Thursday, March 31, 2005

Shane used to put his pj pants on his head and call it his "Long Beautiful Hair"

Have you read The Crying of Lot 49? Have you read it in Dr. Anthony Farrow's class at St. Bonaventure University? Well then, you will know that all extra meaning we give to life events is always a figment of our overactive imaginations. This is not just a theme of the book, it is true. According to Dr. Farrow. Who looks remarkably like the Lorax.

I think of this because I'm thinking of cutting my hair, and I've always placed a symbolic value on my hair. It's rather Victorian of me, and you would think it's an affectation, but I think you can easily stop affectations, and I can't escape my little hair problem.

I mean, besides the pulling.

The Other hair problem swam beneath the surface until I allowed my mom to treat me to a haircut at her salon on winter break. I think I was a junior in college, maybe a sophomore. At that time I was none too comfortable wearing my hair down, and when I did I was feeling pretty good about myself. It was so long... it reached my waistband if I pulled it straight. And back then I wasn't pulling it, so it was very thick and crazy and sometimes cool.

It was around New Year's, and I know this because this is where the artificial meanings come into play. On New Year's Eve I went to a party in Rochester. This older guy, a friend of the hostess, picked me up. And then later, he picked me up... Umm...

I remember that someone had spilled her screwdriver down my shirt, that I was wearing a long skirt, that my driver and I were the only non-Goths at the party, and that my hair was down and he could not stop touching it. The rest is pretty blurry. (Or I'm too much of a lady?)

Two days later, Mom and I went to the salon. The woman cutting my hair was my mom's age and had clearly given my mother the exact same haircut she had. I was worried but tried not to panic. She marveled at my hair - how curly, how thick, how long... "You know, people pay big money to get their hair like this," she said. So why, I wondered, would you want to do anything to it?

She cut it. And then she kept cutting it. And then she did something else weird to it. And then she cut it s'more. And in the end my hair was 10 inches shorter.

And no, this did not mean my hair was short by any means... It still reached past my shoulders. But I definitely took it badly. I had lost control somehow, and it was due punishment for losing control on New Year's Eve. Of course the part of me that had lured this man into temptation should also be the part that got a brutal chopping mere days later.

So if I cut it short now, what will it do to me? Will I feel less feminine, somehow? Or perhaps I will walk out of the salon with a sudden lightness, a weight literally and figuratively lifted from my shoulders.

And then there is the threat of the Ronald McDonald effect...


But Sarah looks awful cute with short hair. There is hope.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oh you flawed girl, you

Katya, being lovely, lent me her old laptop so I could work on my proposal. It's coming along. It should be finished, actually, but I keep changing my mind about things. It's silly to bother changing my mind now; if I get the fellowship I'll have something like 4 months to change my mind before I even get a key to the office.

Anywho, I had this computer to help me get work done. Even more helpful than simply having this computer was the fact that it does not hook up to internet. Very very good idea to promote work-doing. Of course, I found another way to procrastinate. I went through a few old floppy disks and wondered at their strange contents. There were lots of snippets of writing, piss poor poetry, old papers from as far back as freshman year of college... all kinds of good stuff.

And, at last, I found the disk with the original camp story. The one I re-typed to submit as a writing sample for this proposal. Grr.

On the same disk, languishing in some folder or other, there were two files, one named "Shane" and one named "Shaney Shane Shane." The first was a collection of emails I had saved from my St. Bona's email account before it poofed away forever. Keep in mind, I saved these while Shane was still ticking. He was always that precious. The second file was a mournful, self-pitying, angry and honest reaction to his death. I don't know how both of these files ended up on the same disk, but it was quite the experience to read them over again.

Last night Meera said something about my entry of a few days ago, the one that was a bit testy about college friends writing a chain of emails. I was embarrassed as soon as I posted it. I know I have the power to delete my own posts if I don't like them, but there's another part of me that feels it's necessary to remember these things. Even the embarrassing parts. Especially the embarrassing parts? It's inescapable in real journals. (And by "real" I mean bound paper.) One can't very well rip out every entry that annoys one. The book would fall apart eventually, for one thing.

But also there's something dishonest about deleting those things, like not disclosing a nose-job at the sperm bank. We are all flawed, and that's human. Maybe I hope to read the awkward bits over again until I can react with a sort of calm acceptance of my humanity, rather than embarrassment.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

With a capital K

Just had my evaluative appt. for this MassHealth thinger, and I had another epiphany. No kiddin'.

First of all, I'm crazy. But make that Krazy, with a capital K. (This is more effective when said aloud.) I'm actually kind of comfortable with this now.

Second, I realized that I put myself into sink-or-swim situations as a survival tactic. I've been doing this since at LEAST High School. I basically throw myself into too many things at once, to max capacity, and it forces me to fight for every moment. All of my big life moves - to college, to Oxford, to Ireland, to Ithaca, and especially to Boston - come from that same urgency. When my life slows and gets all drippy around the edges, I just belly-flop into something else that's terrifying and overwhelming, and for some reason a switch flicks over and I become this JoBiv character whom you all met back in the day. I am energetic, talkative, friendly, miraculously organized (and I should say, comparatively organized), and completely capable for those first months of adapting to the strange new surroundings.

At some point that frantic energy wears off and I'm stuck with myself again. The same issues, the same roadblocks, the same drippyness... it has to come back. It always does. It's a lot more dramatic than I'd like to admit.

And yes, I know that the capable JoBiv is a facet of the rest of me. She's always there, somewhere.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Epiphany Numero Two-oh

I just said this to someone:

"I want to shrink you down and keep you in my pocket and then I can talk to you when I'm stuck somewhere boring.

"Hmm... I guess other people have cell phones for that purpose."


Yesterday was Shane's Death Day, 2nd anniversary. A college friend started a chain of emails remembering to remember Shane, and I just didn't feel like joining in. It felt like people were putting their note in to either show off their writing or out of some compelling sense of obligation. Not that they didn't love Shane, not that they don't still miss him, but the reasons still seemed wrong. I felt this weird pressure to say something, when actually all I wanted to do was hold him a little close to me and hate that he's gone.

I hate that he's gone.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rooty-toot-toot! Rooty-toot-toot! We're the kids from the Sinstitute!

I forgot to say that I saw both Cathie and Bloomers on Wednesday, which was entirely nice and helpful and enthusiasm-sustaining. I had a copy of a draft of my proposal for Susan, and as I walked through the Ch. Lit office (or Ch. Lit/English/Philosophy/whatever they wanna call it this week suite) I suddenly got a rush of excitement about this whole thing. Very timely.

And so I was practically bursting when I spoke to Cathie for a bit, and bobbing in my seat while Susan and I talked. Turns out they know the girl who was writer-in-res last year! She's a children's lit alumna, god bless her, and may be able to respond to some of my questions if she's available. Sweet, right?

I talked to Susan about the Sinstitute/Imposium, as well. There's quite a list of authors - Marilyn Nelson, Donna Jo Napoli, Cornelia Funke, Jack Gantos - newcomers and returning favorites! No Chris Lynch, however. Le sigh. Anyway, sounds very exciting, and there's just this tiny chance that I can save the $350 necessary to secure a seat.

So who all's comin'?

Please play again

(Warning: CAPS FOR EMPHASIS will be used, perhaps abused, in this post.)

My Pepsi bottle just called me a loser.

I never notice that I'm playing a game until I lose it and feel suddenly disoriented and... lacking? This goes for any game, including games I willingly begin, like pool, checkers, and Try to Outrun the T So You Don't Have to Wait Twenty Minutes for the Next One. Each time I lose this kind of game, I say, "Wait, I don't think I was playing. Was I playing? Do over! Do over!"

You can imagine how crushed I am that my Pepsi bottle called me a loser when I didn't even know there was a game on. I just untwisted the cap and noticed some writing on the inside:


But... but... I wasn't ready!!

And so, no kidding, I rescrew the cap, place the Pepsi next to the monitor, and next time I'm thirsty I check again, as though maybe I somehow gained skill in this game since the last time I opened the bottle, as though now it will say,


Keep in mind that at this point I still haven't even looked at the bottle to see what I'm winning or losing. I'm just crushed that I lost. When I finally look (that is to say, this very second while I'm looking), I see that I have been denied a FREE Song on iTunes. That's right, I have managed not to win a single, that is ONE, song from a music service I don't even use! Even if I had won, I don't have an iPod or any other device that plays digital music. I don't even have my own computer, so I couldn't download it there. I could maybe burn that one song to a CD, and that could be the Sacred CD of the Song I Won From Pepsi.

And then I would still be a loser.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Johanna Donwanna

(Calling me this name is a clear invitation for a physical attack. Don't try it.)

I'm feeling ornery lately. Things are just a bit frustrating and I don't feel like fighting the good fight. Besides Symptoms Aplenty, there's this proposal to put together and to run past Bloomers and Cathie. I just don't feel capable. And of course I'm working for the Baby Mama on my usual days off this week, the week when I could actually use the time more productively.

I got a call from Sus, a package from Miss Sarah, a call from Meredith Reed O'Donnell (love how she leaves the whole name on the machine) and an email from Christi. I call all of these people my friends, and yet have I gotten back in touch with any of them? Of course not. Because I suck. And an email from the big U. I should not have the same jagged feeling in my stomach with my friends as I do with him, but it definitely feels the same. I donwanna donwanna donwanna. Usually I donwanna because I don't feel like I have any good news to share. If you've noticed, I actually DO have good news - singing, this writer-in-residence thingie, nannying going well, choir... And I would love to know what's going on in these people's lives as well. Okay, so the phone is intimidating, but is email so hard? What the hell is your problem, JoBiv??

I think a lot of this petulance comes from anxiety about this writer-in-residence thingie. If I get it, does that mean I'll actually write this damn book? And then what... people will read it? But it might suck! People, it could really suck! I've never written a book before, who the hell do I think I am?? Why am I any better than any other jerk who applies for this thing? I'm not, I'm clueless, I'm inconsistent, I'm panicky, I'm inefficient, easily distracted, unorganized, forgetful, and not to mention I'm a HUGE coward. With reason! I have never written anything that I couldn't find fault with later. And then I edit it, and then even later I still find something else that is so elementally wrong that I want to throw the whole thing out.

Websites for help on writing book proposals say that you should have a section about the author, why you're the best person, the ONLY person, who could write this book. You can imagine the searing whiteness of the currently blank page.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Significant Happenings

1. Received a card from K-Dawg! A friendly one! Did dance of joy and slept through a whole night for once.

2. Bought romaine lettuce and ate some of it; a sadly rare occurrence.

3. Awoke at 2am Saturday morning with words running around in my head. Wrote them down. First time this has happened in perhaps a year.

4. Had a difficult jam session with Arnie, at the end of which I was near tears.

5. Wrote a letter to Gutter because he was in a dream I had Saturday morning and I always feel compelled to tell people when they're in my dreams, but now I don't know where to send it because I don't know where the hell he is and his mom's address is unlisted.

6. Had pizza at Peenohcheeoh's with Meera and Ross, and then we proceeded to The Garage to sit at a table and read/write letters and feel calm and smart.

7. Did not kill H-Bomb during a roommate-bonding movie event. Even shared Rootbeer Float ingredients with her! So kind.


1. A night at An Tua Nua with Chessman and Ann because the phone was a big issue this weekend.

2. A chance to see Blue Man Group with this guy I don't really know but would go with anyway.

3. A phone call from my mother, thank god, which led her to leaving the following message:

"Hi Joey, it's your mother. I just called because I miss hearing your voice and I get to hear your voice when I call. I'm thinking about you and loving you."

Along with feeling a little creeped out that she calls just to hear my voice say, "You've reached Heather and Jo, please leave a message," I also had immediate tears in my eyes. I've been talking with Baby Mama about getting a day off so I can take a train to Le Victoire, and just talking about it fills me with anxiety. The trip home, I mean, not the day off - Baby Mama offered no resistance.

I try not to get worked up about it, but it seems to be beyond my control. I'll just be sitting around, sorting laundry, eating a grape perhaps, and my mind will start reeling with the possible awfulness of a trip home. I recall garish scenes and extrapolate them to their most painful conclusions, usually something involving a family member knifing me during an after-dinner brawl.

But the tears were guilty ones, the kind my mother wrings out most efficiently. I should call her and go home to see everyone for the simple reason that I can. They're a six-hour drive away, not in, say, Seattle or Singapore. I keep saying this to myself. It's not like I'm in England or Ireland. There's really no excuse.

And there's Baby Girl to think about, as well as the ever-widening gulf between myself and my brothers. How do I get them to like me?

I can't believe I just wrote that.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Oh, Brothers, where art thou?

Talking with Meera during our after-choir Dunkin Donuts ritual, I actually said aloud something I've been deeply hurt by for a long time. I think I've said it before, but it's been a while. I thought maybe I would have gotten over it if I didn't say it, but that's not true.

I continue to hate my brothers for never visiting me. Never.

Okay, so I was in Ireland and England, those are a bit out of reach. But I went to the same college as Cripps and Smacks. They know where it is, obviously, couldn't get lost on the way... I was there for three long years with nary a visit until graduation weekend.

Then I lived in Ithaca over the summers. I LIVED there. In an apartment one summer, in a sorority house the next. I knew that incredible town inside and out and was bursting to show them. They didn't even bother making weak promises, they just never came.

And now I've been in Boston for more than two years. They almost came for graduation and then I ruined that weekend utterly... I know it's partially my fault. But they don't even ATTEMPT to bring up the idea of trip. I've had to instigate everything and it's never worked.

Here's the kicker: they visit Tom at least once a year.

I can hear this seven-year-old me screaming and pounding her feet on the floor. BUT IT'S NOT FAIR!

Love me, dammit!