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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Maybe I should get a Costco card. 

Although I hardly ever do it anymore (since I'm too broke to lay out the cash in one go), I have a strange obsession with buying in bulk. I hate running out of things, and I don't like to shop for staples and necessities, so I always used to stock up. I used to buy 10 bottles of shampoo and 20 of conditioner at a time (shampoo lathers, dontcha know) so that I could go six months or so without having to buy any more.

I'm also fascinated with the idea of buying so much of something that you never have to buy it again. For example, I calculated recently that 98 boxes of 40-count tampons would probably last me until menopause (assuming, generously, 30 more years of menstruation based on family history, 13 cycles a year, ten tampons a cycle). If I buy generic, I could probably get them for $400 or so, and have all the tampons I would ever need. Or toilet paper - $200 would stock me up for life. Shampoo and conditioner would be more expensive - I have long hair so I use a lot - but three or four grand would set me up if I insisted on using brand names.

I think this is related to the fact that I have obsessive-compulsive disorder (more on that another day). Actually, the more I think about it, the more that makes sense. I'm what's known as "pure-obsessional", meaning I don't have a lot of noticeable OCD behaviors like checking whether the stove is on 17 times or washing my hands 53 times a day. All of my obsessive behavior goes on in my head. Another OCD symptom is hoarding - refusing to throw anything away because you might need it later, and then where would you be? - so it actually makes perfect sense that I spend time thinking about hoarding, instead of actually doing it like a full-spectrum OCD-afflicted person might.

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Monday, October 11, 2004

Sorry that happened to you, Superman 

Christopher Reeve is dead. Cardiac arrest turns into coma turns into death, just like Rodney Dangerfield. And he never did walk again, proving conclusively that either a) life is not a movie or b) if it is, it's one starring Kevin Spacey.

And now I'm sitting around wondering how to feel about this (I mean, sad, yes, but how sad? It fluctuates between have another beer to toast him and...well, that's really about as far as it goes, I never met the guy or anything) with Our Lady Peace stuck in my head.

So, salut, Superman. I hope whatever afterlife you landed in is a pleasant one.

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Sunday, October 10, 2004

explanation and exorcism 

The last time I saw you - well, not the last at all, really, but the last time before that distance planted itself firmly between us, when all our conversations became short, safe and shallow - the last time I really saw you, I was lying in your arms in a semi-darkened room. Music was playing, and we were singing along, softly. You were recasting the lyrics on the fly so that instead of singing along, you were singing them to me. My heart was pounding - it speeds up even now, five years later, in memory - as I realized that this might finally be the unambiguous sign I had been hoping for, that we were finally about to make our desires and half-formed intentions clear to each other. That we even shared the same intentions and desires. My face was buried in your shoulder.

I didn't do anything. I just laid there, my head spinning and my pulse racing, too terrified of rejection to make even the smallest leap of faith, that few inches of motion that would have decided the issue one way or another. Eventually the song changed, and someone knocked on the door, and you got up and left with them. I may have kissed you on the cheek as you left. A week later you were back together with her, and every other door was closed. When we spoke - if we spoke - it was carefully, making small talk on superficial topics. Any allusion to what might have happened, if one of us had been braver, was avoided, the subject quickly changed.

The hardest part - the very hardest part, of telling this story, is that I don't know how much of it is true. There are so many reasons why my recollections of those days are jumbled and hard to decipher. The confusion inherent in being a teenager is excruciating, all by itself. Add to that an obsessive anxiety in social situations that wouldn't be resolved until years later, with therapy and medication, and you get a slightly schizoid mix that's enigmatic even in hindsight.

I lived in two worlds in those days - the one outside, and the one in my head, where conversations both real and imagined were endlessly rerun and inspected for nuances of gesture, tone and expression. My two realities were only congruent at coincidental points, and keeping the two straight was beyond difficult even then. Looking back now, it seems impossible to disentangle them. I told my boyfriend that you and I had a flirtation once that never went anywhere, but I don't even know if you were aware of it. Maybe I had a flirtation, and you were just hanging out, never suspecting the dance we were performing in my head. Maybe all the careful not-touching and avoiding being alone together later was one-sided, my own invention, and you were simply too busily caught up in being a couple to call or get together for coffee. Certainly the person I was in those days was all too ready to believe that, and so I laid still, preferring to maintain the juxtaposition of two possible states rather than discover which one was true. Would Schroedinger have have felt a moment of terror as he bent to open that box?

Of course the waveform collapsed eventually on its own, into a state of affairs exactly opposite of what I had wanted. You and she, back together. Me on the sidelines, my phone silenced, my days wide open and empty of social engagements. I couldn't resent her for it (somehow I never could; a short year later she would be moving in with my then-boyfriend, and when I learned that they weren't 'just roommates' as she claimed, I couldn't summon up resentment then either, only a dull recognition that this was the way of things). She certainly had the first claim if you were willing. And you seemed so happy that I told myself that it was enough, and ignored the little voice whispering what-ifs in the back of my head.

And then you showed up on our doorstep last week, and all the little voices and speculations came back in a rush of nostalgia. How much would have been different, if I had taken just a tiny risk, and been right? You and she would probably not have gotten back together. He and I would almost certainly never have gotten together in the first place, which would have precluded him leaving me in the destructive way that he did - still, I might regret missing that experience, or rather, what I learned from it. From there, who knows? Would I even be living here with this doorstep for you to show up on? Would you even show up, or would you stay as far away as you could?

The only thing I learned, revisiting those days with five years and more of growth behind me, was that I never got over the attraction I felt to you. All I did was supress it, which you made easy by mostly disappearing from my life. Seeing you again this week, the same person you were back then but somehow more, brought all the old what-ifs to the forefront, muted though they were by my inability to do anything about it, in the past or the present. Several times, these past few days, I've glanced up and seen you gazing at me with the look on your face that used to stop my heart. I've discovered it still does, and that I still don't know what it means.

I may not publish this post. It's not exactly kosher to write about one's attraction to someone else on a blog one's boyfriend reads, even if you have no intention of doing anything about it. Even if I do publish it, you'll almost certainly never see it - in fact I hope you don't, since I'm sure you'd recognize yourself in the events recounted herein. But I wanted to explain, so that you would understand (even though you'll never read the explanation) why I clung to you a little too long last night as we were saying our goodbyes. I felt you grow still, your stubbled cheek pressed against my neck, in that universal recognition of - whatever - so I think you noticed. Or am I still living in two worlds? I was riding out a wave of nostalgia and speculation that had been building since you walked in the door, and which crested as I hugged you. And maybe I was taking a risk, just a tiny, safe, little bit of a one, to balance out the risk I never took back then.

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

Town Hall 

So apparently George Bush won't appoint judges who will legalize slavery - he disagrees with the Dred Scott decision. Let me tell you, that was a big relief to me - I've been sitting here just tearing my hair out with worry over whether a second Bush term would mean a return to the plantations for African-Americans. I mean, Thirteenth Amendment be damned - those darn activist judges will do just about anything these days.

I was also shocked - shocked! - to hear that Senator Kennedy is ranked as the most liberal man in the Senate. I'm still a little confused as to why Bush brought that up, since Kennedy's not even running for reelection this year that I'm aware of, much less President, but I'm glad he warned me of the dangerous, naive, naively dangerous liberalism that Teddy Kennedy represents.

On another note, I got my Oregon Voter's Handbook today. It's chock-full of for and against arguments about the initiatives on our ballot this year. 150-some pages for just seven amendments - I was impressed, and at $500 per argument, I think the state may have actually turned a profit on the Handbook this year.

I was also pleased to see that the first three "arguments in favor" for Measure 36 (to deny any and all benefits of marriage to non-heterosexual or unmarried couples) are wickedly satirical articles decrying the outlawing of polygamy and calling for a return to literal Biblical imperatives (including banning marriage for non-virgins, calling people who have to marry because they can't just be celibate like Paul wimps, and so on). Since I expect that most people only read the first few arguments on each side, I hope that those "arguments" sway a few votes over to our side.

Measure 37 (requiring the state to reimburse landowners any time they're not able to do something with their land because of zoning or environmental regulations) had some nice "arguments in favor" as well, phrased as ads to "MAKE MILLION$$ OFF OF MEASURE 37".

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Friday, October 08, 2004

Attention Days of Our Lives fans 

Are you aware that there are currently more people on that damned island than there are left in Salem? Because I toted it up today and it's true. I make it 25* people on Melaswen (New Salem backwards, for those of you who just tuned in) and only 19** main and recurring characters left in good old Salem.

I've been thinking about starting a separate blog to record my reactions to DoOL episodes. Because I always have them, and if you're a Days fan, I think they're pretty amusing, but if you're not, there's only so much "OMG so Marlena went up to Tony and she said 'Take me, big boy', only Tony wouldn't because he knew that he and Marlena were half siblings because her mother had an affair with Tony's real father, who isn't Stefano, and besides Marlena is pregnant with Bo's child only John thinks it's his and so does Roman who killed Marlena's real father in a duel after the running of the bulls at Pamplona, but he has amnesia and doesn't remember it"*** that you can take. Soaps are definitely an acquired taste.

Let it be known that I wouldn't be soap scum if it weren't for two things: my brother and TiVo. J and L got me hooked on Days when I moved to Portland, by virtue of watching it every night while I was in the living room doing some after-hours work on my laptop. I guarantee that if you watch it for two weeks you will get hooked.

As for TiVo's culpability in all this, well, Days airs at 3pm, when I'm usually working. If it weren't for the fact that we can record it and watch it over dinner (I sometimes forget that it's not a primetime show), none of this would have ever happened.

*People on Melaswen: John, Roman, Tek, Brady, Nicole, Marlena, Bo, Hope, Billie, Patrick, Maggie, Doug, Victor, Abe, Alice, Caroline, Jennifer, Jack, Deveraux Baby, Cassie, Tony, Bart, Samurai Guy, Stefano, Crazy Guy In Cage (I cast my vote for either Colin Murphy or Larry Welch).

**People still in Salem: Lexie, Shawn, Jan, Mimi, Rex, Belle, Phillip, Grandpa Shawn, Mickey, Bonnie, Sami, Lucas, Kate, Julie, Will, Abby, Zack, Theo, Celeste

***That was probably mildly funny if you know the characters involved. Otherwise, I apologize.

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Thursday, October 07, 2004

Hooray! (and a minor rant) 

T got a job. A decent job, no less - in fact, it pays more than the one he lost last month. The benefits aren't quite as good, but the extra cash will make up for that. On the downside, he'll have to drop his classes for this term, because the hours are going to clash with the schedule he has right now.

But then again, that means he'll get a few hundred bucks in refunds from PCC, which is good, because UI is jerking us around. His claim got approved three weeks ago, and he got one (1) check, for $172. Then, once school started, they said they couldn't approve further claims until they verified his school attendance. Considering that, in order to qualify for unemployment benefits, he has to agree to drop his classes if he gets a job offer that conflicts with them (as he is in fact doing), I'm not sure why they care if he's actually going to class, but that's fine. Rules are rules and all, and he is attending, so it's no skin off our noses.

Except they still haven't gotten around to verifying his attendance. When we got yet another letter yesterday saying that they weren't paying him for this week until they could verify his classes with PCC, he called the UI office to find out what was up, and what he could do to speed up the verification process - I mean, $172 doesn't exactly stretch very far, especially when you were just scraping by before.

Turns out the woman who's supposed to be working on his case has been out for the last two weeks. Death in the family. She won't be back until Monday. Could they possibly put someone else on his case and get it processed? he asked. Or maybe he could go down to PCC himself and have the registrar fax them his class schedule. Of course not, those would be logical things to do, and some poor state worker might have to put themselves out a little ways or somebody might get their feelings hurt or something. And apparently giving him the benefit of the doubt is right out - $400 is far too much for the State of Oregon to risk, even if he is legally obligated to repay benefits paid in error.

So because it's completely impossible for anyone except this woman who's gone to spend five minutes calling the registrar at PCC and verifying his registration, we get to sit around for weeks, just hoping that she gets back and processes his claims (which by then will be for 3 weeks worth of benefits) on Monday. If she doesn't get back, or she doesn't get to his claims by Wednesday when checks go out, oh well. Too bad. Sorry about your credit rating, pal. And your phone getting cut off? No biggie, right? I mean, it won't impair your ability to, I don't know, find a job, if employers can't call you, will it? Because really, the important thing here is that no one at the UI office go out of their way in the slightest to actually help people who are unemployed.

Luckily for T & I, I've currently got enough positive cashflow to get the bills paid on time while he looks for a job. And he found a new one pretty quickly, so while the UI benefits would reduce the stress level in the house a great deal, we'll be able to get by without them. But I wonder how many other people have this woman working on their cases, who need the money even more than T does, to pay their bills and feed their children and keep the heat turned on, who are reduced to sitting on their hands, hoping that she gets back and approves their claims before the bank forecloses on their house.

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Friday, October 01, 2004

The Debate 

Kerry won. No question. He was strong, forceful, detailed; Bush was stammering, fidgeting, rolling his eyes ala-Gore, and reduced to repeating talking points as his face got progressively redder. Not to mention the prissy look he had to adopt to suppress his signature smirk.

And this debate was crucial; Kerry needed a win to set the theme for the rest of the debates, while Bush absolutely had to score a decisive victory to offet the beating Kerry will give him on domestic issues and economic policy. Not to mention the fact that I think it goes without saying that Johnny Sunshine will wipe the floor with Dr. Evil, our erstwhile Vice President. I plan to watch that one just for the pure entertainment value, and of course because Edwards is so dreamy that it offsets the squick factor of 90 minutes of Cheney.

I loved the splitscreen that CSPAN carried. Even with the fact that Kerry's podium was lowered in the shot to keep from emphasizing their heights (something I'm sure the Bush campaign inisted upon), the contrast between the two candidates was even more clear, in terms of thoughtfulness, of respect for the other man while he was speaking, and in terms of comfort with the subject and the issues at hand.

One man came to that debate armed with talking points to repeat and names to drop. One came with a full understanding of the issues, politics and personalities involved in international situations. I know which one I'd rather have as President.

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I was going to write 

about "extraordinary rendition" (ie, deporting people for the purposes of sending them somewhere they'll be tortured) and why we all need to call and write our Reps about it (hint: The Republicans are trying to make it legal).

But Teresa Nielsen Hayden has said it better than I was going to. So go read her version instead.

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Marriage is love.