March 14, 2013
A brief paean to my roommate: First, I have one. I am kinda mum about it because it’s ever so slightly taboo for a 35 year old to have a goddamn roommate, but let me claim her — I have a roommate. (Why do we use the term “roommate” interchangeably with “housemate”? I surely do not share a room with her, but it hasnt even crossed your mind that I might, even though I have used that word.)
Now, the song. She is a 27 year old straight, white debutante from a certain part of the state who is now employed as a librarian by a certain mansion. She sports a tattoo from the Moosewood Cookbook and has Cunt by Inga Muscio on her shelf. She is relatively quick to mention that she is only a demi-deb, that her parents didnt have as much money as the other debs, but not necessarily because she is uncomfortable acknowledging that she is a product of a strange and fascinating sub-culture defined by class, money and status, but because it is accurate. “My mother wanted to be an artist and my father made a bad real estate deal in the 80′s”.
She is dead pan and germ-phobic. She has fantastic dishes. She leaves the house everyday in calf-length skirts and fashionable boots after she making her coffee in a press. Sometimes, she even wears her hair in a bun. She balances her checkbook. The second time we hung out, she said that her annual car tax really blew her budget and she made an exploding noise while flinging her fingers from the clenched fists of both hands. I said, “Is that the sound of your budget exploding?” and she said, “No that was the sound of me blowing my brains out, but then that seemed so morbid,” indicating that she was on the the way to making little finger guns with her fists, but thought better of it.
I have a roommate, not so much because I can’t afford the house, but because I was scared to make such a big financial leap alone — from 250 dollars a month in rent to 1100. Also, she was exiting a 5 year relationship and needed a place to stay. The main reason she is my roommate, though, is that when we first met, I could tell that she had to force herself to smile and that’s my kind of girl.
December 28, 2012
The house inspector lied to the house painter and told him that he might have to set up radon detectors tomorrow, so the house inspector could find out where the spare key is hidden and then tell me. With this information, I plan to break into the house that isnt mine yet so I can set up a lawn chair in the living room and drink some goddamn champagne on New Year’s Eve.
December 3, 2012
House: Good news: The house has appraised for 30,000 more than the asking price. I already flipped that shit and I havent even signed the bottom line. What. And my coworker is getting rid of all her furniture and wants to sell it to me for cheap. Bad News: The appraiser didnt do the appraisal “right”, to quote the realtor, and he has to re-do it and now we wont make our original closing date.
Baby: Good news: I am 22 days away from try #12 and I have all the money I need to make it happen. Bad news: My donor might have thyroid cancer. He is being lax and casual and nonchalant about this and I am trying to follow his lead. But it’s just weird when people are casual about terminal illness, I mean. Right?
Love: Good news: She continues to be very, very handsome, generally well-behaved and fabulous in bed. She brings me presents and soup and walks my dog. Bad news: She has a primary relationship that is sad and twisted and, like a zombie, wont die but can’t live, so it just roams the Earth wide-eyed and grasping for warm things. My love for her will be a twisted little tree, if it even makes it through the winter. Her grief is cold and wet and weighing heavy on most of our moments.
November 7, 2012
Tonight is one of my favorite kind of nights. It’s a Get-Drunk-And-Wander-Around-The-Internet kind of night. First stop: my blog. Above, you will find the house which I have under contract. Closing date’s December 14th. The basics: It’s two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a has a finished basement for a total of 1200 square feet. The floors are hardwood and bamboo. The ceilings are high, everything’s new. It’s in a hip neighb, 15 minutes from the dog park. The sad things are that it is on a busy road and has a very steep backyard. And God forbid something happens to my legs, because it’s, like, three flights of stairs to my bed.
I feel pretty confident that this is going to happen because it’s not like the inspection is going to turn up some non-negotiable flaw I must reject and all the small fluke-y stuff, I’m sure the builder could fix right up in no time. The most stressful thing is that I can’t move forward with everything — loan application, appraisal, inspection — until the construction’s finished. On the bright side, I have some say about how the basement is finished and am pulling hard for some recessed shelves. I never thought I would buy a brand new house and honestly didnt want to, just because I love old houses so much. But, I dont have what it takes to deal with an old house right now. I thought to myself, “Just because you like old things, doesnt mean you have to buy an old house.” I will put old things in the new house and be much happier from a mental health perspective.
So that’s where I at with that. And who knows? Maybe I’ll sell this house in 10 years and use the proceeds to buy my dream rowhome in the WDC.
October 17, 2012
So, it looks like I am going to put in an offer on this house tomorrow. It is the second house I looked at and I looked at six. I know that houses are not all chandeliers, claw foot tubs and rose bushes, but this is what I know about the house now. There is nary one cosmetic change I would make to the place — lighting fixtures, floors, window treatments, paint, dog-proof fence, landscaping, appliances — all range from beautiful to serviceable. Now, they just have to accept the offer, then, I hire an inspector and find out about mold and hot water heaters and plumbing and electrical. And the roof. It is, afterall, just a 1912 bungalow, susceptible to the ravages of time, like we all are. If only hot water heaters had dozens of delicate petals with veins like a vulva, maybe I would be more interested. Or informed already. Alas, I am not.
I have talked to my mom and am emailing furiously with upwardly mobile college friends who are telling me to find a good inspector. I had a friend who was a mortgage banker during the bubble, he will also be getting an email from me. And I have my first of two homebuyer’s classes on Friday.
I would like to be more thoughtful and contemplative, talk about my feelings, etc. But, it’s late and my toes and ears are cold. Wish me luck. And insight. To battle love’s blindness.
September 30, 2012
I went to the Esalen Institute last week. I participated in a workshop that was ostensibly about making a plan for the next phase of your life but was really about being less defended. From a plan perspective, I made a list of five next steps I need to take toward a house and a baby. The next morning, I struck a baby task from the list and added a house task. This made me sob, really. A lot of snuffling and tears with intermittent gasps for air, that’s sobbing, right? This means I am onto something, definetely. The untrained observer might think I want to “build a foundation” for a baby, but that’s not it, I want to do it for myself. I have been stripping myself for years, betting the farm, for other people’s profit: “Yes, I will give up my state/ my friends/ my family/ my job/ my home/ my education/ my plan/ my dreams, so that you can get a bachelor’s degree for free/ get a black belt/ be closer to your family.” And while I pay a lot of lip service to the concepts of home and community, its time to put my money where my mouth is. I can strip, shed, release, let go, surrender it all for someone else, but can I protect, keep, hold, put down, and fight for myself? (A call to a realtor has been made.) From a defense perspective, my favorite defenses are altruism, intellectualism and defiance. I am trying to practice helping myself instead, being in my body and forgiving my impulses to be mean. Stoicism, I think is another of my defenses.
A girl I am seeing, she has a cold. I watched her the other night, as she roused herself from a warm, soft bed with me, dragged herself to the grocery store, and bought herself all manner of remedies – sleep aids, fizzy tablets, vaporous rubs, instant noodle soup, watched as she trudged to the produce section to buy ginger, green pepper, garlic and carrots to add for good measure, watched her tolerat the tidings of half-strangers in a small town to get to it all. I watch as she blew her nose each and every time to get the bad goopy stuff out of her and rubned her neck and chest with oily unguents. She is making a kind of love to herself, I thought and I wondered, where did she learn this? I asked her what her mother did when she was sick and she told me with such a smile on her face. I remember how Lauren used to talk about how her mother made her a sick table. Golden’s mother made some Ethiopian concoction and left it in a big thermos in the refrigerator; It had to be heated or at least room temperature. I left my new girl in the medicine aisle to try to find coloring books, crayons or a bell for her, but they were out.
I pay attention to stories about the mothers of the women I have loved and try to learn from them. I thought the next morning that I might be coming down with something and I bought a packet of fizzy pomegranate- flavored cold powders and poured it into a cup of hot water and drank it. You wouldve thought I had gone to a medicine man, I was so proud of the special powers I had unleashed on myself for myself.
July 27, 2012
I got it. I got the money. The federal government is going to pay off my student loans. Sixty thousand will magically appear in my account within the next 90 days.
April 5, 2012
Storm clouds are rolling in so it’s suddenly dark here, and now the thunder’s started. My intentions to go to the gym become a desire to crawl under the covers, but I should write instead. (It tempers the loneliness.) I’ll finish this, then crawl under the covers. The sun breaking through the clouds after the storm will be my metaphor and I’ll ride that wave two hours over the mountains for tonight’s insemination. (I wish I could split myself in two and ask the other half to take care of me.)
When the previous tenant moved out, the landlord found feet and feet of green vine crawling under the living room window and along the ceiling. He was disgusted, and I thought, too, that my neighbor was awfully reclusive and a bad housekeeper. When I found this tender shoot last week, though, I didnt rip it out.
March 8, 2012
1- How have you grown, changed, or evolved from the woman you used to be?
Last year, my wife left me and I turned 34, so I’ve spent some time reflecting on the growing-up process, to put it mildly. MLK said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” so, I’ve been trying to decipher my own arc and in what direction it is bending, I’ve tried to detect threads, what are the most meaningful themes being strung again and again from my childhood, through to my teen years, young adulthood and now my middle age? I’ve noticed that I am both softening and opening, but also becoming angrier and that my anger is becoming more dangerous. Martin Luther King Jr also said, “Life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.” My opposites seem to be infinite compassion coupled with some white hot rage.
The revelation of the extent of my anger actually started with the abandonment of sarcasm as sport. As a young social worker, I quickly realized that sarcasm just didnt translate with my clients, it was a cultural thing, I figured, and I stopped, but without reflection. I remember how it felt, though, to see someone hurt, or confused by something I said. It struck me. When I was a snide bitch to my parents, they got angry, my friends laughed at my slings and arrows, but the dismay I saw on my clients’ faces was altogether new and slightly shocking. At some point, I ran across the idea that sarcasm is an expression of anger, which had never occured to me – I thought being sarcastic meant I was smart. But gradually it did make sense to me. I grew up with a drug addict. There were some things to be mad about and sarcasm was the best defense when all you are is a 13 year old with a vocabulary. As the sarcasm has dissipated, though, it was replaced by a different kind of anger – a cool, removed intellectuallism. Ani DiFranco’s lyric about her mother teaching her to “fight a cold war with a quiet charm” had a particular place in my heart. “I don’t get angry,” I told myself for years, as Iwas dreaming about hitting my partner, or getting drunk and doing it, or hitting the dog or being icy to the point of cruel with customer service representatives. Now that I know I am angry, now that I know how it feels coming up my back, then out of my hands, I have started talking about it. I’ve become less ashamed about it. I’m reading the classic book about woman’s anger called ”The Dance of Anger”, I’m not drinking alcohol. I’m seeing how it goes.
Conversely, over these last 20 years as a woman, from my first period to my seventh grey hair, I’ve also experienced an opening, a softening, a widening of my heart; my table has become impossibly long. I have, on occassion, through dreams, meditation, bearing witness to death or the being the beneficiary of the dumb luck known as romantic love, experienced moments of transcendence, either of my body, or my sadness, that I can only call spiritual. I seek out the company of old people, I introduce myself to men who harrass me on the street. I crave organized religion. I’ve always been concerned with matters of meaning and purpose, but as I’ve gotten older, these concerns are best expressed silently on Sundays in the company of other silent people. And while the word “God” still doesnt float my boat, I like to hear other people say it.
Finally, I came across the idea that evolution is not necessarily progressive, and change isnt, by definition, good. There’s this implicit assumption that the changes one goes through as one ages are “good” and make you a “better” person, but really they just make you the next person. The 24 year-old me was just as wise and lovely as this me. No heart ache has made me “stronger” or opportunity helped me “grow”. This perspective helps me maintain an appreciation for my younger self and the young people around me. But, it also just seems to be true. I don’t know if the moral arc of the universe is bending in any particularly direction, it just is where it’s at right now.
5- What is something you do to regain courage when the fear sets in?
When I get afraid about what to do, or say I run back to my values like a kid to his mother’s knee. My values are love and hope. I ask myself if my decision is actively moving me closer to love and if the answer is no, I change my decision. I ask myself if my decision is actively moving me toward my hopes, and if the answer is no, I change my decision.
7- When you close your eyes and see yourself living your dreams, what do you see?
When I close my eyes and see myself living my dream, I see family, a home, a neighborhood and a town. I see homecooked food, dirty dishes and friends. I see myself doing one or two big things, well. I see myself keeping my promises, to other people and myself, even the small ones. I see myself making fewer promises. I see contientious decisions to nurture myself, to buy clothes, to save, to decorate my house, to listen to music, to do two or three of these things at the same time once a week. I see sex and travel. I see tradition and ritual. I see unconditional love and forgiveness. I see a time when I have all these things and I can let go, when I am free to take it all for granted with a reverence matched only by my relish.
I am trying to goad Redamancy Lit into doing more personal writing, so I will tag her.