Monday, January 30, 2006

Not a Great Day

"I'm going slightly mad.
I think I'm a banana tree."

See that quote up there? Yup. It's true. I AM going slightly mad. I do, in fact, think I'm a banana tree.

Oh, helloooo down there! Would you like a banana?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Grace Period

We're having this remarkable mild weather for January. Sometimes I wonder if winter has been cancelled. Seven years ago, Andrea and Jo and Stephen and I would have slept late and gone to the round dining hall where they served breakfast until 1 p.m. and I would have smacked both my palms down on the table and said, "Here's my postulate" and we'd make a plan for the rest of the day. Today is the kind of day where it's so mild that- 11 years ago- we would have pulled all the musical sets outside and painted them in the empty parking lot outside the band room.

When I feel like this, all I want to do is go home to a Lancaster that doesn't exist anymore. I want to go home and see my friends. I want them all to have homes that don't exist anymore either, where we can spend time together and there are no in-laws to accommodate or work email accounts to check or traffic jams on roads that require us "to get a move on" and ultimately take us away from each other.

There is this scene in the movie Garden State where the main character describes this feeling better that I can. He says, "You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone..... It just sort of happens one day, and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start. It's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is: a group of people who miss the same imaginary place."

In the meantime, I feel like I'm in limbo between the home I had and the home I will create. It's not necessarily a bad feeling. In fact, sometimes it's quite nice, like the grace period the first six months after graduation when you don't have to start paying back your student loans. And yet, it feels a little off, a little out of place. I know the limbo won't last, but... it makes me long for what was as well as what will be, like a spring day in the middle of January.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Long Distance Hugs

There are two important people in my life who are very sad and very far away. I'm holding you both in my heart, since I can't hold you in my arms. And even though I would do anything to take some of the pain away, I know that their lives, YOUR lives, are deeply richer because you loved and were loved.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hey La, Hey La, the Convict's Back

Once upon time, Our Idiosyncratic Heroine was enjoying a quiet evening at home, vacuuming, watching bad Canadian television and earnestly ignoring a pile of dirty dishes. There was a knock at the door.

It was the Downstairs Neighbor. "Could she please borrow the cordless phone connected to my land line to call her cell phone? She can't find it anywhere." But of course!

Long story short, the phone was with her husband. Her husband was in jail. Her car was impounded because her husband got arrested "during a routine traffic stop" with some friends who had warrants out for their arrest. He got arrested "because he was with them."

Riiiiight. Oh, and the drugs the police found in the glove compartment. Don't forget about those! (This was two weeks after his "friend" stole the nice 12-year-old's bike out of our common storage area and sold it for drug money.)

Is this any of Our Idiosyncratic Heroine's business? No, it most certainly is not. You know what makes it her business? The fact that the Downstairs Neighbor's Druggie Husband called MY, I mean, Our Idiosyncratic Heroine's, home phone number FIFTY-SEVEN times in the next three weeks. From prison. He saw the number on his wife's cell phone's caller ID from when she was using my land line's cordless phone to call her own cell phone, which she thought was at the bottom of the diaper bag, between the cushions, or her toddler hid it somewhere.

Anyway, he's out of prison apparently! I passed him on the stairs this morning as I was was bringing Bella in from her walk. He was holding his toddler, and there was his dutiful wife, following him out the door. I guess the part where he had her named as a co-defendent in a larceny case (dude, I sound nosy, but someone from the county courthouse taped their indictment notice to our common entrance door) is just water under the bridge. Woo-ee.

He was all, "How have you been? I'm Prince Charmy-Schmarmy!"
And I was all, "Okay." in a very curt voice. What was I supposed to say? "I'm super! My index finger is still sore from the number of times I repeatedly entered the 'block all calls from this prisoner' code, but thanks for asking!"

It makes me miss Denise, the previous tenant. I used to take care of Pumpkin, her belligerent orange cat with a squashed face and six toes on each paw. He was a little deranged, but we enjoyed playing the Bottle Cap Game when Denise went on vacation. Then again, Denise had an extensive collection of Barbies that she kept lit 24 HOURS A DAY in elaborate glass display cases, and she referred to the cat as "the man of the house." She smoked and sounded like Fran Drescher and GOD, I WISH she would move back in. At least she never called me from prison FIFTY-SEVEN TIMES.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Charging and Re-charging

Okay. Last week? Sucked. (My dad would want me to say that it was "less than desirable.")

I'm pretty comfortable acknowledging that my life is, well, idiosyncratic. I'm clumsier than most. Weird things happen to me. I lose stuff. I budget for minor catastrophes, disasters, parking tickets (if I'm doing a story of a sensitive nature, and a subject is just opening up, I'm not going to leave to feed the meter. I'm just not.). I know how to change a tire. I take my medications. I entertain the rest of you with my stories. Fine.

Sometimes, though, the strain of being me brings me, literally, to my knees. Last Saturday night, after dealing with a Jackass Hockey Coach who made me stand behind the glass for the first two periods and covering a high school fundraising dance, (which, you know- DOOM!- that goes without saying), but add to that driving to the wrong damn town first because of a reporter's mistake on the photo request and having to drive back THROUGH THE TRECHEROUS WIND AND SNOW to the stupid dance only to shoot fast, blow my deadline anyway, AND THEN as I opened the door to my car, where I was going to sit with my laptop and transmit the pictures back to the paper while glomming off someone's wireless connection, THE WIND BLEW OPEN THE CAR DOOR, hitting me in the head with its pointy, pointy edge.

OW. Ow. Ow! Joel was waiting for me at the apartment while I got home two hours later (the snow, you know), and I literally crawled up the final stairs of my three story walk-up ON MY HANDS AND KNEES.

Now, the coach and the dance and the door thing are all par for the course for me. Fine, fine. But earlier in the week, I also had to go to traffic court, in part to fight the citation I got for having a dirty license plate. Yup. Who gets fined for that? Me, dammit! ME! The judge waived the charge. Okay.

Also, I got my car back from the body shop. I paid my $1000 deductible, because the police never found the punk who hit it and ran away in November. I didn't love paying the $1,000, but I do love my body man. His five sons all play lacrosse, so I see him all the time. (Oh, and *their* coach? Not a jackass.)

As I climbed into my shiny, pretty car in the parking lot of Ultimate Collision Center and turned the key, the car went, "Click." And I went, "What? Sorry, car, you're supposed to go, 'VrrvvrVOOM' when I start you. What is this click of which you speak?" I try again.
Car: "Click."
Me: "Huh?"
Car: "Click."
Me: Wha-? Why? What now?!?!
Car: "VrrVrrVOOM "
Me; "Thank you. Jesus, what was that all about? (This was a rhetorical question; I don't call my car 'Jesus.')
Car: You're welcome.... "PING!"

That would be the sound of the "check engine" light going on, and yes, the whooshing sound you here now is my money flying far, far away. New starter. New OVR pump. New $.99 turn signal bulb which did not solve the turn signal's fast clickyclickyclicky issue after all. Gonna have to replace the turn signal arm mechanism. Bye, money! Bye, now! BUH-bye! Bye!

Then I lost my cell phone. I wasn't worried. It was a $40 phone from Best Buy. As it turns out it was only $40 because I signed a special, happy, two-year contract. The phone retails for $179. Great. FAN-tastic. I buy a cheaper phone for $119. I talk to my sister. Turns out she just bought a new phone, so I can have her "old" (it's a camera flip-phone) one. Nice! Circuit City says I can return the $119 phone I bought the day before still looks like it just came out of the box. Yes, please!

Amanda waves her magic fairygodlawyer wand and gets the old phone (driven by courier, probably, I don't wanna know) on the next FedEx flight. It shows up the next day. I run to Circuit City with the package and my 26-hour-old phone before I can drop it or scratch it or do some shit to it that will make it unreturnable.

I run into Circuit City. I wait for 40 minutes for my turn. Twenty minutes before the store closes, I'm up. I start to return the phone I bought and authorize Amanda's old phone, but I can't find the credit card I used THE DAY BEFORE to buy it. My friendly sales associate Jamal starts trying to figure out how to cut me a check so I don't end up with $119 ($136 with tax) worth of store credit.

Then, I remember! It might be in my car! I had it out when I was making calls because (wait for it, wait for it) Geico never authorized the direct-pay for the rental car I had while my car was at the body shop, you know, before the new starter and stuff. I had the credit card out while I was straightening that out.

I run to the car! I'm gonna find the card! BUT! I can't find the car! No, wait, it's on the next level of the parking garage. I RUN up the stairs that smell like pee! Woo! Car! And... GOD, I hate being like this.... I can't find my keys. Not in my pockets, not in the FedEx package, not in my purse. Must be locked in the car. SOMEONE PLEASE KILL ME. I call Joel and leave him a message wondering how on Earth I'm going to explain where he can find my spare car key. The spare key that I have a sinking suspicion in my camera bag. Yes, that would be the camera bag that is LOCKED IN THE CAR.

Fuck it. I figure I'll get the cell phone thing straightened out, then I'll use it to call AAA. I run back to Circuit City to see how Jamal is doing with the cut-me-a-check-instead-of-store-credit issue. It's not going well. I lay my forehead down on the counter. (This is before I had my purple bruise from the pointy, pointy edge of the car door). As I breathe deeply in the most cleansing, calming way I can manage and open my eyes, I look down and see my keys! They are wedged in the crack between the display case and the fluorescent light that illuminates the pretty sample phones! I fish out my keys. Jamal is excited for me. I love Jamal.

I run to the car! I find the credit card in my day planner! I run back to the store! Jamal tells me he's so happy I found the credit card because he was going to have to issue store credit after all. I tell him I'm happy, too, because if he hadn't issued me a check for that money, I would have leapt over the Verizon counter and committed suicide with his stapler. He cracks up, and we take turns imagining how one could do so. I grab the stapler and mime stapling my wrists. I only do it half-heartedly, because the way my week was going, I was scared I'd actually hurt myself. He mimes stapling his neck, but nothing bad happens, because he is not me. He even waives the $20 fee that Verizon usually charges customers who want to authorize spare phones from their generous sisters.

Of course, when I got home, I realized that my work cell phone is no longer charging because of a bent pin inside the charge-y place. THEN I cried.

But anyway, I spent the weekend trying to recharge my "spirit batteries," as Oprah would say. I have to thank Joel for helping me with various projects around the house; because of him, the pets are entertained, the apartment is clean, the dishes are all washed, the laundry is all done, the fridge is full, and I can start this new week laughing about the last one.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Originally uploaded by GypsyPeach.
The Gabs will always be The Cuteness, but this young man is going to need a title of his own. The Sweetness, maybe. :)

My friends Rob and Jackie (they're lurking around here somewhere, everybody smile and wave) are the proud parents of 6-month-old Luke, of whom I took, I kid you not, 522 photos this weekend.

I got to hold him just as he was waking up, and he sort of stirred and turned his warm little face toward my neck before drifting off again, and I was all, "I'm good at this! Look at me! I'm holding a baby and he likes it! I'm good at this!"

Until later in the restaurant when I got to hold him and he began to cry. Then, not so much. Still though, this child? SO. CUTE.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Post Where I Don't Write "Hell" in the Title

Dear Vacuum,

I am sorry I yelled at you and called you a motherf"cker. You are brilliant marvel of modern cleanliness. I especially like the magic button that makes the bottom drop out of the dust canister. I especially love that you only do that when I am standing over the trashcan, poised and ready. That made up for the unfortunate sock-under-the-bed incident tenfold.

Your New Owner Who No Longer Regrets Dancing With You

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Oh, bloody hell

You know, the nice British man from the commercial really ought to come explain how to use his expensive "doesn't lose suction" Dyson for Pet hair vacuum, because I have two college degrees and I CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT. Screw you, telescoping handle! Screw you, knobby plastic tubey bit that just fell off! Screw you, clicky thing that makes the hose pop out altogether and doesn't make the telescoping thing work!

All I want is to clean everything in my apartment, top to bottom, so I can have a Happy, Healthy De-Cluttered Real Simple magazine-style peaceful New Year, dammit. CURSE YOU, expensive vacuum! I wish I hadn't danced with you on Christmas morning while you were still in your sleek black and purple box, m*therf*cker!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

What the hell does the word "meme" mean, anyway?

So I'm gonna follow Gwen's lead, and do an abridged meme recapping 2005. You should do it, too. It's fun.

1. What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?
Um, sometimes my dad reads this? So I'm not gonna say? But it's super fun and happy!

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I distinctly remember not making New Year's resolutions last year. I was calling them New Year's intentions, and I think my goal was, in general, to live my best life. I definitely started doing that; although the end of this year ended dramatically different from the way it began.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No, but next year the answer is gonna be YES! Because WOO! Someone awesome is growing a little person inside them and YEAH, we're gonna love it a lot!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, because they are strong, bad-ass people who not only "beat the odds," but they also take the odds out back, pummel the odds to a pulp and eat the odds for breakfast.

5. What countries did you visit?
Sadly, I stayed in the perimeters of the US this year.

7. What dates from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Jan 30th- My future began shaping up completely differently from the way I had been planning.
May 7th- my sister married her soulmate.
Aug. 19- the world turned right-side-up again
Nov. 4th- my best friend realized her heart's true happiness.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting three important women in my life through their weddings, and documenting all three with photos I'm genuinely proud of.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being able to make things right with Scott and Cara.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Does my broken heart count since it doesn't feel broken anymore? Oh, the Great Little League Hot Dog Debacle sucked. Yeah, that's my New year's resolution for 2006. No more food poisoning, please.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My stompy polka dot rain boots.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My friends who live in the computer. Thanks, Lauren, Shannon and Cindy! Oh, and Shannon for kicking the Breast Cancer 3-Day with her oozing foot.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
George W. Bush. Just.. Gah. Yeah. George W. Bush. And his family. Trent Lott's house is gonna be rebuilt, people. Meanwhile, women and children are being raped in the Astrodome. But that's okay, 'cause it's really a much better situation for them than the poverty they were living in, right Babs?. ::Loud THUNK as my head crashes down on the desk:::

14. Where did most of your money go?
Wedding-related travel and bridal showers. It was so worth it, because I saw my favorite people more in the past year than I have in a decade. That fuckin' rocked. I also liked the part where the guests-of-honor hugged me and said I got the mood, games and food and everything exactly, exactly right and it was just what they wanted.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Meeting Frenchy (see below). Also, I went completely ape-shit over the latest Harry Potter Book. I don't care if I'm 26; I love that boy wizard. Also, the Welcome Back Potter celebrations always feel like Christmas Eve to me, where you anticipate it for weeks, you get something you really want, and it's all kind of magical and make-believe but you just don't care. I stopped believing in Santa when I was 5, and I don't remember the first two Christmases when I did believe. I really only have three memories of truly believing in Santa, so I treasure that "ONLY TWO MORE HOURS!!!" feeling. I envy the kids who are getting to grow up with this summertime tradition.

16. What song will always remind you of 2005?
"In My Life" by John Lennon

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? much happier
b) thinner or fatter? Well, I don't weigh myself ever ever ever, so it's hard to say. If anything, I measure my size by J.Jill's straight-leg jeans. I dropped two sizes this year.
c) richer or poorer? financially better off, and my life is deeply, deeply richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I don't know if it counts are "my favorite," but I watched an inordinate amount of "Law and Order: SVU." The drama, the formula, believing in the redemptive powers of Benson and Stabler, it was sort of comforting in its uniformity. I couldn't turn it off. Of course, the fact that there's always an episode of Law and Order on, any time of the day or night, may have contributed to that.

25. What was the best book you read?
three-way tie! (in no particular order)
a.) "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult
b.) "HP and the Half-Blood Prince" by J.K. Rowling
c.) "Down Home" by Gwen Robin Glazer

27. What did you want and get?
a promotion!

28. What did you want and not get?
a dishwasher. I would live in a cardboard box if it had a dishwasher.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
"In Her Shoes." Love the lovely Jennifer Weiner.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Huh. I don't know how to answer that one. My year was pretty damn satisfying, actually. I don't know. I did a lot of "pruning" this year. That makes my year sound like a bonzai tree. I left a lot of toxic dynamics at work and work-related friendships behind. I got closure, both romantic and platonic, with relationships that had apparently exceeded their expiration dates. I guess it would have been immeasurably more satisfying if pruning didn't hurt so much while it was happening.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?
I really had a "I'm spending the money I would have used to buy you an iPod at Ann Taylor Loft" thing going on.

33. What kept you sane?
Oh my God, my friends and family. Especially my sisterfriends. Oh, and the pets for loving me unconditionally and resting their little furry heads on me just when I needed a snuggle. Yeah.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
War in Iraq. Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement and the ensuing "pitbull in size 6 shoes" catastrophe. When you're the kind of person who walks round with an "If you aren't outraged, you're not paying attention" button, (and I do), it's hard to choose.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Joel. Totally. Hands down. Although it's worth noting that he brought a lot of other really great people into my life...

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005.
I've never, ever believed in the platitude "everything happens for a reason." I still don't. I do, however, believe that if you respond to everything life throws at you in a reasonable way; in time, maybe even years from now, the reason will reveal itself.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"I knew that I loved you/
when we were flying home in the dark./
Your hand on the wheel while I was trying to take my jacket off,
My foot on the gas/
your eyes fast to the road ahead of us./
I never felt such trust./

And I recall, in my sleep/
how you changed my life on Magnolia Street./
A dream, but it's true/
I am not the same since I met you./

I knew that I loved you the first time I got into your car./