A bit off the mark

I'm in NJ with my parents, and it's sweet, sweet pampering for the next few day. My schedule looks something like this: wake up, pop into Starbucks, read, go running in the park, have a home cooked meal, take a bath, relax. During the day I squeeze in a little work, which is productive and leisurely at the same time. Just enough work to make me feel like I've done something, thus justifying the quality play time that follows.

Tonight's entertainment was supposed to be watching Alias Season 5 on dvd. But the local Blockbuster put the kibosh on that because they don't have Alias Season 5. Not wanting to panic and nix my entire Saturday agenda (which had been constructed weeks ago), I decided to try Lost since at the very least the two series have a producer in common. So I swapped out Alias for Lost and my plan remained unchanged.

What I didn't realize is that Lost is scary! I just watched the Pilot and I'm horrified. Alias is fun and very unrealistic. Lost could happen to me on Thursday if my flight to Austin crashes. Not so fun. I often want to be Sydney Bristow from Alias - she travels to exotic places, kicks some ass, and dates a very hot man. I do not want to be any of these people from Lost. In fact I want to spend my whole life trying not to become any of these people from Lost.

You see, this is why I'm generally so inflexible. Plan B has a shifty way of sucking.


Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

Yesterday I was at a conference focused on tobacco addiction for people in recovery. Toward the end of the day I went to a session on the biology of addiction and was riveted by both the topic and the speaker. That's when the fire alarm went off in the hotel. Sirens wailed, strobe lights flashed, and people grabbed their bags and notebooks and ran for the door.

Since it was so close to 4pm this interruption clearly signaled the end of the conference. As people pushed past me in the corridor I was struck with indecision - should I get the hell out of dodge as fast as my legs would carry me or was there time to duck into the bathroom before hitting the road for the two-hour car ride home? In the end I ducked into the bathroom, where I ran into a colleague. Above the din of the pre-recorded evacuation message she glanced over at me and said, "We're awfully blasé about a fire alarm. I think that's a striking commentary on the past half decade of terrorism and threat in our society and the world."

I smiled at her, but shook my head. "I just really had to pee."


A million tiny moments

We're accepting an offer on Grandma's house.

People die slowly. Did you know that? In bits and pieces. They're not gone all at once. I mean, they're gone, but we don't know it, not until something clicks. And then it's like a baseball bat to the face.

On Wednesday night I hit my head. Hard enough to make me cry from physical pain. I rarely cry from physical pain. Emotional, all the time. But I'm surprisingly tough when it comes to bumps and bruises. I was shocked that tears were streaming down my face, and it kind of freaked me out. Which made me cry even harder, until I was practically hyperventilating. As I was sitting against my bed clutching my head in my hands, I looked up and saw the framed picture of Grandma that sits on my dresser. I knew normally I would have called her for some Grandma sympathy - there is no higher-quality sympathy in the world. I could hear her voice in my head.

Yesterday I was going through my cell contact list deleting people's numbers. People I never call or no longer speak to. I scrolled down to Grandma's number, appropriately labled "Grandma". I don't think I'll ever delete it.

When someone is so integrated into your life it's not possible to let go all at once. Because there's just too much to let go of. Mookie said it best when he responded to my sobs about the house sale with "I know just how you feel. It's almost like we're just taking care of the house for a while until Grandma comes back."

Mookie and I haven't always seen eye to eye in life, especially not in emotional matters. But I knew he actually did understand just how I was feeling. For a moment I was struck by our father-daughter bond. It's a bond that Grandma had encouraged and facilitated at every opportunity - she'd always wanted me to be close to Mookie.

Everywhere, little pieces.


The code vs the Law

Last night J and I went to see The Holiday. It was just the break from reality I needed.

J seemed a bit conflicted though - Jude Law had her battling with herself. Feminist J thinks he's an ass for sleeping with his nanny. Regular J thinks he's the most beautiful man alive.

I'm not taking sides, but he is quite pretty.


The Wes Craven of love

When I was a kid I had a significant fear-of-loss thing going on. I attribute it to my parents' divorce, which took place when I was two. I was well aware that I had few People in my life. I had my mom, my sis, and my grandparents who lived 5 minutes away. But I essentially only had one parent, and I knew it. I seemed to understand the fragility in that. I got it: at any point so determined by the universe, I could have no parent. And thus my greatest fear was born and continually validated by each and every horrible thing that happened to anyone anywhere else in the world and could possibly happen to someone in my family.

The funny thing is, to this day I know I truly love my partner when I start to imagine horrible fates befalling him - it's a sick sort of litmus test. The first time I imagined BF getting into a gory accident and dying was a bittersweet moment for me. Full of love and devotion and... raw terror. But I knew he was in. He'd become a part of my clan. And my clan makes up the cast of many a gruesome daydream. I can't help it. I have a very dark side. It's not dark as in angry or dark as in cruel, it's just dark as in scared.

I realize I sound insane but I'm not. I just don't want to lose my People. I think my fear-of-loss thing has intensified since my Grandma's death. I'm short a Person. And the problem with losing your People is that they aren't replacable. You can't just get another one. You're left with a hole that remains a hole forever. You can depend on the ones you have left, and if you're really lucky you can create a whole new category and add one from the outside. But you can't replace a Person. And what sucks the most is that you wouldn't want to anyway. You just have to accept the loss. And there isn't a lonelier feeling in the world. I'm not sure I knew that when I was a kid, but something tells me I had a decent grasp of the realities.

And for that they sent me to the elementary school shrink. She gave me stickers. I believe I found that helpful.


Subtle terrors

Something happened to my alarm clock radio setting. I used to wake up to classical music. This morning I woke up to a story about Kenny Chesney.


Talk about disorientation.

I'm not really a conspiracy theory kind of gal, but I know I didn't change the station to country.


Loss squared

We put Grandma's house up for sale November 25th - that's when the realtor pitched her sign in the front yard. We've already gotten two offers. When we first decided that we should sell before the market gets any worse, I thought I could handle it. But I was wrong.

Over Thanksgiving we spent a lot of time in that house going through things my Grandma had stored away in the basement, fixing up little odds and ends, hanging out laughing and telling stories. I was surprised at how warm and full of love the house felt - I'd never before been particularly attached to a house, and I'd thought that Grandma's house would feel cold and empty without her. But it didn't feel cold or empty. It felt full. In that house, I felt like there was enough.

I've never been a person with minimal expectations. I've never been low maintenance or overly appreciative. I've never woken up in the morning and said "This is fine and I am lucky." I've always wanted more: more love, more family, more friends, more fun, more control, more sleep. Most of my angst probably stems from that feeling of hunger. But at Grandma's I felt like there was enough. I was overwhelmed by that feeling. I've never been so affected by a physical space before. My only explanation is that Grandma's goodwill, compassion, and never ending love and devotion literally soaked into the walls over time. The house has good juju, if you will.

But now the house also has buyers.

I know that it's not practical to keep it. I know it's not practical for me to move to NJ. I know it's too late. But what I don't know is whether or not I'll ever feel so safe or anchored anywhere else. And I know what people say - that it's not the space you're in, it's you. I guess my problem is I don't believe that. It can be the space. It can be both. How we feel at any given moment is such a complicated convergence of things that it's impossible to dismiss physical space as unimportant. It's impossible to dismiss anything as unimportant. I realize that a house won't change my life. But things can matter without being pivotal. Sometimes the periphery changes everything.

It's not just the house. It's never just a house, is it? The things that matter to us but don't make rational sense to other people are never what they appear. It's not just about the house.

But it's totally about the house.