eh?

dylpickled


Love.

And the things that get in its way.


(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
When it comes to writing, there's this thing where I can see where I want to end up, but I don't know how I'm gonna get there. I have something in my head, but it's usually a collection of images and feelings and like, snippets of music or quotes. I mean this even for logical, argumentative writing - that's a picture in my head. There are usually very few, if any, words involved. And then basically writing is like working a puzzle: does this word fit? Does this other word fit better? I have the picture and now I have to recreate it from a shitty reproduction, and I'm not sure I have all the pieces. Mostly I just get an impression of it, a dead version under glass, and then I have to hope that that's enough to call something back to life in someone else's mind.

And that's kinda life now, especially since I have so much that needs to get written. To switch metaphors, I do kinda feel like I'm halfway up a summit and I can see it, I can see where I need to go, but there's a hell of a lot of trudging through snow left to go...

Thoughts while riding the bus today:

Both emotionally and practically, I usually think of myself as a careful, thoughtful person, and that's true, but that doesn't actually mean I'm cautious at all. I've built a whole life on constant low-grade risk punctuated by truly massive gambles. So actually, what happens is, I get right the fuck to the edge, give the drop a good long look, ponder all the horrible ways I could get hurt if something goes wrong - and THEN jump. And that works stunningly well.

(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
Sitting around watching TV with Christmas tree lit up, cat on my lap, and husband leaning into me, petting and talking to cat, and I feel all warm and cozy... and then I think, this Christmas tree is entirely my doing. And, actually, so are the furnishings of this room, and the color on the walls. I'm the one who decided to get the cat in the first place. And who picked this man. I did a good job.

In which I become "normal" for an evening, and enjoy it.
eh?
dylpickled
Normally I am just slightly out of step with everyone. But one recent evening at a bar with the intellectual fight club I discovered that I was completely like the rest of them, within the context of the group "normal", and that was a fun experience. We agree that:

Hot spiced Christmas mead is the shit. "Mead is awesome, though. Have you had it?" "Oh yeah. You know what's good?" "Gluehmed," another guy and I say simultaneously. "WHAT? This is in Graz? Where?!" "You know the market in the alley behind that church near the river?" "Oh yeah, you can get lost in there... Fuck, guys, there goes my weekend."

Gin and tonics, despite the fact that they are having a "cool kid" moment, are also tasty. I, who am being nostalgic and ordering gin and sodas, make fun of myself for being so hipster-y that I can't even order the normal drink but have to be precious about it. But the table decides that drinking them that way for ten years, or "since she was a little girl", specifically because I want to better taste the gin, because why would you ever drink anything you didn't like the taste of, makes it a legit thing to order. And in an American accent "soda" sounds hilarious. And now they want one too.

The fact that you can't read every book in the world is no excuse to keep trying. "Sadly, my knowledge of the German canon is spotty." "I mean, so is most people's." "No, it's terrible..." And later: "That reminds me of Juenger. Everyone reads All Quiet on the Western Front for WW1, but Remarque is like the morning after... Juenger's the crazy night." And later: "I'm a big dystopia fan. Brave New World's my favorite." "Yeah, that's good. When I was seventeen I was so into Camus and Sartre -" "Oh? I could never get into Camus, but Sartre's plays-" "Geschlossene Gesellschaft-" "What's that in English? Is that the one with the three people-" "Yes!" "No Exit! Yeah! Hell is other people!" And later: "I WAS reading Crime and Punishment, but I got to that fever part when I was actually lying in bed with a fever and I felt like I was losing my mind..." "Oh God, yeah, then it amplifies everything... I read Jack London one winter - brrr!" (laughter) "The only thing I ever read of his was 'King Alcohol', but that I really liked..." "No, but do finish the Dostoevsky - his actual writing is pretty shitty, but his thoughts are worth it." And later: "I had a Bukowski phase, I read everything he wrote..." "I did that with Vonnegut. Do you know him?" "No." "You might like him." Since our tastes are very similar, apparently.

Psychedelic drugs sound terrifying and the subconscious should stay the fuck down. Someone who is all sweetness and light might want to free their mind, but we do not fit that description. It seems like the risk vs. reward payoff is higher for heroin than for nicotine, but since we have all been addicted to nicotine and have thus learned that we are weak creatures, we know better than to get anywhere near the big illegal drugs. And finally, alcohol is clearly the best drug of all. "With alcohol you know where you stand."

Academia is a fucking joke and we hate the "who you know" bullshit. And at the same time, we like the fact that our professor's name is known - apparently also in Spain, her main area of study being the transatlantic dealings of the Spanish Habsburgs - and we like the fact that when we say we wrote/are writing under her, people apparently take you more seriously. I have actually seen another professor's manner to me change after they asked who I was writing under, which was funny. For me it's fairly irrelevant since I won't continue in academia, but we all, professor included, enjoy our collective reputation.

"If I could only ever live in one culture again? I'd rather slit my throat." Seconded, although less dramatically.

OBVIOUSLY existentialism is the correct way of understanding the world. So OBVIOUSLY it's not surprising that we all think/have read the same things. The question, for the six or seven existentialists sitting around the table, is a matter of degree/focus. Excerpts from the debate: "We are trapped in our minds, of course. You in yours, me in mine..." "Which means nothing exists outside of our ability to name it. The universe did NOT exist before we could talk about the universe!" "Of course, but it exists retroactively!" "Yes, for us, obviously, it's existed forever, but before, no, it never did." "But outside of our perspective-" "Outside? Outside there's nothing, there's nothing else!" "No, no, you're reaching. You can't KNOW that there's nothing any more than you can know that there's something. You just can't know." "But there's a moral dilemma here, because who are we to say the voices in somebody's head aren't real-" "Of course they are, they're entirely real. To him." "Yes, but if they say he should kill someone then we still impose our reality over his. Reality by consensus?" "Nightmare reality. But we do it anyway." "But think of Der Einzige und sein Eigentum - if we admit we are all egoists -" "Like Epicurus. Hedonism is entirely logical. Pursue pleasure for yourself... AND for everyone else." "But the ideal then becomes autarky. No desires, no needs..." "Sounds awful. And so we have deduced the need for evil... But maybe we do need that, the highs and the lows... And you know, there is a human need for that, just like there is a human need for food-" "The need for spirituality, yes, obviously that's there." "And you can't starve yourself to prove food doesn't exist-" "'If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.'" "Still, how do you have a morality that is not based on a claim to absolute truth? And you know, Nietzsche-" The table pulls faces. I say, "Poor Nietzsche." "But if you understand quantum mechanics-" I laugh. "'If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics!'" "Agh, okay, yes, but what it SAYS is if you measure the thing you change it. There is nothing without our perspective. NOTHING." "That we can see." "Nothing!" "That you can see!" "But have you read Ich und Du? These are all just it-relationships, talking about these things, we are killing their reality, we are remaking them into nothing more than mental constructs... we are killing off the world right now." "These are the very best kinds of drunk conversations."

(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
So yesterday this girl in my class goes, "I hate everyone and everything. So much. Seriously, fuck you all." And I laughed and was like, "Every other day I would agree with you so much... but today is a good day!"

Well, today is every other day. Fuck off, world.

The Scent of Heaven
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dylpickled
Prowling barefoot and snarl-haired through my hot humid neighborhood, exploring further than usual, back by the expensive houses, when I was stopped dead by this thick incredible sweetness - I climbed a brick wall to see vines with white flowers, and I thought, I could fall in, I could fall asleep smelling this and never wake up - but the dogs in the garden were going crazy and I jumped back down, out of sight but obviously not out of mind, and listened to them snarl at me and drank in that sweetness. That's the scent of jasmine, with all attendant metaphorical connotations: white flowers in a private garden, standing barefoot and craving beyond the wall.

The brushed fingers and shoved shoulders of childhood flirtations. My father, friends, coworkers feeling paternal/protective/possessive - out at arm's length, hands on my shoulders, one clutching squeeze and running down my arms to fall away. A drowsy child leaning against me as I read them a book, twisting my hair around their fingers. And for a minute your head is just above the wall, and you think yes, please, this and closer, desire me, protect me, let me protect you, here is connection... And then they drop away, and there you are again: barefoot and craving. Nobody gets to stay connected forever, or even very long. And so we dream of paradise.

As a kid I stood there, suddenly crazy with wanting I-didn't-know-what - and then I shook my head and laughed, and said to myself, no. Don't be silly. You're a restless midnight wanderer, all callouses and dirty fingernails, and you think you'd ever be content with a single garden? No, give it a week, and you'd be slipping back over that wall, running away to go and look over other walls, prowl other patches of woods, run and fall and scream and shout... And I walked away. Regretfully, with a promise to come back later and snatch another look...

And I crave it still. But on balance - I would always choose brambles over vines, the wilderness over the garden. That's home, in a way paradise could never be.

Funny
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dylpickled
Whenever I speak in front of a group about a topic, they laugh. I don't try to make jokes, at least not consciously, I'm just speaking away on something like, you know, the married lives of medieval saints or the intricacies of 18th-century NC politics. Stuff you think should be droning and awful. But every single time, I get laughs like I'm some daring comedian - they start out nervous, then they get big, and afterwards they'd all a little pumped up for discussion. And I never, ever try to think up a single joke or anything like that. It's a complete fucking mystery to me.

So I recently had to speak in front of a class again with some girls, and I told them beforehand, everyone is going to laugh. Please pay attention and tell me why. They were like, what, do you think they're laughing at your accent? Nah, you're fine, don't worry. And I was like, well, wait and see. Sure enough - straight as an arrow we go through their segments, no laughter, and we get to mine and here we go... I got a laugh on the first sentence. Not like, big easy laughter. Little startled shocky giggly laughter at first, which gets bigger and bigger as time goes on... Same as always. So afterward I was like, I TOLD you! Now you tell me why! And they couldn't really do it. They were like, "I don't know, it's in your voice, it's how you tell it... You're just really relaxed and engaged and sarcastic, and it's obvious you think it's funny, so... your attitude is contagious."

Which IS funny, because as I said, I'm not actually laughing, nor am I in any way trying to be funny. This is my serious, honest take on the world. But I do think most things are funny, in a cosmic joke kind of way. I guess there is a part of me that is back there in my head rolling its eyes and thinking, "Lord, what fools these mortals be." And either I am so marinated in my own sarcasm that I don't notice it anymore, or I honestly think things that most people can only perceive as sarcasm. It does seem like the initial laughs I get, before people settle into it, are either out of discomfort or surprise. But whatever it is, I make people laugh all the time. They listen to me, they laugh but they listen, and they get excited by what I'm excited about - but they do so by reading me entirely wrong. That seems kind of wonderful and kind of tragic.

But also... kind of hilarious.

(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
Oh little voice, whatever you may be, thank you for sitting down deep in me like a frog at the bottom of a well, popping up at all the strangest times to ask me, "Is this your choice?"

The answer is not to be found in magical/positive thinking. I don't think you can choose your circumstances. I don't think wishing ever made anything so. But you get to choose your response.

Give me clear eyes, little voice. If I fuck up, let it be because I misjudged - not because I was afraid to stare down the choice.

I'm learning something. I'm starting to get an idea of what it might be.

(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
Dominik on Saturday: "If it sounds like I'm bitter, that's because I'm bitter." And I said to him, "I get it, you know I get it," and he was like, "Yeah, I know."

My Southern-food Thanksgiving went off well. Back in America I don't remember ever seeing a parade or a football game, actually. I usually celebrated with my mother's family, and they broke out the guitars after eating and everybody played and sang folk songs together for a while. I really only remember one Thanksgiving with my father's side, and then my cousins and my aunt played the piano for a while and my grandfather recited 88 lines of Longfellow to me. So yeah, I guess we're kinda pretentious. :) These days Thanksgiving looks like this: three years in the Austrians know what pulled pork is, and Mike's dad and our four-year-old niece are stealing bites as they help prepare it. The two-year-old polishes off a truly alarming amount of banana pudding. And eventually, because this is what Austrians do, or at least the family I married into does, at every celebration - it's 11 PM, eight hours or so since we ate, and all the adults are still sitting around the table, dishes cleared off, playing with the decorations scattered around their places, waving hands, half-drunk, three different political and/or philosophical discussions going on at top speed, laughing and cutting each other off and addressing each other with that finely calibrated balance between courtly respect and biting sarcasm, "well, dear godfather..." and every time a wine glass is emptied Mike's dad fills it right back up, because when everybody lives in the same village it's not like you gotta worry about driving home.

Mike's out with some work buddies and I'm not begrudging him the chance to drink his worries away, especially since he's been taking extra care with me lately and he did call me this afternoon to make sure I was still okay - but I was supposed to have only one doctor's appointment this week, and instead I was at the doctor's this morning and they decided they wanted me back Friday, and then the afternoon was freaky and now I have to go back again tomorrow instead... So I'm, shall we say, less than zen about it all right now. And I should have done so much work today but it's been hard to concentrate. Not that he could do anything about it if he were here, but yeah. Lame day. Mostly I'm just pissed at life at the moment. Fuck this shit.

(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
Five-year-old is awesome:

She's got an idea. Santa/St. Nicholas, she explains, wears a red robe. Death wears a black robe. Death's colors, of course, are red and black. (This year at Halloween I told her and her brother a very softened version of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death", that's where she gets that.) Both watch humanity and appear mysteriously at certain times... therefore... Santa is clearly just Death in disguise. "Santa's coming to my kindergarten, too!" she says, eyes widened in obviously sarcastic excitement, another facial expression I suddenly realize she's picked up from me as I do that exact same thing in response and say, "Ooooh, scary..." "Yeah!" Then, suddenly waving a dismissive hand as she drops the game, "I mean, it's just an idea I have."

Also last week I showed her how to shuffle a deck of cards, and she's been practicing ever since. She can actually do it pretty well now. I feel like that's some pretty decent hand-eye coordination for just-turned-five. Comes in real handy for the two games she knows how to play - UNO and War. :)

I'm making her a little something for dinner in the kitchen, she stands around me and does a pretty good imitation of her brother. Being silly I say, "No, you're Kathi! Can't trick me! Want to know what gave it away?" "I have long hair." "That, yes, and you have light eyes and he has dark." "And my voice is higher." "A little, yeah. And I don't think he'd be too happy to wear that gold glittery ballerina skirt you have on." She giggles, "He wouldn't," then reminds me, "But some boys would, though." I concede her point. "Yeah, some boys would."

Nation
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dylpickled
Mike sings an old, old commercial jingle that played in America when we were kids, before we met each other. It was stupid and we thought it was funny. Somehow it got independently stuck in both of our heads, which was surprising to discover years later. I laugh and say, "You know we are probably the only two people in this entire country who understand that reference."

Every single American person I know who's married to an Austrian met them here. They speak German at home and live essentially assimilated lives. But to a certain extent Mike grew up in the US too. We speak mostly-English at home, but with big careless helpings of German whenever it seems more expressive, slipping in and out from one word to another. Around other people, this reverses - German for every word that's addressed generally, but the minute I'm focused exclusively on him, right back to English, and this can flip from one phrase to another, so you get half a question in German and the rest in English, etc... We don't consciously do this - we just understand the meaning without noticing the language. Apparently when hanging out in a group with drunk people this is mind-bending. And our tastes and attitudes and the way we prefer to live, are essentially the same way: not one culture's or another, but something between both and neither, a very, very specific mix that nobody else gets. I mean, again - we basically grew up together. That's pretty unique. We don't totally fit anywhere, but that's okay, because we've got our own little teeny mini-nation of two.

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