Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ten seventy-four

After two straight days of job searching, I have learned that my $90,000 education matches up to jobs which pay $10.74 an hour.


Monday, June 26, 2006

The metamorphosis

I may have mentioned before that my brothers hurt me most deeply when they compare me to my Aunt. This aunt.

I realize there is family resemblance. She's a cutie - I don't mind looking like her. We have a similar sense of humor, which, again, I count as a blessing.

But we're also both sad. Joanie's been struggling all her life, still struggles every day. I don't want to believe that I'm similarly doomed. I want to believe that I will have this thing in my ribcage fairly tranquilized for large stretches of my life.

I spent a few days with Joanie when I went home to see the new baby. We had fun. She had fun drawing parallels between us. It felt strange. Everything she said seemed familiar and true. I can't stop thinking about the many ways my life veers toward the tracks she laid.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The elephants are coming!

I'm judging myself by my deeds lately, because it's much easier to hate or love myself with some kind of proof. I create character witnesses in my wake, right? In the fantasy court I hold in my head, each witness must be called.

Including the Mom I brushed off yesterday, knowing that if I encouraged her conversation, she would ask me for food from the school kitchen. Knowing that our supplies are dwindling and she may be the culprit.

Then there are the Toddler teachers, one of whom got a stern talkin' to and relocation because of me. I fell into my old job of Parent Liaison, encouraging disgruntled parents to make phone calls and write letters stating their discomfort with the current teachers. They did. G'bye, lead teacher. Her assistant left with her, swearing some kind of fealty. And now I have a steadier job, which was a happy circumstance, not at all the purpose of my rabble rousing. I'm sleeping a bit easier than my co-workers; my name wasn't on the employee list they stole before they left. They've been calling eight to twelve times a day trying to get me on the phone.

Today I seemed to redeem myself. I had to call in to the preschool to tell them I've been sick (the montezumas! eeek!). I was given the day off (by another character witness who can feel free to call me inconsistent), so I took some time getting home from The Novelist's house. I stopped in at Linda's Donuts, a lovely lil place just inside Belmont. I sat myself at a booth, read some Mitford, ate an omelet... Two older ladies came in. They looked around at the full booths with hopeless sighs, then gestured toward the stools by the window. The one lady was so little that the stool could have been a convenient armrest if she felt like loitering there.

I got up from my seat, taking my food with me. "Excuse me, would you be more comfortable in the booth?" The women heaped effusive thanks upon me. The owner/server kept calling me a Dear (or was it deer?) and praised me each time she went past. "It's hard to have a conversation on a stool," I insisted. No autographs, please.

Okay, so there are three character witnesses right there. But... I couldn't help thinking, wouldn't anyone do the same? Why accept praise for something so obvious? To me, it was like holding a door open for a parent with a stroller - incredibly easy and near second-nature. I felt that maybe we shouldn't be so amazed at these tiny acts. They're much more common sense than common courtesy.

And just now the doorbell rang. It was the mailman with something requiring a signature. I took the pen he offered, signed on various X's, chatted while he shuffled through the mail to find mine... He left, I went inside. Good goddamn, I had his pen!

I grabbed my keys and walked after him up the courtyard.

"I'm sorry, I stole your pen!"

He came out of the neighbors' vestibule and gratefully took the pen back.

"You must be a college student," he said in his Caribbean accent. (That's a broad guess, but I'm fairly ignorant about the island accents and can't be more specific, plus I don't think it's a terribly important detail in the story, except now I've made it important by this lengthy parenthetical.)

"A college student?"

"Yes, or work in a business..."

"Oh... because I know how annoying it is..."

"To lose pens, yes. I knew you had to be a student."

I didn't correct my friend Sherlock. "Exactly," I said. We parted with grins.

Now, if I don't fuck up for the rest of the week I may go to heaven if I die in a sudden elephant stampede this weekend. Let us pray...

Monday, June 12, 2006

The ol' switcheroo

So. I have been trying to live my little life without dwelling on things. I've been trying to find a job that does not involve baby wipes. I've been trying, so hard, to be positive. All of this effort goes completely wasted, however, as soon as I pop my pills and fall asleep. Nightmares, of course. They're always about home and my parents. They're always about entropy, to be very general about it.

Home just... I've been trying, I'm telling you. I show up with a smile, with a determinedly happy attitude. I hug my parents and let myself love them.

And then someone breaks my heart. Usually my father. This time... yeah, it was Dad. With a dash of Mom.

Mom: (In Wegman's parking lot.) I just can't believe I didn't know.
Jo: Know what?
Mom: (eyes ahead) How sad you were. The things you believed about yourself. The things you did to yourself.
Jo: ...
Mom: Kids never tell you what's bothering them when it's really important. I should have seen it somehow.
Jo: (throat closing.) I didn't want you to know. I didn't do anything for attention.
Mom: I know, but still... Why didn't I see it?
Jo: (thought bubble: fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck)

That night we got home a little late with all of our dinner ingredients. My Dad had been golfing with a friend. They celebrated Dad's loss with a few beers and a bottle of wine. My Dad was sleeping it off on the back porch when we walked in.

He awoke, groggy, slurry, told us about his game, and hurried for the corkscrew. The table was set for dinner, with red wine glasses. He brought them into the kitchen and filled half of Mom's glass. I was busy getting myself a soda. In fact, it was flat Fresca, which perhaps I should refer to as fresca. Anyway, I was thirsty, not in the mood for wine for many reasons.

Dad: (bottle hovering over my glass) Joey? How much?
Jo: None, thanks.
Dad: You should really taste this...
Dad: What do you have there... want to spice it up with some rum?
Jo: No, no I don't. I'm thirsty, and alcohol is a bad idea when you're dehydrated.
Dad: Good point, good point. Okay, well you should have some with dinner.
Jo: We'll see.

We entered a nicer conversation about the new nephew, Baby Girl, the places my mother and I had wandered that day...

I turned to talk to my mom, and remarkably, my fresca disappeared. The goblet sat in front of me, my dad's hairy gorilla arm tipping a bottle towards it.

Jo: DAD. No thank you.
Dad: C'mon, just try it...
Jo: I want to finish my soda...
Dad: (gesturing to dump the soda in the sink)
Jo: (undaughterly death stare)
Dad: Hahahaha... just kidding, honey.

Again, we managed to talk of nicer things for a while. Neighbors, school friends and their latest adventures...

Dad: What?? (sloshing wine into my glass, my fresca once again slid beyond my reach.)
Jo: I really, REALLY do NOT want wine.
Dad: Well, it's red. It has ta breathe a little...
Jo: I don't want to have to throw it down the sink. I don't know if I'm going to drink wine at all tonight. You just wasted all that wine...
Dad: Ha! Like any wine goes wasted in this house!

He stole the glass away, put it to his lips, bent his head back...

Jo: OKAY. Alright... I'll drink it... jeeze...