Sophie Sunday

Kitty Face

It was 8:00 last night. Nick was snoring on the couch. Sophie was across the room, snoring on her perch. It was such a cute picture with both of them on their backs, mouths open, completely checked out. Ever-so-slowly, I reached for the nearest camera…which just happened to be my phone.

Sophie’s head shot up: movement! A human is awake to give me attention!

She’s such a couch potato that I am surprised when she displays catlike reflexes. (I guess it’s not really catlike since she actually is a cat…but, it’s just so easy to forget.)

After a quick stretch, she leaped from her perch and galloped toward me to jump on my lap. This was the picture I got instead.

Cat’s in the Cradle

I am angry with myself.

I am angry, and I’m frustrated that I can’t stop doing or thinking things that make me so angry with myself.

My life has felt stressful ever since I accepted my current position at work two years ago. Stress is a relationship like any other: it takes two. Whatever my worries are, they only follow me home because I do not make them stay when I leave the office. I do not want to be this person, the one who allows unimportant things steer her thoughts. It’s the ugly face of perfectionism sneering at me again…the cost is great.

My father has been calling for the last week to get help with his computer. I talked to him last Saturday and walked him through his questions. I fought to keep the patience in my voice as I walked him through the same information that I have walked him through countless times before. It’s not so much that I mind helping—my theory is that you are good at this, I am good at that, and together we are good at everything—it’s more that I feel like he isn’t listening to me. I feel like this is a waste of my time. Nonetheless, I agreed to drive out to his house today to take a look when he called again (and again).

I can readily think of at least five reasons why I should be justified in feeling irritated. Disgustingly, they are all variations of the theme that I’m too busy with work…which is really just a roundabout way of saying that I’m too busy for you. It shames me.

I think of the hurt he inspired when I was young and feeling like I was less important than his work. He started his business when I was in sixth grade, and I remember writing a paper claiming him as my hero…and then he slowly became a stranger in my life. I barely saw him. He would come home after a long day and fall asleep on the couch. He let work take over his life. He did what I am doing now.

Things are different today…he’s different, and our roles are reversed. He’s reached the point in his life where one learns that work isn’t everything. He’s reached the point where he wants to slow down and take it all in. Childishly, my subconscious response is, “Too late.” I suppose it would be more accurate to whine, “But he started it!”

Harry Chapin was singing to me as I pulled into the garage yesterday. I sat in the car until the song ended and tried to swallow the lump that had lodged in my throat. I may not have started it, but I can finish it.

I am angry with myself because I know and understand the impermanence of a life…I’m playing with fire. It’s time to fix this.

Summer 2005
Christmas with Laura's Family

Change Management

So Valentine’s Day was a week ago today. Nick and I have never made big deal out of it. Sometimes we get each other a card, sometimes we don’t. The thing is, if you’re doing this whole relationship thing right, every day is Valentine’s Day.

I’ve had this idea of something to give him—a “just because” gift—and it just so happened that the pieces fell into place on February 13th.

Let me give you the back-story.

Nick and I work for very different companies size-wise. My offices have bodegas and cafeterias. His has beverage vending machines. To put the contrast another way, this means that I get to pay for stuff with plastic, all kinds of coins, AND paper money (in a variety of denominations)…while he is reduced to a few pieces of change and the occasional one-dollar bill. A couple times a week, he gives me that sad little basset hound face and asks if he can go through my purse to retrieve enough money for two sodas.

This has been going on for quite some time now. I give him 70¢, pat his head, and tell him to spend his money wisely: it doesn’t grow on trees you know. On those days when he’s forced to accept that he’s cleaned me out, his sad little basset hound face droops even more pathetically, as if preying on my sympathy is a direct line to the Conjurer of Quarters.

Those two sodas every day give him the armor to fight off a colossal caffeine headache. Sure I want him to have those two drinks, but I’m sick of being left with nothing but dirty pennies (I’m sure if they were all bright, shiny, and new I wouldn’t be as put out). Then I had a moment of sheer inspiration while leafing through a catalog for a friend’s Thirty-one party.

I ordered a customizable canvas pouch and labeled it “Soda Money.”

Valentine's Day Present to Nick

I went to my bank to get $40 in quarters. I was truly expecting 160 quarters to take up more space than they do, and I actually considered getting a few more rolls…but I decided on the spot that I’ve been funding his habit for years, and I’ve already donated more than enough to the cause. I wrapped the pouch in tissue paper and congratulated myself on my sheer ingenuity! Genius, just genius!

In retrospect, I don’t know that it was really all that genius. I mean, it has taken me more than five years to figure out that the best way to keep Nick out of my purse is to give Nick money. I’m sure glad all that higher education is paying off.

Still here.

By all appearances, I became a deadbeat blogger again.

My silence wasn’t accidental. The past six weeks have been a clanging of extremes, and I haven’t quite found that spot between mirthful and miserable that most people term normal…but I’m getting closer. It comes down to this: at the end of the day, I will always be an introvert…and I haven’t decided how I feel about everything yet.

For most of my life, I thought introvert meant shy and extrovert meant outgoing. I hated admitting introversion because I thought it insinuated meekness…weakness. I learned a couple of years ago during a communications course that introverts simply process events and information internally as opposed to externally. I can definitely admit to that…and I consider myself neither meek nor weak.

I read a story a few weeks ago. The author compared life to a ride on a carousel. I don’t really see the full parallel, but I haven’t been able to shake the thought. Carousels seem so ever-pleasant, dreamy, tempered, predictable…but life isn’t really like that, at least not all the time. Maybe I’m amused by the idea of a merry-go-round life.

I’m only amused and not wistful because nothing worthwhile should be that easy. We should have to work for the good, or we take it for granted. Never assume that happy times are standard-issue; instead, revel in them, and know that they are fleeting. Take mental snapshots and file them away because they will be there for you visit always. Loss gives you new eyes: they are the ironic takeaway from heartache. They appreciate.

I have lived the last six years with these eyes, and my heart is full—at this moment, painfully so. I started January with a relatively spontaneous getaway to Los Angeles where we celebrated our first anniversary in lavish fun. I ended January with a completely spontaneous trip to Orlando where we tried to make sense of the sudden death of Nick’s father. His passing stole my air, and I haven’t found my breath yet. Considering that I’ve only known him for six short years, I can only imagine how the rest of the family is feeling.

So much is going right in my life, yet so much will never be right again. A friend of mine from high school lost her father early February. I saw her note first, and my heart ached for her—his death, too, was unexpected. Then the funny interweave of life pounced on me.

My father called me later that day. The emotion in his voice was palpable. I could barely understand him at first…but eventually I understood that Bruce—my Bruce—had passed away. I was immediately upset, for he was a universally likeable man, and we need more of him in our world. My father kept saying, “He was my age…Laura, he was my age…”

It hit me somewhere between the conversations with both my father and my friend that the two situations were a little too similar to be chalked up to coincidence: we were all mourning the same man. I saw her last Thursday, and I could see everything she was feeling in her red-rimmed eyes. The family held a party for him yesterday, and I know that now begins the hollow period. It’s that space of time when there’s nothing left to do but let it sink in.

And I think we’re all residing there right now, not quite looking for new real estate yet.