Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Cheese is good.

Ah, cheese, the greatest manmade substance on this Earth, I laud you.

Starbucks. I'm running around frantically to fill orders and keep managers happy. A mom and small girl, about four years old, stand across the counter, the mother clearly encouraging the child to choose a lunch for herself. They are wearing similar clothing - red checked shirt and red gingham sundress (although it was not sunny enough today to warrant sundressing.)

"Do you want this?" the mother asks.

"No, I do not want that," the girl answers precisely.

"I'd like you to choose something to eat," the mother says.

"I don't know how that was made. Who made that? Did they make that?" The girl looks up at her mother as though she's an idiot to think she'd put something in her mouth that was produced by Starbucks employees.

"Sweetie, it's fruit and cheese. Will you eat a little of it?" The mother's getting annoyed but knows her daughter has the upper hand.

I decide to intervene gently.

"That's very good," I say to the little girl. "The cheese is tasty." I smile.

"I'm not sure if I want that cheese," says the girl, seriously.

The mother looks apologetic. "She'll be impressive in the business world someday," she says. I laugh at the condescending grown-up joke. The little girl hides behind her mother.

"Oh sweetie," I say, "we're not laughing at you."

She whispers to her mother, "that hurt my feelings when you laughed like that."

"We're smiling," I say, "because you're so smart and charming."

She puts out a distrusting bottom lip.

The mom throws a bunch of items on the counter, all expensive and unnecessary, I ring her up, and the two wander off to find chairs.

Moments later I'm running around again, emptying trash, wiping up after spills, sneaking sips of my drink. The girl and mother sit at the tasting bar on high stools. The girl is perched high, sitting on her knees, picking judiciously at her fruit and cheese plate. Apparently my trespasses are forgiven; she smiles at me when I acknowledge them.

"I think I might like this cheese!" she proclaims, showing me a mushed wedge of brie with several tiny bites missing.

Mom smiles a knowing, grown-up to grown-up smile.

"Does it taste good to you?" I ask the little girl.

"It does!" she says, full of amazement.

"Have you tasted that kind of cheese before?"

"No," she says, looking thoughtful, "but it tastes just exactly like white american cheese."

The mother laughs, but I know better by now.

"I'm glad you like it," I tell the little girl.

She appraises me very sternly. "I just didn't know if I would."

You're forgiven, too, four-year-old. Where did this kid come from?

of cabbages and kings

Are we sick of Shane posts?

Me too. Just have him on the brain.

Had another panic attack at work and it got me on a crying jag that would not stop. I figure it has more to do with medication issues than anything else, but it's significant that it was Heart Day, and I had a strong memory of Shane.

And then a daymare.

I remembered the physical feeling of Shane running at me, leaping into my arms like a four-year-old, and then in my mind's eye and touch, I felt the back of his shirt growing wet, his skin peeling away in front and back, his heart boiling out of his body, arms loosening their grip, face resigned... fading... gone.

I think it's my peculiar morbidity that keeps Shane so alive in my sadness. I don't know how his other friends feel him and remember him, but I'm getting worn out by how I feel him.

Before I lost my mind, I used to ritualize everything, and it seemed to comfort me. If there was something to DO every time I felt a certain way, I at least knew what would happen next, even if it wasted my time, hurt me, didn't change the feeling. Things were simply more knowable, and that's always comforting.

When Shane Days came, I would find a way to push a cabbage into people's lives. I would push myself into this super-social wacky persona and shout the gospel of the cabbage to anyone who would listen. Since last February I've grown so tired. I let my memories rise and sink in me as they come. All of this life remains within the borders of my skin.

I think I'm unable to express and spread the joy of Shane because he's now linked with my own private difficulties, which are incredibly embarrassing to me. Shane relates to college, which reminds me of the brain I no longer have and the friends I've abandoned, which reminds me of how my whole life is in constant entropy, which reminds me that I'm a waste of cellular material, etc.

Shut up, JoBiv.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


My litmag summer camp already exists, AND I'M NOT A PART OF IT!


Sunday, April 01, 2007


I think I have other posts about the phenomenon of self-forgetfulness. Nontheless, I write this one.

I was in NYC this weekend, which was scary and fun and bizarre and adventurous. I was visiting Maria, my dearest American friend from my semester in Ireland, and Gutter, The Brave and Beautiful, long-time acquaintance from El Victoir, friend for many a year now.

Friend. What a meaningless word. I'm also friends with the early morning T driver who smiles weakly at me when I nearly kill myself tripping up the steps. Also friends with my mother, whose calls and worries I dodge with increasing agility.

Gutter and I are friends like this: we know nothing about each other, really, except that we grew in the same fishbowl with similar attributes ignored or undernourished. We were cerebral, lonely, entertaining and unknowable. He loves my family and they him. They've adopted him, want to know him in and out, and his mother probably wouldn't know me from Marky Mark.

Ha. I almost forgot about forgetting. Here I am, back again on topic. My point about my visit and self-forgetfulness is this: I forgot how excellent, sweet and full I feel when I'm with Gutter and Maria. This is the feeling of being with an intellectual peer, an alive soul. I have friends in Boston, of course, and I love them dearly. I didn't know how much I was missing THIS, though.

The link above comes from Sunday's adventure at the Met's Cloisters (very near Gutter's apartment.) We walked steadily up a wooded path cut into a huge cliff, the city dwindling on one side, the river opening up below, the castle-like museum above. It was surreal and brought out a disorienting homesickness. I don't know exactly where that ache of nostalgia connected - it seemed to be a general sensitivity reaching out to a dozen memories of paths, quiet, lungs, views. I felt myself opening a little.

The Cloisters reminds me of the Isabella Stewart Gardner in that many an archway, sepulchre and tapestry has been artfully woven into the building itself in such a way that one feels she's happened upon a pre-existing marvel where everything within it was created there, in timelessness, one culture spiking deep into that place and making sense of itself. Of COURSE there are unicorn tapestries and moorish spanish triptychs glowing with saffron and cobalt. Perhaps it's a peculiarly American attitude on my part to feel like everything was supposed to be in that space. I like that Rockefeller and Gardner shared that same compulsion to tailor palaces for these artifacts they found fascinating. How could a person stand in Paris dumbfounded by the beauty of a medieval sculpture and say, "I dunno, I could find a better place for that." Such arrogance! And yet... the effect... I was wooed and won.

I wrote this, you nosey clamourer, while Gutter practiced piano. He decided to take lessons, bought himself a keyboard with all 88 keys, and has attained an alarming proficiency in a period of months. Did I mention he is a Favorite Person?