Archive for the ‘the opposite of done’ Category


January 8, 2012

I took the Tree down yesterday. Now we miss it. We miss it and we miss festive holiday fashions like blue & silver ribbons worn round furry necks.

This was a Tree of historic importance. Quite possibly the sweetest, humblest most devoted Tree I’ve ever had. This lowly little $29 fraser fir from Home Depot, stood proudly in front of the window for 5 weeks and barely dropped a needle. It smelled wonderful and was the perfect size and companion.

I am ever the daughter of a forest ranger, so the Tree is now in the backyard leaning against a palm. The birds might want to sit in it. Or the squirrels. It still has so much elegance and dignity left to share.

I will visit when I can, and give it updates on Downton Abbey. I hope it enjoys the starlight.


3 Part tale

September 30, 2011

Part I

In a moment of inertia I went on one of those dating websites – the one that has a 40 page questionnaire and costs a lot of money.  It’s free to complete the scientific profile and find out who your matches are. In the process you may learn something about yourself. I love to learn.

Part II

Apparently I am matchable with only 3 people in the entire state.

Match#1 in response to things he can’t live without:

  • sex
  • honesty
  • an attractive women
  • a great relationship with a women
  • sex
You know what I can’t live without? A great relationship with a men who can write. And grilled cheese sandwiches.
Match #2 was a Promise Keeper and mentioned that he only tolerates cats. That’s not very promising to my way of thinking.
Match #3 was going on and on about his daughter, so he should probably just date her.
Other matches are scattered about the country having colonoscopies and collecting social security. According to the scientific method I am very compatible with the 64-68 year olds, even though I am only 51.
Part III
The results of my questionnaire are called my profile. My profile says I’m a cross between Eleanor Dashwood and a Vulcan.
  • Fair
  • Considered
  • Collaborative
  • Calm
  • Sensible
  • Diplomatic
  • Contemplative
  • Indulgent
  • Rational
  • Thoughtful
  • Restrained
  • Reserved
  • Careful
Your social encounters balance out the side of you that likes your own company and having enough time to think and reflect.
But you do find that life has a better rhythm for you when there is enough quiet time to deliberate on your own so that you
are refreshed for your next encounter with friends and colleagues.

You are accepting of others, flexible in your own intellectual commitments, well-informed in areas that matter to you, and comfortably aware of who you are and where you stand. This combination will make you a desirable companion on the intellectual journey for many, many people.

Wait there’s more…

You say what you believe, live by what you say, and are as consistent as the sunrise. This clarity will make you easy to be with for those who are comfortable with an orderly, somewhat predictable world.

There are a lot more adjectives but by this point I get it. I learned that I am a perfect match for my cats. They like predictability. They like emotional stability and share my respect for personal boundaries. We are on a jurnee. We will continue to date – my cats and I. And one day they might even pick up the check.

Lower the bar, higherarchy

August 12, 2010

Sometimes when I’m skimming other people’s blogs I see wishlists like this:

Things to do this summer

1. Travel Route 66

2. Have a watermelon seed fight

3. Eat a popsicle at top of  the Berry Street Park slide

4. Take 50 pictures of 50 year olds

5. Make tent with sheet and dining room table

6. Join art co-op

I am a different sort of person. I have no list. Why set myself up for failure?

I prefer to let my list self-create.  When a pleasant or quirky thing happens, it goes to the top of my list, (I prefer queue)  and is immediately crossed off. In this manner I avoid the disappointment and  feelings of inadequacy that an unfulfilled wishlist might produce.

This morning for example, I scared the pants off myself – quite an accomplishment, and something I’ve been meaning to do for some time. Now it’s on the list and it’s  already crossed off.

See, I was getting ready for work around 6 am, and I heard a woman’s voice whisper “Mary.” I screamed, “What?! What the …!”

Knowing no one was in the house but me, I was all astonishment. In fact I’ll go all Jeannie Ralston and say I jumped out of my skin, was shaking like a leaf, frozen with fear, struck dumb, and as white as a ghost. And all of this before the sun had even risen “like a  sliver of near-neon orange that was spreading out on the horizon like a just-split egg yolk.”

A life, any life, holds such promise for self-creating lists of  inconsequential greatness.

self-created list of inconsequential greatness

1. Scare the shit out of myself


July 2, 2010

I woke up wondering why I felt slightly enthusiastic. What was happening?  A trip? Pastries? Then I remembered the glory of the extra day off – and the slow, unremarkable, routine 8 hour workday I still had to get through.

It’s not that I hate my job. It’s just that I like doing and imagining so many things more.

Like drinking a leisurely cup of coffee in the morning. Or imagining drinking a leisurely cup of coffee at a Vermont campsite surrounded by pine trees in the damp morning air.

Like staring off into grey skies. Or imagining staring off into grey skies from the porch that looks out over the meadow and duck pond of my home in the country.

Like making a small origami box. Or imagining a small origami box, the paper it’s made from, the love notes it’s filled with and the look of it on my doorstep.

Like baking a blueberry cake. Or imagining the sound of the bucket that clunks against my leg as I walk up the hill past the big elm tree to the blueberry patch.

Hunkered down in my cubicle with 4 more hours to go I close my eyes for just a moment. I see the pale pink petals as they float to the ground.

Much longer than a tweet + Copenhagen

June 11, 2010

The whole thing took about an hour and a half. I could have written a stupid blog post in that hour and a half. Or baked a pie. Or listened to my playlist called “These songs are a yes.”

Instead that hour and a half was spent attempting to close accounts for an out of state client who had already failed at her local branch. I had my ID and notarized letters of instruction and court certified documents and a red purse with business cards in it. Surely my red purse would lend me an air of authority. The customer service representative, I’ll call her Sophia, glanced at the paperwork and looked lost. She had on a pretty ring with purple and green stones. I wanted to compliment her but I didn’t want to seem too enthusiastic because I knew eventually she’d screw me over.

She dialed a number. We waited. Someone answered and she tried to read the court certified letters of administration out loud to a cog in the wheel they call the legal department, probably thousands of miles away. Sophia couldn’t pronounce prerequisite. She stumbled around with it and finally decided on “prereziquit.” The word decedent also took a wrong turn in her mouth and became descendant.

I was getting an uncomfortable feeling. When people who are supposed to be helping me can’t read, it gives me a bad vibe. The discussion went on for some time with more reading and mispronouncing and misstating of the facts. “My manager isn’t here today,” she told the cog. I felt a tear form but brushed it away.

“Let’s see if we can’t get this taken care of,” Sophia said somewhat unconvincingly.

She left the desk to consult with the assistant manager. I stared at the cup full of lollipops on her desk and thought of Copenhagen. I love the sound of it – the way it bounces around on my lips when I say it.  I’ve never been there. I’ve never been to Europe actually. I’ve read that it can take weeks or even months to complete simple transactions in Europe. I doodled. I deleted messages from my phone. I rubbed something sticky off the side of my sandal.

Eventually Sophia returned with the assistant manager, I’ll call her Clarice. She said something like “Well here’s the problem. We’re not going to be able to do this for you today.” Something about the absence of the client and the “scope” of their regulations and the Gulf oil spill and the price of grain futures.

This is where I got snippy and told them that I knew they wouldn’t do it, that their bank was the worst to deal with and that before I’d left my office that morning I’d said “Lord have mercy. I’ll be there all morning and nothing will get resolved.” That’s a real quote by the way. I even turned my eyes heavenward when I said it. Clarice said there was no reason to get upset. I said I knew there wasn’t, but I just needed to let them know that we’ve never referred a client to their bank and it makes me sad when I have to deal with them.

Clarice said “Here’s what I can do. I can try to get the rep from the Rhode Island branch on the phone and find out why your client wasn’t able to get the accounts closed out. Because this is the proper paperwork and she should be allowed to do it.”

“That would be wonderful,” I said. “It would be wonderful if you could even reach someone at the branch, because I already tried that and no one picked up the phone. Ever.”

Apparently I made enough of a scene that Clarice thought we should conduct further business in her office. From her office she tried to call the Rhode Island representative’s number and no one picked up. She searched for a better number for the branch. I think she was searching on the bank’s web page. There was no number listed. She called another person in, maybe her name was Ophelia, to look at the site and show her that there was no number listed for the branch.  She tried to call the customer service number and bypass the prompts by saying “Speak to a representative.”  In response she got, “Incorrect prompt.” I looked on sympathetically. While she continued her quest I complimented her on the roses on her desk. Now we were conversing like old friends. Her birthday was a few days ago… “Speak to a representative!” Her daughter got them for her. Her daughter attends the same college my daughter used to attend. She shares a condo with a roommate…“Speak to a representative!” After 3 or 4 tries she hung up.

She looked in the company directory, found the rep’s number, and it was the same number she’d already called so she called it again. And it just rang again. She found a number for branch manager and dialed her but she didn’t pick up either. She left her a voicemail. She also sent an email, which took her 10 minutes to compose.

I apologized for getting testy. We chatted about foreclosures and kids and crazy customers, like the one I’d seen a few weeks ago walking up and down the sidewalk with a sign that said “I pray for Bank X to fail” and “Honk if you hate Bank X.”  I apologized again before leaving and gave a little wave. I’m a lady. I’ve just turned into Audrey Hepburn. All I need are white gloves and a little purse that clicks shut with a snap.

After lunch I check my voice mail. It’s Clarice! “The manager from Rhode Island will call your client and tell her what she needs to do. I just wanted to let you know. If you need anything, I’m here.” she says earnestly. I press star 3 to delete.

Sometimes I dream of Copenhagen.

We’ve been here before

February 2, 2010

Wanted: library tutor. Must understand the complexities of my literary tastes and moods. Must remember books I’ve read before or tried to read before. Must be patient, kind and intelligent. 

Yesterday I checked out a promising looking book with cypress trees on the cover and Italy in the title. I read every memoir that’s written about Italy. I’ve read so many I don’t remember the titles anymore. A Valley in Italy, A Small Place in Italy, Four Seasons in Rome, Under the Tuscan Son, Pasquale’s Nose, A House in Sicily, If You Dream of Italy Read This Book, Another Book About Italy.

So after work I sat down with my book with cypress trees on the cover and Italy in the title and started reading. It sounded very familiar. Annoyingly familiar. I’d read this babble before. I’d started it and didn’t like it and didn’t finish it. 

I opened my next promising book that had Amazon in the title and a photo of a capybara inside. As I’d paged through the book in the library I had a vague sense of deja vu. I studied the photos, but I didn’t think they looked familiar. I thought I’d remember a book with something as odd as a capybara photo. I turned to the introduction and saw that someone in the book was named Darcy. Since the title contained the words The True Story of Five Men and their Desperate Battle for Survival, I assumed Darcy was a man. Darcy. Mr. Darcy. Kismet. I love you.

I started reading the book and it sounded very familiar. Annoyingly familiar. I’d read this babble before. I’d started it and didn’t like it and didn’t finish it. Maybe it gets better once he gets lost in the Amazon but there was something about the way the dialogue was written that turned me off.

I am now 0 for 2 and getting a little peevish. How is it that I chose the same books in a building with thousands of books to choose from?  Was it my attraction to cypress trees, capybaras and characters named Darcy? Was I flustered by the man who had asked me where the “index” was, mistaking  my insouciance for the mannerisms of an informed library patron?  

Very well, on to the third promising book, a book about the pirate adventures of Capt. Morgan. It has a lot of  blurbs with exciting words.  I often choose books with blurbs like “wickedly entertaining” and “reeking of authentic blood and thunder.” Some of the books don’t  live up to their blurbs. I don’t think I’ve borrowed it or read it, but I can’t be sure. 

I’m not certain. I’m not positive. I don’t remember. I couldn’t say. I love 3 word sentences that convey how little I know. 

I don’t always know what I’ve read or tried to read or grown tired of reading. I don’t always remember where I’ve heard or seen something.  I cultivate an air of ambiguity to disguise the gaps in my memory. Where’s the index? I need an “index”  for my head.

Apple guys would you get on this please? An app for me that: 1)organizes things I’ve read and stores useful information I’ve heard or read but haven’t retained 2) does the things my brain is supposed to do but is feeling too rusty to bother with  3) prioritizes what to remember and what to forget 4) requires no purchase, installation or updates.

A brain-map-app to help me find things. I’ve  already written the slogan for it – Tap into my brain.

Oil can

August 2, 2009

Summer lethargy has set in.

I am depleted.

My body is a rusty machine. My brain shrivels. Soon it will be a raisin.

Today is the day I got mistaken for a high school student

December 19, 2008

Today is the day I got mistaken for a high school student.

On Friday mornings I go to the high school to mentor a student. (Also known as pretending to be a successful, well-adjusted adult with her shit together.) Today when I was leaving, a blind, oblivious,drunken, highly trained and professional staff member asked me for my hall pass.

In that  moment my work life flashed before my eyes. I could tell her I didn’t have one and she might write me up. I could see myself slouching in my chair in detention, reading Twilight, passing notes to my bff about weekend plans. 

But I stepped away from the light, and in the end I pointed to the visitor pass on my shirt and she let me go and started hassling someone else instead.

Was it the jeans, the red shoes, the binder I carried, my dewey complexion, my social inhibition, my youthful lack of existential despair?

Who the hell cares? I have a 22 year old son and an 18 year old daughter. I’ve been a single parent for 13 years. There is  history that isn’t showing on face or body to a distracted teacher on the day before Christmas break under flourescent lighting at 9:30 a.m.

I’ll take it. Sold. I don’t need a receipt. I don’t need a bag. Thank you. You have a nice day too!

(Addendum:  my son immediately identified this as the woman known as “widescreen” for her huge sunglasses. He told me this is her thing and she is neither highly trained nor professional.

Apparently all she does is wander around asking people for their hall pass.

She once asked son for his hall pass when he was standing in the hall holding 3 pizza boxes and wearing a Papa John’s shirt.  Even when he told her it was a delivery she tried to take him to the office to find out what class he was skipping.)

fear failure much?

June 19, 2008

I had the MOTHER of all TEST dreams this morning. Summary: College algebra, haven’t studied, haven’t done assignments, no idea when class is – oh it’s in  20 minutes, no book, no pencil, find a pencil w/no eraser, find another pencil- it’s dull, can’t find classroom, can’t see teacher through window to see if it’s my class, listen for teacher’s voice to see if it’s my class (apparently I’m a dog?), end up outside and unable get back in building, stop to talk to a random black man (not Obama), get back in the building and still can’t find class, discover a new corridor and see teacher, explain that I’m not a fuck-up, I’m usually a good student but I’ve gotten sidetracked – then I say I don’t know why I care, I’ve been through college already and I start to tell him about the jobs I’ve had, he gives me the raised eyebrow & walks away. I try to read classmates’ notes as they study in the hall, some girl says she studied EWR (Newark?) and I’m like -shit what is that, how am I going to pull this off, I have no clue, I’m going to fucking utterly fail and I say to dreamself “I know, I’ll wake up” – and I do. It’s 6 am. I force myself to write the dream down in my journal because it’s so filled with insecurities and fear of failure that it’s actually funny. I should win a prize.

Dreaming is creepy.