Monday, September 25, 2006

Woman seeks Sugar Daddy

Today, as I ruminated on about whether or not to register a craft business officially, and whether or not to save money or spend wads of it to buy supplies wholesale, my boss remarked, "You need a different kind of boyfriend."
"You need a sugar Daddy," she said, and I immediately thought of what I'd recently written for the middle-aged meme:

What I'll Never Do and That's Okay: Enter a relationship for money, status or security.

It was the very first sentence of the meme and suddenly I realized that saying "never" is one of those things you shouldn't do because that's when the Universe, God love it, decides to get hilarious on your ass. It popped into my mind, that, having said such a thing, in writing and as publically as you can get, the temptation (impossible as it seems to me) might arise.

I'm beating the universe to it. I'm advertising here and now.

Woman Seeks Sugar Daddy:

The qualified applicant should be between 45 and 110.

Hair is not an issue, unless you do a comb-over and then you are just pathetic no matter how much money you have.

Height is not an issue if you don't mind me towering over you.

Build is not an issue because who in hell is perfect.

Money, for obvious reasons, is an issue but you don't have to be on the list of world's wealthiest men. Moderately well off will do.

Needn't be emotionally sensitive but should be emotionally aware - say five, on a scale of ten.
A lively look in the eyes is nice. Table manners also.

Must be able to read.

An interest in sex is useful if you want to have any - and by "interest" I mean the kind of interest that indicates you actually know something about it beyond the absolute basics.

If you are not handy at chores, you should be able to employ someone who is.

Religion is optional and I'm open-minded, as long as you don't go on and on or expect me to convert to anything.

You would never, ever, ever talk down to me under any circumstance.

Race is completely beside the point.

And finally - this is important - you would never mistake me for your mother, daughter or the domestic help.

NOW! THIS is what YOU get!

To enjoy the fast pace of associating with a woman whose mood cycles on a minute to minute basis.

Infinite sympathy for your real problems.

A kick in the butt when you are sorry for yourself over things that aren't real problems.

Talents I cannot write about on the internet. If you deserve them.

Blunt honesty alternating with periods of abject humility.

Complete silence when you need it.

Someone who can really listen when you really need to talk.

And who will tell you to shut-up when you're talking BS.

I clean up well and can manage social gatherings for limited periods of time.

Tolerance for guy-things, up to and including days of football on television (as long as I am in a sound-proof room somewhere else.)

You may pee with the bathroom door open but do not ever clip your toenails in front of me.

I will read you stories and tell you amusing anecdotes.

I will give you lots of alone time.

I will not ask "what are you thinking" or start conversations with, "we need to talk."

I don't care about your past unless you killed your previous girlfriend.

A sense of humor. (Warning: Not always when you expect it.)

A way to spend your hard-earned cash and the opportunity to give business advice (if it's good and it's brief).

This is a time-limited offer. It probably expires when my fingers leave the keyboard. My phone number is...
written on the wall of the men's washroom at The Split Crow Pub in Halifax.

Thank you for your bandwidth.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

View of death at different ages...

Back then, he says,
we laid the dead out
in the parlor.
My grandparents,
right there
in the front room.
It was how
we did things.

There's just been another
and he is astonished to see
His friend's wife
flutter and clutch his arm,
chair to chair,
trapped, terrified
of seeing a body
in death.

I don't understand it, he says.
He means
the fear.
He still kisses the foreheads
of the dead,
as they did back then.
Goodbye kisses
for the journey.

I tell him that I used to think
it was an obscenity,
the open casket.
It was an offense
when I
was falling
off the edge
of the world
to hear them say
it was
my mother there
powdered and lipsticked
still as a wax mold...
To hear them say
how natural she looks
and me
not even screaming,
My little brother's eyes
dry, shocked and lost.
Afterwards -
this is how I saw it -
the grownups got
drunk and I hid
in my Sunday clothes
eating a roast beef sandwich
escaping the pity of
kind relatives
with runny mascara.
I hated them all.

But closer in time,
it is my father
boxed and covered
in flowers.

I smooth his hair and
kiss his forehead.
I talk to him and put my hand
over his.
It's the last chance
I'll ever have
I am glad to see
the pain gone
and the lines smoothed
and just to
see his face.
Goodbye kisses
for the journey.

Will you come to mine? I ask him.
Will you kiss my forehead
if it's me first?
Something breaks
in his eyes.
I don't think I could
stand it
stand to see you...
laying there...
he says.

And although
he says he's used to death,
he never says
I love you
I know he isn't
and I know
he does.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Of sandals and sealing wax

She showed up in the library over 10 years ago and we called her Crazy Susan. Libraries are like the kind of home Robert Frost wrote about in The Death of the Hired Hand - "the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." As long as you don't greatly disturb anyone, spit on the floors or make a bomb shelter out of the books, you have as much right as anyone else has to be there.

And she was. There. Four or five days a week, for hours, using the old electric typewriter on the second floor, bashing out page after page of God-knows-what, harassing government officials on the student phone, standing at the circulation desk pulling staff members into conversational mazes with no entrance or exit point.

She's bright and well-educated, I think. Her vocabulary and confidence will fool you at first. You listen, automatically, and if you aren't quite following what she's saying, you'll figure it's just that you weren't listening carefully enough, or need more details. So you'll ask. You'll say, "I'm very sorry, but I'm not sure what regulation you're referring to," or "I'm sorry, but I'm not quite sure how to help you with that, can you be more specific about what you're looking for?" In any event, you'll start with, "I'm sorry..." because Susan has a professorial air and you'll assume, because you're at work in a library, that whatever she's talking about has something to do with searching for information.

Enter the maze. She will continue to talk until you realize that nothing she says connects - at least nothing you can access connects. Sometimes, she'll stop dead, listening to things you can't hear and then, as if a switch were thrown, she'll plunge back in. There is no polite way to stop the flood of words, short of getting up and leaving.

I used to dread her appearances. A political activist gone mad, a civic-minded citizen obsessed with community but without the gravity of a sane mind, Susan orbits into diatribes both acrimonious and aggrieved. She wears on your nerves. She demands your time.

We felt a little ashamed, my coworkers and me, for calling her Crazy Susan. But she was difficult to like. Still, she had a right to be there, and no one was going to throw her out for having a particularly exasperating form of mental illness.

We felt ashamed but also admired her a little. It's hard not to wonder what happened to her life, this older woman with the fabulous vocabulary and mind set on overdrive. She wears whatever bright pinks and purples and emerald greens can be found at the Salvation Army and keeps her white hair combed into two jaunty ponytails. Her blue eyes are alive and sharp. If she is poor and mad in our eyes, in her own, she is a force to be reckoned with.

J, one of my coworkers, is more patient than me, and Susan adopted her. A less than enviable adoption, given the frequency of her visits and the length of time she can keep you from your work. We devised a system, because J could not force herself to be rude, where I would leave the office and phone in a fictional emergency so that J could excuse herself.

The day I stopped calling her Crazy Susan, I was alone in the office, slowly being buried by incoming paperwork and Not In The Mood. Susan loomed in the doorway, looking pointedly towards J's empty desk. J's father had been gravely ill and was dying. She'd been out of the office, off and on for weeks at that point. I had no choice but to engage...

"J's not here, Susan."
"When will she be back?" Alright. Alright. No need to be crappy and no need for her to keep coming in looking. I don't want to divulge details of J's life, but...
"Susan. There's serious illness in her family. I don't know when she'll be in." Susan nods. She holds her hand out.
"I knew something was wrong," she says, "and I brought her this to cheer her up." In her hand is a single serving package of chocolate pudding.

Susan doesn't have enough to eat. Susan, as far as I know, may not even have a home. Tears start to well up in my eyes as I absorb the kindness of the offering.

"That's so nice of you," I tell her, "but I don't think it would keep. I'll tell her you came in. I'll tell her you brought it for her, okay? I know that will make her feel better."

After that, I called her Susan.

Tonight, Susan rode the bus home with me. She talked about the mini-eco-systems that exist all along the south shore, and I said how this one big tree, blown over by Hurricane Juan, still comes into leaf each year, with only a root or two left in the soil. Susan rambled about how they should have community Christmas dinners for old people and single women, and about how Bin Laden could be so rich, with all those possibilites to do good or live a beautiful life and choose instead to promote death. Somewhere in there, there was something about shipping 40,000 pairs of sturdy sandals somewhere- or maybe, she said, they should send running shoes - and didn't I think they deserved to be held to some kind of standard? I only got bits. The rest was in her mind. At mile two of the bus ride, trying to follow was like attempting to pick my way out of a snarl of barbed wire. I hung in. Trying my best to catch the bits I could and respond to them.

And she was smiling when I got off. She looked happy.

I was smiling too.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Zhoen's tag for "Middle-aged meme. If you feel no longer young, but not yet old..."

What I'll never do & that's ok:

Enter a relationship for money, status or security.
Have children.
Have plastic surgery.
Save the world.
Be middle-aged again. Unless we consider 116 to be the average life-span.

What I have done, and would like to do again:

Publish something that really matters to me
Be self-employed
Live in a place where there is the view of trees from all the windows
Be obsessed with learning something new
Be scared to say the truth and say it anyway.
Be absolutely present in the moment.
Spend hours walking in the woods and by the ocean.
Forgive myself for being human, and therefore imperfect.
Laugh with a friend until we can't sit up straight.

What I've done and will have to do again:

Ride the number 20 bus for seventy minutes to travel 7 miles.
Be "on" when I want to retreat to a cave.
Try to accept that while I love to be partnered, part of me always ends up feeling caged.
Work for someone else.
Accept the bitterness in the world without becoming bitter.
Taxes, setting up a new computer, doing laundry, washing dishes (on and on)
Dissuade myself of the notion that the world needs saving.
Remind myself that it isn't all about ME.

What I won't do again:

(Like Mary in "A Breath of Air) - I won't say "yes" when I mean "no."
Apologize for needing a lot of time alone.
Apologize for loving anyone.
Have bad, indifferent or casual sex - or think I should be "past all that."
Favor my mind's decisions when my gut feelings are screaming "NO."
Forget to question all societal notions of How Things Are.
Fail to appreciate touch or love - in any guise or form.
Stop writing.

What I still may get to do:

See the desert. Arizona's sunsets.
Know why.
Be self-employed.
Grow old ungracefully, full of piss and vinegar.
Accept myself and everyone else without reservation or judgment.
Write ten million more words on this blog.
Have all the beads and findings in the entire world.
Be a good friend.
Be at peace.

Color me stupid (or Oh, the technology!)

It was a great bargain. Minor Deity personally approved all it's internal organs, canned a few options, added a little RAM, tinkered, generally with the order. It came without a new keyboard or monitor, sure - but I have those. Now, the keyboard is loaded with enough nacho fragments and toast crumbs to feed an entire village, and the monitor is a old - but I can still type and the resolution is good.

It was a terrific price for what I was getting, Minor Deity said - and he never lies about these things. It had (get this) things like: an ASUS P5LD2-VM/S-775/945G, Duel Core, 4DDR2 667, PCI-E, SATA II, Video, GB LAN & HD, Augdio/3yr. And that's only one of it's organs!

Who wouldn't be impressed?

Sure, it grumbles when it does anything. I mean, it makes a sort of complaining groan, as if it wishes I'd go away and stop demanding it do things. But I've been married, so I can live with that. And Minor Deity came back to check this curious and worrying sound and announced to me that it was just my hard drive, which, he explained, is BIGGER and FASTER and BETTER and they all make noises like that, the big boys. Oh.

And it runs my astrology program, PSP, and all my other big fat space-hogging software like a dream!

Strangely, I hadn't used Word since I got this marvel. On Sunday, I noticed that "My documents" were all showing up in Wordpad. Wordpad? I began to search "all programs" but there was no sign of a word processing program. And I'd given my old disk to MD and had to disturb him a third time to retrieve it and finish the setup.

That's when I figured out that the reason I have this Big Monster Computer for such a juicy low price is that, not only did it not have a keyboard or monitor, it didn't include the ability to speak or write English (unless you count Wordpad - and I equate that with writing in the dirt with a stick). I actually dumbed into getting a high quality PC when I could only afford a medium priced one.

But anyone, blinded by the light of such wonders as, ATI Sapphire/X550 Advantage 16x PCI-Express/256 M/TV-OUT/DVI/Retail Box could have done that!


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Breathing again.

The week bumps and lurches to a conclusion. By Wednesday afternoon, I have stopped fleeing to the pier to sit sobbing on guano-encrusted benches. I have stopped repeating my mantra, "Just breathe. Just breathe."

The pace is still insane, but I'm beginning to find both the pace and my own hysteria comical. The breakdowns come in every shape and size. Wednesday morning, I'm trapped on the bus for an hour and a half due to several car accidents on nearby traffic arteries. At lunch time, I make five or six attempts to leave for lunch and am intercepted each time before I get more than a yard from my desk. Wednesday night, giving up on my own number 20 bus ever arriving, I get on the number 32 and, being a good citizen, tell the driver, "You know you're stopping at the wrong place?"
"Oh! Thanks," he says - and I am rewarded by the added delay of going back around the block to pick up the passengers he's missed and it's just enough time to hit the height of rush-hour traffic.

Wednesday night, my friend the IT person (Minor Deity, we call him), comes to eat pizza, drink cheap wine and install my newer, bigger, faster and more intelligent computer. He begins the task by asking, "Where is your CD for Aliant?" Aliant is my phone and internet service.
"Duh?" I respond. This is not the correct answer. It leads to Minor Deity showing me how he plays Demolition Derby with Old and New computers. He rips out a brightly colored chunk of Old computer and patches it into New computer. He is tapping crazily and speed-reading incomprehensible screens moving at lightspeed.

"What are you doing?" I ask. Standing well back.
"Getting your internet. Transferring your documents." Oh. Now things are going swimmingly except for the fact that I don't know my passwords to anything and this means we need to paste a phone to his ear or mine for half hour periods. "Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line to maintain your holding priority unless you happen to die first in which case we'd prefer that you have someone there to hang up the phone." Meanwhile, Girlfriend of Minor Deity is going through a crisis, so he's there, sometimes with a phone to each ear.

Thursday morning, new computer operating, end of hell-week in sight, I start out cheerful and early. The bus seems to fly along in the surprisingly light traffic. I'm checking my watch - 8:20 a.m. and I am 10 minutes away from work. I'll be on time! Wrong. The shit fairy, who has obviously been lurking around my vicinity for weeks, overhears this thought and begins to grin manically. The bus breaks down at 8:21. By now, I have given up. I cannot hope to even do damage control on the chaos of the week. I can, however, laugh at it. And I do.

It's fall term of firsts. The first time I've actually cried from the pressure. The first time a new student has ever said something like, "This is horrible. How do you guys stand it?" I am in full black humor mode and reassure her. "I cry and have panic attacks." Then I look at her distressed face. "It gets much better," I tell her, "in about a week or so it levels out some. It'll be okay."
"Is anyone going to show us how to use this library?" she wails, "I don't know how to use the catalogues or where anything is."
Suddenly I remember why I work there and who I work for. Not the administration. Not The College. I work for her.
"You'll get an orientation tour next week. If that isn't enough help, you come in and make an appointment with one of us for some one-on-one help, ok? You're going to be just fine. We'll get it sorted."

And we both go home feeling better.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

500-some days to retirement

I kept thinking, this kind of stress would be understandable if I worked in the operating room of Emergency. Or if I were an air traffic controller. I kept smiling at people and speaking in a soothing voice. "Two hundred items for course reserves have arrived on my desk within two days and I can't be at my desk. I'm sorry. I know you need to do the assigned readings, and I'll get them out as fast as I can. I know this is very difficult but it will be sorted out soon."

Nothing goes smoothly. Every student has an expired record, a new address, a new email and phone number to update. As we do each update, the lineup grows. Four hundred people need records entered, from scratch and everyone with available fingers is typing them in. There is no such thing as swiping a barcode, and then scanning book barcodes and simply loaning them. Delay piles on delay. Oh. You didn't know you had $45.00 in fines? Did you not get your email? Most of the new students don't know how to use the online catalogue and need help. The professors, oblivious for the most part, to the fact that I'm training a student and have a lineup of people waiting, want to discuss their course reserves right then and there - without submitting anything in writing. By the end of the day, I'm saying, "I don't know what's on my desk. I haven't been there today." My new assistant tells me, looking like she expects on-the-spot execution, that she's changing her classes and can't work Thursday night. The one thing that was settled, the schedule, blows apart like a house of cards in a stiff wind.

By 2:oo o'clock, I go to the office. I hurl a reserve file folder across my desk. And then try to breathe. I pick up my messages to find that the Scorpio has called twice and it's too late to return the call. He's bleeding and it's not minor and he's going home. He's going to try to see the doctor. I burst into tears and throw my arms around Emilie, a beloved former student assistant who's come in to visit with her new baby. "It's a bad, bad day," I wail.

And then I try to breath again and go back out there.

At the end of the day, my new student assistant, who, to her credit, has not fled, screaming, looks at me, stunned and asks, "Are all your days like this?"

"Yes. Well. Yes, they are for the first three or four weeks."

I manage not to cry noticably on the bus trip home. When I get through my door, I don't know what to do. The stress has so permeated my entire body that I can't imagine how to make the strumming tension stop. I notice that I am holding my breath and I exhale. Big deep breath. Exhale. It helps a little, but my shoulders are still attached to my earlobes and the tightness seems to extend from my three-week old headache to the soles of my feet.

I pour the first glass of wine I've had in a while. There is only a little left in the bottle.

And I come here. Because there is no place else to go, I don't know what else to do and tomorrow will not be any better.

Monday, September 11, 2006

She's Baackk...

Well, hell.

Moved up to the Ferari and turns out the gear shift sticks, the steering column is loose and the windows won't roll down. The wagon ain't fancy, but she gets me there. Less parts, less to break back here at Life on Earth.

Marko gave me a very juicy bad word last week in an email. He was describing the beginning of term at his particular insane asylum (very much like my insane asylum) and he summed it up with:
"It's a clusterf--k." It's such a perfectly appropriate word that I regret not being able to spell it in full, over and over.

And so goes my first and second week of the fall term at Esteemed Post-Secondary Art Place, and so goes the comments situation at Beta Blogger, and my budget, and my Usual State of Serenity and Goodwill Towards Mankind and last, but not least, my PC, which is trying desperately to reach full dementia.

Blogging may get thin over the next while, but it's got priority over doing the dishes, washing my hair, paying my bills and otherwise conducting myself like a responsible adult. Remember playing "statues" as a kid? The game where someone took your hand and spun you around until you were nearly ready to throw up and then you had to freeze in place? Ok. You're too young to remember - or you had toys. Anyway, I'd describe the last couple of weeks as the first part of a game of "statues." The whirling part. And "they" aren't letting go for another couple weeks at least.

Meanwhile, at some point, Minor Deity, my IT friend from work, is going to set up the new PC.
Then, my friends, we are going to fervently pray that it is not a Beta. I say "we" because I credit you all with great compassion and kindness (far more than I, myself, possess). If all goes well, there should not be undue silence for long. AND Phelgmy! I'll be able to hear your audio posts!

Wish me luck. Please feel free to actually comment without resorting to being "anonymous."
I have hated not seeing your links on the new blog. I have hated not seeing your pictures. I have missed the exchange of comments between people. New links will be posted soon.

No place like home.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Please stand by. We are experiencing...

Ok, folks. I am disabling comment moderation in Alpha & Beta (sorry, you'll have to type the stupid unreadable codes). I've got all the email addresses switched to gmail. I've marked that "Anyone" can comment. Let's see if that helps!