I'm about to confess something that not very many people know about my past. In my youth my dad would take my brother and I out trick-or-treating and he would get really into the spirit of things. Some years he would even dress up... as a woman. Not just any woman mind you, but a fictitous character he invented named Aunt Henrietta. She was an older lady, somewhat remniscent of Mrs. Doubtfire. I can remember sitting outside the bathroom, all dressed in our costumes and ready to go, watching my dad applying lipstick in the mirror. We thought we had the coolest dad. Looking back, we were pretty lucky to have a dad who was so fun, but I wonder what the neighbors thought. I don't have an actual Aunt Henrietta but every now and then as it gets close to Halloween, I ask, "Hey Dad, remember Aunt Henrietta? I wonder how she's doing."
Now that I've told you that deep dark secret, the least you can do is check out Blog Explosion. Not to sound like a lame commercial, but it really does work. I got the link yesterday thanks to Marziotta and since then I've had lots of new readers. I even had a reunion in my comments! Aunt Henrietta would be proud.
¶ 1:05 PM
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
My brother has moved to California to pursue further art school degrees. He packed all his stuff into his truck and drove off across the country to start a whole new life. I am often amazed that we grew up in the same house with the same parents and everything. This is my little brother, the kid who used to follow me around and draw pictures of little rocket ships that were square shaped with squiggly lines at the bottom. Suddenly he's this talented artist with a mind of his own and he's funny - laugh out loud funny. Flying doesn't bother him and neither does being 3000 miles away from home.
But this post is not about my brother. It's about how I was sifting through his huge collection of pictures from his road trip, and I had a crazy idea. There were many pictures of the road winding through mountains and passing open plains and whatnot, and you can really get a sense of different areas of the country based on the scenery from the road.
So here's my wacky thought. Wouldn't it be a neat project if someone were to drive across country starting in say, Boston, and ending up somewhere in California, and as they drove, what if they stopped every five miles and got out of the car and took a picture of the road ahead? Then after the trip was over (6 or so years later because that's probably how long it would take if you stopped every five miles to take a picture), the person could compile all the pictures together into some sort of Powerpoint slideshow and then the person who was watching it would feel like they had driven across the country themselves without ever leaving the comfort of their own living room.
Sure, there are logistical problems to this idea - the time it would take to make the project as well as the time it would take just to watch it, but it's definately the sort of thing that someone might actually do sometime and win an award at some obscure film festival. Wait and see - and remember you read it here first. See? I may not be hysterically funny or have enough moxy to move across the country on a whim, but by gosh I am full of crazy ideas.
¶ 1:41 PM
Monday, October 25, 2004
I have spent the past two Saturday afternoons on an addictive new hobby. I have been painting ceramics. My mom has been doing it for a while and she invited me to go with her. The place was packed with kids painting ceramic dogs and mugs that said "Go Red Sox". The shelves were full of plain white things - mugs, plates, vases, etc. I selected a square shaped bowl and stenciled bunches of grapes on it. There were so many techniques I wanted to try so I ended up sponging the inside several colors. It takes a week for the painted pottery to be fired and glazed - that's ceramics terminology for "made pretty". I think they have you pick your stuff up the following week so you'll come paint some more.
This past Saturday I painted a mug. Once again eager to try a multitude of things, I stenciled a butterfly, freehand painted some flowers, and used a fan brush for a tye-dye effect. I ended up feeling disappointed because there were too many things going on with my mug. My mom paints beautiful, simple pieces that look like they might have been purchased from a high end home goods store. She told me that I lacked patience to wait until next time to try different things and that I needed to focus and try one thing at a time. She always ends up being right, much to my frustration.
I think I do a lot of things the same way. I also have grand aspirations and when things start to go wrong I feel like giving the whole thing up. I also lose interest if something isn't what I hoped for and then rush through the rest of it half-assedly. I do this when I cook, I do this when I try to write, I do this in so many ways. Maybe this hobby will be good for me to practice patience and acceptance.
The one thing that is really good about painting ceramics is that it's very relaxing. For the hours that I am sitting and focusing on painting and creating, my thoughts are completely in the present moment and for that brief period of time I'm not focusing on my sad financial state or my health or my lack of direction in life. I think I understand why they do so many arts and crafts at mental hospitals.
¶ 5:03 PM
Thursday, October 21, 2004
As you know I live in the center of my city. It's not a big city, but it's center is busy. Cars drive by at all hours honking horns or blasting radios. Sometimes car alarms go off. Sometimes teenagers gather and yell things at each other in the dark. Sometimes the chirping of the walk signals seem endless. Somehow I don't mind, I like the noise. I can generally sleep through anything and in fact, I have trouble falling asleep if it's too quiet.
At exactly 4:43 am this morning I awoke to joyful shouting below my window. I'm guessing the newspapers for the day had just been delivered because a voice shouted, "Read all about it, the Red Sox are going to the World Series!" This was followed by intermittent whooping. I wanted to open the window and yell expletives because I was trying to sleep. At least he was yelling good news.
This afternoon we've been having trouble making calls from our office. Our technical guy informed me that he called our phone company and as it turns out, the problem is affecting the whole northeast, not just our company. He asked that I send out an email to everyone so they would know. Within 30 seconds of my email I got no less than seven replies from various coworkers suggesting that the problem might be caused by the fact that World Series tickets went on sale at 3:00.
Update: Thank you so much for all of your support and kind thoughts. I survived my appointment! The breathing exercises really helped - it's pretty amazing how you can take control of your breath and relax yourself. The doctor and everyone else there were really nice. I always forget that they are. I got a clean bill of health, much to my relief.
There were of course, some humorous moments. The nurse who weighed me said when I commented that the number was higher than I would like, "well, you have all your clothes on." Imagine how much a sweater, pants, and a pair of skivvies would weigh by themselves on the scale - an ounce? Half a pound? Certainly they don't account for that extra 15 - 20 I wouldn't mind losing.
When getting my blood drawn the nurse said, "o.k., think happy thoughts" and plunged the needle into my vein. Then she started talking to me about my recipe for homemade mac and cheese. I was looking at the ceiling telling myself, "think about mac and cheese... pay no attention to that needle in your arm... mac and cheese, mac and cheese..."
I was in such a haze on my way out - a combination of the missing two pints of blood and the aftereffects of the anxiety, I handed the receptionist my paperwork for co-pay and my prescriptions. "You can keep your prescriptions," she said matter-of-factly. "I have no idea why I'm handing them to you," I told her in all honesty. Prescriptions are like paper gold by the way, I just love them. Maybe it's because you can't get them anyplace else and they hold a certain feeling of power. The more you can get your doctor to write, the better. But, such is the sad state of our national health care system.
Thanks again for all your comments - it really helps to know that other people get nervous too. And just as I suspected, I'm cool as a cucumber now... at least until my next physical!
¶ 8:54 AM
Monday, October 18, 2004
Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment. Nothing major - just your basic everyday physical, but no matter how many times I tell myself that, I end up worrying myself silly for days ahead of time anyway. It started when I made the appointment as a mild and distant dread. Not something immediate, just something I could put off thinking about for a little while although I knew it was an unpleasant event on the horizon. Then last week it started to grow into a nervousness that occupied more and more of my thoughts as the day got closer. Now I've worked myself into a ball of anxiety. My stomach is twisted in knots and I don't feel so well. I know why of course - I am no stranger to making myself sick from stress. But it still feels out of control.
I couldn't even say with certainy what it is I'm worried about. I do feel panicky in claustrophobic settings - like a small room with no windows and a shut door. Still, I can probably talk to the doctor about that in the beginning and if she is understanding about it, I will feel instantly better knowing that I'm not really stuck in the room.
I don't worry too much about the actual procedures. I can handle physical things better than mental. For example, my mom gets so upset over blood being taken that they have to let her lie down while they do it. I don't enjoy it, but I know I can handle it.
I have an extremely creative imagination when it comes to all of the possible things that could be wrong with me that might be discovered. My grandmother was having a routine physical when her doctor discovered the tumor that led to the cancer that killed her. I remind myself that she was 82 years old at that time and I am only 29. I have nothing specific worrying me just a general sense of unease about things that could be wrong.
And there you have it - noon tomorrow is looming in front of me like a monster in the dark with no way of getting past it except by getting through it. I cannot calm myself down, I can only ride the fear as it builds and builds, knowing that by this time tomorrow afternoon I will be cool as a cucumber. Life will be back to normal and I will wonder what the heck I was so worked up about. Surely I'm not the only person who does this to themselves over a simple visit to the doctor?
¶ 3:37 PM
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Last night my boss and her family were eating dinner when the doorbell rang. Her husband answered the door, but there was no one there. Instead, on the doorstep, was a ghost! Obviously it was not a real ghost, but a ghost that someone made. There were also three pieces of candy - one for each of her kids, and a poem about how they had been "ghosted" and how they now had to "ghost" two more people or there would be a curse on them. Sort of like a chain letter but more fun. The instructive poem also indicated that they were to hang their new ghost outside the house so that other ghosting neighbors would know that they had been ghosted and wouldn't re-ghost them.
This afternoon we had a lengthy discussion about the best way to make a ghost and how she was supposed to know how far down the street to go. Imagine ghosting some grouchy unfriendly neighbor by accident? I also asked what would happen when everyone in the neighborhood had been ghosted. Did the game just end? My boss seemed to think the next step would be to ghost everyone a second time. Fascinating.
I always wished I lived in a neighborhood like that where people get to do fun things like have block parties or ghost each other repeatedly. Maybe I should make small ghosts out of tootsie pops and tissues and leave them outside people's doors in my apartment building. I could knock and run. Somehow I don't think that it would go over as well as in my boss' neighborhood.
¶ 4:37 PM
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
And if I wasn't already feeling old... I've gone out the past three Saturday nights in a row. This is not typical for me by any means. This past Saturday I was invited out for the birthday celebration of a coworker turning 23. The fact that she invited me made me feel good because she must not think of me as an old lady. The plan was to meet her at a club where it just so happens that the average age of patrons is 21 - 24. I hadn't realized that.
I gathered my roommate who gathered some friends and we got ready which is half the fun of going out. I wore my boots and straightened my hair and I felt good. I certainly didn't look like an old lady. My roommate and I bought some malt beverages before departing for the evening, and she crazily poured them into empty soda bottles for us to drink before going into the club (once we parked the car, don't worry). That's some serious planning going into the drinking and certainly not something I'm used to. But I went along with her youthful enthusiasm and we arrived to meet several of her friends at the club. It was already 10:00 but much to my surprise, the place was empty.
We grabbed a corner booth and I quickly realized that the average age of my companions was 23. Not a single one was over 25. They ordered giant drinks with bunches of straws that were seriously all alcohol. I stuck with my tame malt beverage because after all, I was driving. Reminiscing on the days when I would go out every Friday night with a hoard of coworkers and drink ourselves silly, I suggested some drinking games. I remembered playing the celebrity name game, the alphabet game, or "I never" and always having a blast. We started playing "I never" and I realized it really wasn't all that fun.
As the night wore on the club became more and more crowded. At one point I found myself chatting with a young guy at the table who was the boyfriend of a very recent college grad. He said how tired he was and how he was getting old. I agreed saying that part of me wished I was curled up in bed watching Saturday Night Live at that very moment. He looked at me like I had three heads and said, "I didn't mean I was getting that old."
¶ 5:12 PM
Monday, October 11, 2004
For the past two weeks I have been living out of boxes and bags. My apartment has been in a state of upheaval since the exterminator came and has remained that way because they were due back for a two-week follow up appointment. I am proud to say that we got a clean bill of space today. There was no evidence of bugs and we were declared more prepared for extermination than 95% of their customers. There's something to feel good about - I know how to prepare my apartment for pest extermination.
You have no idea how stressful it has been having my roommate and her boyfriend sleeping on the futon in the living room every night for two weeks. Not to mention that everything I own is in the living room and just to find a particular outfit or piece of jewelry has been a half hour endeavor. I've been unmotivated to clean the apartment. In my bedroom, where all of my furniture is in the same position, but pushed away from the wall and into the center of the room about a foot and a half, I have woken up with the disconcerting feeling that the walls are closing in.
I have even suffered a casualty - my plant from my cousin's wedding earlier this summer. They were given to each guest in teeny tiny pots and were just barely budding leaves. Mine had grown to over a foot tall and had been replanted into successively bigger pots finally ending up in one huge one. Though we moved the plant out of the apartment during the extermination, on the way back in, I accidentally dropped the pot and it shattered, spilling dirt and plant all over the floor. I picked the poor traumatized greenery back up and repotted it, but it just hasn't been the same since. Well, at least there are no bugs in the apartment.
¶ 3:45 PM
Friday, October 08, 2004
I had an all around good birthday. And speaking of birthdays, I noticed that so many people have birthdays right around mine, even on the same day. Is there a way to find out what days or weeks are the most common for birthdays? I would be very interested. Here's a sampling of the rundown:
A girl I went to high school with who is now roommates with my best friend from high school
A woman from my book club
A guy in my department
My best friend from high school (whose roommate's was the 4th - see above)
An ex-boyfriend's brother
A little girl I used to babysit for
Matt Lauer My supervisor's next door neighbor
My supervisor's husband
A coworker's best friend
The Fed Ex guy
A coworker's sister
A coworker's daughter
A coworker (who gave me flowers for my birthday and now I want to think of something nice for her - suggestions??)
A coworker (who suggested a "Libra Lunch" for the three of us girls (her, myself, and the coworker from October 10th)
I'm sure there are dozens more that I'm just not remembering right now. It's birthday craziness, I'm telling you. What's so weird is that a lot of people tell me they've never known anyone who shared their birthday (obviously, they are none of the people listed above) and I'm always startled by this because I regularly encounter people with my birthday.
¶ 1:25 PM
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Birthdays past and present:
October 6th, 1975 - As I've mentioned, I was born via c-section. Additionally my mother was given general anesthesia so she was out cold during my birth. In the recovery room later a nurse told her, "Mary, you've had a baby!" and my mother in her anesthetized stupor, remembers not asking the all important question of whether I was a boy or girl, but rather, "Really? Well, where is the baby?"
1982 - For my seventh birthday I invited a bunch of friends to a special McDonald's birthday party. We got to sit in a special room and eat special treats and play special games. What is so remarkable about this party however, is how we were all dressed up. I have a picture of us girls standing on the front steps in little dresses and hair ribbons, tights and fancy buckled shoes.
1991 - For my sixteenth birthday my friends somehow managed to negotiate with my parents to use the basement family room for an honest to goodness surprise party. They coordinated getting me out of the house and bringing me back to be surprised by a room full of people. A smashing success except for the beer someone brought in. My mom happened to see him out the window, unloading it from his car. She came downstairs, pulled me aside, and said, "Katie, get that out of here before Dad finds out." I handed her my open beer can and said, "O.K., hold this and I'll see what I can do."
1994 - On my nineteenth birthday I gathered with the girls in my dorm and sometime late in the evening committed drunken dialing. I started calling up ex-boyfriends, friends I hadn't spoken to in ages, all just out of the blue to tell them, "Hey, today's my birthday!"
1998 - On my twenty-third birthday I was stood up! I sat in my room crying when my date for the evening went missing. The bastard! A sympathetic friend finally dragged me out for a drink but it was a birthday barely salvaged.
2000 - I had a superfun time with a huge group of friends from work. We all went out to a local bar and grill and because it was a Friday night we stayed well into the night, talking and laughing.
2003 - I was taken to the Hard Rock Cafe where I was forced to stand on a chair in front of the whole restaurant while they sung happy birthday to me. A thoughtful person remembered I wanted to go there (the very same place I spent my 21st birthday) and then told them it was my birthday so the embarrassment could ensue!
2004 - So far so great! This morning I came out of my room to find that my roommate had made a huge colorful birthday sign on the kitchen wall, and had baked blueberry muffins. And as if that wasn't enough, there were gifts! Arriving at work a thoughtful coworker gave me flowers which are being displayed proudly so everyone will know what day it is. When the mail arrived there was a package for me from a dear friend! Tonight I get to go out for Mexican food, my favorite. I'll have an update tomorrow on the rest of the day!
¶ 1:14 PM
Wow, Pinky is so sweet to link to me on my birthday! Since I'm getting extra readers today, I will be posting a special birthday entry later on so I hope you'll stay tuned!!
¶ 9:02 AM
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
How did worry become a talisman against bad things happening, a mode of protection? I can remember worrying myself sick over things when I was younger. I remember a bully at school during first grade who had me so fearful that I crawled under the kitchen table on a Sunday night after dinner, refusing to come out and go to school the next day. I worried over things outside the realm of my home and tried, unsuccessfully, faking sick to get to stay curled up and safe on the couch in front of the tv.
I remember that my mother once told me things were never as bad as you worry they will be. I know what she meant. I know that you can torment yourself in your own mind far more than most things outside yourself can. I know my mother imparted this knowledge to me one worrisome day, putting into words something I hadn’t realized. I had been astonished when things turned out as she said and I had worried over nothing! It astonishes me to this day when that happens.
I do have an innate faith that things generally work out for the best, one way or another. But I am still a worrier. I obsess and I dwell and I flounder around in my own negative thoughts. I can tell myself all I want I’m worrying for nothing. But I am superstitious. I am more afraid sometimes to let go of worry. It seems to balance itself out – I will worry and then the universe will resolve the situation. To not worry seems callous and punishable by a worse outcome. Right?
I should’ve known things were going too well lately. And there’s another ingrained belief. If things are going well that means something bad is about to happen. I guess it also needs to be balanced. But there is also a sense of guilt in being happy. Where does it all come from? And in the realization of how screwed up it is, why doesn’t it disappear?
¶ 9:51 PM
Monday, October 04, 2004
Today would have been my grandfather's birthday. And, if the date hadn't happened to fall on a Saturday in 1975, it would've been mine as well.
I was supposed to be born on September 17th but I was three weeks late. Apparently my head was too big by that point to be born the regular way so the doctor wanted to schedule a c-section. My mom told him that her father's birthday was October 4th so could he do it that day? He told her that October 4th was a Saturday and he didn't usually work weekends, but how about the following Monday, October 6th? And so October 6th became my birthday so that it would fit into the doctor's office hours.
Sometimes I wonder why I was so late being born. Did I want to make sure I would be a Libra instead of a Virgo? Was I just too comfortable where I was? What makes a baby know that it's time to be born at all? No one actually knows the answer.
Anyway, my grandfather and I would always celebrate our birthdays together on the 5th. It was fun to share the celebration, but I was always glad that I ended up with my own special day. Now I'm glad for a different reason. I can remember my grandfather on his birthday, his special day.
¶ 2:20 PM