i’m sitting at possibly the slowest restaurant in oregon – i’m not going to name names but let’s just say that it’s in bandon and it has the words ‘pacific’ and ‘blue’ in the title. but…. and this is a big but…. i love it because the guy leaves me alone and i can sit here and write on their sidewalk area and nobody bothers me or makes me feel like i gotta go and eventually i will saunter in and ask for something to eat or drink but right now i am just left in peace and i love this hippie place for it.
“Love – by which I mean attachments to things outside the control of our will.” Martha Nussbaum
Whether it’s love of coffee or chocolate or people. I love traveling. I love to laugh. I love people. I love being alone. I love writing. I love being goofy. I love having no plans.
I can’t travel as much as I’d like to. Not enough money or time. Too many responsibilities. So the corner store has to be my moment of excitement each day.
If I could laugh all the time I would, but sometimes you have to be serious. Which fucking sucks.
I love people but sometimes I lose too much of me. And one of these days I’m probably not going to find my way back to me if I’m not careful.
I love being alone. I could be alone for long stretches of time. I could be alone so much that I virtually don’t need anyone or anything but then I might forget the joys and new ideas that come with hanging out. Plus being around people reminds you to bathe more often.
I love writing. I love it so much that I’d rather write sometimes than talk. But then I’d be missing out on the wonders of touch, eyes that dance, holding hands, hugs, and smiles, and feeling close. And it’s hard to spoon with a pen.
I love being goofy. But then I’ll be goofy at times when I need to take people seriously and they need tenderness, not distance. And you don’t necessarily want to be TOO good at being goofy. Or you might end up alone ALL the time. And I’ve already figured out why THAT’S not totally the best plan.
I love having no plans. But then I might end up poor and destitute and homeless someday so it’s good to have a plan.
I’ve known people who have too high of an opinion of themselves. And I’ve known people who don’t have enough. I’m somewhere in between. Probably like a lot of people but today it doesn’t feel right.
If anything, I veer towards not having enough of a high opinion of myself. Not because I don’t like myself but because I really don’t think that what I do is that different from what anybody else does. And it surprises me when people come to me with questions as if I have answers that they could never dream of. Or when they look at me as if I’m something special because it’s not that I don’t feel special. I just think that we are all special. Nobody is not special.
So that’s what I mean by having an opinion of myself that’s somewhere in between too high and too low.
And I’m pretty sure many of the people who go around with a high opinion of themselves are really compensating for a pretty low opinion of themselves and vice versa. In fact, it goes without saying that people with real self-confidence don’t have to announce to the world how special they feel. Yes, I announce it. But I do it as a joke. Some people get it. Some don’t. But whenever I do announce how special I am, I am channeling the spirit of Mr. Jelinek from Strangers with Candy, the art teacher who would begin his class by saying, ‘So how is everyone today? Well… let’s ask the really important question: how am ‘I’ doing?’
In so many ways, I’m just done. I’m done maneuvering the slippery slope of social affability. I’m done aiming for false modesty and done trying to toot my own horn. Sure people toot my horn on occasion and sometimes it feels like a genuine toot, but often the toots come with strings attached. So in the meantime, I’ll just toot my own horn facetiously. And maybe someday someone will get it.
When you’re writing, you get to be close to your own mind. Super close. You notice your thoughts microscopically. You come to terms with them. Maybe at first glance they seem strange and embarrassing but then with more thoughtfulness comes understanding and perhaps acceptance. You tease out any knot in your brain eventually just by writing about it. Or talking aloud about it. But stifling it in your head doesn’t work.
Just like making love. You can’t just make love to someone in your head. Well, you can but it’s not that satisfying. Ok, well it’s a teensy bit satisfying but what’s really satisfying and unforgettable are the moments, the snapshots of closeness that never fade once the event is over. You don’t realize how important those moments are until they’re over. You can smell them in your mind. Taste them. Touch them.
Just like writing. Once I’ve written something, it’s almost like I never have to go back. Like watching a movie and not needing to watch it again. I remember practically every sentence. I remember where I am when I’m writing it down. Especially if it’s a thought that hit me while driving or walking. Writing is like making love because I adore every word. Every word comes out and my brain feels a little less cloudy. It makes me happy knowing that it will travel into someone else’s fatty flesh in their head. And what makes me even happier is knowing that some tiny, weird thought that hit me might make someone else smile or laugh or feel some kind of emotion that I’m feeling.
It’s like sex. Writing is a reminder that we’re not alone. That we trust someone enough to take it all off and let them see how we really are. Weird sounds, cellulite, awkward grimaces and all. We reach across the empty space and feel.
If I learned anything in 2016 and that I will carry forth into 2017, it is this (sorry people who were hoping for handwritten blog entries…I WILL get back to writing those…I just need time to work up my finger muscles. It’s like playing piano after not playing piano for years. Pretty sloppy sounding. Thusly, my handwriting is sloppers, too, and I don’t want to put you through that misery. At least not today. Oh, and by the way, if I sound different at all today it’s because I am channeling the comedic genius of Maria Banford who I have been listening to non-stop for two days since my friend – the most amazing mechanic I’ve ever met – recommended her. With Maria, I have found probably the most kindred spirit in comedy that I’ve ever seen/heard and I can’t believe another human being exists on this planet who thinks/writes even remotely similarly to the way I think/write).
Ok, so here is what I learned. Nothing compares to the kissing of my cats. Well, within reason. I mean, I love my dogs. And I truly do. But there is something about my cats that is beyond compare. I think it’s the plethora of fur. It’s hard to nuzzle your nose into my dogs’ fur. Other people’s dogs may be fluffy but mine certainly don’t have enough. However, both of my cats, but especially Willow, have this bountiful rug of fur that is just bottomless. Delightful. There is virtually nothing as good as a good cat nuzzle.
I mean, Gizmo (the half Chihuahua/half-we-don’t-know-what-but-maybe-Corgi dog) is snuggable for sure. But his breath is pretty bad so if you get too close the fun of kissing his forehead starts to dissipate. And Daisy is deliciously delectable. Her fur is so soft. It’s as soft as it was the day we got her as a pup about a year ago. But it’s soooo sleek that there is just not much to nuzzle. I mean, it’s there but you can’t bury your nose in it the way you can Willow. Willow has girth and softness and a good smell that doesn’t include bad fish breath odor. I don’t know why she doesn’t have it but she doesn’t. Maybe she doesn’t open her mouth a lot. It makes sense. I mean, she’s not trying to lick me all the time like Gizmo so that’s probably why.
There are many reasons why I think more people should have more fluffy cats around to kiss. It would be hard for me to list all of the reasons why right here. I mean, I’m guessing eventually somebody might get bored. So let me just isolate one. Hmmmm, let’s see… I think the most important reason why is….. hmmm….the smell. Yup, it’s the smell. I mean, okay you know when you know a smell so well that it feels like home? Like, you go away on a long trip and then you come back and suddenly smell your house the way it truly smells but you don’t really ever notice that smell anymore because you’re in it all the time? Nevertheless, you recognize that smell. Something inside of you recognizes that smell as HOME. You know you’re home. That’s what Willow’s neck smells like. Home. Comfort. Home. This is where I belong. She is mine and I am hers. Home. We belong together, here. Maybe not always in this house but yup. She’s my cat. Our cat. I love her dearly. I can’t even imagine not having her someday. It’s not even possible. She’s just going to go on living ad infinitum. Yup. That’s it. There will always be a Willow. Whenever life gets to be too much (good or bad), all I need is a whiff of the space between her neck and her cheek and I’m fine again. Willow. The fat pillow. Willow. Phatty Fatmeister. Willow. The love muffin. Yummers.
I was waiting in a grocery checkout lane yesterday. I was in my own world not really wanting to chat with anyone, but it was fine because nobody seemed that interested in talking to me. On the periphery of my awareness, I heard the guy in front of me say something like, “Well maybe the lady behind me will want my stickers.” And then I realized I was being pulled into a conversation. This often happens to me. The more I disengage with the world, the more people try to suck me in. Anyway, I responded with a smile as I realized that he was offering me the stamps that go on this doohickey thing that SafeLay is doing as a promotional campaign. You get X number of stickers and it allows you to turn in your completed pamphlet for various pots and pans. I’ve earned one large pot so far, and I’m due for another.
Anyway, when I realized what he was up to, I perked up and tried to be social. He was, after all, giving me something for free. I didn’t want to be rude or ungrateful so I smiled and thanked him profusely (well, it felt like I was overdoing it, but I’d rather overdo then underdo it, ya know?). So he finished paying and left me the stickers on the little counter where (in olden days) people used to write checks. It seemed like he didn’t want to hand it to me. Maybe he thought I had germs? Maybe he was just keeping a polite distance. I don’t know. But there they were, waiting for me.
As I walked over to take his spot, I thanked him again. At this point, I knew I was overdoing it but I couldn’t help it. I felt like I had to fill a void. The void created when one human being makes a generous offer to you and you, as a human/social being, must fill that void with your imaginary hand of connection and solidarity. He was being nice and it was my turn to be nice, too As he walked away, I felt an impulse to go running after him, to thank him all the way to the parking lot, maybe even offer him my phone number. We could become grocery store friends. We could share our differing philosophies on how grocery stores have become warmer or colder over time. Whether it’s better to use the express self-check out lane or be a loyal Luddite and let a person ring up your groceries? Maybe I could buy him coffee and convince him to hang out longer and people watch with me? Maybe I could help him work on his finances since he clearly was clueless in terms of the cost-benefit analysis of saving stickers and getting free kitchenware? I don’t know, but I definitely felt like that transitory moment with a stranger in a checkout lane was incomplete. Thank you, prefrontal cortex, for letting me have closure with this unfinished incident. And thank you, great-gods-of-the-grocery store-checkout lanes-that-determine-our-lot-in-life for offering me this ephemeral insight into the beauty of human connection and (almost) simultaneous dissolution.