A Statement T-Shirt In Facebook Status Form.

15 Apr

I have been called weird my entire life
Back in nursery when I vomitted to get out of class
Back in first grade when I was best friends with the class bully
Even in high school, where most experimented with sexuality
and I hadn’t even hit puberty yet.
(When I was 14, I revealed to my seatmate that I thought
the letter “N” was the more mellow and old-fashioned older sister of “M”, and that the number 8 was, of course, a fatty.
She said she had never been as weird as I was
in that moment.)
I was a leftie when most people raised their right hands
Turned the opposite way when everyone instinctively turned clockwise.
Sometimes I walk in a crowd and wonder what would happen if I suddenly
break out into song.
I am not sure whether I was really weird.
I never really felt out of place, and maybe that makes it a bit dangerous?
Maybe we’re not supposed to be completely sure
of our off-centered-ness.
And it’s not that I am being odd to be artistic or whatever.
(Art is production, creation, workshopping your idea-baby into
something that can nourish the souls of others
with its lines and details and
turns-of-phrases.
I do not have such lofty goals.
I do not even have goals.
Everything here is circumstantial.)
And no, this is not a bid for rebellion, either.
There is no authority I would like to buck up under
and rear my long, proud neck against.
I am not a warhorse metaphor.
I do not have cowboy dreams.
I don’t even really care what the prevailing system is, although
over time, I have learned to observe, and imitate, and imbibe.
To make small talk in a crowd
and to use my right hand for a handshake.
To follow another person’s train of thought when my mind thinks
their eyes look like the headlights of a UFO.
To realize that the patterns of human behavior
are a process and product of evolution
and I do not have to be so mistrustful
of everyone’s gender roles.
Or circadian rhythms.
Or Gestures, with a capital G.
Is this being mature?
Is this selling out?
(In my experience, I would rather look like a halfway-decent, reliable-looking
young woman than to wear a lime green scarf
and muster up the attitude for it.
Making yourself visible?
It’s still pandering to an audience.)
The point of this all was to attempt to demonstrate that
I cannot be remonstrated for something so mandated
as a cultural tendency or the impulse to rhyme.
I do not seek a definition. And I am pretty sure this does not qualify
as either a poem or an essay.
This is not a problem.
Violations and violence and violins.
As long as you bear some sort of resemblance to expectation, you can survive.
Were it not for the leftovers after everything weird has been commented upon, anyway, no one would even know what “normal” is.

October 28, 2013

I live my life inside a thought.

14 Apr

Sentences are my muscles – they keep me upright and keep me moving and they are striated with their fervent desire to be meaningful. It is not painful because I am used to the weights of my own thoughts.
I used to reach down and feel the stretch in my head, like a burn, pulling the motions far beyond what my body is used to. Then I stretched and stretched and reached over and suddenly I had wrapped the sentence so effectively around my head, it’s fingers were touching and it was tight, the blood in my words pumping desperately and elsewhere my circulation was getting cut off, bam!
A release and the pins and the needles of punctuation,
of editing, of looking over and proof-reading my life
beliefs – suddenly they hurt and they blotted the world between their sparks.
And I let the over-stretched muscle-words go and I grasped the weights of retrospection, of criticism, of appraisal — I lifted them high and the life-blood pumped back even more fervently.
And the appraisal, the criticism, from the other side of potential energy, they felt like defeat.
But I did not let go, I raised them even higher and
the muscles of my words hurt like paralysis.
They seemed defeated, from the height I had lifted them to.
(Though in the sweat of my conviction, nothing could touch me.)
And then I opened my mouth and let my tongue flap across the race-track of conversations, let it slip and jump
and hurl and hurdle and sprint and walk
and jog – and there is not an end to the oval race-track,
and no end to circuitous thought processes.
So as the night is dark and the day is long, the thought
spins on its axis and my words distribute a revolution across the spaces of breath. And people ask, why do you never stop talking? And they do not know that inside there are is an arena
already silent as the surviving gladiators of cognition battle it out.
There is an audience, I must realize. Shhh, shhh.
(And I never stop, I do not let up – keep on pushing the metaphors, keep on stretching the muscle-sentences, keep on lifting the weight of critiques, training and training my words and my sentences and my beliefs and my metaphors
until I bulge with the weight and size of them,
until I am an athlete of cognition.
I keep on training until I am well enough to compete with silence, the ever-vigilant rival, until I can keep up with the rest of the world’s noise.)
I do not ever win, but I also do not ever stop; the moment of stillness is the moment of surrender.
In the meantime, I tell myself to keep talking –
and the words spill out, spill out as tirelessly
as sweat and fatigue and blood.
There is always a rush, rush, rush of them.

fruitjuicebleed

15 Oct

i remember a lot about childhood:
but one of the oddest things i
remember now,
in the lucid mid-twenties processing of it
is how i was first taught how to hold a knife;
the grown-ups allowed me to hold it
just so: the grip on the handle
tight, the pointed, dangerous side
angled away.
this knife is smooth and plastic but
watch out, dear,
your skin is so much softer
and you are but a child —
look how the pointed end is rounded
but it can take your eye out.
and here, look out for its small,
serrated teeth.
they are meant to saw a surface open,
if you were so inclined.
just a gentle back and forth
until you break skin.
and here, why don’t you practice on
this mango?
it could have grown up to be a tree,
isn’t that marvelous?
it is a child, just like you,
but when it was at its ripest
we plucked it away.
and now here it is,
the tree’s sun-warmed
still-beating
heart.

go on, child. cut it open.

disˈkwīət/

2 Aug

the disquiet is deceptive.
in the centre of your mind is an amphitheater
and no one speaks.
a Greek chorus, large and silent
and all their agonies still.
you do not panic. panic breathes no breaths.
not even the leaf as it alights from its twig
makes a sound in you.
you breath in and out.
your lungs expand quietly like a fire
and collapse like ash.
the disquiet is insidious.
richer than brocades of royalty.
the masterpiece of an anxious soul.
a disquiet in your head so soft, soft.
softer than the dust of catacombs.
it stretches lazily like a dragon
with wings as impossible as myth.

meanwhile a storm grows inevitably
inside the very bones
of you

I Put The Pro in Procrastination, A Poem

15 Jun

this is the problem with inattention that no one tells you about:
it is not that the task in front of you
is boring or you are without
ability to keep quiet or still or surrender to a single object
or that it is inconsequential or too difficult
or not challenging enough for your “intellect”

no, this is the problem:
the world around you and within you and beyond you is too
complex by far to tune out, to ignore, to sidestep
as the stimuli hurls towards you with all the subtlety of a dubstep
remix. you sit in a quiet coffeeshop and it will take you
forever to catalog: how the frothy arches of your cappuccino
look like Saturn misplaced her rings,
or how the empty tables around you
remind you of that that Les Mis bloke who sings
about the casualties of war
— or how, look, the floor-tiles seemingly are
poured concrete but are surely custom-made?
it certainly looks too polished for the warehouse-y
feel this place is trying to recreate —
but then how amazing does that cappuccino taste, though?
the velvet feel of the froth as you swirl it to and fro
in the vestibule of your mouth —
but the same cannot be said of the music here
some amalgamated folksy rendition
of Billboard’s decorated A-listers —
but remember you told yourself the last time
you would order something else,
not this tall, tan, young and lovely roast Arabica blend:
still not your favorite, but it undeniably has a sexless elegance
like a Hepburn (Katherine, not Audrey)
— but still the music, the music makes you seethe
because NOT EVERY POP SONG IN EXISTENCE
HAS TO BE MADE ACOUSTIC, GEEZ
— and then you pull yourself out of it enough
to maybe put a lid on it, on your thoughts and cup of coffee
so the warmth won’t seep out
and remind you of the minutes you’ve taken
just to take everything in,
that an hour has passed
not because you were distracted but because
you are merely you, in this stimulus-ridden world
with five senses and a futile desire to filter a sandstorm
through a sieve —
you are not stupid or silly or cute or random or naive
not strange or any of those other things that other folks
without their errors of thought-refraction and their
quiet imaginations or
their unceasing ability to concentrate in
concentric circles around an object
so it looks like a discrete target
deign to call you —
when they notice that you don’t sit still, ask why don’t you
just work in a straight line,
or collapse into a bullet point going steadily down an outline —
you just have this little problem of noticing,
noticing everything and listening
to every thought and holding
it up to the light and looking at each layer
of sedimentation and picking out the thousand crystals that another
more sensible person would quite swiftly just call a “rock”
— you are merely you, sitting in a coffeeshop
and surrounded by all the push and pull of possibilities
and multiplicities of existence
and incidentally a table a chair a cup of coffee
some music and a little book you have to have already finished
— which reminds me, just open it, come on,
the hour will pass suddenly —
so you should just start studying and start getting ready
to forget that everything is everything
is altogether happening already —

or, or maybe not, you know, maybe not:
what you don’t realize here, miss,
that the problem with inattention
that no one tells you about is —

This Is A Blog Of Exaggerations.

31 Dec

(Or, Alternatively, When A Doctor-In-Training Realizes She May Have  Sociopathic Tendencies.)

~

[What is a blog, in any case?  Something about yourself, like an exposition, or a personal experience, or a realization/thought/feeling?  That’s probably what it is. I’m not sure if it has to be well-written. I’m sure this entry won’t be, whatever these words end up being.

Now that that requisite moment of self-questioning is out of the way, let me begin.]

— I’ve recently concluded that I may be a sociopath.

Well, that’s reaching! Yes. And a bit too TV-edited sensational. It explains a bit, though, as I understand it.

It goes like this:

Here I am walking along the byways of self-reflection, and look at these brochures!
1) Logic-based conscience
2) A preference for the functional, unequivocal good
3) General disregard for rules
4) An inability to empathize/callousness

And this is how my Self As Sociopath Propaganda goes.

Logic-Based Conscience
I’ve tested as I/E-NT-J/P for a while now.  Consistently from second year of college when I was 16 to the present, which is 24.  The E/I and J/P were pretty borderline but the NT remained consistent. I remember being INFP in high school but I was 12 and had recently gotten seriously into poetry, and was hopped up on a lot of teenage angst and existential self-doubt, basically trying to find my place and meaning in the Universe.  I even once got called “a beautiful soul,” which is frankly astonishing to me at present.  Whenever I do examine my self now, with a frequency probably an eighth of what my thirteen-year-old self felt as a daily requirement, I envision a dug-out sea of mud, some industrial-strength steel and an oil-rig.  Hardly soulful, and hardly beautiful, either.

But I digress.

The logic-based conscience is basically a list of pros-and-cons and mostly self-preserving impulse.  (I think if lived a life more desperate, I would’ve been a con woman.)  “Should I do this or not?” I ask myself at times, and rapid fire it goes on-one-hand-I’d-be-skipping-the-lines and then if-I-get-caught-it-would-be-a-hassle and a final I-don’t-want-to-face-legal-action-I-have-work-tomorrow.

This was an honest question I asked myself last night about getting an item from the grocery and just leaving the money on the shelf, and walking out.   Probably not even leaving money if I felt more hard-up.

Most of the things I do which requires qualifiers of good/bad, I end up doing based on what is practical, which saves more time, and what makes sense. If I’m having an argument, I don’t feel the need to win it or to prove my point to the other person. I will state my argument, probably listen to yours and deconstruct it, find it lacking (obviously) and say okay, you win, because it ends this exchange and I needed to be doing something else five minutes ago.  It usually lets the other person walk away feeling triumphant, and it lets me walk away as soon as possible.  Both of us get what we want, obviously (because people so badly want to be justified).

My conceit is always contemptible. Always! And I feel no need to do anything about this.  I am aware that pride is ugly and humility is attractive, but I try to wear pride on the lines between my teeth and in Gestalt imagery, it looks just like a normal smile.

Hiding in plain sight/too exaggerated to be true, is how my conceit works.

Functional, Unequivocal Good

I used to have a lot of questions about the good and the bad.  Morality, meaning, the shades between nice/kind/good.  I think nice and nasty are mutually exclusive, and so are kind and mean, as well as good and bad.  Take, for example, the ABCs of Social Psychology.  Cognition is Nice or Nasty, Affect is Kind or Mean, and Behavior can be Good or Bad.

This is an arbitrary juxtaposition.  But, to demonstrate:

Everyday, I do work as a medical intern in a government hospital in a developing Asian country.  On any given day I see a patient dressed and groomed poorly with a chief complaint and a plea for help.  A homeless man brings his five-year-old-daughter in, edematous and gasping.  She has Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (Dengue with Warning Signs!) and she’s the third in his brood of eight to get sick with this disease, with the previous two dead already.  I think, how unfortunate that you have money to dye your hair but you waited until she’s moribund to bring her to the hospital.  I feel absolutely no joy in helping you, you needy, indigent man, or helping your daughter.  But when the little girl inevitably codes and I have to do CPR on her, I pump for 10 cycles.

Thoughts, feelings, actions.  None of the previous two matter to me so much as the last one, and that is because I think good or bad are essentially behavior or action-dependent.  But does that justify it all?  I am both nasty and mean.  Baseless, nasty thoughts and mean, petty feelings.  Then I do what makes sense and what is practical and this, for me, is good.  It makes sense to pump her.  That’s the whole ACLS protocol.  I may hate you, or I might dislike you, or I may have absolutely no regard for you, but this act, in this context, makes sense.  Good is as good does.

Then I go to sleep feeling exhausted and relevant!  Perfect.

General Disregard For Rules

If it’s there for me to get and no one will miss it, or someone might miss it but there’s no one to call me out on getting it, and if this will save me some effort or some time or some money in the future, then you bet your derriere I’m getting it.

Also, a variant is — just because it is not customary to do so-and-so doesn’t mean I am not doing it. “Keep Off The Grass” is practically calling attention to all the grass around me I can joyfully trod on, “Do Not Disturb” is practically an invitation to knock rudely and anonymously, and    anything closed and shut with a lid just begs for prying hands.

I don’t cheat at Monopoly, though, because that’s just disgusting.

An Inability to Empathize

I had a psychology major for my undergrad, and most people think I’m a good listener — or at least I think most people think I’m a good listener.  (I am aware that I live in my head.)  The problem is, this all comes up as a picture of me being the listening ear/shoulder to cry on when a friend or family member is in need.  Most of it is from genuine curiosity — sometimes it is fascinating to understand the intestines of the person’s emotion — but none of it hits me on a soul-deep, heart-wrenching level.  You and your problems are your own, you fellow flesh and CHON-moleculed person.  Your atoms and my atoms are different.  And I feel no need to reorder my universe to fit yours.  First, that would take a lot of time, second, a lot of effort, and third, despair/elation makes me wheeze.

— I can think of sad things and cry very easily, though.  It makes for such fun reactions from the other party.

But the point is, the emotional overtures, the everyday confessions, the tragic/comedic spectacle of it all never hits me right. In. The. Solar. Plexus.  Never.  Inside Out is boring.  Mufasa dying was monumental because I watched it when I was six and impressionable.  I don’t get Lang Leav.  Draco Malfoy was a cutie pie.  Puppies are cute because of their soft fur and the wagging that shakes with it an entire half of their body  and the “cute factor” of having an over-sized head.  Same with babies, except more saliva.

— Fine, so none of that was about empathy, but it was about being emotionally permeable, and my point is I am both callous and callus formation.

callous, adj. – not feeling or showing any concern about the problems or suffering of other people.

a  :  being hardened and thickened

b  :  feeling or showing no sympathy for others :  hard-hearted <a callous indifference to suffering>

(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/callous)

And,

callus, also spelled callous,  in osteology, bony and cartilaginous material forming a connecting bridge across a bone fracture during repair. Within one to two weeks after injury, a provisional callus forms, enveloping the fracture site.  (http://www.britannica.com/science/callus-osteology)

Meaning — I understand that what you went through was painful, and that you are in pain, and what would you have me do about it? You have to tell me explicitly in action-words.  None?  Okay, then can we please move on now.  I’m not asking permission.  I have no emotional real estate for you to move into at present.  Or ever.

(But I understand that displaying that disregard blatantly is a relational faux pas, and I aim to appear invested, genuine and charming.  If not that, I also accept being the one “who tells it like it is,” the “devil’s advocate,” “an impartial third party perspective,” or the one who provides “cutting social commentary”.  See, there is a place for all of those who have a hard time mustering sympathy!  Also I recycle platitudes like a gift card.)

Cute babies and puppies is basically a factual d’aww and being unaffected by them might have caused me self-doubt.  But, now I embrace it. (The overlarge head it what gets you, see.)

~

In conclusion, throughout my life I have always been not-fascinated by rules and fascinated with rule-breaking because how will they react look at them goooo, but more than that, very, very fascinated with what can I get out of it?  This makes me opportunistic at best and manipulative at worst.  And you realize, you can get a lot out of many things and events and places and people.  I follow a personal code of conduct in which I rationalize things to myself, and if it is sound — well then, fair game.  I am capable of love (side note: my love language is words and gifts, as gifts allow you to invest and words allow you to soothe over hurts) and I do not act maliciously toward loved ones.  It does not make sense and is not practical and there is no motive.  But if I do hurt them unintentionally with my blatant disregard for rules or their rules or their personalities, then the remorse is…  Wait, what is that?  Remorse, you say?  A foreign spice, I see.  Slightly stinging on the tongue, but barely there, to be honest.

— So, OK.  I’m probably not a sociopath.  I’m probably just a selfish, conceited idiot, too hard-headed for admonitions but spineless in my cowardice and too unconfident for actual, committed malice.

That, and I like big words.

The End

A Letter (Subtitle: Insights From A Dayhike)

31 Jul

Dear Person Who Shall Heretofore Go Unnamed (You Know Who You Are):

1. We crave stories.

Here we go. There are days when I resent waking up and doing the whole shebang of duty and real-life admin work and my job, because you feel like this is the sped-over montage in the movie where people do the mega makeover or someone decides to take the martial arts training seriously or the bida decides, fuck it, I’m not dealing with this sober, while Dido croons in the background as the bottles pile up.

Routine is as deadly as rabies, is the point.

And then there are days when you can’t wait to fall asleep the night before so you can wake up already and do_your_thing, wake up early with the sleep still crusting your eyelids and your blood sluggish but your heart picking up the pace, thump-thump-thump like it knows excitement, too.

Last Saturday is one of those days, and I celebrate the plot twists as much as the next person, i.e. the plot twist of you climbing up a mountain with me — but mostly I celebrate how not one moment of that was worth skimming over, how it stood out with perfect clarity, in 1080p of misty rainforest air and storm-rush sounds, kind of mysterious and surprising and dangerous and just simply /fun/ all in one go. That makes for a good story, is what it does. Lovely.

2. But, you. You make one hell of a storyline, my dear boy. Murakami-esque.

The funny thing with you is, you can be an open book at times, like just churning out self-revelations one after the other, and other times there are things essential to you that you forget to share. I can’t make you tell me those things, nor do I want to squeeze the information out of you.

But from what I can see: a boyman lives his life in the suburbs surrounded by the padding of comfortable wealth, but nothing bruises and breaks him quite so quickly as his heart, the ol’ ticker, the way it flings itself on a pendulum of hope and heartbreak inside his ribcage. The way the women come and go on the upswing. The way he lets himself be led by the gentle calling of potential despite being let down.

He has schools and pedigree to his name, and he has failures and inadequacies dangling from underneath the floorboards. He is not a waste, but some people cluck their tongues and shake their heads. He is not a waste nor is he a failure, because a waste is a dead thing and failure is an event, and he is neither. All he has done since being born was grow, grow, grow. These days, he’s been letting out the heartbreak from his heart. He’s letting it happen to other people instead of protecting them from it. He has learned that he needed to grow beyond his landscape, beyond his constructed life and ideals, to make sense of his plot line again.

(The fractures in the bone are repaired by callus formation, thicker and stronger than unbroken bone. Not as streamlined, not as aligned — slightly lopsided, even — but somehow, sturdier than ever.)

3. Thank you for coming to the mountain with me. First mountain, no less!

The thing is, apart from the logistical aspect of it, I always used to envison the climb as a solitary event. Then I found that in practice, it’s hella fun to grumble to someone about how all the the rocks in the world have_been_dumped_here, ask incessantly “are we there yet?” or trade snacks with them on the traverse. Super fun. And so I always just used to wait to be invited to go climbing, for the safety and the conversation and the snacks that company provides. And now I’m doing the inviting and you indulged the request and you talked and laughed and wailed with me through all of it, and you ooh-ed and ahh-ed in all the right places, and you made all the appropriate Indiana Jones and LOTR and Jurassic Park references. And you talked and you asked and you let me talk and you let me ask, and we shitted each other not, and company like that is precious and a privilege, so. Thank you for coming with me to the mountain, but mostly thank you for coming at all, period.

4. The soundtrack is as essential as the cinematography, the directing, the casting, the acting, the storyboard.

Next time. Next time, we split DJ duties.

5. See you for the end credits! And the Easter Egg scene bit.

We made it to the end! If the actual trek were any less remarkable, I would celebrate all the other bits before and after — squeezing rainwater from our spare clothes outside your car; helping me with my baking alibi; the Magnetic Road debacle and the bit where the road turns dark and perilous and shady AF; mimicking all road traffickers when you asked for directions; marveling at the road trafficker archetype;

insightful conversations outside 7-11 like we’re in a coming-of-age movie; shivering just with the memory of mountain rain; mourning and moaning about past loves; laughing about failures and fear over hot coffee; the bad traffic that makes a cameo in all these movie types; you accusing me of being a regular little heartbreaker, and me accusing you of being a soldier and martyr and gunslinger and grenadier of love, a general and a battalion for love — like that’s really a fault, like that can qualify at all as an accusation;

the thrilling thought of being changed in one day, after 16 miles, over a height of 1000+ MASL; the excitement of climbing and the nagging worry of falling at the back of it. the craziness that inspires people to be uncomfortable, tired, aching, wounded, be-leeched — all because we are younger and older right now than we will ever be, and if that doesn’t say carpe diem I don’t know what does, so —

Maybe a restaurant next time, yes. And then caves after.

Respectfully (for you and your high socks) yours,
Justine