There is a moment that comes early on in any relationship where you realise you are going to have to define it. We’d been spending a lot of time together recently, just us. We’d previously spent a lot of time together with others. Now it was time for that conversation.
Inevitably, it began as we were lying in bed. It was late afternoon, we had met for lunch and now we were naked and wrapped in your duvet and the setting sun was peering through the half-closed blinds spilling fractured shadows over our comfortably exhausted bodies.
Your hand was lolling casually on my shoulder and your eyes were closed. My hair was spread out like an open sea anemone across your shoulder and chest. It was warm and hazy and in that moment I heard the words as if they were coming from far away, almost a beat before they slipped from your lips. “What should we call this?”
I tried to stay still, not wanting to appear alarmed. I tried not to, but sighed a little as I breathed-in to respond, “Do we have to call it anything?”
You shifted to lean on your elbow, looking down into my face. My head bumped the pillow as I readjusted my position so I could focus on your eyes. They were by far my favourite part of your face, then, sleepy and blue but intense even when the rest of your body was languid.
“Seriously, though,” you pursed your lips, “What are we doing here?”
I tried to refrain from the mental eye-roll. “We’re lying in bed, we just had mind-blowingly great sex… But that isn’t what you mean is it?” I half-smiled, to show you I was happy and to show you I meant it.
You smiled back, but there was a touch of coldness, “So, if I introduce you to anyone I should say “Hi, this is Annie, we have mind-blowingly great sex.”. Okay, fair enough.”
You smirked and I slipped my hand out from under the covers to stroke your face.
“Obviously not. But, do we need to say anything? Couldn’t you just say “This is Annie”?”
You frowned, “But what I’m asking is, what are we to each other now?”
I looked at you, searching for a clue. “We’re friends.” I spoke softly.
“Friends. Yup. okay.” You fell back on the bed.
For a few minutes we lay just like that. You with your intense eyes closed, me with my hand stroking your cheek.
You shifted again, staring long and hard into my eyes. “It’s just… What is the first thing you think about when you wake up every morning?”
Your cheeks were flushed, there was a trace of a flutter in my chest, I felt the warmth spread through me as your fingers brushed a strand of hair from my face.
“Breakfast.” I offered.
Your smirk reappeared, “Well, alright then.”
I raised an eyebrow.
You held my gaze. “Breakfast. Good. Glad we got that cleared up.”
The Ort materialized on the old wooden stool next to Daisy’s highchair as Sandra gave Daisy her breakfast. It’s saggy bulk made the old thing creak, it was the oldest piece of furniture they had.
Daisy chortled merrily to see the creature, and then she bagan spooning the porridge into her mouth. The Ort burped encouragingly, looked over at Sandra, then returned it’s attention to the feeding human infant.
The toddler and the creature giggled together, then Daisy took up banging the highchair table with her spoon and the Ort dripped residue onto the linoleum.
Sandra and Alan had become aware their child was communicating with an invisible entity as soon as she started talking. At first they believed it to be a passing phase, but when the Ort started assuming an actual physical form it began having a serious effect on their marriage.
Alan was convinced he was losing his mind, Sandra tried reassurring him, no, it was real, the thing was real and it was happening to them. Soon, Alan was demanding they call the authorities to have it “removed”, but predictably the Ort failed to appear at mealtimes if any third party was present, and the more calls they made, the more Sandra felt that they were risking having their only child taken away from them. So she insisted they stop the calls.
It was soon after this Alan left them. He maintained he had fallen in love with the receptionist at his new work and had decided to move on. Sandra wasn’t even sure they had a receptionist at his new work. She found the idea amusing.
It made life simpler not having him around anyhow. The Ort was much less agitated with Alan gone, and, consequently, the stink it gave off mellowed.
Sandra finished mixing Daisy’s drink, looking across she caught the Ort’s blank stare, it nodded at her encouragingly. She placed the drink in front of Daisy, the Ort farted it’s approval and Sandra turned to the sink.
breakfast is important, so we’re told. over and over and over.
breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
there was a long period of time where breakfast was the most dreadful (and sometimes only) meal of the day. i would wake up with such anxiety, either from having terrible dreams that i could not separate from memories, and thus, thought they had been real, or from the stress of real life and constant depression. breakfast was gut-wrenching because i knew that if i ate it, i would surely throw it up soon after; but if i didn’t eat it, i would feel weak and dizzy all day.
sometimes, breakfast was safe. when mom would put gel in my hair and spike it just the way i liked, but was unable to do myself. a chaotic mass of jagged protrusions at the front, and the rest tight to my skull like a protective shell. but i could see her frowning with frustration at my inability to eat a proper meal, and at the despair locked away in my eyes that she just couldn’t destroy, no matter how much she loved me.
years later, when i moved out, breakfast became every sunday, with my closest friends joining me at the house with my parents, and spending the day there. family day. breakfast was ritual and welcoming and wonderful.
now, breakfast is occasional. not in a way that’s intentional or painful. but there’s no thought. breakfast happens before work so i have the strength to lift heavy objects. breakfast happens with sarah on the weekends, sometimes in our pajamas, sometimes at restaurants. sometimes breakfast is going for a chai with mom, who is trapped in her own well of despair, and that only i can see, now that i am happy.
It’s a little after midnight, but not late enough to be considered morning. There hasn’t been the clean delineation of sleep to differentiate night from morning and it’s still dark. Time has assumed a homogenized state. It no longer matters if it’s 12:30 or 2:30 or is it really 4:30 already? Christ. Light is a lamp, and the rest is as dark as it has been and will be for however long since I forgot to notice the sunset to when I forgot to finish reading the page that sends me to sleep. And once I do go to sleep, when I wake up, it will probably no longer be morning. So: Does this bowl of cereal, consumed just almost quickly enough not to be soggy at the end, count as breakfast?
I dunno if it's on Hulu, but it's easily findable on googlevideo and other places, but the snake handlers (as in the pentecostal subsect) documentary Holy Ghost People is one of my personal faves. It's really intense. It's from the late 60s and shot on cheap film, so it's got varying quality, but I feel like you might be into it.
What's going on with you? Aside from sickness, anticipation, everyday whatevers, etceteras, so forths, and tedium. Got any creative concepts or projects on any sort of distant or semidistant horizonlike structure? (Pardon the strangeness, I'm in a mood to make language into a game.)
Language is always a game!
I wish I could say I had creative things planned, but I have been in a terrible dry spell ever since a certain project which shall remain nameless ended. I know the answer is to just do stuff, all the time, but I’ve had a hard time with motivation on that front.
The next time I do have something to shout about, you can be sure that I will be shouting about it all over this here mountaintop.
I should be way more stressed about the two day in-class essay midterm in my American government class and the speech I have due in my oral presentation class this week, but all I can think is “I get to see my sweetheart in FOUR DAYS!!!!”
“And of course I’m a real woman. Because every person who chooses to identify as a woman is a real woman. I am no less of a woman now than I was when I weighed 30 pounds less. I was no less of a woman when you could see my ribs and was super skinny. And that woman with the dick is no less of a woman than I am. And that woman with the bitchin’ moustache is no less of a woman that I am. And that woman who weighs 300 pounds is no less of a woman than I am. All these fucking ladies all over the fucking place are real. Can we acknowledge that, already? And spread it far and wide (like I spread my legs for YOUR MOM)?”—
These winter months have quite flown by, and it has been far too long since the last Uncanny Valley of the Heart’s Delight! We are so very happy to announce the fifth installment of our music & performance art series at the end of this very month, Friday, March 30th.
As for each of our Uncanny Valley shows, we are hard at work preparing fresh material and cannot wait to present it to you. We are excited to also be bringing along the incredible talents of Foxtails Brigade, freshly back from their first United States tour and the newest pride of San Francisco. This delightful band is not-to-be-missed, and we are looking forward to be able to have them in such an ideal listening environment as the Anno Domini gallery, currently decorated with the touching and impeccably appropriate paintings of Daniel Jesse Lewis (we can’t claim responsibility for the timing of this fortunate exhibition, though we’d like to).
Please forward this invitation along to anyone who would enjoy such a special show!
Friday March 30th at Anno Domini Gallery 366 S. First St, downtown San Jose Corpus Callosum with Foxtails Brigade (and another special guest TBA) 7pm doors, 7:30 music $7 // all ages
(With thanks, as always, to Andrea for the inspiration.)
I was born sixteen years to the day after my own mother. And if she was too young and inexperienced to fall pregnant, she was old enough and wise enough to bring me into a world where I knew the difference between those who act first and think later and those who think for themselves and hold their judgements along with their tongues.
She was the sweetest person I ever knew. She was tall and wore her hair in a long plait that swayed when she walked. She never wore shoes and her bare feet were always black-soled from the yard dust she trailed around the house.
She always called me Treasure, though my given name was Martha. To her, I was the greatest gift and the most wondrous treasure and she loved me more than I could even imagine. She told me this every day. “Live in love, Treasure, live your love and the world will love you back.” She’d plait my long hair and tuck her fingers under my chin. She’d lift my face to hers and place a kiss on my bottom lip and wipe it away with her thumb.
My mother’s hands were the softest, smallest, hands I ever saw and she’d measure them to mine once in a while and exclaim how I was growing to be bigger even than her. Her smile was the warmest and her heart seemed always to be filled with joy.
She wore the harsh looks and whispered remarks of the neighbourhood with remarkable grace. Heads would lean together as she passed by and conversations cease abruptly whenever she entered the village shop. But my mother carried her head high and wore a smile for every one of the gossips and she never once responded to the catcalls from the men outside the Pub when she was walking me home from my dance class on a Saturday. Nor yet to the tutting of the other mothers at the school gate when she’d pick me up at half past three, barefoot and serene, with a basket tucked under her arm and a flower in her hair, always, in summer.
There are a lot of things you could say about my mother. But none of them will ever matter because you never knew her and your judgements aren’t worth a damn.
My mother died when I was ten.
Her torn body was found next to her tattered dress by the side of the road just on the outskirts of the village one Sunday morning after it had rained harder than I remember it ever raining again.
The policemen who came to the house said she’d probably accepted the offer of a lift from one of the customers after she’d finished working the late shift at the Petrol station on the road that led into town. We only lived a mile from that station but, on a wet night without a coat, my mother in her sweetness would have been only too glad of such an offer.
They never found a driver or a car. The rain had washed away any evidence anyway, and this was long before cctv cameras on station forecourts.
Whatever happened to my mother that night, I vowed always to do two things in life; I would always wear shoes and I would never accept a lift from a stranger, no matter how heavy the rain.
As the bruises fade, the lightning aches. Last week, making love, you bit me. Now the blue and dark have gone and yellow bruises grow toward pale daffodils, then paler to become until my body is all my own and what that ever got me.
Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote about seeing Doseone walking on the street in Oakland and chasing after him to tell him he’s one of my heroes.
Last night, one of my house/band mates was working a party where Doseone was playing, and they ended up talking at the end of the night. When that night two years ago was mentioned, Dose said, “Oh yeah, and the young lady… what was her name?”
So, kids, the moral of the story is that all you have to do to get your heroes to remember you is chase them down the street like a lunatic.
My collection of short stories,Trash and Vaudeville, is available for the Kindle and will be FREE all day tomorrow, March 8th. It’s filled with gritty prose about the beautiful losers that live on the margins and includes some great artwork by Eliza Gauger, Molly Peck, David N. Seelig, and Katie West.