This last week was kind of a whirlwind for me, and we just arrived back home from Cosmopolis last night, so the brain, she isn't functioning so good. Let's just poke around, blather on a bit, and see what comes out.

Tuesday was, as I have already covered, my first practice with a barbershop chorus. I found the singing exhilirating, but that might just be due to the fact that I am no longer used to pacing my breathing and nearly passed out twice. My blood was all hoopy with the sudden rush of oxygen. I liked the chorus so much that I am going back tonight for more of the same. The prospect of old ladies, christmas jazz tunes, and weird bend-and-stretch exercises to "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" have got me stoked. *

* This is an aside regarding the previous paragraph, although it is really more of an unnecessary break to tell you unnecessary details in what would otherwise be a more linear narrative..... Since Tuesday night, I have become very aware of everything about myself that is little-old-lady. Is it possible to find myself endearing? I am planning knitting and crocheting projects, I am singing barbershop, I keep finding individually wrapped mints in the bottom of my purse that I pilfered from restaurants, I have taken to the comfort of wearing cardigans and scarves indoors, I referred to people in their early twenties as "nice kids" last week, and I have been checking my pulse regularly. I will rock my golden years with the mad skillz I acquire practicing all of this ahead of time.

Thursday, I got some extra work through a book publishing industry organization, which also thrilled me to pieces. I have never been so happy with my employment as when it was book-related. I have worked in a bookstore, updated a database of locally published books and authors, and researched background materials for an award-winning author. When I was a kid, I used to sit in as librarian in our little church library after the worship service. I am so happy to have the opportunity to be near books again that I feel like the poster child for one of those "Happiness Is..." collectibles from the 1980s. **

** Another unnecessary break in the narrative about my last week: In 1982, I had an eyeglasses case that had the sentence "Happiness is... kissing friends" on it, and I was too mortified by it to ever take it out of the house. I was nine years old, and the thought of the teasing I would have to suffer if that word and I were found in close proximity to each other horrified me.

Where was I? Right, we were at Thursday, which brings us to Friday, which is when the Fiery One got the process started that makes me a transcriber for documentary television. Woot! I have voluntarily chosen to take an extra job sitting through hours of interview footage, stopping and starting a VHS tape three kajillion times so that I can write down every last audible word and sigh and harumph. The work is good, because I can do it at home when I want to and without the evil that is coworkers, but my gad, the hell I remember enduring the last time I did this, inching through five hours of interview tape recording a group of gypsies that didn't speak English who had to rely on a translator who was completely racist against gypsies and an interviewer who fell asleep next to the recorder and snored over some of the talking, should have scared me off. (Oh dear, that run-on sentence was much worse than usual. Mea culpa).

What's Latin for "Schmutzie needs extra cash, stat"?

Also, Friday was the day I went up to Cosmopolis to hang out with friends and family, which I had not done in a few months. Although I miss that city like mad and the people in it, I always have what would best be described as a yo-yo of a time. Excited, sad, joy, nostalgia, frustration, lust, exhaustion, inspiration. It's what's for dinner.

For instance, take Sunday morning. The Fiery One and I uncharacteristically agreed to go to church with my parents. My mother asks us to go every time we visit, and we have declined for about three years running, so I thought it would be a nice gesture to ignore what I feel about it and just go for once. It started out quite nice. The hymns were familiar but difficult to sing, so I had fun trying to work out the spasmodic alto lines while my father sang bass and poor old Fiery was left to his un-Mennoed broken humming while he tried to decipher the melody line between the two of us.

It didn't stay so nice, though, changing just before the sermon at the half-way point. The choir was singing some song that I kind of recognized, the director was the guy who led my touring choir in high school just before his nervous breakdown, the pastor's beard was whiter than I remembered, the wooden alpha and omega wallhangings were still flanking either side of the stage, Renak had the same mushroom cut she has always had, and the old brown hymnals were looking more worn but smelling the same; the carpeting, tiling, paint, wood, pews, chairs, offering table, church bulletins, coat hangers, yard, dirt parking lot, and bathrooms made it feel as though I had stepped back seventeen years. I would never want to have to revisit religion at fifteen, but there was a painful nostalgia that took hold of me all the same. The smallest changes were excruciating pinpricks: the choir director's greying hair, the pastor's deeper stoop, the wear on the carpet at the end of each pew, the new and unfamiliar blue hymnals that smelled too sweet.

It hurts to be so far away from my past, even though it is a past I would rather leave there and a life I do not want to re-enter. I keep saying goodbye and goodbye and goodbye. My past is a lover I cannot leave for fear of becoming something else. It's a cloying friend who perpetually reminisces about old times as though they are an acceptable substitute for a present they have no stake in.

Speaking of the latter, an ex-friend, who raises the bar for being fake and leaves me feeling like I need a bath, kept holding my hand and telling me I looked great and saying how crazy it was that we haven't gotten together in the four years since I moved away. It has actually been twelve years since we called each other personally to hang out, but what's a difference of eight years? I kept taking my hand back, and she kept picking it up moments later, squeezing it to emphasize the rising pitch of her voice at the end of every sentence. It's been soooo LONG (squeeze)! Why haven't we gotten together in all these YEARS (squeeze)? You look so GOOD (squeeze)! Ick, ick, and ick. I have completely learned my lesson about going to church, or at least that particular one. Fawning and groping and faked eye-squinty smiles and adopted looks of feigned curiosity should not have to be voluntarily endured by anyone.

Monday involved a lot of eating, a long bus trip back to Cityville, and coming home to find out that Oskar, our kitten, faired quite well without us. In fact, he acted like we hadn't even been gone. It was a little disappointing. Secretly, I was kind of hoping that he would cry and cling and purr and lick, but after his usual hellos he went about his typical yowling and flinging himself about and trying to wreck shit under the influence of his KILL KILL KILL instinct.

And now it is Tuesday after an excellent preceding week and long weekend. The PMS commences with the bloating and the crying jags and the sore bosoms, so go click on what I tell you to click on, and then do it every day, or I will bloat obscenely and cry most pathetically and someone else's boobs will truly suffer. It's true.

Go to the breast cancer site and click on the pink "Fund Free Mammograms" button. Do it every day and fund free mammograms for underprivileged women.

Lost Woman