Back To Work

Today was my first day back at work in six months.

It felt very weird to be back, but I was happy to chat with all my colleagues again. The best part of my company and job is that I truly enjoy spending time with my coworkers. I like them all so much, and they’re so much fun. To me, this is the most important thing to a happy work life.

Being apart from Edith was less difficult than I’d feared. I was so busy and absorbed in what I was doing that I really didn’t have much time to think about it. The day went very fast.

All in all, it was a smoother transition than I’d anticipated.

Brunch

This morning, Edith and I went out in search of brunch. We visited the nearest of approximately one thousand Mexican restaurants and sat on the porch and I had some substandard migas and Edith looked around. She is just the happiest, best natured baby. When I take her places, she is chill as a bean. Every time I looked at her, she gave me a big, sunny grin, and otherwise, she was content to take in the scenery.

Did you know that there are places in this country where one can still smoke in the outdoor sections of restaurants? I did not, but I am apparently living in one. It was like revisiting the most disgusting aspect of 2003. However, it wasn’t very crowded and I only got a single whiff of cigarette smoke before whoever it was put it out, and then later when I asked for the check, the server told me that someone had already paid it, so there are also advantages to rural living. I would like to tell myself this is evidence that I am still attractive, but more likely a good ole boy saw a single woman with a baby and assumed we could use the help. Either way, I’ll take it!

When we got back on the road, a little green lizard scampered across my windshield and hung ten on the hood, face into the breeze. I was worried she (I say she because I think it was a green anole and the males have a pink dewlap which this one didn’t) would fly off, so I stopped in a park and tried to nudge her into the grass, but she kept running into my hood, so we just took her home with us. She made it safe and sound and hopefully doesn’t leave any family behind in the restaurant parking lot. I don’t think she’s the one who paid my tab, but I suppose it’s possible.

Garage Door

Yesterday, everything was finally finished at my old house and it was ready to be photographed and listed, and then my mother tried to open the garage door and it slammed itself open and closed repeatedly for a minute and then fell apart.

I was apprised of the situation through a series of cryptic texts:

“Did you happen to lock your garage door when you were up here earlier? Unrelated, do you know of anything one can do to a garage door that might, say, cause it to spontaneously explode? Theoretically? Not asking for any particular reason! Just something I’ve been musing about re: garage doors in general and certainly not related to any garage doors you might personally know of, and that might or might not be partially to totally fucked at the moment!”

Upon hearing the news, I sank into a state of resigned catatonia because I quite literally could not even. I sat around not evening for about an hour, while my mother got a garage door company with the right door in stock to agree to do a rush job and replace it this morning.

So everything was fine!

My particular brand of anxiety is such that the more things that go right for me (or even just fail to go terribly wrong), the more I feel like I am racking up some cosmic debt whereby I will have very bad luck later to balance out the good luck I am currently enjoying. This is a really fun way my brain destroys any bit of enjoyment I might get out of life, because if bad things happen, I am obviously unhappy about the bad things, and if good things happen, I cannot enjoy them because I feel I am “using up” my good things quota and will surely experience a run of terrible luck later. I have been very fortunate in my life thus far, and so I am always terrified that something truly godawful is looming over the next horizon to even out the score. Intellectually, I realize this is nonsense, but I hate myself, so I can’t stop feeling like this in my viscera. And of course, being a parent now, that grim sense of foreboding is a thousand times worse.

However, the garage door is fixed, so my karmic reckoning is delayed for one more day.

Michael K. Williams

I’m the sort of basic white bitch who still thinks The Wire is the best television show ever made. It’s not perfect, but it’s literary. I think it’s a contender for the great American novel. And Omar Little is indisputably the best character of a roster of amazing characters (runner up Stringer Bell, third place Bubbles).

Williams did a bunch of other good stuff, too (I especially enjoyed his Community appearance), but Omar was a career defining role. It’s sad that he has died so young.

COVID/Bricks

I had my first ever COVID test today. I had woken up with a headache and a sore throat the last couple mornings. I think the issue was really just a combination of post-nasal drip and being roommates with an infant, but our new nanny is starting this week, so I wanted to be sure. This morning, I felt totally fine, but I already had the appointment so I went anyway. It was very easy — there was a truck in a parking lot and you just walked up to the window, showed your ID, and they dropped a test packet into the slot. In it was a Q-tip which I swished around in my nostrils, then put it in a tube, and then put the tube back in the bag and dropped the whole thing in an open trash bin next to the truck and got back in my car. It took like two minutes.

After I got my COVID test, I drove the hour up to my old house to relocate some piles of bricks (that I had never noticed but which would apparently be off-putting to house-hunters) from the yard to the garage. It was very hot work, so I turned the sprinklers on, and so then I was wet and hot.

The other thing I did was root through a trash bag from the big outdoor trash bin to locate a blaring smoke alarm that my mother had thrown away without disabling, apparently not realizing how smoke alarms work.

So, just a super glamorous day all around.

But I’ll also admit this: before I started hauling bricks, I went into the house and lay on the couch for an hour in the quiet, and finished a novel I’ve been reading, which honestly made it all worth it. It wasn’t even an especially good novel, but my reading of it was uninterrupted. Hard to imagine I used to do that all the time!

Scorpion

At some point I heard an anecdote or read a story or something about someone who put their foot in their shoe without looking first and there was a scorpion in it and it stung them and they died. It was one of those little bits of information that stick in the mind.

I keep an old pair of shoes in the garage to slip on whenever I need to take the trash out or something, and I don’t always shake them out first, but every single time I put a foot into one of them, I think “maybe this is it.”

Of course, I think “maybe this is it” about a million things; if I indulged every bit of paranoia that flits across my mind with an actual ritual, I would live in a state of constant paralysis.

Anyway, since moving to the Southwest, I had yet to encounter a scorpion, until yesterday. I was moving a big pile of broken down moving boxes from the living room into the garage and as I carried them through the house, a scorpion fell out and waddled away. I squished it, but two things: one, it was REALLY difficult to squish. Like, I stomped it multiple times and finally had to grind it with my heel. Those things are tough. Second, it was IN THE HOUSE.

Now, as a lifelong singleton, I know how rare my lifestyle is: everybody couples. That scorpion has a partner. At least one. It might even be poly. What if they are everywhere?

I had this idea that scorpion stings were highly toxic, but I googled it, and turns out they’re almost never a big deal. They’re just painful.

Still, though.

Selling

I had no idea what selling a house entails. First, my realtor (who is wonderful) did a walkthrough and said, “oh, this is in great shape. We just need to do a few little things.”

Three weeks later, I feel like we have cleaned and spruced up every square inch of the house, and I’m exhausted, even though my mom did everything so I could spend all this time with Edith since I’m going back to work soon. I’ve been a real pain in the ass throughout, because I’m really lazy, and I would rather simply not do things even if it costs me money. But this is apparently not an option when you’re selling a house.

When I bought the house, there were renters in it, and it looked bad — it had old ratty carpets so dirty they were black and splotches on all the walls and stuff piled from floor to ceiling in every room. I paid over the listing price for it anyway, but apparently most people are more particular than I am.

The main thing that’s been difficult is that you have to coordinate so many different types of people to do so many different types of things, and this always involves a lot of phone calling. The people you are dealing with tend to not be especially precise or communicative about scheduling — they love to say things like, “I should be able to stop by and do that sometime next week.” And then they don’t. Then, too, doing some things relies on other people having already done other things, so each last minute reschedule or failure to show necessitates calling everyone back again and asking them for new commitments that they won’t be meeting anyway. Then, after the work is done, there is often one more small thing that needs to have been done that necessitates getting them back out there (or it was all done wrong and has to be redone).

I don’t know why I’m complaining, because again, my mother did basically all of this. But having to think about it at all has been very depleting.

One thing my realtor said we needed was a stager to augment my furniture with accessories — pillows and artwork and vases and things. I didn’t understand this, because I thought my little house was very attractive as it was: sparsely, simply, and tastefully decorated. But then I saw what the stager did, and I realized that it had looked like shit before and that I have bad taste.

Well, now the house has never looked better. I wish I still lived in it.

Lanes

I had the misfortune of spending a great deal of today driving, and much of it in stopped traffic due to a combination of necessity and poor judgment (did you know there are schools that let out at 4:30pm now?), and as I sat there, I was thinking about the lane I habitually use.

I drive in the middle lane pretty much all the time. If you’re some sort of weird driving purist, you’re going to say that no one should drive steadily in any lane but the far right; that the other lanes are passing lanes and should be used only for passing. But if you are a human who actually wants to get somewhere when you drive rather than constantly leap-frogging in and out of the right lane, you probably drive in one of the other lanes most of the time.

Now, I recall at some point someone telling me that the middle lane is the most dangerous lane to drive in because people are merging into it from both sides, and that most accidents happen in the middle lane. So you would think that I, a driving coward, would avoid the middle lane as much as possible.

But here’s the thing: the right-hand lane is full of stoned people or big tractor trailers going 45 mph on the interstate, and the left-hand lane is the Autobahn. So the middle lane is the only lane where a person can actually drive at a reasonable speed.

In addition, the lanes to the right and left are forever turning into exit-only lanes with very little warning and no one will let you over. I’ve driven miles out of my way before because I accidentally exited onto a flyaway that then turned into some sort of freeway with no exits that terminated at the national border.

So the middle lane is the only logical option as far as I can see.

Lizards

My favorite part of the new house is the back porch, which is shady and big and mostly private (except on one side, which looks directly onto the neighbors’ porch and pool such that we have to wave at each other or it’s awkward) and looks out over a big back yard with lots of scrubby Texan struggle trees, and some rock features. Edith and I hang out on the porch for a large part of each day. I got her a baby mat she can loll around on and some citronella candles that don’t work.

Now, one thing about me is, I love a lizard. And there’s a great one that lives near a sideways plant pot in a rock feature just in front of the porch. This lizard is exactly the color of the ashes from an extinguished campfire — silvery white belly and darker grey markings along the back. The first day, I watched it sun itself atop the plant pot and various surrounding rocks, as well as do pushups and execute some frantic laps into the surrounding grass and back.

Today, I didn’t see it, although I looked for it all day. (It’s a sloppy digression from this story, but in case it comes up later, I feel the need to point out that there’s also another lizard that lives on the back fence, but at this point, it’s so far away that it’s simply a mysterious black lizard shape that migrates up and down the boards throughout the day; I don’t feel attached to it yet.) Eventually, I saw its little head poking up tentatively on the far side of the rock feature. I guess maybe Edith and I had made it feel less at home.

Then, all of a sudden, I thought I saw it scurry underneath a rock and onto a fertilized bit of soil, but when it came into the sunlight, I realized that this was a miniature version of the initial lizard! A tiny mini-me of it! A baby!

The lizard has a baby!

I also have a baby! We’re two moms with our babies just hanging out in the yard!

What a thing.

Blackout

Edith will not go to sleep if there is even a sliver of light anywhere in the bedroom, by which she can stare, rapt, at the ceiling fan. So several months ago, I procured some blackout curtains and my mom and I tried and failed to hang them by way of putting up curtain rods. We called my dad for help, and he explained by speakerphone that it really wasn’t that difficult and was surely something we could manage to do, and then he continued to detail what seemed like a twelve step process that required such things as hand-eye coordination, arm strength, and an attention span. While he was talking, Mom mouthed “staple gun?” at me, and I nodded excitedly, so then we had only to finish politely listening to Dad.

“Sounds great!” said Mom. “We can for sure do that.”

Then, we hung up and stapled the curtains along the wall. This worked a treat, but when we moved to the new house, the windows were too high and the walls were too…nubbly or something for the staple gun to work. Plus, I had bought thicker curtains. We thought about cutting cardboard to fit, but that also seemed time intensive. Then, Mom thought of the perfect solution:

These two little windows are in between two regular big ones, which got the same treatment, only those have blinds also on the inside, so it’s not as apparent. I can highly recommend this DIY method: installation was dead simple and very fast, and it fully blocks all light. People who live in their vans know what’s up.