dora random

random dora

a rhombus would be cool to hang out with.

i feel like this one is going to meander and it might get very dull and abstract so i apologize in advance for that, imaginary.

i’m feeling very lonely again these days. if you tell people you are lonely—i have discovered!—many of these people will say, ‘well there’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.’ well yes. yes. of course there is. i’m not sure how that’s supposed to help anything, or how this has apparently become one of the great idées reçues* of our time, but i’ve been hearing this a lot. it’s a sentence that’s supposed to shut you up, i guess. and i guess it’s fair play, because your loneliness is not necessarily something other people want to discuss. (why did you bring it up in the first place? to feel less lonely! ‘make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.’) i guess friends is the key word in that sentence.

it probably is harder to find real friends as you get older. and that really is hard for me because i am a social animal, nose to tail. i don’t think of myself as this miserable lowing dolorous thing—which other people apparently do!—(of course i exaggerate)—in fact, i think that my natural love of society and fun is what kept me from turning into a miserable beast. my life was mostly miserable, but i’m not—i feel like love preserved me.

(an aside: my grandmother, who died last year, was one of the most loving people i’ve ever known, and she grew up in a terrifying brutal family. but love preserved her. and sometimes i felt like everything good in me had to come from her because there was nowhere else it could have possibly come from—but i know that isn’t true. she was a sweet beautiful but very fearful woman. we were never that similar, personality-wise. most of my good is totally mysterious to me; God knows where it comes from.)

being smart can make you lonely and can make it harder to find real good friends. well duh i guess. but this is something i’ve only realized recently. mostly because i only recently realized i was smart! yeah, i know. you’d think, doing a PhD in sanskrit at the university of chicago, at some point you’d step back and think, ‘huh. i guess i’m a pretty smart person!’ but my self-esteem has always been miserable—and you get used to a certain social environment—i just thought, ‘huh. most of the people here aren’t really all that smart, are they?’ it never occurred to me that obviously they were smart, and if they didn’t seem that smart to me, it was likely because i was smarter. (writing that sentence made me feel very weird and disgusting. but i had to make myself write it.)

it’s funny how Dolor, probably the smartest person i talk to on a regular basis, is probably also the only person i’ve met in years who has lower self-esteem than i do. (self-esteem is an ugly half-word and sort of an icky concept, but what can you replace it with? i guess i should look into it.) spending time with him and Tread-Lightly really got my brain going again and made me feel like myself. my own animal. i didn’t realize what i had been missing. how nice it is to be able to hit the ball to someone who can hit it right back to you.

now the old dull vague loneliness is growing into an active animal desperation—i mean a gaping screaming gnawing cavernous mix-all-your-metaphors lack—my mind wants stimulation all the time. it wants a companion. my heart craves. (craves what? a heart, a body? yes, everything. it just craves.) talking to Tread-Lightly over the weekend—yes, it is odd, but he’s turning into a real delightful friend—i’m not sure i could have a better time with anybody else in this city these days!—we got going on some long intimate conversations that stirred up all my longings. he (what a shock!) is more or less terrified by the idea of marriage—he asked me whether i believed in it.

T-L: but if you're married, then you have to sacrifice your own desires
     for the good of the marriage, right? 
me:  i guess. sometimes. a lot of the time.
T-L: but what if you got some offer to do something that you'd always 
     wanted to do---for example say you got an offer to go off for six
     months on a lecture tour of ireland, going to all the places you 
     love in ireland, your dream offer, but you have a wife and a four-
     year-old child at home? are you supposed to turn down the offer 
     for the good of the marriage? you are! but how could you do that?
     could you honestly do that?
me:  uh…well. it's hard to say anything to this because you don't know 
     who you would be married to. or how you would feel about your child.
     it's like talking about the past; it's like saying 'oh if X and Y 
     hadn't happened in the past, things would be different.' but you
     don't know that, because you would be different yourself. it's the 
     same with the future, i think.
T-L: yeah, but marriage has been on the table for me. i've come close to 
     marriage. well---it's been on the table.
me:  but…you didn't get married. and you're not engaged to anybody now.
     this is a stupid question. 
T-L: but do you think you could do it?
me:  yes! of course! i mean, if i had a wife---i would definitely want to
     get away from her. meet some irish guys. how did that even happen? 
     did i marry for money, or what?

yeah…i am not big on Theory. in any case. several hours and about a dozen beers later that conversation reprised, suddenly i’m going on about how ‘i don’t just want someone to come home to, it’s more than that, i want to make the home someone comes home to’—(i want to be there making vegetable stock and playing my peter bellamy records—all full of kisses and congratulations, all gently smoothing out all life’s sharp edges, all bed and kitchen)—and at some point he said that i made him realize how much he actually wanted a home. ‘which i never even knew i wanted until this moment while talking to you.’

yeah. obviously it’s not the easiest friendship! not for the faint of heart. but it’s still better than most of them these days because i can be myself.

just about the only other place i can be myself lately is at the shrink’s—and in fact, i’ve been talking to him about how i think i might be suited for a mental health type career, and he’s sort of excited about that, i think—honestly, i’m so turned-outwards, especially lately, the only way i can motivate myself to keep up with life’s tasks is to think that if i preserve myself, if i can learn how to take care of myself, it will do some good for other people, i can communicate what i’ve learned…still, i can’t be nearly as much myself with the shrink. he’s honestly not that great. though i love him—as one does. he’s probably a B or a B+. say an 86. he’s not the quickest and his memory isn’t the best. and—and this is the weirdest, to me, because i’ve never experienced anything like it before—he talks a lot about himself! especially his painful divorce! i haven’t been in therapy for years, but i have had a bunch of therapists** in the past—including three pretty serious long-term ones. and (at least with the two good ones) i never knew anything about their lives—and i never wanted to, and i thought that was how it was supposed to be. but every week, i swear, my Dr. Forsaken tells me some new horrible thing about his horrible painful divorce—and though it shocked me at first, now i find myself looking forward to it! like, what creepy little fact will i learn this week, a propos of nothing…almost like he’s a regular at my bar.

(example: this week, he asked me if i’d ever had my IQ tested. i said yes and he asked me my score. then he got into a thing about how his ex-wife’s IQ score was probably ’15 or 20 points lower’ than his own—and so he wanted to watch ‘jeopardy!’ in the evenings, just for a little bit of mental stimulation for God’s sake, but she always wanted to watch a rerun of ‘friends’ because it was a comforting kind of background noise.)

(another: a few weeks ago i said i absolutely hated facebook. ‘it’s kind of a joke but i always say that it’s one of the great evils of our time.’ ‘well. i call it the marriage graveyard.’ thereupon a story about how the ex-wife got on facebook and started talking to an old flame and started cheating on him.)

uh i know every therapist’s style is different!—i’m probably used to more austere and traditional shrinks—but still i really don’t think i ought to know so much about this guy’s divorce. but the fact that i do—the fact that these anecdotes just come out of nowhere, at the least appropriate times—well, it makes him quite endearing. he might not be the best but damn it, he’s damn likeable. maybe like the therapeutic equivalent of the tipsy bartender. (damn it, he’s trying his best! have a heart, the man’s obviously got demons!)

recognizing his limitations…he is sort of becoming “the person i pay to hold me accountable for things.” not a trivial position.


* you might say it’s pretentious to leave this untranslated. i might say go to hell.

** one i was sent to because of my Affliction: because i was supposed to be traumatized, because talk-therapy was supposed to cure it. because apparently we still live in the fucking Dark Ages when it comes to medicine, at least when it comes to gynecology. however! though it did nothing for my actual physical problem, i did get all kinds of insights into myself; i talked to this warm kind motherly woman for almost three years. i got very attached to her. among other things: she taught me how to take a compliment.


i’m not ready for that final disappointment.


             the happiest place on earth

i was in disney world for most of last week. a lot of people laughed at me and thought this was a ridiculous incongruous venture but. you know. a lot of people don’t know me very well. they imagine me as some coal-hearted combination of moe the bartender and margot tenenbaum and ebenezer scrooge (it becomes apparent!)…well, they have never been to my apartment: crammed full of 80s stuffed animals and super kawaii objects; home to the pleasantest lovingest cats you’re likely to meet; the place where i put on my handsome linen apron and make [vegetable] stock out of the week’s scraps whilst listening to obscure folk records. all comfort and cuddles and frugality. at least on its better days.

i digress.

in any case. as you probably know by now, my imaginary, i’m no coal-hearted specter, i’m actually a straight-up sentimental fool. i’m a lover, i’m a giver. commercials can make me cry. nostalgia works on my system like a drug. (a goooood drug!) and my father grew up in florida—st. augustine—when i was growing up, we generally went to visit his mother once or twice a year and then we would go to disney world afterwards. until i was about 11 or 12. so i went quite a lot as a kid and i have hardcore nostalgia about it. in fact riding on ‘the haunted mansion’ is one of my very first memories…and (as i realized on my recent trip) i can pretty much recite the whole opening stretching-room monologue. (your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding, etc.) (almost as if you sensed a disquieting metamorphosis!)

yes, okay, admittedly, the haunted mansion was my favorite ride by far—and you can argue that is evidence of a darker sort of personality—but i was obsessed with all the old epcot rides too, figment especially. (the old figment song can easily make me cry. he’s like…the hidden good in all of us….snifffff). also obsessed with hugging every single tiki at the polynesian resort and telling it i loved it. vivid memories of my parents having to yell at me to stop hugging tikis so we could get wherever we were going. (dammit, dora!) honestly i think the haunted mansion probably captured my imagination the most because of the vocabulary. i mean i don’t think i was especially macabre.*

so my BFF invited me to go along on his annual family trip to disney world this year and i was thrilled. i thought it would be a blast.

it was harrowing.

i amused myself and kept up my sanity by taking a lot of miserable selfies.

(apparently!) shattering no stereotypes of myself.

it was mostly not disney world’s fault, it was mostly his family’s constant fighting, but disney world certainly didn’t take the edge off. disney world is relentless. (you can’t just go off and do your own thing in disney world. i mean, what are you going to do? ride the teacups by yourself? i did eventually find myself sitting alone on a bench in hollywood studios, drinking a fine grapefruit hefeweizen, doing crossword puzzles on my phone, painfully conscious it was all costing me a damn fortune.) but even if i’d been with pleasant people, it would still have been hard on the nerves. i mean, yeah. the magic kingdom is not exactly a deserted beach on the isle of lewis in november. it was an exceptionally crowded week. and disney was still playing christmas music. and just a few days before i left for florida, i found my first gray hairs. and i so desperately want to have my own family and children. and in epcot morocco my friend’s aunt started up a conversation with me (all innocently) about why didn’t i have my own family and children, an attractive bright young woman like me, had i thought i didn’t want them, had i wanted a career? etc. she asked all the worst possible questions and i started crying behind my grotesquely large warby-parker sunglasses. (sunglasses so large you can have a good cry behind them, completely unnoticed!)

there’s a sentence i really love to quote: ‘how small everything has grown and how terrible is the deterioration within myself.’ it’s from orwell’s essay ‘such such were the joys.’ for some reason, i was assigned to read this essay when i was a child, about eight, so i have a weirdly accurate memory of it.** and that is largely the reason i quote from it so often. and i repeated this sentence to myself (and to my BFF, for his amusement) often at disney world last week. it’s a great sentence and viable incantation but it captures exactly nothing about my trip to disney world. disney world is still fun and impressive and it’s a hell of a lot bigger than it was twenty years ago. and i’m not exactly deteriorated: i’m all fertile a-quiver on the verge of tears. (also, and it’s easy to forget this, that essay is great because it’s all sensual, all realia: orwell talks about visiting the classrooms and showers etc. of his childhood boarding-school and they appear small because they really are small.)

well. i left d-world two days early and i’m glad to be back, i guess—as bleak and uninspiring as my own life often is, it’s still a hell of a lot better than being a child. always good to be reminded of that!

happy new year, blog. happy new year, every one.


* okay! john bellairs was my favorite author, but again i think this had more to do with the vocabulary (and the illustrations) than with the ghosts. they’re not scary books, for the most part.

** and i loved it (and it made me love george orwell forever) because child-orwell tells another boy that the headmaster’s beating “didn’t hurt.” (and the headmaster overhears and he gets beaten again, much harder.) when i was a child, i would always tell my mother that her hitting me “didn’t hurt.” with similar consequences.

happy or else.

3)      i’m not quite sure why i was numbering everything last night.

1)       a number of things about that entry don’t quite make sense. i realize. i was plowing through a bottle of wine, trying to psych myself up to look at the new dating apps i put on my new phone. and i never did get there—just rambled to you and then passed out. today i feel disgusting and hopeless. i don’t want to get out of bed. i don’t want to have to look at my fucking apartment. (i don’t mean that it’s a shambles; i mean i just don’t want to have to look at it. i don’t want to look at things i’ve never wanted and i’ve seen a thousand times.) i don’t want to look at boring pictures of boring men. i want to lay in bed and dream about big hipster butchers with big hipster beards. in long handsome aprons. who never, ever tell me i’m a bad influence. except i don’t—or i shouldn’t—because then i’ll feel even more disgusting and hopeless.

just a straight-up depression morning.

with christmas music ready to pounce on me as soon as i step out the door. oh, i know it’s out there. ready to make me feel somehow certainly even worse.

i think it’s the music that’s made me hate christmas. i’d like to blame the music, anyway. rather think that i just heard ‘rockin around the christmas tree’ one too many times than that i have a naturally coal-black heart.

actually—like a lot of people who had miserable childhoods, i’m not big on holidays, but i used to like christmas just fine. it’s only in the past couple of years—in my old age—that i’ve started to find christmas fucking intolerable. and i’m not entirely sure why. maybe it is just the month and a half of awful music. that is sufficient cause. but it probably has more to do with the fact that you’re supposed to be happy—as i told my therapist, ‘i don’t want to hate it. i try to like it. but i guess i don’t really do well with things where you’re supposed to be happy.’ ‘i’m beginning to get the impression that you don’t do well with things where you’re supposed to be anything.’ ‘that…that may be accurate.’

my official #1 most-hated christmas song of all time has always been ‘silver bells’—but this year i find ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’ is overtaking it in loathesomeness. unexpected! ‘silver bells’ is a vile song—i mean, i just hate the sound of it—and i hate the lazy songwriters who were too lazy to even put words in it (ring-a-ling! ting ting ting! yeah that rhymes that’s gold, baby)—and bing crosby was a sadist who abused his children and the song is about traffic and shopping. it’s the worst. but. ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’, it’s got all that supposed-to-be that sets my teeth on edge. (‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year? is it? go to hell.’) that horrible coercive merriment. seriously, i hear that song and i have this vision of it playing on the soundtrack of a supposed-to-be funny-edgy indie film while one of the minor characters blows his brains out. i think it would also work well for a documentary short about homeless people freezing to death. (if they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population! bah humbug!)

um. well. i do like ‘deck the halls.’ and i should add a random public service announcement here: suicide rates do not in fact increase during the holidays. that’s a myth. i guess grouchy old goats like me just get a little grouchier. (but is that a myth too? a brief google is not informative. i hope it isn’t—cause man, that would make me feel even lonelier.)

a not so random public service announcement: this is a sure antidote to an afternoon in a mall with ‘all i want for christmas is you.’ i know peter bellamy is not to everyone’s taste. i get it. but whether you like it or not, it’s good for what ails you. a good honest drone to blast all the nonsense out. i just listened to it and i think i now have the fortitude to take a shower! (‘christmas is now drawing near at hand’ is always an excellent choice too. has a great line about people ‘whose conversation God doth much dislike’….!  i mean that is austere, man. that is some austere shit. definitely good for the soul.)

but i never got further than algebra II.

last week i was again a spectacular failure at trying new things. yeah. all i did was skulk around with all the old things.

1)     to begin with, i spent a night with Dolor. and here i have to admit that i lied: it turned out i did care whether or not he remembered our Glorious Moment from the week before. and it turned out he did. which warmed all my cockles. but then it also turned out he was a magnificent asshole. which was surprising! i mean, i’ve known him for a pack of months now—he can be cold, he can be a grump, but he’s never jumped straight-up ugly before. i’ve never known him to be vicious. well. once again, i met up with him after work, after he’d been drinking for hours, and once again he ordered himself a late-night dinner—he ate it and then he turned to me, again accusing me of being a bad influence. i thought it was playful again. no. he was very serious. and angry. he thinks he’s put on weight since he started spending time with me—(if he has, it’s not noticeable)—he thinks it’s wrong of me not to notice and to disapprove. ‘even if i did notice, i wouldn’t say anything, because that would be rude, right? also i just can’t play that role in someone’s life. i’m not a natural nag.’ and so we sort of make up, we get close again, and then about an hour later: ‘i don’t think we should see each other so often. not now that i have this new job.’ ‘well. sure. (kisses) you’ll be so busy. (kisses) such an important job. (dumb puppy-girl kisses) but what, you think now you have a better job, (dumb kisses), you can have a better girl?’ ‘yes. that was part of the point of getting a better job.’ ‘uh. what?’

you know, i’m not sure whether anyone has ever said anything meaner to me ever in my life: i’m getting a better job so i can be with someone better than you. (i asked, of course, ‘are you…joking?’) no. no he was not. though he was ‘sort of sorry’ for having said it. he thinks i’m too old. wants a lady who’s more like 27. he thought he should be real with me.

i don’t think he should’ve been. a difference of opinion. i’m glad i gave him chlamydia.

i should also probably note, for the record, that he’s two years older than i am.

2)     i spent a few hours with Tread-Lightly. possibly the most pleasant hours i’ve ever spent with him. he was a shocking delight!* all teasing and banter and fun. as fun as he used to be before we ever went out. and i finally got my post mortem, which i’ve obviously been itching after for months: yes, he’s still not over his ex; yes, he hates baltimore and he’s applying for jobs back in the garden of eden [we fallen mortals call ohio]. ahhhhhhh. honesty. like aloes. ‘a friend told me last week that i was “unknowable.” what do you think?’ ‘uh. i think that sounds a little grandiose! but. i will say that you have a tendency to answer questions in a very oblique way, and that can be maddening.’ ‘well if you want to ask me questions tonight i promise to answer in whatever the opposite of an oblique way is. what’s the opposite of oblique? transparent?’ ‘straightforward.’ ‘you say no to transparent?’ ‘that is the opposite of opaque.’ (dora takes no prisoners!)

i asked questions. he asked questions. honesty all around. big heaping tablespoons, big steaming shovelfuls. i did ask if he thought the sex was unusually good—yes, he said, it started out incredible, and somehow it got even better. i was so glad to hear that—in theory—because it matched my own experience, and my own experience is so limited—but in practice, sitting across from him for the first time in months, looking at him and seeing him look at me, it was agony. damn it. that gorgeous big heap of flesh and curls and charm. all i wanted was to be rolling around with him and that was about all i could think about for a couple of hours, so i can’t honestly recall what all we talked about that night. other than sex. and uh antonyms. but i know we covered lots of pleasant respectable topics.        

3)     i got hideously unabashedly drunk at work and tried to quit. and Grigg talked me down. but it’s only a matter of time.

4)    Christmas music. ye Gods. YE GODS. that should be a subject for another post.


* he says it’s because we’re not in [danger of] a relationship anymore: he feels like he can be himself.

the felicific calculus.

i’ve been feeling better since i went to scotland. happier, i mean. after i got through the first two days—which were rather weepy. admittedly. what with crying into my fajitas and so on.

but it sort of restarted me, i think. i didn’t have any momentous insights or experiences; it wasn’t that kind of a trip. it was low-key—i drove my car, took walks, took pictures, watched tv. and that was pretty much it. and that was plenty. i guess what i’m saying is that it wasn’t very exciting and it wasn’t really supposed to be. although a lot of people apparently think it’s brave and exciting just to be a woman travelling by yourself and driving on ‘the wrong side’ of the road—these are not very brave and exciting people. (i’m guessing these are the people who do not get kicked out of the peace corps.) (but also probably the people who don’t join it in the first place…but i’m digressing.) in any case the simple novelty did me good. it’s good to get up and have to figure out what you’re going to do that day and how you’re going to get there. good for the mind. you don’t have to travel to have new experiences, obviously, but it makes it a hell of a lot easier. you’re forced to have them.

i have been trying to force them on myself since i’ve been back—keep up the mindset—with very very limited success. let me be real with you. ‘well gee every day i’ll just try one new thing or go one new place and zipadeedoodah i’ll be feeling fantastic before i know it! i’ll just be a perfect human being!’ well, no. it’s sweet that you’re making the effort, Dora, and you may get the hang of it yet, but actually you’ll be procrastinating and drinking too much, just like you did before.

wednesday night my friend Gomez asked me to hang out after work—there’s a bar near the bar where i work that i (fondly/not fondly) call the Bar of Despair. it’s a lot hipper and a lot more fun than my bar, and the music is always 100,000 times better, and it is just generally a place that’s better for hanging out in—but this bar has seen me making a lot of bad choices. and the regulars are generally of a despairful persuasion. thus: Bar of Despair. (no, it’s not a particularly creative name.) with a heavy heart i walked into the Bar at about 11:30 on wednesday, eyed up the talent, and lo and behold: six people sitting at the bar, i know all of them. i’ve slept with one of them. one of them doesn’t believe we landed on the moon. one is my friend, aforementioned, and he’s deep in a conversation with the owner and the moon-guy about strip clubs—and not just strip clubs in general, but in the nasty particulars. like where you can get a really cheap lap dance on york road. where you can touch the dancers. etc. Gomez was a little embarrassed, i think, and yet my presence did nothing to alter the course of the conversation! which was kind of impressive, actually. they just kept at it.

and after strip-chat wound up they started getting into a music nerd conversation, which was almost worse, so i went over to talk to Dolor, the guy-i’ve-slept-with of the evening. he was extremely drunk and (thus) extremely pleasant. nothing like as dolorous as usual! it wasn’t entirely the booze, he’d also just gotten a good job offer. ‘that’s wonderful. congratulations. you deserve it,’ i said. ‘you…you are a very kind person, aren’t you?’ he said. ‘well, i’ve been told that. i’d like to think so, i guess.’ we had a long pleasant conversation. we played the etymologies game. (the rules are pretty simple: you guess etymologies.)* i like it because i’m a lot better at it but Dolor’s good enough for it to be sporting. an ideal situation! damn but can he kick my ass in backgammon, though. being a professional math-person. (he won’t say he’s a mathematician because he doesn’t have a phd). actually, with backgammon, i never even got close to remembering what the rules are, so the couple of times we played, Dolor had to make all my moves for me, and so essentially played himself. which was fun to watch—or at least it was a lot more fun than having to play backgammon.

i digress. i know i’ve written about Dolor a little bit before. he came before Tread-Lightly. he once gave me a paint sample. he’s a hardcore depressive. etc. i don’t know that i ever said why i liked him—and it’s probably not worth saying—this is all a wanton destruction of microörganisms**, etc. but (as i was just lamenting) old habits die hard, and hope dies harder, and we had a nice evening and i feel like writing about him. so there. anyway. i liked him because he was nice to me for a couple of weeks. and he’s very cute. (and i’m very shallow.) flesh, curls, 6’4″…and a sharp dresser, too. (do i like what? i sure do like it, baby.) and he is smart, man. you know how you tell yourself that there are lots of different kinds of intelligence just like there are lots of different kinds of people, and you try and believe it, it’s a piously egalitarian thing to believe, but then you actually talk to a really smart person and you really feel the difference and you remember that that egalitarian stuff is really a lot of horseshit sometimes? yeah? well, it’s like that with Dolor.

he’s definitely the smartest man i’ve had the pleasure of having sexual intercourse with. no question. and being the kind person that i am—and being a slightly drunk person—i told him so on wednesday. ‘you know, you’re the only guy i had sex with that i thought might be smarter than i am. and that’s…that’s not english.’ ‘but i get the meaning.’ ‘well, of course, you’re a very smart person!’ ‘you are very kind. i used to think a similar thing—i used to wonder, “is she smarter than me?”‘ ‘you’re also the only person i’ve ever slept with that i thought might have lower self-esteem than me! which is impressive. and isn’t it weird, because you’re also the smartest! i didn’t even think of that before—but man, isn’t it weird that we’re both all superlatively smart or whatever and we have really shitty self-esteem?’ he took my hand. ‘this is a really nice moment we’re having, isn’t it, Dora?’ ‘yes.’ ‘i hope we can remember it tomorrow.’ ‘i’ll remember it.’

and i did. as you can see. they can’t take that away from me. insert music-note emoji here. (i have never understood what the hell that song was about—always felt like there was some complicated backstory, some vital information i was missing—like, who are they? who is trying to take it away from you? and whenever i hear it i usually imagine some elaborate scenario that involves nazi brainwash torture or something like that. but uh maybe i get what it’s about now.)***  that was a seriously beautiful moment between two people. whether Dolor remembers it or not, i have no idea—i don’t really care—i don’t think we’re going to start ‘dating’ again—i do think he’s probably a waste of prose—but it was a good moment, by God, and they can’t take that away from me.

the rest of the night was good too. definitely the kind of night you wish you could remember more about! he was sweet. he was cuddly. he did not need much encouragement to order himself a rather big rather decadent late-night dinner. (‘i think you might be a bad influence…’ ‘oh, i’m definitely a bad influence.’) it was a cold night and he was a warm body. (‘so…what should we do?’ ‘just come here and be held for a while, Dolor.’ ‘all right. i can agree to that.’ ‘mmmm. it’s so nice to hold you. so nice. it’s wonderful to lay in bed with someone.’ ‘you mean it’s wonderful to lay in bed with me?’ ‘no. i mean it’s wonderful to lay in bed with someone.’)

i will say that sadly Dolor is superlative in another way—he might be the smartest man i’ve ever had sex with, but it’s just about the worst sex i’ve ever had. i mean—it’s bad. real bad. the only guy who was worse was an actual virgin. i was afraid it was going to be bad when we ‘went out’ the second time (=i went over to his house) and he started talking about how he’s always thought that good sex is a product of a good relationship between two people, there’s no such thing as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at sex, etc. that kind of thing. which made me suspect the sex was going to be fucking terrible no pun intended. and indeed it proved to be. and not just the act itself—the kissing, the touching, all of it. remarkably bad. like it’s fascinating that a person could even be so inept. fascinating to me, anyway—how can such a smart and sensual man be so physically reticent?

well. i’ll probably never know him well enough to know. and that is probably for the best.


* here’s a good one for you: tweed. it’s pretty weird. try and guess.

** the diaeresis is for Dolor, who reads the new yorker.

*** “The basic meaning of the song is that even if the lovers part, though physically separated the memories cannot be forced from them. Thus it is a song of mixed joy and sadness.” thus wikipedia. (still, who are they?)

a glass of hate.

well. reading over yesterday’s entry. i let myself be myself in that one. hate and all.

being back at work was probably a little worse than i thought it would be. and i did feel a little guilty because Grigg (my boss) is so nice and was so genuinely glad to see me. he kept telling customers that i’d been in scotland and i was finally back and wasn’t it wonderful to see me again! God bless him. and they were (mostly) like (i would be, or like most normal people would be), ‘that’s nice, can i order now?’

i brought a bottle of harris gin as a present for the bar which was transparently a present for myself as i work at the bar—gin and tonics helped me keep a gentle fuzz going in my head to help me from noticing how much i hate everyone. we actually used to be able to drink behind the bar but (as often happens…) one of the other bartenders abused the privilege and spoiled it for everyone. he got plastered and asked a customer to take his shirt off. etc. this happened a couple months ago—i didn’t think i’d mind not being able to drink but i didn’t realize how much i’d been relying on that gentle fuzziness for my gentle fuzziness. (i don’t think the paper would’ve said i was ‘one of the most personable bartenders in town’ if i hadn’t had it going on; let me be real with you.)

i’m a lot surlier these days. my #1 most hated conversation topic is weddings—not, as you might think, people talking about their own weddings, but people complaining about the number of weddings that they have to go to. ‘yahhhhhh….we really thought last year was going to be our last big year for weddings, but we have 8 or 9 this year, and we absolutely can’t skip any of them! they’re all people we’re really close to. i mean the one next week, that’s for my very best guy friend from college. but these weddings, it’s going to be a lot of travelling…and it can be so hard to find a good dog-friendly hotel in florida…’ ‘oh, i know. connor was telling me that.’

you would not believe how frequently i hear conversations like the above. or how often i’m called on to express sympathy during such conversations! (maybe you would. but i don’t believe it myself, and i live it.) i have actually started saying: ‘yes, it must be awful to have so much money and so many friends.’ this is the kind of the thing that you can only get away with saying if you are an awfully nice person—and it’s just about the only worldly reward you get from being an awfully nice person—you can get away with making fun of people to their faces because they don’t believe you’re doing it. ‘oh dora! isn’t she funny! she’s teasing!’ (i just love this good-natured ribbing!) so scrupulously polite i can just about get away with it…but still. i’m definitely on the edge with that line.

#2 most hated? i hear you ask. (yes, dora, the world clamors to know!) probably has to be how hard it is to find a parking place. i’ll just say it’s parking: in all its aspects.
#3 would be real estate: in all its aspects.
#4: how you’re remodeling your kitchen.
#5: how you used to have dental insurance but now you don’t anymore
#6: where you or anyone in your family went to college or wants to go to college.
(might as well try to go for a top ten at this point)
#7: the details of your fitness routine
#8: engagement photos
#9: christmas (seasonal)
#10: anything that involves facebook

you may be surprised that sports don’t even make the top ten. i don’t actually mind people talking about sports because it’s so easy to tune out. also because at least it’s not people talking about themselves.

i admit i had a hard time filling out that list. 9 and 10 required real effort. maybe i’m not so full of hate as i thought. (or maybe i just haven’t thought about hating as much as i thought…)

‘so, lindsay offers to go to one of those gourmet cupcake places to try to find the same thing that we were trying to get. but bree was already trying to help out.’ ‘i could see your disappointed face about the curtains…i know, the windows are that unusual size…they turned out to be 96 inches! after i’d painstakingly* measured them!’ this is language in the wild, people. this is the inane chatter i have to wade through every day. the poor BFF, i sent him a whole bunch of texts in the car yesterday trying to remember the text of sonnet #111.

me:  work! do not want!!!!
     i just want to stay home in bed and read about mountain-climbing
     accidents and trench warfare
     potions of eisell etc.
     pity me then dear friend and i assure thee almost that your pity
     were enough to cure me
     public means which public manners breeds!!
BFF: Dora Random: 12 new messages
me:  sorry about that!
BFF: how late do you work?
me:  i work until i fucking die
BFF: that is not true. let's face it, Grigg would prop your corpse up
     with wires and make it work until closing.


* i guess i do kind of like that she used the word ‘painstakingly.’ some style points there.

all alone by the broomielaw.

well i’m back from scotland. back to work today.

‘how is it being back?’ (i have been asked.) (not that i was gone so long.)

(in any case) ‘it is the fucking worst,’ i must reply. ‘yeah. i thought it was going to be bad. i wasn’t looking forward to it, in any case. but it is in fact much much worse than i was expecting it to be.’

i cried for about two hours straight after i landed. margery kempe -d it. (might have to shorten this to just ‘kemped it’, in future.) to be fair to myself, let me add some extenuating details: The Gift Horse picked me up. for some reason i flew back into dulles instead of BWI (there was a reason, but i don’t remember what it was now)—and dulles is far and very inconvenient—and i told The Gift Horse i’d buy him a full tank of gas and dinner in exchange for picking me up. but i didn’t think he meant to redeem these things immediately, that very evening. i mean my plane didn’t land until 8:30 and we didn’t get out of the airport until just before 9:30. (it is fun to be a returning american citizen. i will admit that is one nice thing about coming home. i always forget how efficient and welcoming and pleasantly sinister the process is. yeah, americans, over here. welcome back. everybody else in the world, get fucked, go stand in that long line to your right!)  but the Gift Horse has never been on an international flight—i don’t think he has any sense of how tired you are when you’ve had a full course of transatlantic travel.

anyway in the airport parking lot the Horse started fiddling around with his GPS app to find a place to eat, so off we went. it ended up being a tex-mex place in one of the creepier soul-murdery northern virginia suburbs and i cried throughout. i felt so sorry for the waitress. i ordered the vegetarian fajitas and they were served with some assembly acquired—you know, they brought me plates of stuff and brought the shells separately—this made me cry even more. ‘i don’t want to have to make them,’ i wept. ‘do you want me to make them for you?’ (God bless the Gift Horse, he actually asked me that.) ‘no. no. i just want it never to have happened.’

oh yes, i was at my rational best! but i was genuinely exhausted. i can never sleep on planes; i’d been awake for about 26 hours at that point.* it doesn’t matter how long the trip is—it just doesn’t happen for me. at best i go into a kind of weird twilight druggy state. (which i actually enjoy. i love travelling—including the travelling itself. all the boredom and inconvenience of it. i love the whole; i love the process.) i was in a tex-mex restaurant in God-knows-where northern virginia commercepark businessland soul-murder prefabtown (in German maybe that could be all one word) and just on the other side of my sleepless hours i’d been in inverness. loveable inverness! and The Gift Horse asked me, ‘how does it feel to be back?’

awful. it was so good to be away. i had no idea how badly i needed it. it was so good to be so far away from all the men i slept with who all treated me so badly. so good to be away from ugly baltimore. of course i could’ve taken a vacation in a cardboard box and would’ve derived the same benefits…scotland is much nicer than a cardboard box. even in november. even when it doesn’t make any sense at all to go there. ‘so what did you do?’ ‘well. i did a lot of driving and i watched a lot of TV.’ ‘that sounds like an amazing vacation.’ ‘yeah, it kind of was! i mean it was relaxing. and i saw a lot of beautiful things.’ ‘like what?’ ‘rocks. a lot of rocks. mountains. snow—it was so good to feel the cold—i was so happy to see my breath!’ ‘that doesn’t sound so good.’ ‘oh. it was good. wonderful. the cold and the wind. saw some museums—a couple of museums, but i wasn’t in a museum state of mind. beaches. incredibly beautiful beaches. and did some walking—but it got dark so early—that’s why i ended up watching so much tv.’ ‘sure.’ ‘and i went out a couple of nights.’ ‘that’s good.’ ‘but not as much as you’d think—i kind of weirdly enjoyed being on my own—i looked forward to waking up early—believe it or not i didn’t sleep with anybody the whole time!’ ‘that seems like kind of a waste. i mean, on vacation.’ ‘i guess maybe. but it just wasn’t my focus! and it was kind of nice. like it cleared my head somehow. and anyway—the men who were obviously interested—well i wasn’t interested. so maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for me.’ ‘huh.’ ‘for sure i admired plenty of men…yeah, let me say this for scotland: there are lots of very handsome larger-type men there.’ (here The Gift Horse burst out laughing.) ‘yeah, i know that’s what you’ve always heard, right? scotland: a good place to see handsome fat men. that’s what it’s known for. but really. it’s awesome. oh my Lord. this one guy i just happened to see in fort william—i’ve got a whole series of elaborate fantasies about this guy, i’ve got novels and novels worth! i even took a picture, dirty old man that i am. surreptitious shitty iphone picture. but i want to have this guy’s children. God bless them, God bless the scots for their enormous breakfasts and their piles of sweets and cakes. made my vacation a very pleasant one.’

well recalling that depravity has got me warmed up a bit—i have to go to work shortly. words cannot express my dread. my ever-kindly boss sent me a bunch of texts yesterday about how glad he is that i’m back, how much everybody is looking forward to seeing me, etc. etc. and horrible person that i am, that made me dread going back to work even more. ‘everybody wants to hear all about your trip!’ what the hell am i supposed to tell them? i mean i was travelling by myself in a first-world country, it’s not like i have a store of wild anecdotes. ‘uh i fantasized about large men and watched gaelic game shows. i walked on deserted beaches and unexpectedly rediscovered the pleasure of my own company.’ what the hell concept can the little self-satisfied fitnessy yuppie government wonks have of any of this. (answer: none.) ‘oh i had a very nice time, thanks.’

what can i do to defend myself? i am taking a bottle of gin from the isle of harris.


* many of which were profoundly hungover. i went out my last night. i ran into a folk band and i told them how sad i was that i had to go home in the morning and asked them if they could play the saddest song they knew. (to make me feel better.) so the fiddler played me niel gow’s lament for his second wife. a very sad song to be sure and i song i’ve liked for a long time. but i guess i was wishing for a song i’d never heard before. but it led to a little conversation about niel gow and who he was and why he was always lamenting and a random drunk guy got angry overhearing our conversation and even got threatening, yelling at the musicians for talking to me because i was an american and couldn’t possibly understand; yelling at me because i was an american and couldn’t possibly understand. the bouncer came and chucked him out. but the bar was closing anyway. the night was cold. and the bizarre scene made the melancholy sweeter.