Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Why did you lay out the booby trap for me, why?
Why did you, at some point this morning, use the luxurious and oversized handicapped stall (aka - "mine"), depositing the remains of your previous ingestion and not flush, why?
Why did you go even one step further and leave the very useful yet carelessly placed toilet seat protector where it could dangle over the edge, wicking the sullied water onto the floor, why?
Why do I find it incongruous that someone who would USE a toilet seat protector, and because of said use is apparently a NEAT and CLEAN person, would not actually FLUSH the toilet of her prepwork and leavings, why?
Did you not notice that you forgot to flush? Did you "forget" that you'd just crapped in a public restroom that other professionals also use? This isn't your house, lady, where maybe you like to leave the products of your alimentary system to marinate in the bowl for future inspection or as a reminder of a job well done. This is a place where other people do their "business" (yes, at work, just like you) and expect the throne room to be all neat and clean and orderly like it is every day. They do NOT, I repeat, do NOT expect to close the door to the luxurious and oversized handicapped stall, prepared for a breather, only to be faced with the fetid leftovers of your antemeridial efforts.
Did you snicker at the thought of someone like me having to face that horror of your passive-aggressive bathroom behaviors ("Ooooh, I'm naughty - I left my poo in the potty for someone else to clean up!")? Wait a minute - did you also "forget" to wash your hands? Did you then go and make coffee for all of us in the breakroom? (ick)
Next time I see this kind of thing happen, lady, I'm going to hide a camera in the wall-mounted spritzy air-freshener thingie that tells me in English and Spanish when it needs to be changed, and I'm going to get your photo. Then, lady, that photo will be posted all over this building, along with a photo of whatever it is that you "forgot" to flush, and you will be shamed into participating in the proper bathroom etiquette I'm sure your Mama must have taught you as a young sprat.
Unless you were raised by feral cats, in which case I apologize, because that the ONLY reason to behave the way you did.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
OK - you've been warned. On with the show.
Dude, weed! Purple tips! Wooo! Turn on Bob Marley and jam to da reggae, mon! Make some fried potatoes and watch Johnny Carson's lips move but he's NOT SAYING ANYTHING! Woo! Carry Visine with you at all times, man.
Those were the days, right enough.
If one was desperate, almost anything could be used to partake. A potato, if it didn't make it into the aforementioned fried version, could be hollowed out. A soda bottle? Check. A toilet paper roll? Check. You name it, it could be used. And was. Particularly with one boyfriend, who was a master of invention.
He and I worked in "food service" at the time (different places, same idea), and were playing at being grown up. We had our own apartments, we paid our own bills, we got ourselves to classes (or not), we were 20-something and we thought we were on top of our game. We wore cotton clothing and listened to reggae and smelled vaguely spicy most of the time. We laughed like fools at things that weren't really funny, and slept like babies.
Hmmm, where was I GOING with this? Ah yes, a story.
This was the boyfriend I always associate with being a "head." If ever I had met one at that stage of my life, he was it. Lots of fun to be around (go figure), but I never really knew what was going on under the surface because he was always high.
Anyhow, we had been going out for a few months (I was, at the time, queen of the 3-month relationship), and we having some "issues," I guess. The bloom was off the rose, so to speak, for both of us. We were making sort-of last-dash attempts to keep it together, when, one night, we decided to go to a bar where a good band was playing.
So far, so good. Things seemed to be looking up.
The bar was great and the music was fabulous, but after about 3 songs (and one minor tiff between us on where. to. sit.) my "boyfriend" was nowhere to be seen. He'd disappeared somehow into the dark dance floor or back room or alley. Being young and stupid I waited for him, wondering what had happened, and asking my friends if they'd seen him. After about an hour of stupidly wandering around getting more drunk out of frustration, one friend said "yeah, but I didn't want to tell you. He left with Stefanie about 10 minutes after you guys got here."
He what? He left with someone else?
"Yeah, he said he was going to take her home. She wasn't feeling well."
"Yeah - they took her car."
Ohhhh-kay. I'll just be going home now. See ya tomorrow.
In a deep gloomy funk (why didn't he TELL me he was leaving? I was right where we were SITTING, for Pete' sake!) I went back to my apartment and spent the night planning out how I would go to his place the next day and apologize for being such an idiot. Read that again, if you will. I was going to apologize to HIM. I was, at the time, incapable of being angry with men for hurting me, and wanted to "fix it" so I would feel better and so he would LIKE me again.
The next morning I made sure I looked nice and smelled good, and did indeed go over to his house. I had a key, and so walked right in, expecting to find him at home, doing something normal like watching TV and eating cereal. What I found instead, was her. Or, rather, her clothes. In the middle of the living room floor. Her patchwork gauzy skirt, her Indian-cotton embroidered blouse, her bra, and her sandals. Right there. On the floor. Next to his jeans and Indian-cotton shirt.
Pause again, take another look, Tiff. Then feel so sick and angry at HIM for playing you like a fool. I was a fool. He, the jerk, was a jerk. An idiot.
After about a minute I picked the pieces of my heart up off the floor, dusted them off, turned and walked right out. I didn't look back. I didn't need to. By then he already was old, old news......
(And, after I started eating again 2 weeks later, I felt a whole lot better.)
Wanna know why he said he did it? Ya wanna? Here it comes then:
"I was high."
Yow. That smarts.
Epilogue of a sort - about a month after the fateful night I started to work at the same place he did. I pestered the manager until he gave in - asking only "do you think you can work with X? I heard you guys broke up." I told the manager that would be fine, we were past all that, and then proceeded to date everbody else who worked there that asked me while patently ignoring Mr. X. Damn, that felt good.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Heartstrings don't grow back once broken; the pain is more than we could stand. If you're full of fragile ones that are easily broken, or if too many are severed through life's vagaries, fog and dust are all that will remain.
It's good to know that heartstrings are remarkably robust. If they don't disintegrate under the strain of loss and disappointment they stretch and grow stronger. They're strong enough to hold you up under immense strain, they keep body and soul together when you think you might crack under stress and strain, they remind you that you can persevere in adversity.
A little-recognized characteristic of heartstrings is that, being strings, they reverberate and record what resonates your soul. When they twitch they can make your heart do flips and your soul turn inside out. When strummed just right they can create hunger for something you forgot you ever wanted, and if plucked particularly well they can play a long-forgotten tune that beseeches your heart and soul to listen.Even in the midst of positive experiences your heartstrings can feel a little weak, like they might break or burst from being too full of happy. Don't worry over this feeling; that's just the way joy works. Exuberance and ebullience, along with extraordinary happiness, can feel a little like loss sometimes, because joy can play those heartstrings as well as pain can. When that feeling comes, you need to remember this important point - happiness is like food to your heartstrings; if you feed them well with joy they'll be able to recover from any future hurt and be ready to hold your heart and soul together the next time you need them to.
It was a memorable weekend, in so many ways. My thanks to those who made it so. You know who you are. Hugs and gratitude all around.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Get the kids and me up early so they can do their homework
Get them and me ready for school and work and out the door sometime in the next hour
Get to work and stay there for a few hours and grab my paycheck
Get to the bank to deposit the money
Get to the post office for stamps to pay the bills with the money I just put in the bank
Get back home to straighten up so the dogsitters don't think that we're complete and total SLOBS
Get the last load of laundry dry and our stuff packed up and the dogs petted.
Get the kids from school and head on down the road.
Someplace in there I need to also get gas.
I can do this, but part of me wishes I didn't say I would. Part of me wishes that I had simply hunkered down here and made a holiday with just the family that's here. We could watch the parades and crack walnuts and bake a small turkey or have pizza or do whatever we wanted to do, for 4 glorious days. However, I have indeed made arrangements and therefore there is family to see and friends to visit and fellowship to be had, which in the end makes all the "getting to" mentioned above worth the effort and craziness.
Did someone ask for a story boys and girls? Ah, I thought so. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I hereby offer a snippet of life in Accent 2.....
I think I was about 7 or 8 this particular Thanksgiving. As we usually did, we piled in the car on Thanksgiving morning and drove back to accent 1-land, where most of our relatives lived. We three kids sat in the back seat, the unfortunate shortest one with their feet on "the hump" trying to be comfortable without actually touching the sibling on either side of them. On a good day the trip would take about 4 hours, which felt very long indeed if you were the "humpee."
On this particular day, the 4-hour drive turned into 3.5 hours of clear sailing and and additional several hours of nearly motionless aggravation on the expressway, listening to the fury crackle off my Dad and waiting to see whose bladder would explode first. (My bet was always on Mom.) Because there wasn't much else to do I memorized the interior of several apartments to which I was being afforded a nice LONG look, took a nap for about an hour, and woke up to find we still hadn't moved very far at all. Dad was really starting to stew, muttering under his breath, and Mom was trying to calm him by saying things meant to be soothing bu were, in reality, having very little effect. (My Dad was normally an extraordinarily nice and affable man, but not in traffic; it pissed him off right smartish to have to sit and wait for anything.)
On and on the suffering went, our Rambler inching along the bleak concrete strip of highway that snaked between sad gray looming buildings, seeping ever so slowly past small shabby city houses, barely moving forward toward Thanksgiving. We were adrift in the sea of humans who were all trying to be someplace else, and getting really steamed by the effort.
Please remember that this occurred in the days before cell phones, before instant and easy access to people who might be waiting and worrying about you. We couldn't pull off the road to make a call because we couldn't GET to an exit; there was no way for our relatives to know where we were. There was no way for them to know if we were OK or if we were bleeding on the side of the highway somewhere, a sad story to be told on the evening news.
At loooong last, well after the sun went down, we were upon our exit and finally able to break free of the glutinous cloying mass of traffic and enjoy the heady sensation of actual movement. Our joy was boundless! A mere 5 hours after we were supposed to arrive, we finally pulled into the driveway of my Aunt's house. We unfolded our stiff legs and unkinked our backs, rubbed the last of the sleep and aggravation from our faces and trekked up the back steps, where, supposedly, our anxiously awaiting family were nervously pacing about, terrified that something awful had happened to us. Our knock on the door was greeted by the sound of pounding footsteps, the sweet sight of the door opening brought with it my Aunt's voice saying
"Well, you're FINALLY here. What the hell TOOK you so long?"
My mother SPUN on her heels, pushed us all down the steps, and loudly said "let's go home."
The only things that truly kept us from leaving was our desire to see our cousins, and the thought that getting back into that car was too awful to dwell on.
Happy Thanksgiving y'all, no matter how you choose to observe it.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
"Monday Monday, (la laa, la la la laaa) so good to me, (la laa la la la laa) Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be-he-heeeeee Oh Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guaranteeeeeeeeeeeee that Monday evening you would still (pause) be here with me."
Which, by the way, was in "The Big Chill," the movie that (in my opinion) really started the whole "movie soundtrack" thing. The film had 38 songs in the soundtrack (just looked that up) and all of them are ones that people my age and older would recognize and probably like.
So why didn't my head pick another song from that movie to play today? Why didn't it choose "Whiter Shade of Pale" or "Heard It Through the Grapevine" or "Bad Moon Rising" to throw on the mental loop?
Because it's SUNday. Therefore it GOES with the song. And, let's face it, nobody really knows the words to Bad Moon Rising, do they?
When I worked in a a science lab I'd throw out a line or two of my brain tune to torture my labmates, because I thought sharing the song would help me "get rid of it." Pretty soon they'd all be humming "If I Only Had a Brain" right along with me (because at the time that was the #1 choice in the cerebral jukebox). It amused me to then hear it peppered around during the day, people not knowing they were humming it while doing tissue culture or running a reaction or whatever. Seemed hilarious to me that while we were all manipulating very expensive equipement and reagents in the search for some bit of data that might help cure disease we were running that particular tune 'round and 'round and 'round. The ultimate was to get someone from another lab "infected" with it to see how far it would spread. Hopeless geekdom RULES! One labmate caught on to the dirty musical dealings and would shoot one of HER ganglial jingles back at me, at which time a skirmish of melodies would occur with the victoriously annoying song superceding the other. Good times, good times.
Anyway (Hi LJS!), back to songs of preference and how they do NOT appear to be amenable to mental rumination.....why? Why can't I playback "It's a Dead Man's Party" over and over if I want to? Why can't my brain take "She Blinded me with Science" and run it through a loop so I can jive my way through the day with Mr Thomas Dolby? Why is it that "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" tends to take over, or that the "Raindrops on Roses" song bullies its way through my preferred internal soundtrack? Is this my inner gay guy manifesting itself (BOLD and BROAD generalization...I know not ALL gay men like show tunes)? Is my inability to stay focused making itself evident? (look! a bird!) Orrrrr, could it be because, when I was a kid, these were the songs that my parents played while we were eating dinner and are therefore engrained in my very longest-term memories, thereby being preferentially thrust out into the conscious mind when I need some mental repetition as distraction?
Boy, if that last one is true, thanks for that, Mom and Dad.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
But first, before I imagine myself as a writer, I'd have to get over my vision. See, I have this VISION stuck in my brain that writers are cooler than me, or different from me, or smarter than me, or braver than me. I have this idea that one has to KNOW about being a writer to be one. One has to identify with the legions of authors or jotters or scribblers who went before, to find some common bond with them in order to truly call oneself a (struggling/adept/crappy/successful) writer. I do not. I don't. I don't identify, I just don't. I simply like to read good writing and write what I can as therapy for the remaining nimble bits of my brain.
But not four days in a row, apparently.
Now for a piece of history, which may indicate to you just how thick I really am, and how the signs and portents heaved in my general direction are generally NOT recognized for what they are. Throughout my life, if they HAD been, how different my life might be right now......
Example 1 (and there will be only one this time around) - I was a "first year senior" in college, I think, when I took honors English. Mind you, I didn't HAVE to take honors english, I did it because I liked all the stuff associated with the courses of studying english. I liked the words, and the different genres, I liked learning about poetry and prose and plays, I liked the smell of paper and liked hearing the scrape of pencils in blue books at exam time.
This was a discussion class, in which we had to express our opinions about what we'd been assigned to read, and then use the reading examples to craft some of our own work. During most of the semester I had been rather quiet, because the class was full of English Majors (the vaunted WRITER) and I thought they must know a lot more about our material than I did, because I was a science major with a music minor. English wasn't really my realm, it was just something I enjoyed, you know. So, with all my quiet and whatnot my instructor must have been forming some opinions about me (as, perhaps, the "moron who sits in the back and doesn't speak but does very well indeed on the tests"), until I realized, almost too late, that these people didn't know MORE about english than I did, they were just spouting off a boatload of crap to impress the instructor and whatever cute member of the opposite sex they hadn't slept with yet.
There was one guy in particular that chapped my ass. He wore the writerly shreds of clothing I'm sure he imagined the garret-dwelling author must wear (shiny corduroys! baggy sweaters! no deodorant!), he was working on a head full of white-boy dreadlocks, and he couched everything in terms of the philosophies of his teachers at the writing camps he had attended. I got ticked at him because of those affectations and because all the girls in class, which was about 90% of us, wanted in his shiny cords and so breathed warm sighs of approbation whenever he spoke. This mass female adoration seemed to irritate our (female) instructor, so I started to take the opposite side of ANYTHING this guy said just to piss him off, just to dig under his skin a little and find the vulnerable soft spot in his fakey writer's persona. Oh, it pissed him off, but how. Turns out he was a much poorer debater than I was, and once out of the comfortable realm of his english camp teachers he floundered in a pool of his non-ideas and poorly organized personal opinions. I was besting him at every turn, in a very polite and sinister way. I cannot tell you how good this made me feel....... (yes, I'm that evil)
Presently, the semester came to an end, at which time the FINAL EXAM was to be completed. To my memory, the FINAL EXAM was one question only, something about writing a whole bunch of stuff that required thought and organization into numerous blue books ("come with 4, and bring 2 sharp #2 pencils. You will have 2 hours to take the exam; after 2 hours you must stop and turn in whatever you have. If you finish before the 2 hours elapse, you may leave the exam room."). And, somehow, the one question spoke to me - I went on a roll, a tumble of words spilled out, a rush of ideas was transcribed into 3 blue books in 1 hour and 35 minutes and then nervously placed, wrapped in a rubber band, on the instructor's desk.
My final meeting with the instructor was a week later, which was a week of trying to ignore caring about my results (I'm a SCIENCE major, this class doesn't mean a THING!) and then caring so much my stomach hurt. At this meeting the instructor told me that if I had participated the whole semester the way I did the last 6 weeks I would have gotten a slightly better grade than what I had been given, but that nothing could have helped my final exam. (GULP!) Because it was perfect. She said she tried and tried to find something wrong with it, but couldn't. Not organization, not thought or theme, not spelling or grammar, nothing. It got an A+, the first one she'd ever given out. And then she said "you're not an English major, are you?" to which I had to reply "no." She said "too bad, you should be, you did better than any of them did and show real promise."
How much more CLEAR did it need to be, people?
Nevertheless, I didn't experience a life-changing event, I didn't switch majors (again!), I just said "thanks" and walked out smiling. But you know, if I ever need a boost, all I have to do is think of that A+ ; somehow it makes me very happy.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
It was a summer Saturday afternoon and I was 9. Nothing had happened much all day except for Mom waiting for me to clean my room; it's my "responsibility," which to me means torture, drudgery, and the hated task of dusting all 42 dolls on my display shelf. I don't play with dolls, which makes it worse. Well, OK, I do play with "Peaches," but she's the only one, and to my mind she deserves to be played with because she's got bright blond hair and a cotton pintuck shift that ends in ruching and lace. She's the only girly thing I've ever wanted to take care of.
Anyway, it's hot, and sticky, and, even though I don't yet know the word, it's oppressive. The flies that somehow get into the kitchen of our house between the hills don't seem to have the energy to be annoying - they just fatly buzz and slap against the windows, trying to get back home. The sun, the unexpected sun, beats down, causing us all to squint and to fidget with the warmth that penetrates our skin and bones. In our part of the land, we see the sun only a few scattered days a year, and most of those are in winter, when we know how to dress and how to play and how to make the hot cocoa that sends the shiver of heat through our numbed fingers and toes.
On this day, though, the sun cooks up a cloud or two over the eastern hillside, an then a few chubby hangers-on are dropped in the pot. A smell of hay rises up from the baked earth as more and more frowning fellows join a darkening procession, and my Mother says "Let's go watch the rain come down."
She gathers umbrellas and blankets and piles us all out onto the concrete front porch that stretches the length of the house. Much to my surprise we leave the front door open and sit on the doorsill or the black bench where we usually wait for the bus. Today though we're waiting for the clouds to overtake our house and for them to put us on a show. My Mother, apparently, loves rainstorms.
Because Nature does not want to disappoint a good audience, bloated banks of turbulent thunderheads overtake our oddly unnerving blue sky, a distant rumble of thunder causes us to jump, and the smell of rain pricks at our noses. A splat of black appears on the driveway, a splash of wet shocks on the walk, the drops gather, then shimmer, then thickly paint our view with a darker shade of real. A breeze bellows out our sweaty hair, another blast of thunder electrifies our spines, and the storm is off and running!
Lightning! Thunder! Crashes and rumbles! Frizzles of electric energy sizzle in our eyes and noses! A neighbor races home in his Mustang convertible, trying to beat the worst of the wet; a couple of kids tear down the street trying to dodge the drops like superheros. My mom smiles and sits back on the bench. She's happy; it's cooler now, she can ride the wind. I thrill softly as I sit with her, the wind whipping our hair, the rain falling, and the thunder bellowing across the far mountains until all that remains of the snarling soaking racing behemoth is a gentle patter of soft round raindrops and the rush of the storms drains busily working.
The storm then fizzles out and eventually ends, but somehow I'm not the same. I’m not the same because I know part of the wild secret that lives in her; the secret of my mother who loves the rain.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
There's something to be said about someone who can read you like a book and makes you answer questions about youself you'd rather not.
There's something to be said about someone who will share with you their answers to those very same questions, even though they might not want to.
There's something to be said about someone who will stay up with you wayyyyy too late because you ask them to because you don't see them often enough and want to make the most of the time you have.
There's something to be said about someone who makes you think you're young again, and interesting, and funny, and OK.
There's something to be said about someone who laughs with you, praises your children, doesn't ask for lavish entertainment, looks you in the eye when they talk with you, and has a firm grip on their own reality so you can get a grasp on yours, if only for a minute.
There's something to be said, and that something is "thanks."
Thanks for everything. Let's do it again soon.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I'm NOT kidding. It's life or death out there. It's a place in which the most junior exec can vent her frustrations over a bad morning or afternoon by ignoring all rules and taking on all comers who might cross her path, a place in which the Senior VP just might drive a crappy car and if he cuts you off you'd better NOT flip him off in retribution because he's got your tag number baby and can make your life very miserable in the future. Everybody must be treated fairly if you want to survive that concrete jungle.
Everyone except for crappy drivers. Fair and mature treatment of this portion of the driving population is stilted because a good number of them simply do not know how to drive. You've all seen them, those swivel-necked chuckleheads who are are stymied and mystified by things like turn signals and maintaining a constant speed and gentle braking. In the parking lot they will cruise at 5 miles per hour, making you, who normally zips up and down looking for a place to park that isn't too crowded because you're not all that comfy with the idea of swinging into a slim space between 2 cars that are worth more than double your car's top dollar value, have to grit your teeth with impatience and aggravation and the clear notion that you are superior in so many ways to this DOLT in the car in FRONT of you. Periodically, they will slam on brakes when a butterfly sneezes because that could mean that someone somewhere is starting their car and just might be actually pulling out and the unbelievably AWESOME space about to be vacated might be right in FRONT of them and they'd better just sit tight and wait to see it if it is, while a line of smoulderingly angry people behind them pound their steering wheels and shout in wretched irritation and righteous parking deck anger. What's worse, when the subpar driver in questions DOES find a spot in which to park, it will take them several tries to sqeeeeeze into the space they've spent 10 minutes waiting for, and then as a final coup de grace will open their door too swiftly and smash it into the car next to them. They will then fail to take notice of the dent they've just generated in the neighboring car and will busily gather their coffee cup, lunch bag, and overstuffed briefcase in an effort to perform the literal modern-day equivalent of staring heavenward and whistling nochalantly when trying to avoid the accusatory eyes of their fellow men and women who happen to have seen ALL the backward behavior and poor citizenship, and are shooting death rays out their eyes and hoping that maybe someday soon Mr/Miss bad driver will have just a teeny heart attack and have to stay on bed rest for several weeks before resuming any driving duties so as to give the rest of us a break.
It was my very first real paying corporate job that taught me to watch out like a hawk for other drivers in parking lots, because they're distracted by their nervous search for just the right spot in a vast cavern of available spots, or they're just naturally really crappy drivers with no depth perception and very poor low-light vision. Or, they think they actually might OWN the lot because they've worked at company X longer than you, which is how my first new car was totaled......
Which is a story! It goes like this -
It happened one lunch time several months after starting my new "professional" job as a REAL scientist, and I was driving out to lunch with some friends through a very large open lot arranged in a grid pattern and with no indicators as to who had the right of way. I was headed out toward the access road in my little foreign car, when out of the BLUE appeared this enormous American-made land yacht headed right into the passenger's side of my car! There was NOT time to stop, and smash!!! We were hit! Glass flew, heads smacked against windows, I swore a blue streak and checked on my friends. I was gratified to see that all of them were, eventually, able to tell me their names and didn't seem to be bleeding from the nose or ears. The surreal part came next, when the woman who hit us (going at LEAST 30 miles an hour, in the parking lot!) leapt from her car and commenced to cursing at ME because "she had the right of way!" To which I, because my head was still spinning, calmly replied by asking her to point out the traffic signals or signs that would indicate that she did, indeed, own the road as she so fervently believed she did. This query resulted in the reply of - "well, this is how the traffic went until they closed the entrance down there."
Yes, she believed she had the right of way because she was following the age-old lunchtime migration pattern of corporate workers. One that was SECRET and UNMARKED and I should have known about! What cheek to assume otherwise! What umbrage she took at my questions!
Well, according to protocol the corporate functionaries were alerted about my unfortunate incident, and the day AFTER my accident, which totalled my new car and left me with $4000 to pay on a loan for a car that no longer existed, actual STOP signs appeared in the lot and the migration pattern became UNSECRET and MARKED. Stop signs that, if they'd been there the day before, would have clearly indicated that the ancient lunchtime migratory pattern had changed, and I was right, and she was wrong. Wrong! I joyfully gloated in this knowledge while nursing whiplash and calling my other 3 friends who were in various stages of disrepair from the same unhappy incident.
Small victory, and serious lesson learned. Watch your back out there; it's dangerous in the lot.
Friday, November 11, 2005
But first, some background, because I'm all about setting the scene, it appears.
I think it's fair to say that I used to live on a large piece of property. For those of y'all in the Western reaches of this great country of ours, you will likely laugh and scoff and feel superior to me when I mention that the "large piece of property" in question is some 13 acres in New England. However, you scoffing, better-than-me, western ranchers, hold your tongues for a moment, because this 13 acres came with COMPLETE and TOTAL privacy. Like, the kids could stand in the yard and whizz with nobody around for hundreds of feet on any side to peep them, there were things called TREES surrounding us (foreign concept to lots of people from west of the Mississippi, I know), our driveway was something like 800 feet long, and the hillside that sprung up on the other side of the creek on one side of the property cemented our status as visibility hermits. I'd like to see THAT happen in the wild west, I would!
Anyhow, and to get to the point, that piece of land and the one we owned before it (4.5 acres with only 2 houses visible and a hill out back that blocked any "rear view" of our house) had given rise to offspring who have no real clue how to behave in a neighborhood. Their mother often feels the same way, to tell the truth. To wit:
Exhibit A - In the house in which we now live, there is a big' ol tulip tree in the backyard that sports its very own tire swing. This was a big selling point for me, because I could imagine long summer evenings watching my adorable children swing high in the tree, kicking the low branches with their feet and getting dizzy by tipping backwards on the upswing. In my mind that scene always took place close to sunset and the kids were slightly tanned and quietly reverent in the golden glow of a perfect afternoon. So imagine my shock when I realized that the actual-factual method of play for these 2 fine young men, lights of my life, fruits of my womb, would be to 1) fight over who gets to swing first, 2) fight LOUDER over who gets to swing first and maybe do a little shoving, and 3) begin screaming at one another in throat-ripping shrieks generally heard only on a battlefield in the midst of a mortar attack about how I GET TO SWING FIRST, YOU BIG STUPID! I HATE YOU! YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!!!!! which causes me to shoot out of the chair/bathroom/wherever and race to the kitchen window to yell at them to pipe down because do they want the neighbors to think they're a bunch of ill-raised heathens who have NO FREAKING MANNERS AT ALL?!?!? at which point it occurs to me that I'm perhaps a little short on the decorum and gentility and respect for others when it comes to tightening up on my kids. I can just imagine what the folks next door, who I've never seen, must think about me and the two wild children that live here. I hope I never have to meet them face-to-face.
Exhibit B) I'm not sure about how visiting is supposed to be done in a place where kids can just run over to another kid's house to hang out. Fer instance, this morning. Kinda early this morning, truth be told, which for us is anytime before 11 a.m. on a weekend morning (today included), because we need time to wake up, adjust to being awake, think about what to do today, eat, and process the fact that we are awake. It takes a while. We're an afternoon-type activity family, not an early morning hockey-type family, the type who I understand get up at godless hours to make it to the ice rink at the crack of dawn to race around with sticks in their hands and sharp metal blades on their feet. Afternoons are good for us; mornings are our "let it all hang out" times, and based on our history of hermeticism (see above) we don't expect people to come a'knockin on our door at ANY time of day without considerable advance warning.
Welllllllll, today I may just have learned a lesson about life in the suburbs. A hard lesson. A lesson that will teach me but good to pick up my house on a regular basis and not wait until the weekend or until somebody's EXPECTED to come over. A lesson that will teach me to wash the pots and pans every day rather than letting them do a soak-in-the-sink-for-a-day-or-two thing. A lesson that will teach me to take a shower first thing on arising so that my almost-ponytail won't have slightly greasy sidewalls and an overall frazzled "look." A lesson that will teach me to ensure my children are FULLY DRESSED at all times of day so that they don't have to make a MAD DASH to their room to get dressed when the knock on the door turns out to be a kid up the street and his Mom and younger sister who want to know if they can come over to hang out because the son had talked to my older child about getting together over the weekend and apparently today, this morning, was the time to git 'er done. See, right then I had not yet LEARNED the lessons mentioned above, which caused me no end of Wisteria Lane-type consternation at the condition of my apparent life. My inner Martha died a little when she realized that there was a jigsaw puzzle and dog hair all over the floor, that one of the kids didn't have pants on, that there were pots in the sink and breakfast makins still on the counter, that the floor hadn't been vacuumed for several days, and that I hadn't really looked all that carefully at my appearance that morning, if indeed I had looked at all. I felt like all I needed to complete my red-neckiness was a cigarette and a 'vette on blocks in the front yard.
There is indeed a lot to learn about this strange place called suburbia. Fortunately, I'm a quick study. Now, y'all have to excuse me, because it's time to go shut all the blinds and lock all the doors, and lesson 1 will be complete!
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Allow me to begin by saying that one thing one wants to avoid in life is pain. And agony. Well, that's 2, but I think of agony as pain's big sister, so they're related and therefore only one real thing.
Thus far in life I've been able to generally avoid pain and agony by not HURTING myself. Sadly, this streak seems to be coming to an end as I get older, and, by extension, less able to withstand injury from physical insult. Now, for all y'all younger than me (and that's MOST of you), these physical insults do not means things like falling off your mountain bike into a pile of sharp sticks and rocks while hurtling down an actual mountainside (did that at 25, hurt), or breaking your finger playing volleyball (did that at 20, also hurt), or dislocating your kneecap so that it twists all the way around to the back of your leg (did that at 17, passed out from the pain). Noooo, "physical insult" for us'ns over 40 can mean something like falling off one of your new clogs, or having just the eeeensy-weeensiest bit too much to drink, or, like today, getting out of bed the wrong way.
Yes, you heard it. I got out of bed the wrong way and now I'm staring both ugly sisters of discomfort right in the face. When I breathe it hurts, when I move it hurts, when I try to stand it hurts, when I lean over in my office chair "just so" it hurts, and walking is a laff riot because after I take 3 minutes to get up out of my chair I shuffle along very gingerly with my hips canted oddly and my shoulders skewed to counterbalance the hip thing and I can't swing my arms because that would hurt more. I look like a flippin' corporate zombie (braiiins!) with a slight sunburn and non-rotted clothing. I'm making zombie sounds just SITTING here (groaning, and not the good kind), and can't wait to experience taking care of 2 kids and 2 dogs tonight with the whole shuffling/groaning/spasming thing happening. Looks like a frozen pizza night, and that's just to put behind my BACK!
Ow. there's another sharp sting. Dammit.
So, that covers the pain and agony thing pretty nicely for now. Let's move on with the dog bit, shall we? Yes, I think so too. Here goes:
Backgrounding here - 2 dogs live at our house with us. One is an extraordinarily spastic Australian Shepherd and the other is a laid back hound-ish dude with a very deep voice. In the mornings, it's the kids' job to walk the doggies before we leave for school. This they do while I finish getting dressed and getting ready for work.
The story goes this way - The kids were out walking the dogs before school while I was finishing getting ready for work (because, see? I just told you that's what happens) and apparently there was a stray dog that was running around the neighborhood. Because our dogs are freaks of nature and can't control themselves around other dogs they think "wooo! New friend!! Let's go meet it!!! NOW!" and took off after him like a shot, the hound dragging the younger child (all 105 pounds of him) to the ground, and the other dog so frantic to get to the action that it slipped its "gentle leader" thingie.
I was not witness to the events, mind you; I was in the bathroom combing my hair and brushing my teeth (yes, at the same time) when I heard a horrendous commotion of "MAAAAAAAHHHHM! COME HERE!" in the kind of scream that makes you think someone has lost a limb or been squashed by a passing teenager-driven car with the glas-pac mufflers rumbling menacingly and the music blasting loudly, creating a cocoon of noise that would drown out a child's screams as they were drawn beneath the custom wheels..... I live across from a high school, I know these cars exist, and am slightly awed and frightened by them.
So, in response to the screaming and conniptions that were happening outside I run out the door, toothbrush in hand, and see the dogs tearing after this poor little black lab youngster (playing, but you know) in the high school parking lot, and I started shouting in my very best fishwife voice "Hey! Dogs! Get back here! Get back here right NOW!!!!" while the kids were crying and the teenagers on their way to school were wonderng just what on earth was happening across the street, and the campus security dude was driving over to where we were running to lend a hand in whatever excitement might right this minute be occurring. THINGS were happening! Excitment!
Luckily, there was a high school kid near the ass-tearing herd of canines, and the little black doggie raced under his (parked) car which meant that MY dogs followed it right up to the kid, and once I hoofed it over there I asked the teenage boy very nicely to please grab our dogs while the concerned campus security man helped out too. I'm sure they both complied so readily because, really, who would argue with a middle-aged lady with half-combed hair and no shoes who also happens to be wielding a toothbrush?
Bottom line = dogs went BACK inside after their romp, the kids and I beat a hasty path to the car to get them to school, and the heavens lay a golden path for us because we were NOT late, we BEAT the bell by a MINUTE and therefore they weren't TARDY after all, and I felt very good about it indeed.
It's the little things, really, that please me most.
Monday, November 07, 2005
If the universe started from something, then of course it has to end at something. Really, when you think about it, there must be a point in our universe at which you can't reasonably expect to find any more particles, or mesons, bosons, quarkes, semiquavers, or dreams, right? Something has to end what started, or it doesn't make any sense at all. I remember thinking about this (though not, perhaps in those terms) when I was in 3rd grade, while staring at the striped gold-and white wallpaper in the front hall of our house. Freaked myself right out, because if what I thought was true was indeed true then I was an impossibly small speck on an otherwise invisible planet in a vast reach of black cosmos full of other beings who didn't know I existed and the thought of who else was out there boggled my mind for weeks. I couldn't get over it.......it was as though I had discovered life itself and was tremendously scared of its possibilities.
I wondered about how other people saw me. Did I look the same to them as I did to me? How could I, I thought, because I could only look at a 2-D mirror image of me and they saw the real 3-D one? Did they notice a combination of features or the whole face and persona? Did they see me as I did? Which would be weird, because sometimes, just sometimes, when I looked at myself I didn't really see ME there. I was a face without a family, a set of features with no identity, a person I didn't really know. You know, maybe if you tried long enough you could do it too - look at yourself in a mirror and let your mind run free until you don't see "you" anymore, but a stranger. THEN, start to wonder about this stranger you see, and if you like them or not. I was 8 when I started doing this.
I wondered what happened to people after they died, and where they were before they were born. I wondered where they came from, and who they were before they became "them." It didn't seem possible to me that just skin and bones could be the real person; to me it was insupportable logic to say that a person is born who they are entirely because of their genetics, because how do yout then explain kids who like baseball over kick-the-can, and kids who would rather run in the woods than play tea-party? SOMETHING had to be afoot there, I thought, but still have no idea what. This I wondered when I was 9 or 10.
I also wondered what made my heart beat, and why I had fingerprints, and what wind was made of, and if you stood in a sunbeam long enough would you be able to fly, and when was I going to get that pony I wanted. I wondered if my bike could feel pain, and if a piano was happy when you played it, and if flies had language.
When we went on car trips, I wondered "who are all those people" in the houses we drove past---who were they in their houses on the hillsides or clustered in towns or shrugged into city blocks, all breathing and loving and eating and living with their names and lives and families that I didn't know. Who were they? What did they like? Were they watching TV or fighting or acting out a play or sleeping or wondering about someone like me? Why did they live where they did? Why did they choose that hillside, all damp with autumn rain and green like the bottom of a bottle, or that city block so crowded with people and diesel fumes and life, or that farm so far from everyone with the great meadow in which I was certain their children ran? Who were their parents, and where did they think their future was telling them to go? These things I had wondered ever since I can remember, and still, on a long ride, I imagine myself riding a great huge horse beside the car like I did when I was little, jumping over power lines and rivers, peeping into people's houses when their windows let me.
And I smile, because I know then that I never really ever grew up. Not all the way.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
When we moved to accent 3 territory, my folks made sure to move us into a place with a good school system and lots of opportunities - one of which was the music program. My brother was a gifted musician and Mom and Dad wanted to ensure he would be able to continue playing in a challenging and successful program. I had started playing and didn't suck, and was in chorus to boot, so the program would be good for me too.
Over time I'd had to choose between band and theater, or band and tennis, or band and basketball, or band and chorus, and I always, always, always chose band. See, it's something people don't understand, and is hard to explain, this being with the band and knowing it's the best thing ever because the band is filled with kids who are creative and smart and funny and loud and exuberant and fun. At my school chorus was filled with preeners and prima donnas, the jocks were full-throttle self-absorbed idiots, the cheerleaders don't even deserve mention here because of their elitist and snotty approach to life, the smoking lounge kids were OK but were mostly grits and stoners who hated even being at school, and so that left the kids in band to hang out with. Because of course I didn't really want to hang out with kids who did NOTHING all day - though I had a couple of friends like that and all they were interested in were boys, clothes, and pop music, for which I had little patience and even less interest or talent. Band was made up largely of kids who were like me, and we had a group method of expression that nobody else in any of those other groups could.
So, anyway, band was important, and taught me lots more than just how to trill or what a fermata is or how to sight-transpose Mozart (though that was orchestra, really). For instance, that time at band camp my freshman year in high school.....
We had band camp out in the mountains of West Virginia at an older resort that had a big central building and several 2-story, 4-6-bedroom cabins. We had meals in the main building and ate voraciously at long tables, we sweated under the hot sun during the day with our music and marching ("ankle to knee means ankle to knee! Get 'em up there!"), we took naps in the afternoon when it was just too hot to do anything else, and we noticed one another all day long. At night, after practicing all day, we would go to the dances in the main hall when there was one, or hang out on the porches of the cabins, or wander around being a teenager. You know how it is, when just being outside without adults is a thrill, and everyone around you is keen to do the same and is experimenting with their adult personna and trying to be cool (and failing, for the most part).
One of those nights, after the wandering and/or dancing and/or further practice was over, a bunch of us freshman girls were on the front porch of our cabin, waiting for it to cool off enough so we could go upstairs to our HOT room to sleep. We had really bonded that week, and I'm sure were sharing some deep dark secret or debating the nature of the universe, because we were pretty engrossed in our talk, there in the hot summer night, flicking mosquitos off our arms and smelling of sunscreen and Love's Baby Fresh.
And then, out of the darkness came a terrible yell, the war-whooping of a half-dozen young men (my brother and his friends) who were charging down the street toward us, wildly waving their arms and shrieking. I remember looking at my friends, thinking "what the heck is wrong?" when it became very apparent that nothing was wrong at all, that those of us on the porch were actually the TARGET of the yelling and arm waving, and that whipped cream was involved and that we were being baptized into the band by a bunch of crazed 17-year-old boys and loving every.single.last.minute of it. Shrieking, screaming, laughing, we accepted the baptism, and I in particular because my friend's extremely HANDSOME older brother was concentrating quite a bit of energy on me, as was the actual DRUM MAJOR of the band, who was a senior and therefore all grown up. Wooo!
As fast as they came they were gone, laughing and running with the speed and grace of all young men, and we were left there on the porch in slightly dazed confusion and excitement. I had not the common sense to get up and run inside, like some of the girls did, and so had borne the brunt of the attack (gladly!) and was therefore almost unrecognizable under the generous coating of whipped cream that had been so energetically applied. Even though I looked a mess I felt a little more grown up, and the next day had quite the story to tell and some new ways to look at those junior-year boys.
You know - my brother still is in touch with a lot of those guys - I wonder if they remember that night, and if they know the service they provided to us young girls who they "creamed" so long ago?
Friday, November 04, 2005
the smell of a walk in the woods in October
Reese's peanut butter cups
did I mention naps?
working at home
the organ toccata by Widor
faces of sleeping children
Lots to like about this world, and so much to look forward to. Yes, I think I did just split an infinitive and end a sentence with a preposition, but I've been reading lately about the archaic rules of the English language and have decided to drop any pretence of pedenticism in order to embrace my inner ee cummings. To heck with rules! They're for suckers!
Except at work, where they're important, and everyone should know all the rules of using hyphens and when to use a comma or semicolon and the difference between "affect" and "effect" and "its" and "it's," because at work it MATTERS. At work, people can mock you behind your back for poorly written e-mails, and your future success may depend on how well you manipulate the language to your aims and goals, so that's fine and dandy. And restrictive, and unimaginative, and causes much extra work, and makes me want to rebel against da rulz, and so I shall.
But only here. And in e-mails to friends. But I'll still use spell check (well, most of the time) and will probably try to avoid splitting my infinitives and shredding sentences into partials and mis-uing the venerated semicolon.
Wow, I have a lot of work to do on this rebel thang.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
I'd had exactly 2 dates in my whole entire life up to the time I went to college; both turned out relatively badly. The first was to my Homecoming dance my freshman year, and will be the topic of a future post. Let's just say that when your date asks you 2 days later if you would mind if he went steady with another girl, it's not a date that you care to recall too often. The funny part was that the girl he asked to steady with was also a tall blonde with blue eyes, but was, undoubtedly, a better dancer than I was. The second date was after my senior year ended and was with a guy who was the older (college age! WOO!) brother of a classmate, and to this day I'm not sure why he asked me out. He didn't make the same mistake twice, shall we say.
I was completely nervous around "boys," didn't know what to do with them, had never really kissed one, and felt that any guy that wanted to go out with me must be either blind or addled or stupid. For this reason I was stunned when, during my freshman year of college at band camp, the tall nice-looking baritone sax player asked me out during a stairwell party and we went the the mixer in the basement and drank adulterated punch, then went up to the mountains and sucked face for a while. When he asked "now that I've got me a freshman, what am I supposed to do with her?", I suppose I should have come up with something more original than "what do you want to do with her?", because that way lay trouble in which I was not interested and I was soon dumped for the tall, blond (pattern, much?) trumpet player that "put out." OK, she WAS striking-looking, and for sure had a more, well, knowledgeable way with the boyz.
I still wasn't clued in about boys, guys, dudes, whatever, even with the vast experience or 2 dates and one short-term boyfriend. Almost all of them made me nervous. But the extra-special nerve-wracker was Sam. He was the very definition of tall, dark, and handsome, and he made my knees turn to water and my mouth go dry. He made me MORE confused than any other guy ever had, and he was unavoidable because not only was he in marching band too, but he was in my section and therefore marched close to me, sat close to me in practice, etc. etc. I didn't know what to do around him, couldn't look in his eyes for the way it made me feel inside. I WANTED him, and didn't know how to make that happen.
As fate would have it, there were a bunch of us who became friends, and soon we all spent time hanging out in the dorms eating bagels and playing backgammon and only SOME of us wanting to sink into the floor whenever Sam looked their way. My friends didn't seem affected by him; I couldn't see how that was possible.
Yes, I will get to the kissing bit, pretties, just be patient.
So, freshman year went by, and I dated a couple of other guys, and really REALLY kissed one and liked it. We kissed whole lot - on the quad, in the dorm lobby, in his room, in his loft....and didn't go any further than kissin' and gropin'. He was a fabulous kisser, and made my spine tingle every time he touched me. He had "IT," friends, and I dated him all through summer and we made plans to see one another come the start of school and take up where we left off.
But, before I could see Kissing Guy, sophomore year band camp arrived. With band camp came all my good friends and Sam. That year; however, I wasn't as afraid to be around him (thanks, Kissing Guy, for the confidence!), I could hold my own in conversation, and almost didn't really mind it when he sat next to me one night in my dorm room at the end of band camp week and drank rum and cokes with me and my suitemates while we listened to the 8-track blurrily beat out some 80's thrash music. I liked the thrill I got in the small of my back and the pit of my stomach from being near him, and the 3 drinks hadn't hurt either.
Then, after Sweet finished "Ballroom Blitz" for like the 8th time, Sam and I were somehow alone in the room. I felt like a signal had been passed and all those people that had been in the room just LEFT me all alone there with Sam, and my confidence immediately drained out though the base of my spine. Good God, I thought, why is he so CLOSE to me? Why is he LOOKING at me like that? Why is the door closed? And what did he just say? Did he just ask me to be his GIRLFRIEND?? Girlfriend?Me??
So, I cleverly say "I, I , I, I guess so, sure, Sam, that would be great."
And then, he says, "you know, when people agree to date they usually seal it with a kiss," and I say something savvy like "oh," and he leans in and presses his impossibly warm, soft, pliable, moustache-prickly lips against mine and my world goes black and I'm flying for a moment until I, with all the grace of a water buffalo, pull back and say "oh" again. He gets up and says "I guess I'd better go now," and I say "OK" (nice riff there, Tiff!), and he leaves.
I sit there, stunned, on the couch made of extra box springs, while my friends come pouring into my room asking "What happened? Why did he leave?" and I describe the whole thing. My friend (Hi BM!) says "and you let him GO????" with drips of incredulousness clotting the phrase and I answer "oh.....sure" through my tingling lips. This is not, apparently, acceptable to her (God bless her), and she calls Sam at his room and tells him to meet me at the railroad tracks that bisect campus. She tells me to get up, because I need to finish what I started, or some words to that effect. I'm not thinking very cleary, you understand.
As we near the tracks, I see him in his painter's pants and oxford shirt, posture straight and looking like he'd just stepped off the cover of a magazine. In the amber glow of a streetlight, he waits for me. I walk to him, escorted by my VERY supportive friend, and I think she says something like "now do it properly" and leaves us. Nothing more is said, but once our lips meet for the second time that night there is MUCH communicating going on as we explore the wonderful world of enraptured kissing (well, I was enraptured, anyway). I can't believe I'm kissing Sam, I can't believe he's kissing me, that he'd come back for me, that he WANTED to kiss me, that this is real and he is warm against me in the late August night, this handsome man with the perfect lips and liquid eyes and firm hands. Our hips touch, then press, our mouths explore one another and our hands go places that just a few hours ago would have seemed unthinkable. Every once in a while I open my eyes to look at him, so close I can't really focus, and then sigh back into the marvel that is "kissing Sam."
Still, to this day, I get a little tingle when I think about it.
That night made me realize that maybe I wasn't so bad after all. That maybe the guys who liked me weren't addled or stupid. That maybe there was something good about me, after all, and I wasn't an awkward bonehead loser loudmouth like I thought I was. Maybe, maybe not. But it was a start.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Guest title-ing by an old friend (you know who you are), and has nothing at all to do with this entry, because this isn't that kind of blog - we're keeping it clean for the kiddies here, y'all.
Up WAY too early this morning, and was surprised at how much I was able to get done before the ride to school/work. Amazing what 2 extra hours will do for ya, eh wot? Bills paid, field trip money doled out, musical instruments bargained for, papers discarded, dogs walked, children fed, me washed (AND styled) and we were still out the door minutes before we really needed to be. I feel like, well, I've actually accomplished something today, and am now promising to myself to do this every SINGLE day of the rest of my life, because it would be so MUCH better than living the way I do now, which resembles more of a scatter-shot flinging of epithets and adrenaline than a calm and orderly march toward daily responsibilities. This promise will last about as long as a bolt of lightning, but it makes me happy to think that I could, just maybe, get it together for 2 days in a row.
There are periods in which I can see the way my life could be if I just got my ACT together and focused on the here and now and the real and necessary, but I'm so very intrigued by the imagined life, the quest for a whole spirit, the plethora of time-wasting offerings on the web and the pull of conversation with other actual human beings that, all too frequently, I don't get things done when I should, or when more rational people would do them just to get them out of the way so they could go enjoy something else (whatever it might be) without the little niggly voice in their head saying "you don't deserve to do this (whatever it is) because you weren't proDUCtive enough toooodaaaaayyy!!" Couple this with the fact that I'm a world-class procrastinator (witness this blog), and you have the sure-fire recipe for a fine round of mind games.
But not today. Nope. Today I'm top of it all, in charge, juggling projects and answering e-mails and doing the telecon thang like a pro - making changes and flying by the (ample) seat of my pants. Must be the lima beans I ate last night super-charging my brain! Or chicken! But not candy! No! Candy is bad! Well, maybe just that one piece. But only one.
Or two. Need the energy to fuel this spanking new sense of resolve and fortitude what as I got brewing. But two is all.
Lastly, speaking of the accents thing (because we were, even if you didn't know it); I promise I'll get back to it. Let's just call this current-day stream-of-consciousness blogging "accent ultimate" and let it go at that, 'kay? All entries that have a historic bent to them will contain a numerical accent indicator so y'all will know I'm talking about something in my deeeep, daaaark, paaaaaaaast.
That is all.