Monday, October 30, 2006

Mom's 50th

I’m trying to write it down pretty but it just wasn’t.
This weekend has left me feeling such a mixture of shame, glory, indulgence, thankfulness and embarrassment. I know one thing…this one goes out to my Hugo for holding my hand through all of it, even if he did participate in the Carrie roast a little. If you’re going to be roasted by a room full of people it might as well be drunken family members who you know live you anyways, or maybe for it although they’ll never admit it! I wore my dark sunglasses and it was night. Of course three hours later found me jerking upwards from sleep in a cold sweat in the full throngs of a full on panic attack. I think it was my first real one. I had to talk to myself and rationalize the voices down. I had to say over and over again that I can do it, I can get through this week, I can get through this panel and this semester and be in a better place if I just hang on and focus a little more. Last night felt like an eventuality that I already knew I was heading towards. It was like all of a sudden I was in the middle of it and I was shocked and scared and didn’t think it was possible to be that scarred and overwhelmed. It was horrible, I won’t lie, it was bad. But the point is, I was up this morning and it was a distant memory hidden under my night’s black veil. And so I go on…

My mother is…

a traveler
in a relationship with a woman
still trying to heal
lucky to have me as a daughter
kind of dramatic
a diva
younger than ever
so young

Monday, October 23, 2006

Letter to self

Dear Girl Leading a Brilliant Life,

I know things have been a little hard for you this year. Your 27th year seems to have started with a scooter crash that left you bruised and bloody and you haven’t really recovered since. I also know that in spite of the scooter crash you had such high hopes for this year of your life. You don’t usually allow omens to affect your overall thinking when they are negative signs. I am writing to say that maybe you should pay attention. Maybe the scooter crash was the big omen and it’s just not going to get better for you. Maybe you’ll die, maybe someone you love will instead. Maybe it will just keep getting worse until you do actually develop an ulcer and flip your lid. Maybe that will happen to you in a moment that was supposed to be serene and under control, like, I don’t know practicing hot yoga or something like that. You should probably be fearful and skeptical of all things. Set yourself up so that you are no longer surprised by the pain and agony of misfortune knocking at your door. Maybe this year is all about that, maybe you have to learn to be more careful and wearier and you should probably consider just stopping your pursuit of any pleasure in life because it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. Is this what you wanted me to say?

The Other Me: “No”

Well what the fuck do you want me to say about the pathetic mess of your life right now??!! Have you seen the balls of dog hair that circulate in your apartment and the piles of clothes and unopened mail? Do you realize you haven’t even gone to the mailbox in a week and you walk past it everyday? You drink too much, smoke too many cigarettes, don’t take your dog out enough, you’re mean to your mother, you procrastinate like a 12 year old who doesn’t want to clean her room or write her book reports (yes, I’m referring to you at 12 also!), and you don’t really seem to be affected by my utter disgust with your life!

The Other Me: “Well, I was doing okay, and then my therapist moved to Denver, my car broke down, My little sister got knocked up, I crashed a scooter, had to file for bankruptcy, stopped giving a shit about my wonderful new job and really just became incapable of taking care of myself in general.”

Good, we are becoming one…your voice is my voice…

The other me: “but…in spite of all of that, I have some really good friends that love me a lot”

You don’t see them enough because you’re too busy…

The Other Me: “I am going to apply for that job that I want really badly and I might get it…I could…I might could…and no I won’t use a double modal in the interview but I defend the semantic legitimacy of the use of double modals in general so go fuck yourself if you’ve got a problem with my using them!”


The Other Me: “Yeah so, I could get the job and I am graduating and I just have to live through one more month and a half of torturous hell and in the mean time I am writing again and taking pictures that I love and I had really good sex just yesterday!”

Okay, okay, I see how you could still be optimistic in the face of all of this torturous hell, but don’t you still doubt and possibly even hate yourself just a little bit still? Aren’t you scared that all of your optimism is a pathetic ploy to keep your washed up, destined for misery self from completely offing yourself thus ending your inadequate existence on this earth?

The Other Me: “maybe…maybe”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Beautiful Morning

I guess it's a good thing when your life has been so filled with trauma and stress that you really start to appreciate the little things. My father always says, "It's the little things that'll get you". I believe him, it's also the little things that'll save you, rest you and aide you in making it through another day of all the shit your wading through. The little things that I'm thankful for this morning are this

A really good cup of fresh ground coffee, an extremely pulpy glass of orange juice and a free hour to write and take care of myself. Life isn't that bad this morning. I say that with a small measure of precaution only because every time I have said that over the past few months, it has been directly followed by something way bigger than I thought I could deal with! I'm sick of that feeling. I just want to be out of the woods.

I love my boyfriend. We aren’t in a perfect relationship, but we are in a good one. Sometimes we argue and get on each other’s nerves. Sometimes when he puts his hands too close to mine and I don't feel like having anyone in my personal space, I will push his hands away ever so slightly. It is the same thing I do to my sisters or mother if they are 'up in my face' (which isn't that uncommon). But I do it to him too, I think it's because I expect him to be around so long that pushing him out of my way a little is a sign of that comfort with his presence in my life. It's the first time it's ever matched up with anyone. We're equals. That means that a lot of compromising has to go on between us. The good thing about that is that we mostly like the same stuff so we don’t' have to argue about what to do or how to spend our time. Sometimes I get upset because we don't appear to be like other couples, like all gooey eyed and supportive and loving (unless were drunk). But about that, I am working on that being okay, it's okay that we are different than that. We 'act' like ourselves. And I guess I'm just the type of person that is much more likely to get pick a fight with you than to stop and supportively make eye contact in a crowd of people. That's just who I am. It's not my fault; I blame it on my family!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Site Maintenance

If there are any of you reading that would like to leave a comment without registering at eblogger, I have enabled you to do so! Hope I hear from more of you.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I feel somewhat uninspired for this one...Let's see what happens. It is Sunday and cold, Cold Sunday. I had frantic stress dreams last night about people telling me that they did not care about what I had to say. I freaked out and started to throw all of them out of a space that was not my own to do so. Then my boss showed up and tried to stop me. I told her she needed to back me up and she apologized and helped me throw the rest of the people out. Then I dreamed that I was bouncing on a pink balloon down a very long highway in the hot sun. I was trying to get to the nursing home where my great grandma is and my grandfather was bouncing on a pink balloon as well. He was behind me and we were arguing. Mainly I was angry at him, I felt that he put her there, but he felt it was my fault as well and nothing ever got resolved. We almost just scorched to death on the highway. Then I woke up this morning and my neck was even more sore than yesterday.

I think my family does not love me as much as I love them, at least certain factions of them. They probably don't realize it, but it's true. I believe that my stepmother thinks of me as very different from herself. Different in an inconvenient kind of way. I guess I am different in that way. She tells everyone this joke lately about how my father wanted to call my little sister and tell her that she does not have a birthday because she was a c-section. My step mom says that her response went something like, "I doubt Cayla would give a shit about that but if you called Carrie and told her that, she would be in therapy for years." At first I thought it to be a funny little anecdote / commentary on our personality differences. But yesterday I had a different thought about it. It went something like this...Fcuk You. You don't know me at all and you'd probably be shocked at the amount of adversity I have endured in my life. Fcuk you again for thinking that a dumb ass comment could actually affect my ability to function normally for a second. My normal is acknowledgement of my emotions and awareness of self. So to summarize, Fcuk you for not knowing how much strength that takes.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I've been places

I done been some places…that’s for sure. 3 continents to be exact…so far. I done drank tea out of little hot glasses with out handles on the side to grab them. I done stayed up all night with a mother of 6, lucky enough to be the only one in her attention. I done stayed up all night crying and telling her everything that every happened between me and her only son, telling her all about why I left him, why it was so hard, but why I had to do it. I done poured my heart to a woman in Africa whose son hadn’t been home in ten years, in another language. It would have been hard enough in English…but no, some conversations need more than your native tongue.

I done been 21 and real skinny, thought I was on the top of the world pretty…I wish it for everyone though, to know for a time in their life that they are young and beautiful and nothing will ever be like that again. Regardless of the fact I was living out of a bag that I currently use to carry my teaching books in and out of the center that I work at. And that bag…I can’t hardly tell you about the bag, I’ll try:

She wanted to meet me somewhere because she had a present for me. An apartment warming gift, so we met, on a random bench in St. Germaine. We smoked LM cigarettes, the ones in the blue box. She gave me my bag then…it has a tribal motif on it, yellow and orange interspersed with black geometric patterns. The handles are padded, actually the whole bag is, kind of. It fits more than it looks like it can. It was meant to be a market bag…there’s an inside pocket where I can keep change and loose dollar bills. That bag broke my heart…I can’t get into all that now, just know this, it was meant to be a market bag for my new living arrangement in the Marais, but that fell through…so it never got used like that, not in Paris anyways. Instead I ended up carrying my daily necessities with me. All over the streets, I think it might have been on my shoulder when he grabbed me by the back of my head and slammed it into a brick wall, oh yeah, I told you I been places…gone through shit. So the bag did eventually get used as a market bag, in fact I have five years insisted on that. It just so happens that right now I don’t live in the Marais (although I’m trying to get back there!), but I can walk to a weekly outdoor market. I am thankful for that…it makes my heart happy every once in a while. I always take my market bag, Finally it’s purpose is fulfilled. Although the weight of my teaching books are gonna break the handles soon and I know it.

I been other places too. …I took a train to Prague once and had an affair with a man I didn’t know, he was very kind and I remember the experience as very pleasant. We laughed and spoke to each other in different languages because we barely had a common one. We sat separately on the way there but very much together on the way back to Berlin. We stared at each other’s reflection in the glass of the luggage rack above our head. I told him things on that train ride that I still to this day haven’t ever told anyone, like what I used to think about when I got myself off. I didn’t have anything to loose. He couldn’t help but become enamored with me and beg of my companionship. He had a good job and an apartment in Berlin, but it was never meant to be for more than a weekend. I was still married then and had a boyfriend waiting on me in Paris. Funny thing though, both of us ended up back over on this side of the pond for the next three years of our lives. I went back to Europe with a friend just to make sure that any bit of my life there had ever really happened. I went to a new city I had never been, Barcelona. I thought of him there, the Prague affair. I thought of him so much that I was compelled to tell my friend every detail of the days we spent together. We were standing on a street and I asked her to stop walking so that I could just tell her what had happened. I looked up and there was an internet café that I compulsively entered and wrote an e-mail to him. I composed it in Spanish because I had since learned it…these are the e-mails that followed that: (I had them translated online)

Pepe I am in Spain and it enchants much to me. It was thinking of you because this vacation is my first in three years since I was in Europe. As How is your life now? I do not want to return in the states. Still living in Brazil with your fiancèe? I quit my boyfriend from Mexico because we wanted different things. You know as I am, I want to live in Europe and want to always travel. I feel it is the case my Spanish is not very well, but way better than before. I am in Barcelona, was in valence, Madrid, Malaga, Meurrocos and I go today to Paris. Well, I hope that all this good with you. Write me if you want.
Ciao Bello

It is incredible! I went to east Barcelona weekend that your you were there and I thought that I had seen you in the street but later I reasoned and as knew that you were in the United States I really did not think that you were your, and now that you say to me that you were there that probably I saw you. That badly that I did not speak to you!!! but already no way! That’s good that you are doing what you like, and for your boyfriend I can say that at least you learned Spanish. Now I am in Amsterdam, I came to visit my sister who has been living for a year here, has a boyfriend and seems here that they live happy together. Sunday I go Berlin with my girlfriend so that it is of there, I took a rest from the work and am going to see if encounter there a work in Berlin or probably study something. If you go to Berlin you could see us, that would be pleasant to me. I believe that I am going to be until end of Julio probably until August end. A kiss! Pp

That’s life for you folks.

But I’ve been more places than that…I once had to run through the streets at midnight in Mexico, dodging bullets. It was New Year’s eve, exactly midnight…gunshots ringing out every where, I ran with my palms turned skyward and covering the crown of my head. That was scary too. I laid in a room for over a week. I called my daddy to say goodbye because I thought I was dying. He threatened me with coming to Mexico to beat up my illness. I got better, he stayed in Georgia. I went back, to Mexico, with a different boy, as a different girl. We rented a cabin on the beach and quarantined ourselves from the rest of the world. We spent long afternoons laying in the hammock, sometimes quite…sometimes letting the toxins out. We cooked and laughed and fought and swam and played cards and read books. I have a scar on my right breast from the first night we got there, neither one of us know from what?

We took busses all over the country. We liked Mexico City the best. The place everyone told us not to go was the only place we wanted to be. We held hands and chased each other through the metro stations. Mexico did that to us, the city where everyone is laughing or crying or kissing or listening to music or eating or begging. We both had our music contraptions and set out all over the city by train, face to face in crowded metro cars, arms wrapped around each other with our hands stuck in each others pockets.

So many places…

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Reflections on Academia and Class

Sorry this is so academic (kinda), this is actually a commentary I turned in. It isn't very well written. I wrote it in 30 mins for an assignment that I had to do, like quick! Feel free to leave comments on it. I just thought I would post it because I have been thinking about it a lot and I need more of an audience for this than just my extremely ethno-centric teacher who doesn't really seem to appreciate this. This is in Response to two essays I read on Class and Identity.

These two essays seemed to epitomize issues that I have been aware of for a very long time. I have written about such issues in the past in my responses. 'Invisible Identities' was an interesting commentary on being working class and white in America. This part of my own identity is something that I have always been aware of because of my particular life experience. There were many areas in the essay that I identified with and some that I did not. I will explain.
The description of Engen's father as a truck driver that dropped out in the 8th grade, hit very close to home for me. This is almost the exact same circumstance of my fatherÂ’s life. The only difference is that my father dropped out of school much earlier than the 8th grade. My mother is the one who made it to the 8th grade. This point in the essay was very striking for me, but quite obviously a typical circumstance for a white working class male in America.
When Engen describes his family's reaction to his education, I was flooded with recent memories of trying to navigate my way through family dinners since I have really started to internalize my education. I have been openly criticized and have been made aware of criticism of my 'mannerisms' that has taken place behind my back. I will expand on this.
I was recently on vacation with my family and was explaining to my 10 year old little sister why she should not disturb her mother for something that she wanted at that particular moment. I explained the dynamics of parents and children and that sometimes parents seem mean, but they are really just tired. I felt that my little sister is old enough and smart enough to understand this. She looked at me retorted, 'Why is everything you say like givin' a lecture?' There was not a doubt in my mind that this sentence was a direct quote from her mother, her aunts and whoever else was there when the original conversation about my communication habits was taking place. This was very painful and not something I will soon forget. I have many other examples of this kind of thing. I feel that I am forced to except the fact that I need to conform to the family dynamics in which I was raised, but more than that I feel like I want to, gladly. I do feel that small talk can be hard, but I guess that they feel that small talk with me is more trouble than itÂ’s worth.
In Wong's essay the major part that I identified with was her description of her father's once dreams and her reaction to finding them out way after the fact. I experienced a similar situation when I was told by my mother that my father's dream in life was to move to New York one day because he heard that the ground was very fertile in upper state New York. The fact that this was his motivation for wanting that, and that this was his dream and the he still has never been to New York, makes me cry every time I think of it.
It is a constant act of my own versatility to be able to 'appropriately' perform in the academic, career and family arenas of my life. Sometimes, I get it more right than other times. I do not agree that I will acculturate and adopt the mannerisms and/or out-look of the middle class due to my proximity to it. I believe that my working-class background mixed with my academic achievements is my 'habitus'or governing principles that will always have me very aware of the contradictions of understanding both.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I’ll be having tea today. You know like, not just a steaming cup o’ leaves, but an actual sit down tea with little sandwiches and china pots. At the Ritz no less..that’s right baby. I’m meeting a friend of mine that I do these things with. She is a 50 something Russian lady who lives here in the states alone. I met her 5 years ago. She was my first “student” of ESL when I started volunteering at the downtown library when I go back to the states from Paris, and was having a hard time transitioning. I have lost touch with her time and time again during these last five years, but never completely. She’s an inspiration to me, kind of. She is graceful and proud. She goes on and on about tales from her youth of her extreme popularity with the men everywhere she would travel and she recounts folk tales of Russian Royalty. She has a daughter around my age that lives in Israel and she is here alone. So everyone once in a while we will meet for tea or coffee or a drink. Lately we have been going to the Ritz for this. It’s so nice in there! Real piano lounge music. Exceptional service. If you go for happy hour they have assorted nuts and snacks on those little trays that have three different silver bowls connected to one handle. I am excited. I’ve never done a tea; I think this is a turning point for me…just kidding. So that’s what I’ll be doing today along with attending class and then going straight to work. I am taking the time out in my day to do something that I know will ultimately make me feel good. Hope you do the same.