The files are IN the computer…

I was getting settled into my new place yesterday and my friend A.J. was over visiting me during my window where I’m supposed to stay at home and wait for the internet company. So the nice internet guy arrives and spends an hour or so in and out of the apartment, plugging things in, sitting on the floor with his laptop, my laptop, etc., and he finally concludes that even though I’m not yet online, he has done his part. He explains to me that he got all the equipment into place and the modem is hooked up to the internet, but my computer isn’t recognizing the equipment, and then he says a bunch more technical stuff, and hands me the paperwork to sign out. I looked at him and then I looked at A.J., and a thought bubble appeared over my head, only the thought bubble didn’t have any words in it, it just had a monkey scratching under its arm. A.J. gave me this “G’head” look, and so I ventured bravely forward and signed off. Because I know A.J.

Anyway, long story short, A.J. fixed the problem. I couldn’t have asked for a better combination of circumstances, because he knows his way around computers like nobody’s business. I got ridiculously lucky. He made internet happen, while I stood back and watched in awe like Zoolander.

So I spend half a day feeling like I was all dialed in with all of my utilities, and then my mobile phone stopped working. If you’re trying to get a hold of me either by text or by calling me, I’m out of commission, and it’s e-mail only for a couple of days.

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What Would Barbie Do?

I never had that moment when I first met Christyne where I knew that she and I would be friends. In fact, it was quite the opposite. From my first impression of her, I thought she was materialistic and maybe even pretentious. Okay yeah, pretentious. We had a good friend in common, a smoking hot girl named Michelle, and we all ended up going to dinner together for Michelle’s birthday. Then the three of us went to dinner together for my birthday, and later, Christyne’s. Christyne knew we’d be friends when she came to my apartment and I had a bunch of art projects going on. I knew when a co-worker of ours was getting upset one day and I saw how compassionate she was with her. In the twelve or so years since, we’ve had a million conversations about everything from human psychology to poop, and everything in the world in between. She’s hugged me while I was crying, and let me keep crying until I had it all out, even though that took a while. She’s stayed up with me into the wee hours of the morning, listening and talking me through whatever I was going through, and whenever we sleep in the same bed, we talk until one of us drifts off to sleep. She’s really very down to earth and grounded. Her dad seems to be the same way, and it’s immediately evident that he’s the one who did the majority of parenting with her, as she was growing up. She approaches emotional things with the centered-ness you’d expect from an emotionally mature man. You just would not get any of this from the first impression. Even now, knowing her so well, it throws me off when she comes walking up in heels and a Cruella Deville-style jacket, with her black and red hair always styled and her giant sunglasses on and a matching purse hanging from her arm. Her head is held high in the air, and she’s usually strutting along smoking Sherman’s MCD’s, a rather gourmet cigarette.

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She’s also a Virgo, as I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts. I don’t know how typical her behavior is of Virgo females, except for the super clean, organized apartment. But she goes to TOWN when she decorates. So she fell in love with this couch recently, a 300 lb vintage couch from the 1920’s. She had it reupholstered, and went to put it in her apartment, and discovered that it was not going to fit through any of the doorways. She was devastated for a few hours after making this discovery.  We discussed the possibility of removing her front window and having it put into her second floor apartment with a crane, but removing the window means having to bring it up to code it with brand new, tempered glass.  She then made a few phone calls and threw some money at the situation, and well, today they finally came and made the couch thing happen:

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The pursuit of happiness

I got about halfway finished with my move-in on Monday, and I was going up and down the stairs, there was one of those beautiful post-rain sunsets going on. The light was bouncing up onto the clouds, and every direction that I looked, the view was framed by palm trees and everything had that golden glow all over it. My feet hurt like hell and I’m exhausted, but still, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

Stress is relative

It still surprises me that the peak of stress in my life was in the seventh grade. Nothing has yet surpassed it, still. Pain, that’s a different story. But for stress, age twelve and a half, seventh grade still wins. It was my first years of having to go to P.E. classes, where I was among strangers instead of family or at least the familiarity of people I shared a class with all day long. I was never conditioned to sports. I’d never thrown a ball with anyone, and if a ball was flying towards my face, I had a fairly normal human reaction of wanting to duck and protect myself instead of lunging towards it to greet it with my hands out. In the terminology of sports, this made me not much of a team player. The coach, Coach Craig, who was otherwise a pretty nice woman, held fast to a theory that peer pressure could take care of these things. So I spent the whole 45 minutes of P.E. class with everyone around me mad at me and sometimes yelling at me, while I was trying to just be invisible. If I had had better coping skills, I might have spent more time getting people to coach me at sports at home, or at least kicking a ball around or studying the rules of football. Instead I survived 6th period P.E., minute by minute. I still remember the gnawing in my gut as I would exit the locker room and head down the hall into the bright light of the outdoor tennis courts and the football field, silently praying that the teacher would have us run or do something that I wasn’t terrified of, instead of the foggy mystery of team sports. Everyone in the world seemed to get it and do okay with it, and I couldn’t cope with for one second. I remember how every day was a slow and painful countdown towards this class. Every weekend, at that point in my life, I felt like I was helplessly watching the hours peel away from me until monday, when I would have to go back to school and go to that class. I looked into the options, and there were none. You could take either Cadets, or P.E. Cadets was social suicide, and therefore wouldn’t do anything about my stress at school. I was doing team sports at some sort of metaphorical gun-point.

I was also still adjusting to public school, even though I had come back from home schooling the previous year and had already done 6th grade. I had still not adjusted. I also went to a junior high school that took a full hour by bus to get to. This meant getting up at 5 a.m. at the latest, and my bedroom at that point in time was a trailer next to my house and it had no heat, just a down sleeping bag that was painfully difficult to get out of when the alarm made its piercing call to get up and into the freezing air. I then walked about a half mile to the bus stop in almost dark. All of this so I could spend the day fearing the last class of the day, P.E. I still cringe when I hear that particular alarm, and it is often found on the first wave of kitchen stoves that had alarms on them. I used to make my lunch and bring it to school in a brown bag, something I later learned you just don’t do. I later learned that you either bought lunch at school or you didn’t bring lunch and didn’t eat anything. End of story. At least that’s how it was in my little world. They divided up our lunches into 1st lunch and 2nd lunch, and I somehow ended up with lunch with nobody that I knew, although a girl I went to kindergarten with a long time ago and her sister, let me eat lunch with them. Anything else? Oh yeah, my front tooth was busted and had a gaping hole in it. And I had stringy hair and big eyes. Somewhere along that time the girl who had a locker next to me watched me open it and, learning my combination, stole my coat out of my locker and I guess threw it away. I had stress. Somewhere in that first semester I also peed my pants at a carnival down the street from my school because I couldn’t get the knot undone on this homemade jumper I was wearing, and peed on myself inside of the bathroom stall. Then, the girl I was with got into an argument with me a few weeks later and she got so mad at me that she started calling me pisspot in front of everyone in the lunch area, and even got my good friend Shireen to join her. I wrote a pleading letter to Shireen, and the girl read my letter to everyone at lunch. Somehow, this still paled in comparison to P.E. class. The girls and I later made up and all the madness stopped pretty quickly. It was a memory I had trouble talking about for many years, but a resolved memory nonetheless.

The transition came along somewhere in the middle of the year, when I finally got my tooth fixed which had huge effects on my self-esteem, I got a much more flattering hairdo, and I was growing into my big eyes. I also made the simple decision to sleep in the house again (helloooooo) where mom got up before us and built a warm fire in the stove. I started spending huge amounts of time with my neighbor Angela, whom I’d already been friends with for many years. We were going through a lot of the same changes at that point in time, and I just mean puberty, not social stress. Anyway, they changed the lunch setup, and I now had second lunch with Angela and her friends. She let me wear her clothes, and we ended up getting matching hairdos in the beginning of that bouffant eighties hair era. We learned about make-up together, and she shared her lunch money with me every day, even though it cut her already spare lunch allocation in half. We also had each other to walk to the bus stop with, in the cold, pre-dawn hours of desert winter, and we walked home together at the end of the day and commiserated about living in the desert (why, God, why?). By the end of the school year, I was friends with everybody and loved going to school. I finally started getting up in the mornings with eagerness. I would sometimes borrow Angela’s sister’s outfits so that she and I could go to school in identical outfits, like twins would do. We got a lot of attention for it, and it was a cute and normal thing for two girls in junior high. The girls that were mean to me earlier in the year were already a faint memory, and were writing notes to me and marveling on how cute Angela and I looked in our matching outfits (was I supposed to invite them to join us at lunch?). If anybody ever wonders why I have such a savage loyalty to Angela to this day, I can only recall those early years, and the many other selfless acts through the years, because it is just in her nature to think about the people around her and how they are doing, and to do what she can to help. She did it without expecting anything in return, and never really gave it a second though because that’s how everyone in her family acted. I just got lucky to end up living down the street from her.

No college struggle, no job stress, nothing has ever compared to the stress of the first half of seventh grade. I guess it builds character, and it’s just part of my history. I was still one of the lucky ones as a kid, because at the end of every day I also walked into a home where I was loved and my arrival was anticipated and looked forward to. I lived with people who made me laugh and supported me and made life at home fun, and I didn’t even begin to understand that most of the people I was going to school with didn’t go home to that. Even the ones who were lucky enough to have a complete family at home still didn’t have one like the one I had. Their lives were surrounded with restrictions and being yelled at and punished, and my life wasn’t. I would have approached the world with a lot more compassion, had I known that. I only worried about what was going on with me. Fairly normal, I guess, but I still assumed everyone was coming from the same general comforts at home. So I can give myself a lot of credit for the happy life I’ve built for myself, but I can’t count the number of times I was just lucky.

And yes, I still have anxiety attacks when I try team sports.

Boo

Well I thought I was moving this weekend. It turns out that the receptionist at the property management company wrote me down for a Monday at 2:00 when they told me “tomorrow” over the phone, while I was talking to them on Friday. I found this out as I arrived today at two o’clock with two cars full of my belongings. I have no option other than to wait until Monday. There was nothing they could or would do to help me. On a weekend of torrential rain, today was sunny, and there was plenty of parking in front of my apartment because it’s a Saturday. On Monday evening, there will be no parking, and there’s a strong chance of rain. Also I won’t have the moving crew to help with loading and unloading of my ten thousand boxes. That’s a lot to ask of people, to deal with traffic coming and going, over and over, on a weeknight, in the rain. This would be a grand opportunity to make a bonfire of all of my stuff.

In the big picture this is nothing, but even repeating this to myself over and over could not stop me from having a meltdown when I arrived back at my house. An empty house, with a garage full of boxes. I don’t even have a pan to heat up my dinner in. And I’ll be here until MONDAY. Stupid. I’m glad I like camping so much.

Christyne had a much worse day than me, and we’re going to hang out at her house and commiserate.

My cute, locked up little apartment. I can see it from Christyne’s.

knocking on wood through 27 layers of paint.

I started out yesterday morning homeless. Meaning the apartment I applied for hadn’t called me back, and it was past the window where they said they’d call. Then I got an e-mail saying, oops, we need to tent the house you’re living in before it closes escrow next week, and we need you out by tomorrow morning. I could come back Sunday, but I mean, for three more days, all of which I’d spend cleaning poison off of surfaces? Then there was the matter of my pregnant sister in law’s car in the driveway, and I don’t want her car to be anywhere near the poison, so I’d also need to relocate the car, pack, and move myself and my cat in the 12 remaining hours left after I got off work. Things took an abrupt turn for the better when I called the Real Estate agent and she had no problem rescheduling the whole tenting thing for after my move-out date. She’d been told I had already moved out. THEN the people called with the apartment I applied to, and offered me the apartment. I had to keep from jumping up and down and yelling and squealing, because I REALLY WANTED THAT APARTMENT. It’s SO cute. It has a cute little kitchen with a lot of windows, and it’s a half block from Christyne, and it’s right by the beach. I was in love with that place as soon as I saw it. The carpet and flooring are all new, too. In the classic tradition of Long Beach apartments, it has so many layers of paint that some of the cabinet doors don’t even close, and if I cut through them they would probably look like a jawbreaker. But it’s still so cute.

So that day turned out a lot better. Today I have a lot of packing to do. I waited until after lunch to have coffee, so I would still be riding my coffee buzz when I got home to do all that packing. I treated myself to a nice Mocha Latte, with room at the top “because I always spill it on myself”. The guy marked the cup very clearly and actually drew a line around the cup 3/4″ from the top, saying that’s the only way to make sure the barista notices. She then completely ignored the note, and I watched her fill it to the tippy top and call out my order. Oh well, I don’t always spill it. And she looks so happy. So I’m walking out to the car, a post-it drifts out of my purse and onto the ground, and I go to pick it up and I trip over one of their umbrella holders that was in the blind spot created by my hand holding out the coffee. I did the dramatic, hair and arms everywhere fall to the ground with a defeated scream, but managed to save the coffee. It just sloshed all over my white hoodie because it was so full. My elbow was bloody, both of my knees got bruised, and I think I tweaked my neck and leg, which will add some nice layers to my upcoming move. This was not surprising to my co-workers, who just last month had seen me slip and fall to the ground in the only muddy spot near any of the entrances to our building.

I was off work an hour later, and driving home cautiously because I wasn’t sure now if I was having one of those days, so I should be careful and if nothing else bad happens for the rest of the day, I should just be glad (and nothing did). THEN, on the way home, I finally found a place that sells my favorite Peruvian soft drink, Inca Kola. I have been looking for that forever, and could only find it in Peruvian restaurants. I’ve been craving it lately, and whenever I have a can, if I don’t open it right away then I want to bury it in the back yard like a dog buries a bone. It’s amazing how happy one 6 pack of soda could make me, and I feel like I’m going to be peeking into my fridge to stare at it like it’s a six pack of Christmas presents under the tree. I cheerfully arrived at my house to begin my packing. I had to go back and forth to the car a whole bunch of times, in a light rain, unloading. Each time, the cat crept closer to the door, curiously eyeing the forbidden driveway of mystery, and I said, “Sedgewick, I love you, but so help me, I will kick you square in the nuts…” And he looked at me and said, “HA! I’m neutered!”. By the look on his face, however, I could see that it registered that he probably shouldn’t challenge this wild-haired, hyper person with blood and coffee all over her shirt and arms full of packing materials who’d HAD ENOUGH in her week, thank you.

I should be finished with my move in by Sunday evening.

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MRI

I just got an MRI at the Polak Imaging Pavilion in Torrance, and it was the most relaxing thing ever. I had googled it the night before so I could know what to expect, and I expected it to be uncomfortable, claustrophobic and loud. Something I had to hold still for and survive. It probably helped that I only got a few hours of sleep the night before, and therefore I drifted off to sleep easily.

The Polak Imaging Pavilion was funded by the husband of Anna Maria Polak, who died of cancer. Before I went in I sat in the car for a little bit and thought about all of the women who have to go in here and get treated for breast cancer. I decided to try and leave behind any stress I had and not bring it with me into the building. After all, I’m just here for my ear. Everyone was calm and very helpful. The building seemed like it was designed around putting people at ease. I went in wearing 100% cotton clothing so that I wouldn’t have to take off anything other than my jeans (I left my bra in the car), and by the time I had my iv holder in me, I was ready to start doing ballet in the waiting room. The pajama bottom scrubs they gave me were so comfortable. My IV holder, because I don’t know what else to call it, puts a tiny plastic tube into my vein so that they could inject dye into my veins about 2/3 of the way through the MRI to help find things inside of my head.

During the MRI, they put you into a cylinder and apparently you have a giant, extremely strong magnet around your head like a donut. I decided to close my eyes before I got slid into the MRI machine, and this made it so that I never felt like I was anywhere but at the opening of the machine, like I was when I first lay down. I was warned several times about the machine gun like noise of the MRI, but here’s what it was like for me: it sounded like I was inside of a porta-potty (let’s say a brand new one), with somebody banging rhythmically on the outside. Then it sounded like somebody was holding some kind of vibrating mechanism on the walls, that banged on the walls like a vibrating massager will do if you put it up against a hard surface. I thought of performance art, and then I became more and more relaxed, because I was so cushioned. I had my head in a padded cradle-like thing, with pillows under each of my elbows, and a large pad under the lower half of my legs. The technician gave me a ball to squeeze that would alert him if I was having any problems in there. I also had a blanket on me, so I was warm and comfy, and drifted off to sleep. This could be because I grew up in a house with no walls and there were four of us kids. I don’t know. I tend to fall asleep at concerts, too. Anyway, I twitched awake a few times, but other than that, It went very smooth. I felt like I was in some kind of trance when I left, like I feel after a massage. I sat in the car and texted Christyne while I slowly woke up, so that I was alert enough to drive.

Now I’m at home, my vegetables for dinner are marinating and I’m walking around humming. I think I want to build myself a bed that’s shaped like an MRI machine.

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