Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Forcefully jettisoned into the future

(singin' and performing a solo conga line)

I have a compuTER! I have a compuTER! I have a compuTER!

Okay, enough of that, but I should mention that the 29th marked the anniversary of your favorite brand of cheese coming on the market. That is to say, Formaggio is one whole year old! It seems somehow fitting that the initial leap of techno-savvy should now have this reward. I wonder what it'll be next year... Teleporter a la Star Trek? One can only hope. And light a candle at one's Patrick Stewart shrine.

Monday, August 29, 2005

JoBiv's Whirlwind Tour of Western NY

Tuesday - Baby Mama informs me that I have the rest of the week off because they want to go to the Cape one last time this summer. I book a train ticket after calling Teeny and Doctor Blouin and being told that I can, in fact, hide in their homes if I head westward.

Wednesday - Eleven hour train ride. Didn't have to sit next to strangers, also didn't get a window.

Thursday - Hung out with Baby, Cripps (who was serendipitously vacationing last week), and Lois in Jell-o town.

Friday - Spent morning with many a baby, but Baby was not available for the party. Still fun, of course. Also squeezed in a visit to Wegmans. Ahh... Wegmans. Tina picked me up and we hung out in Rochacha at her new swingin' bachelorette pad!

Saturday - Dad insisted on driving me to Buffalo, where I saw Dr. Blouin, his wifey, KO of the Swazi Parasites, and Ginger (Dave's doggy). We also spent a good two hours in a big bouncey castle thinger. Time well spent.

Sunday - 14 hours on a train. Got a window as well as strangers seated next to me. Can't have it all, I spose. The guy across the aisle serenaded us with sleepy/drunken karaoke to his own discman. For six hours.

I went, nominally, to see friends. I went to remind myself that my arrival in some towns prompts a lot of happy shouting and hugs. And also because I hate my apartment, don't know what to do with my life, don't know what I'm doing right this very now.

Pea's up. Must attend to her fever.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Bullet holes in my foot

Right now the heat bugs are buzzing outside. I don't know what kind of bugs they are, but maybe you know what I'm talking about. They come out on those humid days when the sun feels like lead on your shoulders. They hide in tall grass, I think, and spin a straight buzz out into the air in ten second intervals. I always think of the sound of the ocean when I hear them - one buzzy wave sliding over the sand, retreating to be replaced by another swell. They seem very loud to me, but if I'm outside I find that they also canvas the world for me so that everything seems silent.

I was going to say that the heat bugs make me lonely. I think that would be inaccurate. I make myself lonely.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I'm a'gonna do it! I am I am!

Instead of sitting in this apartment and HATING IT, I decided to be proactive and develop some escape strategies. One of them was to volunteer somewhere so I'll have a place to go instead of wandering the mean streets until I surrender to a life of dealing crack or selling my body.

I felt so brave, so bold, so... altruistic. Yes, I would offer my many talents and skills to those in need! The world NEEDS more JoBiv in it! I will save this sad world single-handedly!

Or... I'll weed a garden.

I looked through the VolunteerMatch website, and found that most of the positions were simply beyond my capabilities. All of them involved - GASP - talking to people! Phone calls, even! How barbaric. How... beyond me! My throat closed up just thinking about it.

So instead of leaping into a tutoring project, working with the elderly, helping write grants, feeding the poor lepers of the world and such, I chose pruning. The Kelleher Rose Garden (listen up, ye stalkers!) needs fifteen volunteers to bring it back to its former beauty. I was always curious about that hedged-in garden in the Fens, and I got excited when I saw I could get a backstage pass.

St. JoBiv of the Roses. I am improving the world! Out of my way!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

JoBiv's hollow head

I secretly loved the early mornings at Camp Arrowhead. I was a twenty-year-old nondriver, my dad had to drive me to camp every morning. I had to wake up veeery early to accomplish any sort of sensible washing/dressing of my body and often went without breakfast, only to have my dad give me an "I'm gonna be late if you stop at Burger King! We can't stop at Burger King!" heart attack.

But then we turned down the suburban street that led through the park to the camp. Sometimes we'd see my crush of the summer, Paul, walking himself and his guitar to work and we'd stop to give him a short lift. And then my dad would maneuver the car through the gates, over the potholes, let us out, and drive away. I would check in at the main cabin, where all the VERY early kids would be playing Old Maid or Tiddly Winks or napping on their backpacks. I'd give and get hugs. And then I'd head out to the field where all the campers met to start the day.

I liked to be the first one there. The field was wide but mostly shaded in the early mornings, surrounded as it was by towering trees - ancient maples, I think. Those mornings would be chilly, sometimes foggy, giving no sign of the sweltering hot day to come. I'd hug myself in my sweatshirt, feel the dew seeping into my socks and jeans, and breathe it in. A few birds would fly singly across the whole field.

It was lovely. Those quiet moments gave leave to enjoy myself. I mean to say, to enjoy who I was then. To think of how my life was playing out well, without much fanfare. I could forget fairly easily, in those minutes before the sun brutalized the fields, that anything was hard or bad. I could feel tired without hating feeling tired. I could delude myself. My brain was wonderfully empty. I would even say to myself, "Now is a good time to compose a poem or think a great and profound thought." That never happened, and I liked that, too, my empty brain.

Sometimes I think of that feeling when I'm walking to the Pea's house in the morning, before most people head to work, after most of the runners have gone home to shower. It's quiet, sometimes the dew still clings to gardens, and I feel beautifully alone without feeling lonely. It's not quite the same feeling. I don't allow delusions much anymore. I can't remember the last time I was properly proud of myself. I guess it's just the quiet that reminds me. The empty brain.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sushi and sniffles

I was nervous to see Dad. Although we've been talking on the phone fairly often, I didn't know what to expect from the man I'd uninvited to my birthday weekend back in May. What should a parent do in these cases? What should an adult do? I wasn't sure where we'd go with any of it.

Dad was politely close-lipped about the apartment, letting me tell him what I knew he was seeing. His only input was a quiet, "It would only cost your landlord $300 to have that window taken care of." I watched his eyes take in the mold, the chipping linoleum, the bedroom I occupy stacked high with boxes, its shattered window. He merely suggested we visit Lil Pea before dinner. I happily agreed.

We went to sushi after, as I thought it would be a treat for a landlocked Rochesterian. Dad was a little ornery; tired, dehydrated, and not in the mood to make decisions. He ordered quickly, a little terse with the waitress. I held myself back from my usual placating reflexes, tried to let him lead. In my head, I kept telling myself, "He looks fine. He is fine. He didn't order drinks. He's trying to show me he's fine."

He told me, slowly, about home, how it's been with Mom, the war with the insurance company. He said, "Mom told me the other day that we are both going through this, but separately, and we should be going through it together." My Mom had told me this, too. She said she'd felt better after the conversation. My Dad continued to say, "I don't think she realizes that there's barely enough of me to go around. We have to do it separately."

He seemed to suddenly wake up from this conversation, turned it on me, asked about my new roommates, my plans for nannying, my thoughts for other work, my Masshealth issues, all of that. I found that I couldn't talk about any of it without tearing up a little. I tried to swallow it and couldn't, and ended up just sitting there, not responding, feeling like a twelve-year-old version of myself, desperately wanting to say something that would ease him. I just said, "I'm handling it." He paid the check and we left. He insisted on walking me to my door (I think he was a little lost without that walk), gave me a big hug, and promised that we would have dinner once a week while he's working in New England.

Doesn't he know? I moved away on purpose.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

King of Drag

I've been thinking about drag queens lately, and how I envy them. Ever since Meera's bachelorette party (can I use that word one more time in the same day?) I have been pondering gender stereotypes and other things.

The main observation is this: it is brutally unfair that men get to have so much fun when they dress up as women. If you think about it, women's clothing has so much more to offer to those who want to express their personalities and creativity. More colors, styles, fabrics are "acceptable." Not only this, but there are such incredible personalities to take on. Think about the women we think of as sort of belonging to gay culture (and many a drag show or gay pride parade seems rife with imitators); Madonna, Cher, even Liza Minneli. They are all strong, expressive, and wonderfully obsessed with costume. So when a man chooses to dress in drag, the fantasy seems to be to step into the life of dominant, traditional-gender-role-threatening women, powerful women. There must be men out there who don the Land's End women's polo shirt and khakis and do housework, but that's not such an appealing fantasy.

My point is, when a man dresses up as a woman, he does it to become a diva, a queen. When I've seen women in drag they seem to do it to hide themselves, to obscure the discomfort they have with their bodies. There doesn't seem to be a fantastical equivalent to Cher for women. There's no Drag King to the untrumpable Drag Queen.

Unless, of course, you dress up as Elvis.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The new bachelorette pad

I have resisted writing about my new place because I'm sick of hearing my own whining. Maybe if I tell you here, though, I won't have to write you letters separately, and thus I can conserve my whine rations for other catastrophes.

This is the situation:

I was shown a room that would fit my queen-sized bed when I looked at the place. When I accepted the place I made sure to assert that I wanted that room. Weeks later I was told I had never seen it and it wasn't available but I was still wanted. The compromise? I moved into a tiny guest room with a shattered window, a spider problem, and three moldy mops in the closet until roomie R moves out in September and I can take the other room on this floor. The reason for crisis? Roomie B wanted the room after she showed it to me and decided she would just move herself on in. That woulda been fine, if she'd TOLD ME. She didn't. She withheld the information until 4 days before my move, and then lied about showing the room.

Also, I met two roommates of the 4 bedroom place, B and R. I met B first, found conversation easy, but her sense of humor seemed a bit... off? She's a bit on the literal side. For example, when our Guy Roommate moved in and called to say he was bringing up all his "furniture and luuve" she got worried that he has a crush on her. So yes, she is also a bit of an egoist. (You can maybe tell that Guy Roomie and I get along jus' fine so far.) Okay, back to the story... I met roomie R a week later and we REALLY hit it off. She's intelligent, well-spoken, funny, and she's good pals with Marika! I mean, how can she NOT be cool? I was excited to live with her, and this is perhaps why I took the place.

If you've been paying attention, you'll already have the sinking feeling in your stomach. She's the one moving out on September 1st.

Now this isn't so bad, right? Guy Roomie seems cool so far, and perhaps roomie B won't be too bothersome. We'll find our fourth and be happy in our spacious Brookline apartment.

Spacious, yes. Clean? In good repair? No. And it looks like roomie B has cultivated a particularly hostile relationship with the landlord, evidenced by a 2000 word email (CC'd to me) letting him know that Guy Roomie and I need to sign the lease, and also that she heard that he hates her and she is TOTALLY not a bad person (she used CAPS FOR EMPHASIS in the same rather immature way I use it here) and it's COMPLETELY HIS FAULT that she has a problem with him, etc. etc.

JoBiv: So I got that email.
Roomie B: Yeah? How did it come across? I had a lot of good arguments.
JoBiv: Well, it did sound argumentative.
Roomie B: Yeah?

So I called up our landlord, Stan, and introduced myself. We had a very pleasant conversation, between my tolerance of his long-winded mumbly-ness and his tolerance of my interruptions, and I mananged to get him started on the shattered window, the bathroom sink (which is a solid block of porcelain with only one leg supporting it) and the front garden. I saved the following issues for another time, perhaps AFTER I sign a lease:

-Moldy/rotted wooden bathroom window frame
-Mold on every painted surface in the bathroom
-Peeling, water-stained ceilings
-Big chunks of plaster falling off the walls
-The screen porch with the floor rotting away on the south side
-Punctured screens in every room
-Warped windows/doors in every room (the heating bills must be incredible!)
-The naaaasty carpet on the entrance stairs with various stains and smells

Roomie B warned me that he may ask, "Well, if it's in such bad shape, why'd you move in?" I withheld my vitriolic commentary.

But yes, I feel a little duped. More than that, I feel like an idiot for not cataloguing these issues before, for not going back to see the place before I accepted, etc. As I looked at places I put them into two categories: Enh, and No Way In Hell. The one place I actually wanted was a "garden level" apartment with a kind of eccentric girl in it whom I might have gotten along with swimmingly. Garden level... do you hear me? JoBiv, who said she would never fall for living in a basement again? And that was my best option? (At $725/mo, I might add.) So now I'm living in one of the Enh apartments, and I HAVE TO QUIT WHINING ABOUT IT. It was my decision. If it's intolerable, I can always move, right? And it won't be hard to get out of my lease (if I ever sign one) because the place is a travesty.

My dad is coming into town tonight. He's working again - a very good thing - and starting out in Milton MA or something. It will be good to see him and hug him and have proof that he's alive and well, but I can tell you... I'm not looking forward to justifying my decisions to him. Nannying, moving, loan problems... It all makes me feel like a terrible coward.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Cotton, go back from whence you came!

I haven't figured out how to work the TV in the new place yet, and therefore the JoBiv-Weather Channel umbilical cord has been severed. At first I felt a sense of freedom. One can step out into the day with the most scant knowledge of the weather and still survive. It's true! Up until yesterday, I had four lovely, though hot and humid days, despite my ignorance of the exact movements of all cloud cover for the Boston metro area.

Perhaps I was getting a little cocky.

This morning, I heard on the radio that we could see highs of 100 degrees today! Consider yourself warned, JoBiv! Taking advantage of a few extra usable morning minutes, I carefully selected a white polo shirt over black shirts (turns out I have seven black shirts) and exhanged crops and sneakers for a skirt and flip-flops. Having even more free moments, I filled a pitcher with water and visited each of the houseplants, proud of my forethought, imagining how parched and withered they would be on this hottest of hot days without my tender loving care. I refilled to water the plants on the deck, the porch, and Maurice, who currently guards the front steps.

"Here you go, Maury," I said aloud, for I am not shy around my plants, "Drink up! You'll need it."

Silly Jo. I should have looked at my white shirt and thought, "Hmm. What happened the last time I wore you? Ah, yes! A deluge! And the time before that? Hurricane. Perhaps I will wear a black shirt after all."

I did not think that. I wore the white shirt.

The heavens opened over me.


If any one of you, my few and dear readers, live in a particularly arid region, happen to be caught in a prolonged drought, or would like to experience a spontaneous wet t-shirt contest, send me your address. In return, I will send you this magic shirt, free of charge! I'll even pay shipping! GOOD GOD SOMEONE TAKE IT!

And poor Maurice without his swimmies.