I catch bees and bring them outside. Spiders I don’t mind. Sure, I yelp at first sight, but then we get along fine. House spider Harold lived in my shower rod this summer, so we were even naked together, and I was all What’s up, Harold! I’m washing my hair!
But this thing. WTF.
Yeah, I killed it. I killed the hell out of it.
It is October, unseasonably warm, and I am slave to a fat knee, twisted from dancing, naturally, in the clutches of crutches and bicycle envy.
Otherwise… life is great. I recently started a job I love. I am a real librarian, doing real librarian things with real librarian colleagues using my real librarian education.
This is where I work (!)
I must say, though… there were dark days, this past year plus of under- and unemployment. Cut corners and concerts, downgraded internets, rationing minutes and passing Totino’s Pizzas off as meals.
It’s laughable, kinda really. However stressful financial uncertainty, I was more secure than many In This Economy, and I’m used to living like a student: poor. But that didn’t make undermined confidence in my product—me, my degree, my passion and intellect—any easier to stomach. Proper Midwestern, ethnic Lutheran, to most everyone around me I was upbeat and a better days believer.
But removed from the weight of long-term joblessness, I know now I was sick to death every minute of running out of money or of getting sick or in an accident. It wasn’t supposed to be this way—take so long and hurt so hard—even now knowing yes, I am qualified and awesome and excelling at library science, insight and amiability but I’m also really really really really lucky. And others aren’t. Yet.
In short, it sucked. The now forty hours killed per week has been a shock, but I feel normal now, finally, making some money, breathing easy, the future brighter and eating better.
To everyone to whom for so many months I lied to—family, friends, classmates and colleagues—I’m sorry, and thank you so much for all of your support.
I’ve been watching the BBC’s 2002 documentary, The Century of the Self. It’s the sort of artifact attack critique you want to show every man, woman and child, this is what it’s all about war terror talking heads, new + improved though I wouldn’t know what to expect or hope to follow. Y’all cogs are fools, capitalistic tools, me too tis of thee, all sorts of angst I thought I’s over, sidling up to thirty.
Paranoia. Social control. Virulent peace-time propaganda and the inextricable yet artificial linking of capitalism with democracy such that “good” business (effective, dominant, roughshod, bonanza enterprises operating regardless of ethics) means “good” government, with the best government existing only to indulge and legitimize business.
Meanwhile, psychology is imagined, not always without cause, but applied en masse with the intent of manipulation. Save our sick minds from national socialism, communism, perversion and too much isolation. Alone time, reflection, introspection is for weirdos — self examination better left to the professionals. Unconscious urges, the Freudian slippery slope, those sex bits were just the surface and in truth a diversion. Bait to freak out the proper folk dismissing it, while behind the scenes, the curtain, the machine is in motion, engineering consent, manufacturing desire.
I want some brownies. I’d settle for cake. But all the prepackaged quick-n-easy mixes require that I add an egg. Haven’t they figured this out yet? how to pulverize and include the egg I mean really. In my version of vegetarianism, I eat eggs when they’re “in things” but never buy them outright, the little pods of fetal chick goo gross that would rot in my fridge before I used them.
Later that day hello synchronicity in the next episode I watch of The Century of the Self, I learn that in the ‘50s one of the first product focus groups, i.e., a group psychoanalysis session, uncovered that women felt guilty about using readymade cake mixes, which originally included all ingredients. While the purpose was convenience, readymade cakes were thought too easy. Housewives were cheating their families of their labor and their love. Betty Crocker changed the recipe to exclude the egg, which the woman had to add on her own.
Her own egg. A symbolic contribution. For her husband, her children. Sales soared.
Sixty years later, I’m too neurotic for a family. I have a problem with factory farming. But I still consume the products, eat the cruelty, yield the profit, with indirect complicity. I just need the right conditions — the right conditioning.
Help me out, psychology. Fix me.
Spring is come. I show my body who’s boss, biking top gear, running down blocks, dancing till I drop every jaw every thought chewing out my guts of fourteen hour days of not getting paid to be poor enough, trying to stay awake for the nightlife, a symptom of getting old? a too comfortable bed, but my muscles crave a mission. Go forth and multiphasic cut the floor in angles, step snap spastic, stand stalk thrill.
“Can you teach me how to dance?”
Can you teach me how to stand still.
I miss Vancouver James. He would know what to do, and he would deny it, but he’s better at people. Don’t be afraid to look foolish, is what I want to say. The fear shows and the fear is worse.
Well the Cure’s all rubber necks, hips and broken kneecaps, Suicide Commando, you’re gonna want a fist. But I don’t know how to explain something like “Assimilate,” a darksider staple in Skinny Puppy’s Vancouver. I’d stomp the shit out of that song and awful feelings feeling so far from home and close to where I come from, untamable untellable hell and hearing it now I’m all the none the wiser not dying, you’d have to put me down with a tranquilizer to get me to stop crying.
“Where did you learn how to dance?”
A bowling alley basement in Fargo, North Dakota? YouTube talent shows? Everyone better than me? Alone in my room for years, mostly. The average slice of time I devote to dancing each day/night in my tiny apartment, staining the floorboards with tire-sole scuffs and sweat till I strip to longjohns add it up! the intermission screenbreaks, can’t sleeps, can’t wakes, 45 minutes, I’d say. Give or take. I beat the mouth of my fist into my heartcage, slap the fillets of my abdomen, dance with my teeth, my spine, my spit, my third eye and no self.
Write what you know, right? what you don’t believe in, the reason you don’t know what to do. Until it makes sense. Until you come true.