Things that have changed

  • Sometimes my skin burns. When I was young, I just turned muffin colored. I felt invincible.
  • I no longer think I will die from small things, like a piece of rice stuck in my throat, or a splinter that I can’t get out of my palm.
  • It will have to be something bigger I think. Something where worry is obviously useless.
  • Life is not as pure, nor simple, nor beautiful.
  • At some point, I realized that I was no longer the same person I used to be. I am still mourning that used-to-be girl.
  • I used to be a girl and now I am supposed to be a woman but both feel very wrong. Girl too childlike and representative of what I once was, and woman is associated with too many things I am not. Lady for some odd reason does not feel nearly as wrong, though there are many other associations with lady in the books I read that cannot be right.
  • The pattern of my heartbeat – the flutter and the small pain.
  • The periods of emptiness, neither good nor bad, just space where there used to be life.
  • I generate more waste, even though I am more conscious of it now than before. I imagine rooms of waste extending back into time, buildings filled with everything I’ve ever discarded, everything oozing out of me into the black earth.
  • I learned other forms of love, other ways to be unhappy, how opening one door inevitably closes another.
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Things that have not changed

  • When I run my hands through my hair, hair falls out like pine needles. They make a bird’s nest in the garbage.
  • I have the same face. I am not one of those people that grow into beauty, or age.
  • I remember exactly what it feels like to be a child. Someone close to me told me that he did not remember – I was surprised. I thought everyone would still have that feeling.
  • Maybe I bottled it. Sometimes I try to bottle memory.
  • “Tired” is still the most common word I use after “I am —–“.
  • The same things frighten me, though they take different forms now.
  • The letters I write to myself end in hopeful notes. They always ask for the same things.
  • I keep discovering words that I have been mispronouncing all along. Often, I do not want to give it up–the mispronunciation.
  • I hardly ever remember my dreams. There used to be one with a giant industrial fan. Now I have ones that are 10 years dated. So in another decade, maybe I will dream about now.
  • I will always find it easier to begin than to end.

Three Wishes…

I am reading the book “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?” because sometimes I like to read books like that in the hopes that I can immerse myself in good and positive thoughts/energy.

I am making my husband do the exercises with me; I read him the section and then we each write down our responses – me in my journal or a scrap of paper, and he on his Google Keep list.

What three wishes would you make if a Genie appeared before you and asked you just that? (Of course any mention of a Genie makes me think of Aladdin, but in all seriousness, here is what each of us privately wrote down):

genie-wishes

This really made me smile.

Who are the parasites?

I don’t normally feel violent towards living creatures, but certain insects really do it for me. I recently was afraid we had bed bugs, because I woke up feeling little pricks as if tiny bugs were stabbing me, but there were no other signs of them after repeated vacuuming, sticking pieces of tape all over the bed, and other close inspection. Needless to say, I felt extreme anger towards the possible bugs that were attacking me. Since it is summer, every time I go out, I get lots of mosquito bites. One day we were hiking in a forest and I stopped to answer my phone. In those 2 minutes, I got 9 mosquito bites on my upper back. I felt them gathering around me for attack. I often want to destroy them all.

I asked my husband,”What’s the point of parasitic insects like bed bugs that just attack you and live off your blood? What benefit are they to the world?”

He replied: “What is the point of humans?”

I thought a minute and said, “To destroy the environment and make it harder for other living creatures to live?”

“Exactly,” he said.

 

The Thing With Memory

I know it’s not reliable. Or, I know it’s not supposed to be reliable, but I think memory can be different for different people. Maybe reliable people have more reliable memories – I think this is true. Everything I remember with certainty I am certain about. The other things have little clouds around them, some more hazy than others.

My first memory is in the car on the way to preschool. My mother was driving and I was in the backseat in the middle, tapping my black shoes nervously on the floor. I don’t know if anyone else was in the car – maybe one of my sisters, but not both, I don’t think. I was 4 and it is surprising to me that I don’t have an earlier memory. I have a fake memory of having my finger cut off in an operation; that memory is earlier.

I have a memory of crying that may or may not be on the same day. I have many memories of school, up until a certain point, and then very few. A girl punched me in the eye once, by accident, after pretending to punch me in the eye. I remember wearing a lot of sweatpants back then, in different colors, and always having bangs.

I used to worry a lot – there were always tiny earthquakes going on inside me. I remember that I was always calm; with the earthquakes hidden inside. People used to say that I was so calm, and that made me feel good. It made me feel not powerless. I used to get little grains of rice stuck in my throat and that really made me think I was going to die. But I was too embarrassed to tell anyone. There was always one thing or the other getting stuck on its way in.

At one point, I didn’t worry so much anymore, but I also became very unhappy at the same time. When I was unhappy, all my memories bled together. If you ask me about it, I will tell you that I had a bad time back then, and maybe even now – maybe I’m having a bad time now, too.

What I wonder about is why memory isn’t organized like a card catalog with dates and times, why I can’t string everything together and see everything sequentially. Why do some memories feel much closer than others, and some I am certain that I have made up from others?

I used to do this thing, when I knew I wanted to remember the moment, I would say it over and over in my head, thinking and feeling all around the moment; I would say, “This is how I’m feeling right now…this is what it feels like” and usually I would close my eyes and squeeze the memory. I kept doing it whenever I felt that feeling and whenever I replayed that moment. Then I knew I would remember.

And I did remember. Until I stopped doing that thing. Or until those moments stopped coming – I don’t know which came first.

 

Do You Like Dogs?

When someone asks me if I like dogs, I pause for a moment before I say no. Because it is true that I do not like dogs in the way that other “dog lovers” do. I do not for example, oooh and aahh over pictures of cute dogs, or want to pet dogs I meet on the street. I do not particularly like it when dogs sniff me and I very much dislike it when a dog greets me by throwing his whole body on me or licking my hands and legs. I feel the same way about humans; I would not like a human to jump on me upon first meeting, to lick my hands, or to sniff me suspiciously. I do not like when dogs bark at me very aggressively when I walk by; I think it’s rather rude.

There are some dogs that I have met who are very nice. They lie quietly at my feet waiting to be petted, or they walk down the street minding their own business, looking at me with very soft eyes. These dogs seem very gentle and are dogs that I would want to be friends with if I wanted to have dog friends. Again, I feel the same way about humans. I tend to enjoy the company of gentle humans, and not those that are aggressive and overly demanding.

So really I would like to be able to say when someone asks me whether I like dogs, that I like some dogs and I dislike others very much…in the exact same way as I would humans. Now it just so happens that most of the dogs I meet happen to be quite aggressive and bark a lot in a very annoying fashion. There is one dog that lives next door that stands at his window looking down at me and barking. It feels very much like he is spying on me. Perhaps I have not met very nice dogs because nice dogs tend to live their lives quietly without so much hoopla. I think it is the same with humans. Ones that are very loud and demanding often get noticed and have to be managed delicately….the gentle ones are just in the background being gentle. But I know there are nice dogs out there. I see them on the street sometimes looking gentle…If I were to describe dogs generally, I might say that their species is very friendly and affectionate but can often be very aggressive and territorial.

Humans, on the other hand, appear to be quite varied, but I think that is only because I am human and therefore would not be able to see all the variety in other species. But there are some aspects of humans that I know or see around me that I very much dislike. For example, humans are very concerned with their appearance – there is just an extraordinary amount of time/thought focused on grooming and being presentable. I feel so grateful and happy when I see messy people. I can also extend this to dogs as well. I don’t really like when dogs are dressed up and groomed. It all feels rather ridiculous to me, as if we are dressing up the world because nothing natural is beautiful. I could go on about my complaints about humans, but my point is that I don’t like a good number of humans or dogs, or probably many other species of animals…but that does not mean I do not like a dog or human on sight…I generally think humans and other animals are probably very good, despite mounting evidence, but I often do not like to spend time in the company of certain (many?) dogs and humans for reasons described above.

Letter to Conor (3 years)

Dear Conor, It was your third birthday last week and you were so excited to open presents and eat cake. These are the things I remember and love about you, from this year:

  1. You like gummy bears (particularly the red ones) and call them “gum berries.” I can’t be certain if you are pronouncing them “berries” or “bearys” which would be even more adorable.
  2. You like stuffed animals. You cuddle with them and love them and talk to them. Your parents just got you a big Olaf after you saw a real Olaf at the Christmas Fair. Afterwards, you kept talking about him. “Maybe we will see Olaf again tomorrow” and “…we will have to change his batteries, because they might run out…” I love that you thought the person dressed up as an Olaf was a toy running on batteries.
  3. I hear that sometimes you sit on your potty with a book in your lap and flip the pages :)
  4. You said to me, “Why do you have hair above/on your eyes?” And I said, “Do you mean my eyelashes?” And you nodded. I said, “You have them too.” You responded by touching your eyes gently and then nodding, “Yes, I do have them.”
  5. The last time I saw you, I was trying to carry you onto the couch and you were struggling a bit. After, you said to me, “You were choking me a little bit…next time you come over, you can’t do that.” Then you repeated yourself and you seemed to be staring off into the distance, as if this had happened to you before and you were reciting lines(!)
  6. After you pooped, you got up and said to me, “I love you so much.” And I melted even more and I said, “You love me so much?” And then you nodded in that cute way you do.
  7. I like how you are read books by pointing to all the pictures and saying what they are, or asking questions about them. We talked about how you kept saying “Are those the pants?” for every story, after we had been reading the Dr. Seuss story about the body-less pants.
  8. I like how you nod your head “no” sometimes when someone (like your Popo) asks you if she can have something of yours. Sometimes you say, “No, you can’t have anything.”
  9. You still eat things breathlessly. Sometimes you stuff so much in your mouth and then you smile with glee.
  10. Sometimes you talk in a very high voice. I’m not sure if you are trying to be cute and funny OR if it is just natural. “Do you want to play Thomas train with me? Where is your lady?”
  11. I remember when we went scooting together and you fell a few times. One time you lay sprawled on the ground (face up) and you said, “I keep falling.”
  12. Remember when we went hiking together and you did keep falling on the ground because there were so many rocks and roots? And sometimes you would get mud on your mouth and you would rub it away and try not to cry. And then you would just start running down the path again. I would hear a “splat” and your face was so adorable. Afterwards I put a bandaid on your elbow and you held up your elbow the whole way down.
  13. Sometimes you say “Ow” in a very exacting way. Last time, you said “Ow” and then “Say sorry” to your brother, but in a very matter of fact way. You also like to say “You can’t dooo that” and “I don’t want anything.” I enjoy imitating you very much.

I love you so so much back. Love: Aunt Jenny