you are the untold story. You are the impassioned truth wanting to scream its existence, to be forever trapped by a strong hand clapped firmly over the mouth of my soul

This weekend was brought to you by the phrase "light fixture", and the words "ample" and "solid."

The money hemorrhage (a word I can never, ever spell correctly on the first try) continues. I dropped by the ole Target store on Friday after work to pick up a couple of things. The goal was to finish the job started the previous weekend at the other Target (in the bigger city). I was successful in that, but it was not cheap. I had intended to go to the 24-hour Target-like place, but couldn't really stomach that (it's crazy enough at off-peak times but Friday evening seemed like a death wish) so I mooshed that list into Target and Menard's.

Menard's (do they have those all over the place? It's a home store, like Lowe's or Home Depot) was my next stop. I'm starting to understand what the big deal is--it's hard to go there, get exactly what you need, and then be done with it. It's like holiday baking, where you trudge home with your ton of groceries, only to realize that you forgot the lemon zest. Then you go back to buy the lemon to zest, pick up eight more things, get home...and realize that you've used all your eggs. My boomerang so far seems to be outlet covers. no matter how many times I count, or how many people help me (prehaps THAT is the problem?), I can't get it right. (It also doesn't help that virtually every outlet and switch in this dwelling is a different color and style. There is white, ivory, and - what's the other standard one, cream? off white? dingy yellow? And there were dimmers, switches, and rockers. And outlets. And round jack covers. And cable exuding from the cold-air return and from beneath the floor trim. And, who knows what else.) So, at Menard's on Friday, I got FIVE light fixtures (one for the middle of the kitchen ceiling, to coordinate with but not directly match the one purchased for the dining room the previous weekend; one for over the kitchen sink to coordinate with both of those [but in the $5 realm]; one for the bathroom for over the double-sink but that hangs from the ceiling, rather than the wall [which is non-standard]; one for the hallway [again, the $5 variety], and one for the master bedroom to replace the multicolored abomination. The kitchen was easy--I picked one out, turned a corner, found one I liked better for half the price, then turned another corner and found the $4.75 globes for the sink and hallway. (The kitchen/dining area is brushed silver tone, the bath/hallway/bedroom end of the world is oil-brushed bronze, whatever the heck that means.) Next I found the bathroom fixture, which is funky and very light (i.e. not heavy) and was on clearance for 1/3 the original price, possibly because it takes three G9 bulbs.

It took a while (translation: what seemed like an hour) to find the bedroom light. Everything was too large, too fancy, too much. I am finding that my tastes in furnishings are very slimmed-down and simple. (Minus the hats hanging from every available hook and the relatively massive Rothko prints.) I suppose it's a matter of leaving room for myself and my stuff, rather than feeling crowded out by the house itself. That's why my preference for window treatments is less the old-style 'drapes' and more simple in design. My furniture is fairly small and unobtrusive (the bed has no head or footboard, the couch is just gray, the bookcases have only two sides). I finally decided on a "track light" that is circular, three swivel heads on a rounded bar. The bulbs are LED, so they delay a moment before switching on, but once they're on the light is beautiful.

Both the bathroom and bedroom are quite transformed by the difference. I am surprised to discover that I didn't take any photographs of the "before" of the bathroom. The lights were...awful. White painted metal, white painted chains, coming down to two large (10"? larger?) ovalish globes that hung over the sinks. They were sort of pineapple shaped, maybe. They didn't hang at the same level, and one was so low that I conked my head on it a few times (and I'm just not that tall!) while using the sink.

The bedroom, I think, has been viewed elsewhere. The weight difference between that ceiling fan/light combo and what's in there now is about 25 pounds. (The bathroom is probably close to that, too.) And the overall size differential is amazing--the rooms just look so much more spacious when they're not dominated by large, funky, weirdo fixtures!

I also bought bulbs for all those things, and some switches (to swap out the dimmers all over the house), and some outlet covers (but I missed one AGAIN), and some drawer pulls (to swap out the quaint ceramic that was on the closets), and another towel bar, and four fifty-pound bags of softener salt. By the time all was said and done, I felt like I'd bought out the store. (And, of course, still forgot a quarter of what I wanted.) A big farm kid helped me take it all out to the car and unload it into the trunk. The only thing he said to me, while we were drizzled on, was, "Oooh, this is cool!", about the bedroom fixture. I'll take that compliment.

On my way home, I stopped by the grocery store where I worked in high school and college, to get dinner. They didn't have what I'd been fantasizing about, but I did get some things that the regular store doesn't carry. I foresee regular (monthly or so) visits to that store in my future.

As is so often the case, I didn't even need to ask for help before I got it. My friends D & R (& H) came over in the midst of their usual Saturday errand-ing, and in a nutshell Rick 'did' the stuff that I had brought home the night before. He carried the salt downstairs and filled the softener, replaced the switches (after explaining to me how 3-way switches work, which didn't even require a whiteboard), and removed and replaced FIVE light fixtures. I discovered only after they left that I probably starved them all to death while they were here because the time went by so quickly that it was later than I'd realized, far after lunchtime. And though once again my countertop was jammed full of fasteners of various types and the floor with Styrofoam schnibbles, I was left with very little that I needed to do to complete the process. What friends. 

The weirdness of the weekend came in two parts. First, the doorbell rang last night at about this time. It was a youngish man, in his early twenties. Brandon. He handed me a can of Glade air freshener, and then launched into a very well-rehearsed but nervous speech about getting some honest opinions from fine homeowners like myself. "You are the homeowner, right? And your name is...?" I handed the can back to him. "Now is not a good time," I said, closing the door. "I will come back!" he said, as he walked away. Don't bother, dude. I locked all three locks on both of the doors, and contemplated again the need to trade phone numbers with the neighbors. {{{shudder}}}  It doesn't help that I'd had a nightmare on Friday night about being murdered, held casually at the throat while a guy with very crazy eyes explained to me about the people that he'd had to kill.


The second weirdness was more (?) psychological--and also less negative. I was having a text conversation with an old friend from high school. He was good friends with someone I dated for a few months when were were sophomores, maybe juniors? The two couples hung out quite a bit. His friend was obnoxious and loud and arrogant and very weird, so the relationship did not last for long, but my friendship with this guy (I will call him "Art") has persisted. We were friends through college, he came to my wedding, we stayed in touch sporadically after all that, and we ran into each other since I've been back (he's in town) so we're in more direct contact now.

We tend to go in one of two directions when we chat. It's sometimes very shallow and rather dull, comparing movies we've seen and giving instructions about what books we think the other should read, that sort of introverted nonsense. Other times, it's a delightful mess of psychology and introspection, philosophy and memory, preening and trash talk. This time, it was the latter version. We were rambling along, dissecting the latest Myers-Briggs that's been floating around FB, when he asked some questions about my divorce. He knows my former spouse well, and his questions, while not totally out of the blue, were kind of pointed. I answered as well as I could, and after a longish pause he said he wasn't sure how to respond because he didn't want to insult me. I told him to go for it, since I'm not too easily offended on this topic.

He told me--reminded me--that I'd "announced" my engagement by telling him that I'd met someone almost just like him. (There was more, but I'll spare the excruciating details.)

I was such a pretentious little snot when I was 20! And for a while afterward, too, but, jeez. What a thing to say to someone.

He wrote, in text, after that, "When a woman of ample bearing says something like that to a mostly societal misanthrope like myself, it tends to leave an impression."

Ignoring the misanthrope part of this, which is less true than he likes to think it is...
...ample. bearing. What the hell is "a woman of ample bearing"?

He was quick to explain that it is a good thing. Ample, in all the ways that one ought to be. Mentally, spiritually, emotionally, blah blah blah. Even for a word person, though, it's an interesting choice, and it's sticking with me.

"Ample." Huh.

And so, forward we traveled, through the memories of the wedding and marriage and strains and breakup and divorce. He wanted to know if the ways in which my former spouse is almost just like him were also the things about my former spouse that made him leaveable, or leave-worthy, but he couldn't ask and I wouldn't offer. I tried to explain, as concisely as possible, the reasons that the marriage dissolved. But how can twelve (or fifteen) years be explained, or explained away, succinctly? In some ways: it was, and then it wasn't, because we realized that it hadn't been for a while. Or, it was, and then we didn't want it to be. Or, it wasn't, all along.

I don't know. I wasn't given all the answers, just most of the questions and some of the answers. I'm making due with what I have, which changes over time, too.

The best that can describe me at that time, when I was making all those choices and saying all those dubious things, is "smart"--by which one must mean book-smart, of course, successful in academics. And Art said that despite everything that he did wrong, then and now, he's always been "solid."

I told him not to ever discount solid, because it means more than he realizes. He made fun of it, but the concept sticks in my consciousness now.

For a long time, my ideal was a lean, reckless night-dwelling rock star. Someone with more trouble than sense, more alcohol than blood, and more bills than money. A tortured soul.

I married a less flaky variant of that, but he was still lean and troubled and prone to faulty thinking at times. Easily manipulated, which believe me is not attractive in a mate except on a soap opera. An academic, a sweetheart, a lover of animals, with maybe the worst car mojo of anyone I know.

And now, after all this time, what am I dreaming of? (First, let me be clear: NOT Art. He's a friend, still a friend, only a friend, never more than a friend, ever.)

I want somebody solid. Enough of a grownup to counter my occasionally intuitive decision-making (which can sometimes go awry) and communicate that countering without patriarchy. Enough of a kid to have fun and goad me until I pop out of my introvert bubble and do, too. (And not so much of an extrovert that my need to be really alone is irritating, but just an opportunity to do his own stuff sometimes.) And, literally, somebody just bigger than me. I'm not an amazon, but I'm also not pocket-sized.

Somebody who's pretty well done with the soul-torture. It happens to all of us now and then, but being over the deliberate wallowing is a great phase to hit.

Someone who's into music, and reading, and movies. And something else, whatever it is. Some kind of compelling interest. What is life without a hobby? Even if it changes over time?

Someone my friends like. I never thought about that before, always having had someone in mind and not needing to fit them into a life, really, and it's led to some weird matches. My friends mean a lot to me, and they have good taste. I expect that anyone I'd like, they'd like--and if they didn't, it would be for good reason.

Someone for whom I'm a priority, a fascination, and a commitment.

[the title quotation is from Henry Rollins, in Solipsist]


  1. I really don't think that your list is too much to ask, certainly not at the age you're likely looking at. By 40 or so, people really ought to have started to get their shit together. :)

    (One of our regular patrons at work is named Art, so I'm giggling like mad over your description and "my" dude....)

  2. I know people, but that'd be one hell of a long distance relationship. :)