Thursday, April 23, 2015

I wish I had Sylvia Plath

Why am I Oscar Wilde in my head and Rodney Dangerfield in real life?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Flawless through the Fog

Just because you miss something doesn't make it true.

...

Ever seen "500 Days of Summer"?

The always-adorable Joseph Gordon Levitt is madly in love with The New Girl (it's the gargantuan eyes, I think). Anyway, JGL thinks they're peas and carrots. Best match ever. Written in the gargantuan-eyed stars.

And then they break up.

At which point he (still, adorably) mopes and moans and wishes for what was.

Weren't we fetching? Cutest thing since kitten GIFs?

Where'd all that perfection go?

Then, as we all (less adorably) do, he gets his shit together. And once he does he looks at his past with a fresh pair of (smaller but undoubtedly clearer) eyes.

He finally sees the relationship for what it really was -- a sea of red flags amid the glossy good times.

Yes, without the rose hue, Gordon Levitt's Past Glasses finally show him the truth that we all learned from FOX in about Season 2 (waaaay pre-Prince episode, which is still worth checking out. Because it's Prince.): that Big Eyes wasn't a muse but a succubus, and that she only started doing him good when she got gone.

Friends, I can't tell you how many times I've JGLed down the street, a song in my heart, over some perceived piece of perfection, only to discover later that what I'd encountered -- and later mourned -- was more figment of my imagination than product of reality.

Hindsight, it seems, is not actually 20/20. It's myopic.

And, unless you one day decide to don prescription glasses, it will continue to be so.

Yes, even given time and distance, folks will continue to romanticize the past unless and until the present presents them (us?) with a sobering dose of reality. Like running into Big Eyes at a coffee shop with some other dude. Or encountering that former best friend's mug shot in the weekly reader flyer at the gas station. Or realizing that the Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring was actually just a way to get you to drink more Ovaltine.

Suddenly, everything you knew or thought you knew is called into question. And the world itself zooms into focus.

Did you really love this person? Or did you fall stupidly, madly, head-over-heels for the image you had of this person? Was he or she or the circumstance really so perfect, or was that just the reflection of your own projection?

Is Little Orphan Annie really speaking to us through the radio, or were her pleas for help really nothing more than a marketing ploy for hapless saps like ourselves?

...

Despite -- or perhaps because -- I am a hopeless romantic, I refuse to watch refuse like 27 Dresses and The Wedding Planner.

Sure, I could argue that the only things more banal than the performances are the plotlines, but the real reason I don't indulge is that I already have so many of these fucking-impossible scenarios bopping about in my skull.

Scenarios in which I encounter these loves again in some "step-into-a-bar-to-get-in-out-of-the-rain-and-there-he-is" cosmic cosplays -- where witty, heartbreaking things are said with perfect timing -- where the parting is bittersweet and one-for-the-ages (you know, end of Chasing Amy-type stuff).

It's mentally all-consuming.

And utterly wrong.

...

Over the years, I've had perfect past loves recontact me, whether to rekindle the old flame or to sate some curiosity, I'm not entirely sure.

And each time it's been the same: the thrill of returning to those perfect moments, only to discover -- sometimes alarming quickly -- that those moments (and the people who lived them) are gone. Perhaps they never really existed in the first place.

This discovery is always painful.

Because, try though I might, I continue to paint the past and the people in it with the now-threadbare brush of perceived perfection.

It's a heartbreaking exercise I nevertheless return to time and again.

Perhaps there is a deeper reason -- some resonating need -- that such an exercise fulfills. Maybe we all need to believe that perfection is possible. Maybe we all crave the near miss to give our lives some meaning.

But friends, just because you miss the past, doesn't make it true.

It just makes it hazy enough to appear flawless through the fog.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

“A Voice Calls Out” by H. Leivick

“A voice calls out: ‘You must!’

Must what? O voice, explain!

Instead of an answer I hear

That call again.

I peer behind the door,

I dash at every wall;

I search, though no one strange

Has sent that call.

I’ve known them all my life,

The caller and his call,

Yet it seems to me I hear

What I never heard at all.

It cries: ‘You must! You must!’

And only God can tell

Whether must is my redemption,

Or must will be my hell."

Friday, April 3, 2015

Surprising Soulmate: my love affair with a dress

She's not much to look at.

Very few adornments.

By all accounts, plain.

No frills, no bows. No lace or buttons.

In a world of Bangs, she registers a Whimper.

The moment I laid eyes on her, I knew:

I hated her.

Soundly and staunchly.

There was no way she'd ever "do" for My Big Day.

Where were the beads? The sparkles? The razzmatazz?

Surely this sales lady had made some mistake.

Surely she could see that THIS bride-to-be wanted the Baz Lehrmann of wedding gowns.

Surely, she would never do.

For I cannot rock socks with an off-the-rack frock.

I frown.

I frown a frown that won't turn upside down.

I don't wanna try her on.

Where's that 10-ton Gatsby tailoring monstrosity I tired on half an hour ago? Surely SHE'S's the dress that's gonna make the cut (once, you know, she's cut to fit.)

Silly sales lady insists. Says this one will be different from the previously force-fed ballgowns and A-lines. She promises Simple Sally is the last one I'll hafta try...

So, damn her, I have to try...

Off the hanger, she falls in a heap. I harumph her up over my hips. She makes about as much fuss as I do.

She refuses to zip over the masochistic bra I've been commanded to wear ("I'm sorry ma'am; we don't carry your size. You'll have to special order. Here. You can borrow this B cup.").

I know, dress, I know. This is not the scenario in which one wants their cups to runneth over. You're right, dress. You're right.

I remove The Rack from my rack and she zips just fine.

Better than fine.

Like we've come to an agreement.

In fact, there's surprisingly little fuss out of her.

She's staying up (and so are my girls!). She's moving and not getting all up under my feet.

She's hugging my waist and disguising my thighs.

Hey - this girl ain't half bad!

...

Three-way mirrors are a proven cause of diagnosable depression. Yet, this duel 3-way I've going between the mirror, myself, and her... It's working better than I imagined.

Different, oh yes. There wasn't the lace or the beads I'd longed for (but, to be fair, I hadn't brought the long, luxurious legs I'd longed for to the fitting either. So, between she and I, concessions had to be made.)

Still, stilts aside, we look surprisingly not bad.

She and I walk together. We sit.

It's like a great first date with someone you didn't really dig at first.

I find I am unable to shake her.

And so?

I take her.

Right there in the store.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Slime and snails; puppy dog tails

I was ass-end-up on the walking trail at Rottonwood Creek Park, bent double to coax a struggling worm onto a stick (I "save" them from hot cement and place them in the grass. It's a thing I do.) when I was passed by two young women - one in a sorority formal t-shirt and one...well, it's this other one I'd like to write about today.

The other one - let's call her "Chrissy" - was wearing a Climate Change Denial t-shirt which featured an image of a lovely hot air balloon with a slogan about how environmental initiatives are "a bunch of hot air and a waste of tax payer dollars."

That she wore this in a public, outdoor, come-look-at-and-enjoy-nature park funded by tax dollars showed she was either 1. a complete and total MASTER of irony, and I should bow in her presence or 2. that she's a huge fucking hypocrite, and I should push her into Rottenwood Creek, where, if there was any justice in the world, she'd land in some pile of putrid styrofoam and plastic refuse and get a taste of what fish and water foul experience on the daily.

As I know irony to be largely misunderstood by the general populace, I supposed Chrissy belonged in Camp 2, and I immediately hated her for it.

Yes, almost instantly, the embarrassment I felt for showing my ass was replaced by anger at Chrissy for showing hers. "What a stupid bitch," I thought. Few things irritate my more than hypocrisy - and encountering hypocrisy emblazoned on a t-shirt somehow took me to a whole new level of irate. I fumed on the path for a good 400 or so yards.

And then I approached the part of the path that leads to one of my favorite places in our fair city.

From the highway, you'd never know it was there, but beneath the 75/285 overpass are beautiful, cascading waterfalls; a metal bridge suspends park visitors over the falls.

I could stay here for days.

As I stood, arms draped over the rails of the bridge, I noticed a spider's web that extended from the bridge to a nearby tree, which would bloom soon.

Have you ever stopped to notice the beauty and intricacy of a spider's web?

Moved, my anger began to melt away, and I noticed that the fire in my gut was slowly transforming itself into something else.

The only word I can use to describe it is pity.

I began to pity Chrissy. Because, while Chrissy and her friend ran right over this bridge, Chrissy hadn't noticed the spider web. She'd moseyed right past the to-bloom buds, not stopping to see that life was reinventing itself before her unseeing eyes.

Chrissy, who, if her shirt was any indication, would clear cut that tree for a paycheck and render that spider extinct if it in any way hindered her "prosperity" (Yes, a direct quote from the offending t-shirt) would never know what I have the extreme privilege to know - that a tree has value outside of a lumber mill, that the grace and exoticism of a spider, while terrifying in certain respects, are also extraordinarily beautiful.

Chrissy, it seemed, was one of those unfortunate people who "know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

On the way home, I started picking up snails.