Thursday, December 1, 2016

kicked me out and ruined Christmas

The internet has called 2016 a “dumpster fire” of a year, and I have to agree. I don’t even want to get into all of the heartbreaking instances of just… I mean… yeah, I don’t.

And then there was this: on Election Night, I met with my new landlord, who apparently had some issues with my old landlord (I was not at all a part of any of this, and in fact I didn’t know for sure that the building was being sold until late September). My new landlord went on about how nice and chill she was, and that she wanted to have a hangout lounge in the attic, and gardens in the backyard, and we would all be best friends, and I would get a new bathroom…

It all seemed fine, new landlord would be living in the building, and would see that I am a good, clean, quiet tenant, and would want to keep me. Awesome, right? WELL.

About a week after our little meeting, I got a text from new landlord, telling me that my rent would be going up $100 a month in March, and that I needed to let her know if I planned on sticking around by the end of November. Uh… I asked why the rent was going up so much, and received a snotty response that she could actually get a lot more for my apartment. She then said that her son wanted my apartment, but she was giving me the first shot at keeping it. Before I could even wrap my mind around all of this fuckery I was receiving over TEXT MESSAGE, she said, you know what, never mind, I am "going to make it easy for everyone" (her exact words) and not renew your lease in March, and if you really want to help me out, you can move out before your bathroom gets gutted in February.

I got all of this over text message, over an hour and a half, on a Monday afternoon while I was at work. Needless to say, I was upset.

Even better, a week later new landlord texted me: “I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’m sorry I’m causing you distress. I wish things were different.” Um, this woman tried to price me out of the apartment that she knew I loved, and then kicked me out when I wanted to think about the significant price raise, AFTER she said she’d give me three whole weeks to think about it. And there she was, spewing her bullshit feelings all over me after screwing me over!

So much of my sense of well-being is wrapped up in having a stable home life, which for me means living alone in a cozy, clean, quiet little self-made cave with my two kitties. I loved my little jewel box of an apartment, which felt like it was made for me, and I told new landlord how much I hate to move when we had our "best friends" meeting. And now I get to move in the middle of winter, and it’s not my choice!!

I also have the anxiety of trying to find a place, no landlords are getting back to me, and I have to save up enough money for this move on my single lady, non-profit salary, and the place has to be cool with cats, and I am flipping my shit on a regular basis. The other night I went to see an apartment that was in my price range, and in a great neighborhood. It was tiny, dingy with decades of dirt, and stinky, and it depressed me. It was not a livable space. I’m going to see another place on Sunday, but I don’t understand why I don’t have two or three more apartments to see – why won’t people get back to me so that I can just have one thing decided?!?

The worst part, for me – besides losing my lovely apartment to my mean landlord’s son - is that I won’t be able to buy presents for Christmas. Buying thoughtful presents for my loved ones is honestly one of my favorite things about the holidays, but it’s not happening this year, and it breaks my heart. I know that everyone will understand, but it breaks my heart.

I’m sure that, come mid- to late January, I’ll be settled into a new place, one that I will make my cozy cave. I’ll be away from new landlord and from CAN, with his panoply of mental health issues, and all of this stress and anxiety will be a semi-distant memory. But right now, I’m having a hard time, and I’m sharing it with the world.


In short: Mean landlord kicked me out and ruined Christmas. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

in the meantime...

I was going through my Facebook memories last week and thinking, HUH, I sure do get sick a lot at this time of year. And just when I patted myself on the back for being fairly healthy now, my stomach decided to go rogue last Thursday night.

So while I was laying around at home on Friday, with Floyd impersonating a hot-water bottle on my lower stomach, I found out that my landlords sold the house, and that a new owner would be honoring my lease through April. I suspected that all of this was coming, because there have been so many "house inspections" this summer, and because a dude moved out of the front apartment a while ago, and no one moved in. Last week (or the week before... time blurs), the woman who lives above me moved out. And the other tenant who is still in the building has been freaking out for months about the house being sold. And she "contacted a lawyer, and the landlord knew about it!" This tenant is kind of anxiousness personified, and I found it a bit odd that her first instinct was to believe that her landlord would screw her over. I've known of awful landlords - my mom had truly awful landlords before her current house, so bad that I studied up on New York State tenant law to try and help her - and my landlords don't fit the bill. I decided to wait and see instead of getting all worked up.

Anyway, since I was feeling poorly when I got the New Landlord News, I didn't have the energy for a full anxiety meltdown myself, and then I had Saturday to process and think of pros and cons - my lease is up in April, and hopefully the new landlord will be awesome, but if I do have to move, at least I'll be moving away from CAN, and maybe I can check out another neighborhood in the city... and then yesterday morning I found out that the new owner is a woman who will also be living in our building, which actually made me feel a lot better. So I am hopeful, but also I'll be paying attention to whether I should start saving up toward another move. I'm hoping that MAYBE I will become BFFs with the new owner, and she'll be a good ally against CAN, since I'm sure she'll be experiencing his bullshit, being female and all. Or, more realistically, she'll realize I'm a good tenant, and want to keep me around instead of pricing me out of the apartment that I still love, after 3 and a half years.

Meanwhile, I'll focus on Halloween and enjoying my favorite season. Pumpkin beers all around!

I am absolutely loving this cooler weather. I'm relaxing better (with cats all over me), and sleeping better (with cats all over me) and breathing better and walking better. At home, I still have some windows cracked for fresh air, but with strategic windows closed, I can't hear CAN ranting and raving from inside his house, which is always a bonus. And if the cold continues, maybe he'll close HIS window and calm the fuck down. I honestly haven't seen him outside, in his backyard or otherwise, for a while, but I always hear him bitching about all of the people who he hates in the neighborhood. According to him, I am a tramp who doesn't know how to be a lady, and I'm not as smart as I think I am... I could hear him throwing absolute fits on Friday because I didn't go to work, how dare I! In my Facebook memories, I noticed that CAN goes way off-track at this time of year. Maybe he gets the fall equinox blues, with some kind of paranoid component. If past years have been any indication, after a while I won't have any problems with him for 4 to 6 months, and then it'll all start over again, WHEEEEEEE.

Anyway, layering. Halloween. Scary movies. FALL. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

a review of "Single White Vampire" by Lynsay Sands

I had so much fun writing this review for Goodreads that I thought I'd share it here. Honestly, it's the only fun to be had out of this book.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

This is a book that I definitely should not have bothered finishing. I thought it was going to be a fluffy summer read. Instead, I was either bored or annoyed for most of the novel, but for some reason, even though I know better, I kept hoping that the story would pick up. It did not. I remained bored and/or annoyed.

There are several times when a dumb joke goes way too far, because you can tell that the author finds it hilarious. For instance, the main character Kate, who presumably grew up with a working knowledge of pop culture and lives in New York City, repeatedly refers to "doobies" as "debbies," and this is supposed to be funny and endearing and cute. Instead, it's insulting to the reader. Another time, the author spends several pages discussing a codpiece that has become stuck to a tablecloth. Ha ha ha! Still another time, the author spends several pages on what is apparently  supposed to be some kind of slapstick search for condoms. "His plan - he began to worship her body - was to drag out the foreplay until the condoms arrived." Later on: "This condom business could really put a crimp in the act of lovemaking." Seriously? This is supposed to be entertaining? CONDOMS, amirite?

Lucern's vampirism is explained with half-assed wannabe science, which Kate has a firm grasp on, but then inexplicably forgets later in the book, for no good reason. Of course, at that point she hilariously ponders whether she might be a necrophiliac. So funny! And the "romance" often made me cringe. I sensed no discernable spark between Lucern and Kate, but suddenly (the author tells us), BOOM, connection. I don't consider this a spoiler, because it's right on the back cover.

Since the author has a tendency to lazily over-explain pretty much everything you can think of, it sort of makes sense that she would just tell you that the characters were in love, rather than "showing" you, as a good writer would.

Some other cringeworthy things - Kate comparing Lucern's emotional opening up to her to a turtle extending beyond its shell (so romantic). And this description, which caused me to put the book down and stare at the wall opposite me, wondering if I really just read that: "She had rosy nipples, which topped breasts pointing at him like a pair of binoculars. He wanted to reach out and grasp them as he would binoculars, but rather than look through them, he wanted desperately to lick and suck and..."

Hey, you know what's hot? NOTHING IN THIS BOOK.

EDITED TO INCLUDE: Oh yeah, and Kate's homophobic. She disgustedly wonders if Lucern is gay, and when she has what she considers visual "proof" of this, she calls him a pervert. How could I have forgotten this?!? Awful, awful, awful.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Facebook Memories

Eight years ago today, I posted on Facebook that I really liked my new job, but maybe it was too soon to say that.

Eight years later, with the benefit of hindsight, I can say HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Yes, it was WAY too soon to pass judgment on that job. Indeed, later that day, the woman I was replacing, and another woman who was resigning, completely unloaded on me about how dysfunctional the tiny office was. These two women could barely draw breath, they were talking so fast, talking over each other, trying to warn me away. The office problems were due to the executive director's need for drama and her penchant for trying to play her employees against each other. You can imagine how poisonous the environment felt, in an office of four people.

I lasted there thirteen months, I think, before being "let go" because even though I was the most excellent worker ever, I wasn't a good fit. Damn right, I wasn't. No job is without problems, but that job made me feel like I was being smothered by life. The very air in that tiny, charming office (at the back of a church in a picturesque neighborhood) seemed to disagree with me. When I was at work, I was miserable. When I wasn't at work, I tended to worry about work, at fuckery I knew was coming, and I was miserable. The artsy, society-improving, "perfect" non-profit job for me was actually the worst job I've ever had. And I used to scrape gum off of desks!

I've been at my current job for six and a half years now. Another non-profit, bigger, better organized. Again, no job is without problems, but this is the first job in which I've felt that my skills are being used in a way that is actually good for me. Soul-sucking bullshit is at a minimum. I'm not treated like a skilled robot who shouldn't feel normal human emotions. True, sometimes people tell me to calm down, but I am passionate about my job, about what I'm contributing. 

I feel a bit retroactively sorry for the me who was so bright-eyed and excited eight years ago. I know what's coming for her. I know she's about to go through some serious soul-sucking bullshit. But I know that I'm better now for all of the bullshit I went through. I'm experienced, I know the warning signs to watch out for, and I'm still showing up, happy to be here. 

And really, what else can you ask for?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

when I feel like being freaked out

Last night I was scrolling through an old Thought Catalog article, reading creepy stories and generally freaking myself out. And now I can't get the first story out of my head, so herewith I share it with you:

"About five years ago I lived downtown in a major city in the US. I’ve always been a night person, so I would often find myself bored after my roommate, who was decidedly not a night person, went to sleep. To pass the time, I used to go for long walks and spend the time thinking.
I spent four years like that, walking alone at night, and never once had a reason to feel afraid. I always used to joke with my roommate that even the drug dealers in the city were polite. But all of that changed in just a few minutes of one evening.
It was a Wednesday, somewhere between one and two in the morning, and I was walking near a police patrolled park quite a ways from my apartment. It was a quiet night, even for a week night, with very little traffic and almost no one on foot. The park, as it was most nights, was completely empty.
I turned down a short side street in order to loop back to my apartment when I first noticed him. At the far end of the street, on my side, was the silhouette of a man, dancing. It was a strange dance, similar to a waltz, but he finished each “box” with an odd forward stride. I guess you could say he was dance-walking, headed straight for me.
Deciding he was probably drunk, I stepped as close as I could to the road to give him the majority of the sidewalk to pass me by. The closer he got, the more I realized how gracefully he was moving. He was very tall and lanky, and wearing an old suit. He danced closer still, until I could make out his face. His eyes were open wide and wild, head tilted back slightly, looking off at the sky. His mouth was formed in a painfully wide cartoon of a smile. Between the eyes and the smile, I decided to cross the street before he danced any closer.
I took my eyes off of him to cross the empty street. As I reached the other side, I glanced back… and then stopped dead in my tracks. He had stopped dancing and was standing with one foot in the street, perfectly parallel to me. He was facing me but still looking skyward. Smile still wide on his lips.
?I was completely and utterly unnerved by this. I started walking again, but kept my eyes on the man. He didn’t move.
Once I had put about half a block between us, I turned away from him for a moment to watch the sidewalk in front of me. The street and sidewalk ahead of me were completely empty. Still unnerved, I looked back to where he had been standing to find him gone. For the briefest of moments I felt relieved, until I noticed him. He had crossed the street, and was now slightly crouched down. I couldn’t tell for sure due to the distance and the shadows, but I was certain he was facing me. I had looked away from him for no more than 10 seconds, so it was clear that he had moved fast.
I was so shocked that I stood there for some time, staring at him. And then he started moving toward me again. He took giant, exaggerated tip toed steps, as if he were a cartoon character sneaking up on someone. Except he was moving very, very quickly.
I’d like to say at this point I ran away or pulled out my pepper spray or my cellphone or anything at all, but I didn’t. I just stood there, completely frozen as the smiling man crept toward me.
And then he stopped again, about a car length away from me. Still smiling his smile, still looking to the sky.
When I finally found my voice, I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. What I meant to ask was, “What the fuck do you want?!” in an angry, commanding tone. What came out was a whimper, “What the fuu…?”
Regardless of whether or not humans can smell fear, they can certainly hear it. I heard it in my own voice, and that only made me more afraid. But he didn’t react to it at all. He just stood there, smiling.
And then, after what felt like forever, he turned around, very slowly, and started dance-walking away. Just like that. Not wanting to turn my back to him again, I just watched him go, until he was far enough away to almost be out of sight. And then I realized something. He wasn’t moving away anymore, nor was he dancing. I watched in horror as the distant shape of him grew larger and larger. He was coming back my way. And this time he was running.
I ran too.
I ran until I was off of the side road and back onto a better lit road with sparse traffic. Looking behind me then, he was nowhere to be found. The rest of the way home, I kept glancing over my shoulder, always expecting to see his stupid smile, but he was never there.
I lived in that city for six months after that night, and I never went out for another walk. There was something about his face that always haunted me. He didn’t look drunk, he didn’t look high. He looked completely and utterly insane. And that’s a very, very scary thing to see."

(here are the rest of the stories: 66 Creepy-Ass Stories)

Friday, April 15, 2016

night fears

I know the factors that can be blamed for my night of nightmares - I worked late, and got home late, and ate very late (for me) last night. The greasiness of the bacon and the over-buttered nature of the rye toast probably didn't help. And I've been working late a lot, overstimulated and under-rested this week especially. And I did watch an episode of Hannibal before going to bed.

And as I drifted off, I thought: There's a certain kind of bright, sunny day that's terrifying to me. It happens in high summer, when the sun is so strong that it washes out the color of things, and the shadows are inky black in comparison. I can be warm and content, but underneath there is always a frisson of electric fear. I've never been entirely sure where this feeling comes from. A dream I had, a movie I saw, a book I read. That's what I was thinking about when I went to sleep.

I had dreams about violent deaths and violent hauntings... all very fragmented and horrible. I woke up and vividly imagined a torn-up woman entering my room. Not a zombie, but a dead, thinking, aware and malevolent being who wished me very, very ill. Shuffling with purpose toward my bed out of the darkness of the hallway, into the blue glow of my alarm clock. I fell asleep before I could dispel the image with any sort of reason or happy thoughts.

My last dream is the one I remember the best. I had been cursed somehow, and in the palm of my right hand, there was a bunch of wrinkled flesh. If I pulled the wrinkles back, an eye would open. It was clouded over; it was evil. It was infecting me. I knew a witch who had apparently taken care of a palm-eye problem for me before, with some arcane mixture of magic and chemicals. She wanted to make sure of something about the eye before she dealt with it again, so I had to abide this evil eye in my right hand for a while longer. I put my hand under running water and watched the eye open wide and stare at me as the diseased flesh of my palm pruned around it.

When I woke up this morning, I could still feel the eye in my hand. It was weighty and foreign in my fist. I can still feel it now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Winters

I spent the long weekend at my mom's house, hanging out with the family, playing video games, and taking the cats outside every day. Well, I took Brian outside - Floyd wants no part of the snow. Brian and me, we mostly stood outside for a few minutes and then came in, but there was one day when Brian climbed a tree and then got "stuck."



...It was kind of the cutest thing ever. I love that he likes the snow.

Since I knew it would be very cold while I was gone, I left a trickle on in my bathtub, in which the pipes are prone to freezing, Sure enough, I came home last night to find that my tub tap could only manage a trickle when I turned it all the way on. It's hard for me to be patient... I wanted to do battle with the pipes, with my hair dryer in hand, but the X-Files was about to come on.



So I had to be patient. And then I decided to see if the hot water trickle could work through the ice if I let it work all night long. I kept waking up, hoping to hear the water at full power, fearful that I'd miss it and waste a ton of water. But really, you can't miss that sound. SO LOUD at 5:30 AM, and I was so happy to hear it!


Our winter has been pretty mild up until this weekend, so I was kind of happy to shovel this morning. The snow keeps on falling, so I may be shoveling this evening as well, although I can always hope that one of the people in my building decides to help out.

And then a night of cat cuddles.

The only dark spot in my winter happiness is CAN. He continues being a harassing asshole. A few weeks ago, I actually contacted the police because he got in my face as I was leaving for work and started snapping cell phone pictures. I asked what the hell he was doing, and he said he was taking my picture for the internet. I'm assuming that this is some kind of retribution for the security cameras that my landlord installed on the house, but who knows? I was so fed up with CAN trying to intimidate me, though. I'd tried the police before, and they basically told me to have CAN's landlord kick him out (pretty sure he owns the house though), or to call 911 every time he harassed me. 

Well, I finally got the cops involved - I actually heard a "Why did you let this go on so long?" from a woman who worked at the police station, and ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I have tried SEVERAL times to get the police to care about this! Anyway, the police stopped by CAN's house, and CAN wouldn't answer his door. He's been avoiding me ever since.

This morning, I guess he was feeling brave, because he was across the street with his dog, while I cleaned off my car. He started making weird squawking noise and mumbling about the internet. I just ignored him, because I know he hates that, and because he wasn't in my face. But I sure do wish he'd move away. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

tiny changes in lifestyle

I don't make resolutions, really. I make very small, achievable plans. Like:

After several years of being a grumpy fuck about my snow boots ("If I wear them to work, I am going to wear them all day! I don't want to be lugging different shoes and 800 bags to and from work."), I am going to be that kind of person who brings cute shoes in a tote, along with my lunch and whatever else. Because 4+ months is too long to go without cute shoes.

After several years of having a messed-up nerve in my back that occasionally shoots pain right up the side of my neck and into my head, I'm going to see about getting a new mattress. I'm also going to look into therapeutic massage,

After several years of watching TV on a 19-inch television that weighs roughly 200 pounds - OK, I'm exaggerating slightly - I'm going to see about upgrading that shit. And then maybe the internal antenna will work better with my black box, so that I can watch more channels than Fox and the CW.

After several years of shoddy list-making, I'm going to start keeping better track of all of the books that I read. Because every single year, I look at the list I've added to throughout the year and I think, "Yeah, I definitely read more books than that." But the books aren't on there, and I can't remember what they are. And a lot of the books were from the library, so I can't even look at my shelves and refresh my memory. I also need to somehow consolidate all of the magazine tear-outs and lists of books that I want to read, which are scattered all over my apartment.

After several years, perhaps I'll be better about having paper messes scattered all over my apartment.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

ruminations

When you think of your brain and your mind, do you have mental images of what your brain is doing? Me, I have several images, depending on what I'm thinking about thinking about:

When I think about accessing memories and specific information, what comes to mind is a never-ending mental library with a gigantic filing system:


When a new idea is forming in my head (usually about work, usually when I'm trying to go to sleep), I imagine an explosion of light across the surface of my brain, with electricity racing all along the edges:


Sometimes I imagine a series of black caverns that contain all of the thoughts and memories that I want to keep hidden:


When listening to music that I really like, I imagine fluid forms expanding throughout my mind:


Intriguing smells bring to mind images of whatever evocations come to the foreground:



Considering how impressed I am with brains in general, I'm sure that there are categories of thought that aren't even occurring to me right now. As a very visual thinker, I'm fascinated by the countless pictures that enter my mind, especially when thinking is the topic I'm thinking about. The worst thing that I can imagine is my brain dying off through disease or disuse. I want my mental landscape and my thought-pictures to remain vibrant and ever-changing for years to come.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I painted a dresser

Horoscopes are not my jam, but I enjoy the Lenny horoscopes. For instance, here's mine for December:

"GEMINI
(May 21 to June 20)
You are most at home being in control. You are second most at home being like “Fuck it all.” But the gray area, the suspended experience of not knowing or loosening your grip just a touch, is the scariest for you. It’s scary, because to let go just a little means you have to relinquish an outcome in which you are still invested. This month, don’t hold on to all your shit too tightly. Likewise, don’t just throw it all in the trash. Instead, just walk with your shit, knowing that some of it is yours and some of it doesn’t belong to you, but you’ve been entrusted to carry it — gently."

I spent a lovely week at my mom's for Thanksgiving. The cats went outside every single day, and Brian finally tried walking in the snow! Floyd won't truck with snow at all, but Brian made the effort and decided that snow isn't too bad. And then it warmed up for the rest of the week, and all of the snow melted. Typical.

We had our usual Thanksgiving meal, with a ham steak for me; the only difference is that my brother did all of the cooking. I wish I liked turkey, because he did a pretty good job on it (my mom is more of a "shove the turkey in the oven and forget about it" kind of cook, but Mark stuffed it with veggies and basted it and everything). 
Other than that... I painted a dresser. I painted a dresser.

Monday, September 28, 2015

in which I hate on "Sunday Funday"

I do not get going out on a Sunday.  I don't care about the sports, and I don't care to while away my Sunday in a dark bar. My Sundays are jealously saved for laundry and reading and walking, and whatever movie I want to watch in the evening, and whatever giant meal I feel like making and eating. My Sundays are conspicuously free of day drinking, and there is no specter of a Monday Morning Hangover to start the workweek. 

I will, occasionally, foray out for brunch. Brunch is nice and good, but I like to do it rarely, to keep it fresh and beautiful in my mind. I don't ever, EVER want to feel blasé about brunch. And, as for the Sunday Funday phenomenon, I know that a lot of people do Sunday Funday religiously, but I don't get it. And I probably won't be joining you. 

Speaking of not joining you,  I've already decided to give myself a hermit week this week - no hanging with friends after work, just walking and reading and quieting myself down.  I need to just relax and be alone and charge up for crazy October activities, the Halloween parties that require great costumes, the family trips, the work convention that I'll be attending. October is chock full of goodness, and I need to rest up for it.

One of my activities will be watching cheesy horror movies. To that end, I borrowed one of those cheap horror movie box sets from my mom, and last night I watched a few of the movies. SO ridiculous!! First I watched Dracula III: Legacy, which was about a defrocked priest searching for Dracula. I didn't really need to see the second movie to keep up with the "plot", surprisingly enough. The priest was a Blade rip-off, basically, and he kept saying ridiculous things like, "I don't bless babies." And then, at the end, he inexplicably fell in love with this woman he helped rescue. She got skewered by Dracula, so the priest was all, "You're dying. Do you have a last confession?" And she was like, "I've had impure thoughts... for YOU." This while she is BLEEDING OUT ON A DIRTY FUCKING STONE FLOOR!! It was incredible. 

"I wanna bang you too, babe. But your blood might get on me..."

And then I watched "Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers". I saw this in theaters years ago, because I love the Halloween movies, and I had a huge crush on Paul Rudd because of "Clueless". The movie was kind of creepy and fun in the middle, but the beginning and ending make NO sense whatsoever - something about a medical/mystical group that is trying to... do something... by sacrificing a baby or something. And Michael Myers is involved somehow, but they lose control of him. Or something. 

"We don't understand it either."

OH, and the mother of the family living in the Myers house is the woman who played the mother in "Better Off Dead"! She made me sad in this movie though - abused and cowed by an alcoholic asshole husband, and then slaughtered by an unkillable force of evil. Sadness.  

Michael wants his two dollars!!

I think horror movies and cat-cuddling (and reading, and walking) will definitely refresh me. And I can't wait to get started properly tonight.

I've been reading "Villette" by Charlotte Brontë. Some reviewer had deemed it better than "Jane Eyre," so I wanted to give it a try. It is really good, but it seems to have less hope, fewer joyful moments than "Jane Eyre" does. I love the 19th century novel convention of having people randomly find each other after years apart - you would think that the whole of Europe was a very small town. Anyway, I hope to finish "Villette" this week.

Monday, August 10, 2015

end of an era

I know, this title is the worst kind of cliché, but...

My former landlord and very good friend Shon is selling the house where I lived for 8 years. He had an estate sale this weekend, and I went over to pick up a few things yesterday. I was excited about FINALLY having a kitchen table, and a new dresser, but I was unprepared for the nostalgia that punched me in the chest when I walked back into the house.

There was a time when I knew every inch of that house and could walk it confidently in pitch-black darkness. I could remember the story behind so many furnishings, so many pieces of furniture - the non-working organ that a packrat roommate left behind when he moved out, the buffet that Shon bought and painted and sanded so that it looked distressed in just the right way, the time that Shon and another former roommate went on an art-buying spree on eBay.

I was also nostalgic seeing all of my favorite spots in the house. The corner armchair in the living room where Floyd and I liked to read (OK, Floyd napped, I read). The dining room table, where I loved to sip tea and write in my journal - also the site of some great dinner parties. The front porch, where I loved to people-watch and sip beers. The kitchen, where we had many drunken, heartfelt late-night talks.

I remembered so many shenanigans, some hilarious, some maddening. So many roommate fights. So many parties. So many good stories, even if the actual circumstances were very, very bad. This house, with its many inhabitants, is the reason why I feel that I could possibly write a book about roommates (names changed to protect the not-so-innocent). At one time, this house was the stuff of Allentown legend.

Shon and I spent quite a while reminiscing yesterday. We talked about the "Golden Age" of the house, when everyone seemed to be having the most fun with the least amount of damage. Later, as I was winding down, Shon texted me that a former roommate from that Golden Age had died. Jesus. So sad, and so unexpected. And another punch in the chest.

When I went to bed, I found myself lost in memories to the point where someone slammed a door nearby, and I was so surprised to find that I wasn't in my old house, back in that Golden Age where we all sought each other out when we came home. For the most part, we really liked each other. Some of us loved each other, platonically. The word "family" was thrown around with abandon. Even I, the most antisocial, tended to be happy when I heard the front door open.

Even though I moved out more than two years ago, Shon always kept me in the loop, as things went from fun-crazy to just plain crazy - OK, there was quite a lot of "just plain crazy" in my last few years there. And now even those stories will cease. The house will move on to someone else. The stories will happen to someone else.


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

rules

I always want to act like I'm some sort of iconoclast, fighting all of the powers and breaking all of the rules. And yet I fear getting into trouble all the time. As a teenager, when I was at my most timid, I was afraid of doing the simplest things, like buying groceries, worried that I'd do them wrong and get yelled at.

Years of watching mob movies and heist movies, and mainlining "Breaking Bad" last winter, have reminded me, again and again, that I'm too anxious to crime. I'm too anxious to break big, societal rules. Even if I were going to break the law for noble, Robin Hood-style reasons. So no anti-corporation, anti-shadow government warrior time for me - plus, how does one even get started along those lines?

Plus, I still freak out about something as small as getting a parking ticket. "I KNEW I shouldn't have parked there, even though the sign is blank! I just knew it! I ALWAYS get in trouble, even when I didn't mean to break the rules!"

My conscious rule-breaking is on a slighter, much more personal scale. And the "rules" themselves aren't really rules per se, just the sort of appearance and behavior guidelines that our society loves to give women in particular. In seemingly endless waves, in magazines, in the entertainment we consume, in ads. I rebel where I can: Rules of dressing for larger women? DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO WEAR! Women should never be too mouthy and opinionated? SCREW THAT, IF I WANT TO SAY SOMETHING, I'LL SAY IT. Blondes should wear brown mascara, never black? FUCK YOU, I DO WHAT I WANT. Women should smile and be approachable at all times? MY SCOWL IS AWESOME, AND I'M NOT CHANGING MY FACIAL EXPRESSION UNLESS I FEEL LIKE IT. Women should freeze their eggs and pay for egg storage in perpetuity, in case they change their minds about having children? I HOPE ALL OF MY EGGS SHRIVEL UP AND DIE IMMEDIATELY.

These are weird examples, but you get my point. My societal "rebellions" are small and mostly unmarked, except in my own mind. One time, I was watching a TV show with a friend, and she remarked with distaste about a woman wearing a black bra under a slightly sheer white t-shirt. Ever since then, whenever I put a dark bra under a light shirt, I feel so delightfully naughty. Screw anyone's notions of proper womanhood!

There are so many things that I think and do that are my tiny ways of not conforming, even though no one really notices, and no one cares. Because I know. I care.    

Monday, July 27, 2015

my insomnia

I start to drift off
and then an itch on my foot
and then an itch on my back
and then an itch on my head
and then an itch on my other foot
and then one cat attacks the other
and then I get hot and throw my sheet off
and then a loud belch just outside the window
and then an itch on my ankle
and then an itch on my back
and then my hair is being pulled on one side by the pillow
and then I get cold and pull my sheet over myself
and then one cat starts scratching up the armchair
and then a door slams somewhere close
and then a dog howls
and then an itch between my toes
and then an itch on my head
and then I get hot and throw my sheet off
and then one cat headbutts me
and then an itch on my forehead
and then an itch up my nose
and then one cat curls up in my arms
and then I get cold and pull my sheet over myself
and then I have the same dream over and over
and I wake up repeatedly
getting madder and madder that my brain won't calm down
and then my alarm goes off
and I'm out of chances


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to

Last night I locked the cats out of the bedroom so that I could get some sleep. I don't know why, but they've been fighting again. Not seriously, but loudly - howling-growling fights right when I'm dropping off to sleep, and then again between 3 and 5 AM. I really needed sleep last night. I didn't want to lock them out, but just as I started to fall asleep, Floyd went for Brian. So I kicked them both out, and how restful the night was after that.

I had an awful day yesterday, due to lack of sleep, stomach problems, PMS, car repair stress, work stress, and on, and on. All little problems that joined forces with the undercurrent of anxiety that I always have, until everything seemed so awful and insurmountable.

I have learned that I need to wallow in these feelings a bit before putting my head down and plowing through them like the bull that I am. If I don't wallow, if I just push the feelings away, they come back at least twice as hard. And that's when panic attacks happen. Better to avoid the panic attacks.

I also know that I need good sleep to help with the anxiety. And so, no cats in the bedroom.

I have a birthday coming up, and it's the very busy season at work, so usually I'm not focused on any of the myriad celebrations of my birth. Being so busy just makes the time fly, and then all of a sudden WOOOO, PRESENTS! CAKE! BREAKFAST PIZZA! And then the presents and cake and breakfast pizza relieve any work stress that is building up, and then everything is hunky-dory for the rest of the summer.

Except last year. Last year I experienced the worst PMS mood swings I've ever had in my life, directly on my birthday. As I was walking out to my car to go to work, one of my favorite bracelets just fell apart off of my wrist. I was crouched down, trying to find the glass beads in the front lawn, when I cried for the first time that day. Just a few tears, but it marked the way the rest of the day was going to go. I cried on my way to work, thinking about a sad news story from months before, and then I cried because I had so much work to do once I got to my desk.

This just went on throughout the day - I would cry every time someone noticed I was upset. I would cry trying to tell people why I was so upset. Oh, it was just a wet, overwhelming, miserable day in my world. By the time some friends took me out for drinks on a wonderful patio, I was so drained that I could barely speak. Maybe I wallowed in my emotions a little too much that day.

Yesterday, when I was feeling the most freaked out, the thought occurred to me - at least the anxiety isn't taking over on my birthday. Yup, I'm always seeing the silver lining.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Music this summer

I was very upset when the Canalside Concert Series was announced this year. My favorite new band, July Talk, will be performing the week of the Ride For Roswell, when my work life goes into overdrive, so I probably won't be able to attend. And the same thing happened last year with the Sam Roberts Band! (Fun fact - I saw July Talk open for the Sam Roberts Band in February.)

I was kind of bummed about missing July Talk. Although I am very excited about Matt and Kim, Fuel, Everclear, IRON & WINE!!, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones... and all of these shows are free. Man, I love Buffalo.

But I digress.

My disappointment in not seeing July Talk was mostly wiped out when I found out that Girl in a Coma would be in town for Gay Pride! I have loved them since forever, and I was out of town the last time they were in Buffalo, so I am very excited to see them in two weeks.

And let's be real, July Talk is from Toronto, so I might get to see them a lot more. I hope so.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Courtesy and Respect

I had a lovely weekend at my mom's house, celebrating Mother's Day, and spending time with my family. It was very hot out, but we still managed to get a lot of activities in. And I also managed to relax somewhat.

But then I came back to Buffalo. I was rushing around this morning, as I usually do, flustered and hurried. So of COURSE CAN started bitching at me as soon as I came out of my house to head to work. He asked snottily if there was "courtesy and respect" between us yet, "about the windows." Something about them being opened first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Also something about a conversation he eavesdropped on between me and my landlady.

I have been trying to ignore him, and it has worked, but today CAN caught me unawares. He's been somewhat friendly lately, and I foolishly let my guard down. So I was instantaneously enraged at his fuckery, and I said, yet again, that I was allowed to have my windows and blinds open, and he's not in a position to say a damn thing about it!

The thing is, I knew I was getting nowhere with him. I've known this for a long time when it comes to CAN. He just stood there saying, "Oh, I know, I know!" in a rather sarcastic tone of voice, and I finally got to my car and tried to figure out what the hell he was even talking about... honestly, I haven't had a face-to-face conversation with my landlady since the fall!

Anyway, I was still pretty mad, so as I was pulling away from the curb, I stopped alongside CAN and told him that he could show courtesy and respect by not fighting with everyone in the neighborhood. It was pretty satisfying to see him fumbling for words as I drove away. But now I need to work hard on ignoring him again.

Honestly, I don't know why I seem to have such rotten luck with roommates and neighbors. I can certainly point to instances where I was unreasonable in the past (especially when I was in my early 20s), but I have done nothing to draw CAN's ire. And I really love the irony of someone demanding COURTESY AND RESPECT when they can't be bothered to be courteous and respectful themselves. Starting a fight about someone's windows and blinds being open in their house, insisting that they're stalking you, eagerly admitting to eavesdropping and watching others... none of these actions scream COURTESY AND RESPECT to me. And I'm sure any conversation I had with anyone about CAN was both warranted and factual. Possibly about whether he was going to attack me or shoot me, back before I realized that he was just another blowhard asshole who loves to run his mouth.

Ugh. Anyway, I just needed to rant. COURTESY AND RESPECT, my ass.

As a blogging aside, I know I haven't posted much lately. The big changes in my life have been work-related, and I try not to talk about that stuff online. Otherwise, my blog would be a never-ending cycle of "I read, I walked, I had beer, I had tea, I hung out with my family, I hung out with my friends, I hung out with the cats." Over and over again. 

I don't blog very much about social justice things, although I am certainly all about paying attention to them. My rage about the injustice of certain situations takes away any coherence and eloquence I can muster, and I think that a lot of other people can and do write better, more coherently and eloquently, about these situations. (
Another aside - I honestly don't understand the disdain from some quarters of the internet for "Social Justice Warriors". As if fighting against injustice is something to be ashamed of! Bullshit, my friends. Bullshit.)

So I am still trying to blog. It's just slow going. Sorry.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

an excuse to post my favorite X-Files picture ever

I have been excited about the imminent return of the X-Files. Every time someone posted something about it on my Facebook wall, I would get giddy again.

But THIS? This is the best news so far! "Bald sexiness and eye daggers" - I didn't write this, but I could have.



*~*~*~*~*

Well, I'm still living my little life. Quiet and full of books and beer, and surrounded by cats. I don't actually have a ton of life updates or ruminations to share right now. This entry is basically an excuse to post that picture right up there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

thunderstorm lamp

Wow, look at that, I have a blog I totally forgot about! ...Sorry, blog. I got too into Breaking Bad to write over here. If there's any show you should watch at a breakneck pace over the course of a dark and freezing and seemingly endless winter, it's Breaking Bad.



*~*~*~*~*

I've actually been working on a draft of an entry about friendship. I keep starting it and then putting it away. And then I'll write a few more lines, and then I'll put it away. I will finish it someday, and it will mean something to me. But it won't be nearly as funny as this entry from bitches gotta eat.

"the hardest thing about being a good friend, for me, is biting my tongue while my friends do and say the stupidest shit ever. have you ever had to keep a straight face while pretending the woman across the table from you is a smart, rational human being as she describes why the items she found while digging through her boyfriend's trash have led her to believe he's cheating on her with a co-worker? no!? WELL I FUCKING HAVE. i basically had to superglue my eyes to keep them from rolling into the back of my head. i've also sat in a car outside an empty apartment building with binoculars trying to catch a friend's cheating lover, because it's what one does when one is a good friend. (turns out we were on the wrong street but whatever.)"

*~*~*~*~*

Yesterday I read an article about a thunderstorm lamp. You hang it in your bedroom, and you can control the lights and sounds that help to mimic a thunderstorm, and then you sleep like a baby. Usually I ignore most technological advancements (SNORE, Apple Watch), but I do love thunderstorms. And I definitely love sleeping like a baby. And I'm so delighted to live in a world where something like a thunderstorm lamp exists, even though I probably can't afford it.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

going back

I have made a little project of reading my older journals and making notes about all of the roommates I've had over the years. I have a sort of dim view of writing some kind of humorous rant book, even if only for myself and my friends. And then, perhaps, world domination.

Right now I'm deep in the journals from my grad school days, my first time living alone, my first time living in a city. When I found that I couldn't really afford my own apartment on my teaching assistant stipend, I moved in with a friend from college. It was such a weird, heady time of my life, back when I was just discovering dive bars, when General Foods international coffees were (to me) the height of coffee sophistication, and Killian's Irish Red was my idea of "fancy" beer.

My world expanded so much in such a short amount of time - coffee shops! craft beer! art museums! like-minded intellectuals! feminist magazines! - that it took my mind and my emotions a bit of time to catch up.

In the midst of this, I was dealing with a lot of bullshit from my roommate. Because she had been a friend, she knew just how to push my buttons when our relationship started to deteriorate, so I can honestly say that I have never been as consistently angry as I was then. I was so excited about the world as I was experiencing it, but underneath was a layer of boiling rage, like lava, waiting for an opening. God, it was just constant.

It's interesting, reading all of this angst from a distance, as a calmer and slightly more mature person. There are ghost emotions popping up from every page of my journals. The ghost of outraged indignation when my roommate decided to start a fight with me about the phone bill, the day after my grandmother's funeral. The ghost of the disgust I felt when, instead of apologizing for using up all of my shower supplies, she said that I was just jealous of her because she had a man and I didn't. The ghost of the twisted glee I felt while writing a ranting, insulting journal entry that I knew she would read as soon as I left the apartment.

Yes, I am shaking my head at the immaturity I often come across in my old journals. All these years later, I can admit that I certainly made mistakes in my handling of the situation. I went from bottling up my emotions to exploding at Every. Tiny. Thing. There was no middle ground, because it was WAR... even if all she'd done was use my dish scrubby to clean the bathtub (yeah, several journal entries about this).

Now I wish that I'd spent more time examining how I felt about my grad school classes, or my perceptions of all of the art shows I saw. As fun as roommate rants are - and they still are kind of fun - I have learned not to fill my journals with just the bad. I want a much more complete view of my world.

Monday, December 29, 2014

holiday me

My holiday week was pretty good. I went to a Christmas Eve party for mom's side of the family - a lot of jokes, like usual, but none about my feminist t-shirt! I did see some people eyeing it, though. I got to play with one cousin's three little boys, who I see on Facebook all the time. They're pretty cute. 

Christmas was the usual - tearing presents open, then a lazy ham feast. I got a nice little tea chest, and some sweet Tupperware (yeah, I'm excited about it), and a hair dryer (requested), and a frickin' WALKMAN (OK, not name brand, but it plays cassette tapes!), and a bobblehead of Rick Grimes from the Walking Dead. 

Oh, Nicky's boys got this crazy game, The Evil Within. It's one of those games that's super creepy, and makes no sense until the story is over; it starts in a mental hospital where there has been a mass murder... Izaak was playing it and loving it, so every time I was at Nicky's, he wanted to show me different things in the game. This surprised Nicky and Mom - "Izaak wanted to show you something?" Because he's a somewhat surly teen now. Anyway, they have the game on PS3, so I need to buy it for XBox, for mom's house. I love creepy games so much.

And otherwise I just relaxed, like usual. The cats played with little mice that mom got them, and Roy stole the mice a few times. Because it was so warm, Brian got a lot of outdoor time - Floyd doesn't seem into the outdoors unless there's a lot of grass to eat, so he begs to be let back in the house.

I got home at a pretty good time last night, and unpacked a bit. I was so tired when I crawled into bed, but I couldn't sleep. It took me a while to figure out the problem - the neighbors on that side have a light on the back of their house, illuminating the ugly concrete backyard, which is always on. But last night it was off, and my room was so dark. I actually prefer to sleep in complete darkness, but I'm not used to it, so I tossed and turned, and I'm exhausted today. 

I'm excited to break into the giant bottle of bourbon on New Years Eve, and I'm trying to think of a good movie playlist. Definitely "Bridget Jones' Diary", and then maybe "Circle of Friends"? Or "You Got Mail." Something light and froofy. Oh, and a delicious assortment of finger foods from Wegmans.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

holiday cats

It's been a while since my cats decided to start buying me presents for the big occasions - a lipstick here, a book there. They finally decided that I deserved a little treat, now and then, for putting up with them and their wicked kitty ways.

Brian and Floyd, being naughty

This year, for Christmas, the cats very thoughtfully bought me Calvin Klein Eternity. Isn't that so sweet of them? Eternity was the most popular perfume in my high school in the 90s, and I could never afford it, but now I'm having a total 90s revival moment. And, in a lovely twist, Eternity is actually among the cheaper perfumes from Mr. Klein. So the cats are being nice AND thrifty.

We're down at mama's for the week, a little Christmas vacation. Floyd doesn't like the weather and won't go outside, but Brian has tried a little. Today it rained, and the snow melted, and Brian was able to find a little grass to gnaw on.

Otherwise, it's naps, and baiting the dog (and then yelling at him for showing an interest), and knocking the odd ornament off of the Christmas tree. You know. Cat relaxation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I love end-of-year lists

Best music, best books, best movies... I want to consume it all. ALL OF IT!

Alas, I am lucky if I get through 25% of any given list.

I also love the hell out of lists like this:

18 Badass Women You Probably Didn't Hear About in 2014

*~*~*~*~*

Right now, I'm very much in the "curl up and read" camp of life. My hope is that Floyd and Brian get their acts together so that we can cuddle as a family, but they are still very wary of each other in my small apartment. And then we travel to my mom's, and they are suddenly friends who sniff each other and cuddle together on my mom's bed.

Maybe it needs to be colder or something.

And yeah, you can tell I don't have a whole bunch going on in my personal life when I'm lamenting the fact that my cats won't cuddle properly. They also don't care about boxes and bags. It's like they don't even know how to cat.

Monday, November 17, 2014

alone time

I've written before about how I need to recharge after being more social than usual, or after particularly harrowing work weeks. Even hanging out and having a good time with very good friends can leave me feeling sort of wrung out afterward.

So I had a lot of fun and socializing last week - my regular movie night with Julia (who had never seen the 90s masterpiece that is Devil's Advocate), checking out a peanut butter porter at Resurgence Brewing Company (I quite enjoyed their porter, and I'd forgotten how rapturously good their Resurgence IPA is), and dinner and then a few drinks with my book club.

And then I burrowed into my apartment and stayed blissfully alone all weekend. I read a lot - I'm really into Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live right now. And I watched "Obvious Child", which I had wanted to see in the theaters, but I think it was only here for a week. I really liked it, I thought it was both sweet and unpredictable, and very, very funny.

I took some walks in the early gloom, and I kicked through tons of fallen leaves. I noticed a lot of cats watching me from windows.

And I took some naps, with my own cats draped all over me.

So refreshing.      

Monday, November 3, 2014

another Halloween over

Two parties, two different costumes to get ready. Luckily, the parties were on different weekends this year, which makes such a difference in how rundown I feel - I had a whole week to recharge the social batteries.

The first party was Prom of the Dead, a benefit for Torn Space Theater. I was a little on the fence with this party, because last year it got really messy, really quickly. I'm talking multiple people passed out around the perimeter of the ballroom by 11 PM, so many people packed in that I felt like it was a Herculean effort just to get to the bathroom or bar, and a lot of youthful, drunken craziness. But this year the party seemed a lot more relaxed and enjoyable. The theme was Lift Off, so I saw a lot of very creative alien and robot costumes. I myself had decided quite early on in the year that I wanted to be Cyndi Lauper from the True Colors video, so I made myself a massive newspaper skirt, sprayed my hair red, and crafted an MTV Video Music award Moon Man to fit the theme a bit.
My skirt was longer, my hair was redder.
This is probably metal. Mine was duct tape, tin foil, newspaper, and Sharpie.

Aw heck, why don't I just show you:

My prom photo

Yes, my ballgown-skirt makes me look SUPER SHORT, but I sure do love this photo. My mom made me a similar newspaper skirt when I was little, and it's one of my favorite Halloween costumes ever. I wanted to try that again. It's all wire hangers and newspaper. It was a lot of costume, but it was so much fun to dance in.

And then, on Friday, my friends had their annual Halloween party, on Halloween itself. I wanted to do something kind of scary, and I knew that my gigantic newspaper skirt would have been hard to maneuver in their apartment (plus SOMEONE slammed my skirt in a car door when we were heading home from Prom of the Dead). So I decided on killer clown:


Posing with my favorite severed head
I had a nice knife to enhance my dance moves, and I was able to freak people out a few times, just by smiling. Perfect.

So another Halloween season is over, but I'm already full of ideas for next year. My favorite holiday.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

nature and graveyards

Last weekend I had to take a detour from my normal route to mama's house because of roadwork, and I discovered that my usual route was a lot closer to Chautauqua wine country than I thought! I also saw some beautiful abandoned houses and country cemeteries. I had the cats with me last weekend, so this weekend I decided to take the drive without them, so that I could stop as much as I wanted without having to deal with kitty bitching.

It rained the entire way. I kind of loved it. Colorful leaves, crazy turbulent skies, creepy abandoned buildings, and FOUR country graveyards. Such an awesome road trip.

I've never met a graveyard that I didn't want to explore, and the route I took had so many half-hidden little country graveyards. None of them had much of a plan - graves would face every which way, with the only organization being among family members. Graves from the 1920s and 1930s would be right next to graves from the mid-1800s, and many of the gravestones were tumbled and illegible. Two of the graveyards were on bluffs overlooking rivers on much lower ground. One graveyard was just a tiny strip on the side of a road. One graveyard had obviously not been cared for in several years.

Abandoned buildings tend to scare me a lot more than graveyards. I understand rationally how they come about (someone dies or moves away and no one wants their house, or the bank takes the house and then leaves it to rot, a congregation decides that they need a bigger church, or they join forces with another congregation), but my horror-fed imagination conjures up grisly murder scenes, hauntings... any awful reason why such beautiful buildings would be unclaimed after so long. And I always expect to see faces peering at me from broken windows while I take pictures.

































Friday, October 3, 2014

Gone Girl

I can't stop listening to this song. I owned the album, and then I was delighted to hear it over the end credits of The Walking Dead video game:



*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Last night I went with my book club and a few others to see David Fincher's movie Gone Girl. It was one of the better book-to-movie adaptions that I've seen, and while he wasn't my first choice for Nick Dunne, Ben Affleck made me a believer by the end. I was behind Rosamund Pike 100% from the beginning, because I adore her and have for years. In my opinion, she is the perfect Amy Dunne, and the best thing about the movie. Well worth seeing.

Creepy good.

*~*~*~*~*~*

I woke up in full grump mode, due to lack of good sleep and general restlessness. It's hard when you feel like you need to be away from people, but you can't call in grumpy to work. I just try to lay low until I can get to a Resident Evil marathon and imagine how cathartic it would be to be able to destroy all of the zombies.

Fuck off, zombies.