Friday, March 19, 2010

A Present. A Day.

Thanks, Agent Cooper.

(Or should I say "Thanks, David Lynch"?!)

I have lived for the past … too many years to count by this motto, that Agent Coop outlines in one of my favorite TV shows of all times (if not my absolute favorite!).

I try, every day, to do something for myself and myself only that puts a smile on my face. I think it’s our duty – to find the beautiful and the happiness in every day. Life is otherwise busy enough messing things up on her own self. Quite apt at that she is!

Today, I dreaded to go back in the house, after work. The longer day light, as well as the temperatures well into the 70’s and the bright, cloudless sun were keeping me out. So, finally, even with a penury of free hours in my daily schedule, I went and visited the shopping center right outside my neighborhood, stepped into Hallmark (which is like my toy store!) and rented a girlie movie too! It was just fun to enjoy the warmth, the architecture and the newness of the place and just people watch.

But my favorite present for the day was this: I seldom, if ever, buy what people call “junk food”. It’s tempting, don’t get me wrong, but I know what it does to my hips! But when I stopped by the pharmacy tonight, they had some of my favorite and relatively hard to find snacks in the whole wide world: Munchos ! They are fattening as all hell and they make your lips and chin feel like you just gorged on a whole bucket of KFC wings! In other words: they’re delish!

So, just like that, I grabbed a small bag off the shelf (I really wanted the bag with the 16 servings, but I thought better of it!), on the way to the counter and got them! If there is such a thing as a “happiness IQ”, it just went up by 200 points! I popped the bag open in the car, and drove slowly, so I can savor them. Every grain of salt, and every drop of oil in them hit my palate and made me melt! I could have closed my eyes and believed I was in heaven!

Just like that: a small bag of $.99 potato chips can send you to places a whole entire month of happenings cannot. Part of it it’s the surprise, and the unexpected – to paraphrase someone in the “Walk the Line” movie who talks to June Carter: “that was not on my calendar”! And part of it is the guilt, of course, that I allow myself to be carried away by something I restrict myself so consciously all the time.

Have a fun weekend, everyone, and always remember Agent Cooper’s advice: give yourself a present every day, and – if I can humbly add: never forget what a present each day is, in itself!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Mental Deck Chair

So, the countdown has started. The countdown to my starting a new chapter in my life, that is. So far, everything was in sort of a happy-go-lucky, dreamy, planning stage. Now, the doing phase has begun. And let me tell you, I feel like I am standing near a mountain of huge stuffed bears that were holding up so ever so tenderly, and someone has recently pulled a bear out of the stack, and the whole mountain moved. And I am standing there, holding on to it for dear life, so I’d prevent it from burying me under it.

Overwhelmed and scared is what I feel. I mentioned this before: my motto in life, when I left high school was “I am scared but I like it”. Now, older, and really not much wiser than then, I would say “I am scared and that’s it”. ‘Cause I surely as heck am not liking this!

And I think the issue is control. The stuff I worry about, from everything I have to do in a day is not stuff that I can control. That, the knowing and known stuff, it’s what gives me comfort. I know: it’s a truism: knowledge gives you power – so, you won’t be afraid of what you know. But only now, when I am buried under all the details and all the chores, and under the incredible amount of things that other people have to do for me, I realize this so acutely.

I am not sure what overwhelms me more: thinking all these things I am scared of will happen? Or the fact that things that I can do might not get done, because I have too many of them to do?

Just to give you an idea of what I do in a given day lately: the alarm goes off at 6 AM. I hit the snooze button for at least an hour; I get up at 7:15 or so. Sometimes later. I shower. I dress. I make up my bed “fancy”, since the house is on the market, and it has to look like no one lives here (really, people, who are you kiddin’??). I then clean out my bathroom: fold my towels just so (again, like no one uses them – yeah, right), I put the toiletries away. Then, I climb downstairs. I feed cats. I make breakfast. I pack lunch. I scoop litter, and take the trash out. Every morning. Then, I jump in the car around 8:30-9:00 – already late. Every morning.

Then, work. With all its chores: meetings, documentation updating, answer emails, make sure all you know is in some folder so someone can find it. When I am not there. Being everyone’s spare brain is not easy, ya know! Lunch is always a working lunch: either working at my desk, or running an errand for what I have to do: meeting with the wedding planner, picking up the wedding dress, buying litter for the house, buying groceries or supplies to clean up the patio, vacuuming the car, cleaning the trunk, installing a baby seat in the car, doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions. What have you.

Then work, again. Errands again, after work: meet with realtor. Or go home, crate the cats, since I’ll have a showing. Cook dinner, at some point. Somewhere in there, watch what I eat: I can’t possibly allow myself to gain another pound, and there is no time for walking anymore!

Email mom and friends to let them know I am alive. My emails to them are shorter and shorter every day. Got no time for long ones. Then, clean the house some more, of kitty hair and throw up, from over the day. Go to bed around 11 or 12, and try as hard as it may be, to read at least ONE page in a book. One page. Just to pretend I disconnected and I gave my brain a break that day. It doesn’t work. I fall sleep in the first 3 minutes of “reading”.

These are the chores.

For the things I cannot control and which keep me up at night, right after the first 30 minutes of fast asleep-ness… are way more than those… I always worry the people who will see my house will let the cats out, if they don’t call to make an appointment and they come in without me crating them first. They will let at least one, the friendliest of all, out. And I will be devastated if I lost him/ them. I feel like I constantly have my front door wide open, since they put a key in the lockbox for the showings, and anyone can help themselves to my cats, house, everything. Communism instilled paranoia goes a loooong way, let me tell you.

I fear the house will never sell, because of this crappy market, and we will end up paying the mortgage on this big monster for 2-3-5 years. We will be poor and he will hate me for my debt! People get over buyer’s remorse when buying a house or a car in a couple of months. Three years since I bought this – I never went over mine. And now the painful feeling of being “stuck with it” has to be shared with this other wonderful and innocent human being that accepted me in their life! Guilt. Lots of it!

I fear, I will crate the cats, but then they will go crazy, because they really don’t like to be crated, as free as they always are.

I fear that when we drive across country with them for 4 days, they will pant and get crazy in the brain in the crates, and I will have to put them to sleep if they never recover. I fear silly things like these, all the time.

I fear I will kill them one time, by forcing them to enter the crates, although I have had vets teach me how to do it properly, with minimal to zero discomfort to them. But I love them too much, anything “against their will” hurts me.

I try making the crates fun: I sprinkle cat nip and try to hide toys in there, hoping they’ll like it. They look dubious! And I feel, once more, guilty.

I fear everyone will arrive for the wedding (because everyone but me is flying in, and no one from a drivable distance, really!) one or two days late, and all our schedule for the wedding week will be shot. I fear my future husband will be late, again, coming into town, and we will not have time to get a marriage license … I feared till yesterday that they’ll burn my dress at the alterations place and where am I going to find a beautiful dress that fits me again?? Well, they didn’t burn it. In fact, it turned out beautifully, and I am so tickled to have it in my possession now, all fit and ready to go!

I fear (still) that my nephew will get very sick again, and my sister will not be able to make it to the wedding. But, alas, she has plane tickets now, and she at least has that “insurance” for my troubled psyche …And he has felt so much better lately, bless his heart!

I am a constant knot of emotions, thoughts and fears. I sound like a crazy person, I know … And this is, like I said, the beginning. And these are all things that will get sorted out with time, patience and a clear mind. But alas, I do not have time for clarity right now. Just for shear panic, it seems.

I needed to at least lay them down on paper, and let them fly into the world, so they will leave my brain and heavy chest.

With all this running around during the day and being awake with nutty thoughts at night, I have grown to enjoy even the little bit of waiting at the traffic light! Even the wait in a doctor’s waiting room, which normally grinds my nerves. I don’t even read there anymore. I can’t. My brain is on overload. I need to let it just rest. Just be. Just have no purpose at all for a minute. Or two. I enjoy waiting lately – and I don’t even recognize myself as typing this!

Did you hear what they’ve been doing in New York City now ? They have blocked off streets in Times Square – yes, as in the busiest, most crowded and happening square possibly on the planet – closed down the traffic, and let people sit there on deck chairs. Just stop and sit on deck chairs - take a break during their crazy days: they have street artists, even yoga, and lots of nothing, but sitting and chatting, and being. The Budget Travel magazine editor ended her editorial about this wonderful initiative with “somewhere, there is a deck chair with your name on it”.

And ever since I read that, I keep praying that I’d find mine. For even just one second, I can block off “the traffic” which is now my life and just sit. And do nothing at all. But sit on a mental deck chair. I hope I find it soon, or else my “mental” knees will give out. And I do need a rest. The long road is just ahead!

Gypsy, making peace with the cat carrier - but not quite.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Happy 100K Miles!

My one and only car, the 2001 Toyota Echo I have had for now close to seven years (where has the time gone?!) has turned 100,000 miles old this weekend. It’s hard to believe, looking back, that I have had it for that long and that I have put about 68,000 of those miles on it myself.

March 7, 2010 - Greensboro, NC

I try hard not to get attached to things. People, sure. Pets, definitely. But “things”, I tell myself, are so elusive and so ephemeral! But for some odd reason, I get attached to cars! Sometimes I think I get more attached to them than I do to houses! I am not sure why: maybe because cars take me away and I have lots of memories going fun places in them, or maybe because the road is quite a lonely place to be, and you’re looking for comfort more so than in your house, where comfort just lives, and where it’s easier to take for granted. I don’t know! But I do develop these “relationships” with my cars.

I still mourn, some days, the death of my SAAB, my first car, which I totaled. I still miss my Camry, which was bullet proof, but had to be given away for being too old (about 192,000 miles old)… The Echo has been with me everywhere between Atlanta, GA and Cape Cod, Mass., anywhere from The Outer Banks of NC to West Virginia. Is it ready for the upcoming relocating trip to Utah?! – I wonder. I hope so, because I’ll expect it to be.

It’s been my vehicle, and my tent, when I was too lazy to put up one, my waiting room for doctors’ appointments, and my reading room for my lunch breaks. Boyfriends and bad dates came and went, but the Echo stayed. Houses did too, and it stayed also. It handled trips for my mom, my aunt, even my sister and her whole family, many a friends, with nothing but ease.

It’s been hit about four times, and it’s still running like a dream. And other than new tires, new breaks, and a new battery, it’s been asking for not much more than oil and gas. I would say that’s pretty good for a 9 year old car. And I don’t even want to start talking about how great it feels to fill up the tank once every three weeks, maybe, or forgetting that it does need to be filled at all! I would be here all day, if I did.

You never know what the future brings in anything, but life is that much more relative when it comes to cars. One thing I know, though: looking back at all these years, and judging alone by those, the Echo will remain one of the more reliable cars in my life.

Happy birthday, little car! And happy roads, too! And many, many more healthy birthdays to come. Hope to see The Rockies together, soon, and beyond …