Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I had just bought my house and moved in with P. Rex. We had been here for about a month. Everything was new and fresh. We didn’t have a washer and dryer yet – Sundays were spent at my mom’s house robbing her of hot water and electricity so I didn’t have to hang out with the poor people at the Laundromat. I guess I didn’t realize it, but I was the poor people I didn’t want to be hanging out with.
I made less than $27,000 a year at my entry level public service job. With that $27,000 I paid my brand new mortgage, student loans and credit card loans, while finding the money to buy cheap IKEA furniture and food. And gas!
But gas was no big expense. I drove my red 1989 Dodge Omni 5-speed 60 miles round trip to work, but gas was something like $1.25 a gallon, and although the car companies want you to think that cars that get over 30 mpg are a new thing, that friggin’ car averaged 35 mpg and it hauled ass. Finding money for fuel was never a problem, but finding money to keep that damn car running sometimes was. The paint would leach off and leave a ring around the car every time it rained, and the horn would randomly go off as I was driving down the road. Or pulling into parking spaces. Or sleeping (my neighbors loved me). I eventually unplugged the horn and prayed I would never get myself into a tight spot (safety first!). For the record, we were so poor that Prex didn’t yet own a car, and commuted 60 miles round trip (in the opposite direction) on his motorcycle. All. Winter. Long.
OMG. I SMOKED CIGARETTES! I just remembered that, when thinking about that damn Omni. The Omni smelled like a big mobile ash tray, because I refused to ever (ever!) throw a butt out the window. I much preferred to let them accumulate on the floor.
Clearly, in 1999, I was a slob. And slovenly. And lazy. And overweight. I had not yet run my first mile. I didn’t know the difference between a kayak and a canoe. I don’t even think I owned hiking boots. Yet, P.Rex and I fancied ourselves outdoorsy. Yeah. And delusional.
I also thought a good meal out involved Taco Bell or Macaroni Grill, the restaurant where they give you crayons to color on the table with. I had no idea how to cook food. I had yet to learn how to sauté, let alone knowing how to use garlic as a potent culinary weapon. I think our diet mostly consisted of pizza take-out, sub shop take out, then Chinese take-out, then Chinese leftovers. Guess you wouldn't be surprised that I was doing battle with acid reflux, would you? I couldn’t stomach medium salsa or anything that even remotely smacked of spice. Indian food? Forget it. Thai? I didn’t even know that was different than Chinese.
As we got ready to ring in 2000, all my friends from college still lived nearby. And I actually saw them on a regular basis. We partied like it was 1999 (with that Prince album someone miraculously found in a box somewhere). Except, I totally forget where it was that we partied. Seriously. Who forgets where they rang in the new century? Me, apparently.
And how did I make a special play list for New Year’s Eve 1999? By carefully selecting songs from my CDs and painstakingly transferring them to a tape (that’s right. I said “tape”) on my super sweet Sony RX 70 mini hi fi component system, after spending hours considering the correct sequencing. And once the tape was made, I could copy it with the high speed dubbing feature. High speed dubbing!
And, wherever I was on New Year’s Eve, I was taking pictures with my 35 mm camera. My 35 mm film camera. Remember those? You had to load the film in, then rewind it after taking 24 or 36 pictures. Take the film out, deliver it to the nearest drug store, fill out a bag for each one, wait a week and pray that there was at least one picture taken of you that didn’t make you look like a drunken crazed lunatic (p.s. there never were).
As we get ready to ring in a new decade, I am ten years older, twenty pounds lighter, totally smarter and way more funny.
I’ve been in my house for an entire decade. Prex is gone, as are the several thousand other boyfriends who saw action here. The walls have all been painted, many more than once. The basement is filled with way too much crap I never use. Gardens have been built, destroyed, and rebuilt. A new deck was built. Windows were broken and repaired (sometimes) and neighbors have come and gone. Its probably time to replace the washer and dryer we scrimped and saved for. And before the night is out, this starter house will have big girl sustainable wood floors.
Wood floors that I can pay for because I make way more than $27,000 even with the recent pay cut. I don't want to rub it in for those of you who don't have it, but expendable income is a really nice thing. Its something I definitely didn't have at the beginning of this decade. The cash, might I remind you, only exists because I never moved out of my starter house and I never popped out babies who like to be clothed and fed.
I did buy a new car though. And it likes to be fed. And clothed (yes, the car has a bra). And as the new decade begins, the new car is almost as old as the omni was last decade, and is starting to have just as many quirks. Still running pretty good for a 9 year old VW with 192,000 miles.
Yes. If you include the miles on the omni during 2000 and the first part of 2001, I drove over 200,000 miles this decade. That's 20,000 miles a year. And 6,666 gallons of gas (I'm not making that number up.) So much for my carbon footprint. And expendable income.
All my college friends moved away, to more exciting lives in NYC, Boston, Indianapolis, Utah... We are still great friends, but I miss the days where we actually hung out and did things without a month long planning effort. I was lucky enough to find really great local friends at work and in the neighborhood who have gotten me through the majority of the decade. But, with husbands and babies, even though they are geographically close, it still takes a month of planning to get us all together (or at least an intense morning of reply to all emails).
I quit smoking at some point, and started running. And bought my first kayak. And then second kayak. And third, and fourth... And despite talking about it for years, I still have yet to rig some pulleys to store them under the deck, or in the basement.
I learned how to cook. I learned how to eat and love spicy food. I learned that all white wines don't taste like ass, and learned that there was more to red wine than chianti and merlot (wine taste thanks to expendable income. See above).
And even though my iPod is circa 2002, at least I'm not making mixed tapes anymore. And the bad photos are gone. I learned the chin down, eyes up method. And learned how to use the delete button on the camera. The waterproof, underwater, digital camera (amazing!).
There's so much more that happened this decade. A cell phone! A laptop! Social networking! My first real international trip. And my second, and my third. And the whitewater kayaking. And the death. And growth. And learning how to be a good friend and a good neighbor and a good daughter. And finding myself. And then, finding the Prof.
(I know. I want to barf too, but it had to be said. Its really nice to be ending the decade with him)
I don't think that 1999 Susan could have ever imagined 2009 Susan. I hope she would be pleased.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Eh. I guess you can't have it all.
The East coast is mired in a major snowstorm - the first one we've seen here in several years, so people are going ape shit. The weather dude is calling it the "Beast from the East." Seriously. But whatever, it is a great chance to sit in and do absolutely nothing. Which I really need to do. And having a boy to do it with is an extra nice bonus. Also a bonus, the fireplace, which just got lit.
We stayed in bed extra late this morning - no reason to get up because we weren't going anywhere in either of our small, compact cars. We watched some 24-hour a day snow reports "They are out of shovels at home depot, Cliff! That's right. There is a shovel shortage..." Then shoveled the driveway and sidewalk. Then, went sledding.
He was a bit skeptical at first. Me: "Let's go sledding!!" Him: "I haven't been sledding since I was 12.." "The snow isn't good." "Its too cold" It took a little working up to it, but we went walking with my plastic boat sled from 1987 and my inflatable tube sled from decades ago (can't believe it still held air) and found a street with a decent hill to sled on, which happened to be right in front of his Halo friend's house. It was slow going. The snow is powdery and dry. And we are heavy and old. These things did not go real well together. But after slowly making a track, we had ourselves a nice slick run. Too bad it ran into a mailbox and a car. Whatever.
We were sledding for maybe an hour and a half, maybe two, and then ran out of steam. I mean, we are adults after all. Walking uphill in the snow is exhausting! And it was freezing. And after numerous faceplants into a snowdrift, my scarf was filled with snow and making my neck cold. We drank some spiked hot chocolate at the friends house, and made our way back to Prof's.
The Halo game is over and his friend has left. Prof is now strumming his 12-string guitar and the fire is burning. And I'm blogging. I'm silly. Think I'm going to grab a glass of red wine and make some use of this storm.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Last night, we had a class "celebration" on our final night of fall semester. I turned in my take-home final (12 pages of inspired bullshit) and endured 45 minutes of small talk with my classmates, followed by 45 minutes discussion on "what you got out of this class."
Frankly, not a whole hell of a lot (although there were snacks). So I'm glad its over.
As we were leaving, my classmates invited me to join them at the local wine bar. I shook my head and said "Sorry, I have a dinner date." An entire half of the room collectively said "aaaawww!" I rolled my eyes. Come on people! One of my classmates was actually a T.A. for Prof several years, so she is pulling for us. And always asks me about him.
Prof walked down from his office to meet me outside class, and as I was looking for him, my classmates were quizzing me. "You are dating a professor?" "Who is it" "Yadda yadda." "Nosy nosy." All of a sudden, Prof's actual name was dropped and suddenly, I had a classmate's arm around me. She had an adoring look in her eyes. "He was my favorite professor EVER!"
It was SO funny. You could tell that her opinion of me changed instantly as soon as she found out who my boyfriend was. Before I was Prof's girlfriend, I was just this annoying, outspoken and cynical adult student that she had to endure during class. Now, I'm Prof's girlfriend and worthy of respect and adoration. I should have name dropped way earlier in the semester.
Its rare that people have liked me more because of who I was dating. I've gotta find a way to exploit this.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
After last year's fiasco where we circled the city for three hours looking for a parking space, I decided that there was no way I was driving in. And after the Mexico trip last year, I became a big fan of buses. Well, Mexican buses anyway. And, if I can get along in Mexico on the bus, I can certainly do it here, right?
Perhaps I should have taken Greyhound. Instead, I took the local Chinese bus. For $35 round trip, my local Chinese bus picks you up on a random street corner in my nearest city, and drop you off on another random street in NYC. If you are lucky enough to survive the trip.
My first mistake was trying to travel anywhere on the East Coast on the day before Thanksgiving. My second mistake was the Chinese bus. Prof drove me to the bus "station" (he stayed home to be with his family) and we were 20 minutes early, as the website had clearly instructed me. There was a huge crowd of people waiting on the other side of the street in the rain. They looked angry. And mean. I was pretty confused about where I was supposed to be, but the little dude running the place kept waving us back and telling us that the 2:00 bus was 30 minutes late.
We were doing pretty well for time until we got to Exit 7 or so on the NJ Turnpike. Then we sat. And crawled. And creeped. I think we went 25 miles an hour from there all the way to the Lincoln Tunnel. Except once we got near the Tunnel, we just stopped. For like an hour, maybe more. And because we were no longer moving, it became apparent that the emergency hatch above me was the only fresh air on the bus. The heat was zinging, and the bus driver wouldn't turn it off. I started getting claustrophobic. And the rest of the people started yelling. "Its HOT!" "Turn the AC on!" "I'm gonna pass OUT!"
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The phone buzzed at 5:33 am this morning. I was in a deep sleep and only heard it just as it stopped buzzing. I knew someone was dead, I just didn't know who it was, Dad or Momom. I rolled over, wrenched to phone from the crappiest charger cord ever invented and fumbled with the key lock button. The missed call was from my Mom.
Momom. Its Momom.
I called Mom back immediately. She very matter of factly told me that Momom had passed just after 5 am. She had been at Hospice for only 9 hours. Mom was with her all night, and was with her when she died. She passed away in her sleep - the very best way to do it. But, my brother and I weren't given the chance to be there. Mom must have known at some point - otherwise, why would she have stayed all night? The hospice nurse said she thought Momom had at least a couple days left, but you can't predict death.
Momom had called me from her cell phone on Thursday to tell me that she was thinking about me, and that she loved me, and that she was sorry I was going through all I was going through with my dad. She said that the next week was going to be the hardest week of my life. I found out today that she told my brother the exact same thing. I wonder if she already knew that she was going to check out soon? It was definitely out of character for her to use her phone for outbound calls and I was touched that while she was slowly dying, she would be worrying about me. No need to worry about me though - I was in Clark's buying comfortable shoes. I drove to the nursing home afterwards to visit. I showed her my new shoes, demonstrated how cushy they were, re-programmed her tv remote, ate some oreos and left.
The last time I saw my grandmother was on Friday. She was markedly worse than she had been the day before. She was having trouble breathing. Her arms and hands were shaking when she tried to do anything. She wanted ice chips, which I got for her. We watched the Balloon Boy land on CNN. I told her it was bullshit. She agreed. But perhaps she just lacked the strength to argue with my commentary on the current state of the 24-hour media.
I didn’t see her this weekend because she was in such bad shape. I wanted to wait for her to have a good day; problem was, she didn’t have any good days left.
She came to the hospice at 8pm last night. She slept all night, and passed away in her sleep. My mom was with her. I wish I had gotten the opportunity to see her one last time. But, she knew I loved her. She was ready to go. She was tired of living. Tired of fighting to breathe. Just tired.
I'm overwhelmed by her death, and the impending death of my father, and my mother's emotional needs, and my emotional needs (which I am pretending don't exist). Momom was right. This is going to be the most difficult week of my life.