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.