I sat here at the front window, writing. A whole world blossomed into my head, just based on the character’s name: Mister Margaret. I don’t get writer’s block, but I found myself typing incrementally slower, my mind captured by the wall of insect noise and the filtered sun trying to rest on the horizon. My apartment catches the heat of the day, but it also rewards me with a direct sunset view.
As happens, a melancholy crept up on me. It’s easy to recognize it once it finds its way into my head. I’m sitting here in the cocoon of a new life, in wonder at the myriad ways in which I can experience everything. But change brings uncertainty and doubt.
Am I happy? Am I sad? Optimistic? Hopeful? Uncertain? Yes.
I hate to think I could ever stop saying the hard truths, even if they paint me in an unflattering light.
I’m lucky because I had somebody nearby who could pull me back from disconnectedness. I reached out because I’m not stupid. Loneliness is a debilitating and overwhelming thing. It’s also needless. We marginalize ourselves because we forget that all of us share this aversion to loneliness.
I don’t want anyone ever to think I have all the answers. There are days when I’m not sure I have a grasp of what the questions are.
The sky is darkening now, resigned to the cycle of day and night.
Soon, I’ll do the same.
To each of you reading this, I wonder what your life looks like, whether you’re happy, and if you’re near someone who can hold you in silence. The last year has taught me that no one’s life is an open book and that all of us, hard hearts or soft, need someone to remind us that we’re human.
Someone is back at arts and crafts today. Y’all will be happy to know I haven’t significantly injured myself today. I did get my feelings hurt earlier but it wasn’t billable for Blue Cross, so it doesn’t count. Yesterday’s project with the window panel miraculously fit perfectly where it was supposed to. It was spa blue, similar to my car. As I put it in the window, I realized I’d probably always remember breaking a drillbit off on my shinbone while making that board.
These boards are for an old desk. I’d removed the raw wood top off it weeks ago, as it wouldn’t fit through a standard door. Because I’m dedicated to adding color (and more color) to things, I opted for a deep blue. It’s going to stand out like a streetwalker at Sunday lunch once the boards are on the desk. I’d like y’all to know that by the time I put these boards on the desk, I could have bought another desk for the same money. It’s not about the money. It’s about the likely brain damage I suffered as a child. (Insert confused laugh pause here.)
You can also see that I wisely have been painting and sawing (mostly) outside. It seemed prudent, given my approach to painting. It’s kind of like performance art. Residents and passersby alike tend to watch me while I’m out there. I’ve decided one of these days I’m going to go out there shirtless (and/or pantsless?) and just start spraying MYSELF. The lease does prohibit vehicle maintenance but shockingly omits spray painting oneself. Or self-immolation for that matter. I probably should do the landlord a favor and make a running list of things that occurred to me to do but aren’t forbidden. . . PS No matter where you are, take a moment and think of your friends and family and who might need a word of comfort. Reach out and listen. I was reminded yesterday that what we see is no gauge of how someone is really doing. And the smart creative ones are often undetectable in their protective bubbles. It breaks my heart to know that people are in so much pain. I write a lot of nonsense but the other half of me is zeroed into the holes I have – and those I see in others.
. . “My mom cursed so much that the Navy paid her to train the recruits how to do it properly.” – X . . I often pause when I read the phrase “SERIOUS INJURY,” as if there is an alternate and opposite “COMEDIC INJURY.” (For the person suffering I mean – we all find humor in watching someone else get hit with an anvil.) . . I don’t know the attribution, but someone sent me this, saying it sounded like something I had written on my blog: “Discipline is cheap compared to how expensive regret can be.” . . I hope you’re happy, wherever you are. And if not, that you run outside right now and laugh at the sky. . . Look up, not down.
While doing a carpentry/paint project this afternoon, I took great caution to be careful. Or so I thought. I might as well have been binge drinking. Also, because of the limited number of outlets in the building, I used the lowest and closest one for the drill. To avoid splitting the wood, I drilled pilot holes in the main piece of board. When I unplugged the drill, it slipped out of my hand. The drill miraculously swung and hit my shinbone. More surprisingly, the narrow drillbit hit me in the same spot. It cut into me and then the bit snapped in half as it struck my leg. I looked down at the broken bit with a look of absolute stupidity and incredulity. Blood began to run from my leg like it would from a novice vampire’s mouth. Needless to say, it blossomed with a sharp, cutting pain, one similar to the one I felt when I helped several Latinos register to vote, only to find to my horror they voted conservative.
Additional safety notes: I live upstairs, giving me the opportunity to discover gravity unexpectedly each time I run up them. For the record, I love stairs. Next time, I’m going to paint indoors. I can’t imagine the fumes will cause any consequences – at least none that hurt worse than using my shinbone to snap a metal drillbit in half.
I’ll keep you posted.
My lease didn’t say anything about screaming like a little girl in the middle of the afternoon. .
After decades of not having to do laundry like a barbarian, I’m living at an apartment complex that has a laundry room. (I hesitate to call it a ‘complex,’ though; it’s more akin to a ‘simplex.’)
For fans of horror, you’d love the laundry room here. It’s not a place you’d want to be if the lights suddenly and unexpectedly began to flicker. Even the bugs have little bitty locks on their hiding places down there. I’m tempted to put a little speaker and transmitter in so that I can pipe maniacal laughter in there and then film people running out of there like they got trapped in a Republican budget meeting. If I were to drive up and see a film crew nearby, I would assume they’re scouting potential locations for the next installment of “A Nightmare On Elm Street,” with a particular interest in my apartment’s laundry room.
A few minutes ago, I went to move my clothes from the washer to the dryer. Exiting the room, I found myself toe-to-toe, so to speak, with a very large spider. Keep in mind that I’m not afraid of spiders. This one, however, was large and had a discernible attitude. I say that only because it seemed to have a knife, as well as several tattoos.
Also, I propose that we immediately start using the phrase “clothes yoga” instead of “folding clothes.”
I’d write a bit more, but I’m working on this story about a haunted laundry room. . P.S. As people keep saying, the internet is where you find out who has a sense of humor. Likewise, I tend to employ a bit of hyperbole in what I write. It doesn’t negate the nuggets of truth I incorporate honestly in my stories and anecdotes. Nor does it mean that things are devoid of positivity or advantages. If you read things I write with an active asshole filter, some things will indubitably cross your wires. Also, this laundry room does not spark joy. If it ever gets remodeled, I do hope they use CSI as the new theme. (If only to save money on needless extra touches…)
“No matter who you are, you already know what I’m about to tell you: while people aren’t dogs, dogs are happy to see you and respond to you verbally and physically. You can see their joy at seeing you again. That’s why it bothers you when people you enjoy seeing don’t reciprocate with happiness in your presence. It’s a ‘tell’ that belies whatever they say. While they have no tail to wag, their other ‘tell’ communicates their interest or lack thereof. Enthusiasm in your presence is one of the most authentic and positive ways to determine if people want to be in your circle.”
In a nod to the 1970s, my bathroom shower still had those horrid track-guided sliding glass doors on them. Mine are now resting comfortably in the back recess of a closet. In an ideal world, the tenants at this complex would gather ceremoniously under a full moon in the parking lot and shatter all such remaining glass doors with golf clubs. Today, I spent a bit of time compiling layers and pictures to create another custom shower curtain, one filled with pictures and meanings, both hidden and plain. I loved the previous one I had, but it was filled with a life that is no longer mine to claim.
I waited until after 3 p.m. today to take a long walk. It seemed appropriate to bake off my remaining energy under the blistering sun. Some of the trail was shadowed by foliage. I walked further along it than I previously had, so my eyes feasted on new sights. I broke my previous pushup record by 3 p.m. Today, I broke it through diligence and determination, rather than systematic application. I wanted yet another way to remember my first full day in my new apartment. Tomorrow will remind me that today was memorable.
After my walk, I laid on the laminate floor, my blue box fan blowing on me. I got up, poured wine into my antique green cup, and toasted my past, the one whispering in my ear. If you want to think a bit, google the word “Olēka,” and watch the video on YT.
The picture is from last night. It’s a solar-powered lantern, sitting on the banister railing outside. Below, you can see my little car, sharing the same color.
I couldn’t bring myself to occupy either of the two bedrooms in my apartment. Being both weird and practical, I put the bedroom furniture in the living room. It says “living” right in the name of the room, right? “I might regret this later,” I thought, but simultaneously realized that such a thought might well be universally applied to anyone’s entire life. For anyone who doesn’t know, I sleep with a comforter – no sheet. And even though it causes consternation in the heads of my uptight ( 🙂 ) friends, I will not be ‘making’ my bed daily. Part of the reason for that is that my comforter is for a long twin bed rather than for my pillow-top queen, so even if I wanted to ‘make’ the bed, the comforter won’t cover more than 50% of it anyway. Note: another advantage of using smaller or narrower comforters is that they are much easier to keep clean and don’t overload the washing machine.
You can see my new backward clock in the upper right of the picture, marking its time contrarily and much too quickly. The two young movers who helped me yesterday were tickled by the backward clock, as well as some of my crazy art – and especially my hybrid Jesus/Zach Galifianakis picture.
My apartment has a great view of the busy street about fifty yards away. Beyond that, the traffic light and the railroad tracks. The building I’m in is a large “L,” and I’m in the inside upper corner of the nexus. I put my desk right in front of the large window. It’s too much sun but the view connects me to the world – and I need that right now.
Gregg is a busy street. Though I love the sound of a train, I will have to give the railroad a grace period, one in which I grow accustomed to the blare of the horn as it traverses this side of Fayetteville. The excursion trains run through on their assigned schedule. If I’m outside or walking, I can’t resist waving to the passengers. Truth be told, I’m gregarious with the neighbors, too, and for many of them, they are not accustomed to someone being so friendly.
I already put a hanging crystal outside, as well as a solar lantern I had painted. But no matter how I decorate this new place, I promised myself that I would stop thinking about my environment so critically. I’ve always lived inside my head in a way that others don’t seem to. Minimalists are supposed to appreciate the opportunity to acknowledge how transient all ‘this’ is and live accordingly. This is an older apartment building and it shows. The same can be said for me, even though I managed to rejuvenate my life and health a bit over the last year.
Starting over with very little has once again put my head into that space where I’d like to be aware of everything I add back into my life. Every single thing occupies space, requires care and cleaning, and makes our lives less portable.
I’m sitting in the office chair now, looking out the windows, listening to both birds and traffic. I am humbled that I made it to this point.
By coincidence, thanks in part to Covid, my divorce was final yesterday.
I just got a call from the mover, advising me that the next phase of my life starts in 17 minutes. I hope I carry forward the enthusiasm I have for life and jettison any bitterness that might infect me. Whatever lessons I was supposed to learn, I hope they stick with me. I also hope that all my errors are new ones and not repeats.
Once you jump out of the plane, you have to hit the ground; how you hit is up to you. P.S. I just took this picture of my cat Guino, who is staying in East Springdale. ..
I know I had some doubters about my recent pranks with yellow caution tape. Yesterday, I opted to surprise strangers by X-ing their doors with it. Obviously, I didn’t get caught in the act or shot. If I had, at least I would have a good story. Or you would, repeating the headline about me getting shot for pranking strangers with tomfoolery. The upside is that you could wrap me with the remainder of the yellow caution tape roll.
Today, my new roll arrived from Amazon.
Life just shattered into a whole new series of possibilities.
Keep your eyes open, friends.
In an entirely new way, I have a lot more flexibility in both planning and executing pranks.
At the end of the week, I’m moving to Fayetteville to an older apartment off of Gregg. I chose it because someone I trust lives in the same small complex. I had to wait because the last tenant detonated a White Trash Bomb inside. So, I get new, albeit warped floors (no carpet), and a new metal door. You know bad things went down if the door has to be replaced. I get a new fridge, too. I suspect the previous tenant’s fridge went to the Hoarder’s Hall of Fame in Biscoe.
I have a renter’s insurance policy. If someone breaks in, they will regret it. Not because I’m going to hurt them, but because I will make them grammatically diagram sentences until they repent from their life of crime. Anyone who breaks into an apartment where I’ll live hasn’t analyzed the cost/benefit of choosing WHERE to commit a crime. Which reinforces my assertion that if a robber breaks in, I do not doubt that he will LEAVE something for me as a gift rather than take something.
Note: I have a priceless Thomas Kinkade collection of reprints worth about $4 if the apartment burns down.
There are “X”s and a “10” on the door if someone has any doubt who lives there. It’s a bit embarrassing that they think I’m a 10. I assume that’s what they meant.
It’s not too far from work. I can walk fast and be there in 22 minutes. I can walk normally and be there in 30. (If I skateboard there, it’ll take 57 minutes, with 45 minutes of those waiting on the ambulance to pick me up.) I’d rather not live alone, although everyone tells me that I need to, just once. Each time, I feel like I’m being prepped for a timeshare pitch. Or maybe membership into a cult. 🙂 I’m not certain why people espouse the joy of single living. I’m a great roommate, and generally speaking, I would always opt to be around people. There are so few people who live alone who seem to be joyous. Content? Yes. Clint Black, the dubiously eloquent country music star, put it best: “…so we tell ourselves that what we found is what we meant to find…”
One of my superpowers is that it’s almost impossible to bore me. I assumed everyone was this way until I was much older.
The apartment has two bedrooms. Once I get an exhaust fan installed, I am going to perfect my recipe for Blue Sky. (Sorry, “Breaking Bad” fans.) Let’s be honest here, though. Most of you who know me probably wonder what in the heck I’ll be doing without adult supervision. I am practicing both my yodeling AND maniacal laughing. I may learn to play the bagpipes, too, just in case the yodeling and maniacal laughing doesn’t convince everyone that I’m strange. I’ve learned that it’s impossible to discern a novice bagpipe player from an accomplished one. I can make the same music by squeezing an opera singer much too hard.
I am going to miss Springdale. Not East Springdale, per se, even though it’s been good to me despite the awkward access and relative lack of restaurants. I’ve walked and learned so much about it during the pandemic. It is a bit strange to have intimately become familiar with so much of it only to move a town away. I hadn’t planned on moving away from this area, but that’s how life is.
I would list the amenities for my next place. There’s one problem, though. There aren’t any. Door, walls, floor, ceiling. The minimum. (And that’s more than enough, to start!) The Razorback Greenway is close, allegedly 5 minutes to walk to the nearest crosspoint. I love the trail system. But I also discovered that I love urban walking more than the trails. The train tracks run parallel on the opposite side of Gregg. It’s a good thing that I have a universe inside my head. It might be the only thing keeping me on the right side of sanity and happiness. I don’t need much. Most of us don’t, even though we drown ourselves in things and distractions. I’ve already walked dozens of miles around the area in the last few weeks. Subway is 10 minutes away if I walk, as is a great coffee place. The bonus is that there there are two pubs/breweries very close, too, in case I decide I need to follow the family tradition of drinking myself into oblivion. (The family motto: I don’t drink to remember, I drink to forget that I don’t remember.)
“Most of us cook with two pans – yet have dozens. It explains why there’s a lot wrong with how we live.” – X
The next part of my life is going to be utterly alien to me, anchored by necessity. It’s a certainty that I’m going to continue to walk endlessly and find everything interesting for miles in each direction. I laugh when people tell me, “You have to be careful, X. It’s a different place over here.” Be careful? Life has already reminded me that the dangers that cause the most upheaval cannot be avoided, no matter how careful you are.
The most significant current danger to me in this life is failing to remember the lessons I’ve learned. Getting robbed is an inconvenience – but temporary. Dealing with the consequences of my stubborn stupidity – that’s timeless.
I’m going to struggle with being unanchored for a while, and that’s okay. And if it’s not, well, that’s too bad. I made my bed, and now I’m going to lie in it. On that note, I will not have to make the bed if I don’t want to. I’m not one of those nutty people who insist that a made bed sets the stage for a great day. A peaceful mind does that, not the surroundings into which one arises. I’ve slept with a comforter-only for decades. The only reason I can think of to ‘make’ my bed is in the rare event I suddenly begin to worry about such goofy considerations as “What your bed says about you to other people.”
I am, of course, afraid of the uncertainty, the loneliness, and the ‘new normal’ that I’ll have to adopt. I have to “choose my hard,” so to speak, and pay the price for my choices.
Life moves forward, even if we try to avoid it.
I’ll be looking at my ugly trim in my new apartment, listening to the foreign sounds of other people around me. But I’ll also be laughing internally, wondering what my neighbors think of the “Police Tape – Do Not Disturb” ribbon tapes in an x-pattern across the entryway of my door.
I’d write a bit more, but I need to go listen to feral cats screaming. I’ve been told it’s the best way to appreciate bagpipe music.
P.S. Anyone who wants my address can have it. I mean literally. Just kidding. Write a message if you want or need my phone number or address. Unless you thought my “Breaking Bad” joke was true. Or you’re a die-hard Thomas Kinkade fan. I doubt the Venn Diagram of those two types of people ever converges, much in the same way that Mensa doesn’t recruit at NASCAR events.