Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I went all the way to Rhode Island .....

And all I got was this lousy cold. A snot laden, pressure filled head cold with delusions of grandeur ( I think it wants to be an upper respiratory infection when it grows up). I can't breathe, I can't think, and I certainly can't write, not even a little. I can't even whip it up to catch up with everyone in my reader because I'm hopped up on NyQuil,the Care Bears have shown up, and I'd probably say something ridiculous in your comment section. I promise as soon as the fog clears and I'm not hallucinating annoying cartoon characters I will catch up with everyone. In the mean time, I thought I'd re post a piece I wrote when I first started blogging. I think I had two whole readers back then, so hopefully it won't be too redundant.

True Story
When I was just about 4 years old, my parents and I were living in student housing while my father completed his doctoral degree here. During that time my mother substitute taught while finishing her teaching degree.

At times my care fell to Lucy, a wizened southern black woman whom my parents met while commissioning her husband to build a trestle table for our kitchen. I still have a warm fuzzy for that long, darkly stained hunk of a table that was still in our house long after I left for college.

Lucy and her husband evidently took a shine to this very young,student poor hippie couple and their precocious child who liked to sing at the top of her lungs to anyone who'd listen, so Lucy would offer babysitting services on afternoons my mother had to be at school. Sometimes she would clean while she watched her "stories". Id sit at that table and color, listening to Lucy talk back to the TV as she shuffled around the kitchen.

One afternoon as Lucy cleaned the kitchen floor, the smell of Spic-N-Span permeated the whole house (that smell, 36 years later, forcibly reminds me of that day),when she opened the screened door and just stood there leaning heavily on her dust mop. I thought she was tired, and needed help shaking out the mop, so I walked over to help her.

"I don't need help child, Lucy just needs to catch her breath"

Those were the last words she spoke. She stumbled back into the kitchen and promptly passed out, falling unceremoniously into my beloved rocking chair. I remember being very concerned for my little red rocking chair, as it was not meant for grownups to take naps in.

"Lucy? Lucy? Ummm, I'm going to go take a walk now" I think on some level I knew something was wrong, but my 4 year old self did not quite understand what that "wrong" could be. As far as I was concerned, she had simply fallen asleep, and In MY red rocking chair.

I wanted my dad to come home and make Lucy get up out of my rocking chair, but I knew he was at the lab working. The Lab was down a short wooded path, across the main highway, and in one of three big red brick buildings. But which one? I toddled myself up to the big road and stopped. I had been told in no uncertain terms that I was NEVER EVER to cross that road without an adult. NEVER NEVER NEVER!!!! SO, I did the next best thing. Yelled.


I'm not sure how long I stood there yelling across the street at the facades of those buildings, but I remember being enthralled at the way my voice echoed off of them. So much so, that I almost forgot why I was yelling at them in the first place. I was four, after all. Luckily our next door neighbor who was also class mate of my father's was home for lunch and heard me yelling.

"What's wrong Chanda?"
"Lucy fell asleep in my rocking chair and won't wake up" (again with the rocking chair).

He stood there for a moment, probably trying to process what this kid just said, then sprinted back toward the house, leaving me to wonder what the big deal was.

Lucy had died of a massive stroke - instantly.

That night my mother sat on the edge of my bed to talk to me about what had happened. She was convinced I would be traumatized, permanently scarred by what I had seen.

"So,is Lucy coming over again tomorrow?"
"No, Honey, she died today"
"Where did she go?"
"Heaven" (as all good Irish Catholic moms would say).
"Is she coming back?"
"No, but she's happy where she is"
"Oh,Okay. Can I have chocolate milk for breakfast?"

Early childhood memories before the age of 4 are spotty at best, but this one stands out in extreme clarity, but not in a traumatic way. At least that's not how I perceived it. Not once do I remember being scared or anxious, even after I had learned of her death. I don't know what that says about me, if anything, or if that's just a how a little kid processes abstract concepts like death.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This is Me, Not Flipping Out.

It's no secret, I HATE to fly.
No, hate is not strong enough. In fact I don't think there is a word out there that fully encompasses how I feel about flying. My heart drops into the pit of my stomach faster than a hooker in the front seat of a rich man's car at the mere thought of it, and a general haze of nausea descends and refuses to lift until the trip is over, and I'm safely back on Terra Firma.

Normally I spend the weeks before a flight compulsively scanning safety records for each airline, running crash scenarios trough my head as I try to fall asleep, playing each one out so that I somehow survive. As the day of departure nears I contemplate the Amtrak schedules,weighing the extra cost of the ticket (almost double), the extra two or three days of travel I will have to add to my time off request, and ultimately decide flying is cheaper(how twisted is that?). I turn desperately to my 8 year old Toyota with 110K miles under her belt and know she would probably not take kindly to the 13 hour drive; add up the cost of a car rental, gas, and additional time off for travel time, and even driving is not as economical as flying. Dammit!

I have two, count em, two flights to Boston coming up between now and Christmas. The first one is Thursday. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't fighting a constant hum of just below the surface panic, but this time I'm not giving in to it. I have given up my daily "I hate to fly, why do I have to fly, I fucking don't want to fly" mantra. I haven't looked up any safety records, or watched any plane crash footage. I haven't even once logged onto the Amtrak website. Each night I compose grocery lists, blog ideas, and alternate endings to movies just to keep my mind clear of anything plane related. See? See how together I am? Trust me, this is together.

When I do start to panic I mentally pack my bottle of xanax,and try to focus on the destination rather than the trip. Thursday I'm going to visit my brother and sister-in-law in their new house in Rhode Island. It's also my nephew's second birthday, and I will get to be there to watch him open his present from his Auntie Shawnee. The second trip, coming up in December, is also to my brother's house in RI. Christmas with the entire family, three generations worth. Oh, to be sure there will be all manner of drama going on within the rooms of that very full house, but there will also be a lot of celebrating, and I will be armed with mighty wine glass. These trips are ultimately worth all the stupid phobic bull shit that comes before, these trips allow me to reconnect with my family, and to reconnect with who I am at a basic level.

So yeah, this is me, not flipping out. But just to be on the safe side, this Thursday, say around 1:20 EST, send buoyant thoughts my way. I'll be the white knuckled girl in seat 15C.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Of Wine and Comfort.

I found myself this past Saturday evening awash in a warm light emanating more from the people seated around me than from the brass chandelier hanging unobtrusively above the scene below. There were thirteen of us gathered around a long table dressed in white linen, and laden with comfort food the likes of which could nourish even the most starved of souls.

The Tapdancer had effortlessly thrown together a spur of the moment dinner party with her usual flawless domestic skill. She had prepared a fennel encrusted pork loin, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a decadently bubbly, crispy-in-the corners dish of macaroni and cheese made with sharp NY cheddar. Her sister in law had brought along warm spiced apples, and her brother, his famous green bean casserole. This is not your everyday green bean casserole people. This is slap your mamma good green bean casserole. No one knows exactly what goes in it, some say crack, but you literally cannot stop eating it. I fully expect to find myself, months from now, knocking over liquor stores in order to score some more GBC. This veritable feast was rounded off with a warm, thick, fudge brownie, and hot gourmet coffee. Like I said, food to feed your soul as well as your body.

Maybe it was the wine I consumed over the course of the evening after announcing early on, "I feel like getting tanked". Maybe it was those two bottles of Pinot Noir that, at one point, gave me pause to wonder how I ended up on the kitchen floor , and Oh my God I hope none one sees me down here with cat food stuck to my ass before I can drag myself to a dark corner to sober up for a few minutes. Yes, it's always the wine, but before my unfortunate run in with the kitchen floor, I sat around the dinner table listening to the laughter and conversation reach a jovial crescendo, and was struck by just how comfortable I was (am) around these people.

This is my family, not the family I was born into, but the one I got to choose. What a gift we have in our close friends; those we surround ourselves with by choice, the ones who get to see our true selves, and in turn trust us to show us theirs. This loud, laughing pack knows me in all my guises, all my craziness, all my flaws, and somehow they're okay with all of it. Go figure.

Not everyone was there, Ms. Q had to work (she's a restaurant manager, so her weekend's are not her own), and others live out of town (Hi Cindy! Happy Belated Birthday!); but I thought of them as I paused to gather up the loose strands of different conversations, and allowed the energy of the evening to wipe away the last vestiges of the blue funk that had colored the last few weeks a dull grey. How can I possibly remain sad when there are such characters at play?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's a Little Early for The Valentines Day Masacree

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

It's beautiful isn't it? ee cummings is one of my favorite poets, and this is one of my favorite poems. When someone asks "what do you want out of life?", it's not money, or fame or success that comes to mind(though those things would be nice). What I crave above all other things is that poem. I want to feel that way about someone, and have someone feel that way about me. Those who have found it I envy with a dark slimy green intensity that sometimes catches me off guard.

Some would say it's a fairy tale, that there's no such thing as that kind of devotion, but for as long as I can remember I have believed that I was destined to find that one great love. Even now, at my age, and being so very very *sigh* very single, I still buy the "happily ever after" bit. Maybe I'm being naive.

Naive? Okay, I'll admit it, but I'm also afraid. In my deepest darkest most secret place, I'm afraid I'll never find it. What if there is something intrinsically wrong with me, and I'm simply not capable of being open enough to let someone in? What if, deep down inside, I know this and I'm using weight as the ultimate weapon for shutting people (men) out? How does one go about unravelling something like that? How does that naivete and that fear manage to coexist?

My head hurts.

This was going to be a quiet little post about a beloved piece of poetry, but obviously I've digressed into a swirling pit of poo. So sorry Mr. Cummings. I'll hold my naivete close for now, and quit while I'm ahead before I start ripping the wings off of the Tooth Fairy.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I haven't wanted to write this week.
The stories and anecdotal bits and pieces of life I have to share require a light tone and a humorous voice, but I just don't feel funny. I feel cranky; cranky and profoundly sorry for myself, which in turn makes me even crankier because I hate it (nay, I loathe it) when I get all maudlin and "woe is me". It's such self indulgent bullshit, but I can't seem to wade out of this tar pit of self pity.

I'm not even sure how to put into words exactly what is wrong. There have been no tragedies, no major upheavals, just this pervasive fog of negativity that makes everything seem worse than it is. Every hurdle seems insurmountable, and no one could possibly understand. Oh no, who could understand money issues, hating their body, job pressure, family melodramas, or feeling lonely and disconnected? Just me, the girl in the self absorbed plastic bubble. Shit, John Travolta's got nothing on me.

This has been building for a while; like a storm in open water, gathering strength and becoming more defined as it feeds off of the warmth below. How is it that I feel restless, anxious, and worried that I won't be able to fix the things in my life that need a lot of work; and simultaneously lack the energy to even whip it up enough to care? My psyche is in paradoxic flux (okay, so that might not be a real term, or real words for that matter, but fuck it, I like it). I'm wondering if it's not time to call in the cavalry.

So I've been avoiding my blog, because I knew once I started to write all that would come would be a bitter tasting whine. Obviously I decided to write it out anyway. Sorry 'bout that, but like so many other bloggers, this space is not only a place to hone, and (hopefully) improve my writing, it's also a place to hash some shit out, to think out loud, and maybe even gain a fresh perspective. Besides, if I don't write honestly, if I edit myself because I think the real stuff is too messy or boring, or whatever, then what the hell am I doing here in the first place?