Dear Poopinella, Help.

I do not know what is wrong with me. I do not know why I never want to be where I am. I do not know why the urge to escape is so great, all I know is that it is great. Great grand giddy oh. I want to go. I want to drink a bottle of wine, eat a case of brownies, smoke six cigarettes, then lace the last one with weed. (I hate weed). I want to float someplace else, someplace better where mountains are paper scraps and coffee doesn’t do bad things to my heart and there is milk, so much milk, for the lactose intolerant. I want this and a thousand other things in sad November when even the trees are taking Prozac and even the wings have lost their lift. Where can I go? What can I be? Will I always want to escape in this way? Do I need to change my life or just get a little fucked up sometimes?

Signed,

Go Go Girl

{I started the response below five minutes after writing the above. nineteen hours later + sleep + italian food, this is what I came up with}

Dear Go Go Girl,

I do not know why it is so hard to be a person in the world but certainly it is because there are at least two books on my shelf that have something like “how to be a person” in their titles. Life is hard because of the biggies like racism and sexism and wonky old capitalism and life is hard because life is boring. There are traffic lights and depression and weak lattes. There are stretches of hours and even days that are just so devoid of sparkle you wonder why you can’t kill yourself and be reincarnated as a Harry Potter character. When you are deep in the throws of tedium, I invite you (like the self-righteous ass hole that I am) to breathe in your suffering. Breathe in your suffering then breathe in the suffering of others like you who are a little bored and a little antsy and a little tired of their usual reality. (This practice of Tonglen can be Googled extensively, but eventually you have to get off Google and actually goddamn breathe).

Once you’ve inhaled, exhaled, etc., remind yourself that life is not always this monotone of blah, tempting though that is to believe. You do experience thrilling storms, you do dance in their lovely precipitation. You know the joy of a sentence, a rich line of poetry, how the birds fly together above you in the cold light of an early November morning. You know when the dog runs in the woods and you walk behind her mostly oblivious to her sensual experience but occupying a tiny corner of it, that there is beauty, there is light. You know the stretchy open peaceful bliss of a yoga class, the rare but mighty occasion when you wake up late and awareness washes over you like a beautiful disease. You are susceptible to joy like water is to ice—you eventually recognize it as yourself, just in a cooler form. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, Go Go Girl, soon.

Sometimes life is tedious, just really plucking-the-hairs-from-your-knees tedious. I don’t know if there is merit in the tedium or if there even has to be merit in everything we do (we are so steeped in the language of capitalism it is a wonder poetry exists at all). I’m not saying it isn’t hard, I’m saying it’s so goddamn freaky-it’ll-send-your-wig-to-Jupiter hard. Can you embrace that? What about just for the next thirty seconds?

Maybe getting fucked up is a worthwhile experience. Maybe you should try it. The only problem is that you kind of know that getting fucked up doesn’t work. You could drink a lot and eat a lot and throw up and take some medication to make you sleep and wake up ready to hit the reset button all while full of anxiety and self-loathing. You could do that. It’s just much less appealing doing that knowing what you know now: that this is a bad bandaid, a delightful distraction that does nothing more than distress the damsel further. (The beauty of being twenty-four and not, say, twenty-two or even twenty-three is you’re sort of onto yourself by now). So maybe instead of finding a “solution” you could watch and be aware and keep a log of all your thoughts and wants and experiences, how it feels to be you. If I were to guess, I would say that getting fucked up isn’t going to help as much as observing the inclination is. What is it like to want to leave? What is the color, the texture, the stink of that wanting? Can you stay anyway?

Maybe you say, “But that’s so hard!!!” and I agree, but you already know how to do hard things: the hangovers you’ve suffered, the comebacks you’ve made from stewy darkness. You know how to navigate the Terrible when it comes to the day after drinking. Now apply that skill to sobriety. Flex your muscle that does hard things and do the damn thing, the hardened-honey-that’s-still-sticky-business of staying.

It might also help to remind yourself that what you really want is not a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but for life to be easy, for feeling good to be as simple and accessible as a glass poured in front of you. Oh honey, don’t we all. The truth is that life isn’t exactly what we want when we want it. Life is a checkerboard of dark and light, “good” and “bad”, agreeable and disagreeable situations. Right now you are in the disagreeable. Eventually you will be in the agreeable, but getting fucked up has never brought you there because life is not a game of checkers, as misleading as my previous metaphor may have been. You can’t jump over the obstacles. You have to get to know your square.

In case you want me to go fuck myself, here are other things you want: to swim naked in the ocean at sunrise, fall in love with someone on the radio like you did this morning with Ta-Nehisi, write an amazing second book, see the red woods and the northern lights. You want to become good friends with your suffering so you can write about it and maybe – this is a big maybe – connect better with your fellow fart breathers (i.e, humans). You want to laugh until you pee a little with your best friend who’s also been known to laugh until she pees a little. You want all of these things much more than you want to get a little fucked up, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now.

As someone wiser than I once said, “Why would you give up everything for one thing, when you could give up one thing for everything?” Don’t give up Go Go girl. Everything depends on it.

Yours,

Poopinella

For Lunch, Let’s Have a Feelings Salad

Because I feel cold and closed off and walled in. Do you ever get like that? I build a fort inside myself and don’t come out until someone makes banana bread. No one’s making banana bread. It’s November, a notoriously lonely month for me and my razor*. So dark! So bare! I want to make a fire and watch it burn while drinking a glass of wine, then six more. Instead I am in the library wrestling with book #2. I know that there is a story there, but I’m stuck. Stuck like gum in hair. And then the doubt starts to creep in: You can’t write another book, you silly quack! You only had one book in you and now that that’s done you may as well find a nice bridge to cozy up under because you’re done. D-O-N-E  done like the turkey will be next week (poor Turkeys. Don’t you love birds and want to become a vegan with me?) So I start feeling sorry for myself and everything else on the goddamn planet including the leaves because they’ve fallen from such great heights and now they’re down here with the rest of us getting stepped on. Poor leaves. You know what I need? A Poopsicle. That’s what you have for dessert after you have a Feelings Salad for lunch. Probably I will also need to eat a real lunch and then I will return to book 2 and all of this will pass by the end of the afternoon. Nothing gold can stay and neither can anything rusty.  How nice is that? Life is a carousel of plastic ponies – up and down, up and down. Sometimes I get a little nauseous, but it’s not half bad in my corner of the fair.

*Get it? No shave November? How bad is a joke if I have to explain it?

there are two types of women in this world

knows her mother / buys Hallmark cards

believes in the enduring power of the human spirit / thinks an apple is dessert

was born with a penis / wasn’t

keeps flowers until they disintegrate / goes to therapy

would not fuck her cousin / first or second?

practiced witch craft until high school / has a good relationship with her father

doesn’t think about her thighs / knows where to get an amputation

can take care of herself / was always a food group for Halloween

knows oysters are best in cold weather months / never ate her boogers

has a sister / doesn’t

knows where the nearest dry cleaner is / hears “steamer” and thinks warm milk with a pump of vanilla

has an herb garden / thinks vegetables are for liars

knows what intersectional feminism is / needs to read Bitch Magazine

reads to live / has a tidy bookshelf with other props on it like small crying elephants

uses a diva cup is / doesn’t think big tampon companies want to destroy her happy place

used to like when chlorine turned her hair green / has a white board calendar

would not propose / sends the bread basket back if it’s not warm enough

knows this list is mostly bullshit / wants to agree on the definition of “BS” before she answers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 facts

  1. Last week I invested in a pair of acrylic talons to keep myself from picking at my skin while I’m trying to write this second book which is hard and wonderful and sometimes like biting into an apple only to find a jelly fish
  2. It’s getting cold in New Hampshire
  3. Sometimes I think the world is ending and I should go drink wine in my closet while petting my Birkenstocks. Other times I remember I’m not my thoughts and instead go to yoga and write a poem and feel like I’m a small part of the universe’s machine, but a part all the same
  4. Therapy is a paid friendship with a higher probability of getting good advice. Must. Go. Every. Week.
  5. I had a venti coffee at 5:45 a.m. because I can’t seem to sleep in the morning which is cool because I like leaving the house when there are still stars but uncool cause, like,  it’s only 7:15 and I’ve already been up for  two hours
  6. I’m wearing my high school letterman jacket which makes me feel lame but also like a model
  7. I’m having an eczema flair up on my face so I straightened my hair to distract my audience from my red scaly situation (by “audience” I mean the six to nine people I interact with on a daily basis, hi)
  8. This isn’t ten facts, it’s eight, but that’s okay. Math is a construct.

Creepy Paul

On Twitter this morning I discovered #MeToo and at first I was all, I shouldn’t contribute. I’ve “only” been: verbally assaulted while eating a sausage on the street, pressured into sex by people I was in relationships with, cat called times a million, texted inappropriately in high school by a married man hitting on pictures of me and my friends on Facebook…and then I was like, oh duh. That’s the fucking point. These are not tiny, insignificant, isolated incidents. This is sexual assault and it’s happening all the time.

One of the more uncomfortable incidents I already tweeted about, but it involved a man I frequently saw while out to breakfast with my parents. I started calling him Creepy Paul because even at nine years old I could tell he gave me too much unwanted attention, then one day he kissed me on the cheek when I was going to the bathroom. It made me feel disgusting and ashamed. I don’t remember if I told my parents or if I gave them an excuse for not wanting to go back to one of our favorite breakfast spots, but I’ve been avoiding that diner for years. I don’t know for certain, but I probably wasn’t the only little girl Creepy Paul assaulted– how frightening and angering and fucked up and disgusting of him.

Besides sharing this information, I don’t really know what to “do” about this and I’m frustrated that I don’t have a solution. I do know that it’s been helpful to hear about other women’s encounters with sexual harassment, particularly on blogs I love, like this one.

And so we keep going.