Saturday, March 18, 2006

Who knew...

...the world would turn into a self serve automat where there's no one at the controls? Wal-Mart at 8 AM is full of shoppers but the clerks and cashiers are absent. All the self serve check out stands are operating with helpful instructions in English and Spanish and a touch screen for those really hard choices -- like how you're going to pay for your purchases. Self serve gas, check out stands at grocery and retail stores, and salad bars (which really aren't too bad since you get what you want). Does no one care about personal contact any more?

Okay, I shop online because that way I don't have to fight the crowds or wait interminably in line, and I don't have to carry it home, just up the stairs from the front porch. And I can shop while I work, but when I get out into the world I like to know I'm not Neville shopping the dust-covered, debris blown aisles for canned food that isn't bulging before the sun goes down and Matthias and the Family come out of hiding. It isn't that I mind being alone, just that once in a while when I venture out into the world I want to see the faces and hear the voices of other people, especially the customer service type that answer questions, blend paint, and handle the cash register at the check out stand. After all, 8 AM isn't that ungodly an hour, especially in stores that stay open 24/7/364. Is that too much to ask?

It was helpful though that the local liquor store was open at 9 AM so I could buy my burgundy (that ended up being Bordeaux) so I can make boeuf bourguinon with an assortment of mushrooms (portobello, Shiitake, crimini), pearl onions, and a deep earthy gravy spiked with porcini mushroom powder and hazelnut flour. First time in the store and the clerk greeted me at the door and offered helpful suggestions, in addition to guiding me around since I'd never been there before, as well as being quite knowledgeable and friendly. Now that is customer service. Too bad the rest of the retail world hasn't figured that out yet.

I'll shut up now.

Off to see the wizard...

...of paint.

For the first time in my life I am not going to live in a house or apartment with someone else's idea of what constitutes a good color scheme. You could say that white is a good color, but I am tired of institutional colors. Since this is my home I have decided to make it my home. Luckily, the landlady is amenable to my plans. She said my attitude is more like a European's. I can live with that.

So, I am showered, combed and nearly dressed (need to put on a top over my lacy bra). I'll get something to eat (already cooking in the oven) and I'm out of here. I'll spend my weekend perched precariously on a wobbly ladder cutting in at the ceiling and around the door frames before I haul out the paint rollers and turn my living room from a featureless landscape of white decorated with carefully positioned cardboard box tables into a colorful background of light sage green, baseboards and wood trim accented in a white touched with just enough sage green to look like the glossy wood reflects the walls, and where jewel bright primary colors accent windows, floor and the new end tables that arrive on Tuesday. I had some help picking out the tables from the Evil One who is still probably shaking his head as to why I asked his opinion. Simple, I want him to feel comfortable here and like he's a part of the process that changes me from an itinerant wanderer passing through town into a deeply rooted denizen.

Too bad he doesn't have the time to come do the teetering ladder climbing. He has a much better head for heights than I do. But I will do as I always do, grit my teeth, take a deep breath and climb.

I certainly hope the man behind the curtain is truly a wizard of paint and not a lost charlatan with a few technological tricks up his sleeves.

That is all. Disperse and do something nice for yourself.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Just nothin'

I can't sleep. Well, I was asleep and woke up and can't get back into sleep mode. So here I am at the computer in the middle of the night reading LJ and wondering if I'll be able to sleep a couple more hours before I have to get up and work. Probably not. I'm in reading and writing mode and sleep mode is offline for the nonce.

The moon is a glaring white disk in the black night sky criss-crossed with twisted black branches just like in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Looks like a backdrop instead of the real thing. Some night owl U-Hauled past the house a few minutes ago, appearing briefly in the orange sodium vapor light at the corner and dissolving into the darkness after he turned. Only Venus winks in the distance, a single bright pinpoint of light in the black.

I can't understand why I'm unable to get back to sleep. Things are going so well for me right now. The week has been full of surprises and opportunities and the rekindling of excitement and amorous possibilities. Things haven't been this good in ages. Maybe that's the problem: everything is going good and I can't believe it. Someone could die, someone I like. Someone could land a plane in the sunroom and keep me from working so I'd have to finally do the laundry. Someone could tell me it's all a dream like Bobby Ewing the season he came back from the dead via the steamy shower. Or maybe I'm just anxious because I'm putting down deep roots and painting the living room this weekend (and, yes, finally doing the laundry). Or maybe it's all just nothin' more than a reason to get up out of a warm bed where I rested happily in Morpheus's arms and the usual sounds and smells of this hour of the morning I'm missing intruded on the peace and harmony of a normal Friday. Or could I just be tired and unable to find escape from deciding not to live and work as a journalist in Antarctica for seven months and the toe-tapping, foot jiggling, antsy and can't sit still eternity of waiting to be enfolded once again in my lover's arms.

Maybe I should just crawl back between the now cold sheets, take matters into hand, and drift back to more exotic shores where I can cadge a couple more hours of erotic bliss before the flames of dawn burn away the darkness.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hands up! Spread 'em!

Saturday morning I didn't feel like doing the laundry I needed to get done in order to not have to drag out the really fancy undies to keep from going kamikaze until I could drum up enough enthusiasm to make the trek downstairs, outside in the cutting winds, across the ice-rimed paving stones arranged so artfully around the side of the house, through the gate and around to the laundry room door with an unwieldy basket of clothes. So I stayed in bed with a few books. I didn't even venture into the eye searingly bright sunroom to check my email or gaze in rapt awe at the mountains outside the window over my desk hidden behind the gray wall of mist and clouds until past ten. When I finally shielded my light sensitive eyes and walked into the light I expected to see the quiet Saturday street preserved in winter white. What I found was a teeming mass of people bundled up against the harsh winds and flying shards of sleet weaving between cars cruising for a parking space in the packed parking lot my neighborhood had become. I was still immersed in Arthur Miller's play about The Man Who Had Too Much Luck and hadn't landed back here in my quiet, predictable world. It took me a few minutes to realize everyone was battling the cold to see the St. Patrick's Day Parade and 5K run (I just found out about the 5K). I briefly considered putting on a sweater and jacket and braving the cold for hot dogs and excitement before climbing back into bed with Miller.

The rest of the day crept slowly along in a haze of plays and movies I hadn't had the time to see and considered sending back to NetFlix unviewed, basking in the warmth of the space heater next to the new chaise where I lounged with my books, paper journal, pens, and ever present bottle of water for the rest of the day. I finally roused enough to check my email only to find the street outside deserted except for four police cruisers and a K-9 unit circling the block again and again. The cruisers looked like giant's toys scattered haphazardly on the street where the giant's child dropped them at his mother's call. There were no cops in the cruisers so I edged closer to the window and looked up and down the street looking for them like some nosy old woman scenting gossip on an errant wind. I'd have peeked through the shutters or drapes if I had any, but my windows are bold brazen eyes staring down onto the neighborhood without even a veil strategically draped, which accounts for me wearing more clothes when I work -- that and because it's also a mite chilly in the sunroom even with double-paned windows in vinyl frames.

It is always so peaceful and quiet here on the west side of town, so peaceful people think twice before locking their doors at night, certain there is no evil in the world we share here, so it is doubly unnerving to see a cadre of cruisers parked on our quiet streets with no cops inside. In other times, other places I wouldn't have looked twice, knowing they were after some drug dealer or fleeing felon (especially once having had my home invaded by cops in pursuit of someone as they burst in through my front door, racing past me as they jerked open the back door and jumped off the back porch), but here such a show of force in the absence of a donut sale at Dunkin' Donuts raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

I scanned the houses and streets for some sign of the cops while the K-9 unit circled the block every two minutes. Nothing. No cops. No shots fired. No crackle of unintelligible cop speak through the open windows as I shook with cold and waited...

...and waited...

...and waited...

...and stared as four cops burst through the tangle of winter bare weeds and piled branches between the brand new house and the modest Victorian across the street. The K-9 unit paused briefly as they trampled through the crystal powder swirling across the brown and yellow grass then drove on. The cops got into their cruisers and drove away, leaving behind an uneasy sense our peace had been irreparably shattered. The mountains hid behind the thickening gray wall of mist and clouds and shards of ice ticked against the windows. Evening closed in and the yellow light of the street lamps wavered through the thickening night beneath skeletal branches scratching wildly in the rising howl of the wind.

I locked my door and crawled back beneath the warm lap blanket on the chaise, flicking through the channels before finally turning off the TV and diving back into Miller's Brooklyn world where an old salesman faltered and fell into brighter memories of the past where the cruel harshness of the present intruded indiscriminately.