"I'll come with you."
Thursday, November 1, 2012
"I'll come with you."
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
The friend who had invited me—Hannah—had since abandoned my friendship and was currently rolling around in the lap of the oldest man—he was in his forties, and married with some kids. None of them were around though, and he was sneaking quick grabs under her shirt and down her pants as I squirmed on my side of the fire. I was afraid to leave her alone with them, but not very interested in staying either. If my boy-toy hadn’t been there, who knows what would have happened. I ignored Hannah, focusing instead on my toy. He was laughing and listening to the boys’ stories.
Hannah needed to pee. She insisted on this in a very loud voice, while trying to untangle her legs from around Bob’s—the old man—thighs. When she fell the first time, everyone just stared and didn’t bother doing anything. It was hard to look at her as anything other than a tramp. I hadn’t seen my friend in almost seven years. This was the first I’d seen in all that time, and I was not proud of it. I was not happy that she treated herself so disrespectfully.
The second time she fell, Bob got off his stump and helped her up. He led her out into the woods, and we sat around the fire. It felt cold to me, and I got shivers up and down my arms. All I could think was of whatever he was doing to her out there. Was he being buddy-buddy and letting her know she was a good kid and deserved the best and he was a friend? Was he saying all that while shoving his dick up her ass? It made me want to gag.
Ted, one of the cuter boys, was leaning his shoulders and neck against a tree, with the rest of his body along the ground. He had drank an entire pint of some kind of hard whiskey, and was speaking in mumbles and accentuating his fs. If I had left my boy at home, Ted was the one I’d be after right then. Alex, Hannah’s ex, was sitting opposite Ted, with his own assortment of drinks and the chicken legs he hadn’t finished sloughing down. When I saw Hannah again, she told me all about how good it was when Alex gave her anal. I had had to literally change the subject in the middle of her thought when she brought it up. It could not be handled by I.
Alex was gangly and he had a crew cut. His teeth looked rotten in his mouth, with sticky excess climbing the once-white teeth like thick roots. He laughed like a hick. His whole manner gave me the creeps. The only reason I had agreed to come out was for the campfire and a game of paintball in the morning. I hadn’t thought of all the uncomfortable sensations I’d need to get through first.
When Bob came back dragging Hannah with him, I jumped up to help. I wanted her to sit near me and away from all the boys. They weren’t safe. But he said we needed to lay her down on her stomach so she wouldn’t choke, so we did, downhill, so it would slide that way. Bob threw some water in her face and she spit at it and mumbled. He threw more until she opened her eyes and hurled. I stepped back, not interested in participating any further in this. Alex threw a plastic bottle at her head, still as it was on the ground. Bob held her hair back as she hurled.
After that she fell asleep and I took my toy to bed. We got into my tent, fooled around a little, and went to sleep. Well, he fell asleep. I laid awake for what felt like hours, wondering how my friend had gotten to be so submissive and easily used. I wondered who had started her on this trend, and if there was anything I could do to save her from herself.
I was being shaken. I opened my eyes but couldn’t see anything except the shadows of branches above my tent. The wind was wild and the tent felt like it might come loose from the hooks we’d plunged into the ground. I looked at my toy, but he was still asleep. When I shook him, his breath didn’t skip a beat. I lay back down and thought about sleep, but the shaking continued and I realized I had to pee. I got on my hands and knees and climbed out of the tent.
The moon made everything bright and very easy to see. Hannah was no longer lying on the hill. I couldn’t see her anywhere. Bob was sleeping on a chair by where she’d been hours ago. I turned around and her face was right in front of me. I jumped back, tripped on something and fell. She didn’t try helping me up. She didn’t move at all. The wind kept whipping the trees and branches, and her long red hair was tying knots on itself. She stared straight ahead, not looking at me. I got up and looked back at her. It was like she wasn’t really there.
“I’m pregnant,” she said unnaturally. I should have been more surprised, or shocked, but I wasn’t. And her tone didn’t imply a need for concern.
“Shouldn’t you do something about that?” I said, wiping the dirt that I’d fallen in from my butt.
“I’m pregnant by him,” she said, looking past me at Bob.
“What? When? God, Hannah…” I didn’t know how to respond. What if he heard us?
She looked at me for the first time. “I don’t want the baby to know that THAT was his father.”
She was staring at him again, with real hatred in her eyes. “I just wanted to make Alex jealous. But he doesn’t care.”
“You deserve better than these assholes,” I said, reaching for her hand, but it looked like my hand went right through hers.
“He made me pregnant back there,” she said, motioning behind her. “I just wanted you to know… I wanted you to be here to see that I did something good. I can do something right.” She walked past me and I saw a bottle in her hand. She raised it to Bob’s lips and poured it into his mouth.
“What are you doing?” I asked, not moving.
But she continued to pour. I heard some gurgling and a slight sigh, then she smiled and dropped the bottle in my lap. “Now he’ll never know.”
I woke up with my toy snoring in my ear. It was quiet outside. I unzipped the tent and stood up, only in a t-shirt and a pair of boxers. Hannah was lying on the hill next to Bob’s chair. He was still sitting there. I saw her move. She sat up and looked over the water. Her hair was gnarled and greasy from the night before—from the alcohol and people touching it, and twigs breaking off in it, and from vomiting on it. She turned and looked at me. She smiled.
When Ted came out of the tent he yipped and started shaking the other tents. I heard my toy cry out in alarm. Ted pushed Bob out of his chair and the man just lay there, unmoving.
“Hey you shit, I thought I was the alarm!” someone said, coming over, but I don’t know who. It wasn’t important. Bob was still, too still.
I looked back at Hannah, and she was still smiling. I could see that look of triumph in her eye and even in her posture. I knew she wouldn’t be bending over for another person unless she called the shots. And I was proud of her.
Lesson plan for two CO 150 classes. Teach those classes. Grade assignments. Grade forums. Talk to students.
Graduate classes. Read 300+ pages a week (this is far less than what many others have to read--especially the literature majors). Write papers. Politics. Ugh. I hate politics.
Writing: Write every day. Fine, every other day, or sometimes, every two days. But write. Keep writing. Don't give up. Write nonfiction. Write about S & M. Write fiction. Submit to Circlet. Get published. Woot!
Reading. Read about teaching styles. Read about graduate school. Read for grad school. Read about literary journalism. Read erotica for that anthology I HAVE TO PUBLISH. Read what I want. Ha! Like there's time.
Real World. Pay bills. Write out checks to every utility: rent, electric, gas, water, internet. Writing checks makes it real. I feel like an adult. Food. Make big meals and eat the same thing all week. Too much money. Gas. Too much money. Friends...well, no time.
Colorado. Get mad about the lack of woods. Get mad about taxes. Mad about parking fees for every state park. Mad about the sun. Mad about the lack of weather. Mad that the bus system is a joke. Mad that I am mad about everything no matter where I live. Fulfillment.
Thinking. All of this requires thinking. Write some before bed. Turn the thinking off like a lamp. Kill it, destroy it, bury it underground so that it never sees the light of day.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
There once was a girl who fell in love with everyone, all the time. She loved to love people, and things, and learning was always her favorite activity. But she learned to hide these feelings from those who would take advantage. For a long time she searched and searched, but there was no one she really loved anymore; everyone seemed to her to be the same. It was like looking for a quarter in the Atlantic Ocean.
Then one day she found him. He was beautiful and sexy and kind and fun, everything she had always dreamed of. She didn't just fall for him, she collapsed over him, in a state that some might call faint or "swooning." He liked her too, she thought, but he wouldn't tell her so, or he would say it in a cryptic way, like, "I like you a lot," whenever she wanted him to say, "I love you."
They spent many months together, but distantly, because they lived so far apart. They saw each other every now and then, but it became too much. And his work became overpowering. They made plans to meet again, to go camping and dance the nights away, but he got too busy and cancelled. When he didn't call for over a week, her feelings began to boil in a fury, and she wanted to know what was going on, and why he'd called her a good person when she needed to know that he liked her.
"Well, we're not dating," he said. And just like that, like the snap of someone's fingers, she knew that he had found someone else. She talked to him for a little while, damming back tears that could fill Lake Powell.
She didn't want to end up like her parents--miserable and alone, or miserable and obsessive. She didn't want to be the girl who jumped like a spider from boy to boy until she was so destroyed that she'd give up all hope. She cried for a long time. But then she remembered that he was a useless boy, and she didn't need him anyhow. She erased his number from her phone, deleted him from her Facebook Friends list, and tried to move on. But always in the back of her mind she was wondering, maybe someday...
And she went on her road trip to meet Someone New. Happily every after?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The halls were overflowing with your scent: sharp apple tinged with pear. Yet no matter where I looked, you could not be found. I had every room searched: among the tankards, the office, amidst the barrels of wine and hardening cider, but nothing came up. There was no note, no evidence of where you had gone to, or why.
“That smell is just the workshop,” my wife hissed late at night, when I told her you had gone. “It isn’t her at all. If I’d never met the lady myself, I wouldn’t believe you she existed.”
Oh, she is a harsh, unattractive woman; but she has been kind to me, and understanding of the relationship you and I had together; as I have always been of hers with the kitchen boy. But now I am worried. She and I have not kissed or touched in years, and I have no other whims; you are the wine glass among the beer mugs, my dainty martini every night at midnight, and I care not for any red or white wines or burgundys. I worry about the last time I saw you, the lines on your face, the swelling in your stomach that was like a fruit ripening on the vine. Did you fall from the tree? Did you roll away from the embarassment, thinking that I would toss you away, my rotten apple?
I spend my nights in the apple orchards, among your favorite granny smiths, and prepare a bed on which to sleep, with a canopy above, and I wait. Especially here, I can smell you; sharp apple and a sprinkle of pear, everywhere except in my arms.
The rock is cold under my back and hands; for awhile the cold is nice, because outside the heat is extreme. I can feel Josh next to me, his warmth radiating. Our breathing echoes against the walls, which feel close enough to suffocate us here, in this crevice far beneath old lava flows. I know that if the dark weren’t so pitch, I would see my breath in the air. It’s not a dry cold which we experience so much in Idaho, but a wet one—my very lips are moist in this place. The ground is scattered with unforgiving sharp rocks. I fell on my way in and can feel the scrape across my knee and another on my palm. We have flashlights, but we refuse to use them; the dark is too embracing, too real to interrupt.
This is a place of solitude and meditation, a place where a person could really go crazy if they were down here for too long. I wave my hand in front of my face, and after a while, I believe I can really see it. Josh can’t see anything, he says, he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Maybe I’d be the first to lose my sanity.
The other day, my cousin Brady asked my aunt how old she is.
“Women don’t like it when you ask that,” she or Geoffrey told him.
“Why?” He asked.
“Because women like to think they look younger than they are,” Geoffrey explained.
“Mom,” Brady said, looking at my aunt, “You look like you’re eleven.”
“Not that young!” Geoffrey corrected.
“Fine, fourteen then.”
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Recently I had an interview with the Reading Institute for a job teaching with them this summer. One of the primary questions I was asked was what I liked about a book that pulled me in. I stuttered over fragmented reasons, using words like "metaphor" and "description," completely forgetting that the institute is not interested in analysis; it is interested in the simple truths that draw a person into a book.
Sadly, I was not accepted into the program. But I learned something: how to stop overanalyzing.
I became absorbed in a classic from the 1940s; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, transported me to a 1920s Brooklyn in the mind of a young girl: Francie Nolan. I got to follow her to the junk shop where she and her brother sold junk for change, and then to the candy store where they spent precious pennies on sweets. I felt her shame when the doctor discussed her filth to the nurse in front of her, and the shame of being poor and lying to get what she wanted: some pie or a doll that everyone else was too proud to admit they wanted. Her family was quirky and loveable, and she loved all of them unconditionally, unaware of their faults until she got a little older.
I read her thoughts like they were my own as she worked things out; why did her mother like her brother more than she? And why did daddy get so dunk all the time? Her mother had worked hard to make Francie into a thinker--and it paid off. Francie worked hard and found good jobs. She found herself a possible husband. She's known hunger and fear, and joy and love and heartbreak. She's learned the histories of her family. I've always wanted to know my family's histories.
She visited the candy store where she and her brother always went as children, and asked to buy every bag of candy on the wall, determined to find the prize that the owner had always claimed was there; but he argued with her, and she made him put a doll in one of them, so that some kid someday would win a prize. She even paid for it, just to give some other child hope.
Although I have compassion for the days she went hungry and lived in shame about her family's money problems, I am jealous of Francie for getting to know her home and her family so well, while I'm lucky to see my family a few times a year, and feel that I have no place to call home. While I suffered with Francie in her story, I suffer in my life for not having one quite the same.
Monday, February 13, 2012
I used to snack on
mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Any brand, any texture, from any store.
It was all the same: fairly dull, sometimes sweet,
and always made me feel a little sick later.
Then I found green tea.
It took a while before I was given permission
But once I did I was hooked
Like a soda-addict, or a chipaholic;
I no longer wanted mint chocolate chip
I have green tea.
I don't love my job, but then, who does? It seems that every time I get a job, I hate it, and as soon as it ends, it was the best job in the world. For instance: I worked at a ranch in Idaho this past summer. It was an amazing experience with a lot of firsts: first time in the real west, first time dancing in public, first dating without going steady.
My job was simple. I brought people their food and refilled their waters; the most work we had to do was mop the wooden floor in the mornings and rearrange tables. All of the things I hated the most revolved around those I was stick working with. The chef was highly stressed, especially with my indecipherable handwriting, and two of the servers and I just didn't understand each other. One was from the country, and he called me "city girl," whereas I'd made a mistake with the other--a comedian--I hooked up with him.
Immediately after I decided to end our relationship, if it was that, he began to hate me. On numerous occasions I asked him a question to which he always laughed and set me on edge. On the last day, I asked him one more time. "Do you hate me?"
"I don't hate you as a person," he said carefully, as though weighing his words, "I just don't like working with you." The joy this sent me I now find embarassing. I was so happy to know that he didn't hate me, that I was practically wagging my tail like a puppy; like a puppy that was just beaten, and is now petted.
During troubled times, former jobs, like every former situation, look wonderful.
For me, life is full of amazing, spontaneous things, and my summer job was amazing because I was always doing something, and even if it was miserable at times, it was hardly boring. My favorite memories from there are those of dancing and dumpster diving, meeting strange Irish guys, and climbing rocks with people I didn't know.
I currently serve (waitress) at a corporate Italian restaurant. I'm sure you've been to one; they are across the country. I don't love my job, but I don't think I hate it, either. The worst parts are pretty standard: strict rules, short-staffed, asshole customers and managers; but the best part is the people I work with. There are over 70 of us. Because of our great numbers, learning names has been challenging, but I'm finally doing it.
Jim is Irish. He's usually pretty quiet. He likes to say my name whenever he sees me. Maybe he likes saying it. "Artemis," he says, "what are you doing, Artemis?" He's one of the only servers to tell me when I'm doing a good job, so I like him. Sometimes he says "Be quiet," to spice things up, I guess. I ignore it.
We have a slew of college kids, and an older generation as well: people in their 30s or 40s. While we're supposed to have only three table at a time, Maria, who is of the latter category, sometimes takes on six tables. For a while she was my role model. I admired her dry humor and get-out-of-my-way attitude. I thought to myself, just be like her and don't make mistakes; don't freak out. Then one day she had a breakdown. I felt betrayed at first, because if Maria could panic, then so could the rest of us, and it meant there was no way to be perfect.
It's usually in times of great distress and fear that we realize we might not be able to do this and--oh, god--why go on? But somehow, we tend to push through it. Money can help. A few weeks ago I worked two nights in a row and I felt a strong, strong desire to quit (although I have no experience with such things, the desire to rid myself of the job might have been akin to that of a laboring mother who desires to push out the child within). Even after counting my tips, which were of a substantial amount, I felt cheated, angry, and desperate to leave.
A few days later, the intensity lightened and all but went away. Focusing on the aspects enjoyed is the best treatment for a disliked job. That was when I began memorizing faces and names and getting to know the people I work with. Like a bi-polar person finding the right prescription, all felt right with the world. For the moment, at least.