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Something. Anything.

wild flowers

Work is going really well, but it is all consuming. In the mornings, sometimes, when we’re able to drag ourselves out of bed early enough, Mike and I have been taking the dogs for hikes, because all four of us need the exercise.  Then I spend the day working and Mike spends the day job hunting. Then we have dinner with my parents, and then we crash. And I just haven’t figured out where to make time for my writing. But I have got to figure it out, and I’ve got to figure it out soon, because I can feel myself getting out of practice.

My bosses are writing a book, and when I finish transcribing it, it will be my job to edit it, which is the part I’m really excited about.  Editing has always been one of my fantasy careers. But in the meantime, I spent over four hours typing today and I swear to you, my fingers ache in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. So for now, even though I miss you terribly, I must let my fingers and wrists rest. There is probably another four hours of typing to do tomorrow, in between meetings and phone calls and Thursday Night Family Dinner, which is surely the highlight of my week.

One day I’ll get back to regularly scheduled posting, and until then, may all our days be full of sunshine and wildflowers.

(I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore.)

It’s not weird, it’s not. (Say that fast.)

Lately I’ve been having this conversation with my dogs –

What? You don’t have conversations with your dogs? Really? I find that hard to believe.

I’ve been talking to Valentine and Theo about change. After all, there are going to be some pretty big changes coming up. There have all ready been some little changes; all our stuff has disappeared into big boxes and the cats are gone. So I explain this to them, and then I tell them about how we’ll be driving a big truck across the country, and we’ll spend the nights in campgrounds and friends homes, and then we’ll be in California! California, where the sun shines year-round, the sidewalks glitter with mica, and the markets are cornucopias of fresh fruits and vegetables.

I say all of this to the little dogs, who blink, yawn, and promptly fall asleep.

When I was a little girl, my brother, who’s birthday it just was, worked on a video for a kid’s TV show about a little girl who learned a lesson about change. After all, there is only one thing that doesn’t change, and that is the fact that change is inevitable. Just when you think you’ve found your groove, things change. Just when life gets cozy, things change. Everything is always changing. The girl learns this lesson and at the end, she gets a red cape and a red crown and she becomes Captain Change! And she learns to feel really good about all of the opportunities change presents.

I feel like that kid in the red cape. Change is wonderful! It gives us an opportunity to grow, and learn, and figure stuff out all over again. Change keeps life exciting, presents challenges, keeps us limber. And the changes coming up are awesome changes, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that change is also really scary and frustrating and is making me grind my teeth at night. Which is why I talk to my dogs about change. I’m really talking to me.

Mish Mash

This photo isn’t really related to this post, except that it is. I love this photo; my friend Christine took it at the after-party for her gallery show, and she has perfectly captured a moment when we were out enjoying a night with friends, having fun, and not thinking about canceling ConEd, or finding movers, or whether or not we can live without the salad spinner for the next eight days.

HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DRY MY LETTUCE NOW, MIKE? HOW?

I am Captain Change, embracing the discomfort, and moving forward with an open heart.

Yesterday — This and That

We started packing this weekend. Not Michael and I, Adam and I. Michael is taking care of eight Alaskan Malamutes who live on eighty acres of land in Esopus, New York, and so Adam and I spent Saturday in Central Park, then we went to SoHo to do a little shopping, and then we went back to my apartment and started packing. I didn’t want to. We’d shared an idyllic New York afternoon and the last thing I wanted to do was ruin it by packing my home into cardboard boxes. I hemmed and hawed and insisted on cooking a three course meal, which is laughable considering I only starting learning how to cook within this last year, I was obviously just procrastinating. However, Adam is the kind of guy who organizes his underpants by color and cut because he thinks it’s fun, so by the time I had the first course on the table, he’d all ready packed up several boxes of stuff. And I was relieved. It was little like ripping a band-aid off a wound, but once the book shelves are empty, what’s the point in putting off the rest? So we packed and we packed, until we ran out of boxes and only then did I realize how much crap Mike and I have. Seriously. Adam and I packed twenty boxes of stuff from the living room and the only reason you can tell is because now there is a huge stack of packed and labeled boxes along one wall. Mike and I have really got our work cut out for us.

But for now twenty boxes will have to be enough, because on Sunday morning I hopped a train to Poughkeepsie and Mike picked me up at the station and drove me to Esopus, and now I am sitting on a deck with my feet up, laptop perched on my knees, a cup of peppermint tea at my elbow, and I am looking at this:

My View

I don’t know if you can tell from the crappy photo I took with my computer (I forgot the cord that connects my camera to the laptop, so had to use Photo Booth instead) but there is a lake beyond those trees. A perfectly lovely shimmering lake, full of fish to fish if you like to fish, and snapping turtles, and frogs, and all kinds of other wonderful things. There is space for the doglets to run around, so long as I keep them separated from the herd Malamutes, who, friendly as they are, see ten pound dachshunds and fifteen pound chihuahua mutts as snack foods. Of course, if I did let them mingle, we wouldn’t have to worry about driving cross-country with two dogs.

Sunday afternoon it was very hot and so I put our doglets in the air-conditioned, furnished basement and spent my afternoon like this:

P and Ish.

That’s Printer, and he probably weighs about a hundred pounds. He likes to rest his head on your knee for a scratch behind the ears, and if you don’t comply, he will take one of his giant paws, and he will place it gently on your shoulder and push a little. And then huff an exasperated sigh, as if to say, “I ask so little of you, human. PET ME ALL READY.”

This place is heaven. The space, the green, the crickets, the humming birds, the dragon flies, the wind in the trees, it’s all absolutely heaven. It’s a perfect reprieve from our impending move.

Malamute Footrest

Malamutes make good footrests.

T and TT

When Trouble wants to sit in your lap, you let her. All ninety-five pounds of her.

EDIT: This is my 100th post at A Serious Girl! (Just felt like I had to mention it.)

Trying, with all my might

lights

All photos in this post courtesy of Christine Lindebak

I have been a very bad blogger, I know.  I keep saying I’ll write things that I never write, and more often than not I don’t write anything at all.  This week has been a weird week.  We had a wonderful Fourth of July, but I woke up on Monday morning with a dark cloud over my head. We’ve had to give up our daily runs because of air conditions and high temperatures, and I think that birth control pill really screwed up my body’s natural chemistry.

This week it’s been nearly impossible to get anything done.  I have no motivation, no desire, no purpose. Everything feels hopeless and pointless.  If I could blame it on my moon cycle or the pill, that would be one thing, but my moon cycle is completely screwed up because of the pill and Mike is just as down as I am and he certainly hasn’t taken any synthetic hormones so should we blame it on the heat?  Perhaps.

smoky sky

We watched fireworks explode over the skyline, and for the rest of the week no one could breathe.

My fifth day on Junel Fe 1.5/30 was my last day.  The first day had me up in the middle of the night, vomiting. Day two was okay, though there was some nausea.  Days three and four were clouded by gas pains and intense hunger. Day five nearly killed me. I was in Seattle, at my first drag show, on Gay Pride weekend, and I was so sick I could hardly move. Luckily my cousin and his friends are wonderful people who are patient and kind and took me home and ran me a hot bath and stroked my hair until I felt human again. Then they made me promise to stop poisoning myself with synthetic hormones, which I was more than happy to do.

And now I don’t know when to expect my next period, nor do I know on what to blame the feelings of utter desolation I’ve been feeling.  It could be the heat, true. It could be the lack of regular exercise, which is a direct result of the heat.  It could be the synthetic hormones working their way out of my body, it could be my natural hormones trying to get back into balance, or it could be the fact that we’re five and a half weeks away from uprooting our entire lives, once again, and heading into the unknown.

and the rockets red glare

And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave truth to the night…

I don’t know what’s going on, but I do know that the heat seems to have broken a bit, Mike and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed for a seven-thirty run this morning, and I’m feeling better. And I’m blogging! So here’s to keeping our Universal chin up, staying positive, and remembering that it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Bright Red Ink

Here’s the thing.  Every day, all day long, ideas of things I want to write run through my head and sometimes I scrawl notes or rough drafts or sometimes I tweet the ideas, so that when I finally find a moment to sit and breathe, I will be able to write all the things that have been running through my head for days on end.  But when I finally find a moment, when I carve a moment from the blur of day and sit down and open a new page, my hands freeze.  My hands freeze, my heart stops and suddenly I just feel tired and afraid. Sometimes I force myself and I’ll squeeze something out.  Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s crap.  Sometimes I’ll try and I’ll try, I’ll write and I’ll delete and I’ll scribble and I’ll scratch out and then I’ll just give up because not being to be able to write is more painful than I can explain.

When I was ten, I wrote a story for a class assignment. I worked on it all weekend, I worked on it every day after school, I wrote draft after draft, editing and crafting and loving every moment of it.  It was a ten page underwater romance, the story of a merman and a mermaid, hopelessly in love.  I couldn’t wait to hand it in, I was sure I had created a masterpiece, I knew my teacher would love it.  But instead of finding words of praise scrawled in the margins, my story was scribbled all over in red ink, all of it’s flaws circled, all the mistakes underlined, every error scratched and rejected.  And at the bottom of the last page, in red letters that blotted out my carefully crafted ending, she wrote: “TOO MUCH DIALOGUE, NOT ENOUGH STORY.”

When the bell rang at the end of the day, I took my time gathering my things.  I waited until all the other kids had left and then, story in shaking hand, I approached her desk.  She was entering grades into her grade book, glasses perched on the end of her pretty nose, shoulders hunched in concentration.

“Mrs. Penny?  Um, what’s wrong with my story?”

She put her pen down, folded her hands on her desk, heaved an irritated sigh.  “Did you read my comments?  Or were they unclear?”

I took a deep breath.  “Well, um, I don’t, um … I just –”

“It’s all dialogue. It doesn’t go anywhere.  There’s no middle and the end is weak.”

I stood there, cheeks burning, tears threatening to spill over the ends of long lashes.

“Is there anything else you need or may I finish my grades?”

I shook my head and turned on my heel.

If you were to ask me why I’ve never tried to write a book, I’ll tell you it’s because I don’t know how to construct a story.  I might come up with an idea, but there’s no middle and no end and anyway, it’s terrible.  There’d be too much dialogue and not enough story.

That woman had no business teaching creative writing to fifth graders.

In tenth grade I had a teacher who told my mother my career would be in writing.  This woman was kind, nurturing and encouraging.  Besides the Physiology class where I got to dissect a fetal pig, Mrs. Parker’s tenth grade English class was my favorite class in my entire student career.  She assigned several writing exercises every week and her critiques were such that after listening to her talk about one of your poems or stories, you couldn’t wait to sit down and rework it.  But I don’t remember her compliments and I don’t remember her words of encouragement.  I remember Mrs. Penny, her blonde ponytail, her blue eyes and her bright red pen.  Why is that?

To Ramble

My brain is totally fried.  It’s only Monday and it took me three attempts to type the word “fried.”  Both times.  I’m exhausted.  I’m working a lot.  But I had an absolutely fantastic weekend, even though I worked on Saturday, so I am not complaining.

bliss

Last week Mike left for Los Angeles for his nephew’s high school graduation.  The kid is graduating Valedictorian, after all.   I’ll admit I was a little nervous about him going away for a long trip and me being all by my lonesome.  And I know it’s ridiculous considering I live with five animals in an enormous apartment building in the middle of New York City.  If there is anything I couldn’t possibly be, it’s alone. Even if I didn’t have the animals, you can’t go anywhere in this city without being pressed up against a hundred other sweaty bodies, so being alone is not an issue here.  But I do not like when we are separated.  I feel like I’m missing a limb.

And of course the rain didn’t help.

even the windows are weeping

There is nothing like rain to make a barely-holding-her-shit-together gal totally lose it.  But you know what?  It was only for a day.  He left Tuesday morning, I spent the day feeling miserable and sorry for myself, and then on Wednesday I got my ass back to work and I have been hustling ever since.   I miss him, I really ache for him, but I have been totally o.k.  I’ve even been eating my vegetables!

having a nice sniff

Friday morning I got up an hour early so I could take the dogs to the park while the sun was out.  Those little poop-eating beasts bring me so much happiness, I cannot even begin to explain it.  Sometimes I worry that I won’t love them anymore when I have babies.  Like, there won’t be enough left over for them.  And then I know that’s not true, I know I have enough room in my heart for everyone.

Saturday I worked, and afterwards Adam picked me up in his little blue bug and swept me off to Astoria for a slumber party with Joe, Christine and Breya and oh my god, you guys, it was amazing.  There was pizza, and prosecco, and an Audrey Hepburn flick.  We played dress-up and talked about clothes and we even made ice cream sundaes.

fabulous

Sunday morning we lounged around in our jammies, watching the news.  I cannot believe the oil spill.  I cannot believe this is happening and we’ve let it go on and on for fifty-six days now.  The consequences of this disaster will be felt by our great-great grandchildren.  It makes me sick.  It makes me not want to give birth to more children, because it makes me think I don’t want to bring another life into this world.  It makes me thinks “What’s the point of living when our future is so horribly bleak?” Which is why I don’t watch the news and why I haven’t known anything about this oil spill, except that it happened, until now, because these things terrify me to the extent that if I pay too close attention I will implode.  Call me socially irresponsible, I don’t care.  I’ve got to take care of my sanity.

So we turned off the TV and we went to Central Park.  We had cocktails and tapas at the Loeb Boathouse, which is without a doubt, my absolute favorite restaurant in New York City.  We sat on the patio and we sipped mimosas because life is too damn short to spend the afternoon in a black hole of despair when you could be sipping mimosas.  It started to rain just as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, but it felt so lovely and we were so cheerful that Adam and I decided to walk barefoot through the park, while Joe watched in horror.

“Take your shoes off!  The grass feels lovely under your feet.”
“Until you step on a hypodermic needle.  No way.  I’m keeping my shoes on.”

smoking joe

“You guys are crazy.”

Then I called him a stuffed shirt, because that’s what Corey calls Paul when he refuses to walk barefoot in the park with her.  But Joe, in case you’re reading this, your whole stuffed shirt thing is part of what makes you so irresistibly charming.  Yesterday wouldn’t have been the same without you.

Joe's loafers

We walked and we walked and it rained and it rained and it was heavenly.  When I closed my eyes it was as if we were monkey people living in a wild jungle. (I have a wonderful imagination.)  We found ourselves in the middle of a giant field and we stashed our stuff under a tree and and played frisbee.  Rather, Adam and I played frisbee while Joe smoked cigarettes under his umbrella.  And by the way, if you’ve never played frisbee in the middle of Central Park in the pouring rain, I highly recommend it.  It was absolutely spectacular and absolutely worth the soaking wet train ride home.

best pals

Noooooooo

Adam: “Give me a hug.”
Joe:  “Nooo!  I’m wearing dry clean only!”

Weigh In

It’s June, we’re halfway through the year, and so I thought it would be fun to do a six-month check-in on all my resolutions.  Like a weigh-in, only without the humiliating scale part.  (I have a serious fear of scales.  I loathe them and despise them and I might even be allergic to them.)

New Years Day 2010, I declared, via Frosty-licious, that this would be the year I would “throw off the pretty little mask”.  You guys, I’ve done such a good job:

frosty-licious

The best thing about this picture is that it’s actually my face.

But seriously, I’m glad I re-read that post because it’s kind of fantastic to look over the goals I set in January and see how many of them have been checked off the list.  This has definitely been a year for dreaming big, scary, wonderful dreams.  My career has taken a wild turn and it’s very unexpected and very exciting.  When I think about it I get little chills up and down my spine and then I think I might throw up.  Like the way you feel when someone you’ve waited your entire life to kiss finally kisses you for the first time.

Mike’s going to be really bummed when he realizes I just told the Internet that I felt like throwing up when he kissed me the first time.  But I assure you, it’s a good thing.

We’ve decided we’re going to hike the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal in August of 2011.  Talk about dreaming big!  We’re hoping fourteen months is enough time to save money, get in shape, get vaccinated, get passports.  Read this article and you’ll totally understand why we want to go.

It turns out I won’t be going back to school after all, at least not now.  When my acceptance letter came I was hit by a wave of disappointment, so I figured that maybe it wasn’t actually the right thing to do.  I love the idea of going back to school and cutting things open and looking at their insides, but I think I love the idea of it more than the actual doing of it.  Like, if I could go back to school and not have to work, and not have to think about anything else like which bills were due and how there could possibly be that much dog hair on the sofa when I just vacuumed, then it would be awesome.  I would love it.  I would drink in every minute, I’d be a sponge for knowledge, I would appreciate it a thousand million times more than I ever did when I actually was a student.  But that’s just not realistic at this point.  I already went to college and I spent four years rolling around the floor in white body make-up while breathing through my anus.  Now it’s Mike’s turn.  Not to breath through his anus, and anyway that was only a metaphor.  It’s his turn to go to college and be a fulltime sponge for knowledge.  Besides, I’m getting at least as much out of it as he is, you have no idea.

We have completely paid off all of our credit card debt.  It feels amazing.  And I’ll tell you exactly how we did it: We stopped spending.  Seriously.  We stopped eating out, we stopped drinking out, we stopped buying clothes and trinkets and candles and take-out and bath puffs and suddenly we were able to pay off our credit cards. We are making the least amount of money we’ve ever made and for the first time since we moved we don’t feel broke.  So we’re saving up to move home to Los Angeles.  And also for our Annapurna hike, but first home. New York has been a wonderful adventure, but we did what we needed to do and we’re ready to go home.

There was one resolution I read over that kind of bummed me out because I realized I haven’t made any progress on it.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I have been eating much better and I’ve been doing more yoga and getting more exercise, but I have some serious self-esteem issues I need to work through.  In the meantime, I no longer depend on caffeine in the mornings!  Yay for me!  I seriously thought I was going to need rehab to get off the coffee, but I don’t even miss it.  And I don’t drink alcohol at all anymore, except for once in a while because sometimes it’s nice to relax with a beer.  I’ve yet to take a Spanish class, but the year is not over yet.  I’ve got a trip planned to Seattle to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday, and a trip home for a wedding and Mike and I have definitely been spending a lot of time appreciating our time without children, if you know what I’m saying.

Six months into the year and things are looking pretty damn good.  I’ve got a good feeling about the next six months, too.  What about you?

Like a spool they unwind, the words from my fingers

view

Lately my time is stretched so thin I don’t even know what to make of it – I swear it falls away faster than ever before and I feel it within the ribbon of the day, I find myself savoring the moments because they are all we have when all is said and done, these moments right now.  This week is the first week in months when the sun has shone every day in a row.  I find myself eager to walk the dogs in the morning, we take our time as we walk the length of Jackie Robinson Park, say hello to neighbors sitting, sipping morning coffee.  All these pictures have been taken along that stretch of park, and tomorrow morning I will have to photograph the lilies – they’ve just come up and they are gorgeous.

New York is where I learned how to take time to admire the flowers.  It’s also where I learned how to walk with my chin up but that’s a story for another day.

Things are good.  I feel like I’ve been really absent from this blog lately.  Content on this site has been nothing but sprinkles of postdinner pillow talk for days.  The funny thing is I’ve been writing constantly.  I have pages and pages of stories and ideas for stories scrawled into various notebooks, written on the train or the wee waking hours of the morning.  I just don’t have the time to type them out.  Or else I look over it later and decide its garbage, no one wants to read that.  Puh-leez.  Moron.

So I’m a little creatively blocked, maybe.  Or maybe I’m not.  Maybe I’m writing something that I’m not ready to show yet and maybe it will grow into something wonderful and fabulous, something I don’t even realize I’ve thought of yet.  I don’t know you guys.  Sometimes everything just feels so complicated.

But things are good.  I’m happy.  Work is exciting.  I’m being challenged every single day, crazy challenged, my brain is actually physically exhausted at the end of every day and then I can’t sleep because apparently my brain relaxes by running a list of five thousand things I haven’t done yet that need to get done tomorrow what the hell are you waiting for?

I know, right?  I’m beginning to think that maybe I’m a little bit OCD.  There are just all these little signs.  And there’s also the fact that cleaning my apartment has become the single most relaxing thing I do in the entire day.  How weird is that?  Is it weird?

The other day Michael and I had a fight – ok, I had a fight – long story short we had a misunderstanding and I stewed over it for way too long and then the other morning he walked into the kitchen and I was on my knees scrubbing underneath the stove and sobbing, scrubbing was the only way I could think of to soothe myself.  And he was like, “what happened?” and I hid my face in my hands, so embarrassed was I for how angry I felt over this thing, when I knew he wasn’t even the right person to be angry at.  So then I said that, too.  And he pulled me into his chest and I cried until I got it all out and then he made me breakfast.

Our days are salty and sweet, full of  tiny thrills and minor stings.  I feel like for the first time in my life I’m actually living.

Evoking 1960’s Iconography

Ann Margaret

Astoria, Queens

May 2010

“Is it too much?” she asks as she poses with an unlit cigarette.