That’s Entertainment

The contractor came and busted down the Sheetrock above my back door because it had swelled and the door was rubbing against it. So I watched him while eating my own face because I tend to chew my lip when someone knocks part of my house down. It’s not all done yet – the new Sheetrock is up and some of the mudwork is done, but he has to come back tomorrow (allegedly) and finish the mudwork, so I can then repaint. Sigh. Add it to the To Do List.

Two trucks decided to smash into each other at the end of the block yesterday morning. They snapped a utility pole in half. I am now one of those people who lives in the city and comes out of her house to stand on the sidewalk somewhat aimlessly and gawk at things like this. But also I called 911. Partly because of the accident and partly because it knocked out power. And cable. Out entirely for eight hours. Then the internet and phone came back, but the TV is still all scrambly. I called the cable company four times about it. Now they have to come out tomorrow between 10 and noon to tell me there is nothing wrong from my end. Which will be tremendously helpful.

Oh, I hear a siren winding down outside. Standby.

I’m back. It’s a fire engine. Nothing’s on fire, though. They knocked on a door across the street and down a few houses. No one answered. So someone is dead, possibly.

My neighbor down the street, Miss Ella, cracks me up slash terrifies me. I think I’ve mentioned her before. She’s old but I can’t tell how old, and she has absolutely no brain left in her head, God love her. Yesterday after the accident knocked out the power, she came out and started yelling “Hello?” up the street. This is basically how she asks people for help, since she doesn’t remember who anyone is.  I went to see what was up and she said, “There’s ringing! There’s ringing in my house!” I figured it was her alarm system, which it was. I pushed a few buttons while she told me her mother wasn’t home (seeing as how she’s been dead for 40 years, I’m guessing) and I finally just hit CANCEL and the beeping stopped.

“So in other words, I have to hit CANCEL,” she observed.

Sure.

Two hours later: “Hello?” from down the block. She had a mantle-style plastic alarm clock in her hands. Extra-large buttons. The alarm was going off. She was scared to push any buttons to make it stop. So I switched it off and explained to her how to do it.

“So in other words, make sure the alarm is off.”

Oh, Miss Ella. Please don’t turn on the stove.

I wound up held hostage by Mr. Z a few doors down. My gaybor had asked me to knock on the door to see if they want a tree from the city in front of the house. They don’t. Establishing that took about a minute. Getting Mr. Z to stop talking about any and all other things took another 59. Apparently, he stays up all night and goes to bed when his wife goes to work. Then he sleeps all day. So when I knocked at 1:30pm, I woke him. He was in pajama pants and a t-shirt and clearly hadn’t shaved in days. Three hours later he knocked on my door to show me that he had taken a shower, brushed his hair, shaved and gotten dressed.

He reminds me of Fred Willard.

Also he says completely inappropriate things. Such as describing his next door neighbor as (hand flop) and saying my next door neighbors “don’t want the federales coming to get them. They must know I’m the neighborhood gringo watch.”

Dude.

He’s suspicious of my next door neighbors because they’re so nice.

I’m trying to finish a book that I’m not enjoying at all. If you’re ever tempted to read “The Tiger’s Wife,” don’t. It’s this fantastical thing set somewhere in Russia or the Czech Republic (not to be confused with Chechnya… looking at you, idiots on Twitter) or somewhere like that. Something about a deathless man and a tiger/human and The Jungle Book. I don’t understand it at all and I only have like 80 pages left. I feel like I should just finish it so I have a shot at understanding it. Like I think the 270 pages of whatever-the-hell is going to suddenly make all the sense in the world in the last 80.

And the other day I realized while I was peeing that I had my underwear on sideways.

Yup. Crotch at the hip.

I don’t even know.

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Working Staycation

Week off, day one. I was supposed to paint the front door today. It’s at the top of my To Do List. I’m kind of excited about it, because my front door is white and boring and I don’t do white and boring. Except for management meetings. *Rimshot!*

But Mother Nature (or, as I believe she’s called in my urban environment, “All Y’all’s Mama”) decided that, on Earth Day, she would throw down some irony and make it too cold for me to put a coat of latex-based fume-producing paint on the door.

Well-played, Mama. I see you your temperature fluctuation that prevents my ozone-damaging efforts, and I raise you whatever chemicals are in a Swiffer wet cloth.

Your move, lady.

This week is all about the To Do List, bolstered by my attempt to reprogram my body to go to bed early and get up early, so I can be ready to start the new job with grown-up hours next Monday. I got up at 7:30, my mind full of the list’s items.

As of 11:30, I had moved the car, put a load of laundry in the washer, and pouted about the door.

None of those things were on the list.

I also read the internet. Not the whole thing, but kind of a lot of it. I had set up a TweetDeck account so I can keep track of goings-on for the new job. So I read the stuff that showed up there, and do you know what happens when you’re done doing that? You have to read the stuff that’s shown up since you started reading. It’s never-ending.

And then I looked at the Bed Bath & Beyond website because my 20% OFF online coupon is WAITING, hello, are you going to buy anything, bitch? And I found Mister Steamy’s Dryer Balls by accident.

Image

Well, obviously that is either brilliant marketing or whoever came up with it has absolutely no idea what all those words put together will do to my brain.

So then I had to post that on my friend Alicia’s Facebook page because she’s dirty like I am and we don’t work together anymore so instead of being inappropriate in person I have to do it on the internet.

And then I had to look for some art that I’d seen a while ago for my upstairs hall, to see if the price had come down at all. Which it didn’t, but it reminded me that I wanted to check out the website for a woman I bought some stuff from at a wine festival yesterday (it wasn’t wine), because it occurred to me after I walked away that her stuff would look great in my upstairs bathroom.

I was supposed to be cleaning my kitchen, by the way.

Then I went to change the laundry from the washer to the dryer and found a gray plastic hose just free as you please in the washer. Which is funny because I don’t remember putting one in there to be washed. I had a good feel-around and even dug the flashlight out to see if I could figure out where this thing came from, but there were no openings I could see. And then I consulted the internet, which sucked unusually badly at getting me the information I needed. But in the process, I began to suspect this hose was part of the drain tube. Which means doing another load of laundry would be a verrrry bad idea. So then I had to call the place I bought the machine from.

He remembered me from the three times he had to come to my house because the machine wouldn’t spin. He asked if I was going to be home today and said he’d call me when he was on his way out. So then I had to take a shower. Usually he shows up, knocks first, then calls, while I’m in the shower.

He showed up without calling at all (but at least he showed up and at least I was out of the shower), and it turned out that it was a drain hose. Just not my drain hose. Apparently it was a spare that had been stored in the rubber that encircles the opening to the washer and worked itself free somehow during the cycle. No harm, no foul.

Oh, also? When I discovered the hose in the washer? I smelled the tell-tale sign that the cat had, for some reason, chosen to pee on the basement carpet. It was dry, so who knows when this happened. Now, can someone please tell me why a spray bottle of Resolve is completely inoperable once more than half the bottle is gone? Here’s a product made to be sprayed on things like carpets and furniture. Which means it’s got to be pointed downward. Why on earth, then, do I have to hold it straight up to make it go?

FIX IT.

Eventually I did clean the kitchen, and the floors, and finish the laundry. None of these things were on the To Do List. Oh, but calling the hospital for which my shrinkapist works and figuring out exactly how much money I really do owe them now that they’ve figured out who to bill first was. And I did that. Yay me.

Writing thank you notes was not on the list, but it should have been, and I did that, too.

And I paid bills. Also not on the list. But clearly something that must be done. Paying bills is a little terrifying right now because I am allegedly getting my final paycheck in the mail from my old job, which will allegedly include payout for the vacation days I hadn’t taken yet… but then after that I will not see a paycheck until June.

June, bitches.

Because apparently it takes the state a whole entire month to get you into the system.

Which reminds me: create website whereby I will make lots more money on the side was supposed to be on the To Do list.

So as of cocktail hour on Day One, three of the 19 things on the list have been crossed off, and four things that weren’t on the list got added and crossed off.

And then I remembered I need a screen for the kitchen window, so I added that.

Math sucks.

What I Used To Do

Hey y’all…

I’ve password protected my latest post. Only those of you I trust now will get to read it. If you want to. You don’t have to. I won’t be offended if you don’t.

If you want to read it, though, email me at wpthesinglecell@yahoo.com and I’ll give you the password to the post. Maybe. 

 

Hard Lessons

When something like the Boston bombings happens, the sentiment tends to be fairly universal: “Whoever did this does not understand who we are. They tried to destroy us, but they will only make us stronger.”

I am sorry to say this – I know it will not go over well with everyone – but that sentiment, while lovely, proves we don’t yet have an understanding of terrorism.

They don’t care about “who we are.” All they care about is how many people they kill.

That’s their entire goal. Kill people. That is what it means for them to “win.” We can be as determined as we want to be, as poetic as we can rise to be. We can write words and sing songs and organize charities and talk about how we’re Americans and how the virtue of our birthplace makes us better than the rest of the world at this recovery.

They don’t care about any of that.

Most of the time, they have principles they’re fighting for. Most of the time, they have a political disagreement. Nothing more. Sure, it may manifest itself in theology, in whatever twisted perspective they might have on what God wants them to do. But it’s usually for political reasons. A hatred of Zionism or an anger over federal bankrolls.

We don’t know, of course, the motive for Boston’s bombing. But I’m pretty sure it was not because someone wanted to take down the spirit of America. Whether we like it or not, it could have just been a stupid, pimple-faced teenager who wanted to do something horrible. We jump to all these conclusions. We assume it’s some major terrorist network. And maybe it was. But maybe it wasn’t. We assume this is someone really smart. Well, it could have just been someone who knew when the last security sweep happened and when they could walk through with a backpack and drop it somewhere. They might claim to be part of a major terrorist network. The people who run it will never have heard of the bomber or bombers, but they may welcome the claim because they can add it to their success rate. And the bottom line is, it doesn’t really matter.

It happened because somebody wanted to kill people.

Mission accomplished.  And that’s all that matters.

When President Bush repeatedly told the nation and the world after 9/11 that the attack happened “because they hate our freedom,” he was oversimplifying the situation by a huge factor. This isn’t the only free country, and it didn’t happen anywhere else. He was doing it for a benevolent reason: to inspire unity. But he wasn’t telling the American people the truth. The truth would require us to have access to secret information. The truth doesn’t fit in a soundbite. It’s complicated and convoluted and it bores people. That’s not his fault. We don’t really care enough to know the real truth. That would require us to pay a lot more attention to the world and the way nations are run. We can barely get our own electorate to vote.

Some attacks are designed to be spectacular, to inspire fear. In those cases, yes, it might be helpful to our cause not to show that fear. But that doesn’t mean they’ll stop trying to kill people. They aren’t thwarted by waving flags and Red Cross donations. They are thwarted by tactical prevention borne of political will. If one person decides to stop trying, another person takes his place. It’s like flowers in the barrels of guns. It’s a beautiful thought and a stirring image. But the flower won’t stop the bullet. All it takes is someone willing to pull the trigger.

Terrorists don’t care about prison. They don’t care about torture. They don’t care about execution. None of those possibilities dissuade them. They obviously have no value for life, be it someone else’s or their own, because they’re willing to do something heinous and, if necessary, go down for it. That’s why they’re so hard to stop. And even if they get caught and they’d rather not die later, they didn’t care when they did it. So what does it matter now?

It’s a difficult thing to know. It makes us feel powerless all over again, and that is a deeply troubling feeling when we who value life and humanity just need some way to ensure its survival. But it is fundamental to understanding how to fight back. The real reason for our sentiment, beyond a profound misunderstanding of the way terrorism works, is that it’s the only way we ordinary people have to fight back. We can’t do anything but ache for the people who have been hurt or the families of those who have died. We are powerless, and so we find some strength in believing ourselves to be better and in finding something we can do for the victims.

And we absolutely should do that. That is what confirms our humanity. We should never stop doing that. That is what is right for average Americans to do.

But fighting terrorism with spirit? That’s a losing effort every time.

A Tender Spring

Today is my birthday.

It’s also the anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. 

This week marks the anniversaries of Waco, Columbine and Oklahoma City, all of which I very clearly remember watching unfold.

And now Boston.

Since 2007 in particular, I have deliberately avoided media on my birthday. I don’t want to spend it filled with teary reminders of tragedy and horror and ways the world will never be the same. I don’t want to corrupt the light and airy joy of a newfound spring with the weight and sorrow of manmade hells. I spend every day immersed in the world’s troubles; I want one day’s rest, and I have demanded that it be April 16th since the day six years ago when 32 college students died. 

But it seems the universe refuses to comply with that demand. It seems this day is not just about me. From the moment I logged into Facebook to read well wishes from friends, I was barraged with images from Boston and Virginia Tech. I cannot avoid the world and its troubles today.

When I saw the horror begin in Boston, I desperately wanted it to have been a terrible accident. I wanted it to have been a couple of propane tanks, or a gas line… something unintended. Somehow that would have taken so much of the pain out of the injuries, so much of the heartbreak out of the deaths. But as I kept close watch over the developments, it felt more and more like what it was. And I felt less and less like someone who has any say at all in how life unfolds.

I thought of Jack. I have a ridiculous number of marathon-running friends, and I knew Jack wasn’t in Boston yesterday; he ran it in 2002 and he never runs the same marathon twice. But I knew he and my other runner friends would be wrenched by what had happened. I checked to make sure none of them were at the race; they weren’t. I thought about the two marathons I went to with Jack, the one where we spent three hours in the medical tent after he crossed the finish line because what started out as stubbornly tight calves turned into debilitating dehydration-related cramps that signaled the danger of a heart attack. I thought about what it might have been like as he lay dazed, pained, shaking and high on valium, if a sudden stream of terribly bloodied and limbless runners arrived. And kept arriving. And just kept arriving.

Though I have cut off contact with Jack, I did access the one thing I know is available in case I wonder if he’s alive: his Twitter account for work. He had posted a link to a blog post he had written on his company’s website – something he does from time to time. Jack is a beautiful writer, and before I knew it, I was reading what he had written. 

I wondered last night if I could put together a blog post on Boston, and pretty quickly dismissed it. One of the saddest things about it is that there seems to be nothing left to say. There have been too many Bostons. I have used up all my words.

There are already many images of Boston that I can instantly recall without aid of internet or television. But I’m grateful for the one that I seem to see most often in my mind. It is the image of people running into the blast zone, seconds after the explosions erupted, to help whoever was hurt. Not all of them were emergency workers. Not all of them were event staff. Some of them were just runners, runners’ friends or fans, Bostonians in the area for what the city commonly calls The Best Day.

No matter how much the darkness seeks to shroud April, human nature tends toward the sun. 

On my birthday, perhaps I am blessed to be reminded that, in the wake of too many tragedies, there have been so many glimmers of light.

The sun is coming through the clouds now. And I am going to go for a walk in the park, to see the new buds on the trees, the daffodils in bloom, the children at play.

To greet the tender spring.

 

The Virtue of Basements

I’m still getting used to having a house instead of an apartment. I suppose that’s understandable, since I lived in one apartment or another for 13 years and I’ve only lived in my house for five months. Sure, a house is more responsibility, and if something breaks I can’t just call maintenance and make them fix it for free sometime in the next six months. Instead, I have to call the builder and make him fix it for free sometime in the next seven (until the 12-month builder’s warranty is up – after that, I plan to either fix things myself or ignore them and hope they go away). He no-showed me yesterday morning after I told him the house is settling on my back door and I can’t open or close it without scraping the drywall above it, and that if the outlets in the living room work, the one that controls the jacuzzi jets upstairs does not. He no-showed me several times when I had a couple of other things that needed attention the month after I moved in. But he’s a pretty good guy, so I just bug him every day until it gets done.

And there are lots of times that I have to remind myself that I can do anything I want now. Like when I walk a little too hard across the floor. First reaction: “Oh, the neighbors downstairs are going to think I’m an elephant.” Second reaction: “The only thing downstairs is the basement. Haha! I win!” and then I stomp just because I can.

When I take a shower, I no longer have to think about communal hot water. Sure, I have to pay the bill, but only one person lives here and that means I can take up the average amount of water for four people and still not be judged by society, because society judges based on a family of four. I don’t have to worry about trying to shower before or after the guy upstairs or the old lady next door.

I don’t have to turn my television down when I get home late at night from work (for 1.5 more weeks) and want to watch The Daily Show or catch up on my DVR until 1am. I generally don’t like the volume that loud anyway, but no one can say to me, “Hey, I heard your TV at 1am.” And I can yell at the TV during sporting events without concern for others’ opinions of me as a lady.

I can flush the toilet late at night and not worry about waking up the baby downstairs. Or accidentally slam a cabinet because the handle slips out of my grip. Vacuum whenever I want. Clang pots and pans. Sing out loud a lot. Do laundry at odd hours.

Last night I woke myself up coughing my head off because I got a cold from Neph 1. Before buying my house, I would have worried that I’d wake a neighbor. Now, I have the freedom to worry only about dying alone and not being found for days.

I can paint. And I did. I painted the shit out of that house. Soon I’m going to paint the front door.

Wait. I just read a how-to thing on painting a metal exterior door. I might not do that.

But this morning I might have discovered the thing I like best about my house. As temperatures on the east coast made a bizarre climb and I refused to turn on the air conditioner out of principle, it occurred to me that it might get too warm for my wine.

And then I remembered.

I have a basement.

A gloriously cool basement.

Ah, the joys of homeownership.

Epicness

You guys, this day was so I don’t even know what that I can’t come up with a first sentence.

So I gave you that one.

It started with me having to run interference on Facebook posts. My sister, who often gets caught up in what she thinks is a good idea without realizing it could, um, totally hijack someone else’s day, posted on Facebook about how I was getting these governor’s awards at this luncheon. She posted my name. She posted a weblink to the Thing.

Nooo. What are you doing?!

And then one of my best friends, who is also Facebook friends with her, reposted it.

Oh, come on, no!

And then my aunt.

No no no no no!

Yelling that. Aloud in my kitchen.

So then I had to text all of them and tell them that I really appreciated their support but that I had deliberately not advertised this and could they please take down the Facebook posts? Because now literally 2,000 people know and I’m going to get questions I don’t want to answer. There are a lot of implications – strangers knowing too much, family and friends with whom I didn’t share the information asking too much, work possibly seeing it and questioning whether it was okay for me to lobby for a law while being professionally involved with my company.

Take it down, please. Now.

They did, fortunately, but I wound up crying. It was 9am and I was already on emotional overload. I was getting two governor’s awards for my victims’ advocacy work. I was giving a speech. Once it was a five-minute speech. Then I was told three minutes. Then I was told between three and five minutes, so I sort of merged the two, made it a Best Of and had Sam edit it. Which meant switching some things around a little and recalibrating. Fine. I can do those things. But the message of the speech… the impact of a stalker, the need for victim notification of prisoner release in cases of misdemeanor offense, the long-term effects of being a crime victim, the need for people who dedicate themselves to helping… it was heavy. My parents were coming. They would hear this speech and likely be set on edge and maybe even upset by it. Rick would be there. Or not, depending on his meeting.

An hour before the event began, my parents called to tell me they were stuck in bad traffic from an accident exactly nowhere near where they needed to be. I wasn’t sure they would make it in time to hear my speech, which would, of course, upset them. Then, sitting in my car in the parking lot outside the luncheon site, I drizzled a not insignificant amount of red nail polish on my blue spring coat.

So things were off to a great start.

My parents did make it in time. Somehow. So did Rick. He slipped in a little late and sat in the back, instead of at the table with us, the group of people receiving an award for the work we did. He did that work, really. But he came over after my speech, tapped me on the shoulder and said he was sitting elsewhere so he could slip out to tend to other professional obligations when he had to.

Seeing him felt sad. And good. And made me miss him. And made me hope. And felt awkward.

But I was glad he made it to get his award. And to hear my speech and see me in my really nice dress and heels with my hair up. He likes that look, and I’m a big believer in the lingering image.

I think my speech went well, but to be honest, I’ve blocked out parts of it. I wondered afterward if I had really said everything. I had written it all out, then rehearsed it so I would know it well enough not to have to read it word for word. But a whole section is missing from my memory.

The other speakers had lived through experiences so much worse than my own. I try not to qualify it that way. I try not to invalidate my experience vis-a-vis someone else’s, but when you’re speaking after a woman whose husband was killed and before a woman whose husband beat her and then murdered her two young children, you do feel like you’re unfairly spotlighted.

When the time came to give me my individual award, I looked toward the back of the room and saw Rick standing there in the doorway with the senator. He was backlit from the windows and surrounded by white marble. It was like he was glowing. I felt a pang. A few minutes later, when they announced our group award, I avoided looking at him but couldn’t help noticing the grin on his face. He deserved this, and he deserved to be proud. I was proud of him, too.

After that, he and the senator came and sat at our table, where my parents had joined us because our group was so scattered throughout the room. He wound up talking to my parents for a while. I have no idea what they talked about; several people had come up to me and I was justifiably distracted. And somewhat willfully ingoring his presence. Not because I didn’t want him there, but because I didn’t trust myself to act like there had never been anything between us.

After we left and I led my parents back to my house, I checked my phone and saw I’d missed a call. From the university. I returned it.

They offered me the job. Maximum salary allowed, title I wanted. I start May 1.

As promised, I texted Rick to let him know. His response: “Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! CONGRATS! You’ve had a very big day, if I do say so myself.”

It was a big day. A big, difficult, surreal, emotional on every level day. So much so that I don’t think it’s registered.

My mother wanted to frame my awards and hang them. In my bedroom.

No no no no no.

 

Random Unimportant Things That Are Bothering Me

The other night I had a dream that I was half-heartedly giving someone a handjob.

I’ll pause so you can clean up whatever you just spat out. Next time you should swallow.

— That’s what he said. —

Aaaand we’re back. Okay. So there I was, you know, jobbing. Except in terms of effort it might have been more like an unpaid internship set up by someone else. I was barely trying at times. I knew the guy, but I can’t remember now who he was. Someone I’d never seen naked, I know that. Apparently the who of this dream is immaterial to the psychological reason behind it. Rather, the lasting impression was that I reeaaaally didn’t feel like doing what I was doing. I wasn’t mad or anything, just completely uninterested. Like, I was rolling my eyes.

I know. This is how a lot of women feel, a lot of the time.

Do you think “handjob” is in the dream dictionary?

Now I keep looking at every guy I know when he walks by or whatever, like, “Was it you?” Then I picture a thought bubble over my head with an image from the dream and a question mark next to it.

I would like the Byronic Man to draw this post in stick-figure representation.

*****

I am seriously concerned that something about being photographed makes me intermittently cross-eyed. My cousin got married over the weekend. The ceremony was lovely, blah blah, but the reception was totally kick-ass. Anyway, pictures. How do I wind up looking like my left eye is trying to focus on the left side of my nose? If not that, then I look psycho trying to prevent that from happening. Or to prevent my eyes from looking squinty because I’m smiling and my apple cheeks have crept up my face. You think I’m exaggerating, but even BIL 2 was like, “Dude, you looked psycho that time. Let’s try again.”

Also, my hair was annoying.

*****

I am still waiting to get the formal offer for the university job. I have taken to calling the situation an Agreement In Principle. I have taken to calling it that having no idea if that’s really what it is, but as we know, I have trust issues, so nothing is real until it’s real. A week ago, I emailed my would-be boss to ask for an update and she replied that she wasn’t sure of the protocol but that she had started the paperwork to make me a formal offer.

It’s going to be fun working for the state.

*****

Baseball has begun. People are vomiting baseball talk all over my Facebook news feed.

For my reaction, see the first story, above.

*****

Okay, personal question: what’s the longest you’ve gone without having sex? It’s been three years for me. I feel like that’s a long time. It is, right? That’s a long time. It’s so long, I’ve gone from replaying it in my head to seriously craving it to barely even remembering it. I’m almost 36, healthy, fairly attractive – this is supposed to be my prime, and I got nothin’. When Rick and I started dating I thought maybe I would finally be reminded. Then we agreed to go slow, which frankly I do think is a good idea. And then, of course, we stopped dating.

If I ever have sex again, there might be a screeching noise like what happens when one opens a door that’s rusted shut.

*****

Yahoo has a “trending” section, and lately they’ve been posting the names of a lot of dead people I’ve never heard of. But their deaths are “trending,” allegedly. I feel like it’s mean to call bullshit on the trending of a death, because it’s insulting to the decedent. But still it’s like, “I have no idea who that is. Why is that trending?” And I refuse to click on it because that’s how it trended in the first place.

I actually think about that. Willful refusal to click due to principled disagreement with the trend.

Take that, internet.