There’s a girl in this dress. There’s always a girl in distress.

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Yesterday was Tuesday, the day when I travel 31 miles by bus to my Moral Reconation Therapy™. As I’ve written before, it’s an arduous journey for the two-hour payoff of my group, which is really good thanks to a couple of thoughtful members and the groovy counselor. He’s wicked smart and he thinks in a wide open way that I admire and which benefits those who want it. Sometimes I get a few extra minutes alone with him before everyone else arrives, as I am somewhat obsessively early. Coming home is the same, only reversed and even more drawn out. Yesterday, instead of being self-reliant (sorry, Ralph), I hitched a ride with the uber-chill woman who is in my group. We stopped for coffee and she asked for some chocolate-covered coffee beans they usually give out with coffee. Through a little sneakiness, I maneuvered the barrista into giving me an extra, one of the spotted white ones that are the best. I don’t eat them, but I knew Uber-Girl would like it. I had asked for ice in my coffee to cool it down but she must have forgotten because there was no ice and the blazing hot liquid was filled too close to the top of the cup and kept splashing out on my hand. It was a while before we could pull to the side of the road and I could get rid of some and when I did I burned myself. Enter beginning of bad mood.

She dropped me off partway down the island at the small shopping center, and I went inside the grocery store and bought some fake healthy bars that are just dark chocolate and nuts, which are two of my favorite things. I also picked up a couple of postcards that show Camano Island in cartoony style and some Sharpie pens, though not the good, retractable kind. I don’t feel comfortable unless I have at least five reasonable pens somewhere in my sphere of influence (hand, purse/bag, desk, bedroom). I have also taken a recent liking to colored pencils. Unfortunately, I keep accidentally dropping one or two on the ground and rolling over them with the chair wheels or stepping on them and breaking them into pieces, so it’s time to go back to Fred Meyer or some other store to steal more.

Just kidding. The days of the five-finger discount are long over. I don’t know if it was the rush of getting something for nothing or screwing over The Man or because I’m used to being broke. Perhaps a little of each. Don’t tell my parents or my sponsor. I think both parties only read the first sentence or two of each post in order to fake reading it. And that’s fine with me. As a side note, there were a couple of women in jail who would get indignant with “boosters” because their stealing raised the price on products for “the rest of us.” I love how criminals think—very similar to Republicans.

I woke up this morning with a hangover of the emotional variety. By the time I got home yesterday I was in the beginning stages of a full-blown hissy fit. The lady down the road whose 18-year-old daughter is supposed to be driving me to Tiny Town this weekend has sent me some semi-peculiar email messages about the trip and yesterday she texted me to call her ASAP. I called from the bus and she wanted to discuss the fact that I had mentioned that I was using my (newly minted, “secured”) credit card to pay for my half of the gas. She felt that it would be better if I used cash, for some reason. She emphasized that I was the adult in the situation and that I must be on the lookout to make sure that her daughter didn’t do something foolish like run out of gas and apparently in her mind, giving the 18-year-old cash was the best option. I hung up the phone feeling uneasy.

Me uneasy equals me irritable. Those of you who have seen or heard me irritable might compare me to a snowball rolling down a hill. More likely, a smouldering volcano. It continued with my cat, Beppe, who was outside and wouldn’t respond to my calls. My dad told me to relax, he’d come home sooner or later. Nothing annoys me more than being told to relax. I’m already mad at Baby Cat (Beppe’s former pseudonym meant to keep us anonymous) because he has decided he prefers the company of the real adults in the real part of the house with the many options of comfortable furniture. It hurts my feelings and at the same time gives no end of amusement to my parents, who say things like “Oh. He just prefers it up here, where it’s a little less, er, chaotic.” And then whichever one said it looks well pleased with himself.

Yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t find my car keys; my parents drive my car at least once a week to keep it running fine (the keys were in a robe pocket). I was mad at the neighbor lady, was certain Baby Cat was eagle food, and was really angry at Bill W. for making up the fourth step; it’s confounding me at the moment. I made a grouchy call to my AA sponsor, who was equally crabby about my failure to take a personal inventory of my resentments, fears and sex problems. (Sex? What is this?) I was thinking of going to an AA meeting but there’s this guy (isn’t there always?) and I didn’t particularly want to see him unless I was looking remarkably refreshed and gay, as if I’d just arrived on a private jet from France. So, around 7 pm, I took all my nighttime pills and went to sleep.

This morning, at breakfast, my father looked outside and observed, “Oh. Beppe is wearing a collar again.” I made my face blank and cold and said, “Yes. I’m over the white man’s guilt I felt after watching 12 Years A Slave. That’ll teach him to ignore me.” I saw the film a couple of months ago, just after I got out of jail, and I removed the bond I had selected with care for the way it matched his pretty green eyes. Despite the bondage association, it’s better this way for the birds and also for me, cos I can listen in the darkness to him lurking as still as a jade-eyed black statue in the garden when he hears me callilng him to come inside.

I kind of lost my narrative flow (as if there ever was one) for several hours just now. My parents were going to Seattle for some medical thing related to my dad’s CPAP. I rode with them as far as the animal shelter where I volunteer, which is next door to my doctor’s office. I had an appointment, so he could make a little dosh while we argued about my medications again. But first I sent a polite, detailed and direct email to the neighbor woman and told her in writing that for a number of reasons, I do not feel comfortable riding to Tiny Town with her daughter and I will just drive myself next month if the mountain pass doesn’t prevent me. (I can never write or talk about mountain passes without thinking of the Mines of Moria. Yes. I’m that much of a geek.) I asked her to invoice me for some fad diet items I had purchased from her on credit; I’ve been working off the debt at a ridiculously low wage (I should have worn a collar as I hauled wood). In reply to my email she wrote: “Will do.”

Fortunately for me, a few of my other email correspondents are more interesting in their replies. On the bus ride home from the shelter, I got an alert for a new email via my phone:

“not really pajamas?
not really ok?
not really pee?
i’m found dumb, too!  which is it, lady?!”

This is the beginning of an email from Quaint. The way the shartphone I bought works in Gmail is to reveal the first few lines of new mail. So, that was good for a snort.

When I got home, I found the next line:

“making someone pee can be a good thing or a bad thing. should i feel flattered? unless i hear otherwise, i am going to feel flattered.”

To be fair, she was responding to an email I sent earlier that ended:

“The email you sent made me laugh, cry, and pee my pants a little. But the last part was ok because they are just my pajamas.

Not really.

Love,
a.”

Her response alone was enough to justify the purchase of a phone that allows me to read email on the bus. It’s just one step above the tin can I was using before, but one must be humble and accept one’s circumstances with grace and without whinging and secretly fiddling with one’s non-iPhone in one’s lap. I do hope I never become one of those horrible people who are constantly looking at their mobile phones. I should be petty here, and insert a photo of Mr and Mrs Canadian looking for coupons on their phones because we didn’t want to pay $23 to get into the Experience Music Project. But I won’t; I’ll just handle it passive-aggressively by its mere mention. Also, I think they were looking for the coupons because I’m skint and was a tad whiny about the cost.

I’m also using FaceButt now so I can’t remember if I posted here about the visit of the Canadians or if I kept all the info over on that site and I can’t be arsed to check. It was really lovely, the visit, except for the few times when Mrs C. had to find a paper bag for me to breathe in, like when they wouldn’t let us sit in the same car on the train because I was getting off at a different stop. If you are my friend over there, you can see some photos.

I’m having partial knee replacement surgery on Tuesday, the 21st. It is shockingly soon, which is what I wanted. I’m just surprised because I only saw the actual orthopædic surgeon last Friday. I did that ligature thing just for the pendant (he knows who he is) in my readership. The surgery is on my left knee; the right knee is more complicated but we’re coming for it, too. I’ve finally reached the top of the library list to borrow Donna Tartt’s newest book, The Goldfinch, (I was 128th in line but the county has 21 copies or something) and I don’t think you get renewals so I hope some of the time during recovery, I will be able to read without feeling like I should be walking dogs or going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or vacuuming or doing pilates or writing the Mediocre American Novel or something. Incidentally, on the book jacket, Donna Tartt looks like a literary version of a younger Diane Keaton. She has a dark bob haircut and is wearing a suit and seems to be thinking “So what if I write one book every ten years or so. They’re good books, and I’m a handsome woman. Step off.”

This is a picture of me and my niece, Isabella, 20 years ago, a short while after she was born. I just realized she’s only 20 years old! I mean, I knew it but she is so mature and darling and so forth. She’s started her own blog because she takes after our side of the family (heh) and bakes and likes food and is wordy and such. I like this photo because I am wearing a tie so I must have been in my own Annie Hall phase. Bella was a beautiful baby with red hair and now she’s a gorgeous young woman with amazing red hair. We thought the red would fall out as baby hair does and we would be left gingerless. I have a big nose; I apologize in advance, Bella, but apparently you look a lot like me now that you are grown up. I haven’t seen her in person since she was 11 or so; I’ve only seen her on cam on Hangouts. Let’s just say my skin looks dewy, shall we? My mom used to keep that house warm and I’ll be damned if I’m taking off my tie.

AmberandIsabella

On the bus yesterday, I was listening to Imperial Bedroom by Elvis Costello and The Attractions, which was ranked #166 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. That ranking does not seem right. I perused the list after I got out of jail, trying to fill in some of the huge gaps in my musical knowledge. I “procured” some of the records and listened to them either for the first time or reacquainted myself with them, but I’m back to old habits for the most part. I do try to like The Beatles but nothing happens. Mostly these days, I listen to Jolie Holland or Johnny Cash or Jack Black or Joni Mitchell’s Blue over and over again or else the same old playlists. I lost my record and cd collection years ago, when the FBI confiscated my furniture and photographs and letters. (This is a joke, people. I have not yet had any encounters with the Feds.) Elvis Costello and especially Imperial Bedroom loomed large in my life during college. The boy I was with during those years was a devoted music fan, and Elvis was his greatest hero. I had everything on vinyl up to Blood and Chocolate and then we broke up or else I started to learn French and watched films all the time. Imperial Bedroom was so dark and mysterious, full of puns and allusions I didn’t understand. I did feel both accused and in collusion with him most of the time, but I believe that’s the nature of Costello and also college students. I still don’t understand the songs fully, but listening carefully these days while on the bus, looking out the window as the sea passes by, the complexity of expressed and twisted emotions somehow makes me feel just fine.

It’s getting off the bus where I run into problems.

So nah, that ain’t me, it’s Elvis Costello. I’m just the girl and I’m sorry I’ve rambled.

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