Monday, October 26, 2009

7:11 am

Are you dead?
What's wrong?
I'm gonna call you in a minute...

That's the text message you get from Blake when you've overslept.

Then, as promised, he calls you in a minute. When you answer, he blurts out, "Ok. So you're not dead. What's wrong? Why aren't you at work?"

The first part is my favorite.

Ok. So you're not dead.

I like this for two reasons. First, it's good to establish that fact--the fact of you being not dead--early in the day. Second, it's nice to be reminded there are people who'd be a little panicked if you were.

I'm simply saying, if it weren't for that terribly jarring hour and a half late to work bit, this wouldn't be a bad way to start every day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The best friend

Well, shit.
I really didn't intend to be away for so long.
It's always the same lame excuse here...I've been at work.
So there's that.

I've also been lonely lately. There's nothing that feels more pathetic than writing about loneliness, and loneliness feels pathetic enough all on its own. So there's also that.

It hit me last weekend like it does occasionally--completely out of the blue. Like being punched in the stomach, it literally knocked the wind out of me.

I was on call overnight. It was 4 am, and for the first time in eight hours, none of the four pagers were going off. I was lying on the bottom bunk in the call room. Patty Griffin was playing on my laptop. The room was dark.

All of the sudden, there it was.

I have been alone for awhile now, but I don't usually feel it like that. It's always there. But in that moment, it was the only thing there. It suddenly felt like I was drowning in it.

I sent Graci a text message. I miss you. As I sent it, I thought, she won't even see this for hours. But then, I wasn't at all surprised when my phone rang a minute later. As utterly lame as this sounds, I know no other way to describe it except to say, my head thought she wouldn't call and my heart knew she would.

"You're sad and lonely, huh?"

"Yeah," I said, "how'd you know?"

"Well, you're texting me at four in the morning. It was a pretty safe bet."

I laughed at my own transparency.

We talked about my night on call. I told her a story that made her laugh. (I'd share it here, but it's entirely too twisted to make you laugh. If you only knew the things my friend and I find funny...) Making her laugh somehow made it all okay. Alone was still there, but it wasn't the only thing there. It hasn't been back with such a vengeance since.

I just got off the phone with her again. She became an aunt for the first time this week. She's driving home from the airport tonight, tired after a quick trip home to love on a very lucky baby.

She'll be back there in no time, rocking that lucky little boy to sleep, reading Seuss...

The news just came in
From the County of Keck

That a very small bug
By the name of Van Vleck

Is yawning so wide
You can look down his neck.

This may not seem
Very important, I know.
But it is.
So I'm bothering
Telling you so.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturday morning

Working nights has completely fucked up my sleep schedule. I realize that language may seem a bit strong, but I assure you it is the only accurate description for what has happened to my circadian rhythms.

I fell asleep at about eleven o'clock last night in a chair in Blake and Evan's living room. I awoke an hour later to find Evan asleep on the couch a few feet away. He had a snoring old Dachshund curled up next to him, her nose tucked in his armpit. I got up, kissed them both on the head, and padded down the hall to the spare room.

I am not generally a physically affectionate person...unless you're asleep. (That sounds creepy, doesn't it?) Growing up, I shared a room with my younger sisters; and every night, before I went to bed, I would kiss their sleeping foreheads. (It was occasionally a bit creepy, but only because my youngest sister tended to sleep with one eye open and I had to close that freaky thing before I could kiss her.)

Last night, without thinking a thing of it, I reflexively kissed Evan and the dog the same way I used to kiss my sisters. As I was brushing my teeth, I realized what I had just done and laughed at myself a bit. I have noticed that the older I get, the more I treat my friends as though they're family. When I am too tired to think about it, I become, by default I suppose, everyone's older sister.

I woke up this morning at 4 am and have been up ever since. (See what I mean? Completely fucked up.) Around six, I heard Blake's footsteps in the bathroom above me and figured I might as well get out of bed and make some coffee. It seemed the least I could do for the poor guy who has to work this weekend.

Blake and Evan's apartment has huge, high, east facing windows. As I was waiting for the coffee to finish percolating, I noticed the morning light sneaking through the mini blinds. They were begging to be opened. I acquiesced and found a reason to stop bemoaning my broken circadian rhythms.

Through sheets of purple clouds, the sun was casting a hazy, yellow light over the city. Old industrial plants, train tracks, the still quiet, mostly empty overpass - held in this light, it all suddenly looked...amazing.

Ahh... I thought, so this is what you miss when you're sleeping in.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Some assembly required

I came home from vacation, stepped through my front door, and was struck by two, well...striking realizations. It's time to get a boyfriend. And move the couch. Not necessarily in that order. Although, in hindsight, perhaps I should have paid a bit more attention to the order. Then, the boyfriend could have moved the couch.

I rearranged the furniture and then went to Ikea to buy a rocking chair and a lamp. That's the danger in moving a couch—you may discover a huge empty spot in your living room that now cries out for a rocking chair and a lamp. While I was out, I considered picking up a boyfriend as well, but then thought better of it. Everything from Ikea has to be assembled, and the assembly is always a disaster. It all comes with these instructions drawn out in cartoons of a doughy bald man building furniture. You look at them and think, piece of cake. You don't even have to be literate to do this. In fact, literacy would unnecessarily complicate such a straightforward task. Surely that's why Ikea has chosen, in its infinite Swedish wisdom, to leave these directions unencumbered by the written word.

Twenty minutes later, you find yourself staring in disbelief at that doughy bald cartoon man, telling yourself, "This simply cannot be this hard. I mean look at that neckless moron in the picture. He got the chair put together, and he doesn't even have thumbs." And then you swear at that smug thumbless son of a bitch.

This rocker was actually a bit more difficult than my previous Swedish masterpieces because one of the sides didn't have the appropriate screw holes. This necessitated a return trip to Ikea for a replacement part. It was there, in line at the return and exchange department that I met the angriest people on the planet. These are people who have spent hours, sometimes days, yelling things like, "Who the fuck are you smiling at, asshole?" at the neckless cartoon man standing next to the kitchen cabinetry he just assembled in four steps. Without thumbs. With their own hands cramped into claws from the hours spent trying to rebuild Rome with an Allen wrench, they stood cultivating their growing rage at the Swedish furniture purveyor.

Next to the line there was a large sign--a drawing of several clocks with hours colored in green, yellow, and red explaining the best times to visit each day to avoid crowds. Basically, it's a sign next to the line explaining that if you had planned your trip better, you wouldn't be stuck in this damn line reading that sign. For example, if you took time off work to, say, visit Ikea at 10 am on a Tuesday, there would hardly be a line at all. The man behind me studied the sign, looked at the line, and then said, under his breath, "Fuck this place."

I finally got the piece I needed and, since I was there anyway, decided I'd pick up a few tea lights. I left with a few hundred. The other night, when I lit them all on my mantel, it looked like I was shooting a fucking music video in my living room—like at any moment, Celine might waltz through the front door to belt out Power of Love.

I will say, though, that the living room has been completely transformed by moving the couch, buying a rocker, and starting a few hundred tiny fires. In fact, I feel so much better having rearranged the furniture, I'm not even sure I'm going to need that boyfriend. It's just as well, because, like I said, I left Ikea without one. I didn't even look to see if they stock those. Although, I assume they do. You can buy everything from throw pillows to meatballs there. It only follows that you can probably pick up a flat packed, easy to assemble Swedish dude for like, two hundred bucks. Tops.

Like I said, I considered it, but then remembered that I'd have to actually put him together. With an Allen wrench. Frankly, two hours spent fighting with new boyfriend parts while swearing at a neckless cartoon moron only to end up with some poor Swedish guy with one leg just a little shorter than the other and the gnawing feeling that he might have been a bit better in bed if I had just splurged and gotten him from Pottery Barn... Well, that just didn't seem like the best way to start a relationship.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Because I said so

Blake wants to read the blog. I mentioned that I wrote about the impound incident. When I said that, I didn't really expect him to want to read what I'd written. I suppose it's only natural, though, to be a bit curious about how chunks of your own life might be playing out on the internet. But, it's been so long since someone asked to read this thing, I was completely caught of guard.

My mother asked to read it once, about a year ago. I said no. She asked why not. "Because I said so," I told her, smiling as I watched one of her favorite parenting lines come back to bite her in the ass. I reassured her that I write about her with obvious affection and suggested that she continue to be nice to me, so that I might continue to do so.

It's true. I've never written anything here about my family that they shouldn't read. I've never really written anything about myself they shouldn't see, either. I keep the sordid details of my hot, hot sex life, my psychotic tendencies, my bizarre neuroses, and my weird crush on Jackson Browne off the internet. For the most part.

And, if you've read this mindless dribble for any length of time, you know I really don't have much to say. But, once in a while, I have one of those days. It is on those days that I most love this little pile of mindless dribble.

There is something about writing to strangers, people who you don't have to see at work later that day, people who can't just call to check in—something about that just works for me.

There is nothing like the friends and family I have out here, in real life—people who see and hear and touch me, who read my body language and the tone in my voice, who (sometimes) know when my I'm fine is complete and utter bullshit.

But, there's also something about this, about all of you, way out there, in the distance, that (sometimes) lets me say, I'm not so fine. I am, at my core, a complete and utter chicken shit. Even on the best days, when I'm just telling a funny story, writing is inherently a bit vulnerable. You put it out there and then it's just, well...out there. It's easier to do that when no one knows it's you doing that.

Therein lies the problem with real life people reading this. Or maybe not. After all, Graci reads it, and that's actually sort of been a great thing. She seems to understand what this is for me. She knows that if I say something here that I haven't told her already, it's something I don't mind her knowing, but probably don't want to discuss.

Speaking of Graci, have I mentioned just how stinking much I miss that girl? So stinking much. And do you know what I really miss? There's just no way to say this without it sounding like the cheesiest, sappiest shit ever, so I'm just going to blurt it out...I miss the hugs. That's right. I miss the fucking hugs.

Graci used to give me a hug every day. She's a hugger. Me, not so much. If you lived with her, though, she'd hug you every day, too. Even if you had morning breath, or a communicable disease, or just finished ironing your shirt, she'd hug you. She doesn't care. She also doesn't ask, "Do you want a hug?" First, she knows that I would always say, "Nah, I'm good." And second, that's not really the point.

Graci doesn't hug you because you want a hug, or need a hug, or even because you might secretly like hugs. Graci hugs you because she loves you. It's part of the deal. Because she loves without reservation—every day, even when you have morning breath, or a communicable disease, or are entirely too invested in stupid shit like your shirt, she hugs you that way.

And I miss it.

I'm also missing my train of thought. Where was I? Oh yes...the blog. Graci doesn't read this and then ask, "What's wrong? Are you okay? Are you sure you're okay? Really? Because you didn't sound okay." (Thank God, as that would be a reason to quit writing...and start strangling). She gets me. She knows I'm claustrophobic, that I sometimes need a safe distance. She respected that even when we lived in the same small apartment. I wrote a post on one end of the couch. She read it on the other.

When I told my mother, "No...because I said so," what I meant was, "You will not be able to respect that. You'll try, but you won't be able to help yourself. You'll be reading between the lines and calling to ask, Are you okay? Are you sure you're okay... and then I'll have to start strangling. You. I'll have to strangle you. "

Graci also never reads this and then says, " know, that wasn't that great. Not so funny." Pointing out the (not so) occasional typo is where her editing starts and stops. Again, she gets me. She knows that this is all just stuff in the rough and that I generally don't have it in me to graciously accept constructive criticism here. Besides, brutal honesty isn't really her style. Instead, she just tells me to keep writing. Even when the writing sucks.

Now we have Blake, who I write about with obvious affection but have, so far, told, "No...because I said so." By that I meant, "Dude, we haven't known each other that long and, occasionally, there's something here that I wouldn't just tell someone I haven't known for that long. I save that shit for people I don't know at all." And also, "We pick on each other, sometimes mercilessly, and I can't be mercilessly picked on for what I write here. I just don't have it in me."

This morning, however, he showed up with coffee. I worked all night, and he brought me coffee. Something about that (something he laced the coffee with, no doubt) made me think maybe he could read the blog.

Hopefully, he won't read it as some sort of request to start hugging me. It's really just an attempt to get more coffee.