Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Prostitutes in Smalltown

I don't like country songs, as a general rule, however I like Miranda Lambert. I also like her most recent song about how everyone dies famous in a small town. I tend to agree that once you hit a certain age, everyone in town follows your "extracurricular" activities (for better or worse) with a tabloid fascination.

Strangers (those who don't have at least five generations of family roots planted firmly in the ground) are also a subject of much interest and suspicion. I have been a stranger for the last two years leading a pretty boring life by onlookers' standards. Then some new people moved into my apartment.

If Smalltown were a theatre, my apartment might be a stage: It's right on the corner of mainstreet and from my living room window I have the best seat for watching the locals stagger home from the bar on any given night (if I so choose). There is one thing to be said about voyeurism...if you are in a prime position to be a voyeur, it is likely you are in a prime position to be "voyeured."

My neighbors, who probably struck the Smalltown multi-geners as even odder than I (a Cheesehead by birth) were either unaware or did not care that they were on the mainstage of the town arena. They would have been famous even if they hadn't inadvertently tried. The man downstairs is divorced from the woman who lives upstairs. Their children live with her. His girlfriend-apparent (perhaps live-in, perhaps frequent guest) adds to the already thick tension of the living arrangement. Throw in the fact this is a multi-racial couple in a white rural town, and it's inevitable that these folks will generate some interest amoung the yip-yappers and jaw-jabberers who patronize "downtown" businesses.

This being said, my neighbors took it upon themselves to have frequent, loud arguments, which my landlord too often dismissed at unruly hours of the morning. Girlfriend-apparent, launched personal belonging out the front door for all of the world to see, and was prone to dramatically storming off.

As if this wasn't enough, the couple cinched their celebrity status by being arrested in nearby Metropolis Wannabe (a city about 25 miles down the pike) for prostitution and other related charges. In the days following the arrest, Smalltown was "a-buzzin.'"

If this is what it means to be "center-stage" I have had more than enough and am looking to move to Bigger Smalltown. There, if all goes well, I can live in a house on a city street, in a neighborhood, so if people want to know what I am up to, then they will at LEAST have to go to the trouble to drive a couple of blocks off of the main drag. I find that much more palatable than being just a drunken-stagger away from any weirdos, yip-yappers and jaw-jabberers who can easily observe me anytime, although most likely, taking my dog outside to crap while I am wearing my pajamas.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

No One Reads This Blog

Trish, besides you my visitors are few and far between. Why do you blog? Why do I blog? Why do we blog? I think it is time to go home and go for a walk.

I Sleep with Dogs

Sleeping with the dog has been an acceptable practice because I don't like sleeping alone and the dog can be a source of free warmth. Normally we sleep on the couch, because it is near the TV, and the TV is always on, making us feel far less alone, and perhaps providing the added benefit of misleading our creepy neighbors to believe we always have company and should not be disturbed.

I recently decided that sleeping on the couch is silly and a waste of a perfectly nice and comfortable bed, although it is in a room I never deigned to enter, except to find clothes. Overnight it has been transformed into the epicenter of the "household" universe.

The first night was most unpleasant.

On a typical night spent on the couch, Ella curls into a furry ball in the crook of my knees. On the first night in "our" bed (in a very long time) Ella slept with her head always on my stomach. Very uncomfortable. In her defense, I couldn't sleep anyway, so it probably wouldn't have made a very big difference.

In addition, there was something else about the arrangement that didn't feel right.

Last night, I pointed the head of the bed opposite the TV and brought Ella's little "doggy bed" into the room, so if I kicked her out of the "people bed," she would have someplace to sleep. I was fully prepared to boot her out of said "people bed" if necessary, as much as I longed for the company. It turned out I didn't have to: Ella slept at my side and kept her appendages a safe and comfortable distance from mine.

What will tonight bring? Will I have a pleasant night's sleep or will the dog? Oh the great mysteries of life...we will just have to wait and see....

Big Problems in Smalltown

Recently I have had some contextually large problems arise in my life. I use the word “contextually” to clarify that these “large problems” are not “large” in their overall impact on the future of the human race or the world as “we now know it,” but they are mighty gargantuan in my teeny-tiny little personal universe. Among these problems, is an enigma known as “health insurance.”

Until I embarked on my current career path, a well-established and well-staffed company has always employed me. Whenever I had problems in a certain area, there was always a certain department, with an office and a person with a title to help me address it. Perhaps it was because of this organization I never had any “big” problems.

This is no longer the case.

I am having issues and I largely have to deal with them on my own. The Blessid Mother (TBM) helps me as best she can, given the limited information I am able to convey to her with any amount of competence.

It’s like trying to find your way through a maze on a foggy day.

Then I had some additional financial woes that were resolved only after going into a “special” savings account and TBM provided a little additional padding.

The proverbial “wolf” is always outside the door and usually I have just enough to satiate him.

But now, it is no longer just one wolf. It is more like there are a PACK of wolves on the other side of the door, and they are foaming at the mouth and snarling. The good news is, I think all of the wolves that were planning to show up, have, and no more are coming. The bad news is, I still have to deal with a bunch of hungry wolves.

Of course, my family -- being the good and decent people that they are -- wants to help me get rid of some of these wolves. I have done a lot on my own to try to limit the number outside; for the most part I live a no-frills life. I don’t have a phone line, a modem, or even get any cable. I won’t move out of Smalltown (as much as I want to) because I know then I will have to spend more money I don’t have on gasoline.

But every once in a while, a problem will arise that starts as a snowball and ends in an avalanche. Lots of times I have been able to handle these avalanches on my own, but my coping immunity is down lately.

It is hard for me to face my family at these times. When I feel like a very big failure. It’s bad enough that my parents have to give me “gifts” like eye exams and dental checkups because I cannot afford them unless I either a) stop eating or b) stop feeding the dog.

I guess part of the problem is sometimes I feel like I give up so much that every once in a while I deserve something nice. (The budget doesn’t always accommodate “something nice.”) That is a common misconception among people. I don’t deserve anything. I am lucky to have what I have, and that is it.

I am weak. I feel like I have failed my family at these times.

TBM always knows what to say or ask. I don’t. It’s not that I am not thinking, because I know I am, I guess I am just inexperienced at dealing with insurance companies or banks. But I can’t help but feel so stupid when she points out something I should have asked or done.

( <-----TBM)

I want to be someone who my family can feel proud of. I want to be self-supporting, at the very minimum. That means no help, ever. I want to be able to do things for them, and my grandparents. I don’t want for them to always have to bail me out. I just don’t know how to get there.

It is hard not to let these awful feelings of inadequacy spill their scarlet tinge onto any experiences I am having. As a result I am not always the best company. I try to think positive thoughts and I remember Dolly Parton’s song, “Working 9-5.” I feel a lot like the person Dolly describes in that song and I am “waitin' for the day (my) ship'll come in; 'N' the tide's gonna turn and it's all gonna roll (my) way.”

Life as I know it isn’t that bad. But it definitely leaves something to be desired.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I've Got Friends in Cheesy Places

Trish the Dish is my best friend.
(photo not of Trish the Dish, who likes to remain anonymous, but of Claudette Colbert who I think Trish bears a striking resemblance to)

About seven years ago we met.

Eager for a clean slate from an awkward Freshman year, I moved into what was then, arguably, the coolest dorm on the college campus. How many other dorms had a purportedly "haunted north wing?" Only one, by golly, and that was the one where I would live.

I once again tossed my name into the random roommate draw and ended up with (again) a rather incompatible roommate. Fortunately, about two doors down the hall from me was Trish the Dish.

When we met, she looked a lot different than she does now. She wore her hair in a pixie cut, with highlights. She was looking for someone in the mood to wander the dorm and check out the boys. I said I was game, and the rest is history.

I am not going to say our frienship was always smooth sailing; but over the years the good times and friendship have prevailed. I don't know anyone who is more brilliant, witty, beautiful and kind-hearted than Trish, or anyone's whose opinion I respect more than hers. She is the matron of honor kind of friend; the godmother to your child kind of friend; the Red Hat Society kind of friend; the retirement home kind of friend; the friend you want in your life forever.

When I feel crappy about life, I will try to read this blog and remind myself how lucky I am to have found THAT kind of friend.