Category Archives: spinster summer

2011: crabigail looks back

1. what did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
stayed at a bed & breakfast.
passed my driver’s license test.
ate bok choy.
TRUCK POOL.
threw a snowball at a cat.
made soup from scratch.
lived in my very own (rental) house as an adult! no sharing walls/floors/ceilings with neighbors or roommates (besides jared)!
joined a book club that met more than three times.
allowed jared to cut my hair (big mistake).
saw a red sox game at fenway stadium.

2. did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
i always make ten new year’s resolutions. i have them all written down & tucked away in a secret hiding spot dating back to 2002. every year i get them out & review how i have done & how i have changed. all i will say about some of the older resolutions is that i have grown up A LOT in the last ten years.

last year i managed to keep a handful of my resolutions. i got my driver’s license & quit smoking. i stuck to my budget & i at least tried to get pregnant, even if i have not yet been successful.

among my resolutions for 2012: keep trying to make the baby thing happen. make the bed every day. be nicer to jared. (note that there is a difference between being nicer & actually being nice; i told him last night that i was just going to throw away the voodoo doll i made of him & call it a day. kidding! just kidding. i’m totally not getting rid of the voodoo doll.)

3. did anyone close to you give birth?
i am acquainted with a few people who gave birth, like one of my old roommates from boston who happened to go to high school with jared. but none of my super-tight buds had a baby this year.

4. did anyone close to you die?
apparently my uncle–one of my dad’s brothers–died a few days before christmas. but i hadn’t talked to him in almost ten years, so i won’t pretend we were close.

5. what countries did you visit?
i stayed put. maybe i should resolve to get a passport this year. jared thinks we should vacay in australia if this baby thing doesn’t pan out (hence devouring all of our money).

6. what would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
well. A BABY. my baby rabies is completely out of control. but i would also like to have jeans that fit & have not been patched beyond recognition, healthier & more functional friendships, less anxiety, & less chronic pain.

7. what dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
august 12 was the day of TRUCK POOL. i was going to go camping with some friends in missouri, but the weather turned really shitty. there were huge thunderstorms predicted for the area where we were intending to camp. i was bummin’ hard because it the last weekend of spinster summer & i really wanted some quality time with punks. i decided to go to kansas city instead, & after sitting around, doing nothing & chainsmoking for a few hours, we suddenly hit upon the idea of TRUCK POOL. one of the kids had a pick-up truck, & we lined the bed with a tarp & connected a hose to the upstairs bathtub & threaded it out the window. we filled that baby up with warm water & truck pooled for hours, even after it started raining. at one point, we turned it into a bubble pool with dish soap & drove it around kansas city.

fill 'er up. that's me in the baby blue tee next to the dude in the leather jacket.

we also made a chopack, which is a backpack filled with nachos. let’s go to the video:

8. what was your biggest achievement of the year?
learning how to drive, maybe? i tried to get my license when i was 16 years old & still living in ohio, but i failed the driver’s test three times. it really undermined my confidence & i thought i would just never learn how to drive. it wasn’t easy to learn & i don’t have a lot of incentives in my life to keep trying to do things at which i don’t naturally excel, so it was a pretty big deal for me to actually pass the test. & now i am learning how to be a responsible car owner, which is also a really intimidating responsibility.

i was also totally stoked to finish reading & recapping every single babysitters club book on goodreads.

& i’m very proud that i finally fulfilled my dream of dressing up as a sexy hamburglar for halloween (i think saying “a sexy hamburglar” is funnier than saying “sexy hamburglar,” because being “a” one among many implies that hamburglars may be a separate race of people).

sexy?

9. what was your biggest failure?
i wouldn’t call it a “failure” to still not be pregnant after six months of trying, but it was a little bit of a failure to have let the whole thing affect my emotions so much. after every disappointment, i would just completely lose it & spend entire days crying. i am handling my business a lot better now, but it’s still a challenge to not allow myself to get on the emotional rollercoaster over something i have so little control over.

10. did you suffer illness or injury?
the arthritis or fibromyalgia or evil confluence of the two is worse than ever. other than that, i’m good.

11. what was the best thing you bought?
i bought a fucking wood-paneling patterned bathing suit! i have been getting into water aerobics for the whole arthritis thing, & i figured, why not look as much like a rec room from 1974 as possible?

grainy photobooth cheesecake shot.

12. whose behavior merited celebration?
i dislike these questions. so i am going to give the prize to ellen for attempting to cheer me up by sending me weird pornographic art of dragons having sex with cars. it definitely distracted me from my troubles.

13. whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
SO MANY PEOPLE. but because i am trying to have healthier, more functional relationships with people, i am going to refrain from going into detail. i am just thinking of one person in particular who seems to find constructive criticism really difficult to handle, struggles with appropriate boundaries almost all the time, sucks at making her friends feel valued, & instead excels at making her friends feel like they are in competition with one another.

14. where did most of your money go?
moving, flying to boston to see jared while he was doing research, gas for driving to kansas city all summer, & the endless consumption of sandwiches.

15. what did you get really, really, really excited about?
well, truck pool. & bingo! i started playing bingo this year & i love it. it’s this awesome mix of pulse-pounding action without having to leave your seat, mega-depression as you look around at the all the oldsters pissing away their social security checks & youngsters wearing sweat pants & dentures, & nachos. plus i have won $210 to date (not bad for only five games of bingo).

& i got beyond pumped about my amazing new house!

isn't it beautiful?

16. what song will always remind you of 2011?
i’m sorry, i really only listen to music when i am in the car. which is a fairly infrequent occurence. i got pretty into this song for a while though:

17. compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? about the same, maybe?
b) thinner or fatter? fatter, for sure. having compromised mobility really impairs a person’s attempts at weight maintenance.
c) richer or poorer? richer. thanks, bingo!

18. what do you wish you’d done more of?
writing! i barely wrote at all this year. i also wish i would have read more adult books (& not just memoirs) & started going to bingo in the summer while jared was in boston.

19. what do you wish you’d done less of?
reading so many young adult books. of the 238 books i read in 2011, 140 of them were young adult books. that is crazy! i am so relieved to be done with the babysitters club recap project. i also wish i wouldn’t have spent all summer playing solitaire & watching “hoarders”. what the fuck?

20. how did you spend xmas?
jared & i went to boston to see his family. we stayed in bed & breakfast in cambridge. i ate an entire plate of cheese cubes every morning for breakfast. seriously. sometimes with sourbough toast slathered in goat cheese. in fact, i had one day where i ate nothing but food in cheese form (cheese cubes for breakfast, mozzarella sticks for lunch, four-cheese ravioli for dinner). that was a great day.

we drank a fair number of beers. bart came up from philadelphia to hang out with us. we had brunch on xmas eve at david’s house (jared’s brother) & this girl who once stole my bed & threatened to call the cops on me if i tried to steal it back was there. kind of awkward. we went to quaker meeting that night & jared’s mom asked me, “how are you feeling?” when i expressed an interest in sitting down during the hospitality cookie hour, she said, “yes! sit down!” it was super-awkward because she obviously thought i was pregnant. which i was not. but i did decide to throw that sweater away.

we spent xmas day in newton with jared’s family (including david & his girlfriend, alana). we had roast beef & mashed potatoes for dinner. i ate almost an entire tupperware contained full of rosemary shortbread. david & alana gave me the most amazing claudia kishi-themed novena candle:

evidence that you should be open about the dumb shit you're into because you might get awesome gifts out of it.

jared & i went to see “mission: impossible 4 ghost protocol” because jared is obsessed with simon pegg. there were no ghosts. we also started working on what we were calling “ciara & jared’s 2011 snoozeletter,” but i don’t know if we’ll ever finish it.

21. did you fall in love in 2011?
yeah, but i decided to stick thing out with jared anyway. kidding! we broke up. kidding again! i hate this question.

22. how many one-night stands?
zip.

23. what was your favorite TV program?
i am still watching “america’s next top model” & “project runway,” even though they have become torture. i am also still watching “dexter” even though the last season was unspeakably dreadful. i feel like i need to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of everyone who was subjected to it. over the summer, i got into “mad men”. it’s not bad. would watch again. jared & i also liked “portlandia,” although it sometimes made us uncomfortable because it can be difficult to tell if we’re laughing at what we’re supposed to be laughing at.

24. do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
there are some peeps who make me feel very wary, but no hate.

25. what was the best book you read?
“poser” by claire dederer! it was so amazing! i also really liked “beauty queens” by libba bray. but, i mean, we could be here a while because i read A LOT. just follow my goodreads reviews & save us all some time.

26. what was your greatest musical discovery?
i have not started listening to music in the time since the last music question.

27. what did you want and get?
my driver’s license, a beautiful HOUSE as opposed to an apartment or duplex, financial self-control, a book club, & some other stuff i don’t want to talk about.

28. what did you want and not get?
a baby & a truly excellent pizza restaurant in lawrence. a hip replacement. also, an elephant sanctuary in my backyard.

29. what was your favorite film of this year?
i really don’t watch a lot of movies. nor do i keep track of the few i watch. i had fun seeing “harry potter & the deathly hallows, part two” in 3D with jared. i ate an enormous platter of nachos during the movie. i don’t know how i’ll answer this question in the future, now that the harry potter movies are over.

30. what did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
i turned 32 & i was in boston visiting jared. he, bart, & i went out for breakfast in the morning. bart enraged me by insisting on a trip to the laundromat as well. isn’t that where every girl wants to spend her birthday? after we dropped bart off at work, jared & i drove up to salisbury beach where we played skeeball until our arms fell off. we used our winning tickets to get a plastic shark, a plastic lizard, & a gaudy ring with a huge pink rhinestone. we drove back into the city & i communed with the seals in the enclosure outside the aquarium. then we met up with bart & ate the best italian food i’ve ever tasted at monica’s tattoria in the north end.

me with some seals.

31. what one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
not to be a broken record, but: baby. & maybe if jared had not been in boston all summer.

32. how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
jeans or cut-offs or plain black cotton skirts topped by either a t-shirt or a thermal layered under a sweater. the shirts are generally unadorned & pink, blue, or purple. all summer, i wore glittery pink toms. the rest of the year was just sauconys (gray & blue). glasses. lipstick. that’s it. i wouldn’t call it a “concept”.

33. what kept you sane?
logic puzzles, coffee, to-do lists, tidying up the house, petting charlotte, jessika rae, & the library.

34. which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
i am not into this question so i will say taylor swift’s kitten.

35. what political issue stirred you the most?
okay, it’s not that i don’t care about political issues anymore. i do. it’s just tough for me to feel the passion i may have felt ten years ago. though i always follow any stories about politicians wanting to privatize social security really closely. ditto this whole fucked up medicare voucher plan.

36. who did you miss?
i missed jared a lot when he was in boston. i have been missing jessika rae all year. i miss some other zine friends i seem to have fallen out of touch with since i closed the distro & have been making myself kind of scarce on the zine front. i also became very nostalgic this year for my younger self.

37. who was the best new person you met?
i met jaimie this year through book club & we had an awesome summer of bonding through feminism & water aerobics. she is also the person who took me to bingo for the first time.

38. tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
the rudy at rudy’s pizza is pretty good if you order the thin crust. punks are rarely on time so don’t worry about being punctual. you can’t call bingo until the caller reads the number you have bingoed on. if you just put your head down & work on your most reviled tasks for twenty minutes at a time, they will be done in no time.

39. what did you devote most of your energy to?
trying to make the time pass faster, & then reminding myself not to wish away my life.

40. quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
she looks me over as if she really knows me
as if she thinks she knows what i’m thinking
if she would only ask the right questions
i’d tell her everything
but she only asks the things that she already knows
she can’t take this as a sign of change and moving on
a little plea of something to be remembered
when it’s gone

every secret longs to be disclosed
every love yearns to be betrayed
that’s a quote and so is
love is more difficult to escape than hate
its not true, but both take their sweet time to go away

i don’t really want a community

i haven’t written here in so long that the wordpress website got kicked off my cache of most-frequented websites. even more shameful, internet solitaire replaced it.

august was something of a lost month. i enjoyed my last few weeks of spinster summer by hanging out in a truck pool, going to some punk shows, going dancing, getting drunk a lot, kicking back on the front porch listening to blue oyster cult, & signing up for a 6:30am water aerobics class. i read three books all month. usually i read a book a day, on average.

i may have mentioned previously that i keep a daily log–a diary, i guess? if we are using the old-fashioned definitions of “diary” (a book in which you write down what you do) & “journal” (a book in which you write down how you feel). i keep both, actually, but i’m a lot more devoted to the diary. i actually take notes on what i do every day so i can transcribe them as stories in the diary. which often strikes me as ridiculous because i am not exactly a lion tamer or a bomb defusing technician. the sentence “i cleaned the bathroom today” appears in my diary with surprising frequency.

anyway, i really fell behind in writing up my days during spinster summer, & after jared got back, i even stopped keeping my daily notes. today was the first really perfect day we’ve had in lawrence in months–perfect weather for putting on jeans & a hoodie & sitting outside somewhere, writing. so i went outside & tried to catch up on the diary entries for the days for which i did not have notes. the shitty part is that the reason i didn’t bother taking notes is because i was too fucking anxious, depressed, & miserable. the last few weeks of august were some of the worst weeks of my entire life. possibly flying out to ohio to attend to the details surrounding my dad dying, which culminated in me having a vaso vagal episode & needing to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance in front of the already-traumatized four-year-old my mom babysat for at the time was worse…but only slightly. i feel that the worst is behind me at this point, but i had to relive it to write about it & i managed to thoroughly bum myself out.

& you know how it is when you’re bummed out, especially about something that is kind of a non-issue. you kind of start looking for other reasons to be bummed out. i didn’t have to look too far to get kind of bummed out by some friend issues. i have a friend in lawrence who is really hating on lawrence right now. luckily for her, she is also making plans to move away to another city. unluckily for me, this means she feels totally free to talk at length about how much lawrence & almost everyone in it blows. i am likely to be living here for at least another couple of years & i really want to try to make the most of it, so this isn’t really my favorite topic of conversation. plus, you know, there are some people in this general area that i really like. i have had some really good times here recently (see above: truck pools, punk shows, etc).

when i mentioned this, she said, “of course you don’t mind lawrence. everything worked out for you. you moved here, everyone likes you. you have a community.”

i feel like there’s so much wrong with this statement. everything most certainly did not “work out” for me. allow me to present the evidence: I LIVE IN FUCKING KANSAS. in what world can that be construed as “working out” in any way? i am just trying to make the best of a pretty shitty situation here.

second, i guarantee that not everyone likes me. never in my life have i ever been in any situation where everyone liked me. unless maybe i have been sitting in a room all by myself. i didn’t get this far in life without realizing at some point that i have a very divisive personality. some people love me, some people hate me. there are plenty of people in lawrence who fucking hate me. just because i don’t care doesn’t mean that anyone should be laboring under the delusion that i am universally feted & that the mayor is making plans for a ciara day parade…though i imagine a ciara day parade would look a lot like this:

& third, there is a world of difference between “everyone” (or even just some people) “liking” someone & that person having a community. i wrote quite a bit in “love letters to monsters” #3 about how i don’t even really believe in the concept of “community” (as employed by punk/activist types) anymore. everyone seems to use that word to mean something different. some people think that a person has community if they have people they can call up & freak out to at 3am. that doesn’t apply to me because i’m kind of beyond the stage in my life where i am going to call anyone at 3am unless it is a pretty serious fucking emergency, & then i’d probably be calling 911 or something. some people think that a person has community if they have some friends to bro down with at a show or something. but you can bro down with a fleeting acquaintance in a social setting just as easily as you can with someone who has vowed to have your back for life.

i think a lot of people confuse “having community” with “having friends,” with the caveat that once you have turned said friends into the mythical community, you get to…stop trying or something. but all relationships require effort. i have friends i’ve been tight with for over ten years & i still have to work a lot of times to make time for them, see their points of view, etc. & with the kids in lawrence that i “have community with,” it’s even harder because they are newer friends. & they are younger friends. they are still in that stage of life where the think it counts as “hanging out” if they randomly bump into me on the street when i’m out buying stamps. i like a little more intention in my relationships, personally. these are kids that don’t reliably answer their phones or return texts, & with whom i have spent far more time drunk than sober. they are very wonderful, funny, entertaining, sweet, helpful, thoughtful, interesting people…they are friends. new friends. with whom i am still finding my feet. “community” makes me think of shit like co-counseling (ugh) & accountability processes &…well, jared put it best when he said, “the difference between friends & community is that community is still there even after it decides it doesn’t like you as a person.” i don’t expect anyone to stick around after they’ve decided they don’t like me as a person, so let’s just be friends, okay?

relationships actually are

i haven’t posted here in so long, i don’t know if i remember how. okay, it’s only been three weeks. but still.

spinster summer is all over now. jared got home last week. today he started school. having him back home has been good. but also very intense. saturday was literally the most intense day of my life. more intense than the day i found out my dad had died. not necessarily in a bad way. just in an intense way. we have been talking about so much stuff we have never talked about before, in a manner completely different from how we used to communicate. it’s a big change, but hopefully a good one.

in the last few weeks, i have gone to kansas city every weekend. kansas city is starting to become my escape for when i can’t deal with “adult living in lawrence” anymore & need a break. the last time i went, it was for a punk show. that was the same day that the west memphis three were released from jail. everyone was talking about it. “the west memphis three were released from jail today! they were these weirdo white trash metalheads that got framed for murdering three little boys. the cops thought they were satanists because they were into metallica. they were thrown in jail in…i dunno…1992? & now they’re free! happy day! metal is exonerated!” i am not going to be a hater about some wrongfully convicted dudes being released from jail, but i couldn’t help thinking about all the people of color still rotting in jail because their wrongful convictions hinged on racism, which has caused a more long-lasting criminal panic than the satanist terror of the 1980s & 1990s. oh, punks. you are just too cute. & sometimes very solipsistic.

i am also reminded of this time i was chilling in a graveyard when i was like 16 & i found the grave of a kid my age. apparently his parents had gone ahead & had his picture engraved on the tombstone. he is wearing a metallica t-shirt. i think that was the day i confronted both my mortality & the embarrassing nature of adolescence. i hope that if my image is ever engraved on anything, i am dressed in a halfways dignified manner. but i guess the best way to make that happen is to actually start dressing in a dignified manner, so i’m screwed.

after the punk show, we crewed up & went to some weird party at a firehouse. a huge storm blew in & i slid down the fire pole at least half a dozen times. party fouls ensued: i broke a black light that was laying on the floor (my fault). i kicked over someone’s drink on the dance floor (her fault–who the fuck leaves their drink next to them on the ground in the middle of a dimly-lit dance floor?). there was drunken vomiting (not me). there were promises of sober designated driving that were compromised by multiple mixed drinks (also not me). a kid was too drunk to handle the fire pole & wound up breaking his foot. there was far too much inappropriate public fucking (by my standards, any public fucking is too much, but there was A LOT). someone hit a friend’s car & drove away yelling.

& i totally fell down in the very basic girlfriend job of checking in about plans & safety status at a timely hour. i am realizing that i have been doing this girlfriend thing kind of all wrong for, i don’t know…ever? so i am kind of learning how to do it properly from scratch & there’s a definite learning curve. it is really difficult to balance healthy autonomy & healthy friendships & independence & respectful, intentional partnering, & don’t let anyone ever tell you any differently.

my friend leah is inappropriately obsessed with terrible social justice-themed tumblrs & she alerted me to one called relationships aren’t. i hate it so much. i think relationships actually are forever, in terms of how the continuation of the species hinges on human beings forming some kind of relationship with each other (& i’m not just talking about sex). you know what’s not forever? some dumb character in some dumb fandom that has only been around for like ten years. imaginary characters. actors that portray imaginary characters from fandom. all of that shit is fleeting & the people will die, but the concept of “relationships” is actually forever, or as long as humans exist, anyway (which is not forever). someday i want to write a really intense manifesto about how the internet ruined social justice activism, but i start crying blood when i think about it too much, so…

friend appreciation month

one of my primary objectives for spinster summer was to shore up my relationships with people other than my boyfriend, & i think it’s been quite a success. i have never wanted to be one of those people who retreats into a romantic relationship. i have also never been a person who is really concerned with having a huge circle of friends. i am happy having a handful of people that i can really count on. so it’s kind of a balancing act for me to do what i have to do to keep my main partner relationship happy & healthy, & also do the emotional work of building & maintaining important friendships. it’s no secret that i have no relationship whatsoever with my mom, & once a person cuts their own mom out of their life, it gets that much easier to just bail on everyone else when the going gets tough. i do that a lot. i know people that still have good friends from high school, or even elementary school. that’s not me. i cycle through friends like other people cycle through underpants. i subconsciously put people through their paces before i let a friendship happen. it’s never a surprise to me when people say, “when i first met you, i thought you were really intimidating & stand-offish.” it’s not intentional…it’s just what i do. letting people into my life is hard for me.

wah wah wah, right? spinster summer has been a very mixed bag, but it’s made me have a newfound appreciation for the other people in my life. so i decided august will be my own personal friend appreciation month, in which i reach out to new friends & old friends alike & let them know why they are important to me & what i value about them.

let’s start with miss jessika rae disaster, my sister from another mother. i met jessika rae in the summer of 2003. she was 20, straight edge, vegan, & wicked fucking posi. i was 24, going through a divorce, & was hobbling around in a walking cast with the assistance of a cane thanks to an arthritis-related injury. i was getting divorced because my partner was finishing up his undergrad degree & talking about wanting to enter grad school, get a doctorate, & maybe become a professor. i was just not seeing myself as the long-term partner of an academic & a professor. i know, right? fast forward eight years & that’s exactly where i am. but in 2003, i had other goals. i wanted to travel & live in punk houses & organize anarchist conferences & go to basement shows. i wanted to make zines & get d.i.y. tattoos. the dynamics at play in that relationship made our plans seem like very divergent paths. i felt like i had to choose between doing what was expected & doing what i wanted. so i chose to do what i wanted.

amazing lady friend.

for the record, i still feel this weird push & pull sometimes. especially lately, looking at starting down the road of being a mom & not being able to predict how that’s going to change my life. i definitely feel like i am leaving my idealistic youth behind, which is sometimes a huge relief & sometimes a bummer. i also acknowledge that it’s probably a false dichotomy. there’s no law saying that having a kid means i can never get a tattoo or go to a show. i just know that it’s not going to be the same, & i have mixed feelings about that.

anyway, i was a mess the first time i met jessika rae. she had organized a zine fair in detroit & i was tabling my zine distro for the first time. but this was the weekend of the epic black-out that took out all the power in the eastern half of the united states for a couple of days. detroit is something of a post-apocalyptic hellscape on the best of days. this weekend was like something out of a sci-fi novel. no streetlights, no stoplights. the very few people milling around on the sidewalks were either setting off fireworks & shooting off guns. the zine fair was in the warehouse space behind trumbullplex, & it was lit with weird electric lanterns attached to generators & candles. everyone was riding bikes & playing spin the bottle & eating dumpstered snacks. i felt like i was a thousand years old with my cane. i cried a lot. jessika rae set me up in an empty room belonging to a traveling kid at trumbull. i went to bed at 8pm with a flashlight & read myself to sleep.

somehow, from this very questionable beginning, we forged a friendship. when i got home to boston, i wrote jessika rae a letter, apologizing for what a weepy, crabby mess i had been. she was totally unfazed. she wasn’t freaked out or put off at all, & we started exchanging lots of letters about feminism & mental health & bands & fucked up disappointing political shit & relationship issues. i went traveling the next summer & spent a week in detroit. i don’t remember much except for going to a soap-making workshop & thinking, “punks in the midwest wear overalls a lot. that would NEVER happen in boston.” i also remember sitting at the trumbullplex’s huge dining room table (used for collective meetings) by myself, listening to mischief brew & working on a zine based around “born to run” by bruce springsteen. then i played “stand by me” on the piano for like an hour. a few weeks later, i took a bus to bloomington for the first plan-it-x fest & jessika rae met me at the bus station & i just remember thinking, “yes. something about this moment is how i want my life to be.” i couldn’t even say exactly what it was. we spent a few scary minutes during which jessika rae couldn’t find the fest tickets for our little group of like ten weirdos, & i called her messika rae & she said, “i don’t like that.”

in the eight years since, jessika rae & i have never lived in the same town, or even the same state. but we write letters & call each other on the phone all the time. when i was in boston & she was living in maine, we visited a lot. i haven’t seen her in over three years at this point. but her presence in my life definitely helps keep me grounded. she’s gotten a lot less vegan, a lot less straight edge, & FAR less posi since we have known each other–all of which i appreciate very much. but she inspires the shit out of me & usually when i start feeling all fucked up about the choices i have made in life & getting consumed with crazy regrets, i think about jessika rae or i call her up & it makes me feel like, “yes. this is what i want my life to be.”

i encourage anyone reading this to make time to appreciate your friends. there are a million ways to let your friends know how you feel: call them up, write them postcards, sing them a song, go for a walk together. maybe your friendship has been plagued by drama & recriminations–it happens. put your shoulder into it & see what happens when you get to the other side. see if this is what you want your life to be & how your friends are showing you the way.

grief is a spiral

i realized the other day that spinster summer is more than halfway over. the first half went pretty smoothly. it seemed to fly by, really. maybe it was a mix of having the opportunity to see jared a lot (because i spent the first six days in boston with him, & then i only had about two weeks by myself in kansas before i flew back to boston to spend my birthday with him) & the novelty of having all the alone time i wanted. but now i am in the big stretch of not seeing him for a month, & some of the excitement of having the house to myself has dissipated. it’s getting more difficult.

i threw myself a little birthday party on saturday so i could spend some quality time with friends in kansas. i wasn’t anticipating a rager, because 32-year-olds, as a general rule, don’t really rage a whole lot. i also don’t know that many people in lawrence, & at least half of the people i do know are out of town for the summer. plus lawrence is a weird place. you actually have to be kind of popular to get people to schedule you into their busy weekends. maybe it’s a college town thing? or maybe it’s just a life thing. i was competing against a couple of going away parties & whatever it is more fun-loving people get up to on weekends, so it was pretty sedate.

jaimie offered to make me a birthday cake. although she is trying to maintain a gluten-free diet, she said that cakes are “how [she] best expresses [her] creativity.” she asked me for flavor & them suggestions. i offered chocolate, vanilla, hazelnuts, & cats.

this is what she came up with.

the cake part is shaped like a zine. half of it is chocolate & half is vanilla (though the chocolate got greedy & colonized the vanilla half a little bit). the creature is in fact a rice krispie treat molded into the vague shape of a cat & covered with fondant. it has fondant ears & tail & frosting features, including claws.

detail of the cat.

jaimie says, “i’m not a sculptor, okay?” she thinks it looks like a hairless pig rat. i think it kind of resembles jaimie’s dog, wallace tucker. he’s a terrier/chihuahua mix who grew up in a meth lab. after the meth lab exploded & his original owners were hauled off to prison, jaimie adopted him.

the cat is wearing an ice cream cone birthday hat with a sparkler in it. i refused to light the sparkler because i am still traumatized from setting my hand on fire lighting sparklers at kickball last summer. so jaimie lit it.

the cake with the sparkler lit.

i feel that i should mention that this cake is enormous. & literally only six people stopped by for my “party” (which is about five more than i really expected). only four of us ate cake. so i have tons of leftovers. they’re taking up an entire shelf in my refrigerator. thankfully, jaimie is hosting a barbecue/potluck this evening, so i’m going bring the leftover cake & also all the leftover beer that has been sitting in my fridge. i just don’t drink beer when left to my own devices. i don’t drink any alcohol. that’s definitely not a bad thing, but it does make me wonder sometimes why the hell i pay for recycling service.

people singing happy birthday to me.

the day of my party was in fact charlotte’s tenth birthday. if she were a person, she’d be getting ready to enter the fifth grade! she’d be able to write cursive! charlotte shares her birthday with my niece, malachite. she’s nine. halfway to adulthood! they really do grow up so fast. my sister may disagree, since she’s the person who has had to shepherd malachite along to turning nine, but i feel like she was just born last week.

malachite was in fact born exactly two weeks before my dad died. so the anniversary of his death is coming up on july 30. it blows my mind to think he’s been gone for nine years. i had just turned 23 when he died. now i’m 32. weirdly, jared’s father’s birthday is the same day my dad died. his mother’s birthday is the same as my ex-husband’s. people are sometimes surprised that i’m so good at remembering the birthdays of people i don’t even know that well, but it’s easy for me because there are weird clusters of significant dates in my life.

i guess nomy lamm is performing in lawrence on july 30. that’s where most people i know here are going to be on the anniversary of my dad’s death. i am still mulling whether or not that’s where i want to be. it could be good to be with friends, doing something potentially fun & definitely outside the confines of my usual routine. but it might be kind of stressful.

to be honest, i don’t really feel a lot of feelings on days that are associated with my dad–his birthday, father’s day, the anniversary of his death. i haven’t felt a lot of feelings about him in a long, long time, because i guess my philosophy is to just not have a lot of feelings about things i can’t help. but i do sometimes wake up in the morning or space out while reading a book & think, “i haven’t talked to dad in a while. i should call him.” then i remember. i wonder how long a person has to be dead before that fact finally sticks in your brain.

charlotte as a baby.
my dad, about two years before he died (the second to last time i saw him).

adult living: car repairs edition

i hopped into my car to drive up to feminist book club on thursday, & my car wouldn’t start! all that would happen when i turned the key is that the key would kind of get stuck & make a weird clicking noise. i had no idea what was going on. the last time i’d driven the car was on tuesday, when i drove home from the airport. a huge thunderstorm had blown through right before i got home, so i spent the last ten minutes of the drive trying to navigate through a torrential downpour & almost no visibility. i’d turned on the headlights, but it appeared that they had gone out before i got home, so i turned on the brights in the interest of having some light. when i parked, i had the windshield wipers on full blast, along with the radio, air conditioning, headlights, & brights. in the time that we’ve had the car, jared has twice left the headlights on & drained the battery, necessitating a jump, & i really didn’t want to have to deal with that, so i carefully turned everything off before i got out of the car & raced for the house. but maybe i left something on & the battery had gone dead? i noticed that the lever for the brights was in the on position. i called jared, but he said that the brights should have gone off when i turned the headlights off–& the headlights were definitely off.

my friend amanda gave me a lift up to book club, & jaimie drove me home. we had big plans to try to jump my battery with her car (jared bought jumper cables after the first time he killed the battery). we carefully parked her car so it was facing my car & i hopped out to fetch the jumper cables…& jaimie suddenly remembered that her car is kind of broken in that you can’t pop the hood. so i had to call thea & josh, who were out having dinner with josh’s mom. they postponed dinner & came over & we tried jumping my car. it involved attaching jumper cables in the feeble beam of a cell phone, since i apparently don’t own a flashlight. the jumper cables got hot, but my engine didn’t even try to turn over.

josh works at the local movie theatre, which was premiering “harry potter & the deathly hallows, part two” that night. i’d been complaining at book club about people i know in lawrence making plans with each other to go see it & not mentioning it to me. they all collaborated & got ticket blocks days in advance. by the time i tried to get a ticket, the day i came home from boston, they were all sold out. josh was like, “let me make a call,” & he totally got me a free ticket! but the theatre is way out on the edge of town, so i had to coordinate with him & thea to get a lift to the theatre, & then i had to meet up with grad school ladies afterward to get a ride home.

seeing the new harry potter movie in a sold out theatre for free definitely made me feel a little better about my car. but i was still wicked stressed. i kept wondering if maybe i had fucked up the car somehow driving in the thunderstorm. people talk about “flooding the engine”. i don’t know what that really means & i doubt driving in rain (even heavy rain) is really that bad for a car, considering that cars are routinely parked out in the open where they get rained on. but what do i know? nothing! i never expected to have a driver’s license, let alone a car. i don’t know how these things work.

when i got up on friday, i immediately called my car insurance people to inquire about adding roadside assistance to my existing plan. because the car wouldn’t start, i was going to have to have it towed to a mechanic. but jared is the primary policy holder & they wouldn’t even look up my insurance coverage without his okay. & i knew he was already at the archives for the day & wouldn’t be out until the insurance company was closed for the day. so i called my credit card company to ask if they included any AAA coverage, as many credit card companies do. jared’s credit card has AAA coverage. mine does not. i did learn that they boosted my credit limit up to $5000 though. which is more than a quarter of my annual income. i guess that will do nice things for my credit score, but it’s a little scary to know i have that much available credit.

i made my peace with paying for the tow & repairs out of pocket & started calling garages. the first four dudes i talked to sounded either drunk or like they were taking breathers in between murdering sprees. i finally got in touch with a mechanic who sounded awake, sober, coherent, & even pleasant. he gave me the number of a tow company & i got the wheels in motion. he said he’d have time to look at my car that day & figure out what was happening.

i gave it about five hours & then i called back for an update. the mechanic i talked to this time said, “yeah, your car’s here, but i haven’t looked at it because i didn’t know why it was here.” my hopes of getting my car back in a timely manner began to deflate. i explained the issue & he said i probably needed a new battery & he’d take a look. i got off the phone & cried for a little while. i am pretty good at handling routine problems, but car repairs are not a routine problem for me. i’ve never had to deal with this before, i had no idea what to expect, & it was stressing me the fuck out.

but to my amazement, he called me back to tell me he’d replaced the battery & some cables & the total for all the work, the parts, & the tow was only about $200. he even came & picked me up so i could retrieve the car from his shop. door to door service at no extra charge! sometimes i really like lawrence.

i consider this yet another threshold in adult living.

so i turned 32 the other day

i received a really strange e-mail yesterday from some dude who works for a hydrotherapy equipment company. he said he had stumbled across some entry i wrote about taking a water aerobics class, & after ensuring me that water aerobics is 100% punk, he asked to write a guest entry on “the public perception of water aerobics”. he said he would be sure to maintain “the high quality writing standards that [my] readers have come to expect.” i have not taken him up on the offer. it has never occurred to me to bring in guest posters, & if i was going to do that, i probably wouldn’t start with a hydrotherapy equipment salesperson who wants to discuss the public perceptions of water aerobics.

so, i’m 32 now! i went to boston this past weekend to spend my birthday with jared. probably the weirdest thing that happened is that the ticketing agent at the kansas city airport didn’t ask to see my ID when i got my boarding pass. when i asked if she needed to see it, she said, “not if you’re under 18.” i told her i was 31. she said, “oh! then i do need to see your ID! & you look great for your age!” um, i really don’t. i think maybe i could pass for 27 or 28, but anyone who is standing right in front of me & thinking that i am seventeen years old needs to see an optometrist.

on another flight, a fellow passenger overheard me say something about wanting to smoke a cigarette after the plane landed. she started lecturing me about how terrible this is & was like, “you really shouldn’t smoke! you’ll regret it when you’re older!” i conceded that i probably would–hell, i regret it now! she said, “you’re in college, right? what are you, twenty?” my jaw dropped. i told her i was 31. she did a double take & said, “oh. well. i guess you’re an adult. i was going to say that smoking could hurt your job prospects down the road.” i told her my job prospects were not really a big concern, without elaborating that i am disabled. she said, “& smoking can prematurely age you. but i guess you’re okay.” i guess. it turned out that she was 38. she looked about 72, so she was speaking from experience.

my visit to boston was kind of awesome, & kind of annoying. it was really fantastic to see jared & get to spend some quality time with him. spinster summer is going swimmingly, but i do miss jared. he arranged to take me to salisbury beach for my birthday, where we stood around in the surf & played a gazillion games of skeeball. we accrued enough tickets to get a rubbery hot pink toy lizard, an awesome plastic shark, & an over-sized glittery pink ring.

me standing next to the world's most amazing hamburger sign, at salisbury beach.
jared at the soda shop, at salisbury beach.
me & the ocean! (clearly i am not a teenager.)

when we got back to the city, we went to see the outdoor seal exhibit at the new england aquarium.

me bonding with a seal lying on its back.
OMG so cute

& then we went out for dinner at trattoria di monica in the north end. jared & i ordered the bruschetta special appetizer, which was topped with mozzarella, plum tomatoes, figs, basil, & i don’t know what else. fucking. delicious. as an entree, i ordered the four cheese ravioli. i nearly lost my mind because it was so amazing. after i finished devouring it, i said, “i just want to do something to memorialize how unbelievably delicious this meal was.” but i couldn’t actually think of anything to do–maybe get a plate of ravioli tattooed on me?–so i did nothing. allow me to state for the record that not all italian food is created equal, & if you have a large selection of italian restaurants to choose from, doing a little research is a really good idea. i picked trattoria di monica because it featured a very simple, traditional menu, but had excellent reviews. i guess this advice works for pretty much anything, but there are few things i care about as much as i care about italian food, so. yes.

the annoying part is that, in the days leading up to my birthday, bart kept saying that he needed to do laundry. bart was letting us stay with him, & he was letting us use his car pretty much as needed, which was really generous of him, so i’m reluctant to complain too much about small inconveniences or whatever. but the point is that he did not follow through & do laundry until the morning of my birthday. & of course he needed his car in order to do laundry–the same car that we had been openly planning to drive to salisbury beach in order to celebrate my birthday. had we known about this crimp in the plans, we could have arranged to rent a car of our own or something, but we didn’t know, so we had to wait until he was finished with his laundry, & then we had to drive him to work before we could get on the road.

me outside the laundromat, just barely holding it together & not going on a killing spree.
jared, & bart in the background, slowly ruining my birthday one load of wash at a time.

i make a big deal about my birthdays. & i make a big deal about other people’s birthdays. a person’s birthday should be the one day a year when no one does anything to inconvenience them. i really did feel a little bit bad about being even a little bit upset, because hello. i was turning 32, not five. i acknowledge that it’s possibly a little bit childish for me to want my birthday to seriously be all about me & not at all about one of my friends washing his laundry. but still! i took the photo & warned him that i was going to post it on the internet with a bunch of complaining about how he ruined my birthday, so here it is.