Category Archives: Learning
It is said that each new thing learned creates a wrinkle on your brain*. These posts narrate the formation of my brain’s spanky new wrinkles. (*Sadly, learning does not a wrinkly brain make. But in this case – in which learning increases a person’s population of synapses and the blood cells that support neurons – accuracy simply isn’t as much fun as brain wrinkles.)
“Hope is tomorrow’s veneer over today’s disappointment.” – Evan Esar
So in what is becoming the life roller coaster from Hell (to Hell?), the sale of my house is no longer. AGAIN. Last year it was the Baltimore Rowhouse in the not-so-pleasant location. Now it’s the cute cottage in the charming rural town that has bitten the dust.* Next it will be the cardboard box on the street corner that I’m evicted from and after that the city park bench that some police officer tells me to get off of and move along.
Everyone says that buying a house is hard. A long, arduous process that will wreak havoc on your nerves and make you want to throw up. I get that. I don’t like it, but I get it. The process of buying the Baltimore house nearly incited a psychotic break. Choosing the cottage almost caused an aneurysm. Though these houses are as different as can be, in completely different locations, and with completely different loan structures, both scared the pants off of me and not in a good way.
Common denominator = me.
Truth: I freak out about things. And I don’t plan. And I roll around on the floor and lament my lack of planning when need forces me to do something I hadn’t planned to. That is me. It’s who I am in all of its ugly reality. I don’t like that about myself but I haven’t changed in my 35 years of life and think that, perhaps, I never will. (I’m not much for correcting my faults. Ask my first therapist who, overcome with frustration with my lack of progress, told me to pretend to be well in the hope that I eventually would confuse myself and become well. That’s psychological veneer, people.)
Another truth about me: I somehow make it through. Despite my freaking out, and despite my lack of planning, and even despite my rolling around on the floor and lamenting, I somehow end up on the other side of things, still breathing and without permanent damage. (Except maybe psychological damage.) Knowing that doesn’t calm me, but it gives me something to say when asked, “How do you plan to do A, B, or C?” I just shrug and say, “I don’t know, but I will. Somehow.” And then I go home, roll on the floor, lament, and freak the hell out.
And then I make it through.
I’ll make it through this setback, too. Possibly by pretending that it is well in the hope that it will get confused and actually be well. I’ll apply the veneer of hope over today’s disappointment and move along.
*This is how it went down:
ME: I like this house. I think I will buy it.
MORTGAGE LENDER: The house needs work before we’ll give you money.
ME, to sellers: The house needs work so that I can get money and not burn up in an electrical fire and stuff.
SELLERS: We know. We’ll fix some stuff.
ME: Great! I will make a list of the scariest stuff for you to fix.
SELLERS, post list: We changed our mind. We’re not fixing that stuff, so suck it.
I AM: LEARNING that buying a house isn’t fun and that some people aren’t bothered by exposed live wires in the attic.
“You must know that in any moment a decision you make can change the course of your life forever: the very next person you stand behind in line or sit next to on an airplane, the very next phone call you make or receive, the very next movie you see or book you read or page you turn could be the one single thing that causes the floodgates to open, and all of the things that you’ve been waiting for to fall into place.” – Anthony Robbins
This weekend I did something I’d never done before: I went to the movies by myself. In this iteration of my singleness, I have, up until this point, avoided doing anything that would draw attention to my singularity.* And by “draw attention” I mean “remind myself that I have no mans.” I don’t care too much that strangers see me out alone, but my own fragile brain can’t take the stress of it. Avoidance, it does a noodle good.
Come Sunday, I was frustrated and fearful that I was starting a lifelong pattern of laying around and groaning, so I got off of my ass, got in my car, and drove to the closest movie theater. I marched myself inside and bought myself a ticket to, ironically, The Lone Ranger. I found a seat, crossed my legs, turned off my phone, and settled in for some much-loved previews. (Previews are the best part.)
Being single is enlightening, let me tell you. I was single for a while before I dated Mr. Mystery, so I shouldn’t be surprised by anything I’m learning now, but I am. I’m pretty dang surprised, to be honest. The floodgates of self-awareness are open and I’m swimming – not sinking – with the tide. My buoyancy was unexpected but welcome.
I learned that I enjoy being at the movies by myself, and that I can be comfortable being the only occupant in a row. Learning such a thing may not seem like a lot, but to a girl who lives in fear of dying alone, that I can be happy by myself is a profound realization.
So it appears that I am my own kemosabe, and that I’m okay with that. At least for now. Hi-yo, Canary, away!
P.S. Despite bad box office results and lackluster reviews, I thought The Lone Ranger was an exceptional movie, and not just because Johnny Depp was in it and dressed like another lusty character. (Don’t judge me. The man’s half naked and wearing a bird on his head. You know how much I like men with weird things on their heads.) TLR was the perfect combination of adventure and comedy, well-paced and with gorgeous scenery and a strong cast. I highly recommend you go and see it, even if you see it alone.
*My state or quality of being singular.
I AM: LEARNING that being with (and by) myself ain’t so bad
“Democracy don’t rule the world, You’d better get that in your head; This world is ruled by violence, But I guess that’s better left unsaid.” – Bob Dylan
Well, The Announcement has been delivered to my parents, and it went surprisingly well. Apart from the initial round of “Is the neighborhood safe?” type questions, there was very little doubt on their part. That, or they were very good at hiding it.
Good for them for not (openly) doubting my decision to purchase a house in the ghetto, but I am currently not sharing their confidence. My confidence has been shaken by a large message spraypainted on the side of a wall near The B’more Big Girl House. That message? “RIP Lil-B.”
I don’t know who Lil-B is (was), but I know that he was recently shot not one block away from my new house, and that? That is RIDICULOUS, I AM GOING TO DIE, OMFG.
As I walked through the neighborhood with my potential contractor, he took a look at the wall and said, “Poor Lil-B. He played the game and it didn’t pan out for him.” I blinked at my contractor and thought, “Poor Lil-B? Poor ME! I AM GOING TO DIE BECAUSE OF FABULOUS CHEESY YELLOW LINOLEUM.”
Lil-B’s recent demise at the corner of Annapolis and Kent sent me into hysterics and launched me on a one-woman Google campaign of crime research. My previous research had unveiled little about the goings-ons in Westport, so I stupidly assumed that meant there weren’t any. Rather, my Google-fu was subpar and I had failed to find the true data. Enter Topix and their nifty-difty crime map.
After clicking through the colorful icons and reading the crime descriptions, each more terrifying than the last - robbery, aggravated assault, shooting – I sent Mr. Mystery a text that said, “I AM GOING TO DIE, OMFG. WESTPORT IS GOING TO KILL ME.”
My love-butt once again reminded me to chill the hell out, and get a grip.
Honestly, I don’t know how much of a grip I can get, considering that my future neighborhood is a den of thievery and assault, the likes of which make Mr. Mystery’s home purchase in Hell look good.*
I have not given up on my girl, though she occupies space in a scary corner of the world. I keep telling myself that the present does not dictate the future, and that things can and will change. The question becomes whether I will reside on that scary corner with my girl, or whether I will buckle under the pressure and rent her to someone braver than me.
But that’s a decision for another time. A time in the future. For now I will continue planning for her overhaul and praying for my safety.
*Not true. I did a side-by-side comparison of my ‘hood and Mr. Mystery’s ‘hood, and my ’hood is still safer than his. But only because I had one less shooting than he did.**
**Again not true. There were way more shootings in his neighborhood than mine.***
***I AM GOING TO DIE, OMFG.
I AM: LEARNING that lack of crime data does not mean lack of crime
“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” – Orson Welles
I bought a house less than a week ago and already it’s cramping my style. But in a good way.
I’m not the kind of person to pay attention to the details of things that bore me. Insurance forms, recipes, and the TV Guide all put me in catatonia. That being said, it’s no wonder that the little-known aspects* of buying a house are coming fast and furious as complete surprises to me. An inspection? Who pays for that? Taxes and… Wait, what’s this? A charge for filing legal forms? Groan.
I anticipated the cost of the house, naturally, and I even went so far as to imagine the other charges that would come in the future, like homeowner’s insurance and the increase in my electric bill. But shelling out $500 to someone for something I didn’t pay attention to and, well… something else I didn’t pay attention to when I signed the Stack of Forms That Ate The World… it has an effect, y’know? Less $500 in my coffers means, to put it simply and redundantly, less in my coffers, y’all. And diminished coffers have me rethinking my normal spending habits.
Suddenly gasoline and PB Twix don’t seem so important.
Or more accurately, gasoline and PB Twix don’t seem so possible.
So now I am making a list, a grocery list, because this gal needs to start cooking in her apartment if she wants to get habitating in her house. That means no more wild nights of ordering Indian food delivered straight to my door. No more mornings of Grande Caramel Macchiatos crafted by a grumpy barista. Like my good pal Orson Welles, my canary self can no longer order dinner for four. It’s an intimate dinner for one, and that dinner ain’t gonna be nothin’ to write home – or the Internet – about.
To console myself over the loss of nightly food delivery, I keep looking at pictures of my future home and my future kitchen and the future oven in which I will cook myself some food. Hopefully by the time my kitchen is complete, I will have gotten over my stuporific response to recipes. And the TV Guide.
*Little known to no one but me.
I AM: LEARNING (realizing?) that three orders of take-out equal my monthly electric bill, so less eating = more heating
“But even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked.” – Bob Dylan
Some days just begin oddly. For no known reason, your breakfast tastes different, your shower feels different, your clothes look different. Something is off, some intangible thing, and it skews everything a bit to the left. Weirdness. It’s all around you. That’s what I thought was happening to me this morning, because things were definitely weird. As it turns out, it wasn’t some innocent oddity skewing up my day, but rather my naked breasts.
Okay. Slight exaggeration on the nakedness of my breasts, but not by much.
I first noticed that the day seemed particularly rowdy when a car of men hooted and hollered at me as I waited for the light to change. I noticed it again when a passing male pedestrian gave me the once-over and broke out in a lascivious grin. And then again when another male passer-by applauded me with an exuberant, “Good for you!” (To which I replied equally exuberantly, “Good for you, too!” not knowing at all what we were being good at.)
Not being the kind of gal who leaves her house all put-together – instead, I gravitate towards the homeless look: wet hair, no make-up, wrinkled pants - I didn’t flatter myself to think it was my innate hotness at the root of the hullabaloo. In fact, I figured it probably wasn’t me at all. Just something in the air. That intangible left-skewing something that makes things weird.
It wasn’t until I got to my office and stepped out of my car that I noticed something… odd. Something breezy.
With a tide of bile rising up in my throat and a suspicion sinking down to my toes, I looked down to where I felt the breeze the strongest. Aaaaaaaand there they were: MY BREASTS.
Oh. My. God.
OH MY GOD!
My breasts were out in public. IN PUBLIC, PEOPLE. Covered in naught more than a bra and the sheer overlay of my top.
Now some of you may not call that nudity, per se, the breasts being bra-and-sheer-overlay-covered as they were. But for me, the gal who makes her boyfriend sign a non-disclosure agreement before letting him see her naked, this was WHITE HOT SOFT PORN-WORTHY NUDITY, OMFG.
What had happened was that I had failed to properly put on my shirt, obviously. Beneath the overlay exists a black tank, attached but not at the top where arms go. Rather at the bottom, where waists go. When I dressed this morning, I slid the shirt over my head and put my arms through the arm holes, all the while assuming they were also going through the tank holes.
Turns out? Not so much. When I got out of my car at work, that damn tank was hanging below the waist, covering my butt instead of my boobs.
So what the fine city of Baltimore got this morning was a healthy dose of my chest. What those passing pedestrians got was a gander at my goods. Turns out that sometimes that intangible something that makes your day weird isn’t so intangible after all. For that handful of men, my shirtless breasts were at the root of their skewered day. My gals were the cause of their left-of-center morning.
Luckily for them, the morning’s chill had the girls paying a lot more attention than I was, so at least the view wasn’t too bad. Small favors, thank the sweet baby Jesus. Small favors.
Addendum: The Latino gentleman who cleans my office just taught me a new word: dichoso. Each night he comes in and says to me in Spanish, “Good evening, beautiful lady.” And each night I give him a huge grin and blush in response. It’s nice to hear someone call you ”beautiful” and I appreciate his kindness. Though his English is broken and my Spanish is stunted, we manage to communicate un poco. Dichoso, he told me, is what he feels when he sees me each evening. “You,” he said, “beautiful woman, always smile, make feel dichoso.” Happy, fortunate, blessed. Guess my girls’ mojo works even with clothes on. Woo!
Second Addendum: My Latino cleaning friend just came back and asked me about un novio. Stunted though my Spanish is, I know that word to mean boyfriend. I smiled and said yes, I do have a boyfriend. Mr. Latino Lover looked stricken. He asked, “Es lo Latino?” (“Is he Latino?”) No, I replied, he’s not Latino, he’s Kansan. Mr. Latino Lover actually clucked his tongue at that, shook his head disapprovingly, and then asked slyly, “Le gusta los hombres latinos?” (Do you like Latino men?) ”Sure!” I chirped, thoughts of burritos and black beans dancing in my head. He nodded. “Latinos estan caliente. Usted debe.” (“Latino men are hot. You should try.”) Then he winked at me suggestively and left. I looked down to make sure my breasts were still covered.* Such blatant flirting is not common for me.
I AM: LEARNING that my breasts are fabulous… and also to pay more attention when I get dressed in the morning