dora random

random dora

it’s my party and i’ll cry if i want to.

well. it’s my birthday. i’m 32. i’m depressed about this one. and i’m going to indulge myself here. misery ahoy….

most of my friends are older than i am and they’re laughing at me.

a few weeks ago my Very Dear Friend said: ‘can you believe we’ve known each other for ten years?’ ‘yes. i can believe it. i’m almost 32. can you believe that? i feel so old.’ ‘that is not old. that’s young. in another ten years…i’ll tell you you’re old.’ (this might not sound sweet, but it was. or i took it that way, in any case.)

he’s fifteen years older than i am—and i guess i was 21 when we met. in sanskrit class. and i was like this red-hot little ball of brilliance and promise. (though i did not feel that way. i was miserable: i was still three-quarters child, had no ability to take care of myself, didn’t have even the most rudimentary life skills, and i was just starting to figure out that there was something wrong with me physically—something i wasn’t growing out of, but something no one could explain.) but i was brilliant, i’ll give you that! i think it almost made me manic at times. i used to ask VDF to marry me a lot. he always politely declined.

i think that’s the thing about turning 32 (sans career) when you graduated from college at 19—it’s like, well, so most of my life has just been a waste, then. in terms of upward mobility. self-actualization. the personal fable. etc. i let myself be depressed for years. i let other people ruin what could have been a brilliant career. (cue belle and sebastian). (and my musical tastes are outdated—hey, i’m dating myself!) i’m a weird old burnout. too weird to even be a cautionary tale.

on some level i think that Tread-Lightly didn’t want me because i’m not in the professional class. i think i’ve written about that before. i think it’s probably good that i’m going to see my therapist today! insert smiley emoticon here.

i certainly wouldn’t mind having a career again! but any aim i impose on myself is necessarily arbitrary. there isn’t any one i particularly want. all i want is to hold someone and love them—to be held and loved. to have the promise of a life in partnership. but i might just have to impose an aim on myself because i can’t see turning 33 without one. (i’ve been telling people that i want to be some kind of therapist myself—this is sort of a lie. it’s a career i feel like i should have because i have an incredible talent for empathy and for actively caring-about-others. and i guess it would be satisfying. obviously it would be satisfying. but i’m wary of shoulds.)

trying to find a bright side today….i don’t have chlamydia anymore. (last week’s lab results were negative.) that’s a pretty good present.

also i am going to scotland in a few days! how can i keep forgetting that. i know it will be great. forbiddingly beautiful in november.


back to basics.

yes, back to the usual fornication chat.

yesterday i finally told every single person i had to tell that i had chlamydia. i guess i can be proud of that. i feel like i deserve a sticker at the very least—because it was a lot harder than voting.* i don’t feel heroic—i mean this is not psalm 26 kind of stuff. it’s really been a while since i was tested! much longer than i thought—i was just looking at some recent entries here and i realized how irresponsible (and immature) it was to keep putting these last disclosures off. i also went and got myself another dose of azithromycin in case i reinfected myself when i slept with Bunyan. what a super duper fun day i had. unexpectedly emotionally draining. but at least it’s all over now. je repars à zéro. i feel better…for the most part.

i feel like i could write yelp reviews of STD conversations at this point.

i told Tread-Lightly: ‘this has been just about my most pleasant chlamydia chat! five stars!’ i have to give that man credit—he was the only one who asked me if i was feeling all right about it, if anyone was making it hard on me, etc. that is he was the only one who asked me about my own emotions and experience. and in a caring way. which was of course half-consoling and half-maddening. and i can’t give him too much credit because he was also the only one (so far as i know) who’s had an STD screening himself since we last had sex—and it was all clear. so it’s not like my news inconvenienced him in any way.

a lot of guys are very anxious to tell you that they didn’t give it to you. because i’ve only been with one other girl in the past 800 years and we were completely monogamous etc. etc. or they want to (as Anderson said) ‘reconstruct the timeline.’ all so tedious and irrelevant. like they want to go all sherlock holmes on your ass. Anderson and Bunyan were both more or less like this. Anderson moreso—he was genuinely sort of freaked out, i think. i don’t know that he has any experience with or even basic knowledge about STDs. he’s damned respectable. (his house is the absolute nicest place i have ever woken up in. absolutely everybody else i know—i am trying to think of an exception here, and failing—their house, at least some part of it, is in some state of transition or chaos. but Anderson’s was all clean and serene. like your parents’ house. i could tell it got regular attention from a cleaning lady. and there was well-framed art on the walls. a fishtank. a wine rack with wine in it. a kitchen with one of those very classy things that hangs down from the ceiling that you hang your classy pots and pans on. an extremely comfortable well-made bed with scrupulous clean sheets. it was the house of a prosperous adult man. i could’ve stayed there forever.) speaking of scrupulous, i was afraid i was being needlessly overly scrupulous by telling him, because i honestly don’t remember how far things went the night i went home with him—but it was consoling to hear that he was ‘a little hazy on the details’ himself. ‘but i think things did go far enough that this matters. i really appreciate your honesty. etc.’ (he went on and on. incredibly wordy.) then later he said he was going to the doctor that very afternoon, he needed to have a check-up anyway on account of his high blood pressure! (Tread-Lightly apparently had his screening when he went to see a doctor about his high cholesterol! again: the difference between sowing your wild oats in your early twenties and your early thirties.) Anderson said he would let me know the results. (!!!) (i really don’t need to know.) i said of course i hoped everything was all right with him health-wise. and i said it was probably for the best that we didn’t really remember what we did, but it was sort of a shame to have the transgression without the memory. (in retrospect, i probably shouldn’t have said that. it might sound weirdly romantic.)

Bunyan: also fairly anxious to defend himself, but also anxious not to seem accusatory. i’ll give him three and-a-half to four stars. i have seen him since the night at the casino. (but it was chaste. we mostly watched CNN.) i guess we’ve been slowly developing a liking for each other. and this might have put a damper on things—i don’t really know. it doesn’t really matter. i’m tired.  

do you know, part of me is skeptical that chlamydia is even a thing people need to worry about—honestly i think the whole ‘pelvic inflammatory disorder’ concept is so vague i’m not convinced it actually exists. like it might just’ve been invented to scare women and to shame them. and/or it might be a term applied to a whole bunch of unrelated conditions that gynecology doesn’t feel like figuring out and is happy to ascribe to promiscuity. but. in any case. you kind of have to believe in the CDC—it’s a modern orthodoxy. and i’ve finally done what i had to do.


* a drunk friend, who used to teach high school health class, who was deeply mourning the election results: ‘you can’t feel bad about yourself…at least somebody in america is trying to take care of other people in america.’

in which i somehow manage to write about something other than boys, at least for a couple of paragraphs.

cassandrawell. the election happened. (and what kind of person am i that when i hear the word ‘election’ i think about christian doctrine first and politics second!? like, ‘the election happened’, to me that sounds like the rapture or something.)

i have been more or less terrified for the past few months but no one i know has been seriously worried. ‘well, yeah, it might be close, but it’ll be fine. no way he can win.’ i was told over and over. and i believe this is the first time in my life that being right about something is no consolation. i certainly did not want to be right about this. i wanted my fears to be irrational! and i don’t know how i managed to be right, given that i am at all times grossly uninformed about Current Events and most of the people i know are conscientiously well-informed people. but i think that might be the key, there: i am an uninformed emotional person.* i am your american voter. now i myself am also not a big fan of capitalism, fascism, or hatred, so i would never vote for trump, but. i can see how someone would. just to see what might happen. it’s democracy, baby! hillary clinton was a depressing option—i mean just looking at her made me (the uninformed emotional voter) feel depressed. still i voted for her. it felt like the only sensible thing to do. but i think a lot of people get in the voting booth and it’s secret and they can do whatever they want and they get excited, they get a weird romantic feeling, they start hearing the ‘star-spangled banner’ playing in their heads or something, they’re not in the mood to be to be sensible.

thus my nuanced analysis. i also think it has a lot to do with hating women. like, why did h. clinton make me so depressed? probably in large part because i hate women. women especially hate women. (that’s a really depressing thought. mull that over for a while. it’ll get your mind off trump.)

it’s terrifying. i wore all black yesterday. (and so did my boss…and so the bar was a funereal scene. almost every customer was a vortex of despair. finally, even though it did feel like a national day of mourning was appropriate, we put on a zydeco radio station. the blackness was too much to take.) (please remember: this is really the hardest on our nation’s bartenders.**)

watching the coverage to the bitter bitter end at a place around the corner from me—there was a moment when a random drunk hipster guy and i said ‘we’ve elected the antichrist!’ at exactly the same time. jinx! antichrist jinx!

my mother said, before the coverage started: ‘i think i’m going to drink a bottle of wine and pass out and then just wake up and see whether the world is a ball of ash and flame.’

and i was on a date for most of it! odd timing, i know—but we were having scheduling trouble. a first date, an internet date. he was very interesting and educated and nice and i never want to see him again. not because of the election—in fact i’m glad we had that to watch and distract because otherwise i would’ve had to look at him and talk to him more. he did nothing for me. but he texted: ‘I had fun meeting you last night even if we were watching the beginning of the end of the world.’

so. i guess what i’m saying is, apocalyptic rhetoric is a lot of fun and a little bit of consolation.

but as always, my BFF gets to the heart of the matter. and deserves the last word….

BFF: i followed your mom's lead and passed out on the couch last night.
     had a prophetic dream about gaudy patriotic dildos.
me:  really!?
BFF: yes, most easily interpreted dream i've ever had!!!
me:  you're amazing
BFF: it was at the grocery store. there were all these dildos for sale---
     and i was with a bunch of my friends from high school, and we were
     all laughing, wondering who would actually buy them because they 
     were so embarrassing. they were really bright, and spun around, and
     had LED lights on them! but people were buying lots of them, 
     walking around with them in their carts. so yeah, who would buy
     those? the answer turned out to be america! 
me:  yes. it did.
BFF: life has taken on a surreal cast


* my mother tried to frame this in a more positive way: ‘you had a more realistic view of our fellow humans.’

** levity.

in which i catch a glimpse of maturity.

so, in my last post, i wrote about how i felt sad that the Year of Maturity and Discretion had gotten off to a rather immature indiscreet start.

in this one i will write about how maybe i’m doing better than i thought. maybe i’m doing all right after all.

i intended it all to be one post, but the last one had gotten too long.

so i begin here: i saw Tread-Lightly last night. the period of discernment has come to an end. i’m very glad about that. and it was very good to see him.

i was worried about it. worried that it might be a capital-b Bad Idea. The Gift Horse thought so. ‘you need to wait at least a year—you need to wait until he’s just a person to you. until you’re over him. why do you even want to see him again?’ ‘because i don’t have a lot of friends here right now. and that sucks. i need more friends. friends are good. we’re friends, aren’t we?’ ‘yes. but it didn’t end badly with us.’ ‘i just want to see him, is all—i just want to hear the sound of his voice.’ ‘see. now that’s bad. what you just said. you need to cancel.’ ‘maybe you’re right.’

i saw Tread-Lightly walking with a girl on saturday afternoon—not holding hands or anything—and they weren’t even smiling—there was nothing romantic about the scene, she could have been anyone—but it made me miserable. just seeing that, i felt all disordered.* and i was on my way to work. and so then i had to stand in the bar looking out the dreaded window trying not to cry. (‘maybe The Gift Horse is right….maybe i’m not ready. at all. maybe i should never see him again. maybe i should even stop working here. stop torturing myself.’) i saw him walking home from work one night last week (through the dreaded window) and i felt a kind of weird hot flush—then my bartender colleague asked me if i was feeling all right and i went to the bathroom to look in the mirror and lo and behold, i was red all over. from my forehead down to my shoulders, at least. just like i was blushing—but, you know, a lot. it went away after a few minutes. but. certainly it was weird.

AND YET in spite of the evidence that i was not remotely over him, i met Tread-Lightly for drinks last night.

AND YET and it was perfectly fine. mirabile dictu!

i don’t really know how or why, but it was. i didn’t cry, i didn’t suddenly break out in mystery hives, and miracle of miracles it didn’t stir up all my emotions again. in fact seeing him had the opposite effect. it calmed me down. it was like meeting him for the first time. he was just a person. a mere mortal. i can’t explain it, but it’s like whatever got switched on in my brain a couple of months ago and started all this troublesome machinery—finally somebody up there was kind enough to switch it off. ahhhhhh. (hear my sigh of relief.) we had a few beers, a nice chat, and then he drove me home. where i also did not cry or break out in hives—i did some chores and talked on the phone.

the meeting did have a rather datelike structure—ending with a ‘so, do you want to hang out again?’ and then when i was about to get out of the car, i gave him an awkward little wave and he asked for a hug—and of course it was a quality hug. and i could see him looking at me at the bar in a more-than-friends way, and trying not too—and i could feel my eyes roaming around too—but it just did my libido good. i didn’t think, ‘was that a date, or not?’ because i didn’t really care. ‘does he want to get back together?’ i didn’t worry about it—it does no good to speculate—he’s slippery as an eel, that one—i’m not in a scheming frenzy to get back together again because we never really were together. somehow i realize that. somehow maturity breaks through?

he told me he’d spent the past month happily dating himself. ‘and you know what, it’s been great. because i really like myself!’ ‘yes. i know,’ i laughed.

i’m glad to know him. glad to have him in my life. this rather strange man who had me acting like an absolute fool. i think we might turn out dear friends. ‘so, do you want to hang out again?’ ‘of course. yes. and i’m really glad we did this tonight—i honestly never thought you would ever talk to me ever again, after i wrote that letter.’ ‘really?’ ‘yes! my God. i’ve never made such an ass of myself.’ ‘i read it in completely the opposite spirit, you know—well, i mean, i didn’t say “i love you too,” of course, but i thought it was excellent.’ ‘well of course it was. you think i’d write you some shitty letter? but that’s the problem, i think…the writing. because i’ve been writing again. after so many years when i didn’t. it’s bad.’ ‘how can that be bad?’ ‘i think i get carried away. i definitely got carried away when i wrote that…i confused myself. i mean, i don’t know you very well at all….and i know that. i think i got carried away with intense empathy and intense lust.’

(i was very glad to be able to articulate that.)

there were other things i wanted to write about last night but. i have to get ready to go to work. i’m not too excited about that, but at least the window holds no terror for me now!

i will conclude by saying that i think a Year of Empathy and Lust sounds heavenly. i would like one of those. please.


* but i would have felt so much worse if she had been prettier than me. petty female mind!

indiscretion triumphant.

my therapist laughed at the phrase ‘Year of Maturity and Discretion.’ in a kind way, of course. and of course it’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek. ‘but it sounds a little—it sounds a little like something Tread-Lightly would say!’ of course then i laughed too. ‘i know, i know! but i was trying to think of good things. aspirational things.’ ‘oh it was discernment that he said, wasn’t it? something about a period of discernment?’ ‘yeah.’ ‘how could i forget.’ ‘anyway, yeah. i wouldn’t have declared this a Year of Discernment. that is actually a thing, anyway—in catholicism—i mean i don’t know that it’s a year, but there is a period of time when someone decides whether it’s right for them to take religious vows. it’s kind of a technical term, i guess.’ ‘so discernment was out.’ ‘yes! and initially i had something else—like the year of caution or something—but that doesn’t sound good, it sounds fearful, not like something you can want. even though it is a good thing.’

he laughed but he wrote it down; he liked it. i think therapists like it when you try to organize your life into little eras. they like to see you making up a narrative. ‘so…this is the Year of Maturity and Discretion, last year was the Year of Wild Oats, and the year before, the first year, that was the Year of the Gift Horse?’ ‘well. i never thought of it that way. but it ought to have some name. that works. beautiful.’

i was a little sad that day because i didn’t feel like the Year of Maturity and Discretion had gotten off to a very good start. on saturday night (after a brief visit from my brother, who was randomly in town! which should be a subject for another post) i went to have a drink with a friend and i ran into a guy i slept with about a month ago—he was coming from a halloween party. he was dressed like Paul Bunyan. now that’s exciting. (also: appropriate, and sort of clever, because he owns a landscaping company.) and we ended up closing the bar down then heading out to the casino with his friend Bort, staying there until the morning, then having sex in his friend’s roommate’s bed for a significant portion of the morning and the early afternoon.

to be fair, we also did a lot of talking. in the bed, i mean. i actually like Bunyan—he’s a surprisingly interesting person. he’s sort of…i don’t know…intriguing, maybe. i thought the same when i met him before. that was a similarly long and wild night. but a quiet morning. when i met him that night, he was coming from Bort’s birthday party but i was just getting out of work—so he was profoundly hungover in the morning but i was perfectly fine. though i was very sad. i think it might’ve been the very day after i gave Tread-Lightly the dreaded letter—in any case it was very early on in the period of discernment. ‘so what are your plans for the day?’ he croaked. and i said i was probably going to go home and lay in bed and cry for hours about a man. then we got up and he made coffee. he sat there drinking cup after cup, cradling his head, trying to feel human again—but i hardly ever drink coffee, so my two cups set me chattering like crazy. and so he got me talking about all these different marvelous strange people and places i’ve known—i guess it was soothing and amusing for him. we talked for several hours. he talked some about the strange people and places he had known—and also about kant, which was unexpected to say the least—but he was in pretty bad shape and was very happy to be quiet. the conversation was the best thing in the world for me—it reminded me of all the wonderful things in my life that were not Tread-Lightly; it reminded me that i was an interesting complicated person.

finally, realizing it was almost two in the afternoon, we realized we ought to wrap things up. but he couldn’t drive me home because he had a broken wrist—he couldn’t drive at all. and he lives in a sort of inconvenient northern suburb—taking an uber would’ve been stupidly expensive.* so he walked me to the light rail station closest to his house, which ended up being sort of a long walk—along big busy industrial roads that are not meant for pedestrians and have no sidewalks—through a chilly drizzly mist. ‘mmm. suddenly it smells really good!’ ‘yeah. that’s the landfill, dora. or rather those are the chemicals they release every so often so you don’t smell the landfill.’ ‘ah! i love getting out to the country!’ i felt vaguely like i was in russia on that walk. and it was sort of romantic. ‘it’s weird—it was so bleak but i think that walk cheered me up! or maybe you did! but i’m in a pretty good mood now. i don’t feel like i want to go home and brood.’ ‘i sort of do.’ ‘you feel like you want to brood? you don’t strike me as the brooding type.’ ‘i can brood with the best of them.’ ‘oh no! have we transferred moods? did i give you my bad one?’ he had gotten solemn. we talked about seeing each other again but we didn’t exchange information. i felt like neither of us wanted to burden the other person with any expectations. and that was the end of it. and that was fine. 

however. of course that meant i couldn’t tell him that i had chlamydia—but i wasn’t too stressed out about it. i didn’t exactly remember but i was pretty sure he’d used protection. but then about a week ago Bort gave me his phone number. ‘he’s quite….enamored of you….very impressed by your knowledge of literature….’ (Bort was drunk. Bort is pretty regular at my bar, especially on sunday nights.) ‘i don’t even remember talking about literature.’ ‘well. in any case. he wanted me to give you his phone number.’ ‘well. all right! let’s have it! i’ve got nothing going on and no prospects at the moment.’ (Bort was so drunk he couldn’t figure out how to navigate his contact list, so i had to try to find the number myself.**)

so i texted the guy i hoped was Bunyan; indeed it turned out to be him. we had a little conversation and then he got quiet—i was planning to give it a few days and then say, ‘hey, FYI, chlamydia.’ but then i ran into him. in Bort’s company, too. it was not a good moment to reveal that information. (at least i was exercising discretion?) and then, of course, eventually we had sex. and he did not use protection. so i may have given myself my own infection again. wanh wanh. a total failure of maturity, discretion, common sense, common decency, etc. yes i know. believe me i know. i couldn’t even admit that to my therapist. (i did admit it to The Gift Horse who said: ‘i don’t even know what to say to that.’)

i don’t know exactly how it happened—because i don’t remember how or when we started having sex, i only remember already having sex and thinking ‘oh dear. wait a minute. this isn’t good. and if he’s not using protection now…maybe he didn’t before.’ though we were at his house before. in any case, yeah. i know. it’s gross. and it’s immature. i’ll tell him in a few days. and i solemnly swear that i will tell everybody else i need to tell before i go to scotland. (in only two weeks! i need to get planning.) maybe all in one day. make a day of it. and make up a grand name for it. like The Thursday of My Past Indiscretions. insert smiley emoticon here.

well. we’ve come to the end of my confession. ‘sometimes i feel like it’s such a disadvantage—if i’m going out with guys who are my age or older, they’ve been in relationships before, they’ve gotten hurt before—they’re cautious.’ ‘yes?’ ‘and. i’m not cautious.’ ‘no! going to the casino at four in the morning, i wouldn’t call that cautious!’ ‘you could call it a hell of a fun night, though.’


* explanatory: we didn’t go to my house because he’s allergic to cats. that’s also why we ended up in his friend’s roommate’s room.

** for the record, it’s my boss who overserves him. and at times this makes me somewhat uncomfortable.

closely beheld trains.

leafing through a random ‘selected poems’ of emily dickinson last night at a friend’s house, i opened to:

A charm invests a face
Imperfectly beheld,–
The lady dare not lift her veil
For fear it be dispelled.

But peers beyond her mesh,
And wishes, and denies,–
Lest interview annul a want
That image satisfies.

i know i’ve read that before. that’s a pretty famous one. and without really trying, i’ve since found:

The Life we have is very great.
The Life that we shall see
Surpasses it, we know, because
It is Infinity.
But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart’s extent
Reduces it to none.

wow. has been beheld. that even takes it to another level. obviously this is poetry, and obviously dickinson’s poetry is not the place to go looking for standard conventional usages, but i feel like i was a little harsh now in making fun of Tread-Lightly’s ‘closely beheld.’ i mean after all i was writing about ‘nourishing soups.’

(i’m supposed to see him in a few days—we’re going to give the ‘just’ being friends thing a go, i guess—and i keep shaking my head and laughing, thinking about the nourishing soups. i mean how can i face this man? how can you face the man that you wrote to about ‘nourishing soups’?)

these foolish things.

img_7395i read the book of margery kempe a long time ago—the main thing i remember about it now is that margery was always getting censured and banned from various places because she had a habit of bursting into tears and freaking everybody out. and she travelled a lot, on pilgrimages, so she developed kind of a bad reputation. it’s really a funny aspect of the book, as i recall.

anyway i’ve been feeling like margery kempe lately, wandering around crying in random places. (of course i’m not having mystical visions about Christ’s forgiveness.) today it was the clifton mansion—open to the public as part of doors open baltimore day—i was walking up the front steps and on the front porch there was a man exclaiming to a woman about how much he enjoyed her painted screens class. and then i went inside and scuffed around the rooms for a few minutes then had to give up and go sob in my car.

there wasn’t much to see anyway, at least. it’s an interesting building but inside it’s mostly offices.

i took my BFF on a tour of painted screens when he came to visit a few months ago—he’d never been to baltimore before so i wanted to make sure he had the most intensely baltimore experiences possible. ‘a tour of painted screens’ sounds like a chapter in the tale of genji, doesn’t it? but these are window screens—the painted screen is our (admittedly pretty stupid) vernacular art form in which we take (an unwarranted provincial) pride. it was a fun tour.* but it was part of a folk-things festival which was organized in large part by Tread-Lightly—i ran into him there and he was so genuinely glad to see me i was surprised—and apparently afterwards he was eating lunch at my boss’s other business and told him at suspicious length that he was genuinely glad to see me. ‘i think you’ve got a fan there, dora,’ my boss said. and we laughed about it. but i felt bad laughing about it. it made me think that Tread-Lightly potentially had some potentially sincere kind of interest in me.

and now painted screens make me depressed! which is, admittedly, pretty stupid. but they do. and hearing people talk about them—! well heaven forfend.

it was a near-heroic effort to get myself out of the house today to look at these damn buildings. though it was just a thing to do, before work. a thing to do to be out in the world and interact with others (outside of a bar or a record store)…i felt like i was being so mental-healthy. but maybe i should avoid anything arts-counselly in future. at least for a while. (there’s some good writing for you: mental-healthy! arts-counselly!)

it’s getting damn inconvenient to have this teary margery-kempe-type problem. (it was what made me decide that i really should start seeing a therapist—but it’s gotten worse in the past two weeks or so.) i mean i almost started crying at work last night—which had nothing to do with Tread-Lightly, or the dreaded painted screens, at least not directly—really, it was more like i was bored to tears. (ennui? am i too old for that?) yeah. i can’t say i’m looking forward to going tonight.


* BFF reported that it was the weirdest tour he’d ever been on that wasn’t a ghost tour. so, there you go. i do what i can to be a good host.