Monthly Archives: February 2009

Farewell to a parking garage.

When I first started my Cautionary Job downtown, I was told that I would have to park in a parking garage several blocks from my building. It’s about a fifteen-minute walk, but, oddly, I’ve never minded it much. Probably because I sit on my ass allllll dayyyyy longggg, and being able to walk at least thirty minutes every day has been good for my mind, body, and soul.

Also probably because, for a while, that walk gave me plenty of time to talk to Cautionary Lover on the phone. Since he lives in another state, we depended on the phone a lot. He would call in the morning, and we’d talk as I drove to work, parked, went down an elevator, and walked, through two different buildings, two different skybridges, and down two different escalators, to my building, all the way up to the elevators that would take me to my floor, where we would say goodbye, the dinging of the elevator’s arrival marking the end of our conversation. And when my day was finally over, I would call him as soon as I stepped out of the elevator, and he’d accompany me on the walk back to the car. And then I would sit in my car and talk to him until one of us ran out of time and had to go carry on with the part of our life that didn’t involve the other person. The bigger, more demanding part.

When I ended the affair in May, I began walking outside from the garage to my building. The weather was nice enough in the mornings and the evenings throughout the summer and fall, and the way one particular skybridge smelled reminded me so profoundly of his voice that I couldn’t bear to walk through it anymore.

I’ve been lucky: it’s been a temperate winter. I walk inside in the mornings only when I absolutely have to, when it’s windy and freezing outside, or when it’s raining. But even then I always walk outside at night when I’m leaving work, holding my coat closed at the neck with my right hand on the days I forget to wear a scarf, my hair whipping all around me in the cold wind.

All of my coworkers were moved from my garage one by one except me. Somehow I fell through the cracks. “You still park THERE?” they would ask in astonishment. I told them that I actually enjoy the walk. The truth is that even walking outside, I felt as though Cautionary Lover was making the walk with me every day still. Some mornings I would drive up to the garage and, as I swiped my card, think about how, on a day not too long ago, I’d be talking to him as I did it.

It’s incredible what this parking garage has come to represent to me. A parking garage. Downtown. Inconvenient as hell. Pretty run-down. Kind of scary, even. Ill-lit and unsafe, even for all its security measures–there were rumors of stabbings and break-ins. But, for so long, the place Cautionary Lover and I shared our thoughts, feelings, and love.

I got word yesterday that I’m being moved to a parking garage next door to my building. Because of all the recent layoffs, there are a lot of available spaces, and one is for me.

Obviously, as part of the whole letting go thing, I see that this is good. This is a step in a good direction. A new direction. But another part of the letting go thing is overwhelming sadness. It’s not as easy all the time as simply deciding to let go of it. Sometimes it feels as though it won’t let go of me.

But when I leave work in about an hour, I’m going to make that walk one more time. Down the elevator, across the street, inside the building, up the escalator, through the skybridge, into another building, up another escalator, through another skybridge to another elevator, and to my car.

And never walk it again.

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First green.

I saw this today as I drove up to my apartment for lunch.

First Green

When I saw it, I said, “Ohhhhhh my GOD!” aloud to myself.

Spring is here.

And then I became sublimely happy. Because spring is here.

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Updates.

  • I went to Gaybingo with a few gay friends last Saturday night, and I won $95 on our twelfth game (out of fifteen). I put $20 of it in the offering plate at church on Sunday morning. Mostly for irony’s sake but also because, hell, I had the cash, and I never have cash.
  • I miss TV. That is all.
  • The performance on Tuesday was meh. Fine. Cautionary Husband said that I did better than he expected me to, which was mean and nice at the same time. I’ve never used the electric part of the electric-acoustic function of my guitar, so it was terrible interesting to hear all the tiny mistakes I made amplified OVER A SPEAKER. But my singing was okay, I think. I was asked to join the church choir, at any rate.
  • After my performance, CH and I went to get a drink at Cautionary Pub, where I saw Cautionary Bartender. I sidled up to the bar, and she came straight to me even though there were a lot of other people who had been waiting much longer. As she poured my drink, she told me that I HAD to come to her BOYFRIEND’S birthday party the next day. Which, I think, is a way of saying NOT A LESBIAN. Later, she made me take a FREE shot with her before I could close out my tab. I think I’m going to enjoy having a bartender friend very much. Happy Mardi Gras to me.
  • Giving up cussing is going to be harder than I thought. At coffee with a friend this morning, I cussed roughly twenty times, and every time I cussed, I said an alternate just-as-bad word immediately after because I’m not supposed to be cussing, which brought my final tally to about forty. So it seems I’m now cussing doubletime. Off to a great start.
  • Edits:

  • I can’t believe I posted a video of myself singing. God help me. God help YOU.
  • Tagalongs taste a lot like puppy chow, don’t they? Effing delicious.
  • More Edits:

  • I trust that y’all will tell me if it’s truly horrible so I can remove it with a bit of dignity intact.
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    On smudgy ashes.

    When I was walking back into my office building after receiving ashes at church, I realized that it was a bit ridiculous to be touching up my lip gloss when I’ve got a huge smudge of black dirt on my forehead.

    The question of whether or not I should wash off my ashes immediately after receiving them has always been a sort of crisis of faith for me. I’m not (very) ashamed to walk around with ashes on my head all day, mostly because I can’t see my own forehead unless I’m looking into a mirror. But isn’t the whole concept a little showy? Just in the church service today the Gospel reading from Matthew was about not being ostentatious in our penitence, not walking around with pained expressions on our faces if we’re fasting, because our reward is in heaven, not in being perceived as “holy” by other people.

    When I heard this reading, I remembered when I was in high school and we received T-shirts that said “I believe” on them at church. The concept was that students all over the nation would wear the shirt on the same day of the week as a declaration of faith. When the day came, I wore my shirt, and then I jumped all over one of my best friends for not wearing hers. I’m not sure WHY I jumped all over her, exactly. Maybe I was embarrassed to be wearing the (really ugly) shirt to school and was counting on some camaraderie. Or maybe I just had a serious attitude problem. Or both, which is likely, since I was sixteen. Either way, I was ashamed not too soon after and still am ashamed now by the way I acted.

    I also thought about when I was in college and students made a big ordeal about bowing their heads to pray before meals in the cafeteria. Since I went to a private Christian school, I was inundated with chapel and praise and prayer and faith and church and Christianity and God pretty much non-stop. Really, it was my decision to attend a Christian college, but having Christ shoved down one’s throat when one is not exactly in the mood for it can make one a little jaded. But bowing one’s head to pray is little unnecessary, yes? I mean, we don’t HAVE to bow our heads and close our eyes to talk to God. It’s just a way of saying, “LOOK AT ME! I AM PRAYING! BEFORE I EAT!” So I made the decision to pray before every meal, but with my eyes open and my head straight up. Maybe looking out the window. Maybe even while someone engages me in conversation. God doesn’t mind it when we multi-task.

    But now I see that judging those who prayed before meals is just as bad as judging my friend who didn’t wear her shirt. Who cares if someone needs to bow their head and close their eyes to commune with God? And who even cares if someone’s doing it just for show? If that’s that person’s particular brand of Christianity, then I should be happy that they’ve found something that works for them. Just as happy as I am that I’ve found the Episcopal Church.

    So after I received my ashes today at lunch, I was faced with a decision. Do I keep them on all day in remembrance that I am dust, and to dust I shall return? Or do I wash them off because I don’t want anyone to think I’m some sort of holier than thou person who goes to church on her lunch break and then walks around all day with the proof on her forehead?

    In the end, I decided to leave my ashes on but clean them up a little bit, making it a bit more of a cross and a bit less of a smudgy mess. Because, as it turns out, that’s my particular brand of Christianity.

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    On a little road barely on the map.

    Tonight is the dreaded Shrove Tuesday Talent Show at my church, where I will be performing a song. As in, singing it. Plus playing it on my guitar. Which equals INEVITABLE FAIL.

    I haven’t sang in front of people since I hit that awkward age where not really being able to carry a tune became not so cute. And I’ve NEVER played guitar in front of people. People who actually wanted to hear it, anyway.

    I still haven’t decided what I’ll be performing. The program (which was inserted into the church bulletin on Sunday morning) says, “[Cautionary Girl]-Song.” I like that. Keeps ’em on their toes and allows me to wait until I actually begin playing the damn song to decide.

    But it’ll probably be one of these, only with worse guitar playing and worse singing:

    I’m leaning towards “Gatekeeper” because, well, God is the Gatekeeper, isn’t he? And also because Lent is all about new seasons. That last bit of hellish home stretch until spring and Easter and rebirth and resurrection and alleluia. D.H. Lawrence wrote that humans are inextricably tied to seasons, and that the church recognized this and therefore appropriated the seasons to its calendar to keep us all in perpetual harmony with the universe. I like that.

    In other news, I think I’m giving up cussing for Lent. Not FOREVER, mind you. Just for 40 agonizing days. I’ll be spending every second until the priest puts the ashes on my forehead tomorrow thinking up as many hilarious euphemisms as I can.

    When I told someone I was planning on giving up cussing for Lent, he said that really should include euphemisms as well, and I said FUCK NO. In the true spirit of Mardi Gras.

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    What a difference a microwave makes.

    A couple weeks ago our work hours were changed from 9:30-6 to 9:30-6:30. And my reaction has been something akin to:

    Get me the fuck out of here.

    That half hour doesn’t really seem like much, but it turns out that it’s the difference between driving home like a sane person, walking the dog to the dog park, and fixing a semi-decent dinner; and rushing home like a crazy person, driving the dog to the dog park only to find that everyone’s already left, and deciding that a bowl of cereal is definitely the best way to keep from dying of starvation right there in my kitchen.

    Cautionary Husband got the microwave in the separation. I’m not sure of the logic we used there, since the separating of all the kitchen stuff is still kind of a nightmarish blur to me, but I think it went something like this: 1. his parents bought it for us, 2. I have no counter space at my new place, and 3. he asked me what I need a microwave for, anyway, and after thinking for a second, I said…soup? He said I can fix soup on the stove and would be just fine without the microwave. I thought this was convincing enough and let him take it.

    At first I was fine. And then I caught myself looking forlornly at all the steamer bags of vegetables in the freezer section of my local grocery store. Of course I could buy those veggies and cook them in a pot, but that gets a pot dirty for no reason, which is a big deal when you don’t have a dishwasher, and takes longer, and is a hassle when only two of the four burners on your stove are functioning and they’re both at the back. As I’d walk by the freezers, the special patented steaming baggies would jeer, “we’re convenient and delicious and you desperately need more veggies in your diet, but you don’t have a microwaaaaaaaave.” They’re bitches, those frozen veggies, I’d think. And then I’d go home and eat cereal for dinner for the third night in a row.

    Last week I got ambitious. I got home around 6:45, rushed the dog to the dog park, picked up Cautionary Husband, bought some ingredients at Whole Foods, and made us homemade mac & cheese for dinner. When we got back to my place, I nearly had a nervous breakdown before the cheese was even shredded. CH made me sit down and eat something. And drink some wine. I was able to calm down enough to prepare the dinner.

    It wasn’t out of the oven until 9. Neither of us was even hungry by then.

    We split the leftovers 50/50, but the next day when I got home from work and saw the delicious mac & cheese sitting in my fridge, all cold and not ready for me to eat it and impossible to heat up in a quick and easy fashion, I nearly had another nervous breakdown.

    I called Cautionary Husband and told him enough was enough; I was coming over to get the microwave.

    It usurped the toaster’s spot on the counter. And once it was in place, I did a little microwave dance for Cautionary Dog, which consisted of me jumping around in my tiny kitchen, shaking my ass, and singing “I CAN EAT! I CAN EAT! I CAN EAT!” at the top of my lungs.

    And tonight when I get home at a God-forsaken hour, that hour when most of America has already eaten dinner, put the kids to bed, and is settling in for some prime-time television, I will put a steamer bag of veggies into the microwave, take it out a few minutes later, and eat it straight out of the bag with a fork. And who knows. Maybe I’ll get really crazy and heat up a few of those frozen chicken nuggets that have been sitting in my freezer since I moved in.

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    You don’t have to look too hard to find the metaphor here.

    Cautionary Husband and I bought a house plant at the Home Depot a while back. Is it THE Home Depot, or just Home Depot? I feel strange putting a definite article before a store name for some reason. But by God, I won’t capitalize the “the.” We’ll just pretend it’s not there, yes?

    So we bought a plant at a store. I don’t remember WHY we bought a plant. Maybe I decided we needed more plants in our lives. More life in our lives. I get these whims sometimes. We walked up and down the indoor plant aisle, and I stopped at this particular plant. It seemed to have been crushed all down one side of it not too long before we came around. Some of its leaves looked slightly wilted and were a darker shade of green than the rest of the plant. It broke my heart immediately. Obviously, I couldn’t let this plant risk another second in the evil home improvement store where no one would buy it and where maybe it would get hurt again and then likely thrown away. I had to rescue it.

    We brought it home and put it in the sunniest spot in the house, a corner at the top of the stairwell, and hoped for the best.

    The corner we placed it in, it turned out, wasn’t a corner we spent a lot of time in. Or any time, really. So we had to remember just by sheer MEMORY that there was a plant in the house and that it needed water. You know, ’cause we didn’t have enough stuff to remember already. During this time, it should be noted, I forgot to pay any bills at all for two months in a row because I was so utterly consumed with the failure that was my life.

    Needless to say, the plant got worse. It drooped. The darker green wilted spots turned brown and dried up. Instead of bringing life into our apartment, it brought death. The slow, impending kind that is especially good at reminding us of our own existential dread.

    I claimed the plant in the separation. It was a bitch to move, and at this point seemed to be barely clinging to life. I put it in a corner in my living room that needed a little something and is near a window. I began noticing when the plant looked particularly droopy and began watering it a little more regularly.

    But things took a turn for the worse when Cautionary Dog began eating it while I was at work. It seemed to serve as a last vestige of his separation anxiety. And, honestly, I could deal. Better the plant than my books. I would come home from work and pick up a few more tattered leaf shards from the ground and ask Cautionary Dog what the hell he was thinking and go on with my life. That plant was surely on its way out, anyway.

    And then the other day I came home from work at lunch to find a fresh, shiny, curled leaf, sticking straight up from the center of the plant, defying all odds.

    Ray of Hope

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