Thursday, April 30, 2009

follow up to ongoing struggle

You might recall this post not long ago where I talked about how my choices seem to be restricted sometimes. That day, it seemed like I had conquered the desire to watch that movie, and I was happy that I didn't have to deal with it anymore. But no. The desire came around again. Like it wasn't going to go away until I satisfied it.

So, I'm on iTunes the other day when I see that they offer movie rentals. Cool! I looked up the movie just to see if it was available to rent. It was! I was downloading music, so I added the rental to the download queue. What the heck, right?

So I'm all excited to finally watch this stupid movie. I wait about an hour for it to download, and then I try to play it. It freezes up my iTunes program. Won't exit, won't go away. I have to reboot the computer. So I go to the System Configuration Utility and uncheck all the unnecessary programs running in the background on my machine, and reboot again. I started iTunes, double-clicked the rental, and same thing. Locks everything up. I am not making this up.

So I go to iTunes support and chat online with this support guy who has me try a few things. I get disconnected from him. I try again, get a different guy, and tell him the same stuff all over again. We're starting to do some troubleshooting and I get disconnected from him. Mind you, being disconnected from my internet connection is not a common thing. Almost never happens. So I go back to the support page and send them an email. It says that they should get back to me within 24 hours. The rental expires in 18.

Oh well, I think. If it won't work they'll credit me for it, and I can try again when they figure it out. Which is exactly what they did upon responding to my email. SO...

I tried downloading the rental to a completely different PC, on a different (and faster) internet connection. No play. Starts, shows beginning credits, then freezes up. WHAT THE CRAP. Are there angels out there actually trying to prevent me from watching this movie? It's not like it's porn, or something. I can get access to that easy enough.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

what is love?

Think I'll post this here rather than on Facebook...

You Believe that Love is Devotion

When you think of love, you think of committing to one person for the rest of your life.

In love, you see things how they could be. You are wrapped up in your own dreams.

If you are in love, you want the whole world to know it. You don't hold back with letting people know.

You are somewhat patient in love. You can wait for the right person, but once you have found the right one, you're very impatient.

what if

I have never wanted to go back and relive high school. As a teen, I pretty much kept to myself and did my schoolwork, and especially my senior year, when we moved and I had to change schools, it was kind of a lonely time. But I think now I may see the appeal of those movies they make where the character gets thrown back in time to experience the whole nightmare all over again.

Sometimes, like this morning, when I drive by a high school on my way to work and see the assortment of students making their way towards the school, either on foot, or skateboard, bike or trashed vehicle, I wonder what my high school experience would be like now, if I went back as the current me (only looking much younger). Kind of like in Never Been Kissed or 17 Again. Boyfriends were really not of much interest to me then, although I had “crushes” on certain boys whose looks appealed to me. I really don’t know what I would have done if they had liked me back. And neither was the idea of a girlfriend, for that matter. I remember feeling fascination for specific girls, but I never expected to get anything out of it except some amusement. How times have changed, eh? You can probably walk around a high school campus and see girls holding hands now.

I think if I went back now, I might like to try the whole boyfriend thing. I think I might know better how to catch one. Of course if I did, I’d either have to change mothers or keep him secret from my mother. She frowned upon any kind of attachment I made. I think I would have had more fun, worked less, watched TV less. Who knows...

How do you think it might be different for you?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

letter of apology

Dear MJ,

It has come to my attention lately that our individual motives in pursuing our friendship were entirely different. Since this makes me uncomfortable and fills me with remorse, I feel like I need to apologize to you. I know I have apologized before. But with each new light that goes on in my mind, I feel like I have new things for which to be sorry.

I cannot be sure of your intent in getting close to me. I have come to believe that you just wanted someone to love and understand you, and treat you like an adult, and listen and care about what you wanted and what you were thinking. Those are basic needs. I think we all want that. Validation. I hope that I gave you that. Beyond those desires, I truly cannot know.

You must know that in the beginning, my motives were pure. I wanted to be a friend, a confidante, a mentor. I wanted to show you that life could be great, and that it was all in your perspective. I’m not sure where the boundaries got crossed exactly. It’s all very hazy now—all of that. But it’s pretty obvious they got crossed somewhere.

MJ, I’m sorry. If ever there was a time when my behavior made you feel uncomfortable, uneasy, used or violated, I did not intend that. I never wanted to cause you any of those kinds of feelings.

And, if at this point in your life, you don’t quite know what I mean, that’s good. And I hope you never do.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

turning another page

I think I’ve spent a little too much time with MJ lately. I feel this desire to be close to her again, and she is not receptive to that. She’s moving tomorrow, with one of her teenage friends from the neighborhood. They’re moving into an apartment together. It will be their first time living away from home—being out on their own. I’m excited for them. I remember that time in my life. It was terrifying and exciting too. I would even go back to that, because I loved my freshman year in college.

I wonder if I will visit them. I can’t really see that happening more than once. I see myself going there, just to see where it is, just to see what it’s like, and then never again. Unless I’m invited, I guess. I said to her today, “Let me know when you’re moved in, and I’ll come and see it.” And she said, “You can come anytime. That’s what I tell everyone.” Which of course translated to, “You’re not anything special. You may come and go as you like, just like everyone else.” Great. So I won’t be visiting. But it would be awkward anyway. Why does someone like me need to be hanging out with college-age kids?

Sometimes I miss the way it was with us. But of course I really don’t.

Friday, April 24, 2009

pet peeve #2

My mother calls me everyday. She must have nobody else to talk to. She yammers away for minutes on end, until she realizes I'm not saying anything back. I'm at work, mother. But she calls me there because I don't answer my cell phone.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

something new

Since my sister's twins were born (and they are seven now), they both had these odd growths on their bones—usually at joint locations, but including their ribs. They’re little bumps, though some are larger than others. Some of their poor little fingers and toes just looked deformed. Someone mentioned to my sister that if these bumps continued to increase in size, she should probably have them looked at, so she made an appointment at the clinic yesterday. This is the clinic where MJ works.

One twin, who has been experiencing some atypical anxiety lately, expressed fear about going to a doctor’s office. Her mom had told her they would probably take some x-rays, and knowing nothing about that, she nearly had a panic attack. So I had explained to her what getting x-rays is like, and I told her if it made her feel any better I would go with her. She liked that idea. So when my sister made the appointment yesterday, she let me know about it, and I made arrangements to be there. Fortunately it was at the end of the day, so I only had to leave work an hour early.

I got there before they did. My sister had told me where the pediatrics department was, so I went up to the second floor where I could see the parking lot, and waited there at the window. I had never been in the clinic before. I looked around and took it all in, thinking, “This is MJ’s second home.” She’s worked there for eight years—all of her working life. I read the names on the window leading to the reception area and saw the name of the practitioner MJ has become tight with. Her mother’s office was also somewhere on this floor.

At one time, I would have been riddled with anxiety being there. I would have sent MJ a text, letting her know where I was so that she could sneak away from her desk and find me. I would have been wary of being seen by her mother—or anyone else who would pass on information to her mother. We would have reveled in the secret pleasure of seeing each other and being able to talk in a place where we wouldn’t normally have been at the same time.

But all that was past, and I could stand there, waiting, just imagining what life once was and how I was glad it was not that way anymore.

MJ was there, and she met us in the reception area and proudly led us around to where we needed to go, holding the baby like she was her own niece. She made sure to show me her desk and where she spent her time, which, at one time would have been important and fascinating to me. Now it just seemed kind of cute of her.

I guess this is called progress. And I have to say, I like it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

pet peeve #1

When people use Facebook to complain about their lives and elicit sympathy from their friends.

Pretty sure no one that reads this blog is guilty of such nonsense. Fortunately, Facebook has a really cool "hide" feature, when you just can't take it anymore. :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

the Alex awards, part five

Favorite Vocalists, Male

#10 - Sam Cooke. Mr Smooth.

#9 - Eddie Kendricks. The tenor of the Temptations. (He's the cutie in the middle)

#8 - Steve Perry. Formerly of Journey. LOVED Journey. But mostly because of Steve.

#7 - Johnny Mathis. I've been a fan since birth. It all started with the Christmas album.

#6 - Nat King Cole. Legendary stuff.

#5 - Freddie Mercury. Not a pretty man, but can anyone argue that he can sing? It was actually hard to find a picture that I liked.

#4 - Bing Crosby. Again, since birth. My grandfather was his biggest fan.

#3 - Andy Bell. Again, hard to find a decent picture of this one. But the man has a powerful and very versatile voice. I prefer the old Erasure stuff to his single stint.

#2 - Tom Chaplin. Of Keane. Of course.

#1 - George Michael. Does it surprise you? All of his antics aside, he has a beautiful voice.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


A fellow blogger (thank you, HappyOrganist) introduced me to the psychological concept of “transference.” I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this before. The way I understand it, it means to transfer your ideas and feelings about someone onto another person you don’t know, based on the assumption that those two people are similar to each other. So for instance, I meet someone new and I like them instantly for no reason at all. Subconsciously, the person reminds me of someone else I knew and liked very well, so I assume that my feelings for this person will be similar to what they were for the other person. I do all of this without even realizing it. From a mental health web site, “The brain does this because if a match can be found between something new and something old, then all of the stored knowledge inside the schema can be applied to the new situation without having to figure it all out again and again.”

I have to wonder if this is what happened with MJ. From the same site, “Our acts of transference provide an information rich window into what we desire and what we wish to avoid. What we read into other people reveals our secret prejudices and our unfulfilled wishes.”

MJ will insist, no matter how I try to tell her otherwise, that she is not looking for surrogate mothers in the older female friends she chooses and attaches herself to. She will say that she has a mother—a dutiful, compassionate, caring, motherly mother, and that there is no reason why she would look elsewhere. But I happen to know that her mother worked when MJ was a child. And when she wasn’t working, she was dealing with a child with bipolar disorder and another child with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is no easy task. And since both of these siblings were older than MJ, my guess is that she didn’t get a lot of attention. She told me herself that she spent a lot of time alone. I think she may have felt neglected, and misunderstood, and she’s even tried to describe feelings of not being completely accepted by her parents—especially her mother, who was the disciplinarian.

So, if what she desired most was acceptance, affection and tenderness, someone to listen to her and care about her thoughts and ideas, someone who would focus on only her…she found that in me. I don’t know that she found it before me. I think she idealized those she chose, but they didn’t respond like I did.

In my case, I obviously wanted someone to love and dote upon. The letters we wrote to each other fulfilled all of my romantic fantasies about lovers exchanging letters. I craved the same things she did: affection, attention, someone interested in and focused on me. It didn’t matter that she was 17 and female. I was getting what I had always wanted, and the obstacles that jumped into the path (people who were opposed to the intensity of our relationship) only made us more devoted to each other. In my ignorance of the presence of counter-transference that was happening, I automatically responded to it by feeling romantic feelings for her.

It’s fascinating, really. From an outside point of view.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The other day I caught myself doing that thing that I do—that internal dialogue where I tell myself that someone of the male species couldn’t possibly be interested in me.

I was in my car and pulled up to a four-way stop. Another car pulled up at the cross street on my right. I got there slightly before he did, but the law says that if two cars arrive at a four-way stop at the same time, the car on the right has the right-of-way, right? So I waited to see if he would accept having the right-of-way, or if he would let me go first because I got there first. Well, how do I describe the fleeting nanosecond of time that allowed me to label him gentlemanly? We looked at each other, as drivers do, having a clear view of each other, and he smiled. Most people don’t smile. Most people glance absently and keep on driving, which is exactly what I did. But in the millisecond it took for me to cross the intersection, I realized that he smiled, and I mentally took a step back to see where my thoughts had automatically gone. And there they were, chiding my self for daring to believe that a male would actually smile at me. And if he knew me, really, he would not have smiled. He probably wouldn’t even have noticed there was a car in front of him. That’s how invisible I make myself feel.

I have an idea where and when these tapes started to play in my mind, and I know they’ll stay there unless I replace them with more positive affirmations of my self-worth, but the frustrating thing is that they’re still there. Even though I recognize them. Even though I consciously want to change them. How silly is it not to smile at a stranger who first smiles at you, when they’re safely in their vehicle and do not pose any sort of threat?

Now if it had been a harmless female person, my smile would have been (I like to think) automatic.

the Alex awards, part four

Favorite Vocalists, Female

#10 - Linda Eder. Sounds like Streisand...a little. I was introduced to her when I saw Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway.

#9 - Eva Cassidy. She died young or she'd still be belting it.

#8 - Amy Lee. Of Evanescence. Yes, she's a goth girl, but she's got some pipes.

#7 - Dusty Springfield. Her stuff just never gets old for me.

#6 - Diana Ross. I've been a fan since the Supremes. I even saw her in concert.

#5 - Annie Lennox. There isn't really anyone else that sounds like she does. And yes, she's quirky too. I like that.

#4 - Whitney Houston. Not the diva she once was, but when she was there, she was awesome!

#3 - Sarah McLachlan. Listening to her early CDs, you can really hear how mature her voice has become. I've seen her in concert like 10 times. Including Lilith Fair.

#2 - Linda Ronstadt. I know. It may surprise you. But there was a time when I could not get enough. Saw her in concert too. Have you heard the woman hold a note out to forever?

#1 - Karen Carpenter. This will not surprise anyone who knows me. But to me she had the most classic and versatile voice ever. And I still need her soothing sounds on occasion. Let's not forget that she was an awesome drummer too.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


I'm just going to throw this out here because it's on my mind. And I don't get any feedback by putting it in my journal.

Lately being at work is kind of like being at home—without television and children. There is so little to do that I have brought projects from home to keep myself busy. This is worrisome, because when it’s slow at the office (no telephone calls), it comes back to make us suffer later. No money comes in. And when no money comes and the accounts receivable is low, no bills get paid. Not only no bills, but no paychecks. I was pretty stressed about it on Tuesday.

That night when I opened my scriptures, I found myself in the book of Fourth Nephi, where the people are happy and content. And righteous.

And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned...And now, behold, it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people. And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them. And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.

And I realized that the only thing I really need to worry about is keeping the commandments of God. And everything else will take care of itself.

So I wondered what I needed to do that I haven’t been doing. I have three callings in my ward: 1) primary teacher, 2) visiting teacher, 3) music chair. Teaching primary is pretty easy. Visiting teaching, not so much. My companion and I have some sisters assigned to us who can be difficult to nail down. Sometimes I try to contact them, either by email or phone, and if they don’t call me back, I wait until the following month to try again. My problem with the two more difficult ones is that I don’t care about them like I should. They could be removed from my list and I would not care. In fact, I would be happy because I wouldn’t have to keep trying month after month to contact them and get an appointment that I don’t want anyway. Isn’t that horrible? I’m lacking in charity for these “dear” sisters.

And my third calling I have been avoiding altogether. I do not want to ask people to sing or play an instrument in sacrament meeting. I have no desire to fill up the calendar with musical numbers. I like listening to musical numbers when they are presented, if they are well done. But internally I am whining about why I have to have this calling at all. I don’t want it. I didn’t want it when it was offered to me, but I didn’t feel like I could refuse. And now I am stuck with it and I don’t know how to gain some desire to be obedient.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

example of ongoing struggle

Do you ever feel like your choices are restricted—that you can’t make a wrong choice no matter how hard you try?

I’ve been wanting to watch this movie, Imagine Me & You. It’s not what I should be watching, but lately I’ve had a screw that kind of attitude. I went to YouTube and can only find trailers and deleted scenes. Hulu doesn’t have it. It’s not available to watch online on either Netflix or Blockbuster. My only option seems to be to rent it. But that could get tricky. I live with my sister and her children. I have a DVD player in my room, but I rarely close the door to my bedroom. I have an “all are welcome” policy. So if the door closed, there would be suspicion. I could bring the rental to work and watch it on my computer, but then there’s all the trouble of making sure the boss is not around and feeling guilty for watching a movie at work. Is the blasted movie really worth all the trouble?

And, probably by the time the rental came I wouldn’t really be interested anymore, so I would have wasted one of my rentals.

Which brings me to another topic: this have-it-now, indulgent, instant-gratification, self-satisfying society in which we live. It’s irritating that I get these urgent needs to appease the Rachel in me. I think I just may have talked myself out of it. See new quote at right.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Rachel story, part 3

The following day, Rachel waited until the techs had left the office, then opened up the email inbox for alexandredumas in silent expectation. She was pretty sure there would be some sort of reply. When there wasn’t, she sat thinking. The sound of the furnace rumbled and blew out in the warehouse. The phones were quiet. She stood up and walked over to the front door and looked through the glass at the snow. There was no activity outside. It was silent and cold. She lifted her right hand and placed it flat against the glass, and the cold seemed to creep into her fingers and across the back of her hand.

“What are you thinking, Sara Rose?” she said aloud. “Are you wondering who I am? Are you wondering if it’s a joke?”

In her mind, she pictured the expression on Sara’s face as she read the message. She imagined her blue eyes… she thought they had been blue. With the glasses it was hard to tell, and she had never been able to look at them for very long. When she was looking at Sara, it was all she could do to focus on what she was saying, let alone help her brain understand what color her eyes were. But, let’s say they were blue… and those blue eyes, looking confused and bewildered, her mind ticking, naming off people who might have sent a message like that one. She imagined her showing her co-workers. Look at this, she heard her saying excitedly. I have a secret admirer.

Rachel wondered if she ever thought of the African violets that had arrived at her office one Friday afternoon about six months ago, with a cryptic note attached, leading her to a web site with a message board. Rachel had revealed herself then. She had admitted to sending the flowers. She had accepted Sara’s gracious appreciation, and then she had floundered at the silence afterward. She had invited Sara to lunch, and she had received no reply. Then her health had worsened. Then she had moved away.

“I want to know you… I just want to know you.”

The months in Utah had been productive. She had continued to write for two magazines, and was working slowly along on a novel. The poetry had been put aside. Events that usually inspired poetry had not been frequent. Usually it was a new fascination that caused it, or a frustration in a current relationship—something highly emotional. Usually she did not have to think about what to write. When poetry was available to her it bubbled over and spilled onto paper all around her. Right now the poetry muse was silent and she was content to work on the story ideas she had been thinking about. But she still had lots of poetry to publish. It was old enough that she felt removed from it. She felt like she could release it now, and not think about the contents of her brain and her heart and her stomach laid out on paper for the world to see. It was okay to let it go.

It was also time to clean her desk and go home for the day. She put away all of the floppy disks she used while writing, shut down the software applications on the computer, shut off the lights and locked the doors. It was icy cold outside, and she hugged herself as she walked across the pavement to her car.
At home, there was a message on the telephone from her sister, wanting to know if Rachel would like to come over for dinner. Melanie knew that Rachel might or might not eat anything if she was home alone. She also knew that Rachel could spend an entire evening not talking to another human being, except by email. Rachel switched on her computer as the phone began to ring. She picked it up, knowing it was Melanie again.

“Hi. Did you just get home?”

“Hi. Yes.”

“Get my message?”

“Just now.”


“I’m staying here tonight. I have some things to catch up on.”

“Okay. We’ll have some left over if you get hungry later.”


Rachel appreciated her sister. Melanie and her children were why she had moved here at all. When Rachel’s health had digressed, at was Melanie who offered to help her, to be there when no one else would be. Now that things were better, she was happy to be feeling more independent, and still have Melanie close by. It was comforting to know someone was there if she started to feel badly again. For now, she was content to have quiet time and her own space to work on her writing.

Rachel had dropped her mail on the hall table as she came in, and now she picked it up again. Among a few envelopes was a small package from Amazon. It was undoubtedly the book she had ordered, and she opened it. It had been recommended by a friend, a former co-worker back in San Jose. She opened it and read through the reviews on one of the first pages, then went to the couch and sat down. She was on page 20 when she realized how dark the room was. She leaned and switched on the lamp on the end table and saw her reflection in the television screen across the room. Her thoughts turned to Sara Rose.

Rachel had never considered herself as “fitting” into any particular category of people. In fact she had always considered herself a little odd. Not exactly eccentric, but very interesting and unusual. The trouble with that was, being interesting in the particular way she was, was not apparent to the casual observer, and she had met relatively few who were willing to dig deeper. Like many artists she knew, she felt misunderstood. She had written a poem about it once. She had compared herself to a book with a very plain cover. Though it was plain, the cover was not unattractive. It had a smooth and expensive binding, nothing flashy or fancy. It wasn’t too thick, and wasn’t too thin, and in fact something unusual happened when one began to read the book. The pages multiplied, so that the reader could never quite get to the end. But by the time the reader was involved in the story, he didn’t care, because he never wanted it to end. This would have been a marvelous thing, only because the cover was so plain and unadorned, very few people ever picked the book up at all. And sometimes there were those who opened the cover and read the first page, and it just didn’t appeal to them, so they’d put it down. It’s not that the story started slowly. These particular readers just didn’t quite understand what they were reading and didn’t care to try. For Rachel, this was okay. She didn’t want people around her who were confused and frustrated by her. She wanted understanding and acceptance. She wanted to be appreciated. She wanted to be valued for the fascinating story that she was.

It had been a good poem. Rachel was proud of it. And there were a few, among her admirers, who had understood it. She was fortunate to have admirers. There were just certain people, Sara Rose among them, whom she really wanted to hand the book to, and even open the first page and begin reading to them. She knew that if they would read a paragraph or two they’d want to keep reading. She didn’t necessarily mean for everyone to buy their own copy and study the book, but she did hope that certain people would at least want to read it and enjoy it.

Rachel had wondered about Sara’s life. She remembered her saying that she was planning to move back to New York. Had she lived there before? Was she moving alone, or with a boyfriend or husband? She was pretty certain Sara wasn’t married. She was also quite sure that if she was attached to someone, the someone was likely a male. She wondered if she liked her job, and what she did when she wasn’t at work. Did she go out with friends? Did she go to clubs? Did she drink and dance and laugh and enjoy life? She couldn’t imagine a person like Sara sitting at home waiting for her favorite television show to come on. Sara seemed to be a person who surrounded herself with people. Did she study people, like Rachel did, or did she just surround herself with friends who she could have a good time with? Was there drama in that circle of friends, or was everybody just content to hang out and look forward to the next weekend?

Rachel felt restless. She stood up and went to the kitchen where her computer was and turned it on, then wandered over to the cupboards and pulled out some crackers as it booted up. She pushed a few in her mouth, watching the screen. It took only a minute or so, and then she signed in to both messengers—one under her own name, and the other as Alexandre Dumas. Alex did not have any new messages. Rachel was not surprised, even though she had hoped. Rachel, however, did have a few messages, and she sat down with her box of crackers and scrolled through them.

As she sat there she imagined Sara coming home. The front door opened and closed and she called out a hello. Rachel ran her forefinger over the mouse button, listening.

“I brought dinner,” Sara called. “Are you hungry?” She appeared in the kitchen doorway, smiling and laden with pizza boxes. She set them on the counter as Rachel got up.

“Oh, thanks, that was nice.”

“I got your favorite,” Sara said. “Hawaiian with mushrooms.”

Rachel thanked her and opened the top box, pulling out a slice. Sara grabbed two plates and napkins and set them out on the counter. Then she pulled out a piece for herself and placed it on a plate. She busied herself with getting cups and filling them with ice water.

“So how was your day?” she asked.

“It was all right,” Rachel answered. “The usual. There was actually enough to do in the office so that I didn’t have a lot of time to write.”

“That seems unusual.”

“Yeah, I guess. How did your day go?”

“It was actually very relaxed. My dad was gone so he wasn’t looking over my shoulder all day. I went out to lunch with Katie. We went to that new Japanese place—you know the to-go place they put in on 10th Street? You and I should go there sometime. It was really good.”

“Sounds great,” Rachel said, chewing. “Thanks for doing this. I didn’t know what was going to be for dinner.”

“No problem.”

The phone rang. Rachel got up from her desk and looked at the display on the handset. It was a number she did not recognize. Probably a solicitor. She let it ring, and turned back to her computer screen. The apartment was cold. She went back to the living room, grabbed the book she had been reading earlier, and went to her bedroom where she could get under the blankets. She fell asleep a little after eleven.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Rachel story, part 2

Sara Rose was at her desk bent over a document when David approached. She had slid her glasses up onto her head, holding her reddish hair out of her face so that she could read. One hand held the corner of the page, ready to flip to the next. The other held a paper clip. It was turning and turning in her fingers.

“Hey,” he said, interrupting her.

She looked up impatiently.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “But did you get my email?”

“No,” she said, looking down again. “I haven’t checked my email. I’m kind of busy.”

“It’s kind of interesting,” he said, mocking her tone. “I think you’ll want to see it. We just got a message at the webmaster’s address for you.”

It didn’t take long for that to register in her mind, and she looked at him again.

“At the webmaster’s address…” she repeated. “Someone on the web page?”

“Apparently. Check it out.”

She turned to her computer and opened the message in her inbox and read its contents. To the beautiful Sara Rose. She sat staring at it, wondering who would do such a thing. All of her friends either had her personal email address, or the one at work.

“Why would someone do this?” she wondered aloud.

“Beats me,” said David. “Who is it?”

“No clue,” she said quietly. “Thanks, Dave.”

He chuckled and walked away, leaving her even more irritated than before. She opened a browser and brought up her Hotmail account, trying to think of how to reply.

“It was so embarrassing,” she said to Katie at lunch. “How many people saw that?” She took a bite of her sandwich and opened a can of soda. Katie was looking at a copy of the message that Sara had printed. “Well, since David is the webmaster, probably just David,” she said. “I don’t think he cares. He might tease you, but he won’t tell your dad.”

“I hope not. What is that?” Sara asked, pointing to some smooth syrupy substance in Katie’s lunch container.

“Oh, it’s honey-butter. I wanted it for the corn bread, but it spilled. So who do you think it is?” She put the page down on the table.

“I don’t know,” Sara said, chewing. “Do you think maybe it’s Seth? He likes to play pranks.”

“Why would he send it to DRA’s web site? He has your email address.”

“To throw me off. I don’t know.”

“Maybe it’s really a secret admirer. Maybe it’s someone you don’t know.”

Sara was not in the mood for this today. Thoughts of Daniel and the argument they had the night before were swimming around in her mind.

“Do you have a lot going on today?” Katie said, sensing the need to change the subject.

“Yes. That grant application is a thousand pages long. I’m not in the mood, and my dad wants it back this afternoon with my recommendation.”

“When did he give it to you?”

“This morning.”

Katie smiled in sympathy, her dark eyes seeing more than what was on the surface.

“Sara,” she said.

Sara looked at her.

“What else is bothering you?”

“Danny,” she said thoughtfully.

“What’s going on?”

“He’s having second thoughts about moving to New York. He’s having second thoughts about us.”

Katie looked down at her uneaten lunch. “I’m sorry. Do you want to vent?”

Sara considered that. “I probably should. I’m just snapping at everybody today. Let’s go for a walk.”

Thursday, April 02, 2009

waking up

Lately I feel like I’m waking up from a long hibernation. Maybe it’s spring, or the walks I’ve been taking in the cemetery after work, or the lack of sugar in my diet. Whatever the reason, I’m writing again. I think I’m finished mourning MJ. I can see her without feeling sad. I still would like to talk to her more, but it’s not an urgent, desperate thing like I’ve felt in the past. It comes right in time too, since she’ll be moving in a couple of weeks. She seems ready to go. Mentally she’s already separated herself from life in our small town. She’s ready to be on her own. And that is good and healthy.

So it took me about six months to work through it. I truly don’t know if that’s long or short. I’m just glad it’s subsiding.

Rachel story, part 1

Rachel Metz read through her article one last time, and hit the send button. She always agonized over her writing. She expected it to be thought-provoking and attention-grabbing, and so far the magazines had been pleased. She had been writing for the same two for a few years, and now she was trying to sell her poetry to a third.

It was a gray day, and cold, so unlike the milder California weather where she had recently lived. The little warehouse office was chilly, and she didn’t feel like hiking upstairs for the space heater. Now that the magazine article was written, she could waste a few minutes waiting to see if the telephone would ring. She was alone in the office today. The technicians would return late in the afternoon, to stack their completed service orders in her in-tray and go home. The paperwork would give Rachel work to do the following day. As it was, there wasn’t much else to do there but stay in touch with the magazines and keep writing. The owner of the little telecommunications company didn’t mind her doing her writing on the clock. It was what she loved and he just needed someone there to send invoices and pay bills and answer the telephone.

Rachel opened a web browser on the computer and went to her email inbox. It was mostly junk. There was a message from a clothing company telling her her order had been shipped, and one from the online singles community telling her they had found her some compatible matches. She doubted that. Their so-called compatible matches in the past had been less than desirable. She wondered if there could possibly be anyone in the world to match her.

It made her think of Sara Rose. Just the thought of her filled Rachel with longing and guilt. By all appearances, to her family and most of her friends, Rachel Metz was a young woman who wanted to find a husband and have children—a family. And in her heart, Rachel did want a family more than she wanted anything, or so she told herself. But there had been people like Sara Rose, whose presence made her hot and uncomfortable, who filled her with desire and restlessness, and made her doubt whether she would ever find a man who would make her feel that way. The last time they had talked, Sara had mentioned moving to New York City. It was why Rachel hadn’t thought of her much. But now she wondered if she was still in Sacramento. It was a fleeting thought that was growing more persistent by the minute.

She typed in the name of Sara’s father’s company in a search engine, and waited for the results. She had looked up this web site once before, after she had learned the name of the company, when she had first met Sara. She had needed to know the address in order to send her flowers...

She clicked the link and went to the web page, looking for any kind of contact information on the company’s employees, but there was nothing. At the bottom of the page, she saw an email address for the webmaster, and clicked the link. But what would she say? “Does Sara Rose still work there?” No, it needed to be more mysterious, more demanding, to deserve a reply.

Rachel had a couple of alternate email addresses, under aliases, that she used on occasion. Sometimes it was necessary to send email anonymously, like at the last company Christmas party, when the recipient of her gifts would have recognized her handwriting. She logged into Yahoo and typed in the last one she had used. But then she stopped.

Was “litlbluelf” a username that was going to impress someone beautiful and sophisticated like Sara Rose? Rachel frowned, her fingers hovering above the keyboard. No, she’d have to think of a new one; perhaps a famous writer… Emily Dickenson was too obvious. So was Virginia Woolf, though that may have been a closer match. But then she thought of a story, of a man obsessed with a woman of ill repute. It didn’t exactly mirror the situation, but she loved the story. She typed in Alexandre Dumas, and created the account. Then she composed the message. It didn’t have to be anything elaborate, just a sentence, something that would get her attention.

“To the beautiful Sara Rose,” she wrote in the subject line.

If you have any curious and ultimately insatiable desire for a pen pal, please write back...

a very ardent admirer

She wondered if it sounded like something a guy would write. She had never known a man as avid a writer as she was. How did they think? How did they woo a woman? If Dumas pursued women in real life the way he wrote about pursuing them, it would not be difficult for Rachel to mimic the behavior of his character Armand Duvall. It could be done. And how could Sara Rose resist it?

She scanned her message carefully, and hit the send button. Within a few minutes there was a reply in Monsieur Dumas’ new inbox. It was so soon that Rachel thought it might be an undeliverable message. She clicked the link to open it. It was from Sara Rose, at a Hotmail address.

who is this? also, please do not send messages intended for me to dra.


Rachel felt her stomach flip, and read the message again. It was hard to know if Sara was irritated or curious, but it clearly wasn’t friendly. It also revealed that Sara had not moved to New York City. Rachel quickly typed a reply.

Ah, sweet Sara... It was the only way I could find you... I'm sorry if it caused a problem. How are you today? I'm a wee bit bored, and I was thinking of you, and thought I'd try to find you. I'm insanely happy that you replied, even if you might be a bit suspicious. I can't tell you who I am. Do you mind? Will you still write if you don't know? I will be nice. I will be complimentary. I will be eloquent. I will be charming and engaging. But I cannot be revealing...

It was too much fun. Rachel was smiling when she hit send again. The chances were good that if she answered the first, she would answer the second. It would be thrilling to correspond with her, even if it was in secret. Maybe it was even more thrilling because it was secret. But would Sara become impatient with the secrecy and give up? Rachel was certain that she could keep her interested. She had thousands of readers all over the country, many of which had written to let her know how much they enjoyed her articles and stories. Rachel didn’t know Sara that well, but if she could entertain the masses, couldn’t she hook Sara Rose?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sara, continued

I don't know why I've been thinking about her lately. Maybe because she was the first...the first that actually wanted me back. It took her a while though. While she was contracting for my employer, she rarely expressed any interest. It wasn't until I moved away... It was sort of like an April Fools joke I played. I'll have to dig up the story I wrote about it...

encouragement helps

A certain supporter might be happy to know that my family left me alone last night. There were no children in my room after 9:00. I shut the door at the top of the stairs to block out the sound of the television and I wrote a couple of pages. I started over, and I like the direction it's going this time.