Monday, March 29, 2010

I picked up a bad head cold in the last week--the kind where the altitude change going downhill can be felt somewhere behind my face--and between that and everything else I have been hazy, keeping busy and participating in things, but only with part of my brain. The rest of it feels like it is watching, categorizing, taking notes and trying to figure out how to reconcile all of the after I have left with the before.

Everyone heard about my grandma if they had more than a conversation or two with me, for as long as I can remember--she was such a constant presence in my life, and I admired her so much. In the obituary she's called "our hero" and it is true. There were a lot of close calls over the last couple of years, but none of the almost prepared me for the end of things.

It's the getting used to it that I like least of all.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We lost my grandma last night. She was a very great lady. If we were living in the future, they would have figured out how to make the best grandmas bionic, so that we would always have them.

We were lucky to have had her for as long as we did.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My first tattoo was almost 10 years ago. I had just moved away to college and just turned 18, and I had always wanted a tattoo, so why wait any longer? I was so happy to be on my own and somewhere new. Since I'd only been living in St. Augustine for a couple of weeks and had done almost no research into the subject, my roommate and I went to the only shop I knew about, because I had seen the bumper stickers for it around town. I handed the giant man behind the counter a tiny print out of a .gif I had found on the internet somewhere and left the rest to him. I wanted it farther up my side but the waist of my pants would have made it hard to heal right there, which is how I ended up with a tattoo of a fairy on my butt. The pain I remember most is the pain of my legs falling asleep, propped uncomfortably on a chair that didn't recline flat.

I loved it, then--and loved showing it off, since unbuttoning my pants in public to show off a new tattoo felt unbearably cool at 18--and am still fond of it now, although to be honest I mostly forget that it's there. It was more about having the freedom to do it than it was about what or where, and many of my former suitors are more familiar with it than I am, since it takes a lot of maneuvering for me to get a close look at it. This new one is almost the opposite of that, not a high five to all the possibilities of the future but a solid forever reminder about some of the best parts of the past. Ten years ago it would never have occurred to me that I would want to remember anything.

The past ten years have quieted the frantic screeching in my brain some. I want to set fewer things on fire now. Around here we are preparing for spring. I spent part of the weekend getting the containers ready for planting, mixing dolomite and fertilizer into pots and earthboxes, preparing the worm box for new bedding. I took a class about making borscht and finished sewing some blankets for a highly anticipated new baby. I still want to high five the future, but no longer as a way to spite the past. I'm learning, if slowly.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I believe in reminders, in keeping close parts of where we come from in order to forget neither how far we have come nor how many people have helped us get so far. We're all of us a collection of high points and low points and seconds where everything comes into focus.

I was always a watcher, naturally, waiting to see what people would do, what would happen next. Sometimes being small and quiet and easily fading into backgrounds is a benefit. I learned a lot about watching out back of my grandparents' house--even I couldn't spend all of my time reading, so I'd cross the grass to the water and see what would happen. If you sat long enough the little crabs would come back out of their holes and scuttle through the mangrove roots, the little fish would come out of their hiding spots under the shadows, and the shore birds would leave their perches in the branches and go back to fishing. There was always a hush down there, only cicadas and sometimes a jumping fish, the rustle of a heron stepping precisely through the mangroves. For most of my life, my grandparents lived right next to that water.

But everything changed, and my granddad died and my grandma had to move, and now that quiet belongs to someone else. I've been feeling a little unmoored since the day I went to say goodbye, a little sad about the notion that there was finally a cap put on the possibility of new memories there. I thought about it for a long while and finally decided that I should always have that place with me, that place where I was always happy and safe and loved, and where I learned my first lessons about the joy that can be found in looking.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

At the eye doctor yesterday she levered open my pupils a teensy bit more and peered inside my eyes. I couldn't remember what exactly I was keeping back there. Had I cleaned up the boxes of last summer and glances from across rooms A - L, the leftover petals from a bundle of nasturtiums and the exact way the clouds look at 3:00 on Sunday afternoons? Was the cadillac polished, and all the little elves that run me wearing new uniforms and running on working treadmills? I could picture what it looked like in there, the doctor's light sweeping across the dim open rooms scattered with lumps that could be stacks of books but then again could be monsters or tiger traps or maps for buried treasure.

If she noticed she didn't say anything, merely giving me a piece of paper to trade for new spectacles downstairs and mildly chastising me for wearing my contacts too much and not letting enough air in for the elves. I left and bought myself some flowers, a perfect blue spike of delphinium and the deepest pink carnations, figuring that I might as well take advantage of the momentary extra space in my eyes. Walking, the glare was too much for my vulnerable pupils, so I stuck to the shady side of the street. I like it best there, anyway.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We're planning things for spring, my favorite hobby, planning parties and adventures and bad ideas, planning dresses and tights and leather jackets, planning sewing and working and napping. I love planning. There are trapeze classes to take and spa time to schedule and baby blankets to make. Anticipating fun is almost as much fun as having it.

There are certain things that I am trying to change, but they are resisting. I am planning on stomping around and being impatient until they give in. This never works, but it's always my approach anyway.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

It snowed yesterday, for a few minutes, the ground too warm to agree with what was in the air. The internet lit up with the news, with jokes about igloos and snowplows, but by the time we could get outside it had already stopped. No way to tell that it had been snowing and not just raining.

This morning everything was frosted, sparkling in the cold sun, the daffodils bowing a little under the extra weight, the heavy pink flowers in the trees a little wrinkled. I have been running around in all the usual ways, lately, in bars and at musicals and dance parties, still waiting, focusing like a puppy presented with a slice of bacon. If I stare any harder at what I want to be happening, it might all burst into flames.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

In the 4th grade we had an intern that sent all of the girls into a flutter--almost certainly, we all thought that he looked just like Marky Mark or JTT. (Actually, since we all spoke almost exclusively in Baby-Sitter's Club slang, we probably thought that he was totally "cushee". Lord.) Everyone did their best to be the one to get the intern's attention, mostly by gathering in groups and giggling and then running away which, it should be noted, is still my primary tactic when confronted with a cute boy. Some girls brought him presents or gave him their lunch cookies or wore the dresses that, at any other time, they would fight their mom to not have to wear. We weren't sure what to do, but we felt in our bones that we should be doing something.

This was the same year that one of the girls stole a Playgirl from her mom, and we would all huddle around it whenever we could, intrigued and repulsed. None of us were sure what we were supposed to do with all of that information, but if it was something moms were hiding then we definitely wanted to know. A bunch of us got caught with it one day and it was confiscated, but by then we pretty much had it memorized. (Also, the year that I was mayor of Enterprise Village. It was a big year.)

Anyway, everyone had a plan to get the attention of the intern. My plan was genius. I would write the intern a story. And then he could keep it forever, and always remember me. So I did--I wrote the intern a story about a group of kids who get lost in the woods and come across a cave inhabited by some number of people on PCP. History doesn't record either the outcome of the story or the intern's reaction or, for that matter, just how I knew about PCP in the 4th grade.

Still, it just goes to show that I have always been like this.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

This schedule gets to me sometimes, working full time and being in grad school full time, drinking and dance parties, watching nature documentaries on the couch, cooking and laundry and, every once in a while, cleaning. The only way to have breathing room is to make breathing room, and so I am holding life to the time between deep breaths. I'm dawdling on the walk home to peer into the friendly faces of the daffodils along the sidewalk and buying shoes for other seasons, looking up from typing typing typing about efficient markets in time to catch the fading moments of the sunset and the Space Needle twinkling through the deepening gloom.

A little breathing is all I need, until everything shrinks back down to manageable proportions. It always does eventually.