My spam folder isn’t the cheerfully sodden corner it used to be – I am, although it would have previously defied all belief, actually nostalgic thinking of it. The new spam is far too long-winded, definitely rated-G and severely lacking in the ‘dirty imagination’ department. It should probably be styled as new spam! because it’s so terribly positive.
I don’t know if I can adequately convey the completely oppressive nature of it’s technical positivity – well, once when I’d stayed up all night I entertained the director and her accountant with an impromptu sketch of ‘when Mormons go bad’. There was even a dance (energetic but not sexy).
I’m upset and unhappy – but it only matters to me, doesn’t it, in the end? My feelings sit inside me like a great roiling rancid ball but no one can see them or feel them but myself. And the only way anyone would ever know was to ask me and people, they really don’t ask. If you megaphone your problems and sit on a hilltop crying whatever the modern equivalent of ‘unclean’ is – ‘suspicious lump’? ‘cancerous tumor’? ‘deteriorating injury’? – then well-wishers and emotional support will flock to your side. You can ascribe to them your own motives; I’m surely neither cynical nor naive enough for the task.
But if your jaw is kept clamped shut the ball will stay, and all your analogies about Prometheus may or may not hold water but they’ll stay within the confines of your body too. So I find myself looking out at the city and watching the cars, and wondering how many people feel just like me and how many people have wondered just that – and so forth and so on with all the hulls of our empty selves standing like sentinel cicada husks as witness to what we once were.
When I affirmed that you could crash on my couch for a night or two, it was implicitly understood on my part that you were not to turn it into a Jamaican dance hall. Also the game of what-is-in-this-cupboard? Amusing to none but yourself.
I saw an old man just now working a menial job, an old man way past retirement age, and I felt deeply unhappy. I felt for him, as they say, whatever that really means.
I gave him almost all the money I had on me, even though it wasn’t much, even though it was food money, I guess because the right thing to do is very often the stupid one as well.
It didn’t help that when he took the money, after he realized that it was for him and he wasn’t expected to do anything, looked at me. His eyes were clear and shone just like, well, I guess like a kid’s. Like I was doing something better than the decent human thing.
It didn’t make me feel better that he was so happy, it made me feel worse.
Maybe it doesn’t ever have to make sense because it doesn’t matter. All I know is I feel raw and ten kinds of miserable and when that happens I leave it here and not in my journal.
Amy does not now nor has ever been employed at any of our child storage facilities (child storage being an inside joke I feel certain you are all clever enough to comprehend).
She does, however, work in the industry, which means she is a teacher. We met at a workshop where the host dispensed such gems as “Don’t even pretend to yourself that you know all the names of your kids. Count them. You got a fire drill? Count their heads. Tornado busy destroying the town? Count their heads in the basement.”
“I hate you,” I said, before I could stop myself. “Do you, Lola?” he asked me. “Of course I do! I hate you so much I feel my pulse rise when I look at you and my stomach tightens and – ” I looked down at my arm “and the hairs on my arms stand up, and – ” I bit my lip. He came over to me and looked at my arm, turning it slightly in the light. I don’t have much arm hair and what I do have is thin and blonde and not really visible. But it felt like it stood up, visible or no. He sat down and smiled faintly, and I noticed for the first time that he’s beginning to get lines around his eyes, not smile creases or crinkles but fine little lines. Wrinkles.
And suddenly he looked old, and tired, and lonely.
There is always at least one moment in time in which people are happy with their babies. At least one moment that they can hold them up to a mirror and smile at each other’s reflections and agree this is a good thing. The dissatisfaction sets in later if it does.
Everyone was someone’s baby once, even if no one likes to think about it much. Babies are babies after all, not humans but proto-humans.
I was someone’s baby once, even though I know nobody thinks about it at all. I must have been held up to mirrors too like all the babies I see are held up to the big plasticky mirror in the main classroom.
There must have been hopes and dreams for me, maybe even wishes too. No one could have known what the future held.
Every so often the director asks me how many blog followers I’ve accrued, and I dutifully report, and she says “Well, that’s quite a lot, isn’t it?” and I smile, dutifully and tightly. Five was a lot. Twenty was a lot. And now 207 is a lot.
Once the number went down by one instead of going up by one. I didn’t think she remembered the previous number but, of course, she did, and immediately squawked with dismay “Someone left you!” I nodded, mumbled that the word commonly, well rather exclusively employed was ‘unfollowed’, all the while watching her shake her head as if I’d made some terrible error. “You should stop writing about yourself, is what it is,” she concluded. “People want to hear about what happens in the life of a teacher, not a Lola,” I nodded, dutifully, wondered if ‘dutifully’ was going to be the word best used to describe my life.
“Exactly,” said her daughter, who had just entered the room, who used ‘exactly’ as a greeting, who then said nothing else as her mother continued to tell me what people wanted to hear.