For my first official blog entry of 2011, I want you to know that I am officially (faking) being clever and positive, upbeat and cutesy-pie, to cover for the fact that stupid me emailed my online journalist friend and told him I resolved to be more positive in 2011.
Here we go again: Me? Positive? Oooh – that would mean my cup is surely runnething over!
Speaking of honesty? My promise was only made up of words, and words are not the boss of me, even if they appear in an article in West Hartford Patch, because I didn’t pinky swear. Doesn't that automatically make me immune from living up to anything I rashly promise?
Truly? How can I be expected to be positive when our heating system has been on the fritz for an entire month (we’ve tried out three thermostats so far – and baby, it’s cold in here), I haven’t exercised, and I’ve had to wait every, single day for the heating guy to show up? (I call each day and beg him to fix it, please, fix it – but so far, no cigar!)
I want to say mean and negative things to all you super-duper, happy coldsters out there, who aren’t upset about being bundled in fleece and Smartwool socks, putting up with snow (the little balcony underneath the window in the computer room is filled to the window sill), or accepting the UConn women’s team loss to Stanford, but I’m not going to.
Instead, I’m going to sing "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” and quote Malvina Reynolds, who likes to look on the “sunny side, the sunny honey funny bunny side.”
I'm doing this because I'm bound and determined to prove my husband (Mr. In-Between?) wrong. You know, of course, that he bet me I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my promise? You also know that he’s usually 100% right when he bets, damn his hide?
I had breakfast with two old friends on Monday morning, before my cough and now yucky nose turned ugly. I was late, because the heating guy had to come early (or never) to install thermostat number two (it’s still not working right), and readjust the boiler settings. I hate being late, but I had no choice – stay home and let him reinstall the thermostat, or continue listening to my heat go on and off, on and off – over and over again. Funny – that’s what it’s been doing all morning. Yeah, so much for thermostat number 2!
As soon as I sat down in the booth, apologies bursting out of my cold lips like ice cubes clonking down an icemaker, my friend thrust her reading journal in my hands. She’d told me she was going to bring it, and boy am I glad she did. Are you ready for this? She’s been writing down the titles of all the books she’s read since 1972 – which means I got to walk down her reading memory lane with her. What a treat that was.
As soon as I finished, though, I came down with a case of neon green jealousy.
Darn. How come I didn’t create myself a permanent ongoing record of my reading life, considering the fact that I’m an out and out reading addict? I’m such a prime candidate, too, because I create freaking Excel spread-sheeted reading lists, which I’m never without. (Hey! I might be near a library during the day.)
Unfortunately, I update my list many times a year, once the penciled-in just-out must-reads fill up the white space; once the list’s updated, though, I throw it away. Therefore, I have never, ever had an unbroken record of all the titles I ate up (or spit out and rejected) in any one year.
I’m smacking my forehead with my palm, like a stereotypical Italian in a Fellini movie, for being such a buckethead when it comes to chronicling my life. Feel free to call me Ms. Stupido.
To make up for my lack of foresight, I’m writing down this week’s favorite December, 2010 book (It’s right up there with the Joyce Carol Oates piece about her husband’s death in last week’s New Yorker, which knocked me out and made me cry. I know it’s not a book, but it was a perfect piece of writing, in my opinion. Don’t miss it): The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger (she also wrote the Time Traveler’s Wife, which I haven’t read).
Please, please - don’t reject it because it’s a graphic novel. It’s a book addict’s dream, so to speak, and is so brilliantly imagined and drawn I couldn’t believe Niffenegger thought it up on her own. Yep. I’m oozing a little more jealousy, oh yes I am.
Unfortunately, I have to add a spoiler alert, because there’s a ridiculous suicide in the middle, or maybe towards the end, which kind of, sort of ruined the heretofore-flawless story for me and made me furious with the author. I wish I’d known about it before I fell in love with the book – which is why I’m telling you. Now that you know, you can eat it up and spit out the bad part.
This morning I got an email from a friend, asking me why I haven't written a blog since Halloween. Instead of telling her the truth, I emailed her that I had a lot of "crap" going on - a nice, vague answer if there ever was one. Do you really want to know?
If so, are some of my best excuses: I've been dealing with massive (sometimes even 3-days-in-a-row) migraines, overseeing our new heating system thermostat which continues to malfunction, tutoring 1st and 2nd graders at Sarah J. Rawson School in Hartford, diligently keeping up with reading The New Yorker and New York Magazine, oh-so-religiously watching UConn men's and women's basketball game on TV, knitting up a storm, exercising 4-5 days each week, checking emails and Facebook to find out what's going on with friends and my daughter (she regularly posts stuff she neglects to tell me - so god forbid I should miss one little detail).
Today's excuse? I drove myself to the doctor, because I have a cough, instead of zipping over to my usual Wednesday morning stretch and tone class.
What surprised me was that I wasn't slotted in to see my regular doctor (no one bothered to mention this when I phoned for an appointment). It turns out he's been replaced with stand-ins and laptop computers. The two strangers who saw me didn't bother introducing themselves (the first one measured my weight, blood pressure, and temperature; the second checked my ears, nose, and throat, then prescribed some stuff while sitting at her computer, tap, tap, tapping away). I mean, why interact when you can obsessively enter data into a laptop computer?
Is it selfish of me to wish they'd been a little more interested in cough, cough, cough...me.
I have more excuses - there are always more - but I don't want to bore you with my need for coughing up long, drawn-out details. Instead of writing, I'm focusing all my energy on getting rid of my new cough, which I picked up somewhere between last Wednesday's trip to NYC and this past Sunday, checking my list twice (yes, I've been naughty and nice), and sublimating how awful it's going to be to be felt up by TSA workers when we fly to Chicago on Christmas Day to celebrate my first Christmas with my daughter and her husband's family.
It’s Halloween - the second most popular holiday in America - so I'm wearing my Halloween socks, an orange shirt, and black pants in honor of this candylicious day, even though it's not my favorite holiday.
I wore Halloween socks to Zumba this morning, hoping they'd help me feel a little less ancient or movement-impaired than I usually do when shaking and shimmying like a lunatic, but they didn't. A few of us had on Halloween-colored clothes, but no one came in costume, thank goodness, which would’ve made Zumba-ing like a pack of wild Zombies impossible to do.
I had to stagger drunkenly to my water bottle between each song, for quick pick-me-up slurps, which did help me, miraculously, to make it through the entire hour without melting into a little puddle like the Wicked Witch of the West.
As soon as late afternoon rolls around, right before the sun goes down, I’m leaving the house to escape the knock knock, who’s there madness, though, since I no longer have any reason to celebrate, now that the kids are grown up and gone (boo hoo).
If you’re wondering where I’ll be, I’ll be hiding out in the dark at the movies, where I won’t have to worry about opening and shutting the front door (which sticks), my inability to curb my enthusiasm for eating miniature candy (which I can’t resist), or the incessant, unending ding dongs and loud, crashing door knocking of costumed children demanding treats.
After I get home, when Halloween is officially over, listen carefully (now that the doorbell's stopped ringing) and you might be able to hear me giddily counting down the days to my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving. 25…24…
In the last week, I’ve cried though two plays and a movies, plus a bunch of DVR’d TV shows I taped and caught up watching on Friday night while my husband, the card shark, was playing poker with his buddies.
Yes, it’s true: I’ve set the all-time Tiny Tears, Poor Pitiful Pearl record, which I’m humbled and honored to have set, thank you very much. In fact, please feel free to wave a Kleenex at your computer screens as you read on, because, believe it or not, I’m looking through you, oh yeah, I am - and I can see for miles.
Play number one: Broke-ology, playing at Theaterworks in Hartford, was so funny, poignant, well-acted, and heart-wrenchingly sad that I sniffled and snorted my way out of the theater and into the sun. It wasn’t until I was safely in the car that I was able to break into a round or six of loud sobs. My husband cried with me – but not as long or hard, because he was driving. When we got where we were going (a favorite restaurant), I made him take a walk around the block with me, so I could compose myself before we walked in the door for what turned out to be another yummy meal.
Play number two: Brief Encounter, playing on Broadway in NYC, was also funny, poignant, and well-acted, as well as incredibly innovative and clever. The set was minimal, but oh-so-creatively constructed, and the songs vintage Noel Coward. The actors were versatile and brilliant. The juxtaposition of clips from the original movie and videos made for the production were perfectly rendered. The end, though, turned out to be a four-Kleenex tearjerker, which was difficult for me, because I only had two stuffed in my jacket pocket.
Movie number one: Nowhere Boy, about the early life of John Lennon, before he became an official Beatle, made all four of us cry. (I was at the movies with another couple, right? You probably figured this out without me explaining, but I wanted to make sure, so I explained. OK?)
Since I’d also cried the night before while watching some of my DVR’d TV shows (like Parenthood, where I cried along with some of the characters, who were also crying), I’ve started to worry that I’m, maybe, baby, turning into a middle-aged, female version of Johnny Ray, the singer who cried like a baby when he sang on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Now that you all know I’m a world-class sobber, who loves to Cry Me a River, I heretofore guarantee you that the next time you see me, I’ll gladly cry a river over you.
I know, I know – I haven’t written a word since exactly one month ago Just in case you want to know what I’ve been spending one entire month doing, I’ve been:
(1) Taking out storm windows, washing them, putting them back in, taking them out again, and putting them back in one last time (on the first floor).
(2) Vacuuming up paint dust (yes, the painters are still outside, driving me crazy).
(3) Fighting migraines.
(4) Growing a set of fingernails.
(4) Tutoring 1st and 2nd graders at Rawson School in Hartford. Reading.
(5) Teaching girls, boys, and moms how to knit each Wednesday from 3-4 at my local library.
(6) Taking the bus to NYC the second Wednesday of each month to cram myself full of cultcha.
(7) Doing the storm window shuffle on the second floor (the 3rd floor awaits with bated bad breath).
(8) Getting my ears tested for hearing aids, which are arriving any day now.
(9) Forcing myself to give up bread, pasta, fruit, desserts, and cheese and crackers while sticking to the South Beach Diet, even though only six pounds have unstuck themselves and jumped ship.
(10) Reading, watching must-see fall TV, editing a book, exercising, and riding my bike.
Yes, I know that’s more than 10, because I'm terrible at math-centric writing (and speaking). Go ahead. Be my guest. Call in the math police. They've been buzzing around my door since I was forced to use flashcards to learn my multiplication tables in second grade. Ten Four. Over and out.
I’ve been engaged in a monumental battle with Migraine Madness, which translates into me lying in bed, emitting soft moans or humming segmented sections of songs (The Band seems to be this week’s top contender in Hummville), to help me cope with the unrelenting, burning, no-sleep-in-sight, head-crushing oh-you-don’t-know-the pain I’m in.
But, wait - there’s a silver lining in this sad tale, because my Shiatsu guru came to the house this morning (yes, people still make house calls - in 2010, no less), and painfully redirected some of my pesky electric impulses which had clumped together and refused to fire correctly on all four of their pain-producing cylinders. After she was done torturing me, I experienced, dare I say it, some relief.
Look, Ma. I’m typing, my stomach is demanding food, the outside painters have stopped sanding and gone for a long lunch break, and perhaps the world outside my closed windows (the dust from the sanding is back) can once again be my oyster (if only – I’d love some right about now).
And you worker bees out there imagined I was enjoying all my free time, now that I’m retired! Ha, that’s not even vaguely funny, considering how little of it I’ve been able to experience this week.
I wish I was livin’ la vida loca, or doing the Limbo (just in case you wondered, which I now realize you don’t, since I’m telling it like it is), but I’m not. Instead, I’m trying to keep my lamp trimmed and a-burnin’, because there’s trouble ahead, trouble behind (…you know that notion just crossed my mind).
Yikes, look out for escaping random song segments, which continue to pop out every second, mingling with the paint dust, coating my car, the ground, my windowsills, some of my neighborhood, and me and my little old migraine brain.