Sunday, December 18, 2005

One of Chris' fancy pens exploded in the dryer. He opened the door and found that half of his clothes were splotched by ink, black stains rubbed around the cylinder by the churning of the fabric. It's true that his shirts managed to spread the offending substance around the entire compartment. I felt along the smudges with the pad of my finger. To my relief and Chris' despair, it was all smeary.

"You know what this means?" I asked, excited that it wasn't as grim as it appeared, in terms of far reaching consequences for our future loads of laundry.

"Sitting in the freezing cold garage while scrubbing permanent ink out of the dryer?" he guessed, not nearly as thrilled as I was.

And so, what was initially thought of by me as the ruin of an expensive appliance turned out to be no more complicated to clean up than with a sponge and some sudsy water.

It was cold in the garage though. Portly kept him company while he scrubbed.

Stupid pen.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Everytime Chris moved last night, I woke up. Not just the sort of jostled out of deep sleep that is easily returned to by changing positions and getting my face out of the drool spot either. No. Everytime he sighed, or turned a page, or tried to fend off the cat, I came out of sleep like it was a cannon I was being shot out of. Several times I snorted, so quick was my desperate inhalation.

Then I'd start thinking about things that I only ever think about, at least in such a stark manner, at 3am. What is keeping me breathing? If I subconsciously told my lungs to stop doing it, maybe as a joke, would my brain comply anyway? What if I made myself stop breathing in my sleep, and then forgot how to get started again? Heavy stuff.

Clicking into more practical gears, my head went into asthma panic overdrive. All this thinking about breathing or not led me right into this: If I'm thinking so much about breathing and my abilities to continue to do so, is my body trying to send up the red flags that something is about to happen to hinder my abilities to continue with this activity? Like my own personal bronchial constriction breathing-lung dog? Oh, crap.

So I started to breathe very deliberately, checking for changes in raspiness and how deep each one was. And then every subtle variation meant a whole list of calamities; heart attack, pneumonia, emphysema, supernatural possession. Smothered by the spirit of the Lord. Going straight to hell for bringing up my sister's secret teenage oregano stash and the embarrasment my mom lived through when she busted Kristi on it, only to be confronted with the fact that it wasn't drugs at all, but just a container of spice. Shouldn't have tried to talk to her about that on the phone the other night. It's all coming back to suck the oxygen right out of my lungs now.

Chris moves again, tossing his book on the floor. It takes my alertness to the next level. Now I am convinced that while I am having a CO2 induced seizure that the house will be broken into and pillaged. Chris will be knocked out with his own bat while trying to call the police from his studio, and the cat will escape into the cold night, only to be eaten by the friendly neighborhood pit bull. And I, I will be trapped by my own inability to breathe, like a fish on a shag rug, and will not be able to stop the theives from making off with my clip art collection and my cheap ass DVD player that really doesn't work anymore.

And as long as they're at it, they might as well take the two ancient and malfunctioning reel to reel players that spark and make the lights flicker when they are plugged in. And that box of clothes I've been meaning to take to the Goodwill. And my jar of pennies, although I had to cash them in a few weeks ago to buy something that seemed important at the time, so there aren't that many to weigh them down. No, they'll be able to make a quick getaway.

But now Chris is fussing around with the blankets and all the noises I hear as crystal clear subside as I realize just how fucking cold it is in our house as the main quilt gets yanked off my shoulder. I wonder if I can see my breath. Our furnace is an electricity hog and the windows are not yet plasticized and the wonderful fans that keep our bathroom and kitchen smoke and steam free are like open portholes into frigid wind tunnels. They siphon the wind directly into those two rooms, making the fridge obsolete. We set the thermostat at 62 and wear our hats, scarves, and gloves. We build little fires in the fireplace and struggle to keep them going. I wonder why we haven't gone yet to the hardware store for puffy tape to put around the door leading into the garage. Payday sparkles in the distance, promising new ways to help us shore up our battlestation against the surprisingly crisp Portland winter. I make a mental wishlist for heatmaking/saving devices.

Portly is now off the bed, probably because her human companions aren't doing anything to help keep her still and asleep. She claws the chair in the next room, ripping sounds coming from the hallway.

"Does Portly have any Crunchies?" Chris mumbles, thinking an empty food dish might cause her to act out.

"She did when we went to bed."

"Maybe it's time to put her in the garage."

"But it's cold out there."


By the time 5am or so rolls around, Chris gives up and puts pants on, then goes to some other location to do god knows what. I try to drift off again, but feel the same steady pull of neurosis that kept waking me up to begin with. I dream about a nap. Maybe later, maybe later.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I spent years looking for the perfect coffee cup for work. Somthing that sealed completely so I could toss it in my bag, easily washable, small enough so that if my order wasn't heard I wouldn't walk out with a beverage big enough for a small horse.

I found it. It holds only 8 ounces, is the blue of the summer sky, and keeps my tea hot until it's time to go home.

One problem. I just discovered it. There is a small space between the rubber part of the lid that keeps the liquid in and the cool blue metal top, rounded like an unfired bullet.

Unbeknownst to me, chai has been collecting in this space for several weeks. I just thought to unscrew it to look in there 4 minutes ago, as I noticed what I was afraid was a leak. I am still fighting a serious gag reflex. Just looking at the thing makes me feel green.

And so the search for the perfect coffee cup continues...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

My father is being forced into early retirement. He is vague about the details, and doesn't answer any questions he doesn't want to. "Forced" is his word. I imagine the state is tired of trying to find something for him to do, as he hasn't really had a permanent place since they shut down the print shop he ran years ago. We have no idea what he has been up to. We know that he likes Pier One and Barnes and Noble in the strip mall near his house in the suburbs.

My mom said she saw him driving the other day in town while she was waiting at a stop sign. She pulled out behind him, and as the distance she followed him turned into many blocks, she felt the rage and anger she thought she had cut loose threatening her judgment.

"It took every fiber of my being to keep from running him over."

"But wasn't he driving his truck? How could you run him over in his truck?"

"Oh, you weren't married to him or you'd know."

My poor parents, fueled by their mutual distain for each other, living lives in such close proximity. Do they choose this because of some deep rooted dependence on each other, no matter how twisted? Or is it something like they each think that the area was theirs first? They just both can't imagine living anywhere else?

Robert and I share a city, but it's a million people here vs 12000 there. It's easier to divide up a town if it has more than one fancy bar and one grocery store.

Oh, the horror of bumping into your exhusband when you look like crap and drove to the store in your pajamas because you were too sick to put real clothes on but you needed more canned chicken soup and maybe a few more movies. He's holding his flushed and cute little baby and gesturing to his new wife who has naturally red hair and the Norman Rockwell image is forever seared in your mind as The Thing You Could Not Do. The horror!

We were only married for two years, I can't imagine what it's like for my parents, married for longer than I've been alive.

I told my mom that she should excise the anger and rage in therapy, and she told me she doesn't want to talk about it in therapy because it's too painful. Either she doesn't grasp the idea of counselling or it really is worse than I can conjure up.

Graple. Grumble. Velour. These are words I like, on a completely unrelated note.
The man behind the counter asks me how thick I'd like my salami sliced, and I have no idea what the right answer is, so I grin like a dork and shrug, telling him to 'surprise me.'

He turns to the slicer and makes some minute adjustment, then turns back to me, holding out a seriously thick slice of lunchmeat.

"How's that?" he asks, and waves it at me over the counter, demonstrating its ability to withstand even the most powerful forces of gravity and remain upright.

"That's...uh, fine."

"No, no, you have to take it."

"Oh, okay." I accept the offering of sausage and take a step back. I'm wearing gloves, and little tufts of fur are sticking to the piece of meat. Do I eat it? Is that what he meant for me to do? I take a bite, although I am stuffed from the sushi I gorged on not 30 minutes before.

"Here," he says, handing me another slice. "This should be better."

I can't tell the difference. The second slice he hands me is essentially identical to the first, and I stand uncomfortable and silent as he small talks me through several more pieces.

What is the etiquette? This is why I never buy things from a counter where you have to try to explain and justify your selections to another person. So many opportunities for things to go wrong. Once, I asked for half a bag of lavender and received half a pound, which actually filled up almost 3 bags. I wondered what took the guy so long and why he gave me a weird look. Who would need that much lavender at once? Maybe to fill up an entire comforter?

So I'm still standing there, one glove dangling from my teeth, one hand full of thickly sliced salami, the smell of which is actually a bit too cloying for me at the moment.

The guy asks me if I 'know my salamis' and I squint at him. He asks me what the difference is between the two he's got in the case, and I guess that one is more tangy. I look to him to see if I guessed right. The slices in my hand are getting that warm meat slime. I will have to wash my gloves.

He hands me the bag of lunch meat and I turn away quickly and stuff the pieces I am holding inside, along with the chunks of fluff from my gloves. My hands are oily and smell like a cat treat.

I move on to the frozen juice section where I stoop down and wipe my fingers on the tops of my socks.

Was the meat counter guy messing with me? Or just trying to be nice? I guess I'll be buying my next round of sandwich items pre-packaged.