Thursday, February 24, 2011

She Couldn't

She couldn't decide: was her persona too bracing a presence to put up with for very long--two quick slaps of Aqua Velva could be good on occasion, but a lifetime supply as either bathwater or beverage would be too, too much of something that was definitely optional--or maybe she was just a bitch? So she went back and forth. It was them. No, it was her, all her, always had been. Then she'd drop it for a while and just go on.

She couldn't believe that people actually believed in a coherent narrative arc to their own lives, one in which if they only knew which strand, which subplot was going to turn out to be the main one, they could finally put their efforts to most use. Which woman was the right woman, which job was the right job, which house was the best set for the movie of their life, which car sent the exact message they wanted to send to other people about who they were on the inside. Gas mileage and moral seriousness of the Prius, or creamy leather seats and the opportunity to offer passengers a warmed bucket seat in the Lexus? Time is ticking down, people. Decide already. These movies rarely go over two hours.

It's not that she disagreed. That word, the word she had used, did have some negative connotations. She wasn't disputing that. But taken globally, taking who she was and who he was to her and the whole frankness of the situation and the length of their relationship and there were probably many more possible mitigators, how could he think she meant to wound him with that word? She who barely bothered to speak to other people seriously, was handing him cut diamonds and he was complaining that they had pointy bits.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Night

There is no night. Whatever the sun abandons one day, it rediscovers the next. Even when no one is looking at you, you still exist. This can be a horror, a tragedy even, or it can be the necessary bedrock of the decision to create meaning in our lives, for our lives.

All that time I spend searching for the correct word, the correct phrase--obliterated by the fiery glance from its recipient.

I thought it was unconditional love. I found out that it wasn't when the conditions changed.

I have been socialized to perform my persona for women, but I don't enjoy it. I'd rather talk to men, but I have no confidence that I can say anything they'd like to hear.

For a woman to look a man straight in the eye is halfway to agreeing to have sex with him. Or it isn't.

If you read for what happened, read the newspaper. If you'd prefer to know why, read novels.

I have all my life preferred not to tell people what happened to me, because I knew their reaction would follow a certain vector that would change my experience into black tragedy. But that was not how it felt to me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I study my own behavior in order to understand others; understanding others allows me to know myself better. Speaking my true feelings and thoughts has led to some of the best discoveries of my life. Hiding them has led to a dark and despairing place and I won't go back there.

Women are not better than men. They are socialized to put others' needs before their own and many times they do, until they can't do that any more and then there is no satisfying them. A taken-for-granted middle-aged woman is a dervish of insatiable need.

I can not be counted on to perform my part in the ongoing drama of my own life. I'm too unconvincing. I can't ever remember my own lines, even though I wrote them, I thought them, I spoke them.

He thought women were better than men; they had to be. She thought his problem was that he was counting on them to be better than he was, it saved him a lot of hard work. He could put them in charge of morality, goodness, childcare, nutrition. He could save up his energy for strategic battles with colleagues, fantasy football, joke retention, girl-watching.

Every day he reimagined the cathedrals he would build; every day she made one brick. Guess who finished the shithouse first?

Monday, February 21, 2011

As An Introduction

The aphorism is a flash of lightning to the brain. The poem is a gradual ray of light brightening at dawn. The story is following a flashlight in the dark down twisting forest paths to a small clearing in the woods where a campfire has been laid. Now you must bring out the matches and keep the fire going while the story continues, while you add your side of the story.

The aphorism: too stark, or too opaque. Too funny to be serious, or too wounding to be heard. L'esprit de l'escalier or Treppenwitz. Too true for comfort, or so far from the mark it would be as well to shut the f--- up.

What I share with other aphorists: the desire to be believed before I prove my assertions.

These are some of my thoughts that have lasted long enough to be articulated, once, twice, three times. Worded, reworded, polished. Then pronounced. But like all thoughts they too finally subside. Whether you inadvertently kick a rough piece of gravel into a puddle or gently place a cut gem on a velvet pillow, both will end up at the bottom of the sea in the end.

When I say you, I mean me. When I say women, I mean me. When I say men, I mean R. except when I mean J. When I say sometimes, I mean always--because I have been told never to say always.

Every time I write an aphorism, I am sorry. Not sorry I thought it, or wrote it, but that I feel the need to inflict it on other people. I'm trying to blame other people for this, but can't find a way. So far, Don Paterson has the most to answer for. His book of aphorisms made me start this file.