November 28, 2012

In the room the women come and go

I wash my hands. Look at my face in the mirror. Voices from the kitchen make their way to my ears through the walls.


A friend has pulled me into another one of my utopia moments. Six smart, loudmouthed women got drunk around a table. There is baking and vodka, talk of Rammstein concerts on the river Volga and the perils of liberal upbringing, negotiating a job at the IRS with trying to make it big with your punk rock band, rescuing stray cats and dogs and the monogamy of long-distance relationships. This is where I smile and shut up and drink, because the relationship in question is new and steamy, and stretches a mere three hundred miles. I wonder how our hostess would handle an ocean.


I look for a hand towel and spot the one white ceramic tile that stands out from the others. In bright red lipstick, it says


Do I dare to eat a peach?


And my mind responds by rote,


I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each


I do not think that they will sing to me.



I come back to the kitchen just in time to hear our hostess, a powerful intoxicating creature, if still a little young, wrap up her recent love story in all the sarcasm and brutal honesty of a female identity duking it out with itself:


“I am such a romantic whore. I love it when he puts me in my place, but I refuse to shave my pussy!”


I interrupt.


“You have Prufrock on your wall.”


Everybody shuts up as they make the mental leap from boyfriends to poetry.




“You have Prufrock on your wall. In the bathroom.”


The rest still have no idea what I am on about, but her face lights up. Three hours and a bottle of pear schnapps later, she shows me the full printed text proudly displayed on her bedroom wardrobe door.


In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.


Isn’t that the best? Isn’t that just the… pinnacle? What’s your favorite line?”


She honestly loves the poem. Without thinking, I say


“’That is not what I meant at all;

That is not it, at all.’”


Because, in my private universe, the one I dare disturb and in which TSE is my shameless, jealously kept property, being misunderstood sometimes feels like my natural state of being so much that it hurts.


  1. Odd isn't it? For a person who apparently works so incredibly hard at being clear...and understood. Going so far as to spill his very soul's blood on His blog's floor on a daily basis only to discover that his true, natural state after all is to be misunderstood. How delicious...

    So ends (part of) the mystery...

    1. LOL, are you talking about me or about you? You have me confused with all the "his"... :)

      I crave osmotic, hundred-percentile understanding, yet know too much about the human mind and communication to ever think it possible. On a good day, it is delicious. On a less-than-good day, I could do without the mystery.

    2. Sorry I wasn't more clear about who I was writing about. I was actually self-discovering! I learned something pretty profound about myself today.

      It would be a little bit out of character for me to ever assume something such as this about somebody else but I gather from your comment this particular shoe fit you as well.

  2. Great post, as always.

    1. Thank you girl, I aim to please :) Have yourself a beautiful day, and good luck with wrapping up NaNoWriMo.

  3. Chris, you have the most hip and interesting gatherings. Mine usually involve Wal-Mart and lg diet Cokes. I feel too square to comment. Let me just say that you have piqued my curiosity on so many things: music, poetry, art, language.... The list could go on and on. Whenever I read your posts I get the feeling that I'm entering a museum with high ceilings, where voices echo and hearts enlarge.

    Each of us exists by ourselves. We lay claim to everything, music, poetry, the sun moon and sky, oceans, trees. We claim it all. We write as an attempt to show others what we see. But, they mostly don't see. And we mostly walk alone, drunk with sensory overload and a desperate need to speak.

    I'm glad you speak here Chris. You are beautiful.

  4. LOL Leah,

    I only write about the *interesting* Saturday nights. The usual ones involve whining "I miss you I miss you I miss you" into the Skype screen, followed by crying myself to sleep.

    As my other literary boyfriend, Joseph Conrad, would say, "We live as we dream. Alone." That is one of my favorite, and most painful, quotes ever. Then there is the ancient Greek philosopher Gorgias, followed by that poor messed up baby Wittgenstein some 2.000 years later, who pretty much said that a) there is no way we can ever properly articulate how we feel and what we think, and b) even if we could articulate it, there is no way anyone could fully understand. I'm not trying to bring you down or swamp you with more high ceilings, it's just how my mind operates. Language is a fickle little thing, and for some of us, our most prized possession. I know of no other way to live than to keep speaking.

    I've read your last post. Still cryptic, but I'm loving the goofballery :) Miss you!

  5. Pynchon, Against the Day..."The longer they traveled, the more "futuristic" would the scenery grow."

    Your words are ships jumped and stowed away journeys, the thoughtful remembrances of the willing observer tossing on the sea of uncertainty and always brought back safely to home.

    You are not misunderstood. You are loved by the universe.

    1. For all the languages I've dabbled in, it seems to me that the universe still speaks in that microscopic realm between the asymptote and the axis, always within sight but out of reach. Maybe I just need to accept the beauty of it. I'm counting the fathoms, and smoothing out striations. Home is elsewhere, yet I am home.

  6. "I do not think they will sing to me."

    And in this, I create my own destiny I fear. I WANT to be understood....and yet I am so mute, so timid, so fucking afraid. And so it is easier to be alone I guess. It would take one very solid, sure of himself man, to make me feel safe enough. And then I think I must feel safe enough no matter. So I try. Am trying. Ann-Marie-Misunderstood. Yep. And so? I don't know...but that now I wish to write poetry on my closet door.

    1. It's powerful, Prufrock, isn't it? :) I did have it on my wall when I was nineteen or so and unrequitedly crushing on the TA that taught it in class. The TA is long gone, but Prufrock and I still hold hands and walk down the beach.

      "Anne-Marie Misunderstood," I like that :) I am the exact opposite. I spill and vomit myself onto people with whom I have felt a connection. And am left with a terrible sense of emptiness when that friendship/relationship goes away, and do not understand how anyone could want anything less intense than the absolute, if the connection is there. I am a walking amplitude of excess and lack.

      I will play devil's advocate again, and say that most people, self-help books and gurus will tell you that "you must feel safe enough no matter." And yes, all of the people I admire in my life have that sense of self-sufficiency and self-assuredness that makes for a relationship where one willingly shares oneself with their partner instead of co-dependency or something worse. Of course, I would like to be one of those people. But life doesn't always work that way. We don't always meet our partners at a perfect time when things are aligned and we are ready. We don't always stay self-sufficient or even able-bodied. There is nothing wrong with one partner taking the wheel and empowering their significant other. There is nothing wrong with relationships that stay lopsided like that forever, as long as people are happy. Some people just have a lot to give, and if we are truly in love, why take that pleasure and privilege away from them? Because we are "weak," or "don't have much to offer?" Let them be the judge of that. I understand what you are saying about this larger-than-life, "solid, sure of himself man," because I often feel that way myself. But I also honestly think that all it ever takes is for someone to see us for who we are. And if they fall in love with that, don't underestimate the power and conviction of their love.


I thrive on interaction. All comments are welcome and will be replied to.