Ruby’s big summer barbecue! Pictures Here! Turkey burgers, potato salad, fruit salad (Hey, Mark! Email me your recipe and I will post it here!), avocado, kettle corn, ice cream, strawberries, and then seconds… and then thirds. Second big eating day this week. But that’s pretty much unavoidable at Ruby’s house.
Yay! I get to design and build Aunt Ann’s new company intranet site. This is going to be fun! Also, Jon Bernie has asked me to do the web site for the meditation group. And you know about Ruby’s massage web site. Also, I may have another small gig doing bookkeeping for Kitty Kotzebue, our new sales training consultant. Yesterday was just one big party in the office.
Today is warm and slow. I slept until noon. Now doing laundry and working on my web site some more. Got to go out and deposit my paycheck and return a cable box to Comcast. How can one small person stand so much excitement?
Coming home on the train early this morning (caught the last train from Daly City at 12:10AM) I met 2 new people: Brad and Alex. One very drunk guy and one almost sober. Brad asked me what I had been doing tonight. “Working on my web page,” I told him. He slurred something like, “Could there be anything more fun?” And I said, “Yeah, spreadsheets.” That cracked him up. “Spreadsheets!” he called out to everyone on the train over and over until Alex made him stop. Brad was like a bad puppy. Alex and I kept having to push him back into his seat every time he tried to climb over into mine. For some reason, I couldn’t get mad. It was just all so funny. So Alex, if you remembered my web address and are reading this, “Hi.” And Brad, hope your hangover is not too bad… and I hope you never find out where I live!
Later: Reading over old stories and poems from the last decade. Where have all my words gone? The ones that used to spill from my pen or lips as easily as milk or apple juice on the floor. Words like “frenetic” or “excrescence” or “weft.” Where are all the bodily fluids that would soak my writing back in the day when the words on the page were the only sex I could count on? And when my body was something I carted around carelessly, ignored in favor of the images in my head.
See, now that I’ve returned to this flesh; dropped the excess weight that flattened my feet and pushed acid up my gullet; worked these muscles, lungs, this heart; taken the pills that soothe the soreness in my brain; and learned, finally, how to breathe, I find I have little to say. Sex? Yes, I like it. Piercing, flogging, tattoos? What for? The supply of angers and regrets is nearly used up. There’s no one here to tell me to go to bed now, but if there were, and if they did, I probably would.
What need for words when there are prunes and green tea in the morning, a whistling tea kettle, a sink of dishes to wash, and warm, clean laundry to smell as I put it away?
Sad news: House Rejects International Family Assistance
I stepped through the door of the accounting office a few minutes ago and was suddenly overwhelmed by the impossibility of absolutely everything. It only lasted a couple of seconds and then lifted as suddenly as it had descended.
Anyway, I want to talk more about my experiment avoiding mirrors the other day. I put a blanket over the bathroom door and a towel over the medicine cabinet mirror. I took down the shower mirror and thought I was safe, until I caught my reflection in the glass etegere door over the toilet. This is tough. On the way to work, I looked at myself automatically in a couple of store windows and once on BART and then looked away. I pretty much had to keep my head down. Michael suggested dressing like a Muslim woman. You think I could?
Isn’t it strange that the part of the body most used to identify someone, the face, cannot be seen directly by its owner. That saying, “You can’t see yourself as others see you,” is true in the most literal sense. Other people see us from all angles. We only see our flat reflections in mirrors. Or our shadows on the wall or sidewalk, which reveal not how we reflect light but how we block it.
Other people are mirrors for us as well. The manner in which we are treated reveals not only the character of another person, but also a reflection of ourselves in their eyes. Maybe this is a way to develop compassion. If you can only see yourself through others, then maybe, eventually, you actually begin to see yourself IN others. The separations — can they begin to dissolve?
Why is external appearance so important?
Here’s an exercise: Mornings. I wrote this story on the train to work as I was avoiding looking at myself in the window. The narrator has a physical disability. Can you figure out what it is?
Meeting at 4pm with Denise and Jay Silverstein, our accountant at Moss Adams, to negotiate fee settlement. They want to charge us $11,000 for the corporate tax returns. We think they are high! (And not on life.) They made sooooo many mistakes on those tax returns and took months and months to get them done, and when finally, we consult another accountant for a second opinion, we find that they are still not correct. We have paid too much tax.
Jay seems nervous. His face twitches. His mouth is dry. I am self-righteous and antagonistic. Superior. Separate. I list my complaints. I tell him that frankly, I’m worried about his other clients who don’t have someone like me to check Moss Adams’ work and make sure it is correct. He is a silent. I’m being an asshole.
Then, there is a moment, as the afternoon sun passes over his face, blurring his features, that I think I could maybe summon up some compassion. See him as human, like me. Doing the best he can. I offer him cinnamon coffee cake. Smile. Perhaps even breathe. The moment lasts only until the sun drops behind a neighbor’s roof, and the fluorescent ceiling light regains control of our vision.
He isn’t authorized to make a deal with us. I wonder why he even came.
Yesterday, Michael and I walked to Emeryville to see Pirates of the Caribbean. Beautiful, balmy day. Ice cream at Fosters Freeze. Hot dog and soda and peanut M&Ms in the movie theater. The most fun I’ve had at the movies since… well okay, since Finding Nemo. What can I say? Disney’s on it this year.
Today is warm warm warm! Brunch with Michael at Sconehenge, grocery shopping at Berkeley Bowl, gym, and movie: Love Liza on DVD before bed…
US Senate votes to repeal Bush’s Global Gag Rule!
FDA to force foods to reveal artery-clogging trans fat
Had a lovely roasted bell pepper salad for lunch before getting dressed up to go out: Dinner at Biscuits and Blues with Michael and Mark and then Urinetown, the Musical. Terrible name. Great show. See my pictures and hear song clips here. Also, see Michael sing. Sing, Michael, sing!
Only slept for 3 hours last night. Worked on my web site until late. Got to the gym around midnight. Did my usual routine. The reception guy was kind enough to lend me batteries for my CD player. Stayed up working on my web site some more until 3:30AM. Didn’t fall asleep until 4AM. Had to get up at 7AM to get to Dr. Parrett’s office for my semi-annual tooth-scraping. Fun! So I bought a $100 Sonicare toothbrush from him and some new shoes and socks from DSW Shoe Warehouse. Nothing like a little irresponsible spending to alleviate any feelings of maturity, adulthood, general grown-upness, that going to the dentist might have inflicted upon my childlike (childish?) spirit.
So okay, I drank this tea and this tea all day to stay awake and also to alleviate any extra whiteness that the hygienist might have inflicted upon my soon-to-be straightened smile. Having fun with hyperlinks today, I am. (Wow. Looks like no one owns the URL hyperlinks.com. Or maybe someone owns hyperlinks.com and wants ridiculous amounts of money for it.)
Does it matter why? It’s this persistent identification with my physical appearance. I’m clutched. Holding. My pants are too tight this morning. I’ve gained 4 pounds in the last 2 weeks. How is that possible? Round belly. Like a woman — not a teenage boy. So what’s wrong with that? Anyway, it matters, for whatever reason. So I suffer. I weep on the train. Dry hair falling out in the shower again. Chewing the inside of my mouth. Throat tight. Frown pulling waves of lines down my forehead. Oh, great. Just what I need. Another problem with my appearance. This HURTS! This really fucking hurts!
I wonder what would happen if, as an experiment, I tried not looking in any mirror for 24 hours. How would that be? I can cover the mirrors at home. But it might be hard at Aunt Ann’s. Mirrors over both bathroom sinks. And when I look down to wash my hands, I see my reflection in the chrome faucet. Even the window of the BART train is a mirror. And all the walls at the gym are covered with mirrors, but since I always take my glasses off when I work out, I think I can avoid them. I wonder how it would be to experience my body through senses other than sight.
Later: Well, this exercise is really a study in awareness. When I’m not present, I look in every mirror I pass automatically. When I’m really here, I feel the curl of my hair against my neck. Then resist the urge to look at it in the mirror. I feel the tightness of my waistline today and hold myself back from checking out my profile in the mirror. Then I give in. I look. The urge is so great to reassure myself that I’m not getting fat again.
I hear the words, “fat phobic,” uttered with contempt by my large friends and feel ashamed. And I let myself feel the shame. And weep some more. I am not this body, dammit! And yet I can’t let go. Like the monkey in the cage that could be free if it would just let go of the coconut (or whatever the desired object is — I can’t remember), I hold onto this body identity so tightly. Afraid that if I let go, I will fall into complete unattractiveness and lose… lose what? Security? Love? Having someone to touch me? We are not separate. Not really. Yet I feel so, so alone right now. But alive. Painfully, dreadfully alive.
Even Later: I’ve just spent a few hours in the Basement reading through old journals. The pain I feel today is nothing compared to a few years ago. The desperation is no longer here — the sense of futility. I have left the journals in the Basement as a reminder of how things were. If you do decide to venture down there, be warned. Some of the stuff is pretty ugly.