Austin, TEXAS, December 5, 2005 Not sleeping leads to a bad start to the week. I responded three times to the dog. I let her out. I put her back in bed twice. Finally I seemed to be sleeping but then I realized it was almost eight. I put on my robe, went into my office and turned on the weather channel. It was thirty-eight degrees at Bergstrom with a wind chill of thirty. I didn't figure Dad would go to swim. I called. He didn't answer. Not to worry. He's probably in the bathroom or outside. I tried again. Again. OK, he wouldn't have gone without calling me, would he? Should I go to the club and call him again from there? I went into the bedroom, feeling blurry. It is good that I speak to Dad every day but when he doesn't answer it always
worries me a tiny bit. I was going to get ready to go to the club, see if he showed up and, if he didn't and didn't answer the phone after a while, go check on him. The phone rang.
"Did you call me?" he said.
"I was in the office and had the door closed and didn't have my hearing aids in."
"Don't you have a phone in there?"
"No, they all quit working."
"I'll get you another one."
"I might have an old one that works. The lamp went out in here, too. I guess I'll have to get a bulb."
"Your world is falling apart."
"Yeah. And I told you I had to send my quarterly payment and it isn't due until January 17 and you are supposed to correct me."
"Sorry. I thought it was weird. I thought they were due January."
We hung up. I don't know why he is a month ahead on his doctor's appointments and tax payments. I don't know why it is so hard for him to keep a working phone in the office. I was sleepy. I fell back in the bed. And I would have stayed there, too, but FFP came in dressed in a jacket and sweats.
"You going to the club?"
"I've already been to the club."
Well, that explains why he wasn't downstairs, he was at the club. I covered my head with the covers but I felt too guilty to sleep. I got up, put on sweats and helped FFP spread the bed before he got his shower. I got coffee, went into my office and turned on CNBC and published my journal. FFP got ready and went to the drag where he had an appointment to continue an interview about the Whitman shootings. Next year is the 40th anniversary of that killing spree. I've never stood (knowingly anyway) so clearly in harm's way as he did that day. It haunts him. Someone for a TV station is doing a bunch of interviews so that he can produce a special next August.
I don't have anything on my schedule today now that water aerobics wasn't a go for dad. FFP has an interview later of someone for his column. It's definitely time for me to go over my 'to do' list and get busy with stuff. I have financial things to do. I have our small family Christmas to plan. I have to learn to cook interior Mexican food before we have a benefit here in February.
A neighbor calls asking about all the messy construction on our street. She just now realized there was another total street blockage south of here. We talk for a while and agree that we should gather for a drink over the holidays. Someone goes South in front of my house (past a barricade that says "Road Closed" "Do Not Enter Do Not Enter") while we talk.
My to do list is rarely updated or consulted. But it is organized! The following categories are in it:
1. Travel Planning
I rarely spend time on some of these areas. But I might.
It all has to do with my goals, resolutions, hopes, dreams. Yada yada.
(Don't you think it's great that I have a "cooking" section.
What a joke!)
And that's how it came to be 11:30 and I hadn't gone for my workout. The workout that must be done before I could possibly be productive in any other way. Unless you count updating the 'to do' list. (I did actually check a few things off. I had actually done them, too.) Or listening to "European Closing Bell" on CNBC. Or checking out the sites online that I need to work on the financal part of the 'to do' list, assuming I ever get around to that. Or going to the frig to get a small snack and finding a six-month old piece of cheese I had to discard because it was too hard to cut. (The mold could have been cut off, but it wasn't well-wrapped and was rock hard. On my 'to do' list is this item: clean out refrigerator. Yeah.)
There is only one thing to do when you find yourself in a situation like this: deprived of sleep, having things that need doing but not having any solid appointments, and it is nearly noon. And that's go to the gym and sweat while reading something you want to read.
So that found me at the gym until about 1:30. Indeed, I sweated. I pondered the psoraisis eruption on my face. (I hate winter. Memo to self: go outside in the sun for a while.) I read. Alternating between articles in the weekend Wall Street Journal and a vanity-published book by my friend's niece. The former about stuff like what dividend stocks to look at, whether Wal-Mart is good for America, how advertisers and companies with kiddy products are positioning for the report on whether TV ads make kids obese. (Not just, fat. Obese.) My friend's niece's book wouldn't have been too interesting except (1) it was written by someone I vaguely knew although I might never have met her; and (2) it was set in Austin. It's all this disfunctional thirty-year-old single girl angst. It is written like diary entries and, as my friend (the author's aunt) pointed out, there are lots and lots of typos.
When I got home from the gym, I could have eaten the following healthy things: nonfat yogurt, healthy cereal, bananas, broccoli, spinach, some salmon FFP just cooked, Clementines. Instead I had this huge plate of nachos and when I finished off the jalapenos I double checked that there was another jar in the pantry. I also pondered how Costco provides that shredded cheese product which defies mold for weeks and weeks while I finish off a multi-pound bag. [Ed. note: This paragraph is not unlike that book you are reading for some reason except that there aren't any typos and you kept the food down and you don't have any cats to watch you puke even if you hadn't.]
I was determined to do something useful. I thought I might do something on our financial planning. But when I brought up my information on some stocks and realized that there had been another merger to sully my records, I just didn't feel like it. The broker who has the stock nicely summarized the deal and I could easily note everything and move on but it just stopped me wanting to work on it.
I decided to try to clean up the guest room and the gift closet and get some gifts wrapped. I'm thinking about making a New Year's Resolution to throw things away and thought I might get a start on that. Now to face this task I decided I needed a cup of coffee. I went through the living room to get it and noticed a sack of junk I'd accumulated there way back when I had the computer guy cart off computer stuff that was bulky or had hard drives. I really intended to just toss all that in the garbage when there was room, I thought. I got the coffee. I noticed the Arts Section of The New York Times. I glanced through it and couldn't resist the crossword. It's Monday. I can do the crossword but it will still be fun and have a theme that is fun to reveal and maybe a word I haven't thought about in a long time. I sat down at the dining room table with my coffee, pushed aside the holiday cards and stamps and such sitting there in case we need to send another one. I worked the crossword, in ink, without a single miscue, writing the answers in the boxes very, very neatly. The theme was packaging and it was revealed by the answers 'amateur boxer,' 'volcanic crater,' carpet bagger,' and 'Green Bay Packer.' One answer was the word nadir. Good word. While I was doing the puzzle, I heard my machine beep with an e-mail. And I finished my coffee. When I was done with the puzzle, I went through the sack of junk that's been sitting there for a month or so. I sorted through it and threw the whole lot out. There was an old universal remote, a modem (yes, a modem! an external modem!) and some special cords for discarded stuff. I threw it away. In the garbage. Gone. I've been considering a New Year's Resolution that would require me to throw more away each day than I acquire. This is good practice, I thought. But I still didn't go do the other task. I made more coffee. The machine wanted to be emptied. (A sign I'd already had too much coffee today. The Capresso is automatic but you have to add water and beans occasionally and empty the residue out sometimes. Remember that sleepless night last night. Could it be the coffee? You think?) Anyway, I took my coffee back to the office, checked up on the Holidailies page and answered an e-mail. I answered a phone call confirming one of FFP's appointments.
The difference between FFP and I is that he is so focused on what he wants to do. He schedules interviews and writes columns and does all this planning and work for Ballet Austin. Meanwhile, I get nothing at all done and feel tired.
I was just about to run out of things to do to avoid the guest room and gift closet task when I heard someone talking outside. Chalow didn't make a peep. I went out and there was the mailman chatting on his cell phone in my driveway. I went through the mail. I tossed all the junk mail. Only one thing looked interesting and it was a flyer for a studio show and sale last weekend. That whittled the stack of mail down to one magazine and a couple of semi-important bills and stuff. There weren't even any catalogs. I can't seem to resist looking through catalogs and they come in droves this time of year. This year everything is a robotic, virbrating thing you can attach your iPod to. Whatever. Quit procrastinating, I told myself. You are useless, I told myself. Then I remembered I was supposed to check if an online payment had gone through. It didn't seem to have done so. I made a note to check tomorrow.
But finally I went to the guest room, opened the door wide on the mess, opened the door of the closet directly across from it and started doing something. What seemed like hours later (because it was) I had identified a great pile of old gift wrap things and empty boxes and sacks and stuff like that to discard. I'd sorted out some Christmas gift sacks and ribbon to recycle this year. I'd sorted out some other gift stuff for other occasions. I'd cleaned all the shelves in that closet, put stuff back. That closet used to be called the 'sports closet.' Once upon a time it contained things like bowling bowls and softball bats and tennis rackets and stuff. No more. I gave up bowling and softball and I keep my tennis stuff in my car. The only vestige of this use are two antique rackets I keep as collectibles. One is an ancient wooden one and the other is a Wilson T-2000. The closet is now the gift closet. It has a few weird things but mostly it has gift wrap, empty boxes, gift sacks, ribbon, gifts I might give someday, bubble wrap and tissue. There are two rubber chickens in there, too. Anyway, now it's all tidy and the Christmas gift sacks and ribbon I might use are in the guest room on a card table awaiting some wrapping I might do. I have a bunch of stuff to throw away when there is room in the 'pay as you throw' bin. It is mostly empty boxes and stuff like that, but it's something. One more step. I should have done the wrapping for the gifts I already have, but I didn't really feel like it at that point. It was seven, I felt tired, dirty, sad. But I had done something to clean things up a little bit.
The day had started poorly and not really improved. It wasn't so bad, really. If I got rid of that much stuff every day for a while I'd have my life much better organized. Of course, if I hadn't tossed stuff in that closet without paying any attention to whether I should reall keep it then it wouldn't really have been necessary.
Bored with even being marginally productive, I started fooling around on my computer and watching "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" which is one of my all-time favorite movies. It just happened to be on HBO. I had to look it up on imdb.com and ponder one more time the brave woman who played the mother and how much I like Johnny Depp. And admire, if don't like, Leonardo. Then I ate (salad with salmon) and drank a beer and then ate some cheese and clementines and Fritos and stuff. We watched The Heartbreak Kid off a Netflix DVD. I liked it. FFP remembered seeing it back before we were married. I never saw it, but then I spent part of 1972 wandering around Europe. I see that they are remaking the story. I don't think I would want to see it updated, frankly. Right now it has a great Carnal Knowledge feel to it although not as brilliant but, really, you couldn't update either well unless you set them in the same eras and, then, what would the point be?
I won't say that I managed to eschew crime shows tonight so much as they eschewed me. There was a CSI: Miami on but we had already seen it. I'm going to do better in that regard, though.
Today seemed like a total waste, like I didn't fulfill any obligations. Oh, I have a stack of stuff to get in the trash or (if it is cardboard, cut up for the recycling truck). My "gift closet" is tidy. (But that will go away as soon as Christmas is in full swing.) I had a fair workout to hold off my body turning to mush. But, on the downside, I didn't wrap any presents, didn't even start on the guest room closets except for things that had been inadvertently pulled out during a search for some "archive" boxes to find an old 1966 newspaper for Forrest. I ate terribly and didn't cook anything. (FFP cooked the salmon and I ate it cold on salad.) I didn't sleep well last night, it's true, but my uselessness didn't really seem related to that. I really felt fine after jolting myself into action with many cups of coffee.
I wasted a lot of this day on my guilty pleasures: reading a book just because someone I know is the author's aunt, reading newspapers, working crosswords, surfing WEB sites. The Holidailies portal is a huge temptation although I haven't found much to really get charged up about but then the daily posting period hasn't even begun. I also spent a lot of time pounding out a long entry here. Which I love to do. I like to write. Well, type. I guess working out is not such a guilty pleasure but you can be sure I wouldn't do it if it weren't fun for me. Watching movies is such a nice thing, too. Surely sleep is a necessity, though, and I enter that realm determined to do a better job of it than last night.
Foreign typewriter for sale, SoCo. They said it was Russian, but the alphabet doesn't look Russian to me. Hmmm.