Thursday, July 31, 2008

Should've Stayed In Bed...

I should have known it was going to be a bad day when I got up and the bathroom lights didn't work. The electricity was on, the lights just didn't work. And, they still don't, even after the electrician came to fix them.

At work, a person I genuinely LIKE and who has helped me enormously these past few months, gave her notice today. I briefly considered throwing myself off the bridge I walk over every day to and from work, but I didn't. I should be happy for her, and I will be, but right now I just want to selfishly sulk.

Then tonight, I got off the train and there was a sudden flash-flood downpour. Soaked, even with my umbrella.

Then I got home to find that ALL the electricity was out, but came back on shortly after I arrived. Now, I want chocolate in the worst possible way, but thankfully I'm too damned tired to go out and get any. I am so desperately in need of a lengthy sleep session...but it will be Sunday at best before that happens.

And then finally, I've yet again come to the conclusion that I'd rather be alone than be with someone uninteresting. Even if it means I'm the old lady with 12 cats.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Random Wednesday

1. I have "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel stuck in my head. Thank you, JP.
2. I learned today that "erstwhile" means "former", and not "of unique character". Ooops.
3. I also learned today that Chinese opera isn't just European opera sung in Chinese. It's very beautiful, but takes a minute for the Western ear to adjust.
4. I'm thinking about babies again. Some months ago I declared 37 to be a worry-free year, and that I would not spend this year fretting about my fertility. But lately I see pregnant women everywhere, and I feel like the universe is mocking me. If I didn't have to live on a nonprofit salary, I'd be at the sperm bank tomorrow...but as I'm not sure daycare centers take Visa, I'm really not able to financially do this on my own. And that's kind of a bummer, particularly for someone who's managed to figure out how to do most of the things she wants to do, all by herself. I had tentatively planned to have a baby and have my sister take care of it during the day, but now she's all up and moving to California so that plan got shot to pieces.
5. At last night's writing workshop we spent a good hour discussing obesity and compulsive eating. I cannot think of anything I needed less, except possibly heroin. Well, I guess one could argue that given my current physical state I DID need to hear people talk about the assumptions we make about the overweight...but honestly, it just made me want to eat cheeseburgers. Also, I'm really, really tired of people slipping comments in about Weight Watchers, as in "apropos of nothing, because we were just talking about taking guitar lessons, let me tell you about how easy Weight Watchers is...". To which I would like to reply, "yes indeed, counting food units is exactly what will cure years of emotional turmoil and substance abuse" (the substance being food). Who says to an alcoholic "I know, if you COUNT your drinks you won't get drunk!"?! Seriously.
6. Tonight on the train home, a woman collapsed and we had to wait for the paramedics to come. The train conductor said they had no idea what was wrong with her, but she just all of a sudden lost all feeling/movement in her limbs. Possibly an allergic reaction. Scary.
7. It's almost 10 pm and I've done nothing that I intended to do when I got home, except eat grapes and cheese.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mr. Darcy in Spandex?

Oh so wrong. So very, very wrong for Colin Firth to dance around in disco attire. Some people are meant to be typecast.

So I went to see the movie "Mamma Mia" this afternoon, after sleeping until 11 am. It was at once a flashback to the past and foreshadowing of the future. The past: Abba songs always remind me of fourth through sixth grade, going over to Courtney's house with Dawn and Alyson. The future: the theater was filled with little old ladies, many of them wearing much too much perfume. I sneezed through the half hour of previews (I'm not kidding, I timed it). It's not a bad movie, exactly; definitely campy, but I'm honestly not sure what was worse: the aforementioned Mr. Darcy or Pierce Brosnan channeling his inner Springsteen. Meryl Streep is really good, though, as is Amanda Seyfried (from "Big Love"). As I was leaving the theater, I walked behind a middle-aged couple who danced their way out - love that.

Movie review aside, I've been losing a fight with my printer, reading submissions from the folks in my writing workshop, working on another essay, and reading yet another book about the writing process...while chomping on Twizzlers and wishing it would quit raining.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


(edited slightly...)

I woke up with the Howie Day song "Collide" stuck in my head --

"I'm open, your closed
I'll follow, you'll go
I worry I won't see your face light up again
Even the best fall down sometimes
Even the wrong words seem to rhyme
Out of the doubt that fills your mind
I somehow find you and I collide"

I've been thinking these past days how some relationships are more like collisions - at once traumatic and transformative. I've also been thinking about the book "Eat Pray Love" (Elizabeth Gilbert), particularly the section where Richard from Texas discusses the concept of soul mates. Gilbert quotes Richard as saying:

"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake...they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave...[his] purpose was to shake you up...tear apart your you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life..."

And I think this is really at the root of how we can fiercely love people who infuriate us. And why it is so difficult to let people go out of our lives even when you can see it's time to do just that, because as far as they have pushed you forward, at a certain point they start holding you back. You literally are not the same person you were when s/he came into your life, and if you have returned the favor, neither is s/he.

But who wants to give up someone who both unwaveringly supports you and calls you on your crap? Someone who knows your buttons and will carefully, gently push them, instead of tiptoeing around subjects you'd much rather avoid? Someone who, as crazy as they make you, also makes you want to be a better, more authentic version of yourself? Someone who you love arguing with because you are so grateful for the push-back, so grateful that someone cares enough about you to find you annoying, melodramatic, and ridiculously immature - and say so (but who also never fails to tell you how great you are, either). As opposed to someone who shuts down, or is so afraid to lose the semblance of relationship that you have because they don't want to upset you, who doesn't want to deal with the dark stuff we all hold within us. Yeah, it's exhausting and terrible, but...where are we without it?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Isn't It Ironic

One of my errands today was to buy a new umbrella, since all of the ones I had have either disintegrated or disappeared. And, wouldn't you know, just as I pulled into the store's parking lot to go buy one, there was a colossal downpour.

Also a bit ironic - my new favorite Boston building. Ironic because I usually tend to like historic buildings and generally loathe modern/post modern architecture. But how I do dearly love the Intercontinental Hotel building, and how the sky and harbor get reflected in such a way that when the clouds are moving, it looks like the building is moving.

In other, less ironic news, I got to take my nephew to see "Get Smart" yesterday. The company was grand, the movie less so. The whole dynamic between Max and Agent 99 was twisted - granted, a much more feminist Agent 99 - but...just eh.

Today - listening to Idina Menzel, thinking about "brave", and wishing it was September and not so freaking hot out.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just Call Me Ms. Excitement

While I was waiting Tuesday night for my class to begin, I sat on a bench in the Common and knit. It is by no means the strangest thing that has been done there, and yet by the looks I got from people you'd have thought I was shooting heroin in broad daylight. Once again, I marveled at how small and quaint it all seems after NYC, where in fact shooting heroin in broad daylight isn't that strange at all.

At any rate, here is the sock I've been knitting on the train (I actually started its pair this evening) - an homage to the Yarn Harlot who always takes traveling sock photos:

Yep, I'm well on my way to being the old lady with 12 cats...but at least my feet will be warm!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I just emailed off an essay I've been working on since February to the people in my writing workshop, and I'm terrified. There are REAL writers participating in this program, and I have all of the usual fears about being "found out", that I'm not a "real" writer, and that they will laugh me out of the room. I have spent so much time on this essay it is ridiculous, and now I am just picking at it - a word here, a word needs fresh eyes, and in particular fresh eyes of complete strangers who won't just be nice to me. It's a narrative non-fiction piece, with the first half "showing" the story and the second half "telling" the back story. I am not sure if this structure works, and yet doing it any other way would ruin the surprises of the story.

I do hope they laugh at the funny parts, though.

In other news, Wilbert the Cat caught his first bird today, much to the chagrin of my sister who had to clean up the feathers. My nieces and nephew were horrified, with Grace saying "bad kitty" and "oh the poor little birdie". Wilbert is now grounded. Honestly, I thought the chipmunk that lives in the stone wall would be the first to go.

They finally have a moving day  and that has suddenly brought everything into focus. I've become so used to having them so close - and now they're headed to California. I'm happy for them in that I think it will be a wonderful experience, but I will miss the regular hugs and laughs. I get to go on a "date" with my nephew on Saturday to go see "Get Smart" - I am not sure this is entirely appropriate for an almost-10 year old, but my sister is allowing it. This is partly why I decided to take the writing class - pure distraction from the inevitable emptiness I'm going to feel shortly. Even if it does come equipped with a jacuzzi.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Where the Canadians Claim a Small Island for Their Own

I spent the weekend on an island with a jolly bunch of Mainers and Canadians (who endearingly posited every question with an "Eh?" and pronounce "about" as "a-boot"). I learned a number of things, such as:

1) White pants and three wet dogs = bad combination.
2) White pants and pine pitch = bad combination.
3) Me and ladder golf (aka "testicle tossing") = bad combination.
4) Where Ottawa is.
5) Loons mate for life.
6) What to do when you are in the middle of a lake in a boat and the boat runs out of gas.
7) How to remove half a dozen splinters from my own hand.
8) "Oh look, the moon's out!" is not a very subtle way to change the topic of conversation.
9) People you don't know can only take so much of hearing about your relationship troubles...
10) ...unless they are completely drunk, at which point they will share things they never would when sober.

We did not cover the metric system, so I am sorry to say I still have no idea what constitutes a kilometer. Maybe next year.

I was able to claim the bed on the porch at camp this year, which means I both fell asleep and woke up to the water lapping the shore and the loons chattering to themselves. Really, what's better than THAT? Then today I got to sit under a big pine tree and knit while catching up with A. and watching a sweet yellow lab run around excitedly with a big stick in her mouth. Despite the idyllic morning (oh, and pie for breakfast!), I left mid-morning to avoid the traffic. Since 295 South is shut down for construction, I drove through my old adopted hometown of Hallowell and down 201. Some things have changed - there is a spiffy new town landing, and it looks as though Slate's is back up and running. I briefly considered a cheeseburger at The Liberal Cup, but kept motoring. As it was, after running some errands in Portland, I didn't get back here until 5:30. I am currently procrastinating a vast number of things, ranging from cleaning up to paying bills to laundry, but I just want to take a shower and tuck in for the night. There is also some brooding to be discussed, but tomorrow is another day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bonfire of the Oddities

It's been a weird week. Tonight, for example: I went to Target and, as I was walking in, a balloon (as in, the great big kind people ride in) almost hit the side of the building. Then I came out of Target to find someone had dumped what appears to be lemon slush on my car. At least, that's what I HOPE it is...

Also out of the ordinary this week, I went to a Feist concert with H. I'm not really sure who Feist is, except she reminds me of a less angry Alanis. And I wound up sleeping at my sister's the next night, because it was too hot to sleep without air conditioning. (That's not really that strange, except that it disrupted my schedule a bit.) I also misinterpreted an email from a friend who I hadn't heard from in awhile, and thought she got a great dane; she actually had a baby. Annnd, just to top it all off, I proceeded to have a huge meltdown and pick a fight with a dear friend, who I haven't heard from since.

Partially fueling my meltdown is that I seem to have become somewhat conflicted about this whole Boston thing. Some days, I feel like I am exactly where I'm supposed to be and genuinely content - like walking back to South Station on Tuesday night after the concert. It was about 10 pm and dark out, and probably not the best idea for a woman by herself to do. But the moon was hanging low in the sky, and the buildings were all lit up, and it was really breezy so there was a nice oceany smell in the air. I felt perfectly safe - all I was really worried about was how much my feet were hurting from my sandals.

Other days, though, I get off the train at South Station and imagine hopping the next bus for NYC. Usually the hop-the-bus days are after a night of having my "missed-my-plane-I'm-not-where-I'm-supposed-to-be" dreams, which always leave me unsettled. I'm not entirely sure what it's all about. I had these dreams before I left Memphis, and then again before I left Maine. But I've only been here 3 months!!! I'm thinking that this time, it might be less of a geography question than a philosophical/emotional/spiritual place. I don't think I actually miss NYC, or want to go back there. I miss the IDEA of NYC, in no small part because as bad as it was, it was all MINE.  The IDEA of NYC is limitless and powerful...the reality, a broken spirit that I am still trying to recover from.

Of course, I miss the IDEA of other things, too, and one night the train was too packed for me to knit so I wounded up brooding on the IDEA of other things. The end result was a rage in me about all the things I can't have, didn't get, etc. etc. And that fueled a downward spiral that concluded with the irrational chastising of myself because I can't knit Continental-style. I am, as I routinely remind myself, my own worst enemy. All I know is, I have the U2 song in my head: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". (everything has a soundtrack, even my existential crises.)

This weekend: northward bound to A.'s camp, which is bound to cheer me up. This will be my first time back in the Augusta area, and I can already tell it's going to be weird to not go back to my apartment in Hallowell. I miss my back deck and bathtub!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Weekend Update

I managed to escape rainy Massachusetts for a few days and headed to Maine for the holiday. Saturday morning found G. (my 5-year old niece) and I picking strawberries. She LOVED it, which kind of surprised me - she doesn't have the longest attention span, but on the other hand: she's the sort of kid that doesn't mind getting dirty, particularly if there is food involved. We picked 2 quarts, and then she took me up on my offer for another couple of boxes. To say that the berries were delicious is the understatement of the century - there is just nothing like a just-picked strawberry, warm from the sun and slightly damp from the dew. G. was pretty good about not eating them until we got into the car, and then she plowed in with a vengeance. She informed me that they did NOT need to be washed first because they already had been rained on.

Later on, we went to see Wall-E, which bored me silly; honestly, I spent the whole time wishing I'd brought my knitting. I can't really put my foot on what was wrong with the movie, though. The kids loved it, but my favorite part was the little short cartoon before the movie about a magician and his rabbit.

And then, after that, we took the kids to the beach. This particular beach is where my sister and I repeatedly flunked swimming lessons, year after year, partly because we both refused to put our faces in the water and partly because I hated being thrown into a freezing cold lake every day at 8 am, and I wasn't shy about grumbling about it. The beach now seems about half the size it was when we were little, but that's how these things go. The weirdest thing was running into one of our old neighbors, who used to take us to Sunday School with his kids. We didn't know that for years he dated my mother's cousin/best friend, and he regaled us with stories about our family members including our great-grandfather, who died before my sister and I were born.  It's always interesting to hear stories about your family...