Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My son the college student

So this is Wednesday of the first week Joe has been going to college. He has called me each day so far, and today when he called me, he was just about ready to explode with joy. He said that he LOVES college, that it is THE BEST, that his teacher thinks he is SO SMART and the other students do too, and he is so glad and grateful to me, that he could hardly think how to make me understand it.

He said, "Mom, I LOVE college! It's the best thing EVER!"

Can you see my shoulders descending from clear over there?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

So Sunday was my birthday, and I am now 45 years old. At first my lack of accomplishment or experience was making me feel both sad and guilty -- wasteful idiot! What a stupid way to treat the only life you will ever have! But I stopped that, and I have decided that I am going to live to be 90 years old (not such a difficult thing to strive for; my grandfather died at 95) and so I have just reached the halfway point of my life. I'm only halfway through it! So there. Plenty left.

Anyway, as a birthday celebration, my cousin took me to the Portland Art Museum to see the R. Crumb exhibit of the Book of Genesis. I understand his position on the Bible -- he says that it is the single most important work of literature in the world, since it is the foundation for the cultures of so many of the world's people, and has made them who they are today, whether they are still Christian or not. I get that. What I don't really get is the "and therefore" part -- and therefore he needed to draw a cartoon delineation of the entire book. Every verse (that means sentence). Really?

He was not intending to make it into a humorous story, or even into a story. He was just following the verses, in the order they were laid out. So that means that he also covered the "begats". You know, there's nearly a chapter of those -- "and Eber lived four and thirty years and begat Peleg. And Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he begat Peleg and begat sons and daughters. And Peleg lived thirty years and begat Reu. And Peleg lived after he begat Reu some crazy number of years and had lots more kids. And so on -- " Pardon my irreverence, all you religious types who take this very seriously as the word of god.

Anyway, although it was a hard job, and he did it all very consistently and well, I didn't really care for it -- I think because of his style of drawing them. He made sure that they were not beautiful people, but were, in fact, Semitic-looking early-tribesmen types, with the whole R. Crumb version of sexuality in the background -- women who were considered attractive by the storytellers had large round rumps and enormous erectile nipples. So there was that degree of not taking it seriously, but not enough to say he was mocking the Bible -- I don't know. Perhaps that is just what I should have expected to see, knowing the sort of guy he is. And I don't want to be giving the stories any added importance, but just their historical cachet -- so it's hard to say why that degree of mockery spoiled the enjoyment for me. Perhaps I am still reacting as someone who was raised by Christians. And it didn't spoil the experience at all. I loved being back in the PAM -- haven't been there for about twelve years, and I wandered around and looked at all the art. It brought the National Portrait Gallery in London back to mind, even though it is nothing like that -- just the walking around a temperature-controlled building and looking at paintings and statuary is all they had in common -- but that memory, in combination with some really great pictures brought a smile to my face that I wore for several hours.

And then Katie and I had about forty-five minutes to sit and talk with one another as Mickey made her way page by page through the whole darn book, which was very enjoyable as well. And then we walked a few blocks down Park to South Park, and had a delicious lunch accompanied by Kamikazes and followed with some not-as-good-as-it-should-have-been panna cotta. Still pretty enjoyable, though. And the appetizers were absolutely delicious -- light and crispy polenta fries and kalamari, with spicy mayo or black truffle cream to dip them in. YUM.

So happy birthday to me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Spread out!

So, my workday was not entirely bad, nor was it unrelentingly good. I talked to Jill -- over lunch, which she brought to me at the office, (what a sweetheart!) about Joe's recent demands, and then to Ruthie on the phone. Both of them gave me good advice and listened to my woes and made me feel both better and supported and stronger, and also wimpier, since I knew how I was likely going to behave, in spite of their encouragement. Still, it was very good to see and talk with both of them. The more so in that my Office Depot order somehow did not get forwarded from the Westside Office, so we still had no creamer for Nameless Agent's coffee, nor any grey-green folders for me to put my sales paperwork in. Glad I called and asked! So, there were plenty of listings to do, no worries there. But still, it added to my feeling of uneasiness. They will be here tomorrow, I am assured.

Anyway, although today is the day my support group meets -- and I had nearly decided to go and see how it felt this time, and let this be my decision-making time -- should I stay or should I go now? -- I decided to skip it and drive out to Oregon City, in a ridiculous display of Worried Mother Saving the Day. Because Joe, although he knows that tomorrow is the day he must pay the rest of his move-in fee, and knows that I work from nine to five, and knows that he didn't ever answer the phone when I was calling him yesterday, to see if I could come out and write him a check and get the cash to cover it, had STILL decided to drive down to Silverton and spend the night there with his friend Conor. And although I am very glad that I asked him about this and got all this information out of him, I almost wish that I had just left it, and he could have come home from a day of playing with Conor, to losing his apartment.

Anyway, I drove out to Oregon City, woke up Joe's girlfriend (who made a tiny effort to be polite to me) left the check, took the cash, gave her a bag of bread and cheese, and drove back to Milwaukie. On the way, I decided to stop at the movie theater and watch a movie by myself. I do really enjoy watching movies alone. You can get as into them as you want, laugh, cry, without feeling embarrassed or on display. I remembered that I had seen when Eat, Pray, Love was showing, and thought I might get there right on time. But the trip took longer than I thought, and as I was approaching the turnoff, I saw that the movie had started five minutes ago. And even though I LOVE trailers, and always want to watch them all, I suddenly decided to go for it, and swung the car into the parking lot. Walked straight in to the empty lobby and approached the young boy behind the desk.

"Hi, I'd like one for Eat, Pray, Love," I said.

"Okay," he replied. "That's going to be in theater four, and just let me tell them that they're going to have to show it after all, cuz you are the only person who came to see it."

I paused. "I'm the only person in the whole theater?" I asked, laughing just a little.

"Yup!" he answered. "Spread out!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oh boy, no boy!

Joe has moved out.

The house is empty of Joe.

No Joe, no queen-sized bed, no chest of drawers, no rifles, no VHS tapes and loose DVDS.

This is the first time I have lived alone --THE FIRST TIME -- since 1998. Since before I was married. For twelve years!

OH, BOY!!!

I'm being very calm about it. No hooting or squealing. No dancing in place. I've hardly even allowed the thought to cross my mind aloud.

But OH, BOY!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Home for Joe

Well good news first -- Joe has been approved to rent this apartment that we looked at the other day! Hurrah!

Now, it is not a nice place, not pretty or cozy or charming in any way, that I could see. And the apartment itself was in fairly shabby shape, and run-down, with stained carpet and small kitchen and bathroom. But the ceilings were high, and the storage ample, and the two bedrooms were fairly decently sized -- and it's a town house, so no one above or below you, which is good -- and anyway, Joe is getting very antsy about finding a place. And I guess he can certainly move out if he wants to, if the place does not meet his needs. So there's that.

BUT. I've just hung up the phone from a conversation with him, in which he gave me several orders (cuz he's a man now, doesn't have to say please and thank you -- right?) and also asked for help as though I were bound as his mother to give it to him. And I just don't know about this. I still WANT to help him -- I'm still his mother, for goodness sake, and I still wish he had a better life and more belongings (hold that thought while I run rapidly backward through the last few years, and all the belongings which Joe has casually discarded along the way -- a-a-and done) but I need to sit down with him and talk this over.

You know, he has been behaving so much better lately -- really, so very much better! Calm and reasonable and nicely mannered, and understanding the things I would say -- and giving me hugs when I dropped him off, and all that -- that I am unpleasantly surprised by how instantly he got rude when I told him the apartment was his.

Oh, well, sigh.... I should just hold on to the good news, right? He has a place of his own! Well, he and Nick do. And I'm sure his girlfriend will be moving in soon, as well... but she is not on the lease, so her tenancy can be terminated with a quick push out the door.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A lovely first-floor apartment

It's a beautiful, warm but not hot, sunny but not oppressive Saturday, and I've spent some of it out doing errands, and then coming home to start four or five chores at once and work on each of them a bit at a time in fairly ragged rotation. Little by little!

Still, what I have spent a lot of time today doing, is watching my downstairs neighbor move out, and wondering (worrying) about that.

See, Kathy has lived here for six years. She works from her home, and does fairly well for herself, as far as I can tell by looking around. She has the big garden area full of plants, and a multiplicity of potted plants in her fenced yard (which I saw being carried out by her young helpers this afternoon. She has nice and fairly new furniture, all of it very well kept and polished and dusted (I say with a guilty glance over my shoulder.) She knows her neighbors and talks with them over the railings or across the walkway. And she told me, when I was first moving in, that she loved it here.

And she is the fifth (or possibly even the sixth: I've lost count)of the apartments that have emptied since I moved in last October. Of the fourteen in total, that is over thirty per cent! In less than a year!

Now I don't know, perhaps that is a standard turnover in apartment house rentals. Certainly feels wrong to me, though. And why are they all moving out? I'm starting to fear that when my year's lease is up, my rent is going to double! And that will be next month! But I can't move! For one thing, I LOVE this apartment, and for another, I don't make enough money to move! No one is going to rent to me; you need to make at least three times what your rent is, in order to get any kind of clean, well-lighted place, and plus, you have to pay first, last and security deposit! No can do.

She is the sixth, I've thought it out carefully. And one is still empty. As Kathy's will be by tomorrow.

Sigh...well, I guess I can't do anything about this. So try not to stress, Elisabeth. Okay.

Anybody want to move in to a lovely first floor apartment?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wind and water, foam and wave

I would just like to take this opportunity to mention how very happy I am about the weather. It feels to me as though a corner has been turned -- a bridge has been crossed. And this might not be true, alas -- Auntie Cousin did give me a self-important warning about how much hot weather we are still sure to have in store -- but it certainly FEELS that way!

Monday morning, I woke up to a thick soft grey cloud cover and tiny delicate rain drops that barely registered on the windshield. Tuesday, there were actually puddles on the street, and the cars made that driving-on-wet-pavement sound -- shussh, shussh. This morning, though, there is all the evidence of a wild and windy night -- a western wind! The bird feeder was blown down, and the tall circle of iris stalks was blown down flat and there are quite a few leaves on the ground.

You know, I wrote several poems about the wind, back in the day when I wrote poetry, particularly one that I remember well, about the wind from the sea, but the ones that keep going through my head over and over again are neither of them mine. Nor do I remember who wrote them. Who, for example, wrote this? **

"Wind from the sea!
O wind from the sea!
Blow lustily,
Over the sea!
With thy blast of thunder,
O tear me asunder,
Annihilate me!
And scatter my dust,
My mud and my rust,
Blind and a-blunder..."

and it ended -

"O wind! O water! No death! No grave!"

Pretty intoxicating for a ten-year-old.

Reminds me that when I was doing all this poetry writing, I was confused about the direction that wind goes -- I mean, do you call a wind the west wind if it is blowing out of the west, or towards the west? (Yes, I do know now!) But at the time it seemed very difficult to know (couldn't just go and ask someone!) and so I avoided my question by referring to the sea a lot, just as this poem does.

In any case, it gives me an overall, underlying sensation of settled, world-without-end happiness, a subterranean joy that flickers away, even as I drive the car, file the paperwork, answer the phone, wash the dishes. This is me! This is who I am! I am, apparently, as my mother was always telling me worriedly that I wasn't, but clearly I am, the merest weather-dominated animal. Wind + Rain = Elisabeth's Happiness.

** Wow, I looked for a long time (online, of course) for any bit of that quoted chunk of poetry, and could not find it. And then when I finally remembered this at home, and took down the book of poetry I thought it was in (turned out not to be, but it was in the second book! A Louis Untermayer collection from Calvert School) I found it. Her name is Irene Rutherford McLeod, and she was A.A. Milne's sister-in-law, and Christopher Robin's mother-in-law! These English people, always marrying their cousins!

Interesting, too, to realize that just because this is her poem that mattered most to ME, does not mean that it mattered most to anyone else! Hence its lack of appearance online. In fact, even with her name added, that poem does not arise. I guess it's just you and me, Louis!