I have so much stuffed up in my head, and a compulsion to write, and I can't seem to get it out.
I am all kinds of everywhere. I have been to Seattle and back. I loved it there. I have stories about it. I should probably tell those. I also have pictures. I should probably upload those.
Since I came home on Thursday morning so, so early, my already-challenged focus has been broken. But it appears amid all that has been coming at me from outside, I've been obsessed with cleaning my apartment, a task that is every day effort, as I am basically a shitty housekeeper, and mostly I am so interested in things that don't have to do with chores that I get yanked off my course with things that are not normal in polite company, and oh look, there's a bag of cherries on the coffee table, and the mail falls down behind the tiny table by the door. If people ask me what I'm doing, I often say, "I'm trying to get this place organized," just like my grandmother would gesture towards her hopelessly cluttered dining room table every day of her life and sigh and say, "It looks just like Miz Larsen's in here, this is terrible," in a tone that insinuated it would remain like Miz Larsen's -- a neighbor up the street whose descendants may now be candidates for Hoarders -- in spite of its terribleness because now we had a scapegoat so would you like some coffee? You can set it on the address books (always more than one, I had no idea why then, but now I understand fully, I even use the same kinds of pens. IMPRINTING.) Don't even worry about the rings.
Anyway. The laundry is entirely done now, in spite of my interloper neighbor from DOWNSTAIRS coming up to steal the washers last night, INFIDEL BASICALLY. The piles of clothing that I mostly hate are in less than crazeballs chaos, although the final sorting for giveaways and stacking into an as-yet-undetermined storage system is still unfinished, so I've just been ignoring those until I google the perfect storage system, because do I need one of those? I need one, badly.
I also have some groceries, if not particularly inspiring ones. The perishables are all stowed away. My list of things I want to make is sketched in my head for this week's return grocery visits, and I have spices and a knife set on my list of things to add to this parade of stuff that I'm trying to control in the coming days, because, you know, FOOD. Food is so important to me. (I am going to make pickles, for example. I decided that this week, after I had some of the most delicious pickles made by the person I was talking to at the time. Does anyone know where to buy a proper crock for pickles in DC?)
And yet it still totally looks like Miz Larsen's here (that "Miz" is bothering me, but that is exactly how my grandmother said it and I can't help it. It appears to be a tic right now.) I'm planning on that changing this week.
I have been busy.
I keeled over sideways on a cross-country flight, no longer as embarrassed by the threat of snoring as I was exhausted, listening to this talky talky man behind me saying how he hadn't been back to North Carolina since 1982 several times over until it buzzed my brain enough so I could sleep. I woke up drooling unattractively into a torn open bag of Southwest cheese crackery things, my earbud jammed halfway into my cramping ear, cranky that I wasn't home, grateful for no turbulence.
I ate crabs today, an hours-long, long-overdue feast of a meal in a gorgeous setting that seemed to calm me in a way I knew I needed to be calmed but I wasn't sure how to make happen.
I tended a grave yesterday. I rinsed the scum of the underground off of a metal vase tucked down there for safekeeping and lawn mowing purposes, scrubbed the green film off with my fingers as best as I could, and finally, marginally dissatisfied, I filled it with water and placed it right side up with a few flowers from my newly deceased aunt's haul on my godfather's headstone. He resides in the same cemetery where a good number of my recent ancestors are, just one quadrant over. He was a bachelor, the longtime boyfriend of my aunt, who couldn't marry her, she claimed, because her divorce in the years of no divorces had never yielded an annulment, so the church was all, whatever. He died young, 53. His dust and metal plaque now reside just inches from his parents, underneath a shady tree. I don't think anyone goes to visit him anymore, and as much as I don't believe that people are where their decaying bodies lie, it still feels like something that is nice to do. He was naturally great with kids, especially with me -- snarky but not creepy, showing a smart little person that he knew she could handle it. I think I learned to need a foil from him, and maybe the turn of a joke in the moment, too. He brought grocery bags of Italian deli perfect foods -- chipped ham, always chipped for perfect stacked sandwiches -- to my Nanny's house for lunches. He drank Schlitz and had what I know now I'd recognize as a delightfully sick sense of humor, as much as I know I could still see him leaned back in his chair with his hands behind his head. Anyway, it felt entirely right to clean up his spot. I think I will go back more often.
Since I landed late late Wednesday night I have seen so many people from my extended family, called to mind so many memories, watched the world's most elderly altar boy stand guard at the funeral mass of my aunt, who was my first memory of independence and single parenting, of a woman who scrapped out her life in spite of difficulty, who raised great people who contribute to the world, all while being kind and conscious of others, all the time. I have spent time with her daughters and their families, fine women who have crafted lives out of nothing but love and hope and skill in a weird world, who relate to me in different ways for different reasons, who I'm happy to have back in my life a little closer in spite of the reason.
In my own strange little space, I have drafted and saved three abandoned blog posts, mad at my own dumb words and their inability to hang together. I have eaten mostly pretty badly. I gazed up at the blue sky (amazing weather here this week. Perfect.) wondering how to fix some things, deciding what else to leave behind. I'm carefully reading Joan Didion's elegaiac pre-death memoir about the life and death of her daughter and her own path into aging. It's made me think about my own style in an almost-pretentious way, my own work, my own mother, my own lack of a child, my own life.
I got a little sunburned today, sucking down passable bloody Marys in a strapless dress in the sunshine. I have been incredibly hard on myself all week, so hard you have no idea. And tomorrow, in terms of the calendar of my world, I will start again.