Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Nick's computer is less than functional. I smuggled over a wireless router to his condo awhile back, and, on occasion, I bring my laptop over for a play-date. Needless to say, Nick has come to be rather fond of having a laptop sitting around...and that was when his desktop was more than functional.
As last night drew to a close, Nick fished, "Do you think you'll be coming by tomorrow night?" I put down the People crossword that I was working on—the leaf which I tore (with permission) from an old magazine in the collapsing heap of time-passers at Parks Automotive on Friday while I waited for them to tally my bill—and looked to his eager little face.
"I'm leaving my laptop here," I offered my olive branch. I saw his immediate joy and then the fronted nonchalance. "Yes, I read through that question," I replied with a twinkle in my eye, and he began to smirk and duck his head with feigned embarrassment at being caught.
Ah, but it is good to be needed.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Ok, so I have this thing about New Balance shoes. Ok, and I've had a hectic few months now. Ok, and by the end of the day my brain is mush. Ok, and pretty pictures seduce me.
It was last Thursday, the first day of the basketball tournament—oh, sweet lord, I'm starting to relay time to you in relation to sporting events....dang it, Nick!—and I worked a ten-hour day. I was all by my lonesome that night, and found my hands caressing the pages of SHAPE magazine with the hungry mind of a stoner.
I love SHAPE. Love it. Imagine my delight when February's issue was delivered to my home! Masterful! And then March!—it happened again! You're not nearly wide-eyed enough at this double proclamation...perhaps I've left out the most supernatural part: I've never subscribed to this magazine. I've never paid for it. I mean I would, and gladly, but if it's coming for free, why?
So there I am, leafing through a bootleg issue of SHAPE, nursing on my heel the biggest blister I've ever seen and the most painful I've ever conjured, and what do I see but the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever known...or, you know, close to:
Sore feet, pillowy brain, orange shoes...like another path was even open to me. I found an online NB retailer and ordered a pair, making certain to get the orange. There was something about that orange. It just made me happy. Mmmm...orange.
Some people get funny about ordering their athletic shoes without trying them on first, and I hear ya guys, I hear ya...but I've worn NBs for so long that I know my size. I know my width. I knew no fear. I let the drool drip unabated from the corner of my mouth, my face spellbound in the rapture of this shoe and the idea of shock absorption it romanced in my squishy little mind.
I received them the following Monday, smuggling them from my aunts' view, slightly embarrassed by the mental wherewithal I lacked in the presence of that NB ad. I have been that much of a patsy in commercialism since Malibu Barbie...so, I mean, it's been a decent 8 months now. I should be more worldly, less excitable. But, then I opened the outer box of the package, and found streams of hot, white light spotlighting from the crevices of the shoebox...and my breath caught. This was it. My heel still recovering from the most painful of all blisters, I let my hands fall to the package with cherishing hands.
I parted the tissue paper and took in the radiance of the orangest shoes I've ever owned. Embarrassment completely forgotten, I ran to my aunts with my shoes high in the air, showing them off, letting the light refract from their shimmery parts, letting the orange glow. Even Nick thought they were an okay-looking shoe.
Just when I thought I couldn't be happier with my shoes, I ran with them. Like, I tied them so that they encased my feet? Yeah, well, after I did that, I ran. They're like mini trampolines strapped to my feet! I feared a time or two that the ricochet of my foot to the treadmill belt would cause an altercation between my knee and forehead.
So yes, cheaply, I saw a picture of a shoe and then bought a pair in a round trip of about five minutes. I fell for a marketting ploy. Shamelessly. And I couldn't be happier. And, I just wrote about a pair of shoes...my mind is a sad little thing. But, "pillowy", that sounds cuter...pillowy.
I don't know that I've ever met a more self-sacrificing person than my aunt, Debbie. I hold such dear memories of this woman...and I know she'd do just about anything in her power to make my life easier. I hope she knows the reverse is true as well.
During my youth, we took family vacations to Northern Wisconsin (ie "Up North"...have to be considerate of the non Wisconsinites), I was an early bird. My father and brother were out fishing, and the women slept...except Debbie. I would sneak over from my family's cabin to hers, where she was always sure to stock up on orange juice for the week for just such occasions. I loved my orange juice. It would be just her and me...with our respective coffee and juice, inhaling the early summer air and watching the dust motes flutter in the orange early morning sun. Soft voices and silly giggles...it was our private time, and nobody could touch it.
And when the news with Mom's Cancer got bad, really bad, Debbie told me. "If it were me, I'd wanna know," she'd say. Mom always worked so hard at soothing everybody that she often made things appear lighter than they were. I remember her returning home after one scan, duly breaking down with the spread of this hideous disease, and then adding lightness and reassurance to her voice as she notified her mother, sisters. She made it seem blasť, being ill, and nobody knew it better than me. Debbie kept me plugged in from 1,200 miles away, and I will always respect her for having the guts and inner fortitude to deliver such rotten tidings.
In 2003, a group of us sat in the hospital waiting room while Mom had surgery. It was a very long day, and at the conclusion, after we spent the totality of the twelve hours dry-eyed and calm, when the surgeon came to tell us that they were able to remove every visible tumor—good news—we stood up, all of us. I looked to my glassy-eyed aunt and hugged her. The way she hugged me back spoke of the power of the moment, and I was lost in her tears and couldn't tell you for sure when my own began. My aunt has more spirit than most people will ever possess.
So it is on this day that I wish to the woman—who buys me grapes every Thursday when she shops just because she knows they're my favorite, lets bananas rot, never lets me drink a glass of wine alone, and always lets me sneak up with a hug—a very happy birthday. The world celebrates in your loveliness today, dear aunt.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
My grandmother made this delicious salad last Sunday, and I was fond of it enough to accept the remaining bit from what was prepared, something I don't typically accept because I usually don't get around to eating leftovers.
But it was so good.
Different, but delectable.
It sounds strange, but it had broccoli and halved grapes—green and red!—slivered almonds and pineapple. The dressing consisted of mayonnaise and a spot of reserved pineapple juice. It was a lovely balance of flavors and I found myself quite enamored. I was having dinner with Nick that night, and brought the salad for a dinner-compliment.
Nick, being a sport, spooned a portion to his plate. I knew immediately that his infatuation with the recipe was nothing compared to mine, to the point of possibly being non-existent. I fought my impulse to drop my face to his plate and finish it myself, and won as he delineated what changes to the recipe would nourish his liking of the dish.
"Well, I'd take out the broccoli and almonds," he began, I nodded, encouraging his continuance, "and add melon or something."
Boring. "Nick, that's a fruit salad."
He pseudo-winked at me and hiked up that corner of his mouth, and through his smirk he followed up, "Well, exactly."
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Brenda took me out to dinner last night to talk about how I was handling everything. I haven't been home much at all, and naturally she reads lauralore.com daily...and I occasionally key a heavy post here...
I told her that I am best on the days that I double my mood-enhancing supplement. It's an amino acid called L-Tyrosine that I originally started taking in September to help me through the winter slump....little did I know then how slumpy my winter would get! My working knowledge of supplements is staggering, and completely useless in any facet of my daily life.
I offered this piece of information shyly, not wanting my aunt to worry that I was doubling a recommended dose. I needn't have worried. This from the aunt who, whenever she goes to the doctor and they find something off, asks, "Is there a pill I can take?" When detailing what my stress has manifested physically, Brenda generously offers, "We've got lots of pills here. Feel free." Silly me. We have a pill drawer. An entire drawer in the kitchen dedicated to pills. And a cupboard that contains the pill overflow, and your run-of-the-mill OTC drugs.
So, it should have come as little surprise for Brenda to offer, in response to me taking extra amino acids, "They usually list low-end doses anyway." Do you think this applies at all to the tolerated upper limit of sugar? Hmm.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I went to my grandmother's condo on Sunday, for the ritual corned beef and cabbage Irish celebration that my fully Norwegian family holds every year. I drove there alone—which was highly symbolic, as I've felt so alone at all my family gatherings since Mom left—and prepared for the waterworks. I'm ill with tears, and March 19, 2004 was the morning that I got the surprise call that my grandfather died. Reading through that dusty post gives me chills. Life is so cyclic. Dad knew his father would pass quickly, even when the doctors said there was still time. I wrote, and forgive me for being redundant with this after posting the link, "The bonds we form with our parents can be so tight that the echoes of logic ricochet off of our ears, never penetrating."
Much the same, after Mom's last scan, when we were advised of her tumors stabilizing, a big thumbs up in her treatment...I mentioned "Weeks....we were expecting them to give us mere weeks. The suffering has been evident." I remember my shock at the opposite being true. I remember my disbelief that she was getting better. I remember never fully accepting this verdict...and my momma was dead in less than a month's time. Yeah, it is definitely chilling to feel your world has an orchestration that you cannot interrupt whether by will or by science. It is what it is.
These ideas cloak my thoughts, and the survivor's guilt has now become rampant. Why wasn't I tagged instead of Mom? Look what she DID with her life, look who she TOUCHED...she lived life, and I feel like most days I'm just trying to survive mine. What am I meant to do? Who am I meant to touch? I close my eyes and see her face, and I wake with tears. I get so many pats on the back for the time I dedicated to Mom during her illness...but I feel wrong accepting them. I would have gladly sacrificed the rest of my life to caring for her if I had been called for. It was an honor, it was spiritual, and it was love. I live for love.
But now I struggle for my purpose.
It was with this mentality that I drove stag to my first family gathering. It turned my stomach, the thought of it, quite a lot, and I was fashionably late. My father and uncle were on lawn chairs in the driveway, soaking in the beautiful March sunshine. I exited my vehicle shakily, smiling convincingly. Dad had an inkling, though. I made my way to the front door and he called, "Do you want somebody to go in with you?" I shook my head...I need to get used to being alone. It isn't going away any time soon.
I entered my grandmother's home and found an abbreviated gathering of family, some of them having had prior engagements. They were in the process of clearing the table—I told you I was late—but looked generally pleased to see me. It's the first time they've REALLY seen me since the funeral...and I was less of Laura that day, and more of a sniffling idiot. They ceased all of their well-ordered task and took seats at the table, serving me two heaping plates of summery salads. I was more than a little tickled to see that my meat-loving family has accepted my love of things meatless.
My aunts, my cousin, and my grandmother kept things light. We laughed, and it wasn't forced. It was natural. The glee of a sunny early Spring day...loved ones, memories, and continuance. My father and uncle returned indoors...the recollections of the day were offered in fondness, and I did not know pain.
Everybody filtered home, and I stayed back to speak with my aunt Rose and grandmother. Grandma hugged me hard, a rib feels a little bruised on my left side, and mumbled, "I feel so bad for you, you lost your mother so young." My grandma lost her mother during my lifetime, and she still remembers the pain. I found a little bit of my mother cascading forth as I eased their worries. That was Mom; it didn't matter what she was feeling or where she was headed, she left us all showered in reassurance and joy. It was her gift to all who knew her. She was a master at fronting her fear with acceptance.
I found myself doing this at her visitation as well...when there are others to comfort, I am in my zone. It's when the world is at peace that I cry. I'm exhausted. I took up cooking sometime in 2002, you know. I got somewhat-okay at it, and advised to all who wanted to learn that the key was in being unafraid to fail. Well, that's the key to living, too. I've got to stop trying to be unafraid to fail in my purpose, whatever it will be. Easier said than done, naturally...but this has always been my problem, this reconciling my spirit to my philosophy.
I have a beautiful life, and I feel its glory and its pain so keenly...I hope to always nourish the energy it inspires. My biggest lesson from last Sunday, and forgive my rambling thought-process...it's taking the scenic way to the point (but now you understand why I get so many damn headaches!), life goes on...laughter goes on...love goes on. I'll go on.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Thursday, Chris came over to my cubicle tell me about the dessert she had at lunch. She knows that I am a fan of desserts and enjoy hearing of their splendor. I also feel that my imagination deserves a little gluttony now and then, even if the rest of me stays nutritionally sound.
She began describing the torte of sorts, and when she got to the layer of chocolate mousse, I interrupted her to ask if she knew what sound a moose made. This caught her off guard and she stopped mid-word in her weaving narrative of the Heath candy crumbles. I do that to people, distracting them from the task at hand with a question that holds little value and whose answer I care about only marginally.
But there is a power in this...because while Chris was dying to tell me about the angels that sang while she devoured her bit of delectability, she also wanted to answer my question...because everybody should know what sound a moose makes. It's just an American-thing to know. Chris is nothing if not patriotic.
And, I had asked so inquisitively, so innocently, and so sweetly—I can be, quite frankly, irresistible with very little effort. I know this to be especially true when I am on the phone with a provider set on ripping me a new one and I end the conversation with them complimenting my kind voice and wishing me a very pleasant afternoon...and note that "very"...it's important.
Chris began to answer me in earnest, her face set in determined lines and her eyes intent. The delicate curls about her face trembled as she summoned her reply. "Well, they make this sound: Moo—se." She laughed at what came from her mouth. She turned to Dawn, next cubicle down, and asked the same question.
"WHAT!?" cascaded over the impermanent walls, and Chris came back to my view, shrugging exaggeratedly about the response to such an answer-worthy question. She was so completely curious about what sound a moose makes, forgetting completely about dessert. I thrive on widespread illogical...breeds humor, I say. It's as though causing such discord is the meaning of my life, and I define it plenty.
I popped an individual bag of popcorn—a subject that Nick finds silly...because who can't finish a bag of REGULAR sized popcorn on their own? Yes, yes, Nicholas...but who SHOULD?—and Sally passed by, smiling in greeting while making her way to the copy machine. "Hey, Sally?" I called. "What sound does a moose make?" Her smile dropped and her feet stumbled haphazardly toward me.
"HUH!?" I repeated the question, and she began laughing uncertainly, waiting for the punchline. She was one of my mother's oldest friends, and tries to be generous with my poor attempts at joke telling. My timing typically sucks, so I stick with the puns. Anyway, moose calls: Sally pondered the situation, and when it was obvious that my question was delivered in all seriousness, she became curious in her own right, replying, "I have no idea!"
"Great!" I groaned. "Here I am, stuck at work, and I have no idea how to attract a moose." I stalked off like a cat trying to train her human. I heard Sally laugh in my wake, a little confused, but generous as I said. Suzanne was next, then Trixie, and Sheila the next morning. Sheila's my boss, my mentor, and as per last Thursday, my lunchtime shrink. If Sheila doesn't know, nobody knows. I ask her everything. Nobody knows.
It is quickly becoming the big topic at the office, all 8 hours it's had the chance to brew..."Did you figure out what sound a moose makes?" they ask. Few remember how it started, for few knew. It is quickly passing into the pages of inside-jokedom and, dare I say, lore. Chris never got around to describing her dessert.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Nick does not have what I term a grown up coffeemaker—that is, one that makes entire pots of coffee at the push of a button, quite literally. Instead, Nick owns one of these, which makes sense for the occasional coffee sipper in Nick. That being said, I see the usefulness in this single cup brewer for after-dinner coffees, for mid afternoon coffees, and even for the occasional I'm-bored-might-as-well-drink-coffee coffees. But, coming from an individual who can easily finish two pots on her own, the little red Melitta doesn't quite stand up to the morning-Laura's demands, and I find myself brewing cup after cup after cup...after cup.
Yesterday was cleaning day for the anti-coffee-chugging activist—who used to watch me drink coffee and chant, "BREATH! SIP!"—and his collection of bathroom magazines were thoroughly combed through. Of the stacks of Maxim, there was a single People magazine. Cheap or not, I am rather fond of leafing through People magazine. Dated May of 2005, this old issue belongs to the dark periods of my popless-culture existence—my time in the South offered other experiences...like fried pickles—I'm clawin' mah wah-ay back out to the light, boh-ay, but it ain't easy.
I was looking through the magazine this morning while my third cup of coffee drizzled into the mug. Suddenly, I was flummoxed: when did Rob Thomas stop singing with Matchbox 20? Puffs of smoke billowed from beneath my hands as I feverishly searched for more information...seriously? Rob Thomas exists outside of Matchbox 20? Like his own entity or something? My forehead began to throb as the confusion took hold and my scowl line split my brow. Nick chuckled.
I looked his way sharply, intense on the subject of my find. "I think this is a record," he smirked. What the heck? What's he making fun of me for now? Nick is a serial teaser, you see. He could find a way to play with your mind on the subject of your flossing form if you were stupid enough to let him see you floss. My gaze unfaltering, I watched his eyes shift briefly in the direction of the coffeemaker before returning to me. "I think that's the first time a cup of coffee has waited for you."
(By the way, did you know that Michelle Williams is pregnant with Heath Ledger's baby!?)
Saturday, March 18, 2006
So, Nick was sick last night. We were at a restaurant, waiting for our dinners to be served, and you could just tell. See, there's this thing going on with college basketball right now. I guess it's a big deal...everybody seems to be talking about it. Nick put in a lot of extra hours at work last week so he could spend a good portion of Friday watching the marathon of basketball games. I dunno...seems like an awfully good time to catch up on sleep...or eyebrow-tweezing...but that's just me.
But at 7:30 last evening, after starting his day at 3 that morning, Nick looked rough. When our food arrived, he didn't touch it. Kara offered him Midol earlier for his headache...but Nick refused, for obvious, macho reasons. Still, we kept coaxing him to "take a hit", citing a promise land of headache relief. Eventually he relented, taking a half-dose. We teased him, naturally...about the soon-to-be softened state of his sexuality, cravings for chocolate, and constant agitation. Womanhood is comprised of these: read 'em and weep, boys.
Anyway, fast forward to this morning. Let's just dance around the topic a bit and say that I am feeling serious fatigue, probably from the anemia I meet at this time every month. Nick hugged me consolingly, directing me to lean in, advising, "Now it'll be ok: I took Midol."
Thursday, March 16, 2006
It was captured after an exhausting round of Scrabble, while Nick sought to photograph the game board for posting and boasting purposes both. Granted, it's a lousy picture of me, but I just lost the game after coming up with jowl late in play...who wouldn't be upset?
Nick viewed his digital images on my laptop to see how they turned out. He came to the one of me, looking less than wonderful, as already stated. He began to zoom in...which was a little uncomfortable, because who likes seeing their face pore-by-pore? But, unlike the early days, Nick wasn't interested in my face at all, quickly re-centering the zoom to his carpet.
I felt lovely, I'll tell you. The typical conflicted female, I wanted him neither to focus on me at 400% zoom, nor to have his focus centered elsewhere at 400% zoom! I think it's the estrogen that makes women so crazy...or eyebrow-tweezing. (My good friend Amy, whom I met in college, always advised, "You pluck chickens! You TWEEZE eyebrows!" I've taken it to heart, and the word "pluck" in relation to any part of my body just feels wrong. In more ways than one.)
Nick continued studying his carpet, and the pain of being passed over for Berber was sharp and all consuming. "What is that?" he asked. I didn't care. I didn't answer. I nearly snarled that I hoped he and his flooring would be very happy together before stomping from the room. He walked over to the carpet and pinched something between his fingers. "A paper clip!" came his exclamation, encased in wonderment.
He's attracted to shiny objects.
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