Archive for the ‘Life in a small town’ category


October 26, 2010

It is a sure sign of old age when the obituary section of the local newspaper holds more interest than  the comics or the sports page. Yet, when I read the obits, I have to suppress a cackle of sick mirth when I see that someone has died “unexpectedly.”  Don’t we all die unexpectedly? There  is a viable (?) alternative to this description: “suddenly. ” I don’t understand why more people don’t use that term instead of “unexpectedly.”  It leaves too much room for interpretation and conjecture. My home town newspaper recently ran an obituary for a man named “Bob” who died unexpectedly.  Following the listing of the next of kin, the final line was: “Bob was an avid racer and bee keeper.”  To which my overactive imagination immediately went to possible Jackass-inspired possibilities for Bob’s unexpected death.  I am old, but also very immature.

And, another question: do the dead really read the memorials that are written in the newspapers?  “Missing you, my dear husband, after 25 years….”  Is there a call-out in the great beyond? “Hey, Harry, there’s a message for you in the Podunk Press!  Your wife still misses you after 25 years”  Meanwhile Harry has moved on and is currently inhabiting the body of a thirteen-year-old girl.  The message comes to her in the form of a dream which she immediately dismisses and moves on to a more pleasant dream: Justin Beiber just phoned and he misses you.

I almost put a memorial in the paper to my father on what would have been his hundredth birthday, until I realized that, outside of a very few people, his birthday would not be remembered.  So, Dad will have to be satisfied with a mere Happy Birthday! from his loving daughter who still misses him every day.


A Whole New World

August 21, 2009

I couldn’t sleep last night; the coyotes were howling.  Although they could have been miles away, their cries were borne by the wind right to my bedroom windows.  Terrible sounds of anguish and pain as my imagination pictured a helpless animal being ripped apart by the pack.  At least that’s what it sounded like to my sensory-overloaded ears. This came after a nasty storm earlier in the evening that had me scrambling to shut the casement windows against the torrent of rain and wind that assaulted the area.  Grateful that I was able to open the windows again, the quiet after the storm was soothing, until the coyotes started.

Otherwise, some peace has returned to my life, mainly because I’ve been forced, by my health, to cut back on a lot of activities.  In doing so, my attendance at others’ dramas has been avoided.  As a result, my blood pressure and anxiety have lessened greatly. My own personal family drama has passed; all that remains is the pain, worn to a smooth surface after many years. My brother’s legacy and leavings will be dealt with by others.  I can not, nor ever could, change the trajectory of his life although I tried.  Others allowed it to go on for their own reasons and now they can reap the rewards and the tremendous burden he left behind. They will be well compensated, however. Blood money for looking the other way.

Maybe the reason I can’t sleep is because of a new A&E show called Hoarders.  On Monday evening, I watched with a combination of fascination and revulsion, yet I couldn’t turn away and I will surely watch it again. It’s like Intervention, except the subject is hoarding  and how to treat it.  It is very difficult to work with sufferers as they can be very stubborn and in denial. As someone who has dealt with this issue in family and friends, it was particularly scary for me.  I immediately cleaned my refrigerator after watching the show. (You’d have to have seen the show to understand the compulsion to clean that it causes in most viewers.)  Fortunately, due to financial constraints, my refrigerator was fairly clean anyways, but it did get a good wipedown and I checked the expiry dates on everything in it.  The next couple of days my apartment was decluttered and a lot of stuff was pitched.  Feel better, but also feel guilty for letting even a small amount of clutter accumulate. A very legitimate concern, given the family history.  The question does still remain as to why someone becomes a hoarder. Seems a common denominator is the fear of loss, usually the loss of memories of a person lost or the fear of destitution. One woman subject hoarded food, fearing that she would be without.  She faced eviction because of her hoarding. Her home was a fetid mess of rotting produce; her freezer bulged with years’ old food and she refused to throw out products until they were “bulging.”

All that aside, life is a bit better for me these days.  My newfound realization that I can’t solve others’ problems and that “no” is a legitimate word in the English language is a major epiphany and one that, while late in life, is greatly appreciated.


February 26, 2009

I don’t watch Oprah but today’s show scared the hell out of me.  It was about some people who were really struggling their way through the recession.  Some were homeless – or close to it.  I’m struggling right now myself. Geeze.  Everyone I know seems to be close to financial disaster.  I’ve got to get down and sort some things out.

Well, I had a bad night’s sleep.  Dreams were bad – all about losing everything and being out on the street.  My current financial status is very bad and I’m trying to work my way through it.  I keep dreaming about my childhood friend Kathy, who, as far as I know, lives in Connecticut and I haven’t been in contact with for years.  Another old bud of mine crops up from time-to-time.  She lives in Florida and I haven’t heard from in a couple of years. I was actually “crying” in my sleep, it was so real.  I woke up with a headache and immediately thought I was having a stroke as my blood pressure goes dangerously high when I’m under stress.  Fortunately, I was able to afford my BP medicine this month. The stomach medicine that I’m taking (to prevent the embarrassing problems I’ve had in the past) is much cheaper than the BP medicine.  My gastro-intestinal system is fine now; blood pressure: not-so-good.  Ironic that my doctor thinks that walking is a good way to get blood pressure down.  Given my past history, that my detractors seems to find so noteworthy, it is a comfort to know that there is medicine that helps.   Still don’t feel comfortable going for long walks where there are no washroom facilities.  It’s times like this that I miss my morning dose of Howard Stern.  Had to drop Sirius a while ago due to financial constraints.  There was a funny story about Robin suffering a similar fate to mine while on a walk.  Of course it became the source of endless jokes at her expense.  Now, she has embarked on a course of coffee enemas to lose weight and she has lost a remarkable amount of weight.  Maybe that’s the secret!  Enemas!  Oh. No. I admired her honesty and that’s why I write about my life on this blog.  Other people internalize their angst, but I feel compelled to write about it. This blog was my on-line diary and place to vent.  And it will remain so.  My detractors can enjoy my musings and use them to their own purposes because they are so bereft that they have little else to do.

Just listening to the radio news and a couple sold two toddlers in exchange for a $1500. cockateil and $175.  This happened in Louisianna.  Guess Mr.Rogers/Kenneth-the-page Bobby Jandal should reconsider the turndown of the extended unemployment benefits from the bailout package.  Maybe the people saw Oprah and decided to “downsize” their family.  Seriously, what were they thinking?  Then there’s the on-going trainwreck of the Octomom now being played out on Dr. Phil.  She now says she did not expect to carry all six implanted embryos to term.  But they’re “my babies!” (tm Sylvia from Intervention.)  But I can’t turn away from watching and reading about this mess.  How can such a delusional woman be allowed to procreate?  Her parents were just as bad for enabling her.

Listening to Mel Robbins and she’s a bright light in this dark financial depression.  She offers a story of a family that actually has improved their lives since the husband was laid off.  They cut back on a lot of things and joined a cheap gym and work out regularly and are now eating healthier.  I am finding that it is very difficult to eat healthful foods when you’re financially strained.  I don’t eat junk food; soda pop; chips and crap like that, but, buying good, fresh food is expensive. I hit the bruised produce table at Valu-mart first when I go there. (I wish they’d move it out from under a heat duct.) That determines what I will buy in the meat aisle.  Canned soups on sale are good – if you can add to them.  I eat a lot of cereal, oatmeal for breakfast and Honey Nut Cheerios for evening snack some times.  I like to eat the main meal of the day at 4:00 p.m. now so that I can be ready to watch MSNBC from 5-10 p.m.  It does work better that I live alone, but it can also work against me as I don’t have a real schedule anymore.  Today, I didn’t crawl out of bed until 9:00 am. So much for getting up early.  That dream was something else.  Always have a theme that includes missing clothing that is usually found in the laundry bin, lost BlackBerry (Gak!) and a trip down Main Street in Buffalo past my old high school. I’m always trying to get somewhere, but never do. (Gee. Wonder what that could mean?)  I call this my failure dream as it seems to point up my failure to achieve my goals.

But, when I think about it, I am living the life that I wanted and worked towards.  I’m here in Canada, where I always wanted to live permanently.  My apartment is perfect: quiet, safe and affordable.  I have my blog(s) and The Strand.  My health is good for an old, overweight broad.  I have friends and family who know me and still think I’m okay.  I have three wonderful cats and a bunch of fish. What else do I need?  Really?

I’m Crabby

January 27, 2009
I’ve been crabby the past few days and today, my crabbiness reached critical mass. It started out okay as I was trying to tidy up the kitchen – finally – for the umpteenth time. I was putting away my nifty Tupperware spaghetti holder and the plastic top flew off like a Frisbee at the beach. It lodged behind the refrigerator, hiding amongst the detritus and cat hair, which, by the way, is omnipresent in my existence. So, I had to move aside the garbage chair (my great invention) and try to retrieve the now dirty, hair laden disc. This precipitated moving the refrigerator (luckily it’s on wheels) and then the bringing out of the vacuum and what ensued was a half hour deep-cleaning exercise that included every damned inch of the back and the front of the goddamned refrigerator. Then the rewashing of the lid and the realignment of the garbage chair and then wiping everything down once again and I forgot what I was going to do earlier. By then, I was off and running off at the mouth with expletives and a generally bad attitude. Oh, I was going to make coffee. That was it. I looked over towards the love seat in the living room and noticed that my two male cats were sleeping soundly on top of some material I had just (before the lid incident) taken out of the dryer and folded, anticipating its use to make a slipcover for a chair in the living room. The two were busy shedding in their sleep all over the light-coloured material that had been pristine and clean mere moments before. Why had they not stayed in the bed that they had already defiled with their hair. The sheets were just washed the day before and they had quickly established their beachheads amongst the white fleece and flannel.
Note: all these activities are interrupted by frequent trips to the washroom due to the blood pressure medication I’m currently taking. It now takes a lifetime to pee these days. Whole books have been read in one day as a result of these frequent forays to the washroom. E-mails sent from my Blackberry; eyebrows plucked; crossword puzzles completed; all done while waiting for my bladder to finally empty. I have dozed off occasionally. Of course the mind wanders. What ever happened to that guy I was so crazy about in my sophomore year at UB? How many inches is 12 cm? Where did my life go so terribly wrong?
I recall a phone call from the previous evening when my drunken crazy-ass neighbour accused me of 1.) running up his gas bill and 2.) complaining to the SPCA about his dog and 3.) not finding him devilishly attractive. I mean, he’s got two functioning teeth, a grizzled beard, bad breath, filthy clothes and looks like he hasn’t bathed in weeks; what’s not to love? The phone call devolved into a screaming match and I finally ended it with a triple-dog-fuck-you. What did I do to deserve this? I ask myself as rehashed the event while perched on the toilet. Then there was the e-mail from someone I hardly know, who somehow got himself involved in a situation that was none of his business, but felt that I needed to hear his opinion of me and a friend, which was not complimentary. Besides the WTF response, I was forced to remind myself of previous dealings with this douche and the relative peace I had experienced in the five or so years since our paths crossed until now. I knew there was a reason why I avoided this guy like the plague and here he was back again, being a douche. As the Chinese New Year of the Ox is being celebrated, I am beginning to wonder if my own personal New Year will be the Year of the Douche, or Assholes-I-Have-Known-Who-Moved-Away-and-Then-Came-Back. Not to worry. When one asshole closes a door, another one opens it.
I sometimes open my e-mail with dread. Not the Strand Blog e-mail; that’s a hoot. My personal e-mail. Daily findings might include an e-mail from my delusional friend in Tennesee who takes stalking to a whole new level by tracking down old boyfriends, manufacturing fantasies about how they were fated to be together and actually convincing them to buy into the fantasy. Of course, they must be either alcoholics, convicted felons or both by the time she hooks up with them. Her last conquest, a boyfriend she hadn’t seen or heard from since high school recently died of alcoholism-related cirrhosis, but she has already embarked on her next conquest: a guy who is just out of jail for beating his wife. But he had such beautiful, curly hair before he shaved it off in stir. Previous boyfriends were an Am-Way salesman who was a closeted gay; a broken-down country and western singer – hence the Nashville trip; and a former secret service agent (at least that was what he told her when they had a fling in Spain thirty uears ago. ) She was unsuccessful in connecting with him as he did not answer her faxes and letters. She was convinced that his wife was destroying these messages before he could see them, because, if he got them, he would leave his wife and come to her, as they were “fated to be together.” Oh, and she’s changed her name three times since I met her in Crystal Beach, which she said she came to because, as a child, she visited the amusement park with her parents and her father remarked that “one day you will live here.” It was also the place where she tracked down the gay Am-Way salesman. (He has since moved on to Key West with his lover.) When he finally told her the awful truth, she was thrown into a deep depression that had me really worried – until she found her last love, the cirrhosis-laden alcoholic who was living in a flop house in North Carolina when she tracked him down through his estranged father. Since her husband’s (she actually married this one; she was wife number three,) death, she has once again been very depressed and long distance or e-mail help has been spurned while she cast around for her next victim/boyfriend. And we have a winner! The ex-con has moved ahead of the pack to take his place in her pantheon of star-crossed lovers. I’m still waiting for her to flesh out the fantasy as this one doesn’t fit the usual MO. He’s not a blast from the past; he’s a recent addition; someone she met through her husband. For some sick reason, I’m anxiously awaiting her latest fiction. I particularly loved another recent attempt that ended badly; (he just wanted to fuck her, not “be with” her as he was already married,) the has-been C&W singer. That was an inspired fantasy: she claims that she saw a picture of him in a bar in Toronto some thirty plus years ago where he supposedly had appeared and she “knew right then” that she would meet up with him later in life. Amazing, isn’t it? Maybe that’s what I need to do: find some old boyfriend from the battlefield of my life and resurrect him as the fantasy prince charming who was torn away from me by sinister forces and who I can now reclaim from the internet and live happily ever after.