Archive for December, 2010

31
Dec
10

Cohabitation and personal change

I was talking with a co-worker this afternoon, and she mentioned how after so much time with her S.O. she was beginning to feel that “everything you do irritates me” feeling.  I know this feeling.  Fortunately, and thanks in no small part to my wife, I also know what it’s like when that feeling is conquered and begins to fade.  While my coworker and I talked, I suggested two sort-of rudimentary ways to approach the issue.  Now that I am home and have stepped away from the conversation I thought I would toss it out into the blogoshpere and see what comes back(even though I rarely get non-suspect comments from real readers on this blog, and that’s probably my own fault for being half insane).  The two approaches I suggested were fairly polar, and I realize that can be problematic, but a lot of relationship issues do tend to lack a wealth of approaches.  I will comment on that more later, for now I’ll recap:

In my opinion, she could A) Listen to her gut (meditate, force-conclusion, ego-mirror, etc) and decide whether or not the relationship she is in is one where the pressure to become a better person is not only there, but mutual.  Or, B) Pick something she does which irritates her S.O., catch a moment when she chooses NOT to engage that irritating behavior, and remark out loud about it.

In the first scenario, I am basically suggesting she decide whether or not the relationship is even worth the personal dissection.  If it is, then my second approach ought to be a good starting marker for how to recognize change in your partner.  This is really difficult without a plan of action because when you spend day in and day out with one person, you don’t see the ways they are changing.  You may notice if you go to a party where a large number of people are your S.O.’s friends, many people that your S.O. hasn’t seen in six months or a year may remark on how much your S.O. has matured, while you sit by scratching your head daring the old friend to go ahead and try dating your impossible S.O. for his or her self and see how they like.  This thought should be a red flag, because it indicates that you believe you are best suited to meet your damaged partner’s needs.  Maybe you are… but the no-no is finding yourself in a place of moral or behavioral superiority in a relationship that should be built on mutual respect and appreciation.

My wife and I use the method I mention above.  Even though we had some epic fights and misunderstandings at the get-go, we always have and always will talk about the things we are or are not satisfied with in the relationship in non-blaming(as possible) language, and then try to vocally express when we have acted alternatively to the problem behavior so that the other person knows, at the very least, that you are still thinking about it and still care.  For example, my wife really hated it when I used to “help” in the kitchen, because what usually occurred, and I admit it now, was my domination of the whole project.  She loves to cook as much as I do, and I was condescending her by jumping in too enthusiastically with my own ideas rather than getting a bearing on where she was headed first.  This has changed, but it took time and the effort to point out small milestones for the change to be recognized.  Now I ask her if she wants help, and if she does, I ask her specifically what she’d like me to do.  Sometimes she will have me just chop some shit up, other times she will actually want my own input.

Over simplified?  Sure.  But nonetheless applicably sound.

Or, for a different scenario, let’s say that one person in a committed relationship has a drinking “problem”, and I put that in quotes because not everyone said to have one does.  That can be somewhat subjective.  So let’s, for the sake of ease, say that one person drinks more than other.  The one who drinks less would like the other to do the same or at least work towards a middle ground (ok, fine, this is based on personal experience), so the one whose drinking is problematic in the context of the relationship should make it known EACH time they are intentionally curbing a desire for a given quantity or frequency of alcohol; mind you, not in a whining or punitive way.  And since I already admitted that I am just talking about my own life, I should also say that this approach has worked for my wife and I.  She has a much healthier relationship with day-to-day drinking than I do, and through communicating each effort to reduce my own drinking down to a level that was more acceptable, she began to see that, indeed, even though I still require some wine or what-have-you to get ready for bed, the amount has decreased more than significantly.  Of course, her insistence and my acceptance of the issue were key too, but there’s just no reason I can think of to avoid such changes unless the change in question is a “deal breaker”.

So as I savor my glass of wine over some blog writing tonight, I would encourage others in a similar spot to at least attempt this method, for even if it fails, you will have gained important knowledge either way: Possibly the knowledge that your connection wasn’t that strong after all, possibly the knowledge that it can only get stronger.

Take care.

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09
Dec
10

tailbreath

“let’s git”  He said, flashing his missing chess pieces.

“You’re balding faster lately.”  Was her reply.
Missing teeth aside, he was a wreck.  One tornado short of a storm, so to speak.  He glared at her, ready to display his animalism, but likewise unsure of the aggression.  She studied his face as it turned from purple to rose red.  His cheeks swelled.
The elephants roared their terrible shrieks and all in attendance leaned away from the center ring in doubt.  Doubt of the entertainers to control the very experience they had bought.  Sixpence for the show, but anticipating the show…. how many pence?  She held back with her parents in tow.  They displayed fashions that photographers’ lens’s would be loath to refract.  Years of circus life only educated the poor idiot.  Common sense became his jihad.  Pet peeves corroded into declarations of war.  He called for her, but she was nowhere to be found.
“The treasury is empty, your majesty.”  Spake tailbreath.
“I will eat what is not expended.”  Said I.
09
Dec
10

you are the head

The under side of my left foot itches, and my name is George Walker.  I’m not quite sure who I am yet, but then, neither are you.  I’m not exactly what you’d call alive though I am certainly human.  My face is flesh and bone, imperfect yet not unattractive.  My blood circulates and I must eat; I must sleep and make waste like any other.  I suppose the only major difference between you and I is that, while you exist right now, I only existed a second ago.  By the time you can hear me speak I am gone, yet I can only tell you what you would mean to say, if you could.
There is a reason you and I are together as we are now.  You are aware that something is dreadfully wrong, so was I.  You are sensitive to injustice but also struggling simply to maintain the role into which you were born.  You do what you can, within reason.  You are not blind to the needy but you haven’t logged many volunteer hours, if any.  Like I did, you look to the bureaucratic social systems and the corruptions that grow them over like vines up a brick wall.  You look to the head and cry out that the feet are bleeding and poorly clothed.  You do this because you believe, like I did, that the head can fix things if it can be convinced.
But hear me now, and think well on this one truth I will tell you and then attempt to explain:
You ARE the head.
You, reader.  You are the head that needs convincing.  Until you replace your own notions of the Mysterious Other that acts around, within, behind and through all things with the real notion that it is you, just the very person reading right this very moment, you will be doomed to cynicism or religion.  Cynicism because objectifying yourself causes one to feel that all is lost; religion because subjectifying yourself causes one to feel that all is found.  Isolated, each operates at a loss.  You’ve seen this before in the hypocrisies of both church and state.  There are good and bad people on every team.  In every identifiable group there are  the great, the petty, and as numbers comprising the group grow so does the ratio of extremes to those of a more spectral value.  Which leads me to a premature delivery of my main point: the mistake we are making is continuing to define people in binary intervals when our character and creativity are fluid processes wholly dependent on all that can be perceived.
09
Dec
10

virus or yeast

Edmond stared out the window, watching the unhunted foul feed.  A hint of rain clouded his view just enough.  Inspiration eluded him like a nomadic rash.  He scratched, the itch moved.  Sitting at a hotel desk, Edmond spoke aloud, the stone walls helpless to answer.  Why am I here?  Furthermore, if I wonder why I am here, am I necessarily HERE.   …   ?
“Edmond, will you be going on like this all night?”  Her voice beckoned from the freshly made bed.  Wrapped in silk suggestiveness and comely contrasts of low and high, her black-laced thighs promised freedom from worry.  He nearly fell to the peril.
“All night, woman?  All night?”  His was the voice of accidental antagonism.  “I will go on like this until the VERY night.”  He neither huffed, nor puffed.
He lurched his mass across the wooden floor, the solid uncreaking wooden floor, until his velocity cooled with subsonic severity in front of the record player.
“We will listen to this bliss or be resigned to God’s bowels.”  Edmond instructed.
“It will be bliss if it is not spoken first and felt afterward.”  She quipped.
Edmond glanced quickly at her sinister mocking lip.  How it curled in such a disgusting taunt.  Like panties on the playground.
“It will be bliss if uttered or not.”  He criticized.
At this she shrunk.  What had been her perfect nubile posture turned to that of a common shrimp.  Eros coughed, sighed, and curtailed from the hotel bed.
Edmond brought in one great breath, and with no repercussion in mind offered: “My dear.  Of this world may you be or not.  Of my mind, you are a disease, though I know not if you are virus or yeast.”
09
Dec
10

piss your brain right out

Cacti shriveled that time of year.  You couldn’t tell if it was glass or sand you were walking on.  Sandals and boots smoldered and gasped under the steps of the village men, marching stern-faced in lines.

“Where are they going?” Pedro asked his grandfather.
“They are going to the edge of the world.”  Abuelo answered.
Not less than three years ago his father would have fielded these same questions, but he died of thirst.  It wasn’t long after alcohol arrived in the village that men became worthless and children sprang from nameless virgin wells.  So many diapers unchanged.  So many shots fired vaguely at hostile hallucinations.
The scorching, pollen-yellow sun dried his grandfather’s mouth to where he could no longer pronounce words correctly.  His swollen, dry tongue stumbled over itself.  He told his grandson to take note of the mistakes he made.
At the age of eleven, he remembered, they traveled from the desert to the coast, on a bus that took the perseverance of a saint to ride.  Stray dogs fumed and drooled on every part of you no stranger would dare touch.  Dust flew into the windows faster than it escaped; infants wailed.  He sat on his grandfather’s knee and stared at his creviced face, admiring the earthy brown tone of his leathery skin.  As they passed the town square he observed from the dusty window a squadron of soldiers dehydrating in the sun on the patio of the beer garden.  Looking at them you wouldn’t have thought they were heros.  From the bus, in this glaring hot sun, they looked like melting wax effigies, each demarcating the loss of the prior.
And through it all the child couldn’t help but hurt.  Can’t heros come home?  Have we asked too much of these poor uneducated sons of liberty?  He looked to the stern, caramel face of his grandfather and hardly had to ask-
“My grandson… chemically speaking, you drink too much, and think too hard… you’ll piss your brain right out.”
09
Dec
10

freewrite 23 January 2010

Present Tense

Opens in a Garden
Owner of garden does not know who the narrator is
Ten. Twenty. Thirty. Forty.  The bills in my hand stacked; each a respite from the desolation of my labor.  I had toiled, slaved, rejoiced: each in accordance with my mood.  Whether or not she knew the bloom of her robust tomatoes was my art, the tomatoes would be eaten.  The presumed joy of their consumption satisfied me.
Ten. Twenty. Thirty. Forty.  It’s hard to make a living feeding people with real food.  I should know.  I tried for years to find an apprenticeship online.  I searched by every funky keyword you could imagine.  My mother criticized my efforts saying, “What about x; what about z; y could put a hole in your r.”
I fiddled for my jacknife –freshly sharpened as it was– and cut the tips of her cauliflower clean off.  Not a sound.  I breathed in my own relief and smelled the fresh vegetable’s promise of healing.

NOW! I shouted to myself.  I darted out past the celery patches and through the rows of raspberries, always watching her, until I hit an oak stout with my nose.

As I awoke from the daze, I remembered the sun setting just beyond a strange silhouette.  There was an omnipotent lord of all, but I feasted to my own indulgence, based on my own will.  A benevolent landlord she, and I the faithful steward of sweat and grime; forever abandoned to my toil.  I rose to my feet, blew my nose, and torched the blissful wings that held fast the shut door: MY FLAME!
09
Dec
10

alison

Alison Longfellow of the bog.  She stated half heartedly that her hair had grown unmanageably long for this time of year .  I sighed with calculated ambiguity and placed the salt shaker nearer her plate.  Without a glance her hand swept the small glass dispenser up and over each aggregate of her breakfast.  She salted the salty hashbrowns, the salty bacon, and even made a small pile of the nonsense at the edge of it all for later reinforcement.  She would salt the fried legs of frogs.  Spurned that she were not born a doe in the Northwoods.

The food was good, though, and the bog stench was light today thanks to an ascending fog that was nearly clear now.  Days were generally dreary like this.  There were frogs and rotting logs.  Too moist, however, for pogs.  The children instead chased dogs and and sat by the fire with lincoln logs.  Hogs.  Blogs, cogs, smogs, clogs, flogs, progs.  Though her hair was unmanageable it still framed her sullen face quite beautifully.
“How’s the hen from your bog life?”  I asked without speaking.  She took the bait and caved in around four or five geese.  They died.  Our heads slumped in death.  Why these geese?    Her bog was three miles south.  We headed there straight away.  The hills were slippery wet from a lack of sun to dry them.  The edge of town was conveniently at the edge of the hill we were on, and making our way down into the wetlands was easy going if not messy.  The cold was annoying, but not so bad to hurt.
“I forgot the point of this all.”  She finally said.  Her wet-down hair looking more artistically wrought now than ever.  “I feel like yesterday we were eating breakfast, and today we’re running down this hill,” she paused and looked far into my head; beads of rain getting bombed from her face by falling drops caught my attention until I saw her lips moving in the background, “… as though there was no connection between now and then, you know?”  She took in a deep breath and scowled. “Hey, are you even here?  Have you heard a word of this?”
I stood motionless on the steep hillside fearing I might slip.  The terrain below me was nothing to shrug off, with bits of jagged rock protruding from the muddy earth, promising to ruin whatever part of you struck them.
“Let’s just go back.”  I offered.
“For what sake, Paul?
“For fuck’s sake!”  I wailed.  She handed me my ass with a scowl.  I paused, assessing whether or not I had gotten unreasonably excited.  “I don’t know who you are.”  True.  It felt strange to realize it.  “All I know is that we were in a cafe and now we’re headed to a bog.  I think it makes sense to go back to the cafe in case someone knows what we do.”
“Paul, we go to the cafe and then the bog, and afterwards maybe back to the cafe; but not before the bog.”   She had run out of breath.  I couldn’t really argue her point, lacking a premise or any other reasonable axiom to work with makes it difficult to defend your notions.  Aha!  That’s why they’re called notions.  “Well…” the world was silent, “are you comin’?”
We headed down the rest of the hill with only the sounds of our slipping boots splatting and scraping in the mud and rock.  If I had to be in mud, I was glad it was this very mud.  The consistency was ideally gritty while remaining mostly fluid and splashed wonderful designs onto surrounding rocks and low trunks of trees.  The shade of brown was a dark mocha.  Indeed, it was like walking through sopping espresso grounds.   If it hit a broad leaf, the color contrast struck with a subdued poignancy.  Not a severe or provocative contrast, no: green and brown are aged mates that evoke nature’s unrelent.
“What do you think this mud tastes like?”  Alison asked.  Her tone was now lighthearted, and suggested we were no longer in debate but simply wandering together.  I laughed aloud at the coincidence.
“You noticed too, huh?”
“Yeah, it looks like really good chocolate fondue.”  She smiled at this memory.  Fondues were the last thing I’d forgotten.  As I remembered mastering home fondues, I gradually lost the hold on my thoughts to wonder on why it was Alison was Alison-from-the-bog.   Why was it we were heading to a bog?  It’s one thing to cradle known investment fraud, but an altogether different thing to be from a bog or go to a bog for an implied reason.  A cat, and a lemonade knife.  Will the cat lap up the lemonade?  Will the blade be firm enough to defend itself?  No, the cat will lap as the blade cuts, like that fucking eskimo story about killing wolves by freezing blood onto the blade of a knife and sticking it blade-up in the snow.   I couldn’t remember past my own questioning.  Maybe hers was coming back, I was loath to think we were stuck.  To the bog, body! I commanded under threat of mutiny.
One failed birth at a time, our non-existent opposites fluxed in and out of consciousness.  Random flashes of intuition kept steering us both right.  If we hadn’t turned east at the bottom of the first hill we would have hit an impassible ravine and wasted half a day getting around it.  Additionally, there was a very dense wood around the east of that second hill that struck us both as familiar.  So far so good it was at least linear.  Alison had gotten a ways ahead of me as I stopped to evaluate our route.  The sun was low over the hills to our right, so it was evening… approximately sixthirty.  And there were no hill tops peeking over the most immediate ones, so the terrain appeared to be dropping in elevation in the direction we were headed, which to me suggested bog.
“I hope there is a lot of leatherleaf.”  She shouted back at me.  I could see her frosted breath from fifty feet away.  I agreed with a casual nod.  We boiled the leaves and… damned to hell if I didn’t forget again.   I hurried to catch up with Alison, and as I approached her, the expanding view in front of me confirmed it, we had found the bog.  The smell.  Her smell.  The aroma was a tricky one to place.  On the one hand the air was somewhat heavy, like over cooked broccoli, or rotting wheat.   Yet, there was an acidity too, that seemed to lighten the scent like a zesty vinaigrette.
“What did we boil the leatherleaf for?”  I asked as soon as we were side by side again.
“I was wondering the same thing..”  She glanced over at me, but dropped her gaze after the half smile faded from her flushed face.