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To throw a proper party we had to pack up and put away all things sitting around since we moved in, so as of two days ago these things were placed, whether stored in the attic or basement or set in my office. It feels really good, actually, to have everything in a ďplace,Ē to know that even if we still must go through boxes and discard more things or rearrange books from office to living room, what we own, what we brought here, can be stored in this house without fear of boxes spilling over into our living space.
So here we are. The new house. Been here for seven weeks today. I have been out a number of times, to places like the supermarket. Starbucks, where the local high school kids hang out if itís early enough or the single young adults bring their laptops late. The bank, after I get paid. I dropped Rís cell phone in the driveway when I tried to stroll with K one night. (Luckily it bounced under my car, didnít get too wet in the rain. Still works after resting in rice overnight.) Mostly I am here at home. Working. Childrearing. Sighing.
I made up the story of my neighbors, since they have not yet introduced themselves. (Perhaps we should go over and say hello, but we are passive and shy.) This couple in a house near us has two young sons. She and I have the same type of hair. They have the same cars we have (newer models). I think they are happy because they hug and kiss, play with their sons in the front yard. She dresses in jeans, looks casual, put together. I think we would get along well with them if we would just actually meet them.
There is a man, older, gray hair, good weight for his height, who must live nearby, who walks his shepherd-mix dog by our house at least three times a day. Back and forth. Dog in a red harness, although it looks less than menacing. They walk in the street most of the time although we have sidewalks. He doesnít usually look at our house as he passes, but sometimes I see a sideways glance. Now that I have seen them many times over the weeks, it often looks like the dog is walking the man, and that makes me smile.
We went out for the first time to do the ďfamily with a houseĒ shopping, for things like a bird feeder that matches my arts and crafts decorating desires; outdoor garbage cans that were almost half off (the nice employee told us about a sale coming at 5 pm and insisted to management that we pay the sale price early); the energy-efficient lightbulbs that look like white taffy corkscrews; the black, long garden hose (get rubber because it is better in the cold of winter); a new rake, now angled better so the leaves wonít get caught in the tines.
On the side of the entry to our home there is a white waist-high bookcase that runs along for a while, creating one side of the entry hall. Some days ago we spent time stacking books there, but what to present as the first impression when someone enters? To us, this is all important, of course. At first my Robin Hood collection, but then those were removed. There are too many for the shelves, and which to pick? Now astronomy, nature, and favorite classic fiction. The two-volume boxed set of
I found in that old New England shop.
Today I havenít stopped to breathe, havenít stopped working except to eat two meals, barely made it to FedEx for a deadline and still must type up some paperwork for this project, and between all the typing and editing and sharpening pencils there are thoughts of computer labs and squirrels and beginnings and endings and those things I need not think of, and cravings I canít satisfy, and threads of madrigal music, and now there is a crying child at the end of his nap and I still have so much work to do that I too feel like crying.
My mother cried today, not in a bad way, but after my mentioning a thought I had about her outing with my aunt, her sister. My aunt comes down irregularly, and last weekend they went to their parentsí graves, put down small pumpkins and mums. On the drive back they passed the house in which they were raised. Ironically, there was an open house, so they hesitantly went through, found it to be updated but quite the same, and I said this might have been their parentsí way of saying hello to both of them again, of having them remember.
Iím finally going to get those things that I have kept telling myself I will get ďone dayĒ when I have room, a house, a space, a place Ö so the time is apparently now.
Iíll start with a telescope, I suppose, although through in this suburban light I doubt Iíll see what I want to see. Again, excuses not to do. I will see something, so Iíll get one. There.
I also want a kayak, but that will come after I take some lessons, as itís been so long since Iíve been out that I really need a refresher.
Other people on 100 Words post stories of their tender romance as new and surprising as October snow, how their cigarette smoke winds up the open stairwell of the brownstone as they sit and check their phone for her text, how rough the coat of the chestnut mare feels under their fingers, how they handle the emptiness as the apartment door closes after a late night of talk over herbal tea, snippets of conversation about workplace frustration overheard on the T, descriptions of the sunrise at a vacation beach house rented at a discount when all I have is this.
Last night I went to a local art supply store for the first time in a long time. Itís been there forever. Used to be a cool place to pop into, check out the artsy clerks in their black tight T-shirts and silver nose rings and spiked hair. Still neat, but the items in the aisles were disheveled, and the pencils I use for my editing werenít even there for sale anymore, that I could see, anyway. Lots of charcoal sets, watercolor pencils, thick sketch pads, scrapbooking things, pure white German erasers, large picture frames, calligraphy pens, soft bristle brushes.
I am doing an interesting experiment, something I should have done a long time ago. I am writing down the hours (approx.) I spend working so I can see how many hours I actually devote to my projects. So far itís not as many as it feels like, as I thought I was working, and that is surprising. My goal is to ease up on myself, to see that no, I am not actually working all the time, I am just going back and forth to it so much during the day that it feels like itís all the time!
I guess I must be losing the baby weight because my fellow madrigal group members have mentioned my smaller size a number of times over the last few weeks. I can attribute this weight loss to the fact that my child eats everything that I make for lunch and I get hardly anything. Yes, of course it would make sense to cook enough for two or to make separate meals but I end up making one sandwich or one bowl of leftovers and then feeding the child (who eats ravenously) and then lunch is done. And I have lost weight.
Dear Hippocampus, Cortex, Amygdala, and any other dream areas in my brain:
I see that from time to time you feel you need to use a specific image to represent certain feelings of mine, but please understand that I have already dealt with all of that, and yes, I do appreciate what I had and learned and experienced and I own the mistakes I made, but here I am now, beyond it all, I thought, and I would rather not come to find this image in my dream again, even in a wonderful scene.
Have a great holiday season.
We sang our first concert of the fall season tonight, a pretty good crowd for a madrigal group. I hope that audience members do not come expecting ďprofessionalĒ singers. We rehearse just for fun, and we enjoy performing, but somehow the ďconcertsĒ seem to make us force our songs, push the tone flat and race through them. We are all geared up and we sing better when we are relaxed in our meeting room, in our jeans and tees. I do like that in concert perhaps we will reach one person who has never appreciated madrigals before and now will.
Today R and I were near where we used to work and where I grew up, not far from where we live now but somewhere we have visited less often than we used to. After some errands, we stopped at the local supermarket and saw a friend, who used to work with us, and we talked. She lives near my parents, and seeing her reminded me that we really do live ďacross the highwayĒ now, that she would drive home down the street and we would drive home farther away. Seems I am still getting used to living ďover here.Ē
Today I took some time for myself (amazing) and went shopping, taking Kai to a local mall, but first I stopped at Rís office to show the ďbabyĒ to coworkers. As I walked through the building lobby, up the staircase, through the hall with the water cooler, I realized how long it had been since I had been in an actual office. I saw Rís cube, the low partitions of the other cubes, the fluorescent lights. I heard the white noise, noise of people working and trying to be quiet. It actually made my heart rate increase, made me anxious.
Why do I do this? Why do I take more freelance work than I should before a major holiday where we will be hosting family in a new place for the first time, first time ever having Thanksgiving together? Itís like if I keep really busy then I donít have to say that I had enough time to have everything perfect and together. It must be something deep-seated and psychological like that, something that a therapist would have to dig out of me after a good long number of sessions in a too-warm office with cheap paintings on the walls.
Today instead of working during the afternoon I took precious work time to clean the house. I put away Kís birthday gifts, took down and packed away the Halloween decorations, took out the Thanksgiving decorations, cleared half the boxes out of my office, put reference and poetry books on bookshelves, organized the front closet. It felt so good to recycle old cardboard boxes and paper, to clean up the house and find space. I get so disappointed in myself that I donít do more regularly to clean up. I hate that I donít stick to what I want to do.
If I get in bed when Jay Leno is on itís a damn miracle. It means that either I somehow got a crapload of work done during the day (had a sitter or K slept a lot) or I am so damn tired that I must get in bed. If Conan is on, thatís typical. Iíve completed enough, or as much as I can safely finish without doing a bad job. If Craig is on, itís been a long catch-up day: I had lots of coffee and tried to get as much done as possible into the wee dark hours.
Something happened and I am not sure when or why but I just donít care about seeing movies anymore, and I am not interested in new ones particularly and I donít go see them in the theater (of course a year of a new baby and a house does not make it easy to go see any) and I donít pick any to watch on TV. I just donít have the time to commit to a longer story like that, which also explains why some freaking good books have been sitting here on my crowded nightstand and never get read.
In 2001 I lived in a town off a major interstate, multiple wide lanes, winding around blasted cliff faces and under sweeping vultures, a good road to take to workóusually rather busy, crowded with fast-moving trucks and self-focused people heading to upstate New York or New England.
Sometimes now when people are disrespectful and rushing everywhere I think about the week after 9/11, my commute to and from my office building, everyone driving very slowly, cautiously, the interstate practically empty, the skies without airplanes or even birds, and how naÔve I was to think things would stay that way.
At Abmaís farm we took K up the dirt path to see the animals, the crowing roosters and the newly hatched chicks under heat lamps, the black cow and stoic mule, the thick-coated sheep with bubble eyes. K reached out a hand to the tan goats that shuffled down to see if he had food. The rabbits were a hit, too. In the farm store, the bakery case had apple cider donuts, and we bought six. K knocked over a pint of small, dark blueberries, and we watched as they bounced around the floor, offering to pay for them all.
Today I participated in a phone and Web conference where a client talked to me and other freelancers while controlling my computer, showing me how to use their new proprietary software system. It was fascinating, the tech support employee showing various pages, different screens coming up to demonstrate how I can access information, enter things into the system. Itís not that I wasnít aware that this kind of thing is possible, but Iíve never actually done it. It was nice to feel connected to the client, to feel part of the office environment. It sometimes gets lonely working at home.
The neighbor who walks his shepherd by our house numerous times each day has gone by with a woman on his arm. Interesting. I donít mean to sound like a voyeur, because I donít actually look for this person. I just sit here working by the window, and anything moving by catches my eye, and so now he and she caught my eye today. I wonder if she came out with him today because holiday is in the air, or if she is new to his life, or if she is not new and so he usually goes out alone.
We had our first Thanksgiving here at the new house. I think it was successful. I woke at six in the morning to give the bird a water bath, defrost it some more. I worked, and then every thirty minutes I changed the water. I wish the mashed potatoes had come out better, but Rís glazed carrots were great, and everything else was good. I caught some of the parade, remembered the one time I went to see it in person, how cold it was that morning, and thought about whether K will ever want to go. I hope so.
The whole family came over again tonight, cooked us a ham dinner as a thanks for our cooking them dinner yesterday. It was fun to have everyone here two nights in a row. E and I spent time online checking out celebrity pages and good hairstyles. I am always thinking of cutting my hair short, but then I chicken out. We picked some styles that I can show K next time, jagged and swept bangs. O chased the cat around and gave him catnip, which we havenít done in quite a long time. I know he loved all the attention.
R took me to the city, first to brunch as Marseilles, which was fabulous: fluffy omelet, flaky croissant, organic breakfast tea, beautiful salad and potatoes as I sat in a window seat and watched the late morning city work. Then the theater: Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, two chairs, a few backdrop changes. The play was goodósomewhat predictable but acted very well. What a husband to take me to see my favorite hunk and another just as adorable. They offered to meet anyone who would donate $2k to the Broadway AIDS charity. So tempting, but better left to dreams.
A beautiful sunny day, Mom and I walked K around town, past the high school and down the hill to the lake, pointed out everything to him. I brought my camera and snapped some nature shots: the crimson winterberries on the tips of branches near the water; round orange leaves still clinging to a tree; auburn grasses in front of the setting sun; clumps of dark, long pine cones in the fine tan sand. I remembered when that lake would freeze over and my sister and I would try ice skating, hitting the bumps that come from water solidifying naturally.
K has this blanket with an elephant head on it and he needs it around most of the time. Itís filthy beyond description because he just canít live without it and Iíve been too scared to wash it lest I remove its magic. Finally, someone found another exactly like it, so today we introduced K to the new one. He held it out in front of him, carefully feeling and examining it, and tentatively holding it, and then tonight, as I tried to give it to him in the crib, it was wholeheartedly rejected, and the old one snuggled tight.
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