Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Assume crash positions

That's my favorite gag in Airplane!, actually--where the passengers are told to assume crash positions, so they fling themselves sprawling all over the cabin, screaming in terror and agony. The last month and a half has gone pretty much like that, really; I am familiar with your five stages of grief, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, but I did not quite anticipate that I would cycle through them so rapidly, sometimes in the space of an hour...or that the sequence was arbitrary and might come in any order at all...or that it could get stuck on Repeat, over intervals of days or weeks. I feel fine, really fine, and then I am undone by the Indigo Girls on the radio; I shout and sob in the car, and then I want to leap back through time and grab Dad by one of his ubiquitous plaid flannel shirt collars and shake him until his fillings rattle. Feel my wrath, Daddy. How could you leave us like this? How could you leave us the first time, 32 years ago?

And then, a couple of times, I have laughed harder in the last few weeks than I think I have in years, harder than I realized I could, under the circumstances--most recently Monday night, in fact. Mom, Sis, and I went up to aunt PJ's to comfort her family, to comfort each other, and my cousin brought out the photo albums. We were poring over some long-ago 70s Christmas Eve at their house, me and Sis and Cuz all little kids, and Mom said, squinting, "Who's that guy on the end of the couch?" Well, Ma, as it turns out, that dapper fellow rocking the Dorothy Hamill bob and the high, high-waisted green slacks pulled up to his nipples? IS YOU. My cousin collapsed into hysterical laughter first, wordlessly thrusting the album at Sis; her reaction rippled down the row of us seated on the (thankfully different) sofa, til we were all choking and howling and slapping the cushions, doubled over, eyes leaking, unable to breathe.

So it is like that, like being buffeted around in a hurricane, with occasional moments of weightless silence in its eye. Or like PMS to the tenth power. I feel terribly scattered, and frustrated with myself for it--I can't focus. I registered for yoga classes again this month, and have blown off this first week; I am a little afraid that I will twist and stretch and suddenly wring great mortifying sobs out of myself, lying on my little sticky mat in front of God and everyone. My diet is out of control, I'm gaining weight, I want to lose 50 pounds...and then I blankly eat half a loaf of bread for dinner, because that's all I can think of to want. Unless it is a cocktail or three. I should refocus on my career...but I imagine never going to work again, because maybe I can lie in the sun and live on nothing but iced coffee and novels. If I win the lottery. If I had the wherewithal to so much as buy a ticket. I gave myself this writing assignment, and believe me when I say how hard I am patting myself on the back and strewing myself with rose petals, for blogging two whole days In. A. Row. Can it possibly last? A friend sent me a draft of one of his own stories to read, today; I don't even know if he wants feedback, but it might be a moot point because I can't quite even open the document yet, am eyeing it like it's a bear trap. What if he's a genius? What if he isn't? What am I, exactly? Who do I think I am? Sweet mercy, what's gonna happen next?

When I was in elementary and middle school, we used to practice fire drills and earthquake drills back-to-back--part of life on the volcanically volatile Pacific Rim, I guess. We'd march outside when the alarm sounded, and then when we returned to the classroom we immediately had to crawl under our desks, huddle fetally on our knees, arms wrapped around our heads. The old duck-and-cover, probably much more effective during a tremor than in an atomic blast. Though, having seen Red Dawn at the drive-in, I feared both. Anyway. I have thought about this a lot recently, longed for the deceptively simple solution it offers. My most basic impulse is to get low, go to ground...hold my own head on and wait for everything to roll on over me like a storm.

It's storming tonight, actually, the air prickly with ozone, the lights and the computer flickering, thunder rolling outside. The cats have retreated to the far corner of the bedroom closet. I like thunderstorms, mostly, have always found them a little sexy--but at the moment I kind of would like to crawl back there and into the box of winter bed linens myself. Move over, guys.

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