I’m working on my list of 100 goals for the year. I’ve been stalled out on 72 (use black beans) for a month.
A few weeks ago, I was pretty sure we were in the middle of the apocalypse, so I was a little distracted.
Writing goals during an apocalypse seemed like an exercise in futility.
What I mistook, hopefully, for the apocalypse, was the world in which I live and breath imploding in slow motion like the noses of two cars meeting at a full velocity in the middle of a road as the earth halts its rotation – a car wreck far enough away that there’s nothing you can do except watch. Try as you might, it’s impossible to look away.
What happened was this: my dog and I walked into to a heated verbal altercation in my building lobby amongst three adults who seemed to be on the verge of fist-a-cuffs, or at least a fit of emphatic eye-rolls. I shifted from foot to foot, avoiding eye contact, humming to myself and my dog, not wanting to be drawn into the fray, unwilling, as I was, to be associated to one side or the other. Raised voices, dramatic tones, veiled threats. It was not clear to anyone whose responsibility it is to purchase the building Christmas tree.
The streets of New York that day were so crowded that all of humanity seemed an amoeba of movement. People oozed and ebbed like monsters in a strange dream. The skies grew dim, and we were captives on a drifting barge, meandering down a dirty river, assaulted at every turn with invectives to buy, buy, buy and then go away.
I changed my invisalign trays that morning. My bruised teeth tickled my insecurity. My mother confessed that she reads my blog. The most common and unsolicited piece of advice I received from my friend was that I should get laid. And then write about it. For the sake of art. And entertainment.
But my hearts wasn’t in it. Popping out my plastic teeth to steal a kiss beneath the plastic mistletoe didn’t seem worth the hassle.
I’d rather watch my dog slobber on her de-winged, de-legged, de-beaked squeaky toy. Bid this year goodbye and look towards the next.
My list of 100 goals for the year includes:
11. clean bathtub
21. go to Iceland
37. learn to do a back flip
52. spend less
53. cook more
54. eat leafy greens
and 62. talk to people.
Now that the Christmas tree is drying out in the lobby and the apocalypse is humming along, I’m hoping to complete the list. There have been many distractions. The holidays, a visit from my sister, my date with a Way Too Super Smart Guy, an impromptu wedding of a friend, the ill-timed injury of one of my favorite people. All play a part in the swirling narrative in my brain. And then came the discussion on microbiomes and the article on whether or not this human existence is an illusion, as if that changes anything.
Though it does take the edge off, if you stop to think about it.
73. make cheese.
Twenty-seven more goals to write.
74. finish writing my 100 goals for 2014.
My sister brought up the little beasts that live inside of us and on us. They out number our cells by ten to one, she told me. Ninety-nine percent of the genes in our bodies belong to them. Without them we’d be a mere ten percent of who we are. We’re more them than us. No one knows where we begin and they end. It’s like a baffling love affair with an invisible man. Or a trillion. Invisible. Men.
And then, if we live with someone, a lover, perhaps, we share our microbiomes with them like playing cards or cooking tips. It’s no wonder that people who stay together for a long time start to look like each other – they literally become one another.
Science is so romantic.
There are more microbiomes on a human hand than there are humans on the planet earth. And we, each of us, are entire landscapes, forests, rivers, deserts, and caves – a universe in which our unique population of citizens thrive in urban and suburban bliss.
Some human microbiome researchers even suggest that gut reactions, gut feelings, or spilling one’s guts might have more to do with our microbiomes sharing, welcome or not, their opinions with us.
I’m thinking that my microbiomes might be to blame for the grave miscalculation of my ordering my plastic teeth through a deeply discounted dentist.
75. take my microbiomes out for coffee and a chat.
I suspect that the thing that makes them so clever and insightful is that they make you feel like you’re calling the shots. Driving the car. Choosing the direction. Choosing the tune. Leading the dance.
But, truth is, they are.
76. spend quality time with my microbiomes.
I try to explain this to my neighbor down the hall, to the lady sitting next to me on the subway, the people at work, but everyone and their microbiomes are caught up in the post-Christmas, pre-New-Years slow motion, apocalyptic meltdown.
At the diner, during our traditional post-holiday meal, I consider telling Nikki about the microbiomes and the role they play in my suspect decisions. She’s feeling pretty sassy lately. She might listen.
But, I’m a little crabby, I’m trying not to let on. Secretly, I’ve been fantasizing about chucking it all and finding a nice guru who lives on the side of a nice mountain to meditate with.
Perhaps one who lives in a warm climate. Who likes dogs. And a piece of chocolate cake every once in a while.
Someone who holds dear the wisdom of where my microbiomes end and I begin. Who understands that traveling inward can be a hell of a lot stranger of a journey than traveling outwards.
I’m trying to remember where I was a year ago, trying to imagine where I’ll be a year from now. I can’t seem to do either.
“I wonder if the Way Too Super Smart Guy knows anything about the microbiomes,” I muse over a plate of waffle fries and ketchup.
“What Way Too Super Smart Guy,” she asks. She’s drinking a red wine with an Irish coffee back.
“The Way Too Super Smart Guy I went on a date with a few nights ago.”
“How’d it go?’
“He’s interesting,” I say, demure. You can’t let on too much with Nikki, She’ll take what you say and run. But then I can’t help it. The smile creeps up. I lower my voice to a whisper. She leans in.
“Nikki,” I say, “he has braces, too.”
Happy New Year!