As I walked inside, he seemed to regard me with a certain apprehension. We sat. He continued looking at me with that careful look, now slightly incredulous. Nobody spoke for a moment.
I ventured, "Is something ... wrong?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Well. The last time we spoke, you were a bit overwrought."
Embarrassed he remembered, I shook my head. "You've been a professor for twenty years." I felt rueful, but defensive. "You've seen dozens of students cry."
I had cried. I had tried not to, though it was an enormous relief to cry at someone who had no personal obligation to say nice things to me.
I was overwhelmed by the final assignment of the course. I was so nervous about it that I had seen him four weeks in a row, pelting him with questions each time and pleading for advice; although he sent me home each time with something to do, I was set back the next time I would see him, when he would have to tell me my idea was not feasible.
The last such setback had me dissolving into tears in his office -- the first time I had ever cried in front of a professor, even through past times when I was as troubled. As I kept soaking up tears with a tissue and staring into my lap, hiccuping between words, he became so puzzled by my anxieties -- the first time we spoke, I realized he thought of me as impassive; he was too surprised when I confessed I had been worrying for three weeks already -- that he sat in his "psychologist" chair and asked me what I was really worried about.
He could not understand how a student of my academic standing (respectably accomplished, although by no means stellar) could be racked with this much anxiety. When I told him I didn't think I was that accomplished, that it was only because I had the luck of less sterling classmates (I overlooked that this was patently untrue for this class), he told me I had "serious" self-esteem issues. I thought of the countless other things I fretted over; I couldn't disagree, but I didn't think that meant I was wrong either. I kept this last sentiment to myself.
I told him I didn't think I could hand in an assignment that would let me hold my head up. He told me my expectations were set unrealistically high. I told him I was afraid I would fail. He told me it was nigh impossible for me to fail.
I did not tell him I was terrified of not doing well by him. I did not tell him that he had taught me so much that I felt as though I could write a thousand essays just slightly imperfect and fall entirely short of his accomplishment to me. This imbalance, this error of reciprocity, was what was driving me mad. I was crying.
When I finally stopped, the relief was brief. It was also false. The tears had resulted in only guilt -- not only that I had violated that social code that says you must maintain control, stoic passivity in public, but that I had allowed him some undue bias; I was worried he'd feel sorry for me. I had probably made him feel too self-conscious about sending me away so he could speak to other students who were waiting. He didn't know, but once I left his office, smiling waterily at my classmates, red eyes averted, I went to the washroom only ten feet away and cried in a stall for another fifteen minutes, free to sob in a way I had not let myself in front of him.
He agreed. "I have seen a lot of crying students. But it doesn't mean I don't still care about each of them."
I sighed inwardly. I had cried because my hope had been that he wouldn't care at all.
I once told him that I loved him ... in binary.
When I hear his name,
every hair on my body
bristles with desire.
When I see
the moon of his face,
I grow moist like a moonstone.
When that man
as dear to me as breath
steps close enough
to stroke my neck,
the thought of jealousy
is shattered in my heart,
can be hard as diamond.
- Amaru, Amarusataka 58
"If it's licking the Pope, it's probably treyf." - Evil Monkey's Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals
He had that secret smile ... that sort of half-laughter that tugs at the corners of your mouth but you are enjoying yourself too much to let others share.
He could see I was my usual bundle-of-nerves self, with my usual yearning to escape any conversation possible -- I had unthinkingly put my hand on the door handle, quite ready to leave when allowed -- yet he played the dummard, asking your usual "so how's it going" questions, all those queries that have ridiculously obvious answers, and delighting himself with my anguish as I answered politely; he was laughing at me.
Fortunately, I was laughing at him too. Thank you, novelty baseball tie. You were so ludicrous I don't know how he let you leave the house around his handsome neck.
A dress of warm, light comfort: pale grey knit, a fine silken wool that invites appreciative fingers. An attractive gathering at the bust (that is to say, gathering attraction). Little puffed sleeves that insist on slipping off the shoulders. Textured banding along a deep neckline in the front, and a long V down the back -- like chevrons pointing to summery delights. (For if I do say so myself, it is a rather fine back.)
Upon the sight of me, the first thing a co-worker inquires is, "Did you gain weight?"
I give the fuck up.
"I don't like it when young men wear white jackets in the evening. They look like barbers!" - Oliver Larrabee
I came home, starved.
My mom was watching her online Chinese soap operas. She glanced up. "I found a loaf of bread on your bed." There was a pause as her gaze flickered away and blanked briefly, as if she wanted to ask something but couldn't lest she discover some sordid, unholy hobby.
I chose my answer carefully. "Yeah."
She made a gesture at the dining table. "Well, I brought it down here." Where it belongs.
"I ... kinda had it up there for a reason."
I like bread. I like bread a lot. I like bread enough to eat it all day. I like bread to pay four dollars for a loaf and eat it all in under forty-eight hours, by myself.
My father, who is frugal, does not approve of this bread "habit." Last time I brought home something, I could hear him grumbling on the next floor up. I cannot abide listening to him gripe, but I couldn't give up my vice. I decided the next time I had bread, I would stash it in my room so he wouldn't see what dough I had thrown my dough at. Some kids hide drugs and porn; I hide bread.
Obviously, I had not tried very hard since my mom discovered it immediately. I had in fact not tried at all, because I didn't see why anyone would move it. I figured this: if a person leaves a loaf of bread on their bed, for whatever reason it may be, it can only follow logically that this was an intentional move. Nobody leaves bread on their bed accidentally or absent-mindedly.
It seemed stupid to leave it on the table now, so I took it with me.
2. As "Americana" defines itself as artefacts of American culture, "Gloriana" consists of the artefacts of my culture.
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