Saturday, September 19, 2009

Death and grieving.

My ex-boyfriend died on Thursday night. We lived together for three years, had a dog together and cared a great deal about each other. He played the harmonica and the guitar and he was quite a good photographer.

I'm not going to go into the nasty, awful, messy details of breaking up, except to say it was a bad one. I think, partly, because everyone, except me, towards the end, thought we were going to end up together, married, etcetera. The awful details of the death are this: he had a brain aneurysm, in his sleep. They found him with our dog licking his face, trying to wake him up.

I didn't go to the funeral, for a number of reasons. I think that funerals are probably a really healthy thing - everyone gets together and decides to grieve together for a certain amount of time and then, one can move on - but for me, I didn't need to see a lot of strangers to grieve. Not to sound melodramatic, but I've already grieved over the death of our relationship and I've already grieved over Al. I realised somewhere along the way he was never going to be well, I was never going to be able to make him well, and I had to leave him to so that he could begin to figure things out on his own.

I spent most of Friday morning sobbing, I mean really sobbing. I think I even screamed a few times. Then I went to the barn because you can, or rather you should, for your own safety, leave your emotions on the ground when you get on, so I thought it might help me feel normal again. But instead of riding, I went to a school fete with my friend and her children. I ended up drinking a beer with a man who went to the same tiny, smaller-than-a-lot-of-high-schools, photography school that Al went to, Brooks.

So there I was, in the middle of central New York (well, actually closer to the Pennsylvania border), talking to a complete stranger about my life in Santa Barbara. Reliving moments and reminiscing about things that happened during my life with Al. It was a little surreal.


I keep waking up in the middle of the night and remembering that he's dead. It's really awful. I did it three times last night. I start going through conversations that we had - everything from the mundane to the excruciating. No particularly vivid dreams yet, though. Just an awareness of his presence in a lot of them.


On Saturday night, I left a strange party early and went to bed by myself. I called Margo and started crying almost instantly. I'd gone from being tremendously sad to feeling abjectly guilty. I'd read his obituary and it just seemed so trite and banal - I think he would have hated it. Well, I hated it anyway. It made me a little sick. I don't know what else I expected - it was filled with all the usual obituary stuff. I think it was because it reduced someone who was larger than life down to a few lines on a piece of paper.


So here I am, Wednesday morning and getting back to work, finally feeling more normal. Still tired: I overslept this morning - it's 11:16 and I haven't even made a cup of tea yet.

I think I'll do some work and then head out to the barn. My mother said something that struck me as apt: "You know, I just can't quite get it into my head that there's a world without Al in it."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm not paying $50 to hang out with people I went to high school with.

"Someone watch that trailer and tell me this isn't utterly absurd. If these people are trying to represent Palo Alto as Any Town, U.S.A. that is just patently false; and if they are representing Palo Alto as the rich niche that it actually is, well, I can only say with devastating honesty that that is just not a very interesting story, Tom Arnold or no."

"It looks shallow, cliche, and vapid. much like its namesake."

I just found a website announcing my ten year high school reunion. It's at a shitty bar in the town I went to high school in. And by shitty, I mean overpriced, loud and lacking in any personality, but still full of sweaty 20 and 30 somethings dry humping each other and yelling over the terrible music. The last time I went there, I ended up having to leave early to preemptively remove one drunk member of our party, before what she was doing started counting as sexual assault. Blame my drunk friend if you will, but I don't think that behaviour is out of the ordinary for that place.

It's also exactly where and how I would have pictured my high school reunion happening.

My complaint though, is not really about the bar, it's about the cost. Because I would probably go if it were, maybe ten bucks. But it's not ten bucks, it's fifty.

My apologies to any one who doesn't find fifty dollars an obscene amount of money for this particular event, but really? Really? Fifty dollars? Fifty dollars to go and hang out at a crappy loud bar in downtown PA? And have awkward conversations with people? I can do that for free pretty much anywhere else, the only difference being that I may not have already had awkward conversations with those people, 10 years ago. It would be a hundred if I want to bring my husband. We could have a nice meal for that. I can pay $35 dollars and go and see a show in the city at an awesome bar instead of a shitty one.

There was an alternative - the organiser suggested that if we didn't wish to drink, $10 or $15 dollars at the door would be fine, in order to help defray the costs of the reservation. That solution isn't really workable for me though, because being I don't think I could manage the evening sober and it seems like it might suggest a substance abuse problem or at the very least be regarded as a little tacky, if I showed up already inebriated.

I'm not sure what a high school reunion is for, anyway, these days. Isn't one of the wonderful things about facebook that you can keep in touch with/stalk people you want to keep in touch with but you can fairly successfully avoid those you don't?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mosquito Bites.

I am the indignant sufferer of mosquito bites, all on my foot. Two of said mosquito bites are on the sole - one on each.

Since moving to the East Coast, I have started suffering rather more severely than in the past from mosquitoes. At the beginning of the summer, I was horrified by the dragonfly sized mosquitoes that insisted on suckling my blood while I was asleep. It was during a camping trip with Ryan when I fully came to realise exactly how much more flavourful I must innately be than he, because for every 1 bite he had, I had 7.

And not just 7 little bumps. These were giant welts that were painful. It's not that they didn't itch - the itching and all the indelicacies of scratching the itch came later. First was sore, aching pain as my immune system went into overdrive.

These giant winged monsters, however, have proved nothing compared to the gnat sized mosquitoes I encountered the other day, whilst walking through the woods near my house.

At firsts I thought that they seemed more like the mosquitoes I was used to, out west. Small, irritating, but not of the agony causing variety.

Not so. I smacked one, absently on my left arm, just below my elbow, while looking at something else. I know that killing them mid-suckle is usually a bad idea because it makes the bite that much worse, but I felt a small tickle and I reacted to it. I had already found and killed one eating my right elbow, so had become a little reactionary.

Within minutes both bites had spread into flat, white, raised bumps, which would have been a quarter inch in diameter, if they had been more circular. They had, instead, bumpy and uneven edges.

That evening, my left arm was swollen. The next morning, it was a third again its normal size, red, and inflamed. My elbow ached. I spent the morning looking up things like "Really horrible mosquito bite" and "mosquito bite inflammation" on Google. I self-diagnosed myself with skeeter syndrome and moaned a lot about it to my husband.

I was finally back to normal when yesterday morning I woke up scratching the bottom of my feet. One bite in the very middle of the arch of my right foot and the other on the side of my left foot.
There is no more irritating a place than the bottom of your foot for an itchy insect bite. People can tell you all they like that "scratching just makes it worse!" but try not scratching an itch that you are reminded of every time you stand up. Or put on shoes. Or bring the bottom of your feet in any contact to anything.

Then, this morning I sat down to read my email, only to discover a second bite, this one on the bottom of my left foot. Swollen, uncomfortable and itchy. When I notified my husband of the new development, he had this to say:

You ought to stop sticking your feet out from under the covers. Don't give the little bastards the opportunity.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Japanese food experimenting.

It's late and I'm trying to make red bean paste.

I've been, lately, really getting into trying to make Japanese food, to some degree of success. I'm finally getting the hang of onigiri and last night I even made a carrot sesame furikake for the on going onigiri experiments.

Most of my instruction has come from 2 places.

1. Just Bento/Just Hungry - 2 unbelievably friendly, informative blogs by the same person. There is SO MUCH there and it's all good.

2. Cooking with Dog - a YouTube channel that is campy and informative! The show is apparently hosted by a miniature poodle named Francis. At first I thought that the dog just hung out watching the cooking - I didn't realise that he was the host. Francis' voice is provided by a very polite Japanese man who has to be heard to be truly appreciated. I watched several of the videos yesterday and walked around saying, "Mix it well" over and over again. You'll understand when you've watched one. The cooking is done by the cutest little Japanese lady who always tells you how enjoyable the food is at the end of each segment.

Tonight I decided to attempt red bean paste because a) it is delicious and b)we found the asian markets in Ithaca and I had to get something. The red beans, the sweet rice flour and the aloe vera juice sufficed.

It is now 11:56. I started boiling the beans 2 hours ago and there's no end in sight. I soaked them for 22 hours, I boiled and drained them then boiled and drained them again and now I'm just waiting. Waiting and sleepy.

Radio Dream

I had a dream last night that I was hosting a radio show, which I was using to plug this blog.