Becoming somewhat well-educated on subjects I should have been proficient in long ago. I’m not used to feeling strongly about any issues, save gay marriage rights. Apathy is my middle name. However, this semester things are heating up. My 3 English/WGST classes are overlapping in topics and issues, which might very well be my favorite thing of all time. Anyway, back to my general lack of concern- I just don’t care, and staying in that middleground makes me privy to many a good joke, which I enjoy.

But now. I have to face these issues, realize that what is happening/has happened is beyond bullshit, and admit my role in some of them. The two that I’m referring to in particular are racism/profiling as well as gender roles/women’s rights.

How do you find foothold here? Shit is so fucking slippery. Am I a feminist? Absolutely. However, draw up this scenario for a minute. I’m a waitress, and my boss is slimy- not in a pervert way, but just in his actions. Although, I wouldn’t put the perv part past him. Let’s say, for example, that he says something borderline inappropriate to me, at work. Nothing too terrible, but can definitely be construed as something he should not have said. So, I call him out. “Excuse me, Stephen, but I’d appreciate it if you didn’t talk to me that way, or say those things around me.” Here’s what happens next. I don’t get sat for two or three hours, because he took me off rotation. Once he forgets about it, or leaves, I get a table of three good-looking men, all drinking beer. I’m trying to pay my bills. What’s stopping me from flirting with these men to my best ability, maybe making a lude comment or two myself, and seeing how much money I can maximize at this table?

Can I justify this for myself? Sure. I need the money, I’m single, they came out to have a good time, it’s harmless, all in good fun, etc. But, do I like being talked to that way by my boss? Fuck no. Am I not just putting myself back into that sleazy category by putting myself into the same situation again, willingly? 

Just something to think about. It’s not nearly as fun when you call yourself out.

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Instead of posting the lamest shit ever, I think I need to get the lolz rolling. And what better joke to tell than that of my life? Right.

Yesterday, J. and I decided to have a day of floating the river. This was something we should have done 12 times this summer, but of course were too lazy to go. Also since neither of us have friends, we went alone. The initial push off went smoothly, and up until that did as well. We picked up a 12 pack, went to Walmart to get the tubes filled (despite having sworn off going there forever a week ago). My car got dropped off at Burrito Beach, and we took hers down River Rd. to park. The cooler was filled, tubes tied together, shirts off, the epitome of a white trash day. The float started off great, but we realized quickly just how fucking slowly the river was moving. No matter, we had beer to drink. Great conversation was had, lazy, relaxing, sunning ourselves, catching a buzz. Until, the 12 pack was killed, and we were only an hour into the trip. Goddamnit. Shit went slightly downhill from there; we ended up taking turns pulling each other because there was not a single inch of movement on the river’s part. We were nearly to the bridge under 95, when a horrible realization occurred– our car keys were gone.

I’d like to point out that they are both the type with microchips, and not just the $2.79 at Walmart to replace. Marhf. We decided our best bet was to get out of the river, ditch our tubes/cooler, and begin walking home (I had realized a few minutes earlier that we were following along a trail somewhat near our apartment). Shame was too light of a word for the feelings at hand. Wearing the ugliest bikini top that I own, plus wet shorts, was an extremely uncomfortable walk on many levels. We ran into some dudes on bikes and borrowed their phone to call Llama. 20 minutes later, we’d reached the VOC, and Llam’s coworker was there to pick us up. Thank Christ.

We returned to the apartment, found my spare set of keys, and got dropped back off at Burrito– just in the nick of time. There was a dickhead sheriff next to my car, asking if he should “cancel the tow truck”. Got the fuck out of there, back to River Rd., where both of our keys were on a caribbeaner, still inserted into and dangling from her driver’s side door.

Truly, a luckier end to the story could not have been had. At the pace the river was going, my car would have absolutely been towed, and my hunger grumblies would have increased by 5 times at minimum. After that we went home, ate a delicious dinner of shrimp (which I also just started liking) and fried rice. I passed out shortly after 9pm and slept for 13 hours.

You know the kind of people. The kind who know they’re going to get married– if solely for the reason that, well, that’s what people do.  They’re usually attractive, never have to worry about NOT finding someone, that thought never crosses their mind.

And so they do marry, someone equally attractive, with the same thoughts on marriage. Personalities aside, lifestyles similar. And they have a child. And they love it and talk on the phone twice a day sometimes three times in a nauseating don’t-you-have-anything-better-to-think-about way. And that’s it. That’ their life. They start referring to their spouse strictly as “my wife” or “the hubby”, constantly. This not only makes everyone around them vomit, but begins to be the only thing that defines them.

And they believe they’re happy. Shit, they probably are. Much more than I’ll ever be.

In all seriousness, I have a permanent headache from this place that no amount of ibuprofen could cure (though it’s not stopping me from trying). The pressure keeps closing in around the bridge of my nose, my eyes watery from allergies, squinty from lack of sleep and not enough coffee.  Add in Shark Week and you’ve got a fucking loose cannon. These people don’t know what they’re in for.

We’re working out twice a day, and I think it goes without saying that I’m not even used to once a day or, let’s be real, ever. The first session or two almost felt good. I was already brewing anger in place of my coffee, and channeling  it into my running gave me a minuscule sense of satisfaction. But, here we are on Day 4, and I’m fucking dying. Allergies, little sleeps, and so sore I can barely walk up the stairs without grimacing. Also, I haven’t had a drink since Friday. Just saying, because that would surely take the edge off of this horror-show.

Yesterday I even ate cafeteria Mexican food for lunch, in hopes that it would kill me. Instead, it tasted good and I ate two enchiladas instead of one. Goddamnit.

Don’t use the water, they say. As long as there are no wee beasties in it. Where in the fuck am I. Every last building on this godforsaken Fort is a shade of nauseating yellow, with a pungent titian roof to match. This place is like Hogwarts! Are you fucking kidding me? Harry was probably allergic to penicillin, which I’m going to assume is the most tame sort of mold that’s living in these quarters. Prison would be classier. Open bays have more privacy. A goddamn asylum is about the level of exactitude; desolate doesn’t even smatter the edge. Actual tumbleweeds, fake cows, Navajo white, ACU printed do-rags, buffalo jewelry. An airport so small that you can hear the boarding call from the baggage claim.

There are the people with the Pain. These are those dealt the shitty hand, being children of divorced parents, learning about death before they should have to, being poor or homeless or raped or robbed or hungry or bullied or cold. I am none of these, and my pains are few. I have made and created almost all the pain that I have had to experience, skating around subjects of distance, “heartbreak”, a brief affair that I’ve managed to all but forget about, and the fear of being trapped in the town that I was born and raised in. These are Growing Pains. Average Pains. Common Paynes.

Average. The word slaps me in the face, gets shampoo in my eyes. With ferocity I have tried to wash it away, for years upon years. It is my biggest downfall, the thing I Hate Most about myself, my own catching disease. There is no escaping it. I joined the Army Reserves Band, a thing that no one knows exists, playing an instrument that even less people recognize. I moved almost 3 hours from my hometown to study English at a community college, with the intention of finishing a degree and ultimately burying myself in bookshelves Forever. It wasn’t until my fifth semester that I finally made a friend there. In what would have been the sixth, I packed up my dog and my alphabetized boxes of books and drove 700 miles to move into an apartment on the east coast with my best friend. /

At least this place has made me a more frequent customer of happiness. I’m here. In all these actions, I’ve hoped that I could trick myself out of being Average, common, stuck, out of being lost or forgotten. These things don’t count. They are not the exits I had in mind. The pains that I have I still make for myself.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                      

It feels right being home. Jo’s death left me momentarily drowning in a cloud of anxiety, which soon developed into a pressing need to go back to Michigan– the first time I’d felt any sort of necessary connection to the state since leaving it six months ago. It’s a slight relief to feel happy and back in tact now that I’m in my own apartment. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s better that J isn’t here for my homecoming— proof the content that comes with being here is purely my own.

The feeling of responsibility is one that I take pride in; it’s exceedingly easy to slip in and out of, depending on my mood or how much I had to drink the night prior. Being back around family, friends, and other familiarity makes me less self-reliant, and therefore more careless. Exhibit A): The parking ticket I received on my first night back and have still been too lazy to pay, though the fee doubles weekly. Maybe the heat or too many hours in the car are getting to me. I can’t have anyone holding me together.

Here home tonight. Our two-bedroom apartment with one too many people and two too many dogs. I was the last one to make certain the door was locked, the dogs were let out, and the lights turned off. Trivial actions that I’d never given much thought, but tonight they gave me a sense of calmness.