into his own hands. The needle ended up in my thumb. Quite an uncomfortable thing to wake up to, I’ll tell you that.

I ended up with two large bruises on my arms, a smaller bruise on my thumb, and four incisions on my torso. One just under my diaphragm, one on my belly button, and two on my right side, staggered near my waist. The all made nice-looking scars.

I’ve got a few other scars. One diamond-shaped on my left knee for that time I flew off my bike after striking a large rock. I was seven, if I recall. Another one on my palm, whose origins I cannot remember; many many tiny cat scratches on my hands; old flea bites, the lousy bastards; and my favorite: one tiny, long cut on the inside of my left thumb, from when I used adult scissors to cut construction paper at the wee age of five (I think. Mom?) Boy, did that one bleed like a bitch. I remember howling and snot running down my face and copious amounts of bright red blood running down my arm. Ah, childhood. Its amazing I don’t have more scars, the damage I’ve done to myself. Burns, cuts, electrocutions, scrapes, etc and so forth.

I’d tell y’all about the time I tried to cook frozen chicken in boiling oil, but I’ve already blathered on long enough for today.

A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Meme

*edited to add a postscript*

I got this awesome meme from WIGSF and liked it so much I decided to take it from right under his pretty little Canadian nose. Because I can. I’m awesome like that. That’s what this meme is about. My awesomeness. But I decided to change it up a little. Instead of detailing all the ways I’m awesome (all of which are blindingly obvious, scientifically-proven, and cure cancer, all for three easy payments of $29.99!!), I’ve decided to go on about my awesome childhood and share some old-timey memories with y’all. So hop aboard this double-decker bus, my friends, and join me on this A.W.E.S.O.M.E trip down memory lane!

A is for Angels.
The California Angels, to be exact. A long time ago, when my family still lived in California, and I a wee child of 10, my dad took us all to Anaheim to watch the home team play on the home green. The crowd was loud and boisterous, the sun bright, the hot dogs especially hotdoggy, and the beer especially swilly. I didn’t have any beer of course, but I remember there being a lot of beer around me. I learned “Take me out to the ballgame”, and that the seventh-inning stretch is really boring. I most enjoyed doing the “Wave”. I liked seeing the spectators ululate the stands, and I couldn’t wait for my turn to leap up, flap my arms at the sky, holler wordlessly, and sit back down.

The Angels lost the game, as I recall.

W is for Wasp.
My very first bee-sting was actually a wasp. Fourth grade, at Terra Linda Elementary School in West Jordan, Utah, and I’m playing on the monkey bars, dutifully being active and shit during recess. I’m swinging along, and this girl on the other end starts shouting something at me. Her mouth is flapping and I can’t understand a single thing she’s saying. Its very difficult to lipread when one or both of us is moving. So I let go of the bar and land on the ground. My intent to ask “what?” becomes a wordless shriek of pain as hot fire blossoms on my cheek just below my right eye. In a flash, I understood everything the girl was trying to tell me: “Don’t move! There is a WASP on your face!”

I’ve been stung by other wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets in the same vincity repeatedly over the years. I really hate those things, I tell you what.

E is for Earthquakes.
As I’ve said before, my family lived in California for a while. California, being right over the seam of two major tetonic plates, gets a lot of earthquakes. Many small ones, and maybe one or two noticeable ones, every year. In 1994, Northridge was the epicenter to a fairly large one that woke me up from a sound sleep, and sent my big sis tumbling into my bed. She’s afraid of earthquakes, see; she always manages to find something hard with her head. So when the shaking started early that morning, I woke up and watched the blinds shake in the windows, and just enjoyed the ride. Until a black bulk, vaguely human-shaped, darkened my vision, tumbling from the bunkbed above me, and collapsed, shaking more than the earth below us, upon me. My arm fell asleep whilst I tried to comfort the poor girl through the crisis. Incidentially, she hit her head on the bed frame coming down.

S is for swing
The Pirate Boat Swing at the little rinky-dink amusement park in Odgen, UT. First ever amusement park ride, first incident of ride-induced nausea, and only case of ride-induced projectile vomiting. I believe I was only 6 or 7.

To this day, I still can’t look at one of these rides without my stomach turning over.

O is for Octopus.
Copying WIGSF here as I can’t think of any damn thing that starts with an O. Except octopi. Fascinating creatures, octopi. Did you know that they can finagle their eight-tentacled bodies into any hole or crevice on the planet? No lie!

M is for Mountain
There is a very distinctive peak of the Wasatch Mountains (a range of mountians on the Western side of the Rockies in Utah). To my older, more perverse self, this particular peak looks remarkably like a vagina. (I can’t find a picture of it, so just take my word for it!) When I was six, my family went for a hike up this mountain. It was hot, buggy and muggy. The hike was long. We had a picnic on a large boulder. We made it up as far as the base of the rocky cliffy parts by mid-afternoon. It was at that point my mom said, “oh hell no!” and we turned back down. It was dark when we got back to the bottom, and rattlesnakes were out shaking their tails. My sister, poor creature, screamed when she got a bit to close to one. I think I giggled even then. We went to Article Circle for burgers and fries with fry sauce. Hmm…fry sauce.

E is for…eggs.
Yeah, eggs. For a long time, my diet consisted of eggs, white bread, and mircle whip. Sometimes an orange. Sometimes Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. But mostly it was fried egg sandwiches, with or without the egg.

To this day, egg, miracle whip, and white bread is still my comfort food of choice. I ate a lot of eggs after spliting with my ex.

So there we are, the tour down A.W.E.S.O.M.E memory lane has come to an end. Thanks for visiting!

(Post script: for an encore memory go check out my other blog at Fat Sisters here.)

Lessons from love

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of chronicling my life in terms of the lessons life teaches me. Life is, after all, a never-ending process of learning, and there are many thousands of lessons to learn from life. The Buddhists and Taoists believe that only by opening oneself up to a deeper awareness of experience can one fully savor life and gain enlightenment.

But life can be difficult to bear at times, and in those difficult times of sorrow and depression, of anger and anomie–when you feel overcome by some tsunamic wave pulling you into a maelstrom of chaotic emotion and internal struggle–openness, awareness, and enlightenment are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.  But despite the chaos, you’re still alive and learning still proceeds, even if you’re not aware of it or open to the lessons being taught.

Over the course of the past year; during the dissolution of my relationship and drawn-out break-up, I have learned many things that I was not aware I was learning.  Now,  life has becalmed, and I feel the many changes and can see the many lessons I have somehow absorbed:

I have learned that for some people, love and commitment are not the same thing.

I have learned that if one or both partners is afraid of negativity and avoids arguments, anger, and hurt feelings; or worse, gives the impression that negativity of any sort makes the other an unlovable person, then the relationship is doomed to fail.

I have learned that when I know something, I must speak out, and not hide behind a veil of innocent geniality.

I have learned that my needs and my desires are of no more or less importance to anyone else’s.

I have learned that I can survive any hurt and betrayal and still remain me.

I have learned there is no room for love in the selfish heart.

I have learned that I am loyal and generous to a fault; that I value those aspects of me, and must learn to choose my companions with more care.

I have learned that I have a solid rock of kith and kin who are always there for me if I should need them.

I have learned that I don’t always have to be strong and self-reliant; pain is tolerable but need not be suffered alone.

I have learned that sex is as complex as the emotions behind it.  Sex can banish insecurities and sex can create new ones. Sex can forge emotional attachments, and sex can break them.

I have learned that I have the courage to make a stand, to confront my demons and to demand my due. I have the strength to define my terms, to do what must be done.

I have learned that no matter how limited your resources may be, there is always a way to make a change.

I have learned that every loss is also a gain; that for every door that closes, another opens.

I have learned that if I ask, I shall receive. If I seek, I will find, and if I knock, a door shall open unto me.

But most importantly, I have learned that fear of loss shall no longer prohibit me from asking, from seeking, or knocking.

Jean-Paul Sartre had it only partially right when he said that “Hell is other people”. He forgot that fear is what gives Hell its power.

I have learned to recognize that fear for what it is.

The dream still lives on…

On the weekend of President’s Day last year, a cold, blustery Feburary–Brian and I made a trip to Washington D.C. Of all the buildings and monuments and museums we saw in those two days, the one that will always stand out in my mind is the Lincoln Memorial.

As I stood on the ice-covered stone steps gazing up into gentle face of the man who freed the slaves, a voice began to speak in my mind. A smooth masculine voice, deep and resonant said “…in whose symbolic shadow we stand today.” It was not Lincoln’s voice and words I was hearing, but the voice of one speaking 100 years later: the voice of the Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I realized that I was standing in the very same place where stood Dr. King in 1963. The ghostly echoes of his “Dream” still hung in the air. In my mind, as I gazed first upon the face of Mr. Lincoln, and then upon the frozen ice-covered Mall, those parts of the speech that I could
remember resounded in my head.

“I have a dream today!”

In my mind, the two men became as one, and Lincoln’s voice merged with Dr. King’s in calling for equality for all Americans: “…a new nation“–“shall rise up and live out“–“dedicated to the proposition“–“the true meaning of its creed“…and together…”that all men are created equal.”

I was struck by the realization that here, in this one spot on the stairs of the Lincoln memorial, is the collective soul of our nation. That here our national identity as brothers and sisters, as Americans regardless of race or class, was solidified. And that the dreams of those two men could not exist without each other.

Before I walked away from Lincoln’s kindly face and solid form, I knew I had to say to myself Dr. King’s final words. Under my breath, to myself more than to anyone else who might overhear, I said “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

(For the full text and audio/visual of Dr. King’s rousing speech, go here)

Caves and Red Dust Redux

My Mom read my earlier post and emailed me this picture. Its old and grainy, but its from 1983, so that should be expected.

The oldest girl in that picture, in the yellow shorts and pigtails is my sister, Jen. The girl in pink next to her is me. The other kids are my cousins, goofing off.
What I find interesting, if you look closer at the picture, you will see that I am looking down at my upraised hand, within which I am holding a pile of white sand.
I KNEW my memory was not playing with me!!!
My mom tells me that this was at Capitol Reef National Park, and I was actually 4 years old.

Caves and Red Dust Redux

My Mom read my earlier post and emailed me this picture. Its old and grainy, but its from 1983, so that should be expected.

The oldest girl in that picture, in the yellow shorts and pigtails is my sister, Jen. The girl in pink next to her is me. The other kids are my cousins, goofing off.
What I find interesting, if you look closer at the picture, you will see that I am looking down at my upraised hand, within which I am holding a pile of white sand.
I KNEW my memory was not playing with me!!!
My mom tells me that this was at Capitol Reef National Park, and I was actually 4 years old.

Some useless things I’ve memorized.

*The entire first half of the movie “The Princess Bride” (excepting the scenes with Fred Savage because those parts bored me); from Buttercup was born on a small farm in the country of Florin.; to Vizzini: “Inconceivable!” Montoya: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”; After this my memory gets patchy. I can remember the rest of the movie but not in a continuous stream as I can with the first half.

*The entire prologue to The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Every sentence, word by word.

*90% of the original london cast recording of Les Miserables. My favorite songs are the siloquies of Javert.

*The chemical formula for hydrocarbon lipids and the cellular structure of semi-permeable lipid cell membrances.

*The first 10 steps of the stupid “Frosty the Snowman” dance my 10th grade P.E. Dance class was required to learn for the stupid dance show.

Caves and Red Dust

One of my favorite places is a distant memory. I had visited it only once, as a small child, but it remains indelibly in my mind and my heart as a place I would love to visit once more before I die.

Deep in the southern reaches of Utah, there is a desert. Much of this desert is National Parks, such as Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Zion. Somewhere in that vast orange and red desert spotted with shrubs and cacti, there is a cave. It is more than a cave, really; it is a cavern. Its vaulting ceiling was carved out of stone by water and wind and time. The floor is filled with fine white sand, and the smooth orange rocks provide blue shade against the bright yellow desert sun. Inside the cave, the outside world is lost to the sun, and there is nothing except the vast shadowed emptiness and silent echos. There is a peace in the stillness, a submission in the echos, and a joy in the chill shades hidden under the crevices of stone.

Even though I was not alone in that cave–surrounded by chattering people and echoing feet–the vastness of the shadows drew me in towards a stillness in myself. I found a quiet spot near the red rock wall, where the shadows were most purple and cool, and the sand soft and deep. My five year old hands (or was I four or was I six?) plunged into the warm powdered earth. My entire world became consumed by the grit in my palms. I cannot recall if I thought anything–perhaps I had no thought. But for the eternal instant we occupied that cave, that cave’s flesh occupied ME.

There is a life to be found outside of life. Its easy to forget that stillness and emptiness is just as much alive as any action or form–and just as crucial to our wellbeing. I sometimes look back on that cave with longing, for even now, I wish I had more time to enjoy that handful of silent white sand.

For some reason, I am just now reminded of a verse in a poem by T.S. Eliot: “The Wasteland.” (This is also one of my most favorite bits of poetry in all the english language. I am now struck by a wondering if my longing for the cave of my memory and my fondness for this obscure poem are linked?)

A heap of broken images where the sun beats
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no water. Only there is this shadow under this red rock.
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock).
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you,
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you.
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

A photographic retrospective

Here are a bunch of photos of the places Brian and I went to this past year.

I don’t have any pictures of the trips to New York and Boston the first half of the year, unfortunately, so I’ll just jump to Mother’s Day, when we took his Mother to Newport for a walk along the cliffs, where wealth is ubiquitously ostentatious and the only thing I found truly beautiful was this stone bridge and this spot of green water amidst the grey sea.

Then there was our trip to the Adirondacks and Montreal for Memorial Day Weekend. We camped for 5 days at a spot near Lake Champlain. It rained for 3 of those 5 days and we weren’t able to do any of the hiking we originally planned on doing. Instead we drove up to Mt. Whiteface and did the short, steep climb up to the peak to snap a bunch of pictures of the weatherstation, Lake Placid and the surrounding valleys. On our drive up the winding mountain road, we encountered this bold fox lazily begging for scraps of food. We did not feed it, just took a picture. Isn’t it pretty?

On the two sunny days we had, we drove into Montreal because I wanted to see the Bonsai trees. I love bonsai trees. There’s something about the miniature artifice of the trees that I find lovely. And of course there’s Montreal itself, which is absolutely exciting and beautiful and fun and..well, strangely foreign and familiar all at once.

Over the summer, we day-tripped it a few times to Boston and New York. We visit those cities fairly frequently, since we are city-folk, he and I. As much as we love the great outdoors, the fresh air and laborious hills, we will always head to humanity’s greatest clusterfucks for some food and excitement. Can you guess which image is from which great city?

Then this fall, during the foliage season, we went to Shelbourne Falls, MA, Kent Falls, CT, and then a blustery dinner train ride in the scenic White Mountains, NH.

But my favorite photo from this year is this one: the drive out of my apartment complex encased in a light autumn fog.

Happy New Year, everyone!