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Monday, November 29, 2004

so this is christmas

i'm not sure what grabs me this time of year, every year, but it always does and with such a firm grip that it often startles me.

i understand the idea of sentimentality, the plastic, mass-produced holiday spirit that's infused through our daily rituals. it shows up on the streets as each small town is transformed into a quaint Christmas Carol-esque village. and again on the radio station, sandwiched between some Kelly Clarkson and fucking Celine Dion; an Elton John tune that you didn't even realize was a Christmas song until you heard yourself singing the lyrics. what's troublesome are the spots where it seems so contrived that you literally grimace. starbuck's pushes the spirit of the goddamn holidays with cutesy phrases like, "it's time for dancing hearts."

ahh! dancing hearts! so THAT'S the spirit of christmas!

and then, in the midst of this sticky sweetness and buried under my cynicism in true Grinch fashion, i find something pulling me.

it could just be watching some child smiling in the post office, eyeing me playfully through his little-kid glasses as his mom buys those cutesy christmas stamps. or hearing those rumors spread around the office about the first snowstorm, even amidst the groans of anxiety over the commute impeded by such wintry things. and sometimes it's just a commercial for the annual showing of Rudolph. or hearing that one song...that one christmas song, for the first time that year...

So this is Christmas
And what have you done

...what have i done? fuck. what have i done? now i'm caving in my chest, thinking of how little i've done. those images of starving children. remembering my cousin when she first came to us from Cambodia, her skin sagging. the abuse, the fear, the terror, the agony. all of it floods to me and it's instant guilt. why the hell am i not over there?! over somewhere, doing something?! surely what occupies my time now is not nearly as important as just helping even a single person through all that misery. what have i done? god, nothing. i've done nothing.

and then the DJ interrupts or i swerve to avoid another reckless driver, breaking the thought for just a moment. just long enough for my mother to slip some laughter, obviously not aware of the song that's scolding me through the speakers of my sport utility vehicle. she explains her sudden giggles, recalling an incident earlier in the afternoon as we were decorating our "upstairs" christmas tree.

i'd totally forgotten about that ornament!

oh god, yeah...i say quietly, a smile creaking the corners of my mouth. i now bring myself back to that moment, pulling the blown-glass pickle from the ornaments box.

i call it our obscene pickle! more laughter. my mother's laughter always makes her so young, if only for that moment.

i laugh quietly and scratch my head. it most certainly looked like a penis. it was an ornament that my ex had given to my family several years ago. i think i'd even helped him select it from the gallery. it was unique and artsy, i was probably thinking at the time. never once did the ornate, iridescent, greenish pickle appear phallic.

but now it was hard to even hold the thing without feeling foolish and grossly inappropriate.

the next christmas song comes on and my mother starts singing like a silly child, changing the lyrics to poke fun at either me or a goofy looking pedestrian. i join in, belting out our new tunes with screeching inaccuracy, catching more laughter from passing cars.

and so this is christmas.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

maybe i'll shave my head

they say you dream every night. i believe that because i tend to recall several dreams from the previous evening's slumber. this doesn't happen every day, but enough. sometimes they're strange, but typically they're either sexual or just boring. normally, i don't have bad dreams. and when i do, they aren't exactly horrifying. more upsetting or bizarre or unsettling. not exactly grotesque or horrific.

i remember a few "bad dreams" from my childhood and maybe even into my teenage years. there were those few nights where i'd start out of my slumber with a jump. a few nights in a row, at the precise moment i was falling asleep, i felt as if i were falling. i still remember the sensation vividly, along with the pounding heartbeat and clenched fingers grasping my pillow for rescue.

the other including that typical lingering feeling that someone is hiding around the corner for you. i was in the restroom and my friends left me in there to get to the movie theater or whatever it was we were doing. i yelled for them desperately, knowing something was waiting for me in the alcove before the door. thinking a running start would save me, i lunged forward only to realize that i could barely move. a ghastly old woman emerged from around the bend and grabbed my arm tightly, her wispy hair and white clothing tickling me like a flame. when i awoke, my arm was sore as if it'd really happened.

last night, my memory of the dream is very brief. i don't know what i was doing or who i was with, or where i was exactly. i think i was on the street walking somewhere, and it was dark. it felt like there was something in my hair, so i reached for it nonchallantly. when i grabbed it, i thought it was a stray hair so i started to pull. then the thickness grew and as it was plucked from my scalp i knew it was something else. i remember laying it on a table somewhere and realizing that it was a maggot. and that's all i remember. this image and that distinct feeling of the alien object being removed from my head has lingered with me all day. i'm not quite sure how to make it go away. maybe i'll shave my head.

Monday, November 22, 2004

this is how i remember you

i was visiting family with my mother this weekend. i have a large and often vague, unsymmetrical family. step-relatives and estranged relatives. relatives that are "weird" or ones that we just don't talk to right now for whatever the reason. but a few are in relatively constant contact.

when my grandparents died years ago my aunt managed to get nearly all of the family photographs. this possession was a bone of contention between her and my mother during the subsequent months, and i myself did think it was an odd type of hoarding that my aunt was guilty of. she didn't exactly share them. rather, she divvied them up the following Christmas in the form of organized albums for each of the children. my mom got one in a plastic 3-ring binder that still had the Office Depot label attached to the back cover. there was a laser printed label reading O'Sullivan on its spine and plastic sheets of photograph organizers within. that's it. our credenza of family history. we were glad to have them, but the casing was so disgusting to me that i refused to look at them for weeks.

during the last night of my visit, my mom came into the guest room with a zip-lock baggie. a huge grin warmed her eyes as she sat on the edge of my bed to interrupt my reading. look what aunt sharon just gave me! the white part of the plastic storage bag read Reen, my mother's childhood nickname. i grimmaced invisibly.

but the photos she pulled out were of me. two shots. i'm not sure where they were taken, but i appear to be about 3 or 4 and i'm playing around some kind of stained wood porch or stairway. the photographs were intriguing because i had no recollection of the day or the moment, and their alien representation of myself was startling. they grasped two distinct moments. me eyeing the camera suspiciously, on guard. then later (i assume) beaming a smile for the photographer. my white flowered dress appropriately dusty and my long hair tussled from the climbing and running i certainly had been doing. what stunned me the most, after the warmth of reminiscing, was a subtle sadness that came. this little girl, who looked remarkably as i look today, was someone i'd never know. she looked like somebody's little girl. a child i'd love to take to the park or make funny faces with just to receive that smile in return. i wanted to be the reason that pout turned to giggles. i was sad because i didn't know her.

i love this photo because this is how i remember you. my mother said, taking the pictures back for herself to view once again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

pockets out! open your mouth!

one of my best friends, L, was a bartender for some time at this local dive. i'd hang out there with her on occassion, and came to know her fellow barmaid compadres. one of them recently became pregnant. her story is kind of a sad one, but her personality is strong and, with her, we've taken things in stride and with lots and lots of laughter.

the father of her unborn child is currently serving a sentence of about 6 months at the county jail. that story is also a long and really sad one, but that's not what we're going to talk about today. we're going to talk about how the preggers girl, her sister, and her sister's boyfriend attempted to visit the inmate this past weekend.

and so the story goes...

C (the sister) lives about 4 hours away with her boyfriend. I went to high school with her and her preggers, younger, sister (M) is actually a closer friend of mine despite the age and situation. i suppose that's irrelevant though...

if you've never visited a jail or never taken a tour or even seen one of those dramatic Scared Straight segments on Montel Williams or Oprah, you may not know that there are very strict rules when it comes to entering a detention facility. basically everything is considered contraband. of course there are the standard staples that could be used as a distorted form of currency in prison, like cigarettes, gum, food, etc. items presenting themselves on the less famous list are things like belts, baseball caps, body jewelry, and earrings. and if you have "body jewelry" in your ears, that's just asking for trouble.

prior to C's arrival, M had warned her of this strict rules. M was a pro at this point, having gone to visit her boy nearly daily for the past few months. C said it would be no problem, but quickly forgot about this caveat until they were on their way to the jail. thinking on her feet (or, her butt, rather, as they were in the car) M recalled an occassion a few weeks prior when she spied a fellow visitor donning a bandaid on her nose. the bandaid, of course, was to cover the visitor's nose ring.

with swift decidedness, she demanded they stop at the nearest gas station. the out-of-towners sat in the car, slightly bewildered, until M reappeared with a small plastic bag grasped in her right hand. they giggled and shot odd looks at the pregnant young girl. looks and laughter that only grew as M revealed her plan. she took out a package of gauze and athletic tape and began working on her sister's ears. despite her concerns of not hearing well, or at all, in the one ear, the boyfriend drove onward, still smiling.

when they got to the jail, M took a seat to allow her bandaged sister and sheepish companion first dibs on entry. that's yet another rule of the slammer: two at a time.

as the line of wives, friends, sisters, children, and otherwise shameful or arrogant individuals filed through the guard and metal detector, M sat and watched. she watched the male line and noted people she thought were pretty or ugly, sketchy or out of place. bored, she looked to the female line and let her mind wander. then she snapped back to cognition as she noticed the particularly vigilant guard that was on duty. pockets out! open your mouth! as the women and girls beeped through the archway, she had them turn out their pant pockets, remove belts, spit out gum, and lift their hair to reveal their ears. not sure whether to laugh or grow concerned, she simply sat and watched her petite, skittish sister inch her way toward the domineering lady in uniform, smiling slightly.

pockets out! open your mouth! the guard snapped at C, who complied with a sweet smile.

ok, g'ahed.

thanks! C looked to the men's line to spot her partner.

wait, you don't got any earrings right?

oh, no! again, a smile.

the guard squinted, barely squinted. then tilted her head to the side slightly. there was something white that grabbed her attention. the abrupt stop of the fluid routine of the line caught everyone's attention and now all eyes were on C.

lemme see your ears.

C looked to her sister, who was now pretending not to notice. she looked back at the guard. (be cool! be cool!) and slowly lifted both arms, cupped her hands, and tucked her fine blonde hair behind her ears.

what's that? the guard said with Queen Latifah assertiveness.


uh... cracked out. i have cuts.

she looked uncertain and sounded even moreso. M tried to hide her laughter, but it was now pointless as C herself squeaked out a breathy grin.

the guard shook her head and denied the young lady entrance to the facility on grounds of contraband smuggling.

lucky girly tire story.

i would consider myself fairly lucky in the automobile department. i've never had any major problems (and no, i'm not knocking on wood) aside from a blown alternator once. that was a huge pain in the ass, but my boy at the time was around to take care of things for me. it was virtually hassle-free.

today served to reinforce this notion.

i woke up, normal routine, a tad more sleepy this morning and thus more irritated by the Linkin Park that came blaring through my clock radio at 5:45am. i shower, dress, walk the dog, and head to the Mobil to get coffee (Green Mountain, baby). as i walk out, i notice that my passenger front tire is almost completely flat! shit. so, being already at a gas station, i fill it up, ducking away the entire time due to my odd phobia of bursting tires. i notice that there's some scraping along the blackwalls and instantly think of my father, who borrowed the car earlier in the week. that rat-bastard. he's gonna hear it when i get home.

and off to work i go. at my place of business are several autobody shops with lots of mechanics that do stuff for the rest of the faculty. so yeah, free car work. and i didn't even have to endure their skeevy stares, as my putty co-worker was easily coerced into taking care of it all for me.

i'm such a fucking girl.

apparently there was a razor blade AND a nail in each of my front tires! jesus! now i feel like some kind of junk-yard crack dealer. where the hell did i pick up those items? i have no life!

...and, come to think of it, i do remember the tires squeeling on my way off the highway yesterday afternoon. i thought briefly to myself as i juggled my cell phone and steering wheel, "heh. i guess i need air."

and i guess riding on your rims will scrape up your blackwalls. dad lucked out this time. my good vibe is contagious.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

another theory of mine

i went to a moe. concert last night. for those of you not familiar with this band, it's a jam-band (yeah, hippies, drugs, flailing limbs, pachouli...that kind of scene) from upstate New York. i don't typically enjoy all jam band shows, but this was a decent one. but the concert itself is not what is important here. what is important is that i discovered that hippie-musicians share a gene with the puppets of Jim Henson. i'm dead ass, guys.

the bassist of moe., who's name is Rob Derhak, for those of you that know names (and for those of you that looked it up like me) is not a slender man. nor is he prone to cut his hair close to his noggin. that should give you a generic idea of what he looks like. now, add a goofy facial expression that resembles that of child-aged Gorg from Fraggle Rock:


my theory is that Mr. Derhak is onto this notion and has scoured the internet to remove any pictures of himself with long hair. he is onto this striking resemblance and is going to the ends of the earth to hide his god-awful secret. but my plea to you, Mr. Bass-Line-God-of-the-I-Make-My-Own-Clothes-College-Kids is: be free. practice what your music preaches, man. no one cares that you're a decendent of the Gorgs! sure, they were mean and sure they tried to eat Wembley and Red and company, but we can open up to forgive you.

either that or cut your hair again. i'm spreading this theory across the Internet and you cannot hide much longer, dear.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

now i understand...

...why people file suit against other people.

for the boys, here is a disclaimer that the proceeding story is about "womanly things" as many of you so awkwardly put it; and "the gynecologist" for those of you who are a tad more mature.

i am a patient at a local Woman's Medical Group. i see one doctor there. he actually delivered me. but if you tell him that, he'll reply, "oohhhhhh [yes, in that stereotypical asian way...yeah, he's asian]...yeeeahhhh, time flies, ah?" ugh. nevermind. sorry i brought it up.

anyway. i recently had a biopsy of my cervix. sounds horrible. it's actually not that bad. i mean, it sucks, but it's fucking Disney World compared to what i went through yesterday. this most recent biopsy was actually my second, and when things hadn't improved this go-around, my doc, in his ever-present broken English, explained that i'd need cryosurgery. i think that's how it's spelled. it's where they freeze the cells so that they die, and, in theory, new healthy ones grow back.

now, prior to yesterday's cryosurgery, i had to see the doctor for my biopsy results. not exactly the most stress-free thing one can do on a Monday afternoon. to make it worse, the regular nurse was no longer working with my doctor. damn. i liked her. in her place was this annoying, overweight, squeaky-whispery-voiced middle aged woman who reminded me *exactly* of this drama queen i work with. ugh. great.

cue surgery day.

now, it's called "surgery" because things are removed (i think that's what makes something officially surgery...that tissue is removed or something), but it's really the doctor sticking a rod that's cold to the point of intense burning on my cervix. woo-fucking-hoo.

i was tense and grumpy and nurse Barbie only made things worse. first, we have to hike upstairs because that's where the "cryo-machine" is. how cute. they've nicknamed it. well, much to my surprise, a fucking cryo-machine is nothing more than a tank of some kind of frozen gas with a hose/gun looking thing connected to it. well, thank god i'm getting operated on with the fucking flinstones. my mood was getting terribly sour as she carted this archaic-as-fuck machine into the "operating room" and then proceded to think aloud about how to use it. when she was done carting fellow nurses and other unwelcomed guests through my room in an effort to learn how to operate the damn machine (oh, no joke), she laughed as she realized how to turn the thing on. how silly of me! just sign this consent, hun.

hun? ha. fuck you, very much. and thanks for reading that doctor language consent form to me. though, if you can't operate that machine from 1922, i doubt you can read either. and no, i guess i don't have any questions since you've already left the room. and what is this paper "smock?" is that for me to change into? sure, why not...i guess nurses don't normally converse with patients about to be frozen to death with Barney Rubble's refrigeration system.

so as i'm dressing, in comes the nurse. no knock. no curtain. and yes, i could see into the hallway. now, for the few boys that are actually reading, let me explain that there is a certain, although strange, courtesy that exists in the exam room of a gyno's office. yes, you get to see my vagina and all that fun stuff, but you still give me the privacy of dressing and undressing alone. this nurse needs to be explained this ettiquette.

any questions hun? i think to myself, umm...i'm thinking about how to report quack doctors and nurses, so maybe you have the number?...but decide rather to simply ask, will it hurt?

oh, no. it should be less of a hassle than the biopsy was, hun!

she fucking said no.


words cannot describe this pain. apparently it's not common for the procedure to hurt, but it's also not unheard of for it to cause intense cramping during the procedure, and for up to 5 hours following it.

that bitch lied.

during the procedure, i cried. no, are you ok? no, it's ok. no, we're almost done! just the broken English of Dr. FuckFace saying, aaahhh, cramping, huh?

when the procedure was over, tears streaming down my cheeks in black rivers of liquidy mascara, i was offerred no tissue. i was given no reassuring smile. i was instead told that it is not uncommon to pass out after the sugery and that i should lay and rest for a while. the doctor snapped off he latex gloves and abruptly left the room.

they left the fucking room.

ah, but the good ol' nurse came back for me! and guess when? yep! when i was changing! thanks Barbie! you fucking rock! here you go, Kristine. bring this to the front desk. see you in a month! she squeaked, her eyes squinting.

there's actually more to the story...involving the doctor on-call who informed me that he had absolutely no medical opinion about my pain, and could suggest nothing. ah, thanks doc! good thing i talked to you! i later realized that his name was familiar because i'd been seen by him a few years back while home on break from college. i needed to switch my birth control pills because the brand i was using was completely eliminating my period. this caused several terrifying pregnancy scares and i needed to put an end to that. explaining this to my stand-in gyno, he replied, i understand. you want to bleed so you feel more like a woman.


of course, i won't sue, but i am really saddened by this experience and troubled that there are doctors out there that likely behave worse. the last section of my consent form said "medicine is not an exact science." eeire, but true. we trust so blindly...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

the circle of laugh

i like to laugh at myself. it's almost as fun as laughing at other people. so, if you would be so inclined, go ahead and have a little chuckle at me right now. oh, i'm dead ass. get on with it. embarrassing moments really are not complete unless there is someone to laugh at you as you are laughing at yourself.

i.e. me saying "deers" to my co-worker (an avid hunter with some Indian blood in his system which causes him to become emotionally childish at times. it also causes him to talk incessantly about whisker biscuits and other oddly named hunting paraphernalia which inevitably results in me laughing at him and he laughing at himself) even though i am an English teacher. (and yeah, that was a long parenthetical insert. my apologies for any backtracking that may have resulted.)

shit. now i need to backtrack...

oh, well. i think i've made my point. just that it's fun to laugh. was that my point? no, i think it was that you should laugh at me to complete my circle of laughter since i am almost always laughing at myself. oh, and i usually have no friends around, so you laughing would complete the cycle.

that certainly just killed the mood.

just remember that it's fun to laugh at other people, a tad less fun to laugh at yourself, and most fun (funnest?) to make others laugh at themselves...or at least laugh at you.


fuck me, man. i've been writing such bullshit lately.

ha, and my doctor upped my medication. 100mg baby. just months ago, i was thinking of stopping that pill-popping merry-go-round. then the cancer scare. then the return of self-pity.

it's saddening to remember times when you had enough. enough of just anything. i've had times where there was enough love, enough laughter, enough booze, enough drugs, sex, whatever. just enough to keep me either naive, numbed, content.

in high school, being a jackass and swooning over dreamy assholes meant having enough. dealing with parents that knew you were doing what you thought they didn't know meant having enough. the stress of wondering how you'd get though the pain, the angst, the unrelentless yearning for something you could not define meant having enough. watching The Breakfast Club. wearing Salvation Army clothes and telling people you got them at Sal's Boutique because that cute boy taught you to. that was having enough. getting in the damn car for a drive, that fresh burst of freedom was enough. i was still young. things could be discovered and made new so damn easily. and in the midst of that, i was even institutionalized. go figure. i think i was happier then.

in college, freshman year, i had two good friends, one of whom i'm still close with (yes, i voted, G...but apparently your MOM didn't!). we would sit in my room, a dorm that was twice the size, if not three times as large as any other dorm on campus--no exaggeration. having that space was enough. filling that space with scattered pieces of me; smoking weed and toppling over valuable electronic equipment while boys tried on my clothes (what was his name again?); reading the dictionary; playing Total Eclipse of the Heart and Making Love out of Nothing at All over and over and over again to just figure out what the fuck they were saying in that one part. these things were enough.

i think now, i still have enough. my dog. my job. that cute guy i know i'll never have, but knowing i have power over him regardless. my students--sometimes. but why is it less strengthening to be alive as you grow older? i refuse to become a cynic, and i still take joy in a pretty sky or something else equally metaphysical.

i'm not looking for the answer to life or to fulfill some destiny. i think that crap is for dramatic people. generally those kind of people annoy the shit out of me. so i guess that means that i'm not really looking for much. a family would be nice. continuous laughter would be pleasant.

my things that keep me feeling like i have enough are now things, not silly ideas in a young woman's head. my foolishness is there, but it's matched with bills. my smiles are strong, but more inhibited. clothes are not silly anymore. movies not so transcending. there are more important things to consider. there are people to impress. things to do.