Friday, December 02, 2005

Saying Goodbye to the 'Urban Tribe'

I’ve lived 27 years on the earth, and during every one of the days that made up those years, I’ve internalized everything. So basically I’m exhausted. Can I go on forever, internalizing everything? Probably not. I’m not really sure, it doesn’t seem like it, does it?

And frankly, I’m exhausted from trying to keep in touch with my friends. Why should I? Is it worth it? Does it matter any more? Before you get married, you build this support group of friends, some would call them your ‘urban tribe.’ Whatever they are, you work hard to get them. Or not. Some people are magnets and simply attract a following. I hate those kind of people, while secretly being drawn to them like the metal shaving that I am.

Anyway, I had one, an urban tribe. It started with Mike D. We met at a rock climbing gym and started hanging out. Then I met Christy B. through Mike D. Christy B. was like a long lost sister. We hit it off really well. To be honest, at first I worried that she was a lesbian and was secretly attracted to me. Yes, I’m that vain. In spite of that fear I was immediately in love with her because she reminded me of my younger sister, Cassi B.

Mike D., Christy B. and myself formed the initial nucleus of our little urban tribe. Christy B. soon attracted larger numbers to our tribe because she’s so damn loveable. A trait for which I secretly hate her (big joke, in case you missed it). And then our urban tribe ballooned into this enormous monster and I felt massive amounts of sibling rivalry for them all. For Christy B.’s and Mike D.’s affection. Christy B. is still attracting more and more numbers of urban tribe members. Obviously I’ve dropped out of the urban tribe because I got married in June. And I secretly hate the single people I left behind and their ebbing urban tribe, because they have a club to which I no longer belong. I hate clubs.

You see all this hate I have bottled up inside me? It’s not true hate, mind you. So don’t go telling me I’ve got to stop hating so many things, because while I feel a batch of mixed emotions about many things (of which none are actual hate), I have deep wells of love and joy for an equal or greater amount of things. I rarely talk about the things I love because love isn’t as interesting as mixed emotions or hate. Yet, whether it’s hate or just mixed emotions, the lot of it is exhausting me. Twenty-seven years of feeling too much is catching up with me. It’s time to do some renovating in my soul and heart. What should I toss out and what should I keep? My friends? Are they worth keeping?

Here’s the dilemma. I think of them. Miss them. Love them and wonder what’s going on with them. But we’re in different states now. When I call them, if I do, what do they care? They have their urban tribe who matters more than I do. They’ve replaced me, and in ways, I’ve replaced them. They’re single. They want to surround themselves with single people who have the same gripes as they do. In ways we have the same gripes, but they also assume that we don’t because my main gripe isn’t “I’m alone. I’m looking for the One. Life sucks because I’m alone.” My main gripe is “Life sucks because I have no money.” Which is also a gripe of theirs, but they seem to focus on being alone. Or so I assume and which I understand because I was there once too.

So when I call them they talk about their stupid t-shirt making parties, craft night, sleep-overs with boys who will never love them like they need to be loved and their other friends who obviously love them more than I do because I left and got married and then MOVED. And our conversations end up feeling lifeless and deflated, maybe because we’re both thinking we no longer have anything in common. But we do. And that’s what we fail to communicate to each other. I think. That’s what I think.

Is it worth it to articulate all these things to my fading friends? Are friendships worth salvaging? Are they worth feeling emotionally exhausted over? I used to think the bond of friendship was the most beautiful relationship on earth because a friend sticks to it out of no real bond. No governmental, religious, or physiological bond ties one friend to another. But now I know that I can’t compete with people who are there, in Utah, where my friends are. People who have replaced me. And I can’t make my friends who have mattered to me, put the value on our friendship that I do. I know a few things only married people know: that marriage doesn’t change how much a friendship means, no matter which things you don’t have in common. It is only natural, I guess, that friends fade after marriage, but they shouldn’t fade into not existing altogether. That’s what I think.

But I’m tired. And it hurts too much to feel that sorrow after I hang up the phone. I guess it’s mainly a question of what I’m willing to deal with and sort out after each conversation. What I don’t want to say is: “You never call me. You neglect me. You like (insert a name here) more than me.” Because while that feels true to me, it may not be the truth. And also, saying it, even feeling it, is immature. And I'm never, never immature.

NB. After I wrote this I went to bed, plagued by the gnawing feeling that I had used the wrong term to describe my friends' group. Initially I used the words "urban family." Obviously that's wrong and I've rectified the mistake and have also included several links to where I first heard the term urban tribe (coined by Ethan Watters).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Phoenix: Does That Mean Angry Sun?

Last Thanksgiving, a year ago, Stoker and I were in Logan and it rained. I’ve been thinking about that because I miss weather. I miss the chance of rain or snow and the smell of cold and then, consequently, the smell of the heater. It’s not like I took it for granted when I lived there and had it, either. Every year I loved it. It might have been the change that I loved. Something different after sun all summer. I don’t know. Things like that are buried deeply in a person.

Here in the land of sun, it’s been cold (and when I say sun, I mean it—I long for a cloud). I’m not sure how cold, temperature wise, but cold enough to need a coat in the morning. Or a light jacket and a beanie. A few weeks ago it was still in the 80s and high 70s and I saw people in boots and wool sweaters. I think that was mainly a fashion statement because the boots were those Ug boots. Or whatever they’re called. Ugk, Ukg. Whatever. Last year I had a roommate (Anna) who fished a pair of them out of a dumpster. She was like that. I couldn’t believe she wore them, either. She might have said they smelled bad and needed a wash (perhaps why they were in the dumpster?). And there might have been holes in the soles. But she wore them anyway.

Over the weekend I watched the news because there was nothing else on and Fox began their news segment with an extreme weather news flash. A cold front was coming in and it was a breaking thing. Be prepared! Temperatures in the 60s! But after being acclimatized to the 90s and 100s, this is a sudden and vicious change. And it’s not even a pleasant, wintery change because there’s no snow! Just sun. It’s a rip-off. That’s how I feel. Cheated.

So I miss last Thanksgiving, when it was cloudy, rainy and cool and all I wanted to do was stay inside with a mug of steaming hot chocolate, fluffy blankets, and a book or a Jane Austen movie. And a Stoker.

There’s this feeling to autumn in northern Utah—and, I imagine, other places too. But it’s elusive in Arizona. Fleeting. I’ll catch it for a second or two, like when I first turned on our heater, or went outside in the dark. In Logan, it was this saturated, heavy feeling of change and rain, and when there was a slight chance of snow—you could smell that with your nose. And again, in Logan, you knew it would rain by how low the clouds were. Were they spilling over the Wellsvilles, the mountain range in the west? Because if they weren’t, if you could see the top of the mountains, it wasn’t going to rain. When it did, the clouds looked like a gray froth dripping from a cauldron (there’s an autumn-y image for you. A little Halloweenish).

But, curse Arizona. There is nothing of that. I feel like I’m living in the land of the angry sun—like in Super Mario Brothers, when you had to run from the sun. It had that angry face painted on it, and sometimes it would do a few circles, then swoop down to kill Mario with a spikey ray. You know what I’m talking about.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Stoker and I have had our first tough moment as a married couple. And it was tough. We’re through it now, and I think we’ll be better for it – because, you know the saying about things that don’t kill you . . . they make you better. I think the original term is stronger, but it may as well be better.

My newest dilemma, which isn’t exactly new, is whether or not I should go back to college. I might have mentioned this before, but it’s getting down to the wire or something like that. If I want to do it, I should apply soon, and if I’m going to apply soon, I’ve got to take the GRE. I already have an M.A., but I only had to take the MAT for that program. The GRE is tougher and more expensive. $200+ or something. Who has that kind of money? And no, I haven’t been saving for it. And no, I haven’t been studying for it. My concern is that I’ll pay to take it and not do well. Or take it and do fairly well and apply to Vanderbilt and then not get in. Why Vanderbilt? Because it looks like we’ll be moving to Nashville in March. That’s where Stoker would like to go for his internship and I support this choice because Nashville is a) not Los Angeles; b) big city, small town feel; c) littered with excellent studios; d) the home of country music and it’s important to get back to your roots (or something). So anyway, Vanderbilt is in Nashville. It sounds good, doesn’t it? The name Vanderbilt. It has a ring to it. It sounds very . . . rich.

Another question you might entertain is why I want to go back to school. And no, it isn’t to get a doctorate. I just want an M.F.A. in creative writing. Even if I’m not a writer (there’s that doubt again). I want to be able to teach in a University, if I’m going to teach at all. I’ll be honest, working at The Garden and teaching the elementary school kids is hard work. The kids, or rather children (because children has a ring to it), have attention spans the size of a pea. And I’m sure this extends all the way to high school, though I was the exception. If I’m going to work for the rest of my life, it’s got to be something I’m mad about, and I’m not mad about working retail for forty years. Though I don’t mind it, it’s not how I want to define my career.

As well, you might wonder why I don’t apply somewhere else and then move when Stoker is done with his internship. When March rolls around, we’ll have lived in the Phoenix area for 8 months. His internship only has to last 2 months. I don’t want to move again in 2 months or even 9 months. That’s too hard on the soul.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Am I writer, or what? I don’t know anymore. All the things I used to want to be seem so vague and out of reach right now. What occupies me is how to survive. Money is scarce and all this is quite scary. In my freetime I feel sort of immobilized. I feel exhausted from work and running around Phoenix and Mesa and Gilbert for my jobs and so I just want to sit around, reading or watching t.v. or cleaning – the cleaning is the amazing thing. It’s the thing that helps me put order back to chaos, I think. It’s so strange.

And now I’m living the dream, aren’t I? The husband who loves and adores me. The struggle to make it together. The small apartment where we play house. It’s so hard to see it when you’re in the midst of it, though. It seems you have to remind yourself that where you are, is where you always wanted to be. Right now I’m living the thing that eluded me for so long – how many times did I pour my heart into a relationship, trusting that this one, this one would be the one? I’ll save you the meticulous count, but trust me, it was many times. And then it always slipped away as quickly as it came, fake, unreal, a lie, or perhaps just a time-filler until Stoker was ready for me. I can look at it like that, and I like to. It makes it easier to forgive the bastards who lied to me. And I look at it like that, like they were time-fillers, because Stoker was 16 when I was 20, 18 when I was 22, and then, because we’re LDS, he did the two-year mission thing. When he came home, finally, I was still extricating myself from that bastard Keith, which was tough, long and drawn out. When Keith sealed the deal and got engaged to his former-stalker, I awakened from my own delusions that he’d change his mind about me. That took about two weeks. Finally, I was okay with being alone again. Okay in a world where bastard-Keith would never be mine. I don’t mean to be so vicious, but the stuff with Keith was a vicious thing for me. It was like a dog had my heart in its teeth, and was shaking its head back and forth like they do with rabbits or kittens. That’s how vicious it was. So, calling him a bastard is putting it mildly.

I woke up from my delusions and learned to be okay again. You know how it is to see a dream dissolve in front of your face? It’s like the dream was the thing that pulled you forward. It gave you momentum. When the dream is gone you have to find a different momentum or else living seems empty. To me, anyway.

So Stoker was 21, and I was 26. Yes, it looks like five years apart, but really it’s only four and a half because his birthday is in November (tomorrow) and mine is in March. So he was eight months out of his mission and I was 8 months out of my final break-up with Keith AND he’d just asked his stalker to marry him. So the timing was perfect. Stoker was ready for me and I was ready for him. That’s how I like to look at it. That’s how it feels.

You should have been there. You should have seen it. You should have seen how I fell in love with him. I don’t know how it was for him, but I wanted him from the first time I really noticed him. He was everything Keith was not. Other people will tell you that the way they fell in love was beautiful and just like the movies, and maybe it was, I don’t know. But for me, it was more than like the movies. It was epic. It was Homeric, it was poetic, it was of Jane Eyre proportions.

And now I’m here, in the aftermath of all the changes, still adjusting, still getting used to it. Still wondering if I’ll ever write again. Before Stoker my poetry was consumed with the suffering of heartbreak and some of it sucked, but some of it was good. Now I’m trying to rediscover my voice and I’m wondering if I’m a writer, even. If I have what it takes or not. It’s painful to think maybe I don’t have it. That I’m generic and boring, that my voice has nothing compelling about it. Yes, the key about being a writer, the biggest thing, is to write. When you stop writing, you’re obviously no longer a writer. But how do you know if you should even continue? I don’t know. It’s depressing. The question for me is, if I’m not a writer, then what am I? I’ll have to redefine myself. Start from scratch, whatever that means.

Friday, September 30, 2005

You Can Have Vegas, I'll Take Nashville

I hate politics. There’s nothing that can make a relatively kind, normal individual more ugly to me. Seriously. I mean, aside from all the obviously horrible things a person can do which are automatic grounds for destruction such as: rape, murder, torture, child abuse, extreme censorship (i.e. banning the Harry Potter series from your school, etc.)—politics is a divisive, ugly tool in society.

During college, I didn’t pay attention to politics very much and to be quite honest, I got a D in my required political science class. That wasn’t because I didn’t get it, it was because the class was at 10 am and I slept through it. How could I not? Very often I was awake until 3 or 4 in the morning—this was my first quarter in college, you know. And anyway, in college, the majority of your professors are Democrats and not knowing what party I belonged to, I just nodded my head when they complained about Republicans. I think there was a point somewhere in there where I joined the College Republicans, but I think that was mainly because my neighbor was in their presidency and made me go along—but only to one party. If anyone had tried to talk to me about politics there, I would have stammered out some b.s. and then changed the subject.

And as recently as May of 2004, I didn’t know what was going on. On a train between Prague and Vienna, my friend Math Matt (a professor of, yes, math) tried to have a conversation with me about the political division of people in America. He likened it to the strength of divided ideologies before the Civil War and told me he thinks the only thing that will cleanse the hatred and discontent between the political parties is something similar to the magnitude of the Civil War. Obviously I was tired and uninformed and so, being an Aries, simply got mad. We argued and ended up in separate cars for the rest of the trip, with me in the food car and Matt sleeping in some compartment somewhere.

But, aside from Stoker, I never hear more sense from anyone than Math Matt. After not speaking to him for a year, and after listening more and more to politics and paying more attention to the climate of the political parties, I think maybe he’s right. Or maybe it’s just me and my passionate inclinations. When I meet someone, I think, “I like her. She’s great. What a girl.” But then they let some comment slip that I don’t agree with like, “The war in Iraq is a joke. It’s all about oil and it’s disgusting,” and I notice that they drive a behemoth SUV, the largest of the leviathans with a 40 gallon tank, big enough to land an F-16, and I think, “Yeah, it’s all about oil. What a crime. But, there is no demand for oil, is there? Americans like you don’t drive vehicles that require their own oil tankers. What a stupid war.” And I don’t even know if the war in Iraq is all about oil, do I? That’s just an opinion.

Anyway, Math Matt may be right. Perhaps there is too much division between people when it comes right down to it, and maybe we can’t all get along. Maybe we need to strike an agreement of some sort, divide the country up. With the Democrats in the southern states from lower California across to Florida, since they don’t mind all the Mexican illegal immigration, you know. They could just open the borders and let the flood of immigrants rise. Then of course, the Democrats would be free to make the working class support the lower class, and that way the Republicans would be happy living in the northern states where they didn’t have to support the lower classes and capitalism could rule supreme.

I’m not sure where I’d be, but I know that I want Utah. And I can’t have it divided down the middle, because the lower half of Utah is just as beautiful as the upper half. So, I’m thinking the Arizona-Utah border would be the dividing mark, because probably I’d end up on the Republican side. Mainly because my family would be there . . . but also because, honestly, I don’t want to be obligated to support the poor—and maybe that makes me an enormous jerk. But I think if everyone considers it as honestly as I have, they don’t want to support the poor either, because deep down they know the truth: “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” Or something like that.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Seeking a Future

I've been looking into M.F.A. programs. I can't decide what to do with my future, wait around for something to happen or set something in motion. It's hard to know. So while I was at the UNLV site, I discovered this poet, Aliki Barnstone. And then I looked her up and found this poem. I think it's very good. So, for those of you aren't threatened by poetry, here it is:

Blue Earth

The moving van slowed uphill under my possessions:
jewels, lifework, junkboxes.
The turtle with the world on its back.

Mile markers rushed by.
The truck crossed the Missouri River into the Midwest,
and I left California's promise.

Just when I thought, "There will be no more,"
I saw a sign, BLUE EARTH. A town perhaps
named over a century ago

by someone who could see the earth from space,
a Winnebago holy man who prophesied
the moonshot photograph.

Then I guess the land was stolen by settlers
who counted blessings in corn flourishing lush
blue in the haze and summer storms.

Affliction was the twister that ripped away a wall
but left the Afghan hanging on the rocker-back,
every dish in the hutch intact.

And then snow came,
the sky cleared,
and the fields turned blue again.

I imagine the faithful filing into church
to kneel and clasp their hands in the awkward pews,
then to bear witness to the commonplace in the graveyard.

I don't know how they broke the frozen earth for the dead.
Now I see my old life everywhere it isn't. Here
the lakes tell me brightly how the light looks:

the now in all the ohs the sun reflects on water —
then my awe becomes a history,
open-ended as loss, and I need

to make it like something I see:
white barnsides in the morning
next to rectangular black fields just like billboards

advertising WHITE and BLACK
or the real billboard exhorting, PRAY! IT WORKS!
as I drive to work.

My soul under winter, my sad sleep
are like black dirt
and corn stubble,

or the white farmhouse and the white barn
lit up unlikely, like hope or home,
the white house and the white barn followed

by another house and barn that almost seem to yearn.
Just when I thought "There will be no more," I saw
Blue Earth. Hope, harvest, stubble, title of my days.

Aliki Barnstone

Friday, September 23, 2005

Crested Saguaro

I've been neglectful in posting, I know. But I've been very busy and exhausted. Don't think I don't feel guilty every day for not writing, because I do. That's how I am. It's disgusting.

Anyway, last Saturday, I took Stoker to the Garden. Obviously. Who wouldn't? It's free, because I work there, but normally it's $10! If you can believe it (I wouldn't lie to you). So we think a free trip to the garden on the weekend is a pretty sweet deal and wanted to take advantage of it. And we'll take advantage of it several more times, I'm sure. They have many festivals and celebrations there, and apparently some people actually pay to be members. I don't know how much it is, but I think it must be rather expensive.

For the most part it's a relaxing place -- unless of course it's one of those sweltering, punishing days and you nearly die of heat stroke in spite of the shade. When you're there you don't feel like you're in Phoenix, that is, except for the airplanes landing at Sky Harbor and the occasional swarm of helicopters flying over head. I don't understand it, sometimes there are five or six helicopters hovering over the same spot, as if they're looking for an escaped prisoner or elephant (the zoo is right next door to the Garden. Over there, they probably call it the Zoo, with a capital 'z'). But overall, I feel lucky to be able to spend part of my day at the Garden.

Anyhoo. I just wanted to post a photo of me in my favorite t-shit. Kidding. That's not all. I wanted to show off my sweet hat. Joking. But honestly, that IS my favorite t-shit, and that is a pretty damn sweet hat. I got it in Cabo (during the ol' honeymoon). Really what I want you to see is the amazing crested saguaro in the background. It grows that way because of a genetic mutation, I think. Supposedly they don't know (that's what someone told me at the Garden). But I assume it's a genetic mutation similar to how a four-leaf clover is a genetic mutation occuring in a three-leaf clover. These crested saguaros are rare, but the Garden has three. They transplant them and stuff. As many of you probably know, saguaros only grow in the Sonoran desert and they're pretty damn cool, if I do say so myself.

FYI -- I got another job at a health food store and I'll be dividing my time between it and the Garden. I'm actually looking forward to learning about nutrition. You know, vitamins, minerals, herbal supplements and all that stuff. It's nice to be working. Mostly. If only for the reason of financial security, because as you all know, I'd rather be at home playing Xbox and computer games.

AND, just to show you that I AM an adaptable creature, Arizona isn't so bad once you get through the blistering hot months. Last week the temperatures were down in the 90s, which is beautiful when compared with 105-110. But this week the mercury was back up there in triple digits and I've wilted like a sick flower. I'll be recuperating this weekend by resting up in a comfortable meat locker. Should you need me, you know where to find me.

Monday, September 12, 2005

"The Garden"

Finished: first day at "the garden." That's what they call it, but really it comes out sounding like garden with a capital 'g'. Which is accurate, since it's the Desert Botanical Garden. But when they say it,"the Garden," it might as well be a religious cult, the kind with a leader whose charisma demands complete devotion and who papers his headquarters with images of himself. No, I'm joking. Just a little. But you know, you start to suspect a place where everyone talks about how great it is. Unsolicited talk of how great "the garden" is, strikes me as fishy.

What can I expect? If, at my first day of training, someone pointed out all the flaws of "the garden," I would either suspect that person of being a jerk, or suspect "the garden" of being a hell hole. Kidding, I just wanted to say hell hole in this post. More accurately, I would suspect it of being a seriously flawed institution. I imagine the minor flaws "the garden" has will become apparent in a few weeks, or months.

I always feel cautious, though, when I hear employees talk of their company as anything with the definite article in front of it, like the first letter should be capitalized: "the Company," "the Garden," "the Store," "the Brothel." The larger the company, the more ominous it sounds. When I worked at Graywhale, the cd store in Logan, we called it "the Store." But there was only five of us, so we were like a little family. When I worked at that big company in Salt Lake which I shall not name (for some reason. I don't even know why I don't want to name it), people often called it "the Company" and I always cringed. It sounded like a living being, with limbs or tentacles. It really had tentacles, which it stretched to Florida, Connecticut and Illinois. And those tentacles were moving and multiplying constantly, like the hungry monster that it was (I liked the Company, I really did). Anyway, the point being: Graywhale = small; mysterious Salt Lake company = very large and, therefore, ominous.

But so far, "the garden" is amazing. I was thrilled to discover that I get a free book all about the Sonoran desert (it takes so little to please me), and I was even a little thrilled to find out that I have homework. Yes, homework. I have to study the desert ecology. I mean, I'm going to have to be able to explain facts about the plants and stuff without sounding like a fool. Being a natural tour guide, guiding won't be hard for me to do. But first I have to actually know the stuff.

Today we went on a small tour of "the garden." It's a meticulously cultivated place (as it should be). And honestly, looking at some of these plants up close, you can see why Gene Roddenberry or whoever, thought they ought to film the planet scenes of Star Trek in the desert. There's this plant called the boojum that's rather freaky looking. Beautifully freaky (like the Eels song). I've given a link to an image of it, but photos don't do it justice. You have to see it in real life. And there are other strange plants. I think part of the experience, the otherworldy feel to it, is only present because these crazy plants are all in one place. One place called The Garden. Ooooo-wah-ooo-oooo.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Inadvertently, I Let the Metaphorical Cat Out of the Metaphorical Bag

I've been trying to work on my book. Oops, the cat’s out of the bag. Yes, I’m one of the millions out there writing a book. Now you know the truth about me. Silly, hopeful girl, writing a book, you’re thinking. Well it's partly why I've disappeared. I recently reworked the beginning and felt pretty elated about that. 

So I had Stoker read it, just about 8 pages. And he gave me some constructive criticism, which I appreciated very much and agreed with what he said. But then I got depressed because I’m one of those types, and he didn’t come back and lavish me with praise for my mind-blowing writing skills. Because that’s what you have to do with me. So I haven’t worked on it for a few days.

Then the other night Stoker told me he was worried that I haven’t worked on it because he didn’t give the reaction I needed to keep going. And yes, that’s true. I had to tell him the truth. “All I wanted,” I said, “was a few positive words. That would have sufficed. Such as, ‘Where’s the rest, Nikki? It’s sooo good, I’m hungry for the rest.’ That would have made want to keep going.” As it is, being depressed and everything, I doubt very much that I can write at all. Even the things I truly love don’t appeal to me. Except Stoker. He still appeals to me.

Anyway, we worked it out and he does want to read more of it. In fact, I seem to have overlooked that he told me he wanted to read more at the time (but that hardly counts as lavish praise, which is what I needed, being emotional high maintenance like I am). But I’d extrapolated from that, at the time, that he just thought it sucked and was hoping that it would get better. You know. It’s easy to extrapolate.

The other reason I’ve disappeared is actually two reasons, but they’re related. One: Stoker bought me a computer game called Rise of Nations. I’m told this game is very much like Civilization. Anyway, it’s consuming all my spare time because I’m obsessed and must conquer everything. I do alright on the easy level, but once I switch to moderate, the computer wastes me (you should know, there’s an easier level than easy level. This level is known as easier). It’s very unfair. I barely have time to amass an army. To keep my morale up, last night I switched back to easy, amassed an enormous army, and laid waste to Alaric’s (king of Austria) villages. He was at my mercy and begged for peace, which of course I granted because I’m such a sweetheart. It was beautiful.

The other reason is yet another game, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. This is an Xbox game, and I’m hell bent on conquering it (I only just started playing video games again). Recently Stoker bought us a wireless controller, which I’ve had to test. Several times. And for several hours on each occasion. Who can blame me? It’s too hot out to do anything remotely active and so I stay in, entertaining myself through various means such as reading, writing, playing video and computer games. Plus I clean, do the laundry, wash the dishes, exercise and etc. I’m amazing. I’m super woman*.

With all these great things keeping me busy, how can I be depressed, you ask? The answer is that I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a lack of direct sunlight or something. Maybe I’m like a flower. Or a vine. A tomato plant. Something that requires direct sunlight. Finish the metaphor for me because I’ve reached my limit.

Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I’ve recovered and I feel the fire burning again. The fire, that is, for finishing my book. I was reading through it, a later part, like page 70 or thereabouts, and realized, I’m an amazing writer. Damn amazing. If I finish it and can’t find a publisher, I’ll be 100% convinced that all publishers are insane. It’s good stuff.

I have to tell myself stuff like that—stuff like “I’m amazing”—and be convinced, or else I’d quit. You see, perhaps I truly suck and I just don’t get it. But the point is to keep going. That’s the point of writing a book or completing any large task, and even the point to life. You have to keep going regardless of how awful something is. But to keep going you must fool yourself into thinking you’ve really got something here. Something worth something.

*Stoker helps. He’s very good at doing his part. Just didn’t want you to think that I do it all.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Music Reviews + Depression: What I've Been Doing in My Spare Time

Some of you may have noticed a significant decline in new posts. That's because 1) I've been depressed, and 2) I've been writing reviews for a music web site (links: Moondance review, Dark Side of the Moon review). But don't worry, I found an old bottle of 5-htp and have started taking them to help my mood. That's a joke, but also serious. I did find a bottle of 5-htp and I am taking them again. How can a joke be serious, you're asking? I'm not sure. The point is that I realize pills don't make you happy. I decide to be happy and come hell or highwater, I'm happy.

You may not know this, but I'm a recovering anti-depressant addict. No, joking again. I wasn't addicted in the sense that I went on them voluntarily and I had to get a daily fix to function normally. Not like that. I went through depression in junior high school, when I was 13. So my mom took me to a psychologist, we deduced that I had a problem and then she suggested anti-depressants. First Prozac, then Zoloft, followed by Paxil. Not all at once, of course. One at a time. We finally settled on Paxil. Tom Cruise may find this hard to believe, but it worked for me.

The truth is, I didn't even know anything was wrong with me. I was just having a hell of a time in school and in my life. I was tired all the time and I thought about suicide often. Well, death more than suicide. So, I was really messed up because only messed up people think about death that often. Really, I'm not kidding. But I thought life was like that, you know. Messed up.

There are plenty of deeply embedded reasons that I became depressed. Puberty is the worst time of life, I think, and I was amidst that hell-storm. Plus my dad had gone psycho, so my mom divorced him and we were always on the run from him. For a year there were times when we'd pack up spur of the moment and head to my grandma's, because my mom had received death threats from my father (some may take death threats lightly, we didn't. Especially not when the violence and abuse he was capable of had already been exhibited) or his psychiatrist had called to tell her he was in a psychotic mental state.

Then after a year of this, my mom got remarried. My step-dad was a good guy, but I didn't like him at first. All of it was tough for me, but up to that point it was all I had known.

It wasn't like the psychologist dredged up repressed memories of abuse or anything (I just want to point that out). She helped me realize that it's not normal to want to sleep all day and to sleep through class, and to hate your family (oh yeah, and I hated my family, for reasons I can't fathom now). But it was normal to struggle and to feel alone and be upset that your dad left you. So therapy helped and so did the anti-depressants. And I was on them until I was 20 or something.

I'm not pushing anti-depressants or anything. And I'm also not complaining about my life, because my life has been fine. Good. Wonderful, and I'm rather pleased with how things have turned out. I don't have expectations that it's supposed to be easy. But I'm not the person who's going to point a finger and say that anti-depressants don't work and you should be ashamed for taking them. I feel otherwise. I've seen how they work for some people (me, duh).

And yes, I'm going to take advantage of a bottle of 5-htp I found in my medicine cabinet when I feel like it, because you know, sometimes it's just really tough to be happy even when you know you should feel happy, come hell or high water.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

I feel so helpless. I've been watching and reading about Hurricane Katrina and I want to do something to help. But I've nothing to offer, not really. Some people are offering their homes to refugees, but I live in a one bedroom apartment. Some people have boats. I don't have a boat. My cousin Mark has a boat, and if I had any authority, I'd order him to take it down there. And some people are donating money, I don't even have a job. We're barely scraping by as it is. Some people are donating their time and skills. What skills do I have to offer? None. I'm not a doctor, an engineer, or anything. My dad is, an electrical engineer (power) that is and if I had any authority, I'd send him down there to help rebuild and get power to the city.

In short, me . . . I'm useless.

I sit here and mourn for the people and their losses and love them and pray for them. But that seems to be all I can do. I'd do more, if I could. I think if someone said to me, "We're leaving tonight, with (insert organization here), to go to New Orleans. Come with us." I think I'd go. I'd have to clear it with Stoker first, but if it was alright with him, I think I'd go.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

My Man Does Not Patronize Places Like Hooters

Autumn’s coming, but I can’t feel it in the air. Depressing. You know how it is when you can feel a change in the air, and it’s thrilling? Well, I’m not experiencing that. But I used to, always at this time of the year. School’s back in session, you’re settling in and learning new things. I really miss all that.

But even though Arizona doesn’t truly experience autumn, not in the traditional sense, anyway, I’m still doing my autumn mix. This will be the fourth year that I’ve done it. I might have told some people that it will be the fifth, but it’s not. The years just bleed together, you know and it seems like I’ve been doing it for five years already.

So that’s something to look forward to, the autumn mix.

Good news. I got a job. It’s only part time, but it’s something I really want. It doesn’t start until September 12th, but in the meantime I’ve been doing this lame band instrument rental crap. I hate to say it because it’s rude and judgmental and it will seem like I’m looking down on other people, but the thing is the people I go out with on these little elementary school jaunts are a bunch of deadbeats who don’t understand me.

Yesterday we drove past a Hooters and this stupid kid was like, “Woo hoo, let’s go to Hooters.”

I know I could have been jocular about it and had a good time and all, but I didn't feel like it because I don't know him, not really. So I said, “Whatever, we’ll drop you off and you can go to Hooters.”

“What? That’s fine with me. What about your husband, doesn’t he like to go to Hooters?” I said no. Then he said, “Well, what if he went, would you slap him or divorce him?”

To which I responded, “I’m not a violent person, but the question is stupid anyway, I wouldn’t marry a man who wanted to go to a place like Hooters.” Because I wouldn’t. Hello. Everyone knows this. I could have joked that I would have done both, slap him first then divorce him, but that would have been more of a misrepresentation of the truth.

This conversation was going on in a van, and I was in the front seat and he was in the very back seat. Instantly I wished I hadn’t said anything, had just ignored the asinine comment in the first place. The lady driving the van, a middle-aged, large woman, tried to smooth over the discussion with a “I’ve been to Hooters, it’s not that bad. The girls just wear tight tops and short skirts, and maybe get a little flirty.” And I felt very sorry for her. She was obviously justifying the perspective/actions of some man in her life because no good woman in her right mind, unless she’s a lesbian, would justify a messed up joint like Hooters. Probably her husband’s actions and she clearly has no confidence, which is understandable, being obese, but that shouldn’t matter because a woman’s will comes from within and from the unshakeable knowledge that she’s a Woman, dammit. Large black women are still full of attitude and confidence, it’s beautiful (is it wrong to say ‘black women?’ I don’t know what’s considered p.c. anymore). What’s the problem with white girls?

Anyway, after she said that, the guy in the back was all over it, saying stuff like, “Yeah, it’s not that bad…blah blah blah, I’m a jerk, a pigheaded guy who objectifies women and sex is a meaningless, carnal act between humans who have regressed into nothing more than a surging body of animalistic urges…love, what is love? Respect for women? My mother? I have a mother? And other women are sisters and mothers with feelings….what?” (He didn’t really say any of that, these are words I’m putting in his mouth because these are the attributes I perceive in a man who exhibits such careless attitudes.)

So I said, “Whatever, maybe it’s ‘not that bad,’ I simply disagree with the principle of the thing. That’s what offends me.” Then I didn’t say anything more because it wasn’t worth it, really. After that I shut everything else out, any conversation in the van, because these people have no concept of anything I consider important. I felt extremely misunderstood, like I was some kind of domineering woman and that bothers me. Because I’m not domineering.

I purposely chose a man with morals similar to mine, who values the same things, who loves his mother and his sisters, who chooses to see women as people and not a stack of boobs placed in his path to titillate his sexual desire. Is that so wrong? Why aren’t there more women in the world like myself? Why don’t good women demand more from men? I’m sick of the attitude that “Boys will be boys.” That’s b.s. It’s the same as “Let’s just all give up.”

I read and hear about women who are upset because they caught their husbands looking at porn on the internet, or their boyfriends want to go to strip clubs with their buddies. Hey, here’s a clue, “It’s me or the highway.” (I know it’s really “It’s my way or the highway…” But in this case, my misquote “It’s me or the highway” really works.) There shouldn’t even be a choice. A good woman, flesh and blood, who will also provide an emotional connection, is better than the pixilated, fake images of sex happening on the screen of a cold, unresponsive computer. Or maybe that’s what some people want. Fake. Cold. Unemotional. If they do, they’re already dead inside.

To end on a good note, I came home last night and told Stoker about the conversation and asked him if I have him all wrong, if I’m domineering. He said no. And I believe him. I’m right about him and I’m damn lucky to have found a man who rises above it, a man who wants an emotional connection with me as much as he wants all the other aspects of me.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Images of Bastet: A Photographic Journey

Bastet Goes to the Vet

We took Bastet to the vet yesterday. Did I tell you we named her Bastet? I know it's sort of a strange name, but it really fits her. She's mysterious looking . . . not that Bastet was a mysterious goddess or anything, as far as I know. I took the name from the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. In them, Bastet is a stray cat who randomly visits Amelia's home, which Amelia names after the goddess.

I liked the idea of naming a cat after the Egyptian goddess who was also a cat. Or something. I'm not really sure of the roots of the goddess myth because there seem to be accounts that contradict each other. On the web anyway. But here's a
link to a page that talks about Bastet, the goddess.

And for your information, we pronounce the /et/ in the name because /bast/ sounds like the shortened version of my favorite insult 'bastard.' I don't actually know anyone who calls people 'a bast' instead of 'a bastard,' but I wouldn't put it past some individual out there. Anyway, saying /bast-et/ makes it sound cute, like in French when they just add an '-ette' to the end of a name to make it feminine. Like 'Antoin-ette' or 'Paul-ette' and 'David-ette.' I made the last one up, I don't think there is a Davidette.

So we took Bastet to the vet yesterday because last week she went into heat. It was madness. I've never been around a cat in heat but I knew that something must be done to relieve the poor girl's surging hormones. Since she was a stray when I took her in, I didn't expect to her to have been spayed. But it only reaffirmed my irritation at the world. If she had actually belonged to someone before I found her, they were indeed an irresponsible bastard and didn't deserve to have such a beautiful, trusting cat.

Taking her to the vet was a very difficult thing to do. Her little meows appealed to my strongest resolve. I almost changed my mind. Okay, okay, no I didn't, but to illustrate how tough taking your cat to vet is . . . I'm using it as a literary device, you see. All my life my mom has been the steward -- she's taken the cats to the vet and everything. I mean, I was sometimes there, but I didn't feel the same sense of obligation and love that I feel for Bastet. My mom's cats were also my cats, but I knew the cats didn't look to me as their provider.

Anyone who's had a pet knows that animals are smart. They know who brings home the bacon. And they're thankful for it. You know they are, but not because they say thank-you or anything. It's how they love you and follow you around the house. Taking Bastet to the vet made me feel like I was breaking her trust because she didn't understand that the visit was important for her. Those are the moments when the language barrier really sucks. Other times you're thankful for it because not being able to converse in English with your pet makes them more adorable. But not being able to explain the pain they're going to feel and why, is a horrible thing. She didn't know what was happening, she didn't know why she was in a cage, and now, as she lays on the floor, miserable, not eating, I feel like I've betrayed her trust.

I know that some of you might be saying, "You're being a baby. It's just a cat, for heaven's sake." But if you're saying that, you're a jerk. No, seriously, I know you're truly wonderful, but you obviously have no heart. And you've never had an animal that you love because if you had then you'd understand me.

Anyway, she's more animated today and I know she'll be okay. She purred a little when I was petting her and talked to me a little. Meowed, that is. As soon as she starts eating, I'll feel better about everything.

N.B. As many of you know, Stoker and I are rather poor right now. To assist us in paying for Bastet to be spayed, we went through an organization called Cat Nip and Tuck. I think they might only be in Phoenix, but I'm sure there are other groups out there like them. This organization is similar to TNR, a program designed to reduce the population of feral cats without euthanizing them. But Cat Nip and Tuck is for pet owners, I think, and Stoker and I are extremely grateful for them.

ps. Blogger sucks! I had so many problems getting this to post right it took me TWO HOURS to do it. It should have only taken an hour or less. Stupid morons.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Renaissance Woman: About My Little Sister

I told my younger sister Cassi that I would have a new post up yesterday. It seems like I might have promised her, but then I didn't do it. I don't usually break promises and I don't know what happened, really, I just didn't get to it. I was reading or something. Anyway, apparently she depends on them to get through her long, grueling hours waiting for the zebrafish embryos to do something in their little petrie dishes. Fertilize themselves or something. I have no idea really. Something glamorous like that.

In case you're wondering about Cassi, she's the genius of the family. I rarely talk about my family because they're very important to me and I don't want to encourage potential stalkers. Cassi is stalk-able, if there is such a thing. In fact she had a stalker in high school. For the sake of ease, we'll call him Jeremy. Jeremy wouldn't stop emailing Cassi and instant messaging her (they do that, these days, kids), oh and also calling her and probably doing an occasional drive-by . . . you know the kind, everyone's done them. Dim the lights, drive stealthily by in the dark just to see if they're home, just to gaze upon the house that shelters their beautiful bones. . . . I've never done that kind of thing.

When she went away to college (an Ivy League school on the East Coast. . . . Are they all on the East Coast? Shows you how 'in the know' I am . . .) he made her this cd with a cover that said something like, "Cassi and Jeremy, together forever . . ." Or something ridiculous like that. Cassi, in the typical manner of white personality types, did nothing and hoped the problem would go away. For the most part, it did.

When I say genius, I mean she's everything. Renaissance woman. Observe:

Cassi is:

1) An athlete. In high school she was the star soccer player, as well as lettering in track and flying to such diverse places as Florida to race. Also she went to Moscow, Russia for some race thing. Racing. She loves to race, in spite of that white personality (I'm making that up, I don't know if she has a white personality).

2) A scholar. In addition to getting a 35 on the ACT (high is 36), she got excellent SAT scores (I don't know what they were, the SAT crap is a mystery to me since I never concerned myself with them). Maybe she just tests well, you're thinking, but she also took the toughest AP courses during high school and passed them all. AP calculus, AP biology, AP history etc. I might be making some of those classes up. I'm not 100% sure which ones she took. But I know they were hard. Now she's studying pre-med at the University of Penn.

3) A comedian. Or maybe she's only hilarious to me. You decide. I've included a link to her new blog on my sidebar. Cassi, that's her name and the link (for those who are not geniuses among you. What am I saying? I know you're all geniuses). Also, she started another web page for this elite club she started back in high school. Here's the link. I find that her type of humor is the most entertaining and that the kind of people who utilize it are few and far between, to quote an oft used phrase (and thus illustrating my superior intelligence). But honestly, she cracks me up like no other. Maybe I'm just biased because I've watched her grow from this adorable, happy little girl into a full grown woman riddled with complexities, not to mention a rich trove of sarcasm at her disposal. And as we all know, sarcasm is the highest, most developed form of humor.

4) A gamer. Here's the part that kills the computer geeks of the world. She's brilliant, she's funny, she's attractive AND she loves to play computer games. Any games for that matter. Xbox, PS2, etc. PLUS she's rules at them. I'm serious. She's so versed in the rules and space of game worlds that she finds her way around them with ease. Then she conquers them. It's amazing. Any man with a brain who enjoys losing himself in an Xbox game is DYING for a girl like Cassi who will understand the drive, no, the need to conquer game worlds.

5) A reader. She's a voracious reader. Thus, smarter. As we all know, people who read are the most intelligent. Somehow they just know more. Their brains are more developed. Their imaginations more colorful and active. Their ability to retain information stronger. I think Cassi has read more books than me. And I studied English literature as both an undergrad and a grad student.

6) A red-headed beauty. Yes, she's a red-head. And therefore beautiful. I don't know, maybe I'm biased in favor of the red-heads. My mother and two of my sisters, including Cassi, are red-headed. I'm hard pressed to say there's a red-head I've met that I didn't like. In other words, I've never met a red-head I didn't like. Crazy? I don't know. It makes me wish I had red hair. Honestly. Since wishing isn't helping me, I simply hope to have an adorable little girl with red-hair. If Stoker doesn't deliver . . . well, you know Henry VII? I'm joking, I'm joking. I absolutely ADORE Stoker as you all know.

So there you have it. Cassi. The amazing Cassi.

She's going to kill me for writing this. But I'm in Arizona, she's in Utah. You do the math.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Plastic Surgery: You Can't Put a Price on Aging with Dignity

There’s something to be said about real. I’ve been a huge advocate of Real all my life and sometimes might go too far with the “realness” factor. But whatever. This is about plastic surgery and a malaise in American culture. And I don’t know, it may go further than just America. What I do know is that I’m in love with people who are real.

This morning, while eating my Cap’n Crunch, I was watching the Discover channel. They don’t mix really, especially when the program is on plastic surgery and after every commercial break they flash a viewer discretion warning that the program shows actual surgeries. Of course I watched it anyway.

What’s more disgusting than flesh being sliced open and slabs of skin, literal pounds of flesh (their joke, not mine*), being tossed into a garbage can or slapped onto a counter? What’s more horrifying than bubbles of cellulite popping out of incisions, or slippery, clear balloons of saline solution bursting from a small hole beneath a breast, landing in the sterile, gloved hand of Dr. Frankenstein . . . . I mean, the doctor, only to be replaced by a larger implant (because that’s what the operation really is, a breast-implant replacement or enlargement)?

I’ll tell you what’s more offensive than these images: the plastic surgery addict telling the camera that they know it seems shallow, but these surgeries make them happy. They just want to look good. They don’t do it that much, you know. They’ve only had a few surgeries, uh, lip enlargement, tummy tuck, liposuction of the buttocks, thighs . . . and . . . neck and that’s all . . . oh, and they had their nose done . . . and jaw-line . . . but that’s all . . . and breasts, breasts were enlarged, that’s right. Forgot about that. But that’s all. No more . . . Botox. Does that count, Botox? Because they had that done on their eyes, just the crows feet. And the smile lines, above the nose. Botox is great, because you know, even when you get mad you can yell and get angry without looking mean. [*Smile*, but you can’t tell because of the Botox.]

That’s really how the program went. It followed several individuals and every one of them had an interview similar to the above paragraph where they talked about the few things they’d had done. And they’d actually forget what they’d had done, like when someone’s retracing their steps from yesterday and they leave something out and then remember. But that’s normal because that’s just the day’s events, you know, minor things like going to the gas station for the paper or calling your sister. These people are forgetting how many major surgeries they’ve had done to remake themselves.

I know the allusion wasn’t lost on you. I know when I accidentally called the doctor, Dr. Frankenstein, you put it all together and saw the appropriateness of the reference. A few months ago I wrote a blog entry about Michael Jackson's life story being a modern day Frankenstein story (funny, because the actual title of Mary Shelley’s novel is Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus). And it seemed to work, because Michael Jackson while being a product of his parents, has been influenced by the whim of the masses and that has turned him into something ugly, not only on the outside, but judging from his actions, on the inside too.

People always mistake Frankenstein for the monster he created in the book. They think Frankenstein is the monster, the man created from the body parts of dead people**. But he’s not. Frankenstein, you’ll know—if you know anything and have read the book or been an alert person all your life—is the doctor. Victor obsessively pursues the secret of life and creates a human being pieced together from dead things. Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve read it and you might have never read it, but it’s usually quite different than the films based on it. The real question Shelley proposes is: who’s the monster?

These doctors who’ve gone to medical school and taken oaths to heal people and do everything in their power to save lives and all, have been seduced by lucre (I like the sound of that, “seduced by lucre” it’s so evil sounding. And it is. Evil). In Shelley’s book the real monster was Dr. Frankenstein with his greedy thirst for power shaping his cruel actions. When he succeeded in creating life, the weak man turned cold and frightened, sending the veritable child out into an unforgiving world to fend for itself. Dr. Frankenstein’s monstrosity was his thin, unloving heart.

Likewise modern day doctors slap fake parts onto people, give them a quick fix because the price is right, while ignoring the real problem (click here for more quick-fix plagues). In the original Hippocratic Oath, and even in the revised Oath, the sentiment is to protect and cure people. Plastic surgery as I understand it, developed as a way to hide burn scars or fix irreparable damage in accident victims. Even breast implants developed as a way to restore breast cancer survivors to a normal existence (again, this is what I understand of it. I haven’t bothered to look these things up). But these modern day Victor-Frankensteins base their practices mainly on the economy of it, ignoring the ethical question. Give them enough cash and they’ll scramble your body to look like a porn star or the Hollywood idea of beauty (which as we all know, is surface only).

What bothers me is that vanity surgeries are fast becoming the norm. I see it on the horizon now and I suppose there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m not an activist anyway and think it’s ridiculous to, say, camp out in Crawford, Texas to make a statement. I’m not like that. My cause is within my sphere of influence—loving, giving and perhaps a little healing here and there through massage, teas and aromatherapy (btw, that’s mainly a joke).

Maybe I’ll start the Real Club for individuals like me who want to make an oath to not succumb to the allure of looking perfect even as we age and witness the inevitable decay of our flesh. There is no chance for a state of physical perfection in this life anyway. Life on earth is fluid and changing, constantly giving way to the forces of time and gravity. However, our hearts can become perfect, I think. And that’s what I want to have: a perfect heart.

*And by “their” I mean the Discover channel’s narrator, not the surgeons.

**This deserves further clarification. People will say “Oh, he looked like Frankenstein.” And what they mean is he was an ugly man like the dad in the Munsters. He had bolts coming out of his neck and stuff. For accuracy’s sake they should say “Oh, he looked like Frankenstein’s monster.” However, someone could say, “Oh, he was like Frankenstein.” And by that mean he was selfish and heartless, on the surface seemingly good and nice and inquisitive. But beneath it all, he wouldn’t give you the shirt off his back.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

How Not to Use a Pumice Stone

The other night Stoker scrubbed the inside of his elbow too vigorously with the pumice stone. He was taking a bath, reading his book on recording engineering, and he got this itch on his inner elbow. You know, the soft, pale part of your arm just below the bulge of round joint. I don’t know what he was thinking using a pumice stone there. But he did. He’s new to pumice stones, I suppose and didn’t realize that you should only use them on tough, calloused skin like the bottom of your feet and elbows.

The itch flared up and the light blue, foot shaped pumice stone was resting on the edge of the bathtub, innocently minding its own business. Stoker’s eyes fell on its white flecked beauty and the idea struck him. He grabbed the light stone and scraped it lightly across the tender skin. It felt good. Deceivingly good. With a sigh, he brushed the skin with the pumice stone, effectively eliminating the itch.

Later, the skin turned red. Raw. That’s when the whole story came spilling out: itch… pumice stone…I scrubbed it and it was great, at the time. But now it hurt. Like a burn. Poor kid. I truly felt bad for him, felt a little guilty for not warning him about the potency of a pumice stone. Though, when you think about it, I’m sure he knew. How could you not? I mean, it’s like sandpaper. No one rubs their skin with sandpaper, right?

Unfortunately (but rather adorably), sometimes Stoker attacks an idea vigorously, like he attacked that itch, without thinking about the outcome. I do it all the time. Who doesn’t? It’s the eagerness of youth, a quality you rarely see in people over 50—they just don’t pummel headlong into foreign territory without considering the results.

For example, when Stoker was in high school, he painted the horns of his family’s goats. Red or blue or something. Maybe yellow, I don’t know. But the point is, you’d be hard pressed to see a 55 year-old man out in the yard painting his goat’s horns. If you did, you’d check him into the nursing home, citing dementia as your reason. Seeing a 17 year-old boy doing it, you just laugh and shake your head. Kids.

That’s the beauty of it, I think. When Stoker related the pumice stone debacle, I fell more in love with him. How could I not? And maybe in ten years, these sorts of incidents will bother me. I like to doubt it. I like to feel certain that the confidence he has about living and the little mistakes he makes because of that youthful eagerness will always make me laugh. Like a few weeks ago, when he made waffles from scratch and said, “It’s no problem, it’s really easy. Flour, water, oil, sugar, eggs. Like pancakes. Easy.” Later, after he put three eggs in and we were trying to cut through the spongy things, we joked about having waffles that tasted more like meringue. Though it was bit of an inconvenience at the time, it was actually quite great. It really was.

The red burn-like sore on his arm has scabbed over; little red pinpricks. In case you doubted the veracity of how much damage the misapplied pumice stone had done. In the future I would advise all to be careful with pumice stones. And in 30 years, if you see a grown man painting the horns of his goats, don’t worry, he’s not crazy, it’s just Stoker.