Unmonitored.

Hello. I am staring at the space on my floor where a computer monitor has lately resided for far too long. Sometime in December (Yes, I know it is March tomorrow!), it died in E’s room and he brought it out to be dealt with. Our friend Scott said that there were people who wanted monitors like that and I said, “Hey, why not take it to them?” E said, “That’s a great idea, I’ll do that!” And then it sat on the living room floor for a couple of months.

Periodically, I’d say something, but the monitor weighed as much as a Rottweiler, and with one thing and another, I just vacuumed around it. It wasn’t in the way per se, it was just a big stupid monitor on the floor.

But spring has me in its cleaning clutches, and today I was mopping and damp-dusting and bustling around and getting in E’s way, and I said, “Hey, why don’t you call Scott about that monitor?” And he did.

I opened the door for E to take it outside and followed him in case he needed help. When it was in his car, I laughed maniacally and gave the monitor the finger. With both hands.  Then I did a happy dance down the sidewalk and E laughed at me. But the last laugh was mine. The monitor is gone!

I Don’t Remember.

Note: These are some of the things that didn’t make it into my ‘I don’t remember’ freewrite. I’ve edited a little for clarity and spelling.

I don’t remember even walking down to the boat that night. I was there, and he was there, and I saw the orange halogen streaming through the porthole, and I thought, “This is now.” I do have a fondness for Vikings, after all.

I don’t remember the first time I wondered about all the things in this world that we make up, spaceships and therapy and all those things that distract us from the fact that we have to eat and sleep and breathe and poop, and when it comes down to it, we are little more than monkeys who have a lot of gadgets. Monkey James Bonds.

I don’t remember the last time I told my mother what I was really thinking. Except for the ‘I love you’s at the end. Is it really honesty if the other person in in a coma? I wasn’t there so I don’t know who came to take her away. Her spirit, that is. Maybe Grandpa. I’d like it if it was Grandpa and Sam. She would only fight with Grandma, say she wasn’t done, cling and cling to the nothing that was left. But she did adore her father.

I don’t remember the first time I tried lemon ice cream, only that I was content to walk up the hill to the Italian deli run by Koreans to get some almost every time I went to the library that one summer. Was I 11? I don’t know.

I don’t remember the first time I set foot in a library, only that I love libraries, big academic ones, little branch ones, rural ones where there’s a suspiciously well-thumbed copy of “Still Life With Woodpecker”, yellowed and taken out again and again.

I don’t remember how we used to be able to walk to the general store, along the twisty path and under the cedar and the arbutus that grew on the rocky face, orange lichen under our feet and the warm sleepy smell of pine needles in the sunshine. I don’t remember.

But that’s the point of life. There are only so many things a person can remember, and as we travel through life, we will remember new things and faces and feelings. I remember the chill in the air at pre-dawn Gatwick. I remember an afternoon on the beach in Wales. I remember a conversation about not getting scurvy. I remember the curve of my goddaughter’s cheek as she smiles. I remember how bright the moon was that night at camp, I could read by it, and I remember the warmth of the fire. I remember the myth of Icarus.

We shouldn’t think of the not-rememberings as things we lose. Just like we wear out clothes, we wear out memories. And we have new ones to fill up the space.

Bread Head.

E and I can’t seem to come to an agreement when it comes to bread.  Or, rather, when it comes to brown or whole wheat bread. We are in agreement that white baguette bread is all that is right and delicious, but we generally save it for a treat, otherwise we eat nothing but that until it’s gone. So not healthy. But for day-to-day bread, I don’t like the malty-tasting stuff he likes and he’s not wild about the seed-and-grain stuff I like.

So I am going to give making my own bread a shot. I have some leaven coming to me, and I’ve been reading up on what to do with it, how to treat it, etc., and am hoping for the best. Having seen photographic evidence of the bread that this wonder leaven produces, I have high hopes.

The guy who is sending the leaven has a mission: He wants to get at least 100 people making their own bread as a healthier alternative to the stuff we buy in the stores.

So here’s my PSA: When I get my leaven, I’m happy to pass some of it along, to whomever wants it. I think this is a worthwhile endeavor.

Here’s his site: http://doughblogs.wordpress.com/

Another One Bites The Dust.

My last class on Friday is pretty relaxed. We talk about the week, what’s going on in the kids’ lives, the paragraphs they’re working on. It’s a chance for all of us to decompress.

Today one of my students, who is in Grade 7, spent the day working on a project about Ancient Egypt. This included the time-honoured tradition of making models of human organs out of papier mache.

It also included a day of reality TV, this student’s first foray into it.

“Do you know Paris?” she asked.

“Paris the city?”

“No, Paris. She is very rich.”

I shudder inwardly. I knew it would happen sooner or later. “Yes, Paris Hilton.”

“We watched a show. She is looking for a BFF.” She looks to see if I understand such complicated slang.

I nod. “Best Friends Forever.”

“I know! Some people want to be her friend so much that they cry! Why?”

So we talked a little while about why some people would want to be famous, and how people can be famous for a lot of reasons, even just being super rich. My student doesn’t really understand why anyone would do moronic things just for publicity, or carry animals around in handbags. All she really understands is that people get on TV for totally non-meritorious reasons, and that’s kind of stupid.

That’s all I could explain.

Sometimes I Cry At Strangers.

Yesterday was Carmen’s goodbye Hafla. It was a bittersweet occasion, but I can’t blame that. I blame my cold and my weird stomach and my PMS. Because nothing makes me more unpredictable than a fever, stuffy nose, and two kinds of cramps.

But there was this guy. Rachel said he looked like her boss from the bookstore in Chicago. He was a large man, both in height and girth, with a frank, mobile face, and a bright red shirt. He was actively interested in what was going on with our sparkly party, and didn’t mind the loud music or the sudden interruption of a song for another one to come on. He was enjoying his time and taking it all in: Food, drink, music, people.

But then Kim was dancing to ‘Somewhere Under The Rainbow’. I glanced over my shoulder at the guy to see his reaction.  And was transfixed.

His eyes were closed, which surprised me. Who closes their eyes when there’s a belly dancer dancing?  He was mouthing along to the words, and he had the most perfect, blissful look on his face. He was transported, and whatever he was seeing on the inside of his eyelids was more joyous than even watching a belly dancer could be.

He was so absolutely in his own perfect heaven, and it was too beautiful and fragile for anything in this world.

I wondered who or what he was thinking of, because how much he loved them made me cry.

Open Book.

My face shows everything when I’m relaxed or sick. I think my friends sometimes get a  lot of comedy value out of it. I know Arwen has laughed at me a few times for the faces I make as I think. My students will ask me, “What, what?”as I read something because I’ve made a face.  I never thought much about it, beyond the fact that I should probably never play high-stakes poker.

But today as I was restocking sick girl supplies (Kleenex, drugs, soup) I think I accidentally offended someone.

I walked up to one of the two open 12-items-or-less Express checkouts, only to see that the one customer in the lineup had, like fifty things. A weekly shop’s worth of things. And I felt my lip curl in frustration and derision.

I looked at him and I saw he was looking at me. I probably offended him with my bitch face.

I think I must have accidentally offended other strangers with my transparency. I’d like to apologize, if only I knew who they were.

Perspective.

Today was a ghastly day for car jockeying.  The wind was freezing, snow was coming down here and there, and I woke up with a runny nose that is in the process of turning into a full-blown cold.

I was feeling very sorry for myself waiting for a bus at Hastings and Hawks. I had run out of dry Kleenex, and was left snuffling in the icy wind. Life was miserable.

“I thought I saw a bus.”  A girl hurried up beside me. She vibrated with cold and addiction. Her eyeliner was a quarter-inch thick under eyes that still looked hopeful.  I wondered how long she had been a prostitute, because it was pretty clear that that’s what she was.

“Yes, there it is! I can have a shower!” She was so happy.

“That’s always a good thing,” I murmured.

We got on the bus and sat opposite one another. She asked me the time.

“Ten to twelve.”

“Hey, that’s great! I can have chicken at the Gospel. Today’s chicken day, and it’s good chicken!” She nodded for emphasis. Her brown eyes widened.  “I never go except on chicken day.”

“It sounds good,” I replied.

My own tough day stopped looking so bad after that. I was cold and sick and grumpy, but I have food in my fridge. I have jobs I (mostly) love that allow me to ensure food in that fridge, and a warm bed every night, and a shower whenever I want it.

I’ve got it pretty good.

From Beyond.

I just had the weirdest thing happen. Coincidence happen? I don’t know.

My phone is my dad’s old number. Mom and Dad had it for thirty six years, so a lot of people have this number. Almost everyone knows Dad has a new number, but occasionally (not as often as it might, my dad is really good at keeping off of lists) I get phone calls from telemarketers and randoms from the past.

So my phone rang, and I answered. The guy asked to speak to my mother. I knew he was selling something because he used her full name. No one used my mom’s full name, except people who didn’t know her.

“No. She’s been dead for six years now.” I could have been less blunt, but I had an intense flash of annoyance at him. Thinking about it, it was part “Who the hell wants to bother her now when not even I can talk to her?” and part “You ass. Don’t you know she’s dead? Idiot.”

He apologized and said he’d take her off the list. Um. Thanks. Good idea.

And then not five minutes later, another phone call: This time asking for my father.

“I’m sorry, he’s not at this number any more.”

“Do you know how I could reach him?” she asked.

“Could I ask what this is about?” (Note defensive daughter mode. Don’t bug my dad!)

“Oh, I used to go visit his mother, Bernice, at her care home. I wanted to see how she was doing and thought I should ask Peter.” Aha.

“I’m sorry, she’s deceased.” Gentler this time. She sounded like a nice woman.

I explained that I was my father’s daughter, and we spoke for a few minutes about my grandmother and what a wonderful woman she had been. She sounded genuinely sorry to hear about Grandma. I hung up feeling that the world was an okay place.

So two phone calls for people no longer even on this earth within five minutes. I’m pretty sure it means something, but I sure don’t know what.

Ten Years Younger.

So yesterday I went for a Chinese Meridian Style massage. I knew something about how in Chinese traditional medicine, energy flows along different pathways of the body, and I wanted to see if I could feel that energy. I like experimenting on myself.  And the place was having a Grand Opening Special, so I figured, what the hell, I’ll give it a go.

I was ushered into a soothingly dark room. There was something I’m going to call Chinese Easy Listening playing (It had different tones to most Western music). My Masseur was a stocky man with really big arms.

Although the guy did use massage techniques I’ve had before, he also rolled me back and forth like a sausage, tapped my feet and lower back, and pulled my arms and legs. It was a really cool experience.

He’d been working on a shoulderblade for a while, and I said, “I’m tense there. Sorry.”

“Mmm,” he said. “Like rice. Sand.” It was true. I was pretty crunchy.

But when I got off the massage table and put my clothes on and tamed my hair, I felt lighter, happier. More optimistic. I felt ten years younger.

This is something I could do more often.

New Jeans.

I do not like shopping for jeans.  It highlights my body flaws and the fact that there’s not a lot to play up. I have the low, flat butt bequeathed to me by my Scottish Presbyterian ancestresses. I no longer have an enviably slim waist. What I do have is good legs, and so I struggle to show them off while doing the best I can for my butt and waist.

So I tried on about thirty seven pairs, narrowing it down as I went, taking pairs I’d tried on and liked into the dressing room with more untried pairs.

“I can put them over there for you,” said the friendly salesgirl.

“Oh, thanks,” I said.”I want to keep them to compare. And, you know, look at my butt.”

She laughed. “That’s important. Oh, and Steff’s back there. She’ll give you an honest opinion. On your butt, I mean.”  Good to know.

So the Laguna Beach Ultra Low Rise? No.

The ones with PVC-esque stripes on the sides? Why, no,

The ones with lightning bolts on the back pockets? Erm. No.

But I did find a pair of black pants with some sequins on the back pockets. Black sequins. If feedback tells me these are wrong for me, I will act accordingly (IE, tell you you are wrong). The sequins make my butt look good, I swear. Oh, and also one plain pair of snug-fitting jeans. Nothing too extreme. Just…nice.

And both were on sale for $20. Score!

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