My grandfather, once he’d retired, used to wait on the front steps for my grandmother to come home from her factory job at the honey bee company. There, she would magic the honey and beeswax into candies, candles, soaps, and the like for an unidentified yearning marketplace. While he retired and spent his days alone, she kept working for a number of years after.
So he’d sit, waiting for her car to pull around the bend in the neighborhood. Loyal, like a puppy.
It was one of those late summer evenings that takes on a golden tinge, framed by overladen trees and branches, a lingering warm breeze, and a slight hum of insects that somehow never seem to pester in memory.
The steps were concrete and just wide enough for me to sit beside him while visiting that summer. We chatted about now forgotten things, and he passed the time by relocating ants that came his way. He seemed boyish in his impatience for my grandmother’s return, doting in his insistence upon watching the drive for her car.
Nostalgic, now I’m the impatient devoted one, waiting on my own front steps.
I suppose it’s generally considered a bad thing when the hostess of the bar leaves for a break only to return and chirp, “Oh wow! You guys are still here!” with the genuine enthusiasm reserved for youth.
Does she know she’s being insulting and condescending? At this point in our lives, J and N (both men) and I aren’t deterred, but, in fact, take it as a point of pride that we know how to properly wile away an afternoon day-drinking. Having the freedom to do so. The luxury. It’s rare these days to find those with whom to share such proclivities what with kids and jobs and travel and responsibilities and the like.
And yet, the hostess’ comment makes me wonder about my own drinking habits as a woman and those I’ve encountered recently in books and TV. It makes me wonder about the casual alcoholism of women in general, seemingly “normalized” and ingrained into our modern identities.
The pouring of vodka into water bottles in Sharp Objects as Camille roves the streets of her hometown, Wind Gap, accosted at every turn by her traumas, literally carved into her skin.
The pounding of caffeine, bottles, and pills by the nameless narrator in My Year of Rest and Relaxation, drugging herself into a near perpetual state of unconsciousness in hopes of avoiding the inevitable: reality.
These women are aggressively grasping at something else to guide them out and away. And it’s their choice. They’re choosing to destroy themselves in the process and who’s to stop them? Who’s to stop me?
Is this the turn that modern feminism has taken?
The Richmond train driver is usually a jovial sort, often announcing the destination as “R-R-R-RRRRRRRICHMOND! RICHMOND TRAIN! RRRRICHMOND!”
But not tonight. Tonight he simply called out the endpoint flatly, almost morosely.
I knew it was him from his distinctive voice even though I’ve never met or seen him.
It made me pause in my reading and look up and around the train car to see if anyone else had noticed. A sea of faces absorbed by screens.
I went back to my book and reread the same paragraph three times as I wondered where his joy went. I wished I could ask him what was the matter. I wished I could tell him that I noticed. That someone was paying attention.
I take my pills with breakfast, when I remember to that is. I hide each tablet in a chewed up mouthful, just like a puppy, except I’m swallowing my sanity.
One pill to increase my energy level. Check!
Two to fight my depression. Check!
One to even out my cycles of extreme mood drops. Check!
And those are just my morning pills. At bedtime, there’s another pill for depression, another for motivation, and a seventh for sleep.
I’m 38 years old and I subsist on seven pills a day just to function.
Days slipped by obliquely, with little to remember, just the familiar dent in the sofa cushions…If I kept going, I thought, I’d disappear completely, then reappear in some new form. This was my hope. This was the dream. –My Year of Rest and Relaxation
I think Ottessa Moshfegh may be a bad influence.
I said “fuck it” after sitting in the same chair working without a break from 9 to 4:30 again today, poured myself a gin and tonic, and brought it into the shower for company. I haven’t showered in three days. Besides, isn’t gin meant to be in a bathtub, or something?
The condensation on the sides of the highball were lovely to the touch, as was the cool clink of the ice cubes and the crisp quinine of the tonic on my tongue in contrast to the humid flux of the shower spray. Yes, gin is best enjoyed in the bath it turns out.
Hours spent sitting in the same attitude had atrophied my muscles and the hot water and cold cocktail worked their magic.
Spruced up, now I’m off to the Safeway to buy something else to buoy the spirit. Wine? Peonies? Twizzler Pull ‘n Peels? All three? I loathe the queue of elderly I’m sure to find there, let alone the judgement of the sales clerk for my being back again in less than 24 hours with such a milieu of items.
My bottles clinking in my shopping basket, admittedly, I’d rather buy Monistat cream, even with the special call button requiring them to unlock the case these days.
At least then they won’t look you in the eye.
A dear friend called today and rather than answer the phone, I let it go to voicemail. Sometimes it’s too difficult to pretend that everything is okay and that I’m okay and fake cheerfulness.
I just “can’t” with her sometimes. I know that makes me an asshole, but there it is.
After 9 years of friendship, I should be grateful and a better friend to her. Especially for how lonely it is out here; a Midwestern ex-pat. My therapist would say I’m “shoulding” all over myself and he’d be right, but still. Sometimes “should” ought to, in fact, be reality. Even if my heart is lagging.
How long is too long before I call her back? Before I put on my “face” and pretend that California is all I’d hoped it would be?
I wish they could wrap cheese in something other than plastic.
Being from Wisconsin, cheese is a basic food group in this household and the sound of its unwrapping is the siren call that draws Wendy form whichever pillow she currently resides in the home.
She just KNOWS.
I’ve tried opening a mere cheese single from WITHIN the fridge in hopes of masking the allure, to no avail.
There she is, doe-eyed and expectant. A very good girl. A girl of the streets, sure, who simply needs just this one slice of gouda, smoked gouda being her favorite. But, her palate is ever-evolving.
I gathered the will to go into the city today. My rescheduled doctor’s appointment to check on my uterine fibroids the occasion. I am still growing another fibroid baby even after the myomectomy nearly three years ago. I’m still relatively young, and don’t want to undergo another surgery in hopes of one day having a healthy full-term pregnancy, so we watch and we wait. My current recurrent fibroid that they can see is a mere 3 cm and has only grown 1 cm in the past year.
In the Lyft on my way to the doctor I passed through my former neighborhood and remembered how my life used to be. How can one not in such a scenario? It was where I first moved to San Francisco from Chicago; the earliest of days. The corner grocery where they’d special order me sugary cereal when my ex was out of town. The coffee shop in which I’d write over a Ceasar salad. The ample hills I’d traverse in search of something…anything else.
Passing through there now, it felt eerie and a lifetime ago. So very much has changed.
Even if only just 1 cm.
A bad day. I woke up and cleared my calendar and then went back to bed.
I don’t know what to say. Sometimes it’s all I can do just to take a shower and brush my teeth.
This apathy is breathtaking. It just never ends.
Laying in bed, my thoughts wandered back to April when J and I stood overlooking the Seine’s right bank from our VRBO’s floor-to-ceiling windows. It was our last night in Paris and I tossed my only remaining Euro from the Ile St. Louis apartment, watching as it was engulfed by the pulsing water below, alight by the overarching pont.
I made a wish as one would upon a birthday candle then and I remember it now. Will always remember it.
I hope I survive.
Over coffee at the picnic-table in our campsite this morning, J and I discussed The Handmaid’s Tale, which we’ve been avidly watching. He noted, ironically of course, how the show has ruined so many things for him.
“Like what?’ I asked, semi-judgementally.
“These cars for instance- the Mercedes G-wagons they drive. I used to like them.”
“Ah,” I said. “I wonder how Mercedes feels about their branding these days after formerly being known as Kardashian-wagons. What else?”
He sat a moment and sipped his coffee.
“The color teal?” I offered.
“The name Lydia?”
A nod of agreement.
A look of utter shock and disgust.
“Corporal punishment then?”
“And cattle prods,” he added.