Archive | December, 2010

The First Time

20 Dec

The night is replayed in her mind as disjointed flashbacks; the wait for it to come, the absolute feeling of trust that time, place, and people couldn’t be tweaked to be made more perfect. “More perfect” seems an atrocious, meaningless idea, in fact, only thought of by someone unfortunate enough to not have partaken in the moment. Her sight, hearing, and sense of smell were aligned with her heart – beating strong and happy – attuned to perceive the slightest change in her body. She wasn’t sure whence the change would first appear: would her toes tingle first? would her knees give out? would her chest burn in heat, her heart too fast to be contained? would she feel sick before she felt great? A slight worry emanating from her hardened, dark subconscious – the part of the brain bred for telling her how wrong and dumb she is – was flicked into nothing after a careful look into the eyes of her accomplices. They were with her in anticipation, holding on for the moment they’d thoroughly and carefully tried to predict so many nights before.

It came to her first. She may have been more spiritually open, a better listener of her own flesh, or maybe just physically weaker and succumbing. Whatever the reason, or combination thereof, it came to her first and she knew it right away. She saw dear faces, felt a pleasant if forgettable breeze that circulated the clear, starlit September skies. One blink later, and her arms were raised, her knees bent, her eyes shut. She bit her lower lip. The tingling feeling did come, but it stopped not at the toes, calves, hips, or abdomen. It was everywhere simultaneously, and there was nothing left for her to do than to part her lips into a beautiful, wide smile. Yes. Yes! Hahaaaaa, YES! She found her fingers on her neck, providing the caress she craved and now refused to deny herself. She wanted to touch her legs, her arms, her hands, her own face, lower back. She wanted to meet herself via these fingers so mindlessly used, so rarely appreciated. But before she embarked in this rediscovery, she looked to the others. I want you to feel this. I want you to have what I have. You deserve it. I love you.

Words repeatedly suppressed for fear of rejection, fear of misunderstanding, fear of embarrassment, fear of the silence… Fear now was not part of her vocabulary. She hugged them tightly, noticing her forearms and fingertips extend to touch as much of the loved one as the embrace physically could. What she didn’t reach by limb, she hoped to touch by spirit. Eventually they would all be with her, she knew it.

As she waited for them to join, she felt the necessity of turning to the sky, and opening her ears. Everything that should be there, was. The breeze was gentle on the skin of her face after a day’s hard sun. The melodies intertwined with the oxygen she breathed, and she felt them equally important to take in, equally vital for the maintenance of her system. Suddenly every part of her was alive, every action, however slight, sparkled like the millions of stars lighting the sky that night. She had complete trust in the love she felt inside, the hands of her partners, the smiles of strangers.

When they all came, she was ecstatic. She could feel their love, she watched as they moved closer, touched, gifted her with warm smiles, eyes overflowing with kindness. For the rest of the night they danced, talked, cared for one another, so aware of what they shared together.

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Stuff and things

14 Dec

When you’re working 10 hour days, at a new job – for which you interviewed extensively and brilliantly, leading your then-prospective employers to believe you are god’s gift to their professional lives – and you suffer with an irrational, seemingly ever-growing phobia of mice; creatures that are concurrently inhabiting your kitchen, leaving fecal evidence of their trespassing, you MAY enter a short phase of self-doubt and/or hate. Whether it lasts three days or three weeks, this emotion drags your confidence down to 100 year-old, mother of 7 breast levels, and thus the suffering seems dreadful and eternal.

But it’s OK. Somehow, I have not (yes, I was just using the third-person singular, and have suddenly switched to first, when I was indeed speaking about myself the entire time. I can do that, this is only a silly blog, you’re lucky I’m not misspelling shit all over the place) fucked up at work, and not only am still employed, but am rather well liked by said employers, who believe me to have powers similar to those of Super Woman. I don’t have her boobs and I certainly don’t possess a magic golden lasso… but I do possess other ASSets that enable me to stay afloat, and actually help me believe that I may, in the coming weeks, surprise myself and become all that I can be.

A huge presence in my daily doses of self-esteem recharging has been friends. I see mine on a weekly basis – Chillout Tuesdays (and sometimes Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and once in a blue moon, Mondays). The dogs join us, as do yummy paleolithic diet snacks with sides of pizza, DJ Leo’s uplifting mixes, and marijuana. She’s there, helping us relax, laugh, discuss ideas, tell stories, and draw inspiring pictures while competing in Pictionary.

I’m no artist to begin with, but under the influence of weed (a fantastic little plant that helps me let go of my self-imposed absolute concern with time and to also thoughtfully evaluate every aspect of a decision, thought, occurance with utmost care), getting Marx Brothers as a subject to draw in front of equally altered friends who must then decipher my modernist hyerogliphs, is like, a joke. I knew they were directors, but I also knew my teammates would have no fucking idea who these guys are, and as such, we were doomed to lose with me frantically etching crude stick figure-like representations of a crowd inside a movie theatre, that my two comrades would fail to interpret. What I did instead was start with a very clever idea; I decided to draw Karl Marx. I drew a round face with a double-helix-style head of hair and matching long beard, sticks for a body, and a prominent, large book sitting at the end of its straight-line arm. My frenzied pointing at the “Karl Marx” and “movie theatre” drawings ended when the last drop of sand finally reached the bottom of the plastic timer.

“It was the MARX BROTHERS!” I shouted.

“What. the. Fuck. Juliana!! Are you serious? The Marx Brothers? What the fuck is that,” asked my sore-losing teammate, pointing to my post-modernist, no. 2 pencil on recycled paper rendering of the father of communism. “You could’ve drawn BROTHERS, for starters. You can’t just draw something that looks like what you think this thing would look like if someone who knew what you were thinking were guessing it.”

At this point I was laying on the couch, hands covering my shamed face and hushing the sound of own my laughter at my pre-schooler illustrating strategies.

Whatever. What I lacked in drawing powers, I made up for in guessing abilities. “A thesaurus,” my friend called me. I don’t believe it true, but I enjoy having my ego inflated.

Pictionary is fun, as is the game Mafia. We play that a lot too, and I’m usually doctor or peon, never the killer. So it’s not always as fun as it could be. One of my fortes is, of course, telling stories. My friends are kind enough to let me hijack their ears for extensive high-decibel recreations (with occasional physical interpretation) of my true-stories. Like the time I had a bat in my apartment, or the the time I thought I’d lost my keys and had to spend the night at a friend’s house. I should tell you guys about these too. And maybe even share my story of being fondled by a teenage Cambodian and my thoughts on sex with Asians… I should share all of this.

The Happy Thoughts of a Zombie

13 Dec

I’m exhausted. The nicotine and the THC are battling it out inside my body, and the stimulant in them is about to get reinforcement from the cup of coffee I just brewed and will soon drink. It’s nearly 11pm, and after a long weekend filled with pleasant surprises and late nights, I should be going to bed.

I love to sing. There was a time when I would lock myself in the bathroom and turn on the hair dryer – or I’d get in my car and drive with no particular destination – so I could sing as loudly and freely as I wished to, without fear of being heard by neighbors. Now I can’t help but sing out loud while walking the dog, I can’t help but turn up the music and belt out words as soon as I get home from work. It’s a shot of life that courses speedily through my veins.

I need a shot before succumbing to sleep, so I’m pacing the floor as I wait for the coffee to cool. I don’t have the body of my 17 year-old self – the one who would be up on a Friday at 6am for school, drive immediately after to a 6hr restaurant job shift, dash home for a shower and change, hop back in the car for a 45min drive to a night of dancing, flirting, kissing, Dunkin’ Donuts stops at 3am, followed shortly by a 10hr shift at aforementioned restaurant job. I’m certainly not she in body, but I think I’ll always be in mind. I can’t sleep, I won’t sleep because… I haven’t written in over two months. I think the words, I rearrange them in my head, I punctuate them into phrases and sentences. I rearrange the sentences. I think up a title and an outline, maybe even come up with a tag item. But I know it – because I hear it now – there’s a low voice in the back of my mind that says, “eh, that’s boring. Who cares. You should do expense reports first.” I’m not sure why I’ve been listening to that bitch.

I find myself awake too because it’s that time of the year. Holidays, reflection, where have I been, where am I going, who do I love, am I worthy of great, sensual, long bouts of sex with an attractive, strong guy who will pull my hair and do other things?

[pause for recouping]

For some reason I’m filled with love for my family, my friends; my wonderful friends who make me laugh and feel fantastic in my own skin. I’m filled with positivity and hope and the clear, near tangent belief that age 28 will be the best I’ve had thus far. It’s soon approaching. I’m excited.

I think about the people I’ve met, the little things I’ve gotten out of them that will hopefully stay with me forever. I think about my poor neighbor and the time I called the cops on him because his party was loud and I was intolerant of the fun he was having. I think I’d rather not be that girl. I’d rather go talk to him and find out that he’s a really nice boy and I should bake him some cookies because while the neighborhood is fantastic, we have a mice infestation in the building and the superintendent is a jackass. No one told him that when he signed the year lease and that isn’t fair.

I think about my dog, how funny she is when she barks and runs in her sleep, how loving she is, how lucky I am to have this living teddy bear spending time with me, and I get sad when I notice the dark semi circles under her eyes. She’s getting old and I’m going to lose it when she’s no longer around.

Sometimes I wish I could share my thoughts with someone really special. And most of the time I feel lucky, content, and ready to go to bed when I realize how eager my tired fingers have been to transpose my silly thoughts.  I think my life’s pretty great, I think I’m not perfect, I think I’m still as curious and giddy as I was at age 11, though with quite a few more tricks up my sleeve. I think I’m looking forward to Christmas and a New Year. I think I may need an Adderall tomorrow. I think I should remember to write about the night I was cracked out and homeless.

 

Depressing Thoughts of Unhappiness and Loneliness – A Holiday Season Special

13 Dec

I laid in bed, eyes wide open, searching for words to convey how sorry I was for my sullenness of late, and how much I needed him – my boyfriend – to show that he cared, if our relationship was to work. Next to mine, his body shifted from left to right, signaling he too was unable to fall asleep. Without thinking, I moved closer and embraced him. He didn’t hug me back. Whatever, I thought, giving up, and moving as far away from him as I could without falling off the bed.

“I can’t do this anymore,” he said moments later.

“Do what?” I asked.

“This. Us.”

My stomach tightened and my throat dried up. I felt paralyzed, but a voice in my head whispered calmly: It’s over.  It was a Tuesday night, two days before Thanksgiving. We avoided each other on Wednesday, and I was off to my parents’ house where I spent the long weekend dissecting our entire relationship.

We had started dating two years earlier, shortly after meeting at a mutual friend’s party. His tattooed arms and leg caught my attention, but it was his unshakeable confidence, as I perceived it, that kept my interest all night. He sipped his drink, alone at the bar, until eventually people gravitated toward him – myself included. He was funny and insightful, yet I left that night knowing very little about him. When I happened upon his picture on a dating site weeks later, I got in touch right away.  Through our mutual friend I learned he was separated from his wife and was the father of two children.

“I don’t think he’s right for you,” my friend had said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know. I know you and I kind of know him and I just don’t think he’s right for you.”

I disregarded my friend’s hunch, and accepted an invitation to dinner – and then a few more. Two months into the relationship I met his daughters (who were quick to shower me with love and attention), and a few months after that, we moved into a new apartment.  As we shopped together for furniture, I was enamored with what I thought he represented – a good man; a dedicated business owner who somehow balanced work, a personal life, and fatherhood brilliantly. Someone from whom I could learn, and who preferred to stay in and cook a gourmet meal for two, instead of going out on Friday night. Nearing my 25th birthday, I was surrounded by women in long-term relationships who harped on incessantly about wedding plans. I’d never been one to do things exactly like everyone else, so moving in with a father of two seemed like something Juliana might do.

What was uncharacteristic of me, however, were the behavior and lifestyle I took on as months passed. I stopped returning friends’ phone calls, turned down invitations for the usual summer weekends in New York, and regularly showed up alone to the few gatherings I managed to attend – including my own 25th birthday bash. I had a great time that night with friends, but only after I’d had a few drinks. The Vodka Cranberries quickly helped me forget how I’d stood in the bedroom a few hours earlier, arms crossed, incredulous of my boyfriend’s words.

“I have a lot of work to do. My brother’s only visiting for a few days, that club is not his scene, and I don’t want to leave him alone,” he stated.

“You can’t not do work on a Saturday night? I’m sure your brother won’t mind one night alone, on my birthday,” I argued, pointlessly, as he sat with eyes fixed on the computer screen.  “I can’t believe you! I’ve been planning this party for two months.  My friends are looking forward to finally meeting you. It’s my 25th birthday!” I was running out of arguments and sounding more like one of his young daughters pleading for dessert before dinner.

The discussion went his way that night, and similar episodes would happen a few times; whenever plans involved things he didn’t feel like doing. The reasoning generally made perfect sense to him and absolutely none to me, and still he got his way. I began growing tired of defending him and his busy schedule to myself and my friends – sweet people who nodded politely, but whose eyes asked me, “What are you doing with this guy?”

What was I doing with this guy? I was preparing meals for the family, taking the girls to school three times a week, cleaning the apartment, and caring for two dogs: mine and his. What had started as ‘lending a hand’ to an overbooked boyfriend, quickly turned into my routine. When he spent Saturday afternoons in front of the computer, in the company of beer bottles, I stared from doorway – unsure of what was happening in his mind yet hesitant to ask – “Nothing. I’m fine,” delivered with a smile, seemed harsh words to hear. Yet it didn’t seem normal to me that a “fine” 28 year old, “very happy” in with his relationship should spend hours ignoring his girlfriend on one of two monthly Saturdays they got to spend alone. I knew of his independent, self-reliant tendencies, and I knew of the pressures he felt from running a business solo. He’s probably just stressed out, I thought, and I settled for gently encouraging him to stop at beer number three. I figured if I were not confrontational, I might gain his trust.

But there is a fine line between being non-confrontational and not speaking up at all. I was certainly treading on the side of the latter. I went about my routine – his routine – with a zipped mouth when I felt overwhelmed, and hoped everything would be fine once he found the right employee to hire, the right babysitter for the girls… The weeks wore on, and my resentment grew. I was irritated often, and not my usual light-hearted, warm self. My family took notice, as did my friends, but it was a specific episode with his younger daughter – just three years old – that highlighted to me how I was somehow turning into a brooding version of myself; an undesirable yin to my cheery yang.

It was a hot Saturday morning – normally occasion enough for waking up with a smile.  et I went on mechanically, as I’d now come to do: set breakfast for the girls, shower and dress (I’d come to love the blissful, quiet minutes the shower brought me), round them up – two dogs and two children – to the park. Sometimes I managed to read a page or two of a book as I minded the fogs and the girls.  He was at work. “I’d love to spend time with the girls on Saturday, don’t worry!” I’d told him. And so I did, every time they were at their dad’s house. On that particular summer Saturday, the older daughter was off to a play date and I figured I’d take the little one along to run some errands. I’d forgotten something important at home and was visibly irritated. Her imaginative, long, and oftentimes nonsensical stories were barely minded by me. Being the remarkably perceptive girl that she is, she stopped midsentence, sighed, and asked, “You feel angry today, right, Juliana?” Her voice was sweet and calm, and she was looking at my eyes through the rearview mirror.

“Yeah, I think I do. I have a lot of things on my mind,” I confessed to the three year old.  “But you know what? I think we should go get a doughnut and forget about all this stuff right now. Do you want to?”

She smacked together hands, feet, and lips into a unified “YES!” I pulled over at Dunkin’ Donuts, and we sat inside for nearly an hour. I held back tears as I watched her, telling her creative little stories that made no sense whatsoever, with chocolate smeared over her lips. In the back of my mind were voices, telling me how unhappy I really was in my relationship. I felt tired, trapped, and yet in awe of this incredible little girl and her sister, both of whom I’d grown to love. I gave her a kiss on the forehead as she said, “I love you, Juliana.”

The four of us had become a unit; a family in the eyes of other restaurant-goers and Toys ‘R Us salespeople. I thought of us as a family too. I had dived head first into a situation I treated as some kind of fairy-tale; an instant-family love story. But the love story soon dried out, and I was a 25 year-old living someone else’s life. My spontaneity was gone, and my friends were turning into sporadic email buddies. Even when we did hang out, I’d often get a phone call a few hours later from my boyfriend, wondering when I’d be back. For some (stupid) reason, I would feel guilty about leaving him alone and would try to hurry back home. More often than not, within the hour after my return he would focus on work or go to bed, and I remained awake and alone on the couch.

I ignored advice from friends, and advice that I myself had countless times given to girlfriends who found themselves stuck and unhappy: “A relationship is a two-way street. Don’t let him make you feel guilty about voicing your needs.”  Those had been my own words, yet here I was, allowing my life to fall into someone else’s schedule, and in the process, forgetting completely about who I was and what I wanted out of a relationship.

Only months later I would find myself on our bed, hearing him say those two words: “This. Us.” I didn’t want to believe he was breaking up with me, or that he had spent days planning how to tell me, without ever hinting at the fact he might be feeling this way. Yet over Thanksgiving break, as my parents and sister confessed they were happy about our break up, I finally stopped apologizing for him and myself; I acknowledged I’d been naive and complacent in a situation that undoubtedly was bad for me. The petty thoughts of “why didn’t I do it before he did?” crossed my mind, certainly. But most of all, I was relieved it was over, even if left without the elusive “closure” every woman seeks.

A year after our break up, I bumped into him at the supermarket. We talked for a few seconds and I excused myself soon after. That very night he wrote me an email, where he apologized for “being unfair” to me, and revealed that he thought about me often. As I stared at the screen, I said to myself, “I needn’t gloat about how insanely happy and free I feel, how I’ve been enjoying my time as I please, without sudden obligations I resent performing. I needn’t tell him how great it feels to leave that life in the past. Just be nice and move on.” And so I chose my words carefully and wished him and the girls my best – sincerely, politely, concisely. As a friend had put it soon after the break up – perhaps a bit dramatically – but certainly ringing true, “Dude, he did you a favor. You got a second chance at life.”