Friday, May 23, 2003

Arts & Crafts

My mind is spinning with all these art projects I want to work on, but I know that I have to work on this damn work project instead. Since I have this deadline looming over my head, I am (of course) consumed with thoughts of things I'd rather be doing. Here are some of the weird things I've been thinking about making, all of which are still solely in the planning stages in my head:

  • I've been buying cat litter in these abominably heavy plastic square buckets, and I've been trying to think of useful things to do with them. J's already using one as his bathroom trashcan, and another for a mop bucket, and I'm using one for the basement trashcan, but there has to be a creative outlet for all these plastic buckets. I've been thinking about making them into teeny tiny houses, and start putting them in my garden, like there are all these gnomes living there. Maybe I can cover them in concrete mix and stick shells or stones or beads on them? Sounds like a project.

  • I want to string lights outside, for those rare occasions when the weather is neither too hot, too cold, too windy or too insect-y, and I can sit in my backyard and look up at pretty lights. I have all these damn strings of party lights, and it would be nice to think of a use for them. Maybe I can get some fish line and make a triangle from the house gutter, to the apple tree, and then to a pole I would put up, which could double as somewhere to hang that silly bird house I bought on a whim?

  • Those damn women's magazines and their craft ideas. I have been saving broken coffee mugs, with the idea that I would make a cool mozaic out of the broken bits on a small table, and now Martha Stewart magazine has the instructions on how to do it. I'm itching to get started, but according to this thing, I don't have nearly enough broken bits yet. Do I really have to break things to get enough, or worse still, buy broken plates and cups from stores to have enough? Like I have TIME to go to flea markets and garage sales for this stuff. Like the whole world hasn't already caught onto Martha and the shabby chic woman already, and will beat me to the flea market. And like the flea market people haven't finally twigged that they can charge more, now that the shabby chic army will be pounding down their doors for things they can paint, distress, paint again, stencil and rework into something beautiful.... but I digress.

  • I sewed my button collection onto my new purse and it looks so damn cool, I want to do the same thing for my friend for her birthday. But the time it took to make this one was excruciating, so I don't think this project is even going to get past the whim stage.

  • I'd like to hang that shelf in the living room and put all my collected baskets up there. I had no idea how many I had until I put them in a big pile. Good lord.

  • There's still that idea of painting a border around the living room, at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling. Should it be the same colors as I sponged the walls? Should it be a transition between the walls and the ceiling color? Should it be a wallpaper border, or freehand painted, or a plain band of colored paint? I can't decide.

  • One night, I'm going to surprise J with "camping night". I have a tent, sleeping bag, fake fire for the campsite, one of those noise machines you sleep to with a "cricket and other night noises" setting, S'mores cereal, and flashlights. I'll set up the tent in the house, and turn off all the lights, and make him find the campsite with a flashlight. I've been thinking about this silliness for a long time, I just need to find out when to do it. Maybe we'll "camp" on Memorial Day.

  • Damn that Martha Stewart (again). The idea of hanging that hula skirt straw along the bottom of the bed like a bed skirt is just so damn cool. But I'd do a whole Hawaiian kitsch thing. Tiki this and that, Hawaiian shirt print bedcover, pink flamingos everywhere. I'm the anti-Martha.

  • Don't even get me started on all the sewing and beading projects I want to do, or make me think about what the hell I'm eventually going to do with all those damn cobalt blue Arizona iced tea bottles I collected. I'm working on it. In my head. With the rest of it.

  • It only looks like I'm resting. My brain is past the sound barrier already.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2003

    Party Lights

    I think about it every time I see those party lights, the little palm trees and pink flamingoes. I remember breaking them when I walked out of the room and swung my arm in rage, pulling the scotch tape holding them around the door frame and smashing one or two of them. Even in that moment of monstrous rage, I felt a small tug of remorse for having broken my sentimental favorite string of lights, but then I quickly turned that sadness into yet another reason in my litany of complaints against you.

    I stormed into the other room and slammed the door as hard as possible, and to my own surprise, let out a screaming roar of frustration that must've shook up the neighbors some, even though that was not my intention There were no intentions at that very moment, only a blur of emotions and needs. I wanted someone to come in and comfort me and talk me down, make everything alright again. I became scared that if I made too much noise, the police would be called, and there was no intelligent way to describe the psychological battle being waged in that vacation house.

    Bathroom floors have always offered comfort to me in my darkest moments. Hungover, feverish, depressed, or raging, whatever my ailment, the coolness of the tiles and the privacy of the locked bathroom were a reliable refuge, and my only refuge that night. Lying on the floor, I listened for footsteps in the hall as I tried to calm down and make sense of my situation.

    Funny, trying to make sense of a completely senseless situation. I was stuck miles from home in a vacation house with you - a lunatic, who was my oldest, dearest friend up until a few months previous. I didn't have a car with me, and couldn't take yours and strand you there. I was having a miserable time, you were acting beyond irrationally, and up until that night, we kept trying to keep up the pretense of being on an enjoyable vacation together. If I starting packing my things, there was no telling what you would do. Weren't you already keeping me in check by saying how suicidal you were? Such a drastic action might push you right over the edge. Even if I had decided to pack up and leave right then, and called my brother and asked him to come get me, I would probably have to explain the situation to him, and he would dislike you even more than he already did by that point. I didn't want him to know how you were behaving, or anyone to know what was happening. I was still trying to protect your reputation at that point, so no one would know that you were behaving like a lunatic. I thought I was being a good friend covering up your behavior and trying to help you work through whatever was going on. I guess I wasn't really helping.

    It was the silent treatment that really got to me. If we didn't talk about this one issue that was bothering you, we weren't allowed to talk about anything. You said it was because it was bothering you so much, that you couldn't concentrate enough to make small talk. I remember reading something about how John Lennon's Aunt Mimi used to discipline him by giving him the silent treatment, and how it drove him insane. I didn't totally understand how effect that was until I was trapped on vacation with a raving lunatic who wouldn't talk to me about anything but her singular obsession.

    It wasn't that I didn't have sympathy for what you were going through. If I didn't, I wouldn't have tolerated so much abuse for so long. As a matter of fact, I thought it was my obligation to help you see this crisis through. And I did my best for as long as I could. Until I couldn't help anymore. And then I had to let you go.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2003

    Chicken Necks

    David, a friend of mine, works in law enforcement. He has some great stories, which he will tell you after all is said and done or without naming names, so we have a direct line on all this fascinating local gossip, but it's like reading a gossip column with all blind items. Occasionally, he'll tell us who a particular thing is about, but only because we taken a vow of silence regarding passing on such stories. I love hearing these stories, as they are much more entertaining than any movie, and due to my long friendship with David, I know that he is telling us the truth about these cases. Our own personal insider version of COPS.

    The latest mini-scandal in the area, and for all I know throughout the country, is the rise (you'll pardon the pun once you realize that it is one) in oral sex amoung thirteen year olds. It turns out that a bunch of similarly aged kids have been caught sneaking into a run-down house that is being renovated, and have been drinking and cavorting there every chance they can get. Let's set aside the underage drinking issue for a moment, and focus on the main Clintonian event here. This just (pun alert) blows my mind.

    When I was thirteen years old, the furthest thing from my mind, and I'll go out on a limb here and say the furthest thing on the minds of most of the girls my age in my school, was going down on some guy. First of all, thirteen year old boys were, for the most part, the worst pack of teasing, bullying, fumbling, awkward, pimply losers you would ever want to see. Barely older than boys, just succumbing to the throes of hormonal outrage, they were miserable friend material, much less boyfriend material. Fart jokes and clumsy bra-snapping antics were the best of it back then, and there were only a handful of kids who were dating anyone. I clearly remember a 7th grade dance where the boys spent the entire night on one side of the room, and the girls on the other, with very little intergender socializing. The idea of walking across the room, even to talk to one or two of the boys that I had been friends with since kindergarten, was just too much peer pressure to overcome. We were a boring, chaste lot.

    Being a late bloomer, I definitely didn't overcome my distaste for the farting and bra-snapping set for several years after that dance, so I can't even put myself in the mindset of these little girls and what they were doing in this house with these little boys. I know I sound like an old fogey, having been thirteen back in the days when there just was no such thing as Britney Spears and the like, and cable tv and the internet were things of the future, but things sure were different. And even for those few who were dating at thirteen and a little bit older, making out in a dark corner at a party had nothing to do with dropping trou.

    David backs me up on this, as he said that even in our high school there were plenty of girls "giving it up", but a blow job was a special thing. You had to go out with someone for a long time, or find a really bad girl to get that kind of action. But to even think of groups of kids getting together in a room, performing these very intimate (at least in my mind) acts with nothing but a blanket between you and the rest of the room watching... I can't even put myself in their place. I've never been much of a PDA person anyway, so the idea of performing sexual a room full of people...Oh MY GOD. I can't fathom it now, much less at thirteen years old.

    During my freshman year of high school, I remember overhearing this one girl talking about giving her long term (probably as long a several months, wow!) boyfriend a blow job. I was simultaneously curious to hear her description and scandalized that someone my age was actually doing that very thing that my mother said good girls NEVER did. (Poor Dad.) Judging from the silence in the room, and the few reactions I could pick up on from the other girls, I wasn't alone in my thoughts. I wonder what kind of group conference would've taken place after such a revelation now? Or is it so commonplace and unremarkable that there wouldn't even be a conversation about it?

    People seem very anxious to blame Clinton for the shift in attitudes regarding the intimacy of this act, but I think that the change has been subtle, as sexual attitudes and availability of sexually explicit images and products has changed. Don't get me wrong, I am certainly not advocating going back towards a backward age of ignorance and guilt surrounding sex. I would have been spared a lot of time on a nice leather couch had there been less of a tendency to wrap the tendrils of guilt around budding sexuality in my house. However, it does make me kind of sad that girls and boys so young are making what seem to me to be uninformed and unprotected (!) decisions about their sexuality. If sex comes that cheaply at such a young age, what is special about it when you get older? What will be the new intimacy?

    Thursday, May 15, 2003

    Coin Game

    J and I have an eccentric little game we play, which he originated, where you keep any coins you manage to find in a separate little jar or something, and at the end of the year, you count up everything you found. Of course, there are some specific rules to the game, like coins you find in your own house don't count. The presumption is that they were yours to start with anyway. And coins you find in your friend's house don't count either, because taking those is more like petty thievery than an actual find.

    After he explained the rules he follows, I started to play too, and I'm sure this sounds incredibly dorky, but it's rather fun. I like playing the game just for myself ("Look! Three pennies under the edge of that store display shelf! Moohahaha!"), but it's really a lot of fun to compare notes with J, especially when we have an especially impressive find. For example, we were sitting in J's car in the mall parking lot on a particularly windy day. All of a sudden, J lept out of the car, quick like a bunny, and snatched up a dollar bill flying past the windshield. It took me longer to register the fact that there was money flying by than it took him to get out of the car and snatch it up. We were cracking up when he got back in the car, equally amused by the fact that it took a dollar for him to move that fast. Jokes about the baby on the Nirvana cover fill my mind.

    So far, I am the winner in the "largest amount found in one sitting (or stooping, to be more accurate)" prize, because I saw a bill all balled up on the floor of the convenience store at lunchtime, with no one anywhere near it, and when I bent down to scoop it up, I saw that I had a $20 bill! Score! I was ridiculously thrilled with this find, and when I called J that night and told him, he was such a good sport about it, that it made it even better. Of course, he could be sporting about it, when I bought us pizza with it the next night. But then again, the $20 he won on a scratch off lottery ticket went to pay for our diner dinner, so we share our spoils (I mean prize winnings or finds, not the diner dinner).

    Like any good game, there are grey areas in the official rules, and we engage in mental patient-sounding debates about whether certain finds count or not, and I've found that J is much more stringent about his game rules than I am. For example, he knows that there is a guy where he works that has a thing against pennies, and the guy just throws them around on the floor when he gets them in his change from purchases. Strangely enough, there is a guy I work with who does the exact same thing. (Some psychiatrist ought to write a thesis on the origins of penny revulsion, if they haven't already. There must be something to this "pennies are inferior" thing, because it seems to be spreading, in our circles, at least.) J thinks that pennies found at work shouldn't count, because they were purposely put there, but I think that they should count, because as long as I didn't see them thrown, I don't know who they belonged to specifically, and they are still found by me.

    It's interesting to me to see how this little game shows our personalities, but especially regarding money. J is frugal and sometimes is a bit anal about things, defininitely a saver, whereas I am impulsive with money, and prone to blow it all in a pizza frenzy. The point of the game is not to compete against each other, but instead to see how much we can find, for fun. For that reason, we don't argue the rules, we just compare notes about the rules we are each following, and the debates about the merits of certain finds are just in good humor. And when we find pennies or any coins on the ground when we walk around together, for some reason, it makes me feel really happy, because it's sort of a little bonding ritual. We'll just pick up the penny, and the other person will act all annoyed that they missed it, and then congratulate the finder. Last night, we were giggling our heads off about how he found one in the Bronx that was totally embedded in the pavement, and river stone smooth from being run over a million times, but he tried to pry it up anyhow. And, realizing how ridiculous this was, trying to pry up this lone penny from the street, he was making comments about how it only had a =little= bit of dog pee on it. I guess you had to be there, but he had me crying, laying on the possible indignities he was suffering for this penny, which he never got. But we each found one later on, and how silly that this made us feel like we'd won some kind of big prize!

    The way we talk and joke about the game and its rules is sort of like the way we talk about our lives in general. We might offer suggestions and help to one another, but the underlying premise is always that it's your life, it's your rules, so whatever you do to make yourself feel like you won in the end, good for you. I think that's why I like this little game so much, because it points out something in our relationship that really works, and that is that we are a team, but we are also individuals. With growing humble little piggy banks of other peoples' spare change. And I like that, a lot.

    I think I've got a much bigger prize than the $20.

    Tuesday, May 13, 2003

    Tattoo You, Not Me

    I wish I could remember where, but somewhere online I recently read an article or a blog saying that it would be funny if people found out that their clever little tattoos of Japanese or Chinese characters said something completely opposite from what they were told. Well, I don't know if this gossip item inspired the blogger or this is just great timing, but I just read a gossip item that said that Britney Spears inadvertantly got a tattoo of a Japanese symbol that she thought said "mysterious", but instead says "strange". I find this incredibly amusing.

    Why do (mostly young) people have to permanently mark their bodies with temporary thoughts? Couldn't you just get a t-shirt or something? Or stick a post-it of your most recent attempt at pop culture coolness onto your shirt? How about we make shirts with see-through plastic pockets, and you slip in your thought of the day? Hey, I actually like that idea. A pocketbook maybe, with a clear pocket, and you put picture in there that you like...Oh, like I have TIME to make one of those. I'm still working on projects I started YEARS ago...

    Back to the topic. I often wonder why people chose the tattoo subjects they do. I have tattooed friends, and some of them thought long and hard about the subject matter and placement of their tattoos, which I heartily encourage whenever my opinion is asked. Unfortunately, my opinion on such things is usually asked during the covered-in-gauze freshly inked, "Look at what I did!" phase, and I am loathe to give my real thoughts to someone who just paid to be maimed. I hesitantly will admit here that I come from the generation where when I was teenage, the only women getting tattoos were biker babes, prisoners, the sluttiest sluts, and hardcore junkies. It just wasn't something that even a mildly risque' girl would consider, much less every single belly-bearing under 30 year old. Now it seems that being without tattoos is the exception rather than the rule, even for women older than 30, and some 40-somethings. I'm so not cool.

    Among my tattooed friends, one had a butterfly tattoo put on her shoulder, because she has always loved them, and because it reminded her of a turning point in her life. Another friend coincidentally had a butterfly on her back as well, to symbolize her freedom from breast cancer. These are pretty and meaningful to both women.

    When the second one contemplated her tattoo, I flirted with the idea of getting one myself, and wondered what image I would be interested in having on my body permanently. I don't think it's wise to tattoo on the names of significant others - you are only asking for Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee kinda trouble there. Kids' names are out, since I don't have any - the closest I have to kids is my cats, well, that would just be majorly weird and creepy. I am a cat lady, but within reason. Some people get sports team logos, but I am not a big sports fan. Band name or logo? Not unless you are a super groupie and plan on putting it somewhere your beloved band members will discover backstage. Pictures. Hmmm. Cats? No, too cutesy. Butterflies? Birds? Insects? Pretty, but meaningless. Japanese or Chinese characters? Exotic looking, but you will have Asian people who know what it REALLY says guffawing at you all over the place. Those tribal bands got a lot of play a few years ago, mostly because men wanted to show how bad-ass they were,that they could stand getting that tender underarm portion done. (OW! OW! OW!) But as one of my Irish friends who had that done warned me, he was teased mercilessly by the guys at work for getting his. "Hey, what TRIBE are YOU from?"

    Okay, maybe we'll get back to the what, and think about where for a bit. Would it be something I would want seen all the time? Oh, think about how lovely that big ole "Billy Bob" mess looked on Angelina Jolie's arm. Fetching with an evening gown. Not that I wear evening gowns on a regular basis, mind you, but still. How about something that peeks out of clothes? Uh, no. One of the undesireable effects my one butterflied friend has is that with some necklines, all you see is the antennae sticking out, and the effect is rather strange. All of a sudden I flashed on that young actress with the huge cross splashed across her lower abdomen, a pelvic canvas. UGH. Worse than that ugly picture is how stupid it looks when only half of it sticks out of her low-rise jeans. What the HELL was she thinking??

    I thought briefly about covering up a scar with one, but then was told that the results over scar tissue are iffy, and all I would need is to be stuck with a bumpy wrinkly picture. Oh, gee thanks, that's SO much better than the scar. Well, maybe if it was an abstract design...but why the hell do I need abstract art on my body? How about a permanent toe ring? No, yucky when wearing sexy shoes with toe cleavage. On my butt? No - If I'm going to endure the pain, I want something I can see. And we won't even discuss the possibility of the Shrinky-Dink effect of tattoos on body areas that may change size with age.

    Okay, this flirtation has gone about as far as that computer guy got with me years ago, when he told me that he'd "love to get [his] hands on my Apples". (Of course the only answer to that is, "Oh, that IT humor really turns me on in a big way. You sexy geek hunk of hardware, let's do it right now! On the copier machine!"). The tattoo thing is just not going to happen any time soon. Don't call me, big hairy tattoo guy, I'll call you.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2003

    Happy Mothers' Day, To Those Actually Doing The Job

    J. and I have decided that the low self-esteem training starts really early, and yes, it is your parents' fault. I don't care what they say, they are guilt-tripping, because they know deep down it's true, and they got all that stuff from their parents.

    When your kid comes home from school and says that their teacher is treating them unreasonably, perhaps you should at least hear the kid out before deciding that teachers are good and little kids make up stories to make themselves look better. Maybe, just maybe, you are teaching your kid that his/her opinion doesn't matter to you, and that when they come to you for help, they will only be told to soldier on, be a good boy, and listen to the authority figure. Enough episodes like that, and the kid will surely learn to doubt himself, turn away from school, and begin to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

    When your kid seems to like art/music/animal husbandry/whatever, maybe you should just let the kid run with it for a while, rather than jamming the sports/military/doctor/lawyer/whatever track down their gullet. A small percentage of those kids who are forced into piano lessons become Elton John or Alicia Keys. The rest of us resent all those hours spent inside with Mr. Miller with the god-awful breath, when we could be outside having fun, and for the rest of our lives will avoid pianos like Canadians during a SARS outbreak. Kids will find their own way, and you should guide them, not tell them their plans for their lives are stupid. If you think all their ideas are stupid, it's a small logical leapt before they believe that, you guessed it, you think they are stupid. Way to go, Moms and Dads!

    Another tried and true method, although later down the line, is to call attention to those embarrassing bodily changes that announce the beginning of adolescence. It's bad enough going through it in the first place, without family members calling attention to your secondary sex characteristics and paying way too much attention to everything you eat and every bit of exercise you attempt. Way to go, you've just molded another female with body issues! And let's not even get into the issue of parents making comments that would be called sexual harrassment, were they to happen in a workplace. You don't need to live in the back woods of Alabama to hear stories about this stuff, stories that would curl your hair.

    Most parents try their best to give their children everything, every comfort, advantage and tons of love. To those people, particulary the Moms, who for the most part are the main nurturers in our culture, I doff my hat. For the rest of them, it's amazing that you need a license to drive a car or own a gun, but any idiot can procreate. Well, if you insist, at least just LISTEN to the kid, okay?

    Monday, May 05, 2003

    The Event That Wasn't (Because You Acted Like a Dickhead)

    See, I was brought up to believe that if you are invited to a ceremony of some sort, be it a wedding or a christening or a bar mitzvah or a whatever, that you absolutely must go to the ceremony before going to the reception. You just have to do it, because not to is just rude, and, well, "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?" I still believe that is a good rule, and despite the ominous Pink Floyd overtones of slavish conformity to rules in the lyric I just quoted, that it is the right thing to do. I understand that some more casual thinkers are going to correct me, and say that you can do that sort of thing nowadays. However, I will only be sure that their attitude is due to guilty complexes about doing just that, but you won't sway me from thinking it's rude.

    A more personal rule I have is to not expect me to stand around waiting for you when we have an appointment. I have a life too, and I won't be treated as an inconvenient detail to be worked out at the last minute. Along with that behavior comes the presumption that your time is more valuable that mine or others', and that is infuriatingly arrogant.

    'Kay. Having said that, here is the list of things that made Saturday go wrong:

  • It's a good rule of thumb, when invited to an event, to respond to the invitation, one way or the other.
  • It's good to tell your guest the important details of the event: When, where, formal, informal, etc.
  • If you don't know an important piece of information (the time the event starts) because you have lost the invitation, there are these things called phones...
  • Speaking of phones, it's good to answer yours on the day of the event, when your guest is trying to contact you.
  • When you tell the guest that the event is some time in the morning, presume that your guest is going to wake up early and prepare, especially since the location is a good 40 minute drive from her home.
  • If the event begins in the morning, it's best to tell your guest what time to be at the event, preferably before the event has begun.
  • When finally calling your guest to inform her of the start time (after it has begun), it is best not to make the second sentence of your greeting, "I am sooo hungover."
  • When your guest informs you that she found out the time of the event (desperation is the mother of resorcefulness) and that is has begun minutes ago, you only make it worse for yourself by saying that you knew that yesterday, and planned not to attend the ceremony, only the reception after.
  • Do not be surprised when your guest is miffed that she has wasted her morning, because you withheld this information.
  • Do not be surprised when your guest refuses to attend the reception portion with you, wishes you a good time, and ends the phone conversation.
  • After sobering up and thinking over the events, realize you have been a dickhead.
  • By all that is holy, do NOT be tempted to call the guest a bitch (or worse), chalk it up to some personal deficiency within the guest, but certainly not any kind of fault on your part. Not even the tiniest bit.
  • Remember the wildly inconsiderate things you have done to your guest in past episodes, and how she forgave you for them without even making a fuss.
  • By all means, remember how many friends you have burned bridges with lately, due to your prevailing attitude of "I'm right, you're just stupid."
  • Apologize to guest. Resolve to not do this in the future.

  • Friday, May 02, 2003

    Wallow Park

    When I got home from work, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed, pull the covers up over my head, and take a long nap to forget everything. Lo and behold, upstairs was having some kind of cleaning festival, and the second I pulled the covers over me, I could tell that I would never be able to sleep with that cacophony of scrubbing sounds mixed with the high pitched whine & scrape noise of the vacuum going over something with a texture, over and over again. If there had only been a baby crying, my misery would have been exquisitely complete.

    Having no choice but to vacate the premises, I got in the car, no idea where I was going exactly, until I found myself near the river, where there is a state park that I've never visited. It seemed to me that I would be able to be miserable in relative peace there, so I parked and walked into the park (park & park), and made my way around the bend towards the river. People passed me by occasionally, and I studiously avoided eye-contact, because I was embarrassed by my miserable mood, and I didn't want to get stuck making polite small talk with strangers. There is nothing worse than having to be pleasant when you are miserable, it's sheer agony.

    Anyway, once I made it around the bend, I noticed that despite myself, I was enjoying the weather, the tall reeds and red-winged black birds who lived among them, the slightly salt-water smell from the river, and the nice breeze on a warm spring day. Dammit, why did it have to be so nice out when I was bound and determined to continue to be miserable? I was there to be in a funk, I had even brought my purse so I had the cigarettes and matches I only pull out in the middle of a desperate funk, and I was not going to be cheered up. I was here to sulk, and no one was going to mess that up for me.

    I quickly found a picnic bench near the water, and proceeded to wallow in my miserable thoughts, my head propped up by my pocketbook on the table. The middle-aged fisherman a little ways away from me acknowledged my presence with a greeting that I couldn't hear, and I nodded to him quickly and made no other eye-contact, hoping he would get the hint and leave me to my thoughts. I watched him surreptitiously, and found something else to be miserable about, thinking that my father should have spent the last years of his life just like this fella, fishing here, not caring whether he really caught anything or not. That's more like it, thoughts about missing Dad are much better to stay in a funk with, than this beautiful view and the sunlight at this angle.

    The fisherman and I ignored each other for about a half an hour or so, until he began packing his gear into his truck, parked behind me. He said to me, "You look down in the dumps, young lady." Without turning around, I said (not meaning for my voice to crack, but it did), "Yeah." "Yeah?", he asked and continued, "He's not worth it." To that, I made an attempt at a laugh, which came out more like a snort, but I hoped that he took it to be an acknowledgment of his attempt to be kind. Geez, I was trying to be alone and miserable, and here this fatherly sort was trying to cheer me up. As soon as his truck pulled away, I started sobbing like a fool. I really needed to snap out of this somehow.

    Still intent on being dejected, however, I attempted to smoke a cigarette. If you have ever tried to light a match on the breezy side of a body of water, you can imagine for yourself how many matches it took, and how close I came to lighting my own hair on fire in the process. Misery is so close to comedy.

    By now, one of the exercising people, a guy equipped with Walkman, had come to sit down on the rocks near the kind fisherman's spot, and I hoped that I wasn't bothering him with the smoke. It didn't seem like I was, but actually, I was bothering myself. That was god awful. If you haven't smoked in a while, you will really feel miserable trying to choke one down. The taste in my mouth and the disgust from the smell on my hands was helping with the misery.

    There was a path down closer to the water, and as the sun was getting lower, a lot of strollers, dog walkers, and more fishermen were along the river. I decided to go take a walk to the end, and then go back to my car. The ducks, geese and water birds were putting on a little show, swimming, grazing and fighting for territory in a muddy mini-pond in the reeds, caused by low tide. I love birds and their antics, so I was admitting to myself that they were cheering me up some more, whether I liked it or not.

    As I came closer to the water's edge, I had a moment, an "imp of the perverse" moment as I like to call them, where I wondered what would happen if I threw myself face first into the water. Would I drown? Would someone jump in and drag me out? What would I say if they did - that I just did it to see what would happen? I mean, as low as I was feeling, it wasn't a suicidal moment, just a twisted momentary fantasy. I stood on top of a rock and thought about the consequences. What if no one cared, and I drowned face-down in that muddy duck hole? Surely, no one would look like to think that that would be the end to their life. How pathetic. Needless to say, I trudged on.

    While walking, I had taken note of some of the people walking along the path, and one woman stood out to me, mainly because she was the only other woman I'd noticed with a purse (did she have her wallowing cigarette & matches kit with her, too?), and also due to the gate at which she was making her way to the water's edge. She was not exactly dressed for exercise, and yet, she was walking as if on a mission. I lost sight of her until I got to the water's edge, and noted that instead of walking along the concrete path, she'd made her way out on the beach to the furthestmost rock, and proceeded to sit down on it, head in hands, in a most dejected posture.

    Oh my GOD, I thought, she's come here to mope, just as I had! I had a sister in misery here. She filled me with mixed emotions. I felt sorry for her and her troubles, whatever they were. I was worried that she might have an imp of the perverse moment and launch herself into the river, and I spent some time cautiously watching her to make sure that she didn't decide to try it out. And I felt that she looked sort of pathetic, just as I must've to the fisherman and anyone else who'd walked their dog past me earlier.

    What was it about this park, this spot on the river, that was a magnet to miserable women that day? Why had we both come to wallow in the same place, at the same time? I was drawn to her, I wanted to ask her all kinds of questions. I squelched a passing desire to call out to her, "Down in the dumps, young lady? He's not worth it!"

    After watching her for a while, I started to walk back, trusting that she wasn't there for any other reason than to mope alone, and I didn't want to disturb her privacy any further. I stopped to look at plants and birds and the dilapidated pier still piled up on top of rotting piles, and I was pleased to see her pass me, walking back to the car area with that same quick gate. I wonder if I'd even have paid her any attention, if I hadn't come there to wallow myself.

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