Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cleanliness is Next to Die

Yeah, yeah, I know. I already posted today. Can I help it if I have a lot to say?

My mom has this thing about cleaning. It is tantamount to her-- it is ultimate. If her kitchen is clean when she gets home, the world is good and life falls into place. If it isn't... whoooo nellie. Watch out. Nothing is ok until that woman's space is organized, wiped down, sorted, scrubbed, vaccuumed, steamed, brushed-- you get the picture. Her desk is always a clutter of things that she has to do, and she does them because she needs them out of her way. Raising four kids, my mom rarely gets her way in the area of cleanliness. She's had to accommodate, settle for our less-than-best efforts. She's bribed, nagged, screamed, sobbed, pleaded, bargained, demanded- she's done everything in her power to make us CLEAN. And it worked pretty well for most of us- three out of four of her children have become her. They have taken on her inability to think in chaos, her heightened stress level when things get piled up too high, her desire for everything to fit neatly into its shiny little cubbie, the whole house glistening with peaceful cheer.
Not me.
For some reason this is my chief rebellion, the thing I seem to do to piss her off. Other kids do normal things like get weird piercings, sleep around, come home drunk, blast heavy metal, shoot heroine into their eyeballs. But not me. My addiction is to clutter. I love it. I love my little piles of rubble, my debris, my mess. I love my old candy bar wrappers, my stacks of books with the covers falling off, my unmade bed, my dirty socks, my shipping material, the five different journals in which I write spasmodically, guiltily, as if their pages have missed me while I was too busy living to document my thrilling life. I thrive, I thrill, I thrum among my own personal landscape of junk. I carve walkways on my floor, dirty laundry mingling with clean laundry, ants marching in dedicated formations under my bed to carry out particles of apple core, homework and notebooks scattered in ragged piles across the wasteland of my domain. My shelves are stacked with books-- the ones that aren't scattered on the floor. Books, books, and more books. Books on geology, books about lovers, history books, cook books, fantasy, mystery, steamy romance novels, poetry, philosophy, bibles, thrillers, classics; old books, new books, books that are falling apart, second hand books; books I loved, books I hated, books I haven't read yet. Around, behind, between, beneath the books are mementos, trophies, souvenirs of who I've been. A medal I got when I graduated high school, proclaiming me drama student of the year-- an award created for me, lasting only one year after I was gone. Willow Tree figurines, faceless and graceful. Carousel horses from that brief phase. Porcelain dolls. A gnome I sculpted, along with his brilliant purple Best of Show Ribbon from the county fair. Incense. Candles. Jewelry. Dollhouse furniture. Ceramic turtles.
If you're wondering when I start the part about the camera crew coming in a filming me for "Hoarders", that doesn't happen.
I don't know where this compulsion to create mess comes from. If you look at my desk, however, you will see that it is indeed there. I organize my desk about once a week, then sit down to write an essay or do some reading for class. I fidget. I get a water bottle. I pop in a cough drop and leave the wrapper on my desk. I pull out the assignment sheet and syllabus and look at them. I create a little cave of chaos around my laptop, and then I start working. I like to text while I write- text and eat and jiggle my right leg. And it helps if someone's making noise. A lot of people say they need absolute silence and peace to work, but I find I need a nice steady amount of distraction. Otherwise, the volume of my own thoughts freaks me out and I sit in front of the screen, humbled and afraid.
I guess I shouldn't say my messiness is my only rebellion-- there is that other thing. See, I think when my mom had three girls, I think she kinda envisioned the next twenty or so years being an epic game of dress -up. And that worked out great-- for about the first eight years of my life. Then suddenly I "decided" to become a chubber. It was not a good stage for me. Painfully shy, socially inept, brilliant in all the wrong ways, bossy, chronically afraid of everything, getting chunkier by the minute while going through a fairly early puberty with no friends and no hope that I'd ever have one... not that I'd ever been a particularly obliging or compliant child, but around that time I became a damn impossible one. It frustrated my mom, I think, seeing her bright, happy, pretty oldest daughter suddenly morph into a sullen, miserable, messy little chunk in a velour turtleneck (ahhh, fashion-- NOT one of my many talents).
I got it back, all of it, all my five year old enthusiasm and self-confidence. Everything but the pretty part. Now nobody would say I'm ugly, not in the face department, but let's face it- NOBODY wants to play dress-up (or, sadly, dress- down) with an independent-minded, size- 18 doll. And I know this bothers my pretty, practical mother. I can be as smart as I can be, and write the world's greatest novel, and be the world's most loving daughter-- and she sees that, really she does-- but the truth is, at the end of the day.... I'm still a fat slob. I still don't put things in their proper compartments, and neither do I fit in my own proper place. She loves me as much as a mother can love a child, and I know that, but the shape carved out for me in her heart is not quite the shape I really am. And as I get older, more and more I realize-- I don't want to be that shape. I kind of like who I am. I will always have this drive to please my mother, always be sad when I can't, but... somehow, it's no longer of the utmost importance. It's a painful problem for everyone involved.
I look around at my desk and I see things that are necessary to me. My pens, my makeup, my tissues, my cough drops, my water bottle, a sandwich, my cell phone, a veritable thicket of computer and charger and keyboard cords, some dishes. I see a world in which there will never be a time when I can say "Everything else is perfect now. I can sit down and write in peace." I see a world in which there will never be a time when I will say "I have done everything I should do. Now I'll do what I really want to do." No. In this life we get a certain number of days, of hours, minutes, seconds, moments. And I'm sorry, but I don't want to spend mine washing dishes and jogging. I'm sorry! I really am. I'm not that girl. I want to spend my time lost in other worlds, creating plots, ranting about the complicated, messy, inconvenient world that is not what I'd like it to be. My seconds will be spent at a desk, at a keyboard, in my head, in my mind, in a book. My minutes and hours, my passion, do not lie in having perfectly dustless curtains. And as much as I wistfully suck my stomach in when I try on clothes at the store, or fantasize about how perfect my life would be if I was thin, the truth is that the amount of time required is disproportionate to how much I really care.
I guess my point is, the world isn't quite what I'd like it to be. Why should I be what the world would like me to be? The world isn't peaceful and clean-- it's a mess. So why should my desk have to be any different?

'Cuz Your Mama Don't Vote and Your Daddy Don't Rock n' Roll

So there's been a lot of election talk lately, what with midterms and all (who knew, even out of college you gotta be ready for them!). I've noticed that there are three factions of people: people who voted, people who are pretending they voted, and people who didn't know there were elections for anything but the president. I'm generalizing here, of course.
The people who voted are -- generally-- self righteous, convicted, and liable to try to make you feel guilty for NOT voting. My history professor, for example. Her steely gaze alone was almost enough to make me feel guilty for not voting.
The people who pretended to vote are nervous. They want to be good people but are lazy, uninformed, or forgetful. These people will sometimes start half-assed political debates in order to look "in touch", then edge away with wary eyes when you argue back. This would be most of the people I see every day.
And then there's me, the out-of-the-loop couch potato. I don't know a midterm election from dog crap and frankly, I don't care that much. All I know the eBay lady ran for something, and the other chick's name is an anagram of California, plus a "Y". Because let's face it, it doesn't matter who sits up there in the capital or senate or congress or whatever. By the time you're well known enough to be on the ballot, you're too corrupt to make a difference.
I have a growing disdain for the philosophy "if you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain." On some level, yeah, I get it. We should work to change our country, not just bitch about it. But at the same time, our whole government is comprised of so many layers and branches, all of them owned by SOMEBODY, not a one of those high-ranking officials with a skeleton-less closet. You really think one man's gonna change that? One vote? I don't feel informed enough to vote, and if I was informed, I'd feel too disgusted to vote. I think one vote can make a difference, when you add up all those people who are "just one vote"-- but the outcome , in the end, makes no difference.
It's like saying that "if you don't vote for American Idol, you have no right to complain about the music on your radio". It doesn't matter, dude. This whiny man or that whiny man-- it's all the same in the end.

Novel update:
5, 748 words down...69,252 to go.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I return to the Blog that nobody reads and NaNoWriMo

So this month, after three years of being impressed by those who endeavor it, I decided to try this November novel writing thing. Joined on their website just now, technically a day late but oh well. I don't have any idea what I want to write about but I can be prolific when I turn off my editor-- prolific, but crap. Oh well. I'm also going to blog about the experience. I feel like I'm sending these words out in a glass bottle into the ocean, hoping some lonely castaway might stumble upon them and find them interesting.
Dream on.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer Blahs

Summer. Is there anything more capable of instilling lethargy and ennui?? It's been a weird, busy summer. And my dad reclaimed his laptop, meaning I haven't gotten to do as much writing as I'd like. Soon I'll be back at school, hopefully with some kind of computer, and as I've sworn off movies and TV, I should be a lot more productive as far as writing goes.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Shut Up and Give Facebook a Break: Why Privacy Doesn't Matter Anymore

I remember when I first used the internet. I was probably fourteen or so, and my mom stood over my shoulder, anxiously monitoring my every click. The number one rule of the internet back then? Never, ever give anyone your full name. In fact, try not to mention your first name. I remember vividly my parents' graphic description of what would happen if anyone found out my full name- namely, that they would hunt me down and rape and pillage our entire community.

In this day and age, that's just ridiculous. For one thing, I've googled my name and there are approximately eight gazillion people with the same name out there. For another, nobody would be able to find me on social networking sites if I only gave part of my name, or a fake name. And yes, there are freaks out there on the web- but there are more than enough people making themselves huge targets to prevent them from finding some reason to hunt me down. Identity theft is now much more complex than simply assuming someone's name. Our lives, on the whole, are much more transparent. We tweet about where we had lunch and we update our statuses about what class we're in. If some psycho killer was hunting us without our knowledge, we'd be dead in hours. But with very few exceptions, the truth is, nobody's stalking us. We're not being monitored. Our information, instead of being maliciously collected and used in some huge scheme against us, is actually just noise. Internet static. Really, for the most part? Nobody cares.

So what if Facebook isn't air-tight secure? It's not like I put my social security number up. I'm part of a generation that doesn't care if the world sees my info. In fact, between facebook, blog sites, youtube, etc., most of us are longing to be looked at. We can all be stars now, but not if we hide. So go ahead! View my profile information! Share it with advertisers (maybe then I'll see some ads I'd actually be INTERESTED in). Share it with the world! Maybe then somebody will notice me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Seriously, Emily? A Poem? WHY?

Hello faithful-and-less-than-faithful readers! Yes, it is I! Back with more depressed-ness. This time, in form of a poem. Now. You may or may not have heard me dismiss poetry as the lowest kind of twiddle-twaddle nonsense. And it's true, I dislike poems. This is one reason I hate Spring- besides giving me a permanent stuffy nose and red eyes, it makes me write poetry. Just be grateful it isn't a love poem.
Truth be told, what I truly and deeply dislike are OTHER people's poems. Cats batting bats and love that comes from above and oh just shoot me, you're such a cutie. And you have to smile pained-ly and nod and say "that's very deep!" while inside some small, artistic animal is racing around clawing at the windows trying to escape.
Somehow my own poems rarely do this to me. At least, not until a few months later when I see them in the stark, realistic light of fall.
But it is not Fall yet.
It's Spring.
And Spring makes me foolish enough to believe in things like my own poetry and love.

Anyway. I wanted to post "Motherhood" on my other blog because I know at LEAST one mother will eventually read it there and I want to know how it sounds to an actual mother. I, of course, am not one. The poem is (go read it first because I want to know if it comes across) about Mary. I thought it was pretty obvious, but my friend couldn't tell one first reading, so I wanted to get a feel of what percent got an idea that it was about Jesus. See, a couple of my profs have lately been talking about Mary, The Blessed Virgin. I take exception to both parts of that. There are no verses in the Bible that support Mary staying a virgin!! Just the opposite, actually. But anyway that's not my point. My main beef is, where do people get off saying she was "blessed"? My Religion prof was saying that they couldn't put too much in about Mary because other women would try to emulate her to be similarly blessed.


Let's think about this.

First off, Mary is visited by an angel and informed that she's to be the Holy Vessel. So she's spiritually impregnated (what, God couldn't have waited for her to get married? She was betrothed and all!) which back then would have meant utter ostracism. She was a Bad Girl, cut off from her social network, abandoned by friends and family, the subject of gossip and ridicule. She's supremely luck that the angel made a repeat performance for Joseph or else she would have ended up stoned. So then she takes this loooong journey-while pregnant, remember, hugely pregnant, on a DONKEY (donkeys, last time I checked, don't come with A/C and seat cushions) to a crowded, smelly city. Then she's forced to give birth in a cave surrounded by cows. And forget gentle lowing. These cows were POOPING and stomping around. So she's giving birth surrounded by smelly animals. Pushing out a honking big baby head through virgin bits, so there's tearing and bleeding and awfulness and SHE'S terrified because at home, she'd be surrounded by friends and family helping her through this but now they all hate her so all she has is Joseph.

And that's the EASY part.

All Jesus' life, she has GOT to be wondering... am I raising him right? Am I teaching him the right things? Should the son of God's poop be that strange green color? Should the Son of God be running around the yard in his holy birthday suit? I mean, who do you go to for advice on raising the savior of mankind? And when he reaches manhood, does he settle down and help old aging Joseph with the shop? Provide holy grandchildren? No. Does he go off to war, liberate their people from the Romans? Become a national hero? No. He just hits the road with a bunch of low-life friends and tells his mother THEY'RE his family now. After kicking up a bunch more trouble and bringing shame on his family, Jesus dies.

I don't mean to sound disrespectful. The thing is, I think we glorify the wrong things- the immaculate conception. The resurrection. The baptism. We forget that these were people, just.....living. Just trying to get by. And that's the part that deserves praise. The everyday stuff. At bottom, Mary wasn't a blessed virgin or a holy vessel or something to idolize and worship. She was just a mother, and that's something to admire.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Story Up on Official Site

Hey, just a heads up that there's a story up on my Official Blog. It's a short story this time so we actually get a middle and end, not just a beginning! :P

This is not a happy story.

You know what, go read it. Just go read it, then come back, and read the rest of this.


Ok. So now I know there's at least one of you (cough cough MOM cough) going.... "Why write such a terrible story? Why make us think about such sad, pointless stuff? Don't you want to add to the GOOD, beautiful things in the world, instead of the awful, sordid ones?"

The short answer is, No. No, I don't. I'm miserable and so I wrote a depressing story so you could all be miserable, too.

The long answer is, I've been working through some complicated emotions lately concerning three different men in my life, and I felt the need to write some kind of purging story. I don't think this story is ugly or horrible, although some events in it are a bit. I think it's beautiful, a look into the ways we shape our own lives, the choices we make, and the good moments we have. I feel better now that it's written, I don't hate it, and I think that says good things about it. And so yeah. Let me know what you think. Just be warned: if you think MEAN things and tell me that, that will make me depressed, which will force me to write about... like... torture victims or suicide bombers or something.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Cafeteria of Love

It's Tuesday.
One in the afternoon.
Your stomach rumbles ominously. This can only mean one thing.

It's time for a trip to the cafeteria.

As you enter the cafeteria, a blast of warm air strikes your face. You inhale deeply. Is that CHEESE you smell? Warm cheese? Maybe... maybe it's PIZZA! Oh, the glorious decadence of your favorite food... the food you've waited for for so very long... the amazing warm stickiness of that baked, saucy food of dreams! You eagerly rush to the end of the long, long, line, chattering with your friends about how very hungry you are. Your stomach twists painfully as you see other people eating... happy, content, full people... while you are so very empty inside, so pained and growling. You imagine pizza at the end of your wait, golden and crusty and topped with mushrooms or sausage or just cheese. Savory, warm, the only food in the world that could truly satisfy your hunger.

Interminable time passes as the line creeps forward. The wait is made bearable only by the support of your equally hungry friends and the hope of the meal ahead. You inch forward with the rest of the antsy masses, trying to ignore the painful emptiness of your middle. At last- AT LAST- you reach the front of the line! The end is in sight! Full of rejoicing, you look down to see-

Broccoli casserole.

Now. Broccoli is not a bad food. It is green and squooshy and nutritious. It's pretty good. And cheese- you LOVE cheese. But this bright orange nacho sauce.... these grayish, sad lumps... these are not what you wanted. This particular combination of perfectly fine elements is somehow unbearably off-putting to you and in a way you can't explain rationally, you feel let down, almost repulsed. Despite the growling of your hunger, you step aside and let the next person in line be served up a heaping spoonful of casserole. Somehow, in some mysterious, illogical way, you'd rather continue to starve than eat that mess. Miserable, you trudge, empty handed, to a table. Puzzled, your friends remind you of how hungry you are. They question why you aren't eating. "What's wrong with casserole???" they ask, confused and frustrated. "How can you complain of being hungry, yet turn down food?"

They don't understand. Perhaps broccoli casserole is what they wanted all along, or perhaps they are easily content like you thought you were, but now- ohhhh, now- you truly recognize your own impossibility. Despite the dark hunger that rages in your emptiness, despite the pain, you cannot eat casserole. Your mind and stomach cry out for something savory and rich, something spicy and bready, the only thing that could truly fill you up. Not just any old dish will do- no. You wanted PIZZA, and pizza you will wait for. Foolish? Possibly. Naive? Probably. Pointless? Perhaps. But unavoidable, the conclusion that the broccoli casserole would only leave you hungrier in the end.

There may be another option. Daring. Risky. Potentially disastrous. There's a chance that you might be able to sneak back into the kitchen, find the sauce and the frozen pizza crusts, and hijack some casserole. You might be able to combine both the ingredients you long for and the ingredients available, exposing an otherwise repulsive dish to the things you find attractive. Perhaps the broccoli never had the CHANCE to be pizza. Perhaps, given the opportunity, the broccoli could see the errors of its ways and BECOME pizza. It's possible, even, that the broccoli will never be happy until it knows it could be pizza. And at the end of your efforts you emerge victorious, covered in flour and sauce, with a shining, golden, crispy broccoli pizza.

Or maybe the broccoli rejects all things pizza-like and becomes even more firmly a casserole. In this case, you walk away from the cafeteria and never look back, guiltless, knowing you did the best you could, knowing you made no rash judgements, knowing you made no mistakes.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Backwards Glances, Second Chances

I've been struggling with an internal debate over the past few days. No, not whether or not I should attempt the Soprano solo in choir. It's more complicated than that. To sum the dilemma up in as few words as possible, is it better to trust your instincts (INCLUDING prejudices, unfairnesses, craziness) or give a situation/person time to play out (time in which you could get hurt)? That wasn't very few words. Oh well. I never claimed brevity among my MANY many virtues.
The thing is, there's this guy. Let's call him Mark. Mark and I met about two years ago, and we went out a couple of times. I wasn't feeling it. He was a little too quiet for me, didn't seem to have a great sense of humor, and just seemed... well, frankly, OFF. Just odd. Like something was not right. Plus, he seemed to want to dive right into the TREACHEROUS, deadly land of hand-holding and such (gasp! The horror!). So. After two "dates" (are they really dates if there's a huge group of friends involved and you never spend any time talking to the person?) we just never talked again.
Time has passed. Things change, people change. I changed. I had an interesting encounter the next fall which changed my perspective on guys, relationships, and what I want from them. And as time passes I'm growing ever more aware of this gaping hole in my life, this need for affection and positive male attention. So when someone suggested I get in touch with Mark, I considered it. And suddenly I find myself thinking... hey! This isn't such a bad idea! All those cons seem like pros- if he doesn't want to talk, great! I just found myself a new listener! If he wants to stride straight into romantic, physical stuff, perfect. (I'm talking kissing at most here, people, calm thyselves) And if he's a little weird, has some problems, well! I can STOP trying (fruitlessly) to change my best friends and try (fruitlessly) to change him!

So now I'm meeting up with this guy I basically know nothing about, on the hopes that my first impressions were wrong and he's secretly Mr. Wonderful. Or at least, you know. Mr. Bearable. But of course now my doubt chimes in... What if he's just as bad of an idea as the LAST guy I gave a second chance? (Ex boyfriend. Thought getting together to see a movie meant we were engaged. Ended badly all around.) What if he's not interested in me anymore and I end up spending two hours hearing about another girl? What if he's a crazed cyberstalker who wants to rape and murder me? (Did I hear someone say "overactive imagination"?)

The thing is that when I didn't really care, it didn't matter how it turned out. Now that I've started thinking how amazing it would be to be in a relationship, it's going to bother me more when it doesn't work out that way. Here I will insert some depressing quotes about hope.
"In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments." ~Friedrich Nietzsche
"I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free." ~Nikos Kazantzakis
"He that lives upon hope will die fasting." ~Benjamin Franklin
"Hope — it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness." ~The Architect (The Matrix Reloaded)
"Hope is the real killer. Hope is harmful. Hope enables us to sit still in the sinking raft instead of doing something about our situation. Forget hope. " ~Gringo Stars

To plagiarize and deface a line from "The Shawshank Redemption", fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can make you stupid enough not to realize it.

I suppose this all comes back to the same question of me singing that solo in choir I mentioned at the beginning- is the probability of failure worth the risk? And the answer, quite simply, is no. No, it isn't. Not for me. I'd much rather stand in the back row and sway along with everyone else, rather than risking sounding awful and earning mockery for a shot at attention. So I'm not doing the solo. Objectively, that should mean I tell Mark "have a nice life!", not meet up with him this weekend. Logically, it makes sense... risk being murdered by a possible crazy person for the chance that he's a nice guy vs. stay peacefully in my room, studying.

Somehow I don't feel any less confused.....

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dying Towns and Possible New Story

Reno. It's like Las Vegas, except dying. It's everywhere you look, yet nothing you can see. It's that paint that isn't peeling, but it looks like it's been thinking about peeling. It's the flickering neon signs, the flashing bulbs that blink just a little too bright. It's the desperate low rent signs, "Your Ad Here" on more billboards than anything else, the closing sales downtown. It's creepy. I just got back from a three day trip to Reno. Had a good time. The perfect spot for serfs like myself, who want to take advantage of casinos giving away rooms to anyone who might play a slot. We're extras on their set, props to fill them up and make them look successful. It's a desperate mood. It's a slippery bank we clamber up, acting nonchalant like we're in no danger of drowning at all.
I was doing a lot of thinking about gambling and creepy lights and the weird look these people who spend a lot of time in casinos get... and it's inspired a new idea... I don't want to reveal too much, just to say it involves clowns, creepy casinos, and a little kid named Frankie. I've learned my lesson about this stuff, and I won't post it unless I completely finish it. (For anyone still in doubt, "Stranded with a Stranger" is dead in the water. Look for new projects in a few months).
Don't have much else to say today. I don't want to go back to school.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Waiting on Trains

The summer that I was 14, part of my family took a trip from California to Montana to see my uncle. Analyzing prices, both driving and flying were out. So price, combined with my then-three-year-old little brother's obsession with Thomas the Tank Engine, prompted us to travel by train. Trains, known as the most romantic way to travel, are a bit of a thing for my whole family. We don't collect models or artifacts or anything, although our driveway is full of antique railroad ties (and how 50 million 4 inch rusted spikes came 90 miles from the nearest railroad track to infest MY road, I'll NEVER know). But we wish on trains with more than 20 cars and love the lonesome sound of a train whistle.
Before I got on the train, I had my suspicions about the "romance" of the experience. Sure, I was excited in that surly, indifferent 14 year old way, but I my foremost thought was "Why do we have to be too poor to fly like normal people?" Sure, trains are cool. But what do they really have to to with love?
And then our train, due to arrive at midnight, was delayed two hours. Tired, grumpy, and carting around a manically sleepy three year old, my mom, sister, grandpa and I tried to bed down on benches specifically designed NOT to be comfortable. I guess Sacramento wants to discourage the homeless from hanging out in the train stations, so they put dividers between each seat. Newsflash: railings do not discourage people who wear grocery sacks for hats and earn a living off other people's recyclables, and they're a HUGE pain to anyone actually paying to sit in that station. Who do those demonic little armrests benefit? Did you have a contract with the bench-builder's union??
So two hour delay, no big deal. 2 AM. The loudspeaker: our train is delayed another hour.


They couldn't have just TOLD us we wouldn't board til 7:30 AM? Sent us to a hotel or at least let us go home? Oh no. They kept us hanging on, thinking what we were waiting for was JUST around the corner, until we were exhausted, depressed, bedraggled, and feeling sick from wayyyy too much vending machine chocolate.
And THAT'S what trains have to do with love, ladies and gentlemen.
I've been hearing a lot lately about "God's timing". Well, not that I don't put the utmost faith in his divine genius, but... WHAT is the HOLD UP? I'm twenty years old, for goodness sake. I'm single, and not by choice, either, let me tell you. Well, by choice, yes, but not MINE. And it's pretty disillusioning to wake up and realize that the PARTICULAR train I've been waiting on for the last four years is about as likely to pull into MY station as the polar ice caps are to decide to spontaneously re-freeze.
The thing about love is, you think you know how it's going to play out. You figure you know what train you're boarding, or at least what gate your leaving from. But it doesn't come and doesn't come... and unlike the train station, there's no garbled voice telling reassuring lies about arrival times. And all around you, other people boarding their trains. You can't help but panic. Is it me? Am I standing at the wrong platform? Did I get the wrong STATION? But in the end there's nowhere else to go so you just wait. Interminably.
You know what you definitely SHOULDN'T do? Get on a different train, just to be on a train. I tried enough wrong trains, that took me to NOWHERE I wanted to be, that I know of which I speak. Like the Joseph* Train which wound its merry track through the hills of Affection and sped into Co-Dependency Land. Fortunately the view was clear- seeing where this was headed, I jumped off. Next was the trip on the Casey Train- a short, round-trip excursion that left me right back at the station feeling like I'd never left at all. After that, ahhh.... the Nigel Train. In my own defense, I NEVER boarded that one. I was standing too close to the tracks and it HIT me. The longest of any of the rides, this lovely express train toured through the lovely countryside of Testing the Boundaries, followed by a long dark trip down the canyon of Dicking WIth My Head.
After which I ended up right back where I started from, still waiting for the one train I really wanted to catch, still not realizing it was just never coming.
And now I know.
But I'm still waiting.
In the train station at four AM, blasting my Dresden Dolls CD to block out the crying and bickering coming from my family two benches over, I wished I could be anywhere but there. On the train, back home, or in Montana already- anywhere safe and comfortable and dim. But when that train came at 7:30 AM, I had never been more glad to see a vehicle in my life. I adored that train trip, and the waiting was one of the most memorable parts. The thing we all know is that no matter how late the Cincinnati Express 112 or Prince Charming may be, we're not going to give up. We're going to stand our ground at that platform, board as few wrong trains as possible, and wait it out. Because it will either be worth it, or we'll die waiting.
Either way, it's inevitable. So stop whining and move over. I want to stretch out under these arm rests.
It's gonna be a long night.

Monday, March 8, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again

There's that old saying that somebody said... one of those things "people" say. God only knows WHAT people or why they started saying it, and they're all overused, but inevitably true in some way (or else nobody would say them). Anyway, they say you can't go home again. When I was twelve years old and my baby brother was born, my father (bless his heart) arranged things so that I had the option of moving out of the house and into a trailer located somewhere in the chaos of our "orchard". The orchard is really just a big yard down the hill from our house, filled with the detritus of my parents' abandoned plans, the centerpiece of which is a big old hollowed out schoolbus which my father uses as his little fortress. In a house with four, then five, then four again girls and only one man, my poor dad needed an escape.
Now that it was to be two to four, however, it seemed that I would be the one re-located to the orchard. At first I loved the plan. My own little space, no one telling me what to do, nobody to boss me around. I'd still go up to the house to eat and use the bathroom, but this trailer would be my space.
Then I started thinking about it.
No more late nights with my little sisters. No more bored afternoons, doing chores and getting in Mom's hair. Independence meant isolation. Plus, what would I do if I had to pee in the middle of the night?? That was one long walk to make in the middle of the night, in the dark, all by my over-imaginative self! My dad's enthusiastic plans were beginning to bother me.
I've come across this phenomena many times with my dad. He's not a teacher. He's a do-er, and you should be, too. My father, loving and funny and great at buying junk food, has little patience for fear or doubt or ignorance. And most of the time, he's been pushing me towards things I want. Which is why it confused me so much that I got so annoyed at his insistence that I stop edging my toes into the water and just jump.
Here's two fun facts about Emily:
1. I'm not a jumper. On rare, exuberant occasions, I will plunge headfirst into the fray. But as a matter of who I am, I like to be informed, accustomed, and SURE.
2. I am fundamentally, essentially, and deeply insecure. You know those studies that say babies like to be wrapped up super tight, or else they jerk and flail all over the place because even in their sleep, they're so terrified of their new world? Yeah. That's me. I want to be reminded, like, daily, that people love me and think I'm awesome. Possibly oftener. It's probably something that I'll end up on a shrink's couch talking about, someday when I can afford a shrink.
So basically, I wanted to move out. But I did NOT want my dad to want it. Maybe I just like having something to fight about- that's sure how it felt to my parents when I was pubescent, I know. I think, though, that I'm like a bungee jumper- I need to triple-check those cables before I jump. I don't believe that I have wings. I need the ropes, the bounce-back-to-me bondage that is love.
And three years later, I left for boarding school anyway.
When you're an obnoxious teenager, awkward and zitty and you KNOW you drive everybody nuts because even you can't deny that you're kind of a pain, a lot of hostility gets aimed at your parents. After all, YOU didn't ask for them to.... AACK! EWW! Exactly. It's not YOUR fault that you're stuck here on this sucky planet. And the parents aren't too thrilled, either- their crayon-coloring, ballet-dancing princess is suddenly this snarling, sobbing thing with BREASTS. It's a bad time all around. The wounds inflicted on both sides can, I believe, take years to heal.
But I was away for more than half of my teen years. Most of those fights never happened. I respected my parents. In fact, they became the heroes- the food-bringing, car-driving, weekend heroes. The teachers and deans were the iron fisted parents, enforcing dress code and curfew, and the parents were the fun aunt and uncle who send money. So after graduation, I was pretty happy with the idea of going back to live with the fun aunt and uncle, going to community college.
Rude shock.
While I was away at school, making friends and developing a personality, my fifteen year old self had been hidden away under my bed. When I got home, we had a mad wrestle for who got to control me- College Emily or Puberty Emily. It wasn't a battle that was ever really won. Meanwhile, my parents seemed to be undergoing a similar struggle- were they Mom and Dad, or Fun, Nice Aunt Mom and Uncle Dad? It was a messy exercise in not knowing how to relate. It was a little like the stage most people reach around 25. Somehow, during the time apart, I became, like... a PERSON. At home, I didn't want to be treated like a child. But I also didn't really want to be treated like an adult, expected to pay rent and drive my brother around.
Add to that the fact that I have no friends at home, and couldn't find a job, and you have one seriously unhappy young adult skulking about the house, losing not only her muscle tone but also all vestiges of her personality.
So I spent two miserable years trying to make that work, finally gave up and transferred, and now I'm away at school again. Things are so much better. I actually make contact with people my age, and I've lost some of my resemblance to a very large marshmallow. (Now I'm just a large, slightly toasted marshmallow.) I'm not really afraid of leaving the nest anymore- I'm way more scared of staying there. The thing is, the reason you can't go home again is because it isn't 1997. My mom doesn't bake cookies anymore, my sisters don't color (well, not often) and the world doesn't revolve around my little house. I'm not eight, I don't believe in fairies, and I'm not a lonely dreamer wandering in and out of books. Home isn't the same, and neither am I. Going back seems like everybody's trying too hard to make things what they used to be, or be too different, and nothing lines up right.
Some things never change. My mom will still give me a look if I eat more than one popsicle, our house still has ugly carpet and a distinct smell that's one part paint, one part soup, and two parts sweaty carpet, and the sun still wanders lazily through the leaves of the apple tree on a hot summer day. But some things have changed. There's a fence up now, the garden is bigger, and the orchard is a lot less messy. This is still the house where I grew up, where I learned to read and cook and dream. I will always love this house, because it represents my family. But I don't fit there like I used to. The shape of my room has shifted, and I've changed, too. We're growing in opposite directions now, my house more a pond and me more a bird than ever before. Well. A bird with bungee-cords. Still not trusting my own wings, but ready to launch into space as long as that love's there to bounce me back.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Genetic Engineering

Some political/scientifical (yes spell check, I DO realize that's not a real word) things on my mind today...
Designer babies. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/2009/03/02/2009-03-02_custommade_babies_delivered_fertility_cl.html
This article from the New York Daily News talks about a Dr. Jeff Steinberg who is offering parents the chance to pick the hair and eye color of their next baby-shaped accessory. Sure to become the next fad among the Hollywood elites in their bored, over-paid lives, genetic engineering is theoried to be able to effect height, weight, IQ, temperament, gender, sexuality- even, perhaps, taste and preferences. We can all see where this going, I think. Remember that kid we all knew growing up, the one whose mom wouldn't let her do ANYTHING? No running, no playing, no yelling, no sleep-overs, no camping, no computer, no video games... the kid with the list of allergies exactly as long as the list of his mom's neuroses... the polite, well-mannered little boys and girls who grew up under the quashing thumb of a crushingly orthodox religion, only to become adults who pierced themselves and ate sugar and became gay.
But thanks to the miracle of genetic engineering and embryo selection, this pesky problem will soon be eradicated! Give parents the opportunity to select the embryo least likely to ever defy or disappoint, and voila! A utopia of harmony unrivaled since the paradise of America, circa 1955.
I'm scared, too.
It's gonna be like Gattaca meets Pleasantville meets Stepford.

Put aside the more obvious objections- it's not safe, the technology requires testing on humans, isn't selecting one fetus to implant and "terminating" the others the same as abortion? (worse because you chose consciously to create and kill that embryo), the cost will create social divide, what happens when the super-race gets tired of the old models and causes generation slaughter, how are we going to feel when we're obsolete?- and let's get down to brass tacks: it's just plain CREEPY. And boring! Where's the mystery? Where's the FUN?

Now, if this was a widely read blog, I'd expect a couple of responses in the pattern of "Well you try having three children with down syndrome and one with Duchenne's and one with luekemia and you tell me where the "fun" is in THAT. Genetic engineering is the future."

Dr. Steinberg agrees.

In fact, his proclamation of the future is pretty interesting: ""Genetic health is the wave of the future," he (Dr. Steinberg) said. "It's already happening and it's not going to go away. It's going to expand. So if they've got major problems with it, they need to sit down and really examine their own consciences because there's nothing that's going to stop it.""


Cue creepy dun-dun-dun-dunnnnnnn.That sounds like some kind of evil monologue. Thank you, Dr. Doomsday. You hear that, internet population? We're powerless. Progress is progress and mere humans are helpless to stop it.

What happened to trust in God? What happened to good old Mother Nature? And what on Earth ever gave us the idea that WE were in the best position to decide the future of our race? I have very little confidence in my own ability to decide my OWN future, much less that of my future offspring. As for the people who say that it's useful for medical reasons, I provide this soundly reasoned rebuttal:

Yes, Well, they bloody well aren't DOING that with it now are they?

The trouble is, it's all the look-y type things that are easy to get at, on the outside part of the what's-its. The disease bits are much harder to identify and take out. Add to that the objection that even if they could be found, we can't CHANGE them- we can just terminate the embryos (Emily's take: slaughter the potential babies) that HAVE them. We're not curing cancer- we're killing every person who might potentially ever have cancer.

Which, by the way, is everyone.

That's the true road to a world free of disease and defects- kill everybody. Genius. There'll be no more war or pain or hatred (or love or music or art or family or society or civilization, unless the cats aren't telling us something)

Moreover, we still don't understand how genes effect each other. For example, there was a study a few years back ( I don't know where and I don't know when, I read it a few hours ago with no idea I'd ever think about it again and silly me, I don't routinely take citation notes in light reading. I certainly hope this doesn't pop up in the future as a plagiarism issue and ruin my academic reputation. To be on the safe side, I'll avoid building one. Anyway about the study) that found that when a gene was injected to cure some immune syndrome, it did in fact cure the immune thing. And then the patients had leukemia.

All of this is so uncertain and just reeks of being such a BAD idea. Think about where this will lead. It's a superficial future ahead of us, ladies and gentlemen, if we don't stop trying to play God. I've seen what kind of people are out there- I'd rather leave the fate of the world up to God, fate, luck, or blind chance, than place it in the hands of my fellow humans.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Biggest Loser at my Dorm

I woke up this morning to a fresh fallen sheet of white all around me.
No, not snow.
Posters, posters, everywhere. Apparently my dorm is having a Biggest Loser contest. So at first I was like, WOOHOOO! In the BAG!
And then I read the posters and realized they're actually talking about weight.
But maybe not such a bummer.

See the downside is, to enter, you gotta pay $20. Which is a lot for me. All the entry fees go into a pot and at the end of the contest, in like April, the person who's lost the most weight gets all the money. The thing that makes me think maybe I should enter is, most of the chicks in my dorm are already pretty athletic. Meaning... no matter how hard they work, they just plain flat-out CAN'T lose as much as I could. (I could lose... a lot. A lot. We'll just say that nice vague amount.) So really it might be worth it. I mean think about it... if I succeed, not ONLY does my butt finally fit in the same zip-code as me, I also have money from a bunch of skinny girls.

I call that a win-win scenario.

So what does anybody think? Oh wait... silly me... I forgot that the only people currently reading this blog are my mother, my roommate, and my friend. That is so so sad. I need to work on becoming webfamous... I crave attention.
Someday. Mark my words.

Well, someday's really only one word....

So mark my word.



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not-So-Secret Admirers

My first encounter with a secret admirer was in fifth grade. A ratty three-by-five card slipped into my backpack, with the elegant words "your so nice will you be by grillfriend love guess who???" printed in childish scrawl on one side, the other decorated with lopsided hearts. Despite the atrocious spelling and grammar (a friend to your grill? Your gorilla friend?), I was thrilled. For the entire ten minutes that the illusion lasted, I felt lifted up. Transformed. No longer just the chubby shy kid who the eighth graders picked on, I was the object of desire.
Until my little sister started giggling manically.
Not the last time I would feel stupid for believing someone might be interested.
The next anonymous communication of love came from me to the cute, curly-haired blue eyed boy in my class. The only one who never called me names or yelled at me for being terrible at sports. We were assigned to write nice notes to our classmates for Christmas that year- again, on 3 x 5 cards. While I DID sign my name, the love was disguised oh-so-cleverly: around the perimeter I wrote, "Caro mio bien, cree deem ya men, senza di te languis el cor" which is terribly spelled Italian for "dear one, believe- when we must part, I must languish in my heart". Awfully strong sentiment for a boy whose best quality was simply NOT torturing me.
Seventh graders have lower standards, apparently.
My next encounter with anonymous affection was a second-hand one. My good friend started getting emails from a mysterious and fascinating "strawberrysprinkles", a boy with a great sense of humor known to her only as "Jerry". She really started to fall for this guy. The relationship continued on and off in cyberspace for almost a year- until she found out that these emails were actually being written by my sister, the serial-fake-anonymous-lover.
My sister, bless her heart, never meant any harm. She's about the sweetest person you'll ever meet, and the best at making people happy. The problem is, the immediate fix for happiness isn't always the best plan for long-term contentment.
Which is kind of a good thing to keep in mind, in relationships. Hello, teenage pregnancy.
The next time I wrote a secret admirer note was the worst Valentine's day I've had so far... and that's really saying something. One of my friends convinced me to write a note to another friend as a joke. The whole thing back fired when he immediately knew who had written the note. Instead of taking it as intended, he took it 100% seriously and that forced him to have a very awkward conversation in which he attempted to let me down easy. The ironic part is, my main fear in giving him the note was that he'd take it seriously and ask me out, forcing ME to have a very awkward conversation in which I attempted to let him down easy.
Few friendships could survive such awkwardness.
Thinking about all of this lately, because my roommate just received a rose for (belated) Valentine's day... It wasn't anonymous, but for some reason it made me think about secret admirers. What's the appeal? Why go to all the trouble and then not take credit?

Cuz we're chicken.

No, seriously, I think it's deeper. There's this kind of basic insecurity mixed with primal pride... we think the object of our affections really WOULD love us back, if they could see US, the inner us, the us that doesn't seem to show itself in English class. If we weren't us, trapped in our routines and habits and stereotypes, we would be MORE ourselves. Somehow. There's always a side of ourselves we don't get to BE, every day. If he could see that... see ME, without the limitations actual appearance puts on me, I just know he'd love me.

Take my advice: if you love someone, just say it. Be honest and let the chips fall where they may. Because if someone's only gonna love you when they don't know it's you, that's really not gonna work out long-term, now, is it? You can't grow old with a mystery date. You can't even DATE a mystery date. And don't fake-secret-admire your friends. It's not as good of an idea as you think: they'll either hate you or force you to have The Awkwardest Conversation of Your Life.

I love you all!
most Nonymously,

Monday, February 15, 2010

YouTube Famous

So today I was spending (read: wasting) some time between my academic advising appointment (more on that) and Spanish class (3:45- 6:00 PM. Um, maybe it's just me, but... that's NAP time.) watching random videos on YouTube. Well, one random "misheard lyrics video" -My Chemical Romance, Helena. Funny funny funny- and a random video by a big YouTube celebrity who shall remain unnamed (but it rhymes with Mane Lawson) and I started wondering... how do these people get to be web-famous? Smosh... Fred... Bo Burnham... they're basically just bored white boys (is Anthony white???) being random. Yet somehow, they enormously entertain me. And many thousands of other bored citizens of the webernet.
I have two theories.
One: they are not, in fact, just having fun. There is a long, complex process involving a large budget and a lot of forethought and they are actually trained actors with script writers and a camera crew.
Two: human beings are very easily entertained. Specifically the 12-21 variety.
But really the question remains... how do these people get so web-famous?
And how would one go about copying them in that?

Can I just say that academic advising rocks? You go in there, adrift, no idea what classes you need next term, no idea what you're doing, and wow! Someone has all the answers. It's amazing. A couple of pieces of paper lay out a map for your next step. Why don't they have job advisors? Or better yet, relationship advisors? Someone to just tell you in simple terms what your next step ought to be. Life should come with an instruction manual... and DON'T anybody reply saying that's what the bible's for. Yes. God's word is valuable and moral. But when it comes to choosing a career or deciding whether or not those shoes will make the hot junior in Bio fall madly in love with you? Yeah. Not so applicable.

It also doesn't have a chapter on becoming web-famous.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day

I know it's all a plot by corporate America to fill our landfills with "I Love You" balloons and heart-shaped candy boxes, thus contributing to global climate change and dooming us all to explode in a cataclysmic fury of consumer greed... but I still feel lonely on Valentine's day.
Maybe it's just an excuse to wallow in my single-ness. After all, I can't mope around and eat cartloads of chocolate EVERY day. It's a good day to sit back, watch a couple corny chick flicks, and gain another counterproductive five pounds.
I look at my life and I look in the mirror and the word that springs to mind is, unfathomably, "self-destruction". Every day that I spend in College Algebra is a day lost- a day out of this finite slice that I will never have back. I can't help feeling this is not what I ought to be doing. And it seems like having a special someone would alleviate that.
It's not about candy and flowers and PDA. It's not about having someone to meet in the cafeteria or go out to a movie with. I have that- I have friends. I'm not utterly isolated like some sad crazy cat lady. Not yet, anyway.
The real problem is that I know what it's like when you look into somebody's eyes and you see them looking back at you and you know that they think you're.... well no, really, that's all that matters. They THINK something of you. They think about you. That boy, that other person, has reached across improbable space and singled ME out as someone worthwhile. It's incredibly affirming.

And addictive.

And when it's gone, it's not the same as before you'd ever had it. If a child was raised his whole life in a cold, dark cave ( raised by bats, let's say) and one day, experienced the sun- warm, golden light, soothing pains he hadn't been aware of until he felt the alternative-then- cruelly- he is stuck back in the same stupid cave, left to whimper in the dripping shadows for the rest of his life, isn't he worse off than before he knew? Knew how different life could be?

I have just one thing to say to the sun:

I hate you.

Happy Valentine's day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New to the blog: AdSense and my personal blog

So this is kind of attached to my story blog... I wanted someplace where I could talk about stuff. And explain what's going on with the stories and the blog and... well.. me. I just signed up for AdSense with google so in a couple of days ads should start showing up on my pages... which makes me feel like a real genuine member of the internet swindling community. I'm wondering if they'll put ads for cruises on my page since I have like "island" and "castaway" as key words in Stranded.
Speaking of Stranded... I'm still working on it but I've hit a serious bump in the road.. this one conversation I just canNOT seem to make flow. And the story might be taking a strange turn... I don't know what's wrong with my characters. They want things to be so complicated.
I thought I could use this addendum-blog to maybe give out some writing tips and respond to feedback I get on the story page. We'll see how it goes.