Tuesday, March 30, 2004

rain and unemployment

Yesterday was a record high. Rain today. I'm up early and finding this is probably my time to write. Nicole is still in bed, man gone to man work, and I'm tripping around the house, putting things in an order that makes sense to me.

Yesterday I applied for unemployment. That act alone was such a throwback to my youth I felt like I was in a time warp. I recall one particular stint on the dole when I was in my second or tenth extension of benefits and was required to attend a class on creating a resume and living through a job interview. As was my custom, I'd been up for three or four days and feeling somewhat transparent. My ability to fill out forms was impaired, but nothing compared to what happened when they turned the cameras on to record the interview process for my edification. I may have been just a teensy bit paranoid. "You need to make eye contact with the interviewer," came the review. Probably true. I couldn't look myself in the eye, let alone a stranger holding my life in the balance. The film was bad. Jittery. A neurological answer to the question: how long can you stay awake? Today, having slept well (for the past many years), eaten something and having less guilt about my situation, a late 50's longhair sidled up to me at the slick formica tables and gave me a tip: "unenjoyment." One word. I'm sure he though that said it all. I was nearly compelled to turn to him and come back with "unentitlement." But it didn't rhyme and I was on foot. On foot in the big city, asking for directions I can barely follow. So, I ignored him. If I've learned one thing in twenty-some-odd years of mental healthcare, it is this: never make eye contact with the mentally ill. He qualified. So, I filled out the papers, stuffed them in the drop box and wandered off to the engraver to get my ring engraved. I am learning my way around, one business at a time.

We began cutting down the back hedge. Why is it that these projects start out seeming do-able, but once the chainsaw is running, the hedge behind the hedge becomes apparent and what was a couple of loads becomes ten loads? Lotsa work. The back yard will double in size and I will plant shit like crazy.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Clinton Street

It is a walking neighborhood, Clinton Street. Everyone is out and about, yuppie parents walking their children to school, spiky goth kids those who are not kids anymore out in the light of day, pale skin screaming for the vitamin D of sunshine. And the sun is out this morning, gardens resurrected by the light, mounds of lobelia cascading down rock walls, snowcap and creeping rosemary competing to fill space. The azaleas are blooming. I am contributing to the circus of color, waiting now for the hostas to pierce their way to a perfect green and white unfolding. Down south, I always planted hostas, but the relentless heat and my laziness-- inattention really--was a deadly combination. My yard was too sunny. I was meant to garden here.

The Clinton Street hunchback is a creature of some note. He/she wanders the neighborhood with a shopping cart, collecting cans. Cans, I think, he uses to purchase shiny clothes. I can't tell if the hunchback is a man or a woman. He wears his hair in a bun, and has a few days growth of beard. He wears women's clothing, but not exclusively. His taste is reflective of the disco era, which, I am happy to say, is behind us. The deformity, the hunch, is considerable, but he does have a certain charm. He asks politely for cans, but cusses out bus drivers like a sailor. The girls are afraid of him. If I was him, I'd be afraid of Nicole. She's mean.

Saturday, March 27, 2004


My laptop died. Some tech managed to save it, but I had to leave it when I left my job anyway. So I've been at a disadvanage, blog-wise. I'm back. In Portland. I moved my stuff up here yesterday... my personal shit... a truckload of clothes and my bike. We still have to go back down there and load the big truck and get out of dodge. I had a bridal shower and got pink flamingos. Cheesy yard art -- that's me. On Clinton Street, if you leave anything in the yard after dark, they think its a yard sale, so I'm not sure about placement of my new animals. Maybe I'll have better luck taking care of them than I have had with Bailey and Watson and the long line of neglected animals in my life. All I can say is that I'm better than I used to be. I feed them. The flamingos, so far, aren't demanding, but then, they aren't out of the box yet. There are two of them, and I'm sure they'll get together and come up with ideas to make my life harder.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

yard sale day

It was the first hot day here in Southern Oregon. I made about 250 bucks in a couple of hours. My neighbors bought my shit. Thanks to one and all. My observations of the day: the men show up first. They know what they want, sports equipment, fishing gear, tools. Not many of them want to shop. There are the junkies, the master buyers, always acting naive and surprised at the relative value I place on garbage. I tell them I price it for what I'd pay if I was in a good mood. If they want it, they pay. They're always after my patio chairs, metal, forties style bouncers. I love them and would not sell them to anyone. They may rust in Portland. Then the women show up.... they look, and buy less, generally, than the men. I got three fairly serious offers on my house. They actually wanted to buy the yard. The dog goes with it, I reminded them.

The collie lady showed up, the collie rescue lady. Did I mention her before? Oh, major oversight. When I was trying to find a home for Bailey, you may or may not remember, I called the pound. They gave me the number for collie rescue. Well, this bitch calls me back and asks me if Bailey has had all his shots and whether or not he has been groomed recently. "So, you only rescue well-groomed animals?" I wanted to ask. I told her he had been groomed and she asked about his nails. claws. paws. whatever... I was annoyed. She promised to consider rescuing him. I wondered, then, at her background, the improbability that she was in any other way acquainted with the term rescue. Talk about placing help line on hold. Anyway, Bailey is staying here. The tenants are keeping him. fine. Well, the collie lady showed up and wanted to dispute the tenant's ability to keep the dog. "They'll move" she assured me. Yes, I suppose they will. She claimed to know a nice woman with a farm that would see to him, keep him in a kennel, far from harm. I'm sure his nails will be done regularly, but I just think he'll be happier at home. It creeped me out that she knew where I lived. I didn't tell her. She knew because for years she has been walking by my house, stalking my dog, and when I called for a rescue, she acted like she didn't know who I even was. I certainly didn't know I was talking to my neighbor. Maybe someone will build a kennel for her.

One of the items for sale that created the most interest was the navajo treasure. It is, or was, a two-foot tall clay structure of unknown origin. Looked to me like it had been created during a seventh grade pottery class. It had a blue design baked into it, geometric. I don't know where it came from or how I got it.

Now that the garage sale is over, I am closer than ever to moving. Today was hard. I got rid of the red chair. Jan bought it. There is comfort in that, the first concession of my married life.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

yard sale

I'm advertising right here in the hopes that my limited, local audience will show up and buy my shit. And shit it is. It's remarkable what I'm willing to hang onto, and, under the right circumstances, release to the next life. I hired a junk man to haul off whatever doesn't sell. I am not in a sentimental mood... I am setting aside things I don't love. But here's the thing... I'm getting rid of the red wine chair. It is named that because it has had more wine spilled on it than drunk in it. It's an old chair, overstuffed, maroon velvet where it isn't worn slick. Stuffed with horsehair, upholstery nailed with hundreds of brass tacks. There is a band of oak beneath the arms, and carved oak feet. Cooky and I were stopping by the goodwill box by my house in Central Point to steal a wheelchair for a needy friend. We were wearing nurse's uniforms, and thought it would be a perfect Farside cartoon: "When nurses go bad." I saw it first, yelled "Dibs" as is the custom in my family, and forever after there has been lingering discontent on Cooky's part that she deserved it. I don't think so. So, we loaded up the loot and hauled it home. That chair has been in my house ever since. That was at least 20 years ago, and it was old then. It's really fallen apart now. Thick string stitching the welt around the seat pillows is coming undone, my son Mark contributed some additional carving around the base. He's never respected that chair. He'll be delighted to see it go. The springs -- and these are some burly fucking springs -- are sprung. There is no hope. The chair represents many "one of these days" items. One of these days I'll: refinish, paint, upholster, mend.... It truly is the end of an era. I think my willingness to hang onto this crap is all about poverty. I've never been able to reconcile myself to success, to having enough. Enough just isn't a concept I understand. But I have more than enough. How many candleholders does one girl need, anyway? I have a box, probably three or four square feet in volume, full. When I was broke I used to take five dollars and fiind the best candleholder I could. It was a contest. My favorite is a hooded clay figure in prayer. Anyway, I'm releasing the chair.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

ides of march plus one

People keep stopping by, wishing me well, telling me how happy they are for me. I go through much of life thinking I am invisible. A ship without a wake. I am so ready to be gone... am gone already in so many ways. I left in August if you ask me. But here I sit, amid the remnants of this life. A life recorded on scraps of paper, in letters never sent, in notes and scribblings, misheard quotes and original sin. I'm throwing it away, the better part of it anyway. I know I will not use it, that original thought flows through me and when I'm in the zone, don't need scraps. I amuse myself with the hopefulness, the sheer narcissm of having hung onto scraps of paper describing ad nauseum the varying conditions of my life. It is a map, of sorts, leading finally to here and now. And I dont' know why I am able to let it all go now. It comforted me, the labryinth of words, from the impossibly clever to the unimaginably inane. There is a quote, my favorite by tom robbins, about the nature of passion:

"... neither duration nor proclamation of commitment is necessarily the measure. There are ephemeral explosions of passion between strangers that make more erotic sense than many lengthy marriages, there are one-night stands in Jersey City more glorious than a six month long romance in Paris. But finally, there is a commitment -- however brief, a purity--however threatened, a vulnerability--however concealed, a generosity of spirit--however marbled with need, an honest caring--however singed by lust that must be present if couplings are to be salubrious and not slow poison..." TR.

There are many unsent letters to Lorretta, of many more sent. We wrote letters. Back and forth across the country. I miss writing that way, pen in hand -- perfect pen, perfect paper -- splurging in stationary stores, two dollars for paper with more flowers than room to write. We wrote on napkins, on scraps of out-folded envelopes. I remember one night, middle of a particularly dark crank run, staying at a motel and finding the amusing house stationary along with Gideon's Bible, but no pen. I had to have one, and went out walking, praying that the God of the Gideon's would allow me the luxury of writing. I found the stub of a pencil with the eraser intact. These are the memories of poverty: no paper, pens out of ink, when finding a quarter in the couch pillows was a big find; matching socks, towels and sheets at all, getting change from food stamps.

I will start the countdown: if it is the 16th of March, there are 18 days to go.

I rented a UHaul truck this morning.

Friday, March 12, 2004

dog abandonment

I'm not taking Bailey with me. I know, I know... he's sweet. But the thing is, I've never bonded with him - nor he with me -- and I'm not taking him. I got him for Spencer. It was back in the Dharma and Greg heyday when she had a dog for her dog. Truthfully, Spencer was aging -- aged -- and I'd heard a younger dog might help bring the party back into the dog. Not so. He only annoyed the old guy. You should have met Spencer. What a dog. Now there was a dog who knew how to be a dog. He'd go for rides with anybody. Once time, a pickup pulled up out front of my house and Spencer jumped out. He was laughing, you could tell, a big smile from black ear to white ear. He'd been to Ashland with an unsuspecting neighbor. He, the neighbor, told me he got halfway there and noticed Spencer in the back of his truck. Like other members of my immediate and extended families, Spencer was a known criminal, a chronic offender. I always said, as I've said of husbands and sons, "You go back to jail buddy and I'm leaving you there." But I always bailed him out.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

the view from up here

We're tearing down walls. Real walls. Old walls of lath and plaster underneath panelling. I know I was alive during the "panelling is great" epoch. It covered, as my pentecostal mother would say, "a multitude of sin." I remember my sisters in law begging for ash colored panelling, black and grey, very mod. Mod. This stuff is utilitarian at most. There is too much underneath it all (as is true of so much), and I think we'll do a Dr. Phil remodel, not the deep Freudian fix. We'll put the past behind us, and behind new wall covering. We will not ask why --rather what's next? And it will fester there, the past, as things will if unexamined and popped like zits. We wondered together at the art of lath and plaster, the difficulty of making walls pre-drywall -- suddenly a marvelous invention. So, I'm off to Home Depot, to fix this new home of mine... ours. My dining room chairs sit around the kitchen table now and this morning I drank coffee on our porch. I am home. Nicole won't speak to me. I'm finally part of the family.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

in preparation of retrospect

Living single. You must have known it would come up eventually. As I adjust to the bliss of anticipation, it occurs to me that bliss is linked closely to the fact that I am alone, have been alone, and planned always to be alone. I revelled in our togetherness because there was so much time apart. Now, I am not going to be alone anymore. And while that is a happy notion, I'm ever so slightly unnerved. I'm big on space and privacy. Huge. So, lately I've been sitting around, as I will, surveying the end of life as I know it. I brood. I consider. I do everything but get off the fucking vortex of a couch. That life-sucking thing hasn't let me up for years. Maybe I won't even take it with me. No -- his is worse. Lorretta told me to just start packing the art. She said, in fact, that I'd never leave as long as it was pretty inside my little sanctuary. I hate it when she's right. So, last friday night we began.... She began. She started packing my books. I stopped her. She smiled, sat, waited. Tried again the next night. I told her she could pack the books in the back bedroom. Nothing more. Then, finally, she made her astute comment and we began in earnest. Its funny how quickly I remembered my moving skills, the rhythm of it all. In no time, my home was reduced to a shell, pale green walls full of nails, full of cobwebs, absent my things: a metal falling star with James Dean in the window, the wooden staircase, the monkey, my crappy paintings. My first dishwasher. And the hard part is, Lorretta doesn't have a home anymore, and I can't leave her mine. The stark reality that I am a property owner with all of the attendant responsibilities and impossibilities jostles memories loose and up they float...

poem for my mother

she took people in
my mother
out of fashion these mean days
now we have nowhere to go
when we fuck up
or fuck off
or tire of being adults
the long days
of relentless responsibility
to rather buy whiskey
than electricity
and she undertood
she drank whiskey once
for twenty years
and we took her in.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Friday, March 05, 2004

cell phone tendonitis

yep. that's me. i tried to blame it on typing, but i always type and so far without negative consequence other than non-published literature. but my wrist hurts so i don't write much. i'm using an ear bud, which is helpful. and packing to move is gruelling.