January 9, 2014

This Christmas

I pulled into the parking lot to mail an overdue package.  It had been taped up and ready to go for a week or more, but it felt impossible to find the time required to drive to the building down the street.  The last time I'd put a box on the counter, I learned several requirements of packages and had to undo all my hard work and start again with regulation tape.  I was ready this time in terms of my package, but was lacking the fortitude to try again.

This kind of snow causes people to say things like, "Don't go out there if you don't have to!"  But I had dry cleaning to pick up and a car with four wheel drive, so I stopped hard on purpose to slide through the empty streets.

The parking lot of the post office was nearly empty.  The only other car around held someone leaving, waiting for their blowers to turn hot before pulling out.  It was the perfect time to mail an overdue package, I was back outside in minutes.  There was a man walking past me into the building, and he shouted against the nonexistent wind, "Here's how you know this Christmas sucks!"

"Usually this place would be packed right now! But it's a ghost town!"

He wore oversized clothes and was an oversized man, spittle flying from his mouth as he proclaimed the shittiness of this Christmas.  He was talking at me because I was the only person around.

"Maybe it's the snow," I replied, trying to look festive and jolly to prove that this Christmas isn't shitty.

But I think that was the wrong response.  I should have said, "But we're here!"

December 14, 2013

2009-2013

I knew a lot of things, back before my brain died.  Or went dormant.  Before I learned to make myself satisfied, grew fat and happy, sometimes angry and lonely, but mostly happy.  Before I had friends that say things like "you look like fall today."  Before my heart grew.  So big for one person that I could carry all the troubles,  but still bumble and drop them.  Then pick them up and carry them around again.  Maybe I will never make a budget but I will always find you when you are lost.

Before I went away for a long time.  Before it took distance for me to remember that my family isn't just a family.  We are a clan (not the bad kind), brought together by an understanding of the world few people have.  Five people.  Six.  Before people died and I had my soul ripped out with worry, then had to put it back together to keep being the strong one.

Before I learned to wait before worrying.  To wait until the phone rang twice, which means an emergency, and when I pick it up, I say, "what what what" because I've been imagining the ending for so long that I think I will know what to say when it happens.  But it hasn't happened yet, not really.  And I don't know what to say.

Don't get me wrong, I know things now, more things. I am much older, somewhat wiser.  Calmer.  But sometimes I worry that older and wiser means that something is broken.  That I've reached the point of cynicism where it's hard to get inspired because my shell is just so hard.

Then I stop, think about how much better I was.
 But I was just different than I am now.

When I went away I started living a life that forced me out of the comfort that I flourish in and made me help people who were suffering.  People whose pain I understand intimately, right next to people whose lives I can't imagine.  The guy with lung cancer who has a brain injury, telling him more than once that he has cancer. Reminding him about the friend that died last year in the accident.  Bringing presents for Christmas for the hilarious and charming kid whose mom can't always keep the lights on, or the heat.  Giving advice to volunteers working with kids from horrible circumstances, broken families, disadvantage.  Explaining how by showing up they were improving the future.

Both of those things happening at once was just too hard for me.  I couldn't do both.  I couldn't spend my heart protecting everyone I met and also build a meaningful life for myself.  So I just lived.  I survived.  My brain died a little - my heart took all the oxygen.  I lived in a tiny world I created for myself, and came home to a love that came with other burdens.  Ones I wanted to carry but needed back-up for.

So I called home.  Cried to my family, remembered that they are the ones who know me and will always carry me through.  I made friends with them for the first time.  True, best friends.  I left behind all the pain and anger that had always pushed me ahead.  I let my brain die a little for a while.  I let myself be just my heart.
I am finally finding stability.  It always takes me at least a year to adjust to a new life.  I've had many, many new lives.  But I know it took all that I've been to get me here,  to this new edge I'm standing on.

I believe it's the same for all of us, really.  Although we want to keep the world we started with, we all end up its the one we've got.  We can go backward a bit, pull out our friends from the abyss of history, we've got to do that at least.  But we are all always adjusting to the new world we see, and we have to move forward into the one we can't.

November 10, 2008

Good Deeds

I was at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland today, filming a video spot for an awards dinner (awkwardddddd). I finished a little early, so I went to a coffeeshop to wait for Justin.

After he called to say he was downtown, I went outside to wait. A few minutes later, a homeless man approached me. This is how it went down:

"Ma'am, can you spare some money so I can get some food?"

"I'm sorry, I don't have any cash. I have some walnuts in my purse if you want them."

He laughed and said something I couldn't understand. Then he asked me for a cigarette, and I gave him one.

I dug around in my purse for the lighter. "I can never find anything in this bag. Are you sure you don't want the walnuts?"

He laughed again, "I don't have any teeth!"

"You could crush them up!"

"Well, sure, I'll take 'em!"

So I gave a sandwich bag half-full of shelled walnuts to a man with no teeth today. Driving home, I couldn't decided whether it was a nice thing to do or not. I mean, he probably hasn't had walnuts in a REALLY long time, but he is also toothless so they will be very uncomfortable to eat. But if he figures out how to eat them (crush them, mix them with water, I don't know), it'd be excellent nutrition.

I don't know. I felt good about it, even if he thought I was a little bit crazy.

Grocery Update

Just a note:

Remember how in that last post I expressed hope that my groceries would last longer than a week?

Nope!

November 2, 2008

YOU SHALL KNOW OUR VELOCITY!

I've been writing recently, just not on here. Which, I think, is actually a little healthier, since these posts are totally random and short and about the strangest things, and now I'm working on something longer, totally random, and about something strange.

But, that doesn't mean I can't still update. So here I am!

Jus and I were A PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH for Halloween! It was awesome, although a little unwieldy, since we were at a party with lots of people, and we had bread made from foam and spray paint strapped to our backs. But it was still quite a hit, lots of people liked it, which makes sense, since we were a sandwich everybody likes. I'll post pics as soon as I upload them/get them from Nat (I left my camera in the car, so all I have on mine are pics of the "just baked" bread and two J took of me).

We went grocery shopping today, and spent $100 on healthy food that will hopefully last longer than a week. And two little boxes of Red Bulls (since we buy them individually most of the time and it costs less to buy the box). And a Real Simple magazine. And light bulbs. Well, those are cheap.

That's all for now, I'm off to the library. I just finished "You Shall Know Our Velocity!" by Dave Eggers, which was great. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Lakewood Public Library is one of the greatest places on Earth. Try it sometime.

September 14, 2008

Safety Theory

I recently discovered that I have a theory of personal safety, which I have dubbed “Safety Theory for the purposes of this post. It's not the most elaborate theory, nor does it cover most aspects of personal safety. Only one way to remain safe while walking home, by yourself, at night.

I went out to the Euclid Tavern the other night with a couple friends, and drank free beer purchased by absently chivalrous first-year law students (that, however, is a story for another time). As you may know, this particular bar is on the other side of the river from my apartment, so there is a twenty five minute light-rail ride involved when arriving and when going home. This is not a foreign experience for me; it's an adventure I've taken many times, day and night, not the least of which includes getting myself to my last two semesters at Case Western.

So, here's the theory:

Eminent murder can be avoided for at least fifteen minutes, if you're careful. Late-night hyper vigilance involves keeping your eye on everyone near you, approaching you, and walking away from you. You eye them and judge them, to determine whether or not they pose a direct threat. It is definitely necessary. If a murderer is going to try and murder you (or other-doer is trying to do other bad things to you), and you have been careful and noticed early, there is probably at least a fifteen minute window, during which you can avoid, hide, or run into someone's house.

But that in itself is not enough. There's a part two to my theory:

Always have someone on the phone with you that knows exactly where you are. For me, it's usually my mom or Deb, because I don't talk to them enough anyway, and this always provides a wonderful dual opportunity. Making this phone call means that during the fifteen minute window where murder can be delayed, the person you were speaking to on the phone can call the police, and hopefully have them arrive within fifteen minutes to save you.

This theory, like many theories, only exists because it hasn't yet been proven wrong. I have survived many late night walks underneath the poorly lit bridge at the E 120th Street Rapid Stop and up the stairs to the poorly lit platform where the train picks you up. I always have someone on the phone, and I always tell them where I am. Who knows if the person on the other end would be fast or articulate enough to convey such an important message to the proper authorities before the murder (or other bad thing) occurs. Or if it the murderer is faster than average and it only takes five minutes.

But like many theorists, I like my theory and I'm sticking to it. So maybe one of these dark and lonely nights, Dear Reader, I will call you up and let you know precisely where I am, and you will help me get home in one piece (instead of lots and lots of little pieces).

August 29, 2008

Wow, High School Was A Long Time Ago

(Or So It Seems)

I found a frame next to the dumpster a few days ago. An painted wood frame, old and a little dirty but sturdy enough. It has a very cool, colorful design on it that blends well with my living room decor.

I took it home, and measured it.

It is 16 inches wide and 30 inches long, according to my tape measure. So I wrote wrote "16x30" in green marker on the white board in the kitchen, and stared at it.

While I stared, I was thinking, "I should be able to do something with these numbers that will help me figure out what size poster to get. I went through AP Calculus, I did alright, I should be able to figure out what this means."

I wrote "16/30," a fraction. I wrote "8/15" next to that.

Then I wrote "1 ft 4 in" and "2 ft 6 in" underneath. And I kept staring at these numbers, waiting for a file drawer to burst open in some dusty-but-functioning part of my brain, containing a file with the answer written on the inside flap. But, sadly, there was no manila.

I went through AP Calculus! I took intensive math courses for six years!! And now I can't even apply basic algebra to my daily life?

Talk about moments that cause premature aging! I feel like my father! I never used to understand how he had forgotten the name of his eighth grade gym teacher. It was unimaginable to me, and all of my 15 years, that he did not have the blazing, crystal recall I possessed in comparison.

Well, Universe, I get it. That (not becoming engaged, working full-time or experiencing unemployment) is what finally pushed me over the edge in adulthood. Apparently, I've grown up. And forgotten my math, against all good advice.

August 27, 2008

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits

Justin and I have been watching the DNC on cnn.com/live this week. Thank god I didn't watch the Olympics like the rest of America, or I would be exhausted!

I was glad to see HilClint in her orange suit. I've always felt strangely supportive of her, although I voted for Obama. Maybe I'm just attracted to what she represents...she said it herself last night. Her mother was born before women had the right to vote; my own grandmother was born only three years later. And Chelsea Clinton was able to vote for her mother for president!

It is amazing how quickly things can change, although while you're living your daily life things can seem so stagnant.

I know a lot of the DNC speeches are bullshit, total politics (25% law + 75% theater), but a lot of the Obama rhetoric really reasonates with me. Anyone that knows me can tell you that I'm in love with the 1960s, and this 2008 election and all that comes with it has made me feel like I understand those times at least a little better. I'll be the first to admit that it's probably all the Kennedy comparisons, strategically separating the Democratic party from the Clinton dynasty.

But I still think there is a lot of truth to those strategic comparisons. Kennedy and Obama both represent a fundamental change in American attitude, coming at a time when such a change is necessary to keep America going.

Sometimes we're so confident in our national identity, our lives as Americans, that we forget that countries can, and do, fail. Our Founding Fathers knew this all too well and did their darndest to prevent it from happening, but without the Kennedys and the Obamas of the world, who knows? Maybe we wouldn't have made it this far.

I'm pumped to watch tonight, with BillClint taking the stage. Although Bill Clinton does baffle me. He is definitely a man of mystery, although I highly recommend Primary Colors.