Monday, July 30, 2007

The Day the Computer Died

I spent the majority of my weekend lying on the deck in my new summer chaise reading, eating popcorn and drinking a strawberry-banana-peach-orange smoothie. Except for the cloudy skies on Sunday, it couldn't have been a more perfect weekend.

I even managed to avoid doing that oh-so-hated task: taking a shower. Taking a shower for me is like wiping my ass with sandpaper. If the water isn't too hot, then it's too cold. There are so many steps: lather, rinse, repeat, condition, exfoliate, shave, then wash my body and all the little nooks and crannies which get progressively more plentiful as I continue to pack on the pounds. Since I successfully avoided having to wash these this weekend, they were extra linty this morning.

On Sunday morning I realized that my idiotphone wasn't downloading email, so I got online to check it. My computer has had this persistent little yellow shield in the lower right hand corner signifying that it has an update to install for about the last month. Finally yesterday I decided to do the restart necessary to install the updates. So, I click Alt+F4 three times, and hit restart. And I'm like, what? It sits there mid-shutdown doing this countdowny thing. Like, it was installing the updates as it was shutting down. I'd never seen that before.

It turns itself off and then back on. I wait the necessary 20 minutes as my old-as-sin harddrive grinds away in the startup process. I even walked out into the kitchen to give it some privacy. When I came back, I noticed the screen was up, the harddrive had stopped, but I had no task bar. Yeah, like, the bottom of the screen was gone. My computer had been neutered.

I knew this was happening as my harddrive has been getting progressively louder and slower and I haven't been able to start up Mozilla without offering the stupid thing a virgin sacrifice. Now it's officially dead and I am without PC. I am PC-less. Say that three times fast.

Is this what I get for downloading all that gay porn?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Somebody Farted in the Elevator

I've been in San Diego, learning a small amount about laboratory science, but mainly drinking with colleagues and associates from faraway places - mainly Chicago.

Tonight I went to a formal dinner/dancing event put on by one of our vendors with which we have a multi-million dollar contract. I say this because, well, they owe us a dinner or two. It was held in the ballroom at the Hotel del Coronado on the beautiful island of Coronado. Me and my fellow conglomo employees ate and drank ourselves silly, and were rewarded by a serenade from Bill Medley, former Righteous Brother, and his ensemble included the song "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," which was written and sung for that favorite 80's movie, Dirty Dancing. Isn't that special?

I have one coworker who has a special charisma with strangers. She managed to drag to our table as we sat down, two amazingly gorgeous guys, both of which were, of course, gay. Duh. Nevertheless, I managed to flirt with one of them, and he even convinced me he was going to send me a puppy. As Bill crooned behind us, me and the gay pathologist (who, ironically, is in the Army) winked and giggled as the good doctor's boyfriend looked on jealously.

On my way home, I caught the bus to my hotel alone. It dropped me off several blocks away, so I ignored my 3-inch heels and half-skipped, half-sprinted back to my hotel. (I had to pee.) As I knocked my knees together waiting for the elevator, another few folks wandered over to the alcove. We offered impersonal smiles at each other as we waited.

Hopping into the elevator, I realized I was accompanied by four gentlemen and two women, all coupled. I pressed the '5' button and then acknowledged the fact that everyone else was on a floor higher than myself. As the door closed, it hit me.

Someone had farted. And for the first time, it wasn't me. Someone farted. Like, on the elevator dude. ON...THE...ELEVATOR. Could there be a worse place to break wind??? Can't you wait until you get to your room, or at least out into the open breezeways to let loose? I mean, damn! I giggled to myself as I held my breath. I realized I had the upper hand because I only had to suffocate for four floors, while the others had to do it further up. 1...2...3...........4......................5. Ding!

I skipped off of the elevator and took a long cleansing breath. Happily, I made my way to my room, knowing that the rest of my compatriots still suffering in the elevator were probably blaming me as the farter.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dead Soldier

Gunny Boy,

The emotional chaos that I've been feeling lately has felt like I'm carrying around a 50 pound backpack on my shoulders. My level of anxiety has increased and I wake up every morning feeling sad for no reason. Insomnia is random, but it occurs on the worst nights possible: the ones where I have very little time to get a good amount of sleep. Getting the 8 needed hours of sleep has become like trying to win at 1 vs. 100. I keep trying to outsmart the heat, my racing mind, and all the other things that seem to keep me from sleeping.

Last Friday, I was having a great day and decided to leave work early to do some shopping. I went to the mall to hit the cosmetics counter. As I was walking through the main thoroughfare, deftly weaving between all the muffintop-bearing tweens, I saw the store your mom works at. She was there. I stood outside the store for a few minutes in a fit of panic, aching to go in and talk with her. I found plenty of excuses not to go in, but ignored them.

The last time I saw her was at your funeral. Tiffany stood by her side as they mourned. Friday she was different. The last four months of grief has darkened her hair, and darkened her eyes. She spoke of you with emotions trembling in her voice. I sensed she was screaming inside as she had been from the beginning, "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?" Only now, I think life is so difficult for her in that she has lost control of everything she once held so tightly.

She said she and Tiffany had been discussing what should happen with you things and Tiffany can't let go. They had a fight and haven't talked in weeks. She said your little girl's mother, Heather, has managed to prevent anyone from getting any of the insurance settlements because she procured a lawyer the day after your death and all the money has gone to pay legal fees. I discovered that we aren't the only ones who've embraced referring to Heather as, "white trash." She said your little bro feels like he is half a person. They celebrated his birthday in Portland. His first birthday without you.

She thanked me. She asked for a hug. I told her how we missed her baby boy and how honored I felt to have been such a huge part of your life for so long. I laugh at my memories of you and all of your antics. I laugh to think about how at night, I would sneak into your space at work when you were at break, and change the music from Tool to Barry Manilow, and then sneak out. One night, you finally caught me. I thought of the emails we'd send on work time. Me saying, "your village called. They need their idiot back," and you responding with, "the lab called. Your brain is ready."

She said there was a marker on your grave finally. On my way home, I parked in an alley and made my way over to the cemetery to see it. "Operation Eduring [sic] Freedom," was printed on the plain stone marker. No eagle, globe and anchor as had been requested. Your mom was upset over the misspelling and the blatant neglect that had gone into the preparation of the headstone and I now feel her anger.

Last night I was having dinner with friends and as I made my way to the bathroom, a new memory of you came to mind that made me laugh. Then in the middle of the night, I woke up trying to remember it but I had lost it. How can something so important be so fleeting?

A few weeks ago I saw your stepmother. I asked her how she was and she was struggling as well. I spent your birthday thinking about you but not talking about it.

Living through this, this strange experience of death, has left me confused and anxious. But it's difficult to talk about it because I can't explain myself. Four months is a long time to feel confused, but I can't make it go away. People say that it's okay to be confused, and that it will go away in its own time. But, I don't feel like I have the right to be confused anymore. For some reason, I think I lost that right when I chose to be private in my grief, and not open up to those that care about me. You would have seen through that and you would have known.

It's in those rare moments of complete, all-consuming confusion, that I slowly begin to realize exactly what it is that I've lost.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Guilt or No Guilt

Tonight I called my mom to tell her that, instead of coming home to their place this summer, that I was going to take a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon for my birthday. And as I told her this, I could tell she was disappointed. She asked who I was going with and I told her it was a group of women. I told her this with hope in my voice - hope that she would understand and be supportive.

She wasn't. "Well, I just want to implant one thought into your head: Tom."

"What does he have to do with it?"

"Well, I'm just afraid that if you don't see him often enough, then you won't be able to provide for him in the case that *something* happens."

"And you think that me coming home for four days would change that?"

"Well, I'm just saying, that if you don't see him, then we may need to consider some other people to care for him if *something* happens."

I was furious. "I guess I expected a little bit more supportive response from you. If you need to consider getting some other people, then that's your decision to make."

"You're overreacting."

"I'm sorry. I guess I only have so much money and so much time."

"You know we'd help pay for you to come out here. It's unfortunate, but we'd help you."

"You know, it would be good if you would consider coming out here."

"We have considered it. But, I'm afraid you'd use that as an excuse to never see come home and see Tom."

"What?!? As if I've made an excuse the last seven years I've come home? Why would I do that now?"

Silence.

"I am so furious with you right now. How dare you use Tom as fodder to make me feel guilty? How dare you throw him at me like that?"

"You're overreacting. This is all in your head."

"I'm sorry. I have to go now. I love you. Bye."

It sounds melodramatic, but I feel like I've lived my life under a shroud of my parents' disappointment. Aside from going to college, I have never done anything that they have approved of. I am at the end of this rope. I refuse to live the rest of my life doing everything I can to make them happy. And I refuse to make any more excuses for why I haven't done the things that make them happy.

They wonder why I moved all the way out here. Right now, I can't get far enough away from them.