We are deep in the shack nasties as we’re trying to get moved, but a couple of things popped up in the news since I posted this week’s Friday Links that I just have to comment. First up, Study confirms some men use anti-gay and sexist & homophobic jokes to shore up their masculinity. Many of us have observed this anecdotally, but it’s nice to have some new science on it. “The study, from researchers at Western Carolina University, assessed how heterosexual men responded to various forms of humor when they felt their masculinity was being questioned. The men who placed more value on how they conform to expectations of masculinity were more likely to embrace humor that denigrated women and gay men if they felt they had to prove that their masculinity was in check.” Note that the study specifically looked at how the men responded to jokes and then what sorts of comments they might make while discussing humor in general. So the context was reading, writing, and discussing humor. The study is therefore revealing a single manifestation of a deeper phenomenon—the more insecure a man is in is own masculinity, the more likely he is to denigrate women and queers. Note also that the study shows the other side of the effect: a guy who feels secure in his masculinity was less likely to bash women and queers.
One last thing, the new study that I cited at the beginning? It also showed that test subjects who showed, on a pre-study survey, a higher degree of Precarious Manhood Beliefs, and then were exposed to information that affirmed that a man being able to see things from a women’s perspective and a woman being able to see things from a man’s perspective were both good things? They were less likely to verbally bash women or queers. Which seems to back up the notion that all this misogyny and homophobia within the culture is causing harm. Gee, who’d a thunk?
We’re still packing and moving and packing and packing and… I finally had a responce to me ad giving away two four-drawer steel filing cabinets… and a few hours later the guy who responded said “never mind.” I really don’t want to have to pay someone to haul these away…
Anyway, here are the links I found interesting this week, sorted into categories.
I haven’t had much time for blogging (or writing, or editing) while we’ve been moving. And a huge part of the packing has involved books. We own (literally) thousands of books. Entire walls of some rooms in our place are lined with bookcases. There were mulitple bookcases in the bedroom and the hallway. Many shelves in each bookcase were double-packed: there was a second entire row of books behind the row of books you could see from the front. We had installed extra shelves in sever of the books so that now vertical space above rows of paperback books would be wasted. And then, of course, because we’re both that kind of reader, there were big piles of book-to-be-read beside the bed on each side–one for me, one for my husband.
Before we knew where we were moving to, we decided to use this opportunity to cull some of the collection. This would have been an absolute necessity if we were moving to a smaller place, but we also knew it was a good idea. There are always books that you realize you’re never going to read again, for instance, that have stayed on the shelf for years through inertia.
I had done most of the book packing until recently. Deciding which books to definitely keep, and setting others aside for my hubby to review. If he didn’t want to keep it, either, then we had to decide whether the book would go to the charity we’ve been shipping many to (Books Through Bars), or elsewhere. The first several shelves I did were a bit difficult, as I would hem and haw over half the books before deciding. But after a while (and having carried enough boxes of books to start appreciate just how much heavy toting was going to be involved in keeping all those books) I got faster at making the decision.
I didn’t quite realize I had done this until last weekend. My husband had recovered enough from the surgery that he was able to stand for longer periods, so he was going through bookcases in one room while I was working in another. And he keep interrupting me to show me a few books that he was dithering over.
I realized that he was earlier in the process than I was, but also that he was thinking of it differently. It was like he thought we had to reach a consensus on books as we went along. So I explained how I’d gotten to the point where I look at the book, and if I feel an immediate, “Yes, we’re keeping this!” I put it in the box. If not, I put it in the pile for my husband. And that’s it. I wasn’t holding up packing the current box in front of me until we’d made a decision. My idea was, as long as one of us wanted to keep it, that was good enough. I didn’t need to agree with every book he wanted to keep, nor did he have to agree with mine. “You can tell me I have to come look at the pile when you’re done.”
I did confess a couple of my other rules, though. One of which inspired the title of this post: “Even if I don’t remember the book, if Andre Norton wrote it, we’re keeping it.” She’s just one of those authors whose books really moved me when I was young, and every time I’ve gone back and re-read one, I’ve loved it all over again. There are other authors in that category, but only a few.
I have to admit if you had asked me during my teens or twenties who my favorite author was (and I did get asked), Norton wasn’t who I mentioned. It was only later, one of the times I had to move in my 30s (actually, I think it was when I and my ex- were dividing property, and the books got contentious), that I realized that I had a much stronger emotional reaction to the idea of not keeping a Norton than I did to pretty much any other author.
Of course, not all of the culling in the move involves books. Nor is it always emotional. The other night when I got home from work my husband said he had four boxes he’d pulled down from a shelf in he back closet that I needed to look at. They were full of papers. Most of the papers were hardcopies of material that had been published in the ‘zine I edited for over 20 years. The material has all been published and is available for purchase in multiple places. And a lot of these papers were copies marked up by editors. No reason to have held on to them this long, truth be told. One box had a bunch of things I worked on back in my teens and twenties. I pulled exactly three things out, and then carried the four boxes outside and put all the rest of the contents in the big recycle bin.
The next night while I was going through some other shelves in a closet, I pulled out two plastic file boxes. Now, I thought that those two boxes contained a bunch of records and legal papers. Tax records from years ago, for instance, and copies of my court documents related to my name change. Neither box contained anything like that. They were instead filled with hard copy markups of more edits and revisions source material for the shared universe of the ‘zine I used to edit. All stuff that had either already been entered into computer files and then published, or otherwise hadn’t been needed for years. But there they had sat for all that time, taking up space. So I made yet another trip out to the recycle bins!
There was a point when my husband was laughing about finding some notes from Dungeons & Dragons campaigns he was in or ran before he moved out to the west coast (so back in the 80s). So a bit later when I came across a pocket-sized ring-binder I had forgotten existed and said, “Hey! I have you beat!” He interrupted and said, “Oh, I have several little ones like that.” So I had to explain it wasn’t the notebook, but the contents. I showed him the first page (which was barely readable because of how the pencil marks had faded): “My first D&D character that survived more than a couple of games. Created in 1977, before Advanced Dungeons & Dragons even existed.”
I know it’s ageist, but sometimes the fact that I’m ten years older than him does figure into things. I was a teenager when the original D&D came out, and still a teenager when AD&D was released and took over gaming. While he was still in grade school.
And no, I didn’t keep the notebook. It’s gone!
Now, if only I could get rid of the steel filing cabinets we no longer need so easily…
Humans form attachments to other people, to animals, to possessions, to places, et cetera. This tendency to become fond of things has been shown in various contexts to actually have survival value. But we don’t just form these attachments for practical reasons. Emotions are, by definition, not rational. And we can have conflicting feelings about things. Take, for instance, my tacky Christmas ferris wheel. It was a gift from my friend, Kats, who shares my fondness for certain types of kitsch. Her wife, like my husband, does not share this particular interest, and they both do a lot of eye-rolling at our taste in decorations.
The plastic ferris wheel is battery powered, and it had two modes: it could light up and the wheel would turn slowly. The ferris cars rock on the wheel, and the wheel has always been a little bit jerky in its motion, so the little plastic snowmen and penguins and beers and reindeer seemed to be waving cheerfully as the wheel turn. In the other mode you got the lights, the rotating wheel, and you got tinny versions of Christmas carols. It was like a dream come true for me, and my husband’s worst Christmas nightmare all in one!
I’ve had it for years. Every Christmas season since Kats gave it to me, I’ve unpacked it along with the ornaments we’re using that year, put batteries in it, turned it on to listen to the music at least once through its medley, then put it somewhere in the living room where I could see it. I would turn the ferris wheel on silent mode a few more times (since the music really annoys my husband). And I would turn the music on at least one more time before taking the batteries out and packing it away with the other ornaments.
Over the years there have been a few glitches. Pieces have broken off and had to be glued back on. One bit of fence broke off several times and eventually I had to admit that it was more glue than plastic and it couldn’t really be put back together. (Side note: in a testament to how awesome my husband is, he did spend some time trying to scan the broken bits to see if he could 3D print me a replacement.) One time a few years ago when I turned it on the ferris wheel wouldn’t turn. My husband fiddled with it and got it working again, but it was always with a more jerky motion than before. The motor was always loud enough to hear from across the room even when the music was playing. And over time the motor sound has gotten louder.
Then this last Christmas, when I put batteries in and turned it on, the lights came on, the motor made its usual sound, the wheel turned jerkily… and the music started to play, then glitched, then played a bit more, then glitched, and started to sound a bit off key. I thought maybe the batteries I put in were nearly dead, so I swtiched them out. Nope. The sound chip was definitely dying.
I set the ferris wheel up, because it’s still cheerful looking, and put off the decision of whether to keep or dispose of it until the end of the Christmas season.
Then we got the first official notification from the new owners of our building that they weren’t going to be raising anyone’s rent, no, they were going to evict all of us. They were applying for permits to do a major renovation to the building, and needed everyone out. They have a guesstimate it would be May or so when they would need everyone to go (once they got the permit process going, we got more official communication and a somewhat more certain timeline). That’s why, when I put the Christmas decorations away this last year, I pulled out all of the containers of decorations (we have way more than we can use in a given year), and went through them selecting stuff to get rid of. I reduced our collection by a bit (though we still have way too much). The ferris wheel, clearly, needed to go.
Except I wasn’t ready to let it go, just yet.
So, I didn’t pack it away nor throw it out. I moved it to the bookcase over by my favorite chair. It’s not Christmas time, but I don’t care. The ferris wheel gets to stay until we leave, I decided. Then it will be retired for good.
We have professional movers scheduled to come deal with the heavy furniture and whatever else we haven’t moved ourselves in about 10 days. So the ferris wheel’s end is looming. It’s just a thing. And as I recall, Kats said she bought it at a second hand place, so I’ve definitely gotten her money’s worth out of it. And my poor, long-suffering husband has already told me he’s going to buy me a new tacky Christmas thing to replace it this next year. So I shouldn’t feel too sad about it going. I am a little amused at myself to realize that some of my anger at the new owners (evicting everyone regardless is the least annoying thing they’ve done; there will be catty snarky blog posts about it eventually, but not now) has become focused on a few weird possessions.
The truth is that I probably would have gotten rid the the ferris wheel once the chip died even if we weren’t trying to reduce our hoard before me move. But I find myself blaming its demise on the new owners of the building. And maybe it’s a good thing to have something concrete to focus the annoyance on, you know? The ferris wheel, the tacky hanging lamp (I’ll talk about that after the move for… reasons), the rose trellises, and so forth are better ways to expend that kind of negative energy than some of the alternatives.
I haven’t been posting much this week because we’ve been packing. My work week has consisted of going to work, coming home, loading the car up with as many packed boxes as will fit, driving to the new place (a 25-35 minute drive depending on traffic), carrying all the boxes in the car up a flight of stairs to the new apartment, then driving back home to pack some more until bed time. My husband is still in the recovery stage from surgery, and I’m not letting him lift anything until the doctor clears him (he sees the surgeon again next week, so, fingers crossed!). We’ve hired movers who will take care off all the big furniture and anything we’ve packed by then but haven’t moved, and we could let the movers do everything, except that we literally don’t have enough room here to pile everything once it is packed.
Anyway, here are the links I found interesting this week, sorted into categories.
Links of the Week
ADD YOUR GENDER PRONOUNS TO TWITTER. This post is from a couple of years ago, but the issue was only recently come to my attention. And I agree, cisgender people who consider themselves allies of the trans community should add their pronouns to their social media profiles because this normalizes the practice.
Religion Is Just Common Sense With Added Bits of Nonsense. I don’t have a problem with the conclusion, but I quibble with the comedian’s example. He says all religions can be boiled down to five don’ts, four of which make sense and one is nuts, but then he lists five, of which only three make sense and two are nuts. Oh, well…
I saw the original Star Wars on opening night. I’ve written a few times before of being a 16-year-old geeky/nerd and my slightly older geek/nerd friends who always heard about every obscure genre movie before anyone else did who drove me down to a big theatre in a suburb of Portland, Oregon to see this thing… and it was awesome. The very next day we gathered up a bunch of our nerdy friends and made another trip to go see it. I immediately became one of the world’s biggest Star Wars fans. That summer, the soundtrack came out of vinyl, so I had to buy the album. The show was such an incredible surprise blockbuster, that someone made a disco single versions of the theme that became a number one hit. A bunch of my nerdy friends spent the summer touring with the evangelical teen choir of which I was technically a member (but was not deemed worthy to go—the ins and outs of that and how it was influenced by people’s suspicions I was queer is worthy of some separate posts, but not today). And I had a very hard time getting a couple of them to listen to the album when they got back, because they’d all heard the awful disco song on the radio.
But once I got them to listen, they all loved it, too.
I played that album a lot. But vinyl records lose fidelity over time because each time you play them the physical needle that has to run through the groove to vibrate because of the shape of the groove and translate those microvibrations into sound also wears the groove smooth, slowing destroying the sound. I played it enough that, a few years later when the second movie came out and I bought the soundtrack album for it, I could hear the difference in some of the repeated themes, and bought myself a fresh copy of the first album, played it once to make a cassette tape, and put it away. I also made a tape of the Empire Strikes Back soundtrack and stopped listening to the vinyl album. I listened to both cassettes often enough that eventually I had to get the albums out again to make fresh tapes.
And yes, eventually I ended up with a vinyl version of the soundtrack for Return of the Jedi. For many years after that, I would only occasionally play the vinyl albums, relying instead on the homemade cassette copies when I wanted to listen to them. I did this with a number of sci fi movie and TV series soundtracks through the 80s and early 90s: buy the vinyl album listen at least once while I made a cassette copy, then put the album carefully away and listened to the cassette as often as I liked. And I really enjoyed listening to the music for movies and other shows that I loved.
And then along came compact discs. I started buying new music on disc, and as I could afford it, if I found CD versions of favorite old albums, I would buy them. At some point in this period of time, I found a disc that was titled, “The Star Wars Trilogy” as recorded by the Utah Symphony Orchestra (the originals had all been done by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Williams) for a very reasonable price, and I bought it.
In 1997, 20 years after the original release of the first movie, a set of three 2-disc Special Edition sets of the soundtracks for all three of the original Star Wars movies were released, so I finally picked up the full soundtracks on CD. These sets had considerably more music than had been included in the old vinyl albums. They had also been remastered. Each of the discs was printed with holographic images of the Death Star and other ships from the universe. Each set came with a mini hardbound book with notes about the music. They were cool. I listened to them fairly frequently for a few years.
When I first acquired what they called at the time a Personal Digital Assistant (a Handspring Visor, to be specific), it came with a disc of software to help synchronize your calendar and contacts with your Windows computer. When I upgraded a couple years later, the new disc of software included a copy of Apple’s new music manager, iTunes (the Windows version), which you could use to put music on your PDA. At the time I often listened to music while working on computer by pulling discs out of a small shelf unit I kept in the computer room and stuck in a boombox we kept in there. The little shelf held only a subset of my library, as the rest of our discs were in a much bigger shelf unit in the living room next to the main stereo. So I grabbed some of the discs from the small shelf, stuck them in the CD drive on my Windows tower, and let them get imported into iTunes. That was the original core of my current iTunes library, from which I created my first playlists—imaginatively named “Writing,” “Writing Faust,” “Writing II,” “Layout An Issue,” and “Writing III.” And several tracks from the aforementioned knock-off Star Wars Trilogy disc were included, because that was the only Star Wars music disc I kept in the computer room at the time.
Many years later, I usually listen to music from my iPhone. I had thought that I had imported all of my music from disc into the iTunes library years ago, and most of the time I buy music as downloads, now. I have new playlists which include the Star Wars theme or the Imperial March. So I thought it was all good. I hadn’t gone out of my way to listen to the entire soundtracks of the original movies in years. I have continued to buy new soundtracks for movies I love. I tend to listen to them for a while, and then pick some favorite tracks that go into playlists.
Because of some articles I was reading about the upcoming films in the Star Wars franchise, I decided that I should re-listen to the original soundtrack, and was quite chagrined to discover that, even though I thought my entire iTunes library was currently synched to my phone, all that I had was the knock-off album. (And the wholly downloaded soundtracks from The Force Awakens and Rogue One.) I was even more chagrined when I got home and couldn’t find the original albums in my iTunes library on either computer.
So I went to the big shelf of CDs in the living room (which my husband was actually in the middle of packing), and snagged the three two-disc Star Wars soundtrack sets and carried them up to my older Mac Pro tower (because it still has an optical disc drive). I now finally have the albums on my iPhone. Sometime after we finish the move, I’ve going to have to go through playlists to replace the versions from the knock-off album with the authentic score. Because, that’s what I should be using!
Also, clearly, after we’re all unpacked at the new place, I need to go through the rest of the discs and see what other music which I thought was in my library is still sitting trapped in a physical disc which never gets used any more so I can import them to the computers. I mean, our stereo doesn’t even have a disc player!
I’ve mentioned a few times about our building being sold and our need to move. We had some timing complication because of my husband’s surgery and the medical issue necessitating the surgery, plus the way the housing market has gone insane in Seattle. We were being charged far, far, far under market for a number of years without realizing it. And while we’ve looked at a lot of places, there were issues. Most of them being that the place was too small for us and our stuff. And if the place wasn’t too small it was so far out there that the commute made it as economically unfeasible as staying in our old neighborhood.
We found a place last weekend which was big enough, in our price range, and not too far away. It’s in an older building and the neighborhood isn’t as nice as our current one (not that’s it’s horrible, it’s just more suburban mall/strip mall and less home town enclave hiding in a city). We applied, they asked us to come back and put down a deposit, because of the mulitiple applications they’d taken, we were the ones the manager wanted, but he needed to wait for the background checks to complete and the owner to give an okee-dokee. So we’ve been kind of in suspense all week. Yesterday, we signed the lease and got keys. I guess this is happening!
I’ll be posting more about the new place, I’m sure. I need to go load some things in the car and get moving, so I’ll keep this brief, at least for me. One of the things that I’m finding myself oddly disturbed about this move is that the new place is not within the boundaries of the City of Seattle. I moved to Seattle 31 and a half years ago to attend university. The first couple of years I lived in dorm rooms at Seattle Pacific on the north side of Queen Anne (which is both a named hill in the city and the name of the neighborhood encompassing it). That put me just two city blocks away from the Ship Canal, which separates the north and south geographic clumps of the city. The next couple of places I lived were duplexes near the same university. Then I moved all the way to the south side of the same hill to sublet a condo near the Opera House. Then Ray and I lived in a small studio in Fremont, exactly one block north of the aforementioned Ship Canal. We moved to a barely larger one-bedroom apartment in the very same building for a few years, before finally moving to the four-plex in Ballard—a whopping 8 blocks north of the Ship Canal.
Not only have I been living only in Seattle the last 31+ years, but you can see on the map I slapped-together from a Google maps screen shot and some extra stars, it’s all been in a fairly small part of the city. I’m really familiar with all the stores and restaurants and so forth in this vicinity. I’ve mentioned several times how nice it is that be only two-four city blocks away from two different supermarkets, one of with (Ballard Market Town & Country) I’ve been shopping at for at least 30 years.
Now people familiar with the area might point out the the City of Shoreline is barely out of Seattle. The two smoosh up against each other. Most of the border runs along major thoroughfares, so one side of a street is Seattle, the other side Shoreline. And it’s true, Shoreline is practically next door. But we’re barely in Shoreline. We’re all the way at the far side of it, just five blocks from the border to the next neighboring city, Edmonds. Which coincidentally means were five blocks from the border between King County and Snohomish County.
I’m deeply steeped in Seattle politics and was really looking forward to the next round of city council and mayor elections this coming fall. Except by then, while I will still be working in Seattle, I’ll no longer be able to vote there. I have to get used to a whole new set of election tropes! At least I’m still voting for King County Executive and a councilmember (though I’ve been in District 4 forever, and now we’ll be in District 1).
Anyway, I’ve spent longer on this than I meant. I have loading to do!
It’s Friday! Under our original plans for the year, we were meant to be attending NorWesCon with a bunch of friends. But we put down a deposit on a new apartment a few days ago, and we’re scheduled to sign the lease on the day Friday Links posts, and we would like to start moving in to the new place. Earlier in the week, when we were still waiting to hear whether we would get this place, we decided that if we did get it, we didn’t want to have to leave the con and drive back to Seattle and then out the other side of Seattle to the neighboring community where the new apartment is just to sign papers and not start moving. And if this somehow fell through, then we needed to spend these days of paid time off I already had scheduled at work scrambling to sign one of the other places we’d looked at or a new place altogether.
Because we have so, so much stuff packed into our current living space, despite the fact that there are piles of packed boxes taller than me in most of the rooms, there is still a lot of packing to do. Which will be easier to do if we get some of this stuff moved this weekend to make room to pack in.
Anyway, here are the links I found interesting this week, sorted into categories.
Why It Took Barry Manilow So Long to Come Out. “When someone in their 70s comes out as gay, especially a famous someone like singer Barry Manilow, the first question is always, what took so long? But there are very good reasons.”
So one of my co-workers had been working for the same employer in an office on the east coast, and decided to move to Seattle and work in our group. She’s been here since mid-summer, and it’s been quite an experience trying to explain Seattle weather to her. Yesterday she was asking why summer hasn’t already started, because a daytime high of 48ºF with lots of drizzling and some rain with sun breaks in April seems absurd to her. I hadn’t realized that each of the times she had come out to work in our office for several days over the last few years had always been in August. I tried to explain how our summer doesn’t really start until about July 12, and so forth, which seemed to astound her. I think maybe she thinks we’re all pulling her leg or something. I mentioned that I like the rain, and really don’t like our typical August weather at all.
My walk home later that day was fun and weird. It was raining, but the sun was also out, so I had to put on my sunglasses. When I got to the corner, where our office building was no longer acting as a wind break, I found out it was really windy. At the next corner I swear a whirlwind touched down on me and threatened to sweep me away. The rain got much more intense as I walked the third block… and then it turned to sleet. I had sleet for about three blocks, with the wind buffeting me from many directions. The wind is particularly weird now because of my new hat, which has a much broader brim than my old broad-brimmed hat. So the amount of lift it was putting on my head was disturbing.
And I should mention that even when the rain and sleet were coming down hardest, the sun was still shining right in my eyes, since it was close to the horizon and there were blue skies visible there.
The sleet let up to just a light drizzle by the time I was at about the 11th block of my walk, and the wind shifted to a fairly steady breeze coming straight out of the north—right in my face.
The rest of the walk home (about 4 miles total) was breezy with occasional drizzles. The sun was just dipping below the horizon (but the sky was still lit nicely) when I got to the house.
The new hat, by the way, didn’t let any water reach my head. Some of my previous hats would have been soaked and my head would have at least been damp by then.
Seattle weather is like that a lot—by which I mean, weird mixes of things that change quickly throughout the day or that just change from one neighborhood to the next. One of the consequences of this is that I own several different coats and jackets. This was another part of the co-worker’s disbelief: she’s used to owning one heavy coat for winter, and a light jacket for the fall. She was freaked out at how many different types of raincoat she tried (and returned) before she found one she liked last fall. And now neither of her three coats work, because it will be too cold for the light coat or rain coat when she leaves the house in the morning, but too warm for the heavy coat when she goes out for lunch in the middle of the day. I and several co-workers said (almost simultaneously) “That’s why everyone in Seattle wears layers.”
I have several coats. My heavy winter coat, which is leather and has a hood and that I waterproof regularly (and also has a removable extra liner) gets me through several months from the late fall through winter. I start wearing it without the liner mid-fall, add the liner about a month later, then take out the liner around the end of January. Then I have a medium jacket, which is puffy and insulated and looks like it might be for colder weather than the coat, but because it only covers my torso is inadequate for winter. Well, not totally. It gets worn on weekends a lot during the winter when I’m only out of the house to go shopping or visit friends and mostly driving rather than walking and busing. The jacket works for part of fall and a bit of spring. Then I have a lighter jacket that still has some insulation. It tends to take over around April and is the jacket I wear until about June. And then there is a light windbreaker style jacket with a hood that gets carried around in my backpack starting in late May or June and usually through September because you often need a jacket for part of the day during those months.
When we were out looking at apartments (again) on Saturday, I wore the medium coat, and regretted it because it was too heavy for how warm it was. So I switched to the lighter coat Sunday, when I ran out to buy a money order because the property manager of the apartment we put in an application for called and asked us to bring the deposit the next day. Finding a place to sell me a money order using a debit card on a Sunday was more of an adventure than I expected, in part because of that switch in coats. When I switched, I wasn’t diligent about moving things from the medium jacket to the light one, so my emergency granola bar I always carry in case I have a glycemic crash wasn’t in my pocket. Because I’m on timed-released or long acting insulin, I have to have small snacks of meals every couple of hours, or my blood sugar drops too low and I have a glycemic crash.
For me, glycemic crashes mean my mood gets weird, I usually get a headache, and my brain just doesn’t work right. The problem is that the low blood sugar headache feels just like a hay fever headache, so if I don’t realize it’s been longer since my last snack or meal then I think, or notice that my fingers are trembling if I hold my hand up, I don’t realize what’s going on.
I won’t go into all the details of finding out I couldn’t get a money order from debit at the first place I went, or the rude customer in line in front of me, and so on. But what should have been a clue was that once I had the money order in hand, there at a counter at the second place, with my wallet in my other hand, I had this thought that I shouldn’t put the money order in the wallet because I might lose it if I didn’t keep my eye on it. So I walked out to the car clutching the money order very tightly in my hand, and only when I was inside the car and needed both hands to operate the vehicle, did I decide I should put the money order in a pocket or something. All of the pockets seemed like a bad idea, and I finally remembered I could put it in the wallet. Which I did.
When I’d left the house, Michael had asked me to pick up a very specific brand of juice. Instead of stopping at the grocery store on my way back with the money order, I drove right past it and was just pulling up in front of the house when I remembered the juice. So I went back to the store, parked in the garage under the store, grabbed a shopping bag from the bag of the car, and ran upstairs. It was while I was having trouble finding the juice that I finally realize that I was in the middle of a glycemic crash, so once I found the juice, I grabbed a cold bottle of thai iced coffee, which would give me both caffeine and some much needed carbs, and headed to the front of the store.
All of the registers were open except the express line, and they all had really long lines. So I ran down to the self serve checkout. I’d scanned my items and was feeling around in my pockets for my wallet. Which wasn’t there. I had to cancel my transaction, which meant the clerk monitoring the whole section had to scan her card in and authorize the cancelation. I told her that I seemed to have left my wallet in the car. She said, “It happens to everyone. You want me to keep these up here for you?” I thanked her and ran down to the car.
And I couldn’t find the wallet.
The wallet with all my usual wallet things plus, today, a very large money order. I was trying not to panic. I pulled out my phone to fire up the Tile app and ping my wallet, hoping that it had just fallen on the floor of the car and rolled under a seat or something. I hadn’t quite gotten the app up when, because I was leaning into the car slightly differently, I saw where the wallet had bounced when, apparently, I had tossed it at the passenger seat after putting the money order in it. I hadn’t slipped it back into my pocket because by that point I had strapped myself in (don’t ask me why after pulling the wallet from my pocket while sitting in the car but before I put it back I had decided to put my seat belt on, making the pocket inaccessible; my brain wasn’t working right, see above). I grabbed the wallet, ran back upstairs and only when I got to the clerk did I realize I’d left my shopping bag behind.
I paid for my purchases and was on my way out when I saw another clerk who had helped me earlier and I had seen dealing with an unreasonable customer, and I stopped to thank her for her help before and hoped she was having a better day.
Back at the car I drank down the coffee drink so I would start to get my blood sugar back where it ought to be. I strapped in, turned on the car, checked all my mirrors, looked over both shoulder, and put the car into gear. I heard an immediate crash and the car jolted funny. I stomp on the brake, put the car back in park, and looked around. There was no other vehicle. No sign of anything that I had hit or had hit me. I turned off the car, suddenly remembering that I had seen someone walking by as I was starting the vehicle, and had a complete panic that I had actually hit a person who was currently trapped under the car.
So I jumped out and ran around the car.
I took a deep breath and squatted down to get a better view under the car. I slowly circled the car again, looking under at several locations. Nothing and no one was under the car, thanks goodness. I circled again looking for scratches or dents on the fenders and such. Still nothing.
I took another deep breath and held up my hands. My fingers were still trembling, but not as badly, so my blood sugar was coming back up. I climbed into the car. I opened up my Breathe app on my Apple Watch and went through a cycle with it. Half of the reason was to just not move for a minute and let my blood sugar keep improving. I started the car, foot firmly on the brake. I looked carefully around. And then I heard the crash again. I turned up the volume on the stereo. We keep an old iPod (really old) in the car plugged into the car stereo set to random play. It is loaded with a bunch of my music and a bunch of Michael’s music. There’s a particular They Might Be Giants track that has a lot of these dramatic orchestral blasts that sound a lot like a crash.
I remembered that sometimes, if I take the Subaru out of Park and let my foot slip from the brake before it gets all the way to reverse, that the transmission does this little thing that makes the car wiggle just a bit, once. I had apparently managed to set off the wiggle at exactly the same moment that one of the musical crashes happened, when the stereo was turned down so that I could hear only some of the music, and not realize what was happening. So I hadn’t run over anyone or hit something.
I drove home. I told my hubby of my misadventures while he had juice and I ate a yogurt. When gathered things up, I swapped laundry loads, I tested my blood sugar and made certain I had a granola bar in the jacket pocket.
And then we headed out to pay our deposit and get on with the day.
I didn’t make as many runs to Value Village as I would like, but otherwise, the rest of Sunday was great.
My husband and I have to move, and we’ve been going through our stuff, hauling things we don’t use any more to Value Village and the like, boxing other things, et cetera. It’s a long, boring, tiring process. It is also sometimes grueling emotionally. I’ve always been someone who cries easily—tear jerker moments in books, movies, or TV shows always get me, for instance. There’s an old idiom I don’t hear very much that captures it well: “I cry at card tricks.” There are a lot of moments while packing things when I find myself a bit surprised at the emotions things evokes. One reason is because we just have a lot of stuff so that every book case in the house as shelves where there is a second row of books behind the books you can see. And it isn’t just books that have been put away like that. So I keep finding things that I haven’t looked it in a long time and were hung onto for sentimental reasons.
Not everything that has hit me like a stab in the heart has been stuff that was hidden away.
My late husband Ray passed away 19 years and 5 months ago. It wasn’t a surprise, and yet it was. Almost four years previously doctors said he probably had less than two years to live, you see. There had been so many doctor visits & tests, then surgery and chemo and more tests and so forth. But, like that line from a Buffy the Vampire episode, when Tara is asked, regarding the death of her mother, “Was it sudden?” she answers, “No. And yes. It’s always sudden.”
It was mid-November when he died, and everything in my memory for the next gets a bit jumbled from that moment when they turned off the breathing machine through the next few months. There are some moments that stand out for different reasons. One day probably right around the beginning of February, not quite 3 months after Ray died, I walked into the grocery store that’s a few blocks from our place. I had grabbed a hand basket rather than a cart, because I was only planning to pick up a few things. Just inside the door they used to have this sort of miniature gift shop? It had a small variety of greeting cards for many occasions, some gift bags, and a few tiny toys, trinkets, and/or small plushies. The sort of thing you could grab as a last minute present because you didn’t have time to go elsewhere. I was walking past this thing when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention.
I stopped, glanced over, and there was this cute little stuffed brown mouse holding a red heart. I picked it up, a warm feeling washing over me with the thought, “This would be perfect as a little surprise Valentine’s present for Ray!” The sort of thing I would attach to the outside of a gift-wrapped box with something bigger in it.
Before the thought had completely articulated itself in my head, I crashed right into the recollection that Ray was dead and I wouldn’t be sharing any of our usual Valentine’s Day activities with him. It wasn’t the first time that I had that particular momentary internal dissonance. Those moments were among the worst: for a second I would forget that he was dead, and have a normal thought about something I would tell him when I got home for instance, then the realization, which was a shattering moment reliving that first wave of grief when the doctors convinced me that Ray was brain dead and I needed to let him go. It really felt as if I had lost him again. And then, a moment after that, an equally devastating stab of guilt—how could I possibly forget that he was dead?
So there I was, standing in the grocery store suddenly sobbing my eyes out. And when I say standing that’s being generous because I had to lean against something to keep myself upright for a minute. A complete stranger asked if I was all right, and I shook my head, then nodded my head and managed to stammer out something about “I’ll be okay in a second.”
I put the mouse in my basket, because damn it, I was buying it for Ray, anyway!
Ray’s ashes are in an urn that has been resting on a shelf in one of the bookcases in my current living room for 19 years, 4 months, and 2 weeks. The urn is attended/guarded by three of his tigers, two of his teddy bears, and the little mouse that had me sobbing in the store three months after his death. This is just one of the reasons I don’t want to move. This was the last place Ray lived. Of the three homes we shared, this was the first that he really loved (because when we first got together we were both coming out of messy break-ups that left us both in bad financial shape, so we first lived in a really crappy studio, and I was still digging myself out of the previous relationship’s debts a few years later, so we moved to a slightly less crappy 1 bedroom, before finding this place). Ray loved having a yard, even though it was very small, and being in a neighborhood that felt much more like a small town than part of a city.
I know that we shouldn’t get too attached to things. And life is about change. I’ve lived in the same place for a long time, maybe too long. And we’re never completely ready for change when it comes. Even though Michael and I have known that this was likely to happen since September, and that it was definitely going to happen since December, it still feels like it’s too soon. It’s not sudden, but…