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I stood rather awkwardly at the kitchen window watching the morning light pierce through the spidery veins of the berry trees. I felt a surge of satisfaction over the new growth on my Burrows Tail. It always reminds me of my friend Barry who introduced me to the plant, wrapping a stalk of it in a moist paper towel for me to propagate on my own. The plant never grew--probably because I didn't have the right soil. Soon after he moved to Australia two years ago, I bought this one in rememberance of the good times we shared together.
I saw fireworks on my way home from an apartment warming, so I eagerly stopped in a parking lot. There had been at least one parallel with the 4th of July holiday earlier when Joe took out a $2 bill in Sandra's kitchen, pointing out the first black man ever to be printed on U.S. currency. The rest of the evening seemed to take place in France and the imagination of my coworker--Eiffel Tower lamps, panoramic views of French city streets (a chaise lounge faced an especially large one) and meaningful quotes spoke of another kind of freedom.
There was lots of gardening to be done around the house today. Trees were trimmed, weeds were pulled, retaining walls were restored and annuals were planted. I had to break out my Home Depot gloves to uproot an especially prickly colony of weeds in the rock bed outside the living room window. Under the deck, a few select weeds grew in the darkness, including grapevines growing from an impenetrable stump deep in the ground(despite my dad's axe wielding, it wouldn't budge). I often wonder what the subdivision looked like before the 1900's--surely just another stretch of Sugar Maple.
Steak, corn, potatoes and strawberry spinach salad was served at my dad's house today. To drink, there was Coke, Diet Coke, Bud Light, Heineken Light and Iced Tea with a generous amount of sliced lemon at the top. It was good to see the fruit being put to good use, rather than have it go bad amongst all the plums, apples and oranges. Besides talk of the evening's amnemities, the atmosphere was celebratory--centered mostly around my brother's new arrival, Sean, and Priscilla's 16 month old son, Alex. Even as a gay man, I find nothing quite as awe-inspiring.
I awoke this morning to the short, ominous beep indicating that my phone is low on battery power. The house was empty--a plate of steak and corn sat on the counter. I threw it out and trid to make the most of my time alone before my uncles arrive later this week. Stu and I are drifting apart; the days when no texts are exchanged between us are becoming more common. For the most part, I'm ok with this--it happens--and it's always easier when it seems mutual. It's just hard because there really wasn't anyone else around.
I just got back from the ER. My mom's flu on top of her MS did something to her, and I'm worried sick right now. My brother met me there, along with my mom's sister, Louie, who I still don't know what to make of. The whole family calls her mad--basically a drunk and a liar. All true in my experience, but for the sake of my mom, who thinks she's god's gift to Earth, I didn't get into a fight with her. I hate not knowing if my aunt is a blessing or a curse to my mom.
I watched in quiet fascination as my brother clipped Sean's fingernails after a long evening spent visiting our mom at St. Mary's hospital. He had Sean propped up against his legs as be brought forth each of his son's tiny fingers. Occasionally, he'd have to stop and stare--waiting patiently for Sean to stop stretching and drooling all in one fluid movement. My brother's place looked just as cluttered as the computer room he shared with his girlfriend at my dad's house a little over a year ago. Change must have shorts in its wiring--some things stay the same.
My mom's still in the hospital today. "First Day of Spring" by the Gandharvas came on the radio this morning. The Plymouth Art Fair was setting up shop downtown, so I took the usual detour as the song winded down. I remembered listening to it years ago--maybe as far back as my Collective Soul days, tanning on the deck. The same lounge chair sits in the basement today, under the poofy mass of a down blanket I acquired somewhere later, down South. It's chipped and moldy after 14 years, but somehow I'm determined to bring it wherever I go.
After sitting through a grueling staff meeting today, I took a break outside by the picnic tables. I was a little frustrated by the purpose of the them. It would be ok if the minutes addressed things that weren't already common sense or common knowledge, but instead, topics from weeks before are continually rehashed with different authoritative spins, as if we're all stupid. "You should get your MBA," The man with the Brother Rice coffee mug said. Perhaps he's right--although I would be bored silly, I'm tired of taking the starving artist route. Why not focus on my MBA?
Certain aspects of my life in Florida are coming back to haunt me, but this time I am ready for them. Yesterday all of the phones at work were replaced with exact replicas of the phones from my previous customer service position in Tampa. It would be nice if everything in my personal life was in place to help offset the changes going on within and without, but unfortunately nothing is constant right now. I went to the Art Fair alone, awash in racks of tie-dye, metallic figurines, aggregate crowds, men in sandals, lemonade stands and grey statesque mimes.
The nurse at henry Ford's ER was named Comfort. She was a soft-spoken African American, late- thirties perhaps. Her hair was tied into a sharp pony tail and she sported a high Zambian forehead. Though she was treating my mom, drawing vials of blood, I sensed I would soon be in a similar predicament if I didn't find some comfort of my own soon. I forgot how she asked in that dreamy voice, but I told her I have a degree in English. She suggested pursuing my Masters in Creative Writing, but it seems I'm all out of words.
First day the phones transferred over to our facility. After months of hearing about it, I've built up some apprehension, and I didn't sport my usual zeal at overcoming it either--when it was my turn, I chose to "type" instead of "talk" or do both. I did this for a few orders, admiring my trainer's capacity for beaurocracy. Watching her bring up countless programs and emails made me dizzy. She even knows who walks by her cube without even having to turn her head. Finally, back in my own cube, I took my first call and survived for another.
My mom was wired on steroids today. In a way, seeing her so energetic made me feel particularly melancholy. Perhaps if she wasn't avidly making hand gestures communicating how she wanted to be let out of the hospital asap, it wouldn't have been so heartbreaking. The steroids brought her something she's struggled to attain for the last twenty years--energy. Life. Vitality. Why would she want to spend this moment cooped up in a hospital bed? It took some convincing for my brother and I to get her to stay a few more days--if nothing else until she's stabilized.
One of my uncles left today along with his sixth wife, Annie. She was around in the mornings here for the past week, quietly reading as my dad golfed with my three uncles. She was always very cordial, uttering a carefree "Hi." Once, when we were reading together in the living room, we'd occasionally break the silence to discuss one of her sons, an artist working at a museum in St. Louis. Annie looked like Gates McFadden from Star Trek, and got under my skin last Sunday when she snuck a photo of me stirring beans. What did she see?
I remember watching an episode of Extreme Disaster or whatever you call it, and watching a motorcyclist spin out of control. He was trying to be cool of course, standing up on his motorcycle. Once he began to wobble, he wasn't able to stabilize his ride--and ended up skidding forward all over the pavement at speeds of over 100 miles per hour. He survived, but not without breaking nearly every bone in his body. In a way, it describes my mom and her MS--one day she is fine, but the next she's stubbornly wobbling forth into the pavement.
The crickets are chirping loudly somewhere outside my bedroom window, and I'm in my favorite place to write--bed. No one can distrub me in my room when I have the door closed--in the instance someone does, it's always a breif exchange before I'm back to letting the day's events run through my mind. When I'm ready to let everything go, I pick up a book and read. I wouldn't trade my days of partying for anything, and although I often cringe at the pop music today, I remind myself that life is good, and it's still out there.
Staring at my wardrobe, complete with its loose, wiry hangers and striped polo shirts. I wonder what it will look like in ten years. Will I even have half of it then? How will my sense of style adjust and what will this say about my life? Up until now it says whatever. Old. Perfectionist. A bottle of my medication, a spray-painted rock and an unknown baseball cap are on the shelf above. There are parts of myself left unexplored and it drives me crazy that continuing to live here will never give me the opportunity to explore them.
Whats the big rush though? As Stu phrased it earlier, I've had quite an interesting past five or six years with acquiring my first office job, moving to Florida twice, readjusting again to the harsh economic climate that is Detroit, and basically just continuing to scope out my surroundings--all the while hoping I end up someplace meaningful. I walked with Stu down the same streets in Royal Oak at least three time over until the straps of my sandals began digging into me. We're such the outsiders together--constantly on the move in a lonely world of window dressing.
God helps those who help themselves. I remember hearing this quote for the first time during an episode of a series depicting a young nun and a priest solving murder mysteries together. But is my mom even capable of helping herself? Today she pointed at a container of butter, mistaking it for apple juice as her deadbeat sister snored in the other room. I didn't come over to hear about Louie, I argued. She cried, saying I get my opinions from my dad. Mom, I'm not sixteen anymore...but maybe helping herself to good memories is all she's got left.
Tonight I'm spending the night on my mom's couch. Who would have guessed that I'd return to sleeping on the same couch I did four years ago in Tampa? The only difference is that now I know how to take a little better care of myself--I no longer think that the best remedy for anxiety is a beer and know that nothing compares to a little R&R. Granted, it's not as exciting as going out and partying/exploring new territory, but I don't miss the lack of control. If anything, I miss the level of spirituality I possessed.
These family crisis situations really aren't any fun when you're holding down a full-time job. My mom put all her banking information in my lap today before I went grocery shopping for her. There's so much I need to do, but can't do until the weekend. The woman at the Kroger deli was especially nice to me as I ordered a half pound of salami and ham, in addition to a half pound of provolone. The rest of the shopper's eyes were glazed over from what I assumed to be a long day. When did I get so old?
I'm on the couch hoping my mom needs as much of a restful sleep as I do. It's interesting what happens when you're deprived of a certain amount of sleep. Surroundings suddenly take on a more atmospheric feel, causing the sun to beat down a little more heavily. The glare from parked cars takes the shape of abrupt nuisances of light after having become used to the darkness. Even scents taken for granted are exaggerated. The previously damp interior of my car suggested worry and the nagging suspicion I forgot something crucial in the regular onslaught of daily administrative tasks.
July 23. What to write about? Today I've had the notion that I try too hard to be social at work, at home, everywhere in my life. I've always been guilty of trying. In many ways, this has kept me out of trouble, but I find as I enter further into adulthood, I envy those who are free to be themselves and just let everything flow. I'm making my tendency to be perfect into a hindrance to achieving happiness. I tell myself that if I don't engage in idle chatter at work about who's the pumpkin, I'm not good enough.
Dream. It was a high class restaurant. I was just barely making it as a waiter. Management maintained very high expectations of its staff. Suddenly, I became more of an observer as I watched Joseph begin and perform the work flawlessly. He always had a smile on his face. The few love handles above his hips, covered by a form-fitting American Eagle t-shirt, exuded a love lost long ago. I was back in love and I felt the need to defend it at all costs...even though Joseph and the restaurant continued to fall further and further away.
This hasn't been an easy weekend, or month for that matter. I'm agitated. The little things are getting to me. My sheilds are weakened and this situation is firing away. I'm looking forward to moving my mom into a new apartment tomorrow so my aunt has no reason to be in her life anymore. In addition to that I need to find out why the funding to my mom's Copaxone was so mysteriously discontinued again, and drop off her medication bottles at a specialty pharmacy during my half-hour lunch. Workplaces need scanners that erase emotional baggage at every entrance.
It's the crickets again sounding their steady chorus outside. It's about that time to put my sling on and fall asleep. I'm glad I was able to accomplish so much today because I can usually count on getting a good night's sleep when the time comes. Hopefully it will be busier at work tomorrow so my mind doesn't wander much...for the most part I'm just eager to see the month of July end without incident, but I suppose that life will always have its ups and downs, and I'm eager to get the ball rolling again in my life.
My mom's apartment looked especially somber without the couch and TV in it. Dog toys, china, cookbooks and countless paraphernalia littered the empty floor. Pale beige wallpaper, a trademark of the apartment complex, nevertheless spoke of a life dominated by the effects of a long-term disease such as Multiple Sclerosis. my brother had moved the couch, bed, TV, and otherwise large furniture into our mom's smaller, one bedroom apartment earlier with a couple of friends. It's hard to believe he will be here with his new family in about a month--perhaps places are more malleable than I imagined.
The printer presentation was somewhat of a tease. A woman was sitting between me and a man who was hired recently. He looked to be about my age and build, with a darker complexion and large, brown eyes. During break he caught me in the hallway and introduced himself as Chris. I must admit, it was refreshing to shake hands with someone so friendly and attractive. Outside, fast-moving clouds were mistaken for something from a smokestack. Staccato conversation, powerful gusts of wind and deafening thunder silenced everyone. I tried to find Chris later via office IM but work called.
I think the more emoticons available on an instant messenger, the more likely it is to experience breakdowns in communication. After my boss led me in the right direction on an assignment she requested but didn't know how to perform, she sent me a smiley face wearing glasses. I couldn't help but scroll over the emoticon to discover its meaning: dorky smile. Who's the dork? Me or you? "Thanks for clarifying," I responded before she sent another dorky smile. Was she amused at the three greatest strengths, weaknesses and goals I submitted earlier? Did she work a long day? What.
The acorns littering the ground outside remind me of a childhood hangout that was inside a large pine tree a few doors down. My friends and I would talk about the neighbors and our families--and we'd do so with the utmost zeal, convinced we could talk about anything since we were so "far" away from home. Through the entrance to the pine, which seemed to part like a curtain, acorns littered the street about the same time as the oak trees began losing their leaves. I miss those humble introductions to human nature--being able to confide like that.
Rachel and I are going to a Shakespearean style performance in Royal Oak this evening. It will be good to see her again, and I wonder how it will go. Before then, I have time to start another watercolor and finish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo--a book that's taken me nearly a month to read. The author does a good job of creating an atmospheric picture of Sweden with references to their currency, referred to as 'the kronor' and various living arrangements. I will be reading the sequel, The Girl who plays with Fire, as soon as possible.
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