Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bad Tired, Good Tired

Of course, on the first weekend where it feels like summer I have a sinus infection. I’ve been annoyingly sick for the last forever or so. I sit at my desk and cough all day. My co-workers cower and cringe as I walk by them in the hallways. The trash can under my desk was in constant used-tissue overflow.

On Thursday I left work at 9 or so in the morning and headed to the local walk-in clinic and left with a prescription for Augmentin. That was the same antibiotic that Todd had gotten a prescription for just a few days earlier. Because Todd and I share everything, we've been sharing the same sinus infection. (Thanks sweetie, it’s the gift that keeps on givin’.)

Friday afternoon my eyes grew heavy at work. I propped my head up against my left hand and watched my computer monitor grow blurry. Then I felt the tell-tale head bob. You know the one. The I-just-fell-asleep-at-my-desk-at-work head bob. After a quick search around my desk I decided that it would be a bad idea to try to prop my eyes open with paperclips. I switched off the computer, grabbed my keys and my bag, and said goodbye to my boss.

I have no recollection of the drive home. Luckily most of it is on the highway, where I puttered along in the right lane with my eyes glazed. Once home I fumbled up the stairs, fell into bed and was instantly asleep for nearly three hours.

Saturday the sun shone, and the mercury hit the 80s. And I slept through a lot of it. I had microbursts of energy, but then slept for hours after each one. The guilt of squandering the first summery day bummed me out. Badly. But I didn’t have the energy to enjoy it. My bike (with it’s new bike bell on the handlebar) sat untouched in the garage. Our canoe sat on its sawhorses, and its new paddles shone in the basement. All I had the energy for was reading and sleeping.

Today was different. This morning I woke up wired for sound. I danced around the room while we got dressed chirping away about an entire summery Sunday ahead of us. We had some tidying up to do, as Dad and his wife were visiting for a late lunch. We took the dogs swimming in the morning. I did the laundry. Todd built a birthday present for his dad.

Dad and Anna arrived, and we had a very nice visit over Todd’s latest grill creations. Then we went for an ice cream and showed them the finer points of Podunk, RI. I believe we used the phrase “don’t blink.” As in, “OK, this is the center of town. Don’t blink, you’ll miss it.”

After Dad and Anna left, we piled the bikes into the car and headed for the bike path. We plotted an easy 3 mile route (see above, sinus infection) with Google Pedometer. But when we got to the end of the three miles, in no time flat, we took on 3 more miles.

The bike path was an old railroad line complete with train trestles. Turns out there is an entire network of bike paths in Rhode Island that we vaguely heard of, but never bothered to completely check out and appreciate. We rode through the mud and got dirty. We stopped on a bridge that overlooked a waterfall to take a sip of water. I rang my little bell, and giggled over it.

My thighs, currently supporting my laptop, are showing the signs of exertion. Good tired.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nip, Tuck, and Varnish

I've mentioned before that Sabine's getting refitted this winter. She's been in the shed at our winter marina getting sanded, varnished and painted.

Here is the taff rail that goes round back of the boat, and gives her that "Pirate ship" look.

This is looking toward the bow of the boat. See all that shiny wood? That's all been freshly varnished. Puuurrrrrr.....
This is the hatch right over our bed. When it rains it leaks because the wood trim wasn't sealed. When the rain started, we had to scramble onto the cabin top with trash bags and bungee cords to waterproof the hatch so we could sleep. As much fun as that was, I am glad it's sealed now.

This is the trim along the edge of the cockpit.

The edge of the cockpit. You can see how the wood trim goes all the way around.

This is the bow. That motor-y thing in the middle is our decrepit anchor windlass. It's broken. For the last few seasons our windlass was Todd. He doesn't particularly care for hauling anchors out of mud. This season we will replace this crappy windlass with one that actually works.

This is a skylight that is over our dining table. It leaked. A lot. We were never able to take advantage of the light that came through it because it leaked so badly. A few seasons ago we gave it the trash bag bungee cord treatment. Not anymore. The guys from the marina adhered a rubber gasket to the skylight so it will be water tight.

Mmmm.... skylight. Light below deck is important, because our windows are quite small in the main cabin of the boat. I can't wait to not have trash bags on this anymore.

Summer can't come fast enough.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Man's Best Friend

It's OK, Pal. Todd's home now.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Just back yesterday from a mini vacation to Orlando and while on the trip I read Neil Peart’s “Ghost Rider.” I devoured 200+ pages on the flights from Providence to Orlando, in approximately 4 hours of flight time. Then I finished the rest while lounging by the pool at the hotel on Monday. This is one of those books that has kept me up at night with my mind racing for the last two nights.

See, I was a Rush fan when I was a teenager. “Presto” was in my car’s tape deck for some ungodly amount of time that can only be measured in months. “Hold Your Fire” was in my walkman, and got me through my jogs and psyched me up for field hockey and basketball games and track meets. I memorized every word, and Neil Peart wrote almost every one of them. Then when I’d learned that he’d written this book, I saved it for a time when I’d be in a “forced inactivity” situation, like in an airplane, so I could focus in larger chunks at a time. (As opposed to my normal lunch hour and before bed reading times.)

The book was about how Peart rode his motorcycle all over Canada, the western US, Mexico and Belize in the year or so after his teenage daughter and wife died just months apart. It’s an honest, yet guarded, account of his travels. He wrote about every thing he’d seen, hiked and ate with a slight taste of his grieving process.

And it was just that—his grieving process. I read the reviews of the book on, and read the critiques which said that he “wrote the book for himself and not for his fans.” And now I pose the question, why does everything he does have to be for his fans? Yes, he’s made a name for himself as a fantastic drummer in a very successful rock band. But this was a book a man wrote about what he needed to do to get over a massive loss. It was personal for him, just like any grieving process is for anyone.

The first six months after I lost my mom, I was a useless, spontaneously sobbing mess. It didn’t help that I’d been laid off from my job the week before she died, so I didn’t have anything in my life that forced me into a routine. In those months, getting out of bed often took a Herculean effort. Lying in bed and staring out the window always seemed a more compelling way to spend my time. I shopped for a house as a way to give myself some purpose, because searching for a job and grad school weren’t enough to get me vertical every morning.

When I lost Mom, I lost my link to my past. I also lost the link to that one person that I could ask “So, what were you doing when you were my age? What did you think of life and the world then?” I am 35 now, and I would love to ask Mom, who had 4 children at the age of 35, her youngest not even a concept (surprise!) and ask her how her life was compared to how mine is now. But I can’t. And that’s the part of my loss that haunts me. And that’s the loss that I still grieve for nearly 8 years later—that I never really got the chance to experience Mom as a fellow woman, and not as just my mom.

But Peart lost his link to his present and his future when he lost his family so many years ago. I can live without being able to discuss history with Mom. I still have a future that I can look forward to. What did he have? His life as he knew it ended, and he didn’t know what to do next.

I look at my life now, and the concept of losing my husband or even one of my dogs scares the living hell out of me. And if I had a motorcycle and the means, I sure as hell would take off on the bike too.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Landing a Plane While the Pilot’s Passed Out

In 1997, when Todd and I were together for a total of 5 minutes, we went on an overnight trip together. He was living at his parents’ house in Vermont for that summer. I drove up there from Boston to join him on an overnight to Burlington, VT. On Saturday we prepared to leave for Burlington, when he asked me to pack an overnight bag for him. I frantically glanced around his room, confused as to what to pack for him. Which toothbrush was his in the bathroom? What will he want to wear? Where were his shorts? Surely he wouldn’t want to wear that T-shirt. Was I really at that stage of girlfriendness that I could pack his things? I think the last question freaked me out the most, at the time. The sudden jump in girlfriend status that he had imposed on me at the time threw me for a loop. I went from “New girlfriend” to “Girlfriend that knows what to pack for him and dutifully does it.” I refused to pack for him, he thought I was over-reacting about it and got annoyed with me. But, if you think about it, I didn’t know what to pack for him. At the time Todd had a lot of clothing in his drawers that he hadn’t worn in years. With any luck I would have packed pants that didn’t even fit him, and his mom’s toothbrush.

A year or so later, we moved into our first apartment together. We lived in Brighton, Massachusetts. I worked in Andover, MA—which is north of the city and almost in New Hampshire. He worked in Providence, RI, which is about an hour and a half south of Boston. We were planning on a trip to Vermont for the weekend, and for some reason I didn’t have time to pack for the trip. I got up at some obnoxiously early hour to catch the train to Andover so I wouldn’t have to leave a car at work all weekend. The trip on the train to work was impossibly inconvenient. It involved a near hour ride on the green line from Brighton to North Station. Then I had to change to the commuter rail and ride that for another hour. After the train I had a mile and a half walk to the office from the train station. And I had to do all that before 9 AM. We often did this when heading to VT for the weekend, so I wouldn’t have to waste time driving home, just to go right by my office.

Todd had volunteered to pack for me. In the afternoon he called me at work and asked me what I’d like him to pack, in a “how hard could it be?” kind of a voice.

“OK, for toiletries, I’d like you to refill the little bottle of shampoo, conditioner and Cetaphil that are in my travel toiletry kit, if they need refilling. I need body lotion, my face cream, and my eye cream. I need both the night face cream and the day face cream. Grab that bottle of body spray from Bath and Body Works. It’s plastic, so I don’t have to worry about it breaking in my bag. Then I need my hair dryer, mousse, texturizing gel, hair spray, and my hair brush. Bring a spare barrette, in case I lose this one. Oh, and I need my tweezers, and q-tips. I need enough multi vitamins and calcium pills for as many days as we’re gone. Put those in the Altoids tin in my travel kit. I have a new deodorant in the closet. Don’t take the one in the medicine cabinet because that one’s nearly finished. Take the new one. I need my chapstick from the drawer in my night table, too.”

“Are you serious?” Todd asked, exasperated. I could hear him rifling through the medicine cabinet.

“Oh, and don’t bring the Clinique eye cream. That stuff sucks. Bring the L’Oreal stuff, please.”

“If the Clinique sucks, why did you buy it?” he asked.

“I didn’t know it sucked when I bought it. I bought it when they were having the Clinique bonus thing at Macy’s. But I did get free eye shadow and lipstick when I bought the eye cream, so it was worth it. Oh, and I would like the lip gloss and the lip brush from the medicine cabinet, and my mascara and eye shadow. The brown eye shadow with the two shades of brown in it.”

“The Neutrogena eye shadow?” he asked.

“No, the Clinique one. The one with the 2 shades, not the 4 shades…”

“Are you kidding me? You really use all this stuff?” he asked.

“Yup. OK, ready to pack my clothes?”

“I have to pack your clothes now?” he laughed.

“Yeah, I can’t spend the weekend at your parents’ house naked. OK, let’s start with the black chenille sweater…”

“What the hell is chenille?” he asked, slight annoyance in his voice.

“You know that black sweater with the zipper down the front?”

“Hold on,” he sighed, “OK, got it, what else?”

“No, I don’t want the one with the zipper. I want the one with the scoop neck that is the same kind of material as the one with the zipper.”

“What the heck is a scoop neck?”

“You know, the black sweater I wore when we went to dinner in the North End that time? That’s the one I want to wear.”

“When we went to Georgio’s?”

“No the other place, across the street from Georgio’s…”

“OK, I think I have the sweater. What else?”

“I want my Gap jeans. Not the faded ones, but the other ones….”

“OK got it…”

“Now I want the brown boots. Not the pointy ones, but the rounded ones…”

On it went for a good twenty minutes, as he scrambled to and fro trying to get everything I wanted into my bag. He very tolerantly packed every stitch of clothing as I barked commands into the phone. But we both knew that would be the first and the last time he’d pack for me.

But since that jump in girlfriend levels, as his wife I could pack for him blindfolded. All that’s required are 2-3 pairs of pants or shorts, a stack of T-shirts, one dress shirt in case we go somewhere nice for dinner, a few pairs of socks, and a bathing suit. For toiletries he needs a toothbrush, hair brush, deodorant and cologne.

I still have to pack for our trip to Florida this weekend. I will leave work at noon on Friday, go home, and take some time to pack what I want to wear, use, apply to my face, and everything else that goes into my bag. But all he’ll have to do is open a suitcase, sweep an arm across a shelf in the armoire and he’s packed.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Bedroom: Where Smart Gets Dumb

A few years ago I bought a “smart” alarm clock. It’s smart because all I had to do was to tell it which time zone I live in, and it will automatically change itself for daylight savings time. It wasn’t a feature I was determined to find in an alarm clock. But it would eliminate that smidgen of discombobulation that I feel when the clocks change. “What time is it really? OK, the clock on the cable box should be right, because I am not responsible for changing that one. Now I need to change the rest… am I late or early for where ever it is I am going today?”

A year after we bought this smart alarm clock, the dates on which daylight savings starts and ends changed. Now we’re springing ahead a full month earlier, and falling back a full month later. My clock, however, doesn’t know that. There are now two times each year that the clock will arbitrarily change itself, according to the old daylight savings schedule.

On Sunday I woke up and glanced at the clock. It was 9 in the morning. Our friend Mike was going to arrive at our house at 9:30 and Todd was going to help him with a project in our workshop. I reached over, gently shook Todd and said “Honey, get up. Mike’s going to be here in a half hour.” He groggily rubbed his eyes, got up, and stumbled to the shower. I sat in bed for a little while longer and read a book. Todd dressed and went downstairs to eat something before Mike arrived.

“Honey?” he called up the stairs. “Why do all the clocks down here say it’s 8:30?”


Monday, April 06, 2009


I graduated from college in 1996. It was a time when the Internet was only 5 or so minutes old. A whole world was opened up to me from an antique Mac computer on the desk at my first job out of school. I scoured the web for guitar tablature, concert tickets, open mike nights in Boston where I could play. I waited as the slower-than-weight-loss bandwidth delivered information to me. I did not use the Internet to find that job. But I sure as heck used it to find the next one, searching during work, of course, as I had no computer in my apartment.

That was 13 years ago. Over the years more and more of my life was lived online. I was bored to tears at a job a few years after my first job, and I made friends with a great group of women online. I’ve known them for 10 years, and I am still active in that community. I write here. I read other people’s blogs. I get all my news online, with the exception of NPR during my commute. I have a Facebook profile. I have a linked-in profile. With every click I am connecting to some other facet of the Internet. With every click I am making some other commitment that I have to spend my time maintaining.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my Internet access at work has been slashed to pieces. When I happen to visit a restricted site, I am denied access and warned that my indiscretion may be noted on a log somewhere. The thing I did at work to ease the brain cramps caused by work was taken away. My link to all my electronic connections was cut.

At home I’ve been making more of an effort to limit my time on the Internet. I hadn’t logged onto the Internet for days on end. My offline life needs my attention. I cannot remember the last time I used my canoe or my kayak. My husband is getting interested in jogging with me after work. I have a boat to restore. I have a book to edit. I have a house to renovate. I am getting flabby. I am getting stagnant from sitting still. I sit in a cubicle all week—which is nothing more than a padded cell with a doorway—and the thought of plopping myself in front of yet another computer when I get home is becoming less and less appealing. I need to get up. I need to move. I need to stretch. I need to burn off some energy.

I will still write here. I’ll still visit your blogs when I can.