Monday, August 25, 2008

From Tomb-Like to Marginally Better

So in coming back to work at my mortgage-paying job at the community college, besides the thought of dealing with people, it was the idea of my tomb-like office, that of beige metal walls with tape marks and rust stains on them, that really put me in a funk.

I needed to make it less depressing, but who wants to spend money on decorative items? I don't have that, especially since 1) we just bought a new car! red and all mine! more expensive than we wanted, but our two beaters were just about ready to croak. 2) we have a crazy agenda for the next two months: birthdays, my brother's wedding back in Canada, my parents coming in October, M and I going to the Small Press Expo for comics down in Maryland, etc.


1) Postcards. It's what I did in Japan - I didn't have much money there either, but instead of buying prints of beautiful paintings, I bought postcard versions. Then framed them and hung them in my living room. They look fab. So I went to the dollar store and found some cards and postcards that were actually kind of neat - onto the walls they go.

2) Crap from the garage sale that didn't sell. Do I swoon over elegant ivory pitchers? Do I believe in angels, and thus love angel ceramic pot holders? No, but what the hell. I can throw some crazy fake flowers or leaves in the pitcher, and the angel is kinda nice.

3) Pictures. Why didn't I think of this before?? I made a whole display of pictures right behind my head at my desk, this wonderful scattering of pictures of my family, my wedding, my cats, and lovely M. It's so happy and silly and so much of me. I love it.

It also has double meaning. I feel like I have an army behind my head now, like some invisible force that's glaring at anyone who fucks around with me.
I actually have an herb charm here to ward off psychic attacks taped under my desk - laugh at the New Age if you want, but one thing I have to work on this year is not letting people manipulate me and affect my head. If anything, just the presence of the herb just reminds me to be strong and tough and take charge. Charm + family behind my head makes me feel stronger, with a lot less tolerance for people's overall bullshit.
Because really, with all the things planned for the next year, who wants to get caught up in anything that's not really important?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Bad Neighborhood

So I was at my Friday meeting with the CEO of my non-profit workplace, all well and good this morning. The meeting goes well, I get everything done, talk to a few workers at the front desk, and leave for the day, on my way to the mall to exchange some clothes.

I'm driving down Bath Street, past a landscaping crew. Bath Street is right off of Route 44/Smith Street, and right in a pretty dicey neighborhood. Not a place that I'd normally walk around alone.

Suddenly, there is a BANG! and my driverside window shatters.

My first thought - someone is shooting at me.

I brake, and half the window falls onto my shoulders and lap. I'm freaking out. A guy runs out of a house on the street: Are you OK? One of the landscapers comes over and does the same.

Slowly, I figure out that one of the landscapers with a weed whacker must have picked up a large rock while working, and it shot out and smashed into my window. He comes over, young college kid, very apologetic. I do what I always do when I get scared, which is desperately hold back tears and try to tough it out.

I don't even know what to do. Do I call the police? How am I going to get all the glass out of my car? When I get out, shaky but trying to be an adult, the rest of my window crumbles into the car and on the street.

The guy who came out asking if I was alright took my keys, put the car in neutral, and he and the other landscapers pushed my car off the street. The guy, I think his name was Scott, kept saying, God that must have scared the shit out of you. Are you alright? The supervising landscaper comes over with phone in hand, calling his foreman at Providence Water, and says we have to wait until he comes, because the city has to pay for the damages.

So in the midst of all this, in the back of my head I'm thinking - is it safe to be just sitting here in this neighborhood? Is this Scott character trustworthy? His house is crumbling, overgrown, he makes jokes about getting high last night and how he's used to this kind of excitement around here.

The supervisor says for me to call the police, to file a report and make sure that Providence Water can't duck out of paying for the window. So I do. I'm sitting in the car, calming down, and talking occasionally to Scott and his landlady, who are sitting on their stoop, and have a vacuum in hand. They offer to vacuum up all the glass so I can drive it, but we wait for the cop to come first.

So the cop arrives. Italian, swaggering guy, very Rhode Island. Takes my information, calls me over to his car, and says "you follow me, and I'll take you to a gas station so you can clean out your car."

I say "oh, well, those neighbors said they'd help with that."

The cop makes a face. "You don't want to do that. You should go to a gas station."

I'm thinking okaayyy......

Then the cop comes to my car, and starts sweeping out all the glass from the driver's seat so I can drive. Scott and the landlady again say that they can vacuum it out. I look at them, think 'what the fuck, why am I not appreciating this offer', and tell the cop that I'm going to take them up on it. The cop shrugs and leaves.

The foreman arrives, we exchange information, etc., etc. All very apologetic. Then Scott comes over with the vacuum, and very carefully and thoroughly vacuums out all the glass from my car, the seats, and down the side. Even went under the mats.

At this point M has arrived, and it's fine from then on. I do a little retail therapy, and I'm starting to feel less rattled as I'm sitting here at home.

In thinking about it though, it's funny how there are preconceived notions of particular areas, and the people who live in them, when a hell of a lot of kindness was found in a "bad area". The cop dismissed Scott and the landlady right away, just because of where they live, I think. I found myself doing the same thing, and that sucks. Then I think about all the dicks I encounter all the time who come from "good areas."

Yes, there's more violence and crime in particular areas of the city, but overall, there's still a lot of decent people just living their lives, who want to help when they see a girl like me scared and panicking in the street.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Because it's a Journal, So Why Not

I've lived in the States now for just over eight years. I left in 2000 on a whim, dropped out of university and came here to New England to live with relative strangers, in the desire to escape a very depressing existence and be close to a guy who didn't think I was crazy.

And it's been a good life - I've had a lot of opportunities that I might not have had back in Canada: a really good relationship when I never thought I was one for marriage, the new, growing thought of children when I never thought I wanted them before, trips and ocean and resisting the awful Rhode Island accent.

Still, after eight years, I get massive bouts of homesickness. Last night was one of them. It struck when I realized no one was calling me back - my brother, my sister, my dad, my mom. After I'd left messages a few days ago, out of loneliness and wanting to connect. So there I was, sitting on my orange bed, feeling the hundreds of miles difference between my family and friends in Canada.

What do you do when you choose to live far away, and you love your loved ones so much and want to be close, but because you're so far and have been for so long, people forget about you? Because you're not right there for them to see? You are an afterthought: a loved afterthought of course, I don't doubt that, but in the midst of the daily swirl, if you're not in close proximity to be seen, you're not thought about, save for every month. Maybe.

I think about my family all the time. I kick myself sometimes. And the older I get, the less I like living far away. I'm not advocating being as physically close as some family around here, which to me feels wickedly claustrophobic, but y'know, the idea of spending a day with my parents, or my sister, just because, even once a month.... that sounds really wonderful

Forgive me, but the thought crossed my mind that if I did have a child, maybe I wouldn't get so lonely. Because I'd have my own family to take care of, and be close to. Not the sole reason for wanting children, of course, but it did occur to me, selfish thought as it might be.

I need some more fucking local friends too. *^_^*