Thursday, June 28, 2007

Can't even shout, can't even cry

The other night, I was sitting on the couch watching a movie on DVR. Everything was cozy—the cats were in their various spots, the doors were locked, and the AC was going strong. Suddenly, there was a huge crashing noise in the basement. Old houses make noise, especially at night, but this was something very different. Cringer and Griffin ran away with their tails between their legs. Scully got all perky-eared and wary. And I was completely terrified. Lunchboy was in Chicago for two nights and our upstairs neighbors had just moved to San Francisco, so I was all alone on our side of the house.

Now, part of me felt like a wuss for getting so scared. But we live on the ground floor and recently there’s been a rash of serious crime in our otherwise quiet neighborhood, including a car break-in and a couple of shootings. I get terrible cell phone reception in our house. Suddenly I felt completely isolated and vulnerable. I called Lunchboy but there wasn’t much he could do. I turned on the basement light and tried to see if someone had broken through the basement windows, but things looked normal. I was shaking, though.

I went to bed that night and slept on Lunchboy’s side because it was closer to the window (potential escape route?) with a carving knife on the night table and my cell phone open and predialed to 911. Today I read this and no, you are not alone. But ADT might be getting a nice call from us this weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sort of like those Home Depot commercials where the parent puts the kid up to it

Last weekend we went to see my best friend and her family in central Mass. Her oldest son was our ring bearer. He is possible the cutest child ever. In the car on the way to get ice cream, he turned to me, an impossibly serious expression on his 5-year old face.


"Yes, Ivan?"

"When are you going to get a baby in your belly?"


"I don't know, Ivan. A couple of years, maybe. Why?"

"Because you need to have a baby!"

"Did your mother put you up to this?"

*crazed giggling*

Blue light

Total work insanity. I edit until I can't see straight and then edit some more. Somehow I've become a proofreader in addition to writing and editing. When work is over, I am happiest when I don't have to read anything. I've become that person who inadvertently edits menus and gets angry about commas.

The good part is that I'm off the pill and the Lexapro. For the first time in years, I feel stable and sane.

Reunion was fun. Also, crazy. Campus looked exactly the same and I kept having these weird moments of temporal distortion when I'd feel as if no time had passed at all. The fact that everyone was floating in a sea of beer helped the deja vu. No one can say that the class of 97 forgot how to drink. The party in our class headquarters started around noon on Friday and was still going strong when we left on Sunday. And just like college, I was ready to be hide and be totally antisocial by Saturday night.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Far and wide

I grew up having cats and my parents were always adamant about letting those cats go outside. I think it was because they wanted to be able to boot the cats out the door when things got loud at 4am. Sometimes the cats would be gone for just a few minutes, but other times they’d vanish for hours and occasionally for days at a time. When one of the cats would go off on walkabout, as we called it, we always wondered where they went and what they were doing (in addition to praying that they were ok, which always came first). A cat owner in Germany had the same questions, so he attached a camera to his cat’s collar and recorded his kitty’s outdoor adventures. Check them out here (thanks to BoingBoing).

Way over the line

This week’s Dear Prudence column cracked me up. The lead item was, well, a little too familiar. My sophomore year in college, I dated M, a little blond rower boy who happened to be two years younger than me. This meant that he was a senior in high school and, as high school people tend to do, he lived at home with his mother, who was a nurse. Whenever I took the bus down to Boston to see him, we’d stay at his house and everyone involved tried to pretend that *nothing* was happening when his bedroom door was closed. Except that M’s mother decided to try and be cool about it, but in very unnerving ways. She left pamphlets about contraception on the breakfast table. She asked me what I was using just to be sure that there were no unexpected children on the way (her words, not mine). Every so often she’d knock on his door to make sure “we were ok.” And one very memorable time, after she’d returned from a whitewater canoeing trip and we’d stayed in M’s room until 2pm, we all ran into each other in the kitchen and she said, “My muscles are really, really sore. Are you guys sore?” And it was just so wrong and inappropriate and weird that my skin literally crawled and I had to leave the room.

Not that dating a high school senior when I was in college was a great choice on my part, or that M’s mother was wrong to try and find a way to deal with what must have been a deeply unnerving experience for her. But this was the woman who once told me that when M had been constipated in the not too distant past, she’d tried to help him out manually, a la Bobby and Whitney. There were no boundaries in that house. Eventually M realized this—years after we broke up, he graduated from college and moved immediately to LA, as far as he could get from Boston. I saw his mother once on the street in 2004. When she found out I used to live in LA, she said, “So people DO come back from the west coast.” I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying, “Not when they go there to escape their families.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Paeonia officinalis

I planted a peony bush on Sunday. I’m a sucker for peonies—something about the rich, densely layered thickness of their blooms. People tell me that peonies must be coddled and coaxed into blooming, but I’m hoping this one will soak up the sun in our side yard, take a cue from the oversized, exuberantly blooming rhododendron, and burst forth with a little color, if not this year than next.

For a few weeks there, I was suffering from an intense case of keeping up with the Joneses. Our neighbors, who don’t seem to do anything other than work on their condo and their yard, created a nicely designed little patch of garden on their side of the house. I felt like a slacker. They have actual porch furniture and we have two plastic Adirondack chairs and a metal Simpsons drink tray. I love the Homer table but you should see the looks they shoot at us when they think we’re not looking. In our own time, though, we’ve somehow turned what were weedy patches of crabgrass into two halfway decent gardens. I’d tell you what I planted other than the peony, but I threw away the little ID tags (what? I made sure they needed direct sun, I planted them in direct sun and now all I need is for them to evade death. Names are for people who have green thumbs). This weekend is reunion (!!!) but maybe we’ll get around to mulching next weekend. Then I’ll post some pictures.

They don't know from Mars and Venus

I read this story and am still thinking about it. If you have a few minutes, take a look. Imagine what it’s like living in a country where men and women are completely segregated, where women can’t drive or vote or sit in Starbucks, or stand in front of a bank because *GASP* men can see you through the window. Yesterday I lost it because the basement guy condescended to me on the phone but spoke patiently to Lunchboy with that “Hey, we’re guys, we understand each other” thing. I hate that feeling. Then I read Megan Stack's story and it put yesterday into perspective.