Archive for September, 2003

name and rainbowMoomintroll wrote his

name and rainbow

Moomintroll wrote his name last night… and then today did it a whole bunch of times. “And at Iz’s house everyone looked! And I wrote my name! And Iz’s mama looked at it. And m’s mama looked at it. I can write my name!!”

At dinner tonight at fancy-ass restaurant he behaved like such a model child, I think our dinner companions worried that I’d threatened him with some kind of torture. “Did you TELL him to sit there and be quiet when in a restaurant… like did you TEACH him somehow?” No, he is just oddly content to sit and play quietly while no one pays attention to him. He wrote his name a few times and drew some rainbows. After eating a giant ice cream sundae with cat-like finicky neatness, he declared that he was tired, got down on the floor and fell asleep with my jacket for a pillow.

dinner was nice and everyone was congenial!

I have not yet finished my homework.

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pippa mediaslargasFor a while now

pippa mediaslargas

For a while now I have been reading Pippi Longstocking in spanish right before I go to sleep. I can’t speak spanish worth a damn but can read Pippi or Ramona the Brave or a newspaper without a dictionary. I am at the part where Pippa goes to school.

My point was that in the spanish version she keeps accidentally calling the teacher “tu”. “Oh! Qué cabezota soy! Ya ha vuelto a tutearla! Perdóneme.”

I wonder now if swedish has a formal and informal “you”? Because I sure don’t remember that bit of slapstick from my vague memories of the english version.

It is strangely amusing to read familiar books in another language (known so imperfectly, so that I have to get a lot of words from context). I have “El Hobbit” and will do that one next. A while back I tried it but after chapter 1 stopped because it was too much mental effort. Maybe with my “Pippa” practice it will be easier this time around.

Spent my morning in the bowels of the St

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beardsThe World Beard Championships and

beards

The World Beard Championships and then our own personal mustache contest.




Nuts BustedI forgot to say

Nuts Busted

I forgot to say one thing from Friday: noticed headline in local newspaper that read: “WANG BUSTED FOR SMUT”. This had us laughing… Okay… the only way that could have been funnier… if the guy were named “Raymond Nuts” rather than Raymond Wang.




L. is okay nowseems to

L. is okay now

seems to be out of ER… probably at T’s or on her way home now. she probably will kill me for blogging this. what else to do when alone in house at 4am imagining too much…?

i have heard many bitter stories from doctor friends about what it is like to deal with the actual lying, freaky, crazy people who come into the ER for attention or drugs, but hospitals still make me furious.

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in which i dont know

in which i dont know what to do

call from t. my sister having hives and what to do? she locked in bathroom and incoherent staring at her red, itchy arms. No one is coherent enough to assess whether hives getting worse or not.

Me: “How swollen are her fingers?”
T: “Um…. um……… well……. [giant pause] I think I remember hearing fingers mentioned. Maybe. Or was it arms?”
Me: Are the hives getting worse?
T: She keeps staring at her arms and won’t talk. Um, wait she is coming out now. Here.
Me: Are the hives getting worse?
L: (slurrily) I don’t know…
Me: Are your fingers swelling up? [i.e. angioedema
L: (slurrily, with utter indifference) I don't know...
Me: How much benadryl did you drink?
L: (slurrily, desperately) I don't know! Help me.
T: She went back in the bathroom.
Me: Is she sort of blue or pale, and clammy or sweaty? [i.e. anaphylactic shock]
T: Um….?

I tell him to take her to emergency room. much waffling on his part. he’s too wasted I guess. his neighbor drives them to hospital. I am freaking because i know hospital is going to look at her and go “tattooed girl in slutty outfit, you drank too much and then swigged some benadryl, dumbass” and they will ignore the hives. last time she didn’t have the wheezy breathing that is what they think of with anaphylactic shock. no just a blood pressure of 40 /0 and no detectable pulse and vision blacking out (though oddly she retained the ability to answer questions even when nearly dead)

jhk is off to the emergency room in oakland to be her advocate. keep in mind I am seeing double here myself because of the carefully bitten off third of an ambien that I take every night to sleep. I get hospital name, call and wake up 2 other people to get cell phone of T, who has stupidly given me his home phone, look up directions, send off j. now i type blog to stay awake. Clearly I could be great general — of large army of drunk, waffly, sleepy, blotchy people.

I dont’ think T understand me when I said go be her advocate, do not leave her alone, must keep talking about hives to nurse and doctor. oh my god;. Meanwhile I am stuck here with M. as I had a 3rd of a sleeping pill and should not drive. Once again they do not stick epinephrine in her immediately because they assume shes ODing on something. at least now in hospitla where unlikely to actually die if going into shock/airway obstruction

I get her triage nurse on the phone. “It’s a bad idea to take medicine when you’re drinking.” says Nurse Helpful. “Yes, I know, but if you get hives that have in the past sent you into anaphylaxis, you have to drink the medicine! What is her blood pressure? Is she pale and clammy with sweat, blood presure low, and having diarrheal/nausea?” (Me). “The doctor will be seeing her shortly so he will decide. But she doesn’t have anaphylaxis.” “Please DONT LEAVE HER ALONE IN THERE” I beg. they just throw you behind a curtain and go away. This is to discourage any crack whore teenage girls who drink vodka and benadryl to think that they have successfully gotten attnetion from their bad behavior.. I implore triage nurse to be careful and to get the epinephrine handy and treat her as for shock. “She didn’t have anything to make her have anaphylaxis. ” Okay idiot nurse! You don’t need to be choking on lobster to have anaphylaxis, you can get hives just from being a person who gets hives all the time!!!!! Which can put you into shock!” HOW ABOUT you let dr. decide anaphylaxis you harpy! (Of course L has propensity to guzzle entire bottle of liquid benadryl instead of 2 tablespoons of it…. ) I am going almost crazy not being there. jhk not necessarily most aggro person to send to hospital but I am hoping he freaking talks his way in to sit with her in whereever she is triaged off too. L. I am sorry if I have made any wrong decisions here but you were irrational and barely able to talk and when you get like that all I can do is send your ass to the hospital. Im sorry i know it is miserable and stupid there. ive sat with you while you go “I don’t know what to do. help me. what do I do? is it worse? is it better?” holy crap. i feel relatively confident that if i am there watching hives spread then i will notice anything awful happening. You could pass out from benadryl and quit breathing in your sleep. fuck i do not even know what i am saying anymore but am reallyl freaked and helpless feeling.

Just got off phone with t. – is he trying to leave??? his ride wants to leave. arrr. i tell hijm to wait for jhk and i tell him to go be with L. T thinks i should call the triage nurse back and tell the triage nurse that he has permission from me to be in there. “They’ll listen to you because you’re her sister.” Okay i forgive you t for being wasted right now, but, I”m just a voice on the phone, they don’t have to listen to jack shit that I say and don’t know who I am. I advise him again to go ask to wait with her. Permission from HER is the key point here, not from me, naturally.

What is it with people who don’t know how to handle a bureacracy? At least T is staying. I feell a little better. L. must be in hell. emergency room sucks. nurses treating you like underage crack whore sucks. idiot sister (me) panicking from next county sucks. It is profoundly embarrassing and horrible to be in emergency room in front of guy you are dating. hope jhk will not be as embarrassing and will be comforting and helpful. *telepathic note to jhk: do not sing her any cheering songs*

my own times in emergency room i was glad to have someone there because i coudlnt make decisions and needed help to get to bathroom, etc. you have any idea how hard it is to get an extra sheet over you when you are in shock in the hospital? they bring you a warm blanket that is the thinness of a fingernail. 5 seconds later you still shivering and must ask for more. can they not just bring ENOUGH warm blankets? when i had the ectopic pregnancy it was like i had turned to ice. ugh. And my brain shuts down into survival mode. With asthma i just have to think about breathing and being calm and maybe about efficiently coughing up mucus. i remember never being able to decide when i should go to the ER. Usually when I was so exhausted I was in tears for the 5th time and had been on bathroom floor all night, nebulizing, breathing shower steam and coughing. the pure oxygen at the hospital and whatever their kick ass bronchodilator was, it was like a shot of heroin to the lungs — AIR! then realizing i had been near catatonic before. “should i go. no. stick it out. breathe. ow. should i go? maybe yes. No, that would be wimpy. breathe. hospital is expensive. no. yes. no. *cry* ” I was also like that with the ectopic. my fallopian tube was bursting and I was unable to function “does that hurt more than it hurt before? more than it hurt to have a cyst? more than it hurt to have PID? is this just me freaking out, and shirking, and making a big deal fo nothing, and by a sheer effort of will, I wll be able to feel better?” L. appears to go through much the same though process. Everything about hives and anaphylaxis – and asthma too – lists “confusioin, anxiety, indecision” as common and sometimes dangerous symptoms.

** 5:09 am**
call from jhk. doctor took it all seriously. Thank you doctor what’s your name. They are keeping her in there for observation since she is llike one giant blotch. Jhk and t. in room with her getting her blankets and water (like 2 hours later after she should have had them I’m sure). Thank you T. for getting her there and staying around.

L. is a sturdy peasant. jhk is my hero for driving all the way to oakland and staying there with L. all night until they let her go. I am glad L. called m
e this time. She sounded okay but woozy. She also sounded pissed as hell and laughing at awfulness of hospital both a good sign. normal sister is back in the world. scary incoherent catatonic sister fucking scares me.

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small notes from today -

small notes from today – then long post about K.

Me reading in bed with aching knees and toes. My Moomintroll comes up and asks: “Mama, could you turn me into a quail?” Nothing could be easier – I have a magic handbag.

Guy playing “Somewhere over the rainbow” on the saw today at cafe. Also playing a song called “Ants in the Pantry” on an electric banjo. A wonderful moment.

Reading: Imperialism essay (Good!) Cooppan essay (very good)! 6 lemony snickets: (orgasmic! did someone say something about ludic pleasure?) George and Martha (not as good as I rememberd them being). Various syd hoffs. Exam questions made up for pv mailed out. R. listened to me reading the passage from Freuchen about the giviak. Next movienight will have a really GREAT dinner. snort.

Playing chess with Jo’s kid. Not sure how to handle that. Explained a little but she is touchy as hell. At some point quit waffling and just pinned her king brutally. How to teach it? I only know 3 things about chess: How to win in 4 moves against a 5 year old. Get some pieces unblocked and in middle of board. If confused, make equal sacrifices until situation becomes easier to assess. Maybe I could teach her those last 2 principles and get her to check out a book on it all.

Feet and knees did not start in until about 6pm. I took to my bed of sloth. It must be about to rain. Is this winter going to be hard? I am a bit unnerved.

Also, was nearly driven to tears by snotty comments of guest lecturer in last night’s class. “Someday, when some of you become scholars, as I hope you do, maybe pursuing your PhDs…” Um. Or ““how many of you are familiar with Cavafy? Oh good I get to introduce you to a wonderful poet.” IN HELL. Tried desperately to listen to any possible information while overlooking the pomposity and condescension. But I am not a saint. I was pissed as hell. Holy mother of god, if I ever sound like that when getting excited about some book…. I pictured myself going “You’ve just GOT to read it. Don’t worry it’s short and easy to read (AND IN BIG TYPE AND SMALL WORDS, YOU IMPLIED MORON)” That’s not what I mean but it probably comes off pretty badly.

Thoughts about Kirsten are still cooking. The crux of it is: Why am I not in touch with her? Examining this makes me pretty uncomfortable.

The skanky idiot she married.. lacing her into her corset in the church bathroom with a sad and despairing heart… ceremoniously dubbed godmother to baby named partly after me… the frantic phone calls from army bases all over the place… The horriblest phone call when skanky idiot had been sent to the 7-11 to buy diapers and milk with last 10 dollars but came back with only comic books… the frequent even more horriblest phone calls with baby in hospital with asthma, pneumonia, husband refusing not to smoke in house and then not visiting the hospital… skankboy knocking up 17 year old high school girl resulting in my namesake’s mystery half sister. Who I just noticed in cursory research is not on skankboy’s family tree.

Me on the other end of the phone foolishly and repeatedly over years saying “come live with me and I will help support the 2 of you the best I can”. (A la plain layne, cassie and david). It was not to be. Kirsten left skankboy for his best friend who seemed like a bit of a step up, or at least possibly smarter and richer, which I hoped was good. She still seemed to be working at wendys and the “Newboy might help me to to college” sounded good, but never happened — instead somehow “newboy persuades me to work at Wendys” was the reality. (Again, me with the financial aid forms and the applications and the tentative offer of financial help from my lame part time library jobs).

A few years later a horrible thing happened – she lost custody of her daughter to skankboy’s parents. The part of the story that I heard: Kid at doctor for routine checkup. Question asked about bruise on forehead. “She fell down the stairs – on some particular date”. Doctor decides that date is a lie and this is a warning flag for child abuse case. Kirsten bruises easily and oddly to the point where even in high school I was convinced that she had some odd disease — very thin pale skin and bruising like that old comic book one shot zine, “Bruisey”, and her hair oddly thin and brittle. Later there was some complication of some autoimmune disorder, thyroid gone wild, and a lot of steroids and a certain level of disability. But here with the welfare-level pediatrician who somehow she is still having to go to despite New Boyfriend’s programmer job, somehow this all results in her losing custody to the grandparents, who had always hated her guts and could afford lawyers. I get these phone calls and finally one asking me for a character reference letter – by this time I haven’t seen her in many years and live thousands of miles away. Yet I am the only person she’s got to give her a char. reference other than her boss at Wendys.

Please keep in mind this amazing brilliant woman – reader of everything – fabulous teenage poet who could have become a good poet with time – entertaining and witty writer – warmhearted and oddly able to adapt in a superficial way to any situation – Now utterly screwed, in terrible poverty. I call her brilliant because she could learn anything – she was deeply curious.

Anyway, she loses custody of her daughter to repugnant and deeply stupid religious fanatics in rural Texas – Only allowed certain visiting hours – Must take bus for 3 hours to get to daughter and then there is not time to take bus back to her place so they have to just walk around in the suburban streets for a while. THen the lonely bus ride home to New Boyfriend, who by the way around this time I find out is a serious collector of guns. The gun thing freaks me out (sorry, addlepated, it was the context). She said if she would have not lived with New Boyfriend, the accused child abuser in this odd case, she could have had partial custody – but she could not figure out how to move out.

This story felt so fishy on so many levels. I did not think I was getting the whole truth.

Later marrying New Boyfriend. Job, custody, bus situation still pathetic, but now there is health insurance. At some point she got a used car. Thyroid problems dealt with to some degree. The books she gives her daughter – even Narnia – burned as the work of Satan, as are any locking diaries, as are photos. Hope my b-day and xmas presents made it through – sometimes I got a thank you note.

Various pleas for money as she and New Husband somehow in horrible debt and about to be evicted. I know there is some kind of lying going on and at this point, there is no friendship anymore – the ghost of one that I am loyal to. We talk maybe once a year.

Then – here is the horrible finale – I get a giant barrage of phone calls at work in 2000 in which information is slowly and delicately revealed to me. Day 1: She wants to leave New Husband. He is paranoid and abusive. Could he be bugging her computer? [Yes, easily since its unix and he's root]. How can she leave him? Later in Day 1. She has an online boyfriend met on some irc channel whose nature I won’t say but it has to do with mental illness. She wants to leave Husband for New Boy. Day 2. She is leaving New Husband ASAP taking the car and the 400 bucks she can draw out of his bank account that day. Driving to pacific northwest state to pick up the online boyfriend and bring him back and marry him. Later in Day 2: She calls from Laredo. She has run out of money. Can I wire money? Situation desperate. Husband crazy and threatening to kill her. I waffle and tell her to ask her family. More phone calls. I poke around on net a little and turn up some disturbing things! The Husband starts emailing me in a pretty scary way. He thinks – obv
iously she has LET him think – she is on her way to come stay with me. He threatens lawyers, says he has the police on her tail for taking their car, etc.

THEN – it gets worse – She confesses to me that the New Boy is underage. She is on her way to transport a mynah across staid lions. Her crazy, suicidal Jailbait is going to drop out of high school, run away from home, go back to texas with her and they get married. He has no money either. Can they stay at my place? I freak. I try to talk her out of the whole thing. Then I get pissed. I promise to send money but then lose it. I said something like “WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME? I know your family sucks but… Am I really the RICHEST PERSON YOU KNOW? How is that possible?” Terrible silence from her end. I want a fugitive from the law of 2 states in my house with jailbait, schizophrenic, suicidal boyfriend, and gun nut soon to be ex-husband, in my own home with my baby there? No. Not coming to visit, not staying in my house, no, nunca, nada. She asked for 500 but I wire her 300 bucks just so she can get the hell out of Laredo. More emails from her husband, alternately desperate and nasty vs. reasonable-sounding and levelheaded. I trust no one.

Vague rumors and one wedding announcement later…. one more request for money which I refused as gently as I could this time…

I think of how she watched her mother die… violent alcoholic father.. i think her half-brother and his friends gang raped her when she was like 12… Yes, I was the richest person she knew, back in high school, with my parents married, my own bedroom in nice house, food always there, raised to assume I was going to college. I worked every day after school in a scungy job, and my life was going to hell and my parents barely speaking to me except to scream obscenities or to remind me that I was their daughter only in the eyes of the law, but still, no one beating me up, and guaranteed food and shelter.

But here is my real feeling. I have reacted in typical middle class fashion (or at this point I think we need to say upper middle class) and shut the door in her face. I think in some way, I shut the door on our friendship when she gave up on the custody battle. Then, again, I begged her to take the kid and skip town – come live with me no matter how poor we are, I, like my dad did, could pull a family out of poverty. But no.

When m.m. and I had no money I knew how to live dirt cheap – not as skilled as joshua norton‘s mom as I never mastered getting food stamps! – but I could cook actual nice food for 25 bucks a week (rice, beans, cornmeal, damaged vegetables) and knew how to talk electric and phone people into keeping services on even when the bills weren’t being paid. (Call them, promise to send a token amount, even 10 bucks, and send it with more promises. Renegotiate those promises every month.) We have no credit cards. Strip. Sell stuff. Scavenge everything possible. Steal all medicine, tampax, cheese, and toilet paper. Forge monthly bus passes on color copiers. m.m. would screw all my careful stealing and scrimping and cooking by suddenly deciding that to be happy, she needed to blow a bunch of money on something utterly stupid like thai food, movies, plane tickets, or giant pieces of furniture. She was the one with the job so I could not stop her. Without my het privilege (which for Kirsten was a het nightmare) I would probably still be stealing toilet paper from my temp office worker bathrooms.

But now in this relative wealth, I don’t call Kirsten. It’s easier for me to be a hypocrite liberal and give some money to charity. It’s hard to be involved in the actual difficulties of a friend’s life when the friend is making stupid or dangerous decisions. I fear hemorrhaging money away to a lying disloyal friend – but have no compunction about bleeding it slowly away to double lattes, nice groceries, and all the books I can cram into me and jhk’s house. I have no faith in Kirsten anymore anyway. But I feel like I should have that faith in some way and also I should be helping her. My gradual betrayal of her – and hers of me – feels worse than my failed marriage.

This all being part of my process of examining self. I often don’t feel that what I post here is particularly honest. It might even be more dishonest than otherwise because I can write competently and sway emotion. Often I feel like a manipulator and an impostor. Even in framing this story as my own self-analysis, I think it is unfair to Kirsten — as if the horrible events of her life are only important because I learned or am learning something from them? That would be particularly repugnant of me.

I am not sure why I am writing this but the whole thing often haunts me. I used tell it to my ex husband and his answer was usually that she was obviously a jerk and I should forget her. This is not possible for me — shades of Severian, my favorite super sexist science fiction hero. If I put together certain details and consider them, I appear in a fairly decent light. Other details, I’m an asshole and a hypocrite. This grieves me very much.

The only thing that comforts me is that I know this and admit to it. I am the enemy of self-righteous certainty.

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guest blogger, “anonymous”Very interesting thoughts

guest blogger, “anonymous”

Very interesting thoughts and memories from my friend anonymous. He said I could post them here. I have more to say about Kirsten, probably later tonight or tomorrow. FYI, she is not reading this and that isn’t her real name!

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spelling it wrong?Why can’t I

spelling it wrong?

Why can’t I find a definition for “gazorch”?
gazortch?
gazorche?
ga-zorch?

It means oomph. Or a giant rubber slingshot that can shoot a watermelon off the top of a building as a bunch of us did off Taos Co-op. Also a programming term. Also the act of being hit by the thing coming out of the slingshot. Why is there no photo of my dear co-ops on the web? Did the gazorch-remover also gazorch the co-ops? The word must be related to “zorch” as in “so fast it is on fire”.

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madwoman on the playgroundUp with

madwoman on the playground

Up with a nightmare and the haunting thoughts that go with it. In the dream I was somehow stuck back in high school. Jack Y. had moved back to town after living in Utah. I was unnerved but tried to keep my cool while still subtly jockeying to sit behind him in math class. Kirstin and Fish were there. In class we all had to read our essays out loud.

After class we were all hanging around by some playground in a park with a big rocky hill. The popular people were going down the hill and Jack was with them. I wondered with dread if he would mock me to them or mock my essay. Suddenly there was a horrible screaming from the bottom of the hill. It was a bit like the overtoned voices of those Tuvan throat singers, but loud as an ambulance siren. This woman had just completely lost it – I thought it was one of the other high school kids but she was around 40. She was chasing us all with a knife. Anyone that looked scared she’d come after with inhuman strength. Her face was horribly distorted, muscles spasming. “Good thing I’ve been on a lot of playgrounds lately,” I thought and scrambled up to the top of a jungle gym thing with a tower, like in S.’s yard.

As I slowly woke up from this I had the song “Knights in White Satin” in my head and was thinking of Fish. Kirsten was my first girlfriend in high school. When she was kicked out of her house and lived with friends and then finally ended up at an uncle and aunt’s in Austin, where she met Fish. They became passionate lovers. The three of us wrote 10, 20 page letters to each other full of near-psychotic rambling and poetry. Fish, her poetry was often about death or killing herself. Kirsten worried about her. I think Fish lived in a trailer with her stepdad, or dad, and there was something going on there that she didn’t talk about, but Kirsten told me her (step?)dad had been molesting her somehow. We all wrote love letters to each other. I had no jealousy but was glad someone was there for K, who needed it. When I came up to go to college in Austin they were still in high school.

At some point I spent the night over at Kirsten’s — despite the fanatic Christians, her aunt and uncle — I remember the 3 of us lying on top of the jungle gym in the back yard, listening to that Moody Blues song. We wrote, read poetry out of the norton anthology, and kept rewinding the tape. At one point Fish got agitated talking about her family and did a horrible thing: she pulled the ends of her white silk scarf tight around her throat. One hand, holding the scarf, was out as far as she could reach. The other was out in the opposite direction. Her face started to change color. K. and I freaked out but were actually unable to move her arms until she began to pass out. Fish was apparently possessed of superhuman strength. We comforted her. Naked, Fish was lovely and pale in a sort of pearl-like way under the light that came through the curtains from the sulfury streetlight. Kirstin, never lovely no matter how dear, was at least softened. We both caressed Fish languidly. I don’t remember falling asleep.

Anyway, back in the present, I lay in my safe warm bed, shuddering at the thought of Fish the madwoman.

A little bit later, must have been around October because I was still a freshman and hadn’t yet been kicked out of the women’s co-op dorm, Fish began giving odd presents to her girlfriend. Things like a dead withered rose in a … get this… a shoebox covered with black paper to look like a little coffin … and poetry even more morbid than usual. She was hearing voices. I was very, very curious what that actually meant. I wish that I had the letters and poetry from that time. K’s story is that she got a note in her locker to meet Fish in a certain girl’s bathroom before class. In the bathroom, Fish declared their eternal love and then came at her with a giant butcher knife. “I turned around to take it in the back, because I knew otherwise I wouldn’t be able to help struggling,” K. told me later, and I’m sure it sounds demented or melodramatic now, but I have never heard that much sadness or real love in someone’s voice; she could not bear the thought of possibly hurting Fish, waking her up to the awfulness of what she was doing, so she offered herself up for sacrifice. The point I am making is not that I admire any of this craziness, but that K’s devotion was real. Fish apparently got up against the wall and began screaming and raving about Christ and stuck her arms out as if crucified. It took 5 people to pull her down. Kirsten walked out and said to the first person she met, “Could you take this knife out of my back? I don’t want to be late to Latin, I have a test” and then crumpled up covered in blood. The knife went 3 inches into her back and missed — I dunno, a lung? a heart? something vital. “I’ve never been so glad to be FAT,” she told me from the hospital. I was nearly catatonic from the awfulness of it all.

The newspaper reported it as a “possible crime of jealousy over a boy”. Hello. These chicks were out of the closet, which in round rock, TX, in 1986 meant a lot. I’m not sure who decided to report that story wrongly – their friends? The school? The relatives? the paper? There was no boy. Fish ended up in a mental institution.

Meanwhile, I’m still just barely waking up from my dream of dancing out of reach of the madwoman with the knife – the madwoman in the dream.

She reminded me of something else – one of the few times in my life I have been uncontrollably angry – I will tell that story later but it involves Steve C., the secret fiancee, me, and the new girlfriend, and I screamed so hard at him that I actually passed out. I don’t think I’ve been that angry before or since. I felt like Medea. My doom had come upon me.

I also thought of Jack Y. and my ill-fated obsession with him. In math class I would stare at the back of his neck passionately. He had a few white hairs already. If he turned his head a little then I could see his freckles and the curve of his cheekbone. He looked like honey. He was very beautiful, and I could also smell him. Sometimes I smell someone who smells like that and nearly go nuts at how great it is. When he’d turn around to talk with me, my heart would stop. He was arrogant, shy, and competitive. We would mock each other if either of us missed a point on a test or didn’t get the “extra credit question”. I kicked his butt in the programming contest but he was neater and more accurate than I was in most things Math. Jocks mocked him to tears once in my presence. He would read under his desk when things were slow or he was in the middle of a really good book.

Let it be known that I was madly in love with him based on all the above.

Once he turned around and grabbed my hand. “You should have long fingernails. Why don’t you paint your nails?” he said slyly. Obligatory feminist rant from 14 year old Badger. This became the basis of most of our conversations – he’d taunt me with lack of proper femininity and I’d rant and then he’d crack up. But I knew that it was real – he wanted a long legged, honey haired, y’all-saying cheerleader to look his way.

He did move away – just like in the dream – and then moved back, suddenly taller, with a non-geek haircut and on the tennis team. Somehow, he seemed less asian, I don’t know how to describe this, but his skin got a lot lighter with puberty, and maybe just losing the bowl cut and plaid shirts helped out. I wondered, but did not ask, if he had had some kind of eyelid plastic surgery. The jocks would tease him about race and he would just laugh it off and say something 10 times as obnoxious. I never met his parents but I think his mom was white and his dad either Japanese or Korean. Of course the Jocks would either talk ‘fake chinese’ at him while sticking out their front teeth (squinting, pulling lips back, “ching chong sing song lon
g dong”) or they’d talk about vietnam and how they we have nuked it.

I have no memory now of how we started messing around but there were various nutty incidents. We would write each other porn stories – sort of an ongoing co-written story – I was in the first computer math class and he was in the second and we’d leave the story on a disk – with some sort of lame stab at cryptographic protection [keep in mind this is 1984 as you picture the computers!]. I’d be there in the computer lab turning beet red and fidgeting. He was a good writer and very filthy-minded. Somehow, it was impossible for us to actually date. He was moving up in the world and did not want to be made fun of for dating me! But then, even with the computer nerds, he was afraid of something and we would act, in front of them, like friendly rivals, mocking each other. We’d call each other and secretly meet. He would moan my name in porn-movie fashion but on him it sounded good. I remember licking his thighs in the back of his mom’s van. I’m sure on some level it’s wrong to fantasize about 15 year old boys, but I still do, because he was the sexiest person ever.

Later it got ugly. He started up a “Young Republicans” club in our school and our public mockery of each other turned to public hatred. Our secret meetings for sex turned bitter on my part. I had new boyfriends but kept the affair with Jack going until I left high school.

Over the years I kept vague track of where he was, asking friends and then maybe once a year web-stalking him. After sept. 11 I emailed him out of the blue because I knew he worked down there. He had been across the street in building 7. He was pretty fucking upset about it all. I have not written him back, I don’t want to piss myself off with his awful politics, I’m sure he will say something awful about ‘nuke them back into the stone age’.

I’m not sure what the point of all this rambling is, but as I surfaced from sleep at 6 am just now, I thought, “the madwoman on the playground was me. I thought her up, I imagined her, I made her, and her voice is part of my voice.”

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