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Good Enough Mothers [07 Jan 2011|04:35am]
It started when I was thinking of my Mother. Tonight I watched a Criminal Minds episode in which a 10 year old boy who killed his own mother grew up to be one of those misogynistic sexually sadistic serial killers I know all men are to varying degrees. It occurred to me that I know no one who doesn't hate his or her own mother on some level. When you ask people about their mother, they tend to sigh, roll their eyes, and talk about how crazy or abusive she is. It's as if there's some colossal misunderstanding, some horrible thing we all project over those women who are our mothers. But this image is always more or less the same. And so it can't be real. But what does it represent?
This is even true for the friends of mine whose mothers I know and love. The first example that comes to mind is Nancy Rankin. I think she's amazing, but Alex used to protest & crinkle her nose when I mentioned this.
At any rate, my thoughts about how the human race seems to demonize this "Mother" we project over whomever actually brought us into this earthly realm brought me to that scene I've been looking into again. When I was very little, I remember my Mom pulling me aside. My Father had just come home and was sitting in his big corduroy arm chair, spent and sweaty. She whispered to me that I should go and give my Dad a big hug and a kiss. I should tell him I love him. I would do this, even though Dad was all smelly and sweaty, because my Mother told me to. I've been interpreting this scene as sinister triangulation, perhaps bordering on covert incest. And I'd assumed the "smelliness" of Dad was due to his drinking. But for some reason tonight, I was able to really look at that scene. There was my Father, with his head back, his eyes closed, sighing -- he appeared to be praying some foxhole prayer, he looked desperate. And he was covered with sweat from mowing the lawn. He smelled because he had been toiling over all our land, trying to manicure it, to make it "ok" for a family to live there.
When Seth and I were growing up, my family had about one acre of land on the outskirts of Tallahassee, Florida. My Father had lost everything to his greedy, manipulative, apparently soulless manager. He had been, and I suppose he still is, an American rock star in the 1970s. He had been in the highest grossing band of 1973 or 75. And then he had lost it all. He was working for 100% commission at an electronics store, making what money he could by installing these huge sound systems in schools and churches. My Mom had met him when they were on the road, living the decadent life.
And there they were. Attempting to maintain a household with two small children, very minimal income, and no real friendship or community network to support them.
I see that scene so differently now that I allow myself to remember the flecks of pine cones that dotted my Dad's skin as he sat there, despondent or defeated but still trudging forward. I remember how my Mom would assign us chores to do every week. One of them was picking up the pine cones in our yard, which seemed to go on forever. I remember why we would have to do that. Dad's lawn mower would shred them up into sharp projectiles and spit them out at him as worked for hours in the Florida sun to keep our family home looking "normal," acceptable, pretty.
I can't imagine what it must have felt like for them. I remember my Mother telling me the story of how she cried at the grocery store because she couldn't afford a can of soup or beans or something, and she had nothing to feed us. And someone she knew saw her there, and bought the can for her. And she cried more and was so grateful. I can only imagine what it must feel like to be so desperate to take care of your children, to make them feel like everything's ok, to watch them grow and have needs and to hide your worry and desperation about fulfilling those needs.
And then I come back to me -- sitting there on that curb, having crawled out of John's arms again at 3AM because I couldn't sleep, smoking a cigarette -- and my fears about motherhood. In a half a year, I'll be as old as my Mom was when she had me, her last child. I was the last for both of them, and they are two weeks apart in age. And it hit me what a blessing it is to be able to understand what my Mother went through, what my Mother goes through by being a Mother, that most hated form of uncompensated labor. What a blessing for my human soul to know what they knew when we never knew.
And I can't stop crying. And I start to pathologize myself. "Oh, if Dr. Simmonds thought I was schizoaffective, maybe he had some grounds for that diagnosis. Maybe I am just crazy." And my mind went round and round. As both my parents are artists, maybe I'm just one of those mute, inglor'ous Miltons, born with an artist's soul. a soul clinicians need to pathologize to attempt to understand. And maybe this business of thinking we know how to fix people -- mind, body, soul -- is just brutish and violent. And maybe this career I'm trying to eek out for myself working in addictions counseling is bunk and I should get out. My Mother keeps telling me to get a job as a teacher. I don't know. Maybe I should.
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Las Vegas: at once resort and last resort [19 Oct 2010|06:51pm]
I'm loosely quoting Dave Hickey on that. He, so I've found, has even left Las Vegas. And I don't blame him.
Several months ago, I discovered much to my horror if not my surprise, that my then-fiance had been planning a trip to Las Vegas behind my back (ostensibly for work, but not actually). I brought it up, and was ignored for the better part of three months. A few weeks ago, I brought it up in couples therapy yet again, and Dr. Althof gently forced a response. I don't know how to write about this. It's so overwhelmingly reprehensible to me.
And here I sit, the biggest enabler I know, at Planet Hollyweird in Las Vegas. At this point, I've eaten several 'all-you-can-eat' buffets, slept a lot, and am feeling like doing one of two things: splashing through a window or getting married on impulse to my sex-addicted (sex with women other than me -addicted) 'fiance' who continues to lie to me about even the most mundane details of his life. This town (and the men who flock to it) sure know how to make a girl feel completely unworthy of living. The Latin digneus, from which we get our "dignity," literally means "worthy to live." As a woman, I feel as if I have no dignity. It doesn't matter how many letters come after my name or from what institutions; it doesn't matter how much money I've been paid by how many men to take off my clothes. I am insufficient for love and affection in this economy. And I'm convinced this isn't a simple matter of curbing my desire to eat -- my bodily hunger -- so that I can be more appetizing to men raised on internet pornography. or of further subjugating my body to the knife of yet another cosmetic surgeon. Remember, this is a world in which Halle Berry is insufficient, valueless as a woman. I don't belong. I will never be enough in this world.
This is supposed to be the sort of thing written by angsty teenagers in 'poetic' form. But it's still my world. It's inescapable: drunk, high, clean, sober -- it's always there to kick me in the teeth. I don't understand how life will ever be ok in such a world.
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I need to arrange my thoughts [30 Sep 2010|04:46am]
I find it so disturbing that I have so little credit with anyone. The first therapist we went to sat there and pathologized me as John continued sexually acting out behind my back, lying to my face. John himself sat by and watched as this hack attacked my inability to trust and called me crazy and Borderline. The reality was, of course, much worse than my suspicions. I remember some of the ideas he used to let John off the hook: "Usually, s&m has nothing to do with sex. It's probably the case that John didn't find sceneing with Amanda (the girl he'd stolen from one of his sponsees & lied to me about sceneing with while we were in a relationship) at all arousing or sexually gratifying." And John just sat there and agreed, knowing it had made him hard and he'd fantasized about it more than once in overtly sexual ways. My personal favorite was: "I would lie to you too."
Then with my sponsor: when I spoke to her about my confusion around John's sexual withdrawal from me, she blamed me for being too demanding and objectifying John. She sent me to SLAA, and John sat idly by. There's nothing wrong with wondering why your partner isn't interested in having sex with you. A man in his late twenties and a woman in her very early thirties who have been together for less than a year and both have very high sex drives should not be having sex once a week or once every week and a half. Clearly, he was being sexual outside the relationship and had lost interest in me. This turned out to be the case. And even my own sponsor didn't listen to me, blamed me, shamed me for questioning it.
John himself, of course, called me abusive and objectifying for asking him about the steep drop off in his sexual interest in me. His exact words (screamed) were: "I am not a coin-operated sex machine!" No, perhaps not. But he certainly had plenty of those at his personal disposal. How dare he make me feel abusive for asking why he didn't want to have sex with me anymore!
And then when he finally was cattle prodded into seeking help in SLAA, he has the audacity to come home from a meeting on the ninth step and tell me that amends are not made the cheated-on partner but are only made to people the sex addict acted out with. And then he summed up the problem with making amends: "BOOTY CAAAAALLLLLLLL!" Like that was an exciting prospect.
I can't begin to describe the damage he's done to me. And for him to think that he can make amends in such a way to clear his conscience without making amends to me really shows that he doesn't view me as a person at all. I'm just some mother-substitute that he needs to keep at home to lie to and hide things from in an effort get a bigger rush from fucking around with other people. In a very real sense, all the sex we had was non-consensual. I would never have consented to a sexual relationship with him had I known what he was doing with other women. He stole from me the most precious thing I have to give. And then he spat on it, rejected it. I feel as if my sexuality has been ripped from me. It's become painfully clear to me now that all men act out using pornography and obsessively fantasize about other women, and as a woman, if I want to have a 'relationship' with a man, I will have to tolerate it. I cannot; it is intolerable. That fact is so unbearable that I never want to have a relationship with a man again. I am disgusted by my own body, as any man is, unless he doesn't know me and is paying for my sexual exploitation. I used to console my friends who were being cheated on by reminding them that Halle Berry was also cheated on a thousand times over. Clear, so my argument went, it has nothing to do with the woman being cheated on -- Halle Berry was easily the most conventionally sexy woman in the world at the time she was being cheated on serially by her husband. But I find this fact to be all the more disturbing in light of my new understanding of internet pornography, chat rooms, etc. It did have something to do with Halle. It is a personal affront when your partner cheats on you. It's become clear that even Halle Berry isn't sexy enough. No woman is attractive to any man. It's the pain and exploitation, the deception, use and destruction of women that get him off. I absolutely hate men. All of them. And I hate myself even more.
I thought I had gotten over my compulsive suicidality. But then I met John. I can't begin to relate how many times a day I struggle with suicidal ideation, plans, thoughts, wishes.
But he doesn't need to make an amends to me. And I suppose he shouldn't. There is no way that what men do to women's souls can ever be made right. Amends are impossible.
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Imagined conversation (/monologue) [05 Feb 2009|08:27pm]
regarding the citation problems, I have to go back and look it up. I used to read the DSM for fun, not because I was some psychic hypochondriac, but because I wanted to know about human behavior and thought. (I guess I wanted the power to be able to diagnose anyone). But I added this frame into the paper on Thursday in response to something you said in class: that you didn't want our work to use a theory as a lens; you wanted us to further a theory. I thought "maybe I have something to add to Juliet Mitchell, even though it's a stretch." When I first read Mad Men and Medusas I was angry at Mitchell because she'd "stolen my idea" (and at the same time somehow managed to have it a few years before I did) of writing a book about what had happened to hysteria. But I had been collecting factoids and vague ideas about the demise of hysteria at the birth of the Borderline diagnosis. I always wanted to explore how the one seems to have morphed into the other. It seemed a feminist pursuit since most of the those supposed "BPD"s, like most hysterics, are women. And it catered to my interest in studying human psychopathology.
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Cosmic Slop [17 Oct 2008|06:09pm]
Yes, folks. I'm in a funk. But I don't have Bernie Worrell to direct me today. So this will be one of those garbage pieces: therapy-writing. I can see you wincing on the other side of your screen. Funny that I'm addressing a reader while I'm fully intending to keep this set to private. At any rate, what I need to get out of my system is basically this: I am the oldest person in my graduate program. Art History is a useless field unless you're a productive writer. [I am not a productive writer as evidenced by this skimpy journal.] And I don't know what the hell I'm doing here. I feel as if I'm a waste of time and space and all I can think of is that promise I made to myself that I would give it another few years until I turn 33 or so before offing myself to give life a chance or to at least arrange my things so that my family won't have to be left with such a burden of junk to clean out on my behalf. And I know that a run-on sentence was probably the wrong way to convey such plans. But it kind of makes my argument for me. All except for the waiting bit. Except that my poor father just shelled out all manner of money for me to do this highly competitive MA course, which I have no idea how I got into (yet another instance of lightning striking in the same place on more than one occasion for me in terms of college admissions). Basically, I'm confused. I don't know what to write about and I don't know why I'm writing in the first place. I hate London. I hate contemporary art. I hate myself. I went to my ten year high school reunion just before moving here and all my friends are married, thinner, and have high-paying jobs with important-sounding titles (working for the government with high security clearance, etc). What was I supposed to say? Oh, sorry I missed the five year, but I was in a loony-bin. And what have I been doing? Washing dishes at a three star hotel. And sometimes serving breakfast. No, replentishing a buffet. Yes, it really was the only job I could get graduating Columbia with a 3.8. And no, that's nothing to do with the economy. It's all because I have NO IDEA HOW TO LIVE. No, I couldn't even get a job at a Starbucks (and yes, I applied to at least 4 locations). Bare in mind that this was before the very recent crash.
Speaking of which, WHAT AM I DOING WRITING ABOUT ART? particularly, art which I know nothing about? and care little about anymore? I feel like I should be going back to school to be a therapist. But who's going to be able to afford therapy, either? Who knows what to do in times like these? It's hard to say. All I know is that I don't know what to do. My sponsor is in Florida. I'm several time zones away. So we never talk. I asked this other woman to be my sponsor tonight at a meeting because she said she was bored. So I felt bad for her. But except that she's been through the steps, she doesn't have what I want. At the meeting tonight I was feeling like a pretender -- like maybe I'm not an alcoholic. Maybe I'm a deeply mentally disturbed person who hangs out around the program all the time because she has no purpose or meaning in life. or because she has some morbid curiosity, kinda like Norton's character in Fight Club. And then I remembered I actually have a pretty fucked up diagnosis, so that shouldn't come as such a shock. Of course, that's where I'm supposed to be able to tell myself that I am mentally ill in terms of my alcoholism. I have a disease that tells me I don't have a disease because a large part of me wants to get liquored up again and end up in the hospital on the cusp of an alcohol-induced coma again with an iv sticking out of my arm and all these weird monitoring contraptions strapped to my chest and slung around my neck. beep beep beep. yoiks. Whether I'm an alcoholic or not isn't important -- what's important for me to remember is that I cannot drink and expect to be of any use as a human being to anyone.
But this takes me back to my central problem: I feel useless. This graduate course, I don't see where it's taking me. I don't know if I could cut it as a professor, which is what I'd wanted to be when I first came here. I don't think I'd be able to provide for a family as a teacher. When I look at Jill and all she's going through, shuttling between two universities and still having to run a household all for around 3grand a semester? And her kids are grown! Not that there's anyone who's even remotely interested in having a family with me anyway. It's just impossible. I feel like I've gone astray. I should have gone to law school and done labor law and worked for the man. Maybe it's not too late? Maybe I could still go to law school? No. It's too late. It's too late for me and it's too late for America. I guess I just have to learn to live a lonely, second-rate life. I may not have a job. I may have no job prospects. I may be alone for the rest of my life for whatever reason. be it that I'm intolerable. I'm long-winded? But usually I say nothing I think. ok, so maybe it's that I'm boring. Or maybe I'm too colorful and that's off-putting. No, more probably people think I'm worn-out, used-up and have tread-marks all over me. Whatever the reason, it may be better because come to think of it, would I really, REALLY want to bring children into this world knowing what I know of the human condition? Isn't it inhumane to inflict life on a thing? That, more than anything else, is why parents hate to see their children suffer -- because they know they're culpable and don't want to feel responsible for what they've done by bringing a child into the world against their better judgment.
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[17 Oct 2008|06:01pm]
From the instant I arrived, I decided there was nothing tranquil about Tranquility House. There were fuzzy cats to which I was allergic. And one of them, Butch, shared my father's name. I would later find that the black cat in the house across the street is called "Lou" in lieu of "Lucifer," his full name. Of course, the fact that a van full of fellow loons and junkies -- my therapy group at the Renaissance Institute -- had unloaded all my things there in the space of one session did not make my spontaneous coming more welcome. I had been forcibly removed for sexual acting-out. Apparently someone else applauded our behaviour by errecting a commemorative monument at the site of it -- Knowles Park -- yes, those orange spirals on Federal Hwy and SE 10th St. Since when have your flings been publically memorialized?

They looked up at me from their overstuffed leather couches as I walked in the door. A fluffy cat bristled at my ankle. I decided I would not fit in; we had been thrust upon each other, my new housemates and I, and it was clear that I did not belong. I had pitched myself into a program that was kicking me out. All the feather beds, cathair and scented candles made my headache.

When I ran into a smiling girl on the bus who offered me a room to rent for $500 a month, I jumped at the opportunity. At this point, it had been 6 months in the halfway house. She carried a crisp plant in front of her chest and tried to arrange it in her backpack throughout the long busride. Some guy started talking about Koffeeokee, and I said, "I used to work there." She turned to me with big eyes and a strained smile and asked if I was in the program. She said she needed more female sober support. My stop was coming up and I was coming from Fort Lauderdale, so I wasn't able to give her my number. But I remembered she was going to the Goodwill store, which was the next stop. So I just rode my bike down to the bus and called out to her across Federal Hwy. We spoke for a bit outside. She mentioned she needed a roommate. And I said I'd love to move out of where I was living. She said she'd been praying for a roommate and it must be me. At this point, I have

HAHA I lost this entry from the terminal at work at the Colony Hotel. It was the (true) story of how I moved out of the halfway house into what was almost a crack/whore house to share a bathroom with someone who had the HIV. That's howcome I moved back into the halfway house. And stayed until I moved to England.

Next chapter.
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[04 Apr 2007|12:39am]
When I first became aware of my reaction, there was a moment where I thought I was just making shit up for being sleep deprived. But I really believe I saw it tonight. Oteil Burbridge hitting the proverbial note. And I thought he was always on. But tonight, it's like he was touched, as in Janet's meaning of being touched, coming out of her background in heavy mystical Christianity.

There is something about virtuosity in art that's more than just ok; it's that experience of things falling away beautifully and always falling into the right place no matter what. I'm not talking self-consciousness; I'm talking about the opposite, I think. They seem not to care nor think and it just flows. I've had a few moments like that dancing or speaking publicly. But I can recognize when other people are there. You'd think everyone can, but I'm not sure of that right now.

When I was walking back to Columbia, I noticed I was feeling sick - disappointed. There were thoughts associated with that feeling: "fake," I was thinking, "all this Columbia stuff is so fucking fake." What struck me was, well, two things. First, I don't believe in "real"; rather, I don't believe in "fake"/"unreal." Second, it's all only my idea that I've built up about Columbia and the time I've wasted (or not?) building up this fantasy, this trite world where my thoughts are obsessed with who might be watching me and how I want them to interpret my behavior. But I don't think it's just me. There seems to be an epidemic, if I can say that about patterns of feeling/thought, that makes everyone here care so damn much about other people interpreting them a certain way -- that way being however they think they want to come off to people they think matter.

The other night, the night/morning (6AMish) before I finished my "thesis," I had another weird convergence. My Dad likes to tell me that I'm going to change the world. I don't see how he gets from art historian to Ghandi. But I was reading Juliet Mitchel. I've had her book Psychoanalysis and Feminism for years but never was able to get into it. I thought it was like a research tool or something. Like a place where you go when you want to find out how Lacan applies to Feminist criticism or something. Like an encyclopedia for analysis. But it's not. It's like a prelude to a manifesto. When the world falls apart, will someone/people be able to shape a new dynamic in our culture that doesn't relegate women to the status of the ultimate property/commodity? This is what she outlines at the end, and what I still don't totally understand. The whole nationalization of private property scares me so much because of this issue of women being central to it. If my body is no longer a good that can be staked claim to by someone as his private property, then doesn't that give me less of a chance for self-determination? Isn't that just like paving the way for the out-and-out rape of my body by everyone, who would all of a sudden have claim to it? I remember that's what got me the most as a child -- and what made me cry so hard and get so angry and frustrated about the whole motherhood thing: I saw that when a woman's pregnant, she now longer owns herself. People can tell her what to do and use her as an incubator. If she has some atrocious surgery or disease or something that requires medication, she can't have it. Because it's not good for the baby. GOD that GOT me, and nobody got why it got me. My mom would just try to explain it away with the whole "when you have a baby, you'll understand" thing. And she's really the only one who would talk to me about it. So, I don't know what I'm saying anymore. But I guess I'm putting this here so I can think about it later. And at least remember the night I saw Oteil, who seems to me to always be in the zone when he's playing, actually break a greater wall.
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public + private ---> ? [05 Mar 2007|04:48am]
I feel like writing exposes how superfluous I am. Yes, this will be another trash heap of depressive detritus. and, as indicated, redundancy.

When I saw a slide of that Picabia splotch last week, I remembered the Rorschadt test I took at the looney bin. I know that everything I say/write shows my pathologies. The punch-line isn't even funny: everything was an insect to me, some sort of bug; I failed the Rorschadt test. I guess that reflects my paranoia.

I keep going back to that dream I had when I first came to Columbia. My body was a reference book on the sun dial at the core of Mckim's Great Plan. Freshman boys were leafing through it. I was smiling and trying to be useful, but I hated that I couldn't move, cover myself or control what they could read. Maybe it was a premonition of my dancing days, which are now over. At least then I had my lies, a new one for every John. The possibilities for amusement were endless. Not so now.

With my first real relationship, I learned the dangers of transparency. I realized how jealously information must be gaurded to preserve safety and integrity. In order to keep people from breaking us apart, from physically attacking us, we had to unite in our lie to the world. But was I snowed? I know it's useless to harp on that: what was "true" in our relationship, etc.; there's no way of knowing. My concern now is with the problem of privacy. To what degree should I allow myself to be read? I know that upsetting people's expectations, though my main form of entertainment, is nothing but a desperate attempt to cling to the vestiges of bourgeois false security. But I also know that lying is not hiding; it's just a desperate attempt to get someone to look more closely. Who will read the truth from the lies? As if it's anything compelling enough to merit a close reading or reward a clear-sighted interpretation.

I can't figure out if my false presentation, socially, indicates a retrograde political tendency in me. Because I know from experience that over-confession is disgusting, lax, and potentially harmful. It's not just a costly tendency, to be confessional is only possible to rich, fat, mostly secure people, like myself, who have the time and social position to air themselves out - as if anyone cared.

Basically, I don't know how to be anymore. And I can't take the knowledge that I'm readable. Because I don't even know who I am or what I want, really -- of course, I think I do, but that doesn't mean my desires don't stand-in for other ones -- so it bugs me that others might ascertain my (probably piggish) motivations.

And so, I've, once again, solved nothing. And wasted precious time.
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Grey Scale [04 Dec 2006|02:42am]
I had a dream that computers had recently enabled drastically new harmonies, known as grey tonalities. Yeah it's slightly weird, but it gets weirder.

All the above and following came to my awareness by way of eavesdropping on a (pretty much one way) conversation between my Dad and Brother. My Dad was saying that it was impossible to hear

[oh, and previously in this dream I'd been flying. on a book that was somehow catching a lot of wind from underneath. strangely, only books from this particular press were catching such winds. so people tried to come up with me and bring more books, as i was getting soo high they were getting scared - as was i a bit. two guys had the properly pressed books or magazines to stand on. but one guy, my brother i think, only had one and swapped one of the other guys for a different one. he also insisted that i take another book. of course, it was from some other press and it lead to my being weighed down, the ascent stopped. he said he'd only wanted me to have something to read on the way up. wtf?!]

these tonalities without some sort of enormous hardware -- it would take a computer as big as a(n expansive) room to recreate the complexity and intensity of these harmonies. Somehow this meant that they could be played by accessing some online music network that could play it from many different terminals at once (b/c it then accessed the whole of the hardware within the pool of the internet -- whatever it needed).

So I remember going and trying to listen to something, though it was admittedly cheesey, that was expressive of these grey tonalities. It literally blew my hairback; and I could tell that it wasn't to full capacity. Perhaps it was after this part that I flew.

At any rate, in the end of the dream, humanity was dying off. It was like a bad near-ending scene in one of those movies like aliens. Except it was semi-outside. But we were trapped and the water was rising. We were all going to drown and the earth was totally uninhabitable. I remember thinking, "Jeez, if we'd only just given up faith in God sooner as a culture, we would've been able to think outside the box that has us as necessary to some sort of plan so we could realize that there are major threats to our survival that need to be addressed if we're to survive at all. So God really is laughing and saying, 'Ha! Now, YOU're dead.'"
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Dude [17 Nov 2006|01:18am]
I had a dream that Venice had moved. It was in some museum in England or something. I remember thinking, "Well," sigh, "I'll never go there again. I'm so glad to have those memories of Alex and the bloodorange screwdrivers, the way the P. S. Marco swayed with my drunk." total nostalgia *within* my dream! and then some random thought about how it'd been sinking already for so long. heavy stones, i guess.
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