Archive for March, 2010

“April, I feel you leaving.” (Reprise, Cadaveric Spasm, & Cutting the Cord)

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

“I guess you want your keys back,” he finished.

“I was afraid you’d say that,” I said. Whatever force was barely holding me together gave way, and I fell apart. “This is stupid, I’m going to go.” I stood up, as did he.

“No, uh, I…” His words sounded disbelieving, but not as if he didn’t want to let me go. It was more as if he didn’t want to let me go like that.

“I can’t do this,” I told him.

We hugged tightly.  That moment was the only thing that felt real that day.  The embrace was so strong that had I died right then, it may have resulted in a cadaveric spasm.

(During a death happening under extremely physical circumstances with intense emotion, a cadaveric spasm may occur. It is a rare form of muscular stiffening which is sometimes seen in cases of drowning victims when grass, weeds, or roots are clutched just prior to expiration. A cadaveric spasm often crystallizes the last activity one did prior to death and is therefore significant in forensic investigations, e.g. holding onto a knife tightly.)

“If you ever need anything, you can call me,” I managed to say through relentless tears.

“If you ever need anything, will you call me?” he asked.

I knew I couldn’t. I needed to cut the cord. “Probably not,” I replied honestly.

The walk home was horrible. Quinn said she would come over, and my roommate Jayme abandoned the gym to buy me cupcakes and head back to the apartment. When they arrived separately, I was sitting on the sofa in my sunglasses drinking Chambord, vodka, and soda.

So it goes in life that those wounds have healed and turned to scars while others have opened.

I’ve begun to realize that one can never really cut the cord. It’s less an act of severing and more a matter of participation.  Although cliché, there is sometimes a slow, subtle game in progress that can start even before the first kiss.   One opponent gracefully places the ball into the other player’s court, allowing him/her the option of passing it back or kicking it out of bounds and walking away. Even when choosing the latter, most can’t help but look back, and his/her adversary may wonder if the exit from the court is to find the ball and put it back into play, or if the game is over.

Additionally, some may teeter between acknowledging the want for a constant match and accepting that the self is better off alone. However, the second might not be so much a realization as opposed to a means of self-preservation; a self-convinced thought.

Lately when contemplating these matters, my mind only sees shades of gray.

Like the other night when Stacy and I were discussing a more recent romantic plight. “Do you want him to be your boyfriend?” she asked me.

“I mean, it’s just not that black and white anymore,” I told her. “I want to be with someone who wants to be with me.”

I wonder if I’ll ever truly understand these things.  Mostly, I just don’t know what to do.  Ever.

(I don’t know what silence means. It could mean anything. – P.J. Harvey, “April” Listen.)

“April, I feel you leaving.”

Monday, March 29th, 2010

I remember the day that I ended it.

Like every year, I had gone to Maine for the time surrounding July 4th. When I returned, he made no attempt to see me. After a few days, I texted him. My message claimed that I was going to be in his neighborhood Friday afternoon and would love to stop by and say hello. This was a lie. I couldn’t bring myself to say I needed to “talk” to him.

That Friday the weather was hot, and I walked slowly to his apartment. My iPod was playing “April” off of the new P.J. Harvey and John Parish album. Quinn and I were texting each other. I asked her if I was doing the right thing. She, along with most of my close friends, had been listening to my insecurities about the relationship for too long. “Yes,” she replied, “It’s time to revive Summer Ashleigh! There are plenty of other guys out there to screw our lives up.”

So I kept walking. My sunglasses masked the fact that I was crying. At one point, a man leaned out his car window when I was crossing the street. “Great dress. You look beautiful,” he assured me. It was nice to hear. It’s always nice to hear.

I smiled and said thank you, and I kept walking. This had been a long time coming, and I knew that. To this day I can’t understand why I held on for so long to someone that didn’t seem to want to be with me.

My trek was over. I knocked on his door.

“Hey!” he greeted me happily.

“Hi. I brought this stuff for you.” My voice cracked as I handed him a bag of random things he had left at my apartment. He could tell that something was wrong.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, I just, I need to use your restroom,” I replied. Once safely inside the lavatory, I tried to compose myself.

“Um, you’re worrying me,” he called from the other room.

When I emerged, I took a seat on his sofa. He gave me a beer and sat on the chair across from me.

I took a deep breath. “I can’t… do this anymore,” I said as I gestured between us.  I could barely look at him, so I stared at the wall and poured my heart out.

I’m not sure how long I spoke.  I remember saying that I considered simply never calling him and letting the whole thing die, but I thought what we had deserved some sort of ending. Also, I knew it was inevitable that we would run into each other, and I wanted to avoid what I now know was unavoidable awkwardness. I told him he didn’t need to say anything, and honestly I didn’t expect much.

“No, I feel like I should say something,” he started. “I guess I have been a little… reckless,” he said. He seemed unaffected and loveless on every level.

reckless – (adjective) utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless

“Look you don’t owe me an explanation,” I reminded him.  There was a moment of silence.

“So,” he began, and for a moment I thought he might say something of significance, words that might give worth to the previous eight months of confusion. A statement to remind me he cared. Anything genuine to make me feel a little less stupid.

“I guess you want your keys back,” he finished.

Things That Were Said (Vol. 3)

Friday, March 26th, 2010

“What’s the deal with the quote posts lately? Bit lazy, dontcha think?”

“I don’t know how to control you.”

“Tall guys have smelly feet.  Fact.”

“She was too good looking to not kiss.”

“I’d rather fuck a gay man than someone who’s high all the time.”

“Luckily I used shave minimizing creme, so I won’t have to shave my hands for a while.”

“That felt so rad.  It rattled my esophagus.”

“I know that someone’s not a good person when they like Kelly over Brenda.”

“She hasn’t had sex in seven years.  That’s enough to declare someone legally dead, or married.”

“Saving the world, one six-pack ring at a time.”

“You hate your life, I love onion rings.”

“Maybe her house was on fire when she got dressed this morning.  Then it’s acceptable.”

“I can’t relate to people who don’t watch LOST.”

“Some prostitutes jog.”

“I like it like this: leather jacket weather.”

“Why don’t you go hang out at the museums, libraries, and banks?  That’s where you meet quality men.”

“It’s supposed to be fun.”

“Dude, the mountains are blue.  That means it’s cold.”

“I wonder if kids in Japan get tattoos of English things on them.”

“When I leave you, I’m going to get Gatorade.”

“I used to hook up with a kid on Orchard Street, and then I would come here and eat pizza.”

“I was at the concert they filmed for Dawsen’s Creek.  It was the only time I ever punched someone.”

“I kind of want to eat your burp.”

“Nap?  You want to take a nap?  What are you, 80?”

“Funner is radder than more fun.”

“Is my McSwiggin’s still on?”

“That was epic.  She ruined everything.”

“She fell in love with his calves, lips, and love letters.”

“I’m still not really sure what happened.”

A Harmless Aversion

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

We may hate people merely because of what we take to be their character… Moreover, anger can be cured by time; but hatred cannot… The angry man wants his victims to feel; the hater does not mind whether they feel or not… [The angry man] would have the offenders suffer for what they have done; [the hater] would have them cease to exist. – Aristotle

We see by experience that the best people, if they are obliged to hate someone, become malicious by degrees; for even if their hatred is just, they so often call to mind the evils they receive from their enemy, and the evils they wish him, that they become gradually accustomed to malice… Hatred is always accompanied by sadness and grief. – Descartes

I don’t know why I hate her, I just do. – anonymous (and many)

Have you ever had an enemy? Someone that you needed to hate? Very powerful, isn’t it? – John Locke/Man in Black (LOST Season 6, Episode #8)

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. – Sun-tzu (Chinese General & military strategist)

It is fact that Someone can hate Another, even if Another has done no direct harm to Someone.  Someone may be biased because of Another’s actions if Someone feels indirectly hurt by them.  Additionally, this selective hatred can come simply from distrust of Another even when Another has given no reason to not be trusted.  Other possible reasons for this kind of hatred may be jealousy or insecurity.

I feel this way about an individual.  I hate that I hate this person.  A few of my close friends hate this person as well, though they can’t find explanation.  I’m slightly biased for reasons that will remain unsaid, but still, I don’t stand behind my rationale as being sound.  Often I wonder what this person feels towards me, if anything at all.

However, I do believe that if these ill feelings were not focused on this particular human, they would likely be redirected to another.  It reminds me of the Mark Twain quote – “Some of the worst things in my life have never happened.”  I can’t stop thinking that the moment I look away, the ugly truth around this supposedly unjustified hatred will pummel its steel fist right into my chest and saunter off laughing.

So it’s possible my hatred stems from paranoia.  Or maybe I’m just fucking bat-shit crazy.

In either case, this aversion is mostly harmless.  It’s only a burden on myself, a burden that you may find relatable.  Perhaps we just need a little love to distract us.

Drenched In Gasoline

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

In an attempt to account for a recent act of metaphorical arson, I have been researching applicable criminal defenses that may mentally acquit me of guilt.

First, I looked to the temporary insanity plea. This is a defense by the accused that he/she was briefly insane at the time the crime was committed and therefore was incapable of knowing the nature of his/her alleged act. One difficulty with a temporary insanity defense is the problem of proof, since any examination by psychiatrists has to be after the fact, so the only evidence must be the conduct of the accused immediately before or after the crime. Before acts of incendiarism I am often drinking, and afterwards eventually crying. By my own admission, this is more emotional instability than temporary insanity.

However, some states no longer make a distinction between a temporary insanity plea and an insanity plea. A person may make a plea of not guilty by means of insanity or diminished capacity, and then use evidence that the altered mental state was one of a temporary nature during sentencing. (Diminished capacity, also know as diminished responsibility, is an abnormality of the mind – a disorder resulting from a condition of arrested or retarded development, any inherent causes, disease, or injury.) Because the only diseases and disorders I have are made-up and self-diagnosed, general insanity and diminished capacity do not seem befitting to my situation.

Another defense used in criminal trials is intoxication. (Note that intoxication in itself does not constitute diminished responsibility. If the defendant is intoxicated, the jury must consider whether his/her responsibility would still have been impaired had he/she been sober. For example, if a man kills his wife while suffering from depression combined with the effects of alcohol, the jury must decide whether it was depression or intoxication that was the substantial cause of the man’s state of mind.)

As I am confident that I do not suffer from depression (with the exception of the days following heartbreak or the anticipation of LOST ending), I consider the likeliness that intoxication reared its ugly head and annihilated my acumen.

Yet intoxication as a defense is only feasible if the consumption was involuntary, e.g., if the defendant had consumed punch at a party that, unbeknownst to him/her, was spiked with gin. As much as I want to apply involuntary intoxication to the amount of shots that appear before me at my neighborhood bar, the tribunal in my mind does not concur.

So this brings me to the defense of provocation. In criminal law provocation is a possible defense alleging a sudden or temporary loss of control as a response to another’s influential conduct. I have been feeling rebelliously confused lately, and I am certain that this tumult is not unjustified. That is to say, I did not confuse myself, but I did allow myself to become confused.

After acknowledging the circumstances along with the behavior of those directly and indirectly involved, I am often an arsonist stimulated; provoked. Unfortunately, I seem to walk around drenched in gasoline, and I gravitate towards the people who spark.

“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.” (Reprise)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

I get this itch to write whenever something is troubling me, though not actually to write about the situation which is imposing on my contentment.

So, while I organize those thoughts before indirectly purging them onto this blog, I would like to return to the topic of drunk-texting. In the past week, I have discovered two ways around this illness. The first is a sort of medication, the second, a cure.

  1. Use your international keyboards. (This may only be available to iPhone users, but if you think it may help you with your ailment, I recommend contacting your cell phone provider or user’s manual.)  On your iPhone, go to Settings -> General -> Keyboard -> International Keyboards.  Choose a language with different characters than those on the English keyboard, like Macedonian or Thai.  Slide from the “off” position to the “on” position.  Now, return to your home screen and open a new text message.  On the bottom of your keyboard, between the “123” button and the space bar, you will see a button with a globe on it.  Pressing this button will allow you to flip through whichever international keyboards you have activated.  When you get the urge to drunk-text someone, simply type nonsense in another language.  That way, you can’t say anything specific that you may regret the next day.  After testing this with friends, we learned that some non-iPhone users are unable to receive these foreign messages, while all iPhone users (even if they do not have their international keyboards activated) will receive the texts.  Either way, you’re saving face.
  2. Delete certain contacts from your phone. Before exercising this method, I suggest that you either write down the contact’s phone number and leave it at home, or be sure that a friend has it in case of a (sober) emergency.  Then, delete the person from your phone that, for whatever reasons, you do not think you should be drunk-texting.  Be sure to also remove from your phone any previous text correspondence, or else drunk-you might find the unlabeled phone number and begin texting.  I find this to be the more successful but unfortunately the more difficult of the two options presented here.  However, when considering friendship, dating, and love, I am starting to think that if you feel you shouldn’t be drunk-texting someone, maybe you shouldn’t be texting him/her at all.

“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.”

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

“I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone.” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five

I’ve been drunk-texting a lot lately. More often than not, I wake the next day with the urge to text the recipient and apologize.  But I don’t.

It reminds me of a few months ago when I was at the duck talking to someone whom I had wronged years before.  She was never a close friend, rather a much-liked, often-encountered acquaintance.  In any case, I have never felt as much regret and guilt as I did over this betrayal.  At one point she asked me why I did it, and I said that there was no excuse; I messed up, and I could never take it back.

Much like a drunk text – once the message is sent, it cannot be retrieved; once the knife is in one’s back, the scar is inevitable. The text may be reviewed and shared among many; she found out what I had done, and I don’t doubt that others were told, too.

I remember the day she forgave me. We ran into each other at McCarren Pool, and she hugged me and said, “Grudges are for assholes. See you soon.”

But I digress, for this was not the conversation that I intended on talking about. On that particular day (a few months ago), we were discussing apologies in relation to drunk words spoken both aloud and via text.  She had decided to stop sending day-after-damage-control texts.

“What I’m saying is real,” she said. “I won’t apologize. I’m done apologizing.”

I’m done apologizing too. Not to friends for when I’m an asshole, but for how I feel or any awkwardness that I project. I won’t say I’m sorry for giving honesty,even when unrequested, or for drunk-texting regardless of how many candid thoughts or meaningless misspellings my message may contain.

It could be that drunk-texts are simply a way of saying “I’m thinking about you.” Or perhaps Vonnegut was right; maybe it is a disease.

Tsantsa (How To Make A Shrunken Head)

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The Shuar people of Ecuador believed that when one of their people died, the individual’s death was probably the result of the sorcery of his enemies in the neighboring Achuar village.

Once the killer’s identity was determined by a shaman under the influence of a hallucinogenic drink, a family member of the victim would hunt down the enemy, kill him, and perform a tsantsa (head-shrinking) ceremony. But these were not trophies of war for the Shuar people – they believed that the enemy’s spirit could be trapped inside of the tsantsa preventing the soul from avenging its death.

A few months ago at the Mütter Museum in Philly, Andrea observed that the tsantsa on display had very nice hair. I also have very nice hair. It is with this consideration, along with my current financial state, that has led me to consider selling my head after my body’s natural death to someone wishing to partake in the process of head-shrinking.

Below are instructions on how to make your very own tsantsa, although I urge you not to seek out the head of your enemy, as this would be frowned upon in most places.

Supplies:

a human head
a scalpel
a needle and fine thread
pins (straight or safety)
a butter knife
a boiling pot
stones
sand
a machete
decorative, thick string (for the final sealing of the lips)

Instructions:

  1. Make an incision on the back of the neck, and carefully cut up the rear of the head, allowing the skin to be peeled from the skull.  Delicately remove the skull and discard it.
  2. Sew the eyes shut with a fine fiber.  Skewer the lips shut with pins.
  3. Remove any fat from the inside flesh of the head with a butter knife.
  4. Using a boiling pot, simmer the skin for approximately an hour.  (If you leave it on for any longer, the hair may fall out.)
  5. Once removed from the pot, the head should be dark and rubbery and approximately 1/3 of its original size.  After allowing it to dry in the sun, turn the skin inside out and scrape off any adhering flesh with the knife.
  6. Turn the head right side out again, and sew the slit in the back together.  What remains should be similar in texture to an empty rubber glove.
  7. Heat up some stones.  To further shrink the head and to burn off any excess fat inside, drop the hot stones into the neck one at time while constantly rotating them to prevent scorching.
  8. When the head becomes too small for the stones to be rolled around in it, heat up some sand and work with it as you did with the stones, making sure to get the crevices of the nose and ears where the stones were too small to reach.
  9. Massage the skin to help with drying and to mold it back into a head-shape.
  10. Repeat this process until the head is about a quarter of its original size.  (This can take up to six days.)
  11. Apply hot stones to the exterior of the face to seal the shape and features.  Hang the finished product over a fire to harden.  Heat a machete and touch it to the lips to fully dry them.
  12. Once hardened, remove the pins from the lips and replace them with dangling string of your choice.  You may now decorate the head and style the hair as you wish.

If you are interested in making an offer to purchase my head, please contact me.  I have no worries about the trapping of my spirit, as I believe she resides in my sock drawer.  However she does take monthly visits to the shoe containers under my bed to see what’s new.  (My spirit loves a great pair of shoes.)

Tsantsa (shrunken head) (above)

Tar & Turpentine

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Recently upon waking in the morning I have been lying in bed with my thoughts. Some days I feel like I’m bound to my mattress, and others I feel like I’m being pulled by my ankles. Sometimes I feel completely lost even though I know right where I lay.

Today I was feeling crushed, and I was thinking about the old folktale of Br’er Rabbit and the Tar Baby.

The gist of the story goes something like this: Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear construct a doll out of tar and turpentine. They intend to trap Br’er Rabbit with it. Br’er Fox and Br’er Bear set the Tar Baby up alongside the road, and then they hide behind a bush and wait for Br’er Rabbit to pass.

When Br’er Rabbit comes down the road, he addresses the “baby”, which of course offers no response. Br’er Rabbit becomes offended and he punches the Tar Baby. In doing so, he gets stuck to it. The more he struggles, the more entangled he becomes.

In modern usage, “tar baby” refers to any “sticky situation” that is only aggravated by additional contact. The only way to solve such a situation is by separation.

I’m very confused lately. It’s as though I hugged the Tar Baby, and each time my body shifts the more entangled I become. Yet at the same time, I enjoy the debilitating embrace. With every move I make in its arms it is harder to separate myself, but most days my ruin seems worth the feeling I get from adjusting to touch its hair or kiss its cheek.

I’m afraid of what will happen to me if I do remove myself, and I’m afraid of what will happen to me if I don’t. Maybe the Tar Baby is just as stuck to me as I am to it. Or maybe I’m just too weak to pull away.

Things That Were Said (Vol. 2)

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

“I was monchichi-ed on him.”

“What works better than ‘go away’?”

“Are you Hugh Grant? Why do you have such floppy hair?”

“We defenestrated it.”

“Chambord tastes like my broken heart.”

“For years and years I thought Omaha was a state.”

“Can’t you eat whipped cream and look at the same time?”

“Sometimes shaking people into submission isn’t a bad thing.”

“We needed an enforced post-coital separation.”

“Before a good battle, I like to have a bowl of pasta.”

“You can’t live in a vacuum with someone.”

“That guy makes me hope that when scientists say if you wear tight pants you can’t have children, it’s true.”

“You should just go to YouTube and look up farts.”

“I need to wash my face.”
“I need to wash my soul.”

“I’m going to have a seizure because I keep smelling pickles.”

“You shot a cow!”

“The samurai doesn’t whip out the sword unless he’s gonna use it.”

“Are you running from the law?”
“What did you say about LOST?”

“She took $100 bill, stuffed it in the waiter’s mouth, and said ‘shut the fuck up bitch’.”

“I just don’t know what to do about it.”