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Going to Mississippi for Thanksgiving was immersive reminder that while I may not live in the american south anymore, I am still a southerner. Or as I said to Amber the night I got back and was telling stories, "I'm sure as hell not a midwesterner." I have taken to saying this phrase a lot, actually, though mostly in my head as I don't see many people in a given day. Anyway, I don't mean it remotely derisively -- I have been a citizen of the midwest since 1995 and Chicago has been very good to me and I have fondness for the region in general. But I do not feel of it in the same way at all, and I never will and that is a-ok with me, I don't mind the vague cultural expatriate experience at all. But now I'm noticing how it appears in other small ways. Like all this week, I have been severely confused with people posting on facebook about cheering for the Vikings. I don't even follow football, most people I know don't seriously, but I know that once playoffs come about, more people jump in and I don't judge that at all, it is the nature of sports, they WANT people to come on board late too. So my first thought is always, ha! They're posting about football! It must be the playoffs! and then my second thought is, but the Vikings?!? Then today it finally hit me -- oh yeah, Minnesota team, most people around me are midwesterners in some form. So they all feel for the Vikings what I am currently feeling for......New Orleans. Geaux Saints! Am I going to have to watch a football game on Sunday? Maybe.

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The few weeks after coming home from six weeks at Ragdale/west coast were a bit blurry and discombobulated, getting my bearings and catching up on neglected things, finding ground. Then I left for southern California for wearemany and drinkingstars nuptials, prior to which I was a bit concerned about my state of being, but after a quiet weekend to regroup, I flew out there and put together a fun performance and then MCed the burlesque bachelorette party and it was quite possibly the most perfect event ever. I mean, I know I was involved in it, so that sounds a bit biased, but what I mean was that the whole evening felt that way to everyone involved, simultaneously, so it had more this collective experience of creative flow. I think probably it was the confluence of love and affection in the room combined with the performances, and the occasion, (and the production talents of willagurl), and it was just one of those amazing sum-is-greater-than-the-parts experiences that I felt so glad to be a part of, in the moment and forever, I loved knowing that experience would always be there as part of the lifelong story, it was amazing to do that for someone you love, who is family, and to bear witness to similar acts all along the way the next day for the ceremony and party itself. It was humbling in a way that made me feel proud. Afterwards I cruised down to San Diego on the train and hung out with anjiyama where we sang and sang and sang and sang and had a mutual adoration fest. I'm so full of love for her, even when we are salty. Going out there and seeing Noriko, and S, and Angie, it really was a trip to see family and it felt exactly like that in all the best ways.

Then I came home and crashed. It has been a hard couple weeks, which is not to say it now feels magically easy now either, its just that the inner voice in my head has stopped being the berating awful drill sergeant and now is more like a dry but sweet british gent. He makes recommendations on what I should do next in a way that is much more charming than that other dude. I also came home with a cold, that was never severe, just tenacious and slow to heal, and the weather been very dreary here, not just grey but blustery and rainy and therefore slightly more difficult to negotiate leaving the house. The weather is still not great, there was hardly any sun today, but little rain, so I rode my bike everywhere and had coffee with the Lovely and Talented cocolola and the also Lovely and Talented IRX, then biked to the gym and over on that side of town there are huge houses on tree-lined streets that are flooded in yellow now from all the trees, the leaves depart the branches before they turn brown, they are in their color prime but drop off, since here in Chicago autumn is less of a season and more of a fortnight. (But o! what a fortnight it is.)

I have been feeling more balanced, less doomsday, it got really dreary and scary there a moment or two, and partially my condition has been helped by a new work project that had deadlines and is creative and challenging and even pays me. Some switch got flipped in the brain though, or maybe the drill sergeant got exhausted and fell asleep, but more likely I'm just realizing, nine months after leaving my therapist, that he was right, I am hard on myself. Now that it is my job to manage that, I'm seeing exactly what he means. Though I still have to trick myself into changing the behavior, I have to spin it as being kinder to myself means I can actually get it together to do whatever it is I'm browbeating over. Which, I guess isn't exactly spin, but you know what I mean. I can't be kinder to myself simply for the sake of it. That's advanced level gaming, I'm not there yet.

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I do not know what day it is, though its early August and there are workers on a roof outside my kitchen window, so that must mean its a sunny day. They are not exactly bothering me, I've awoken before they've arrived these past two mornings, and the noise is there, but not excessively more than any sunny weekend day with lawn mowers and radios laughter, it is just somewhat amusing the chaos around me, two days ago my downstairs neighbors left quickly and quietly, over the course of one day, and if I hadn't had run into them in the laundry room, I wouldn't have known they were moving to Brooklyn (Williamsburg, I imagine), also they left their fcking hipster schwinn bikes in the basment, along with their typewriter collection, so I availed myself of one that is nicely working, just needs a new rubber cylinder thing, and contemplating selling the red granny bike for $25 on craigslist. And now the next-door neighbor is replacing the caved raccoon-filled roof, so this is a good thing (some day I will upload the video of raccoons out my kitchen window), I do not begrudge the gentlemen working and we have a tacit agreement that they will no acknowledge that they are two feet from my kitchen and we can see each other, and I will continue to wander around in only boxers to ensure it. Oh yeah, its Sunday. I have to cut my hair and get dressed soon, I have door duty at zen temple today, which means I'm breaking my "don't interact with strangers" rule I've been keeping this week (unless it is a utilitarian interaction, like librarians or cashiers or postal workers, etc.). It has been nice to be alone, I have been making use of the time partly by rearranging furniture and cleaning things out. Tomorrow morning I go to IKEA, but I know exactly what I want, how much it costs, etc., so it should be a more pleasurable trip I think, than the ones that tend to lead to meltdown because it is too much choice. The cat is apparently more alarmed by the roofers than I, her ears are permanently on high alert. Last night something unexpected happen (though I had premonitions of it beforehand, but it is still how it felt), in a good way, and on the bus ride home afterwards I thought about how the universe has lately handed me a lot of heartbreak this year, more than I would have thought capable of handling back to back to back to back, but sometimes that doesn't matter. Maybe I am a spiritual masochist, but I feel like now I enjoy the moments of pleasure ten times more than I used to, and pain is worth it. Well, at least until the euphoria wears off. Now I'm back to about 50-50.

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Jul. 2nd, 2009

I had this realization a couple weeks ago that I wasn’t going to get a teaching job I wanted for this fall, I am so barely qualified and there is such intense competition in the applicant pool. I was aiming for something that would be a gamble during a good economy, but is probably statistically equal right now to winning the lottery. (Maybe I shouldn’t have just read that news story about unemployment statistics just now, but too late.) When I resigned myself to the particular failure of my campaign, I was disappointed but no self-loathing about it. Last night I had a bout of feeling quite foolish for even making the attempt, it was unpleasant. Given the federal stimulus package, I should be getting unemployment benefits until January, and then who knows. Prior to that who knows. But I’ve decided that until then, I will write like hell. Perhaps this is what I finally need to turn some mental blocks around, I mostly have lived the soft life of writing merely for pleasure or art or whim, and maybe what I need is some time writing as if my life (and my rent and food source) depend on it. Journalists are bred and shaped this way, it makes them hearty and quick; creative writers, maybe we are accidentally coddling ourselves. We didn’t even have the academic challenge of the giant thesis exactly, though I did turn in 100 pages of creative work in exchange for my degree, so I shouldn’t sell myself short completely. Anyway, the point of all this is right now in my life, I don’t really feel like I have anything to ground and stabilize and identify myself except for my writing, and I am going to take this as a sign, universe, before you start stripping me of more things. Then again, let’s look at it from the other side that’s more empowering: maybe I am equally stripping and releasing things as others are being taken.

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I'm typing this on the plane, to be posted when I land. It has been a long flight, I broke my rule of nonstop flights only when going to the west coast, but the cost was too prohibitive this time. It's not that miserable, it just boils down to whether I am restless the last hour or not. Obviously this time I am. I watched the movie "Special" on my laptop, but I miss the magic of the airplane screen lowering down and being subjected to prepackaged programs. I'm sure they spent a lot of money on market research to determine what television is soothing to crowds in small spaces, and sometimes it works well.

Behind me are two women and their daughter and sometimes they are a little intense, but mostly it's fine, the public chatter and nuisances of all plane rides (a relatively small price to pay for travelling two time zones in an afternoon), but at one point I heard one of the women talk about how they would be at a hotel soon and the daughter could take a shower for the first time in...they discuss how many months, I didn't hear the final deliberation, but it had been awhile, and at first I thought what?!? Then realized, oh they probably just live somewhere with only a bathtub and no shower. My flight originated in Minneapolis, is that fact related? Did they experience a housebuilding explosion before showers were pervasive? I wouldn't mind living in a place with only a bathtub, but not for that long.

Landed in Portland. It's raining. Of course. I don't actually know if this is 300 words, but it's probably close enough.

ETA: it was a man, not a butch lesbian behind me on the plane.

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It is difficult to express the quantity of relief and excitement I have about getting on a plane tomorrow. I would probably be happy to get on one going in any direction, to any city, so its even better that its not any city, it’s a city I’ve wanted to visit and never have, it's a visit to Miss Katrina, and later the rest of the merry band of grad school family in a cabin in the woods next to a river with a hot tub on the deck. Or rather, a soft tub, but such differences are negligible to me. Of course, its supposed to stop raining in Chicago right around the time it starts raining in Portland, which all this is happening about 12 hours after I land, but it wouldn’t be Portland without a little of that, I suppose. It is festive even.

Here are all the times I think about how my daily rituals have been changed by loss: coming home, opening the door to the apartment, leaving the apartment, waking up in the morning and not needing to put on clothes to stand in the backyard, getting home at night and not having to leave on my pants because I’m going right down the back stairs, picking up my keys to put in my pocket, putting on shoes, cooking meat, using the can opener, singing outloud, talking to myself, hearing dogs bark outside, doorbell ringing, running through the house to catch a phonecall, dropping food on the floor, walking past the orange futon in the middle room, sitting on the toilet, plastic bags in the house, going for a walk in the neighborhood, sitting on the couch, opening the kitchen window, opening the back screen door to the porch, whistling, doing laundry, vacuuming, thunderstorms, naptime.

In other words, about fifty times a day. Yeah, I need to get the hell away from here for awhile.

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Jun. 15th, 2009

This morning I thought, while fussing with the cat food dishes and water bowl, that maybe this is the first day where sadness hasn’t been the primary dominating emotion. The fresh start of Monday morning hasn’t felt this good in awhile, I woke up at 6 am, unintentionally but naturally, I dozed a bit longer, but by 6:30 I had the laptop open and worked on my two reviews to send off. Then I called into unemployment and handled some other bill-type items on my to-do list and then it was only 9 am and I got to eat frozen Belgian waffles and watch morning television, which always starts off as a treat, but by 10:30 it starts to suck the life out of me and make me feel a little miserable, even if I am only half-paying attention while facebooking and playing word games and reading livejournal and whatnot. I need to set an alarm, I think, to remind myself of this fact. I have also been awake for nearly 5 hours and have not been compelled to consume something to take the edge off, whether that something be herbal, prescription, liquid, whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take something soon, probably within the hours, but still, this is progress since most of the past week I have not wanted my neurochemicals to be bouncing around alone in my brain, they could not be trusted to their own devices without a guide. Now I’m feeling a bit better about letting myself have the reins. Other people get all dissociative like this, right? Or maybe just people who’ve had lots of therapy or even just sustained interest in psychology. I watched all of season one of In Treatment in the past two weeks, and I would never say it is a replacement, but for me it did serve as a sort of booster shot. Ok, its almost lunchtime, maybe I will read some comic books now.

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sopherson


recumbent pup
Originally uploaded by raybear
When she came into my life, her belly was shaved from getting neutered at the pound, and her belly was shaved from the ultrasound on the last day I knew her.

Thanks for being my dog. I will miss you always.

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