July 22, 2008

Malkovich and Mary Magdalene

Today I had a big job interview for a high-level design position with the City of Chicago. But here's the bizarre part. I was told to go to "Room 3M8," so I pushed "3" when I got on the elevator but then quickly noticed that there was a "3M" button too. When the doors opened at 3M, they opened to something straight out of Being John Malkovich. Ok, maybe not that drastic, but the ceiling was short. Really short, and there were strange steel beams cutting diagonally through some of the corners of the long meandering hallway. When the people interviewing me joked that I might want to "take off my high heels," the Malkovich jokes ensued. It was truly bizarre.
Today is the Feast of Mary Magdalene, and I'm off to church for our annual women-grab-the-patriarchy-and-have-our-way-with-it celebration. Ironically, I've been asked to read the first reading from the Song of Solomon, which aside from being a lovely metaphor for the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus, is the story of a woman searching for her male lover. Let's hope I can keep a "straight" face for that performance. Heh.

July 20, 2008


It's now been over 24 hours since I've had a cigarette. Instead of lighting up when I feel the several occasions of light anxiety that occur during the course of my typical day, I'm spraying Dr. Bach's Rescue Remedy on my tongue. The true test will be when one of life's major anxieties shows up — and how I will chose to cope then. We shall see.
I've realized that quitting smoking is as much about letting go of negativity as it is actually putting down the smokes. This realization has got me wanting to dispose of so much mental baggage, which I try to do periodically. I can see around what issues I've let negativity creep back in and where some mental house-cleaning is in order.
Probably the most important thing I can do right now is to not just sit around and think about how to purge the negativity — surrounded by my journal, and copies of You Can Heal Your Life and Living the Life You Were Born to Live — but to actually do something physical. Like exercise. The thing I resist more than any other thing. Just Try. Run. Sweat. Struggle. Feel-Out-Of-Breath. Feel Awkward. Feel Weak. Feel Stronger. Believe That I Can.

July 04, 2008

Denver, Part III

The mean old lady across the hall was talking to her birds again — she must have had a dozen or so in there. I imagine that there was bird-shit all over her apartment, which would seem to fit her personality. Every time we turned on any music she'd start banging at precisely 10pm. We'd already gotten several calls from the landlady about complaining neighbors. What the hell were these college students doing in a building full of old folks?

When I wasn't in class or working, I spent most of my time in Boulder with Marie. When I was forced to be home, I isolated myself in my bedroom, doing what I could to shield myself from Leah's attacks. Kami was finally getting all she ever wanted, now that she was Leah's sole ally. Our walls were thin, and I could hear them plotting and talking about me.

It was around this time that I got a hold of The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It was the perfect escape from my hellish living situation. The characters of that story would leave such an impression on my heart and soul, I'd name my children from it's pages. They were powerful women, sometimes caught in circumstances over which they had no control, manipulated by people who were supposed to protect them, but always counting on the ultimate justice of the universe (karma) to come around when it was time. I knew the same would happen in my situation.

I came home from class one day to find that Kami and Leah had moved out. And when I say moved out, I mean taken all of their shit, ransacked all of mine, and left me a catty little note in my diary, just to let me know how terribly amused they were with my life. And oh, they'd be bailing on the lease, and all of the bills that were in my name. Luckily, I knew that Kami and Leah's parents' had co-signed on our lease, but I hadn't allowed my dad to do that. I had really been hoping to make it on my own. But now, that seemed unlikely. It would take years of lawsuits to straighten out the financial mess they'd left for me.

After they were gone, Marie started spending more time at my apartment. We were unexpected allies, and our friendship was blooming. I knew how lonely I was so far away from home and without any friends, but I wouldn't know for years how desperately Marie needed a friend in those days. She'd just gotten her heart broken by her first love with a woman — but she wasn't coming out of the closet yet. We had fun, traipsing around Denver and Boulder, hiking in the mountains and wreaking havoc at the Cherry Creek Mall. We'd skip along, singing songs we'd learned in Catholic school or play practical jokes on couples walking hand in hand through the holiday-decorated gazebo across from the mall. Marie was totally unpredictable and helped me to let my hair down a little. But her immaturity would sometimes stun me and even scare me. Like when she befriended some street-kids in Denver and had them over to my apartment to get high. They were ten and twelve years old! When I cautioned her and pleaded that she not bring them over to my apartment, she said I was paranoid and "no fun."
Marie just did whatever she wanted, with little boundaries.

By the time Christmas rolled around, we were both headed back to Chicago. I'd barely passed my classes, and I'd flunked the only one that really mattered to me: 3-D Design. My brother and my friend Rhiannon came out to get us and after spending some time hiking in the mountains, we headed back across the flat Midwest. I never spoke to Kami or Leah again. And I haven't visited Denver or Boulder since.

July 01, 2008

Denver, Part II

I registered for a full semester of classes at the Community College of Denver -- which actually wasn't so bad, because it was on a combined campus along with the University of Colorado and the University of Denver. I signed up for a Lit. Class, Sociology, a refresher math class, and a 3-D Design class. On the days that we had to be at class around the same time, Kami, Leah and I took the Cherry Creek bike trail down to the campus and sometimes met up for lunch later in the day. Kami's jealousness and possessiveness seemed to be growing, and I wondered if girls every outgrew their eighth-grade cattiness. It was becoming clear to me: I had spoiled Kami's fantasy of sharing an apartment with Leah and having her all to herself. She was doing a miserable job of hiding her crush.

I was starting to sink into the mundanity of what I had hoped would be an adventure: a load of classes and a fast-food job, and no friends other than the roomate love-triange I had found myself in the middle of. The few people I was meeting in Denver were way too conservative for my tastes. I hadn't realized that I would be in cowboy country. I hadn't realized how Republican everyone would be! I looked up the bus schedule and found out that there were several daily trips to and from Boulder and I skipped class one day and spent the day there, hiking the foothills of the Rockies and gathering sagebrush. Hippies were everywhere in Boulder and I longed to move there. I half-forged a plan to transfer to UofC Boulder in a year. Aside from the rich kids who jaunted off to Vail when they skipped classes on Daddy's dime, Boulder seemed like a much better fit for me.

Leah got a call one day from her friend Marie who was caravaning out for a visit with a bunch of friends from her college town, Lawrence, Kansas. Marie and I had gone to high school together, but hadn't spoken much in years. There was some bad blood between her and I, mostly involving that abusive ex serial-cheater of mine, need I say more. Where ever that girl was, drama seemed to follow. Still, Denver was positively dull, and a little excitement and even drama sounded great.

Marie arrived with a whole entourage that would crash with us for about a week. Most of that week is pretty hazy to me still. I'm pretty sure I was high the entire time: LSD, booze and pills. Her friend Darren had a car, and we drove into the mountains and hiked up a beautiful peak where we could see Pike's Peak in the distance. There is nothing like climbing a mountain and standing on the edge of the world. I sometimes miss them still and see them in my dreams. Legend has it that the Indian tribe that was driven out of the foothills put a curse on the Flatiron range that whomever should gaze upon it would always feel a longing to return there for the rest of their days — then they would know the heartache of the tribe. Those foothills will always hold a sacred place in my heart.

Marie's friends headed back to Lawrence, but she decided to stay, along with Darren and Tim, two wanderers who planned to stay in Denver and look for work. Marie was on the run and dropping out of her classes in Lawrence. Whatever happened there was too painful for her to talk about — and she got busy trying to forget whatever it was, spending her days getting bombed. She started staying with an old childhood friend from Cincinnati who was going to school in Boulder and had her own apartment.

The heat from Kami was suddenly off of me, because Leah had turned her attentions toward Darren. And one drunken night when I didn't make it back to my bed and chose the living room floor as my resting place, Darren and Leah took advantage of the privacy of my bedroom and um, well, I'm sure you can imagine. When I managed to stumble back to my bed in the morning, I was horrified to find it in "use." Leah denied anything had happened, mostly to placate Kami who seemed positively irate with jealousy. I was simply disgusted that they had screwed in my bed. Yuck. Leah had some cooked up story about how they had only gone to lay down there in the morning and hadn't spent the night in my bed at all — a story that might have flown if Marie hadn't blown her cover. "Bullshit, I was up with you guys all night and I know exactly how it went down." Leah was genuinely incredulous that Marie wasn't providing cover for her story. And honestly, it was something I could have gotten over. The sheets would get washed and I'd forget all about it. There are worse things in life. But Leah decided to declare war any anyone who had the audacity to question her honesty. She just wouldn't cave on her story at all! She refused to be caught in a lie! Somehow, a deep rage had been provoked in Leah and she became singularly focused on one thing: revenge.