Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lady in Waiting

I'm like a dragonfly today, flitting about from spot to spot, landing here and there for a moment or two.  Although now, at this last spot, I'm done flitting.  It's a little after 5:00 and I just dropped Camille at dance.  I'm in Starbucks - nestled within a Barnes and Noble - and now I Wait. 

Sometimes I like this feeling of having several hours to kill - all to myself - with the excuse of Waiting.  But tonight I'm not enjoying it.  That's because I'm not writing - I just finished a scene in my novel and now I'm at that horrible Between Scenes Phase where contemplating the next scene is completely overwhelming and so I just sit here feeling guilty and overwhelmed and like I could very well be dying of failure. 

I'm not dying, by the way.  Not from failure and not from skin cancer.  I know that because my first stop of the day was the dermatologist's office where I learned the multitudes of spots on my body are JUST Age Spots - like anything with "age" in it can be preceded by "just" in this mid-life crisis of mine. Camille enjoyed the dermatologist's office and gleefully examined all of the posters on the wall, mightily exclaiming that my frown lines were "A three at least, Mama!" on the scale of 1 to 3, and extolling the virtues of Botox.  "You should get that, Mama! It says here it's virtually painless!" 

"What?  And risk looking like Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses? I think not!"  Camille looked at me like I was insane because I so clearly was.  Also she doesn't know who Jennifer Aniston is nor has she seen Horrible Bosses.  "And besides," I added.  "Nothing worthwhile is ever virtually painless."

Camille disagreed and spent the rest of the doctor's visit naming Painless and Worthwhile Things to Do. 

After leaving the dermatologist's office with wrinkles and age spots in their original and upright positions, we hopped in the car and Camille said, "I don't need a boy to make me happy, Mom!" which is her way of asking me to pop in a Taylor Swift CD.  We listened to Taylor sing about kissing in the rain and throwing pebbles at windows all the way to Payless, where we intended to buy Camille some intact and hole-free tights.  After snatching the last two pairs off the shelf we hit the register, where we were told by the clerk that the computer was re-booting.  "Okay," we said.  And then we stood there watching the clerk watch the computer screen while obviously resenting the fact that we had nowhere else to be.

"This might take a while," he said.

"Okay," we said, because really, what else were we to say?  We did not fully realize the implications of rebooting a Payless computer.  Fifteen minutes later the clerk said, "Okay. Cash or charge?"  Like I hadn't been mildly to moderately inconvenienced by the fifteen minutes of seriously awkward silence I'd suffered while pretending to look at slipper-socks. He should have given us the tights for free but gone are the days where anybody gives a rat's ass about customer service.

THEN (are you still with me?) we walked down to the craft store.  Co-op is tomorrow and we needed to buy some supplies for sewing and art.  I am not the Sewing or Art Mom, by the way, I'm the Let's All Sit in a Circle and Discuss Literature Mom.  Although I also do History with the younger kids and before I left the house this morning I had made 3 batches of sugar cookie dough to become crumbling Roman pillars in the come to think of it, I am kind of awesome, actually. 

Anyway - the craft store.....was also a somewhat awkward experience.  It was in an older strip mall and it just seemed old and ancient and sad and gloomy and depressing.  It was as if every Cat Lady Who Needlepoints Or Arranges Silk Floral Funeral Wreaths Within a 60-Mile Radius had left bits and pieces of her aura in there.   All of the Halloween stuff was already 50% off and it looked like it had been sitting there since last Halloween.  Even Camille, who goes bonkers for anything remotely Holiday Retail couldn't muster up much enthusiasm.  She just lifted up a pumpkin or a witch here and there while saying, "Hmmm..."  I don't think she actually Asked To Buy Anything which was further proof that some kind of weird magnetic current was running beneath that store. 

There were just a few other customers, most of whom were plodding along pushing squeaky carts as if maybe they'd been in there pushing squeaky carts for decades; like we were in some sort of hellish crafter's version of Hotel California.  We found what we needed (sketch pads, embroidery thread and pencils) without tossing anything fun! and extra! into the cart.  I think if we HAD found something fun! and extra! to toss into the cart, Don Henley would have started singing, We haven't had that spirit here since 1969..."

Speaking of 1969, the music wasn't helping the mood in the old craft store.  I'm not sure how you'd classify what they were playing.  It wasn't Classic Rock or 80's Cool or 70's was just old music that reminded you of that time you had to sit in the doctor's office waiting for your back-to-school booster shots.  We're talking an old Elton John piece I couldn't quite place and I Kid You Not...the Monkees.  Now don't hate me for dissing the Monkees.  Hey Hey We're the Monkees...that's all fine and dandy.  But this was that weird Daydream Believer and a Homecoming Queen song that you never really understood. 
The cashier was talking to herself (how could she not?) a LOT.  Like seriously, a lot.  Camille was fascinated.  Initially, Camille tried to answer her and politely reply to the comments and questions before she realized she wasn't the person being addressed. 

"Let's see...embroidery thread...what's this color?  Oh, Flamboyant red's the barcode...bleep! That one's done.  What's this?  A sketch pad a sketch pad a sketch pad...oh and another one I see....into the bag...what's next what's next what's next...and now we're almost done...." 

All of this was mumbled. When she finally gave me the total I didn't realize she was speaking to me and Camille had to poke me in the ribs.  We got out of there just in time... Seriously.  I think if we had lingered one more minute we would have become permanent fixtures...scarecrows maybe, or possibly cake toppers.

We felt yucky and depressed after the Craft Store Experience, and being girls, that made us hungry. We needed something cheap.  I named all of the usual cheap places as we got in the car and none of them sounded good to Camille.  We pulled onto the freeway and tried to ignore the looming Chick-fil-A sign.  Camille, a non-vegetarian child, made the decision months and months ago to never set foot in a Chick-fil-A due to their stance on gay marriage.  A good chunk of our friends are Gay/Lesbian (in fact, we seem to have our own personal League of Lesbians) and Camille decided it was Just Wrong to eat at Chick-fil-A.  But the sign loomed ahead, nonetheless, and it was super duper Conveniently Located and and when I looked in the rear view mirror I saw that Camille was drooling.  "Do you...umm...want a Chick-fil-A sandwich?" I asked somewhat sheepishly.

"Yes," Camille whispered. 

And before you knew it we were parking the bus in a compact spot right by the WE'RE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS sign.  We did our best to look White and Christian as we opened the door, and I did a better job of it than Camille I'm just sayin'.  Other people were just lolling about eating their chicken sandwiches with no sense of shame whatsoever, like nudists on a nude beach...and we did our best to fit in...Yeah, that's right, we often frequent homophobic anti-gay rights establishments....Yo! 

After ordering (and yes, I ordered a chicken wrap even though I DON'T EAT CHICKEN because hey y'all - I was already in a freaking Chick-fil-A hatin' on the homos and so I might as well eat factory-farmed meat while I was at it and THAT'S HOW IT ALL STARTS I'M SURE) I headed in to the bathroom.  It sparkled.  It smelled good.  There was plenty of toilet paper.  Wow! I thought to myself.  Christians really are better than the rest of us! 

There were signs everywhere explaining that they were CLOSED ON SUNDAYS AND SHAME ON YOU FOR WANTING TO EAT OUT IN A FAST FOOD ESTABLISHMENT ON A SUNDAY INSTEAD OF GOING TO CHURCH and I found that a tad bit annoying.  You don't see Kosher Delis explaining enthusiastically that they're closed on the Sabbath (even though they are) as Proof That They Love God.  There was unfamiliar music playing so I assumed it was Country but then I realized it was Actual Christian Music of the kind they play at the homeschool skate days that we don't attend and I listened to it with an Open Mind but it only reminded me of that South Park Episode about Faith Plus One.  Camille and I ate in companionable and guilty silence while thinking, Damn but those Christians make a good chicken sandwich...

Next?  We headed to Krispy Kreme.  We had another hour to kill before ballet and they're right Smack Down The Street from the ballet studio - which seems somehow cruel, if you ask me.  We weren't either one hungry but we both managed to slam down a cream-filled doughnut while listening to 80's Dance Music that did not make us sad and out of sorts.  "This is the Bangles," I said. 

"Cool," Camille said.

Then we sat and read until it was time to go. 

I dropped Camille off at the studio and she did her usual Goofy Routine of crying and clinging and acting like she'd never see me again while People Watched.  She especially likes it when People Watch. She thinks she's hilarious, but really, the People often look alarmed.  Then she skipped off down the sidewalk and I watched her with that little bit of sadness that I've somehow carried around since Ellie Left For College.

With the looming Free Time resting firmly on my shoulders, I cruised by the nearest locally owned coffee shop.  I peaked through the windows and was disgusted to see that all the good seats were taken, leaving only the stupid cold aluminum seats in the middle of the room where everyone who walks by can look at your laptop screen and discover you're writing smut - if you're lucky enough to be able to kick out the smut on that day.  If not, they see that you're just wasting time on the Eff-Book - which is just as embarrassing.  Normally, I would have done the stiff upper lip thing and gone inside anyway but What The Heck, people - I'd already eaten Actual Chicken at a Freaking Chick-fil-A so I figured I might as well head on over to Starbucks where all the good seats were also probably taken but at least everyone wouldn't seem so smug about it.  I can't even remember why I quit going to Starbucks - I'm sure I felt very strongly about it at the time - but as I've already pointed out, I'm shedding principles right and left.

So here I sit. I walked through the book store to see if either of the Two Comfortable Chairs were available, but they were not.  I passed back through the aisles, noting that Rob Lowe has an autobiography on the shelves, thereby confirming my opinion that Rob Lowe believes himself to be Worthy of an Autobiography. I thought to myself that I missed the hell out of my Borders, where they had more than two comfortable chairs and lots of cozy spots to sit on the floor. I'm sipping a tall Americano that is already making my hands shake, and avoiding my novel by blogging.  I look industrious, though.  I really do.  Type, type, type....

I saw an Honest to God Exhibitionist here one time but no such luck tonight.  She had been pretending to read while sitting and facing the room in a short skirt with no underwear and her legs, predictably, apart.  I was obviously Between Scenes and not writing or I wouldn't have noticed her.  It appeared I was the only person who did notice her, and that seemed particularly lame.  I wanted to somehow acknowledge her efforts but couldn't think of a way to do so...clapping seemed inappropriate. There are students here tonight, a guy who keeps falling asleep, a guy who keeps clicking his pen and when I kill him in a moment nobody will blame me, and a girl meeting with a geometry tutor who seems just as confused as she is.  There are a lot of tables with a single person at them - people who are killing time....or people who come here to be alone with other people. 

And I'm here...a lady in waiting. But waiting for what...I can't exactly say. 


  1. I didn't get all the way to the end --got to the point where you had the Ellie Left For College feeling --but what I read was classic, so very entertaining while my preschooler sneezes milk on my arm.

  2. Brilliant as always.
    I love your wacked out brain.

  3. Although one of your longest ones, I think that this may be my favorite post out of you. Well, besides that RHCP one that I "easily" breezed right though.
    I enjoyed your boring day and what you got out of it. Oh, and by the way, sorry that you're getting old and stuff. Not one age spot on me yet. But then again, I had the good sense to be born black and in the North. You really should plan more carefully next time.
    Anyway, Chick-fil-A has the best sandwiches. I know, I practically cry each time I dig into one. I feel so bad for "my people" but what can I do?
    And you know what, I think that you ARE putting down the Monkees. Sure, you try to play it like you're not but I hear you loud and clear. Shame on you! Mickey Dolenz had a cool voice. You're just jealous.
    Oh, and in regards to that Exhibitionist, you weren't just sitting facing a mirror were you?

  4. Oh God - Dinster - I love it that you told me how far you got. I didn't even know this one was all that long but apparently it is?

  5. A couple of thoughts
    1) Hobby Lobby is also Christian-ly owned. I figured this out when I heard a Muzak version of "Bringing in the Sheaves" and then a jazzy version of "It Is Well With My Soul". (And the latter was soooooo wrong.)
    2) Probably you don't have to be Christian to work at Chick-fil-a, but I'll bet they get a dose of evangelism while making those waffle fries.
    3) Age spots. Yeah, don't have those. Have other stupid things like diabetes, high bp, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and a couple of others you don't want. Be happy it's JUST AGE SPOTS.
    4)Barnes and Noble on NE Loop 410 has awesome chairs and plenty of them.

  6. Well, what a nice post to read instead of preparing my classes for tomorrow and going to bed while my sick boy is taking a break from puking himself inside out! I am so ready for the next one! Oh and sorry to read you're still feeling down with Ellie gone. How is she doing in college? Not fed up with it yet?

  7. this makes me sad and tired and generally melancholy. especially the part about the girl with no panties.

  8. It was long, but I read it all. And forgot what my comment was. So... sorry.