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Archive for October, 2007

Fright Night

There’s nothing quite so scary as causing something you didn’t intend.  You say something you think to be actually rather nice–say your boss agreed that the staff does fairly well at something, and then mentions that it does much better than the staff of several years before.  Because of this and that, yada yada, actually giving a reason.

And you know your memory is not 100%.  Whose is? 

But you also think you’re pretty close to remembering the conversation, even if you don’t remember the impetus.  So you pass on the news to a co-worker, thinking this is a good thing.  Because your boss always says bad things about everyone.  So for once you said, It’s nice that we’re so competent.  And for once he sort of agreed.  You think you’ve made a break-through.

 And then the person to whom you chose to tell this gives a totally blank look and a couple minutes later says, Did I misunderstand you?

“Well, I dunno.  I don’t know what you’re thinking because you didn’t respond.”  And you try to retell the story.

And he gets up angrily and crumples paper and goes away and is PISSED.  And you’ve only once or twice seen this person angry anyway.  And this time, it’s your fault.  Your memory.  Or maybe it actually happened this way and you shouldn’t have passed it on. 

That’s truly frightening.  Forget Halloween.  Emotions.  That’s where the fear lies.

night,

dawn

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Lana Butt

Today I have Lana Butt.  Or maybe Lana Legs.  Maybe both.  I’ve always thought jeans were jeans.  The trend of the past few years has been on bell bottoms.  So a hundred years ago slim ankles were the fad.  Men drooled over a woman’s dainty ankles.  Men don’t drool anymore.  At least, not in any fashion comparable to how they did so before.  Nowadays they wolf howl and snarl and talk shit.  The girls fall for it.  No more do they make a man want for their presence. They throw themselves into the fray.  Desperation is the name of the game.  I try to avoid that.  Until this summer I’d given myself up as an old spinster.  26 and doomed to be alone forever.  Planned to get a dog eventually.  But something stopped me.  Now I’m glad.  Because buying a house makes leaving a little harder, but buying a dog makes it impossible.  Like having children.  Or a husband.  Dogs don’t move well.  Chevy went into depression when they moved.  Doggy depression.  When he came to visit me he wouldn’t even sit down for about an hour and I know he was tired.  Refused to sleep.  Didn’t have a nap the entire day. When I took him home, he passed out.  Poor pup.  They don’t relocate well.

So I’d never given into the fashion world.  Spinster women didn’t need it.  And there was this odd thing in my head.  I’m skinny, too skinny.  But all the books that we read as kids and teens told of girls who were fat and ugly.  Knowing I’m not fat, I just knew that for whatever reason, I wasn’t a cheerleader, so I must be on the edge of society, no one should like me.  That’s a big aura to carry around.  There’s this idea in my generation–some of us–that a guy should like us for who we are, not what we look like.  And rebelling against everything–to the point of rebelling against myself–I did the opposite of everyone in everything.

All the girls wore jeans that were pale down the legs and butt, which looks like they wore the material thin around their butts, and had wide wide ankles.  Fat ankles are the style?  What were they thinking?  You couldn’t find a normal pair of jeans anywhere, with straight legs.  I’m so short and skinny, I can’t buy women’s clothing.  I shop in the kid’s section.  But even the little girls only had buxomy ankles–what else can you call it?  😉  I ended up buying boy’s jeans.  Cargo pants.  They’re comfy, not stylish, and don’t show any form.  I’ve been informed since that I have nice legs, that my body is meant for skirts, not pants.  And there are reasons for that!  My ankles are just not fat enough…  And I can’t find jeans to fit.  Girls’ jeans don’t have any hips whatsoever, and women’s are too long… Boys’ fit nicely…  Oddly enough. 

So I went through all the jeans at the thrift store.  They had probably five hundred pair.  Gotta be able to find some to fit, right?  About four pair.  Yippee!  One needs a belt, two need to be rolled up.  And–egads–though I’ve avoided it–one has flaired ankles.  A size 0.  Courderoy. 

I tried them on and realized my body is very similar to that of Miss Lana Lang of Smallville.  When did that happen?  I can’t wear pants well.  I’m not… pretty?  Cute, yeah, I can do cute.  But… wow, what an odd thing these pants do to me.  How they change my form.  How they fit.  What a cut.  My butt, my legs…  Like they’re not mine.  I suddenly see myself as others can see me, but usually my AURA says, “Don’t look, perv!”  For years I’d been informed from various people that all guys are pervs, all they want is one thing, and a proper girl holds off for a guy who does not want that one thing.

Then this summer someone looked at me for the first time… as an object.  It took some getting used to.  A lot of getting used to.  But there was an epiphany in that as well.

Which caused me to go jean shopping not in the boys’ section.

And I ended up with a really nice butt.

night,

dawn

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Air!!!

Three, four weeks?  How long has it been?  At least three.  I think I first looked four ago, but then ago four weeks, I said, ah, but it says it takes six to fill out.  Now I know why.  Egads, man!  That anal student mentality is not for me, no way, no sir, no how.  That must win at all costs, that’s not me.  I want to get better at writing, yes, but do I want to kill people to do so?  Nah, the hitman life is not for me.

Have now spent at least three weeks working on one scholarship.  Became numb.  Lived fully off adrenaline.  Had to buy a student planner to keep track of what needed to be done every day.

Panicky.  It’s too late, but I can’t help but feel rushed.  Sent it off a few days early, to spare!  But wondering if I skipped a question and they’ll just throw out the application, which not only I, but four other women, and one man, worked our butts off to complete.  Three references, down to the wire.  Three lovely women doing those references.  Saying they believed in me, whether or not it may be true.  I hope it is.  I read their references after they sealed the envelopes, as they all sent me a copy.  People who believe in another, it’s amazing, astronomical, unbelieveable.  Here I always thought I didn’t stand out, but at least three people remember me enough to write a page of good things.  To stand behind me.  And one woman stayed late with me while I finished panting to the finish-line.  And she helped answer stupid questions to the best of her opinion.  She was there.  Even though she doesn’t want me to leave, she was there for me.  And the man, I finally got him to be critical!  Rather than always saying, It’s perfect, I love it, don’t change a thing.  Finally, and it helped so much.  I said, Pretend it was written by someone you hate.  He said, Who, “The Gay Biker” wrote this?  Grrrr.  And I said, it was edited by “The Slave Driver.”  (Names changed to protect the not-so-innocent.)

And so after all of that work.  After whining to people, calling professors, begging from others, turning myself into some sort of circus side-show of chaos, after running all over Omaha, I sent it away today.  Hadn’t eaten, hadn’t slept well, didn’t know that at the time, but the moment I stepped away from the application, sat in my car, I became tiiiiired.  Oh so tired.  And my stomach growled.  I hadn’t realized how little I’d eaten, because I’d been less than hungry.  Stomach constricted.  Now filled with air.  Then something hit my eyes, and they burned, and I sniffled.  Crazy!  Emotionally deranged!  Unstable!  Overwhelmed!  To the point of being unable to get out of bed when I didn’t know what to do, to being run ragged when I did.  That is something I can forevermore live without.  Hard to be productive in that environment of Must Win. 

I pray for an interview.  These women worked their butts off for me.  One eighty-year-old writer planned to get up at five in the morning to write my reference.  She was so excited, she got up at three-thirty instead, and wrote and e-mailed all her friends. 

I have a lot of people behind me, all of us out here in Omaha.  A lot of people who have never even heard of someone applying for a Fulbright.  I never had, either, and I must say, I went to school with a lot of smart people, smarter than me.  But stifled.  We were all so stifled. 

The eighty-year-old woman, I saw her e-mails to friends.  She’d always asked my mother how my writing was coming, but I never showed her anything after the initial time, because I recognized that I needed AIR.  I’d just graduated, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.  I’d spent 17 and a half years in school, always being told there was only one right answer.  And I knew my creativity had been stifled out of me.  All I’d been able to do at the end was survive.  Work for money and survive.  So I bought a house.  I gave my mind freedom.  And the second it did, I had an epiphany!  I had creative muses lining up down the street.  I then ended up with a roommate, surprisingly.  I learned to say yes instead of no.  I learned and learned and learned things which were actually helpful.  I learned ME.  And then yesterday I saw what this woman had written about me.  How she hadn’t believed I could write, how she couldn’t see me as anything other than a child.  She said my mother was perfect (but didn’t know how stifling, the baby of the family, make sure she doesn’t make a single mistake ever, nor spread her wings, or have wings to spread, nowhere to spread them if she did) and she recognized that four years ago, graduating from college, I was merely a stupid little girl.  I couldn’t have stood on my own.  So scared of losing my family, the only tangible thing I knew I had, throwing myself slightly into the material world, seeking the immaterial. 

She said she was AMAZED at how much I’ve changed since I moved out.  I told her I HAD to leave, I had to be on my own, and I recognize now that I’m not as far as I need to be.  There is something else out there.  There’s a world out there which I was always told I couldn’t touch.  Bad things happened to those who tried to touch.  Like a museum curator would be standing around ready to whap our hands away from the priceless objects. 

I’m ready to become my own museum curator. 

Until recently whenever people would say what they thought of me (ones who didn’t know me, really, just saw me from the outside) they would say things that baffled me.  About how outgoing I seemed, how unique, snazzy, fun, worldly.  And I knew I wasn’t.  I guess I shed the cocoon before the butterfly knew it could fly!  And I’m still a bit of a child.  But I’m getting ever so much closer.  Closer and closer and further toward the sun.  We’ll see soon if my wings are made of wax…

night,

dawn

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Subjectivity

Wow, what a week, or two, or three.  When I applied for undergraduate school, I applied to one school, and they accepted me.  They now chase me around campus with sharpened spoons and refuse to acknowledge any alumni, but that’s another issue altogether. 

Perhaps what I’m looking for is nostalgia.  The ability to look back at a place and go, wow, what a great time.  I look at UNO and, well, I feel I’ve blocked a lot of it from my memory.  I took the history of theatre?  Er, yeah, I remember going to Roman history, but what was this other class?  Five years of blur.  And here I am, trying to use those skills I never learned to choose a graduate school in a country I don’t belong to.  Hmm.  And the objectivity has been replaced with the longing for nostalgia.  I want to learn something, I want to better myself and my writing.  And at the end, I want to look back at that time and say, Yes!  Yes, yes, yes!  My time was well-spent.  Which leaves subjectivity waning in a bassinet over in the corner.  So far I’ve been hacking and slashing at my list with abandon, based primarily on… the dreaded… intuition.  Shudder. 

On the bright side, I’ve narrowed 51 (or however many there were) universities down to 15!  Woo hoo!  What’s that mean in real terms?  That means I darn well better end up having at least two or three where I like both the program and the school.  Yeah, architecture is a little of it.  In Omaha, we have… the Old Market.  We have the Rose Theatre (thank you Ms. Blumpkin!).  We have… primarily new buildings.  Every time something gets a little old, we tear it down and build a new one.  Glass and slick walls, metal and sterility.  S’up with the sterility, modern man?  We have no HISTORY, which is something I’ve wanted most of my life.  Every time I look at European cities (or Asian, etc), I just plain melt.  Droooool.  Cobblestone streets so narrow you know they were built before cars were invented.  Well, I guess that wouldn’t work in America, as we are the Land of the Automobile.  Cruising is our main sport.  Families used to pile into the old sedan back in the 1950s and go driving on a Sunday afternoon, because they wanted to, it was cool, unique, new.  Our only rite of passage is the acquisition of the driver’s license.  Yeah, you go girl, you snazzy now, boyo.  There’s nothing CONCRETE here, except of course, the pavement.

 Fifteen programs?  I darn well better fall in love with one of them.  Or else intuition goes out the window, I nail my seat to the floor, and go through the 51 universities.  Again. 

Whimper. 

 night,

dawn

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This close to death…

I wonder how many people don’t survive the application process.  I wonder how many croak while looking at scholarships.  What a way to go.  I could be next.  I’m waiting for my third thing…  Yesterday, merely carrying yard waste to the street, a large plank alighted in mine eye, soest I could not remove said plank until many hours later.  And today, still recovering, red-eyed, bleary, scratchy, sleepless, I dislocated my jaw momentarily eating breakfast cereal.  There is so much on my mind, my body is losing out!

I slept little last night.  Woke up every time I rolled over onto my left side, afraid perhaps there still resided a partial tree, which would become aggravated, and cause vision loss, at the very least…  I dreamt a lot.  Once of the slacker I know, who came into work and said, I have left the deadbeat boyfriend for good, I am going to do something with my life, and I quit, ha ha ha!  And she stood there with her hands on her hips and refused to give two weeks’ notice.  I was very happy for her, though, because it was about gosh-darn time she did something to better her life.  Rather than just complaining about it, and trying to drag everyone around her into the pit of despair.

Then I dreamt I was helping my exchange student to pack, and when we removed the borrowed mattress, I found several LARGE vegetables (ie: cucumbers, a couple heads of lettuce) under the bed, for he’d planned to make a snack to take on the flight.  And every time I tried to help remove the mattress (mah-TRESS), like pulling off the sheets, and dropping them on the floor because there was no where else to put them, he would freak out.  Suddenly, the floor was covered in stuffed animals and humongous dust bunnies, dirt and slivers and mud clods.  Eww.  Then he pulled out a sealed cardboard box in order to find his transcripts, and I said, no, please don’t!  And he tore off the brown tape, pulled out some papers, and between them… cockroaches, four to five inches long, sort of yellowy in color on the wings, otherwise dark.  I grabbed a shoe, tried to squish, alas, they were fast, and much too large.  I acquired some bug spray, and found a leafless bush covered in cockroaches, which had come from another sealed box.  Noooo!  Please stop opening things!  I told you the fraternity from whence you came was unclean!  At which point my mother showed up to help carry things to the car (which is funny, as she’s not very strong), and I was mortified that she might find either the vegetables or the bugs, so I tried to keep her downstairs.

This dream morphed into one in which my sister wanted to go to the mall, and mon oncle said, I’ll drive you!  So my uncle drove, I sat next in the truck, then my sister, quietly, and my father against the door.  It started snowing.  A little early in the season, but what can you do?  Halfway there, as my uncle was trying to turn right onto a highway, my sister said, “But where are we going?”  I said, “To the nearest mall.”  She said, “But I wanted to go to Oakview.”  I said, “But it’s too far away, and it’s snowing, and I still have to take Uenal to the airport.”  She shut up, but fumed, silently and perfectly.  I realized then that she never spoke up when her desires were different from what was acceptable, or expectable.  So my uncle tried to turn onto the next highway, then the next.  Then he said, “I’m not sure which street to take now that it’s snowing.”  I advised him toward the interstate, and as we got on, we passed a line of cars, maybe ten, maybe twenty, all low-built, and wheels spinning.  But we were in a truck, so we were okay–until my uncle started to doze off.  The truck veered to the right.  My father snored comatose against the door.  My sister sat primly.  I grabbed the wheel and pushed it a little left, then said, “Please watch where you’re going.”  But something was wrong, and we veered, and he kept falling asleep.  After about the third time, we ended up in a humongous fluffy snow bank. 

Is it any wonder I’m tired today, after a night like that? 

And today, reading through the schools I’ve found which have the program, trying to discard some, based on whatever tiny intuitive flick says, Maybe not there.  The rest go into the ‘maybe’ pile, to be contacted, or shunned, later. 

And then scholarship searches?  Fulbright, anyone?  Start it six weeks in advance?  Six weeks ago, this school thing was merely an inkling in my head.  Six weeks ago it seemed my summer would go on forever, my exchange student would always be around…  I guess they do have to guard against the whims of the insane.

I now count fifty-one schools I need to sort through.  47 or 51?  Not much difference.  I’m sure I discounted a few in the first count, ones I knew I didn’t want to attend.  But now?  What is the great secret to picking a school?  I found this marvelous website which allows me to compare, based on student surveys, how they felt about the schools, and rank them.  www.tqi.ac.uk  There was another site, which was not as user friendly, which I might attempt to find again later, which has things listed like student retention, et al. 

wish me luck,

night,

dawn

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