Saturday, March 29, 2008

Lesson #2 - Don't Walk Through Alleys
I had lived in the country for the previous 14 years. It was scary living in the city, all by myself. I, however, was determined not to give in to fear, and ended up doing a lot of stupid things, just to show myself that I wasn't afraid, even if I was.
My apartment was one mile from the office where I worked. I had a car, but it was old and unreliable, and I enjoyed walking, so I always walked to and from work. I did not, however, enjoy walking down busy, noisy city streets, so whenever possible I took alley shortcuts. These alleys were not ugly, trashy, rat-infested alleys that you picture in big cities; they were more like driveways between the small backyards of row houses. So, it was pleasant, especially in the spring and summer, when there were flowers blooming. One day, I was walking home from work, about 4:30 pm, and was in an alley, about halfway between one street and the next. All of a sudden, with no warning, I felt someone grab my ass. I jumped and screamed. A young man, riding a bicycle, zipped by me and then stopped a few yards ahead of me. He was grinning, in what to me seemed a menacing way. I yelled, "Leave me alone! Get out of here!" He biked a few yards farther and stopped again, leering at me. I kept yelling, as loud as I could. He kept going a little farther and stopping again. Finally, we were getting close to the end of the alley, and he gave up and rode away, I thought. But, when I got to the sidewalk, I saw him about a half-block away.
So, there I was, only about five or six blocks from home, but I didn't dare go home, because the bastard might follow me and learn where I live. I kept walking, zig-zagging back and forth until I was sure I had lost him, and finally got home. I ran up the stairs to my apartment and closed and locked the door. I was so upset, I needed to talk to someone. I called my friend, Kerry, and was telling her, through my tears, what had happened. I became aware that my buttcheek, where the guy had grabbed me, was itching wildly and getting worse by the second. Finally, I had to say goodbye to Kerry and examine the offending body part. The whole cheek was inflamed, and covered with big, red welts! Hives! Somehow, my body reacted to the affront, just as it would to some kind of allergen. Crazy, huh? It subsided after a while, and I made the second of many vows to be more careful in the future.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lesson #1: Don't Open the Door
Ok, where was I...oh yeah...lonely, miserable, depressed, stressed at work, yadda yadda. I'll just tell you about one frightening incident and then move on to religion, politics or the weather (everyone talks about it, but nobody does anything about it).

For the first few weeks in my new "home," I lived very minimally. I did nothing to embellish the apartment, not even hanging curtains or shades in the windows. I figured that since I was on the third floor, no one could see into the windows, so what the hell.

The apartment had only one entry door, at the top of the narrow stairway, which opened into my small kitchen. One night, I was sound asleep, and awoke to the sound of someone banging on my door. I was startled and disoriented, and called out, "Who is it?"

"It's your neighbor!"

My neighbor? Omigod, there must be a fire and he's here to tell me to get out, before it's too late! I jumped out of bed and, clad only in a prim (fortunately!) long flannel nightgown, I ran to the door and pulled it open. I saw a young man, casually leaning against the wall, smoking a cigarette.

He smiled and said, "I thought you might like to get acquainted with a neighbor."

I was speechless. Finally, I was able to say, "Why would you think that?"

"Because, for the past couple of weeks, I've been watching you walking around in your apartment, and it looked like you could use some company."

"It's the middle of the night! I don't want company in the middle of the night! Get out of here!" And I slammed the door shut and locked it. I was shaking with fear. What if he tried to break down the door? What if he sets a fire on the stairs? What if I die of terminal stupidity??

Fortunately, none of those things happened, and I never saw him again; not that I know of, anyway. And the very next day, I taped newspapers over all the windows. They looked nice with my cardboard kitchen table.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

From Cinderella to Rapunzel

After five weeks of unsuccessfully looking for an apartment that I could afford and not despise, I had almost resigned myself to accepting something in a scary neighborhood and/or sharing it with various six-legged tenants. Then, on one of the happiest days of my life, I opened the morning paper, turned to the classifieds, and saw this ad: Cute, 3 rm apt, 3rd floor, nice neighborhood, $350/mo. Within an hour, I came, saw and conquered. It was not just "cute," it was in an old, Victorian style house, with just two other apts, one on the first floor and one on the second. It was freshly painted, had an old, claw-foot bathtub, and...AND...a TURRET in the corner of the living room, with lovely, big windows overlooking the street corner and neighborhood. I was in love!

The next hurdle to overcome was to beg the ex for some furniture and a few basic household items. I ended up with a sofabed, a small chest, a desk, a rocking chair, and a few kitchen utensils. No kitchen table. But I was okay with that. I got a sturdy cardboard box and used it for a table. I enjoyed sitting on the floor and eating my meals on the box. I felt like a pioneer. The most important and exhilarating feature of my new life was that I could do anything I wanted, any time I wanted and any way I wanted, with no oppressive, glowering man imposing his will on me.

FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST! GREAT GAWD AL... Wait a minute...I'm all alone...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Regarding the soggy saga of my quest for independence, I will add this entertaining side note. While I was still staying at the boarding house, my husband, having grown very tired of having to prepare his own meals, washing his own dishes, doing his own laundry, etc, contacted me. He was very nice, and suggested we get together for the weekend and see if we could "work things out." I was so lonely and miserable, I agreed. We met at a restaurant, had a reasonably pleasant dinner, and went back to "his" (formerly "our") house. It seemed so warm and cozy, and Husband was being so pleasant, as he coaxed me into returning, that I agreed.

The next morning I telephoned my best friend and told her what was happening. She sounded alarmed. "Are you sure you want to do that?"

"I guess so."

"Well, tell him that if you come back, things will have to change!"

I hung up the phone and turned to Husband. "If I come back, things will have to change!"

An all-too-familiar black scowl enveloped his face. "You're damned right things will have to change!!"

I grabbed my purse, hat and coat and left his sorry ass forever.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Leaving Home
The sumptious Miss Smack wrote recently about her incredibly courageous flight from her parents' home, with only the clothes on her back, at the tender age of 18.
Her story made me think of my own flight to freedom, at the much more advanced age of 40. Oh sure, I had left my parents' home at 18, but it was to get married.

I was then subjected, for the next 22 years, to the total domination of my egotistic, misogynistic, selfish, uncompromising husband. I felt that I had no value except as a sex receptor, maidservant, and mother to his two children. Nothing I wanted mattered in the least to him, if it conflicted in any way with what he wanted. I gained one or two vertebrae in my backbone in the later years, when I rebelled in order to go back to college and get my degree, and one other time when I took the kids to a big, once in a lifetime family reunion and was gone for two weeks. I could write a goddamn BOOK about how the kids and I were made to suffer for our little escapade, but I won't do it here. But I was determined to stay with him until the kids were on their own and I could support myself.

Then...I found Pan-man and lost my mind.
I snuck around for almost a year, meeting the lust-god whenever and however I could, crazy with wanting him. I tried not to get caught, because I wasn't ready financially to be on my own, yet. Eventually, my luck ran out and I was caught with my pants down. Fortunately, the kids had already left home, so my sordid affair didn't affect anyone but my husband and me. Husband kicked me out, with only "the clothes on my back" (hey, Smackie) and what I could throw into a suitcase. I stayed with my best friend for two weeks (she told me that I had to leave when the two weeks were up) and then in a boarding house for another month until I could find a place to rent. In the meantime, my father commited suicide and Pan-man dumped me.

Okay, this is getting really depressing, so I'll talk later about my newfound liberation and the experience of being on my own for the first time in my life.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Dr. Zaius tagged me with the following ape assignment:

A. List seven random things about yourself that people may not know.
B. Link the person who sent this to you, and leave a comment on their blog so that their readers
can visit yours.
C. Post the rules on your blog.
D. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, linking their blog.
E. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Since my inner ape admires and adores the Doctor, I will do his bidding, without further ado.

1. I have only the most tenuous grip on sanity. I am virtually hanging by my tail.
2. In spite of acknowledging this, I have decided that I no longer need to take Zoloft, and have been attempting to wean myself off of it.
3. My newfound mental clarity has enabled me to understand that my husband is an asshole. His hurtful words spurt from his orifice, like puffs of noxious gas.
4. I also understand that he has no control over his condition. It is a consequence of his being full of shit.
5. I used to think that it was my fault somehow. Now I know that it is not.
6. I intend to develop a virtual "gas mask" that will enable me to live in the same nest with him, without having to inhale the fumes.
7. I like bananas.

Now I must tag seven simians. So sorry if you'd rather stay sheltered, sweethearts.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This Says it All
Okay, Dcup didn't tag me, but she inspired me. On March 8 she wrote her own minimalist memoir. "A stripped down tale of this life in six words." She invited five "tagees" to write theirs too.
Here are the rules:
1. Write your own six word memoir.
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post.
4. Tag five more blogs with links.
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

So...uninvited party crasher that I am, I will now play the game. Here is MY life in six words:

Always scared, I did it anyway.

Okay, how about YOU, electro-kevin, Katie, Mr. Bananas, Dr. Monkey, Josh, and Miss Smack ?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Today I am in glowing, robust good health!

That may be a slight exaggeration, but compared to a couple of days ago, it's relatively true. I attribute my quick recovery, at least in part, to the well-wishes of my blogging buddies, creepy, distributorcap, fingers, gorilla bananas, and Dr. Zaius. Thank you, one and all!

My euphoria had a bit of a backslide this evening, when I was watching the news on tv. First it was all about "Punch and Judy" on the campaign trail, hitting each other with rhetorical clubs. The most egregious nastiness was spread by a couple of their staffers. I am anxious for the whole primary mess to be over and to see who is the last man/woman standing. Then, I hope the "winner" will give the "loser" a hand up and invite him/her to be his/her running mate. It's hard to imagine "Judy" accepting the number two position, but I think "Punch" might be willing.

We'll see.

Then, of course, it was all about the "looming recession." Okay, it's been almost 30 years since I got my B.A. in Economics, but I'm still going to vent about what I feel is a self-fulfilling prophecy in the works. That is, if people are bombarded every day with "the sky is falling" bad news about the economy, they're going to get nervous, and even if THEY still have a job, they're going to stop buying things and hunker down, their bosses are going to get nervous and change their minds about expanding the shop and buying that new machinery, nervous traders are going to sell stock, and flee to gold, etc. ad nauseum. I believe that the economy's condition could have been more accurately referred to as a "cyclical correction," which would not have been as frightening and less likely to exacerbate the situation.
Also, the whole "housing crisis" business is making me crazy! People! The continuing rise in prices of homes for the past few years was UNSUSTAINABLE! Increased demand pushed prices up so high that most people simply could not afford them, but they still wanted to buy a house, so the mortgage companies "helped" the buyers by finagling various methods (especially the nefarious "adjustable rate" mortgages) to make the initial payments seem manageable. Now, I'm not just blaming the financiers. People should not enter into a financial contract of that magnitude without thoroughly understanding what they are getting into! They should also not buy a house until they can afford it. Sorry, all you newly-weds. Try RENTING for the first few years, like we old farts did, back in the stone age. Okay, I'm getting off-message here. My point is that when prices get so high that almost no one can buy them, the prices will...and did...drop. It's called a "correction," not a depression.
Geez, I've got cramps in my fingers.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I'm sick. I've been sick for the past four days. I'm sick of being sick! Everything hurts except my hair and fingernails. They probably hurt too, but the signals they send to my brain are too weak to be heard over all the other body parts clamoring for attention. Not only that, but I'm sure my muscles are starting to atrophy, since I've missed two of my every-other-day gym workouts and haven't been able to go for my customary three-mile-a-day walks. The only good thing is that I have very little appetite, so I haven't gained any weight yet. Oh...there's one more good thing - I don't have to feel guilty for lying around reading and doing sudoku puzzles all day long.
How can I be sick, anyway? You should see how healthy I eat! Whole grains, fruit, vegetables, lean meat, walnuts, dark chocolate (I am soooooo glad that some form of chocolate has been deemed GOOD FOR YOU!), skim milk for chrissake! And exercise? I beat myself up at the gym for 1 1/2 hours three times a week. I walk briskly 2 or 3 miles a day. I don't smoke or drink (much).

Shit. Maybe this is the reason: