Sunday, July 29, 2007

Snowball Effect

I was just going to paint. Really. A new coat of paint just spiffs up the place, makes everything look fresh and clean. And all was well with the main floor paint job. I had no desire to change the drapes, buy new furniture or get the bug to completely and totally redecorate. Everything was fine. Then I started on the stairwell. When the top half of that was painted, complete with a new light fixture and a festive apple-themed decorating scheme, some sort of madness consumed me. The basement family room suddenly looked dreary and hopelessly outdated. I tried to ignore the feeling but it wouldn't go away. Then I went shopping. I was just looking! It was a go downtown and look at the crazy daze stuff but we're mostly going to eat thing. We should have gone straight to Cubby's patio for a burger and sweet potato fries. But we walked through a furniture store instead!!! Where I found a very nice table and chairs for an absolutely unbelievably low price. So I bought it. When the two nice young men delivered it the next day, the old rug the new table and chairs were sitting on looked, well, completely wrong. Wrong color, wrong texture, wrong style. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The snowball effect had begun. New rugs soon followed. And I fear a new couch is next, with new lamps hot on its tail. For crying out louder than necessary!!! This is the family room! Teenage boys sit in this room with the lights off and play video games and watch movies and spill food! They don't care how it looks in there! And it all starts with an innocent little coat of paint. I have been bitten and the madness has begun. Or else it's the full moon. I wonder if the Wolfman redecorates every month. His wife probably has to, what with all his mad shredding of everything in sight when he transforms into his more hirsute persona. And I thought pms was nasty.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


How is it that I choose paint colors associated with drinking, such as grenadine? An essential component of a Tequila Sunrise. Or a paint color that actually is an alcoholic beverage, Pink Sangria, which is the color of my kitchen and living room now. And not just drinking, but a specific geographical location! Mexico, or perhaps the desert southwest of the USA. In a roundabout way this does make sense. The leftover paint from these two major painting projects will be used to paint a room in the basement that is decorated with a desert southwest theme. Chili pepper lights and rugs and posters and refrigerator magnets. I'm soooo coordinated. I'm typing while the wall patching dries and contemplating taking a shower. I'm all dusty from scraping the bubble texture off the ceiling areas where I'm about to paint. Then I would be relatively presentable to run a couple of errands before it is time to paint. I believe it is a pizza night since Mom doesn't cook when she's in the middle of a project. I really should buy a powerball ticket. I have a set of numbers that I've been using lately when I purchase one. I don't think that they are especially lucky one way or another, but it would seriously annoy me if they were drawn tonight without me holding the winning ticket. Newton and Einstein are a little perturbed over me disrupting their little world with my painting. They get nervous when I start moving furniture around and making noise with power tools. And they really don't like the temporary platform I have constructed in the stairwell to make painting in there feasible. Nothing interesting to report so far, although I wasn't as careful as I should have been while taking down a light fixture. I received a little electrical buzz when I touched a wire I thought was dead but was in fact quite lively. This happened right after I assured my elder son that, yes actually, I did know what I was doing even though I had neglected to shut off the wall switch. When what I should have done was turn off the breaker. Which I will do when I install the new light fixture. Which I will do as soon as I take a shower and head out for Lowe's to acquire one. Yesterday's Oprah advised that home improvement centers are terrific places to meet guys. Last week when I was at Lowe's I was in the very departments they suggested, lumber and fasteners, and had no luck at all. That's also why I'm showering instead of just running out all dirty and schlumpy. But I'm not putting on high heels and a short skirt, that would be too obvious.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I've been thinking about forgiveness. And Don Henley wrote a deep and wonderful song containing that line. But I'm not going to sing for all of you now. Today would have been my brother Scott's 52nd birthday. Today there is no cake with candles or carefully chosen, brightly wrapped gifts for him to open. He died last August at the much too young age of 51 after battling pancreatic cancer for a year. I'm sure his memory is on the minds of many people on this day, certainly on mine. Scott and I had not spoken for over ten years at the time of his death. His wife and family were puzzled by this lack of communication, my brother actually said he didn't understand why I had cut off contact with him. There are those who are very close to me who know the full story and it isn't important for me to go into the details here. So that's why I've been thinking about forgiveness. It's a term that's tossed around quite a bit in therapy and counseling. It seems that among professionals in that arena each has their own little take on what forgiveness actually means and how it can be used to heal our hurts that fester on the inside. I went through an enormous amount of emotional turmoil ten years ago after spending an entire week vacationing with my family of origin. What I learned about my family and myself, and my role inside of the family, was revealing and priceless. Going through that turmoil and having the support of my husband and friends helped me come to a conclusion. That the only way I could move on from certain events in my growing up years was to end all contact with my brother. This moving forward and healing process also involved forgiving him. The hardest part was knowing that although these actions that were essential for me to end some self-destructive behaviors, they also had the potential for dividing my family. Over time, I talked to the ones who I felt it was important to tell. I was very clear about not taking sides, that this was something that was between Scott and me. I also felt that if he was to ever come to me and ask about the silence, that I would tell him why as honestly and without blame as I could. Beyond the initial period of anger and frustration that followed the family vacation, I never felt the need to have a face-to-face confrontation with him. I forgave him. I healed. And a tiny scar remains within that reminds me of what I survived. There is no anger or bitterness toward my brother and there hasn't been for a very long time. I didn't cry when I learned of his death, I suppose because I had mourned losing my love for him so many years earlier. But I felt sad for the people in his life who did love him, those who no doubt are missing him very much today.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I do not suffer from triskaidekaphobia although I do need to trim my fingernails. Which has nothing to do with the number thirteen or the fear of it unless I had avoided trimming said nails on Friday the 13th to circumvent the possibility of personal injury or perhaps just doing a lousy job of it. I realized that the fingernails need a trim because I am typing, the speed and accuracy of this activity are compromised by the current length of my nails. Am I digressing? There is a movie currently in theatres titled 1408. This number refers to a hotel room bearing the number in which horrible, nasty things happen to the unfortunate souls who check into room 1408. If you add up the digits, 1+4+8, the answer is 13. The only reason this is the least bit significant to me personally is that I have been living in a house with that number for twenty-one years! And I had been under the impression for that entire time that 1408 adds up to 22. Since I say the number, fourteen-oh-eight, obviously 14+8=22. I don't pronounce the house number onethousandfourhundredeight so it never occurred to me to add up the digits in that manner. So, blinders on or denial or whatever, I have been living in house #13 for nearly half my life. Which explains a few things, maybe, or maybe not. And does it matter that I just recently recognized this? Does my knowledge or ignorance of this fact influence the bad luck factor? I don't know much about numerology but I have read about people consulting a numerologist about the deeper meaning of the numerical address before they move into a residence. But then what real significance lies in the number that is assigned to a property anyway? Our human consciousness likes the idea of creating order out of the randomness of the universe. We measure and name the particulars of our environment perhaps because it gives us a feeling of control and comfort. I like how Hank Harris expresses this in his song, Water of Life.

Man marks the passage of time
His little invention, counting down our lives

Coincidentally, I heard Hank perform Water of Life on this past Friday the thirteenth with some help from two of the Hegg brothers of Spooncat! fame. And as I said to Anna as we sat under a beautiful summer night sky eating some wonderful thin-crust pizza as we listened to excellent live music, I think it's much more interesting that 1408 is divisible by both 11 and 22. And if you divide 1408 by 2, you get 704. On our calendar, 7-04 is the Fourth of July, the date that we celebrate our nation's birthday. Aside from that, I do hope Hank collected enough cash to afford the gas for his return trip to Rapid City. Although I wouldn't mind it a bit if he was stranded on this end of the state for an extended period of time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

That's Right!

I've been right about a few things. Not a whole lot of things, but a few. So few, in fact, that I remember all of them and can rattle off the whole list from memory. The most recent thing was a prediction I made over two years ago. I predicted that if my husband and I got divorced, the divorce was still in the "if" stage at that time, that he would buy a Harley and I would get cats again. The weird thing was that these events took place last summer on consecutive days. I brought Newton and Einstein home and the next day he picked up his new motorcycle. He had a motorcycle when we met, a Honda big enough for road trips, and we took it on numerous camping weekends while we were dating and the first year we were married. Just before I became pregnant with our elder son, we went on a monumental road trip across South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. We took in the Black Hills on that twelve day trip as well as Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park. When we told my in-laws that we were planning this trip my father-in-law's reaction was that I should drive our nice new car and let his crazy son ride the motorcycle. I replied that the trip was my idea so it would be not in the spirit of the thing if I was not actually on the bike for it. Let me tell you something about motorcycles. They terrify me. I don't like the wind or the noise or the bugs. I don't like the feeling of exposure to danger in heavy traffic nor do I like being at the mercy of the weather. But the trip was my idea, it was something I felt I needed to do. Doing the motorcycle thing with my husband was an exercise in trust and letting go of control, two things that I was willing to do to be able to join him in something he enjoyed. And I did look awfully cute in jeans, a tiny tank top, boots and a leather jacket. But it was something I never came to truly enjoy. That trip is packed with wonderful memories, though, and when I think about it, I felt closer to him and loved him more than anything then. But then we got home and I was pregnant six weeks later. Then life got in the way and we drifted apart on the interior of our marriage while our life appeared nearly perfect from the outside. I look at the dozens of photographs we took on that trip and I see optimism and happiness. I see beautiful scenery, mountains and water and trees. He sold that motorcycle eight years later and we spent the proceeds on new bicycles and a Burley cart so we could have family outings with our sons. But I couldn't help but feel that selling the Honda was somehow shedding off the last little vestige of our youth. That we were going to be practical now. Be grown-ups. So that's why I figured he'd buy a motorcycle again, if we split up. Then the if became a reality. And now I have to admonish myself to not feel smug about the fact that he only needed a Yamaha 350 dirtbike to get over his first wife. He needed a brand new Harley to get over me. I'm not necessarily right about his motorcycle purchasing motivations. But I was right about needing to take that road trip twenty years ago.

Monday, July 9, 2007

What's In a Name?

I have, it seems, survived turning fifty. Nothing disastrous has happened. My ass hasn't dropped to the floor. I didn't wake up with bride-of-Frankenstein freaky gray hair. I know where my keys are. I feel pretty darned good. In honor of turning fifty, I have painted my toenails purple and my feet look quite festive. So I was thinking about other notable women who will turn fifty this year. The first two who came to mind are the same two who come to mind nearly every time my birthday rolls around. The Carolines. Caroline, Princess of Monaco, who turned fifty back in January, and Caroline Kennedy, American Princess, who will celebrate her fiftieth birthday in November. And then I think about how I was very nearly named Caroline after my paternal grandmother. My mother says that all four of us kids are lucky we have names at all. Apparently four of the major tussles in my parents' marriage were what to name the kids. I did get the first syllable of Martha Caroline's middle name. but I really would have loved getting the whole thing. I look like a Caroline. I feel like a Caroline. No doubt I may even smell like a Caroline. I have an ancestral, matriarchal claim to the name! But, alas, I was not given the name by my feuding parents. So I've been wondering what is in a name after all. Would my life be significantly different if I had grown up with the same name as the princesses? Did opportunities for wealth and fame pass me by because I'm not a Caroline? One thing for sure, if my name was Caroline, I would have a song. I would be Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline. I would be AbbySomeOne's Caroline. I could hear music in an elevator and hum along, surrounded by strangers, and know my name was immortalized in song. I'd love to get together with the Princess Carolines sometime and see if they would allow me to be an Honorary Princess Caroline. Maybe just on my birthday. Which I guess I'm doing anyway. In my heart, I am a Caroline. Maybe when I'm old enough to get away with it, I'll adopt wearing a tiara on a daily basis and insist that people call me Princess Caroline. It's going to be fun! Maybe next week.

Friday, July 6, 2007

More Random Thoughts

The new fruity Cheerios are actually better than Froot Loops. I have the next three days off work. I think I left the garage door open when I got home. If I never get on a motorcycle again, I will still feel as though I've lived a whole and complete life. With one small exception...I would love to be a passenger for Jim's Tap Annual Ride Through. At work there is a woman who will not speak to me. This has been going on for over a month now. Whenever possible, I speak to her. I especially enjoy greeting her enthusiastically first thing in the morning. Next week I start phase two of my summer painting project. Yesterday I took my car in for its very first oil change. The adjustment to my new glasses has been pretty effortless. I didn't write a single poem during the month of June, but I wrote one yesterday. My friend Shawn likes to say that he still has bats in his belfry, but now they mostly fly in formation. I wonder if he made that up or if he just steals from excellent sources, like his dad. Do you know what DILLIGAF stands for? I not only had a barbecue adventure last weekend, I think I may have died and gone to bbq heaven. If you have seen the movie Logan's Run, you know that cats always have three names. With the help of my younger son's tireless and wacky imagination, our cats now have three names. Newton Q. Tigercat, the Q is for Q-tee-pie, and Einstein P. Pinkietoes, the P is for Prettyboy. The building I work in has more weird temperature fluctuations than a menopausal matriarch. I think I've had birthday sex only one time, to the best of my recollection the year was 1999. I have learned to be like water. The Frankenmuth Brewery closed before I had the opportunity to make a pilgrimage there. My deep sadness over ending the LDR with the CPPR is slowly morphing into wisdom and acceptance. I'm grateful that I have managed to not become so cynical that I still have it in me to believe in the power of romantic love and the existance of soulmates. When my novel gets optioned, I will absolutely have to write the screenplay.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

What's Necessary

I wish I could see Body Heat again for the first time. Not possible, you say, I'm wishing in vain. I first saw Lawrence Kasdan's film noir masterpiece in the theatre in the fall of 1981. I was with my sister and we both gasped audibly near the end when we figured it out. I don't know how many times I've seen it since then, maybe as many as twenty. Watching Body Heat is pretty much an annual event for me. I know all the dialog, all the remarkable shots and camera angles, the jazzy intense soundtrack, every little nuance involved with every single character. It is the sweatiest, hottest, smokiest, darkest examination of a completely unredeemable woman ever filmed. Matty Walker could do what was necessary. Whatever it took, that was her special gift. And in the midst of it all I still believe that she fell in love with Ned Racine, the hapless lawyer who could be convinced of anything. But even love could not derail Matty's relentless pursuit of the bottom line. Seeing it again for the first time would give me that little chill up my spine at that moment, that very moment of understanding what had happened. And why. I feel this way about any movie that so completely engages me that I almost become a part of it, I don't want it to end so I do the only thing that I can do. I watch it again and again hoping to recapture a tiny fraction of that first viewing experience. To have that shiver of realization that I was just as taken in by Matty's wiles as Ned. She could do what was necessary and Ned was the proverbial putty in her hands. Sometimes I can do what's necessary, but that usually involves the mundane, like unclogging a toilet. Or taking the cats in for their shots. Nothing arcane and exotically twisted like doing in a husband, getting your paramour to do the dirty work, and ending up with all the money. I know how Body Heat ends and I can't wait to see it again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Clearly Now

I am wearing my new glasses. And that is something new as far as the computer is concerned. For the last three years or so I have been in denial about the fact that I might possibly need bifocals. I took off my glasses that correct my myopia and left them everywhere. I took them off to facilitate seeing things close up. Stuff like reading, sewing, beading. Using my computer. Then when I needed to focus further away than the end of my nose I'd have to search for them. My glasses. Which is difficult when you can't focus much further than the end of your nose. So when I got my eyes examined, which to be honest, is part of my head, I broke down and got continuous bifocals. So now I can see clearly up close, across the room, and everywhere in between. I have not experienced such an astonishing improvement in vision since I was fit with my very first pair of glasses at the age of eight. And the very same thing immediately occurred to me. I could distinguish the individual leaves on the trees! No longer indistinct green blobs but sharp, clear shades of green with depth and distinction. I can see clearly now. It makes me think that I should have broken down and bought the bifocals ages ago. But we don't see until we're ready to see. In more ways than one. And I understand that so much more clearly now than I did a week ago. I wonder if it's the glasses.