Sunday, July 5, 2009

Unstructured Rage

All I can say:


Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I'm thinking there needs to be a new class at the University of Michigan. This class will be called Luck 340: the way the world works.

I'm very tired of learning about how society is structured to oppress people, or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, how we need to Get A Good Job so that we can Make Lots of $$ and Have A Good Life. I have an intense need right now to duct tape everyone's mouths, tie their hands behind their backs, throw 'em in my jimmy, and take 'em to my family. There, I'd show them the truth.

Look, here's my grandparents. Society was not structured to oppress them. They are white. They are middle/working class. They are Americans. And yet, two sons dead. My grandma suffered a heart attack, breast/skin cancer, and a stroke, because of their deaths. My grandpa was just diagnosed with ALS.

Then I'd tie these twerps back up and take 'em to my parents' house.

Look, here's my dad. He was poor, but he Got A Good Job, Made Lots of $$, and Has A Good Life. His son has cystic fibrosis. Money can not cure cystic fibrosis. Nothing can cure cystic fibrosis.


There would be a second course. It would be called Luck 490: livin' and likin' it. It wouldn't be that hard. I wouldn't tie people up and haul them places, we'd just laugh and drink some rum and coke. We'd garden with my grandparents and build furniture with my dad. We'd go on long walks with my mom and push ourselves farther than we needed to go. And we'd take a lot of advice from my boyfriend, and skip a lot of these classes to take a much-needed rest, or drive around town with the windows rolled down.

And if we got a ticket, we'd just blame it on luck.

Monday, March 30, 2009

This, as usual, probably only applies to me

The quiet moment when light hits his face and you can turn into yourself, form yourself through that light and suddenly your laughing, in a room, at a party, and you understand the power in your head thrown back, laughing, not only because you look so childlike and sweet, but because you have spoken, and others are speaking with you. That is all there is to life. There has to be a connection between all these thoughts. I can’t just move on without a garden, a poem, or a well-intentioned smile. I don’t know what drives other people, but I had momentarily forgot this about myself.

But you can drive anywhere and you can follow directions and end up in places you’ve never been before and there is a success to that. And that is beautiful. But there are so many ties to that one thing, and you can never be happy if you are proud simply to move through the road. You have to put bounds to your thoughts and you have to see the world through beams of light because that is what is beautiful and you want to acknowledge that. You want life to have power, to have meaning, and without that inspiration, you feel like you are driving yourself into a wall of nothing. Grandparents dying. Friends leaving. No promise of any future. But when you pass a cornfield on your drive, and suddenly the morning shifts and it is no longer damp blue, but the orange glow of new morning, you know that everything is settling into place...the dust in the ground beneath the corn, your face peering into the future of the longer road. It is important, I think.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Social Capital

At the moment I am supposed to be reading about whether or not social historians should include social capital in their eternal analyzing of history or if they should just simply wait for the fad to pass. I haven't gotten to the answer yet, and all I can think about is the new cash register at work.

Its very strange. I've dreamt about this cash register repeatedly. First, I dreamt that we were getting a new one, before I even knew that it was coming. Then, as I was gone for spring break, and they were installing the new cash register, I constantly had dreams that I messed up on it, that everything was amiss because the buttons were in the wrong place.

And they are. They are also ON THE SCREEN! You have to "sign in" to the cash register by a finger scan. Its crazy. I doubt many people want to steal Mia Za's money, but for some reason the register will not let me operate it unless I give it the finger. Because, of course, every time I used my pointer finger it replied with "access denied". Apparently, my pointer fingerprint is unreadable. Though, I'm secretly glad I get to flip it off every time I sign in to work.

But its bizarre. Social capital relates to the assets we have by joining social organizations, the types of advantages we get by being associated with different groups. Everyone was depressed today at work, when I tried to smile at them, the corners of their lips lifted in a droopy, halfhearted way. I was sad too. And it was sunny and warm out! It was beautiful, one of the most clear days we've had all winter.

I think our time is up. As a group, we've run out of energy. Our jokes are turning into complaints; our suggestions for each other are wearing at our shoulders and grinding against our skulls. Its too much. There have been too many changes and the benefits we used to enjoy are dwindling fast.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Please Excuse My Last Post

It comes off as a tiny bit snobbish. What I mean to say, simply, is that I am finally closer to "getting it", the way my mom has been my entire life. I am glad.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Same Thoughts I'm Usually Thinking

Its very comforting, this silence. I don’t know what I am trying to prove. In becoming my mother, I have pretty much destroyed all shreds of intelligence I have left. And its not like she isn’t smart. Because of course! of course! I know she knows things--she can feel a person’s true intentions from a mile away--but it is the grammar behind the thing that has really got me.

And the problem is that I always prided myself on my grammar and my four hundred dollar words and I can see the sparks of this literarymind fly off of my mom’s blond head and so I guess mine, though its brown and not nearly as joyous, is also sparking off big words and the correct grammar on days when the hatchet decides to strike. Not usually. Usually I can feel my cold feet sunk in the colder mud and I’m saying words I know don’t exist. But I like ‘em. I like the way they feel against my tongue and through my teeth chattering--because its cold, y’know? And I have to say something. Might as well say what’s easiest.

Its strange, though. I can feel the division. Some people know me as this girl I guess we all used to be. (Me, my mother, my grandmother.) Correct spelling, the brain churning in all the right spots. My siblings always made fun of me for reading too much. Now the new people see me in a different light and it doesn’t match up, parts of me are shining through two different stained glass windows. I don’t know.

I feel more honest now.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Ambition

You can have a warm garden with a light kitchen and three apples resting in the fruit bowl
if that is what you want
water dripping from the faucet
and so many people have this life
want this life
need this life
It seems almost mundane in its universality.
And yet,
I want to drink coffee in the golden afternoon and laugh and laugh and laugh.

Friday, January 30, 2009


I’ve been thinking a lot about strangers. About walking into a dark room, three strangers sprawled out on a couch. Your friend introduces you. You might never see them again. Here they are, these strangers, and that moment is perfection. You’re wearing a sweater. The girl on the right is wearing a similar sweater. You are similar. Her grey hair falls across her grainy cheek. You don’t know much else. The boy is sleepy. He yawns.
Strangers are so different than the rest of us. You can never enter their world. When you press ‘sandwich’ on the cash register, and the woman--Tina--on the other side of the counter smiles, all you know about her is that she looks like the type of woman that will find the exact change--$5.29--so you don’t bother with getting a penny, two quarters and two dimes out of the cash register. She leaves to fill her water cup.
I like dim lights and sweaters. I was warm once, inside the home of my first boyfriend’s grandma. It was December and her Christmas tree lights were the same as my great-grandma’s. I didn’t know his grandmother. I couldn’t talk about knitting and that was everything to her. She wasn’t very good at it and the scarves she made were ugly. Yet here we were--and she was still a stranger to me--and all I could feel was the same homesickness I felt at my great-grandmother’s. My great-grandmother lived on a lake and her house felt green and moldy and old. I was young and I thought, “We go here every year before Christmas” because that was what all the adults were saying but I didn’t remember much besides sliding across the lake in my new black shoes. My cousin had ice skates.
Are we born into a world of strangers? We can’t know but we can feel. I was born into a world of bright light and warmth. I was jaundice and they kept me under a bright light to take the yellow out of my skin. My favorite color is yellow. I lived with my grandparents and my mother and father. My father snuck beers within the shelving of his headboard. My mother cried because she I was jaundice and she laughed because I was her baby. My grandparents’ house still feels like home. They were never strangers. I grew through their home to the homesickness I feel today.
I like to create new strangers. I like to feel myself new to the world bright and blinding like sun on snow. I like old strangers. I like the familiarity of Tina as she enters Za’s to buy her sandwich and sit in the corner chewing methodically. She doesn’t know my name but she smiles at me when I ring her up. I like finding myself through the glimmer of strangers’ Christmas tree lights and warm sweaters. And I like that the dim light and warmth of others’ comforters reminds me of the perfection of my own dim light and warm comforter.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

To be alive, Today

I'm so happy to be alive today. I was so tired this morning, rising, early, for class. My bed was so warm, my boyfriend was still asleep, snug, I did not want to shake myself, cold, from my covers and arrive tired into the dim, cold morning, alone. January 20, 2009. I had to get up today.

It was still cold when I walked the bright, clean path between my morning class and work. I shivered when I stepped inside Za's. My glasses did not fog up with the warmth of the restaurant as they usually did, the restaurant was almost as cold as outside. My manager was worried today, not that many customers were showing up. He couldn't understand why. I knew why. Who would come to eat chicken alfredo and greek salad when they could be watching Obama's speech? When they could see our president stand in front of a flushed, earnest crowd, eagerly anticipating the words of a new era?

And so with little food to cook, I had to clean. I thought "this is a historic day" as I scrubbed rotted banana bits off the floor behind the smoothie freezer. I thought "this is a historic day" as I wiped clean the pipes of the front sink. I thought "this is a historic day" as I swept the basement of months' worth of dirt and lint and grime.

I just watched Obama's inaugural speech. Not live, by myself, cold, in my bed. I am so happy, to be alive, today, to have froze this morning on my way to class, to have warmed my stiff hands on a hot rag in the back of an Italian restaurant, to have gone through the mediocre motions of my mediocre life and known that the world was turning in an inspirational way, and that all around me, others were also happy.