Filed under: mi familia

i will spend today quietly

It seems kind of appropriate that the weather should be gray and clammy today, so unlike that gorgeous sunny morning five years ago. I will always remember how blue the sky was that day. I had my moment of silence this morning, walking across campus in the foggy chill, listening to the chapel bells tolling 32 times. They’ll stay quiet for the rest of the day, and probably, so will I.

I have never written about September 11th here, for a few reasons, but the main reason is that I’ve never felt like that story was mine to tell. Although I was panicked and afraid, I wasn’t anywhere near danger, and although I, like everyone else, know several people with a near-miss story (“I should have been on x flight, I should have been at y place on business, my brother lives in Manhattan”), no one I love was anywhere near danger. While I’ll likely always remember all the odd little details I remember now, like what I was wearing, and what I tried to work on that day, and so on, it just seems kind of silly to tell that here like it’s a story that matters. I was wearing black bootcut pants and a pink boatneck shirt and my hair was in a ponytail. I was working on a recruitment email that, when I reviewed it a few days later, turned out to be absolutely riddled with typos and grammatical errors and shitty writing. I don’t know what I had for lunch that day, if in fact I ate lunch at all. Whatever. You probably remember what you were wearing and what you were doing that day too. What you were probably not doing that day was dying, or waiting for a call that might never come. Those people are the ones with stories to tell – not me with my stupid ponytail and my crappy email.

The thing I wanted more than anything in the world was to be at home with my family. I had only been in my job for just over a month at that point and I didn’t know my coworkers well, and I was still trying to figure out how to behave around them, and I didn’t want to deal with this with all these virtual strangers around. I wanted my mom and my dad and my sisters and my dogs around me. I couldn’t reach anyone on the phone. We were all hoping to be dismissed early, but the orders never came, and since no one else was leaving, I felt I too should stay. These days, there wouldn’t even be a question. I’d take personal leave and go home. But on that day, I stayed, and I tried to work.

When I finally left to go home, I had to stop to get gas before my hour drive, and I remember very clearly going in to the gas station to pay and noticing how, even though it was full of people, it was so quiet. Though I’d rarely paid attention to planes in the air, on that afternoon the sky seemed quiet too. And throughout my drive home, I kept flipping channels on the radio, trying to find some music to distract me, and there wasn’t a single channel playing music. It was all news. And the news, by then, was pretty quiet.

So it seems right to have kind of a quiet day today.

5 Comments September 11, 2006

Telephonic Invasion

Talking on the phone to my mother is like walking into the mall when it’s full of holiday shoppers and trying to get the attention of someone on the other side of the mall. The last time I talked to her, I told her this when I was finally able to get her attention again, and she told me to shut up, and I told her I was going to write a website entry about her. That is my second-favorite comeback, right behind “I will cut you,” and it’s just about as effective. Because I’m about as likely to actually cut you as I am to remember that I was going to write about you on my website.

But anyway, back to my mom and the phone. I’m pretty sure my mom hates talking on the phone, but she hates IMing more. Side note: on the rare occasion Mom IMs us, she’ll end her IM with “love you, mom.” It’s totally adorable. So between IMs and the phone, she chooses the phone – but seriously, you can’t talk to my mom on the phone the way you talk to normal humans on the phone.

She is constantly distracted by other people at home, the dogs, the cats, cooking, the computer, something on TV, whether or not the air conditioner just kicked on, shiny things, hot dogs – basically, everything. Sometimes you know she’s been distracted because she’ll abruptly start a conversation with someone else. That’s especially funny when you think she’s talking to you, and you’re like “what the hell?” and she gets all exasperated, like, “I was talking to DAD.” Sometimes you have to infer that she’s distracted because you’ve just asked her a question and you hear nothing but silence on the other end. Silence never means she’s thinking about what you just said. It always means she’s stopped listening.

When I was on the phone with her the other night, she started to break up a potential fight between the insane weenie dog and the kitten, and then Dad asked her what she was doing, and so she explained it to him, and they had a conversation about it, and whatever, it’s a good thing I had a nail file nearby so I could have something to occupy my time until she remembered what that black plastic thing in her hand was all about. Sometimes I just hang out and wait. Sometimes I get all pissy and am like, HELLO, I AM NOT IN THE ROOM WITH YOU. There’s no point in continuing to talk because you’ll have to repeat everything anyway.

Mom isn’t quite comfortable getting the call waiting, so she often hangs up on people by accident. She also sometimes presses buttons on the phone by accident when she balances the phone on her shoulder so she can do something else at the same time. It’s like talking to a four-year-old. She can’t be bothered to memorize my home number (which is REALLY easy) or to check their caller ID for it, so half the time she calls my cell phone, and if I happen to have it on, I’ll ask her why she called the cell, thinking maybe something was wrong with my home phone, which is when she’s all huffy like “I don’t know THAT number. I only know THIS number.”

She called my cell the other day, and when I answered the phone, she said, “Do you know where that blue backpack is?”

This made as much sense to me as it probably does to you right now. It turns out that sometime when I was in college, Ginny had a backpack that broke, and they sent it back, and JanSport sent them a new one, and it was blue, and did I know where it was? I did not, because
a) I was in college 800 miles away when this happened,
b) We didn’t even live in the same house then, and
c) It was almost TEN YEARS AGO.

I pointed this out and suggested she call Ginny. She says she doesn’t know Ginny’s number. I tell her to get a pencil and I’ll recite it to her, since I’ve memorized it, and she tells me that she just didn’t feel like looking it up, and then recites 8 of the 10 digits to me. And once again, I bet Ginny’s number is on the caller ID.

All phone conversations with my mom have a predetermined time limit that is etched in stone somewhere in the murky recesses of her brain. We never know what the time limit will be, but at some point, sometimes even mid-sentence, she’ll abruptly announce that she can’t stay on the phone anymore, and then she says her standard “loveyoubye,” which is very Mom of her (and we love it), and sometimes she hangs up on us. Sometimes she starts this and I’m like, MOM, you called ME. Doesn’t matter – she has to go. RIGHT THAT SECOND.

Mom is quite capable of having a normal conversation with you on the phone, provided that she’s home alone and it isn’t too late in the evening. She can’t focus when other things are around to stimulate her attention, and she gets all loopy after about 8:30. Most of the time, talking to her on the phone is a surreal experience where you may or may not get to the point of the phone call eventually.

Sometimes it’s maddening. Sometimes it’s hilarious. But either way, it’s very, very Mom, and if she reads this she will remind us that these are the stories we’ll tell about her when she’s dead and gone. We tell her we’re getting started early.

9 Comments August 30, 2006

sweet cracker sandwich

Sammi and I are sitting at Arby’s picking over the last few fries and brainstorming ways I can get my missing blog mojo back. I’m taking notes on a napkin. Sam starts talking about her mosquito bites and I say, “Good news! My foot hasn’t rotted off.”

Deadpan, she responds, “As I noticed when you walked in here on two feet.”

1 Comment August 29, 2006

It Probably All Balances Out

My sisters like to make fun of me pretty much all the time because I am way more awesome than they are, particularly in the following totally important and life-shaping areas:

  1. High school class ranking;
  2. Competitiveness, cost, and national ranking of chosen college;
  3. Yearly salary (evidently failing to consider that they are all still in high school & college);
  4. Spelling ability;
  5. IQ;
  6. Singing ability;
  7. General all-around kickassitude;
  8. Breast size.

However, Sammi pointed out recently that there are three areas where I am totally the family loser:

  1. Gaydar. Mine’s really faulty. It’s faulty to the point that when Michael Stipe announced he was gay, I was the only person in the entire universe who was like, “OMG! Michael Stipe is gay?!”
  2. Fluid retention. On road trips, we have to build in extra traveling time so that I can stop several times to pee.
  3. Geographical aptitude, or directional sense, or whatever.

My tendency to get lost has been well-documented here, but last week we discovered another facet of the problem. See, I’m almost always right. And I’m used to being almost always right. And I’m a bossy-assed know-it-all and the oldest and all that, so what happens is that I read a map, and I’m sure I know where we’re going. And if you don’t know me well and you aren’t careful, I will almost certainly convince you that I know where we’re going. The problem is that I will be dead wrong 99% of the time. So it’s good that I have sisters who are aware of this fact and will let me pretend to know where we’re going before gently steering us in the right direction, which is generally the opposite direction from the one I’d have chosen.

The good news is that I’m pretty good at admitting when I’m wrong, so I don’t get mad when this happens.

At least I’ll probably always have a bigger rack than they will.

12 Comments August 7, 2006

I Would Have Been Fine With A T-Shirt

My sister went to Australia and New Zealand and all I got was a communicable disease.

12 Comments July 5, 2006

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