Friday, August 26, 2011

what i learned from a monster.

what do you want?

four little words. scarier than spiders and spaghettihead. the latter being the monster who lived in the attic when i was a kid, according to my brother. the attic door was conveniently located in my bedroom. if spaghettihead were so inclined, he could've easily snatched me up before dad could grab his gun. he never did. perhaps he was too busy up in those rafters — which may or may not have been painted crayon gray like the steps and walls and floors — entertaining himself among the relics of my family's past...my brother's record and tape and coin and marble collections; the white cardboard box, decorated (barely) with with one pink and one blue line around its edge, that united hospital center provided for my parents to take home their new baby girl in july 1976; the gun-metal gray cabinet with kev and i's snowsuits and someone's (dad's?) old two-piece suits; the collection of 1960s dresses my aunt gave me to play in — i recall especially the tea-length, white and blue cotillion-esque one and the full-length, puffy-sleeved halloween orange one; the toy chest (which eventually found its way to the foot of my bed in memphis) crammed with barbie and her pink corvette and her friends, all in disreputable states of undress, their coarse hair most likely tangled around the spindly legs of all my toy horses; and bags and boxes and trunks full of who knows what else. through the years, i was often sitting on the wide, wooden, stairs to that attic — writing my first novel, about a horse, which reached a full two pages in my notebook before i got bored with it, or scribbling names and dates on the cardboard walls in black or red marker with my friends, or talking on the phone to boys. truth is, all along i was less afraid of spaghettihead than the old woman whose profile would appear on my wall on nights when the moon was positioned just so. perhaps spaghetti knew, and a lack of reciprocity eventually became his demise. turns out monsters are much like love.

so is love the answer to what do you want? on holidays and special occasions, yes. otherwise, it's still scary as spiders and unreciprocated as spaghettihead. what do i want? to start what i finished on those attic stairs. the writing, that is. not necessarily on the subject of horses or in the form of a novel. a weekly column in a newspaper or magazine sounds pretty amazing. or writing random whatevers for random whoevers, as long as it's consistent. and editing books, especially the kind i'd like to read. sometime recently, maybe somewhere between I 40 east and I 79 north, i realized that finally i do know what i want. because i have someone to want it for, though i haven't met this someone...yet. and in a way, i guess what i want more than anything is love. a kind i haven't had. i hear it's the best kind ever, though.


Friday, August 19, 2011

in wooden shoes.

coffee shops are notorious for uneven tables — you know, one leg propped up by a folded napkin. yesterday, my table was not. i considered it not fortuitous but simply what i deserved: an uncrooked table. a non-crooked table? no, a settled table. settled. something i am notoriously not. who has time for being settled when there's curiosity to quench. that's been my way from the age of 17 until...now, i guess. i turned 35 a few weeks ago, and i can now say my list of curiosities has dwindled not fully, but significantly.

today i'm at the coffee shop again. my table is not uncrooked or non-crooked. it's wildly uneven. i don't mind. if it weren't for unevenness how would we know to appreciate evenness? we wouldn't. i remember some philosopher or theorist said something to the effect of "we can't know anything without knowing its opposite"...actually, i just googled it and kierkegaard came up. so i guess he said it. and i believe him. sometimes, our awareness of appreciating whatever it is we're currently appreciating is subtle, nestled somewhere in our subconscious. but whether we recognize it or not, that awareness is what helps us to enjoy things more fully. other times, awareness is right there in front of your face. when i lean my right elbow on the edge of the table closest to the nearly-floor-to-ceiling front window of the coffee shop, it wobbles. and the wobbles are what prompted me to write today.

outside this window — which i just found is made of plexiglass bc when the guy leaned his mountain bike against it, it went thunk instead of clack — a young couple, both strawberry blond and heavy-set...their resemblance is kinda weird, really... grasp hands as they walk around the corner, where they'll pass the adult book store with the blacked-out windows. in all my years living in morgantown, i never went in that store, though for whatever reason i had decided it was much more seedy than the other adult book store across from the coffee shop, where i had been inside. and i can say for sure that the 35-yr-old me would have the very same reaction as i did back then: i'd giggle and run squealing from gigantic phalluses as if they were about to jump off the walls and get me. i went in there yrs ago bc a girl i knew worked there. her name was tonya, but everyone called her "teabag." she had a tattoo of a wrench on her forearm and she called me "granny" bc i was so much older, and once she laughed like a hyena out the window of her car when she saw me trip over a caved-in section of the sidewalk as i was running down beechurst ave. i laughed, too. unevenness can be funny, you know.

outside the window again...college boys carrying cases of miller light or foil-wrapped hoagies from the joint two doors down w the chalkboard advertising "FAT SANDWICHES!" are looking in at me as if i'm their age, or as if they don't care that i'm not. i prefer to think the former. one even tapped on the window at me. i laughed. if circumstances were different — and i don't mean my age — i might entertain the idea of hanging out with them. just for kicks. one boy with a ponytail and hippie-looking outfit just passed by. i've seen many of him today, in various lengths and widths and heights, in different shades of skin and hair and clothing. and these boys in particular make me think of my first year of college, 1994, and how boys with ponytails and hippie clothes would live in sunnyside — not on the first few blocks of grant ave. next to...what was the name of that off-campus dorm?...but maybe down a few blocks or on mclean or 3rd st. — and they'd hang out at terrapin station, or dr. johns if they were more serious about their drugs. i didn't know many people who did drugs when i was 17. one girl comes to mind. she was older and related to a friend of mine, and i recall hanging out with her exactly once. in fact, when i was here in morgantown yesterday, i drove past the parking lot where she took me that night to pick up mushrooms. she ate them in the bar later that night. of course she was polite enough to offer me a nibble, but i was more terrified than intrigued, so i declined.

i've been sitting here for hours. soon i'll have to go back to clarksburg, which is the thunk to morgantown's clack. i prefer the latter, but only bc i know the former. did i mention kierkegaard was dutch? i wonder which sound wooden shoes make...