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BY suzy

11/01 Direct Link
The sky is a luminous, ethereal pink in the growing twilight. The world seems to hold its breath at this time of day, between work and home. The glow of the sky slightly unreal, as if filmed in soft focus in an old movie. The color is as transient as it is beautiful; it only lasts a few minutes before it's gone forever, replaced by darkness. It's easy to see this as a metaphor for life and death. Eventually, the darkness will be replaced by the light, and the cycle will repeat endlessly. Is this what happens to us, too?
11/02 Direct Link
The abandoned sofabed on my street, missing its cushions, is opened to a bed this morning.

A young man calls to a girl on a bicycle, You have to finish telling me about your drugged out professor! as she rides away laughing. She waves as she disappears around the corner, perhaps promising to tell him the ending of the story, or perhaps ending the story.

In a window at the side of my building, a beautiful white cat with black spots sits serenely, gazing at me with calm amber eyes. I've seen better, she seems to be saying. She's right.

11/03 Direct Link
Autumn has always seemed to me to be more of a beginning than an ending. School starts again; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the promise of a new year are on the horizon, gifts waiting to be opened. The air shakes off the muggy, used-up summer as a dog shakes off water, and is fresh and new again. The sky is once more crystalline, free of smog and haze. The spicy, lovely fragrance of woodsmoke and fallen leaves perfumes the air. Trees burn with color, leaves flaming orange, yellow, red. Lamps are lit in houses, warm and welcoming as darkness falls.
11/04 Direct Link
A woman in her car, idling at the red light, rolls down her window and calls out to me, Your dog is beautiful! I smile, acknowledging this drive-by compliment. I think so, too.

My Italian neighbor stops to say good morning. He doesn't speak English, but with the way he clasps my hands with both of his, he doesn't need to.

A small boy skips across a busy intersection, unafraid because he is holding his father's hand tightly. He looks up at his father, not the traffic, his face glowing with happiness and trust, his father's with utter love.

11/05 Direct Link
Quiet Sunday afternoon. The sun has already set; it's dark and cold outside, warm and bright inside. My man and my dog are napping together on the bed, united in the trust it takes to sleep beside someone, anyone. I have dinner in hand and am checking my emails. My inbox is full of messages from friends old and new, like little surprise kisses. I have time to answer them and make plans for the week to come. When my beloved two wake up, we'll eat dinner together, laugh, safe and happy in the luxury of loving and being loved.
11/06 Direct Link
She bought CDs she never listened to, books she never read. Expensive perfumes and skincare products lined her bathroom shelves. Pairs of shoes remained in their boxes. The Home Shopping Channel was her favorite: the saleswomen were her friends, the things they sold just wonderful bargains. Why, she had 12 crystal champagne flutes, red and white wine glasses, all still untouched in the sideboard. They had been so reasonable! She couldn't understand why her children couldn't understand. After all, she had bought them those limited edition Santa ornaments from HSC. She picked up the phone. She needed that gold bracelet.
11/07 Direct Link
Really, if anything, she'd been an underachiever, despite an endless, effortless series of A's in school and a bad case of being precocious (and knowing it). Her overachieving parents didn't seem to see it, though. Secretly, she thought her brain had flowered early — she could read by the time she was three, and concealed it from her parents so they'd read her bedtime stories — and had gone to seed. She could never tell anyone. So when the doctor told her that her heart was beating too fast, the first thing she thought was, This is my overachievement? Seriously?
11/08 Direct Link
My friends have taken my mind off the whole heartbeat thing. I wonder if I'm like Dorian Gray, rotten, sick on the inside, healthy and (apparently) clean and healthy on the outside. I begin to question everything, remember the crazy things I did when I was young: the casual sex, the casual drugs, hitchhiking, hedonistic fun, trust. Mostly I think the cocaine habit I had 25 years ago made this happen. I got off easy, that's the case. Could have been AIDS. I don't regret it, though. And whatever happens, I can't change the past. I can only change now.
11/09 Direct Link
At lunch with my friend Lydia, the woman at the neighboring table picks up the Veterans' Day poppy that fell off my coat and gives it to me. They're always falling off,  I say (it's true; this seems to be a real design flaw). The woman laughs and tells us she got hers on the floor at a funeral she had just attended. A funeral poppy! I exclaim. That seems even sadder than a regular poppy. The funeral was for my cousin, she explains. He had a great life and it was more like a party than a funeral.
11/10 Direct Link
Oh, the indulgence! A sugar cone of maple-walnut ice cream. A tasting flight of three locally produced wines with locally produced cheeses. A delightful pair of mittens that looks like alligators, with little white beads for teeth. Watching the famous, fabulous SuperDogs perform and charm the entire audience. Resisting the delicious hot apple dumplings. Petting horses and cows. A day at the fair with a friend is as much fun when you're a grown-up as it is when you're a kid. Maybe more, since you can buy things and no-one can tell you not to eat the ice cream.
11/11 Direct Link
I love hotels. The first thing I do is flop on the bed, even though a friend whose grandparents used to live in a grand hotel told me that even in grand hotels, the bedspread is rarely washed. The bed is always bigger and comfier than my own. Next it's time to check out the room service menu, even if I don't order anything. I love room service. I love knowing I can have it anytime. Finally, I get up to forage for extra pillows (you can never have too many), and then it's back on the big bed. Ahhhh!
11/12 Direct Link
Today is the first day of the first week without the damned pills. I'm tempted to say the first day of the rest of my life, because I really hope so. I never want to be on anti-depressants again. So I'm hoping that going to the gym, walking the dog, and working on a positive attitude will keep me from getting too depressed to cope. It's not the best time of the year for this endeavor, being about the bleakest, greyest month of the year, but probably no time would seem like the right time. I just hope it is.
11/13 Direct Link
Busy day: go to the gym; come home and take dog to groomer's (do not remove coat, just step in the door, put on her leash, and go); go to the bank; buy a graduation gift for a friend (lovely white orchid in a silver pot); meet friend for lunch; buy cake to surprise boyfriend; pick up dog; surprise boyfriend with cake; make dinner; give another friend advice on love life; wash the dishes, collapse in front of the teevee and still be unable to sleep until 2 am. Surely all this activity should lead to sleep. This is recovery?
11/14 Direct Link
Encore de busy today, but more fun & frivolous. Had my eyebrows shaped and colored while giggling, gossiping and watching guys install Christmas lights in the trees outside the salon. For added indulgence, I'm going back tomorrow for eyelash tinting and an oxygen facial. And I'm getting my hair cut and highlighted, too. This hedonism train is runaway! There will be no primping left to do soon. The more virtuous part of the day was buying Christmas presents, and a couple of un-birthday presents for someone who was feeling blue. Nothing like an un-birthday present to cheer you right up!
11/15 Direct Link
Today is a gift. The sky is a hazy blue: not the hard, clear blue of winter, but the soft, slightly melancholy blue of autumn. The sun feels warm on my back, and it's probably the last time I'll feel that warmth this year, since winter is fast approaching. It's warm enough to sit outside at lunchtime, sunny enough to need sunglasses and have thoughts of no sunscreen leading to wrinkles. But basking in the unexpected golden moment is more precious. Somehow, I'm able to just be in the moment, something I can never do when I'm trying to sleep.
11/16 Direct Link
Like many beautiful things — maybe all beautiful things — the idyll of the day didn't last. Before the sun took its leave, it was covered with clouds, and before darkness fell, rain did. The rain fell harder and faster all night, and the morning was as dark as twilight. My dog and I greeted the gloomy day with equal enthusiasm. She stayed curled up on her bed until nearly three in the afternoon, completely uninterested in braving the elements and looking depressed. It's amazing how expressive her face is, and how she tells me how she's feeling, without words.
11/17 Direct Link
Spent a lovely evening with my nephew Ben and his friend Alex. They are incredibly sweet boys, to the point of being almost retro, like they could have come from Leave It To Beaver or something, though not in a cloying way. I have to wonder how 22 year olds can be like that in this mad, bad world. Must be my sister's fabulous mothering skills. The fact that I was almost an hour late to meet them shows that I did the right thing in leaving the parenting to my sis, since I am clearly lacking in that department.
11/18 Direct Link
Getting ready to go to New York City. I feel a lot less anxious than I usually do when preparing to travel, despite the fact that I will have to fly there, with all the usual inconveniences and terrors; I will have to work while I'm there; and I have now officially been off the anti-depressants for a whole week. I haven't started packing, and I used to feel overwhelmed by all the tasks, large and small, involved in going anywhere for any length of time, but now I know I can do it and everything will be just fine.
11/19 Direct Link
He proudly wears the clothes of dead men, men he loved who died too soon: his brother-in-law, who was more like a brother to him than his real brother; his girlfriend's father, who was more of a father to him than his own father. His girlfriend has no parents. He has both, but might as well have none. Although living, they haunt his dreams. One night, he awakens his girlfriend by jumping on her and screaming in his sleep. Startled, she wakes him, still clinging to her. He was dreaming of his brother. His dreams are never peaceful.
11/20 Direct Link
The trip was terrible, as it happened. Security examined me assiduously, right down to my change purse. No lounge in the terminal. Assigned the dreaded middle seat in the next-to-last row of the plane, adjacent to the sights, sounds, and smells of the all-too- public bathroom (200 people + 1 bathroom = gross). Passengers were 90% screaming children, 10% parents who either didn't care or thought the kids were cute and everyone else should feel privileged to listen to their howling. Bag, when it appeared, was torn, rendering it immediate trash. Flying is so horrible now. Can it get any worse?
11/21 Direct Link
Train travel, she thought, is really the only civilized way to travel. Alighting from her happy yellow taxi, she entered Grand Central Station, which lived up to its name by being both grand and central. As she waited in line to buy her ticket, she thought of how elegant it must have been in the past: the passengers dressed in suits and hats, the trains like moving livingrooms with comfortable chairs and sofas, like in the old movies. And don't forget the observation car, smoking car, dining car (tablecloths!) and the bar car. Did those past passengers appreciate it all?
11/22 Direct Link
Only half an hour by train from New York is the village of Irvington. For such a small place, it has many treasures: a church with exquisite stained glass windows by Matisse and Chagall; mansions formerly owned by Madame CJ Walker and Stan Getz; Washington Irving's charming little cottage overlooking the Hudson River; and Sleepy Hollow cemetery at the Old Dutch Church (built in 1685 and still used). It was a suitably gloomy day as I sought the graves of Katrina Van Tassel and Brom Bones — Irving had used the names of real local people for his most famous story.
11/23 Direct Link
Stopping at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station on the way back, I think how much my father would have enjoyed it. The restaurant is as old as the station itself, and stepping into it, you feel as if you are in another time. The menu is huge, but I know what I want: a taste of past summers in Maine, now that I'm on the Atlantic coast. Clam chowder and a lobster roll, with a glass of cool white wine. I drink a silent toast to my father: You are here after all. You're always in my heart.
11/24 Direct Link
How does a girl who's 3,000 miles from her family spend Thanksgiving?

In a more or less traditional manner. This morning, I read the papers in my bijou hotel room with the 80th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the flat-screen TV, while sipping room service coffee and feeling quite thankful.

Holiday shopping starts early in New York, and when in New York, go shopping. After all, it's a local tradition, especially this time of year. I have to say, the city looks so pretty in its holidaywear that I can hardly wait to get home and put up my tree.

11/25 Direct Link
Ever since I was a little girl (I'm just a girl now, not a grown-up), I thought the mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs and the Rockettes were just about as beautiful and glamorous as it got. And having now seen both of these national treasures, live and in person, I can say with authority that I was right all along. They were both more enchanting and delightful than I ever imagined, and I felt like a kid again, filled with awe and delight. What a wonderful gift! Radio City Music was a little piece of heaven on earth that night.
11/26 Direct Link
If the day before Thanksgiving is the worst travel day of the year, the day after is the best. There was no line to check in at Laguardia, Security was a breeze (despite the usual strip tease), and hallelujah, there was a lounge! So I could lounge in comfort before strolling to the gate and getting on the plane to find my excellent aisle seat. Even at baggage claim, the longest part of any trip, my bags appeared unscathed in approximately five minutes. Jumped in a cab, no traffic, home in no time. If only it was always like this!
11/27 Direct Link
I think feeling the joy of Christmas again is a good sign. It's like coming out of the dark after a long journey into the light. I realize now it was the depression making it impossible for me to feel the happiness of Christmas, and then the medication made it impossible to feel much of anything. Now I'm off the medication, beginning a new stage in my life. I will be healthy. I will be happy. I am loved, and love in return. I will never take the pills again. I can do it on my own. And I will.
11/28 Direct Link
Twenty-five years ago today, my twenty year old sister was married. A quarter of a century later, she still is. Everything would seem to have been against the youthful bride and groom, especially since they were still in school and already expecting their first child, but they beat the odds. Of all the couples they knew who married around the same time, they are the only ones still married. My younger sister was also twenty when she married, and this year marked her fifteenth anniversary. I was 28 when I married, and of we three girls, I'm the divorced one.
11/29 Direct Link
The doctor doesn't tell me much. Do they ever? Did they, in the free and frank days before lawsuits were so commonplace? I am reminded of how I felt when my mother was diagnosed with cancer: the frustration that her doctors couldn't or wouldn't tell us what to expect, making decisions such as whether and when to move Mom uninformed on our part. We spent a lot of money making the wrong choices due to a lack of information. I hope my own situation isn't as serious, but the feeling is the same. Why won't they just tell the truth?
11/30 Direct Link
At the elegant restaurant, lunching with a friend, I can't help overhearing the conversation at the next table (not that I'm trying to). The man tells the woman, He went behind my back and talked to his parole officer. I couldn't believe it. You can't do that. She nods, swallows her mouthful of sandwich, and replies, Well, it's better than being in one of those little rooms being watched 24/7. This seems a bit of a non sequitur to me, but perhaps corrections people have their own verbal shorthand. He sighs and says, They never turn the lights off, either.