Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Smile on My Face

This is perfect weather -- absolutely perfect.  The sky is thickly overcast and glowing white, the air is crisp and a tiny bit too chilly, and there were tiny raindrops in the air for a moment -- just a moment -- on my way to the bank!  When I walked out the door at about eight, the air I took in was gloriously fresh and promising, with none of the oppressive stickiness I am expecting later in the day.  It is still cool enough in my apartment to necessitate a robe upon arising, and I reveled in my new bathrobe, soft and light and dark navy-blue, and perfectly comforting.  Ahh....!

I'm currently wearing a gauze skirt, to attempt to battle the coming apocalypse of heat, which I had to mend before wearing, since last time I had it on, my key ring caught in it as I was picking it up, and tore two long straight lines through it.  It's always worse when you do it yourself -- you know, hurl a glass to the floor as you are trying to catch it, smack yourself in the face with something you are trying to heft -- it's no doubt all very salutary and lesson-teaching, but it's also very frustrating.  In any case, the two tears lent themselves very nicely to being mended and are hardly visible now. 

I've just finished a book that I truly enjoyed.  I was laughing repeatedly -- aloud! -- throughout the first two chapters, and snickering later on, and I wept very sadly all through the last chapter.  So it has the whole, "I laughed, I cried" thing going for it.  It's "A Man Called Ove" by Frederick Backman, and I put in on my library list because of another book he wrote called, "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry," which was charming although not as satisfactory as "Ove", in spite of the title.  It had some real cleverness in it, however, as well as some spots that left me feeling unfulfilled -- and it was festooned with blurbs about his best-selling book, "A Man Called Ove."  So I put it on my library list some months ago, and had completely forgotten about it when it turned up.  I advise a look!

Last night I had retired to my bedroom with the door closed and the air conditioner on, since after sundown is when it gets too hot to be comfortable in any degree of dress or undress, and iced drinks do nothing to prevent the trickles of sweat, and had just begun to feel the eyelids closing, when like a sudden Taser-blast, I remembered that my car was still parked in the library parking lot.  My eyelids shot open, and I was suddenly very wide awake.  Why do you suppose memory does that?  Why couldn't I have remembered several hours earlier, while still clothed?  There is an actual physical jolt that goes along with these falling-asleep memories, not unlike those clonic leaps your body makes -- they call them hypnagogic jerks -- just as you are nearly asleep, which always leave me gasping, heart pounding, and very WIDE AWAKE.  What's the deal there?

Well, in this case, I was just as glad to be widely awake, since I had to get up and go and rescue my car, and park it in front of the apartment, and if I had been staggering with sleep, I probably would have gone out in whatever articles of clothing met my hand, with my hair on end.  And several of my neighbors were sitting in the gazebo, where I afterwards joined them, so I was glad to be relatively appropriately clothed.  It's possible that my neighbors would not have been likely to notice my deshabille, since they had been out drinking and while none of them were intoxicated, they all were "flown with wine", which made it funny and delightful to talk with them, but also meant that they might have been just as likely to seize upon my clothing and want to discuss it in every detail.   

I went back to bed with a smile on my face! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

TBD

Today is the third time in a week that my work schedule included "TBD" which means "To Be Determined" (for those of you who don't do initialisms) although today's was the only one of the three which appeared on the schedule itself.  The first two were when clients cancelled their scheduled shifts without telling us this would be happening.  

However, in spite of three or four days to think them up, my boss had only one chore for me to do, which took a total of ten minutes, even though I checked it over and then checked it over a third time just to use up some minutes.  So I spent most of three hours reading at an empty desk.  Read the Residential Books (case histories, etc) of clients, and then read the book I always have with me (at the moment it's Barbara Vine's "The Blood Doctor" which has been unread long enough since the first time I read it, to have vanished back into the mists of time for me -- I truly cannot remember what the twist is going to be, nor a lot of details in the story itself.  Which is almost unprecedented, and also a great benefit to me, since Ruth Rendell {Barbara Vine's actual name} has recently died and will not be writing any more.  So it's almost new!  WIN!) until that shift was over.  This is the break before my afternoon shift.

One of my co-workers had made and brought in for me, two chocolate chip cookies and a slice of what she called "Zucchini Pie" and I would have called quiche if anyone had asked me.  Needless to say, I did not eat it.  The chocolate chip cookies were perfectly fine, although they included walnuts in them, which was an unexpected though not off-putting occurrence, but were fat and puffy like -- like -- can't think of any cookies which are intended to be puffy, although I know I've eaten them.  Anyway, they were quite good, and I ate them with enjoyment, although I'm a little uncertain as to the intentions of the co-worker.  At the moment, I'm just assuming that she is being friendly and making friendly overtures to me, her friend.  Right?
 
Miserable hot day, today, somewhere in the mid-eighties, I'm guessing. It's funny how quickly that sucking misery can dissipate from my mind when I am in an air-conditioned building.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Further Up and Further In!

This morning I had breakfast in the Tardis of restaurants -- the Aslan's Country of restaurants!  Definitely bigger on the inside than it was on the outside.  It was a small, brown, snub-nosed building on the corner of a busy street, with dark reflective windows, so you couldn't see in.  But once inside, it had been laid out by a master hand, with the bar fronting the kitchen in such a way as to give all the room light from the windows, the odd-shaped corners used for the poker machines, and booths around the outer walls.  Light, airy, spacious -- it was a joy to enter, and an even bigger joy to eat in! The hashed brown potatoes were crispy and yet tender, the gravy was sausagey and delicious and their bacon was a thing of beauty and a joy for the very brief time it took to eat.  Next time I'm going to try the oatmeal -- see if they can take it to the next level!

I had breakfast there with Linda, my apartment house manager, chatting about books and marriage and raising boys and baking -- Linda and I have had similar lives in certain ways!  Now that I know where it is, I invite you to come and breakfast there with me!  Tuesdays and Wednesdays -- I'm always available!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dichotomy Pie

I was just re-reading a Tim Powers novel recently -- in fact, it's my go-to-sleep book-on-tape at the moment -- called "Last Call," in which Scott Crane dresses in drag in order to get onto a yacht incognito.  When they ask him at the gangway what his name is, he realizes that he hasn't thought of one and says, "My name is Dichotomy Jones."

Well, that is lurking around my frontal lobes because I was thinking about a contradictory facet of my nature, this morning, and while trying to decided which side came uppermost, that phrase floated into my mind -- My name is Dichotomy Jones.  
 
Anyway, as I left the house this morning at eight am, I felt a familiar frisson of delight at the quiet emptiness of the streets, and long trailing emptiness of the freeway, and how the bridge was bare in all directions.  It made me think that I would have no trouble being the last human alive in New York City -- no trouble at all driving my 1970 red Ford convertible through the silent, empty streets like Charlton Heston.  I could be the Omega Man, no problem.  I'd love it!

But on the other hand, you know -- I do sometimes get lonely.  Some things need another person involved to be truly enjoyable -- look at the journal of my trip to London -- how many times did I say, "If only Ruthie were here?"  I remember sitting in the chapel of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields, listening to a Bach concerto and absolutely overflowing with the need to have someone there to share that incredible beauty with.  Some afternoons while I am sitting in my comfy chair with a good book and a cup of tea, I am still driven to get up and go look outside to see if any of my neighbors are hob-nobbing in the yard, since I am just very aware of my all-alone-ish-ness.  

On the third hand, however, I cannot decide (I have no means of making this decision, since I can't establish the situation which would decide it for me) if this is because I know with the underneath of my brain, that there are other people out there, doing their thing without me.  If I could know that there weren't any others on Earth, would it make any difference?  You see the difficulty.  

It is an absolutely beautiful day, no question.  Vivid blue sky and bright sunlight, fluffy white clouds dotting about, covering about half the sky, but only around 72 degrees, and with a cool breeze.  I'm through with my work for the day, and getting ready to go home and make a Key lime pie, and a coconut cream pie, both specific requests from two of my neighbors, for the Fourth of July barbecue tomorrow afternoon.  Looking forward to it!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Branded!

While driving up 122nd this morning, I pulled over for a fire truck shrieking past, as did the other cars ahead of me.  After it passed, I pulled back into the lane, and noticed someone crossing in the middle of the block, up ahead.  I assumed that it was someone taking advantage of all the cars pulling over, to cross, but not thinking of the speeding emergency vehicle. 

I was mentally shaking my head at this self-absorbed, small-minded stupidity as I slowly increased my speed.  I was expecting the person to walk quickly across the five lanes, and was surprised to need to brake a few moments later as I came right up to the man, still pottering across.  Then, just after he had passed the front of my car, and my foot had moved back to the gas, he bent and picked something up off the street, (I couldn't be sure, but it looked like a wadded up paper towel) and turned around to go back

I quickly slammed on the brake again, and he noticed me for the first time, and stopped, standing directly in front of me.  He looked through the windshield at me and I looked back at him.  He was tidily dressed, with very short hair, and had none of the obvious sequelae of mental illness or signs of living rough.  His clothes were older but very tidy and clean.  As we looked at one another, he raised one hand and gravely, solemnly, wagged a finger at me, while slowly shaking his head.  Bad, bad girl.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Heil Who, now?

On my drive just now, I saw a man, about my age, who caught my eye, looking as he did -- sort of intelligent and competent and probably amusing and interesting, and having the right sort of broad shoulders and large nose and wavy brown hair and all -- I was admiring him as he crossed the street in front of me. 

He had a "sleeve" on his left arm, though none on his right, and it was done all in one color in a darkish sort of blue-grey, fairly blurred, so that I couldn't tell what it was intended to represent -- until he passed me and I realized that the large symbol centered on his elbow was a swastika.
It really threw me.  I tend to expect that those who decorate their persons with the symbols of Nazi oppression will look like ignorant racist pricks, and so I will not be surprised to see the Waffen SS or the "88" or hakenkreuz on their idiot flesh.  But this guy looked right, he looked with-it, he looked like a smart, interesting person --  it flummoxed me.  I'm sort of at a loss.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Just Like Everyone Else

I have spent a large part of my life imagining it to be different.  I have spent many, many hours dreaming of lives with me as hero, in which I am thoroughly happy, illuminedly beautiful, incredibly intelligent, fabulously wealthy, in which I can speak  dozens of languages, play many instruments, sing flawlessly and read minds.  I've also imagined less perfect lives, in which I am merely fabulously wealthy -- many of these imaginings begin with the words -- "When I am fabulously wealthy, I --"

And even though I knew with most of my mind (I am, actually, quite intelligent, after all) that I was never going to be fabulously wealthy, having no such opportunities in sight, and having been scrapingly poor up to that point, there was always a tiny, subterranean and largely ignored part of my mind that stubbornly said, "But I could be -- I will be -- someday -- maybe."

Well.   But now I am fifty.  By any imagining, my life is half over, and and I have used up the resilience and energy and burgeoning potential of my youth.  I am no longer one of the kids -- I am not a girl -- I am not even a young woman.  I am decidedly middle-aged.  And I do not have any wealthy relatives who are going to leave me a sudden influx of wealth -- my family has been one who took pride in poverty.  I will not stumble upon a buried treasure, since I never leave my little corner of the world, and certainly do not spend any time in locations where pirates or traveling armies or other people with chests of gold might hang out.  My job, although I enjoy it, pays just enough to keep body and soul together, allowing me to save very little (I look forward to an old age which will be similar to my young age -- one of carefully counting my pennies) and avoid all amusements which call for cash.  My library is my best friend.  I eat a lot of beans and rice (yummy!) and drive an old car.  I never buy new clothes.  Or new books.  New anything, really -- they call me Second-Hand Rose!

Knowing this ought to make those daydreams less interesting, less engrossing, less exciting.  I know that they are never going to happen.  (At least, I know it with most of my mind.)  It ought to make me sad and melancholy to think of my life, which is draining away like everyone else's throughout history, never having risen to any of the elevated points I imagined so well and with such satisfaction.

And it's true, I don't indulge in the game of "let's pretend" nearly as often anymore --  this could be because I am no longer in a marriage that was of such misery I had to distract myself in order to fall asleep at night -- nor am I a child-teenager-young-adult who always felt that there was more, there had to be more, it was just around the corner! -- or it could be because I am old.  But when I do, they are just as interesting and comforting and soporific.  No melancholia.  No despair.  Life will end, and my life will end, too.  It will sink like a tiny pebble into the pond, no splash, hardly a ripple. 

I will never be rich.  I will never be gorgeous.  I will never have a brilliant intellect that amazes millions.  And it does not make me sad to know this.  I am, truly, quite happy, a large percent of the time.

And I could be -- someday -- maybe!