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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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03.15.03, saturday morning

It has been difficult to write lately, because I have forgotten what it was like to write plainly and only to record. The last four months has been about romance, and not the hard work it must take to maintain the relationships that is outside of romance, and it is this obsession with romance, with the loved one, that has made it difficult to write, because I write to leave out the small details that seem superfluous to the romance - the mundane, slowly killing, potentially enriching details.

Thursday was my last day of employment and that day, I tried to write to Ben and, later, to my girls and in this journal. But I couldn't. I didn't know how to put the words together, which events to select, which details were most important. I couldn't commit. And so, for the past few days, I have been floundering, waking up early and anxious, unable to sleep, to dream, to engage with the world.

I am at a crossroads, dear diary, because I am no longer a little girl. I am not comfortable with being princess. Not comfortable with leaning on other people's shoulders because I don't know how to stand up straight by myself. Not comfortable with being a ne'er-do-well, carefree, but only to a certain extent, because after the moment of being carefree, there comes the downfall, falling down scared and tense and unable to see ground and wondering why you weren't careful, why you never did the things you were supposed to do in order to have: health insurance, a job that paid the rent, the ability to travel, the manuscript of your novel, constant and clear communication with your friends, the ability to clearly communicate intentions, the ability to remember everything, the ability to articulate just the facts, ma'am, so that emotions didn't get in the way, so that lover and friends and mother could, perhaps, see your point and that you weren't a fuck-up, that you could be responsible if you weren't so goddamn lazy.

It's the abilities I want, dear diary, the abilities that seem so hard to accrue. So hard to have available socially. It's not having those abilities that make you wanna retreat, and sometimes, wonder, what's the use of it all? Why love, if you're always hurting the ones you love? Why try to remember, if you can only do it incompletely and so selectively that you are brutal and impossible to deal with? Why write, if you can't see the social relations for what they are but only reflected through your emotions, you self-centered wretch?

Instead of writing what I've just written, I should have written about last weekend, when the Heron and I took the train to Sacramento, venturing into lovely country on the way, past the edge of the world we knew, towards what would be formerly terra incognita: fields of electric yellow flower, refineries looming nameless, the ruins of docks jutting out from the water, burned black to the rippling surface. Herons flying or standing, alone, lonely avian fishermen, and fishermen shirtless and frowning, arms akimbo, at the bay. Walls of graffiti along the tracks. Trailer parks. Cows, lowing over pasture. The AM/PM over which looms a glossy-leafed tree that twitters with the movement and noise of a thousand small black birds, the cement and foliage splattered with crap like white paint. A park, the trees of which are marked for a tree tour. Flowering trees, under which pools of scarlet and pink buds in soft rot glow on the dark green velvet lawn. The shadow of a gallery which shares a wall and a door with a nailshop where you can get 8-dollar manicures (22 for a full set ).

The gallery is run by a man who everyone in town calls Zoolander; he sets his canvases up on street corners and practices kung-fu moves in preparation for painting. After the show, there is J street, which teems with bodies out for dinner, movies, adventure, mischief, take your pick. In front of a hotel across the street from a Bon Appetit-glossy restaurant where sleek, impeccably groomed lawmakers and their sleek, impeccably groomed spouses dine, a young man smokes a cigarette. In a tux, with his hair slicked back, he looks vaguely famuous, somewhat dissolute, a little bored with what he has temporarily escaped from, which is happening right now in the lobby, as two young men in a boxing ring pounce and punch and dance, surrounded by the excited bodies of onlookers in white shirts, black pants, their jackets tossed aside, their neckties loose nooses.

Later on the train, night: we notice not the flickering moth-like lights beyond our window but the rocking of our train car and the liberal hooting of the conductor's horn. But then we see the refineries, which look like magical cities, turretted fortresses looming close, towers of florescent light green and orange winking in arcane patterns that are indelibly stitched on the blackness of night. Flames are spat out, expelled as if from a leviathan sleeping deep within the earth, full of what had been the life of the things it had devoured so greedily, no longer useful but poisonous chemicals wrecking havoc in the air that we will pull into our lungs.

Then there was finally the moment of arrival: sleepy Oakland, our bikes whizzing around street corners, briefly bisecting pools of florescent light, the wind nipping like a sleepy lover at our cheeks til we reached his flat. His home.

Home. It has been a long time since I have called a place home. Since I have felt at home with myself.






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