all God's creatures blah blah blah

I don't know how so many are getting in my apartment but today I killed five flies and four ladybugs crawling up and down my windows. I wouldn't have even worried about the ladybugs because they don't buzz and therefore don't irritate me except that Matthew told me he was once bitten all over when he slept in a ladybug-infested room.

Then Gail told me that they might be Asian beetles which look like ladybugs and stink when you crush them. I went into my bedroom and found a ladybug/Asian beetle on its back in my bed. It was still and I assumed it was dead. When I slid a paper towel underneath it, however, it started wiggling its little legs which makes me think it was just TAKING A NAP IN MY BED.

Which would have been fine if it were just a ladybug because that would have been almost cute but not if it can bite and/or stink up the sheets. That is totally not cool and I called that ladybug/Asian beetle a bitch to its face.

Understanding Happy Hour

I never understood Happy Hour until the age of 24 when I moved to Seattle and took a job with AmeriCorps. I signed on with Sea Mar Health Center, a clinic in a primarily Latino neighborhood. Hardly anyone I met in Seattle in the next three years seemed to know that this neighborhood existed. It was too south, not cool, and not white. As an AmeriCorps worker I got $350 a week for my "community service" and, at the end of the year, an education award - a few thousand dollars to spend on classes in the future - courtesy of the US Treasury. Thank you, Bill Clinton.

My first position at Sea Mar was as a job trainer, a misguided move on the part of AmeriCorps. The jobs I'd held up to then had been at Indigo Casual Gourmet Cafe, Rocky Rococo Pizza and Pasta, Stub & Herbs Bar and Grille, Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen, a mental health worker at a halfway house where I played pool and talked shit with people in varying stages of psychosis, and I babysat. Oh, and I'd worked at a pawn shop and a tree farm. I had some different experiences but not a lot of it was professional.

I was used to having pasta sauce and guacamole and griddle grease and baby drool and mulch stains on my clothing and, in fact, I recall showing up to my AmeriCorps interview with a smear of cream cheese on my pants. I was eating in the car because I was running late and I didn't really know what job training was and either my shirt wasn't long enough or my pants were too low but I kept smoothing and yanking the hem down to make sure the tattoo around my navel was hidden and no flesh was exposed.

Regardless, they hired me. Not they: Ben. Ben was my supervisor and he liked calling me his assistant. I barely remember Ben now but I know he was nice to me, middle-aged, Mexican, and had a turtle-like face which broke into wild fits of nervous laughter with regularity. One of Ben's favorite lessons to impart was how to CYA. CYA, CYA, CYA, it was always coming up. Cover Your Ass. He didn't mean this literally, he meant it metaphorically. Always be able to account for your time. Check in even if you think you don't need to so that others know you're working. Keep logs of everything. File it all away: conversations, phone calls, emails, receipts. He had me spend a lot of time filing away his CYA proof of activity.

Our job traiing office wasn't at the clinic. Job training was an extra service that Sea-Mar offered patients and residents of the neighborhood and we were housed apart in one of those business lots where each unit looks like a big storage space with a number over a pull-down garage door. My first week on the job, Ben told me that I needed to be more professional. If I was to teach others how to enter the workforce, I had to set an example.

This would be the first official red flag that I was not the right person for the job. Ben told me that I needed a briefcase and that he was sending me to Dress For Success, a "non-profit organization that provides interview suits, confidence boosts, and career development to low-income women in over 75 cities worldwide."

Once I myself learned how to dress for success, I'd be better qualified to pull up to the trailer park in my mom's old Escort, get out with my bullshit briefcase, and supposedly teach a person older than me how to work. But to even go to Dress For Success, I had to pretend to be a low-income job-seeker. I mean, was my income low? Yes. But I was about five minutes away from scoring a night job bartending which instantly made my income just fine and I wasn't exactly coming from a background of disadvantage. White, middle-class, recently graduated with Liberal Arts degree, driving mom's old car around Seattle. The so-called ghetto I lived in was flowery and pleasant since that Pacific Northwest spittle they call rain keeps rhododendrons and evergreens growing like weeds, even in the hood.

But whatever. I followed Ben's instructions and went to Dress For Success and pretended I was a wannabe secretary. The women at Dress For Success volunteering their time to help the struggling fawned over me and patronized me and called me honey and wished me luck on my interview and gave me heels and hose and a skirt suit and a big can of Aqua Net hairspray. I kept my mouth largely shut. They meant well, but Jesus. The suit was grey with pinstripes and a yellow silk shirt underneath and I decided I wouldn't wear it unless I committed a crime and got caught and had to go to court. Otherwise, no thanks. I would go to Goodwill to find clothes to suit Ben and his CYA.

I went along for about a month until I couldn't take it any longer. I was a charlatan, pretending like I knew something about the professional world, knocking on broken screen doors and sitting on old couches, pulling brochures and papers out of my briefcase and explaining them to my "clients". I wasn't covering my ass, I was baring it and talking a lot of shit straight out of it. I went to my AmeriCorps contact and explained that I needed a transfer to another department in Sea Mar. She hooked me up with Isabel, the health educator who got me talking to people in Spanish about diabetes and teaching sex ed in high schools. I also attended the Seattle Midwifery School to be a doula, or childbirth assistant, and went through a few births with Latino women as their partner and translator.

But until all that happened, when I was still trying not to break my neck walking around in those stupid pumps and trying to open that briefcase with the ease that I'd unzip my backpack, I learned how one feels at the end of a long, exhausting, possibly annoying day of work. I longed for 5 pm and a pint of beer. I went to a Fremont tavern and sat on a stool and ordered a fancy local microbrew and bathed in waves of relief when I took the first draw. I'd pretty much forgotten about this until a few days ago. I haven't been drinking much since the Idol tour ended in September and I hadn't worked until this week when I started pulling 18 hour shifts as a production runner for a show that's rehearsing at the arena in Cincinnati.

The first day was long. The second day was long and felt longer since I'd only slept for 4 hours. We started calling our breaks between shifts "naps". See you after your nap, the production coordinator would say when I left for the night. The third and fourth days on 4 and 5 hours of sleep were fine and maybe even spiked with moments of hilarity but rough because I was getting sick and all I wanted, besides sleep, was a DRANK.

One morning I woke at 6am after going to bed at 2am to a half-empty Bud Light bottle by my bed. Another morning I woke to a cup of sticky residue from the vodka I poured into a glass of apple cider. And I remembered the Seattle tavern where I first learned that booze is a blankie for grown ups.

Watching TV in a Boston hotel

October 2003

I watched television last night - That 70s Show - to see that redhead that people compare me to and decided that it's a compliment after all.

And then some other shit and then the Bachelor and at the end he sat on a bench in a garden at night and said goodbye to the girl who didn't get the rose and she said, "I'm sad" and he said, "I'm sad too," and I said out loud, "I'm sad too, but not for the same reason you guys are. I can't believe I'm watching this, it's sad."


things I did yesterday to avoid writing

1. Watched The Lives of Others.
2. Printed up 79 photos on my Canon iP90.
3. Bought an end table made out of a stop sign and carried it a mile home.
4. Ate all the ice cream in the freezer.
5. Told someone maybe I should just be an accountant. Once I learn math.
6. Started reading a book written by someone who clearly has more discipline than me.


KY postcard challenge #1

I told Halle I was moving to the Kentucky side of the river and she said she'd send me a Barack Obama postcard. "Do you think they'll deliver it?" She asked.

"I don't know," I said. "Let's do a series of tests. After Barack, try the Grand Dragon or whatever the KKK leader is called and maybe the Pope and we'll see who gets through."

The first piece of mail I received at my place was from Halle. Heartwarming. No current resident bullshit or offers on cable installation. That would come later. That first piece of mail was a large envelope containing the Rock Obama mix. The CD was called Ronckytonk Meets Kentucky and I reflected that my name and my new state have a lot of letters in common. Neat. It's like I'm cosmically destined to live here or something.

The website www.covingtonky.com has the same effect on me. Covingtonky! Oh, and the new license plates and the sign on the bridges spanning the Ohio River that welcome you to Kentucky with its slogan: UNBRIDLED SPIRIT. This is all very uplifting to me. I try to work the words unbridled spirit into conversation at least once a day.

So Barack was delivered but it didn't count because he was hidden inside the envelope. A week or two later, Halle leaves a voicemail wanting to know if the postcard that said FUCK in big letters on it made it to my mailbox.

Negative. I called her back, "Kentucky has censored you."

"What!" Halle is pissed. "I loved that postcard."

The postcard which may or may not have been unceremoniously ripped up and tossed into a dumpster where trash and filth belong was by Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara who creates awesomely demented-looking children and said in full, "FUCK! I MISS YOU."

So I kind of feel like the overall message should have outweighed the coarse language in the eyes of the postal carrier. But I'd probably only work for the government for a total of 15 minutes before they would find a reason to fire me, so whatever.


Magic as political activism

October 26, 2003

Joleen went to a workshop at the Open Center on using magic as political activism. It was given by Starhawk and they touched each others' auras a lot and tried to do a spiral dance but she said it was a bit of a fiasco because the room was so full of people.


Waking up in Covington, KY

My kitchen window, Pike St. Covington, KY

Change in scenery

August, 2003
Thoughts upon returning to New York from Juneau, AK


Coworkers bicker (5)
I want to seal my ears with (7)
tape and crazy glue (5)


In the city my brain won't settle
restless distraction
late to work, late home, nothing to show
I have to tell you about my trip to Massachusetts, she said
the light in the trees
I sat and I sang.

I live in the concrete
with nothing concrete
Only words that disappear.
No, I haven't seen that movie.
Yes, I read that book.
What was the plot?


You can have my love for breakfast, my soul for lunch, and what is left of my imagination for a midnight snack.

Possible solutions:

1. Chiropractor
2. Colonic
3. Take up boxing
4. Keep my distance

What we find when we unpack

This week my apartment got turntables, a library card catalog, and a church pew. I'm still waiting on the mannequin head I found on eBay.

A mouse was living in the card catalog before I bought it from a guy on Craigslist so as soon as I clean out the turds, I'm putting random objects in the drawers and ask Matthew to assign them Dewey Decimal numbers.

I also went through my books and found a handbound one that Taryn made for me five years ago. I used it as a journal in 2003 and I took this morning to catch up on what was up with me that year.


Life must be lived forward but as Søren Kierkegaard said and I scribbled on December 31, 2003, it can only be understood backwards.


Chou Chou the bike

"You have to name her," he said.

His bike is Vicki Vale. If my bike rides with Vicki, she needs a name.

I hadn't seen this bike in ten years. She was rusting slowly in a box in my parents' garage while I hauled myself around Minneapolis and Olympia and Seattle on a mountain bike I thought was tougher than this one.

I couldn't even remember what she looked like until I opened the box two weeks ago: nice old black and yellow Centurion frame, Le Mans on the crossbar.

"She's French and she's not a girl, she's a MANS!"

And, I decided, he's gay. I have a gay bike.

He needed a French name. Within minutes, I knew. One of the only things I remember from my high school French class was affectionately calling someone my "little cabbage": mon petit chou chou.


me go boom in the kitchen


who needs a hug?

I'm going to admit something that isn't nice. Sometimes I read blogs just to poke myself in the eye to see if it's still a sensitive area. Yep, it still is.

I'm not completely destructive. I like most of the blogs I read but I do have my mean list. I read them and instead of feeling inspired or educated, I feel inadequate.

I'm not as positive, or as good a friend, or as honest, or as productive, and on and on. I reason with myself:

I don't WANT to kick my heels in the surf (well, I do sometimes) or twirl my skirts in the fields and let salty tears run down my cheeks, mooning over the MAGIC of the universe.

I love magic. I love when magic happens. As long as no one uses the word magic too much. I remember living in Olympia, 12 years ago, when I got tired of being a depressive teenager and took Zoloft for a year. I was moony and earthy and went to drum circles and I strongly suspect that I was bo-ring. Rereading that year's journals = painful. I didn't seem to be thinking anything.

I don't blame Zoloft and I'm not anti-drug; I thank Zoloft for dragging me out of the pit and getting me back to normal, my normal. My normal has highs and lows and ups and downs and sometimes when I'm not moving and shaking, I have a hard time getting off the couch but I accept it.

But lately I've been in a weird place with thinking. I'm thinking too much in some ways and not at all in others. There's a lot I want to do - personally and professionally - now that I'm back in Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky. Technically, I have a lot more control over my days and my time and my thoughts now that I'm off tour and back home.

I should be able to enjoy setting up my new apartment and seeing old friends and my family more and reading and writing but I can't seem to focus. I can't think about anything if the corners of the baseboards in the apartment are grimy. I scrub them and that's great until I look up and notice the chip on the kitchen counter. How could I not notice that chip before? I'm such an IDIOT!

How can I take a hour to read a book when there's a chip on the kitchen counter? And when did I start caring so much about chips? I almost had a heart attack when I couldn't get the deadbolt to work and Matthew had to draw me a bath with essential oils and a linen-scented candle just so I'd breathe properly.

Obsession is one thing. I'm used to obsessing over writing and researching and adventuring, but this? This is annoying. Especially since the apartment, overall, is gorgeous.

So while books are temporarily out, I allow myself a moment to check blogs written by other women who seem all centered and in touch with something that's eluding me. They are very open about their struggles but at the same time give the impression that they're sipping a mug of steaming tea and watching leaves flick in the breeze in a way that I, fueled by two pots of coffee and self-imposed daily deadlines, am not.

Yesterday I only got 80 percent of my to-do list finished and thus fixated on my 20 percent failure. I thought about how many people have told me over the years that I have a calming presence. How mellow and cool I am. Sure, I'm cool, I thought, I'm super dope. Right up until I freak out and have to borrow a switchblade to cut someone.

I sort of tried to explain this to Matthew:

a) When I'm not experiencing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, I have a calming presence. Tons of people think so! Seriously!

b) Sorry you haven't gotten to enjoy that part of my personality much.

and a quick question: c) Does it make me seem more or less neurotic that I'm tired all the time?

I know the answer. More, since I'm not sleeping enough despite being always tired. Yuck.

I tell myself that I don't really like some of the blogs I read but another part of me admits that I'm just jealous. And ungenerous. I imagine that I'd really like the writers in person and that we'd be great friends. As long as they ignore the fact that I'm a bitchy asshole.

This morning I was going to take a few minutes to torture myself by reading a blog from California written by someone who's very open about her journeys and her tears of joy. I was all set to just let that bother me before I hopped in the car to do errands. But I watched a quick video she posted and two things stopped me:



These simple f'ing words. I wanted to react: 'What does that mean? That WHATEVER is okay? That mediocrity is enough?'

Then I thought, 'No, dummy, it means don't be mean to yourself. Quit calling yourself dummy and thinking everything has to be perfect.'

Take a breath, write a blog, slow your roll. Et cetera.


hateful people in love

I was driving Matthew to the library early this morning when we saw three students on a training run outside the college.

"Duh nuh duuuuh!" I started singing.

"Duh nuh DUUUUH!" He followed up.

Gonna Fly Now AKA the Rocky theme song.

"Dang," I said, "I can't believe in all the times I've been in Philadelphia, I've never run up the museum steps pretending to be Rocky."

"Do you really want to be that person?" Matthew asked.

I thought about it.


And "I don't want to be that person from the chemistry.com commercial either, yet apparently I AM."

This commercial was on TV last night and I automatically imitated and mocked it like THESE PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS.

"Um," Matthew said, "You know we act like that, right?"

"Oh my god," I held my forehead, "We do. We totally do. We were hugging in line at Target today."

And at the Richwood flea market last weekend? We walked the aisles with our arms around each others' waists. I bought Amish jam. He bought a switchblade. I stuck my hand in his back pocket and put my chin on his shoulder. We kissed in the parking lot and giggled when an announcement was made for so-and-so to meet by the chicken pen.

"Yeah," Matthew grimaced, "We're those people. We hate us."