Female protester holding a sign reading DO NOT FEAR THE DARKNESS.

I live in America.

Normally when I lie in bed at night trying to go to bed I am thinking about:

  1. An embarrassing moment from seventh grade
  2. A different embarrassing moment from seventh grade
  3. What time I have to be at work tomorrow
  4. A story

Sometimes it’s the play or NaNovel or whatever I’m working on at the time; just as often it’s some silly, self-indulgent daydream. It keeps me from thinking about that other embarrassing moment  from seventh grade and it helps me get to sleep.

Since Tuesday, when I lie in bed at night I write blog posts in my head.

I am paralyzed with how much I want to write. I feel like a shaken bottle of soda, tight as a drum and likely to explode. I feel like a thundercloud.

I want to explain why I am angry at third-party voters, in a way that is compassionate and clear; at the same time, I want to explain why I am angry at third-party voters in a way that does not make nice. On Tuesday night I had several hours of panic attacks and I have not gone a day since then without starting to cry at least once. I am not in a mood to be compassionate and empathetic to others when I can’t barely keep myself together, but I also believe that speaking in languages of anger and blame changes few minds.

I want to call people to action, or perhaps scream them to action like I’m the opening victim in Jaws.

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Pictured: Disabled people, immigrants, Latin@s, Muslims, LGBTQ people, Black people, people of color, women, Jewish people, and people reliant on the ACA, among others, feeling slightly unnerved by the prospect of a Trump administration.

I want to write about why I’m wearing a safety pin, and why I’m staying off Facebook, and the bizarre, slightly unrooted sense of nihilistic freedom I sometimes feel scrolling through Twitter. Like, I should get those tattoos I’ve been thinking about for literal years! I should get a damn sleeve! I should go buy a keyboard! Why the hell not! Why put anything off anymore! Be your goddamn self, because if nothing we do matters, all that matters is what we do, and what I want to do is wear black jeans with a brown sweater and scream Green Day and Something Corporate and Indigo Girls lyrics out the car window! Whatever! Radical honesty is where it’s at, man!

 

I want to write about climate change, except even thinking about it scares me so much I can’t put words in a sentence.

I want to write a lot of poetry. I don’t think most of it will be very good poetry, I just don’t think carefully crafted argumentative essays are gonna get at my soda-pop feelings very well.

I want to yell about the electoral college and voter suppression and how none of this is actually a new problem because anti-immigrant sentiment has been strong in the USA since the Bush era and anti-Muslim sentiment has been strong in the USA since the Bush era and misogyny, misogyny, misogyny. I also want to yell about how it was not unreasonable for me to think that the country that elected Barack Obama twice could reject a man who courted white nationalists to win the presidency, was endorsed by the KKK, and just appointed an anti-Semitic alt-right zealot as his chief strategist. I don’t think it was unreasonable for me to think well of my fellow Americans. Given that Hillary Clinton appears to be winning the popular vote, as absentee ballots are counted, I don’t even think it was precisely overly optimistic.

I want to transcribe the tense, crawling feeling between my shoulderblades and the splintered mahogany weight behind my breastbone, but I don’t think the language to do so has been created yet.

I want to tell you that I love you, even in those cases where I’m mad right now.

Unless you voted for Trump. In which case I just want to know why you looked at me — a queer woman with several pre-existing health conditions — and my Latino friends, my lesbian friends, my gay friends, my trans friends, my immigrant friends, my Jewish friends, my Muslim friends, my Black friends, my disabled friends, my Native friends, every one of my friends on the fringes — and you decided we were making America less great.

Justin Kirk as Prior Walter saying I want more life.

As angry and hurt  and scared as I am, I want to end on a Kushner note. He gets me. Source.

 

Crossroad Blues

You know those days when it’s blue and bright and you’re on the road? And the signs over the highway say that if you keep going this way you’ll end up in a city you’ve always wanted to see, and you just want to step down on the gas pedal, skip your exit, and roll on south, east, west. The desire for movement sits in the empty spaces behind your solar plexus and in the skin around your eyes. It’s not that you need to escape, exactly, although the idea of escape is often appealing: it’s just that when you’re moving all you have to focus on is the movement.

15192838652_021b6c9160_zWe took a lot of road trips when I was growing up, including a six-month one around the entire contiguous USA. I find the motion of a car soothing. Nowadays I don’t own a car, though, and generally the longest I get to drive anywhere in the food truck is forty-five minutes or so. Those drives are nice; I just miss the long, straight stretches, two-lane highways and too much coffee, naps in gas station parking lots, neat and anonymous motel rooms. Mountains. Cornfields. Horizons.

Cabin fever, I guess. No cure for it but moving forward.

Doing things with words

Cotton candy at the bride and groom’s table.

Today my cousin Luke married his girlfriend Lauren.

Luke is about ten years older than me, which either makes him the oldest of my generation of cousins or one of the youngest of the previous generation. (My mom comes from a family of seven kids, and the kids of her and her siblings break down into roughly two groups, pre-1980 and post-1980, give or take a couple years. I have a metric ton of cousins on my mom’s side.) Growing up, we visited Mom’s side of the family every summer, and my primary playmates were Luke and his three younger siblings, plus the five kids of my mom’s two younger sisters. When I was really little, like five, I couldn’t say the letter L, so I called my cousin Yook; it was with great pride that I finally learned to say his name properly. One of my favorite songs of my childhood was one Luke wrote, a darkly comedic country-tinged ballad about the mutant one-eyed frog they found in their swimming hold one year.

Luke’s not the first of my cousins to get married, but this was the first time I got to attend one of my cousins’ weddings. It was a very different experience than the last wedding I attended last year, which was between a Catholic Shakespearean actress and a Jewish stand-up comedian, officiated by a rabbi and priest whose ceremonial speeches resembled comedy club patter. This was a far more reverent wedding, performed in the open air on a spectacularly cloudless day in the mountains around Lake Tahoe — “God’s cathedral,” as the minister said.

So I got to thinking about the strangeness — the mysticism — of a wedding. Not of a marriage, though I’m sure there are strange mystical elements of that too. What I’m qualified to talk about, though, is performance, the power of symbol and word.

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I have, at long last, met my nemesis.

A red whistling kettle.

You. You . . .

Earlier in the summer we had serious fruit fly problems, so I concocted a very effective fruit fly trap: I took a mug, put a sliced strawberry and a little red wine in it, and covered it with plastic wrap that I poked holes in. The flies got in and couldn’t get out. It was great!

It was also really gross, because fruit flies are gross, and as you probably know they breed pretty quickly, so when you leave a fruit fly trap out for more than a couple of days, uh . . . life . . . happens. So after disposing of the flies and the bait, I decided to sanitize the mug with vinegar and then with boiling water.

First time I did this, no problem. At the end of June, after another successful fruit fly catching endeavor and right before I left for Alaska for two weeks, I decided to sanitize the cup again. I put the kettle on, flipped up the cap, because the kettle sounds like a Nazgul that’s stubbed its toe when the water boils, and went to play video games.

Something like an hour later I went “What’s that smell?”

Did you know you can not only melt rubber but also burn metal with an ordinary electric stove? It’s true!

The more you know! ★

The melting point of rubber is 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and the melting point of various plastics is between 200 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit! ★

This happened less than an hour before I had to go the airport, so I threw some money at one roommate and texted the other to let her know that EVERYTHING’S OKAY uh I’M SO SORRY the kitchen kind of smells like carcinogens, and then I fled the state.

And so I learned a very important lesson about burning water!

Which brings us to tonight.

Tonight I decided to finally sterilize that cup, since it was still sitting in the sink, so I put our new kettle on — conscientiously putting the cap down so it would shriek like a tortured soul burning in the fires of hell at me if I forgot about it, instead of actually burning like an etc etc — and turned around to clean up from dinner.

When I turned back to the stove, I saw smoke. No biggie — I figured some kind of crud had probably gotten on the kettle and was smoking off so oh my god the burner is on fire.

While I would like to tell you I calmly and competently put out the (small. SMALL, Mom, it was small!) fire, I actually just kind of stood there and stared at it while it burned itself out. Well after there were no more visible flames, I got a cup of water from the sink and gingerly poured it onto the burner. You know, so I could feel like I contributed. Yeah. Well done, me.

I guess the moral of this story is that I should not be allowed near boiling water. Hot oil? Sure. Toasters? No problem. Heavy machinery? Bring it on.

But the kettles are out to get me.

(Also, kids, clean your stove.)

The 2013 Room Clean, pt. 1

So I’m home in Alaska for two weeks — apparently having just missed the unusual month-long heat wave Anchorage was having — to see friends and family and to finally clean out my room. It’s the milestone that comes for all of us eventually: the day our family tells us that they’d like to use that room for something other than a memorial to your elementary school art projects and high school celebrity crushes.

To say this is a daunting task is an understatement. I come from a long line of pack-rats. I have boxes and boxes of papers from all eras of my education; every little tchotke of a gift I got at cast parties or for a graduation is battling for space; the wall of my bedroom is papered with the poster from every show I was involved with before college. Literally all of them. Like, almost ten years’ worth of posters — The Miracle WorkerA Christmas Carol (several times), To Kill A MockingbirdAnne of Green Gables — they’re all there.

I’m trying to tackle things in the Unf*ck Your Habitat style of taking things in small chunks and doing 20/10s (twenty minutes of work, ten minutes of break). Today has mostly, thus far, been moving boxes of books from out of my room into my work area in the living room, though now I’m getting into the boxes of Everything Else. Each box brings a new hit of amazement: amazement at how much I used to read physical books, amazement that I used to own so many CDs (I have like a dozen CDs that someone made me that I’m sure I never listened to; judging by the handwriting I’m guessing it was my best friend Ellie), amazement that I still have all of my old magician gear.

If there’s interest, I’ll post pictures of some of the best/worst/weirdest stuff I find in this endeavor. Currently this is the box I’m most excited about:

A box full of books, including Charles De Lint's "The Onion Girl," a collection of Roald Dahl, Bruce Coville's "My Teacher Flunked the Planet" and "My Teacher Glows in the Dark," and Diane Duane's Rihannsu collection.

It’s like half the authors that made me who I am today, all in one box!

Seriously, I can’t explain to you how important Bruce Coville’s “My Teacher …” series was to me at one point.