Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Have You Tried Your Foot? I Understand It Is A Delicacy

The below is excerpted from a series of emails among my friends. Names deleted out of basic decency.

>>Might I point out my friend G. and her relationship with K....totally in his destructive grip.

>Hasn't he died yet!!!???

>>Yes, he did die. He fell down the stairs while he was visiting his family in Sweden. He might have been drinking ;)

>Ooooo... um, so I was totally kidding about him dying. I'm an ass!

>>Lol it's ok, it happened over a year ago. She moved to Sweden shortly after.

Things that make me laugh about the above exchange:

1) "Hasn't he died yet?" sounds exactly like the sort of contemptuous thing I would say about someone I strongly disliked. It's reassuring to see I'm not the only one who commits faux pas like this.

2) The cheeky "He might have been drinking" is both jaunty and cruel. To top it off, his death is reported with a winking smiley face emoticon.

3) The mortification upon reading the news comes through. The person who wrote it is a genuinely good person and I'm sure she blanched and crumbled a bit as she wrote those words.

4) The final line, while reassuring, reads like a non sequitur. Like Italian widows wearing black, one year is the expected period of time that should lapse before you start taking pleasure in another person's death or reporting it with smiley faces.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Forty Days of Lent: Day 40

So today was the first full day in New York after being in Hawaii. I slept late, transferred photos to the computer, cleaned the apartment. I went for a walk over the Williamsburg Bridge and into Manhattan but all I could focus on was the color of the city, the steel grey and dark blues, the drab look created when everything looks desaturated, the color muted and softened. I missed the bright blue sky, the aqua blue of the Pacific, and green. God I missed the color green.

I went to my favored haunts, looking for the comfort or routine inherent in a beloved restaurant bookstore or dive bar. Had one of the bartenders told me a personal bit of gossip about another one of the bartenders, not the sort of thing he would probably want people knowing, or had I simply misheard him?

I woke a little after 4:00, headed to the bathroom and saw something I can't quite explain: soft white light in a circular form, hazy and indistinct, was shining against the glass shower doors. It didn't look like the light was on the doors but was instead floating over the bathtub. I've gotten up in the wee small hours to use the bathroom but had never seen anything like this. I wasn't able to get back to sleep.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Forty Days of Lent: Day 32

Kauai, Hawaii

I'm at the airport waiting at the gate and while I strive to be charitable, I can't help but see the human race as an endless freak show. I see a girl with with a horrible dark scar across her face and instinctively look away. Upon sneaking a second glance I realize she just has her hair in her face. Perhaps I'm tired. I don't fly well.

I lose the bottle of water to airport security. I suspect the "no more than 3 ounces of a liquid may be taken on the plane" rule is more of a sop to airports and shops from which they get revenue. The first thing I see after getting through security is a store where you can re-buy anything taken away from you. In addition to replenishing my water, I buy what I think of as my "I hate to fly" kit, including ear plugs for the descent, hoping to God that maybe this time my eardrums will stay where they belong. Tylenol PM was recommended as a sleep aid by a coworker, but I can't find any.

"Can I help you?" the girl behind the counter asks.

No point in lying. "I need something to knock me out. I was looking for Tylenol PM, but you don't seem to have it."

"How about the Unisom Sleepgels? They're supposed to make you sleep."

They work, but only for a couple of hours and then I feel groggy and restless, which I wouldn't have thought possible.

But we land and are immediately focused on the logistics of getting the rental cars and deciding if we want to open a Costco membership and shop there even though it is about 45 minutes from where we will be staying. It's not until we stop at a beachside restaurant that I realize, as contentment overcomes me, that I am in Hawaii and it is beautiful and that there are chickens wandering around our table.

I've been reading Sarah Vowell's Unfamiliar Fishes, her history of how Hawaii became part of the United States. She focuses on the contrast between New England missionaries and while comparing creation myths writes:

...the fruit of knowledge poisons [people] with fancy ideas and so they are cast out of a garden bearing a striking resemblance to the island of Kauai. (Though having been to the pleasantly sleepy Kauai, I can see how after a few days of lollygagging amidst the foliage, a woman would bite into just about anything to scare up something to read.)

Whereas a few days of lollygagging amidst the foliage is exactly what I want. That and a margarita or two.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Forty Days of Lent: Day 31

I had forgotten how much Americans (real Americans, not your New York smarty-pants types but real Americans) love sports. Even the women. I remembered this at the airport hotel bar where I overheard a number of people bonding over The Game. Apparently, real Americans have trouble figuring out how to use hotel elevators, too. There were a series of episodes of The Sopranos in which Tony's stasis between life and after-life was represented by showing him stuck in a hotel. I think I know how he felt.

I am heading to Kaua'i, Hawaii, which, if it is the after-life, it's obviously paradise. The trip sort of fell into my lap: my friend Suzie invited me unexpectedly, though I'm hoping from now on, habitually. The invite, however, came three days after I had bought my tickets to London, forcing me to reenact three times, once per boss, the rehearsed and humbled speech: "I have the opportunity to stay for free for a week in Hawaii. Unfortunately, it is just a mon after I return from London and Paris. I have the vacation time, but even I recognize this is pushing it..." Happily, they all agreed, one of them stopping me short after the word "Hawaii" by saying "Oh, you gotta go."

Packing my clothes takes next to no time, especially as "just bring shorts and tshirts. No long pants!" was emphasized. I spent much more time (much more) trying to figure out what books to bring and what music and movies to add to my iPad. Another question subjected to my inner deliberation was whether to take my bag with me to work and leave from there or return home before going to the airport. Each option had its advantages and while it seems like not that big a deal, I really put a lot of thought into each scenario before finally deciding to leave the luggage at home for the day.

It was a good thing I had. When got home, I could hear the irritating high pitched whistle: my alarm had been set off, but was not in full blast annoying alert the police mode. I could also hear that Allan, my downstairs neighbor, was playing NPR much louder than normal, in an attempt to drown out the whistle. My landlord had, once again, set off the alarm when he let the exterminator in the apartment. Had I gone straight to the airport after work, the alarm would have been whistling nonstop all week long. I hope it's not going off now.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Forty Days of Lent: Day 30

Forward Into The Past

Those of you who read this blog (perhaps I should say "both of you") will have no doubt noticed that I've fallen behind, way behind, with this year's Lenten entries. I'm typing this while looking at a calm Pacific Ocean on my last day in Hawaii, but I can't offer this trip as an excuse:. I was slipping even before I began packing my bag. My tardiness isn't due to lack of ideas or things to write about, either. It's just that unlike previous years, I couldn't make writing habitual, the real reason for taking in this task every spring.

Some, or both, of you may have also noticed that postings suddenly appear dated a few days ago, even though you know you checked the blog* (thank you, by the way) on that day and there was nada. Well, one of the better features about Blogger is that you can alter the date and time of any entry, which offers interesting possibilities for making yourself seem more prescient than you really are or altering your past so it harmonizes more with your present. Me, I'll be using this handy feature to fill in my 40 Days of Lent postings as I want rather than in chronological order. For example, I'm more interested in writing about this week's trip to Hawaii than I am in posting about Godspell or Elizabeth Taylor, so I will write about that first and then go back and post something on each of the earlier days that I missed.

* Due to either autocorrect or a typo, this originally read as "blob," which come to think of it, might be the more accurate word.