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January first--the start of a new year--and it's raining outside. It looks like dusk, though it's only noon, and the former ground cover of snow is dissolving rapidly. Already we've had to change our plans and abort the hike we had thought to take today. After last night's merriment, I slept till noon today and surely won't get to most of the grandiose tasks I had planned for today. So much for resolutions. While I suppose there are any number I should adopt, my only real one this year is to somehow bring more order to the chaos.
Sometimes we walk side by side. But, when required, one of us can take the lead, with the other following closely behind. We often work in partnership, but still know how to stand apart to show off our own unique talents. Ours is a mostly wordless dialogue--each of us forever studying the other's moves, circling, trying to maintain a perfect balance. Sometimes we kick up our heels together in sheer joy; other times you hold me up when I take a dip. Can you hear the music, feel my racing heartbeat alongside yours?
The perfect relationship?
The perfect dance.
Last week, I got to thinking about old acquaintances--you know, the people who once were meaningful to us but later dropped out of our lives and now rarely enter our thoughts. I saw a Felix the Cat clock in a store window and naturally recalled such an old friend named Felix. I wondered if he ever thought about me, and decided that since there are few items that would remind anyone of my name, most likely he didn't. Today I got a "blind" email forwarded from my university's alumni site, and, wouldn't you know it, it was from Felix!
I realized tonight that eleven years later, I'm still angry with you. I knew back then that I was hurt and certainly disappointed, but never realized just how very angry I was, and, sadly, still am. You knew by then what a deeply personal gift it was, and how much thought I had put into it. I understand now that you didn't value it as I did. But to toss it aside with such affected disinterest--that was the cruelest of responses. If such a precious gift meant so very little to you, then you shouldn't have asked for it.
, about a girl whose mother "kidnapped" her at the age of four from a father allegedly molesting her. They went on the run, hiding out in an underground network of homes organized to hide people in that situation. The father was found innocent of the allegations by the courts and insists the girl was brainwashed. The courts returned her to live with him briefly, but she ran away again until age 18. When the show was over, A- said he believed the girl had been brainwashed. I don't feel like I know enough to judge either way.
It's a new year now, but it still feels the same. Why is it that once the calendar turns over to a new year, I always expect something major to happen--a sort of kharmic reflection of a new era. January 1st, I typically read about people who got killed by stupid relatives or neighbors shooting off guns to celebrate the new year, the latest suicide bombings, etc. It makes me wonder: Where's the world peace? Where's the Armageddon? Where's the major world event that will define our new year? Hasn't anyone else noticed that it's a new year now?
Snow! And more snow! This has been a rather unusual winter--almost enough to make me temporarily forget about global warming. Several times in the last few years, it's really snowed, but I was always out of town. In those cases, it dumped a whole lot, and then didn't snow much the rest of the winter. This year, starting with Christmas Day, it's snowed every few days. Waking up in the morning to the breathtaking surprise of a beautiful white landscape, the trees frosted and the ground covered, is one of my favorite things. Can't wait to go skiing, too!
My oldest cat, curled up next to me right now, is named Dread Pirate Roberts, though I just call him "Dread." He's named after a character from the movie
The Princess Bride
. He's a beautiful apple-faced cat, with Siamese coloring--white underside and paws with creamy brown dusted on his back and a darker patch over his ears, head, and tail. The dark coloring extends all the way down around his left eye, like a pirate's eyepatch. (Thus, the name.) Dread was a stray kitten when I found him outside my old apartment, and we've been a pair ever since.
I'm amazed how hard it is to come up with something to say here sometimes. I periodically have profound thoughts that I think I should spend the time to write about and explore further, but when I'm here, few brilliant inspirations come to mind. Perhaps it's partly because I couldn't really do most subjects justice in so few words. What can you say worthwhile about politics, religion, justice, injustice, or life in general in under 101 words? I can only present brief quotations, portray vignette moments, or express random thoughts here. But are those the important things in life? Maybe.
I thought that as you aged, you were supposed to get more closed-minded, but mostly that hasn't happened to me (yet). I'm much more receptive now to certain ideas I'd have dismissed outright when I was younger. For example, I no longer completely reject the idea of past lives, of psychics, of animal communicators, or of the healing powers of macrobiotic diets or yoga or other alternative approaches. Though I'll always be skeptical, I've now seen just enough to make me wonder. And I think it's a sign of my own growth that I can at least consider the possibilities.
I recently learned that the slang street expression, "Word!"--used as an affirmation--has its root in the idea that a person's word is his bond. When you say, "Word," you pledge that the information you have spoken (or heard expressed) is true.
I try not to commit to things unless I know I can fulfill those commitments, because I tend to feel extremely guilty if I fail. However, when I commit to do something along with another person, an almost inescapable sense of obligation generally obliges me to do what I promised. Apparently, others don't always feel the same.
Tonight on TV I saw an actor describe a near-death experience he'd had during filming of
that was almost identical to one I'd had. I fell into icy-cold waters of an Alaskan river (trying to cross it on a backpacking trip), couldn't get my head above the water, and almost drowned. The actor didn't seem to remember how he'd eventually saved himself any more than I did. But he described exactly that unique moment of calm I also experienced, where the thought passes through your head, "Huh. So this is it. This is how it's going to end."
Someday, when I get my own house, these are the special things I want just for me:
* a fireplace
* a big, comfy, overstuffed chair--the kind you can curl up and doze in with enough room for a blanket, a cat, a good book, and a mug of hot chocolate. Preferably, the chair is situated by both the fireplace and a large window, so I can sit there all cozy during fierce thunderstorms.
* enough space and sun for a garden
* a hot water dispenser
* a washer and dryer on the same floor as my bedroom
* a sewing and crafts room
I've worked with stubborn, obtuse, and even unpleasant people in my various jobs, but I've never before met a Frances. Frances gets along well with most people in our department on a personal level, but as a co-worker, she makes us irate. She refuses to believe anything anyone tells her unless she's seen it herself, she digs in her heels to argue about things she knows little to nothing about, and she wastes inordinate amounts of everyone's time trying to investigate, prove, disprove, or "fix" trivial things. She's the only co-worker to whom I've ever raised my voice in anger.
Someone once said that watching reality TV is like rubbernecking at a car accident scene as you drive by. You know it's tactless and wrong, but human nature just can't resist trying to get a good look at the carnage. The newest "reality" TV game show introduces a bunch of beautiful, ambitious bachelorettes to a bachelor they're told has just inherited $50 million. Only he hasn't, and the guy is really just a poor bulldozer operator. When he chooses "the one" from the group, will she still want to marry him if he's not really rich?
Let the carnage begin!
Someone came around today trying to find out who in our group had the
Sales Guide file open, since she needed to make some changes. I didn't know, so I suggested she check with two of our senior writers. Then I noticed Frances holding something in her lap that looked like a sales guide, so I made her take off her headphones and asked her, "Are you accessing the
Sales Guide right now?"
"What do you mean, 'accessing'?"
"*Sigh*... Are you VIEWING the
Sales Guide right now?"
"I'm WORKING on the
Sales Guide right now!"
Sixteen months later, it still hits you like an unexpected punch in the stomach. You put it out of your mind for a few hours, days, even a week or so. Then you inadvertently pass the makeshift memorial in Grand Central Station, left standing from the first days when desperate relatives posted "Have you seen" flyers everywhere. You saunter agape through Times Square's excesses, and there, completely out of place on an otherwise hectic corner, a silent, grief-stricken, bronze fireman bends down on one knee, head in hand. Brave, explanation-less photos still smile at you from small police precinct windows.
Remarkably, I have three grandparents in their nineties, and--up until recently--still physically and mentally able. However, one of my grandmothers (ironically, the younger one by three and a half years) is starting to get confused lately. She sees people who aren't there, asks where people are who are right next to her, says she "wants to go home" while sitting in her own living room, and starts sentences that she can't finish. She has trouble eating even the smallest, simplest meals. It must be so frightening for my grandpa to helplessly watch his lifelong companion deteriorate so rapidly.
TiVo has turned me into a very spoiled person. When it first arrived in our house, I rolled my eyes at yet another electronic "must-have" gadget that we surely didn't need. After playing with it for an hour, I fell in love. Hard. Now I find myself getting annoyed at radio and live TV because they're such primitive gadgets that I can't fast-forward through commercials or rewind them to hear something I missed. As much as I hate buying electronics, I've even seriously considered purchasing a second TiVo (with more recording time) for our other TV. How pathetic is that?!?
My brother J- got married just months after his divorce, because he'd accidentally gotten his girlfriend pregnant. A- was convinced that this marriage would never last, either. But I knew better, since J- has always gotten his way. (Even the divorce was his idea.) So here he is, a year and a half later--happily married with a beautiful son, loving his job, expecting their second child, driving the second car my parents have given him for free, and living in a beautiful new house. He was such a jerk growing up. I guess it's true that life isn't fair.
I have a couple of co-workers who tell me all the gossip they hear about other co-workers. When we get together, we sometimes joke about the ones who are a little flighty, or the ones we don't really like, and I feel a little cruel. But when we discuss how our other co-workers are nice to certain people's faces, but then sit around and complain and gossip about those same people behind their backs, it's so hypocritical, it's pathetic. I often find myself being meaner than I really want to be, and then I don't feel very good about myself.
When I was younger and lived in a small town with one library, I somehow got the idea that if I started with the first book on the first bookshelf and just kept reading at a steady pace, I could somehow read every book in our local library before I died. (Or at least every book within the children's section, perhaps.) I guess I had no concept of how many new books are published a year and how often libraries add to their stock. Now I'd settle for just getting to read every book I currently own before I die.
Some days I hate my job. I can't tell if it's because I'm just generally bored by what I'm doing; my morale is at rock-bottom because I work for a company run by such a bunch of shortsighted, arrogant bastards that have consistently screwed our department over for so long; or I just don't like working in general, and would rather have a husband supporting me while I stayed at home raising kids and volunteering.
What would my ideal job be? Something that paid well, but enabled me to work flexible hours, travel often, and change assignments every few weeks.
You would not believe how cold it is! We're having windchills well below freezing. I'm wearing long johns under my slacks every day, just to keep from getting frostbite while walking out to my car. (Oh, what I wouldn't give to be able to keep my car in the garage, too, on these bitterly cold days!) They say New York hasn't seen a winter like this since around 1984, though supposedly this is reminiscent of what "typical" winters used to be like around here. I don't mind the snow, but, man, THIS much cold is a bit much for me.
So, last minute notice, but my parents-in-law-to-be are going to be coming through town and staying overnight with us next weekend. When A- and I first moved in together, they told us that they disapproved and that we shouldn't ever expect them to come visit us as long as we weren't married. I think they must have believed that I corrupted their son, who was raised a good Catholic and had better morals than that. The irony is, it was neither my idea nor my preference, but at his insistence after the short-lived failure of a first marriage he had.
So, I don't know what to think of this war with Iraq thing. I know Saddam Hussein is probably a pretty evil man, and he has done some terrible things. I believe he has lied consistently, and that even now he's lying, covering-up, being uncooperative, and forcing others to be uncooperative regarding his country's weapons of mass destruction program. I have no doubt that, if left to his own devices, he will continue to do terrible things. However, the advantage we had in the first Gulf War was the element of surprise. We've pretty much blown that advantage this time.
These are not very loving things to say:
You never listen to me, anyway.
You have an excuse for everything, don't you?
Oh, so it's all
ever did any work around here...
You're such a wagamama bear.*
Uh-oh. You're getting all emotional. It must be that time of the month again.
Stop getting all riled up!
You're not very coordinated, are you?
You're not exactly "domesticated."
You take forever!
*Note: "Wagamama" supposedly means "selfish" in Japanese. I don't know if that's how you really spell it. "Bear" is supposedly a (English) term of endearment.
Today a friend sent me a "Where were you?" email, with a reminder that 17 years ago today the space shuttle Challenger accident occurred.
I was a high school sophomore in Houston, just 45 minutes from NASA's mission control. I went into the lunchroom after Health class, and met my friend Charlotte. She asked, "Did you hear that the space shuttle exploded?"
I said, "Charlotte, that's not funny."
She said, "I'm not kidding."
Someone turned on the big projection TV in the lunchroom, and all through lunch, we watched soundless images of the space shuttle exploding over and over again.
song that's been running through my head for two days:
Druscilla Penny, what a name!
Are you sure you didn't make it up yourself?
You're very pretty; yes, you are,
But with all the junk you wear it's hard to tell.
Man, you must work hard to get your hair to look like that.
I don't need a horoscope to tell me where you're at.
Your family's prob'ly given up on you
Since you began to follow groups of long-haired rock-and-rollers.
I can hear your mother,
Crying for her daughter.
That's mostly all I remember.
Yes, sometimes she's really bad. She jumps on the table and steals trinkets, then bats them around the living room, making as much noise as possible. She climbs on the counters and knocks things over, tromps around in the tub and drinks the shampooey water from the drain, steals earrings off my bedside table and loses them behind the dresser or under the radiator. But in this moment when she's sleeping so soundly with her little head resting on my hand, I realize just how much trust this tiny creature puts in me. And I can't help but love her.
I had a cough for several weeks that I thought was just my asthma kicking up because of the intense cold. When it turned into sinusitis, I finally went to the doctor, who said it might be pneumonia, put me on antibiotics, and sent me for X-rays. After viewing the X-rays yesterday morning, he said he thinks it's "just" acute bronchitis. The antibiotics helped my sinuses pretty quickly, but I still can't breathe very well. I had to skip my dance class last night since I couldn't breathe well enough to dance without major coughing fits. So I'm pretty annoyed.
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