Monday, August 22, 2011

If I Had a New Bicycle or Piano or Friend, even...

Not all excitement dies with age.

Sadly, we do get dulled over time. You become less responsive to sharpness as a mechanism of survival. Happy and Sad are muted by repetition. There is no whet stone for the human experience, for the soul - like exists for the blade. The soul is much less exacting and precise, for a very good reason. Young people feel intense emotions to propel them toward brave conquests. Aged folks have to compel themselves from another motive.

Recently, Dad got a new bicycle. He was tickled pink at the carbon fiber frame and snazzy components. It was a new toy, and we all love that feeling! What changes over time is not that you love a new toy, but what level of toy excites you this much. I want a piano really badly, but don't have one. When it finally materializes, I'll want it more than a bagel, or a shower, or music, because I recognize that I need a piano, like Dad needed a good road bike.

I want to learn to flip anticipation and its nervous flutters to need. I need breakfast tomorrow, but when it happens, I won't enjoy it because I didn't anticipate it. On the other hand, if I really needed and anticipated an omelette, I would A: miss it if it didn't happen OR B: enjoy it unabashedly when it did. Personally, I want to be on the latter side of that scale.

Shameless Bicycle Joy.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I recently blacked out in front of Bart. I can't say I've never been blackout drunk before, but never in front of Bart. It was a milestone for us.

It's comparable for me to some people when they first peed with the door open in front of their partner. Or the first time they talked about their deepest darkest secrets in front of the one they love. There are some boundaries you hold sacred for a good part of your life and never let anyone share.... why?

I feel like the only thing separating the first open-door pee and the secret from daily life is the fear of shame. We worry about what people think, no matter how secure we are. I know someone who has been married long enough that she should be able to fart in front of her husband, but she still doesn't. I've farted in front of Bart for as long as I can remember... it all comes down to how much shame you feel in the embarrassing act. I'm ok with farting. I'm not ok with blackouts - apparently.

I have never done this in front of Bart, but not because I've never been drunk in front of my husband. I've been very, very, very drunk. Decidedly drunk, and unabashedly so, in front of him. That's not what embarrasses me. There have been gregious losses of self-control on my side. Even though he is a bastion of self-control, he never criticises my lack therof. What feels weird about this is that it was unexpected. I wasn't too drunk. I wasn't out of control. In fact, during my blackout, I ran the show as usual.

What is troubling is that I'm upset about the way it makes him feel. People who witness a blackout are like the quiet participators in any act that takes place. They don't know until the next day that you weren't at the helm. They find out when you talk about what took place the night before and they see the look of terror on your face, the terror of not having any idea what they are talking about even though you were fully conscious and there were photos.

 I'm sad that he has to witness the terror. I have plenty of excuses why I had to black out that night, to numb the pain of burying a loved one, to unburden the weight that I'd been carrying that week, to suck some beautiful gluten into my body since I'd starved it for 6 days of the life-giving poison. But they are excuses.

I'm sad that he saw it, but more than that, I'm sad that I feel compelled to apologize. A girl should be allowed to get lost, if that's what she needs. She should be allowed by everyone - including herself - to check out and let someone else drive. But I'm so dutiful that I can't allow that to happen unless extreme circumstances force me and when it does, all I feel is guilt. I'm tired of guilt running both of our lives.

Good news is that I'm the same person blacked out as I am fully intact. Guess I'm doing a good job of living honestly.

A marriage milestone for us. More personal pain for you. We still suffer the consequence of the of protestant work ethic - GUILT.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Someone Else Must Be Driving this Boat

It's true, I've been accused of sensing life in a sortof backwards, strange-handed way. I buy magazines based in their texture. I've been known to smell bags of marshmallows in the checkout line at the supermarket, even if they belong to perfect strangers. I love the feeling of my sinuses clearing so much that I can't carry on a conversation while it happens. I'm unable to eat a variety of foods simply because their squeak against my teeth is so jarring.

It gets much stranger... When I hear any song, of any genre, from any time period with a backbeat, I think of my friend Natalie.

I've told you before how the metallic and musty scent of violin strings conjures up early childhood memories of songs I haven't heard in 20 years.

A song is in my head right now, one that doesn't exist for anyone but my family... I've looked for hours for a trace of the song outside my parent's kitchen. My dad calls it the Indian love song or Indian lullaby. I only know one stanza:

A loaf of bread,
A jug of wine,
And you on an island...

There's also a beautiful haunting melody that passes after with a whistle. The reason it suddenly appeared in my subconscious? I'm not sure, but I noticed it there after Anthony Bourdain said the word 'consanguine'. Humans are so strange and wonderful.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Your Leather Seats Aren't The Only Things That Are Too Hot

A Texan knows a thing or two about heat. We get baked every year by a relentless sun, and have adapted accordingly over the centuries.

We stop watering the grass in June.
We suffer under a burn ban every 4th of July.
We try to hit the lake, pool, sprinkler or slip n' slide to stay cool.
We arrange outdoor activities at other times of the year.
We take vacations to places that are temperate.
We eat different food in the summer so our oven doesn't heat the house more.
We live with our AC on full-blast.

But it occurred to me today that while humans are very adaptable even in the most extreme drought, our habitat is suffering outside these air-conditioned walls. The sun has finally shifted to the other side of the house so I opened my curtains today and saw a young male cardinal in the bush outside. The bush is in pretty bad shape, the leaves hanging limp against the rugged trunk trying to hang on for another few days of 110 degree weather. The cardinal stood on a branch and surveyed, mouth open, wings lifted looking for any cool spot to rest at the hottest part of the day. He's seriously distressed, and it's just from holding his little body upright.

I went to check the fountain in the back... that's right, my fountain is still running even though we're under severe water restriction. Someone has to provide water to the birds, folks. The fountain was full of beautiful green leaves that have been dropped by the pecan tree in the backyard. Right about then a strong wind blew and the tree seemed to be shedding leaves like tears above me, unable to cope with the heat and drought. We have been trying to rehabilitate that tree since the snowstorm 2 winters ago almost killed it, now another bout of intense weather threatens to finish the job.

And I sit in here complaining that my house won't cool below 80 for lack of insulation... sometimes we forget there is a world out there suffering the real effects of August. Birds and trees don't sweat. They can't post photos of the thermometer in their cars reading 120 on Facebook. They can't even find a lake to jump in right now to escape the heat.

Summer is a tyrant, but I'm done complaining about how inconvenient it's making my life. Suddenly it doesn't seem that important. Still think global warming isn't real? My pecan tree disagrees with you.

How can you help? Be smart about water. Don't flush the toilet each time you pee, conserve unless you've been eating asparagus. Stop watering during the day, period, and let go of watering your grass. It makes you look like a heartless bastard to people like me right now if you have lush, green grass. Put some bird food and a bird bath out and change the water often, the birds might thank you enough not to poop on your car. Live compassionately until we get some rain, then be an asshole again if you want.