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What happens if I stop pretending? All together, just quit? Wear whatever the goddamn hell I want, for real, makeup when I feel like it, yell when I feel like it, run naked through the streets if I feel like it? Crawl up into a corner and cry all by my goddamn self if I feel like it? What then? Who still loves me then? Who still wants me if I’m unpredictable and inane and if I fall in love with quantum physics or the technicalities of sourdough bread making or ephemeral plant biology? These are very real possibilities: I think sometimes I’m only interested in lots of things to prevent myself from becoming completely and totally and utterly obsessed with one thing and one thing only. I could spend hours and hours studying ridiculous phenomenon like the distribution of pinyon jays versus scrub jays, or the relationship between global climate change and remnant stands of Corkbark fir in the Santa Catalina Mountains of southern Arizona. Not to mention things like spinning black holes with double event horizons and the origin of words like “cytoplasm” and the origin of things like mitochondria. I could spend my whole life, I think, caught up in the details of the universe.

And maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe I ought to just let myself get really obscenely obsessed with something, anything, let it take over my life. That would solve my romance problems: if I’m spending all my time figuring out what chromosomal differences allow one-seed juniper to grow farther south than alligator juniper, then I won’t have time for boyfriends who just stress me out anyway. And I imagine I could get some of the same thrill out of that as I do out of the hide-and-seek bait-and-chase games of a new relationship.

Fewer orgasms, though, I expect. I hope.

Besides, if I am consumed by a single pursuit, than what of all the rest of the amazing fascinating things? If I spend all my time trying to figure out what the “junk” chromosomes (we don’t know the function of ninety-five percent of the genome! That’s like the dark matter in physics: its most of everything, and we have just no idea whatsoever what it is or what it does), if I want to figure out what they do, then what about the co-evolution of angiosperms and mammals, or the dark matter itself, or the affect of All Terrain Vehicles on cryptobiotic soil? What about the perfect vegan lasagna recipe or the best way to irrigate Southwestern drylands for agricultural production? What about the implementation of economically sustainable local economies? What about string theory and linguistics and authentic evaluation of students? What about rooftop gardens and Tolkien and Zen, for god’s sake?

But I can’t study it all. I just can’t. There’s not enough energy in my body or time in my life, not enough books to read or classes to take, not enough money to invest. So I’m stuck between I can’t pick just one, and I can’t do it all. Rather a frustrating place to be, since I very much want to do one or both of them, somehow. Learn everything about something, or learn something about everything. I suppose I should just decide to study one thing in particular and then spend all my free time learning everything I can about everything else that interests me? That sounds exhausting. But I don’t know what else to do.

It’s a good place to be though: a while ago I was afraid that I wouldn’t really want to learn anything ever again. I’d lost the drive, the curiosity, the spark. I was afraid that I’d lost forever the supreme satisfaction of the moment of aha! In another story, long ago, I wrote that that was the only magic I still believe in, the moment when it clicks, when it all suddenly makes sense. It is perhaps my very favorite thing: above spaghetti, even. Maybe below sex, but not as far as you might think.

I don’t know why I even entertain the notion that I might ever fit in with the normal people. I think that the elegant solution to a calculus problem is approximately as sexy as a surfer without his shirt on. (Though let me clarify that it appeals to a totally different part of my anatomy. A surfer without his shirt on who shares my enthusiasm for elegant calculus solutions would be way sexier even to that part of my anatomy than one who thinks math is lame, however, whatever that might mean.)

It makes me crazy. I’m a little bit afraid of being overwhelmed by my own enthusiasm, the same way as I’m afraid of being lost in my own power if I let lose the reins. Like there’s this great growling prowling giant thing inside me – the same as the stained glass, I suppose, but this time it moves, it flexes and stretches and threatens – and all my social conditioning and personal restraint and even the fear all just keeps that in check. It is the same as the wild woman who I think will force me to move out to the mountains and burn the cities down; it is the same as the part of me that just plain won’t fit in anywhere in the whole world; won’t fit anywhere in the world. It is ravenous and insatiable and it is what I am afraid my boyfriends won’t be able to handle. The wild woman wants good food and good sex and good books, and wants them all the time in great abundance. She isn’t happy with macaroni and cheese, she isn’t happy with mediocrity. The wildcat inside me is pacing its boundaries. It wants to be free to ravage injustice and idiocy, to rend great claw marks across the face of industry and stupid people.

I don’t know how to find the middle ground on this, not without sacrificing something important. And I don’t want to sacrifice important things. I don’t know quite what those important things might be: integrity of some sort. I want to be the wild woman and the blinding light and the pacing wildcat, I want to be free, want to lose myself in the greater thing, in the ocean, in the desert, I want to run into the mountains and run out in the rain, I want to shave my head and grow out my hair and dream in full color and sing in octaves that you can’t even hear. I am brilliant and I mean that in all the ways you can think that I might mean it, I am eternal universal intelligence and utter emotion, I am ocean and desert and mountain and sky. I am.

Except for when I let the fear take me. When I find myself caught in image and worry and future tense: I should, I should have, I should still. All the thought and false feeling are merely clouds that block the sun: only another grey against the wide grey sky.

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