I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Effective time use.

I feel like I'm always laying on a couch, eating meatballs, bitching about the fact that I have no job. And yet, what do I do when I'm bored? I get on here and write things. Clearly, that tells me that I picked the wrong career in life -- that I should be a feature article writer for GQ or the New York Times or the L.A. Times, or the Washington Post. Oh well. C'est la vie.

When it's nighttime, I like to go on walks or bike rides in my neighborhood. Coral Gables, where I live, is this little anomalous enclave in otherwise hellish Miami. It's green, it's quiet, the streets are windey, there are LOTS of trees, every house is basically a mansion, and...it's quiet. After dark, the only sounds are the occasional dog with flashing collars (to warn cars and pedestrians, apparently) being walked by overdressed owners, the quiet whoosh of a Jaguar humming by, men selling their silver convertible BMWs in the driveways of their homes, and, tonight, the soothing melodies of Grease's "SUMMER NIGHTS" and Gwen Stefani's "AIN'T NO HOLLA' BACK, GIRL!" blaring from Bang and Olufsen speakers at some 12-year-old girl's backyard S'mores n' picadillo party.

Since I've lived down here, I've loved going for late-night walks around...because all of the houses are lit up so nicely, and all of the expensively manicured plantings look great lit by floodlights...and I also like looking in people's windows to see what types of fancy things they have. And I've learned something. Everyone in Coral Gables has a plasma-screen television set. Now you know.

The bad thing about these walks is that for the majority of the year...Miami is hu. m. m. m. id. I'm already a sweater, as the good lord has blessed me with hyperhidrosis (I'm sweaty.) so on my hour-and-a-half walks, I can work up quite a lather, if the weather conditions are right. And tonight they were. Ugh. The sun has gone down. There is usually no wind in Florida at night... and the humidity hovers in the 80% ranges. Dat meenz isss hot! And sticky. 76 degrees with 82% humidity is comfortably warm if you're sitting still, guzzling cold booze. If you're going on a hike, in a long sleeve button down and Seven jeans which aren't the lightest jeans in my closet, 1) you're an idiot and 2) you're going to sweat a fair amount. So. I walk and sweat, cursing myself, and feeling the following areas chafe: 1) My arm, for some reason, near my armpit, where my frustratedly-hastily rolled up sleeves are bunching in my pits; 2) You don't want to know. I need not to wear boxer shorts on these walks...or I'm going to land myself a ragin' case of jock itch. Was that too much information? and 3) the webbing between my big toes and my second biggest toes where my flip-flops slowly wear a hole into my foot. Bottom line? Chafing is a bitch.

Another thing that's a bitch here in Florida are the buggies. I've learned to tolerate the occasional cockroach... Outside, I'm fine with them. Inside, I've managed to suppress my urge to stand on a chair, point my face at the ceiling, and shriek like a 7-year-old girl, until, like a wineglass at a Soprano's opera performance, the cockroach explodes. Now, I just start shaking, swallow the gurgle of bile that raises in my throat, get a big, thick mitt of paper towels and Clorox Clean-up, and spray the little bitch to immobilize him, swiftly scoop up the squirming crusty in my papertowel hand-condom, and flush him to his death, and to my sweet relief.

My most entertaining roach story happened when I was living in my other place. They were a more common occurrence, because the door didn't fit tightly to the jamb. It was a rare Sunday when I actually woke up with a hangover (it was first year in law school, and I was even more anal than I am now), and to my chagrin, instead of simply sunlight streaming in on the ceiling...I observed what was the biggest cockroach ever to grace G-d's green Earth, walking precariously on my textured ceiling...above my face. My eyes, saucerlike with fear, fixed on that awful little arthropod tripping his way along the ceiling, certain to fall on my G-DDAMN BED.

Like any grown man, I began to whimper. Then, rational thought kicked in and I thought, "Well fuck. If he falls, it's gonna be on my bed, and then he's gonna get lost and there is no way in fucking hell I'm sharing my fucking bed with a fucking cockroach." So I got my spray and my papertowels and sprayed the sonofabitch. He began to squirm...and lose his grip on the ceiling. It was now or never. I'd either have a damp little roachstain on my bed, or I could catch him in my paper towel mitt. So... I swallowed the shriek that was rising in my manly throat, and caught Romulus Roach. And flushed him. ::shudder::

The other day I was walking and I saw a bug I'd never seen before. Well... I see those all the time down here. I saw a new glowing bug I'd never seen before. I was riding my bike at night, and I saw something glowing jumping on the sidewalk. I skidded my trusty Gary Fisher to a halt, and saw a beetle on the ground, jumping. Of course, the jumping sort of skeeved me out and frightened me, because he'd click when he jumped, and bugs in general scare the shit out of me... I think it all goes back to the Baltimore Cicada Invasion of 1987...mercifully I missed the most recent outbreak... anyway, this little beetle had two little GLOWING beads on his back! COOL! Well...I had observed enough and drove away as fast as I could. Tonight as I was on my walk, I noticed lightning bugs everywhere in the air, and glowbeetles everywhere on the ground. Neat. And sort of scary. Lightning bugs don't scare me, but any type of beetle... ugh.

I'm not going to talk about the mosquitoes. Those goes without saying. The last of the bugs down here that make me nauseous on a consistent basis are the snails. Oh, the snails. My friend Shana once referred to herself as, "The Snail Annihilator." Gross. It's not that I dislike snails in general... I find them to be exceedingly cute in cartoon form, with their smiling faces and top hats... But on a dark sidewalk on a humid night, there is nothing more stomach churning to me than the damp crunch that signals the death of yet another gastropod. Sharp little pops like stepping on a coriander seed mean a cute little babysnail has gone to Jesus. The moist-sounding muffled crunch, coinciding with a rapidly deflating lump under your flipflop means that you just wasted a larger mollusk. Mehghahwhghghghghghghghgh. And it's unavoidable in some situations. But not for lack of trying! So, if you're ever driving in the Gables at night, and you come across a sweating, inappropriately dressed young man tiptoeing and leaping over the sidewalk like he's playing a game of "LAVA!" by himself...roll down your windows and say hi...I'll welcome the distraction from my snailhopping.


I don't want to study for the bar tonight, but I need to. We've been covering a lot of stuff lately. Because I'm still waiting for mommy and daddy's check to come in, I've been stretching the staple ingredients I have at home for dinner. That meant that today was meatball day with sauce - half homemade, half a jar of Barilla... Three meatballs later, I'm stuffed so I can't study Criminal Procedure, Contracts and Torts quite yet...

On top of that, I got a bit of bad news yesterday, that's bummed me out quite a bit. That sounds flippant considering the situation, so I'll rephrase as saying, I feel terrible for my friend and the rest of her family. Her mom died on Tuesday of breast cancer, after a 4-year battle. This girl was one of the first people I met in college - she lived on my floor Freshman year, and was a good friend when I was going through "issues" about whether I wanted to stay in Wisco. or flee back home. Flash forward seven years, my friend just finished her first year of law school, and I can't imagine how it would be to come home after that battle, to find not celebration, but black crepe draped over the door.

Her mom was young - her family is in the prime of their lives...it's just so sad. Not to mention that hearing of my friend's loss caused me to examine what I'd do if one of my parents died. I'm such a mama's and daddy's boy, I simply cannot fathom what I'll do when either one of them goes. And yet, fear of losing my parents has haunted me all my life.

When I was little, and they would go out and I'd have a babysitter, I couldn't sleep until they were home safely, worried that they had either abandoned me, or that they had been killed in an accident. It wasn't until my room hummed with the vibrations of the garage-door opener that I could fall asleep. Even this Mother's day, my parents spent the entire day planting gardens outside...NOT ANSWERING ANY ONE OF FOUR TELEPHONE LINES ALL DAY LONG. I freaked out. If I can't reach one, I call the other. If I can't reach either, I leave a message, which is returned. I kept calling, and calling, and calling, and callingandcallingandcalling leaving messages that became more and more frantic as I tried to keep panic out of my voice. "WHY AREN'T THEY CALLING ME BACK?!" Because it was Sunday, and I knew the morning would be spent swimming and running, then coffee at Mad City, I promptly leapt to the logical conclusion that clearly they had been killed in a horrible automobile accident on the way from Mad City Coffee Shop to our home, a distance of a mile. Tops. I even pulled my brother into my delusion, "Have you talked to mom or dad yet today?" "No, I left Mom a message wishing her happy Mother's day." "Has she called you back yet?" "Not yet, no." "Have you spoken to Dad today?" "No." "Oh.... When was the last time you spoke to them?"

I'm crazy. And I don't know why I insist on imagining these absolutely gut-wrenchingly terrifying scenarios where my parents are driving back from the Inn at Little Washington or Olives or some other D.C. area fancy restaurant, and a drunk driver careens out of nowhere, killing them and rendering my brother and me orphans. When it snows up there? Forget it. I'm a basketcase down here.

So as usual, I'm on edge. Now it's because my friend's family has been dealt this horrific blow, and my nightmare has become their reality, made even worse by the fact that her death was not quick -- cancer. Cancer, cancer, cancer. The ugliest word for the ugliest disease. Dan has gotten a group of us together to make a donation to the Susan G. Komen cancer society, and I have to buy a card... I always send cards, because it's the least intrusive way to let someone know that you're thinking about them. At the same time, sending cards has always also seemed to be a well-intentioned, yet annoying gesture, "I'm so sorry for your loss. Here's more paper." I know it's an expression of solidarity and support, and it's the thought more than anything else, but I remember after my grandmother died, the profusion of cards that rolled in got tiresome after a while.

If my friend happens to be reading this, I hope she knows how truly sorry I am for her loss (Even though over the next few days, weeks and months, she'll get tired of that cliched condolence.) I hope she knows that I genuinely mean it when I say that if I can do anything for her (even though she's way, way, way, way far away) and her family, I would be happy to. I hope she knows that I've been thinking about all of her family since I heard her news, and that I'm awestruck by the way my friend hasn't spontaneously combusted yet. I hope my friend knows that I would not wish the pain of losing her mother on anyone, and that I'm very proud of her for the courage that doubtless she's showing in the face of this tragedy, in whatever way that courage manifests itself. I hope she knows that her life will go on eventually, and that somehow she will manage to compartmentalize her numbing, paralyzing grief and that now, this summer, and beyond, her only real job is to help herself and her family come to accept the loss that they have been dealt. And lastly, I hope that her mother is in a better place, her suffering finally over, looking down on her family, with them always, and visiting with them in their dreams.

As an Innuit legend says, "Perhaps they are not stars, but openings in heaven, where the love of our lost ones pours through, and shines down to let us know they are happy."