•August 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The laundry situation was getting pretty urgent. It wasn’t an emergency of pairing-plaids-with-stripes proportions yet, but the reserves of clean underwear were beginning to run dry. Since the laundry machines were still vacationing in the dining room, the task of doing laundry evolved into an expedition into the wider world in search of laundry facilities. It wasn’t much of a search: we already knew where to go- to my sister Bean’s place. They were out of the house, and we had a spare key so we let ourselves in. A wild time was had by all. 

Two loads was probably a mistake. I mean, it’s one thing to do two back-to-back loads of laundry at home on the weekend when the waiting time can be spent on other activities. It’s another thing to do two back to back loads at eight in the evening on a week night at your sister’s house. All we could do was wait. And wait. And wait. 

The dryer takes as long as the dryer takes.

Bedtime came and went. I did my best to nap while I waited for the cycle to end, waking briefly to move a load from one machine to the other. It was a restless kind of sleep- always near enough to the surface to keep an ear out for the sound of tumbling clothes. It was nearly midnight by the time we actually got home and plunged into bed. The morning alarm came much too soon. 

So I’m dragging my tail this morning, and I don’t even have a fun or glamorous excuse. It’s not like I spent the night out on the town or was up until the wee hours burning with inspiration. No. Laundry. That’s my excuse. But it needed to be done and I’m an adult, so I needed to do it. Mornings like this make me regret growing up. 

August Haze

•August 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Yeah it’s the inside of my pocket, so what?

I keep drinking hot water. Partly, it is to fool my body into thinking that it’s drinking coffee (spoiler: it doesn’t work) and partly as a way to fight off the persistent chill of the air conditioning. Thanks to a long steak of days with heat in the nineties, the air conditioning has been correspondingly cranked down to sub arctic temperatures. Every few hours I retreat to the bathroom to do some lunges in the hopes that engaging the muscle mass will fend off the chill for a little while. It doesn’t help as much as I’d like it to. 

Two days caffeine free, eight days to go. I’m remarkably clear headed, all things considered, although I seem to be making up for it in lack of motivation and a complete breakdown of self discipline. Suddenly my downtime is endless, mindless Facebook surfing. When I try to engage my mind on something constructive it just sort of slides off the surface with a limp ‘nah’. I seem to have achieved a state where my brain isn’t just uninspired, it is actively deflecting inspiration. Instead, all my creative energies seem to have been funneled into extraordinarily detailed dreams with convoluted storylines and casts of thousands. 

I’m trying to make the most of it though: I figure that if I’m going without coffee then I might as well whiten my teeth. I broke out a new set of Crest whitestrips this morning and applied my first ‘dose’. They’ve changed a LOT since I last used them. The new emulsion is much less gooey and the strips adhere much more firmly to your teeth. So firmly, in fact, that peeling them off is like peeling off a bandaid. I’m not sure that I can see a difference yet, but then again it’s only been one dose so far. 

Wait and see. The story of my life right now. 

The rest of life has fallen into a holding pattern: the plumbing is finished, but the walls and floors still need to be repaired so everything is still in disarray. The fridge still occupies its half in the middle of the kitchen, the washer and dryer are still vacationing in the dining room. The Curmudgeonly Lion’s office is still empty, my office is still double-full. Every day the progress, if there is any, is so incremental that it’s difficult to articulate so all the days are beginning to blur together into an indistinct haze. 

Eight days to go…

Dentist Detox

•August 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It  time for my biannual dentist appointment. I scheduled it for first thing in the morning on a Monday morning so that I could drive in to work afterwards and only miss an hour or two of the work day. The upside of this was that I could sleep in until the luxurious late hour of eight in the morning instead of having to be out the door by six forty. The downside, of course, was an hour in the dentist’s chair getting the lower half of my face sandblasted by some kind of high frequency water jet. It didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t exactly fun and games either. 
Now, at least, I’ve been relieved of my coffee  stains for another six months. The Curmudgeonly Lion picked up some Crest white strips (at my request- it wasn’t a hint or anything) that I haven’t gotten around to using yet and I think he was beginning to feel a little hurt that I hadn’t used then yet. Well, now feels like the time. 

Having gotten all these stains removed, I catch myself thinking twice about whether I actually need that cup of coffee. I’m also about due to detox myself from caffeine, since lately I’ve found myself becoming more and more dependent on regular pep-ups throughout the day. A cup first thing in the morning with breakfast. A thermosful right after I finish the morning commute to get me focused. An energy shot to perk me up in the afternoon (at first a half shot, but lately a whole one).

So, reluctant to start staining my teeth right away,  I made it through the whole day on the half cup of coffee that I’d gulped down just before heading out the door. And now that I’ve made it this long I might as well keep up the momentum, right? Well, I’m have to see what tomorrow brings, but I might go ahead and try to launch the detox. No time like the present, and nothing like a twelve hour head start. 

Picture is Unrelated

•August 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I just liked the color.

The picture has nothing to do with anything else that I might write: I just thought the color was striking and unusual since it was more red than the average traffic cone. 

My brain continues to be scattered and flurried. It keeps disappearing into my memory and dredging up unexpected pieces of source material that I feel compelled to chase down: the opening number from Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, Val Kilmer’s drag scene from “Willow”, the soundtrack to “Rent”, a correspondent that I haven’t written to in fifteen years, etc. Some of this can be attributed to my recent diversion into old files, but other bits are strange and unexpected. I think the last time I watched “Willow” was on VHS. 

I’ve also gone back on the kick of trying to write with my left hand. It’s a phase that I go through periodically to the general chagrin of all my correspondents who have to suffer through my shaky, left leaning script. It’s just difficult enough to require my full focus, so I find it an enjoyable way to pass the time. It is like meditating. 

The thing is that I’m noticing that I think differently while/after I write with my left hand. Not in big ways, just like I’m seeing the world from the other side somehow. My handwriting is different too- I mean, obviously it’s not as smooth as my right hand, but it is consistent and specific: the letters are taller and heavier, it leans a distinct angle to the left. Loops are wider, but also peaked and pointed. My left hand personality evidently enjoys bold choices and strong statements- even if it doesn’t often get to be in charge. It makes me wonder how many different facets of personality I keep folded within myself that are just waiting to come to the surface. 


•August 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Peaceful thoughts…. Peeeeeeaceful thoughts…

Due to the plumbing issues, the house is in disarray. It’s not an uproar, exactly, I mean, things aren’t on the verge of physical collapse, chaos, or mayhem, but enough things are out of place that it is taking a toll on my mental space. So from the moment that the alarm went off this morning, the day has been underscored with a low level undertone of tension. The breakfast dishes didn’t get cleaned. Lunch making took place on the last cubbyhole of counter space squeezed between themicrowave, the dish drainer, and the massive, looming bulk of the refrigerator which is presently staged in the geographic center of the kitchen. To get from the east side of the kitchen to the west side involves going out of the room, circling around by the hallway, and entering in the other door. Inconvenient, but not unmanageable: just annoying enough to test my patience, but not annoying enough to actually have an outburst over. 

So there’s that. 

At work, they’ve moved one of the accounting guys into payroll, which means that I now share an office with two co-workers instead of one. The two co-workers most predisposed to lip smacking and straw slurping and drink gulping. My malphonia hasn’t bothered me for months but BOY DID IT COME BACK TODAY when the guy from accounting (Let’s call him Dave From Accounting) decided that he had to spend fifteen minutes draining the icy dregs of a blended coffee during the late afternoon. I had to walk out of the room four times. The fifth time, I had to walk out of the office and seek refuge in the bathroom to try to do some deep breathing and recentering. 

Stop running. I told myself. When it happens again, be polite and direct and tell him it bothers you. 

As much as I hate confrontation, and I can go a long time before something bothers me enough for a confrontation, I also believe in being direct and not resorting to passive aggression. I wish I could say that I was able to be so constructively direct today, but I was saved from the conflict by the cup at last being empty. Never has the sound of a plastic cup hitting a trash can sounded so sweet. Angels sang Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus to resounding relief. 

Somehow, the release of this particular tension has gone deeper than mere annoyance. I feel loose in my joints. I feel the kind of groggy serenity that comes after a deep nap after a thunderstorm. It feels a bit unearned, considering that I did nothing to accomplish it, but I’ll take what I can get. If I must struggle with an unusual mental state, I’ll take radical serenity any day of the week. I wonder how long it will last. 


•August 1, 2017 • Leave a Comment

For months we struggled to figure why the Curmudgeonly Lion’s office smelled of cat pee. After casting suspicious side-eyes towards the cat, we finally braved ourselves and got a blacklight to try to figure out where the smell was coming from, expecting  room to light up like a crime scene on a network procedural. To our surprise, we found nothing. 

Turning to Google, I asked “what else smells like cat pee?” (Thanks, Google, for not judging). I already knew of a few things, like juniper, or dead vermin, that could have a similar effect, but the most likely candidate was wood rot. I wasn’t sure what wood might be rotting, and I dreaded that it might be somewhere in the walls where we just wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. 

It turned out to be the floor. The carpet beneath the Curmudgeonly Lion’s desk was damp with some kind of seepage, and the reason why we hadn’t realized this sooner was thanks to the plastic chair-mat that we’d put down to protect the carpet from the rollers of the desk chair. This had trapped the moisture in the carpet and kept the Lion’s feet dry whenever he worked at the desk. 

We still didn’t know where the water was coming from, but at least we knew where the smell was coming from. We peeled back the mat and ran a box fan for a few days to dry everything out, and the smell subsided. Thinking that we’d solved the mystery (even if we hadn’t figured out the cause), and reluctant to move the desk, which was one of the largest pieces of furniture that we owned, we put it out of our minds and went about our business. 

Well the moisture came back. It wasn’t from the roof because it hasn’t rained. It wasn’t from the cat because we kept her out of the room unless we were in it. It wasn’t from the guest bathroom because we rarely used it ourselves and hadn’t had any guests to speak of. But the water was coming from somewhere and wasn’t going away. At last, we checked the plumbing access door built into the outside of the house that allows a plumber to access the drain to the tub in the guest bathroom. I was running a load of laundry and, part way through the spin cycle we discovered that water was filling a small earthen sump built into the concrete slab. It wasn’t really meant to be a sump- and when the water got deep enough it would sluice onto the slab, go underneath the tub, and seep into the flooring on the far side. 

Mystery solved. Landlady called. Plumber summoned. Cracked drain pipe. 

To repair the pipe, it is necessary to drill out the concrete, which will necessitate going in through the kitchen floor. This, consequently, necessitated uninstalling the washer and dryer and moving them out of the kitchen. The damp, and, as it turns out, molding carpeting in the office needed to be dealt with, which necessitated breaking down The Curmudgeonly Lion’s massive Command Center computer system and levering up the desk.  The moral of the story: whatever you install in the house thinking “once it’s in place I’ll never have to move out again” will have to be moved. Murphy’s law. 

So today they begin the work. “They” being three different contractors and an insurance adjuster. It could take up to a week to finish, depending on which repair they plan to do. We got everything out of the Curmudgeonly Lions office (except the desk, which has to be disassembled in order to fit through the door) and into mine, so neither of us has a useful work space. The washer and dryer are in the dining room. The cast is sequestered in the bedroom. And the kitchen is… Well, still in flux depending upon where they decide to put the fridge. 

Never a dull moment. 

•July 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

An unsung champion in our midst…

An evening meeting meant that we were out of the house until late. And by ‘late’ I mean 11:00pm, because I’m crotchety and old and it was a week night. So my 5:00am alarm came really early. It was still dark, and I forced myself upright before actually attaining wakefulness and tried to get out of bed without putting in my contacts first, only to wonder why I couldn’t see anything. 

It’s been one of those mornings. 

It’s Friday, at least. Now that I’ve had some coffee and read a chapter or two about astrophysics, I’m feeling a bit more equipped to handle the day. So far as I know, it should be a rather uneventful one, and that suits me fine. It’s reassuringly dull to have a routine and I’m not bored of it yet. 

I have to wonder: does boredom serve a purpose? If so, then what purpose does it serve? Why is boredom so unpleasant? Is it just because humans are primed to seek out novelty? Does it exist to act as a motivating force on a system that would otherwise devolve into complacency? Is novelty more valuable than constancy, or are these just the polar ends of a dynamic system that needs to be in constant motion in order to actually be stable the way it is easy to ride a bike as long as you’re moving forward? 

There is something to be said about cultivating the skills of boredom that often get overlooked in, say, academic goals. There’s no SAT metric for how well one can handle tedium (although, arguably, SAT prep courses inadvertently offer training in exactly this skill). There is no media representation of characters who are good at handling boredom, because that in itself would be boring to watch. But I think this is a pretty vital skill: being able to stay focused over long periods of repetitive, mind numbing tasks seems like a core element of pretty much any office job. It’s a skill like running or writing- nearly anybody can perform the mechanics of it, but very few people bother to master it.

I got into a facetious discussion with a friend about what Competitive Boredom would look like. I argued that there would have to be different events: paint drying, grass growing, filling out tax documents in triplicate, waiting in line at the DMV etc. My friend argued that it it would have to take place in individual elevators with various forms of muzak. We debated whether this would be a competition that anybody would watch out whether the audience would be bored while watching such a competition as a kind of mise en abyme of endless boredom. No, I argued: it could be quite thrilling for an audience to watch- after all, it’s the contestants who are expected to have a high tolerance for boredom, not the observers. It could be called Bored To The Death!!!!! and have competing athletes of lassitude (lassithetes?) balanced on, say, the pressure plate of a claymore mine, each competing against boredom itself to avoid falling asleep and blowing themselves to smithereens. It’s an endurance sport, only for the highly trained. (We later decided that these rigs should be constructed in elevators (complete with muzak) made out of blast proof glass for safety and easy cleanup, because, you know, these things are important when designing dystopian death-matches).

So I’ve probably given boredom more thought than I should have…

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