Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How about a post of a different kind

I am on the road for work in some lovely upstate mountainous paradise.  Upon waking in my hotel room, I remember I have to stop by the OB-GYN.  (Work with me, people.. I was dreaming).   When I get there the receptionist puts me in a chair and my doctor comes in with a folder and then some other doctor came in with some other folder and lifted some lab work out of it and started to chuckle.  There was a big H somewhere on it.  

I thought of Lisa and said, "Oh, fuck.  Do I have ovarian cancer?"

The doctor started belly laughing, sort of like Santa Clause in a pocket protector.  

"Look again."

I looked.   And looked.  And then I found a number :  beta HCG 826. * 

And then we both started laughing but only for about two seconds because then I started to cry so hard I had to be ushered into a private little padded area to compose myself, which took hours.  During this time, as I was sobbing uncontrollably, I confessed to the doctor that I'd had a few beers at my dad's funeral.  And that there might have been some anti-depressants.  And that - and this is the most serious thing - I had not been having sex. 

In fact, I had been having so much NOT sex that this could not be true. 

"You are pregnant," he said. 

"Is it because of that guy at the office who always comes into the office in assless pants and a leather jacket and rides away on his motorcycle just as soon as he has picked up his paycheck??  Everyone hates him."  

I pondered a moment.  "But could it be?"

"Does it really matter?" replied the doctor. 

"No," I said.  And then I cried some more.  I had fleeting moments of bringing shame and disgrace on my family.  They were super fleeting.   Then I had moments of terror that my child would hate me because it would be fatherless.  Then I remembered being born is better than not having a father.  And then I cried for several more hours because I was so happy and I wanted to be a mother so damned badly and...  826!  

Now it's 9am and I am awake and very sad to think I'll never be a mother or even have a beta or a man in assless pants to unwittingly get me pregnant.  Moral:  dreams are mostly useless, but sometimes they tell you what you really, really want.  

This post is for Ellie and Maggie, who have the guts to do what I could never even think of.  And for me Julie, who has her six week ultrasound today.  

Heartbeat, anyone?  I'll continue smearing my family's unpleasantness all over the internet tomorrow.  


* for those of you unacquainted with the world of reproductive medicine, your beta indicates pregnancy or lack thereof.  A beta of 826 is very, very pregnant.  

Monday, September 29, 2008

Commonly asked questions

a) There was no lawyer involved. They printed the wills off of Will.com and filled in their names. I would offer a pdf copy to you all but it would be, um, a bit grotesque? An invasion of their privacy at the very least.

b) my step mother got Total Power Of Attorney from my father when he got sick. And when she got it, she transferred all the assets into HER name.

c) this is then a moral battle, not a financial one. We fight it in the name of our mother, who lived and died for this family.

I regret that my poor judgment has been the undoing of my entire family legacy. How could she ever forgive me?

So there will be no attorneys. Only carefully worded emails and I suspect, finally, a severing of all ties that leaves that vampire of a wife he married not four years ago a millionaire many times over - even while I move into my friend's parents' house who permit this our of pure charity. Something we normally associate with good Christian people. Tonight, they are celebrating Rosh Hoshanah. Say a whatever you say for them. I would be living under a bridge without their generosity.

Is this even interesting?

I got an email back from my step mother stating that her will and my father's are "boilerplate" wills common to married couples and that the entire estate is left to her to be divided among her "five" children upon her death.

The problem she does not address is that such boilerplate wills are common to people in FIRST marriages - where assets have been jointly gained and all children natural children.

Not really an appropriate way to manage your affairs if you were married to one woman for 35 years, had three children with her - and then a second wife entered the arrangement - a penniless one - and was only married to the man who amassed those assets before he ever met her.

The problem now is to point out to her the iniquity of this. She seems not to have noticed it.

Or I could just stick a boilerplate under my ass and feel the full misery inflicted on my brother, sister and me have been invited to sit upon.

No decision has been made as to what our response to this will be. It ain't gonna be pretty, I can tell you.

Read and Rate

Herewith, an email I have composed to my stepmother, who has sent a request via email, the import of which will become clear as you read my drafted response.

My question to you, reader, is whether the response is

A) snappish
B) mean
C) whiny
D) appropriate
E) oh shut up already. You got fucked. Deal with it.

Here is what I intend to say to her:


You said recently that your home had died when my father died. I am sure you realize that the only home I have ever had died with him, too. Everyone else in this family has a spouse – or children - or both. I am the only person left without a soul to call my own. Dad was my home plate, and I am not only without a home, but without a family as well.

My father kept my things and my mother's in storage for me all these years because he dearly hoped that one day my circumstances would change, and that I could provide a proper household in which to keep and use those things that are so precious to our family’s history. That wish never materialized. This fact saddened my dad and it saddens me daily that I am, at this late stage, so unsettled in life.

That is how the matter of the furniture and its upkeep stands and I do not expect anything to change. However, your inquiry about your own responsibility or lack thereof in the matter does give me reason to ask some questions regarding our family.

My brother, sister and I have not been informed as to whether my father made any provision for his natural children – or his grandchild - in his will. Did my father make any provision for Buzz, Chiara, and I in his will?

If he did, it would be a good time for you to let us know what those provisions are. I have hesitated, out of respect for the grief we are experiencing, to ask - because it seemed best to let you take the lead, being the only person with the entirety of the information. So far, you have not said much at all.

Aside from sending me a check recently, (for which I am grateful, truly) you have given me no information about the state of the family finances – or whether my brother, sister and I are in any way entitled to any part of those assets. However, your suggestion that it is time for me to pay my own furniture storage fees leads me to believe that my father intended for you to be unencumbered by this recurring bill after his death – and that none of his money or property had been set aside for me, my brother and my sister.

Is this the case? Some good clear communication of these facts would be most welcome to me, and I am sure my brother and sister (though I do not speak for them) would like the information as well.



Not one of you had the same wish as mine: time. I want the last ten years of my life back, and I want them badly. Or is that bad?

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Break my comment record.

If you could have anything - I mean anything at all, what would it be? A Lincoln Towncar? A brownstone in Gramercy? A carton of Twinkies? A hundred bashful virgins? A cure for cancer? A monument to your greatness?

What would you choose if you could have absolutely anything. Genie in the lamp.. but only one thing.

What would it be?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The serpent beguiled me

The way to my heart... is.... apparently.... green apples. Not the mushy fuji ones but the rock hard, speckled green ones you can only get if you to go the orchard.

Very recently, a man lured me into going on an date with him and he accomplished this by producing an apple of the above description and offering it to me at a moment when I was, well, vulnerable. I wanted the apple. He wanted... me. So we drove all over the city together and some other day when I am feeling less ashamed, I will tell you all we did and all we saw. (Relax. There was no kissing).


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The sweetness of the twisted apple

Once in a while I have days - yesterday was one of them. For the duration of these days I see nothing but beauty. It happens on the train most often: everywhere I look and in every face I see, there is something to notice and whatever the detail, it is always beautiful. I see a child in a stroller and the particular lift of the child's eyebrows or the wonderful perfect roundness of his fingers has me enraptured. Then there are the others. Teenage boys, awkward and too thin and yet something about them - perhaps in the awkward, not yet grown face there is a color unlike any I have ever seen. Or in the haggard, old men, the evidence remains of their own youthful prosperity and they look handsome to me. And don't get me started on the women. Even the most misshapen* and miserable woman has about her the air of a queen.

I seldom have days like this - when everyone and all around me presents an opportunity to be delighted by whatever is best to see. Yesterday was one of them. I loved it.

* 100 points to anyone who knows (without looking it up) what is meant by the apple title.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Standing at the piano

Is that what they call it when you sit around and think about yourself a lot?

I posted recently that I have been trying to figure out what the second half of my life is supposed to be like, and at the time I had some answers. But then something happened that make me realize that ridiculous list of things I want to do are things that I can't just do all at once, simultaneously - and that the list is rather arbitrary. I just don't know. I also realized that my anxiety about the future is complicated by the fact that I am 38. The kind of directionless, strange, unmoored, financially ruined, romantically unattached, career indifference is the stuff that is supposed to trouble people who are, say, 25 or even 30. By 38, peoples lives are supposed to be defined already. I can't even have a proper mid life crisis because all my LOOK AT MY BELLY BUTTON! is about shit that any normal person would have figured out already.

A proper mid-life crisis is supposed to be about trying to change your life - shirking your marital obligations, indulging in wild spending sprees, committing ill-advised wardrobe crimes, glaring.. woefully and with great disappointment at your offspring who turned into exactly the people you hoped they wouldn't - in short more like you than you had hoped.

Instead I have before me... nothing.. Just a whole lot of blankness and lack of any proper instinct as to what should happen next. It's rather like standing at the piano and not knowing how to play. Or if I did, what would be the song?

So if you don't hear from me, blog wise,* for a few days, be assured I am just fine. Alive. Breathing. Eating cheese. It just so happens that short of simply staying alive, I have no idea what to do, and that will often mean that I don't know what to say.

*be assured also that if anything amusing happens - say if I smack anyone in the face with my boob by accident - or trip and fall at the train station and bruise my knees - in short, if I have a story to tell that might amuse anyone, you will have it. Promise.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Not a real post

Those gangsters at Blog 365 are going to arrest me, for sure.

It has been a busy, half conscious few days.

I'll catch you up soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Uninteresting, certainly

Recently my doctors readjusted my medication. In the upward direction. This is good news because I need less and less of the addictive variety - but the change has the added complication of making me prone to sleep. A lot.

Last night, I went to bed at 10pm and did not awaken until 9am. HM.

At 10am. I fell asleep while reading a book. For teaching purposes - not just for fun. I did not awaken until 2:30pm. And right now, if it not for caffeine, I would be out cold.

Can anyone explain this to me? Well, don't bother. It's the insomnia leaving my person (nothing left to fear, and yet nothing left to hope for) and catch up for all these years I have been a walking psychotic mess.

Or it could be the meds. Or both. Either way, this is what you get from me today: a whole lot of nothing about how very seldom I am conscious these days.

Oh... that and the fact that in the practice of clearing out and packing, I have unearthed several relics of my childhood, things I had thought gone forever. I am thinking to post pictures of them so that you know (as if you didn't) what sort of people my parents were. At any rate, who doesn't love a post including pictures? Of dresses my mother made me when I was 4? And of dolls she made me when I was younger than that? There might be, too, some pictures of quilts: my mother made me several. And of the things my dad left for me? There are some of those, too.



Monday, September 15, 2008

Go ahead. Laugh.

I have been doing a fair amount of housework these days - in part because of the general grossness, but also in preparation for the move. I went down to fetch the mail this afternoon and found everyone - men and women alike - staring at my boobs. I thought nothing of this at the time, since boob gazing is not against the law. When I arrived upstairs with the usual stack of garbagey mail, I discovered the following astonishing fact:

The underwire system of the right side of my bra had come unmoored and was sticking up out of my shirt. Yes indeedy.

Since all my other bras are dirty, this unhappy wardrobe malfunction forces me to do laundry. I'll leave you now to haul my wash down to the machines. Tomorrow, perhaps, I will be well groomed enough not to have my underwear literally impaling my shirt.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

Damnit of the week

David Foster Wallace is gone. If you knew who he was, you know why this is important and a terrible loss.

If you don't know why, read The Broom of the System, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and above all, Infinite Jest. Woodrow, that book is in that box I manage to keep never sending you. Maybe now I will get off my butt and get to it.

Also, head over to Joel's and congratulate him on becoming a grandfather.

But Dave is gone and I am ___________. (Unhappy about it).

Everybody say a prayer or whatever you do. For the baby, but also the lost one. He was the real thing.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dig, if you will

The lack of posting.

Have I been busy? Uh huh.

I am getting ready to move and it's arduous. I also have work and a fair amount of to be expected death of father crying to do. I am not complaining. It's normal and in the department of tears, I have a balance fairly large to pay. So I pay some every day. OW.

Today, out of nowhere, someone leaned out of a cab and screamed "FUCK YOU" at me. I did not recognize him. Perhaps he thought I was someone else?

Knitting season is upon us. Who wants mittens?



Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Blogroll

What the hell is wrong with me?

I need to update my blogroll. Please comment if you would like you are not included and would like to be. I read a lot of blogs that I am not linking to, as I should be.

Give me a shout if you are not properly represented.




I spent about 18 hours total working at my primary job, only to have a student drive me to the airport while I (no kidding) slept in the car on the way. How rude is that? WOW.


I am home and I have another long work day ahead of me tomorrow. My apartment is still filthy, my ass is still too big for my pants and I am still broke. Not much changes around here, you see.

Except this: I have that nagging feeling like i am forgetting something really important. Like something needs doing and I am oblivious. Is it that I didn't post yesterday?

Maybe it's because it's September 11th and I am supposed to be having rememberings and such.

I remember, but I won't tell "My September 11th story" because I am sure other people have better ones. One day, though, I might tell you about the one and only person I knew who died that day and what his death meant to me. Just not today.

What am I forgetting? Darn it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The general unpleasantness

I got to the airport at 10:30 for a 12:00 flight. Upon arriving, I was alerted by the kiosk that the flight I needed to board to have any hope of attending my meeting on time was canceled due to lightning. Up in the sky. Like up where you can't see it because it is so high up there. The problem, of course, is that the lightning is banging around in the general area we prefer to fly our airplanes. So I called my boss and had the same conversation we had two weeks ago when this happened - meaning when I was supposed to be at my job and wasn't because of a canceled flight. It went ok, I guess. Considering how very inaccessible I now look to my students - all because I live in NY. (This is not good). I find that I will have to wait here, in LGA, until 7:34pm. when the flight is supposedly going to go up in the sky. If it doesn't, Jesus, Mary and the carpenter help me. (Side note: do NOT - while in an airport - unexpectedly have issues related to the lower region of your person unexpectedly needing to do what it does once a month. I DARE you to find a merchant who sells any remedy for your parts and situation. You will fail and you will be grateful indeed that you are not visibly compromised. The end).


Saw this quiz over at Mrs. Who's place, and I fell for it. It was fun. You should take it, too.

Your result for Reincarnation Placement Exam...

Garden of Eden

34% Intrigue, 34% Civilization, 47% Humanity, 42% Urbanization.

It's the Garden of Eden for you!

Well, this is about as cozy and simple as life can get. We hope you like it here. The real estate is not well developed, but the garden is top-flight.

Your answers indicate that you basically want to just coast through life. You don't want any trouble, and you don't want any special privileges either. That's fine with us. It's entirely possible to live a pleasant life without trouble or strife, and Eden is the perfect spot for it, as long as you don't... well...

Just try to behave better than the previous tenants. Evictions can be rough.

Take Reincarnation Placement Exam at HelloQuizzy

Monday, September 8, 2008

River walk

It's funny what a walk down to the river will do for you. (Or in this case, me). I did a lot of thinking. About everything. Where I am and where I am going, what's going to happen and what I want the second half of my life to be like. These reflections brought, as they commonly do, good news and some bad, too.

The excellent news is that I know what I want. More on that later.

The less than ideal news is that due to my recent reflections on what the first half of my life have been like, I have had to face some distressing facts about what I have been been calling mytragic, unfair, almost mythologically terrible life. The facts are the my life has not been tragic or unfair and I realize too that mythologizing my... wait for it... pain (*sob, sob) is... wait for it... selfish and immature.

What the fuck? Seriously.

I got born in the richest country in the world to parents who loved me. I got born white* and with the exception of some early life kidney issues, healthy. My parents are no longer here because of cancer and its special brand of terrorism, but so what? What grounds have I got to even complain about that? Orphaned at 38. Bah. What a crock. Being disinherited? Well, so what. I could also have been born to people who had no money at all and I could have been raised in the kind of house where no one aspires to anything more than drinking PBR and moving up the ladder at Wal-Mart. I could have been born, in other words, to people who didn't steer me right. But I wasn't. I had great parents. They died. It sucks, but heart attacks and car accidents and freak accidents on roller coasters happen, too. So again, so.... WHAT?

I also got born into an extended family of honorable, decent people. I might be parentless, but I have my aunts and uncles and my brother and his wife and nephew. I have more friends than I deserve.

And then there is the fact that I wasn't born stupid or ugly. True, I am not as smart as either of my parents were - and like anyone else, I am rarely the smartest person in the room. But I am not exactly running a second rate brain, either. As as far as being not ugly - I didn't say I was beautiful. But I am standard issue blond Irish-American and as long as I don't let myself get too fat and I don't run my mouth life a sailor, other people assess me as pretty enough.

I have an education, too. And a master's degree. And I have a good job that doesn't keep me up all hours of the night tossing and turning about my place in the world. I know very well what it is: I am a teacher. I teach. It was not only what I do; it is what I am. 99% of the rest of the world does something they hate for money to pay bills they would rather never have incurred because life... even in the richest country in the world... is hard.

And then if you look at my romantic ungoodness, well. What the fuck ever. I dated some nice men. I dated some bad ones, too. I just never got married. Big deal. If you consider the.... emotional attention that needs get paid to family issues when people have cancer, it's hardly surprising. My mom was diagnosed when I was 16 and she died when I was 25. My dad - you already know about. It's arguable that there was time in between for me to find someone and blah blah blah - and believe me, I tried. But from where I am sitting right now, I can see a certain divine wisdom in keeping me on my own. Those between years were spent getting an education and changing careers and adjusting to life in New York - and there were boyfriends, yes. But none of them was the right one. What? Was I supposed to drug some poor fool and drag him off to Vegas? Plus, I know a thing or two about myself and commitment. I don't commit well, mostly because I take commitments so damned seriously. It's no wonder that the marriage and kids thing didn't happen for me. When was the timing right? When did the right guy appear? Never and never.

My money problems suck, but they are not my fault. I worked and worked worked. I got rooked in nine different ways. But who doesn't have money troubles? Big f-ing deal.

So I sat there at the river and faced the facts: my life hasn't sucked. It has been more good than it has bad. What has sucked is my immature sense of entitlement to something different, something better, something else. Well, Jesus Christ on a cracker. WHAT?

So now i return to what I want the second half of my life to be life. Since you are surely entitled to sainthood after reading this post about, oh, ME, and my issues (self-centered, much, Nina?) I'll list what I think I want in round two in list form.

1) I want to run again. Little known fact: I used to marathon. I was never fast, but I was good at it and I am convinced it would produce something akin to joy if I were able to find a jog bra that fit and start doing it again.

2) I want to write. Blog, fine. But I need to write other things. I am thinking of writing books. More on this later when it is clearer to me what those might be about..

3) I want to out-climb that hyper-ambitious ceiling swinging climbing Goddess known as Sri. The itty tiny little competitive streak in me? It popped up and said "Hi" to me as I sat at the river. I want to climb and I want to do it really well.

4) I want to untie all the knots in my head and get myself in a psychological position to date again. Not because I want to have kids - that ship has sailed. But recent reflections (see above) lead me to believe that all my NO MEN EVER AGAIN policy is both unrealistic and the greatest manifestation of all that I am behaving - with regard to my past - like a spoiled child. What good is proving to the world that I can in fact ignore the whole business of dating? The only person with anyone to lose or gain is me. And I'd be losing for trying. So I have to stop trying - that is start trying not to look at every dating opportunity as a personal invitation into the mouth of hell. It might be, but if I am ever going to get my psychological outfit into a healthier arrangement, I might need to start looking at men as something other than a guarantee of full-on misery. I don't know if I will make any progress in this area, but try I must.

5) Smile more. Do my job with a little more verve than has been my habit for the last 8 years. And more than that, do no harm. Pain, suffering, misery of all kind is out there everywhere. I don't want to contribute to it at any point, for any reason, for anyone.

So, uh, that was my day.

How was yours?

* I ain't bein' racist. If you want to act like life isn't easier for white people, fine, but I think we all know that it is. At any rate, I'll take the pale, flat and uninteresting skin, SPF 40 notwithstanding.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Radio silence maintained because I am not feeling all that great. I would describe the symptoms, but you'd be grossed out - and regardless of said symptoms, certain things have to get done today, and so I must now go do them. If I find anything interesting to photograph on my way there and back, I'll share it with you.

*click *

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Teaching and my ass

I know I complain a lot, but I really like my job. Writing, teaching people to write, editing, cutting, pasting, I like it.

Oh and as far as coping goes... I had ice cream cake for dinner last night.

And I swear to Gah my ass is bigger today as a result.

* crunch crunch *



Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Those girls

Went out to dinner with my girlfriends (the Africa trip ones) and wouldn't you know... the whole conversation was about what to climb next. Consensus is either Mt. McKinley (waaaa... tough one, but one of the 7 summits) or Mt. Fuji (easier but more exotic).

I am also hearing some mumbling about Everest base camp. Not - mind you - climbing Everest - just climbing to the bottom of it through Nepal. Doing that much is considered a feat all in itself. If I know Sri, soon that mumble will turn into a full on go for it statement.

What is wrong with us? What kind of hobby is this??

Anyway, in two weeks, we are going to a climbing clinic in the Gunks.

My point is... I need to get back in shape and start living like a normal person again. I really do. So if this blog turns into a daily report of all the sweating and crunching I am doing, please humor me. I have gotten fat and filmy in the last two years and since all my parents are gone and no one I know is currently having a major disease, sitting on my ass eating Cheetos and drinking Diet Coke is now inexcusable.

Crunch, crunch.

(Assume that sound is me doing sit ups and not the sound of me eating Doritos). (But also assume that could be a lie. This is the internet, after all).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Made you look

At a whole lot of nothing, right?

Truth is I have been asleep. For about three days. Suddenly the insomnia of the last few years decided it would move on to other victims. I am now a narcoleptic, fuzzy, futon dweller. Ever sleep for 16 hours straight? I did that one day this weekend. I just did it again last night.

Oh look! I need a nap!

I'll see you tomorrow (unless I am unconscious).