Monday, January 30, 2006

Just when you thought cupid was dead...

... feeling unloved, ever-so-lonely, did I mention unloved? And then this random screw-in-the-cake guy gets my email address and actually uses it. He didn't send chapters from his novel, bless'im.

And then I had another certain someone tell me about a sex shop opening in Coolidge Corner (Good Vibrations, replacing Grand Opening), on Wednesday. And not-so-subtley tell me he's going. Between the hours of 6-7. Weird? Who does that? "Hi, we've been flirting but never touched, wanna come to a sex shop with me?"

The answer, however, is yes. Because I'm easy like that.

Now all I have to do is find that contractor's number and... Oh, wait, I didn't tell you about the contractor? Two guys were rebuilding a porch down the road from Pea's place, and I'd pass them twice a day, sometimes more, just goin' about my business. One was chatty. He was the shorter, hairier one. He gave me his card. Twice. The tall hot one was flirty but, alas, did not speak English. Or Italian, Spanish or Latin. I was at a loss. Hairy didn't speak so clearly, either, but I comprehended more than I let on when he mangled something like, "Why you no call me?" the other week.

My descriptions are unfair. He's merely Lebanese; the hairiness can't be helped. He was actually quite handsome, despite the shortness. And the big gold chain, complete with overstated crucifix a-danglin'. Hmm, no, actually that's where the handsome part stopped.

And then there's Uly. We're running an abridged version of our friendship right now. It's necessary. He can't know how much I worry about him. And I don't like to think about the little slips he's made about how important I am in his life. We're already ruined. There's no point.

So let's have a vote, shall we?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Death by screw, and not the good kind

Sarah Chessman had a birthday party last night, and I had qualms about going. I haven't been super social of late and wasn't sure if I was up to faking social niceties with strangers. But, I have a rule. Some of you have heard me say it. When I'm asked to go somewhere and have no conflicting plans, I go. It's a rule that's supposed to work against my social anxiety. It forces me to flip a switch in my head that says, "Too bad, you're already going. Nothing you can do but get there." This causes the same fatalistic tranquility I get on Amtrak trains - You're on. You can't get off. Eventually, you have to arrive. What's the point in worrying?

Of course, I still get anxious, and the actual event tests my limits. Sarah had reserved tables at Big City and there were tons of people there on a Saturday night. I have a hard time at venues like this, where people you've been introduced to at prior parties lie in wait like land mines. Each face forces an extended study: Have I met you? Do I remember your name? What do you know about me? My usual knee-jerk reaction includes a few more questions: How do I make you more comfortable in this awkward situation? Who is depending on me to make this easier?

I do have room for enjoyment, of course. That's why I have the rule that I have to go to these things in the first place. I always enjoy myself in some way, even if it's a tiny pleasure. Often the pleasure comes from discovering that I'm still capable of social graces. Such was the case last night. I talked to strangers, old acquaintances, and the birthday girl with surprising ease. A friend of Sarah's even asked for my email (I fear he means to send me chapters from a novel-in-progress, but he was also flirting).

And just as I was nibbling at birthday cake, congratulating myself on a job well done, I chomped on something very hard.

"What the..."

I sucked the chocolate off of whatever it was and, with all possible delicacy, removed it from my mouth.

"It's a freakin' screw!"

The dude who was chatting me up was similarly dumbfounded. I showed it to Sarah, who said it wasn't planted on purpose. I thought it might have been a party game. Not so. It was a 1 inch screw. In chocolate frosting. In my mouth. Hunh.

I wish I cavorted with gypsies more often. They could tell me what a screw in my cake signifies.

Sadly for chatter-upper-boy, it didn't mean he was getting one any time soon. We left as soon as I got the frosting off my fingers and we'd paid our tab.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


(As much as you people must love my lists, that's not the kind of listless I mean. It's pure coincidence that this post doesn't have one.)

My phone showed a missed call. It was Papabiv. Checked voicemail. He's in New England this weekend, the people he's here to see have flaked out on him. He has free time--do I have free time?

I do. Acres of it. None of it is free enough to put myself through another dinner with Dad.

Once I realized this, the tears started coming. That was about an hour and a half ago. Now I can't stop. I spent some time laying on my bed with the music on very loud, my hands uncomfortably pinned behind my back. My bald spot...

Well, I had this literary moment the other day, much like this one, when I thought of my dad's natural baldness, and how my illness is making me more and more like him. Physically. A bald spot.

I have to call him back at some point to tell him I'm too busy to see him. I can't be crying when I call. I've picked up most of the clothes on my floor, sorted them. Played Snood. Back to laying with the hands pinned. Put more clothes away. Sing along with Leela James. Still crying.

My new favorite semi-mindless game

priddy pictures

Thursday, January 26, 2006

24 hrs


10:00pm - Went out for a post-chorus drink with Rickety Split (J.P. Licks boy) to celebrate some person's dodgeball victory. Met roommates. Did not press vagaries of friendship. Enjoyed self.

11:40pm- Remembered I had to work next day.


12:40am - Arrived home, got me ready for bed.

1:50am - Looked at clock, wondered why I was awake enough to read it.

3:30am - Turned clock around so I would stop looking at it.

5:50am - Turned it back around, sure I didn't set the alarm. (I did.)

7:15am - Alarm went off. Michael Bolton singing. Terrible way to start the day. Luckily, I set my clock a good twenty minutes fast and I was able to soothe that terrible start with a wee nap.

8:08am - Miraculously got out the door with wallet, cell phone, coat, scarf, mittens, ke... Waaaait a minute, where are those keys?

8:10am - Buzzed upstairs neighbor and tried to communicate the fact that I could see my keys dangling in my door's lock. She eventually let me in to retrieve them.

8:30am on the frickin' dot - Pea's dad opened the door proclaiming, "Pea, looks who's here!!" Pea looked, burst into tears and buried her head between Dad's knees. I picked her up. She stopped immediately and asked for milk.

9:40am - Cleaning people arrived. Pea refused to eat breakfast because, according to her, the entertainment had arrived.

10:30am - We met up with a nanny friend to hoist ourselves to the Children's Museum

12:00pm - Arrived at museum. Yes, an hour and a half later... Chased lil people around, had some fun, turned them around and got them back on the T.

1:20pm - Pea fell asleep on the T. I swore loudly. Several strangers rebuked me with their eyes.

1:40pm - Rewarded myself and extended Pea's nap with black raspberry ice cream. At J. P. Licks. Shush now.

2:40pm - Got Pea home, put her in her crib though she was partly awake. She whined unconvincingly, fell asleep for another hour and a half.

4:30pm - Susan P. Bloom called me, asked me to meet her at The Huntington Theatre at 7:30. I said yes immediately, filled with absolutely unfettered joy upon hearing that her grandson arrived safely at last! I hung up and wondered if I was conscious enough for theatre.

7:30pm - I was conscious enough. It was Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The set and costumes were amazing, the crowd was unresponsive despite quality acting. Bloomers updated me, asked pointed questions, received vague answers.

10:00pm - Dropped off by Bloomers, tired beyond belief but somehow sated.

11:36pm - Listened to Ben Harper. Thought of my grad school friends. Felt my eyes crossing with exhaustion.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oh, Virgin Megastore, you cruel mistress

Now in my incredibly tasteful collection (in alphabetical order):

fiona apple, extraordinary machine
jackson browne, for everyman
jeff buckley, mystery white boy
dogs die in hot cars, please describe yourself
ben harper et al., burn to shine
leela james, a change is gonna come
bonnie raitt, souls alike

I usually limit myself to my list, only buy 6, do the punchy card thang and get a free one, but apparently one of the CDs was only $7 and thus didn't figure into the deal, so I HAD to get the Jeff Buckley CD. Really, I did.

How come nobody told me that Ben Harper would ROCK MY FRIGGIN WORLD? You? And you? Why no tell JoBivius?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oh yes, the perks of nannying...

I remembered the reasons I chose/fell into nannying for work; no cubicles, I get to play outside every day, and I'm laughing all the time. On most days, anyway. Even today, when I had to be there at the ungodly hour of 7am, which meant I had to get up at 5 so as to limit shower schedule interference in my apartment.

So as to. What a terrible charm bracelet of meaningless words. Orwell would be annoyed with me.

As I was saying, even today, when I could barely keep my eyes open, I had a five-minute-straight giggle fit resulting from Pea losing a shoe and peglegging around the house, marveling at her weird gait and the funny pad-tap sound of her footsteps. She kept looking up at me to grin as though she'd just won some kind of prize. "Look how clever I am!"

Also, Pea prefers reggae. WERS plays a steady stream during her dinner time, and she bops her head while she smushes avocado between her fingers.

ALSO, Pea fell asleep in the stroller one friggin' block before we got to the apartment. Usually, she wakes up when I take her out and acts like she's been asleep for four hours, ripping the place apart and making me nuts, so I tried to wake her up immediately. She was out. Limp. Useless. Halfway up the second flight of stairs, she groggily lifted her head, looked at me, smiled, and gave me an open-mouth-on-cheek baby kiss. Then she snuggled into my shoulder and let out an unladylike snore.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

sometimes i feel like i don't have a partner

sometimes i feel like I'm all alone
it's the city I live in...

This past week was much too lonely. The coming week can't possibly be anything like it. I can't allow it. Nope.

I'm feeling that restlessness in between my ribs, like something is trying to stretch me or crush me there, like my lungs are forced to push honey in and out, then suddenly nothing, no air, something too light.

I walked to Comm. Ave today, to Guitar Center. I had driven myself crazy last night trying to tune my guitar, and then decied, duh, I need to buy a tuner. So today that thought served as a beacon. Yes, Jo, you have an excuse to leave the apartment. Go get the damn tuner. I planned my purchase the whole way, playing and replaying the coming transaction with each step. I walked down Longwood toward Kent, turned onto this little street called Marshal. There are brick houses on one side, brick condos on the other. I crossed Beacon and walked up to the park on Amory, walked on the grass that can't decide if it's frozen or not. A little white dog yapped around my legs and I stopped my brain to say hello to her. She seemed to smile and slid back down the hill to her owner. I thought, "You go in, there's a person on the left who stamps the receipts as people leave. You can ask him where the tuners are. Nevermind, you know where they are; to the left. You go back to the counter there, and there are always two people working. They're always just kids. Always boys. Ask one for a tuner for an acoustic guitar. You want one that's about twenty dollars. Simple. He'll be the expert, let him show you the choices. Choose one, then pay with your debit card. You can pay with the debit because you found that check in a card Mom sent in November. You'll have to tap in your PIN. It'll take a bit. It'll take a bit. You'll have to wait. Then get the receipt, but don't put it away. The boy will tell you to show it to the person at the door as you leave. You'll say 'thank you.' You'll walk over with your receipt and the bag with the tuner in it. The person will ask for it. You show it to him. He takes the receipt, stamps it, gives it back. You go out the door, turn left. It's done after that. Go straight home."

It took three revolutions of that before I reached Guitar Center. It's a long walk, but it prepared me. The receipt-stamper was a girl, and I was surprised that I hadn't allowed for that possibility in my brain. The boy who helped me asked if I wanted a chromatic tuner. I said yes, and that I didn't know why they bothered making the old kind. He laughed a little. "You want something simple, right?" I nodded. "This is your best bet. It comes with batteries, they never run out, it's chromatic... twenty bucks." "That's the one." He took my debit card when I handed it over. He swiped it for me, then I used a lil stylus to put in the number. It slipped out of my hand and onto the crowded counter. My heart raced. I felt my skin burning. The words came out slowly, though, like I'm not a freak, "I'm sorry about that." He smiled back, "Oh, no prob, I got it. Okay, make sure you show this receipt to the girl at the door..." I was nodding already; I knew that part. Nodding, turning, there's the girl, she stamps, out... The air was cold and I breathed it in sharply, like a new baby shocked into extra-womb life. There were tears bobbling on my lashes. Fucking tears.

Did I mention I have an appointment with my doctor for the first week of February? This has to stop.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Action indeed!

Yesterday I managed to:

1. Call Masshealth to update my information
2. Call my doctor (yes, I have a doctor, although I've only seen her once) to set up an appt.
3. File away all the extraneous papers in my life
4. Make it out the door for POKEROKE!

What, you ask, is pokeroke? Why, it's poker and karaoke, of course!

Ok, ok, sounds much fancier than it is. My friend British Jo had some people over at her place, and I guess they usually end up either playing poker or doing Playstation karaoke, and decided that both could happen in one night. The boys circled 'round the poker table, the girls traded the mic back and forth. It was a mixture of "we don't give a shit" maturity and junior high gender segregation. It turns out, by the way, that I suck at Playstation karaoke. It doesn't allow for artistic interpretation. Jerks.

Last night was life-affirming for your favorite JoBiv. I forget that I can be happy and social sometimes, that people are charmed by me, that absolute strangers love to tell me all about their lives. On my way to British Jo's, I stood outside the Leow's Boston Common for about twenty minutes talking to a silver-haired Haitian woman about her teenaged kids and their movie preferences. We talked about nannying a bit, her career and how it got derailed, how she hopes she can help her kids focus more than she has. I think my talk with her was my favorite part of the night. I wanted to ditch pokeroke and go have coffee with her, find out more about her.

That sunshine is working its magic, I think. I walked home from the South End today to git me summore.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sun, quiet, action

It's been a better day.

I met a friend (an ice cream scoopin' friend) for breakfast at a diner in Allston. I told him of my amazing plans for the day, since today is a perfect day for a "JoBiv Really Does Live in Boston" walk. He had chores to do and scampered off, possibly intimidated by my genius.

So off I went. I got on the train, got off at Government Center, walked down the steps, through Quincy Market to the Long Wharf. I was concentrating hard on my thoughts - mostly, "JoBiv, you should be making phone calls and finding a job" type thoughts - when a man in a uniform jacket with a laminated ID solicited me for a donation to help the homeless. I honestly didn't know if he really had anything to do with passing out blankets to homeless people, but I thought, just suppose I give him money and it does help. That would be lovely.

As I dug in my purse, he continued his rapid-fire schpiel, interrupting himself to say, "How are ya today?"

"I'm doing well. It's a beautiful day."

"Yeah it is. So why aren't ya smilin'?"

I wasn't aware that I wasn't smiling, but just then I could feel how much effort it would take to relax the furrow of my brows. Too much effort.

"I guess I'm tired," I said.

"Well you keep walkin', you'll hit sunlight." He gestured behind him, toward the end of the wharf.

"That's my plan."

"You from Boston?" The answer should have been obvious, considering I made eye contact with him in the first place.

"No, but I've been living here..."

"Where you from?"


"OH, so you KNOW we're in for it! Enjoy the sun while it lasts!"

Chuckle chuckle.

I continued down the wharf, as planned and instructed, took a picture for a lone tourista, then grabbed the big square cornerstone that catches the most sun. I sat. I watched planes take off. I squinted into the sky to watch gulls catch crumbs thrown by a man in a sateen Pats jacket. I watched the weird brown/blue undulations of the water shouldering up to the stones of the wharf.

I felt the sun warm my right shoulder, my cheek, my thigh. I tried to pay attention to my skin. "This is your skin," I thought. "Only you are feeling what this skin feels right now."

Some kids showed up with skateboards. I watched them for a while. They wrestled with a big orange divider until they had it on its side, then practiced jumping onto it, using its slope as a ramp. Their energy gave me energy.

Well, the sun did, too. The sun and the water and the planes taking off and landing... they could lull you or spark you into action. I chose action.

The Park Dedication

Apparently, I wrote this when I got an invitation to a dedication for Shane's park. I don't know when that was, but the papers I wrote it on were sort of hidden. I found a few other poems, as well, but this one surprised me. I didn't fudge with it as I normally would before showing it. This, after all, is my blog, where I put my least finished thoughts. So, no, the line breaks don't always make sense. And the word choice could be tweaked and simplified. And it wanders. I'm strangely attached to it despite all of those faults. I'm surprised at how... I guess the right word here would be vitriolic... I had a great sense of isolation every time I had an invitation to join others in mourning.

They must have gathered

On the still-seamed sod—

Sod treacherous to high heels,

Though I can guess who wore them:

His girlfriend, first and only,

Girlfriend of two weeks, carrying her grief

Like a halo, or merit badge, surely

In high heels. His mom, a nurse,

Would have more sensible shoes—

Flat sandals, very likely. But the

College friends, the girls, all the

Fake flirtations, the girls who pulled

Him closer for effect, to be able to

Say, “you know that heart transplant kid?

I’m tight with him,” not knowing his

Mal-nourished, underdeveloped body

Produced hormones, too, for them.

I’m glad I didn’t go. Two years

Since the first eulogy, why are we

Addicted to mourning Shane? His

Death day, his transplant day, his

Birthday, his favorite holidays, we

Send each other yet another eulogy.

Maybe we feel collectively cheated,

Having listened to the priest glorify his

Christianity (which, in truth, was incidental)

And talk of his love for school, his

Academic dedication (which was

Mythical or errant). We, who knew

Him, fight his canonization, argue

For his sins and transgressions, tiny

As they were. Confessing them

For him—does it cleanse us,

Make us more holy?

I didn’t go this time. It’s unnatural

Anyway, to force this fraternity

Which, had he lived, would have dissolved

Three months after graduation. This,

The sod, is all we have in common—

The compulsion to eulogize, the feel

Of our heels piercing through, sinking

In, it’s such a comfort.

If he’d known about the park, I think

He would have rolled his eyes,

Huffed about his mom, in the familiar

Loving way we huff when moms

Straighten ties or tuck a shirt tag in. He knew

The ramifications of dying young, the hopeless

Gestures of community to shift out of the terrible

Embarrassment of having seen this coming.

So I chose to stay away as he

Chose to die—out of laziness?

More like exhaustion, too-thorough knowledge

Of how all these things unfurl if one goes forward.

The initiations, the pain of each step,

The explanations, and wondering when

The morning will come, if it will ever come,

The dawn of having all of it gone,

Behind you. I think of each of us

Like gear-work clocks haphazardly engineered—

Each gear creating new problems, each

Solution too quickly executed, filling

Us with redundant movement, the

Original problem eased infinitesimally—

Throw it away, he thought. Throw

The goddamn clock away.

I assume the mourners function better,

Cloistered against this truth—his willingness,

I mean. And I keep trying to allow all things

At once: grief, nostalgia, entropy, whatever.

Oh, I should also say relief.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Singing and Happiness

On Tuesday, NPR's All Things Considered broadcast a piece about community choirs. It's very lovely, and true to my experience. Have a listen if you please.

Ten pieded, Señor

Ten piedad de nosotros

If I ever pray again, I might be able to pray in Spanish. The way the soft d curls into my tongue feels holy, penitent, and worshipful. The way an r flips feels private, a tiny genuflection against the roof of the mouth.

It reminds me of the one song that brought tears to my eyes in church when I was younger.

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Oh, Lord!

Sometimes it causes me to tremble

Even now, I can’t sing those words without feeling. Is it in me? Is it possible for me to have faith?

Dios, estoy desapareciendo. Ten piedad.

Monday, January 16, 2006

On Holiday

I have the week off. I've spent a lil time being peeved that I couldn't get a full week for Christmas, but lo, now a WEEK off a month later... I can't travel again, can't afford it, so I'm here in Brookline, brooding a bit.

Thus the job search marches on.

My goals for the week:

1. Send out three resumes.
2. Cook well (from Sarah's cookbook, methinks!)
3. Get the hell out of the apartment (to museums? something fun...)
4. Get CDs sent out - they're ready to go, I swear!
5. Work on novel abandoned last year
6. One phone call to a friend I miss per day.

Doable, right?

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Hello, may I take your disorder?

I should start a drive-through clinic. That would be tons o' fun.

Today was a lil crowded for me and my current antisocial anxieties. It was a beautiful day, so of course we went to the park. A bunch of nannies, grandmas, with familiar kids came out of the woodwork to see the blue skies. I just didn't feel like talking to them. I whisked Pea away, and just as she got settled into her nap, Baby Daddy came home.

"How are you, Johanna? I mean, besides tired, because you look tired."

"I'm tired."

"Take a nap! Why don't you just lie down on that couch? I'll just do some work in the back room..."

By "do some work" he meant "roam the apartment to find pots and pans to bang together."

Pea woke, her bottle was interrupted in a thoroughly predictable manner, I whisked her off to a concert in Coolidge Corner. Her music teacher just released a CD of songs for children, and it's excellent. (Vanessa Trien - it's bluegrassy, funky, intelligent stuff, for those of you with kiddles.) She had this concert at a store called Magic Beans, which has a play space about the size of my Beacon St living room. There had to be, oh, 40+ children there, with assorted chaperones. Cla-oo-stra-phobia.

It was very nice to see a mom and baby we knew from music class, who burned out just about the same time we did. I got up to leave, and lo, there was Auntie.

"Hi Johanna! This is quite a crowd! You sticking around? M- (Auntie's 3 yr old daughter), say 'hi' to Pea!"

"It's a little crazy in here... Pea's looking a little flushed."

"YOU're looking a little flushed... Here, can you watch M and hold J (3 month old) while I run out for a sec?"

I said, "sure." Because I'm the type of person who always says, "sure." Because, really, what else are you gonna say to the sister of your employer who wants to see you confident and ready to handle any lil situation that pops up?

I'm recalling Fall '04, when I tried to make myself say something, ANYTHING, to the T driver once a day. I'm swimmin' in exactly the same amount of anxiety now, and yet the expectations for my performance are much, much higher.

The thing is, when thrown in with other people (social anxiety), I begin to feel like they're all watching me (paranoia) and my throat closes up (panic attacks) and I respond by pretending I'm super-bold and exciting (multiple personality disorder) or pulling my hair out (self-mutilating), and of course, it's all TEN THOUSAND times worse with (insomnia).

12 is my bedtime. Off I go to stare at the blinds and block out the scuttles of mice in my closet with my racing thoughts. Gosh, I'm fun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Some of my gentle readers will soon receive an extraordinarily well-mixed cd of jazzy/funky tunes. One of them is an Al Green track (not to ruin the soooprise). He says/sings at the very end:

"Sometime I feel like I want to moan about it
and I just don't know what to say i..."

There's another song in which he says something like, "I have to cross my arms and just moan about it..."

That's pretty much my inclination these days. I want to hug myself and moan. It's partially sexual frustration, as Mr. Green conveys, and partially loneliness, anxiety, invisibility... That's the thing. I can't explain it in any real way. Sometime I feel like I want to moan about it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tooth loss, Dad loss

"Hey Dad, you called?"
"Hi Joey! Yeah, I just called."
"Yeah? So what's up?"
"Well I was wondering what you're doing tomorrow," he said hopefully.
"Umm, well I have choir. Where are you?"
"Still in Milford. I lost that contract..."
"The one you were working on for a week?"
"Yep, that's the one."
"Awww... Dad, that sucks. I'm really sorry to hear that..."
"Yeah, I did suck."
"... umm. It's the first one you've lost, right?"
"Wanna hear something funny?"
"... sure..."
"I lost a tooth."
"Yeah, I lost a tooth. Right in the front. I look like a jack-o-lantern."
"I bit into a piece of brown bread and it fell out. I was having lunch with a client."
"Wait, from the root?"
"Yeah, like a second grader. It was so weird."
"Does it hurt? What the Hell??"
"I know, weird, huh?"
"I got it fixed, no biggie."
"No, you don't understand. It's very, very weird. I have nightmares about my teeth falling out all the time."
"Aww Joey, really?"
"Yes! All the time!"
"That's really strange..." he chuckled uncomfortably, like maybe he'd just damned me to a life of leaping teeth.
"Wow. Very." Involuntary shudder. "Well, I have choir tonight, in like ten minutes." Was that bitchy?
"Oh honey, well, so you have choir tomorrow night, you said?"
"Yes, from 7-10." Slight exaggeration. (It's actually 7:15 to about 9 or 9:30.)
"Well I was thinking of going to this place on the South Shore, Blahdeeblahblah (don't recall what he said here, it had a name), but you said you might have plans, so..."
"Yep, choir."
"But during the day?"
"I have an appointment with the career counselor."
"Oh. Oh, right. Well, I guess you're busy."
"Yeah. Sorry, Dad."

In that moment I had a sudden vision. I could see my dad pacing with the phone in his hotel room in Milford, the weight of his business failure pushing him into a stoop, his brows creased in their expressive way, a way that says, "my daughter hates me. All I need in this world is a nice drink and some friendly conversation..." But I hadn't lied. I have appointments tomorrow. I do have choir. I can't cancel all of that.

I hate this transition, from daughter to mother. I refuse to mutate.

"So when do you get to head back to Rochester."
His tone was brisk, professional, upbeat. "This Friday. I've got to open up a new client on Thursday and then I'll head back for the weekend, come out again on Sunday night or Monday."
"Sounds good, Dad." I could have asked, then, if he'd be around next week, mentioned that I have the week off. I didn't. I said, "Well, choir's about ready to start..."
"Oh, okay honey, I'll let you go."
"Alright, Dad. Keep your teeth in."
"Ha! I'll try. Love you, JoMary."
"Love you, Dad."

Monday, January 09, 2006

"Yes, but how ARE you?"

Baby Daddy wouldn't leave me alone today.

I hope you can understand how annoying this man can be. For a psychiatrist, a LOT gets by him that he should really notice. I mean, I'm a frickin' mess in general. I've been wondering when he'd pull me aside and ask me serious questions since the day they hired me.

Instead, he surfaces from his weird Monday ritual of teasing the baby with his presence behind a door that doesn't completely shut to ask me if I'm sleeping.

No. The answer is no.

He continues to siphon away my only break time, Pea's naptime, by asking about my sleeping issues and nighttime rituals and possible causes of sleeplessness. I answer politely, my responses short and guarded. I get the distinct feeling that he may not be listening because he cares, but because he has to prove to me that he is, in fact, a psychiatrist. Of course, this may be my defensive attitude kicking in, as I do, in fact, feel a bit attacked.

After a good thirty minutes wasted in this halting conversation, Baby Daddy appears to be done offering advice. He gets up, leaves the living room. I pick up my book (he'd interrupted the last chapter of my Agatha Christie), sigh a big sigh, and begin to read.

"Oh, and Johanna... I hope you don't have any anxiety about your future as pertains to us."

Huh? Can he see my heart racing?

"A lot of anxiety comes from future-planning, and Baby Mama and I both know that you're young, educated, intelligent... You won't be with us forever. So whatever anxiety you have, don't waste any on how we'll handle it if you have to move on to another job."

I plastered a teetering smile on my face, not sure what to say. Luckily, the man likes to talk.

"I mean, we feel honored, truly, to have you taking care of our daughter. You're amazing with her, and we feel so lucky to have found you, but we also know that there are other things out there for you."

"I do have a Master's to pay off."

Chuckles all around.

"So... yeah. Just don't let that worry you. If you have to go, we'll cope. We'd like to have you for ten more years or ten more weeks... whatever you can manage... but we'll figure it out no matter what you decide."

Hmm. Now I can't tell if Baby Daddy is incredibly shrewd, or a very good blunderer. Either way, I feel a bit exposed. (I can't wait to share this with my career counselor.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

in which I am a naked fish.

All the movements of my life add up to minutiae. The more I flail, the smaller the ripples become, each collision bearing tinier ripples.

I used to have the same daymare over and over when I was living in my parents' house. I would be sitting at dinner, trying to tell them something I deemed important. They'd contradict me or shush me and then I'd have this daymare. I would see them trying to eat, and their forks would turn blazing red with heat, melting their hands to the handles. I would try to warn them as the metal began to glow. I would scream but had no voice. Their hands would begin to shake, their muscles straining to keep the fork from attacking their chests. If I could just make a sound, they would be okay. My throat would close up... in the daymare, in real life. I had that same terrifying dream on Friday with my father.

He called me Thursday, asking for me to come out to Milford and use the hotel pool and jacuzzi, make a day of "partying" with him (read "drinking"). I told him I was free Friday night but wanted to stay local. Long story short, we spent three hours in his car, with his Masshole/Dad hybrid style of a driving, getting lost due to contradicting my directions, eventually eating at a Naked Fish in Natick.

Again, he gave his weird drink request before we were completely seated at our table. I don't remember the particulars. The basic concept: liquor, straight, but not so straight that you'll only serve me a shot of it. Thank you very much.

Although the conversation was painful at this point, I ordered dessert, knowing full well he had to drive me home, then himself to his hotel. During dessert he told me his plans for a trip to Orlando he'd planned for him and mom. He works once a month, then spends it before the month is out.

My throat just aches. It has to go away soon. This is only holiday homecoming aftermath, after all. I just feel so tiny and ineffectual right now. I feel invisible, insulated... I hate the worry lines etching deeper and deeper between my eyebrows.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

JoBiv's Big Adult Day

Oh I am so grown up. I made not one, but TWO big girl phone calls today:

1. To Mary Ryan, my former boss at the preschool, to inform her that I'm jobsearching and ask if I could use her as a reference again.

2. To the Simmons Career Education Center, to set up an appointment.

And then, because I am lovable and capable and gosh darnit, people like me, I left the apartment and went to Simmons. I visited with Cathie, letting her know I'm looking for work. She gave me a few interesting ideas and complimented my shoes. I visited the Ch. Lit. suite and got Bloomers' holiday booktalk list. I went to see this career counselor lady and saw Jane in the same suite. I endured a brain-squeezing interview with aforementioned counselor, and came away mostly unscathed.

And because I had spent my whole day being adult-like and not doing my laundry, I went Lechmere to buy underwear.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Oh, and...

Ah-po. Pea's new word of the day. She is perfect. (She also ate an ah-po whole with her razor sharp chipmunk teeth.)

Roommates. Ugh.

So, apparently the question, "Did you notice we have mice, Maye?" translates to, "Feel free to leave heaping trash bags of food on the floor and candy in dishes all around the apartment," in Super Christian.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hoppy Nuh Yor

(That's how the Community Choir director made us say it.)

How was your New Year's Eve? Did it SUCK? Mine didn't, nyah nyah.

Brigee came to visit just for the night and we had a swell time. I sent out an evite to a very small number of people in hopes of having a bit o' wine and cheese and a very chill night. Everyone had other plans (plural - no one ever has just ONE plan for New Year's Eve, which is why it sucks). So Brig and I got to talk and eat Thai food and haaang the hell out. Eventually we decided we should join the rest of humanity, but we didn't want to join the malicious throngs of First Nighters. Instead, we went to Bukowski's.

Now, we ended up at Bukowski's a few years back (our first year in Boston? We don't recall) after attempting to make good use of our First Night buttons. After wandering aimlessly, catching a bit of good music, catching the sad remnants of an improv comedy show, we finally stumbled into Bukowski's. Things were different there... The bouncer wore a "Fuck New Year's!" shirt, as did the guy sitting on a stool just inside the door. We took out our wallets, and asked what the cover was. He said, "one dollar." Weird, right? We both got out a dollar. "Nooo," he said, "we GIVE you a dollar. Fuck New Year's!" Ahh... home.

So this year we were banking on a very happy Fuck New Year's party. Off we went, hoorah hooray, and yes, Bukowski's had the same schtick going on. As soon as we walked in and cased the joint for seating (there was none), there were two strange young men thrusting their hands out for shaking.

"Do you wanna arm wrestle me? Left-handed..." said the guy with the ridiculous Thoreau-esque beard and knit hat. "I'm Daniel."*

"Hi Daniel. And, no."

"C'mon... you look like you have amazing muscles. Left-handed?"

"I'm not, if that's what you're asking."

"No, I mean... How about a thumb wrestle?"

"I need a drink."

Meanwhile, a very eager-looking skinny kid with WIDE OPEN EYES insinuated himself into my space.

"Hi, I'm Ian."

"Nice to meet you, Ian. Do you want to arm wrestle him, please, so I can get a drink?"


At this point it may help to tell you that Bukowski's is a great alternative to Boylston bars except for one sticky thing: the music is waaay tooo loud. If you told the barstaff, they would say, "Fuck you, go to Whiskeys." But, since you're at Bukowski's to avoid the Boylston Bars, you say nothing. Or, you say everything VERY LOUDLY.

Ian leaned in very, very close, and shouted, "What's your name?"

"I'm Jo. And this is Brigid."

That was unkind of me. Brig smiled nicely and shook the boy's hand. It was then that I noticed he was wearing a headband in his shaggy dark hair.

Daniel reached over to the girl sitting next time, touched her shoulder... she got up and moved somewhere else, smiling apologetically - to me? to Daniel?

Brig and I somehow ended up with two seats at the bar. It was a Christmas miracle, I decided. We got drinks, we paid for them, we got settled in... I was waiting for a boy to call, Brig was waiting for her brother to call, and we were both cautiously deflecting the attentions of Daniel and Ian.

Eventually, Brig's brother showed up with a friend, Ben. I somehow ended up thumb wrestling Daniel (he had very small hands and I won), and turned back to Brig to hear something about hair bands.

"Like Poison?"

She burst out laughing... "No, no, Ian's wearing one!"

"Yes, yes he is..."

Eventually, midnight rolled around. We joined the muted celebrations around the bar (it was, after all, a Fuck New Year's party). Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. I sat looking at the people in the bar who I would allow to touch me. They were all in front of me: Brig, Pat, and Ben.

Imagine my incredible bewilderment when a gaping mouth and two wide-open eyes came over my shoulder, wedging between Ben and me. I turned my head JUST in time...

"Happy New Year, girls!" Ian screeched.

In the same moment, Daniel touched my other shoulder. I turned, welcoming the interruption from Ian's attentions.

"So what are the chances of someone hooking up with your friend Bridget."


"Brig... what are the chances?"

"Nil. That's her brother behind me."

Daniel registered this, turned to look at the Air Force Academy grad, not tall but certainly built, hovering defensively over his sister.


It seemed kinder than telling him that she doesn't go for thumb wrestler's who dress like Thoreau and mumble through their beards about living without heat and without debt and insisting on paying for drinks then forgetting when the bartender comes around... He wouldn't have heard half of that anyway.

So, after two beers and quite enough attention from our two new friends, Brig and I headed back to Longwood. On the T we reminisced about other goings-out which had ended in ransacking of our local 7-Eleven, witnessed by two stoners who thought we were also high. I had prepared for a Brig and Jo Outgoing, and regaled her with tales of the hummus, cheese, and thin mint cookies cozily nestled in my refrigerator. We sat up for another hour or so, eating and talking. And eating.

A very hoppy nuh yor.

* Names have not been changed to protect the innocent. I don't believe these characters were terribly innocent.