the twenty-ninth question

February 24, 2012

this post is one of many for a project i began several years ago, the griffin inquisition. i asked my friends and family to pose questions to me, things they would like to know that would require an essay-type answer.

the most recent essay topic was offered by a fellow blogger.

honestly rank which of these is most important to you: family, love, money, having children, looking good -- cristina.

family. i doubt i would've lived half as long as i have if it weren't for them. in fact, i'm quite confident i would not have bothered to get past seventh grade. that was hell, and i'm amazed, even now, even when i've blocked so much of it--i can't remember most of that year, but i can remember, quite well, how i felt--i'm amazed that i got through it.

money. and, more importantly, the ability to be reasonable and responsible with it. because at the moment, i am relying on my family too much for too many things. i can't support myself, partly because of the jobs i hold and partly because i am lousy at managing my accounts.

looking good. i know. it sounds shallow. it is. but my face and i, we've never been on good terms. even as i'm typing this, i'm feeling the wrongness of it. the whole right side is feeling odd at the moment. in most moments, actually. and there's nothing, nothing at all that i can do about it.

love. i'm so over this stuff right now. last saturday, some guy bought me a drink and then paid for my lunch, which was really sweet. he was nice and passably attractive, and i think pretty intelligent. but my gut told me he liked to drink. too much. and he was sort of stocky, with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes.

the men in my family and most of the boys i knew in school were long and lean (even my father was at some point, though you wouldn't know this to look at him), so this is what i'm used to, what i prefer. and one of the shuckers was giving me shit about my standards being too high.

so what? i've done that whole lowering-them-so-they-appear-to-be-more realistic thing. you know what happened? i felt guilty for not being true to myself. and for not being fair to the guys for whom i'd lowered the bar.

i've a preference for dark-haired, dark-eyed men who are noticeably taller than i and built more like swimmers and less like offensive linemen. and i'm rambling because some part of me feels like i have to justify this. i'm not sure why that is. maybe because i've heard too many times that i'm too picky. like i don't have a right to be. also? the boy at the bar? he'd prefer to be in places like montana and alaska, and that, for me, ain't ever gonna happen. i am not a cold-climate kind of gal.

and, most irritatingly, there's this small part of me that feels like i should've given the guy more credit. probably because i've been told so many times that i'm too picky.

anyway ... it's too much work, takes too much out of me, messes with my head WAY too much.

having children. yeah. that's a no. i'm not built for that.

the last two? i wish i could put them higher. i really do.

cristina is an aggie, living in arkansas, raising one little girl with her doctor husband and expecting a second baby girl soon! her blog, is there a doctor in the house?, is here.

the facebook fiasco

February 10, 2012

the not so super sunday

February 6, 2012

i don't like the giants. i hope they suck next year.

the seat next to me

February 3, 2012

the thing that sucks most about not having depth perception is that i have significantly sizable personal space issues. this is largely due to the fact that, once you've come within what is two feet or so of me (because i just measured it so that i could tell you definitively that it is, in fact, two feet), there is this part of me that begins to freak out because, in my mind, you're so big! holy cow! you're a giant! an ogre! and it intimidates me and irritates me, and i just want you to back the hell away so that i can see your feet again and know, definitively, that i can't touch you, and you can't touch me.

because if i don't know you, i don't want you touching me.

i don't even like it when my parents get into my bubble, okay? my parents who made me and raised me and have had my back and bailed me out and helped me up.

part of this could also because my third-grade teacher put my desk, and thereby me, in a cardboard box. the sort that held a large kitchen appliance. so maybe the bubble bit is compounded by residual trauma from segregation -- the lady didn't want me in her classroom, but i had to be there. maybe that's got something to do with it. who knows?

i'm not a hugger. unless the wonder twins are involved. then, i'm all about the hugs. probably because they won't be giants for another two decades or so. then, when that day comes, you can bet your butt that i'd prefer they stay out of my bubble. i will make an effort to please those who matter most. my father wants a kiss goodnight or to run a hand over my arm, because he's an affectionate guy, i take one for the team. my younger brother has a habit of slinging an arm over my shoulder and hanging on that we're walking in step, toe to toe, i suck it up. but genearlly i don't want you patting me on the back or putting an arm over my shoulder. i want you to stand where i can see you. all of you.

the world is flat to me. the only way i know how to handle that is when i can see all of a body without having to move my head or shift my sight.

when it comes to writing, i generally do my best work while copping a squat in a bar in the midst of the dinner rush. this is when the muses are the most cooperative. this is when i can, amazingly enough, even with all the distractions of the guests and the staff conversing with each other and the clink of empty bottles as they're being tossed in the garbage and the bustle of the servers as they rush in and out of the kitchen ... even with all this chaos, this is when i can focus.

i get really pissed off when one person throws me out of that focus.

i get really irritated when people are sitting on both sides of me. i can handle someone sitting to my immediate right or left well enough. but not to my right AND left.

there's a reason i usually sit at the end of the bar (see down there where the dude is in the orange vest? that's about where i sit), near the to-go and service stations for that bar. the last two stools are meant to be used by those placing to-go orders. i am, more often than not, situated behind the taps, the third stool from the end.

i get there early enough, usually before six p.m. so that i can have that spot. it's at one of the busiest areas of the restaurant, and yet it's out of most of the way of the guests who are copping squats at that bar.

on this particular evening, two women came to sit before the shuckers' station. one stool divided us. they were having a good time bantering with the shuckers. i was plotting a chapter or two or three. every now and then, i'd tune in to their conversation. every now and then i'd participate.

two hours of this. my friday night was pleasant.

my friday morning hadn't been. in fact, today had been pretty ugly. ugly enough that i was frustrated and miserable and crying.

i've been pretty moody lately. that whole bit about the things that don't kill you make you stronger? i couldn't buy that today. i felt horribly weak and inadequate.

i spent most of my afternoon in bed or playing on the computer or vegging in my father's recliner watching really old episodes of v or what not to wear or say yes to the dress.

(i caught a bit of one of the twilight films today. i think it was the third one. i'm astounded really. i knew they were bad, but really? edward? that's the penultimate guy? please. i'd rather live the rest of my life as a single, embittered hag than be with a guy like that.)

i came home tonight feeling like that, actually.

sometimes it's kind of humiliating to be a single woman sitting alone at a bar with a notebook writing a stupid love story at seven p.m on a friday night.

and, of course, the bit of the story i'm writing at the moment isn't a happy one.

i look young for my age. still. people still treat me as though they are so much wiser, as though their lives have more significance because they've lived, as far as they can tell, longer. that, and they've got a spouse with them. or a good friend. they're out to have a good time.

i'm almost forty. my history, my life? it's been quite educational. but whatever.

so. the stools to my immediate right and left have been vacant for two hours.

but it's half-past seven. business has peaked.

the stool to my left is occupied by the bag belonging to the woman who's occupied the stool to its left. this woman, who's come with a friend, is friendly. happy. she doesn't have that air of entitlement about her. she's easy-going. patient. funny. she's a little overweight. her hair is that orangy-blonde of a store-bought bottle job, cut short. a little spunky. she's dressed comfortably. navy top (a sweater, i think) and blue jeans. the stool to my right has just been occupied by a woman who's hair is that streaky, pale blonde with dark, dark roots from a bad highlight job (or she's seriously overdo for a hair treatment). she's got gold hoops. too much make-up. a mint green, paisley-type printed, poet-styled blouse. i think she was wearing dark, dark denim or black slacks. i couldn't really tell. she was with her date, an older gentleman. this woman had already bitched at one of the bartenders about how she wanted her drink made. she is not friendly. she is not easy-going. she has a grand sense of self-entitlement, as does her date.

she notices that the stool to my left is vacant. she asks if someone is sitting there or if it's just the lady's bag.

i tell her no, that it's the bag. and the other half of my notebook. because i've already scooted to my left a bit to accomodate her presence and my need for space.

she doesn't seem too pleased with my answer. says something like, so no one's sitting there, then?

and all the sudden, the small bit of pleasure i'd managed to find for myself in this day (because i'd finally managed to motivate myself to get off my ass and do something good and nice for others -- i sent a small bit of money to my alma mater to help its english department with expenses and, if you claimed in a dvd in last month's giveaway, i got it in the mail to you -- and then something good and nice for myself) was obliterated.

my eyes get really flashy when i'm pissed. almost black. and glinty. my grandma's were black. i kind of like that mine can get that way. i wish they wouldn't do it when i want to maim people, though. i stand up, to the left of my stool. scoot it over slightly to the right. slam my notebook, then my spiral closed.

one of the shuckers has noticed that i am no longer happy. he wants to know why. the other shucker has tuned in, now. a few weeks back, he had asked me if i would mind scooting down one spot.

yes, i do mind. i'd like to not feel boxed in by giants. that's what i want to say. but that wouldn't make any sense to anyone.

i'd packed my stuff up fairly quickly that night, too.

they know better than to ask me to move now. :]

they know someone's asked me. as i'm digging out my wallet for some cash to tip the barstaff, i jerk a thumb toward the woman on my right.

and her date says, thank you.

oh, but of course.

the way i see it, the seat your selfish ass is occupying had belonged to someone else five seconds ago. but don't mind me. i'm nobody. which is how i'd felt earlier today. so, thank you.

random quarter: my kabuki

February 1, 2012

one. kabuki is my older brother's nickname. he got it in high school. i don't remember how.

two. he was born on october twelfth in the year nineteen sixty-eight, four and a half years before me.

three. he died on march twelfth in the year two thousand three.

four. he was older than me for thirty-four years. now i am older than he. forever.

five. in high school, on the nights he would go out with his friends, before he left, he would stand in front of the mirror in the foyer, marvel at his reflection, grin his cockeyed grin and exclaim, "i am a goddamned good-looking man." this habit of grand self-reflection continued on through college and adulthood. while at a&m, his corps unit commander found this habit incredibly amusing. as did i, even though i'd roll my eyes and bitch about his stupidity.

six. the reason two of my friends became involved with each other is because my brother had dared the boy to go over to the girl and smack her on the ass. the boy, who is actually quite shy when it comes to stuff like this, was just drunk enough that he could do it. and when the girl turned, her hand raised to slap his face, she stopped short because it'd registered that he was pretty cute and she'd better not slap him. and they dated for what seemed like a decade. and then they got married. and now they have two of the cutest kids i've ever seen. not the cutest, of course. those would be my other brother's children. but close enough.

seven. i used to hate when he would come and stay at the house when my parents were out of town, because all he did while there was get drunk and trash the place, and i'd be the one doing the cleaning up. it never occurred to me that he was there because he was trying to be the good big brother, knowing his baby sister didn't like being home alone. i'd always thought he'd just wanted a house of his own rather than an apartment and that he wanted to take advantage of my folks and their place while they were away. i'm well aware it could still be the latter there. but i like thinking that he was trying to do the right thing.

eight. the reason i can't be sure if it's that right thing bit is because he had this incredibly uncanny knack for showing up within an hour after their departure and vacating the premises within an hour of their arrival.

nine. he could befriend anyone in a matter of seconds. literally. anyone. he could be standing in line at mcdonald's talking to the guy in line behind him, and they'd be acting like they'd known each other for years by the time they'd placed their orders.

ten. he used to wish i was more like his friend's younger sister and less like me.

eleven. the best memory i have of him isn't a good one at all, really. he'd been in houston, on a binge. my mother'd become quite certain that he wouldn't be home for christmas. my father was in his office, working. my mother was in the kitchen, getting breakfast ready. i was taking turns keeping them company. and my brother shows up on the doorstep at around eight a.m. i'd never seen him look so fragile, as though it hurt him to breathe. and all the years of my being angry with him, all the hatred i'd felt for him got shoved out of the way, because all i could think was my bubby's hurt. it didn't matter that he'd done it to himself. he hurt. he looked broken. and for the first time in a very long time, i'd wanted to make it better.

twelve. the worst? the night he passed out in the upstairs bathroom my brothers and i shared, in the bathtub with the water still running. he'd flooded the house. i yelled at him. he laughed at me. it was like looking at the devil.

thirteen. he was almost always the last person to get the christmas shopping done. when we'd spend christmas in colorado, on christmas eve, he'd come back to the cabin from skiing at two or three that afternoon to shower and change, then he'd go back to aspen to shop. we were never allowed to go with him. he would always, always have the best presents for us.

fourteen. he had the best laugh. it's hard for me to recall it now in perfect clarity, but it was like his whole body, every feature on his face laughed with him.

fifteen. he also had a very short supply of patience. he could not tolerate stupidity in others.

sixteen. he was bigoted. sometimes i had a bit of trouble stomaching how opinionated he could be.

seventeen. he gave me a bottle of ralph lauren's romance for women for christmas. i can't remember if it was the winter before he died or the year before that. once in a while, i'll think i should change that fragrance, and i do. but i always come back to it.

eighteen. he hated how crass i can be. i embarrassed him often because my mouth is so vulgar.

nineteen. he helped my mother wash my mouth out one day. she'd threatened to do it when she got off the phone. he didn't see a point in waiting, so he dragged me over to the sink, yanked my head back and downed what seemed to be half a bottled of dawn in my mouth. i could not stop foaming. so gross. and it didn't do a damned bit of good. obviously.

twenty. he was the easiest person to shop for.

twenty-one. he had AMAZINGLY BAD tastes in music. some of it so pathetic that no record station around in a thousand mile radius would take it back. so i'm stuck with bon jovi, two live crew, eazy-e, taylor dane and whitesnake.

twenty-two. he could not sing. could not carry a note. the man was tone deaf. oh, but he'd try. and he knew he sucked, so he'd just grin at you, come stand right next to you and serenade you right there. and if it was me who was receiving the serenade, there were a lot of kidney shots being snuck in there. my shots. his kidneys.

twenty-three. he was spoiled and lazy and stuck on things having to be just so.

twenty-four. he'd owned a motorycle for all of three days. my parents found out and made him sell it immediately.

twenty-five. in one of those blissful moments where mama's three children aren't tearing into each other, we decided we were going to create a castle made of cups, one that spanned the breadth of the den and reached to the height of its ceiling. kabuki was in college. i was in high school. my other brother was in an intermediate grade. we gathered around in my mother's living room, full of so many things from her mother's. so many things we needed to be mindful of. so many cups. that's what we were mindful of. how many would it take to get to the top and how wide could we get it.and then when we'd finished, the best part, the thing that made it all worthwhile, flicking on the fan and watching the blades send the cups flying.

and there. there's my brother. marvelous, seemingly formiddable. engaging and inspiring and eager to fly.

this (rq post) was a (two-timing) matlock project. learn about that here.