Saturday, January 31, 2009


If I had my way, nothing would happen. Nothing would be planned, there would be no pressure to be social or friendly or proper or improper. I would sit in my same place, tapping these keys and eventually, four or five crappy pages later, something would begin to emerge--an image in stilling water, wobbly and unclear--and I'd have a beginning. It would sort itself out, paragraph by paragraph, line by line, word by word, until three hundred and fifty pages were mine.

But I have to do the laundry, so this will have to wait.

Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday. I don't care about this. My husband will watch the commercials, but not care too much about the game, but because he is a man, we will sit in front of the television and submit. I will be here, and eat clam dip and BBQ potato chips, and slices of havarti and horseradish white cheddar and salami and grapes. We are invited places, but I don't want to go. Neither does husband, but he uses me as his excuse. I don't care. There's plenty of room under the bus.

Why is there always something that needs to be celebrated? By this time (post holiday) I am so over celebrating that I need a new word for over. I think we need to create a new holiday in celebration of nothing. It would go like this: You would sleep in, get up whenever you pleased, eat a bowl of cereal or something out of a can and use disposable dishes, hang around and watch old movies you love but don't care about and could sleep through, nap, read, go for a walk and out for dinner in a nearby restaurant that doesn't care if you wear your jammies all day, and wander on home. The phone wouldn't be allowed to ring and the most complicated thing you'd be allowed to do is peel an orange.

What shall we call it, this day in honor of inertia? Hmmm?

Etta is dying, by the way. She's pissed at her family because her husband dropped dead a few short months ago after he had pampered her for 63 years, and she was thinking the pampering would continue. Now, old and crazy, her family has left her in one small room to live out her life alone and befuddled, in the care of strangers. There is little comfort in that, turns out.

I shouldn't be so cavalier about all this. She is doing her level best to follow him. You see this, or I do, in long marriages. They sincerely have no intention of going the rest of the way alone. They made a deal back when, and she intends to keep it. Til death us do part, my ass.

Friday, January 16, 2009

day off

Not working from home or at home. The problem with my job, or my life, or both, is that a life spent caring for others eight to ten hours a day leaves very little for others. Very very little. Not enough, it turns out. From time to time I require a day absent teenagers, absent housework, absent all of the things that feel like pressure to me. I began the day saying nothing when asked. I had nothing to say and could have spent my five minutes proving it, but today is a good day to sit at the best fucking coffee shop in Portland and make my fingers do the talking. I have written four crappy pages and it feels good to be anywhere else.

To be fair, this is cabin fever. This is winter. I will wander home when the fog lifts, drag my bicycle out of its hiding place and tour the neighborhoods, winter-bare, and dream of my garden to come. I will prune my poor frost-bitten hydrangeas which are as beautiful in brown as in blue, and I will leave the roses for March. I will avoid dog shit and thorns and I will make an effort to welcome Spring because I know it will come. I know it to a scientific certainty, as someone in a movie said.

I hired a new girl after firing an old one. In my industry, no-call-no-show is an unforgiveable sin. I had to hand it to her though. She called about three o'clock in the afternoon of the next day and said, "Man. Sorry. I drank a whole bottle of Nyquil and just woke up."
"Oh," I said. "That's alot of Nyquil."
"Yeah," she said. "I was really sick."

So, I'm not going to think about work anymore.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


We had a conference to meet with Irene's family today, to let them know we think "it's time." Time to move from one side of the building to my side. My side. The crazy person's side. We were all seated around a large conference table and Irene waltzed in, a too-tight silky blouse clinging to unhinged breasts that, in another time, were accustomed to riding considerably higher than her waist. At any rate, she joined us with an exuberant smile, sat down, and said, "Oh! And here I'd thought you'd forgotten my birthday!" She grinned, twinkle in her eye, stood to kiss her children, and sat back down. "We usually celebrate with, well, things (we filled in words like cake, candles, cards) and she said "yes, those things," as though she hadn't missed a beat. "But this is fine," she said, smiling, looking person to person as she (and we) sealed her fate.

It wasn't her birthday.

Her daughter was shocked but not surprised to learn of mother's nocturnal wanderings, her agitation at finding an empty box and damning the person who had the audacity to send her nothing and make her pay postage for it. She'd emptied it at Christmas, full of cookies and a snow-white sweater, but had no memory of it and cannot be reminded. So she will come to live with me for the remainder of her days, and we will find her a brassiere, because she would want one, and that is what she would call it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Another day at the beach. We left around nine, and the low tide we were waiting for wasn't to be until nearly 7:00 pm. So, a slow drive to Seaside, stopping to get shellfish tags at GI Joe's, which is now just Joe's because I guess war stores aren't commercially viable or something. Tags in hand, we headed across the war zone of highway 26, downed trees evident as close in as Banks. Don' t you love the complementary strip of trees along major scenic routes? Creating the [false] impression that you are driving through dense Oregon forest, only you're not. Beyond the ever-thinning strip, light from the clearcut streams through. But, doomsayer that I am, it was a nice drive, and we were most definitely in the mood to get out of dodge. Cabin fever, stir crazy, you name it. I'd been inside too long. I'm almost never interested in leaving the couch, but after the snow and the endless sick, I don't care how shitty I feel, I just want to feel shitty somewhere else.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


I'm thinking clutter would be a good target for my resolve. I'm not sure what I think will happen if I get rid of something I paid twenty bucks for and might still use one day in the distant future. The notion that I'm saving these things for my children is a lie worn thin as soup. I only have one son and he is grown, has one chair, a dish and a fork and is happy. My upstairs, downstairs and closet are proof if you think I'm lying. I have a yard sale every year and still I shop to fill the void. People ask me if I collect anything. I tell them yes. I collect things that cost money. Still I must have have have because I can can can. My new shopping mantra is: I need nothing. I need less.

So if I toughen up and fill a few boxes with some okay things, do I think the luxury police will come? Am I afraid that leaving perfectly good items in the Goodwill Box will call forth the anti-gods of poverty, that they will chatter amongst themselves, saying, "She has forgotten."? And what will the cost be then? Double? Triple? In the olden days, if someone stole from me, I used to take three times back before considering it even.

What does that mean?

I cannot resolve to use my treadmill. I just can't. That would be repetitive and embarrassing. And sugar, ah... sugar. That battle is not mine to fight or to win.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

nine years of bad luck

Here we are, year nine in the new century. My husband started it off by breaking a mirror in the bathtub, his first act of the early morning of the first day of the new year. He felt it bode somewhat dismally for his future. I'm glad I don't believe in bad luck. Which is not to say I don't have any.

Caveat: I am still muddy-headed and cruising into week 6 of this funky headcold sinus infection flu cough common cold bronchitis walking pneumonia.

My great-neice is coming to stay for two weeks while she gets started in college. We will tuck her away in a corner and feed her vegetarian food. She's small and won't take up much space. And, as all children's plans seem to go, the apartment she was to rent is a myth and it is probably a better idea, according to her, to start school in March instead of January. It is cold, afterall. But, as I've come to learn, two weeks means two weeks, and I can return her, postage paid to her mother in Idaho, without question.

Living with two adolescent females is interesting. I do remember being eighteen. I was as full of hubris as either of them, certain I knew things -- important things -- things my elders could never conceive--things they had somehow passed by on life's journey, didn't have the awareness to pick up and could not go back for, like unredeemable coupons, outdated and worthless snips of paper. When I said happy new year to Nicole, she answered, "My new year began in September, on my birthday. This means nothing." Oh, how I wanted to remind her that, even as tragically unique she is, the laws of physics do apply to her.

Naw. They won't hear it. Not yet. And its not my job.

I wish I had learned, years earlier, that I am only one of many. And still it eludes me. It is true: I hate to be common... garden variety... but it is only when I can sincerely if momentarily grasp this fact that I have some hope of connection with the rest of the herd.

Plus, if you think your thoughts are worth recording, you're doubly-fucked.

Oh, well.

Yesterday was my son's birthday. I miss him. He is still the best thing I ever did. Happy Birthday, Marky.