Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'll exercise you

Ohh, dear, the Plan for Today has resulted in me being in fairly serious pain. Ow ow ow. Really truly pain, too, though not as bad right now as it is pretty darn certain to be tomorrow. Oh, I dread getting up so much that I almost don't want to go to bed. Stiff, sore, creaking and aching. So many of my muscle groups are stiff and hardened and Painful. And all from working on cleaning up the house! And not working hard, either, not lifting extremely heavy (just mildly heavy) things, not rushing around, just plodding along. And lots of resting! But I guess when you are as out of shape as I am, this is what you get for any sustained exercise. I wish I could wish this feeling onto anyone who tells me with cheerful idiocy that I just need to get some regular exercise. I'll exercise you.

The Plan for Today

The clock has just struck noon (struck? I do not have a striking clock anymore -- which is where that expression comes from. My birdsong-playing clock has just Baltimore-Orioled noon, is what I actually mean. The bird pictured at noon is a Great Horned Owl, but somehow this clock skips one bird a day, and always ends up, twelve hours after being reset, with the Baltimore Oriole at noon. Anyway, moving on.) just indicated noon, and I am very happily enjoying the rain.

It is RAINING. Straight downward, in geometrically straight lines that are slicing down through the air like a scimitar blade, if scimitars were only straight and not beautifully curved like they are. I could say "sword blade", of course, but "scimitar" is just one of my favorite words, and goes so much better with the word "blade". I think because "sword" only has one syllable, like "blade".

In any case, I have just returned to the house from the deck, where I was sitting out in this gorgeous (scimitar) rain, reading the Sunday Oregonian and drinking Bay Bridge Merlot, which I bought in a small bottle, only slightly larger than a beer bottle, for two dollars. Costs a lot more than a beer bottle would, though, but then I never drink beer, (bottled or otherwise) so the point is really moot. I've only taken two sips so far, so the bottle is still a little too heavy to drink comfortably from, but it feels quite delightful to have it right in my hand like this. I feel like a wino. Or like a rough sleeper, or whatever we call those who sleep out of doors because of their addiction to alcohol, when being careful not to hurt anyone's feelings. Not the alcoholic homeless' feelings, either, but usually some completely separate person, who has never had either an addiction to alcohol or the need to sleep under a bridge. PC, that's what it is.

I had breakfast, this lovely morning, at Sully's, in spite of the torrents of air-slicing (scimitar) rain, and enjoyed it no end. The coffee was not quite up to their usual, and my first few sips disappointed me sadly, but then I grew accustomed to its perfection-lacking, and enjoyed it at the level it was. Which was pretty darn good, and still better than Starbucks or, in fact, anybody's. I was reading a book which so far (only 73 pages into it) seems excellent, and I may be noting it down later as one of my Approved books. Does that sound suitably pompous? Perhaps Approved for Humanity -- better? Called "The Magicians." By Lev Grossman.

In any case, the food was excellent, as always, the service was attentive, and I really enjoyed my plateful of multi-colored toast and apple butter while listening to the conversations of those around me. One gentleman, a fire-fighter (possibly retired) started three sentences with the words "When I was a little kid in Miami" which I enjoyed, but the most wonderful part was a plump, balding, middle-aged man sitting with two women, one of whom was his mother or aunt (that age, anyway) and the other of whom was his sister or wife (also the right age, and mildly affectionate). He was telling the two of them some story about someone buying books, in the past, books which are currently highly valued because they are old editions. Hold that thought. But you know, money was harder to come by, then, and a little bit of money went a long way by today's standards. He understood that, too. Where he went wrong was in speculating in awe about how hard it was for "them" (didn't catch who he was talking about) to buy these old, valuable books -- "some of 'em were even first editions!" -- with their little bits of money, at the prices these valuable books would command -- today. He didn't think far enough to get that the prices would have changed, too, that "old books" are valuable because of their age, which requires the buyer to buy them after that. Not back when they were new, and just basic books. Delightful to hear this.

So, the plan for this afternoon and evening is to make a shopping list for later in the week, complete the task of sorting, ironing and putting appropriately away all the laundry in my room (about three-quarters done), vacuum the house, and possibly clean off and polish the low dresser in my bedroom. And, otherwise, eat and drink tea and rest and read and go to bed early. That is the plan for today.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Don't know what I want

Someone in this neighborhood is frying ham.

It's quarter past eight in the morning, and the air is quite still of any human noises -- although I did hear a car start up and drive away, somewhere, a while back. But I got up at seven when my phone rang, and no one else has opened any doors, started their showers or called to their children since.

But someone IS frying ham. Mmm, gorgeous smell. Almost makes me change my mind -- again -- and walk over to Sully's for a hot breakfast. Although, as I consider it, the taste of frying ham is not nearly, nearly as good as the smell, which is absolutely magical. My knees got weak before I had even identified it, and saliva ran rapidly into my mouth. Which is a thing that never happens to me, so there you are.

See, my plan for the morning was to get up when the alarm went off at six, shower, and walk over to Sully's in the pleasant warm sunny morning, and eat a lovely breakfast, cooked for me and brought to me on a plate while I sat at a corner table and sipped their prize-worthy coffee and read my book and looked about me. But then I couldn't fall asleep last night, or even get comfortable, and listened to the Book on Tape for an hour before the CD came to a stop, and even then it still took me a while. Don't know how long, I stopped looking at the clock, but kept my eyes closed until the magic happened. So, then I didn't want to get up this morning, and kept hitting the snooze button. Until the phone rang.

And when I looked out the window and saw that not only had it rained in the night, it was still raining, gently, softly, desultorily -- and I did not feel like a rainy walk was quite what I wanted. So here I sit, having finished my own coffee, my shower, and the scrub-down I felt compelled to give to the deck railings while I was out there this morning -- and I don't know quite WHAT I want.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sorrow and relief


Okay, am I far enough away from this that I can tell you about it without weeping? Cuz I am at work, you know. Can't be leaking and swelling and turning bright red here at the front desk.

Okay. You know Joe moved back in with me, supposedly only for a few days, but I told him he could have a month, and then later told him he could have another. We were getting along, but I was growing increasingly unhappy at the state of my apartment.

And then I went to my parent's place up in Ocean Park for four days, and Joe stayed home. He is a grown-up now, legally, and so I told him that as a guest in my house, I expected him to be appropriate and discreet in the people he had over and the things they did (I actually said, "No parties and no drugs, right?" and he said, "Right.") and that whatever transpired I wanted all signs of it to be gone by the time I got home. On the day I was leaving, I called Joe and told him I would be home in about three hours, so it was time to start picking things up and turning the dishwasher on.

Well, for sheer stomach-turning disgustingness of the mess the kitchen and bathroom were in when I arrived at home, hot and tired, to find no Joe, he wins a prize. The counters were mounded high with crazy stacks of dishes, half-eaten food, glasses half-full of juice and sticky spills running down the fronts of the cabinets, garbage and more dishes, tilting this way and that. The hot kitchen smelt strongly of sour milk and rotting fruit. And over the whole thing was a large cloud of busy fruit flies.

Shall I describe the bathroom to you? I think not. It will be even harder for you to imagine, unless you are a parent of an unaware teen-aged boy, with unaware teen-aged friends. Suffice it to say that I was still cleaning black greasy handprints ("Nick was working on his car!") off walls, light switches, cupboard doors and towels for days. I couldn't even look into the sink.

So. This was the last straw. I called Joe. He answered. I told him to come home that very minute and clean the house. He sullenly agreed. FIVE HOURS later -- midnight-thirty -- he showed up. I told him that I was in bed, that I did not want to be kept awake by the noise of him cleaning, that I would go to work tomorrow, and when I came home, the house would be clean and all signs of the weekend eradicated. I said that this was the last straw of my willingness to believe him when he said he would be responsible for something, and therefore, he would be moved out by Friday, and hand over his key. He agreed, and apologized, really as though he meant it. But STILL! It was unbelievable. Hang on to your hats, though. It gets worse.

The next day, when I got home from work, Joe was there, with a friend. I could hear the dishwasher running. I asked him, was the house clean?


So I turned around and left, telling him that I would give him half an hour, and then be back. He protested that he only needed twenty minutes, but I said half an hour, and the kitchen, bathroom and living room must all be done (I had left a list for him of all the things that I objected to, since I knew he would just look right past them).

When I arrived home, Joe and his friend were leaving, were actually outside the apartment and coming down the stairs. I didn't make a big to-do in front of the friend, who was not at fault (hmmm, wonder if that's why Joe broght him along?) but asked if they were done, and Joe said yes.

When I went in, I saw that it looked at first glance as though a lot had been done, but that with the exception of throwing away a lot of garbage, pushing the dishes back into the corner of the counter, and turning the (half-full) dishwasher on, Joe had done very little. The bathroom was untouched. Still cheese in the living room. Real cheddar cheese, I mean, not slang for a mess -- but a sharp knife and the block of cheese siting on top of a speaker.

Anyway. I'm growing weary of telling this story. Let me sum up. I was unable to get Joe home for the rest of the week. He kept coming in while I was at work, taking showers and making the house more untidy, and leaving before I came home. His phone does not take messages, so I could not even get in touch with him. After some hard thought I realized that since I had thrown him out, I should clean up the rest of the mess myself, treat him kindly, and be ready to stand my ground when he tried to avoid leaving.

So. At 7:45 on Sunday evening, Joe turns up. Tells me that he is moving in with his friend Nick, and that Nick's father is fine with it. Then says, "But I can't take my stuff over there tonight, so I'll leave it here and pick it up tomorrow."

"Nope," I say, firmly, but feeling my stomach curl up. Here we go! "This is the last day of the week plus weekend. You gotta go by end of day today."

"Okay," he grouches. Then he hangs around in the bathroom for a long time, then comes out and hangs around in his bedroom. Then the bathroom again, then takes a shower. Finally he calls through the house to me, and says that Nick has a girlfriend over, and so Joe can't take his stuff there tonight. Can't he please leave it here, just until tomorrow?

I point out that he has had all week to figure this out, and now it's the end of his time. I'm getting shaky, and take the phone out on the deck to get some encouragement from my mother, who gives it to me. I mean, he has plenty of money, and if worse came to worst, he could get a motel room for the night. But he has had seven days to figure this out, and has just been partying and sleeping late all week, figuring, no doubt, that I would cave when the time came.

But I did not.

Then there is his dresser -- a small Tupperware thing. He says that it won't fit in his car. I offer to follow him over to Nick's with a load of stuff in my car. He accepts, then refuses, and says to throw the dresser away. I say, in that case, I will keep it, since drawers are always useful.

Now he's finally worked himself up, and he's Angry. Anger has a special force for Joe and his father, acquitting them of all responsibility. Like being really drunk in England. So now he's stalking back and forth and slamming doors and yelling insulting things as he goes out the door. When he finally leaves, and I lock the door behind him, he is yelling, "Fuck you, Mom! Fuck YOU!"

Baby that I am, I immediately begin trembling, and call my mommy. I get Dad, who calms me down, and tells me I've done the right thing. And I know I have. I'm not going to start second-guessing myself (she says, second-guessing away like mad).

Anyway. I am sad, but I am also really relieved. He is out. He is gone. And although he could easily break in, I don't think he will. I will fix the door he knocked off its tracks and the map he tore (although I mourn that, since Niels sent it to me from Denmark) and then go on getting the house clean and aired out (reeks of old cigarette smoke now)and ready for Ruthie.