Saturday, January 31, 2009

Learning slowly

Pride is a sin, right? And not just any old sin, but one of the Seven Deadly Sins, caps required. I was raised Catholic, and though I consider myself to be in recovery, what I have taken from my Catholic upbringing is centered around the Golden Rule. I think that's a good rule of thumb for all of us.

So back to pride. One can be stubborn and harrumph their way around some of the stumbling blocks that life tends to toss in our general direction, but pride isn't really doing anyone any favors. It hides under the pretense of protecting one's dignity. There are arguments for that, I guess, but I'm learning slowly that they may not be making an impression on me.

Life is just way too short to be all pissy about things that really matter. Where will I be if I just dump what is important to me because I want to "win"? In the end, I lose. And if I don't look tough through all of this, then oh well. Maybe somebody out there will feel the impact.

Monday, January 26, 2009

You can't go back.

I've learned this, time and time again. When I got back from Mexico the first time, I didn't feel like I was done there yet. I wasn't ready, even though it was part of the plan. So when I came back, I constantly looked for ways to get back there. Even though I had a great job (again), with bonuses (always good, I miss them), a great apartment and no car payment, I kept looking past what I had right in front of me, searching for greener pastures. Ultimately, the opportunity arose for me to get back there, and even though I wasn't as financially set as I could have been, I did it.

And it wasn't the same. Not at all. I mean, I knew what I was getting into (well, sort of) and I knew I wouldn't be living the same carefree lifestyle. But living in Cancun that second time around, I learned what struggle could be, what frustration was, and how much I had left behind. Lessons one can only learn on their own.

A few years back, wow, maybe even ten years by now, I heard from an old boyfriend. He was about ten years older than me when we dated, and he was quirky and a little bit off balance and fun. He opened my eyes to a lot of things that I still treasure, and over the years I never forgot about him. When I heard he was in town, in Eugene, I took the chance and drove down to meet him for lunch. He was still him, but his quirkiness and lack of balance now seemed almost crazy and more than a little bit annoying. I felt like I had been the only one who had grown, and that made me sad. As I dropped him at the airport, the ticket agent asked if we were married. He seemed pleased at her assumption; I was mildly mortified. I still talk to him from time to time, briefly and sporadically, because I care about him, or maybe I just worry about him.

You can't go back. Things that were the be all to end all at one time in your life should just stay where they are, in the past, where you can look back at them happily, like little treasures, maybe twinged with a little bit of sadness. And if happens that you get a second chance at experiencing them again, you should remember that nothing is the same as it was before, through no fault of anyone or anything, and that you have two choices: walk away from it, or let it grow into something new.

Just don't ever think it will be the same as it was.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A thing to do today

I have a thing to do today that I can't really talk about but it's making me all nervous and flustery inside and it's been the focus of my thoughts all week so I broke my promise that I would blog more but I haven't been that focussed on anything else.


I'll be sane again soon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Story time

- I haven't had a lot of action lately, so I thought I might share some stories from my life. This one is generally a crowd pleaser. I am so happy people are amused. -

I had been a loan officer for a bank for about a year and a half prior to beginning my long and storied career in escrow. Part of my duties was to meet the potential borrowers at their homes, take their applications face to face, and do an appraisal of the property. So it wasn’t unheard of for me, on my first day working at Stewart Title, to be asked to take a signing at a customer’s home in NE Portland.

I wasn’t yet a notary, since it was my first day, and back then we were so busy that sometimes an officer might let someone else witness the signatures – obviously a member of the same company that employed that officer – and though it is not at all common practice, desperate times called for desperate measures.

So the client was a company located in northern California, their only contact with the borrowers via email or over the telephone. A very common practice, and one that insures that the borrowers probably aren’t going to be signing any predisclosures in the approval process. This leaves the job to escrow, and when the escrow officer and the borrowers finally meet, the stack of paperwork requiring signatures is huge. In this particular instance, the husband and wife were both in title to the property, but the wife was to be taken off title, and the loan was to be only in the husband’s name.

I loaded up the huge file and the notary log of the escrow officer for whom I was assisting and drove over to northeast Portland. The property was difficult to find: there were no house numbers on the building, and though I spotted what had to be the house, there really wasn’t much of a driveway. Just a dip in the curb covered with grass. That should have been my first clue.

My second clue should have been that when I got out of the car and searched for a gate in the fence that surrounded the property, the only thing I could find was a hole. It was big enough to climb through, but in fact it was just a hole. That’s when I spotted the borrower.

He was tall and sort of looked like Lurch with long hair, and he was standing on the inside of the fence, on a wooden deck near the front door. He called out to me, so I climbed through the hole in the fence and approached him to shake his hand. Like this is all just normal. And then his cell phone rang. He answered it, and apparently it was for me. That was really the first time I realized that this situation was not very normal.

I answered the phone, and it was the wife, calling, presumably, from inside. She told me that she knew she had to sign something, and that she had to show me ID, but that she had really bad teeth and didn’t want me to look at her. The little hairs on the back of neck started to prick up a little bit, so I told her, no problem we’d work it out. She hung up, and we went to the front door.

It was a tiny vestibule, just enough room for both of us, and when he shut the door to the outside, I noticed a sign on that door: SHUT THE DOOR! Just inside the tiny entry was another door, also with the same sign: SHUT THE DOOR! We opened it, and entered into the house. It was dark, and the door led to a long hallway that grew into total darkness as it neared the end. Very Stephen King. Just a few steps in and to our left, however, was the entry to the living room. From there, a doorway to the dining room, and beyond that, the kitchen. In the far wall of the living room was a sort of pass-through window that looked into the kitchen or out into the living room, depending on your position. He motioned to the dining room area, and I saw a credit card sitting on the table. It was not picture ID, and it was expired, but I started to get the feeling that I shouldn’t care. I jotted her name down, pulled out the deed I needed her to sign along with the notary journal, and turned around and left the room. After a few moments I could hear her retreating, and I turned to find the deed and notary journal signed.

That done, I faced the living room. It was gloomy with dark paneling and very cluttered. Along one wall was a full book case, and on that was a large-ish TV, with a video of a canary on a blue screen playing with a red ping-pong ball. Roughly six other smaller TVs lined the shelves, all playing the same video. On the top shelf was one of those static globes, were you touch it and the little static lights shoot up in it. No one was touching it but it was very active. There was a desk with a chair along another wall, and opposite that wall was an easy chair with an ottoman. He motioned me to sit in it, but I declined – for some reason I thought it would not be conducive to a fast getaway. I explained that he would be doing a lot of signing so he might want to be more comfortable. I considered the desk chair, but there was a grey (once white) bra hanging from the back of it and it kind of grossed me out. I stood instead, handing him the notary journal (again, expired, non-picture ID but shit who cared) and started passing papers to him.

Then I noticed the bird.

I realized I should probably take note of my surroundings, keep an eye on things, because I was starting to get really nervous in this freak show, and the bird didn’t actually have a cage. There was a perch above the easy chair, and an upside-down open umbrella under that. You know, to catch the bird shit. Obviously. The bird was a big parrot, and it had been quiet and still up until this point, but after I had gone through the closing statement with the borrower, the bird sort of fluffed its feathers and stretched. When it started flying around the room I lost interest in explaining anything this man was signing, and instead worked on just not getting hit in the head by the bird.

Meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement in the kitchen. Through the pass-through window I spotted hair – long and grey. Since I was standing I sort of leaned back a little, stealth-like, to see if I could spot the wife. I caught sight of her – she was standing and staring at me, holding her cigarette case up to her face to hider her mouth. When she spotted me, she hung back herself, hiding. I started to look under the furniture and bookcases to find the bodies of the real homeowners, all the while passing papers to the borrower and dodging the parrot.

Pretty soon I started imagining her grabbing a cast iron skillet and sneaking up behind me from that long dark hallway, hitting me over the head and leaving my body to rot with the other people that had befallen this house of horrors. I started to sweat. At this point I was just rifling papers at the husband, whose name was something like Jeremiah Sebastian Jehosovitz III or something horrific, and it just took him forever to sign it, and seriously the stack of papers he had to sign was easily three inches thick. So while shooting papers rapid fire at him, not wanting to lose sight of his wife, ducking every time the bird made a complete lap of the living room, and all in the back ground was this crazy canary video on several TVs with the sound at a low murmur, you can imagine my panic. I remember I was wearing a knit skirt and top ensemble, hosiery and 3-inch pumps (I certainly don’t dress like THAT anymore!), and I was sweating so bad that the knit started to get heavy and stick to my legs and back. It was brutal. Sweat was literally running down my legs and arms, down my neck, into my eyes. I started feeling clammy and really panicky and pretty soon there were papers flying all over the place. I thought it would never end.

But it did, and I gathered up all of my things and thanked them, didn’t wait for him to get out of the chair, turned around and bolted out of the house, closing the doors as instructed as I went along. I dove through the hole in the fence and out onto the street and threw everything in my car. I drove in first gear for four blocks in no discernable direction at about 35 miles per hour, pulled over and chain smoked three cigarettes in a row. My hair was a halo of frizz around my head and my mascara had pooled down my face and heavy under my eyes. I looked like something from Rocky Horror. I finally made it back to the office, and stopped everyone in their tracks when I walked in. I was quite a fright – enormous hair, black eyes, clammy wet skin, and my knit skirt stretched to my ankles.

It was my first day, and I didn’t want to complain, so I busied myself with the send back and told everyone I would explain later.

Later, the wife phoned and explained to me that she was agoraphobic and that I was the first person besides her daughter and of course her husband that she had seen in eight years.

Of course.

Sunday sunshine

Theresa mentioned the sweater machine, and I suppose I should update you all on that whole situation. So the dang thing came (like, before Christmas obviously, but it took for flipping ever because the seller on eBay found 1000 reasons NOT to ship it, all just stupid to me, but finally it came and Angela figured out that it needed an extra part to make sweaters that fit people, and not just dogs. I think the part was cheap though.), and I told Angela to try it out at home and see how easy/hard it might be. She intended to make her son (and stepson? I don't know the family dynamic, frankly, I just know there are teens in the house. Teens with some sort of social disabilities or something. They're on meds. It could be ADD, who knows. I don't keep track.) a sweater for Christmas (which opened up a whole discussion from another person in that office who raised two kids who were once teens and is now raising her grandson who isn't quite a teen but will be soon, about how no teen wants a hand knitted sweater for Christmas and how those boys just don't stand a chance walking around school in something obviously handknit, etc.). Then Angela, in an effort to be proactive about her employment, took a job with the state of Oregon and doesn't work here anymore. She has the machine. I have her email. I am not worried about it too much, because she's in touch with others, I just really need to buckle down and call her to discuss yarn and stuff. My friend Marsha is moving to Scappoose, which is where Angela lives, so perhaps I will have more reason to motivate myself to get out that way. Perhaps. Anyway, that's the sweater machine situation, and just for the record I have purchased about four sweaters since I paid for the machine so you can see how I am sort of flighty. It's cool, it's kind of how I am.

So yesterday that Tracy and I went to the Gem Faire (and yes, they all wore regular street clothes and there was neither a turkey leg nor a pan flute in sight)(but really, who knows what was hidden under those tables) and I bought a shiva lingam (stone) and almost bought a couple of Oregon sunstones but took the info for the jeweler instead and perhaps will see about getting some earrings made, who knows, remember my flighty-ness. It was a nice two hours, and later I ran some errands (oddly enough the Hillsboro Winco does not have nearly as many latinos as the Beaverton one, but I still got my good coffee!), and read the rest of the day away. I need to get to the bookstore and get a couple of books I have been needing to read, most notably the new Wally Lamb, and perhaps book four of that blasted vampire situation.

But tonight, TONIGHT, is finally the season premier of Big Love, and though I might be having an early dinner with Paul Paul Butterball from Farrell's days of yore (don't even ask me for an explanation if you are not from around these parts or didn't know of me before 2004), rest assured I will be DVRing it just in case. It's pretty sad when that is what I am looking forward to the most today, but really, as soon as I am done with this post I will be cleaning the kittens' bathroom and that is no picnic. There's a lot of mopping involved, and then the get-down-on-your-hands-and-knees scrubbing. Those kitties. Constantly licking their fur and each other's asses, but ask them to keep the litter inside the box and it's like asking them to dig a hole in the back yard and make me some cochinita.

It's still sunny out and I have tomorrow off, and though I am still holding my breath waiting for our out-going president to pass some last minute 11th hour law like overturning Roe v Wade or "no TV on the Sabbath", I am feeling pretty optimistic about things in general. Let's hope I don't lose that glow. I think it's good for everyone.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

There are pounding sounds coming from the fireplace.

It's actually more like a booming sound. Like the neighbor three stories up is opening and closing the flue. Or there is some kind of beast knocking around in there. Now, if I HAD a neighbor three stories up (my building only has two stories) I wouldn't be as mildly concerned as I am. My disposition is such that I am pretty sure I could convince myself that whatever it is that is making that noise is animal and not in a good way. Like a rat. Or a huge spider from the Amazon that came back in my neighbor's suitcase. But Rational Joyce says it probably isn't, and I've seen my neighbor and really doubt she would travel to the Amazon. So I have decided that walking away from the fireplace really is the best solution, since I am not really sure if my own flue is open, and every time I try to check I come away with black, sooty hands and I don't like that. So I walk away. And blog, like I said I would do more of, and haven't. So here I am. Blogging. Wow.

Today I am meeting that Tracy, who is quite pregnant, and going to the Gem Faire (love that extra "e" at the end there. It almost makes you think the vendors will be wearing pointy hats with flowing fabric and knickerbockers and knee socks. They won't be, I've been to a Gem Faire before. They're just wearing regular clothes). I like to go because now and again I stumble upon some good crystals. I think my spiritual side is lacking and I need to beef it up. Plus I haven't seen Tracy since she caught pregnant, and it'll be fun. I hope she doesn't like collapse on me or something. She's been working crazy hours and though everyone tells her not to, she isn't much listening. I worry about pregnant women working too hard. I'm not pregnant and I get tired just talking about it.

I have noticed we're in a baby-trend right now. I have some friends and co-workers who have either recently had babies or are currently pregnant, and it seems every event I go to lately is baby-themed. This isn't a bad thing, though I have never been maternal (well, there was that one time in Louisville back in the mid '90s, but that could have been the alcohol talking). Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like had I gone down that road. But I don't really wonder for very long because the very idea of it horrifies the crap out of me. So we'll leave that to the people who would put their children's need for shoes over their own personal desire for a new handbag, and leave it at that. We're all individuals.

I hate to bitch about the cold, what with the midwest going through a ridiculously cold winter, temps in the minuses for a high and all that, but it HAS been pretty cold here, too. Luckily no precip (which means it has been sunny, and that is good for me and my psyche), but still, I don't wear a coat when I know it is going to be either sunny or not raining, and at 7am in the cold dark of morning I just freeze my ass off waiting for the car to warm up (driving 55 mph down Murray usually kick-starts it). But my house retains the cold and right now I can barely feel my fingers. And the heat is even on. It's hard to not be sick of it.

So I am looking to rebuild my non-work-related karma (my work-related karma I think is looking pretty good right now) and trying to do more stuff with friends. I mean what few friends I have left (I'm not bitter, it really is mostly my fault, what with the whole hermit thing I have going on here)(well, wait, you know what, it really ISN't mostly my fault, it really all started with somebody else, and then just sort of continued from there, perpetuated by me deciding to only drink in other countries and not really wanting to be involved with the person that started it all though my other friends did. So I won't PIN blame on anyone, it just is, and that's totally fine with me, like I said, I'm not bitter). Facebook has been kinda cool, being back in touch with people from days of yore, and some of those people are actually nearby, so it's kind of fun thinking about taking it to the next level. The "next level" being face-to-face chatting. Interesting.

So my goals for right now are interact with the people I WANT to interact with more than I was before, blog more, crystal shop at the Gem Faire and work on my not-work karma. Not in that specific order, but, you know. Oh, and go to Mexico. I need to do that soon. I have like 4 readers left. I had more when I was actually traveling. And maybe I should cut down on the Saturday morning caffeine, because frankly I am a little afraid to go back and proofread this post. It might be a little all over the map.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another icon of my youth says farewell

Ricardo Montalban has left this earth.

I'm that generation that watched "Fantasy Island" Saturday nights (after "The Loveboat" of course) growing up. Ricardo was probably my first introduction to "persons who sounded different than me". Add to that the tropical island, madcap vacation adventures and abundant fruity drinks and you might say that he was a fairly big influence in my life. Go figure.

But like all fallen icons in my past, I have a little bit of sadness and remembrance to carry with me today.

Rest in peace, Señor. May your casket be lined in fine Corinthian leather.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Words for the sake of them

Oh there really isn't much to report. The weather warmed up to it's more normal mid 40s, and it rained, but not to the extent that it did in Washington. Good Lord. Did you guys see any of that? I-5 closed and houses under water. They had predicted the Portland area would be hit with the same rain fall, but luckily we were spared.

I worked downtown all week, and I do love that, all except for the drive, which is somewhat painless (when it's not snowing and icy) despite being far. I am back in Beaverton this coming week. It means nothing in terms of sleeping in, but at least the drive is shorter.

Today will be a day of errands and chores and I am up for that. I think my motivation is starting to gear up a little bit - when I left the office on Thursday and Friday it was still a little bit light out. That gives me hope for longer days. The darkness of winter gives me the blues.

I am in the mode of getting a Mexico trip in, and also of blogging more. I think that my blog is only interesting and/or entertaining when I have completed some sort of vacation adventure or bitching about something, and not doing anything doesn't give me anything to bitch about (except for trying to understand exactly what it is that is making my kitchen faucet leak only SOMETIMES). Blogging sort of exercises my mind but it's kind of a drag when all it is is drivel. At any rate, I intend to be around more, drivel or no.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy New Year and all that

I never make resolutions. But I think my plan for this year is to actually DO something. You know, something to write about. Some kind of adventure. Or vacation or something. Like the kind where you fly somewhere and get tan and then fly back and wear yellow so people will be jealous.

I was in bed, as is the tradition, by 11pm on NYE. I've got kind of a "What difference does it make?" kind of attitude going on right now. I need some excitement, something to mix things up. Banging pots and pans at midnight on NYE didn't seem like that "something" as it would only alienate the kittens to me more.

My cuñado Paul, of Last Great Road Trip-fame, is still planning his Baja trip, but I think he is having issues with getting a passenger or two due to the media coverage of people getting the shit shot out of them south of the border. It's a bummer because I would like to meet him whereever he ends up (at a resort of some type, you know, with a pool and a beach and some frosty beverages). I'd consider being the passenger but it doesn't guarantee any real sun-time and I would need to take a lot of time off work, and I am not sure I can do that. So we'll see. That would definitely be something different. I wish someone would just come up to me and say, "you know, you've lived a good life so far, you're nice (somewhat) (now), have all this money." but I'm not really expecting it to happen. I dig that whole power-of-positive-thinking thing, but a girl has to be realistic.

I was thinking about blogging about all the fun and fabulous things I did this last year, but really I didn't have much to go on. One Mexico trip (FOR. EVER. ago) and that trip to visit Mexico Way/My Guey up in Vancouver. Where did I lose my spirit? When did I start worrying so much about money? Maybe that will be my plan for this year - quit flipping worrying about shit and let it take care of itself. It always has before.

So Happy New Year and all that. It's going to be a good year, I think. Positively.