Thursday, October 20, 2011

It adds a precious seeing to the eye. -Love's Labour 's Lost. Act iv. Sc. 3.

                ~reposting a little something from 4/28/10

Just an odd jumping off point here…..

Now that the weather is getting mild, I have the windows open in my apartment. I look down on the train station here in Media, Pa. And from very early in the morning til very late at night I can hear the announcements about arrivals and departures. I can’t make out what is being said mind you—it comes across as a monotone, garbled, disembodied voice. Well, this morning it hit me what it reminds me of: the lead singer’s voice in “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers. If you’re not familiar, the song is sort of a spoken word piece: “She was sharin’ Sharon’s outlook on the topic of disease.” The singer is telling a story about a group of young people leading lives of quiet desperation [I guess] somewhere in Texas. The line that sort of stuck in my head was this: “You never know just how you look through other people’s eyes.”

We don’t know how others see us, perceive us. I worry about that way more than I probably should. I mean, why is it important to me that everyone likes me? I don’t like everyone I cross paths with, so why should I waste time and energy worrying about whether folks like me. As long as the people that really matter in my life appreciate what I have to offer, what difference does the rest make? I know I have quite a large circle of acquaintances and friends. And I’m fairly certain that the ones I spend a lot of time with actually enjoy my company, so the rest is insignificant. Right?

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As the time gets closer to my move out day, I find myself growing nostalgic about my apartment—it’s seen me through some very rough times. It has embraced me when there was no one else to do so…..

I was married for 26 years. I went right from my parent’s home to living with my boyfriend at 19—and marrying him shortly after turning 20. I separated from my husband in 2000; a story for another time—but I’ve covered some of it in previous posts], and found this place to move into. I had never lived alone in my life—and here I am at 46 signing a lease and applying for utilities in my name—not his. It was a little scary at first. I had never lived alone—would I be able to do it? How would it be not to have someone to talk to or laugh over a funny show with? It was a BIG adjustment, but I learned to like some aspects of living alone [I can watch what I want on TV when I want for one.]

At that time, I was moving from a 3-story, 4 bedroom house to this 1-bedroom apartment. I had to be ruthless as to what I kept and what I gave away to Goodwill—or tossed altogether. “Kids, I love you—but the macaroni portrait of Lincoln you did in 1st grade is gonna get tossed if you don’t come get it.” Of course, I kept EVERY little thing my grandson had done. I have an autobiography he wrote in 2nd grade—cause they’ve experienced so much by age 7. I have a couple of his drawings….. But the best [it has had a place of honor on my fridge since I moved in here] is the note he wrote me when he was 5: “ Dear Mimi—I hope you feel better. Your are the best Mimi ever. Love…”—and he signed his full name. Like I wouldn’t know who it was from otherwise. I think that is the cutest thing. Some things I simply CANNOT part with……

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A bit of a clarification…

My post of the other day [ the one with the image of Edvard Munch’s The Scream] had more to do with the stress of packing up/de-thinging, finding a new place that both my mom and I will be comfortable in AND coping with my company’s complete restructuring of the workflow and team structures. Stress and Fibromyalgia do not play well together…. And today was the start of the new model..... First I opened my door to find one of my bras sitting in the hallway [it escaped the basket last night apparently]; then I came out to a flat tire [but I could now join a NASCAR pit crew--I got to the gas station, got air in the tire and made it to work only 5 minutes late]; my first 30 calls were all from new hospitals migrated from other teams, so I had no idea who they were--and one of them yelled at me. But the best part was when I heard a male voice from the top of my cubicle wall asking me how things were going. Thank God I looked up before I answered--it was the president of the company!! Good thing I didn't answer without looking,cause it wouldn't have been pretty. But, I’m a tough old bitch—and I can come here and vent to my wonderful blog peeps.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.

I was born three days late—and I’ve been trying to catch up ever since.

I don’t really like to be late for things, but it happens. I try to budget my time, really I do. I don’t like getting up in the mornings—probably because I may have just gotten to sleep an hour before the damned alarm went off. But, I set my clock ahead by 15 minutes because of this. And I set the alarm for about 25 minutes before I actually need to get up, so I have time to ease into rising. I shower the night before to save time (don’t worry; I do a quick refresher wash in the AM). I even occasionally lay out my outfit ahead of time.

Since I’ve developed all of the fatigue and pain issues, I’ve really had to allow myself time. I just can’t sail out of bed like I used to…

See, I try….. And generally I’m pretty good— it’s other people that fowl me up.

Like jerks that see you waiting to pull out of a side street and they don’t put their turn signal on. Then they turn right next to you, and you’re stuck. Or a-holes who are so busy texting or whatever they don’t realize the light has turned green. Then they get through and I don’t. Or dillweeds who pull out in front of you and go 2 miles an hour. You have to hit the breaks—invariably, when you check the rearview mirror, there’s not a soul behind you.

Like, why would PennDOT start road work during the morning rush? The last thing we all need as we drag our sorry asses to work is to get stuck waiting to get around a lane closure on a portion of a road. I know they have to fix stuff, but can’t they wait until everyone’s at work?

The one that really drives me nuts is the wusses who brake at every curve or hill. Sheesh, learn how to drive for heaven’s sake. One time my friend showed up almost 30 minutes late to our shift at a local theatre company’s box office. He just looked at me and said “I hate when people look on the speed limit as a mandate instead of a suggestion.”

That whole getting to work thing has been my biggest challenge (I have rarely been late to the theatre). I remember slinking into the wallcovering store where I worked about 5 minutes late one day and sheepishly going “Boy that Schuylkill Expressway is a bitch.” I lived about 8 miles from the store via all residential side streets. Hey, if other people could use it, why couldn’t I?

My kids were in nursery school when I started that job—I worked 2 evenings a week and Saturdays. One evening I was getting dressed for work and my son got hurt. I blurted out “I didn’t plan comforting time.” as I took him in my arms. I called the store and said I’d be about 15 minutes late.

In my own defense, I must state that if I am late arriving (like I said, morning is not my strong suit), I will shorten my lunch break or stay past my allotted time to make up for it. I never short-change people.

I was born three days late. It’s been 58 years, but I think I’ve just about caught up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come (2.2) CAESAR

I reviewed a production of Sarah Ruhl’s EURYDICE on Friday night for STAGE Magazine. West Philadelphia’s Curio Theatre Company is producing it—if you’re in the area, by all means check it out. It’s a wonderful production.

It is the third version I have seen of Ms. Ruhl’s imaginative reinvention of the Orpheus myth. The play tells the tragic love story from Eurydice’s point of view, inventing a father that draws her to the Underworld. The viewer is led to believe that Eurydice chooses to stay in the Underworld, to remain a child in her father’s care rather than grow up and be a wife.

Hey—I get it. Many are the days I want to turn in my grown-up card. It’s too damned hard sometimes; it would be great to go back to those carefree times when someone else made all the big decisions and paid all the bills. We didn’t appreciate how good we had it. Someone did the laundry, bought the food, cooked the meals. There was television and lights and heat—and we had no idea it took money to have those things at our fingertips. We picked up the phone, called whomever we wanted, and talked for ages with no thought as to what it was going to cost. Someone got us to and from school, etc., but did we ever once worry about the cost of gas, wear and tear on the car? Or insurance rates? And when we achieved the freedom known as a driver’s license, most of us still had someone else taking care of all those pesky details.

Even the roofs over our heads—we didn’t have a clue what was involved in purchasing that roof, or the multitude of things involved in maintaining it and the walls holding it up. Yeah—some of us were given chores like lawn mowing and dish washing, but that’s a drop in the bucket of all that is involved in running the business known as “family/home.”

Add to that the psychological cost of sustaining a relationship and raising children! You have no effing clue until you’re deep in the throes of it yourself—and most of us still don’t even then. As a parent you have to be a nurturer, a guidance counselor, a behavioral therapist…. The list is endless. And if you want to be a good partner, a lot of those roles come into play there too.

We were also blissfully ignorant of what it means to have a job. To give your time and energy for someone else’s enrichment for 40 hours a week. In some cases, to feel like you’ve sold your soul in order to just barely keep your financial head above water. Let’s face it, very few of us spend our workdays doing something we truly love—those lucky bastards are few and far between. For the rest of us, it’s a mind-numbing and exhausting slog so we can turn around and shell it out for the above named necessities.

Why the hell were we in such a hurry to be adults?

Okay, my kids are grown up and on their own now; it should be easier for me, right? Yeah—not so much.

I still have all of the expenses, and as a renter, I don’t get any tax breaks. It’s a bitch. In this economy, I should be grateful I have a job, I know. But salaries have been stagnant and opportunities for advancement few and far between. And I know I’m running into ageism—I can’t prove it, but I feel it. I want to be happy in my work—I HAVE NO RETIREMENT PLAN, SO I’M GONNA BE AT THIS FOR A LONG TIME. I want to be more financially stable… and I’ll tell you why:

The most recent wrinkle in all of this is having my mom living with me. Don’t get me wrong—I love her dearly and she is a hoot to live with. We are getting along quite well and the partnership has been mutually beneficial in a number of ways.

She will be 89 this coming New Year’s Eve and sometimes I think she’s in better shape than I am. Her mental faculties are sharp as a tack (okay—sometimes she can’t find a word, but who among us doesn’t have that problem occasionally…), and she’s pretty frickin’ spry. She actually busted a samba move the other night during “Dancing with The Stars.”

But I worry—I’m Irish, I can’t help it.

She is a night owl. So when I wake up during the night and see lights still on, I worry that something’s happened to her and that’s why they’re still on. Most nights I refrain from going out to the living room to check ‘cause I don’t want to scare her. I’ve done some secret reconnaissance missions on occasion though.

Every morning before I go to work, I check on her as she sleeps. She tends to lie exceedingly still as she slumbers, so sometimes I have to watch for several minutes to make sure all is well. I’ve come thisclose to putting a mirror under her nose. On workdays, she unlocks the apartment door for me so when I get home I don’t have to fumble with keys. Once in awhile, she gets caught up in her computer stuff and forgets. I try the door when I arrive home and panic if it’s locked—instantly worried something’s wrong inside.

I can’t let her know any of this—she’d be hurt I think. But it’s there now—the idea that the woman I have always thought of as invincible is in the twilight of her life. And I don’t like the thought.

So, yeah, I get Eurydice’s reluctance to growing up—who can blame her. Adulthood’s a bitch.

STAGE Magazine

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A horse, a Horse, My Kingdom for a Horse—Part Three. [Seriously, Part III!]

I'd probably have better luck than I've had with cars.

Today is a combination of re-posting two past missives on my never-ending saga with cars and the latest chapter in my ongoing power struggle with the vehicles in my life.

In August 2010, I was forced to take on a car payment I couldn’t really afford because my 1999 Saturn’s clutch/transmission situation had reached the point of no return. I shopped around and found a reasonably priced 2001 Honda Civic with about 73K miles on it. Since I’ve always loved Hondas and the mileage was practically in its infancy (Hondas can go to 200K), I signed on the dotted line. (And got an affordable loan from my credit union.)

Well, the inspection was up this past August… As usual, I was short on funds, so I didn’t get it into the shop til early September. I was expecting maybe tires and brake pads, you know under $400.00.

Yeah—I totally forgot, this was me I was dealing with…

$1,500.00 later the “Check Engine” light finally went out and I was able to pass the emissions test. Part of that was new wheel ball bearings and struts and a bunch of other wheel stuff.

Why God, why? I just drive the things from point a to point B—what am I doing to deserve these financially crushing car bills?

I keep begging my daughter to fall in love with a mechanic, but she just won’t cooperate.

** ** **

Part 1—posted 7/2/09

To say the least, my relationship to vehicles has been quite one-sided: they take and take and take. And I spend and spend and spend. It can get a little frustrating. When I got married in 1973, we had a 1968 Beetle--I learned to drive in that car. I didn't want to learn stick, but it was all we had. And I got pretty good at pop-starting it and double-clutching. When our daughter was born, we felt we needed a safer, bigger, family car... we bought a '73 Ford Pinto...yep, a Pinto.

Then we had his and hers VW sedans--purely by accident too. Eventually my ex went to trucks and I was a Honda girl. But I have never owned a new car, so with all of these vehicles came assorted "issues." There was the car with a different colored hood that embarrassed the crap out of my 80s era, fashion is everything offspring.... One time, I had invoices for a new windshield, a new muffler and a tire on my dashboard to explain why my inspection sticker was slightly expired.

Let's not even talk about the cars we helped our kids of which my daughter crashed into a tree. "Sweetheart, trees always win." The car was totaled, but thank god she was okay. Several bumps and cuts, but okay.

The first car I ever totally purchased on my own was a Toyota Paseo. I loved that car; it was sporty looking and had great pickup. I felt young again when I drove it. One day, I was driving home from work, all of the lights on the dash lit up and the car just died. It was beyond hope and I was devastated. It was as painful as my divorce—I was losing something special to me. I replaced it with a 1999 Saturn. It was in good shape and had low mileage. Well, the front bumper got caught on a spike sticking up in my apartment's lot and I had to drive around with the bumper bungee-corded onto the car for about 3 months til I could afford to fix it. And somehow, I have no idea how, I wound up with only one hubcap--my son said "Mom, what are you hanging on to?" Then the front panel on the passenger side got broken [cars are made of paper these days] when I gently slid on the ice one day. So, suddenly, I'm driving a hoop-dee--no way can you put a claim in to your insurance! Cause they'll either raise your rates or drop you completely.

So I just drive it, ignore my kids comments and pretend it's a Porsche.

** ** **

Part 2—posted 7/22/09

okay, so tonight was the first read-thru of Fuddy Meers, a play by David Lindsay Abaire [ more on that later]. I'm looking forward to the challenge of playing a stroke victim--with major aphasia....

The read-thru went well; I'm feeling good as I'm driving home around 10ish. First acting role in about a year [the knee injury has had me side-lined since March] and I think I can meet the challenges of the role.

I'm stopped at a red-light, listening to WMMR, wondering what The Daily Show will do tonight... The light changes to green; I go to put my car in gear—nothing. The gearshift just wobbles loosely all over the place. Oh joy.

Had to have the car towed.

Pray to the automobile gods that this isn't going to cost an arm and a leg--I only have one fully functioning one right now anyway.