full head of steam

I woke this morning before the alarm rang. It was the second day running, though yesterday it happened for nefarious reasons, as my skull was splitting open thanks to the migraine that got me up at 4:30 and wouldn't let me do more than doze after that. (I'd planned to sleep 'til 9:00.) Today I just naturally woke at 7:30 (though the Mexican polka from my neighbor had begun, so it's possible that she'd cranked it and then turned it down before I emerged from my bedroom, which is as far away from her "music" as possible). I made tea (blackberry sage) and ate breakfast (generic super sugar crisp. I'm not even sure what they call it--probably something "golden" or "honey" since the word "sugar" is verboten now) while reading email and checking the blogs. I've culled the herd and I'm down to fewer than 50 in Bloglines, which means there are usually 10 or fewer to read when I get up in the morning, which includes individual comments to my own blog. Not too onerous.

After breakfast I read for a while (a very, very dumb, mind-melting novel whose protagonists' names are Trey and Empress--I'm not sure that I'll make it through this one if only because the names are so flippin' annoying) and then headed to my ex-house. The human occupant is Out West, visiting his intended, so I'm watching my former pets this weekend. Although the driving leaves something to be desired (it's about 4.5 miles and according to Mapquest takes 9 min., but at the wrong time of day it's about 20 min.) I'm grateful for the opportunity to spend some time with them. They will be moving Out West with him sometime in '06. It's hard to imagine my life without them in it, at least to the extent that they have been, but I suppose it's just another chapter.

So I drove over there and, upon arrival, made myself at home. Hard to imagine, really, parking in the driveway like before, letting myself into that house with the key that I still keep on my regular keyring, sitting on the couch that I picked out, blah blah blah. In a lot of ways it feels totally normal--he and I are remarkably comfortable, for the most part, with the way that things have turned out--but in some ways it's creepier than all get out. Sometimes, like Friday night, I feel like I've done something very wrong. Not leaving, or the divorce, but being in the house. I was overtaken by a sense of claustrophobia and, well, for lack of a better term, "the willies": I felt like I shouldn't be there, like I wasn't supposed to be there, and if I "got caught there" I would have a hard time explaining why I was. Once the pets were settled and I knew the house was secure (there are way too many doors) I beat hell to get out of there. And once I was on my way home, of course, I realized that I'd just freaked myself out, and that the note to me from the owner of the house lying on the kitchen table would've been adequate explanation for my presence. I'm such a freak sometimes.

So. Anyway. This morning. I'd taken my newspaper (I have delivery of the Sunday Chicago Tribune) so I'd have something to do while I hung out with the pets. I also took my camera, because I don't want to miss any opportunities for cuteness. So we lazed around, sometimes in the sun (it's been cloudy off and on, but there were some really awesome puddles-of-sunlight moments), and read the paper and took pictures. I'll load a few after I post this. After they'd mellowed to my presence (they get a little loopy at first, like they can't get enough of me and they want to climb not only inside of my clothes but inside of me) I moved my car into the attached garage and started hustling boxes of miscellaneous whatever into my trunk. We're taking the gradual approach to separating our miscellaneous whatever, so even though I moved out last September, we're still dividing stuff. Not the important stuff--whatever that means--but things like Christmas ornaments, photographs, board games, cookbooks, etc. Either the items that were so emotionally charged that neither of us wanted to deal with them at the same time that we were dealing with the divorce (our Christmas ornaments were a big deal; every year we'd get several for each other, and we'd probably get a dozen or more as gifts from friends. How in the hell do you divide that sort of thing?), or that were just so overwhelming in volume that we didn't have the time or energy to start. That would be the photographs, in a nutshell. We both consider ourselves photographers, but I'm the one who's completely bonkers. The last time we counted (Have I mentioned that between us we have 3 Masters degrees, a Ph.D. and a J.D.? We count things.) there were nearly 6000 images from negatives, plus digital images, prints for which there were no negatives (gifts, studio shots, etc.), slides, and enlargements. It's an absolute fucking nightmare. The worst of it is that in a last-ditch effort to keep us together, over the final summer of our marriage, I launched a huge project to assemble the whole fucking compilation into albums. Only the top of the line would do, so we picked out the nicest Light Impressions albums and pages and I went to work. No, the real worst of it is that while I assembled these albums, I also took all of the duplicate photographs (since we always got 2 sets when we'd develop film) and distributed them to friends and family, in smaller albums and/or frames, as gifts. That idiotic, pathetic, misplaced generosity is probably going to cost us roughly what I spent on the attorney for the divorce, because we're going to have duplicates made of anything we each want a copy of, and then we'll both want albums....

But first, we need to go through the ones that we have, page by page, photograph by photograph, and decide if we want them or if we're willing to give them up for good. Big bucket of stress, anyone?

I have a box of undivided duplicates (also unlabeled, goddamnit) and four albums (May 1983-May 1988--these are made up of photos that we each brought with us, so they'll be easy to divide. I think. Unless we each want some copies of each others' stuff, which I hadn't contemplated too closely before. What a goddamned nightmare this is; 26 May 1988 - 6 Feb. 1991; 14 Feb. 1991 - June 1992 [wedding]; and August 1992 - 14 August 1993) at my apartment. That leaves him with at least 6 albums. No, probably 8. Each album has at least 100 pages, at least 8 photos per page unless they're enlargements.


So. I dragged boxes of Christmas ornaments, History and law journals, books, and photographs out to my car, parked in the garage. I assembled a couple of bags of Christmas CDs so I can figure out which ones I might want when compared with my collection here. I took roughly 200 photographs of the pets (maybe 100 of which might be in focus and/or worth viewing). I read my newspaper. I talked with a friend on the phone. I checked the status of The Other Pet, who lives in the basement, since Deano and I spontaneously cleaned its dwelling last night and he'd been concerned that The Pet might kick the bucket because of the change in scenery. (Or, more accurately, due to the literal dump of crap on his head.) You'll be pleased to learn that The Other Pet is just fine, all things considered.

Car full and once again backed out of the garage (something I can do without thinking about it--which is funny because the ex once ripped the side mirror off the self-same car attempting the same maneuver in the same garage, which makes me laugh just thinking about it 'cause he's kind of vain about his driving abilities, particularly in comparison to mine), I secured the house (seriously. Three doors. What the hell?) Made sure the boxes were clean. Water bowls clean and filled. Bathrooms arranged appropriately (the pets have been known to "swim" if the bathrooms aren't...locked down). I gave 'em each a kiss on the schnoz and let myself out, heart in a knot.

On the way home, though, I started to feel better. I knew I'd write a long blog post, I knew I'd make a fabulous lunch (apricot scones, which are cooling as I write this), and I felt like I'd get boatloads of important stuff done today. As the post title indicates, I've got a full head of steam (or is it a head full of steam? Which is better?) for the first time in a while. I'll try to put it to positive uses.

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