22 August 2010

On Hiatus

Temperature: 35c/95f

The word on the street, reader, is that all things must end. I'm not sure that's true, but I'm sure it's true that all things must pause. Here I am re-ensconced in WhereIlive; my term starts tomorrow, and with it what I hope will be a brief period of my life. That doesn't mean I don't expect it to be fun: in fact, I'm making a real effort to make it fun, and eventful, and valuable (that's really true). But it does mean that this blog, which was meant to chronicle my time in England, isn't really relevant anymore. So this is my last entry here.

It isn't, however, my last entry anywhere. I'm starting a new blog later this week. If you're interested in reading it, give me some way to reach you, and I'll send you the url. The Hair of the Damned will be resumed when I return to my non-US existence in ten months.

I'm not sure how I feel about these past two years, aside from feeling that they were amazingly good for me, and very important - well, I guess that is how I feel about them. I'm certainly not sure, though, how I feel about the months to come. I don't know what will happen, or what it will mean to me. But how can I be? It's the future. Which I will chronicle - with explanations, and with some reference to the past.

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19 August 2010

Come out Screaming

Temperature: 27c/80f

Here I am at Parentshome. Parentshome is less hot than WhereIlive, but not by much: it's like going out of the fire and into the frying pan. I'm afraid it's also marginally more boring. There's simply nothing for me to do here, since it's not my home, none of my friends live here anymore, and it's in a suburb (neither a city nor a village). My parents are here, however, and it's good to spend time with them. I'm even managing not to fight with my mother, by dint of a good deal of behavioural control. I know that's not very nice to say, but my mother and I are very different now, and that makes for all sorts of problems.

I think, though, that this visit to Parentshome is quite good in one respect: I'm easing myself back into the States. If I'd stayed in WhereIlive this week, I would have gone into my department, seen people, and been quickly immersed into Being In The States. I don't think that would have been good. This way, although I am experiencing the States again, I'm doing it as if I were on holiday (which I am), and that's much better (although there has already been some crying. It was very short, however).

So here is what I've learned about America so far: it's really big. And there is way too much stuff. Of course America is a huge country, but I find it very interesting the way Americans take this hugeness for granted. Coming from Otherhome, I'm genuinely disconcerted by the lavishness of the quotidian here. First of all, buildings and spaces are HUGE, and that hugeness isn't shown off or emphasized for effect: it's just a fact. You wander through vast spaces to shop, to get off a plane, to take a walk, to drive, and to me it's just weird (although also familiar and comfortable, which makes it even more weird). And then there is simply so much stuff. At the shoe store (a relatively small shoe store) you can pick from ten variations on the same style of boot; at the clothing store you can pick from racks and racks and racks of clothes. I wouldn't say this is obscene, but it is intensely disturbing to me. It seems to me as if these things have just been disgorged out onto the floor, vomited out without restraint or care. In Otherhome I had what I thought was a lot - too many clothes for my closet - and I saw what I thought was a lot - twenty styles of shoe, enough packaged food to feed a militia - but it turns out I have become an amateur in a lot.

This is one of the top reasons I'll leave. I can't take this much a lot.

The one unmitigated joy (and there was a lot of it, too!) of coming to Parentshome, is that I did indeed go to New York to see Jennifer. It was super fun! We went to the Russian Tea Room, where we didn't get the Tootsie booth (they were filming something top secret in the room where the booth was), but we did get to see the giant rotating bear with fish inside, and to admire the waiters' lovely frock coats, and to catch up over a giant tea neither of us could finish. Then we wandered around Manhattan for five hours, including a visit to an excellent exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and a delighted hour in a (giant) drugstore. Although there are many good things about Jennifer, there are two really good things about her: she is always funny, and when we're together it's as if we've never been apart. So we talked and talked and talked, and on my part pretty much completely caught up. And it was delightful.

Today is my father's birthday. Tomorrow is the day I arranged to stay after my father's birthday. The day after that I'm going back to WhereIlive. And then, I suspect, real life will begin.

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16 August 2010

Blood Everywhere

Temperature at 9pm: 29c/84f

In case the temperature didn't give it away, I'm back in Arkansas. The trip was hellish: due to rain in Chicago, I didn't get into WhereIlivenow until 2am, by which time all the shuttles were gone. I was very kindly offered a ride by a baggage handler ("If you're a serial killer," I said to him, "I just want you to know that I'm very unhappy at the moment, so if you killed me it would be a relief. So there wouldn't be much in it for you."), which meant I made it home by 3. At which point I discovered my door was unlocked, and apparently had been so for two months. But nothing was stolen. Which is WhereIlivenow in a nutshell.

What with the tension, the misery, the messed-up sleep schedule, and the stunning change in weather, I woke up yesterday with a migraine. Four aspirin and two cups of tea later, though, I was ready to begin my temporary life, which I did by unpacking, and then by cleaning. And cleaning and cleaning and cleaning, a task I continued today. Which is when, in the process of trying to remove the glass cover to a ceiling light fixture so I could change a bulb, I timed the screw-loosening wrong and thus caused the cover to plunge to the floor, smashing and scattering everywhere. I was totally unhurt, as I was for almost all of the clean-up process, except a moment when I nicked my right index finger at the bottom of the first knuckle. It bled a bit, and then all of a sudden it bled a lot and, rather dramatically, everywhere: the finger felt wet, and when I looked down blood had run down the nail and made a little pool on the desktop. It was quite impressive. So I washed it, and it bled again. I felt like the guy in "A Boy Named Sue," down in "the mud and the blood and the beer."

Well, that's a re-entry. Tomorrow I'm off to Parentshome for a week, including a day in Manhattan to see Jennifer. After that, I'll be putting this blog on hiatus. Before that, though, expect a picture of The Russian Tea Room, Tootsie booth!

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12 August 2010


I did not think that at the last minute something would save me, or that the end would never come, but I did think maybe I would have enough time.

Now I have to go, and I'm leaving so many things behind, and November seems a long time away, and things can change in a heartbeat, and things will never ever be the same again. If I'd stayed for a month more they could have stayed the same for that month, but now I must go, and things will never be this good again. And I am afraid. I'm afraid that things will only change for the worse, and that I'll lose chances without gaining others.

Who will I talk to? With whom will I be intimate? Who will I love? How will I manage the next 3.5 months?

S. would say, "Look how you managed six months with Mr. Fallen, all via e-mail and after only three days of knowing each other. That's amazing [he actually did say that right after Mr. Fallen let me go]. And here you have two years of exposure, at the least two months, and the phone, and skype, and letters, and e-mail. This is nothing." And he'd be right. But right now it feels like a great loss, and a forever one.

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07 August 2010

Spheres of Rice

On Monday night I'm going out to dinner at Carluccio's with The Neighbour. Now, normally I tell The Neighbour whatever story something reminds me of, and in the case of Carluccio's I not only have a story but have a story I always think of when Carluccio's comes up in conversation, and whenever Carluccio's comes up in conversation with The Neighbour (as it has on a number of occasions). This is a quite good story, but I can't tell it to The Neighbour - but I burst to tell it. So I thought I'd tell it to you and get it out of my system before Monday. Last year I went to Carluccio's on a date with an Italian guy (the first time The Neighbour told me he loved Carluccio's I thought it was an amazing coincidence that this was the same restaurant I'd been to with this guy, but I've since learned that Italians in Cambridge generally love Carluccio's. Anyway...). This guy was quite attractive and had been pretty nice when I'd met him previously, and he was still attractive and pretty nice when I met him at Carluccio's. BUT (Well, okay, in all honesty at this stage I should say he was wearing an orange jumper than highlighted certain unfortunate aspects of his physique. So he wasn't as attractive as he had been. Okay, so...). When the time came to order, as an appetizer he ordered Arancini di Riso. Even though he was Italian he ordered them in English, and the English translation is "fried rice balls." And he didn't crack a smile. Not only didn't he crack a smile, he didn't even raise an eyebrow; his lips didn't even twitch. And I thought to myself, Can I seriously become involved with someone who can order "balls" in public and not betray in any way that he wants to laugh?

To be fair to the guy, he might have been dying inside and taking every ounce of self-control not to smirk. And to be fair to me, I didn't decide not to see him again based on that: he turned out to be unpleasantly aggressive, and he made a misogynistic comment. Also, we just didn't suit. But whenever anyone mentions Carluccio's, I always think of the man I decided not to see again because he didn't twitch a lip when he ordered fried rice balls.

Yes, I am facile. And, apparently, immature.

I think you can see why you wouldn't tell this story to anyone you didn't know very well.

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05 August 2010


Forgive the intimacy of the following revelation; the revelation matters.

When Mr. Fallen and I would have sex, he would make no noise - except, just at the end, I could tell he was about to have an orgasm because he would say, "Oh! oh! oh!" It wasn't like, "Ah" or even an open "oh": the sounds were round and fully formed, and to be strictly accurate they were more "O! o! o!": I thought of them as little bubbles of O. It was very precise, and for that reason very striking.

I see now that that pronunciation makes the utterance very heartfelt, for when I contemplate saying good-bye to all these people, then getting on the plane and being without them, suddenly and completely and for a long time, I say aloud to myself, "O. O. O." Only this captures the precise slice of the pain, and the terrible clarity of the sense of loss. O. O. O.

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04 August 2010

Close Shaves

Well, it's a bit of a tense time here in me-land, and I've decided to deal with that by...avoiding it! At least on this blog. What I will say is that when I return to Otherhome I will suspend this blog and start another, intended to cover my time while in Otherhome (which will then become WhereIlive). So this blog will cease, but hopefully only temporarily.

Now, on to the avoidance! Yesterday I was moved to think about shaving. What, you ask, could possibly move you to think about shaving? A fair enough question. To which the answer is, an article I read at my beautician's that told men how to wet shave. And as a result my thoughts were about wet shaving. And here are my thoughts: I love wet shaving for men.

When I was little, my father wet shaved. On the one had this may seem odd, because my father has a beard, and at that time had a moustache as well. But even beard-bearers need to shave, and my father wet shaved. Specifically, he wet shaved over the sink in my parents' bathroom (which had tiles halfway up the walls, and the top line of tiles had little swags of flowers tied at each end with bows on them - and now I long for such tiles, my childhood impression that they were the most elegant tiles ever unmoved by any later tiles or tile experiences).
Clearly this early exposure to wet shaving, and on the only male model I had, set it in my mind that men wet shave: that is what men do. And for this reason I do not like electric shaving for men (or for women, I suppose. But that plays less of a role in my life). In my not-so-secret
heart I believe that wet shaving gives you a closer shave - well, what I really mean isthat whenever I see a closely shaved man I think to myself, A-HA! I bet he wet shaves! And I certainly find electric shaving unsexy. If I pass the bathroom while you're shaving and you have foam on your face and a manual razor, I'll stop and admire you, but if you have an electric razor I'll just think, Uck. But really what I believe, in my subconscious heart, is that electric shaving is unmanly. Wet shaving is just more masculine, dammit. And you have my father to thank for this belief.

Isn't that funny: when I was little my father was a, shall we say, not so good father. And he was scary. I was scared of him. But now that I'm grown up I adore him, and I discover repeatedly how, in ways I think are good or at least harmless, he's set my notions of manliness. He told me once that he was sorry: he wished he'd been a better model, because then I might have had happier relationships. I told him at the time that in fact I thought the problem was that my boyfriends hadn't been enough like him. But I wonder sometimes these days if he was right.

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