Monthly Archives: January 2009

Eating alone is the hardest part.

I knew it would be, and it is.

Nothing, not Ella Fitzgerald on the record player nor an engrossing book nor a glass of wine nor carrying on a conversation with Cautionary Dog while he sits and cocks his head in adorable ways, makes it easier.

The other night I actually ate dinner standing up because of this.  I pulled some pieces of the frozen pizza I’d made the night before out of the fridge and ate them cold, standing up beside the table.  As quickly as possible, so I could get on to other things already.  Things that involve my eyes and both hands, ideally.

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Party of one.

On Monday night I went grocery shopping by myself, for myself for the first time.

It really wasn’t too different from shopping for two.  Cautionary Husband and I enjoy similar food items, so my selections weren’t any different.  Bread.  Milk.  Corn Pops.  Cheese.  Lunch meat.  Wheat Thins Crisps.  Thick and Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.  And the total still came out to about $64, which is kind of astounding.  And kind of depressing.

I did, however, feel a little sheepish buying that gallon of Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate ice cream.

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A TV-less existence.

Whenever I tell people that I don’t have TV service and don’t intend to get it, the response is generally a mouth-agape gaze.  Sometimes a “wow.”  Sometimes an “I could never do that,” which always sounds a bit like a backhanded compliment.  Kind of like how some people who complain about being overwhelmingly busy are actually bragging.

I thought I could never do it, either.  And it was hard, that first night when I looked at the large swath of time I have every night between getting off work and going to bed.  Five hours that I’d spent every night self-medicating with lots of HGTV and ice cream.  Or Gossip Girl and wine.  Or Mad Men and cigarettes.  (Cigarettes go so well with Mad Men.)

Really, it’s a miracle that my stomach isn’t as mushy as my brain.  But all the anxiety that comes with self-medicating was usually sure to keep me twitching my muscles constantly while lying on the couch.  Cautionary Husband has terrible circulation and would stick his feet between my thighs, only to remove them ten minutes later because I physically could not stop squeezing his feet with my leg muscles.  He’d tell me to stop, and I’d try for a few seconds, and then I’d start again without even realizing it.

Really, anxiety is like a built-in thighmaster.

I still have a TV.  It sits in my living room atop an antique Singer sewing-machine table that I inherited from my grandmother, the only family heirloom I have.  The TV isn’t even digitally compatible, since it was made in, um, 1998.  But, because I don’t have a fireplace, and TVs seem to be the modern equivalent of a focal point (even when they’re decades old), it’s there.  Also because I have grand ideas of doing yoga by way of DVD every morning and night, something that has yet to happen because there are usually other things I’d rather be doing, like soaking in a bath and reading.  Or lying in bed watching The Office on my laptop.

Because even though I’ve quit TV, I’m still able to keep up with my favorite shows online.  I have a feeling this is the direction TV is going, and that someday our computers and televisions will merge into the same entity, and we will remember wistfully the quaint days they were separate.  The days of sitting on the couch watching shows and commercials we didn’t really want to watch, but there was nothing else on, and who wants to actually sit and think about life, anyway?  Or worse, TALK about it.

I consider myself on the forefront of technology.

And while I still seek out Gossip Girl, Grey’s Anatomy and The Office, the thought of actually turning on my laptop to watch an episode of House Hunters seems ridiculous to me.  And it was my favorite HGTV show!  Over the last few years I’ve given of myself countless hours to watching strangers pick from three houses the one they’d like to buy.  Telepathically encouraging them to pick the one I liked best.  Cursing them when they opted for the big budget-buster.  I’m not sure what it was that drew me to the show, even, since most of the time it depressed the fucking hell out of me.  Happy couples, hands clasped, looking at the world’s cutest 1920s bungalows.  And me, sitting alone in my rented duplex with a bowl of ice cream, married to a man I didn’t even know, while the man I was in love with was married to someone else.  House hunting with someone else, even, for part of that time.

Come to think of it, maybe it was masochism rather than any sort of coping mechanism.

Either way, it wasn’t something good, so it’s out of my life.  Most of the time I don’t miss it, but sometimes I do.  I miss Matt Lauer’s self-deprecating sense of humor in the morning, and his impeccable fashion sense.  I miss feeling not so alone, not so isolated.  I miss numbing my mind.  I miss feeling connected, even if it’s just to some actors who enter my living room via flashing light.

I miss having something to do, even if that something to do was really nothing at all.

A few weeks ago, my boss asked me what I thought about what was going on in Gaza.  Since my main news source at the time was Ann Curry’s one-minute newsrundown at the top of every morning hour on Today, I told her that I shamefully didn’t know much about it.  She gave me the same look I described in the first paragraph, that mouth-agape shock.  But now I listen to NPR in the morning instead.  And now I can talk about Gaza all day.  I can talk the shit out of Gaza.

I’ve come so far.  But an ice storm is currently headed our way, and while the thought of having a snow day tomorrow is wonderful, I couldn’t help but wonder: Without TV, what in the world will I do?

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I had a living-alone success, and then I spent the next twelve hours LOSING MY SHIT.

So I hooked up my own internet.  Blah blah blah.  Yay, me.  All I did was plug the thing into the thing, and that other thing into the first thing, and then I could jump online and yammer about how I did it!  I did the thing!

That evening I nearly had a nervous breakdown about the cords.  The cords!  They were all over my bedroom!  And in a sprawl under my nightstand!  And I DON’T HAVE ANY OUTLETS WHY DO I INSIST ON LIVING IN PLACES BUILT BEFORE THE 1930s GAH.

Also, I have my third Urinary Tract Infection since October.  And I didn’t want to eat dinner because I felt sick, but I had to eat dinner to take my medicine that would make me feel better, and why is everything a vicious cycle nowadays?

So I called Cautionary Husband and he came over.  He brought an extension cord and Chipotle.  And after we ate and I had taken my medicine we assessed the cord situation and figured out a handy method of HIDING THE CORDS BEHIND MY BED ISN’T IT OBVIOUS THAT I DON’T HAVE A BRAIN.

And then we cuddled for a while and devised a plan to keep me from continuing to lose my shit, which included taking a damn sick day for once and resting a bit.  And, if I felt like it, running the errands I’ve been putting off, such as changing our addresses at the Post Office.

And so I did.  I called in sick.  I rested.  I watched the Inauguration, which rocked my face off.  I ran errands.  I got a pedicure.  And I rested some more.

I guess I’m not completely able to figure out life on my own yet.  But I think I’m getting there.

Yeah, I’m getting there.

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Living alone success #1.

I hooked up my own internet.  All by myself.

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Turns out I got me a Cautionary Guard Dog.

I’m not thrilled about living alone.  And by “not thrilled,” I mean TERRIFIED AS SHIT.  The day after I’d spent my first night at the new place, one of my downstairs neighbors came up to welcome me and kindly let me know that the girl who lived there before me moved because she found a man in her apartment one night.  As in, she was lying in bed, she heard a sound, she walked into the living room, AND THERE WAS A PERSON WHO WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THERE.  Supposedly he was leaving.  And unarmed.  Though neither of these facts did anything to slow my heart rate.  Not one bit.

Besides Cautionary Dog getting run over by a car, this is my biggest fear.

So I keep my door locked.  All the time.  Cautionary Husband recommended that I move the TV in front of my door before going to bed so that I won’t stay awake listening for every little sound.  If I hear the sound of a TV crashing to the ground, however, I’m screwed.  So I keep my cell phone on my nightstand.  And my mom is hooking me up with some pepper spray.  One thing I’ve never thought about in my life is where in the world one buys pepper spray.  As far as I know, it fits into the category of things one must be “hooked up” with, like weed.  My stepdad says he knows a sheriff.

After some thought, I decided to use the guitar instead of the TV.  I figured, just as noisy, only not so heavy.  You know, ’cause I’m a weak 120-pound girlie girl with girlie girl arms, and lifting that TV every night is just not happening.

Today when I came home for lunch, I found my front door was open.  FUCK, I thought, it’s happened already.  So I wandered in, pushing the door further open with my fingertips.  The first thing I saw was a ladder leaning against the living room wall.  So these robbers wanted to what?  Check out to see if I dust on the tops of my bookshelves?  Make an exit onto the roof?  I turned the corner to find my landlord and repairman in the kitchen, trying to fix the ceiling light.

“That’s some dog you got there,” the repairman gruffs to me, and I see my bedroom door is shut.  “We had to shut him in there.  He’s vicious, growling and barking.”  “Really?”  I said.  “He never barks.  Are you sure he was barking?”  The repairman turns to the landlord, and he confirms.  “Yep. Had to shut him in there, and he didn’t like that one bit.”

My chest swelled with pride at my little guard dog who has never protected my home from so much as a roach, who loves on every single individual who sets foot inside his abode, and I have to assume that he doesn’t discriminate between folks who are invited to be there and folks who aren’t.  Because, according to him, they’re all there to see HIM.

When I opened the bedroom door I found him huddled against the wall, shaking.

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Little by little.

The night Cautionary Husband signed his lease, I lay in bed in the guest room trying to reassure myself that the separation wouldn’t be final until I had signed a lease.  Until we had an apartment for each of us.

Once I’d signed my own lease two weeks later, I began to think that the separation wouldn’t be final until we’d sent in our 60 days’ notice on our apartment.

Once the notice was sent in, I convinced myself that we could back out, break leases, do whatever we wanted until we moved out.  That we wouldn’t have to be separated until we moved out.

Now that we’ve moved out, I keep thinking we have until the lease on our old place is officially expired on the 25th of this month, or until someone else has signed a new lease.

But I know in my heart that the moving was the one that did it.  And every night when I return to the old place to gather more things to take with me to my new home, kitchen utensils, socks, pots, and coffee mugs, that, little by little, I’m finalizing it even more, the home we shared together literally ripped in half.

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