Tuesday, August 26, 2008


well, i guess *sometimes* you know what's going to do it.

moe posted a question for his readers, recently, about the stand-out moment of their respective summers. when i read it, all i could think of was: this summer kind of stunk.

the reason why probably has lots to do with social isolation (don't worry! not going to talk about it again!) and some financial worries, but it probably also has to do with stopping the magic bean pills. which i did, sometime around the end of school. i've been having this weird hair loss issue, and i managed to find some folks on the internet talking about how w3llbutrin made their hair fall out. in retrospect, it's clear i was grasping at straws; no matter what it is that you're doing, someone on the internet is talking about how that very practice causes the thing that is wrong in your life--how your recent change of cat litter brands is probably responsible for your uncontrollable weeping, or something like that. suffice it to say my hair is still falling out.

and this summer has mostly been a stretch of scary and sad and anxious. it makes me sad to write that, actually; summer is supposed to be fun, especially when you're in school. i'm actually looking forward to getting back, since i don't seem to be doing well with the unstructured time. it's just more space to be nervous in.

i'd been on the meds for a long time, and i thought maybe i'd just see, you know? i'm lucky enough to live with someone who can shake me by the shoulders if i let things get bad and somehow don't notice. and he didn't have to, i'm deciding on my own that this experiment is over and probably not a grand success. there're still four weeks left until classes start; maybe it's not too late to have a little summer after all.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


you never know what's going to do it.

spoiler alert--although i must be the only person who really cares about the series to have just now watched the end of the sopranos. however: if you're saving it for a rainy day, stop reading.

holy shit. the very end--the end of the last episode? it messed me up. i felt all shaky afterwards. i guess because the big message--this was untenable, you always knew it was coming, you managed to forget about the inevitable, but it is coming back out of the bathroom to end your happiness--is also the big message i'm afraid if my completely non-gangster life. what i cannot bear is the idea that i will be eating a cheeseburger in some mom and pop joint with my beloved family and something will intervene. ominously.

because families don't last. they don't. they're status quos that expire fairly regularly. divorce, adolescence, careers, adulthood, estrangement, cancer, hit men--family togetherness is always the space between rupture. it's always limited. and while i think it would be sweet even if i could make it go on forever, probably its value--particularly its nostalgia value--depends on its evanescence. don't tell anyone, but in my heart, if i could make that moment last forever, the one where i sat with my folks with a grilled cheese sandwich and every single thing was okay and all i had to do in the world was read books and get taller--i don't know that i could choose today over that, even though i love the agency involved in adulthood, even though i love my husband. even though i know this is the way it's supposed to go. a part of me, a big part of me, still wants to go back there and mourns because it can't be done. i kind of wish i were still in therapy right now. i think probably there's something to talk about in there.

i know i'm projecting, but it felt like i was watching that moment, an okay moment, the good small moment, which then becomes the moment when it stops. and poor goddmaned meadow trying to park her car. jesus. my heart hurt. the monkey had wanted to watch the last episode later, after i was done, even though he hasn't followed along the last couple seasons, and i "accidentally" sealed the DVD up in the netflix envelope so that it was inaccessible. put it away.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


everything is going to be all right, thirty-two.

i'm trying to decide just how bad it's right to feel about spending my birthday on the couch with netflix and cocktails. on one hand, i really like those things, and it sounds better than searching out and wrangling a couple of acquaintances on what's going to be a busy day. my three or four school chums are out of town, one permanently--she decided to leave the program after the first year, MA in hand. the others are in various summer locations, visiting significant others, directing summer stock, advancing research in foreign archives. makes staying in L.A. teaching SAT prep feel about as sophisticated as being a birthday clown. and the monkey will most likely have to work. i myself work until six, and so i think, even though it may sound like a pity party for one, the desire to return to the nest will win out. i don't mind not going out, at least not so much; i mind that i can't think of anything else to do, given the paucity of companionship. it's sobering.

i've had to get myself to the emergency room alone a few times, for relatively piddly things, and it's always a shocker how alone it makes me feel. i'm trying to decide if this is like that. part of me feels well-equipped: not only are the monkey and i the wonder twins of spousal support and affirmation, i grew into an adult who likes her own company and does lots of things alone, happily. and i guess it's an accident of fate that the small handful of people i'd ask out for a drink are away. but the effort required to power through and act like a night alone isn't a big deal is bumping up against the shame involved. it is kind of a big deal, after all, and i don't want to minimize the importance of changing the status quo. i've written here about the lonelies before, and i want to recognize that it's an important thing that i would like to be different than it is. i find myself wondering if we should stay here after graduation, so as not to uproot the monkey yet again, so as to finally have a little bit of continuity, so as to save on bubble wrap. three years from now is a long ways away. even if i can convince the monkey we should go home, maybe the home i'm lonely for, already so different, will be unrecognizeable by the time i'm free to go back there. maybe even unhospitable. maybe it's already a ghost.

the bigger question doesn't get solved next week. but it's in there. along with a smaller one, that goes something like, how bad is it okay to feel about this? not just about the day, but about how in order for lots of other things to go right, this one thing had to go wrong. that a brave choice, or even a series of them, had a big cost. i'm not sure how okay with that i am, after the fact, or about what to do with the ambivalence. i think sometimes people in this situation get a dog, unless they are UCLA students forbidden from the joys of pet ownership by their evil landlords.

remember that year i wanted a robot? this year i want a service cat. or maybe a therapy buddy.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


things i find myself telling my students.

i'm teaching test-prep this summer, and the SAT now involves an essay. so every time they have a practice test, i encourage them to email me the essay so i can respond. and occasionally, i have to type something like:

"Also, you should avoid comparing any historical figure you admire to the Nazis."

i guess i should stop thinking that one's a no-brainer.

(fwiw, the kid does not seem to be a proto-Nazi. i think he just got off on a tangent about how our deeds define us--which is certainly true of the perpatrators of the Holocaust--and didn't distinguish between adversity spurring heroes toward valiant deeds and megalomania spurring public insanity.)

Saturday, August 02, 2008


new pastime.

that last post sounded a little macabre, left up there alone for so long. not offing myself or joining witness protection, promise.

more cheerful: my new hobby, starting today. though it would be a more awesome one if my phone's camera still worked.

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