What to do when there’s too much to do? Blog. Obviously.
I have a chapter to read for humanities, three pages of accounting homework, and lots of studying to do for linguistics. None of that should actually be a problem, but actually starting it is going to be a problem.
But that’s a tangent. Let’s have a point. (How very mathematical.)
My mom’s network of crazy German teacher friends extends to Pocatello, where she is very old, very good friends with the former professor of German here, and he and his wife have basically taken me under their wing while they are in town (they spend part of their year in South Dakota) and they are quite wonderful and like to tell everyone we meet that I am their adopted daughter, even though I’m on average fifteenish years younger than their kids. I call them Uncle Craig and Aunt Marge, and they are just fantastic.
In the fall they introduced me to some other very cool friends of theirs who live out in American Falls, Carl and Anne. The cool thing about Carl is that when I was first introduced to him he said, “I’m an evil Republican. I hope that’s okay.” I said, “Carl, I was raised by evil Republicans.” He said, “Well, that’s good, but did it rub off on you?” and I said, “Of course.”
So now, because this is what evil Republican old men do, apparently, Carl likes to forward me anti-Obama funnies and suchlike, with which I am four hundred and forty two percent okay. It is absolutely great.
The reason that the other 58 percent is missing is that my grandfather who recently passed away used to do the same thing. I was always on the lookout for other evil Republican jokes I could send to him. Making him laugh was the holy grail.
Carl forwarded me something today – a joke about Medicare and the ridiculity of the healthcare system, et cetera – and as I was reading I thought that my grandpa might have enjoyed the joke. And of course I can’t forward it to him now. Well, I could, so persistent is technology, but he wouldn’t read it. And it hurts a little bit.
By a little bit, of course, I mean a lot.
Less than a month before he died I helped him set up a WordPress blog like this one so he could update the family without tons of phone calls and emails and things. I think. Anyway, as we were doing this over the phone and I was walking him through it, I had him create a post and just type some filler text to be sure he knew how to do it. He typed “Hi. Erika,” just like that.
Two days ago I went back to that page and just sort of looked at it. It was sad, but I didn’t cry. I probably should. But this isn’t one of those stories where I just cry and then everything is okay again.
I suppose, under the parameters set forth by my theory of pieces, this is normal. I process things in pieces. Things will hit me, I’ll be massively broken up about them, then I’ll put them away for a few days – sometimes more – and go about my business, until I pull them out again and let go of some more pieces. I suppose this is just pulling them out of the cupboard again.
I’ve got Beethoven coming out of my speakers because I was going to start studying and I can’t study with vocals in the background, but I’m not studying.
The last time I saw my grandpa was in the summer, the day after my cousin Rachael’s wedding. He was sitting in the red wing chair (that used to be blue) in the living room, by the fireplace, and the tears were rolling down my face as I hugged him. I thought, perhaps, as I walked away, still crying very hard and very quietly, that it might be the last time I saw him. I don’t think it occurred to me that I might be right.
A long time ago I wrote a poem about the last day of school. Well, days. The last days of school. The last lines were, “You never know,/It might be the last time.”
I’ve been wondering lately if I might be depressed. I don’t want to do much besides stay in bed and watch Doctor Who, although forcing myself to work out is much easier than it used to be (hmm!). Usually I’m not even hungry unless I’ve been working out, and even then it’s not because I want food, it’s because I need it. I think I like my classes, but going to them is a bit of a struggle; so is doing the necessary homework. Talking to my friends – even the ones I’m comfortable with – requires a lot of mental insistence that I don’t remember being necessary before.
I’m not sure why I’d be depressed. Death, and change, I suppose. (Vatten. Ja, och så tid. Sorry, John Green in Swedish is really cool.) I have good moments – the other night I danced ridiculously around my room because my roommate moved out. WEE. But moving on.
Stephen and I talked for a long time last night, and it was pretty awesome – it reminded me of the times I’ve spent a night with Hannah when we lay awake talking for hours about Ted Bundy and linguistics and ex-boyfriends and other things. But anyway, we got very introspective and psychoanalytical (which is probably my favorite thing in the world to do – maybe I should still think about being a shrink) and somewhere in there he said something like, “Maybe I’m broken.”
And I think I sort of understood what he meant. Not in the sense where you’re hurt and angry and in splinters all over the floor, though that is an equally plausible definition. But like you’ve stopped working some way or other. A switch inside you that you can’t seem to throw, though externally you are as whole as ever.
I am sort of an introspective person anyway; I tend to analyze the living snot out of myself and my emotional reactions to things. I spent a lot (and by a lot I mean a lot) of time after Doug left trying to figure out everything I was feeling and why, and what to do with it once I knew what it was. Same thing with Matt, though that didn’t take quite as long, fortunately.
Everybody’s broken, or at least that’s what I said to Stephen. But I thought about it a bit. And maybe I’m broken too. In the unthrowable switch sense, that is.
In my relationship with Doug there was a lot of unresolved everything, and the story of the breakup is long, messy and very weird. But much of the emotional aftermath for me came from the sexual guilt involved. I have guilt issues anyway (ask my mother). Though perhaps those incidents contributed to the original problem more than exacerbated something already there. And I spent a lot of time worrying over said guilt. And I decided that nothing like that would ever happen again, that I would never have to look myself in the mirror and feel so rottenly about myself again. Ever. And I think, somewhere in the guilty self-analysis, I decided that a lot of the guilt was my fault, because I didn’t fight him about it. Now, in my 20/20 hindsight, I understand that we were both to blame, but I think I suffered some lasting effects from the decision that I had let myself in for it. I also decided, in turn, not to let myself in for it again. And, by extension, I sort of mentally punished myself for having a sex drive. Basically.
And I think that has stuck.
When Matt came along we didn’t do much in that way. I wasn’t actually paying attention at the time, but I feel like the number of times we kissed with tongue can be counted on both hands. And why that is I don’t know.
Last night Stephen and I were talking about why he hasn’t initiated anything of the kind, and purely for demonstration purposes he said, “I could be doing this,” and sort of leaned over the top of me. I was already sort of curled up, but I think I may have tried to be smaller, and I also may have held a little tighter to the pillow one of my hands was on.
That was a very bad paragraph to demonstrate the circumstances.
The point is that there he was, doing that, and all I could say was “Please get off of me,” all I could do was squeeze that pillow tighter. He wasn’t even touching me. I don’t think. I can’t remember.
I was never sexually abused and I don’t mean to make it sound that way. But I think I used my massive guilt problem to create another problem. The lesser of two evils, if you will.
Let me quote The Love Letters. (There is a Madeleine L’Engle quotation for literally everything.)
“Her body’s response was so violent that she was able to use the wave of passion that shook her to pull away, to stand, to turn…to the door.”
I don’t mean to say it was quite so dramatic as that. But I think it may be somewhat like.
Because I was so angry at myself and my sex drive for so long, I turned the strength of that force into “don’t do that ever again ever” instead. And while that is probably a good thing and also exactly what I wanted to do, I find myself cowering away from something that isn’t even supposed to be taken seriously. And I worry about that a little bit. I’ve talked on this blog about the fact that I’m not ready for sex, and I’m not. But, though bridges are crossed when they are come to, it still bothers me that I can’t seem to throw that switch, and I worry that that will be a problem down the road.
Have I mentioned the bit where I am a worrywart?
As a last bit with which to sign off, there’s a book I’m reading in humanities called, simply, Love, by Simon May. Whom I am not sure I like. But some of the things he says are interesting. As usual. I overuse the word interesting.
Anyway, here’s the thing he said that I thought was interesting.
“Fear, of course, quickly leads to hate – unless the lover can genuinely accept his vulnerability to the loved one.”
I read this and sort of went oh holy cow.
On the old blog I wrote this once.
“Oh, I suppose I just get unnerved over the audacity of my love – over how brash and presumptuous it is of me to consider loving [same name] at all. But what is love – it is handing your heart to someone. And they can either frame it and hang it over their mental fireplace where they’ll see it every day, or they can tear it to pieces and put it out in the recycling bin for me to put back together. The trouble is, you’re usually not allowed to yank your heart back in a hurry should they act like they’re going to tear it to pieces.” (Sometimes I Get to Wishing, 10 September 2011)
Despite the silly, overlong metaphor which, incidentally, contains no mention of receiving any heart in return, and the fact that I was definitely not in love, this seems a pretty cool observation for sixteen-year-old me to have made.
Love – what is love? Aside from being the greatest of these and none of my business and an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired (St. Paul, Goethe and Robert Frost), it is not unlike (I am sorry, I promise) a particular moment in the Series 5 finale of Doctor Who.
The Doctor says to Amy Pond, “You know how sometimes I have really brilliant ideas?”
“Yeah?” she says, more than slightly panicked.
“Sorry,” he says, and dashes off into the line of fire (Cybermen, I think?), throws his hands up, and yells, “Look at me! I’m a target!”
Aside from its being a brilliantly funny moment, it rings true about love as well. It doesn’t matter how stupid it is, you do it anyway because you mean it and you need to. Love is giving yourself up without fear and without shame. Yes, it is going to hurt. No, you should not let that stop you. Nor should you let it turn you bitter. What good would that do?
Okay, I think I’m done now. What an awful lot of nothing.