Monday, February 22, 2010

Long winter

Yup, so here I am. Do you want to know what I've been up to for the past year? Yeah, me, too. Time just buzzes past. I have been in my apartment for two years now. Shocking! I still haven't had someone fix the kitchen faucet, which leaks, and I haven't bought radiator covers, or found the right rug to go beside my bed.

The apartment next door is on the market. When they were renovating it, the workmen pounded our common wall so hard that two bowls fell off a shelf in my kitchen and smashed on the floor into pieces. (Two bowls I'd painted at one of those "paint your own" pottery places; they were not very well-done, but still, they had a bit of homespun appeal.) I wish I had enough money to buy it and knock down the wall and have one big apartment. Although it would have been more reasonable to do that before the owner invested in renovating it. (The kitchen, for example, while much more new and modern than my own, is not my taste - cherry cabinets and stainless steel and granite-like counter tops - the same cookie cutter kitchen that has been in style for the past few years. Mine is cheap white countertops and tile floor, white appliances and white particle board cupboards, all functional but due for an upgrade. I want white painted cabinets with glass doors and... wait, where was I?)


Last year was a tough year. When I was here last, I was just coming back from a family funeral. We had two more (both within the same week), both similar to the first in that they weren't in my immediate circle but very close to people in my immediate circle. So I had practice in being on the periphery of grief - of feeling sadness that people I love were sad, more than feeling sad myself. If that makes sense. Like anything, it falls apart when I try to analyze it too much.

But there is the realization that next it will likely be my own parents, or my one remaining grandmother. I have had dreams in the past week where I am woken by my cell phone ringing, and it's someone random telling me horrible news - my step aunt telling me "she's dead, she's dead" and I know she means my mother and I just keep saying, "no" (and I think I wake myself up saying it, aloud, in my sleep) or my aunt telling me that my grandmother is gone. I think it's a result of all the other real losses, or maybe a trick of the winter blues. Or maybe a neighbor's cell is ringing while I sleep and my brain constructs a scenario around it.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I had this idea that I hadn't written here since December 2008, so had gone more than a year, but, no. It's still been a long time, and a lot has happened since - although, to be increasingly cryptic, a lot hasn't changed as well. My intention was to come here and shut this down, but I'm not sure I am ready to.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Misty water colored memories

Awake since 4. My insomnia had, I thought, improved. I guess I can't appreciate the good nights without some backsliding, right?

I'm in the middle of some amazing, yet somewhat disturbing, trips down memory lane. A long-lost friend found me on facebook (which I think is what it's best at) and started scanning and posting some old pictures of us from high school. Pictures in which I see myself, but have no recollection of myself in them. I think that as my memories fade over time, the ones that linger the longest are the ones where I have physical evidence - a photo or other memento. So when suddenly faced with photographic evidence of parties and events I don't remember, I'm somewhat lost. How could I not remember these moments? More importantly, how can I not remember these people?

Another friend has returned to live in the area we grew up in. (I have not lived there, nor had family there, since I was 17, which means my memories are more cut off than most of my peers.) She will sometimes bring up a name, a former classmate or teacher, and I'll admit I have no idea who she is talking about, and she'll give me all kinds of additional details meant to jog my memory, and I'll still be blank. I know, it's been many years, but why is it she can remember what I can't?

Two other members of our little "clique" have surfaced as well, and there is spirited discussion attached to almost every photo that's posted - remember that day? or that day? wasn't that fun? And I do remember some things. I have clear sensory memories of certain moments: a hike in the woods, a fit of giggling, a straw hat. But I don't remember knowing all of these people. Did I like you? Did I tolerate you? Did I have a crush on you? Did we ever share secrets, a back seat, a hug? Or was I always just the shy girl who let her two female friends lead the interactions with the boys while I hung back and watched? I think, maybe, the latter. But I don't know.

Now, one of the guys has invited the rest of us to a party at his house. It's only been a week (less?) since we reconnected, so it's a little overwhelming, but hopefully by the time it happens I'll have a better handle on what I can and can't remember. Or I'll walk into the room and see all their (older) faces and everything will click.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And, then

I guess just dropping in to say "I'm off to a funeral" is rude. It was for someone very close to people I'm very close to. I don't know, not much I want to say about it.

Meanwhile, just last week I workshopped a short story which centers on a funeral. I had scheduled a session with the instructor tonight to go over it, but postponed due to the real, actual funeral I was attending. I am back home in time to have made that appointment, but I know that I would not have had a really easy time talking about my story with the fresh memory of today's activities.

Self conscious

Why is it when I put on a black dress to go to a funeral, I feel like I'm wearing a costume, when it's the very same black dress I wear to work almost once a week?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When the pigeons wake

I left you with a cliffhanger of "Weeds" proportions. (Seriously, that show has the most infuriating season finales - and the most exciting first episodes. Invariably, the season premiere takes place minutes after the previous season's ender, which is fun, although it is a little jarring when one of the younger characters appears to age 10 months during what is, in the show's reality, a five minute break.) Anyway, the gas company showed up at 8:30 pm. In the pouring rain. Double-parked out front, with their emergency lights flashing in the dark. Which, naturally, caused one of my neighbors great concern.


Meanwhile... I am up early again for a client breakfast event. Listening to the birds and pigeons greeting the rising sun. Yes, I know, pigeons are birds. It's hard to think of them as anything but rats with wings though. Apparently, I am not the only person they have been driving mad here, as recently part of the alley outside my living room windows (a section which is walled in on all four sides by the two buildings) was topped with large black netting, which seems to be successful in keeping them out. The other section has an open end so it's not as easy to block, and it is here that they have now chosen to congregate. Someone tried wind chimes again, hanging from one of the wires that crosses the opening, but the six pigeons perched next to it as it sang out proved that ineffective.

Now I will often hear a very low, repetitive moaning, seemingly very close but not from a pigeon on any of my window sills. It's as annoying as snoring, yet more plaintive - more like an old man in pain. I need to record it sometime, so people understand how horrible it really is.

Too much brain time on pigeons.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Feeling a little gassy

Stuck in that unmatchable hell which is waiting for a service call from a utility company. I know that it's a miserable rainy day, but I still did not plan on being stuck inside all afternoon. It's the feeling of being trapped, of not being able to leave, even if I don't want to.

I didn't go to the volunteer event this morning but heard from a friend that nobody showed up. At least I'd emailed the organizer last night so he'd know I was not going to go if it meant standing in the drizzle coughing. Instead, I went to the gym, came home and showered, and began my six hour apartment lock down. Six hours! I don't think it should be legal to give out six hour windows.

My frustration led me to call and check, and the dispatcher confirmed I'm next after the next. Another 30 minutes or so. Which will mean I'll serve at least 5 of my 6 hour sentence.

Here's the rub: this is all because my gas meter is broken. It has been, since I moved in - oh, 16 months ago? About a year ago, the company noticed that my reading was always zero, and so called me to set up an appointment to send someone over to fix it. He came, he looked, he was puzzled, he looked again, he confirmed that it was reading "00000" despite the inescapable fact that I do, truly, have gas when I turn on burners of my stove. But he was - too lazy? not in the mood? - in any event, suggested that rather than his replacing it, I just monitor it for a few more months and then call again.


So a few weeks ago I get a voice message from the same company, and I dutifully call back. The service rep can't figure out why anyone called me. Nothing in my file. She has no idea. So I finally suggest that maybe it's the non-functioning gas meter. Well, that's not in my file, but she says she'll send someone out anyway to check it out.

And that brings us to today, waiting. Sigh.

Note that this is the very same company who insisted, last summer, that I'd overpaid my account by several hundred dollars, and the refund check that they'd sent me was truly, truly, mine, despite my insistence that I would certainly know if I'd mistakenly written a check in that large an amount. The service rep suggested I just cash it and not question it.


Decisions, decisions

One of those soggy gray mornings which are best survived by sleeping late. I am wavering between two obligations: 1) my company's annual volunteer day, for which I signed up to "beautify" a city park and 2) my health, which still is plagued by the last gasps of chest congestion. It's lightly raining. I should not be wandering around outdoors, but the event will not be canceled unless there is thunder and lightning. Sounds like an easy choice, but another part of me suspects I am magnifying my cough's lingering because I simply am not in the mood to go.

I must decide, though, within minutes.

It's a weekday, but one in which all work colleagues should be doing similar community activities, which means that it should be a quiet day. Little work is expected, so even if I stay here and fully indulge my laziness, I could, well, fully indulge.

Sometimes I have a really hard time making a decision. Usually it's something like this, where I know what the right thing to do is, and yet, know that I prefer the other. But, hey, do I really want to regress and be sick again?

If I don't go, I will instead go to the gym.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Home again, home again

This isn't the only thing I've ignored in the past few weeks. All of the familiar, comforting, (some even dull) routines fell by the wayside. (Where is the "wayside" anyway? Ahh, I am told by quick internet research that it's that strip of land along the edge of a path, road, or highway. So it seems to fall there is to join with the discarded and the lost.) For weeks I wasn't making it to the gym, or remembering to write things down in my calendar, or proactively grocery shopping. Or making my bed or keeping up with my food diary. Or playing Wii or watering my plants.

But, I was (here comes the feeble excuse), sick. Not once, but twice, which is twice as often as a typical year for me. I have to check the expiration dates on my cold medicine and pain relievers each time I use them. After the last post, returning from a trip upstate, I came down with a stomach bug that flattened me for nearly three days, days in which I "worked from home" by lying on the couch in a daze, watching bad TV, laptop propped open next to me in case an urgent email came in.

Back on my feet by the weekend, in time to clean the apartment and prep for a family visit the following week. Family here, lots of good times, but obviously routines shattered, and then a trip upstate to join them with the larger family.

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog. Alone, suddenly, in a quiet apartment, facing a return to work after a week off, and suddenly I am felled again by sickness. This time it's fever and chills, painfully sore throat and a hacking cough. Symptoms, nearly, of the infamous flu that stalks the news. (Later I will read that anyone who has had any flu-like symptoms in the past few weeks more than likely had the flu - I'm avoiding naming it by either its media-hungry name or its more clinical alternative, to keep idle searchers away - but at the time, I rebuffed any suggestion that it was more than just a minor bug.) Another three days "working from home" followed by a return to work still prone to coughing fits that frightened fellow subway riders and work colleagues alike.

And then, a trip, across the country, to join a friend and his friends in a "destination birthday" that I wasn't going to miss because of a persistent-yet-dwindling cough. Unexpected first-class upgrades, unwelcome online travel agency screw-ups (boycott the gnome!) and sandwiched in between, loads of fun. I had an entire day to myself, to wander around the city, exploring, eating, writing, shopping, and people-watching. On a previous visit to the same city, I'd been with relatives who were both a) interested in doing completely different things and b) extremely upset at the suggestion that we split up and not spend every moment together. Someday, I vowed, I'll come back here by myself and do whatever I want. If I want to sit on that bench and drink iced coffee and daydream, so be it. So, almost a decade later, I went back, and while it had the tinge of a "revenge" feel for the disappointments of the earlier visit, I still had a good time. I think in a way it was practice for going on a longer vacation alone - this time, I had get-togethers with my friend and his friends peppered throughout the weekend, so I was never completely bereft.

Home again, home again, and back to work, where I was slammed by everything that had built up over the vacations and the half-worked sick days. Buzz, buzz, cough, cough.

Yesterday, today, this weekend, I finally feel in control again. I made it to the gym without coughing up a lung. I did laundry, dropped off dry cleaning, paid bills, scrubbed the tub and shower. I even saw a movie! ("Star Trek" - an odd choice for someone who has never been a fan of the franchise - but I wound up liking it. I can't explain why, any more than I can explain why I chose that film vs. the French family drama playing at the same theater.)

And now I'm here. See?
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