I’ve been saving up for months for a new computer, and after saving, setting aside paycheck after paycheck, with the promise hanging over my head to start writing every day once the computer arrived–
Well she’s here! Sleek and slim, with brushed steel and sweet beautiful backlit keys, with all parts fully functional. Delicious!
And I can’t even think of what to write.
Though I’m not so good with the making of the words today, I’m starting a new blog!
Come visit me at AllieOnTheDaily!
For the past week, I’ve been running a slow streak at work. It seems that each day I work (M,W,F, mostly) there is a distinct shortage of customers in the shop. I’m as chipper and helpful a mouse as ever. I’ve written “Welcome!” in approximately 15 different languages on one side of the chalkboard sign out front, and this week’s 20% off sale on the other. The days have been mostly sunny, with moderate temperatures. And I can’t imagine that Easter or this week’s spring breaks in most schools would keep customers away. Contrariwise, my assumption would be that we would be observing the exact opposite effect in patronage.
Today, I’m working another open to close shift. As of 2pm, there have been a grand total of two people in the shop. Only one made a purchase. A very moderate purchase, at that.
Quelle est le probleme? What keeps you away so long, mes copains?
Were it not for the jazzy Sinatra-era music piping into the shop I would be bored out of my mind. And if I had not snatched a Christopher Moore book from the house this morning, I would be beating my head against the cashwrap– actually, this remains a tempting option.
Mais, je suppose, all the good karmic action connected to the shop may be with my bosses today, as one of them has just given birth to a healthy baby boy!
Maintenant, je chante avec Ella Fitzgerald. Un tres petit moment magnifique.
C’est les petits choses qui compte.
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Life is such a slippery thing. Ce n’est pas comme un insecte, pas comme un papillon– cannot be pinned down and examined. Fingers cannot grasp it, words cannot define it, its meaning can’t be determined. What the hell is it for? Quelle est la raison? What on earth am I doing here?
Why can’t I bring myself to update this silly blog more often? It seems like the least we can do is be consistent with our tiny, insignificant tasks.
But there are days when I am so caught up in the enormity of life: the great expanse of the sky tumbles into my eyes, stars speckle my skin and I’m not here anymore. I’m big and wide and floating. Then there are days when I am trapped in minutiae: contemplating the veins of a leaf for hours, fascinated by the ridges and lines of a hand. I am so small I am barely here.
I can’t comprehend how I can get anything done those days. Outside of my head, everything runs automatic. Instinct and acting.
On the floating days my own life seems so fuzzy, indistinguishable from the rest of the world. On the tiny days it seems too large to handle, it doesn’t fit under a macro lens. I’m zoomed too far in or too far out.
And yet here I sit, babbling without a clue as to what I’m going on about. Mais C’EST la vie, non?
With a clap of thunder outside, the world is back in focus for the time being. Better batten down the hatches at work.
Aussi, bon anniversaire à ma mère! Je t’aime!
I have been working in a children’s boutique for 50 days today. Outside the shop’s windows, the sun is hiding behind a few grey clouds, but the ambient light that fights through is bright nonetheless. A limousine is coasting to a stop at the intersection a hundred yards away. People have been walking by all day, strolling with their children, their lovers, their ice creams from the shop two doors down. No hurries, no visible worries.
Every patron we’ve had in the store today has been in bright spirits. And let me tell you something, there’s nothing a shop girl appreciates more than nice customers. When you walk into the shop, I greet you with a smile, I ask how I can help you, what you’re looking for, how you’re enjoying your day. I’m genuinely happy to see another face walk through the door. And when you return the smile, when you look me in the face and say hello back, when you carry on conversation with me, that makes my day. But when you don’t… When you don’t return the smile, when you give a gruff reply, when you respond in a way that shows you wish I weren’t here, when you treat me like a piece of annoying furniture whose sole purpose is to stand here and take your money, I’ll keep my smile on. I’ll keep doing my job. The negativity won’t be reflected back at you. But when you leave, the proverbial raincloud you brought in with you stays. It makes my job a suddenly less happy, less fulfilling. Just less.
And there’s not much that can take the sun’s warmth out of the day than an unkind, unhappy customer at the very end of the day. When I’m going above and beyond the call of my job to help and be kind to you, and your frowning face is the last thing I see in my workday…
So folks, think about the boys and girls behind the counters at the shops you walk into. They’re pretty great people, and you’re great people, too. The sun is shining outside and the day is warm. We want to make the best of it while we’re stuck inside, so we smile our best spring-smiles and hope you’ll bring some spring warmth in with you. With your personality. With your own smile.
Bon printemps, tout le monde!
Alors, mesdames et messieurs, let’s have a chat about what’s on my mind, shall we?
Je pense que oui.
At the moment, I’m knee-deep in a book titled Rat Girl, a memoir by Kristen Hersh (of Throwing Muses fame). The book is great so far, the writing is vivid and restless, just like I like ’em, but what it is like and what it is all about isn’t the important part of what we’re getting into. Currently I’m hovering somewhere around page 103, and taking place is a conversation between Hersh and friend Betty, focusing on a fasting and broth diet the latter is currently undertaking:
“How about just, you know… food?” I ask her. “Why don’t you eat that?”
“Eat food?” She thinks. “But I want to be lovely.”
Stop. Okay. Admission: I’ve been there. Fact: it isn’t a good place to be. Reflection: my freshman year of college, my academic and personal life was a mess– 10 different courses per week, flimsy starter-kit friendships, anxiety attacks, raging perfectionism, angsty-angst falling for someone in a relationship, etc. Messy messy mess. So I decided body hatred was apparently the way to go. Dining hall food consistently made me ill, so calorie deprivation was already part of my normal life, and I was a music student, it was pretty normal for us to miss two out of three meals a day. Long story short, I kept myself on a strict as-little-food-as-possible thing as often as I could manage. But then would come the inevitable binge eating. And then came the desire to p-u-r-g-e. Fortunately… gag reflex wasn’t something I came equipped with. But still, despite failed halfhearted attempts at anorexia and guilt-driven attempts at bulimia, body hatred remained. “But I want to be lovely.”
“But pretty’s a weird club; the rules are always changing… and then if you get in, they say you’re stupid.”
“I don’t get wanting to look good; it seems rude. Just makes other people feel bad, doesn’t it? Trying to look better than them?” Betty’s ignoring me. “How can you say one person is nicer to look at than another, anyway? I mean, if you gotta try to look like something, how about kind?”
Oh, Kristen Hersh, if only. But she’s right on a fundamental level, isn’t she? If it weren’t for the extreme societal focus on being “lovely” and “pretty,” would the rest of us care? I understand from mild experience, that anorexia and bulimia are first and foremost diseases that affect the mind, and secondarily the body. We grow up being force-fed what we should look like; our parents are force-fed what we should look like. And like any good primate, we try to imitate. It is heavily ingrained in our culture. For example: “normal” body types and ready-made clothes. The “normal” body type, what we should look like and be shaped like, is dictated to us by the fashion world. Not even so high as the world of couture clothing, but as close to home as your local department store. The ready-made garments we use to clothe ourselves come pre-made in specific sizes and cuts that conform to specific body types. I am a reasonably “tall” lady at 5’7″ but most of my height is in my torso. I have a small bust, a smaller waist, and butt measurements nearly double that of my waistline. Today’s jeans are predominantly cut for women with tiny and short everything, or large and tall everything. If a pair of jeans fit my waist, they won’t go over my butt; if they fit my butt, there’s a several-inch gap between the waist of the pants and where it should rest on my body. If by some miracle I manage to locate jeans that fit there, they’ve got to be hemmed because I’m not made entirely of legs. And let’s not even go into the psychological fuckfest that is sizing.
Why try to look like everyone else? Because its what we’re supposed to do. And this unwritten rule is the downfall of many a woman’s psyche. I’m sure this phenomenon doesn’t exist solely in the world of females; men aren’t invulnerable to it, either.
She smiles and keeps drawing. “Oooh… I like where this is going, sweetheart. But I think it’s sex appeal we’re after. We all wanna go to bed with somebody. Or just know that we could.”
“But no one wants to sleep with looks,” I insist. “They want to sleep with a person.”
She looks up from her drawing, stunned. “That is such a lovely thought! But entirely untrue. They want to sleep with a person… who’s hot.”
And there you have it, folks. Sex sells. We’re trying to look like what we’re told we should, so we can be sexy. So we can be attractive to other people. So we can be confident, happy, etc.
“Yeah. But we all want to be loved. It makes us feel lovable.”
“Betty, sleeping with hot people isn’t love. It’s just sleeping with hot people.”
“True… We want to be valued. And that makes us feel valuable.”
Aha. Ça c’est the problème. Value. Feeling valuable as a human being. This is what it all comes to: feeling valued. I can say with distinct clarity that when I was in a relationship, when I felt desired, I felt valuable. And now that I’m no longer in said relationship, I do indeed feel a distinct lack of such value. Nothing that’s in the foreground, dictating my every move, but it is there. I don’t know why it’s there. I still value myself as a person, know I’m worth far more to the world and to those I love than my sexual desirability, know that I’m not undesired. But there it is, like an embarrassing tattoo I don’t want anyone to see, being covered up, not defining me, but imbedded so deeply into my skin that I know it will never come out. And if it affects one, it affects countless others. With billions of humans on this planet, it is hard to conceive an experience as wholly singular.
Hello world. I’m Mouse, and I have a love-hate relationship with my body sometimes. But that’s okay, because it isn’t my fault, or anybody’s fault. It’s a construct. A piss-poor construct. And it may win some battles, but I’ve always been winning the war.
Here’s hoping you do too, you beautiful, sexy, valuable human beings, you.
“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” ~Rabindranath Tagore
As a vocalist, I don’t even have an instrument to use as an excuse. My song simply remains unsung.
The best I can do is listen, but there is no one to whom I can listen; those around me are mostly silent.
So… I suppose it will suffice to tunelessly hum.
I’m quite sure you –being the invisible net-dwelling folks comprising the ambiguous collective “you”– will have noticed the sudden lack of… everything, on this blog. Alors: tonsilitis paired with a marked lack of drive. Add a new-job-busy chaser, and there it is– the story of the absent Mouse. In a nutshell. As journalist Sydney J. Harris once said, “Any philosophy that can be put in a nutshell belongs there.” Switch out philosophy for story, and you have this Mouse’s feelings on the aforementioned events.
In other news, through winding, tangled family-friend connections, Bear and I found rather sunshiney employment together, under the guidance of sister-owners Mountain Lion and Ant. Happy addition to daily life. Now, I am, it would seem, well-adjusted into my life in this city. I live with Bear and her family, my own family is close at hand, I have no physical needs unmet, mon chat est avec moi ici… Cette vie est bon, oui?
Having thus managed to grasp onto –or will into existence– most short-term goals and all current necessities, I find myself on a plateau of contentment. However, when I delve beneath the cream of the contentment, I find a trickling stream of uneasiness. Will this place become a plateau of complacency? Developing a complacent outlook can lead to stagnancy, and that is the last thing I want: to stay like this forever. S’il te plait, do not mistake my meaning. The happiness my life brings me is enjoyed, appreciated, and hopefully will prove to be lasting. However, it is occasionally the case that having all current needs met will lull some into a semi-hypnotized sleep. A not-too-uncommon phenomenon.
I would like to consider my position a happy perch. A place to rest, to survey the lay of the land. A place for building courage, for amassing potential energy.
Energy transfer: potential–PUSH–kinetic. Leap– forward, outward.
J’aime le repose. Et je fais bien avec le calme constant mais je ne l’aime pas.
Ladies and gentlemen, this Mouse is proud to report that progress on the sweater for charity and self-healing is moving faster than anticipated. My original timeline was a smidgen generous, as I attempted to allow myself room for the task of unpacking and organizing after a recent move. So in the end, I’m perhaps more on-time than ahead… but letting myself feel as though I’m working faster certainly doesn’t hurt.
The rundown on the sweater project of joy and happiness, etc. follows thusly: On the 17th, I nabbed an old sweater from a small hill of clothing nestled in the foothills of Montagne de Merde (located five feet west of the Oubliette des Choses Perdues). Long ago, that sweater had been marked for death, and its destiny has been fulfilled; now what remains of its dismembered pink body lays in heaps and freshly-wound balls of yarn. Feeling very Dr. Frankenstein as my needles klicka-klack I’ve diligently been knitting and purling for an hour or two daily. At present, the first half of the sweater measures eight inches in length and approximately twelve inches in width. Given the pace at which the tiny child-size sweater is growing, the time will soon be right to begin the assemblage of arms!
Call me Dr. Knittenstein.
In other news pertaining to the subject of assuaging the mind of its monkey-minded tendency towards worry, I have begun the practice of madly shuffling a deck of medicine cards recently gifted to my by Bear. This keeps my hands busy when I am not involved with knitting, and keeps my brain busy with concentrating on coordination, but has the added benefit of giving sound helpful advice every now and again. Do not think now that I am one to rely on a deck of cards or other “fortune telling” paraphernalia to go about my day-to-day business. However, I posit that there is something to be taken and learned from such things, even if only in minor ways. Par exemple: after shuffling the deck of medicine cards earlier today, I drew a card from the top of the deck, thinking of all the matters that need attending to in my life over the next few months. The Ant turned up to face me, with the following written beneath him, “Be patient. Honor the present moment. Find joy in the NOW.” From this generalized message, I see for myself the need to draw my awareness from the oncoming events and tasks of the future to the present, meaning I can’t work on the future until it arrives. This reminder that focus on the present is prudent eased my tensions and drew my thoughts from what I had been allowing to trouble me.
C’est les petites choses de la vie qui comptent.
This morning, I read a message that left me feeling quite upset, as well as misjudged. I let my feelings roll me in a blanket of self-depreciation and had a long cry, mentally and verbally beating myself up along the way. As the day dragged me along, a vague emptiness settled in near my sternum and pulsated with negative thoughts and questions directed both inward and outward. That sick emptiness is a sensation I have fought against throughout much of my life. Whenever someone has seriously wronged me, left my life, done me harm, or something has left me suddenly without purpose, that sensation returns; it mocks me, it laughs at me, it nails letters of worthlessness and uselessness to my ribs, it leaves marks on me that take more and more time to fade– in short, it is detrimental to me, to those I love, to the life I want to live, and to the human being I strive to be.
But I stumbled on an answer. Literally and figuratively. In a discussion with my close friend Bear, I noted that I miss feeling whole. I miss the feeling of being part of something greater than myself that I can throw my mind and heart into. I miss the comforting completeness that comes with devoting myself to another soul. And when I found this on my StumbleUpon account, something in the back of my head put two and two together– the sum was hope, with a side dish of purpose.
Being a serial knitter, I decided to dive into the project immediately, and my goal is to finish one side of the sweater in a week and a half. With three weeks total for this project that puts my deadline at February the 7th.
So– my epiphany can be summed up thusly: when you feel the world has given you an unfair turn, let yourself feel what you may feel; emotional reactions are healthy, and a part of the human experience. But to prevent a negative feeling’s evolution into something dark and detrimental, be selfless. If someone causes you harm or unhappiness, do something to bring hope and love to someone else’s existence. In the doing of kindness for another being, you may find a sort of forgiveness for what wrong has fallen upon you. And just imagine– if you could– what peace would flow in to replace the bare spaces vacated by what once was a place of hurting.
1/20/12: The link above appears to be wonky, so here is the url for those interested: www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/getinvolved/knit-for-kids
Bring in the jugglers, fire-eaters, trapeze artists, contortionists, and clowns. La Cirque de ma Vie est arrivée!