Wednesday, September 30, 2009


(a little creative writing)

This particular night I’m at a dance club with my friend Evan. We spend a lot of weekends here, sometimes not getting back to campus until sunrise. This is our favorite club, the one with the best music and the most colorful people. The dance floor is tiny. One wall is covered with mirrors to make it look larger. Most people can’t help checking themselves out as they dance. Most people here are very interested in themselves.

Evan is fun to be around. He has a lot of charm – he knows everyone and everyone loves him. People usually ignore me. I’m not sociable. I hate trying to make small talk in loud clubs. I am shy and tend to glower. But I like dancing. It doesn’t matter how you dance here. In fact, it’s best to be a bit extravagant and odd. And you don’t need a partner. There’s no couples dancing. If you want to get up close and personal, that’s what the bathrooms are for.

Evan catches sight of someone he knows. He smiles his potent smile and soon I’m half heartedly trying to follow a half-heard conversation with someone whose name I’ve already forgotten. Not that it matters. They’ve forgotten mine, too. I think it’s exhausting I’m a little jealous. I’d rather have Evan all to myself, not because I have romantic designs on him, but because that’s the way I feel about my friends. I’m possessive.

He says, “I want you to meet someone.” I’m looking at a girl with short black hair and dark eyes with dramatic black eye liner . She looks like Siouxie Sioux from Siouxie and the Banshees. She looks like Louise Brooks gone goth. She looks like…the only thing worth looking at. She has a friend with her that I don’t really notice. Someone inconsequential.

“Hey,” I say, “weren’t you at that party at Ella’s place? You tried to transfer an entry stamp on to the back of my hand so I could get into a club.”

“Oh yeah, I remember.” she says, then she smiles and I don’t catch what she says next. “What?” I say. I can barely hear anything. She leans in until I feel her hair against my cheek and whispers in my ear, “Fate.” She leans over the bar and says something to the bartender. He gives her a pen and a matchbook. She flips up the cover and scribbles. Then she takes my hand and gently closes my fingers around the matches. “Call me.”

It’s several days later, now. I’m sitting by the phone with this matchbook in one hand, and I’m considering. When fate deals you a card, you should walk away from the table. But I don’t.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I am bored, so very bored. My mind is flopping about like a fish on deck of a ship. The best I can look forward to is a grill.

When I’m bored, the future seems as endless as a bad dream, moment by moment laboriously lifted and dropped. I don’t dare look ahead, because there are yards and yards of moments strung end to end. I’m looking out at the parking lot. The light is lovely, winking off the cars. The chill of autumn is slowly wiggling in. But I can’t work up any enthusiasm for anything. Why do people drive here each day and park their cars and get out and go to work and actually feel alive? And everything is God here. God god god. We need more churches to let more people know about God We all have Bibles at our desks. I guarantee you I am the only one here who doubts so ferociously.

I am bored with the whole faith issue. I’m tired of thinking about it. I dread devotions here. I feel awkward. I feel false. I feel like contradicting everything. I feel like being late so I miss them. I feel like not being nice. I feel like sneering when someone says “God has it under control.” These people have faith and I’m the viper in their midst.

I am supposed to appreciate the here and no and not always wish to escape, but this nowness is so dull and I am so restless and cantankerous.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I am at loose ends it seems, a very uncomfortable feeling. A which way do I turn feeling. A stare into the abyss feeling.

These are two of my all-time favorite songs, part of my soundtrack for staring into the abyss.

Isolation, by Joy Division

How Soon Is Now? by The Smiths

(that video is useless but the original one can't be embedded)

Friday, September 18, 2009

I ditched the meaning and now I have nothing to wear

Suicidal ideation without intention. Just one more thing I think about and never do.

And wouldn’t, so don’t freak out.

That was one of a list of characteristics my therapist derived from the TAT (Thematic Apperception Test). When you take the TAT, you view a series of pictures (drawings, photos, prints) and talk about what is happening in the picture, what happened before, and what will happen after. These are my traits:

Lack of motivation
Suicidal ideation without intention
Desire to escape reality

Well, that’s encouraging. At least I’ve always been correct in my self-assessment.

Boredom: I’ve been complaining about this from 5 years of age on. I remember my childhood as a lunar landscape of boredom, empty time unrelenting and blank, tense with restraint because movement was futile. In college I discovered hyperstimulation: late nights, clubs, drink, drugs –the quest for elation. Now I just tend to drift when I’m bored, or to seek distraction in the ever shifting world of popular culture.

Distractibility: Ooo, it’s shiny, it’s new, and there’s more here, and more there, and wow, there are just lots and lots of things/music/books/websites and I can look up anything anytime, skipping stone to stone with a pocket full of baubles.

Morbidity: The worst will happen. The other shoe will drop. Yang needs its Yin. Karma will bite back. Car accidents, abductions, murders, torture, assault, hurricanes, tornadoes, terminal disease, sudden death.

Lack of motivation: I never met a goal that grabbed my attention. I am consistent in bobbing along, drifting past the scenery, uncertain, baffled and envious of those with definable ambitions. I feel sleepy.

Suicidal ideation without intention: From the moment I understood what it was, standing in the bathroom at 16 with a razor blade wondering if I could in fact nerve myself to cut deeply enough, the possibility of slipping out of life has had its allure. But not enough to try it. I’ve talked about it and mulled it over and compared possible departure routes with equally morbid friends, and read enough Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton to induce major depression. But I’ve never collected the pills, walked into the ocean, slit my wrists, tied a noose. I want transition, but not that transition. My card is the Tower – the destruction before rebuilding, the slate wiped down and a nice new pencil, the old self burned away and the new one in the ashes.

Desire to escape reality: Fiction, fantasy, cinema, TV (all those foreign soap operas!). If you’re bored silly with what you have to do and feel trapped and hemmed in by necessity, duty and responsibility, and/or you don’t feel confident in any of these, where do you go? I am never just here, in this one place at this one time. I am not “present” as I so often hear. I am wandering over 10 or so different landscapes at once, and often not as myself.

After looking at the pictures I thought of how we filter all art this way, through our own temperament and idiosyncrasies, so that even the most objective aspects – narrative sequence, the paint and the object painted are transformed by our projected fears and desires. This is why I can’t imagine the Bible as inerrant rather than a mysterious hallway of mirrors.

In college I had to read The Possessed by Dostoevsky. The professor, it was clear, found the nihilism of the radicals repulsive. He had, after all, escaped from Communist Russia. Although I disliked political nihilism (as I like civic order), I found the idea of nihilism liberating. I thought of clearing the land for the new crop, burning the forest to encourage the trees. Everyone was so certain of what everything meant – morality is this, purpose is this, you must behave like this because of that because that is what is right because that is what everyone knows, the great immutable meaning of rightness. Useless, stagnant meaning seemed to have a stranglehold on everything. How lovely to discard the meaning and construct something more suitable.

Only, I am good at cutting away the meaning and not so good at constructing something more suitable.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And here is more of it

1. In the ongoing situation with my brother and his wife, it seems there are really no particularly good options. There is not enough money for assisted living, yet they aren’t poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. No one has the ability to take them into their home, and I think they would protest that quite strongly. We certainly can’t give her the 24/7 care the hospital thinks she needs, and I sincerely doubt that my autistic (or whatever he is) brother knows jack about testing blood sugar levels and how to judge the amount of insulin needed and probably won’t do much better with training. I could be wrong. He’s good with numbers and data. I don’t think he’s ever paid a bill late. Perhaps we can get a nurse to check in periodically – something that is quite expensive. I’ll have to hope that my brother has enough prescience to keep the house from burning down (although this is debatable – my family cleaned up their house last weekend and found a dead animal and threw out 20+ bags of trash, including stacks of paper filled with chess moves – at least I think they are chess moves and not some more arcane code). They don’t live close enough for us to check in on them frequently. This remains a puzzle. It’s sad that my brother has never been evaluated for learning or cognitive disabilities. Talking to him is an exercise in frustration. I think we’ve all just assumed that he was really neurotic from our screwy upbringing, but watching him now, I can tell there is a neurological problem. I don’t know that searching out a diagnosis in your 60s would be all that helpful. In any case, he isn’t so far gone as to need guardianship, so he has the right to do what he wants with regard to their wellbeing. It seems that the county will pay for a nurse to visit three times a week.

2. I wish this show - RAW - aired in the US, but I doubt it ever will. I’ve seen selections from it on YouTube, but they are all for just one story line, and the Irish network doesn’t have full episodes online. The show is set in Ireland, in the kitchen of a restaurant, with temperamental chefs and a motley crew of kitchen help and wait staff, all yelling at each other, having affairs, angling for power, and getting into all sorts of mischief. The episodes have great soundtracks, and the Australian chef is a bit of alright, too.

3. My amusement with foreign soap operas knows no end. I’ve now found a Welsh one and a couple of Spanish ones, a Dutch one and an Israeli one. The Dutch one is partly in Dutch and part in English, and there’s an American actress who looks just like Luke’s grandmother on As the World Turns. Yes, I’ve watched a little of that, too, just for Luke and Noah, but the plots are so wacked it’s irritating.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m following the gay story lines (and it seems to be all guys, for some reason), because that’s what everyone seems to upload. They are all pretty similar – two guys fall for each other but don’t want to admit they’re gay and spend as many episodes as possible struggling with it, angst-ridden and creating chaos and misunderstanding until the writers have worn them to bits and eroded everyone’s patience and they finally (1) declare their love and settle into domestic bliss, dooming themselves to a minor story line from then on; (2) declare their love and one of them gets beat up/is abducted/narrowly evades assassination by crazed homophobic relative; (3) declare their love and spend twelve episodes trying to bring their family round; (4) declare their love but one of them ends up running off with a girl for a while until he comes to his senses and spends twelve episodes trying to win back his true love, who is going to make him walk on hot coals first. The Welsh soap opera seems to be departing from formulas, as the kid is perfectly happy and comfortable with himself and his Dad’s attitude can be summed up as “Nobody in this village better discriminate against my son.” And they don’t. You might wonder where the dramatic tension is in that. So do I. I just like listening to Welsh.

Sigh. I just can’t resist posting videos, particularly if they’re over the top. (At least I hope this is over the top. No one has actually behaved like this, have they?). Here you see two young fellows struggling – literally - with the “coming to terms with it” stage. It’s not going too well. I happen to like the music in the opening sequence – so menacing and ritualistic. Ah, young love. I think the blond guy is kinda scary. I mean, look at his eyes. They say "I'm a National Front serial killer."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This is what it is

1. So I've mentioned in some places the absolute craptastic issues facing my family. My brother Mitch and his wife both ended up in the hospital and they won't let her go because the docs have deemed her unfit to take care of herself and my brother (who has, I think, undiagnosed autism) unfit to take care of her. They have no money. She needs assisted living, not a nursing home. Assisted living costs a fortune. We have to sort something out. I don't know what. I think my other brothers are just kind of hoping a new psych eval will show her to be okay, despite a family history of dementia. Frak me.

2. The girls have been running fevers since Friday. Tomorrow, back to the doctors. Did I say "frack me" yet?

3. The toilet clogged this morning. The only upside was that the guy who came to fix it was, um, pretty dishy.

4. I think I am following every soap with a gay story line. No, wait, I can't - because there are TOO DAMN MANY. Germany's All That Matters has become a new favorite because it's hard not to like a show with two men having such enthusiastic fun in a shower.

5. I am really ticked off to learn that we NEVER find out who killed Jenny Schecter. WTF? I was SO ready for that whiny little witch to get her comeuppance and now I don't even know who to thank.

6. Isn't the first time you have sex supposed to be one of those events you remember forever? You know, at least if you weren't drunk or high? I've got a place and a person and then it gets fuzzy.

7. A friend recently reminded me that we used to go to the mall during free period to watch As the World Turns (or was it Days of Our Lives?), something I don't remember at all. It seems we had pet names for the main characters: Ugh and Goolie. Who the hell were they? But that in turn brought back the memory of following Raven and Skyler on the Edge of Night. Did I not have a life? No. No I didn't.

8. Dear Husband and I are watching Battlestar Gallatica, which is awesome on so may levels. On my level, I have a crush on Cylon Number Six, who can plant a chip in my brain anytime.

9. As I realize how much I don't remember, I'm wondering how much I fabricate out of a need for narrative continuity.

10. Speaking of narrative, I wrote a story that you can find here, on Metazen. Some of it is based on memory -- mine, I think.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Verbotene Liebe

In my ongoing quest to do anything except what I’m supposed to be doing, I have discovered .... a German soap opera! Or rather, bits of a German soap opera. I can’t find full episodes, not in English anyway. Instead, fans of particular characters pull out those story lines and post them on YouTube. They’ve even provided subtitles, bless their obsessive little hearts.

The soap opera is called Verbotene Liebe. It seems pretty much like an American soap opera, but because everyone is speaking German, it sounds sophisticated and poetic, like Rilke. It almost makes me want to learn German. Oh wait, I tried that in college under the influence of Wings of Desire. One semester made me grateful that most Germans learn English so they can communicate with idiots like me. I haven’t watched a soap opera since high school, when I used to moon over Robert Scorpio on General Hospital. He had an Australian accent, you see. Which just goes to show you that an accent will go a long way with me.

Verbotene has a gazillian storylines, I gather, but so far I’ve investigated just two: Oliver and Christian, and Carla and Hanna/Vanessa/Stella/Susanne. Carla seems to get around, the minx. I last saw a portion of the story about Carla and Suzanne, the smitten taxi driver. Suzanne’s love for Carla was unrequited. It was unrequited for a whole lot of episodes, which was getting really tedious, until the plot finally propelled Carla into Susanne’s arms, knocking her lunch to the ground and startling the passersby. They go on to get married, have a baby, invite a viper into their home, and, well, I haven’t gone further. Carla and Susanne are both kind of insipid and have a phenomenal lack of chemistry. Honestly, any couple that kisses like that is doomed to a life of flannel nighties and Ovaltine. The L Word definitely does it better.

The Olli and Christian story has been much more enjoyable because they are most definitely not doomed to flannel and Ovaltine and yet they are so adorable you wish they were available as plush toys.

Their story goes something like this:
  • Olli and Christian don’t like each other
  • Olli and Christian are friends, sort of
  • Olli begins to like Christian a LOT
  • Olli kisses Christian’s girlfriend
  • Olli kisses Christian
  • Christian freaks out and gets confused
  • Olli tries to be a good friend.
  • Christian continues to freak out.
  • For several more episodes Christian freaks out
  • Olli continues to be really nice to the jerk
  • Olli and Christian hook up
  • Christian freaks way the hell out
  • Olli (who was already exhibiting signs of emotional masochism a few steps back) tries to be understanding and supportive
  • Christian finds nearest girl to date
  • Olli decides to screw understanding and support, and maybe the hot guy he meets at the club
  • Christian is madly jealous
  • Olli is ever so slightly impatient
  • Christian has a revelation: I’m gay!
  • Tender love scene to “Breathe Me” by Sia
  • Everyone’s happy.
  • Until formerly uptight Christian comes out in the most dramatic way possible. After a boxing competition. In the boxing ring. By kissing Olli. For a very long time. Audience looks stunned at this unexpected entertainment, which is only supposed to happen in Bruno.
  • Olli gets beat up by – you’ll never guess – a homophobic boxer
  • Olli lies in hospital at death’s door
  • The non-homicidal boxers rally round Christian and even hug him without worrying about cooties
  • Olli survives
  • Olli and Christian live happily ever after in abiding adorableness
  • Awwwwww
Except, it’s in my nature to skip ahead, so I know that somewhere along the line Christian has to give up boxing due to a heart defect and Olli opens his own bar and starts wearing one of those Israeli scarves that I associate with the smell of clove cigarettes and earnest discourse.

(Note: Good gravy, the official Verbotene Liebe website actually has a Christian and Olli blog. I found it by locating the words “blog” and “English” on the all German site. It's so nice they've made accommodation for us language slobs. Oh, lordy, I think this may be almost too cute.)

This being a soap opera, I imagine there will have to be a terminal illness, a death, an affair, a double-crossing intruder, a dark secret from the past, embezzlement, a long-lost twin, amnesia, a baby, or perhaps all of those to keep the story going.

By that time I will have moved on to something else. I hear Hollyoaks has its merits…