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Murphys Pt. 1

I’m in what everybody calls limbo. They ask me what I’m going to do next and I say I don’t know and they say that this is limbo. But I’ve been in limbo for at least seven years if not longer. Limbo probably started when I left Adam and moved overseas to teach English, but it may have started even before that when I got my undergraduate degree in Literature and moved to the country with Adam. The Limbo, from Oregon to Korea back to Oregon and then to California, followed me around like a stray puppy dog. It begged to be noticed and fed and understood. I never understood it, but it wouldn’t go away and here it was being verbally returned to me because everyone else could see it again. For three years I was off the hook. For three years I was back in academia getting my postbacc degree and my masters in fine arts at a small private school off of curvy Lombard St in San Francisco. For three years I studied photography and conceptual art, I got a DUI and I moved three times, and I quit my job at the running shoe store, and I started smoking again, and I became even more of a hermit relying on social media as my contact with the outside world separate from the classroom. 

 

The first of those three years I replaced my obsession with a coworker with a fairly miserable affair with a boy who I was positive was gay. I accused him of being gay and he proved to me that this wasn’t the case, though I later decided he was bi. And after him there was my friend’s boyfriend, but he had assured me that they were broken up and that she had cheated on him. Later he accused me of ruining his life and being the reason she nearly committed suicide on her birthday. After that I was raped. I guess it was a pretty lousy few years. They ended with graduation, and I walked across the old theater stage in a flowery dress, and watched as a boy with a fifth grader’s science project quality MFA show won best in show from our final exhibition, and watched as the main alpha dog of our class got up and gave a ten minute mundane speech about passion and commitment to our practice as artists. Twenty minutes later I was far away from all of the students, and except for an an hour one afternoon a week later to clear out the remaining trash in my studio, I was free and far away from everyone I had blissfully ignored this past year from school. The closest I had made to a friend was a girl who needed a ride to the graduate exhibition the last week. 

 

Undergraduate was somehow a polar opposite experience and yet also very much the same. I was still a hermit, completely flattened over my bed, staring at the ceiling, and hiding from people, stoned and melancholic. That was five years of undergrad. The most outgoing was freshman year in the dorms when I bought a two-cd set of love and kindness meditations and made an intense effort to be sociable and find my clique. I did find them, and we four girls started an online journal called “poop in my butt” and each of us had nicknames of a similar embarrassing nature, and from there we created and dramatized the freshman year experiences for our online readership and for our scrapbooks and our later retellings subsequent years when we split into different houses and boyfriends and branches of friendships. We remained good friends until the very end of undergrad, when two of the girls moved to Portland, and one moved to California and I stayed in the country with Adam. This was when I first decided to be a hermit. Adam told me that I needed to  be dead to the world. It was a concept meshed somewhere between Sri Aurobindo and Osho, and further enhanced by my recent class in Middle English Mysticism and the Cloud of Unknowing. I needed to close all my doors and burn all my bridges, and need for nothing, and become detached. And as I burned bridges and cut ties I placed all those cut ties around Adam, and cinched him closer to me, and together we worked and lived and made love and argued and fought for a year, side by side. At the end of the year he said he needed to live alone and I became upset and my restlessness and fear of ending up further entangled with someone who could never imagine marrying me sent me all the way to Korea where I taught children how to speak english better, or at least how to talk about recycling and global warming in english, and how to smile on camera, and conduct an interview from a tree. 

 

In Korea I practiced being a hermit without a boyfriend. I shaved my head and wore a hat to school. I fell into a LOST marathon depression, curbed only by this new passion for photography and LOST and reading. I took bus trips to Seoul. I ran to the center of town and ate street food and bought cheap shirts with english writing on them from the local department stores. When the year was over and my contract completed I backpacked southeast asia, and then I flew back to Oregon and had sex with Adam and returned to this emotional limbo that echoed what I had been living inside. This was the beginning of a more externalized limbo. I no longer looked near marriage. I no longer had close friends or a job that could lead to a career or even made sense (I began working in computer sales and later running shoes). I no longer had a place that really felt like home. From Portland to New Jersey to Berkeley, California, I ran away from one mistake and into another that seemed like a potential something. 

 

There’s nothing nearly so aggravating as someone telling you what you already know, and telling it to you like it’s going to be a great lesson and that this major insight will change your life. Because they don’t know that this is what everyone says. About love. About finding something. About settling down but not settling. That everyone says these things. About it all happening when you least expect it and not to sell out but not to wait and not to expect too much. Everyone says these contradictory things and they are all stemming from what we’ve told through contradictions of dreams and reality our whole lives. 

 

School ended for the last time and my parents came to watch my graduation. The one boy I had thought was cute in our whole 100-person class said hello in the long warehouse hall the last day I cleaned my last pile of photos and frames from the studio. He said Hi and I said Hello as a Bye and Goodbye, and that was the end of a chapter. I even said as much on Facebook: “This is the end of a chapter” and my friend asked what was next and if I might return to Portland. I joked that the weather was better and that the people were too, and from that my crazy cousin lost her mind again and de-friended me. Is that even a real word? So another bridge burned, a flimsy one made of old twine that needed to go and fall into the river and be washed away along with the pretentious boys from my class and the timid professors and the spaced out narcissists. 

 

Limbo is a series of fragments and distractions. It’s procrastination and moments of intense awareness and truth. It’s loneliness and clarity and desire. It’s little moments where you forget where you are and stare at a little green bug for fifteen minutes. It’s mistakes. It’s sleeping with a boy you met from the internet and wanting so bad for it to be destiny and getting mad when you know it isn’t. It’s panicking when all of the general goals you had are finished and not knowing where or how to create a new goal. It’s sitting over the sunset. It’s fearing meeting someone else who will try to cut all your ties and burn all your bridges and consume you completely. It’s realizing that there are no bridges left to burn. That’s one Limbo anyway. That’s my Limbo. 

 

I moved to Calaveras County. Every American knows the name Calaveras. You may not remember why but you do. It’s from a short story by Mark Twain, The Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County. If you go to the little town of Angels Camp you’ll see plaques from all the winning frogs who jumped the farthest distance each year. The whole historic downtown is covered in them. The town I moved to is even smaller. It’s covered in wine tasting rooms and clovers instead. Clovers are painted on the street like little Irish emblems. People come to get drunk and sit and enjoy the sunset over glasses of wine and tapas. I moved to a hilltop looking over the vineyards. This isn’t a story about being in Limbo, but a story of moving to a small town three hours east of San Francisco. 

 

Irma helped Buttercup farms find this house. She said she found the house and it was basically her house and she would be damned if anyone would steal it from her. She didn’t really say it like that. She smiled and looked at me condescendingly. She’s tall so she looked down at me and told me about he previous tenants who nearly ruined it. She was worried about my cat. “We’ve never had a cat here before. Your dog is okay but your cat has to stay in your room.” “But she’s an outside cat most of the time. She liked to go in and out.” “You have to keep her in your room and take her out yourself.” I opened the window a crack. At 5:30 in the morning she woke me eyes wide in panic. There was a grey wolf she said, and it had something in its mouth. “Is your cat inside??” “I don’t know. What time is it?” I went back to bed and my cat came in the window half an hour later. It had been a coyote. Two coyotes actually. An owl was hooting. Or maybe it was a dog howling. It was hard to tell. Maybe it was a coyote. I couldn’t sleep. 

 

Irma went back to her husband and her actual house in Oakland. She would be back again a few days later to check up on everything. For the farm. For her house. She wanted to make sure everything wasn’t ruined. But I spent these days alone in solitary bliss. I swatted mosquitoes. I drank beer and watched shows and got a P.O. box and a bottle of expensive red wine that smelled like blackberries. 

 

If you walked around at night with all of the lights turned off you could see Saturn and Mars and the sky looked like a giant black wall speckled with white paint. It looked a little like my old studio floor, and I downloaded an app for the stars and tried to learn their names. I unpacked my keyboard and guitar and record player and surrounded myself with music. I practiced with violin and the harmonica. I studied french. Mom called and asked me when I was going to find a real job. She got excited when I applied to the Pentagon as a reporter and got an email that I was qualified and might hear back. “Tell them your parents were in the military. Did you tell them that?” “When would I have told them that? On my resume?” “Whenever you can, it will help you. Tell them about your dad’s experience with the CIA.” They emailed me the next day and said the position had been filled. I ordered a telescope and bought a state parks pass. I took my dog up to the Sierras and hiked. I bought a peanut butter cupcake. 

 

31 years old. This is when everyone I know is sharing baby pictures on Facebook. This is when I’m no longer a child but not really considered an adult. The old lady still looked down on me and frowned when I asked to redecorate. “I just want to put up my old paintings.” “Where?” I waved at all of the walls in my room. She took down the little cliche flower her husband had photographed and grimaced. “Well, that’s alright. But this is a trial period. I don’t know if you’ll be staying here. I don’t know if you’ll want to. Don’t do too much.” I took down the other flower and stored it in the closet with the ironing board. I hung the painting of the Alhambra, and the painting of the little girl with the cello. I vacuumed the worms and spiders off the carpet in all the corners. I dusted the bathroom. The mess apparently didn’t stop after the last tenants left, but Irma’s hip replacements made it hard to bend over and maybe she didn’t know about all of the worms and spiders and dust. I threw the trash out at the carwash. I left all of my extra books and clothes in the barn. 

 

Murphys, the town of wine and clovers, was first started in 1848 by the Murphy brothers who came to mine for gold. One brother made nearly 2 million in gold and left to marry and become the sheriff of San Jose. The town burned down three times. The gold disappeared. Vineyards popped up around the valley. The first nobel prize winner in Physics was born. Mark Twain visited. Hells Angels camped out. Outlaws stayed. The town had character and wine and art and culture. Little Murphys with pastel sunsets and a haunted hotel. 

 

 

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Happy Corner Space

Is anyone listening?
The Earth is crumbling
like demented old ladies,
I want the bourgeois happy meal, of pinot burning burgundy on my rooftop.
What a chuckle to find myself
Starring myself in the headlining act,
With a brightly painted light scheme,
Loud visions of tangerine,
Happy corner space calls my name,
On loud speakers, in my free wander,
My fish-out-of-water intuition,
something is crumbling, what is it?
Everything?
A crackly lisp dialect,
disjointed,
Disregard subjects,
Lift me like new knowledge,
Like when I learned what keraunothnetophobia meant
(To fear the fall of satellites),
And I flew high over heels over that ridiculous invasion
of endless stretched space, and time,
my own dimensions signified bronze tongues,
musical riffs, colorful snacks, and dinner party stiffs,
consume us.
Chronicle these nothing days,
Endless days of gamma rays,
what will get you out of bed?
Empty cycle parched by old highs,
Over-stimulated and lonely nights,
It’s a sleep-masking life.

Please see more terrific poems concerning our environment, the Gulf Coast, and people from a variety of published, old and new writers at:
http://poetsgulfcoast.wordpress.com/open-mic-k-m/

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Maybe it’s not friendship…

“I must do something or I shall wear my heart away”. (Charles Dickens) I will name the five now: Loren, Michael, Josh, Sean, Adam, and Jeremy. And the whole names to boot. It will make it easier for my self-reflection. Let’s evaluate. First there was Loren. I fell in love! Haha, this deserves a blunt list to organize my brain:
1. Loren: me 19 english/philosophy major UO, him 22 psych major UCB, coworkers at calpirg in Berkeley, he’s my instructor first day, first day he’s wearing gold shorts, flamboyant, if he’s not gay I will like him I note…he is also laughing with a girl he later was gaga over though she had a beau…sex twice, ecstasy three times, overdose once, rejection: began after initial sex, and full-blown after second time….I knew from his words I was a good lover. What was it? My bad response: calls, gaga eyes, completely smitten, annoying…
2. Michael and Josh: neither was a coworker. Josh: friend of friend, came up to me, drunk at a party, sex many times the first night, hip hop music (I was in a hip hop phase, the roots, black eyed peas…) he cut his achilles in the shower, lots of blood, stitches…I consoled him with Billie Holiday, bad luck, Me: sold guitar, gas money to visit him at Western Oregon, beach night, sex. Michael comes along: smitten immediately. Sex: 0 times. Make out, beach, hot springs, popsicles, and cigarettes not to mention lemon drops: many many. Outcome: wishy washy Josh declines, I am wrapped up in Michael. He follows me on the street on campus. Gives me a flower behind the ear. “Youre mine for the day”. We meet at the library, he passes a note of ISBN numbers. And then an email. “Want to get popsicles sometime?” I have concluded romantics can be the most devastating. He nearly gives me a heart attack at the hot tubs, my heart is beating so fast with excited romantic feelings. I nearly puke. Michael maybe meets someone then, because a decline. I’m being a weirdo. I like him alot. He knows it, and no chase. He declines more, and then beings this girl Windsor to a party. She has a high-pitched voice and is chubby. I hate. Then he sees Josh, and weird moment, (friends circle stuff). But I moved to Spain. Good thing too because I was starting to be smitten again with a friend of mine and that was getting wonky too…(“men and women can never be friends, the sex part always gets in the way” I feel jealousy from this old movie quote and how true it is for some boys)….Michael is still my friend, he writes randomly, he’s married. Josh: meh, who knows. I hear he’s married. I really could care less.
3. Sean: barely noticed him at first. As usual, he pursued me, my regular charming cashier at Sundance. Everyone liked him, that big smile, those sparkling eyes. I was indifferent. And then a night: wine, red tie, walk in the dark, stories. I always want to move slow. I absorb things slowly. I react slowly. I lose my heart and recover it slowly. But I move into these things too fast. So Sean: sex maybe 4 or 5 times. What then? His ex back in town. Post ex: less communication. Our friendship and laughs: declined. Good bike trips and parties without jealousy: 0. Me: devastated. Next step: he gets me a job there, a great place, Sundance. Only problem: he’s there. Big problem. He puts up a wall and I am no longer a friend, I am a stranger, I might as well have the ebola virus. There is no escape. Quit a great job and delusionally believe it had never happened. Or face it until things smoothed over. His friends: fuckers. The outcome: keep job and eventually notice my gaga-eyed coworker Adam. And he noticed me months earlier.
4. Adam. Charming. Weird, graduated, 26, from Illinois. Long hair. Wild. Protective. Pretty eyes. Maybe this was the first time I was in love. Me: I move into his complex o the 2nd floor, he is on the 3rd. We run into each other in the hall. I’m carrying a spatula. He is standing in the stair well and has no idea why. He comes in. For several nights we stay up til dawn talking. We make out over an algebra book. Everything is heaven. He only has to explain once that he still has feelings for the married woman coworker and that he will never marry and have kids. I still really like him. Sex, I like him more. We move in together. Fights, passion, etc. I move to Korea, my cat dies. I’m devastated. He likes a girl. The new girl at work. They close the store together now. I am alone in a foreign country. I want to die, like my cat. I curse them. And then he calls and they didn’t work out. I can use my webcam again. We talk. I return and we’re on and off for months. I’m unemployed, a nomad, lost, confused. He wants space. Visits me in Ptown once a week, once a month, never. No more. The summer is a blank one. I wanted to camp, I wanted to make love. I wanted another night on the beach. I wanted a lot, and I felt blue but not the sky, more like an early Picasso with old weathered men and poor, hungry children. I felt hungry but too tired to consume anything. Just able to walk and walk and walk as if searching for the light at the end. And the biggest consolation was that the foreign country, the year of loneliness miles away form anything familiar, was over. And my power source came in the strength I had hadfor a moment there overseas feeling solitude with peace, knowing I would return to something, and being immersed in the moment, not expecting, wanting, or wishing. Just knowing that that was all there was then, and whatever was ahead would be good, and more familiar. But this was my freedom. And no one was there to reject me. I wasn’t interested in anyone but myself; in that was a sort of peace. But a temporary, lonely one. It was a blind spot. I wanted to return and find love…
5. Jeremy. Takes me off facebook. Such a little action and so painful! But woah, let’s back up. 9 months in Portland and no job. In Thailand I had spilled tea on my keyboard. Time passed and it came back to haunt me. Kernel panic and a dead ibook, and Ian, my old boss’s neighbor sets up my new macbook pro. I love it. Aluminum. Shiny. Black keys. Backlit LCD screen. Liquid crystals. That’s beautiful. I remember this boy with longish dark locks sitting next to Ian. He seemed unapproachable. Later it’s Ian who helps get me an interview when they’re hiring, and Dan hires me right off. I meet Jeremy and he says something rude. Bad start. But then later we talk. We have things in common. And he sculpts. And I picture him sculpting me with his hands, and I want it to happen. I am determined to get to know him. Little did I know his roommate liked me and I had to maneuver around that. And then we see a play and I snap something and it irks him and I think, well that’s it. And I email him and then…he wants to hang out with me! He wants to bake cookies with me! So we do, and we talk about everything and I want to move slow but I also want him to sculpt me with his hands. And so we well, we don’t move slow. And I tell him I’m sensitive. And he says so is he. And I tell him I am picky. And he is too. And I tell him I really like him but I just came out of a confusing heartbreaking affair and things are better slow, I grow slow. So does he he says. It’s perfect. So we jump right in. Time: 1 1/2 months. Breaker: I have herpes. Who knew…I guess Adam had it. I guess I hadn’t even realized that it was a lifetime disease. it doesn’t go away and Adam had it and I now had it and I had given it. Without a single problem of my own here he was and he was a big mess. And he tried to deal. And we hung out. And we even had sex again: once. And then I don’t know, something fell apart. Something clicked. He made a decision. And on the phone he said no more. And at work he was cold. And again a wall. And I was scared. Here it was again. That inevitable hurt. That wall. That deep core of pain. I felt like I had been punched. I could barely breath. Should I quit. I couldn’t. Look at the unemployment rate. I swung back and forth between hope and hopelessness. And the hope was the worst. It was the worst. Because it was shadowed in hopelessness. And shadowed by other failures. And I’m still lonely.
But I named five guys, three coworkers. I have neglected Tynan and Colin. I have nearly forgotten oh what’s his name, Gabe, and Pablo, and honestly can’t think of the guy who took my virginity’s name at the moment (oh, ahem, Thor)…But all these I told to mosey on, and didn’t think twice. And Tynan, man I really messed him up. But wasn’t he just obsessed. Isn’t this unrequited love a sort of obsession? He had all these ideas of me and our potential, but what did he really know? ANd why did he want to be with someone who so obviously had had a change of heart. And he was a puppy dog, and it was pathetic. And so looking at it from that perspective, I might see myself more clearly and I feel like a fool. So I’ll weep in silence, and bit my tongue from now on, because this behavior, this need to just at least talk, well, it’s so unbecoming, and I am so much better than that. Plus with all these guys to think back on, I’m sure if I had played it more cool I could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak and dignity if not created more moments of free-loving adventure. And I’m not a longterm loose-skirt, and now, well with the H, I suppose I’m pretty prude until well into something, but let’s just agree to have a little more self-respect shall we, and not try to hard at the things that are not going to be…But you know, Adam really is an exception in all of this, and I’m not saying he’s the Mr. Big to my Carrie alter-ego, but he certainly has come and gone a few times and remains one of my dearest friends. Because I suppose he knows me. Maybe it’s not friendship in the normal sense of the word, but I like him in my life, he holds a part of my heart even after all of it or maybe because….and the special glimmer in his eye for me, well, that has always remained and I for him, and that’s more than I can say for some.
But back to my little lone apartment and my newish cat. Pizza and a movie for us, all right. I just guess I’m feeling the urge to get past all this and I’m disappointed that I can’t seem to yet. I want to settle down. No drama. No games. I just want a best friend/lover/dreamer/artist and lots of time in bed being lazy. Its really so simple. =)
But that’s more than enough for now, just words from a wise man:
“Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” (Albert Camus)

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