Monday, November 27, 2006
So, we're on the couch, toggling between Monday Night Football and Dr. 90210—the latter to which I am hopelessly addicted. Any makeover shows hook me, be it the the new lime green toilet they installed on HGTV or that lady's new set of...well, anyway...
So tonight's episode featured a couple, each having a cosmetic procedure done. A genital cosmetic procedure. Not like they can show anything anyway, and not like you'd want to watch, but I swear my face was good and squished in empathetic discomfort as I clamped my legs together as though my inner knees held earth magnets. The woman of the duo said in interview, "I really think that us having these procedures together will bring us closer together."
Nick snorted from behind me on the couch where I lie sprawled on my back. "Try having your mother die!"
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I know from murmurs the bane of the left-hander's existence. I know the arguments for equality remain moot in the righty's world—and I feel for them. Having been born plagued with a dominant right hand, I cannot know their strife. Yes, I fully agree that you deserve a left-handed computer mouse.
However, it has come to my attention in recent years, growing ever more obvious, that I am left-legged. Socially, I feel it has set me apart from the crowd—and not in a good way—and for all my appearances-based empathy for the lefty's movement (the empathy has a limit—there are college scholarships for the left-handed for Pete's sake!), I cannot help but think with disgust when my dissimilarity emerges, "I'm NOT one of them!"
How do you cross your legs? Right over left, I'll wager. I can't do that. I feel like that Visa debit card commercial that airs so often...this big choreographic show, synchronized to a jaunty tune ...and then there's me disturbing the chorus line. I try to cross my right over my left and continue the lower-body wave down the row of my social party, the domino effect (if you will)...and I wobble unsteadily over my left cheek (you know the one) who is seeped in anxiety over my reassignment of weight. I paste a smile on my face and fight for balance...but it never comes and I make a play for nebulosity as I uncross my legs with practiced calm.
But uncrossed leaves me feeling ever the savage in civilized society, and instinctively, I cross my legs, left over right, kicking my right-side companion and smiling crookedly, eyes laden with unshed tears begging, not to be outed. I hang my head low, and as though I were the pitiable face of a Basset Hound, even my ears seem to droop. It's so hard being different.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
It was my half-day at work, my aunts' as well, and we made plans for lunch. My morning was efficient and as the latest Five for Fighting album crooned from my headphones and the sun poured in, I put all thoughts of holidays from my mind and enjoyed the moment.
After lunch, I went back to my aunts' home where I "helped" Debbie by making a salad and Brenda by cleaning a small area in the kitchen. I joked with Brenda during the drive to our lunchtime stop that this truly was a Paske holiday—I was driving Brenda because Debbie was picking up painkillers, and she was hopeful Debbie would be delayed so we could have a few beers while we waited. That's the way we do it in our family—we screw with our minds and then sharpen knives. They didn't task me out too much, and I'm sure to a serious chef such as my dear Debbie, I seem fairly inefficient—the neat freak shall lie down with the cook?—but I didn't leave a mess to be cleaned.
I was feeling sluggish, but guilty they didn't give me more to do...and as a sweet gesture of unnecessary thanks (what is family for?) Brenda took me to get my nails done. Jack, the man who did my nails spoke in a heavy—well, I can't 100% place the accent...a sort of Asian-Latin hybrid—and I could barely understand a word he said.
At first he thought I was my aunt's daughter, which she vehemently denied. Then he thought I was a kid, asking which high school I attend. After he learned I was older than all that, he asked if I had a baby. I shook my head firmly. "You look tire. Like you have baby." Meanwhile, Brenda got a pedicure and Jack complimented my looks. I think. Heavy accent, remember? Being a smart ass, I replied to him that that's why I look tired...that it isn't easy looking so good all of the time.
Brenda yelled from across the salon, "You've got that right!" and expelled a breath through pursed lips as if nothing causes greater weariness than her comely face. I leaned closer to Jack, even though I wasn't certain he could understand what I was saying, and told him that it was a family trait—the attitude. I have the best time with Brenda!
I drove home, stopping for a car wash in De Forest on my way out of town...the new car will be seen by my brother today for the first time, and I want it to look all shiny and flirtatious, just as it was the day it gave me that come hither stare at the lot. Got home, looked in the mirror, and thought, "I really do look tired." Opened the mail, decided I'm sick of getting correspondence from both Dean Care and UW Hospital and Clinics.
All pretty humdrum. Then, I started getting this itch, this desire to be anywhere but here. I decided to go out and buy the new album from Chris Daughtry, It's Not Over, with my Border's Rewards© points. I picked up dinner for Nick who had a not so great day and headed home, instinctively turning my radio on as I left the parking lot.
Shortly after, I turned it off...the music didn't feel right. And as I passed the first display of Christmas lights, the tears fell, and I spoke aloud to my empty car wishing her back, wished myself gone, wished it all different...wished the holidays could just not come this year. It was such an ordinary day...I don't understand where it all came from...perhaps I stayed just busy enough to not notice the heaviness of my heart.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
At work, we have a vehicle (one prone to traffic jams, I might add) known as the eForm. The majority of the eForms I come across in my lowly position concern homeowner policy changes...but I've heard such lore as the eForm that outputs local happy hour locales, brown nosing compliments, and even the occasional bag of Cool Ranch Doritos©—like a digital vending machine.
The other day, I had class—one of the final two I must attend within a year of employment at my current job. Titled, "Respect in the Workplace", we were educated on company policy, to whom we should report offenses, and the level of safety and comfort we should expect while working.
The touchy subject of inter-office romance was addressed, along with the silly nuances—you can date within your department but you cannot marry within your department—and we differentiated between sexual attraction and sexual discrimination. After an exhaustive discussion that had me pondering the possibility that a writing utensil inserted into my right nostril might just be less painful, our instructor posed the question, "So how do you ask a coworker out on a date?"
Dead silence. I can't be certain if the entire room was single-mindedly focused on nose-jamming, or if they were all dancing on that line between wakefulness and slumber, but it was so still that Sprint's pin even refused to drop! Taking pity on us and vying for a little comic relief, the instructor answered her own question:
"You submit an eForm."
Friday, November 17, 2006
I've been off. My humor always seems to be on deck, which has saved me...but the strain has grown great. I'm sick again, there's no denying it...and it's drained me of my energy. Workout? No, the couch and a comfy blanket are calling. I hate the lazy Laura. I had a CT Scan a week and a half ago and the first opportunity I have to speak with my Surgeon is December 1st. I've decided to take the entire day off...whatever she tells me will be rotten news.
I know what the report reads—I had my loving regular care providers read the notes to me over the phone. DUMB HMOs! Not my fault I was born with a disorder that this other hospital
Yet, I don't want to be back in the boat I was in earlier this year...the constant, "I feel like crap but they can't find anything wrong with me." Eventually you start doubting yourself and how you feel. "Maybe I'm not rejecting almost everything I eat. Maybe it's in my head. Oh well." And then your backside explodes and they drain a liter and a half of infected substance during emergency surgery before treating you for a massive infection they decide has been building for months, if not years. (I now know why we're not typically allowed to read medical notes...I read those from my surgery when arguing for coverage with my insurance...the words "WE PLACED HER IN A PRONE JACKNIFE POSITION" still gets under my skin!)
So there's that, there's the approaching of the holiday season that I just don't want to arrive. I'm not in a holiday mood. I don't want to celebrate anything without her. Steeped in tradition and memories, I'd rather everything warm and bright just went on hiatus this year. The clouds have cloaked our days this week, and I'm just plain down. I'm not feeling well, I'm sad, and new to this year—I'm a scrooge.
I rolled over at 2:23 this morning...I remember the time exactly. My ears were filled with the sweetest sound. I haven't dared think of it since last January when I sang the song to her. It was her voice, loving and kind, singing to me...and the sweetness made me cry. There have been many supernatural links to Mom this year...the first night I was home from the hospital and off pain killers, unable to sleep. I closed my eyes and saw a warm, pulsating light...and I can't explain what it was, only that it somehow brought comfort and then, peace. Private conversations my aunt Brenda had with Mom on her deathbed that I somehow remember in detail, as though she passed it onto me so I would know how much I was loved.
Turn around and you're a young girl going out of the door. Keep singing to me, Momma.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
...I'll leave the defining of the titles up to you.
In a moment when my defenses were down, I admitted to Nick that I read a bit of Cosmo while in the bathroom this morning. He keeps a basket of all of the latest periodicals there—well, and the May issue of Maxim which was the last he received...he mourns the end of his subscription now that he's stopped accusing me of canceling the damn thing. (Subscriptions only last a year, Nick...then you have to pay more money or they stop coming. I'll explain it in more detail tonight if you need.)
So, I'm making conversation as we watch the morning news broadcast and I'm hyper on my second cuppa and he's sullen in his I'd-rather-be-in-bed way. I say, "Did you see in Cosmo that women were invented sometime in the ice age?" Ok, so it came out wrong.
He looks at me with that devilish sparkle in his eyes, and I know he's gonna get me but good. He corrected, "Blond women evolved...no, I didn't read it," he finished in a dry monotone.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Well, firstly, I must say that I never knew car-buying had so many perks. Several weeks have passed now since my experience, but I still remember...I suppose some things, you just can't forget. I went to my aunts' first. I went through the whole experience with them—you know, to make sure I wasn't talked into buying a whatsit or thingamabob that I didn't truly need. Like I know the usual set of whatsits or thingamabobs a car should have!
So anyway, I drive to their house first and I'm showered—just a-showered!—with gifts! They were your standard, run of the mill goodies for me, and goodies which my aunt, Debbie, knew would tickle me senseless—a fresh bundle of grapes and a grouping of brownish, freckled bananas. There was nothing holy about my accompanying moan.
But more still, a gift from Brenda. Brenda ordered a purse. She ordered just a single purse, and per the receipt, paid for just a single purse. Yet, she received two in the mail. Now, some people would say, "Oh, Heavens! I best send this right back to the company, the poor dears! I bet they don't even know! Tut, tut!" I, personally am of the mind that you need to have good quality control in your company and there's no better way to achieve that than error. That, and since Brenda wasn't sending the purse back, she was giving it to me. I deserve a purse I didn't pay for way more than the company who erroneously gave it away. Totally.
She bought the purse, the one she kept, because of the cell phone pouch in front...cute and practical, right? Right. So she tells me she's stuffed the bottom of the pouch with tissues to elevate the phone and making it easier to grab. I smile...that Brenda...
But, I found it disturbing that next week when I found myself folding paper towels to place at the bottom of my phone pouch to elevate my phone...the same model as my aunt's, incidentally. I noticed it more still as we went to my geneticist appointment together the following week, twin dorks with excellent style.
And, (have you noticed I really stretch the rule to the max when beginning sentences with conjunctions?) the next day, when I found myself entertained watching Nick's amusement with squirrel activity as she would have been with her cats', I knew at once I was her paralleled existence. I couldn't tell you which one of us that bothers more—both the statement, and the truth behind it.
click to enlarge
click to enlarge
Saturday, November 11, 2006
It's perhaps a little-known fact that I hate winter...well, little-known if you're of the dim-witted sort. Let me say it plainly for you: I hate winter. I hate being cold. I hate the mucky mush on the sides of the roads. Because I am female and therefore altogether confusing and nonsensical: the first snow is one of the biggest thrills of my year.
It came yesterday, and it wasn't much of a thrill. I feel a little gypped. It reminded me more of that movie about global warming—The Day After Tomorrow? Hard, bruising rain through the morning, sky black as night...thunder that seemed to quake the office...wind that seemed to force the rain to fall horizontally...and then the snow fall there at the end...just in time for rush hour stupidity.
Yet, this morning, I look at this:
And my breath catches. The land is unsullied, pure and immaculate. This is God's artwork, an appreciation my mother embedded so deeply in my brother and, too, in myself. She would call me in the early evening hours to my bedroom. "Laur? Come and see!" My mother is the only person who's ever shortened my name. It sounds wrong on every other tongue. I would join her at my window, Westward-facing and luminous in twilight. We would be bathed in pinks, peaches and lavenders. The fiery glow painted our skin and transmitted warmth as we stood there and breathed it all in...and in the stillness she would say—and my brother would know what I'm going to say if he was a regular reader—"God paints us a pretty picture." Truly, stop and look. Life will seem richer. Life will be richer.
And with that, I remembered last year's first snowfall, amidst a broken marriage and a dying parent...a dying friend, and I remembered it with a smile. I remember staying with my Mother a lot after Miles left, how dually we leaned on each other, how many times we talked, how warm our conversations were, how silly and joyful they continued to be, truly exemplifying our Miss Mary Sunshine gene. You know, she might have given me the gene that left me missing parts and with extra organs...and, as I learned at Monday's CT Scan, a certain difficulty finding a veins...but she left me with a smile, an ability to see past the shadow and into the light.
I re-read her comment to my simplistic post this morning, and laughed aloud, worrying I would wake Nick. I burrowed into the sofa and enjoyed the view, still sipping my coffee as I did then, and felt inexplicably...happy.
Sunday, November 5, 2006
My cousin, Nathan, was married yesterday. Two Catholic weddings in one year...uff dah—that's all this Norwegian (and all the Lutheranism that implies) can say. I received instruction from Nick (he was THIS close to being engaged to a devout Catholic sometime pre-Laura) before Jeff and Kara's wedding on what I should and shouldn't do—I had never even been inside of a Catholic church before (and now I've been in two!). It's intimidating...you know that us protesters followed Martin Lutheran away from the 1500's law of the church, we (us Lutherans, Protestants, and the like) became forever known as the lazy Catholics. Not to get all egghead on you, but as the Lutherans played the originality card naming ourselves after that one monk, the Protestants followed suit, deriving their name from "protester". I'm so delighted that the whole Reformation thing didn't totally ruin our relationship with the Vatican. Luckily the Father in yesterday's ceremony dumbed it up for the Lutherans in attendance...i.e., the groom's side.
Nick chauffeured myself and the two best aunts in the world to both the church and the reception. He did this at great sacrifice...the Badgers were playing Penn State. As the fourth quarter commenced, he text messaged Jeff, undoubtedly in attendance at the game, requesting a text message when the game finished, with the score. When he received the "13-3 Badgers" message he practically showed our entire pew with his silent jubilee. Uncomfortable greeting my family the receiving line, having no idea who anyone was (besides perhaps an inkling as to which was the bride and which was the groom), Brenda told Nick that all he had to say as he shook hands was the score of the game. Diligent and wanting to please, I heard him practice his line under his breath even as we walked to the parking lot and en route to the reception.
Wanting to give him a lead in the conversation at our table, Brenda asked over-loud, "Hey! Does anyone know the score of the Badger game!?" Nick wiggled in his chair, straightening to answer, as Barb, Rick, and Corey (my aunt, uncle and cousin respectively) ruined his dramatic effect. Their family came only for the reception, having most probably spent the majority of the day immersed in talk radio, television, and leisure.
Badgers won, thirteen to three, they all said in one way or another, talking over each other in a verbal version of the game leap frog. They went on and on...discussing the plays, the decisions, and generally not shutting up at all. Nick drooped visibly, theatrically. During our post dinner stroll, he snarled to me that he could have given an answer like that, but that "Some of us had a wedding to attend."
I told Jeff last week about the upcoming wedding. He asked me if I knew my cousin well...I told him that I didn't, and that no offense to him and Nick, it was mainly because Nathan (and his brother Thad) were so much older than the rest of the cousins. Age makes a lot more difference the younger you are, naturally. I had to say no offense, because Nathan is a ripe 31, three whole years younger than my friend and my significant other. Nick received quite the ribbing on the day of Jeff and Kara's wedding, mainly at the hand of Jeff's mother, wondering when the bachelor would finally surrender to holy matrimony as his best friend didn't make it to 35 before it captured him. So, naturally, when I told Jeff that my 31-year-old cousin was getting married, his comedic response was to comment that he was a bit young for marriage, wasn't he?
So, my uncle Gary...well, is he still my uncle? He was once married to my mother's sister...in any event, I haven't seen him look at me with recognition in my eyes since he showed up at our home the night I "bought" (read: begged my mother to buy for me) the brand new album from New Kids on the Block, Hangin' Tough. He looked through me like I was a stranger at my mother's wake and when I shook his hand at the receiving line he had the plastic smile on his face that a person crafts when your clueless but pretending otherwise. Nice!
Gary came and bs-ed with my father and brother for awhile, before turning plastic to smile towards me...but then it must have struck...what was this stranger doing sitting at a table of my former in-laws? He sashayed up to me, only the way a past-his-prime player can, "And who are you?" I looked at him pointedly...my aunts looked at him pointedly...I let my gaze drift toward my father and brother and something clicked. "You can't be Laura!" Oh, but I can...trust me. Someday more so than others, but there's always a bit of Laura there. He was a little touchy-feely for my comfort, but I was perfectly at ease when he asked, "Did I hear you got married?"
I smiled broadly...Gary would understand. "Married...AND divorced!" I pointed at Nick. "This one's still in training." He grabbed my left hand to verify and laughed broadly to stay in training...that it's the best part.
There's no better time to diss marriage than at a wedding reception!
Oh, and Nick was bored by the end of the night...and, as you can see, I was irritated. Ah, family bliss! (Thank God I only have to sustain it a few times a year.)
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