Thursday, March 21, 2013

Insomniac, Part 23

It was Saturday. Harold had a whole day with nothing to do but sleep. He'd gotten up at 5:37 am, showered, made breakfast and went back to bed. He slept, thankfully, until he was done sleeping. By the time he opened his eyes to the light shining around the edges of his blinds, it was 11:23am. He put on a pair of tattered gym shorts and went downstairs to get something to eat. Lunch already and he'd lost half the day.

Harold wondered how he could be so excruciatingly exhausted after work yet wake up the minute the house got quiet at 10:17 pm. He wondered how he could sleep half the day away on weekends, yet feel like he'd lost something when they were over. Sometimes information exhausted him, like finding out last night that Hilly had been doing his math homework but forgetting to turn it in. He was sure Hilly had a mental block about math. He could do it. He just didn't think he could do it. The worst part of it was that Victoria had told Hilly that algebra didn't exist in the real world. Her real world, maybe, but Harold hadn't been able to think of any examples to refute her statement. Good jokes were like that too. The minute you needed a good joke, the punch line of the one you'd heard on the radio on the way to work evaporated. Or the punch line was all that remained and you couldn't think how to get to it. Harold knew that he'd inadvertently used algebra to figure out some tricky problem when he was repairing the stairs on the deck last summer, but he couldn't think what it was any more. Harold blamed his head injury for that, but he really knew he'd been that way before the accident.

He got a lot of mileage out of his head injury though. It helped that he had a four by four patch of very short hair on the back of his head where the gash had begun to heal. Thirty-two stitches, they told him, but the line, when he'd used two mirrors to look at it, only seemed to be about two or three inches long. Still, his boss had yet to ask anything of him at work. That wasn't a big deal, though. He was in between deadlines anyway. When a new design was in development, there wasn't much to do but learn what the guys intended to call features, and even that could change with the customer's whims.

He put eggs into the nonstick pan that stuck anyway and walked around the house to find Hilly and Victoria. Gone, both of them. No notes either. He'd have to try to remember to yell at them for that. They really should leave notes for him. By the time he walked back into the kitchen, the eggs were done, over done on the bottom and still gooey on the top. He'd forgotten to put a lid on them. He scraped what he could off the bottom of the pan and scrambled what he'd intended to be an omelet. He sprinkled shredded cheese and pepper onto them and he'd never taste the difference. Cleaning the pan would be a bitch though. He put the eggs onto a clean plate from the dishwasher. Why didn't he just buy another dishwasher and go back and forth between them. Why did he need cabinets for his dishes anyway? It was just more work to put them away over and over.

Harold put the dirty pan into the sink and ran some water into it. A little dish soap, a soak and eventually, the eggs would come unstuck until the next time he wanted an omelet.

He looked around the house. He couldn't stay here in the house. It was too pathetic. There was nothing on TV on Saturdays. He didn't want to get his oil changed or start finding the paperwork for taxes. He grabbed the leash, put it on the dog who appeared from no where at the jingling, and prepared to walk down to the Arboretum for another walk. It was his usual Saturday afternoon routine. It woke him up and made him feel as though he'd done something useful with his weekend. The dog loved it and shimmied with gratitude. That was the good thing about owning a Golden Retriever. They were just so damn grateful.

Thank you for listening, jules


Insomniac, Part 22

Elsa sometimes wondered if she'd die with a dildo in her hand. What difference would it make? She had no children to embarrass. Even if she did, it would be good for them to know that sensuality existed beyond the age of twenty-nine. She lay dozing under her sheets. They were nice sheets, were cool on her skin. Long ago, Elsa had decided that she didn't have to be extravagant to own a few really nice things that were worth having. She let her mind wander over those nice things, a leather couch, nice sheets, a good sound system, a Kitchen Aid mixer, and a peppy car that would run forever. She didn't want things people would notice, just things that would make her life a little bit nicer, like the sweet little dildo.

She wasn't sleepy, not really. She thought that there had to be a connection between sex and spirituality. She was sure of it. When she did it right, with people who cared, or by herself and with compassion, it was clean and pure and intense.

She got up and walked toward her bathroom. The cat was waiting on the other side of her bedroom door. His interest was unnerving, so she'd learned to close the door. He was as interested in this as he was in the breeze from an open window. He tried to come into the bathroom with her. What difference was there now? There was nothing left to watch.

She looked in the bathroom mirror and ignored imperfections. That was just what the magazines and television wanted you to believe. She didn't look bad for a woman her age. She wished she could hold onto that impression. Women were so bombarded with images of 'perfection' and talk of fixing themselves, that they could no longer see the range of beauty in their bodies.

Why was it that people had to hide this part of their lives so thoroughly. People didn't see her as a sexual being. She was sure of it. They generally thought of her as mousy and plain. She laughed out loud as she stepped into the steaming shower. She wasn't mousy and plain. Not really. She just held that impression for people who didn't want to look at a real person when she stood in front of them. It was a great way to sift the wheat from the chaff, she thought. If they didn't care to look deeper, she was happy to let them maintain their impression of her. She was willing to wait for the ones who saw more. She had a few friends that did. Jillian, especially, and Sara, and Tommy. Oh, she could make Sara laugh with her point of view and her photos. Jillian kept after her to show them, to try a gallery. Tommy told her dirty jokes and said she needed to date more. She laughed out loud in the shower again. You only needed a few friends, she thought. You needed enough that you could laugh and cry, keep still and be challenged. Any more and it showed your insecurity. She thought of all the people she knew with more than five hundred Facebook friends.

The hot water began to run out. Elsa thought about how she loved Saturdays as she toweled herself off, that stretch of time before her that was all her own. She would take pictures at the park with her real camera, eat a late lunch at SushiTown, and get a girl movie from Redbox and call Tommy or Jillian to come over. Sara would be busy with the five and the seven year old. Time with Sara was snatched from weekday lunches. She might even make popcorn. Errands, oil changes, bills, and vacuuming could all wait. She might stop at a grocery store for some good cheese and strawberries. The season was coming in and strawberries were getting sweeter and more local. Buying nice food never felt like work to her, especially when she stopped at Whole Foods or PCC where the flowers and the food were pretty. Good food was spiritual too, she thought, though lots of people had already figured that out. It was another way to sensuality, and as with sex, there was a way to do manage it that felt clean and pure and intense.

As she dressed, she chose jeans and a green T-shirt. She wore no makeup and had her brown hair braided. She tucked her braid into a gray fleece jacket, put on black wool fingerless gloves, and a black beret that she pulled down over her ears, then laced up quiet brown walking shoes that still had a bit of mud on dried on them from her last foray. She was ready. No one would see her now. No one would ever imagine her dying with a dildo in her hand. She laughed again as she picked up her keys and walked out the door.

Thank you for listening, jules


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Psych 101

The lights are flickering.  News crews are reporting that a storm is coming. Oh, I can feel it. It's coming.

What happens when Mom stops cleaning up after her son? When I complain about the mess, my husband says, "He's a boy. It's in his DNA. You're going to have to stay on him until he's 18 and then, maybe, he'll get the message after he lives in a frat house for a year or two."

Well, today I'm doing an experiment in social behavior. I want to know what a boy will do when I stop hang up his towel, when I stop picking up stuff he dropped on the floor, when I stop turning off lights he turned on, when I stop throwing laundry into one of three laundry baskets in different rooms, when I stop cleaning up toothpaste that gets smeared on my stuff. To tell you the truth, I'm going one step further. What will my boy do when I leave my dirty clothes on the floor in front of the toilet, when I leave dirty dishes perilously close to his precious video game controller, or when put my books down on the two remaining seats in the house? What will he do when I inform him that I'm a kid and he gets to be Dad and pick up after me today?

Oh, there is a shit storm coming. I can see it on the horizon.

Will he clean up after me? He's going to have to do something so that he can get to the toilet, the refrigerator, the remote controls jammed down into the couch.  Plus, he's going to be informed that his friend can't come over on Friday afternoon until the house is picked up and vacuumed. 

See, I had to get the carpets cleaned a couple of weeks ago and I filled five boxes of stuff from the floor, the coffee table, and the dining table.  I put those boxes downstairs in a storage room and informed my boy that those boxes needed to be brought back upstairs and the stuff in them put away within a week. The boxes were brought back upstairs. They are sitting in the living room and his bedroom now, still filled to the brim with things he still likes. Oh, that rummage sale can't come soon enough. The thing that stinks is that he knows I'll rummage through those things and pull out the stuff he loves the most. I know I shouldn't and he knows I shouldn't, but we all know I will.

So maybe it will work for me to be the baby for a change and he's required to clean up my messes. Do you think he'll see my point and do a better job? I hope so, but to tell you the truth, I think there will be lightning and thunder. I think the power will go out for a while before the storm passes. 

Thank you for listening, jules

Monday, March 4, 2013

Insomniac, Part 21

'Why am I awake?' Harold thought into the darkness. Nothing answered him.

He laid in his bed with the light off. It was too hot in the room. Damn thermostat. He had changed it out twice, but the temperature of the baseboard heater still depended on how the door was propped open just so.

He closed his eyes to the darkness. There wasn't much difference between opened and closed. He'd followed the rules of sleep hygiene his doctor recommended and it was very dark in his room. Dark, but not cool. His back stuck to the sheets a bit. He threw off the top blanket. Still too hot. He threw back all the covers and the coolness relieved him but woke him up further.

He opened his eyes. He shouldn't have let Hilly bring out his knife collection when his new friend Jackson came over yesterda. Did it look bad, like Hilly was a freak about to explode? Harold knew that Hilly had too much expendable income, but he wasn't sure how to staunch the flow. Years ago, Alex had informed him that the best parenting books she'd read had informed her that a child should get his age in allowance. She'd started them at five years with five dollars a week. What was never clear was how Harold was supposed to manage the rest. He ended up buying Hilly's video games and lots of the things Hilly wanted when they happened to be out together and something caught Hilly's eye. Hilly had spent most of his allowance on implements of destruction, whatever weapons Harold would approve. Each one by itself wasn't so bad, he thought, but when you put the collection together and showed it to the new kid, it was probably over the top, Harold thought. Jackson's parents seemed pretty conservative. And organized. And well-rested.

Harold wondered what Jackson's dad had thought of the entryway into the kitchen that still needed the molding to be re-installed after he put the pocket door put back onto its tracks. He wondered if - what was his name again? - had noticed the large place by the bannister where Hork and Hilly had knocked off a large piece of plaster that he hadn't repaired. It was the texturing that held him back. The whole house had been textured when it was renovated. The problem with repairs was that no matter how hard he'd tried, the stupid texturing sprayers spit globules of spackle onto his project and never matched what was around it, so it looked repaired. It looked ridiculous. How much worse was it not to have begun?

Why did he have to worry about all of this stuff at 2:23 am? It didn't matter if he went to bed at 9:04 pm, Harold still woke up after about four hours. If he went to bed at 11:00pm, he woke up a little before 4:00 am. It was ridiculous.

And at that hour, Harold could worry about anything. He'd tried it. His children? Headed to ruin. His job? Exported to India. His love life? What love life. Sex? Impotence, or the fear of it. Even fluffy bunnies went viral and led him to the abyss.

He stretched his arm up and turned on the reading lamp. It shone into his eyes like an interrogation light. He was already awake, isolated, intimidated. Sure, he would tell the truth but look guilty anyway. The light wasn't going to make it worse. Maybe he could make himself a snack without waking anyone in the house. Maybe he could fall asleep if he put in a movie and let it run without turning the sound up.

He grabbed his sweat pants from the back of the chair, sitting for a moment on the edge of his bed with elbows on knees, too tired to put on pants. What the hell, he thought. He was too awake to fall asleep and too tired to be awake.

Tomorrow, or today, rather, was going to suck.

Thank you for listening, jules