Everything’s Fine

Mood: Pensive
Drinking: Diet Coke w/ drops of vanilla

There’s nothing wrong.

Really.

Nothing to speak of. Nothing to report. No waves, no storms, no unpleasant events scheduled.

It makes me nervous.

I have a natural affinity for the wrong kind of goings-on. Tragedy, trauma, terrible news. I know what to do when the bomb drops. Know just how to curl into the self-preservational fetal ball. Know how to fling my forearms in front of my face to protect the eyes from flying shrapnel. I know how to drop and roll, how to crouch and cover. I know how to hide.

It is the standing tall in the daylight that sometimes causes confusion.

Happiness is not my natural state. And yet…

And yet. Here I am. Boy. Dog. Fog. Nice home (no picket fence though, thanks.) Nice job. Nice friends. Nice clothes. Nice shoes. Nice etcetera.

Boy sometimes accuses me of manufacturing unnecessary drama just so I can feel like something is wrong. Just so I can feel comfortable again. He may be on to something.

I have had so much going on peripherally for the last 9 months or so that I haven’t even realized how happy I was in my own life. I was distracted by the terrible news of my sister’s fiance getting suddenly shipped out to Iraq, distracted by her subsequent sudden wedding.

I was distracted by two friends who suddenly bottomed out, teetering on the edge of total, damning destruction. Distracted by their agonizing, inch-by-inch individual crawls back to safe ground.

I was too busy helping. Fielding middle-of-the-night phone calls and siren-sounding emergencies. Passing out bandages and crash helmets. But it’s quiet now. It’s very calm.

And I finally took a good look around me and damn. Life…it’s good! It’s full just to the top of the glass. It’s busy enough to keep me from boredom but lazy enough to keep me from stomach ulcers. I’m writing. I’m creating. I’m working. I’m playing. I’m, well…I’m great. How fucked up is that?

Long ago, when Boy and I started doing the dating dance, I warned him that I wasn’t sure I knew how to be happy. And yet here I am, doing it. Not enough paying enough attention most of the time to notice that that’s what’s going on. I’ve just been strolling along on the tightrope, not even noticing that I’ve stepped off the platform. Not even looking down.

Well. Until now. And that’s where the trick comes in.

Now that I know. Now that I see, I’ve got to resume the stroll. I can’t keep looking down…I won’t be able to move. It’s eyes up and forward. Over and out.

Maybe that’s it. The trick. The secret. Looking out, away from myself. Oh, I’m all for introspection. God knows I do that well. But people like me, we stare to long in the mirror and we start to fall apart. So I don’t think I’ll ever be in any danger of not paying enough attention to myself. I’ve got a degree in self-absorption.

But now that I’m all grown up, old enough to see beyond the glass, old enough to know there is real darkness out there that makes mine just look kind of pale grey. I guess the trick is that I’ve got to keep looking. There’s so much to see outside of me. And so I’ll resume my stroll.

Eyes up and forward…

-Lo, who thinks that mirrors can sometimes be kryptonite.

Sex and the Single Girl

Mood: Waiting for the night to come
Drinking: Two-fisted, even

When you don’t do the out-of-town thing for Memorial Day weekend, you usually end up on your ass in front of a screen of some sort. Computer. Movie. TV. I chose the TV option this weekend.

I did spend *some* of the holiday weekend off my ass…took the LeeLoo for a multitude of walks, went for a long motorcycle jaunt with Boy, did the barbeque thing with friends, spent Saturday on the boardwalk in Santa Cruz (mmmm, taffy) with S and MTB and Boy. Sunscreen was liberally applied. But there was a whole day when Boy and pals went off-roading and I opted to skip the jouncing over rocks and through mudholes and sit on my ass.

Having recently finished the Firefly DVD set (have I mentioned how much I’m loving Joss Whedon, again?), I needed some new distraction that would last longer than the average movie-minute. So I decided to go with the cliche and order up some Sex and the City. (I had never seen it before, mostly b/c I always thought it looked almost as stupid as Britney Spear’s stage outfits. Plus, I’ve always had a full slate of favorite shows and not much room for promiscuous WASPy bitches.)

I have to preface this confession by saying that Sarah Jessica Parker is on my “Euw!” List. I’m not a fan, never have been a fan, never will be a fan, and get rid of that nasty mole already! But I was weakened by boredom and, let’s face it, a fairly large helping of cat-killing curiosity.

So. Three Sex and the City discs later, I’m in Season Two and already over it. I’m sure this is blasphemy to some, but this is my web site, so all the Carrie Bradshaw fans can shut it. I’m not going to waste space with a list of reasons of why I don’t give a shit about SATC (bad writing, bad clothes and dirty, dirty whores). But I will say that it got me thinking about my own single girl days.

Back in college a girlfriend and I came up with the theory that there are two basic specimens of female in the dating world: The River People and the Desert People.

River people float along all carefree with the wind in their hair, docking their little shapely boat at any place along the riverbank that looks welcoming. Meanwhile, the desert people stumble along with cracked lips and sandblasted skin, searching the horizon for any sign of an oasis, and often going for years without seeing one.

Translation: River people are the girls who are NEVER without a boyfriend. They often have a new boyfriend before they bother to discard the old one. And the Desert girls are the ones with large stretches of empty space in their love lives. Which is not to say that they don’t have plenty to fill up the space. But they are more often than not “without”.

I, of course, was a Desert person, and tended to hang out with Desert people, also. I had four real boyfriends and a handful of flings from the time I was 18 until Boy hitched my star to his wagon (or vice versa) when I turned 28. Before Boy, my longest relationship was 9 months. With a year or two or three of desert in between.

I’m glad I was a nomad, though. I liked it out there. I got tough. I got creative. I got busy with my own life. I learned how to be independent and self-sufficient and how to hang on to my girlfriends. But as a typical desert-dweller, I also learned how it felt to be the “pal” gal. The one the guys call to go rollerblading down Michigan Avenue at 2 in the morning with the rest of the “guys”. The one the guys call to fill out the group of holiday skiers. The one the guys call to talk about the girl they really like. Yup. I was a most excellent gal pal.

(Thank god Boy never wanted to be pals.)

Anyway, it all reminded me of a little thing I wrote back in 1997. A little thing about a boy who thought of me fondly as one of his very best “gal pals”. And it didn’t even matter that, had he asked me, I would have (most likely) said “No!”. What mattered was that he didn’t. What mattered was that he called me up, often, late at night, to talk about someone else who took his breath away…

BREATHING

He called to say
she left him
breathless.

Tongue twisting
around his eyeteeth
while he looked for
perfect words
and spoke the wrong ones
stupidly.

Knees knocking
at the door of
manliness since
he saw her in church
so he couldn’t be
horny.

Heart leaking
love jelly
through the seams
of his chest and his
missing rib ached
when he finally blinked
to breathe.

He called to say
she’s beautiful
intelligent
and sweet. She
makes him laugh
and makes him
dream but he won’t
tell her that.

She makes him
nervous.

He called to say
“Thanks for listening.”
He can tell me
anything.

Yeah.
I always leave him
breathing.

-Lo, who would never have survived the river, anyhow.

Still in bed on a Sunday Morning

Mood: Waking life
Drinking: Too lazy to get up and get one

I’m all propped up on pillows with my wicked little laptop whilst the LeeLoo sits here staring at me, all wrinkly and doe-eyed, hoping I’ve got a jar of peanut butter or some other tasty niblet stashed in the bedside table. Boy’s side is empty ‘cuz he’s somewhere in Colorado, heading this way by car with our fabulous friend MTB. After years of baldfaced begging and not-so-subtle hints on our part, MTB is taking the plunge and moving from Gnashville to San Francisco, and we are beside ourselves with excitement about the whole thing. So MTB and Boy, who are former roommates and lifetime friends, are doing the male bonding thing by driving through moutains & desert together for a coupla days.

Believe me, if we could relocate all our friends to our favorite city, we would.

Usually on Sunday mornings I wake up, check the clock and roll back over for my one-day-a-week of uninterrupted sleep-in time. But today, for the first time in a long time, I thought, “Hey, it’s Sunday. And somewhere out there, lotsa people are going to church.” And then I rolled back over.

I used to be one of those church girls. I grew up in it. My parents were sporadic church attenders, but since they wanted my sister and I to get a good education, they sent us to a parochial school. We got a good education and more than our fair share of irrational guilt. Chapel was mandatory. And they (not my parents, the school) guilted you into church attendance, too. Not just Sunday morning, but Sunday night and Wednesday night. “Every time the church doors are open,” was the saying.

The story of how I came to be the non-church-attending heathen I am today is a longwinded tale, and my fingers have just woken up and haven’t eaten yet, so they’re not even going to attempt the marathon typing session that would require. I’ll just say that all those preachers in all those ill-fitting JCPenney suits who pounded their Bibles at us in all those midweek chapel sessions, well, they were wrong.

They were wrong about a great many things. But in this case, they were wrong when they made fun of people who favored the solace of nature over church. I can’t even count the times I heard the example of the “backslidden Christian” who said, “I feel closer to God out in the woods/beach/desert/mountains than in a church, so that is where I do my worshipping.” And all those small-town preachers used to smirk and scoff and say “Can you believe that nonsense? THE CHURCH is where you worship. Among God’s people. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together! Mutter, mutter, mutter.”

Well, I have forsaken the assembling. I have forsaken it for the woods and the beach. I have forsaken it BECAUSE of “God’s people”. This is not to say that I think all of those who call themselves Christians are to be avoided. My parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, some of my good friends are all church-attending Christians, and I have nothing but respect for them and for the way they lead their lives. They are amazing, loving, kind and brilliant people.

But, truth be told, the majority of Christians I have encoutered in my history of church are to be avoided. And I have done that, rather successfully, for the past 5 or so years.

But there’s this thing that I did that still connects me to the church world, and today that’s what made me wake up and think of pews. Back in 1998, when I lived in Chicago, a friend of mine asked me for a favor. He was speaking at a Christian conference in this really huge (freakish, frightening) church, about Generation X. (Which was, at the time, all the rage.)

Being the GenX poster child that I was, at the time, and being a practiced performance poet (which I also was, at the time), my friend asked me to write a piece about what it meant to be a GenX’er and read it during his session at this conference. He told me that the audience was 99% Baby Boomers and that they had no understanding of my generation.

So I did. I wrote this piece, an essay-type-thing, titled “This is who I am.” And I read it for this audience of Boomers, a couple thousand of them. I read it with absolutely no comprehension of what a big deal it would become.

Seven years later, people still talk to me about that performance. See, it was videotaped. And the video has been copied and sold and sold and sold. It’s been shown in classrooms and churches and conferences. It’s been taken to Norway and Australia and Florida. And this week I received, through this web site, two separate emails from two people who just saw the video.

I would have been a lot more nervous at that performance had I known how long this thing would last. I definitely would have written it differently. Because us GenXers, we’re not the thing anymore. We’re all grown up and having babies and mortgages and making sure our cars have 4-doors. And yet this video, this little speech about a generation gap, it lives on and on and on.

And people somehow still find it relevant. And moving. And powerful, even. And most of these people are church people. They write and tell me they’re praying for God to “bless your ministry.” And although I appreciate the sentiment (I mean, it can’t hurt to have lots of strangers praying down blessings upon you, can it), it freaks me out a little. Especially since my “ministry” consists mainly of being a bitchy, moody, misanthropic poet.

If they come to this website and find this journal with its prolific use of the word “fuck”, I’m sure they quickly figure out that they may not be dealing with a holy roller. (But then, my little GenX piece, while profanity-free, was definitely not a rah-rah sunday school speech.)

It’s just ironic to me that of all the things I have written, the one that has gotten the most attention thus far is an essay written on assignment for the “people of God”.

I have removed myself so far from the land of Christianese that it is always surprising to receive these emails. They don’t come all the time, so usually I have forgotten about the video altogether and then someone will write and say things like, “What a tremendous impact God has been able to accomplish through your efforts. Thanks for being a blessing for the Lord.” And I’ll be all, “Huh?”

I shouldn’t complain. And I’m not, really. I’m just mystified, I guess. And so I sit here in bed on a Sunday morning, all snuggled with the LeeLoo, and to be perfectly honest, just sitting here all contemplative with my computer is better than any church experience I’ve ever had.

So all you folks who stumble across this site having seen that video somewhere, consider yourselves warned. I’m just trying to be up front here: I am not the church girl you might have been expecting. I am happily backslidden. I swear a lot. I worship God in the woods and on the beach. I spend my Sunday mornings communing with my pillow. And I like it this way. I think my faith in God works better this way. Just want to make sure we all understand each other. So I welcome your prayers and your blessings. But not your sermons.

And I am mystified and humbled that a little 7-minute, 7-year-old performance is still making the rounds and moving people enough that they will track me down. But if I were to be completely honest, I would trade all that in-church publicity for a little more name recognition out-of-church.

Because it’s just better out here.

-Lo, who was once asked by a chrome-domed preacher if she was a witch. You know, because “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” and all.

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