Archive Page 2

27
Jul
08

ignore the toothpaste and believe me that I’m changing

I found a sun drenched pond yesterday. 

Dragon flies zipped across the surface and aquatic bugs were scampering about beneath the skin of the water.  It was swollen due to recent thunderstorms.  Toads were calling out as I approached the pond, but stopped once I reached the edge. 

It made me feel like a gigantic monster.  I was the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, barreling towards the humans and crushing things on my way.  The toads were the humans, frozen, hoping that I wouldn’t see them if they only could turn into mannequins.  Silly toads.  It was a stare down.  I scanned the pond for their little eyes.

I found one sitting on a log in the middle of the water.

They'll never see me if I don't move

They'll never see me if I don't move

It’s been nearly 10 years since my father died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism.  Since then the landscape of my family has drastically changed.  I believe it would have changed anyway with three girls in their early twenties, but what made it different was that the changes weren’t always voluntary on my part.
I wanted to establish self-stability while things around me changed.  My oil was changed every 3,000 miles and the Tupperware in my cabinet was stacked neatly.  I kept three bottles of toothpaste in case one ran out and my gas tank was never under 1/2 full.  It delved deeper than the physical manifestations of control.  My spirit was snuffed and suffocated. 
High anxiety. 
During that time I developed Walmart-o-phobia, would have  sleepless nights, and stuck to a rigid routine of work and sleep
I can’t write about these things as though they’re entirely gone!  I have four bottles of toothpaste and three toothbrushes in my bathroom right now.  You’d think an entire family was using my bathroom.
Because one may run out AT ANY TIME

Because one may run out AT ANY TIME

By the way, there is a compulsion reason for each toothpaste and toothbrush.  That’s a whole other riviting entry.

I returned from the pond yesterday and watched the Yankees play the Red Sox.  I ate a good lunch and rested.  It occured to me that I felt good — I felt normal

“Normal” as in the way my spirit felt before the autumn of 1998.  I felt at peace, I felt forgiven, I felt content.  I felt like me.  It snuck up on me.

Ten years is a long time to be aggitated.  Ten years is a long time to sit motionless on a log, hoping that nothing would change if only I didn’t move. 

The bizarre thing about the last ten years is that there was no one waiting to kill me along the edge of the pond.  It’s why my friends and family teased me and often times left conversations with me wagging their heads in frustration.  I understood that I was being ridiculous, but hung on to my log.  Cowardly-Lion-Kari liked her log.

So today is a new day and I have the opportunity to let go again.  I liked me yesterday. 

14
Jul
08

blackout? shmackout!

It was about a year ago that I was locked inside a Target store.  InsideIn the dark.  With other shoppers.

I left work and went to Target on a mission to find a friend’s birthday present.  I knew what I wanted to get – a travel mug.  It was supposed to be a quick stop.

While driving, a mid-summer thunderstorm rolled into Saratoga and I was running around puddles to get into the store.  Inside, you could hear the thunder overhead and the drumming of hard rain on the flat roof.  We customers shopped around as if our errands were more interesting than anything nature could throw at us.  Dark clouds, shmark clouds.

I found the travel mugs.  I grabbed the perfect one – a silver Contigo with a clasping handle – I was all excited!  I’m a girl who has a poor record when it comes to buying gifts, so it was quite novel to be sure that I was doing the right thing.  “Yesssssss,” I thought to myself.  Internal high-five.

all for the mug
Bzzzzzt!  The lights went out. Blackness.

~Silence~ 

I heard a child call for it’s mother.

I was motionless for a few seconds.  It was eerily peaceful for those few seconds in the dark Target store.  No one was panicking, no one said much of anything.  In fact, in the dim light from emergency flood lamps I saw a few people continue shopping as though nothing was happening.  Dark store, shmark store!

With mug in hand, I made my way to the front of the store.  Customers were slowly congregating by the registers and bottlenecking.  No one could check out because the computers were down and the teenaged cashiers just shrugged awkwardly. 

New customers continued to walk into the store — they couldn’t tell from the outside that the lights were out.  I watched more than one person walk in with their head down, on a mission like I had been, only to stop abruptly when they realized they had walked into what could have been a scary movie set.  I wanted to whisper to them, “There’s no turning back.  You should never have come.”

The reason there was no turning back was because the assistant front end supervisor on duty wasn’t letting anyone leave the store.  She was probably about 22 years old with a dirty blond pony tail and glasses.  With her walkie-talkie in hand, she paced quickly in the front of the store.  From customer service to the sliding doors to the Pizza Hut Express, she was calling for people named “Trina”. 

She was a blur in red and khaki.  It was evident that she hadn’t received any “what to do during a blackout” training.  As the highest ranking official in the building, her crisis management composed largely of striding in one direction, then slapping her thighs while spinning on her heels to walk in the opposite direction.  Under the emergency flood lamps, we customers watched her like you would a tennis match.  I stood in the girls pajama section to stay out of the way

Things continued that way for a full 15 minutes.  People came in, but no one left.  Eventually the store would burst with shoppers if our captor had her way.  Mutiny was inevitable.  Children were driving their parents crazy.  The tone in people’s voices had changed from anxious/excited to whiny. 

I looked down at the mug and considered my quandary.

I was going to see my friend the next day.  This was pretty much my only chance to buy a gift, and I wanted to get this mug.  My patience was re-newed when I realized that I didn’t have anywhere else to go or anything more important to do.  Plus, where else could have I seen a scene such as this? 

The lights flickered on and the registers booted up.  Everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief.  The assistant front end supervisor on duty stopped walking so fast.  One person clapped over on line 2.

Bzzzzzt!  The lights went out again.  This time, a collective whine.  “Aa-noooh!” 

Things continued that way for the next 45 minutes.  The lights would come on, the registers would get 90% booted up, then the lights would go off. 

Eventually, I paid for the mug in cash and paid more than it cost because they were unable to open the drawer to give out change.  I slipped out into the parking lot, without a receipt but with one great, and entirely worth it, gift.

worth-it-ness chart

worth-it-ness chart

09
Jun
08

Towels ‘n Crap living up to it’s name

A long time ago I decided that the store Linens ‘n Things would be better called “Towels ‘n Crap,”so I should’ve known better than to have any expectations walking in there.

Who calls a store Linen’s ‘n Things?  And ‘things?’  What was that board meeting like?  Surely it was 1am, everyone was drunk and tired, and the copy went out to the marketing department without a sober executive to stop it.  The guys in marketing were like, “….okay….?” shrugging while faxing it on to the printers who make the signs for the stores.   

The Linens ‘n Things Towels ‘n Crap nearest to where I live is going out of business (surprise?) and has been advertising blow-out sales.  They caught my eye because I’m still settling in my new place and I’m in the market for a big picture for one of my living room walls.

I know that they don’t sell fine art at Towels ‘n Crap.  Wall hangings would fall under the ‘n crap department.  But the small chance of finding a decent picture for a good price was enough to entice me. I walked in and wandered in a big circle looking for some ‘n crap. 

I should’ve known it would be a bust when their blowout sale meant 10% off everything in the store.  Lawn chairs that were normally $79 were ‘marked down’ to $71.  Movin’ ’em out! 

Most of their big pictures were themed around liquor and cafes in Europe.  A faceless man in a pinstripe suit holding a highball glass in one hand and a long umbrella in the other, leaning on a Parisian store front.  A set of women’s legs, crossed and in high heels, her hand holding a martini glass with a green olive in it. 

vintage liquor ads have their place...not in my place

I smiled as I sorted through the paintings.  My other options were wall hangings that said things like “loves me, loves me not.”  Sigh.  None of them would quite go in my living room with the New England folk art hanging on the opposite wall. 

What I’d really like to have is a painting of Robert Frost’s wrinkled hands, penning a poem.  Anyone have one of those…for more than 10% off?

 

02
Jun
08

who am I and what am I doing?

Between May 24th and May 27th I moved into a new place and started a new job. 

That means I wake up in an unfamiliar room and spend the rest of my day in a different unfamiliar room with unfamiliar people.  I walk gray halls making eye contact with strangers, bound to them only by the security badges we wear that allow us access to company rooms.  I don’t know their lingo yet.  I don’t know their positions or reputations.  My brain is a blank slate when I’m at work.

Although I’ve been working full time for the last five years, this job makes me feel as though I’m actually in the rat race.  I sit in traffic each morning and evening.  My fellow commuters wear bland business-casual attire and yawn.  Between traffic jams, I sit in a light gray cubicle with a flourescent light above me. I have an extension and drink out of water coolers. 

The neat part is that I have a decent position within the company, so I get a decent amount of respect when I’m introduced to new co-workers.  There are only four people in this Human Resources department, so I make up a quarter of the group.  Right now my name is “new girl in HR.” 

At my complex I’m sure my name is “new girl in 1402.” 

Both my new job and new place are improvements, which is why I’ve decided to make the changes.  I’m movin’ on up…and out of my comfort zones from the last five years.  For me, who gravitates to routines, I’m struggling to maintain my sense of identity. 

Whether or not I liked it, I was able to find a part of my identity in what I did everyday.  People knew who I was, I knew what I was doing and what I was going to do next.  But now, being a novice in both my occupation and location, I can’t help but flounder a bit.  It’s self-imposed discomfort.

But intermittently I’ll catch perspective and my heart is quieted.  I have family and friends and a God who loves me indefinitely.  He doesn’t care if I know the new software program or worry if I can afford higher rent.  I could go limp and still be good enough.

Tomorrow starts my second week.  I know I’ll have a different take on things by next Sunday because I’ll be more entrenched and possibly may even be more than “the new girl” to my colleagues.  But I wanted to record this moment because I don’t identify enough with my job yet to make it me — I’m more myself without a job title slapped on. 

 

 

11
May
08

fleeing the stench of the past five years

The very first post that I wrote was about the stinky egg-sulfur smell that hangs over where I live.

I haven’t mentioned it since, but that doesn’t mean that it’s gone away.  It only means I’ve given up raging about it.  Until now.

For the past few days I was in Norfolk, VA for my step-father’s doctoral graduation from Regent University(whoo hoo, Ronster!)  Besides seeing my mother stick out her hand to shake Pat Robertson’s hand in a flurried moment of ‘what the heck, he’s kind of a celebrity’ craziness, one of my favorite moments was when I stepped out of the Norfolk airport into the fresh air of the rental car parking lot. 

Yes, we were in a parking garage, but immediately I could tell the difference in the quality of the air.  Trees had full, green leaves and the grass had been cut recently.  Norfolk gets a sea breeze off the Atlantic, so there is a watery-salty scent in the air, even inland where we were.   

Throughout the trip I couldn’t stop smelling the air.  It sounds silly, I know!  It just had a scent to it — I believe they call it “fresh.”  This is foreign to me in South Glens Falls.

There is plenty of fresh air in Upstate NY, though it has a different quality up here.  It’s “woodsy.”  There’s no ocean breeze.  The wind sweeps through the forests of the Catskills and Taconic Hills, picking up the scent of pine and sap. What Upstate NY lacks in economic robustness, we make up for with apple orchards, pick-up trucks and jedi squirrels.

The woodsy air floats on up to Glens Falls.  Here, it is tainted with the smelly waste products of papermills and, if smells had color, would turn greenyellowgray.  It seems to wait for me.

There have been many evenings that I drive home from work in the fresh air.  Bopping along with my windows down, I love life.  I turn left onto my street and coast down a small hill to my apartment complex.  BOOM.  The air takes an acidic turn at the bottom of that hill and I frantically put up all of my windows.  How is it that I live in the place where the stench seems to settle?  Could it be why my rent is so low…?

This is one of the reasons I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be moving closer to the Albany area within the month.  It’s not the reason but merely a glorious side effect of accepting a new job.  I look forward to the day when I can sit outside on a summer’s night and STAY outside, smelling the woodsy breezes of Upstate NY and listening to rusty pick up trucks rolling in the distance. 

28
Apr
08

freakishly reflective middle fingers

I was walking quickly through the mall.  I had been searching for an ATM, so I had tunnel vision on a little unit ahead that would eventually charge me $3 for a withdrawal. 

I was almost to the ATM when off to my left I heard, “Excuse me, but you have very nice finger nails.”

I stopped in my tracks.  Very nice finger nails?  Surely whoever it was that addressed me was demented because I cut my fingernails down to the tops of my fingers at least once a week. 

I keep them short because I play guitar, but also because my hands feel dirty if there is any “white” on the tips.  (I know that they’re not actually dirty, but it feels dirty to me!)  I’m particular about my finger nails, but only particular about them being short and clean.  No one ever notices my finger nails, much less compliments them. 

I turned to see who was talking to me.  It was a girl standing in front of a nail care kiosk in the center of the mall.

Oh boy.  This is one kiosk that was selling to someone out of their market.  FAR AWAY from their market.

She already saw me stop walking, so I couldn’t pretend as though I hadn’t heard her.   We made eye contact and she motioned for me to come closer.  Sigh.  I trudged closer like a kid being pulled into the nurse’s office for a lice check.

Her product was a sponge-like nail buffer that makes your nails shiny.  No chemicals, no nail polish.  She held my hand and went to town on my middle finger, making it glimmer under the neon mall lights.  She was asking a lot of rhetorical questions like, “Doesn’t that look nice?”  or “Have your nails ever looked like this?”  How could I weasel out?

My only defense was the truth.  “I don’t pay much attention to my nails.  I haven’t spent money on them since…  NEVER.” And that was the truth.

My mother treated my sisters and I to a manicure before her wedding to my stepfather back in 2001.  I remember standing in front of a wall-o-nail polish, at least 50 different colors in nameless bottles.  It was too much of something that I didn’t like, like having a plate of cottage cheese placed in front of you at an eating contest.  On your mark, get set….go!  Adrenaline takes over and you plunge your face into the cottage cheese because it’s an eating contest — not because you like it.  I received the manicure that day not because I wanted it, but because it was show of support for my mom. 

Back at the nail care kiosk the girl wanted to talk money.  Welcome, bartering, to the Colonie Center Mall.

“Usually this kit sells for $50.  But because I like you, I will sell it for my cost which is $25.”

This was getting weird.  Did she and I have a bond that I didn’t know about?  To my knowledge the only thing she’d ever given me was a freakishly reflective middle finger. 

I had to end it quick and dirty — with a promise that I would “come back later.”  As I was walking away I heard her softly say, “You’re not coming back.” 

That time I kept walking, though the tone in her voice did tug at my conscious through dinner with my friends.  She was right, I wasn’t going back.  And probably many of her reluctant customers didn’t return that day, though there we were, scattered around the greater Albany area with ultra glossy middle fingers.

 

21
Apr
08

glassy eyed dreams of lawn mowing

It’s twilight on a summer’s night and the shadows are long.  Within the hour fireflies will start ascending from the grass.  I jump on the lawnmower and turn the key.  The seat vibrates as the engine comes to life and I let the machine rev for a minute or two.  As I look out at the lawn, I create my plan of attack.

By sundown, the lawn is one length of varying shades of green, linear patterns.  I have little bits of grass stuck to my socks and shins, I have a smudge of dirt on my forehead.  The fireflies start flashing in the darker corners of the yard and the simple sweet smell of cut grass lingers over the house until morning.

Welcome to my lawn-mowing fantasy.  I’m a simple person.  Just let me cut your yard and I’m content.

When I first moved to upstate NY, I would mow my grandparent’s yard occasionally.  Most of it was done by a riding mower (awesome), but the final touches and tight corners were mowed by a push mower. 

I was a push mower expert. 

While growing up, my father would pay me $3 for our backyard and $2 for the front.  It would take me a few hours on a Saturday, but by the end of the day I had a hot $5 burning my palm.  I would mow all sorts of designs in our yard.  My favorite was to circle the dogwood in the center of the front yard, alternating between clockwise and counter-clockwise circles to create a “sound wave.”   

At least in my mind it looked like a sound wave radiating from the tree.  Then there was the 4th of July when I attempted a “fireworks” design in the backyard before a picnic.  That didn’t go over very well – it was just a muddled mess and no one noticed it.  Sigh.  The life of an under-appreciated push mower artist…

 

So when I could put my push mower prowess to work for my grandfather, I was enthusiastic. 

All was going well until one night I mowed over an underground hive of bees.

They started spurting out of the ground like bullets.  One after the other, they immediately eyed me and began dive bombing.  I left the mower behind and sprinted away as fast as I could.  Surging on adrenaline, the sting I felt on my ankle didn’t slow me down – I was on a mission to get inside FAST! 

Once inside, my grandmother tended to my sting and my grandfather wanted to know the facts about the hive’s location.  Tranquility returned and I was just about normal when an angry bee dislodged himself from my shirt and started dive bombing in the living room.  Chaos erupted.  I ran down the hall, Grandma hid in the kitchen and my grandfather was left to battle the little fiend. 

Somehow Grandpa ended up with a sting on his wrist and a dead bee on the floor.  It was the closest to an alien invasion that I’ve ever experienced.  We were injured and couldn’t stop chattering about the bees.

That experience doesn’t match up with my fire-fly twilight lawn mowing fantasy.  But that’s why it’s a fantasy and it’s okay with me if there’s a disconnect between reality and fantasy.  Once you live out a fantasy it becomes ‘experience,’ which isn’t much to dream about.