Saturday, October 27, 2007

joblivion revisited

I am very small. Teeny, tiny, shrinking, minute. I come home full of the reek of the cafe, my efforts there, the people there, and I shed it all to disappear.

This is how: remove shoes, place keys on plate for keys. Put away pursey thing. Trade pants for pjs, shirt for t-shirt. Stare at the bed. Will self to find some other healthy thing to do than stare at the bed and/or get in it.

Give in. Fold self into sheets and blankets and cold and panic. Disregard outside noises as they disregard you.

There. You don't exist.

This doesn't actually work, I realize, as much as I pray and hope and will it to work. I close my eyes and wish sleep would shut my brain down. Sleep never shuts anything off for me; it recycles, rekindles, reimagines... Lately I dream of dead bodies cornering me, all of them replicas of myself. I battle them one at a time until I'm so exhausted that I have to wake up. In these dreams, each injury I inflict on the dead bodies lacerates my body as well.

I don't know why I feel like writing about that dream. I usually keep my nightmares and daymares to myself because they make me feel completely out of control and crazy. I have this weird feeling that writing about them makes them more permanent, as though I have some power over them at all (which, it turns out, I don't.) I've tried so many weird little things to keep my dreams as ephemeral as possible. Nothing really works. I might as well write about them.

Last night as I tried to relax myself for sleep after a fitful waking, I thought again of how I used to stretch my arms across the bed when I was little. I must have been tiny - I remember wanting to be able to reach both edges of the bed and not quite being able to. I wonder how, at such a young age, I'd garnered this sense of having to hold on tight to the world in my sleep, as though it would continually attempt to buck me off. These days I wonder how I can reconfigure myself to let go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Once again, I have to admit that it will do me no good to give a play-by-play of a weekend at home. It must suffice to say that things have gotten worse. My father has dug himself into so deep a hole of self-hate that the rest of us are powerless to help. My mother has chosen to ignore all of the deep conflicts by relishing in town gossip and cattily cutting into the people she loves the most (besides my father). My brothers are, respectively, newly jobless, increasingly whiny, and voluntarily absent. My niece and nephew strain between bored negligence and hyper-vigilance.

I can't open my mouth there, for fear of hearing what I might say.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Abstractions on love and grapes

A few years back I had a friend try Concord grapes that I had bought. This friend was very surprised by the taste. She said, “Oh, it tastes like purple popsicles.”

This was remarkable to me for two reasons:

  1. Are we really at the point in our national diet that artificial flavors are our base experience, and the natural flavor is the abstraction?
  2. I’ve had a fairly earthy life so far, growing up around vineyards, farm stands, real cows, etc. I forget that these things are soooo far away from the urban childhood.

You may cut me off at the pass here and realize that I’m trying to get myself excited about going home to Le Victoire. I called my mother last night to tell her I’d be able to make it home for the Beanie’s birthday (she’s turning four.) My mother broke out in tears of joy. TEARS OF JOY, people.

She asked me, as she always does, if there’s anything I’d like to eat while I’m home. This is sweetness masking compliment-fishing. I suppose that’s okay.

Concord grapes,” I said, musing on the fact that I haven’t been able to get them in the city yet this year.

Concord grapes,” she repeated, unenthused. I think she hoped to hear, “Gee, Mom, I’ve been dying to get a taste of your spaghetti sauce.” I have, actually, but I had this nightmare vision of the hours spent rolling meatballs, the masses of Tupperware (because she always makes way too much), the days of teasing tomato stains out of linens. In our house, nothing is simple. Even spaghetti sauce comes with guilt and grief.

Concord grapes stain, too, I realize. She’ll probably go to the extreme and try to make a grape pie, which is the most tedious pastry ever invented. Ever de-seeded 200 grapes to find that you still don’t have enough to fill a pie shell? It’s a special kind of hell. You lean over the sink, back aching, eyes blurring, fingers raw, deep red stains up your arms to the elbow. It is NO FUN.

Of course, there’s a part of me that loves my mother for wanting to do these things in my honor. There’s a part of me that wants a red carpet unfurled when I go home because, goddammit, it’s hard for me. There should be some kind of reward for going through it all, right?

That sentiment doesn’t last, though, as I sit on the couch at night, up later than my parents, and they each touch my head before they go to sleep. My mother sweeps my hair behind my ear and tells me not to pull. She gets a little teary-eyed and says she loves me, she loves to see me sitting there, she loves having me home.

I think of her love for me and how she says you can’t know how a parent loves a child until you are a parent. I think how maybe all the love in my life is the purple popsicle, and her love for her children is the grape.