Categories
Blather Insomnia Observations Pointless Narcissism

We Are The Knights Who Say… Dude.

I’ve become quite accustomed to five o’clock in the morning. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve been to bed before four in a full week. I’d like to say that this is due to a string of truly epic parties—but that would be a lie. Only the first of those seven nights, my last night in Puerto Rico, even comes close to qualifying. One other was due to a tangential conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, but sadly, the rest can be attributed entirely to LOST and Guitar Hero.

Yesterday, my roommate and I left my house for a total of twenty minutes, to get “supplies” (read: cigarettes, food and shampoo). The other fifteen hours and forty minutes we were awake, we sat in the living room in our pajamas, watching LOST. The highlight of my day was when the checkout girl at the liquor store told me I could have the plastic disco-ball Absolut bottle I spotted on a table (sparkly!). The lowlight was that at the end of the night, I was almost out of weed.

It’s official. I’m becoming Seth Rogen.

Categories
Blather Daddy Insomnia My Heart Hurts Nostalgia

Letter To Be Launched Into The Ether (#1)

Dear Dad,

It snowed Sunday night, and Monday morning it looked like the island had been coated with sugar. I almost picked up the phone to call you, and tell you how beautiful it was. Of course, I’d have eventually started complaining about the fact that it would all be slush in a matter of hours. Today it rained–miserable, graceless weather, spitting cold from the sky like bullets. It was fitting, I suppose, as I haven’t felt this bad in months. Too much wine and an hours-long crying jag do not make for a pleasant morning after (big surprise).

I’ve started playing Milles Bornes again. I found a set at the Edgartown Thrift Shop for two dollars; it was the old style with the ugly box, but the cards inside were practically brand new. Games make the winter go a little bit smoother–something to do other than watch television. I miss playing Scrabble with you, even though you did accuse me of cheating when I finally beat you a few Christmases back. On some subconscious level, it feels sometimes like you’re just sitting in your little house in West Wareham, building a model truck, talking to the cat, waiting for the weather to break so you can go out and work in your shop; waiting for me to come visit so we can play Scrabble or stay up until two in the morning talking about trips we’re going to take someday.

I don’t know what to do with your house, or your shop, or your truck. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel alright about any decision I make. In order to rent the house I need to fix it up, but if I change anything, it won’t feel like you’re there anymore. I’m afraid to rent the shop with all of your tools in it because I don’t want anyone to damage them up or hurt themselves, but I know if I sell the tools, I’m going against your wishes, and I don’t want to do that. Really, I don’t want to do anything to any of it. I want to crawl up into the sleeper of the truck with a blanket and a pillow and go to sleep until you come back.

I was thinking this afternoon about the ugly yellow chair in the living room of the house we lived in at the boat yard when I was a kid, and how sometimes when I felt lonely or sad I’d bring my blankets out into the living room and sleep in that hideous recliner so that I was close enough to hear you snore, because for some reason it made me feel better. I remember sitting sideways in the chair to watch TV, with my legs thrown over the arms of it, and how every once in a while if I sat in the chair and held onto the antenna of the TV, Fox would come in clearly and I could watch Beverly Hills, 90210. You’d be sitting up in bed reading, and every once in a while you’d mock one of the characters, or throw a jelly bean at me, and tell me how ridiculous I looked sitting there with my hand up in the air, not moving for fear of losing the signal.

I was remembering, too, the day I went to foster care off-island, and the look of hurt in your eyes when you watched me walk up the ramp of the boat. How badly I wanted to run down the ramp and get back in your little truck and go home. But there was no going home, not for a while. All of that time spent in limbo, not knowing where I belonged–and for nothing. Because of worriers and busybodies who thought for some reason that it would be a good idea to take a motherless, confused teenager away from the person who loved her most in the world, and send her to live with strangers. I didn’t belong with strangers, I belonged with you.

My world doesn’t make sense without you in it. Some days I feel like I failed you–like if I’d badgered the doctors a little bit more, or gone to live with you and take care of you, or left work sooner that terrible Friday… but I know it’s just the emptiness making me feel that way. It’s a lot easier to reconcile something like heartbreak or death if you can convince yourself there was a reason, or that someone is to blame. It just doesn’t make any sense to think that the forces that be decided to take you so quickly, and so young, for no reason at all.

I think the hardest part of this is that you’re the person I always used to call when I felt this lonely or sad. Just hearing your voice would make me feel better, and there’s no hug in the world that could heal the way yours could. I remember how I buried my head in your chest when mom died, and sobbed until I was exhausted enough to sleep. I wish I could do that now. I feel like someone has tied an anvil to my ribs and dropped it off of a bridge.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I miss you. And it hurts. I finally feel it, and it fucking hurts.

Categories
Books Insomnia Observations Rant School Think

A Torpor Only Joyce Can Induce

I had thought, with the terminus of Robinson Crusoe, that my sentence of terrible British literature had been served, but I was mistaken. I didn’t realize that Defoe could be outdone in the realm of boring, redundant and pointless prose–that is, not until I tasted Joyce. I have just spent the past six and a half hours reading A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my reading speed, I could have read all of Jane Eyre (some 500 pages) in the time it took me to take down this thin little wisp of a book. Though I have barely moved the entire evening, I am exhausted from trying to derive meaning from what is supposedly a great book. The only truth I have gotten from it is this: Anyone who willingly reads Joyce is either a zealot (religious or aesthetic), or a masochist, or both. And to think, people actually read Finnegan’s Wake, which is easily four times as long.

Everything hurts, and the Vicodin is not helping. I’ve wasted an entire night for the sake of a sophomore class in which I currently have a C. I’ve never had a C in my entire college career. If I ever sign on for another class in British literature, someone please have the decency to smack the shit out of me.

That is all.

Categories
Blather Insomnia Observations Pointless Narcissism Rant School Think

Lament For The Death Of My Pen

Going to school for writing has all but killed the writer in me.

Throughout my adolescence and into my early adulthood, I was a writer. Any chunk of spare time I had, I devoted to writing. I wrote poetry, short stories, letters, journal entries–I even attempted to write plays and screenplays. I did all of this without prompting or purpose–I did not write with the intention of getting published (though it was always a fantasy of mine) or because I had an assignment, I wrote because it was what I wanted to do, all the time. I stayed up late almost every night, writing and collaging journal entries, or typing out letters on a second-hand typewriter I’d borrowed from a friend. I composed opening lines of poems or short stories in my head as I walked or rode the bus from place to place. I looked forward to the end of every shift at every job I ever had because I had something in my head I wanted to commit to paper. Everything I read inspired me to write.

My poems were mostly bad, and my short stories were worse, but the words, terrible as they may have been, came out of me as though a geyser had been loosed. I had no control over them–they were there, and they had to be committed to paper. Though I did have temporary bouts of writer’s block when I was too happy–I’ve always written better when depressed–for the most part, I was never without inspiration. I carried a journal or notebook with me always, and for many years not a day went by when I did not write something in it.

Going to school for writing was an eventuality. Writing is a profession that requires–unless you are stricken with an exceptional innate brilliance, which I was not–at least a college degree. Unfortunately, that eventuality appears to have taken the writer in me and put her into severe hibernation, without a foreseeable date of release. With the exception of this blog, which is usually nothing more than narcissistic ranting, I do not write for pleasure anymore. Though I am always up late at night, usually it is for work, or drinking, or the excessive consumption of inane television. The 8 1/2 x 11 hardbound journals I used to carry around and tape all sorts of things into have given way to a compact black journal which is mostly neglected. I haven’t filled a big fat journal in years. I don’t write poetry anymore–not for years.

The amount of time that I must devote to studying and reading for school has made pleasure writing a thing of my past. I write assignments at the last possible moment before they are due, and with the utmost resentment for their necessity. I frequently have ideas for short stories, and even novels, but I force myself to abandon them because if I were to sit down at my computer and attempt to commit them to writing, I would be taking up time that should be devoted to schoolwork, and I’d fall behind in my classes. I have learned to look at writing with a practical approach–what do I reasonably have a chance at getting published?–and have almost forgotten how to write creatively and without abandon as I used to do.

Right now, in fact, I am ridden with guilt over the fact that I should be working on a paper that’s due Thursday instead of sitting here with this delicious glass of Pinot Noir and typing this blog. The guilt is the culprit, I know. The fact that I have learned this regimented approach to learning, with its deadlines and due dates and page requirements, has killed my ability to write and read spontaneously and for my own enjoyment. The threat of bad grades and irresponsibility–something I never considered before I embarked upon the “college experience” has made it impossible to approach writing as I once did. Right now, with this glass of wine in hand, I could sit on my porch and type for hours, and create something either beautiful or terrible–but I know that I have to get up early, hours before my class, and do the reading. Then, after class, I have to write a paper for a different class. After that, I have to get up and go to school all day, after which I’ll be too tired to endeavor anything creative, and the next day I begin a weekend chock-full of work.

How is it that when I was no more than a waitress or a retail employee, I wrote five times as much as I do as a writing student? And why did the writing process itself feel so much better? Have I made the wrong choice in attempting to make this love of mine into a career? Should I have pursued something entirely different and not requiring of an education in order to afford myself the time and mental tenacity to write?

When I think of myself in the abstract, I see a rebellious girl, or woman, sitting in near-dark with a glass of wine or whiskey, with either a big book or a notebook in hand. I see a woman who lives entirely by her own desires, a hedonist who bends to no one’s wishes. I see a romantic, a person willing to live on nearly nothing in order to be able to create. But that is not who I have become. I have become a “normal,” a person who prioritizes responsibility and deadlines to the crushing expense of her inner desires. For the first time in my life, I’m depressed, and I cannot write because I keep convincing myself I have more important things to do with what little time I’ve got. I watch TV because it requires little participation, and I’ve come to a point where I’m too tired to participate. I don’t craft anymore. I don’t collage. I sleep, and when I wake up I’m always late for something.

I miss the girl I used to be, and I don’t know how to get her back without quitting school and abandoning the path which I’ve always thought to be the only one worth pursuing. I’ve come too far, and it’s cost me too much time and money to give up now, but when I get this degree–this expensive degree that I’ve worked so hard for–will it have been worth my time? Will I be so destroyed as a writer and creative person that I’ll just take the paper and walk away to a life of office work or bartending?

How do I get me back?

Categories
Family Health Insomnia People Rant

The Bullheaded Tiger With The Indelible Stripes

There comes a time for most of us when the roles of parent and child are switched, and the children start caring for and watching after their parents. As I am an only child, I knew that this would happen to me–that eventually I’d be the person responsible for my father’s health and welfare. I just didn’t think it would be so soon, and–though I knew it would be hard–I didn’t expect that I’d have to sit by and watch while he made decisions that could put him in serious danger.

My father has end-stage liver disease, and is currently awaiting a transplant. He has been in and out of the hospital since March, and each time has been a terrible scare, because my father’s personal habits are negligent at best, and terribly dangerous at worst–he has had open wounds that have been in danger of becoming infected, and it seems that nothing short of a miracle has prevented an infection.

This past week, he was hospitalized and had surgery to repair the destroyed skin on his abdomen from where a buildup of abdominal fluid paired with an abdominal hernia caused the skin in his belly to rupture multiple times. This has been a gory and messy process, and painful. The surgery was successful, and he recovered from it well, and after a week of sitting prone in a hospital bed, the doctors were ready to release him to a rehabilitation facility today, where he’d have medicine monitoring, constant nursing, food provided, and most importantly physical therapy to help him regain the strength in his legs after having spent a week in bed. Surprisingly, my father agreed initially that a “nursing home” was where he needed to go–he felt that he’d be best cared for by professionals who could be completely vigilant and he’d be much safer than he would be at home, alone.

However, my father is a classic-case Type-A control freak, incapable of accepting the fact that anyone other than him is able to do anything correctly. He left his house last week expecting to go in for a daytime doctor’s visit and was gone for a week. During that week, he fretted constantly about his bills, his cat, the fact that his shop was unlocked, and numerous other minutiae. After he’d agreed to go to the rehab facility, he got it in his head that it was absolutely imperative that he go home for one night to “put things in order.” The things he needed to put in order, from what he told me, were all things that could be handled easily by other people, but every time his not going home was mentioned, he got upset and distraught, and insisted, “You don’t understand, I NEED to put my things in order!”

My father’s medical care is covered by MassHealth, and the rehab facility would have been as well, but if he were to go home for one day, the insurance would not cover his stay at the rehab–they will only cover it if a patient goes directly there from the hospital. He had worked up a plan in his head and become so attached to the idea that it was essential for him to go home, that when the social worker informed him his insurance would not cover the rehab if he went home, he decided to forgo the rehab, not the completely unnecessary visit home. The hospital, having no more reason to hold him there, had no choice but to release him, and I, after numerous appeals that he reconsider, had no choice but to accept his foolish and dangerous decision. When he noticed that I was not happy with his decision, he pleaded with me, “Why can’t you just be happy for me that I’m going home?”

The doctors and social workers are convinced that he’ll be back in the hospital within the week–which would not have been a danger had he gone to the rehab as planned. I will not be able to see him because he lives in the middle of goddamn nowhere, and therefore will not be able to ensure that he’s following the doctor’s orders and, most importantly, maintaining decent hygiene (which I absolutely KNOW he will not do). I suppose I can only hope that the visiting nurses will stress the importance of this to him, but then again, he’s notorious for not listening to anyone’s voice but his own.

I am at a loss. I’m responsible for the life and wellbeing of someone who’s still technically of sound mind, and therefore can legally make asshole decisions that could jeopardize his life. As his friend says, “You can’t wipe the stripes off of the tiger.” But I don’t want to see the tiger die from something that could have so easily been prevented. And I don’t want to go through another week like this one, where he’s cooped up in the hospital, connected to a zillion wires, miserable, and taking it all out on me. Rehab would have been a step forward–this is a giant leap backward. He says he’s fully committed to his recovery, and yet he’s consciously made a decision that puts that recovery in tremendous jeopardy.

I have nothing left in my arsenal. I’ve used everything I had, and I’ve got nothing.

I haven’t exhaled in weeks.

Categories
Blather Family Friendship Health Insomnia Observations People Pointless Narcissism Work

The Score

20 Things That Are True–My Week In List Format.

1. The inside of a hospital does not, in fact, smell like “death.” It smells like lysol, bad food, vomit and poo–not mold, dirt and necrosis–therefore, it smells more like “infancy.”

2. Waiting for a donated organ is perhaps the only situation in which it’s actually a good thing to get sicker. Which my father is not doing.

3. Waiting for a donated organ while sitting in a hospital bed and being poked and prodded and forced to eat rubber english muffins is what I imagine purgatory to be like. Watching someone go through this process is only slightly less excruciating than experiencing it.

4. Sometimes the greatest help will come from someone you hadn’t thought to ask (thank you, David).

5. A good cheeseburger and a Guinness can heal a whole lotta hurt (thank you, Phil, David and Michael).

6. Saying “I love you” does not always work to cheer someone up, but it helps.

7. A catheter is a terrible, dangerous and frightening thing.

8. Sometimes the correct answer to “Why me?!” is “marijuana.” This is also an appropriate response to “What the fuck right now?” and “What the hell am I doing here?”

9. It is patently unfair of Mother Nature to suggest that there will be a thunderstorm and not deliver.

10. Cold showers are really, REALLY awful. Even in August.

11. An experienced nurse with a good sense of humor should be paid as much as a surgeon.

12. Pre-season football is a nothing but a reminder to fans of losing baseball teams that there really will be something to watch on ESPN in October.

13. A deafening rock show in a very small room is effective as a temporary cure for depression. This cure is significantly more effective when paired with cheap beer and good company.

14. Michael Vick should have his face bitten off. Someone should inform Mike Tyson that his services are needed, pronto.

15. The notion that the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about is an insidious fallacy.

16. I will never comprehend the inability of certain people to find a triangle which is attached to the pool table.

17. There is a very compassionate medical technician at Tufts New England Medical Center named Jewel, who should be given a hefty raise for saving my sanity at least twice. Someone else should arrange this because bureaucracy makes me want to mutilate strangers, and that development would be counter-productive to Jewel’s initial sanity-preservation.

18. If a store is named “Store 24,” it is not unreasonable to expect that said store be open 24 hours a day.

19. The only tolerable reason for having chapped lips is if you’ve been making out with someone. This is not why my lips are chapped.

20. My father’s Pneumonia, which I didn’t know he had until today, is apparently almost gone.

21. I am incredibly bad at stopping a list once I’ve started it.

22. There is an animal of unknown species and considerable size rooting around in my back yard.

23. I love the number 23.

24. It’s three in the morning, again, and I am going to bed.

Categories
Animals Health Insomnia Pointless Narcissism Rant

They Call Me “Sweet Feet.”

I have fifteen mosquito bites–on my feet. I was sitting on the porch, absent-mindedly smoking a cigarette and praying for thunder, when an army of miniscule insects apparently decided to feast on my foots. All at once. By the time I noticed the first itch, it was too late to go get socks, as both of my feet were already polka-dotted with little hideously itchy bumps. I’m going to have to fill my socks with Hydrocortizone before I go to bed if I want to get any sleep at all.

The up side is that if I ever need to torture someone, I’ve got a new and creative method to deploy…

Categories
Books Insomnia Nostalgia Observations People Pointless Narcissism Think

Five Pound Book Wanted; Short Bespectacled Wizard-People Need Not Apply

For the past several days, since its long-awaited and much-hyped release, my roommate has been tirelessly reading the latest (and purportedly final) installment in the Harry Potter book series. He sits for hours on the porch, absorbed–he doesn’t speak unless spoken to; in fact the only sound he makes is the occasional chuckle, which is directed, of course, at the fictional characters within, and not at any human within his proximity.

On one level, I understand his rapt intensity: I have been a reader of this sort my entire life. When I was in my early twenties, I read all of Alexandra Ripley’s Gone With The Wind sequel in a single sitting–eight hundred pages in seven or eight hours on Christmas night. When my sister came down in the morning to make coffee, she saw me sitting at the kitchen table, where I’d been when she went to bed. You’re up early, she said. No, I replied, I’m up late. I closed the cover of the book and pushed it across the table at her. You’re kidding me, she said. I shook my head. I am no stranger to picking off a book in one go, regardless of the length of the thing–provided I have the time. Les Miserables, of course, took a few days, maybe a week. I am also very familiar with the sort of exclusionary hypnotism a good book provides–particularly a good book of fiction. Unfortunately, due to a monumentous school reading load and an inability to get back on the horse after the semester finished, I can’t remember when I was last in that trance.

On the other hand, I can not relate to my roommate’s unrelenting consumption of pages because I seem to be the only adult woman alive who has not even opened the cover of a Harry Potter book. I haven’t seen the movies, either. All I know about Harry Potter is that he’s a pint-sized wizard, he’s got a dorky redheaded friend and a cute one and maybe one other, and apparently they’re all enrolled in some magician school of sorts. Something about Warts. I know that the people behind the merchandising empire have found a way to make a little bag of jelly beans cost seven dollars, and I know that the woman who wrote the books was facing homelessness before they were picked up, and now she’s a bazillionaire.

The reason I haven’t read Harry Potter is simple. I was an underpaid employee at Borders in Monterey when the first book came out, and the second. If that’s not telling enough, let me elaborate: For weeks on end, I answered the same question, moved and re-moved thousands of copies of the same book, directed people to the same area of the store, tendered the exact same transaction. Though Christmas is gift-wrapping season, and Potter was not released at Christmas, I gift-wrapped hundreds of copies of it in a matter of less than a month. I went through this horror twice–at an astounding pay rate of seven dollars an hour (jelly beans, anyone?). So no, I had no desire to read the thing myself. As far as I was concerned, it was a thirty dollar paperweight. Kindling, perhaps, but not worth my precious reading time. In addition, I assumed that as I tend not to be enthralled by what everyone in America is obsessed with (Britney Spears, The Matrix, The Arcade Fire, etc.), it would be an expensive waste of time anyway.

However, I find myself strangely envious of my roommate. I want a book that will do that to me again.

Truth be told, I could probably pick up book one, and within a day be finished with it–and likely enjoy it despite the fact that I’m convinced it’s probably a Tolkien rip-off but with younger, more kid-friendly characters. Once I’d finished the first book, I’d devour the second, the third… and then I’d be waiting with the rest of America for the next installment. I went through that routine once with the Robert Jordan series and I gave up after the second book. And of course, there’s the whole loyalty-to-principles issue–I’ve stayed with my Potter boycott so long that I don’t want to give up now.

I could re-read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy–but I know how it ends, and that would take away the magic. Similarly, I could re-read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, two books which had me so transfixed that I finished the former while sitting in a bathroom in a motel in Memphis because my father insisted I shut out the light in the room. Then again, I know how those end, too. I want a thousand pages of someone else’s imagination that will so wholly seduce me that I will forget to go to work, eat, and sleep–and I just can’t find it.

So I beseech you, dear readers: Give me an alternative. Recommend to me a well-written fictional book or series that a) is not Harry Potter; b) has more than five hundred pages; c) is not written by a depressing Russian, d) does not involve months of anticipation for a sequel; and most importantly e) will hold me in a state of such singular awe that I will unknowingly make wide-eyed faces like the one my roommate just made, laugh out loud, cry real tears, and lament having reached the end too soon.

Until then, I’ll be reading Lester Bangs’ and Chuck Klosterman’s essays, one at a time, on the train.

Categories
Government Insomnia Observations People Rant

Oh, Cruel World

Note: This post is actually a letter for the “Oh, Cruel World” section of the Boston weekly paper the “Dig.” They publish one of these sort of letters every week, usually accompanied by a great cartoon… I’m hoping to get some paper space next week. Wish me luck!

Dear Two Guys With Jackhammers Outside My Window at 7:08 a.m.,

While I appreciate your enthusiasm for what is probably the only job that will pay a person with an IQ of 14 more than ten bucks an hour, I also appreciate my sleep. Yesterday the guy (maybe it was one of you?) saved the jackhammer for just after eleven, which prevented me from watching bad reruns on TV while I drank my coffee but thankfully spared me my last two hours of shut-eye.

I understand that the City of Somerville has given you the green light to go ahead and start tearing the hell out of our street at 7:00, but for the love of human decency, could you have waited more than eight minutes?! In about five seconds I’m gonna go out there and give you each a Prince Albert with those goddamn tools and save the Aileen Wuornos look-alikes you’ve got waiting at home a few months of Natural Ice-fueled half-flaccid “encounters.” They’ll be eternally grateful, I’m sure.

Now that I think of it, you two could go jackhammer each other for a couple of hours and come back after lunch. I’m sure the DPW won’t check up on exactly what you were pounding away at for three hours, thereby ensuring your 58 bucks, your wives’ salvation from “I know we did it last week but”, and most importantly, another few hours of peaceful slumber on my day off.

I hope the creepy staring lady from down the street pelts you with eggs from her second story balcony. I’d do it, but I don’t have any eggs.

Sincerely,
Half Deaf and Sleep-Deprived in Somerville

Categories
Insomnia Music

Insomnia Playlist

Alberta–Eric Clapton (Unplugged version)
A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun–Tom Waits
Om Ah Hum–Colin Ruel
New Mexico Rain–Bill Hearne
Beautiful Girl–INXS
To Wish Impossible Things–The Cure
Not For All The Love In The World–The Thrills
Alexandra Leaving–Leonard Cohen
Beautiful Fool–Matthew Ryan
The Blower’s Daughter–Damien Rice
Goodbye–Eddie Vedder
All I Want Is You–U2
Little Martha–Allman Brothers Band
Innocent When You Dream–Tom Waits
She Talks To Angels–The Black Crowes
Something In The Way–Nirvana (Unplugged version)
It Can’t Rain All The Time–Jane Siberry
Sara–Bob Dylan
Homesick–The Cure
Stormy Weather–Etta James
Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave–Morphine
Into My Arms–Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Kristen and Jim–Eric Clapton
Hallelujah–Jeff Buckley
Release–Pearl Jam
Dark Water & Stars–Natural Calamity
Witchi Tai To–Harpers Bizarre
The End–The Doors
Wish You Were Here–Pink Floyd