A Spell On You

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be working at the family store for a week while my sisters and their mom take a much-needed break. It’s good news for me, too. The setting is peaceful, the fragrances tranquil, the music ambient; what’s not to love? I have one complaint, though: I’ve listened to all the store CDs, and I haven’t bought many new CDs recently. I’m bored. Help me out!

For the store, my favorite CDs are Cocteau Twins, Sarah MacLachlan, Seal, Dido, Miles Davis,Talk Talk and singers who aren’t singing in English. At home, my tastes are different and they don’t mix well. I found this out when I was gift-wrapping something sharp and Jeff Buckley was wailing about fucking someone and I stabbed myself with someone’s birthday gift when I realized why the customer was staring at me with horror. So. I can pick up three or four CDs. I can pick a lipstick to complement ABBA Gold.

What CDs do you recommend?

Want This, I Want This

Week 3 Friday Morning Report

Goal One
I an down from my original heft in the neighborhood of 1.5-2 lbs. I can’t tell. I am old, the scale is far away, and those little lines are teeny.

Goal Three
Nope. No time for yoga. I exchanged this for a massage. I was having real trouble with my right leg. My friend Beryl is a massage therapist. She and I haven’t seen one another nearly enough so it was a fine chance to get naked in front of my friend and, you know, catch up. The good news is the pain in my right leg has almost completely disappeared.

I am wearing the small pants! This is good and bad news, bad news first: my rump, while smaller, is still more than 20 lbs. above a good weight for me, which has nothing to do with what insurance institutes say is a good weight for my frame. Even anorexic, I couldn’t get within 15 lbs. of those weird estimates. Even an anorexic gets the point sometimes.

The good news is that I’d started noticing my arms floating around, away from my body like I was wearing swimmies all the time. For the first time in my weight yo-yo life, I’d developed chubby arms. Because I’m exercising every day, the fat-muscle conversion is happening – too slowly for my taste, but it’s happening. Earlier this week, I noticed my elbows resting next to my waist. When I walk, my arms feel like their normal selves again. This morning, I changed the department’s water bottle.

My mantra is “The answers are in the body and exercise is always the way there.” I am a genius! I’d taken today off and forgot, so I’m sitting at my desk instead of arguing with Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul. So I’m not a genius. I’ll settle for being a slightly smaller fool.

Neon, Modern Sound, Modern Miles Around

Just over a week ago, Daria described an impromptu plan.

Daria: I’m packing up my children and we’re going to visit Daddy.
Tata: All three of your children?
Daria: Yup.
Tata: Our Dad?
Daria: He’s the one.
Tata: And when are you leaving?
Daria: Squazzbats.
Tata: You’ll be back by Friday, right?
Daria: Guuuuaaaaaazzzzzz. Eck eck eck.
Tata: Awesome. See you soon!

Okay, I’m lying. I seldom see Daria soon. Since she and Tyler moved the kids out to Flemington there are be long stretches between psychotic breaks where I agree to drive for an hour to chase children and feel sticky – I hate sticky. Also: Daria may have used real words but her cell service hates me in particular. Nobody else tells her she’s speaking the gentle dialect of the air traffic controller, she says. I can’t explain it. Anyway, I can’t call her when she’s not at home because it’s just too hard to memorize a phone number per person anymore and I might need those brain cells for breathing, we don’t know. A week passed. I kept looking around like I’d misplaced my wallet. The phone rang.

Tata: Fiercely. Where the hell are you?
Tata: Of course. Why are you shouting?
Tata: Ah! I should have known.
Daria: I’ll call you back later so Dara can talk to you.
Tata: Ooooooooooh! Camping trip for her!
Daria: My kids say hello, except for the one that says, “Bah bah bah.”
Tata: I’m hanging up now!

Daria, Todd and I, all forty-plus, have a half-sister who is about to turn 15. Dara just came back from a school trip to France with a hickey. I told Dad:

Tata: Listen, it’s a different world. You ran wild in the streets. I ran wild in the streets. It’s not the same anymore. Tell her, “I’ve been keeping this secret: you’re Catholic. I’m locking you in this convent until crossing your knees feels natural.”
Dad: She’s not Catholic.
Tata: Shhhh! It’s supposed to be a secret.
Dad: What about that fire-and-brimstone church she goes to with her mother?
Tata: Snakes got nothing on Dominicans. Shit, they were the Inquisition until the Pope told ’em to tone it down.

So Dad’s miffed, Dara’s staying with Daria for a few weeks and I’m measuring out a good blast buffer distance. This does nothing to prevent the mid-morning phone calls. Daria’s thrilled to wake up in her own house.

Daria: So guess what!
Tata: What?
Daria: My beautiful little daughter – I was changing her diaper and I stepped around the corner for a clean diaper.
Daria: And Tyler Too said, “Mommy, she pooped.” I said, “No way, buddy. Where could the poop have gone?” And he pointed to a container next to Fifi. So I opened it and –
Daria: I had to bleach everything.
Tata: Eck eck eck eck. I’m holding a gabage can. Oops, it’s recycling –
Daria: I couldn’t believe it. She picked up the poop and put it in a container.
Tata: The room is spinning – breakfast won’t be delicious twice –
Daria: Anyway, so what’re ya doing?
Tata: Passing out now –
Daria: Gotta go!

Things are back to wretched normal.

Everything Else But Us Is Falling Apart

Week 3 Tuesday Report

Forgive me for reporting in late. Busy afternoon! I was waiting for the cable guy. He did exactly what I knew he would: not at all see what I saw. I felt bad about making him crawl around under the building in 100 degree heat. I say we’re even. He left me a piece of paper with a description of what might be wrong so the next guy might have a head start. This kind of thing happens all the time but expecially when my U.N. translator is off having her own life, and because Siobhan is a selfish bitch she was selfishly and bitchily at work, thinking only of herself and her career and paying her bills, as usual nobody else understood a word I said.

I’m used to this. It always makes Siobhan Yosemite-Sam-hoppin’-mad, with steam shooting from each ear – the works! So there is an upside.

This evening, the CD tower I avoided ordering arrived, which is why I didn’t report in this morning. I had a hunch the tower would arrive today. So I assembled it, pulled most of my CDs out of the last cardboard moving box and put them in the tower. The box is empty. It’s a little milestone.

Still lots of work to do. The curtain rods are still on the floor and there’s still a pile of stuff on the credenza, three Rubbermaid containers and two boxes I’ve just remembered two milk crates wedged into small spaces behind things.

Obviously, I can never leave here.

I Know You Well – Much Better Than I Used To

I feel sick thinking about this.

More than twenty years ago, Scout and I were talking about childhood sexual abuse and Scout cited the statistic – relatively new and shocking – that about one in four girls had been sexually assaulted by the time they reached maturity. Scout and I were shocked not by the idea that one in four girls were assaulted but that the ratio was so low. Scout said, “I think it’s the reverse.”

I have always believed her. I know more women who have been sexually assaulted than women who have not. I spent 12 years in therapy dealing with this crap myself, and I am reluctant to talk about this now because it’s not pressing. I don’t think about it much anymore. Then there’s this odious behavior at the G8 Summit, which I was ignoring. Bush is an ill-mannered buffoon – no news there. But putting his hands on German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a gesture that can either be affectionate or dominant but neither consentual nor presidential in a public setting – I can’t express my disgust. This is the precise invasive maneuver that would make me freak, anywhere, anytime, any set of hands.

I’m sitting at my desk, shivering with anger. My back is against a wall, where I like it. In therapy, you learn that what happened wasn’t your fault. You learn to stay present in the non-threatening here-and-now. Aren’t I lucky I know exactly who to blame and how to sashay forward with all the style, grace and focused rage of a registered voter fully capable of locating and using a White House email address?

Days Falling Backward Into Velvet Night

Last night, just before 10, I was watching the last few riveting minutes of Miss Marple: the Moving Finger, and it was tense because my friend and I had a bet going. He said the doctor killed the gossipy wife and the domestic. I was distracted by the use of Bible pages in poison pen letters and said it might be the vicar’s wife but that in all matters Agatha Christie-related I could never pick the killer and it started to look like he was going to win. This is terrible because if he wins, not only do I not know how the murder was committed – which would bug me – but it was really going to cost me. And winning wouldn’t be much better because he wagered a pound of macaroni made by non-Italians, which would be okay if the non-Italians were Chinese or even French because Heaven knows throughout history European borders have been a little flexible, but then the phone rang! At first, I didn’t recognize the voice.

Some Lady: I know it’s late but I thought you might like to have a chance to…
Tata: I can barely hear you.
Some Lady: I know it’s late. It’s Tom’s birthday and I thought you might want to call him on the other phone.
Tata: MOM?
Mom: Yes?
Tata: What are you saying?
Mom: It’s Tom’s birthday. He’s talking to your sister Corinne right now on the other phone but if you wait a few minutes you can call before the end of the evening.
Tata: What’s today’s date? It was just Bastille Day. That should’ve been my first clue – pretty much every year for the last 30! I just never know what day it is.
Mom: I know. That’s why I called.
Tata: You’re not whispering. Where are you?
Mom: Cape Cod.
Tata: Is he in the same house you are?
Mom: Yes. This morning, we went quahogging and we’re going to watch a movie.
Tata: My jealousy knows no bounds. I was watching Miss Marple and absolutely no one went clamming.

My friend and I both picked the wrong culprits, which may mean meeting in trenchcoats on a bridge between East and West Berlin. I haven’t decided what to forfeit. It has to mean something, and it has to be funny. Is pesto hilarious?

Tearing Me Apart Like A New Emotion

Yesterday, I was walking in a section of the park under what can only be described as aggressive construction, where oversized Tonka trucks sit largely idle and seemingly random trenches have been dug through asphalt and lawn. No plan is evident. In the months I’ve been walking and running in the park, questionable improvements have progressed at a glacial pace. One trench near an old boat launch is filled with fetid water and because it cuts across that whole corner of the park, for me there is no avoiding the trench or the smell. I jump over it. On the other hand, this corner of the park is almost always deserted. Yesterday, as I was avoiding a relatively new obstacle in my path, I saw a kid on a bike skid right up to the trench, the front wheel jerk straight down and the kid fly over the handlebars. This kid either landed head-first and rolled or flipped in the air – I’m not sure what I saw. Anyway, this kid wasn’t dead. You will be pleased to hear I did not even lie down to laugh hard enough.

I picked up the pace, asking, “Are you okay?” and “Are you hurt?” I couldn’t tell if the kid on the ground was a boy or a girl but he or she was almost my size, big-boned, wearing a helmet and with shoulder-length blond hair. I guessed he or she was between 10 and 13, and in that square body stage, back facing me. The kid was gasping for breath and moaning a little, leaning on one hip. I went around to face this kid and still couldn’t tell if it was a boy or girl so I didn’t touch. I jumped over the trench. I grabbed the bicycle, which was new, very shiny and bigger than me, and pulled it out of the ditch. I stood it up and pushed down the kickstand with my hand. The bicycle was spattered with foul-smelling mud. Then I turned back to the kid, still on the ground, and jumped back over the trench. There was nothing to do but issue orders. “Try sitting back,” then, “Looks like nothing’s broken. Can you get up?” and “Walk!” From under his t-shirt, I saw the fringe of a prayer shawl. It was a boy, and I was glad I hadn’t touched him. That could have consequences for him because I am a strange woman. Literally.

He got up and walked. “Brush the dirt off your knees so you can see if you have any cuts.” He was very obedient and brushed, then pointed to a small spot where the skin was a little purple. “You need some peroxide. You’re going right home, yes?” He nodded, sort of. He was okay enough to go wherever he was going next without a crutch or overreaction on my part, so I turned to go. I told him to be careful – that ditch was not what it looked like from a distance. I told him to take care and started off. From a distance, he called out, “Thank you!” I called out, “Sure.” He didn’t owe me anything.

I thought about this after I kept walking: where he was, if he’d been injured I would’ve had to leave him alone to get help. I worked out a plan that would’ve caused me to leave the boy alone the least amount of time. It didn’t matter, for three reasons: 1. I was less than an eighth of a mile from my boss Gianna’s house; 2. even if no one at the soccer field had a phone, I could get help in the parking lot; 3. most emergencies are no more than I can handle. This has been true all my life.

I should think about that more.