emma b. says

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Tertiary Ellipsis


warning: noxiously maudlin post brewing.

I was thinking last week, as a battle of the self-referential blogs played out on the internets, well, I was thinking about blogging. It's still an ugly word, all these posts later.

Two young people, good writers each, with the great fortune or great misfortune, to be prominent in the new media, had an affair and proceeded to go very, very public with their soiled laundry. Their private hurts flamed in arena of public consumption for us faceless, nameless, hungry plebes to lap up with unrestrained glee. Who doesn't love a tasty flame-out, who doesn't love to smack the gristle of someone else's hubristic comeuppance. I do. Thank god I wasn't blogging in the way-back of the late nineties. I say stupid shit in my own private little forum all the time, shit that would invariably get me condemned in certain circles, but I am not a public person. I am just the girl you passed on the street, or I am just words on a screen, what I get to write here is mine.

But I think I thanked God a little, that I wasn't 27 and spilling my guts on the internet, because I was married then, and I would have probably abused my little forum for hateful, heartbroken screeds. I would have probably posted the pictures I found of my husband and his lover on the couch of our apartment. I would have screened my own indiscretions. While not as numerous as his, my own were equally as treacherous. Mostly for myself.

I don't dwell much on those days, quick, painful jabs, followed by veiled nostalgia. Don't get me wrong, D and I have made our peace, and I will always love him. Mostly I am plagued by the memory that I was in over my head almost everywhere I could turn, and when the bottom fell out I nearly drowned.

I am reflecting on the internet and I am reflecting on depression. At the almost bottom, I nixed the hairdryer in the bathtub as I was worried about inconveniencing my neighbors, that's when I realized I was pretty sure that suicide wouldn't be an option, no matter how I checked out, someone was going to pay, I was miserable enough, why would I want to risk further burden in purgatory. I was, at that point, seeing my therapist twice a week and the psychiatrist every other week and I was fantastically medicated and a raging alcoholic. But I was 27, it was the last days before the collapse in San Francisco, I was bartending, making lots of money that somehow evaporated before I made it to the bank, dancing on bars, raising hell, crying a lot, young enough to not be crippled by hang-overs and not enough sleep. I was also really skinny then! Yay! Poor health!

I am thinking of those two people with their hearts on their sleeves and their public greivances as I think about the fact that I hid for seventy-two hours, crawled inside the TV eye, felt as though I was circling the drain, listened for the thunder as it broke far, but it wasn't the same, and I could not surrender, I could not get abject, and I wanted to. I wanted to sob until I choked, I wanted to beat my breast, I wanted to drink and smoke and drink and smoke and drink and smoke, but moderation prevailed. I eked out a few half hearted tear drops at the commercial breaks, and begged the question what fresh hell is this? Should I sue my therapist for being too thorough? Because I know I have the tools to deal with it and can't indulge in the caprice of depression, or are my neurotransmitters fixed? Am I a grown up? Shit is wrong in my wee universe, got no job, got no prospects, I am this close to getting myself a newsboy cap and selling papers on the corner, I am too old to be an urchin. Shit is not right. I spent the afternoon dandling other people's babies and didn't wish for one of my own, but I did wish for someone to come home with.

Shit is not right, but it will be. Of that I am absolutlely certain, and that is the difference between me at 27 and me at 37.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Rants and a Rave

I turned thirty-seven yesterday. It was a quiet day, I read a novel. I walked. I spoke to no one until the late afternoon. It was warm and muggy, the wind came strong in the evening. I was lonely. In the late evening T called and asked what I was doing, I thought about asking him over for a tumble to celebrate the onset of early middle age, but I was busy watching Dancing with the Stars. It's true. I forsook sex in favor of watching the cha cha, but you know what, I was kind of embarrassed, that show makes me weep like a little bitch. Or maybe it was the circumstances.

I keep walking through spider webs, literally. I feel bad about blundering through their web craft, I wish they'd stay out of door frames and stick to corners. I worry I'll find an unwelcome visitor in my hair.

I didn't get the job I so wanted. I thought, no, I was convinced that word would come yesterday and the rest of the year would prove rainbows and unicorns. Word came today. I've been doing freelance work for a friend and I had to go out to my car for a bit and pound silently on the horn. And suddenly I was really fucking pissed.

Is it me? Do I smell bad? What have I been doing wrong? All I hear is how great they think I am, and then I wait around for decisions to be executed, and I hear, I command too much salary, over qualified, delaying hiring for six months, delaying hiring for a year, thinks I'm too liberal (what?) I've lowered my requirements to the minimum, and the recruiter came back to me with a long term position that is less than my fucking minimum. And the sorry truth is that I will take it. It's been a long and humiliating trip through the employment world. I am looking at taking several very large steps back in my career, just for a steady paycheck. For the first time in my life I am very directly affected by the economy, and I am one of the lucky ones.

Because here is what I sort of not so secretly think.... I am not a kid, and I am not a man. I have a lot of experience, enthusiastic references, I am organized and moreover I am smart. I am not specialized, which I think would make it even harder. I am not married, because I think that would make it even harder, I get there is an undertone of a little bit of fear that a company might invest in me and I would run out and get pregnant. I am a motherfucking smart woman, I don't want to be bored at work. I don't want to be nickel and dimed. I don't want to go to battle for a pittance, lousy insurance, no bonus, no matching. What the fuck is wrong with you, employers? You want a mindless drone, or you want someone who can actually accomplish something.

They want the young drones, the young ladies who can't defend themselves and don't want to, or the young men ambitious enough to work sixty hours for naught.

I rail against the fact that I feel for the first time in my life I am caught in the cross hairs of the economy and can rely neither on my intellect or industriousness to charm, cajole my way into job. As I said, I am one of the lucky ones, I know how to ply the system, even though I'd rather drive pins underneith my finger nails, I can network when neccessary. It's through networking that this freelancing is keeping me in cable and little else.

I just don't understand, although I do. It makes me indignant, it makes me afraid, it makes me embarrassed, it makes me feel helpless in the face of circumstance, small when contemplating the stack of bills, this from the girl who has (had) almost no debt outside of her mortgage. Makes me wonder how I will get ahead, not for the bling, but because I would like to afford a puppy, because one day I'd like to finish the basement, and in the short term I would really like to buy some geranium baskets for my front porch. Again, I stress, I am one of the lucky ones. I'll keep my insurance and my car insurance and my cell phone and keep current on my mortgage, and I have a safety net in that I can depend on my family for help, I am not five hundred dollars away from falling through the cracks. And my heart goes out to those who are.

You know what else irks me, it's optimism. Unflagging optimism is why you end up bitten on the ass on your birthday because you thought it would just fall into place, the signs were auspicious, the moon was rising. Fuck optimism, anyway.

While we are at it. Fuck you Georgie, you motherfucking asshat, this is all your fault, you too, Greenspan, all of you greed monsters on Wall Street. (if you haven't heard the This American Life regarding the subprime/credit crisis, go and listen, it should be required in economics classes)

Also, fuck the weather. Cold, hot, hot, hot, cold. I woke to rain. I thought about bitching, but thought my peonies might be grateful, so I didn't.

Fuck politics with a hot poker a la Edward the Second. Don't make me regret my vote, Obama.

Fuck the junta in Myanmar.

Such incomprehensible sums of human bodies in Burma and in China, I begin to not be able to empathize. But I suppose if you started to stack the bodies in Iraq and Afghanistan it might level out.

And the rave....

My brother and belle soeur hosted a barbeque for me on Saturday. I had gone to the market in the morning, sat in the sunshine as the massive flowering trees shed the last of their blossoms in fragrant blizzard, savored a popcicle that some enterprising hipster had made strawberry-lemonade, organic, natch. Paraded through the sunshine with my bunches of lilac and my stained mouth.

Showed up to W's house with nine pounds of potato salad, sweltered in the evening's heat with beer and weenies and new friends. When the sun set, we moved on to tequila, my last clear image is my belle soeur dragging a wooden pallet in through the garden gate, we had run out of wood for the fire pit and she made a mission of finding more. My brother had passed out at that point as was apparently mystified at it's pressence the following morning. Good times. I neither threw up, nor fell down, but someone else I know did.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Portland Month Seven

Some unseen hand flipped the switch and it went from cold to really fucking hot. Just as sudden as that.

The weather is fickle, like weather everywhere, it's not a portent and it's not a harbinger, it's just the weather, clement or not. But these last days of grace have been a welcome boone, as my garden explodes in blossoms, color, color everywhere.

currently there is a squirrel losing a lover's quarrel off my front porch, it's just another example of everything gone sideways, it's not neccessarily a bad thing.

A few snapshots.

This evening. I am standing in my yard, miles of hose wrapped around my ankles, I am wearing flip flops and a short skirt, a mosquito is draining my right arm, I am furtively watering my lawn, when it comes to refurling the hose, I realize that I had better get it right, nobody is coming to do it for me.

Earlier I am running down the mountain singing I want candy, outloud, I don't care, it's the middle of the afternoon and no one is about. A minor advantage of unemployment, mitigated by poverty.

Later. Chemical pink margaritas with friends.

Later still, elbow deep in potato salad. I'll turn 37 on monday.

A few days earlier, just as the weather is beginning to break. I am standing on the porch, under the last of the slanting sunlight watching the shadows shift and the neighborhood settle into twilight, I had a very forceful realization, akin to a sledgehammer, and just as unpleasant, that I was home, and to my chagrin I didn't want to be anywhere else. I sat on the porch for a long while after that, let the darkness settle on my shoulders, took up the mantle and paced for awhile, fell asleep after I had sloughed off the comforter, watched the boughs of the trees float on the breeze in the shadow box high on my bedroom wall, considered weeping, but was bereft of grief.

For pennies and dollars and wishes and dreams, I am home.

Portland probably suits me more than I care to admit, I enjoy the ritual of friendliness.

I love my belle soeur and her family who have so effortlessly incorporated me.

OK, fine. Lurching towards the seventh month, and if anyone is really keeping score it's closer to nine monthes without gainful employment. shit, really, that's scary. Word is supposed to come down on a job that I really want on Monday. It's my birthday, must be auspicious, right?

Maybe 37 will be lucky. Maybe I'll get a job I love. Then I'll get puppies. I'll grow some lovely tomatoes. I'll love up on my garden, I'll love up on new friends, and maybe if I am exquisitely lucky I'll meet a man who I recognize and who recognizes me. We'll go a'frolicking through the fields of fallow dandelions and we will laugh a lot.

But in the mean time, you can find the city girl in her pink gardener's gloves, poking about the raised bed, trying to determine weed from succulent and succulent from perrenial, learning that the wise person wears safety glasses when wielding the weed whacker, the hard way, of course.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What Cliche is

Me. Waddling up to the semi-hipster cashier, in my sweats. In my basket, a bucket of midol, a bottle of wine, and a Ritter Sport bar -- mmm, marzipan and chocolate, oh, and for maximum embarassment on the part of the semi-hipster cashier dude a GIANT box of tampons.

So yes. Oh bearded one, if you give me that look I am going to depilate your facial hair with my teeth. I am going home to have chocolate and wine and Ugly Betty for dinner. Grey's Anatomy for dessert. Lost as my digestive.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Digging in the Dirt

In between showers there are patches of brightest sunlight, I shade my eyes, I put on sunglasses, I am paler than the whispiest ghost. I bask like a grateful lizard in these intermittant patches of sunlight. Portland, the City where magic happens overnight. I went out the other morning (on my way to the ten millionth interview) and a tree in my garden had thrown up some kind of golden spool of blossoms, things that I could have sworn weren't there the day before got busy being fecund and full of color. I remain perplexed. As I navigate this laid out garden gone frankly wild and use what little sense I have left to try and determine flower from weed, succulent from invasive. I like trowels and I am afraid of my lawn mower.

I like to entertain myself when I am in my back yard, as I look about at my competent neighbors, there she goes again, that silly city girl, she just pulled up the iris bulbs, look at her poking her nose in the poison ivy, that's gonna itch. I jest, but only sort of. It's a wonderland of bugs and weeds and worms and all kinds of lovely color.

My parents were in town a week or so ago, the weather proved mild enough for a primer in Emma this is how you mow the lawn, and Emma this pretty thing is actually a nasty weed, and Emma don't pull that up, that is a forget-me-not, Emma this is the poison and this is the hose.... Then I dropped them at the airport and proceded to to be unstrung by the goddamn garden hose, I slaughtered my neighbor's potted plants, managed to spray everything but the fucking dandelions, came in the house certain that I had likely killed every small bird and child within my toxic radius.... Apparently the Gays left me a weed whacker too. It's some sort of contraption that functions with some sort of primitive string. My mother and I were a pair of neandrathals hooting and beating our breasts waiting for it to magically neaten my walk ways. Evidentally you need to plug it in. (secretly I am afraid of losing a digit)

But I like this, the digging in the dirt. I like the costume. You get into your grimies and you put on your gloves (I do not WANT worm parts embedded under my nails) and you dig in the dirt. It's probably primal, and possibly, latently violent, you weed, I shall rip your entrails from my patch of earth. You wrinkle your nose at the earthworm you have just halved and go on about your business. You begin to pay attention growing things, you begin to haunt the nursery, you don't buy anything (because you are poor) and you don't plant anything (because you are poor, and because conventional wisdom dictates that you watch your garden during the first year) I have ambitions for potted tomatoes, and that's about it.

Except for the rest.

I knew this before, but it's only been re-enforced. I don't do well without structure. Six monthes here and more than a month without work I am driving myself underground. I don't reach out very well, I don't want to be a burden, and I am loathe to foist myself on anybody, this can be as much as a disadvantage as it an advantage. Don't get me wrong, I have done all that I am plainly capable of, I am out in the world - mostly. I am only human, and rejection is never pleasant. Let's just say I have become the world's most adept and competent interviewee, to no fucking avail.

That said, I am holding out for good news on Friday, keep your eyes and noses and toes crossed, please, pretty please.