Friday, December 24, 2010

loss of yuletide innocence.

I wish I had some lovely picture to attach to this blog, something that was stunning in its composition and was the perfect blend of joy and nostalgia and confusion and sadness that I feel. But all that's on my camera are pics of the intersection of Western and Pratt Avenues, and a couple pictures of my husband poking himself in the nose.

I'm writing this from San Jose, California. Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite has been set to animation of Tom and Jerry, and my mother-in-law is slouching in a fashion reminiscent of my husband's watching it silently, rapt. Northern Cali is temperate for December; I am without my family, a family that would be trying their best to enjoy the holiday with me but I'd be struggling with our special brand of dysfunction. Instead I'm struggling with the Chang brand of dysfunction.

As a child I used to love Christmas. I was so excited by the darkness and the lights, the joy of opening amazingly gorgeously wrapped presents, the moving mystery of celebrating the birth of Christ. I used to get so excited about Christmas cookies and crackers and fresh fir trees. There was just so much magic in the season.

Now, all the magic is gone. I reminisced today about the day I found out there was no Santa Claus. There are no cookies, there are few around me who feel the way I do about the mysterious, spiritual nature of this holiday.

Tonight my Favorite and I are going to a late-night Christmas service. It's the first time I've done something like that. I pray for candles and carols and contemplation, and a remembrance of Christ. I pray that He still has the power to remind me of what I love about Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

from the journal.

So twenty minutes ago my husband and I were talking. He was, oh-so-graciously warming my feet with his hands, and I was reading to him something I'd jotted down in a recently-taught workshop. Nice work if you can get it, I know. I read it to him because I thought I'd put it here. It's an incomplete telling of a malevolent stepmother who gives her teenage stepson a blow job in pursuit of a superpower that he doesn't know he has. It can only be transmitted genitally, evidently.

"Sexy," he says, when I've finished reading. "I told you about this website, clean$heet$dotcom, yeah?"

"No, what is that?"

"Something like this would be perfect here."

Turns out it's a website for "literary erotica"=mediocre storytelling meets mediocre sex.

I sigh and grumble: turns out sex is still too hard and vulnerable-making for me to write well, at least in the ten minutes I gave myself in the last workshop.

So, instead.

Mom never let her do her homework on the table, so she was splayed out in the living room floor. Her math book was open, a sheet of paper under her hand, between her fingers a dull nub of a pencil.

Will's footfalls thudded against the floorboards, and she felt the vibration against her ribcage, even through the braided rag furg on the floor. He clomped through the living room to the kitchen where her mother was sweating over several pots on the stove. All was silent, then she heard, "Get the hell off me, you see me tryin' to fix dinner."

Will came out of the kitchen, his hands on his hips. Bea could see his body, tall, angry, in the dining room. The light above the dining room table was on: Will's eyes were in darkness but Bea watched his lips move as he said, "Damnit Annette, all a man wants when he get through workin' is a cold beer and a little sugar. is that to much to ask, Annette? Is you to good to give me that?" He said her name, Annette, in two syllables, hitting the first just as hard as the second. Ann-nette. It sounded so hard and heavy in Bea's ear, and she winced, rubbing her ear against her shoulder, to rub the sound of his voice out of her head. She couldn't feel it, but the corners of her mouth were turned down in a frown, two commas creasing her cheeks;she couldn't see it, but in the kitchen, hovering over the stove, the same frown dug into her mother's face.

From far away she heard her mother's voice continuing the argument. "Yeah, it ain't to much to ask if I ask for help with the cleaning or the washing up after dinner."

"Get onea them kids to do it. Ain't that what you had all them kids for? Besides, I worked too hard all day just to come home and clean up after your black ass."

"If my ass so black, what you doin reachin for it all the time?"

He laughed a laugh like a dirty car engine. "'Cause black is how I like 'em."

Bea hated it when her parents were like this. The way they act, she could never tell if they were fighting or flirting. They go from friendly to mean so fast. And they were always shouting.

Annette's head popped out of the kitchen and peered into the shadow of the living room. "Bea! Get in here and set this table."

She scrambled up from the rug, all knees and elbows, and went through the dining room into the kitchen. She hoisted a stack of plates out of an overhead cabinet, feeling her father's eyes measure and examine her body. He was standing in the doorway, and when she passed between them with the plates, he pinched her ass, right underneath where it was fullest. God, she thought, he's always doing that. I wish he'd just keep his hands to himself.