Tuesday, January 29, 2008

On Trying to Get Some Work Done

Nina says work is overrated. She prefers cuddling. That usually works with my schedule, except on days like today, when cuddling means digging her sharp knees into my lap and depositing cat hair in my mouth by means of face-rubbing.

This moment, she's sitting in the same spot, purring and following the mouse with her eyes every time I move it. Pretty soon we're going to try the lap thing again, and maybe this time she'll thank me by sitting still long enough that I can write some notes.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Let the Record Show

I love our apartment. Really I do. It's cozy and beautiful, it has a great layout, it's in a nice neighborhood, and the management is just the right degree of attentive. But ceramic tile and cute archways don't make for good blogging the way that cracked walls, broken water heaters, out-of-control boilers, intrusive maintenance guys, neighbors' leaky toilets, and giant bugs do. Also good blogging: this place smells like pee. Now, don't go jumping to conclusions--our cats use the litter box every single time. But some people's pets use the side of our building, and our windows, well, they're at ground level. I knew all about this months ago and had gotten over it because it's never really been an issue. Once or twice I noticed a faint urinous smell seeping under the windows, so I tossed an odor absorber onto the sill and it went away. But last week I walked in the door after work and was immediately smacked in the face with the smell of pee. Eric had the same experience that night, and if Eric notices an odor, it's pretty smelly.

So there are odor absorbers in the window sills that haven't quite accomplished their task yet, and every time we come home we gag a little on the smell and light a candle until our noses get worn out on urine and stop registering it. It's gross, but it's got to be temporary, right? I'm blaming it on the weather: today it was at least thirty degrees warmer than it was a week ago, and half a winter's worth of animal pee is melting and warming and reeking right outside our windows. Eventually it'll freeze again, and later there will be rain to wash it away.

And then our apartment will be perfect again.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Structurally Unsound

On each of the two outside walls in our living room, there is a long, thick, patched crack like a lightning bolt in the poured concrete. Some parts of these, under the layers of plaster and paint, must be very deep and wide; if you rap your knuckles against them, you hear a light, hollow sound, not the thud of hitting solid concrete. When it rains for a long time, the crack under the window lets moisture in, turning the paint shiny and tacky. Tonight my attention drifted while I was watching a movie, and I noticed hairline cracks in the paint over these bulging scars in the wall. It has been very, very cold outside. The ground is swollen with frost.

The earth is trying to come in.

(This is not what I asked for.)

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Forgive me for writing infrequently lately. And for writing graphically about food poisoning when I do. My excuse is that I do not use language well for events. I use language for description. (I'm the Virginia Woolf of bloggers.) (That creaking sound you just heard was Virginia Woolf and all the rest of Bloomsbury rolling over in their graves.) And aside from fantastically pink vomit, my life includes little these days that I feel compelled to describe. And even then, dang it, I have to hold back in deference to propriety.

Also, while I do a fair amount of self-analysis, I rarely feel comfortable putting it into writing. (If you like confessional blog posts, enjoy this one. This is about as good as it gets.) Oh, I voice my self-analysis. I talk to myself. To Eric. To the cats. To imaginary interviewers for magazines. (It's not crazy if you know it isn't real.) But it looks silly in print. I'm embarrassed to see my own stream of consciousness in black and white. (Guess I'm not Virginia Woolf after all.)

So I've felt best about this blog when I've been able to describe nature. And often those posts revealed something about me, too. I'm deeply affected by the weather and the grass and the trees and the light and the running of water. Seeing myself juxtaposed with and connected to the natural world gives me perspective. Gives me insight. Gives me inspiration. Gives me words.

I'm glad that we have lived in the city, and there are many things I enjoy here. But I've clearly lost something here. The mechanics of city life and nonfictional human interaction give me little to write about. They wear me out with their noise and their concrete and their close spaces, and narrow the space in my mind for creativity. Maybe--probably--I could find inspiration in the city with time. But I think I want my nature back. I think we may not stay here for much more of our lives.

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Monday, January 14, 2008


If I had known 2008 was going to be the year of being sick all the time, I would have had second thoughts about celebrating on New Year's Eve. But I did celebrate--too much--and shortly after midnight, I was sick. The next morning I was hungover, of course. On January 2nd, I had the first symptoms of a nasty cold that still has a tiny little finger hold on me. And then--then!--this past Saturday night we went out for a friend's birthday.

Festivities started at the seafood restaurant we went to for Eric's birthday last year. They were out of coconut for the coconut shrimp, so I had a somewhat disappointing basket of fish and chips and (this is important; remember this) one beer. I didn't finish my food because I started feeling full and bloated about halfway through, but greasy food can do that to me, so I thought little of it, even though I got increasingly uncomfortable after the food left the table. This is how we were persuaded to walk a few blocks to an 80s-themed bar full of pink and blue neon and loud music. Because these were primarily Eric's friends, I was determined to hold it together for as long as he wanted to stay out, and anyway I was still convinced that I just had some indigestion. So I sat in a chair and didn't drink and looked miserable enough that people felt bad for me and I felt bad for that.

And finally I was done.

I signaled to Eric that I was ready to go, we said our goodbyes, walked out of the bar and probably 15 feet down the sidewalk, and I threw up a pink avalanche into a snowbank. In front of people.

I really don't think it's fair to have to vomit hot pink in front of people outside an 80s bar when you didn't have a thing to drink inside that bar, and when the pink color (it took a while to figure this out) is from zinc and echinacea lozenges.

And, hard as this may be to believe, my night went downhill from there. On Sunday we were supposed to drive to my grandma's house to finally celebrate Christmas, but I had to call my aunt at 7:30 in the morning (after a night of sleeping for one-hour intervals) to tell her I was pretty sure that wasn't a good idea. Our belated Christmas dinner is in the freezer until further notice.

I have to say I'm disappointed. I'm usually not sick very often, and I always imagine sickness as some sort of welcome break from real life. Like if I get sick enough I'll be able to skip work and spend the day on the couch reading books and watching movies. The reality, I now realize, is that sickness likes to take up your three days off in a row, and that you don't feel like doing a damn thing on the couch when you're sick enough to stay there all day. And then your boyfriend, who's spending his two days off being incredibly nice and making you broth and Jello, gets bored.

Being sick sucks.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

Side Effects May Include

So the weird people mostly stayed home today, and I probably should have followed their lead. I'm on the fourth day of an illness that I suspect would be worse if not for the whole bag of zinc and echinacea lozenges I've consumed in that time, but it's still wearing me out pretty badly. Among its other symptoms, apparently, is the nearly irrepressible urge to flick annoying customers on the forehead. Or to use the step stool I had to retrieve from halfway across the store to smack the woman sitting on a much closer one. Or to drop to the floor shrieking when the ridiculously unintuitive computer program we use can't find a title because I'm misspelling a name by a single letter.

Good thing I only worked a five-hour shift.

I'm feeling much better now that I'm home, and since tonight is Eric's poker night, I'll be having a girl's night in with myself. And the cats. They're girls too. But they don't get to share my calzone.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Occupational Perks

Some days people are weirder than on other days. Or maybe on some days more weird people buy books. My favorite comment of the day, out of the mouth of a guy who until then did not seem weird, was, "I'm not a communist, so I watch Bill O'Reilly."