May 26, 2010

why summer is not my soulmate.

So, this is the moment in the year when people start gushing about the fun, early phases of their relationships with Summer. They can't shut up about Summer, how dreamy he is and how long they've waited for him, and then they go and display sloppy, nauseating PDAs all over the place.

I don't blame them, really. I can see the appeal. See it, but definitely can't feel it. Summer and I have this strained relationship where he is the little brother who follows me around and smothers me the minute I sit still, and I just put up with him and wait for him to get bored with me, because I'm too nice to yell at him to lay off with all these other Summer-lovers around, ready to judge me up and down for not liking summer.

This is the norm for me, but this week at work is amplifying it because the two-story, 100-square-feet reception area I work in is the only section of our building that has inexplicably decided to go on strike. The summer air in every other office area is whipped into submission, but in mine it's allowed to run amuck. Or, not so much run amuck as plop down and unpack its 18 suitcases all over the damn place with no regard for anybody else's personal space.

I'm told the landlord has been called to evict the insensitive punk, but in the meantime I sit in the 81 degrees and perspire. A lot. And what's worse is, I get sleepy. I'm sure I sound a little bit drunk when I answer the phone. And you can only cut back the layers of clothing so much before it starts to get problematic.

Maybe it's the time of year, but today the sitting and perspiring and the buzzing of my wee fan brought back some vivid memories of elementary school. I spent 1st through 4th grade in an ancient, dank, prison/labyrinth of a school, complete with desk-and-chair combos with seats worn shiny by thousands of squirrely kids' butts. Boys had to wear slacks and girls had to wear skirts at this school, and the feeling of sweaty legs sticking to those wooden seats will forever live in the corner of my brain that also houses The Trumpet of the Swan, times tables, cursive, and phonics. Going to school was always just a hair more impossible when you had to sweat the whole day long, knowing summer break was just within reach.

Now, when I'm sitting and sweating, instead of wanting to eat a popsicle and climb a tree and ride my bike around, I just want to take a nap.

Okay, I'll still take the popsicle.

May 13, 2010

I have
immortal longings in me.
- Shakespeare, "Antony and Cleopatra"

I have in me:

An 88-year-old Jewish woman who plays mahjong and saves her tea bags and knits and says things like "six to one, half-dozen to the other" and "whippersnapper" and "Lord willing and the creek don't rise..." (okay, maybe she's not Jewish.)

A 62-year-old hippie who wears multiple loud floral prints at the same time, wears too much jewelry, talks about composting too much, and throws an unforgettable garden party.

A ten-year-old book-swallowing nerd. Although that's really just the same as the current 26-year-old nerd.

What's funny is, most days I don't feel the age that I am.

May 7, 2010

no judgement, please.

Okay. Confession time.

Today felt more like the Ides of March than the first week of May- chilly and steadily raining. And for some reason, my day at work just draaaaaaaaaagged. I'm already bored just trying to come up with a way to describe how slow it was. So, it being miserable and boring and Friday, I was anxious to get home and take off my stupid clicky work shoes and wrinkly work clothes and put on pajamas. (It may be disturbing, but I go straight to pj's at roughly 5pm every day of the work week. I need to get out more.)
However, be it the rain or the Friday crazies, traffic was uncooperative and frankly, a little belligerent. (No idea if I spelled that right.) Traffic and I have a tense relationship anyway, but there's no reasoning with it when it gets in a mood like that. Incorrigible is a good word for it. So I called my On-star (read: husband) who gave me the most reasonable route home from the nearest exit off the highway.

I wasn't sure where I was at first, but then I recognized enough landmarks to realize I was near the Hamilton Cemetery, so out of curiosity I pulled off the road to check it out.

Tangent: three things. 1. The cemetery is old. And crammed. And really lovely. 2. On the City of Hamilton's website, the cemeteries are categorized under 'Parks'. Um, I guess? A really quiet one? 3. I guess they are parks, because outside each entrance are signs depicting dogs on leashes, and people picking up after them, which implies walking your dog through the cemetery is totally cool.
So, I'm rolling around this vast collection of concrete and marble chunks, and that's when I see the lilacs. Along the back edge of the cemetery chain link fence, as far as I could see were frothy, fragrant lilacs in full bloom. And I know exactly where I am; over the fence and down the hill lies my usual route home from work, and I've looked up the hill coated in lilac bushes and wondered how to get up there. And I had got up there.

I've always loved lilacs. In the wild, unkempt back yard of my childhood (well, somewhat kempt, okay Dad?) we could always count on an abundance of three things: lilacs, peonies (GLORIOUS peonies!), and sycamore twigs. The first two I loved; the latter was the bane of my existence every Saturday morning, as we were drafted to gather them all lest they choke and kill the lawn mower. Like that would have been such a tragedy.

But anyways. It took me about eight seconds to decide to park off to the side of the quiet road, and scamper around soaking-wet in my stupid nice work shoes, snapping twig after twig of heavy blossoms. It's the smell. That smell will fill a room in a few hours, did you know that? Those things smell so sweet and light and rich, they're practically spun sugar. Or meringue. Or something. I think it makes me go a little mad, hence the thievery.

And I'll be honest: I stopped and checked over my shoulder, in every direction, a few times. And I even had brief thoughts of what I would say to some horrified elderly resident stopping by to pay their respects... I considered picking out a family member whose grave I would pretend to be picking the lilacs for. Braithwaite was a contender, just because it's a pretty name. But I digress. I just didn't want to get caught like a guilty eight-year-old.

Now, they're clustered throughout the rooms of our apartment, and they're delightful. Dare I say I would do it again? Here's the thing: I don't think the dead would begrudge a bit of spring to the living. The dead can't exactly enjoy them, anyway.

May 2, 2010


The notion of having, one day, our own place is occupying more space in my brain lately. All this gardening going on around me is probably why. The metaphor of lengthening, anchoring, sprawling roots is obvious. It'll feel so good to live in a way that isn't tentative or temporary.

Also, because I have a ridiculous amount of book reports from third grade and every photograph I ever took and every book I've ever read, it will be fun to have it all unpacked (or at least a designated storage home) and together under one roof, because our belongings are officially spread between three roofs (and maybe more, who knows). And let me tell you, books are a bitch to move. And it's worse when we BOTH like books, so there are twice as many. I know I've written about this before, but since 2002 I have moved 13 times. THIRTEEN. Of course, this included college which is highly transitory anyway. But still. You get good at moving books. Free tip: pack them in small boxes. I know that means a LOT of small ones instead of less big ones, but your back will thank you. Your arms and shoulders and knees will appreciate it as well.

Point: one day I would like to unpack all my books in built-in bookshelves with a rolling ladder, for easy access when I want to take one to read out on the front porch, possibly in a porch swing, definitely with a gin & tonic. I would also like to take our food scraps out to the compost bin after dinner (eaten at our hypothetical dining room table, with a dinner party of friends, with our wedding dishes currently in hibernation), and weed my vegetable garden to my heart's content, knowing that if something turns out pear-shaped I'll have many more summers to practice. A bonus might be nice neighbors to share all the harvest with, too.

I feel old when I say this, but I want to just settle. Stay put for enough time to care about the walls we'll paint, to gut the bathroom that needs redoing, and generally putter about the house. I look forward to puttering.