Saturday, July 31, 2010

Till Death

Oh, my goodness. I have just got to share this. I was talking with someone -- we'll call them Anonymous, because that's new and original. I was inviting Anonymous to laugh along with me at the silly behavior of a couple at their wedding. Anonymous did laugh, and then said, in a high, girly voice, "With this ring, I be wed!"

My first thought was that this was a person of very rapid humor indeed, and I shouted with laughter. Anonymous laughed, as well, and then made a remark about how the Olde English of the wedding vows contained strange phraseology like that, since no one would think of saying "I be wed" nowadays. My laughter sort of died away. Wait -- what?

I asked, hesitantly, if that was a joke, or...? Did they not know that the wedding vows say, "With this ring, I thee wed?"

Anonymous stared at me. "No, no -- that doesn't even make any sense!" Anonymous said. "It's a vow, see, they call them marriage vows, and that's what you're doing, you're taking a vow, and that's the vow: I be wed."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dear, precious GED

Okay, here's the thing. Since Joe dropped out of high school, I guess I've been holding that against him. Sort of unconciously. And then the whole year that he was supposed to be taking his GED, and was not doing it, I was silently fuming and grinding my teeth and speaking stiffly to him about it and so on.

And then yesterday he came home all excited because he had finished the testing and had his GED and had passed very easily, about a hundred and fifty points ahead of necessary. And my first reaction (which I DID NOT express, thank god) was "IT'S ABOUT TIME, DANG NAB IT!!"

However, as I lay in bed reading, part of my brain (the back part) was churning away and doing its thing, and suddenly brought up this: during the first two years of high school, when I was not there, and his dad was a meth addict, Joe missed two out of three days of school. His father, high, and certain that the woods in the backyard were full of DEA officers or aliens or the Chinese army, would keep Joe at home with him, requiring his company as he tramped sweatily through that little patch of trees over...and over...and over...and over. Day after day after day.

Which is why Joe was so very hard to control when I first got back together with him. He had spent all those days and weeks hating his father and hating his unreasonableness and hating the hours he was not with his friends or at school, and really, really HATING the apparent idiocy of his father insisting that some tiny flimsy bush had a soldier hiding in it. I mean, I KNEW that he was on meth and it used to infuriate ME to see him swinging a two-by-four at a stand of bamboo (bamboo for the love of god!)again and again and again.

So that is why he gave up in despair on the whole high school thing, besides the fact that he did not enjoy it, and couldn't discipline himself to sit in the classroom. He had missed so much of those first two years, that at the end of his third year he had amassed nine credits. Nine! Poor kid. And he had that in the back of his mind all the time, knowing that if he wanted to graduate, he would have to stick around for another whole year after all his classmates had graduated. And still probably do at least one stint of summer school.

Anyway, so I called Joe into my bedroom and apologized for not being nicer about his happy news, and congratulating him for finishing his testing. And that I was proud of him. He grinned a big grin, and said, "Thanks, Mom!"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mr. X

Well, I'm just going to behave inappropriately and talk about my ex-husband in a negative way for a minute. This is a very small thing, so I feel that I can get away with it. We'll call him -- hmmm -- Mr. X.

When Mr. X and I were first married, and we were moving in to the Envoy (that was a lovely apartment! Parquet hardwood floors, casement windows, gorgeous view of the city...sigh!) he unpacked a set of five James Bond novels, by Ian Fleming. These were of a matching set, hardbound with dust jackets, and quite nice looking -- and they were all sealed in plastic sleeves.

Now, I was (and still am) an enormous fan of James Bond movies, but at that time in my life, I had still not read any of the books. So I exclaimed with delight at seeing these books, and reached for them to read them. Mr. X responded with sharp horror, and forbade me to ever, ever, EVER open these plastic sleeves and remove these books because they were EXTREMELY VALUABLE editions, and would, in case of emergency, be able to buy us a house or support us in our old age or pay for our cancer treatments or some such thing. So, I, still thinking that he was an ordinary, intelligent, believable human being, and not a bizarre, soulless, self-absorbed pathological liar, said, "Oh," and withdrew my hand.


I would like to tell the world that I have now collected, on my own, with no assistance, those same five books and two others of the same edition, not one of which has cost me more than two dollars.

Two. Dollars.

And, since I have now become used to Mr. X and his lies, I feel quite sure that these books were merely books, in someone's storage locker, and he stole them when he was a security guard. Because that is what he did. Repeatedly and always. Stole things and then proclaimed them to be family heirlooms, or priceless artifacts.

Nonetheless, my little shelf of Ian Flemings gives me extra-special joy when I see them, because I bought them for myself, and disproved Mr. X's lies to myself.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Wasn't the One Who Spilled It

Well, Joe was gone for this weekend, and for several days in the week before this one, so I don't know exactly when the spillage happened. I did not notice it until this weekend, when Joe was gone, tra-la-la, off to the coast for the weekend with his girlfriend's family. But on the carpet in the room where Joe is temporarily camping out while trying (ha ha) to find himself a job and an apartment and so on, over near the closet door, wasa large spot of Spilled Orange Drink. Some sort of sweet orange drink like Gatorade or Powerade or Nehi Orange soda. In a circle about five inches across and dried as hard as a biscuit.

So I left Joe a note when I came to work this morning, saying, call me, and I will tell you how to clean this up. Now, I know that he is going to give this job a lick and a promise, and I will have to take him to task, and make him do it again. And part of me says, "Oh, hell, just clean it up yourself, life will be so much easier that way, and your house will be cleaner and your rug won't be ruined." But the Good Mother part of me says, "No, it is your responsibility to make him into the best person he can be (even though he is eighteen now) and not allow him to wander out into the world believing that the Rug-Cleaning Fairy will always clean up any mess he makes, or that if you just ignore a spill it eventually vanishes. So he must make a good effort to clean this up -- and then you can go back and really clean it."

So at about eleven-thirty, he called and asked impatiently for instructions, and I explained to him how to clean up an old dried-in spilled-juice spot on your carpet. Then I said, "What is it, anyway? Gatorade?" It wasn't the true orange color of orange juice, you see, so although I do have orange juice in the refrigerator, I knew it had to be some Fake Orange Drink.

"I don't know," said Joe haughtily. "I wasn't the one who spilled it."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hear me, Screen Actor's Guild?

So I've been watching this television show which is filmed in LA, and the sky is always hazy. Sometimes only mildly hazy, sometimes thickly covered, but always glowing away up there, as though it were the sky. Which causes me to wonder. I understand that it never clears away, because that city is just too full of people and they all drive automobiles and the physical location doesn't get any powerful weather, et cetera, et cetera. But wouldn't a tremendous rainstorm -- a hurricane! -- clear it all away? Wouldn't that wash all the smog right out of the air? And if it did, what would happen to all those pounds of particulate matter? Would you be able to see it on the ground? Would it be measurable in the water table, or visible to microscopes in the pools? Would it clog up the filters of all the millions of pools in LA? And how long would it take before it was back?

And hey, does it affect the way the sunlight in that area hits the people who live there? It must, mustn't it? Change the way they tan, change the way they wrinkle? Diffused light, as far as I know (which is not very far) causes faster burning! Doesn't it? It must make it better, not worse, though, because if it caused their skin to age faster, you can bet all those actors and actresses would be stopping it! Right now! Unite to save our radiant dewy complexions from this monstrous pollution!

Because London, which used to be the smoggiest city on earth, cuz of burning coal ( I imagine) and congregating in large numbers in a smallish area, they were aware of what caused their "pea-soupers," their "London Particulars," and one of their kings, back in 13-something, forbade the burning of coal! Of course, he was The King, so people had to do what he said or have their heads chopped off ( this was 13-something, remember) but I'll bet the Screen Actor's Guild could go on strike or something! Think how that would affect the country! Movies and television are the number one form of entertainment for Americans!

It is amazing, in a not-so-positive way, that seven hundred years later, we can't get our act together enough to do what that King did. Edward the Somethingth. And say, 'Hey, knock it off. No more cars in the city limits," like that princess just did in Belgium. Not that she made the commandment and the people obeyed, or anything, she just supported the people of one town who said, "no more driving in our city. Only foot traffic and bicycles", and then built a car park at the edge of the city and arranged things to suit foot traffic and bicycles! It would certainly make for a lot more jobs, too -- as small stores had to spring up, since you can't carry a carload of groceries all at once on a bicycle. Gotta stop several times a week, or maybe even every day!

Okay, well, I'm simply free-associating here, so I'll stop. But it's certainly worth thinking about! Hear me out there, Screen Actor's Guild?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Because He Wants a Motorcycle

Such a lovely morning! I am so filled with glee by it that I must comment. This could be the perfect summer morning! If it were not for the undeniable beauty of other types of mornings.... You see I am easily pleased with weather. There are only certain types that I dislike, and even then I can usually appreciate the beauty of them, even as I look at them with loathing.

But today is lovely. Grey sky, thick soft cloud cover, delicate grey rain in tiny droplets, enough to cool the air and freshen it a bit, in spite of the eighties temperatures the Weathermen are promising for later in the day. I love shades of grey! Especially combined with shades of green!

This morning on the deck with my coffee, I heard an angry yowling, not unlike the cat that lives somewhere nearby and howls in the evenings. Didn't sound quite like a cat, though -- smaller, I think. Although the amount of noise a creature can make is not tied to their size, certainly.

Joe spent the night last night. He is finally nearing completion of his GED testing. After more than a year! He is doing very well at it, though, as I knew he would if he would only get his act together and take it. It is unfortunate that it won't matter even slightly, in the end -- no one is going to ask him how far above passing his score was. And now he walks around repeating how much he wants a job, and how he longs to work so very, very hard for someone, etc. I find myself biting my tongue again and again. And sometimes not biting it, as yesterdy, when I responded to another version of this rant, by pointing out that often LOOKING for a job is more helpful than moaning and groaning about a lack of one.

It's because he wants a motorcycle.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Recycling woes

This morning, when I came into the office to empty the garbage cans and vacuum, I noticed that someone had flung a used coffee filter, full of used coffee grounds, into the small trash can which has a large label on it, reading, "RECYCLE BOTTLES AND CANS." I fumed to myself, as I cleaned up the mess -- "Can't they READ? Are they ILLITERATE?" and went to my computer where I made a nice neat sign that read, "Please don't put garbage in this recycling can," and hung it on the wall above the recycling can.

Later, Nameless Agent came in. I heard him from my desk, holler, "Hey, who made this sign?" from the kitchen, but I made him walk ALL THE WAY out to my desk before I turned and smiled and said, "I made it. Why?" He said, in a mean but laughing way, "You made it? And here I thought you were so smart!* That isn't a can! Don't you know what a can is? A can is made of metal, and it usually contains something canned!"

I said, "Oh? So what would you call that container for pop bottles?"

He said, "I'd call it a trash can!"

! ! ! ! ! ! !

*This is something that makes me mad. I swear I do not go around saying, "Hi, I'm Elisabeth, and I'm very smart." I do not have my Mensa certificate framed and hung on the wall. I don't wear clothes from Miss Smarty Pants. So where does that come from? It makes me feel very squirmy, but I can't object to it -- I am, actually, pretty darn smart. Erg.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Just a Daughter

So what is it about the coast that is so magical for me? And pardon the use of the word "magical" but I actually mean it, in its really-truly meaning: its effect on me is greater than the sum of its parts, and in fact, greater than it ought to be, looked at dispassionately. But that word right there! "Dispassionately." I wouldn't say that I feel passion for the coast, because the feeling that word carries is one of strength, heat, power, whereas my feeling is fairly light and cool and floaty. But it is love, and love and passion are sort of synonymous in a sideways kind of way. So dispassionately is the wrong way to look at it.

Is it just the ocean? The water? The waves? The constancy of them all?

Pause while I ponder. I've just been watching a show about the Hamptons, and another one set in Miami. And in case we forget where we are, they keep showing us people in the sun, on the sand, wearing tiny bikinis and huge sunglasses, walking on the baking beach, with golden sunlight glaring off them. That has NO appeal for me. Obviously it does for other people, cuz the shows producers are using those images, and I'm sure they spent millions market-testing them. So it isn't "beach" that I love, nor "ocean." It's the Oregon coast. It's grey skies, or possibly pale blue skies but with a wind that has a bite to it, under the golden-but-not-hot-sun. It's cold water and many shades of grey on my morning walk, along a deserted mile of sand, with pure white foamrushing in and out. It's also the beauty of all the flower beds and the riotous blossoms everywhere, even during the winter, and all the self-conciously quaint cedar shake houses arranged around the real family vacation homes (fewer and fewer every year). It's the quiet of the winter morning, when I can walk down the coast and back through town and not see a single person. Not one! And that smell, that salty, evocative, far-away-ish smell, that you only get every so often, and immediately makes the whole place seem like a pirate adventure. Or at least a sailing ship adventure, if no pirates!

And it's the fact that my parents live there, and I was living with them. Which IMMEDIATELY removed me from responsibility. Oh, I mean I still had to behave myself -- I still had to be good. Couldn't lie around and not work, couldn't drink, or break laws or anything. But I changed at once from being The Mom -- responsible for all -- to being The Daughter. Responsible ONLY for herself. Hmm, as I typed those words, I heard a faint echo in my head of another journal entry, many, many years ago, in which I was complaining bitterly about having to live with my parents between school terms, and how I went from being a person, a somebody, to being a nobody, "just a daughter." Ha! How one's perceptions of life change!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cancel Your Own F**g Mooch

Dear Canadian BookMooch Member,

Although I have already responded to your e-mail message, I did so in such a polite and cheery way, that I am still sitting here fuming. Where the heck do you get off? BookMooch is a group of people who very kindly give their books to one another, yes. And it does cost money to send the books that people mooch from you. But one of the fundamental options we are all given, is the choice whether or not to send to people in other countries. I chose not to. I could describe my financial situation to you, but I won't. The fact of the matter is, I can't afford it. Really. I CAN"T AFFORD IT.

When you sent me a message, asking me if I would send a book to you in Canada, I promptly responded. I apologized! I said that if you had an angel, I certainly would, but that I was sorry, I couldn't afford international postage. And then I got your response:

Thank you for your response but that all sounds too difficult and a bit surprising, really, since it only costs 3 or 4 dollars to send a book to Canada. Just cancel my mooch.

Well, then I guess I'm just VERY POOR! Did that never occur to you? That I might know exactly how much it costs to mail to Canada, and I CAN'T AFFORD IT? Or are poor people somehow below the line of Worthy of the Effort of Politeness? Glad you're rich! Or clueless! OR rich AND clueless! And bad-mannered and stupid and snotty and not worth my time!

And you know what? Cancel your own fucking mooch!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Yes, it is!

Went to the library this fine warm Saturday, and as I walked in, I saw a mother and her young daughter standing at the counter. The small girl -- probably four, to judge by her shape and size -- was saying seriously to the librarian, "Hello. What's your name?" The librarian answered in a sweetsy, talking-to-little-children voice, "HelLO there! My name is Marie! What's YOUR name?" The little girl said, "My name is Angelina," and the librarian laughed pointlessly and said, "Wow, AngelEEna!" The little girl turned her face to me and said, "Hello, do you know what my name is?" I said, "I'm betting it's Angelina," and all the women behind the counter burst out laughing and squealing, almost drowning out the little girl's serious voice, "Yes, it is."