Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Back In Phoenix

So much has happened since I last blogged. Was that the morning of my birthday? Must have been. Eight days ago. Haven’t done much writing of any kind since then. Kept my daily journal diligently but not in any depth until last night. Learned that day--the 13th--that the day of travel was set for Saturday the 19th. My brother had been able to get the time off so their whole family was going down to Gerber a week early to visit cousins. I didn’t learn this until after we got back to my Mom’s house in Longview that night because I had slept through the conversation about it. My brother had too apparently. They were teasing us that we had been in a deep private conversation for a real long time that evening. My brother works a graveyard shift and hadn’t slept that morning and I had been online most of the night.Don’t know if it was just sleep depravation or if something I ate that day played a role but I was plagued for two or three days with a mental fugue resembling that of the aftermath of a migraine. Couldn’t think with coherence and couldn’t read for more than a few minutes without feeling nauseated. Actually it was all the symptoms of a migraine without the headpain. This was so frustrating as there was so much I wanted to do before I left. Little of which got done.

Spent my last day in Longview running errands that I had known I wanted to do since early in my stay there. Many things had been put off because of all the things that had to be done regarding my Dad’s estate in the first several weeks after his death and then because of my sister’s two week bout with a toothache and the flare-up of my Mom’s back pain. There were urgent appointments and errands being discussed constantly and I kept waiting for a lull in it to bring up my own seemingly frivolous requests It didn’t help that I was sleeping days. I wasn’t hermitting though. I was spending a lot of hours with the family in the late afternoon and evenings. Going for walks with my Mom, eating dinner, watching TV, visiting. I was generally upstairs continually between five and eleven every day. And often my sister and I continued to visit past midnight. Then I would get on the computer and usually online and next thing I would know it was eight or nine in the morning. I would often come upstairs and get breakfast when everybody else was before i headed for bed.

Spent the last evening of my stay packing. Left it all to that last minute too. Including chasing down my belongings which were scattered throughout the house. My sewing and shoes from near the chair where I watched TV, my coffee mug and food supplements form the kitchen, Items I’d left in my Dad’s office, items I’d left in both upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. And of course the two downstairs rooms where the bulk of my stuff was--the room I shared with my sister and my ‘office’ in the laundry room. I had clothes in three of the loads waiting to be washed too. Did not get started on any of this until after my sister and I got back from running errands Friday evening about five and did not finish until the last load came out of the dryer about 1am and then I needed a shower so I did not get on the computer until after two and by then of course I was too exhausted to write and would not even have gone online at all if I hadn‘t needed to email my husband. But once online, I got hooked into a lengthy IM exchange with my sister living in Vancouver and then into reading news and political commentary.

The developments on that front in the last month have been breathtaking and I could barely restrain myself from blogging about some of it. But I was deep in the heart of that territory where Bush is considered the Bee’s Knees and it tore me up emotionally to be dwelling too much on these issues. The days I couldn’t resist reading about it I would also be unable to stop thinking about it and it colored every other event and encounter of the day. My Mom especially was sensitive to my mood and would always ask me what was wrong on those days and I couldn’t give a completely candid answer. And that was just one extra element of pain I could not justify subjecting either myself or my family to.

So I was still online when my sister got up Saturday morning and had so lost track of time that she had to come let me know it was after seven. She had already taken most of my bags upstairs and out to the car. She was going to be driving me to my brother’s house in Portland and wanted to leave by eight. It was closer to eight-thirty when we finally backed out of the garage. When we got to my brother’s house it was obvious they were hours away from being ready to hit the road so I asked for the box in which I’d packed my power cord so I could use my computer while saving the battery for on the road later. I suppose I could have used the time to take a nap or read a physical book but I was itching to get back to the blogs and news articles that I’d left open on my taskbar or else synchronized for reading offline. Besides reading those, I also worked on my NaNoWriMo novel, Brooding Instinct, worked on a jigsaw puzzle and fiddled with my files. There is never nothing to do when my laptop is in arms reach and has plenty of power. But that is to blame for the fact that I am still reading the same novel that I started in July--A Light In August, which was one of the summer Oprah Book Club books. I used to average eight to nine finished books per month but since I got my laptop September 20th, I have finished exactly one. I had to return the copy of the novel I was reading to the library before I left town and my sister checked out a copy for me at the Longview library--my childhood haunt--about two weeks after Dad died. I finally reached the halfway point just before my birthday but I didn’t get much beyond that in my final week there so I had to leave it behind again.

We finally hit the road south at two-thirty Saturday afternoon. But twenty minutes later we stopped for dinner so it was about three-thirty before we were truly on the way. My sister-in-law drove so my brother could sleep. I was so tired by then that I knew it would be a waste of battery power to turn on my laptop so I prepared to sleep too. But the kids were listening to an audio book. One that I had read in Junior High. It is hard for me to not listen to a story. And Where the Red Fern Grows is an especially hard story to tune out. Except for about one hour shortly after sundown when the kids had dozed off, that reader’s voice owned the cab of the truck we road in. I dozed off several times in spite of the gripping tale as sleep depravation plus moving car is not a recipe for alertness.

When my sister-in-law told me that we were about two hours out from Phoenix, I decided to get on my laptop and do my daily journal so that obligation would not be hanging over me. It was also quiet for the moment as everybody else in the cab was asleep so the story wasn’t playing. I was sitting in the front passenger seat though so in order not to disturb the driver, I had to work under a blanket. I had thought to move on to working on Brooding Instinct after journaling since I had about 140 minutes of battery power but it soon became apparent that adding oxygen depravation to sleep depravation plus moving vehicle was an hypno-gogic hallucination inducement. I typed steady for nearly forty minutes but the letters and the edges of the windows wobbled and I kept seeing and hearing things that weren’t there. Mostly voices and faces from the recent past but also images triggered by the story of a boy and his two coon hounds and their escapades in a swampy forest.

When they put in the next CD of the audio book, there was no way I was going to be able to compose my own words with someone else’s well-written words foisted on my ears. So I closed my laptop and came up for air. The story had just reached the point where the obnoxious boys were making a wager with the hero of the story regarding the ability of the hero’s famed coon hounds to catch the legendary Ghost Coon when we pulled off I-5 at the Phoenix exit. I remember the story has a traumatic ending but I don’t remember the details. If I continue to be haunted by the story, I guess I will have to order the book from the library.

This has already gone on longer than a blog post should probably but I don’t want to leave my story hanging here nor to I want to come back to it later. I want to be free to move on. So I will try to wrap it up with as much alacrity as I am capable of. Ha Ha. Anyway there isn’t much to be said about the rest of Saturday. My husband had been awake since four that morning and had worked that day and was fighting a cold so he was as greedy for sleep as I was. We left the five larger bags in the front room overnight. His Mom had to work Sunday morning and our goal was to have those bags out of there by the time she got home around noon. But I couldn’t move them into the room nor start unpacking them until the room had been cleaned. I made a deal with my husband that if he helped me get the room prepared for my bags, he could spend the afternoon watching football while I unpacked them. So between eight and noon we stripped the bed of all bedding and the floor of the closet of several weeks worth of his laundry, cleaned the litter box and the cat’s food and water dishes, dusted, vacuumed, sorted the laundry into four loads and kept on top of them, took lots and lots of trash out to the garbage can and reorganized several areas of the room--a corner here, a shelf there and over yonder a drawer.

The morning got off to a roaring start and then about an hour into it I fell on the front porch steps while taking out trash. It was 32 degrees outside and the metal strip on the edge of the steps was slick and my feet just went out from under me. I thought I was going to dive to the ground five steps down but I threw myself backwards against the handrail and landed on the steps with my feet crossed at the ankles under my butt. Any movement forward, backwards or sideward and the metal strips on the steps bit into my shins or the top of my foot--the same one I injured last July. I couldn’t call to my husband for help as he was running the vacuum cleaner in our room. I finally got one foot out from under me by suffering the few moments of pain needed to lean back and yank my knee toward my chest. Freeing that foot gave me the leverage to get the rest of the way up. I did not let that incident stop me nor even slow me down much. In fact knowing that if I were to rest for more than a few minutes I would be rewarded with pain and stiffness kept me going until I finished at a quarter after eight. Leaving me just enough time for a shower before Desperate Housewives. By the time Grey’s Anatomy started I knew I would not be doing anything besides my journal on the computer that night.

I woke up at nine Monday morning. I was home alone and the heat was off. It was thirty-two outside and fifty-four inside. I turned on the heat and fixed a cup of coffee, playing with my in-law’s dog, Sweetie, while the water boiled. As soon as my hands were warm enough to type I got to work on this blog post. Have been working on it in fits and starts all day. Had to take a break in order to run the library books I had taken to Longview with me back to the library. They were already two weeks overdue. I lucked out to find a copy of A Light in August on the Phoenix branch shelf. I had expected to have to order it from another branch in the two county system. I visited with my mother-in-law for a bit when I got home but got back to work on this as soon as I got settled in my room again. I sat on the bed with the laptop in my lap. I didn’t move the computer off my lap when I turned on the TV at three for Dr. Phil, nor when I changed the channel for Oprah at four. I worked during commercials. I left it behind though when I went to sit with my husband’s grandma so his folks could go out to dinner.

I moved out to the living room with my laptop after my mother-in-law headed for bed about eight-thirty. Now it is time to wrap this up so I can actually go online and post it before I am chased out of this room by the cold. It is after one now and the heat has been off for nearly five hours. I started out in just a t-shirt. Added a flannel shirt about nine and a fleece jacket about eleven. Just put the hood up on my jacket. Would put gloves on if I had the kind that allowed enough flexibility to type. I will soon loose flexibility anyway once the cold settles into my fingers. It is thirty-four outside and fifty-seven inside. This is the reality I contended with for the past two winters when my access to my in-law’s computer was limited to overnight. But now it is only internet access that is limited to those hours. I had hoped to have this ready to go by eleven so I would have several hours to catch up on news and blog reading. Now that is looking iffy.

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