Archive for June 2008
Hello readers! How are you doing? Do I even have faithful readers anymore since I don’t update this thing as regularly as I used to? Hmm… well here’s what’s been happening during June, even if only for my own personal reference.
a new place.
Frank and I have moved out of a soul-sucking apartment complex and into a small little house with an actual backyard. Yes, a backyard. We haven’t had one of those in almost a year, and it feels SO good to have it back again. We’re planning to do a bit of BBQing and I might even learn how to garden this summer! Well… it’s a bit late to learn how to garden right now, but I still plan to go to a nursery and finding some mint plants to keep back there. I was thinking about planting some stuff back there just to keep the dirt down (it’s two narrow strips of dirt and a walkway in the middle right now). I sweep back there almost everyday and it’s always so damned dusty!
I hear that mint grows like a weed, so while I originally wanted to plant something in the ground, I think I’ll stick to using a container for now. I don’t know if our landlord would appreciate a new mint infestation in the backyard.
coffee beans of the week.
I bought half a pound of the Whole Food’s Allegra Breakfast Blend for this week. It doesn’t look nearly as shiny and yummy as the Monsieur Beans stuff from last week. They look a bit dried out, actually.
I got a haircut yesterday and I’m pretty happy with it. It looks good even after washing and blow-drying it myself. I’m a terrible stylist, but somehow it still looks good! For a whopping $35, I don’t think I could have asked for better! I don’t know that I’ve paid that little for a haircut in over 4 years. Damn you Shag Salon! You’re SO good, yet so expensive!
I’m still going strong on the running and eating right. I’ve slowed down on losing weight, but it doesn’t bother me because I’m really really happy with where I am right now. I don’t know that I could wear a bikini to the beach anytime soon, but I feel healthy and happy and beautiful as I am. Well, I felt happy and beautiful before, but now I feel healthy! I feel like I could run to catch the bus without getting winded, and I can easily carry more heavy stuff further these days. That really matters to me since I often carry my cameras around and I’ve been working as a photographer’s assistant lately, which means carrying heavy stuff.
It’s really interesting to me that the people I’ve met here in California probably have no idea what I looked like before! That really fascinates me, that they all know me as the person I am right now, maybe noticing that I’ve lost weight since last year, but basically not knowing me when I was so much heavier. I don’t know that weight really matters to the people I know, since I try not to make friends with superficial people. Ha… Just for comparison, here’s a photo from when we got married (Sept 2005) and a recent one.
“Anita? It’s me. Remember that money I lent you? I need it, and I need it bad.”
Oh wait, did she need it bad or badly? English grammar had never been her strong suit and she often made all kinds of small errors without knowing it. It was okay. Once she got all that money and figured out the rest of the plan, no one else was going to care what kind of grammar errors she made, or how her accent betrayed that she was from the wrong end of town. Better to just leave it off on the next call.
“Harry, how are you? Yeah, it’s me. Where’s that money you owe me? I need it. I really need it.”
She felt like a loser having to call in all the money she’d lent friends in good will, but it was the only way to get what she needed. They would have to understand, right? They had to!
Doing some quick math in her head, she tallied up how much she could get from her friends. If they all came through, she could get a decent amount, and it would be enough to go to step two. Step Two. Just thinking about it made her anxious. What if it didn’t work? What if she ended up worse off than she was now? What if it was all a big scam to get her money? She would be out all her cash and she still wouldn’t have enough to get out of this dead-end town.
She tried not to think about what would happen if things went wrong and focused instead on finding the next person’s phone number on her list.
His arms looked strong without looking too thick, his fingers capable and deft with his camera. He clicked a series of buttons, turned a knob or two, and then started to frame the shot. The light was so dim that she could barely see him through the murkiness, the only light coming from a broken window in the far corner of the room. She heard the distinct suction sound of the mirror flap and knew that he had started the exposure. Careful to not even breathe too heavily, she waited to hear the second click that told her he was done.
“Do you think you got it?”
He turned slightly towards her, the light falling only partially on his face, and he nodded gently, a motion that was barely perceptible in the dimness. Turning away from him, she raised her own camera to her face, framing the scene in the viewfinder, walking back and forth to get just the right composition.
She wasn’t quite sure when it happened, but somehow she had found herself falling, falling in love. At first she thought it was him, but then she decided that she wasn’t romantically interested in him at all. It was more like she was falling in love with their friendship, and the way it was so easy to be around each other. She didn’t need to be any single person when she was with him. She could truly be herself, the way she was meant to be, without having to figure out what he wanted from her, or how he might expect her to act. She felt free when she was with him.
They moved silently through the building, peeking through broken glass windows to the bright sun outside. Neither of them spoke much, and simply enjoyed each other’s company and the sound of broken glass crunching under their feet.
It was officially summer, complete with the burning heat and the bright summer sun glinting in her eyes. Standing in the hot wind, she could feel her skirt beating against her long brown legs, the dry breeze burning upon her face. The grass was soft under her feet and she strode quickly across the expanse of green, her soles easily crushing the blades beneath them.
She wasn’t sure that it was the right time to visit the garden, as the flowers seemed to be wilting already in the burning summer heat, but she was there nonetheless. Scratching at an itch on her long brown arms, she felt annoyed with herself that she hadn’t come a few weeks earlier when the flowers would have been at their best. Now they were slightly browned at the edges, slowly wilting in the drying ground. Summer was here, and there was little rain to wet the dry dirt under her feet.
Reaching out, she grasped one of the dying flowers, but she suddenly pulled back with a gasp when she felt a sudden pain. A glossy red drop appeared on her fingertip, slowly growing larger until gravity pulled it down and turned it into a messy streak. Sucking on her injured finger, the coppery taste filled her mouth, running over her tongue and down into her throat.
living in a plastic world.
That Radiohead song always made her cry. Fake Plastic Trees. The lyrics were simply beautiful, and she flipped through her mp3 player, searching for it. When she found it, she put it on repeat and turned up the volume.
The guitar intro filled her ears, Thom’s sweet voice softly crooning just to her. Did they know how good this song was? Did they truly understand how it made her feel, how it reverberated to the very bottom of her soul?
She feels like the real thing.
She tastes like the real thing.
My fake plastic love.
Was that what her life was? Was her love a fake plastic love? She knew that she hadn’t been the best girlfriend in the world, and that she tended to be quite superficial when it came to some aspects of her life, but she hoped to god that her life wasn’t that sad, dying thing that the song described. She wanted to be real, to really feel, to understand someone else, and to have them understand her.
Maybe that was the most important thing in life, to be understood. She didn’t feel that anyone did that right now, and she had surrounded herself with close friends that were the most distant strangers she could have found. When they looked at her, they didn’t really see her. When they listened to her and laughed with her, it wasn’t really her, it was just some ghost of her soul.
How could she find these true people, these true friends that she needed? She didn’t know that she even could be true to them when she found them. Until she found them, she would listen to the song on repeat, hoping to find some kind of magical truth in it all.
War. Hunh! Yeah! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
It was playing loud, almost too loud for her. His voice was scratchy and passionate, the brass obnoxiously blasting in her face. Raising her beer, she sang along with the chorus, spilling some of it on the floor as she shook her spindly arm.
She didn’t really get a lot of attention even though she was wearing loud colours, singing along brazenly, and had been drinking like a fish for the past 4 hours by herself at the bar. It probably had to do with her severe face and the cruel turn her mouth took at the edges. She had had a rough life, going from one lousy job to another, living hand to mouth, constantly having to move because she couldn’t always pick up enough to pay the rent.
This last place had been the worst. She’d finally saved up enough cash to get her own place, but then someone had broken in, stole all her money, and taken her crappy little television. There was no way for her to come up with enough money for the rent that was due in 4 days, so she took what she had left, headed to the nearest bar and became a fixture on the far barstool in the corner. No one seemed to mind that she was there as long as she had a drink in front of her the whole time and she left a buck for the bartender, an older man who looked as tired of life and hardship as she felt.
The TV at the bar was playing coverage of a war going on across the world, but she didn’t really care. She couldn’t worry about that war when she had her own to fight.
A Secret Wish.
She’d been alone for as long as she could remember. She’d always found a way to entertain herself, whether it was by creating pretend-friends as a child or by picking up various hobbies. She’d learned the basics of a number of different languages by the time she finished college, taking a random class here or there. It was easy for her to pick up the words and the accent, parroting what she heard in classes and on tapes. She was a born pretender.
It wasn’t until she was in high school that she realised that she was inherently lonely. Surrounded by friends, she managed to still find a way to keep a piece of herself away from them, a piece she kept close and never showed anyone else. She yearned to find someone who could penetrate the fortress of her heart, someone who could understand her. Ever the over-achiever, she set seemingly impossible goals, always meeting them effortlessly. To hide the loneliness inside, she filled her life with people, but people who could never see the real her under all the layers. She felt safe with them; she could be the person she desperately wanted to be: confident, powerful, a born leader.
If only she could find her other half, that someone who would understand her childhood, that someone who could see her through the fog she cloaked herself in. It was an unendurable yearning within her, a desire buried so deep within the core of her being, she didn’t know if she could shake it.
A Fork in the Road.
What she had to do was so clear. Intensely clear. She didn’t have to do much of anything actually. All she had to do was wait, and wait she did. She sat in that chair for over two hours, just waiting for… something. What was she waiting for anyway? It seemed to her that it would all be clear when it was meant to be, but she had no idea how long that would take.
Where was her sign? How would she know when to act? Was there going to be a sign and would she even recognise it when it showed up? She had no idea. Everything was so confusing, and she didn’t want to have to make any of these decisions right now. She was tired, so tired, after 4 days with minimal sleep. What little sleep she did get was obtained sitting straight up in the same hard chair she was in right now.
She picked at a scab on her arm, peeling the thickened skin off, the blood seeping slowly out of the open wound. Her head bent, she didn’t realise she was crying until a tear splashed onto her arm, barely missing the scab she had peeled off. Wiping at her eyes, she pressed her feet down against the ground, trying to centre her soul in her body between the sky and the ground, but failing miserably.
Suddenly she knew what to do, and she felt a new-found strength coursing through her veins as sucked in a deep breath of the sour, antiseptic-smelling air. Firmly standing, she headed down the white corridor to see the doctors.
I haven’t posted them in a little while, so here are two of the latest ones.
She lay under the covers, petrified of the dark. There was nothing out there, but it always made her think of all the bad things that could be hiding there. She couldn’t help but feel angry about the way things had turned out. If only it could be the way she wanted it to be in her mind, but none of that was true. It was all an incredible lie to help her cope with her life, to figure out how to go forward from here.
Pulling the covers up around her chin, she thought about the life she’d cultivated for herself in her head and the different people she could pretend to be on a moment’s notice. To the rest of the world, she was smart and successful, not afraid of anything. Nothing bad had ever happened to her, and her childhood had been a dreamy fairytale of doting parents, happy friends, and wonderful experiences.
If only they knew the truth, the real facts of her life and childhood. Would anyone still like her as a person? Would anyone still care to know who she was under all the superficial layers of lies? Did she even know who she still was?
Sighing, she looking at the clock on her bedside table and decided that she didn’t know the answers to any of these questions, and somehow, they just didn’t matter. She could settle back into the fiction of her made-up life and be comfortable and rested when the sun rose the next morning
The party was immensely boring. Immensely. She liked saying that over and over in her head, with a slight British accent, imagining herself walking down a cobblestone-lined street in the rain, her bright red umbrella bobbing above her. At the end of her imaginary walk, she met with a darkly handsome man with a mysterious accent. He led her down a dingy alley and through a doorway that opened up into a magnificent hall. She threw off her raincoat and revealed a glittering evening dress, intricately beaded with expensive crystals. She was the belle of the ball and people’s heads turned to notice her, their faces breaking into bright smiles of recognition. They rushed to her, and she could feel the adoration pulsating through the crowd
It was back, it was strong, and she wasn’t sure she could stop it this time. It consumed her, blinding her to any of the goodness in her life, trapping her in an endless abyss of darkness. There was no way escape when she started to fall, the walls that kept her safe seeming to melt away as if burned by dripping acid. Closing her eyes, she felt herself exposed to the world, to the harsh reality of her past, to the pain that never seemed to go away.
If only she could escape for a minute. The thought bounced endlessly in her head, echoing to the very core of her being. It was the only way. If she did manage to get away this time, it would only come back again, when she least expected it. She knew it would never let go, the claws deep into her skin and ripping away the outermost layer of her skin, exposing that unearthly white flesh underneath.
She sighed, understanding the desperation of her situation. The last time this had happened, she had wallowed in the pain for days before finally finding the strength to pull out of it. What she feared the most was that one day she would find that she had run out of that strength and she would be trapped in the abyss forever. Nothing would be able to save her, no one else could help her.
Sure, people would cry when they found out she had finally escaped, and she felt sorry for those who might miss her, but she reasoned that she was headed to a better place, where the past couldn’t find her, and she would finally be free.
In my neighbourhood, I can hear the ice cream truck playing a little tune as it circles the block, excited children spilling into the street clutching dollar bills and change in their hands. Their high-pitched laughter tinkles in the air, as the sun beats down on the hot, dry, California streets. The grass is green, the sky is blue, and everything is right in their worlds for at least 5 minutes while they happily eat their sweet treats, the ice cream dripping down their chins and hands.
In my neighbourhood, I can walk to a homeless shelter that feeds hungry mouths every morning. The people line up, wrapping around the block. There are men and women, young children and babies, all there to satisfy a gnawing hunger in their bellies. I drive past them in the mornings as they wait for the doors to open, children tugging at their shirts, babies sleeping quietly in their second-hand carriages. The sound of chatter fills the air as I slowly roll to a stop at the stop sign and then dies away as I leave them behind, the engine chugging along down the street.
In my neighbourhood, I can walk down the street and marvel at all the expensive new condos that appear. It seems that every empty lot is just waiting to become a new set of townhouses, spilling over with families that own shiny cars and keep plants on the doorstep. Their welcome mats beckon you to enter, and sometimes you can catch a glimpse of the modern furniture filling the living areas inside. Every place looks the same, and I pass an entire block filled with them before changing to another block with a slightly different building style.
In my neighbourhood, I feel special and diverse and wonderful. I can see all kinds of people, all kinds of shops, and find all kinds of interesting things to do. I may not be that child slurping an ice cream cone in the blazing sun, a homeless person waiting for a hot meal, or someone who lives in a fancy condo, but I live here too. We all live here together in our neighbourhood.