Sunday, November 6, 2016

November Sunday

Sitting in the nearly empty parking lot of the Midland Library (it's a large library that sees a lot of use) before it opens, eating my weekend breakfast of an English muffin sandwich with bacon, egg and cheese, and a small carton of milk (it's funny, when I ask for milk, they nearly always respond with "white milk or chocolate milk?"  As though those were the two types of milk!) and marveling happily to myself at the nearly steady stream of cars circling through.  They are all dropping their votes in the large Ballot Box which is in the back of the parking lot.  Keep voting, people, keep voting!

The peach of the day, however, was an old Ford pickup truck, very large, which had originally been blue, but was now 90 percent rust.  At least 90 percent.  It had a two-by-four fence around the bed, rickety and broken down on one side, and was making a dreadful racket -- blap-blap-blap, very loud.  The driver was a tiny little wrinkled-up lady -- barely big enough to see over the dash, and you could see her head tipped sharply back to manage it.  She maneuvered the monstrous beast (blap-blap-blap) through the parking lot, and up to the ballot box, and her tiny hand on her scrawny arm came shakily out of the window and slowly, carefully (shakily) deposited her ballot envelope.  I wanted to stand up and cheer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Private Property



So I came out of my house Saturday morning, at about seven-thirty, and saw a grey-haired woman sitting in the gazebo, with a raincoat on, and a coffee cup from the bakery next door. She was shaking out a tiny folding umbrella and seemed cross. I called out, "Good Morning!" She looked up and gave me a decidedly dirty look, before pointedly turning her shoulder toward me.

Now, I'm a fairly shy person, at least I used to be, and it still flavors my behavior from time to time, but this was my house, my yard and my gazebo, and I was beginning to suspect that she had no right to be there. So I skipped down the steps and headed on over.

"Isn't it nice after the rain stops?' I said chattily. "You still need your umbrella for all the drips, though!"

"Mmm-hmm," she said, on a high note, and without looking at me.

"Who are you visiting?" I asked, sitting down beside her. She looked at me like I was insane.

"I'm not visiting, I live here!" she snapped. I did a double take.

"What? No -- unless you just moved in?" I asked, gesturing toward the apartment house.

"No -- I live in Alameda -- wait, is this your yard?" she asked. I nodded, with raised eyebrows.

"Well, for heaven's sake," she snapped, getting up and gathering her possessions angrily. "You shouldn't be here -- I mean -- how is anyone supposed to tell?"

"By the sign on the gate that says 'Private Property' ," I said sweetly. She stomped down the steps and headed across the grass.

"Sorry!" she called over her shoulder, not politely. I almost felt bad.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I am really not

Okay -- I find this strange -- or at least remarkable.  I had an "aha!" moment last year, when I realized -- for the first time -- that something which  had happened to me in the past put me in a well-known statistic.   

Okay. That was strange enough.  That I, who sort of pride myself on my ability to look at things and see how they are, could have skipped lightly over this event, even though I thought about it every so often, just never called it by its name.  And in fact had said aloud, several times, and to myself, several more times, that I was very lucky that I did not, in fact, belong to this statistic.  I feel weirdly ashamed, as though I did it on purpose, although I assure you I did not.

But here's the part that seems freaky to me now.  When I read articles online or in the news about these statistics, and other sufferers from it, I get very anxious and start shifting in my chair and breathing in little gasps, and want to leave the room.  That's the way that "trigger" stories make people feel who know that this happened to them.  And I didn't know, until just recently.  So I feel as though I must be making these reactions up.  But I am not.  I am really not.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hot Times, Summer in the City

Merciful Heavens, 84 degrees at 8 in the morning!  How is this possible?  How?  How, how, how?  You see, it's turned me into Rowsby Woof!

I am pretty much living in my bedroom these days, since I have a window unit air conditioner in there.  This is nice, and means I sleep through the night pretty well, but it would be better if I had a chair to sit in.  Reading in bed, or watching  a movie on one's laptop in bed is not as comfy as one might think.  And yes, there is a chair in my bedroom, but it is invisible under the pile of clean but un-put-away clothes. 

I do love the open, beckoning emptiness of the Banfield freeway on these early weekend mornings!  It is all swooping curves, and I am always called to speed.  The few cars that there are are all speeding as well, so there isn't any risk of suddenly coming upon a fifty-five-mile-an-hour-good-little-driver.  There are other risks, of course -- as witness:

This morning I was in the far left lane, doing about 75, and had no one in front of me, so I was getting ready to move back into the center lane.  There were about five cars in my current sight, before and behind, all well-spaced.  I turned on my signal, waited a few moments, and started moving right.  As I did so, I was aware of a flash of movement behind me, and then a long, loud, I'm-extremely-pissed-off car horn.  A small, shabby little sports-type car shot into the far right lane, at an angle that showed he had come from behind me in the far left, all the way across three lanes, and then without a pause, shot left again, across the middle lane and into the far right.  No signalling, or anything, since that requires a hand off the wheel.

A young girl, maybe 23-24, with floods of wild blonde hair whipping around her face, projected herself out of the open window of this car up to her waist, to turn back toward me and give me the deluxe double finger.  She held this position, shaking her hands toward me and screaming something (much too loud out there to hear, and anyway, my windows were closed) and then retracted herself, and the car shot away at a minimum of eighty-five miles an hour -- we were all doing seventy, seventy-five, and he passed us like we were going backward -- in big triangular swoops across and back across, all without benefit of signal.

I burst out laughing, it was just so ludicrous.  It also made me feel oddly nostalgic about being that young -- that moment-oriented -- that the interruption of your wildly illegal and tremendously dangerous freeway shenanigans would have been enough to infuriate you to that extent.  I was never that young, thank goodness.

Last weekend I took a day off and spent three days in Rogue River with my aunt and uncle at their gorgeous, opulent and extremely clean house on the river.  It is a large and very plush dwelling and there was not a scrap of dust anywhere in it.  The upstairs, where my cousin and I always sleep, was completely unused by the family, and still, perfectly clean.  It was a lovely visit, extremely relaxing and very enjoyable.  Spent most of our time just sitting in their luxurious living room with glasses of iced tea and talking about our lives and our shared memories and our jobs and our families.  My aunt is a very careful and excellent cook, and she and my uncle both refused any offers of help, so my cousin and I just lay back and luxuriated.  I didn't want to come home!

We took a trip up to Crater Lake, so I have now seen this Oregon landmark -- hadn't until then!  It is extremely beautiful.  Very serene, with no background noise of rivers, since it has no input and no outgo.  The water is an even, full, blue and very calm.  And it's huge.  Lots of tiny, rapidly-darting chipmunks with very bright eyes, who all flash across the paths and up over the rocks at a ridiculous rate of speed.  Very relaxing to stand and look.  And all the walls and buildings are made of stone, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the thirties, and very beautiful.  Plus, since this lake is in the top of a volcano, exploded off and crumpled in, about seven thousand (!) years ago, you have to wind your way up and up into the mountains to get a look at it, so we were high among the pine forests.  It was a gorgeous day, in spite of the heat -- 102 degrees, I believe -- and anyway, their car is very well air-conditioned.

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!





Sunday, May 15, 2016

Portland Weather at Last!

Glory hallelujah!

It is the perfect day.  Thick soft grey clouds obscure the sky,  it's fifty-five degrees, the air is full of tiny delicate drops of rain that seem to hover immobile until you walk into them -- ahhh!   The greenery of the trees, bushes and grass that I am looking at is glowing like an emerald quietly lit from within -- and just yesterday I was looking sadly at the flowers in our yard which were turning brown from so much direct and unshielded sunlight.   Ahhhhh... my skin is drinking it in -- I can feel my body blinking back online -- systems were shutting down!


Otherwise, how are things?  My house is about three-quarters clean, which is enough for me to feel good about -- still some laundry to do, some dishes to wash.  The kitchen floor could use a good scrub.  You know -- things like that.  But there is no faint odor of garbage in the kitchen, no dust thickening on the tops of things, no piles of what-not accumulating in the corners of the living room. 

Picked up the food box last night, and felt again the familiar feeling of guilt at the sight of a box of no-doubt extremely healthful vegetables.  I could eat a stalk or two of the celery, but three packages?  And there is no way I can consume anything like that amount of salad.  And I'm not even going to try to eat broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes -- those are all my especially hated hates.  Besides, I'm going to have enough to do trying to consume some of the apples,(two bags?!) oranges,(5)  pears (3) and raspberries (three boxes) that are overflowing my refrigerator right now.

A pair of young people just passed by in front of the window, using umbrellas!  Two black umbrellas have just put the finishing touch on my delight with this day.  Sigh of glorious relief and happiness!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

For ANY sake, speak!

I believe I have said this before, although possibly not to you -- one of the few things wrong with my job (which I love) is the lack of communication.  Several times I have accidentally stumbled across some information which, turns out, I needed to know in order to perform my job.  Today was another example of the poor communication at which we excel.

I stopped by the office at about eight to do paperwork this morning, since my first shift was not scheduled until ten.  I was reading my office e-mail, since I am generally unable to gain access to it from any out-of-the-office computer, and saw that the other weekend staffer, Christine, had been promoted to an Assistant Team Leader position.  This is excellent, of course, and I mentally congratulated her, but the e-mail did not say who would be replacing her as weekend staff.  She and I are the only two staff from our team working the weekend, and have to see all the people in need of meds or meals on those two days.

So I stopped by my team leader Erik's office and asked him who would be replacing Christine.  He said he did not know yet, that they had sent out the standard e-mail to Craigslist and the other sites, and to the whole staff, but hadn't had any responses yet.

"We'll be trying to cover with subs, until we hire someone," he said.  "We aren't just making you responsible for all of them."  Then he laughed.  I laughed, too.  Uncertainly.

"When does Christine start as ATL?"  I asked.

"Oh, she started yesterday!"  he replied blithely.

So-o-o-o-o --- I might have to be doing some rapid shuffling around on Saturday, the day after tomorrow!  And if I hadn't stopped in and asked, I would not have known until someone called me on Friday afternoon, to sling three or four people into my already-full schedule.  

Now, I know, it might very well not happen, there might be subs galore available.  But it doesn't seem very likely!  And even so, (she begged) why not tell me, for heaven's sake?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Get off my lawn!

April -- a Spring month, I feel sure you will agree.  And yet the last few days have registered temperatures in the eighties.    The weather forecast predicts the following week will be grey and rainy and in the sixties, or I would actually be cross.  My mother always says that I cannot allow myself to be controlled by the weather, to which I always reply (in my head), "Oh, yes I can!" 

Anyway, at the moment I am in the air-conditioned library, where people are misbehaving all around me.  The woman next to me is loudly eating sour gumdrops.  Come on, lady!  That degree of smacking and sucking would be annoying on  a cross-town bus.  The man across from me is talking on his phone -- his phone! -- in a voice that would be too loud on the street corner, much less the library, which, as everyone has known all their life, is where you must be quiet.  Not silent anymore, unfortunately, but still, quiet.   And there are signs at the door reminding people to turn off their phones.  Grrr -- makes me wish that guy who kills rude people was still around.  Not that I want any of these people dead, of course, but they wouldn't be so ignorantly rude, if they had a madman with a politeness fixation to deal with.

Sigh...

I sound like a little old lady, don't I?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Queen for the Weekend

It is definitely odd to see the changes in traffic patterns that result from the time of year. To all those of you who regularly drive on the freeway systems, I'm sure you noticed this years ago and have completely stopped noticing it now. But for me, who has always avoided driving during rush hour, and driving on freeways when overland will do, and has had a terror of being in a large traffic jam, especially on a hot evening with pitiless sunshine pouring in the windshield and the engine slowly getting hotter and hotter and...AARRGGHH!


Pant, pant. Okay. What was I saying?


Oh, yes! I have always avoided driving on the Banfield particularly, since it is the sole East-West freeway in a city which is constantly increasing in size, and seems to be nearly always crawling along, if moving at all. It is also walled in on both sides, with no way to escape a wreck that happened ahead of one, so venturing oneself onto it with a great many other drivers, tired, irritable and more-or-less stupid, and all in a hurry, has always seemed to verge on the suicidal.


So, early on weekend mornings, when I have been very nearly the only driver -- between three and ten other cars, and most of them headed for the airport -- on the Banfield, I have actively enjoyed its use. I feel as though it is all mine, that I am the Queen of it, the Conqueror of the Freeway, and I graciously wave to the crowds of cheering people as I pass by -- at least, inside my head I do. I can go as fast or as slowly as I like and am not impeded by anyone. It is MINE!

So I have not liked these past few bright and sunny mornings, when the lanes are full of cars. All the way full, so that I have to be constantly aware of them and drive like an ordinary person and not Queen of All She Surveys, has been disappointing and frustrating to me. They are mostly SUVs, and a lot of them have bicycles or windsurfing boards or other outdoor gear on them, and I am entirely sympathetic to the desire to get out and play in the sun that occasions these trips. And I also understand that for a lot of people, especially those born elsewhere, the Banfield is the only way to get across town. But still! My kingdom!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventures

So I was with one of my clients this morning -- she is very intelligent, but has Asperger's which makes her interesting to have a conversation with.  She was in a very good mood this morning, however, and was telling me, in her spectrum-y way, the whole history of a manga story called (something like) "Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventures."  (We got onto this from a monologue on Gundams, of which I had heard, {thank you, Ernest Cline!} but about which I knew very nearly nothing.)  I, in the meantime, was trying to gently ease her into getting showered and dressed (yes, still in her pajamas) while I tidied up, since her job coach was coming that morning to discuss her employment.  It somehow seemed important to me.  But Nameless Client merely sat on the floor, wearing a big smile, and kept talking about the various Jo-Jos, starting from the first one, whose name was (something like) Jonathan Jostar and who was the protagonist for the whole first series.   And then the second series was his grandson, whose name was (something like) Joseph Jostar, and then the third series, was his grandson whose name was Joseph Cujo, and so on.  And on.  

Her mind constantly edits and revises her thoughts, as do we all, but she does her edits and revisions out loud.   So it goes like this:

"In the fourth series, Jolene Cujo was accused of a crime which she did not -- was charged with a crime -- was innocent of the crime she was accused of -- was charged and convicted of a crime which she did not in fact commit, and was sentenced to a -- was temporarily -- was briefly incarcerated in a women's prison."

Ordinarily, I really enjoy it when she does this, since it means she is feeling good and enjoying my company, and I just put in the occasional monosyllables to indicate my fascination.  Not that she needs this, let me add, since she just barrels right on regardless.  But I feel better about it, more involved, and like I'm helping in some small way.  But this time, there was the job coach arriving, and the pajamas, and the unwashed hair, and there she still sat on the floor, beaming at me, and talking away.  What is a body to do?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter and Sudden Death

So, it's Easter Sunday. And it's a beautiful day in Portland, by anyone's standards. It was cool and grey this morning, which made me happy, and now it is blue-and-gold and warm, which makes All The Rest Of You happy. I hope everyone has found their Easter eggs, loved their Easter baskets, enjoyed their Easter church service, and is now eating their Easter ham and deviled eggs. I am doing none of those things, but I am enjoying the fact that I am done with work for the day, and in a short while, will be eating my Easter bean burrito, hot and crispy. Yum!

So those of you who are not on Facebook, may not know that my friend Shannah, the first friend I made at Prairie Bible College, died suddenly this past week. I'm still in the can't-really-believe-it stage of grieving -- it just does not seem possible. Absolutely typically, I feel certain, I am thinking about suddenly dropping dead myself, and wondering how that would work -- who would find my lifeless body? How would they find it? Who would tell my people? How would they know whom to tell? Should I make up a list of Important People To Tell If I Suddenly Die? And where would that list be posted?

So, just in case I do die suddenly, and you get missed by the poor person to whose lot it falls to call all my Near and Dear, let me tell you that I love you. Yes, I truly do. You are someone whose memories make me smile (and sometimes cry), whose invitations delight me, even if I'm working that day, and whose face makes me happy to see. You are my Dear Friend! And I promise your name will be prominently displayed on my IPTTIISD list!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Water, light and air

So I am at the Retirement Home -- my folks' place in Ocean Park -- and I had a sudden eye-opener about the quality of light and the nature of rain.  It's been raining since I arrived yesterday morning, but the cloud cover is not dark -- there's quite a bright light outside, illuminating the wet green. ( The birds are just as vocal and active, too, so they don't mind a little dampness!) 

The brightness of the cloud cover is different from the cloud cover I admire so frequently in town, though -- there is a translucent quality to it -- as though the light were right there, close behind the clouds, a ragged, wateriness to it as though the cover was going to shred apart at any moment (even though it does not!)  The light is purer up here on the comparatively uninhabited coastline -- far fewer cars, no factories, nothing like as many people. No constant layer of smog between us and the source of light (or at least, less) Light is coming directly at us, inhibited only by the rainclouds.

Anyway, I was standing in the kitchen looking out the window as I waited for the kettle to boil, and feeling vaguely nostalgic about childhood rain, and my young sensations of looking out a window and not being certain it was raining, and the telltale signs I would look for.  Up at the edge of the gutter to see if tiny drops were falling from the split place, over at the wild rose hedge to see if the light thin leaves were stirring with the percussion of beats of water.

Both of these places -- my childhood home and this one -- are rural. I am surrounded by fields of grass, and forests.  There is no cement, only tarmac on the road, which is at the other end of the house.  Anyway, tarmac receives water in a way that cement paving does not -- sort of muffled and multi-directional -- so that steady drumming you hear, from acres of roof tops and yards of flat smooth cement, does not exist out here.

But now I live in Portland, right in the heart of the city, and all you need to do if you want to know if its raining, is listen.  You can hear every drop bouncing off some flat surface, a window, a rooftop, a sidewalk, the tops of cars and trucks. Everything is paved!   Everywhere the sound of falling drops is met with the sound of rushing water from gutters and downspouts.  It's a whole different thing!

Anyway.  Such are my maunderings on this lovely morning.  Good coffee, too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

....that men still call Tyre...

Such a beautiful Sunday morning!  Warm and soft, with a pretty steady breeze, and occasional flurries of tiny drops.  I've been turning my windshield wipers off and on all morning.  The sky is palest grey and looks like a fresh duvet.  I'm looking at the grass through the library window, and it is vivid green -- partly because it is new growth, and partly because this is the perfect weather to see colors in. 

Many of the trees have tiny brilliant green leaves, and those that don't have pink and white and lavender blossoms.  Even the deep forest green of the conifer trees looks brighter and greener -- less Grimm-fairy-tale-forest, more men's-club-smoking-lounge.
This morning before my shift started, I was reading a travel book by Lawrence Durrell (note to self: read Gerald Durrell, not Lawrence!) and getting melancholy as it talked knowledgeably and casually about all the places I have never been, in a time, when all you needed to travel was some cash and the desire to go -- if you wanted to live in Greece, you just went there and rented a house.  Sigh... 

Anyway, I was trying to convince myself that I should be glad those who had traveled had written about it, so those of us (me) who had been too cowardly and procrastinatory (I've just made that word up) and generally frozen, could experience it vicariously, after a fashion.  Instead, I set the book down, and decided not to read any further about the "old ships (which) sail like swans asleep/Beyond the village which men still call Tyre/ With leaden age o'ercargoed, dipping deep/ For Famagusta and the hidden sun that rings black Cyprus with a lake of fire."
That poem has always made me long for something -- something.

Ah, well!  I will make a physical effort and wrench my mind back to the happy state I was enjoying just moments ago!  Green, grey, soft warm air!  Sunday morning in Portland in the gentle rain! 

Monday, February 8, 2016

TV Memories

I had to be at work by eight am today, but I still had time to watch an episode of The Mod Squad before work.  Probably since I washed my hair yesterday -- I wore my purple shower cap this morning, and saved myself nearly an hour.

I haven't watched Mod Squad before this, I only know of its existence from a short period in my childhood when we were watching the Brady Bunch on Friday nights, and we would see ads for it.  I was in maybe the second grade.  Although as I think back to that time period, I realize that I am conflating it with a show called -- I think -- Room 222, which was about high school, or maybe college.  They occupy the same drawer in my memory chest of drawers, since they both had similar characters, clothes, colors, music and intros.  Hawaii Five-O is in that same drawer.  Lots of long straight hair for girls, strange sideways partings for guys, lots of "solid" and "square" and "Daddy-O," lots of mini dresses and Nehru jackets.  I don't think I actually saw any of The Mod Squad,  back in those days -- never saw any of Room  222, either, except for its into -- it must have followed a show that we were watching -- but I can almost hear the theme song from Room 222 playing in my inner ear.   Guitars and flute!

In any case, I was unpleasantly surprised, this morning, while watching this cutting-edge drama, showing young and with-it people, both black and white, male and female, very forward-thinking -- to hear the young female lead say, when asked if she would like Chinese food, "Ah, so!" in a ridiculously phony Chinese accent, protruding her teeth like a Japanese general in WWII propaganda. 

It is always surprising -- jarring, really -- to see the places where people's awareness has not yet reached.  You have to wonder --what's mine going to turn out to be? 

I was thinking this same thought just recently, while re-reading a paper I wrote for Humanities class at Warner Pacific -- this is back in the mid-nineties sometime -- about philosophers attempting to break down their awareness of the world to its very basic state.  "I think, therefore I am," type of thing.  And still being unaware that they were discriminating completely against women.  What must that degree of blindness be like?  What is it going to be, for me?  Scary.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Ham and Cheese

So -- yesterday I stopped in at St Honore's, the bakery on my corner.  I haven't been there for awhile -- been poor and fat, you know -- but I had just been paid and I realized I hadn't eaten any food that day, so I thought I would whip in and get a ham and cheese sandwich.  They do them quite well, on tough little baguettes so that they require some firm chewing, with sharp little mini gherkins all through.  Yum.  

So when my turn came, I stepped up to the counter and smiled at the young girl behind it -- someone I had not seen before. 
"Hi,"  I said.  "I'd like a ham-and-cheese, and one of the chocolate gateaux, please.  To go."

She replied, "I don't know what you mean by ham and cheese.  Are you referring to the jambon parisienne sur une baguette?"

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rainy Sunday at the Library

It is pouring rain today.  I mean POURING.  Sitting in my car in the library parking lot was both delightful and cozy, and oddly menacing.  I felt a few times as though I ought to be feeling anxious about the sheer quantity of water streaming down my windshield and completely obscuring the remainder of the view.  Where was the high ground?  Shouldn't we be making for it?

But then the library doors opened, and I completely lost that uneasy feeling, being completely protected from the torrential rain.  Facebook is much more important than survival, no?  Humans!   Gives me an idea for part of a post-apocalyptic movie -- keep the humans in their little homes by maintaining their programming, with no news to scare anybody, and then they can all be gassed, or plugged into the Matrix, or made into Soylent Green, or whatever it is you were planning to do with them -- they won't even know it's happening.

Whew -- a young man in a nearly visible cloud of cheap cologne has just seated himself behind me.  Arg -- that is a wretchedly awful smell - and so thick and chokingly pervasive.  Okay, I gotta go.  Can feel my allergic reactions gearing up to react!  That rainy atmosphere will clear my head -- clean and shiny rain-washed air is very appealing now!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday

I just saw an odd skirt walk by, with its wearer and two little dogs.  It is raining and the wind is blowing, so the skirt was doing some whipping around, and took several seconds of good hard staring before I was sure what I was looking at.  It was a full-length skirt, and not very wide, so it was very likely to need a slit up the back, for the ease of the walker within.  That or very stretchy material.  But this one had a fairly wide but not very tall rectangle cut out of the material, at the back.  Shades of Hayley Mills and The Parent Trap!  But it looked to be working just fine, although odd-looking, as I mentioned.

I'm at the library, with music playing in my headphones.  Thijs van Leer. It is barely raining at the moment, but it is that familiar sort of Portland rain, in which there is much more light than one would expect.  As though the overcast layer of clouds, instead of blocking the sunlight from reaching us, is instead magnifying it as it diffuses it, so very white light, without any surface brightness, if that makes sense -- nothing to make you squint.  And then there are all the tiny raindrops fastened to everything, which are reflecting and increasing the magnitude of the light.  I'm sure a meteorologist would know the one word definition of this state, and I do not, because I'm not a meteorologist, Jim -- I'm just a pluviophile who has lived here all her life. 
 
Next stop on this train of thought: last night I was driving home in the rainy dark with no windshield wipers (long story) and I was having to be much more invested in the moment-to-moment act of driving -- aware of every shift in the pools of fragmented light from headlights and streetlights and neon signs, because each one, as it passed over my windshield, gave me a moment of reflection through which I could not really see.  At first this kept panicking me, and I was bobbing around in my seat, trying to find some angle through which I could see, but not being able to see, and feeling like slamming on the brakes, and then the reflection would pass on over my head and I could see again.  Until the next time. 

But soon I realized that I just needed to take note, each time this happened, of the street in front of me, so I could be aware of what I was going to be passing over in that split-second of non-seeing, and the panic died away.  Until I found that I was singing loudly along with the radio as I drove.  So I had passed through difficulty, panic, problem-solving, and gotten all the way to acceptance, to the point where I was performing the new method of driving so easily that I could spare enough of my brain to belt out, "Diamonds on the Soles of My Shoes," with all the fancy bits.  The human brain is an amazing thing.  And I've been thinking about that a lot lately, since I re-watched Lucy twice this past weekend.
Okay!  So that is what I am thinking about just now.  Aren't you glad you asked?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

...and I feel fine!



Hey, I'm the first and only person in the library! Odd.

If it weren't full of staff people, I'd wonder if the Cylons attacked or something. The Rapture. Or possibly Winter Came. The Pax! Ice-Nine! Or what was the name of the flu in The Stand...? One of those things.

So the weather is once again behaving itself, like a well-trained dog, instead of the out-of-control-gorilla it occasionally morphs into. Just to remind us -- and itself, probably -- of what it is actually capable of! But cars are once more charging around as though the earth exploded into being millions of years ago just in order to provide them with lanes to travel in. What a piece of work is man!

Speaking of oddities of this sort (kind of), yesterday was a day of regular mail delivery, and yet no one in the whole apartment building got any mail yesterday. I was sitting and watching the mail carrier go up and down the street -- pushing her little cart and going up and down people's steps -- and when she got to our steps she paused for a few moments, and then rolled on by. !!! Nobody, of the sixteen people who live there, got so much as an ad for pizza addressed to Resident. Bizarre!

In spite of these obvious signs of the end of the world, unless the third sign occurs (because things like this always happen in threes, right?) I'm going to go on about my tiny little life and enjoy my day off in my beloved city!


So I guess some people's holidays go all the way to Monday -- Monday the fourth of January. I was assuming that traffic and all would go back to normal this weekend -- but no. Still crowds of people clearly enjoying themselves, still very few cars going anywhere except shopping malls, and still deathly quiet in the mornings.

Except for this morning! I got up at six as I always do, and was drinking coffee in my chair, when I heard a sound like faint and far-off crying. I listened hard, since I never want to be a person who says to themselves, "Gee, that sounds like someone being murdered. Guess I should turn up the sound on my movie."

 I couldn't pinpoint it, and I went out to the hallway to listen. Nope. Returned to my chair and my cup, and then heard something again. I went to the bathroom window and looked out. Still very dark out at six-thirty, but there are streetlights, and I could see and hear the young woman very well. Drunk, angry and really demanding. She was crying in loud howls, on her cell phone, and yelling,


"Please! Please, please, plea-ea-ea-ease! I know I didn't! I will next time, I PROMISE! I know I promised last time, but this time I will! I PROMISE! No, no, no! You can't, you can't, please, please! Ohhhh, boo-hooo-hoo....."

It was very cold outside, twenty-eight by my little thermometer, and she had clearly been out all night. I watched as she stamped her feet in furious despair at whoever was being so firm on the phone. She was wearing knee-high shaggy fur boots, light-colored fur that really caught the streetlights. Loud sobbing commenced. I opened the window.

"Hey," I yelled. "Do you need any help?"

She whirled around to face the building.

"FUCK! YOU!" she screamed.


I closed the window.


Happy New Year!