Dreams of Old Houses

Along with the loneliness comes the restless sleep: constant tossing and turning, feeling my eyes burn with tiredness, slipping in and out of dreams.

I awake with muscles feeling sore, as if I have been fighting in my sleep, but the theme of my dreams seems largely peaceful.

I am trying to string together sense of the bits and pieces I remember:

  • I rode in an elevator that went both up and down, then sideways and moved as freely as a roller coaster in ascending and descending at angles. Doors opened on two sides, and there were poles from ceiling to floor for passengers to hold on as it moved quickly. There were only three buttons for controls: up, down, and to the right.
  • I remember taking the elevator to some place on a University campus. Don’t recognize it as any one in particular. There were lots of statues and murals and large open lawns. I could not read the bronze plaques that accompanied them.
  • My father was giving a 5 year old a lecture about diabetes and how it destroys the body. Not sure that’s appropriate for a 5 year old or something he’ll even remember, but I’m sure he’ll be traumatized ever after for it.
  • I was with family and we were going to go swimming but couldn’t find any sunscreen. As they searched in vain, I figured I might as well go swimming without it: I’ll just get darker.
  • We were at an old house, one of those older Victorian age houses where much thought and care went into deciding each detail, down to the order of bricks in the fireplace and the carvings above a door frame. A new owner, an older gentleman, had come into possession of it. He was open to visitors, and my heart was filled with excitement and I wondered if I could ask him if I might stay long to explore: this house was the perfect place for there to be buried treasure: so many nooks and crannies, details to mask false panels and secret doors, and it was large enough that secret passages seemed guaranteed.

Something about the dream left a sense of deja vu, and I am still left feeling sad and lonely.

Faking it

I am normally good at getting cards before the actual date of things. I try my best to write heartfelt messages, and really minimize any involvement with cards where I feel I have to fake it. I loathe fake people and the artifice they bring, and I try to avoid any interactions where I may potentially have to fake it.

However, I did not get a card ahead of time for today. It is the 6 year anniversary of being together for me and JL. I have mixed feelings about it; at best, I am neutral. The past three years, especially this last one, have not been great.

How bad was it? I tried to break up with him a few weeks ago, not wanting another year of misery. Things that held me back and made the talk most difficult: 1. social pressure (having to explain it didn’t work out to everyone, especially family), 2. the unaffordable cost of living in this area if we separate and one of us has to move out of the apartment we share.

If you hurt a person enough, if you break their heart too many times, if you let them down too many times, they will stop feeling anything for you. That is where I am at right now with JL.

But when he cried and fell to pieces in front of me, it felt impossible to break up. I know he loves me, and I loved him too, once. Despite our previous serious talks, it finally seemed like this talk, this one finally sunk in that I am not putting up with the status quo anymore: I say maybe we want different things in life and should go our separate ways; we both should be happy, but it seems impossible for us to make each other happy and have a relationship. I suggest maybe we are better off as friends.

As he finally realized how serious I was that something has to change, I was not sure that it wasn’t already too late, and I am still uncertain. We agreed to try, to give it one more chance…

And JL is trying. I can see it. I am trying but still not feeling. I was honest with him when we had our serious talk. I am numb.

(As a comical note: all three cats were concerned and acting weird as we sat and cried at our kitchen table. The youngest crawled into my lap, looking sad, and he never sits in my lap or approaches me. Who knew cats could add social pressure to stay in a relationship?)

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The Virgin Queen

There are times where I feel my color–where I can feel the color of my skin, the otherness, and alienation of some DNA sequences and melanin. Those moments are a mix of what’s said and unsaid. For example, when I’ve been verbally assaulted, like one of the last few times I was in Southern California, I was walking in a sidewalk with my brother (who passes for white, easily). A car drove by and the driver screamed at me, “BLACK WHORE!” Or when, the kid who would be valedictorian of my high school, sneered at me outside of Spanish class and said, “All Mexicans are stupid.”

In the other category are those moments of reading between the lines of what’s not said but understood silently: when I walked into an office for an interview and immediately felt unwelcome. It was an office full of white people, absolutely no person of color in sight anywhere. I had this sickening realization then that no matter what I did or said, this interview would not go well for me. It was over as soon as I walked in the door and showed my face. Or that time I received a jaywalking ticket by a white police officer–and the ticket had previously been made out to a white male some 15 minutes before my arrival at that intersection. The officer hadn’t even bothered to change the gender on the ticket before handing it to me. (And just so you know, I was in the crosswalk; my error was not in realizing it was an offense to begin crossing once the hand started blinking.)

Then there are the moments where I feel my gender. The police officer story was a good example of feeling both–color and gender. It was particularly infuriating. So typical! Of course a white male gets off for the same offense. Of course! But feeling my gender still comes up on its own–and not in the monthly hormone cycle, although there’s that too.

Feeling my gender otherwise comes up not as often as the color, but certainly enough, often things you would think of in the workplace: having a male boss who does nothing to stop sexual harassment of other women or makes inappropriate sexual jokes (a coworker who admitted her dream job is to become a dancer was told, “So you want to be a prostitute?”), or being the victim of a creepy customer who keeps coming back to make small talk, or knowing there a lot of men out there paid more than I am for the same (or less) amount of work.

However, I felt myself particularly surprised to feel my gender Saturday evening while playing a game with a group of males.

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Some of us just know…

On a walk with two male friends, J and M, somehow the conversation turned to golden showers.

J is in his mid 20s; he is a very physically masculine hetero guy but complete emotional softie. M is a young-looking and much more mature gay male; he is closer to my age, somewhere around 30. The dynamic of the two is like close brothers; they are a fun pair to hang around.

Also, the funny thing is J, the straight male, seems to have way more drama and is always talking about his girl problems. On one occasion, this habit prompted someone else at our lunch table to tell him, “Jesus, you whine like a girl.”

Anyhow, back to the conversation at hand: golden showers.

J thought that they were some weird freaky shit.

M and I disagreed on account of there’s a lot worse out there when it comes to kinks, and it is it seems the least weird or innocent compared to other shit. When it comes to kinks, as M put it: “That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

We kept walking, and M then confessed he had had a golden shower before when the guy he was with was really into them.

“But to be honest, I wasn’t really into it. It’s not my thing,” M said.

“You know, M,” I replied, “some of us just know we’re not really into it without having to try it.”

J and I then broke into laughter.

Interrupting a Kubla Kahn on 420

Despite the signs being everywhere about the significance of yesterday’s date, I admit I didn’t quite get why I kept seeing so many people acting funny and so much marijuana out in public.

We had a national conference of sorts for one of our remote teams, and my small team was invited to join their large team on a bus tour around San Francisco–one of those really bad tourist, double-decker type tours where the bus is entirely plastered with advertisements for Angry Birds.

The bus driver, Steve, was a better driver than entertainer. His jokes were bad, becoming worse with every cross street. It devolved into a painful kind of bad, and eventually his heartless commentary became the “I wish I could throw rotten tomatoes at you” kind of bad.

We had passed an intersection where a large cloud of marijuana reeked, and Steve joked, “And there goes a guy who is smoking his lunch.” Oh, Steve.

The colleague next to me rolled her eyes and muttered , “It is 420 today, Steve. A lot of people are going to be blazing today.” And then I went Ohhhhhhhhhh. Everything clicked.

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Tex-Mex: it’s weird.

Despite my interesting and exciting series of events at Uncle Julio’s, the food, however, was the low point of the experience. In my confusion and panic at what I had just gotten myself into with the free drink I’d been offered, I really just ordered the first thing that came to mind–same with the drink.

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My free margarita, courtesy of the ladies

So I ordered the Carnitas Azteca plate. It came with beans, rice, tortillas, and a side dish of cheese, guacamole, and sour cream. The bartender had also brought me chips and salsa (I miss those SoCal restaurants that do that! Never see it in the Bay Area.)

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Swingin’ down at Uncle Julio’s

I couldn’t even think about drinking tap water in the hotel after that incident. I immediately headed out, wandering down 6th street but finding most places still crowded with drunk college kids. It wasn’t as bad as Friday night, but still crowded enough that I felt little desire to take the plunge and enter any of the open bars and restaurants.

By then it was close to 9 o’clock. The day had rained off and on; it was still muggy, and every now and then it began to drizzle. I wandered down to other areas closer to where Atlassian had been, figuring it was best to get away from 6th St if I wanted to get away from the college kids.

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The wet streets while wandering

I kept walking, finding myself facing two options: a steakhouse or a place called Uncle Julio’s. Considering I earlier had Texas BBQ for lunch, it seemed that I had to give a Tex-Mex restaurant a shot.

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Hotel Hell continued: Downtown Austin Courtyard Marriott

I returned to the hotel, planning to recharge my phone, shower, and head back out. The conference had provided dinner (pizza) at happy hour, but I hadn’t touched it. The lunch had been Texas BBQ, and I wasn’t hungry when the pizza had been served.

I felt largely thirsty and was surprised my used glass had been left out and not taken away by the maid. But whatever, conservation, right? I also notice one of the info cards I had flipped over, revealing a previous guest’s scribblings, had also not been replaced with a new one. Again, maybe there’s some effort towards conservation out here; I doubted that were true but let it slide.

I go to the ice bucket and realize it hadn’t been emptied. The California drought on my mind, I figure what the hell and decide to drink it anyway.

I pour some into my glass and chug. I pour another glass and then freeze before drinking. It’s that sick “I want to puke” type of freeze in horror, where you wish life had a pause, rewind, and reset button.

There is hair. In the water. Short hair. The type you’d expect to see in the sink after a man shaves.

I slowly pull the lid of the ice bucket and peer inside. I see a few hairs in the water and see more underneath the plastic bag.

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I am pretty sure one of the amenities listed at this hotel was NOT "Water enhanced by men's shavings"

As my phone continued to recharge, I spent the next 15 minutes furiously scribbling on the comment card about my stay remaining calm, collected, and polite. Deep down, my thoughts continuously repeated the following:

200$ a night for this dump?! FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU.

The Introverted Social Butterflies

At the happy hour, I mingled with a few different people, forcing myself to be a social butterfly–a truly concerted effort for an introvert like me.

I was amused when Sarah, who worked at Idealist, said she had accomplished her goal and was ready to leave: she had spoken to at least 5 different people. I immediately started to count in my head how many people I had spoken to and wondered if I should do the same. Being social–it can be so exhausting!

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