Sunday, May 22, 2011

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

(Written last night, in a stupor; published today.  Lately I am writing haphazardly.  My blog has temporarily become a disorganized dumping ground for my thoughts.  Soon, I will revert to more concise and graceful writing and leave this "yap, yap, yap" stuff behind with all of my other problems.  [Snnnnrk.])


Sara and I were (reluctantly) up at dawn, so we could help set up for the Girl Scout yard sale.  It was pretty successful:  netted us about $400.  That means that the trip to San Luis Obispo is paid  for and we have leftover money to use on a camping trip in the San Rafael Swell at the end of the summer.  I enjoy the company of the other moms, too.   We had a good time.

My Cat Stevens cassette is still in the tape deck; and as we drove along, he was singing about housing options that would please him:

I'd like to live in a wigwam...
And dance 'round the totem pole.

He was also cool with living in an igloo (so he could ice fish).
He would happily travel with a caravan (so he could hang out with Gypsies).
Or reside in a commune (so he would get a reputation as a hippie).

After a couple of stanzas, Sara looked sideways at the car stereo and stated, flatly, "What is this guy's problem?!"

Meanwhile, I was thinking, "Hey, Cat; get out here and try finding some fucking housing.  I'll take your place on the commune."

I went to visit the rental office at Pinnacle Highland Apartments today.  This complex is so big that it is visible from outer space.  They have a two-bedroom that is (barely) within my budget.  This would be the easy way out of the housing search.  But $895 a month gets me a gas fireplace (which feels like fake fire to me) and a master en suite bath with a big "garden-style" tub.  I find myself thinking that I would happily bag those affectations for a third bedroom.  And Pinnacle Highland is claustrophobic.  It's on a hillside, so when you're driving through the massive complex searching for the office, the buildings tower over you.  There is no grassy area for kids to play and no park in walking distance.  I would feel like a little prairie dog!  Or a bee.

If it were for 6 months, I would be much more tolerant.  But now there is a possibility that I will have to rent for a year.  That makes me more interested in whether I can actually be HAPPY in a space.  I am being weirdly picky, I know.  Great. 

I lived in my "studio" apartment in Poland for two years.  It had no kitchen.  I used a two-burner hot plate and borrowed a mini fridge from the school biology lab.  (Yeah, don't think too hard about that.)  I filled a plastic tub  from the bathtub tap, set it on the toilet seat, washed dishes, then dumped the dish water down the toilet.  I also did my laundry in that tub, using my feet as an agitator. Sometimes the tap water ran black.  Or red (that was a little freaky).  At that time in Poland, hot water was generated municipally  (I always imagined an enormous hot water heater buried deep beneath the town).  Most Poles also had wall mounted gas water heaters in their homes because the municipal system was frequently down for... uh... maintenance.  I heated pan after pan of water on my hot plate.  Or I would bathe at a student's home.  People were always trying to break in.  Peace Corps paid to have bars installed over my windows after the second or third time that I stood there and watched some dude with a crowbar try to jimmie my window latch.  BUT.  I was cozy there.  The windows were large and opened wide.  It had broad window sills (which I used in lieu of a kitchen counter) and old fashioned radiators that clanked and hissed.  I had a little lamp that cast a soft light on my table where I would sit and grade papers at night.  I had an old wooden radio that I had tuned so that every night at 12:30 AM, I could hear Voice of America news in English.  They would do three headlines:  I listened avidly. 

[In a creaky, little old lady voice]  Yes, children, in the days before the Internet, we had to listen to the radio and walk 12 miles to school each day with no more nourishment in our bodies than a handful of gravel. 

After I left, a new Peace Corps volunteer came and refused to live in my apartment!  She sent me a letter and said that she had insisted on it being completely renovated.  "How could you live there?!?"  Uh, well, it IS the Peace Corps, after all...  I just got used to it and grew to like it, I guess. 

Uh-oh...As I wrote that, I realized that the lesson is:  Get your ass moved girl!  Then adjust.  Shit, if you coped with the Peace Corps, SURELY you could tolerate an en suite bath!?

The Girls Scouts made me laugh at this yard sale. They donated a lot of their old crap, of course, then blew their allowances buying the other girls' crap.  Sara came home with a set of door beads in which I get tangled every time I go in her room.  I acquired, though, for a measly $10, a set of everyday plates, three bowls, a corkscrew (on a desert island with only one kitchen gadget?) and a bunch of assorted kitchen necessities.  Oh!  And I took all the cardboard boxes.

I had a long conversation with an 86-year-old man whose wife had just passed away.  He told me all about how they had met; how it had been love at first sight; how they had been married for 61 years; how her last words had been how much she loved him.  You know, is there an invisible bubble over my head that says, "Step right up!  Tell your sad stories and make this lady cry?"

When I was done working at the yard sale, I came home and actually took a nap.  I am so sleepy these days: because a part of my psyche seems to be resisting sleep; and because another part of my psyche is trying to make me sleep to escape stress.  It's bizarre, I know.  At any rate, a nap is a precious luxury to me.  The Holy Grail of the sleep deprived.  This one was particularly lovely. It was warm yesterday and the breeze blew in my bedroom window.  I lay on top of my super-soft favorite quilt and wrapped up in my great-grandmother's flour-sack quilt.  I was extraordinarily blissed out and realized that it was because I was barefoot for the first time in months.  I wriggled my toes sensuously against the quilt and slept. 

It wasn't enough to help, though.  I ran hills this afternoon and had to stop twice to rest.  Normally I can run the whole route without stopping.  I try to blame the fact that I lifted weights before I ran, because I like that explanation better then the fact that I am about to hit the emotional fatigue wall.

It reminds me of a passage I read once in a novel.  This English woman goes an vacation to Spain and while she is there she falls madly in love with a man who invites her to stay in Spain and live with him there.  She has to quit her job, deal with her finances, explain to her family, etc..  When it 's all done, she goes to bed and sleeps pretty much non-stop for three days. That'll be me:  when/if I finally feel safe again, I will sleep the clock once around.  I might even have a little cry and THEN sleep the clock once around.

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