Sunday, January 30, 2005


We were sitting on my couch. I had a crumpled tissue or two in my hand. Meera usually sits closer to the window, so on this particular day she had a rather appropriate halo due to the light and my tears. She asked me many questions and said many things that sent my brain spinning. Those were days when my mouth couldn't form the words (nor my fingers, you may have noticed).

Meera asked, "When did you last feel like yourself?"

Or something close to that.

"I think it was last year, or these past two years, when we were all in school and my brain was cookin' along, and I had all these great friends, and I could call any one of them at any time and they would just be there," I said.

Well, I said something close to that.

As I was saying it I knew it was wrong. Incomplete, at least. I've never felt wholly myself, for one thing. Has anyone? I think I am always a composite of who I am currently, who I have been, who I want to be, and some stranger who takes over when I'm not paying attention. Is this true for everyone?

So it is more truthful to pick out moments that I want to keep as Myself. Like singing in Galway, Beerworks after class, walks with David in the woods or the cemetery, a week of brilliant poetry writing, a kid from the preschool running into my arms, my brother Cripps and I sitting up late discussing metaphysics, comforting friends who have survived wildly varying traumas, distracting Shane from the next day's doctor's appointment, thinking in Latin for a few lightening moments, forming clay smoothly after weeks of rough work, swaying the student senate with just the right words, acceptance letters, good grades, applause, laughter...

A couple of things shine out conspicuously from this list:

1. I value my brain, my sense of humor, my ability to express myself, and my relationships with other people - maybe my power or pull with other people - most in my life.

2. I am very good at forgetting and burying my body.

If I try to dig for moments when I acknowledged my body I come up with only a few. We used to sled on cafeteria trays and have snow wars at Bonaventure - wet jeans, snow packed around ankles, hot cheeks from the exertion and lungs that felt like they'd been sanded by the cold air. I remember the exact smell and feel of the wind coming off the water of Galway Bay at night if I stood on the bridge by the Spanish Arch, how it blew my hair straight back if I looked out on the black water. Nora asleep on my shoulder, her scent, breath tickling my neck, that strange heat that comes off sleeping babies and dampened my shirt. I remember favorite clothes, the period when I wore ribbons fairly often, the way Shane would actually launch himself into my arms like a baby and how he felt - so skinny and light. Dancing, too... with men in Galway, the Italian guy at the wine bar who would sing the wrong words and give me instructions in broken English. He had long fingers and my whole body would jump when his hand grazed the skin of my forearm.

I can't think of how I looked, though. There are some days even now when I'm surprised when I look in the mirror or catch my reflection in a store window. Who is that girl? Am I in her? Is that my skin? Are those my lips? Is that what people see when they talk to me, when I sit on the T, when I buy toilet paper...

Most days I feel like my body is a sloppy thing that I've spent the night sewing together hastily. This'll do, you don't have time, just get out the door. This body isn't mine, is it?

And maybe that's why I haven't felt myself for so long. With the men I've met and let touch me... it's so jarring. Sometimes my body is not really there, I'm only warmth and energy and the body is a detail. Sometimes I marvel at them. Do they see me? Is this all happening right now? A kiss on the shoulder is too much. A whisper of praise breaks me in half. But you don't know, I want to say. This isn't mine. I don't know how to show you...

My words right now are like this, too. They're not quite the right reflection of my thoughts. They're all a paraphrase of what I mean, as my body is a paraphrase of who I am. So I should close this with all the little justifications and caveats that come with the paraphrase, which maybe are the small physical gestures in my life, too. They all say, "It's incomplete, I can't remember exactly, you know what I mean, right?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Quiet and un-

You've heard it before, that your sense of hearing grows sharp, or blooms, perhaps, in total silence. When I'm in my apartment alone I think about this a lot, how the radiators seem cacaphonous, the dripping faucet almost too much to bear. And of course, my own thoughts come out louder and echo longer. That's the hardest part.

Sometimes the thoughts are like a little elf or Rumpelstiltskin, some other hostile, but mainly harmless, little being who is just there with words, only appears when the rest of the cast has left the room, throws injuries and embarrassing memories in your face, slaps you with your own words.

Or it starts far away, like a siren three blocks south, and you think it'll turn away. It doesn't. It's coming closer. Closer. YOU are the crime scene. You're inside it.

Or sometimes the solitude is enough to lull you. It rocks you and pulls you close to its inner cool, pulls you under some surface, something watery and unclear. And as you let it pull you, you hear something muffled, trying to reach your ears through the waves. Louder, but less intelligible, something urgent, but its effect subdued through gallons of this lulling solitude. You have to hear it. You have to comprehend it, and you know you won't.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Brainstorming before the storm

I have been trying to recover from my recent bloglessness. I need to write, and I know this. Maybe you people can vote on the topic. If I knew how to do one of those cool polls I'd stick one in here, but it somehow doesn't seem appropriate.

Your choices are:

1. The indignity of bathrooms
2. The least dramatic way a person can die
3. People leaving - what they leave
4. Meera's question to me, "When did you last feel like yourself" (paraphrase)
5. How I used to hurt my mother while she still insisted we were best friends
6. How OCD is transferable between victims
7. A discussion of quiet

Pick one. Make me write it. I will, I swear.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio...

I have nothing left that I can say.

If I say anything, it might be negative, or it might be self-deprecating, and that's expressly forbidden by Miss Meera. (Sound and wise decision.)

So, in an effort to avoid a stern talking-to, I'm just going to shut the hell up.

Really, there's nothing.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Insult, injury, etc.

I don't want to believe that this is how life will be. I want to be a positive person. I'm trying pretty fuckin' hard, but everything tends toward chaos, right? Entropy everywhere.

I never felt less perfect than I do these days. Imperfect doesn't say it all - faultfull is rather closer to the mark. I am full of deep faults that prevent life from moving forward in any positive way. If it's all in me, there's hope that I can fix it, right?

Meera and I compared symptoms today. Not making eye contact. Check. Speaking less. Check. Keeping all bodily movements to a minimum. Check. The world grows smaller and I pull its littleness closer to me. I was telling Meera about how we used to play with a parachute in gym class when we were smaller. Did you do this, too? It was just this huge circle of brightly colored nylon. All the kids would hold on to it, all around the circumference, and on the count of three you lift it up as high as you can, then pull it down behind your back and sit on the hem so you're inside a bubble of muted light, giggling and looking at other giggling faces, watching the bubble sag slowly, pulling more fabric under you to keep the bubble tight.

I'm pulling and pulling, trying to keep it all tight. Everything grows smaller and closer. I miss your smiling faces. I miss the brighter world.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Trial by Fire, Act 2

Honest to God, when it rains it pours.

The big U called last night. If that ain't a bad omen, what is? We didn't really talk. I called him back to acknowledge the call, he was very sleepy and said he'd call today. It's good he hasn't. I got an upsetting (but not unforeseen) phonecall, and he would have been on the receiving end of a lot of anger and frustration. He would have had to withstand prior misdeeds shaken vigorously, reheated, and shoved down his throat.

Here's today's mantra (thank you Meera, for coming to my rescue with mantras, brownies and Monty Python DVDs):

I am not unworthy. His loss. His loss. His loss. I am not deformed or deficient.

I am, however, a tad on the destroyed side.

I read or heard somewhere that for every negative thought you have about yourself it takes 19 positive thoughts to kick it out of your psyche. I believe that, even though I wish I could just decide that positive thoughts have a higher weight in this little brain of mine. Wouldn't it be loverly if you could just decide things like that? Anyway, I really believe that right now, and the negatives are running rampant as a herd of wildebeests. I don't say this so that you much loved readers will organize a cheer-off. I say that because it is the state of the jobiv nation.

More than anything, I'm frustrated that any one human being can have this much power over me. How can one person's words sit on my ribcage like this and press until I believe the worst nightmares of my self?

I have learned an interesting little fact today, despite the turmoil. My left eye produces more tears than my right. Now I know.

Also, I was brilliant as a freshman in college, when I made a mixed tape (remember tapes?) called "Songs for a Slightly Thoughtful Pity Party." Talk about vision!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

On a more cheerful and less obsessive note...

Brigid is awesome. The last three days were so nice... I miss being goofy and stupid and trading stories of the important and mundane things of our lives. We dissected Bonaventure, Simmons and Boston to our hearts' content, and visited all the old haunts (El Pelon, Thornton's, JP Licks) as well as some new places (Zaftigs, The Druid, Christina's). We saw lovely people, as well, despite narsty weather and general fatigue.

Honestly, aren't we amazing?

Brig is amazing. When I think of all my friends, I always come back to amazement... Every one of them is so brave, so intelligent... such gorgeous people. And Brig is incredible. She didn't have an easy haul in Chile, but she's going back for a full year. She wants to try it again, glean more from it, soak in more of it, make it work. Would I have the courage?

The answer, tragically, no.

(I can't stop quoting from movies! Help!)

But... but... why??

I was possibly fired because...

1. I was roughly the same age as J, and much more educated. Intimidating?

2. Kat would cost less than I would? But she said that she can offer $10/hr through Sierra's insurance or something - are they somehow laundering money? I'm calling the Feds.

3. Kat was better at pleading her case? I didn't tell J that I was, oh, THIS CLOSE to jumping off a bridge from anxiety and money problems. That wasn't her business, right? But Kat was clearly the impoverished student...

4. Chris didn't like me. The boyfriend. He gleaned somehow that I didn't appreciate his direct commands and brush-offs when dealing with Sierra and suggested Kat might work out better.

5. J doesn't REALLY want someone qualified, she just wants someone. SHE is the only person who really knows how to raise Sierra, and creativity and tender loving care outside of hers are not appreciated?

Reasons I could not have possibly been fired:

1. Tardiness. I was always early.

2. Ignoring, yelling at, or in any other way abusing the child.

3. Not abiding by house rules. (There were none.)

What then... what?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Wait... what?

I just got fired.

No shit, fired.

Sierra's mom had told me that she didn't need me today. That was earlier this week. Then the roommate's friend Kat told me she might be watching Sierra on Thursdays. I was confused and sure this young woman was wrong. And then today I called to see about tomorrow - would J need me? Didn't she say something about needing me Friday?

I got an email back. For the sake of accuracy, here it is:


I am soo sorry for all the confusion. I don't work on Friday's so I'm
going tobe at home with Sierra. I'm throwing a small birthday party for
her with her friends since she'll be away, and out next week.

Next week is going to be really busy between Sierra's birthday and her
doctors appointments. I'm going to take a lot of time off to accomodate
her wierd schedule. I've decided that it will be more convenient for
Sierra and myself tohave my roommates drive our butts all over town next

Also, I've worked out a Thursday schedule for Sierra and we wont need your
help then either. I feel really horrible for ending your service this way.
We've really enjoyed your time, and I'd like to keep you in mind for future
prospects, (unless you'll leaving town after the spring semester).

Its really hard to let you go, because you've been so great with Sierra,
and she really enjoys spending time with you. I wish I could have given you more
notice, but the hospitals and our schedule in general is usually prepared last
minute.Thanks for the help that your offered.


I didn't want to work for a woman with sloppy punctuation anyway. So there.

whimper. sob. sigh.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Break on through to the other side...

Two anti-symptoms:

1. I called Meera. On the phone.

2. I picked up the phone when she called me back. Without screening. I swear to God.

Remember when I said that I knew all the gray anxiety would be over soon? I knew that the pervasive quiet and dullness of my life would have to swing away from me sooner or later. It has happened now.

That is not to say I'm cured. I'm not, I'm a mess. I'm a much busier mess, surrounded by people, noise and expectations. Hanging out with Sierra is definitely a good thing, however, because I find myself giggling through the hours, if not belly-laughing outright. I've met a lot of kids I've liked over the last few years. Sierra's made the top ten, even if her family is a tad suspect (not to mention the 20 yr old roommate, the roommate's friend who assured me she may be watching Sierra on Thursdays, the boyfriend, the boyfriend's daughter).

And I have a feeling my time with Lil Pea will be happy, too. She is one sweet baby. I spent this morning talking with the Baby Mama over scalding darjeeling flavored with honey. She clearly wants to be more comfortable with me, so we chatted about our holidays, traveling, what "Upstate NY" means, whether I can really work for a Yankees-supporting household... Har har, joke joke. Then she showed me what it means to keep the kitchen kosher. This is somewhat new territory for me, so I took copious notes. The threatening words, "we really can't have anything made in a non-kosher kitchen," hovered over me for a while as I wondered how I'll afford to eat stuff if I can't make it at home.

And then Baby Mama went into the office after handing over Lil Pea, newly be-striped in an outfit I picked out (what can I say, I love stripes!), and I spent about twenty minutes playing with her on the floor. She's three months old, remember, and so she's only now growing out of her newborn clothes and making purposeful eye contact. Nevertheless, she charmed her audience with cooing, gurgling, and wide-eyed cuteness. Yes, we got on famously.

Putting on my not-really-a-coat, I told Mama I would call her later in the week, and she handed me...


Beeeyoootiful cash. Sigh. I haven't seen any of that precious stuff since the day after I got back from El Victoir! $22, man! I can do my laundry now!

Or tomorrow morning, rather.

Another thing that makes me happy today: Brigid, back in the states after doing hard time in a Chilean prison (she says she was teaching english to children - lame-ass lie, if you ask me), is coming to visit tomorrow! WHOOHOO! We're gonna eat us some Indian food, yes we are. And we'll laugh at ourselves and others. Should be good times. Just like the vermin-infested days on 56 Queensberry St, but without the bums pissing on our "garden-level" windows.

Holy hyphen abuse! Sorry bout that.

Monday, January 03, 2005

And now we breathe.

"Guess what's in my bag."

"I don't know, what?"

"No, guess."

"Hmmm... an elephant?"

Giggle. "Nooo..."


"No, guess!"

"I don't know, Sierra. What could be in there?"

"It's my homework."

"Ohhh... I thought it was an elephant! I feel pretty silly."

Sober face. "It's not." Blink blink. "Close your eyes."

"Close my eyes??"

"Yes, it's a surprise."

"What is?"

"What's in my bag."

"Oooh maybe it IS an elephant."

"Close your eyes."

"Yes, ma'am." I close them. Dutifully. I hear some grunting and eventually a zipper.

"Okay, open."

"Wow, it's homework!"


Phew. The first day is over. Sierra is still freakin' cute in my eyes, we both emerged without any damage, physical or emotional, and I think we're both looking forward to hanging out tomorrow.

The stairs were indeed a challenge. Her mother told me she should go up the right side to use her strong hand. She insisted on going up the left, which meant I had to support her and lift her more than I'd expected. Her braces seem to make her more awkward and less able. The steps are so steep. I don't know how we'll do it as she grows. I essentially carried her.

I discovered through the day that all of Sierra's stubborn moments come from a reluctance to deal with her body's limitations. She doesn't want to eat her snack because it's such a huge distance from her room to the kitchen, and it takes a whole 20 minutes out of playtime to crawl to the kitchen, get up in her seat (with my help), feed herself one-handed, clean up a little, get down from her booster seat, and crawl back to her room. Snack time was even a little longer because she was content in her chair, and didn't seem to look forward to the process of getting down again. The same issue arose with the bathroom.

"Sitting in a W" was also a problem. It is clearly the most comfortable position for her body, but it also encourages her legs to point out in odd directions and her muscles don't stretch properly. So when I remind her to change her body, she listens the first five times, and starts to scowl after ten times. I don't blame her. I'd be annoyed with me, too.

And then there's her language. Her mouth doesn't move quite normally. She can be very clear, and I'm pretty good with my guesses. Still, I told her, "Sierra, I may have to ask you to say things over and over and over. It will take us a while to get used to each other."

She rolled her eyes, smiling, "I know."

Tomorrow I discuss salary with M, take care of Lil Pea for a trial run of an hour, then hustle back over to practically Roxbury to meet Sierra's bus. All the luck anyone wished me should now be transferred to tomorrow, thank you.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Ahhh, cheese.

"Ahhh, cheese. Is there anything you can't do? You cheer me up when I'm sad, you fill my belly when it's gurgly, and when I'm full, I can roll you up into a ball and play with you." - Get Fuzzy.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A timeline of tippyness?

Meera and I discussed New Year's plans a few days ago and had pretty much nothing. Then Dancing and Joy came on the horizon. We weren't sure we were ready for or capable of Dancing and Joy. Turns out we were. Last night was very good... groovy music and a chill crowd, free food, free champagne...

Oh yeah, that's what I wanted to chronicle this morning when I woke up with my eyes swollen nearly shut... the history of my blossoming allergies.

July 1999, Somerville College, Oxford, UK: I am the first of our small class to seek out the college nurse because of swollen tongue, throat, eyes and hives after a night of pints in the college pub. Pints of BEER. I experiment cautiously over the next weeks and find that beer is the enemy, while hard cider, wine, liquor, turpentine and tea are sanctioned for consumption.

August 1999, The Biviano Ranch, El Victoir NY: Scratch chardonnay. Something my dad serves me causes instantaneous hives and tongue swelling. Eyes itch uncontrollably. He shoves benadryl into my mouth and everyone laughs nervously.

April 2001, Shane's Heart Party, Townhouses, St. Bonaventure University NY: But can you drink malt beverages, JoBiv? That's what we'd like to know... The resounding response - NO! And this was the weekend when God smote me by throwing me off a sidewalk as I shouted something about penis muffin pins. Imagine JoBiv with hives AND a sprained ankle.

October 2001, The Niland House, Mechant's Rd, Galway Ireland: So long, white zin! That's what I get for hanging out with other Americans. Lame.

February 14th? 2003, The Den of Iniquity, Somerville MA: Cranberry flavored cider shrinks the sinner in me for the night.

Fall 2003, The Other Den of Sometimes Iniquity, Brookline MA: Santa Joana, although a romantic choice, is the devil's vineyard. Red wine is now suspect.

Fall 2004, La Casa De Christi, Malden MA: Oh no... not hard cider, too! It's all I have! Oh god... how will I LIVE? But then again it might have been the gross mandarin liqueur...

December 31st 2004, Soul Revival, South End? MA: But... but... it was ONE glass of free champagne! And somehow the dye-free benadryl I found in my closet didn't kick in to full, or any, effect. Perhaps because its expiration date was Dec 02?

The New Year does make one nostalgic, does it not? Sigh. Time to go buy real benadryl. Maybe they'll hand it over for free when they see me comin'.