Saturday, June 28, 2014

thoughts of the day

1. my health and fitness app may have a few things in common with the fictional mean god in my head

Good morning, internet. I have been counting the minutes till this morning for about two weeks now. We spent last weekend on a short, lovely trip to the Bay Area for our friend Mikko’s dance party—sort of a fortieth birthday party, sort of a mini summer camp, sort of a party to tell all his friends and family members how much he loved them (a small piece of me was like, Is this the part where Mikko tells us he has an incurable disease? Luckily, there was no such part).

Everybody dance now. NOW!
Mikko, Chris and AK dance so good they're blurry.
We also got to see Pedro and Stephen’s new West Oakland flat. We’re so sad that they’re not in L.A. anymore, but at least they were courteous enough to move to the one city where ninety percent of our non-L.A. friends seem to have congregated. I love me some one-stop shopping.

West Oakland walk with Sugar the sweetheart pit bull.
But we left for Oakland right after work last Friday, and returned right before work Monday, and I DO NOT DO WELL with so little downtime. Tuesday night I had a little OCD meltdown, in which I became certain that my thoughts could determine the future: Wasn’t it true that I was ungrateful for my health and good fortune? Didn’t my continued grouchiness about lack-of-baby mean Fictional Mean God* would punish me by not getting me a baby? Shouldn’t I stop caring about a baby, so that I could get a baby? (Fictional Mean God is, apparently, easily tricked.)

Friday I drank a smoothie that was mostly half-and-half and ate too many potato chips and cookies at a free concert at the Levitt Pavilion, and even if you show relative restraint by not eating the whole bag, your health and fitness app will still tell you that you’re a thousand calories over what you should be eating.

Throughout the week I exchanged hyper-sensitive emails with my hyper-sensitive bff. We totally sensitived-out on each other.

Every night I self-soothed with My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, which is a pretty awesome show about a culture whose main tenet (according to the show) is dressing like a trashy whore in order to demonstrate your uber-virginity.

I live in the Venn diagram between this and RuPaul's Drag Race.
At no time did I write a lick of fiction. I felt my soul erode accordingly.

So that was my week.

2. i’m resisting the temptation to make a list of resolutions for my second year after cancer treatment, because it would be all the same shit anyway

It’s been exactly one year since I finished cancer treatment. The year has sped by, as years do once you’re over thirty. Sometimes I feel like, That’s so weird that I had cancer that one time. Other times it feels defining—a distinct before and after point. I feel like Homeboy wouldn’t make nearly as much sense to me if I hadn’t gone through what I’ve gone through in the past four years. I’m glad I work there because it makes my internal change external and more permanent.

Last night co-worker Kendra’s boyfriend Rob was pondering what he might say if he was called upon to share a Thought of the Day, which is how Homeboy kicks off each morning—with a mini sermon from a staff member. He had a lot of the same questions that I would have had as an early-thirties youngster like him: How am I supposed to have anything important to say to people who’ve had much harder lives than I have?

He used the words “us” and “them,” not unkindly.

Employment Services Director Jose gives his Thought of the Day. This guy always has me scrambling for my notebook.
Homeboy’s whole point is that there is no us and them. Yes, some people have had way more than their fair share of struggle, and it’s affected their lives in major ways. The idea isn’t to put a blanket “we’re all the same inside!” band-aid on real injustice. It’s more to understand that experience shapes us all, and we can help each other to have more good experiences and fewer shitty ones by naming and honoring struggle, and moving forward with humor and grace (or at least awkward grace).

Even among white, middle-class, educated staff members, there are those who know what it’s like to scrape the bottom of their purse for stray cocaine dust.** Or have a parent they will never, ever please. Or just (“just”) get super depressed and lose all hope.

Sometimes I think the “us” is people who get trauma and the “them” is people who don’t, even though I should know better.

Sometimes I get mad at myself for not being where I should be—there have been chocolate binges this year, even though I thought I was beyond them, although they’ve been fewer; there hasn’t been a baby or a completed third draft of my YA novel.

Sometimes I am almost able to just be. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to keep trying.


*I mean, I think Mean God is fictional, created by the dark forces in my head. I believe in Love God, if not his-her power or inclination to reward me for my goodness.

**I don’t know if that’s literally true; I borrowed the image from the amazing poet Allison Benis White. But we have more than a few proud (by which I mean humble) AA/NA folks in our ranks.

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