Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cosmic Pizza Bites The Dust

It’s not Cosmic Pizza that I mourn so much as the miniature golf course that was behind it. I come from the land of giant miniature golf courses, a land where miniature golf is a sport unto itself, a land known as Southern California, and growing up (me, not California), we had our choice of labyrinth-like courses to choose from. These were not courses to be trifled with. There was always a profusion of greenery, and winding paths, and tricky holes. I thought then that this was normal, that everyone had access to such wonders, and it was only when I left home at the age of 18 that I discovered such was not the case.

In Louisiana, one of my first away locations, there was a miniature golf course, which was called putt-putt instead of miniature golf, and it consisted of a few holes on a flat course with green felt and a few pieces of crockery scattered about. I felt immensely sad when faced with this poor imitation. My experiences elsewhere were no better.

When charming husband and I moved to our new location just over two years ago there was a miniature golf course attached to Cosmic Pizza, just a few blocks away from our new house. It didn’t meet the standards of the miniature golf courses of my youth, but it was something, after all, which is certainly better than nothing, and while small, it had a few little hills to break the monotony. We only saw it from the street while driving past to our new house on the day we moved in, but I thought to myself, “Self, now there’s a place I need to visit.”

Two days later Cosmic Pizza and its miniature golf course were closed.

Every time we drove by it was a sad reminder of the decline of our society and the inevitable collapse of civilization as we know it. Or maybe it was just another business out of business. One or the other, you choose.

Eventually Cosmic Pizza, which was not shaped anything like a normal building but instead had a large circular front, was vandalized. Plywood went up to cover broken windows. Pieces of it started disappearing. The miniature golf course sat forlornly behind it, also losing pieces of itself.

And then the chain link fence went up.

And then the golf course, such as it was, was dismantled.

And then Cosmic Pizza itself.

And now there’s a new building going up in its place. It looks like a rectangle. And I see no sign of a miniature golf course.

And this is a good thing, right? Because we certainly don’t have enough rectangular buildings without miniature golf courses around, do we? Can we ever have enough of those?


And so I mourn for the course I never got to play on, if by mourn we mean I say, “Well, shoot,” then go on about my life.

I’d like to be all torn up about Cosmic Golf (typing “Cosmic Pizza and its miniature golf course” became too much work, so we’ll just go with Cosmic Golf) but there’s really not enough time in the day to be overly upset about these things. I mean, look at yesterday, for example. I had to get up. That in itself is sometimes a major accomplishment.

Then I had to let the dogs out, and then feed them. This consumed a good 5% of the energy I’d had when I woke up, so I was going with only 95% by then. Then came whatever comes next, and then I did a pretty good of complaining about how hard writing is when I’m trying to write, which is only when I’m working on one of the books, not when writing about Cosmic Golf or whatever the blog du jour is. That’s easy.

By the end of the day I had to have a nap. Can you imagine the kind of energy that takes?

As a reward for working so hard, charming husband took me out to dinner, though not, obviously, at Cosmic Golf. Instead we went to a popular chain restaurant that has the best fried green beans. The wait was long, but we were rewarded with a large fairly quiet (when considering the rest of the place) booth.

So given my daily schedule, mourning Cosmic Golf can’t take too much of my time. It’s sad, but it’s not as if it were a world class miniature golf course, is it? That would call for some extra mourning, just like dead celebrities call for more mourning than, say, a close friend, or the guy down the street. I’m just sayin’.  

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nice Is In

Apparently nice is in. This came from an indisputable source, which means I saw it referenced somewhere or other on the world wide web thingy, so it must be true. I’m all for nice, and I’ve even been known for being nice (when people can’t think of anything else to say about one, it’s always a safe bet to say, “Well, she’s nice . . .“ which may not convey the dread they feel when I approach with my nice blandness, but at least they’re not saying anything BAD about me, right?), but this may call for a change in my disposition.

What’d being nice ever get me? Other than the obvious, of course. I know lots of nice people and people, random strangers even! are nice to me, and most nights I can sleep well knowing I didn’t make anyone cry that day.

That’s not entirely true. I don’t sleep lately, but it’s not my conscience keeping me awake. My conscience is sound asleep at night, unlike me. It’d be nice if it at least tried to keep me company.

These benefits should not be taken lightly.

Nice is nice, in its own way, but what people really flock to are the dramatic, the cruel, the rude. Maybe we figure they know something we don’t that would explain their behavior. Maybe it makes for better stories.

Example: I go to a restaurant. My order comes, but it’s not exactly what I asked for. I, with all politeness, ask for it to be fixed. The server, not wanting to give offense, takes it back and returns with the correct order. Everyone is happy.

This is a boring story.

Now, revised: I go to a restaurant. My order comes, but it’s not exactly what I asked for. I’m not only put out, I’m livid with a white hot rage. Who are these imbeciles, and why do they think they can treat me like this? Is the world populated by idiots? Why do they seek me out? I tell the server that I’m most unhappy and she has no business being a server. “Away with it!” I demand, sweeping my arm across the table, sending my plate flying like a saucer across the room where it strikes an elderly gentleman on the side of the head.

Not my fault, so I glare at the elderly gentleman when he turns to look to see where the errant plate came from. He’s only bleeding a little, and it’s not as if he’s going to die or anything.

The server glares back at me, then scuttles off. I assume she’s gone off to get the proper order and fashion a suitable apology.

Other diners are staring at me. I like this. I have their attention. I sit up a little straighter. I am not to be trifled with.

The server returns with my order. What’s this? Did they actually put the dressing on the salad instead of off to the side? I sigh heavily. I am indeed surrounded by idiots.

“I can’t eat this,” I tell her, knowing she can see how close she is to losing her job. Yes, I can cause her to lose her job. I have the power.

She sighs back at me, then stomps off.

A minute later the manager comes to my table. “Is something wrong?”

“Do you only employ idiots here?” I think it’s a reasonable question.

He sighs. I’m pretty sure it’s not aimed at me. He must be sighing because he’s managing a staff of idiots and is again regretting his decision to go into restaurant management.

Eventually my order comes to me as I originally requested, and though it’s satisfactory, I’m determined to steer everyone I know away from this particular restaurant with its deplorable service and haphazard discipline, for when I suggested to the manager that he fire the server, he gave no sign of doing so. I had hoped he’d call her out and do it right there.

I am often disappointed in life by the failures of others to live up to my standards.

Doesn’t that make for a better story?

We like controversy. We like to hear of others being put in their place. It’s entertainment! Niceness, on the other hand, well, not so much. Where’s the drama?

Perhaps I shall change my demeanor. Perhaps I’ll stop being so forgiving, and expect people to pay for being human. I shall consider myself entitled! Of course, people will still be expected to be nice to me. I deserve it, after all.

But for all my dreams, I fear I won’t change a bit. I’ll still be nice.

Unless you annoy me. Then watch out. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

When Things Come Back

My legs are as tree trunks, big and unwieldy, and dragging them around with me is exhausting. So each day I get up, and I drag them someplace with me. For one thing, it's rather difficult to get anywhere without them, and, for another, it's good for them. They ache much of the time, but it's not unbearable. Standing is not as easy as it once was. Sometimes the legs just sit there when I will them to move, as if they're pouting and refuse to take instructions from me any longer. But in the end I win, and we get up, and we move. 

Sometimes the pain is throughout my body, an ache that resides deep, but it's not an unbearable ache, at least not yet. It's just annoying.

Sometimes I cannot think clearly, my head more a mass of fog than of anything else, and so I wait for it to clear. It's not unbearable, but it slows me down, and it's in my way. 

My stomach has become difficult with me, so I eat small meals, careful of what I consume, and this works, mostly. 

I like to sleep, and waking up is difficult. Once I'm awake, I feel like going back to sleep, but that's not a good way to get through the day. Or I can't sleep, but I try, and the act of trying exhausts me more. The act of not trying exhausts me also, so I'm not sure which direction to go. 

The fibromyalgia is back.

My stepmother, bless her tiny little heart, would say, if she were here, "You're just lazy. You've always been lazy. Stop whining." Fortunately she is not here. Not that I would wish her dead if she were here, but since she is dead, I must take my consolation where I can. 

My mother, if she were here, would want to save me from it. 

It's funny how we keep the voices that are the most harmful, giving them an importance they don't deserve. I still find myself wondering, now and then, if my stepmother was right. Am I in pain and tired because I'm lazy? I don't think so, but, on the other hand, I don't want people to know I'm in pain and working on just being functional because they might think I'm just lazy, wouldn't they? A hypochondriac? It's not as I've broken anything. You can't see what it is that I'm whining about. I look fine. 

Oh yes, I do look fine. 

I'm making more typos than I used to. But my numbers seem to still be working okay, which is the important thing, since I make my living with numbers.

Mostly I'm annoyed. How dare this thing interfere with my normal functions? I've got things to do! Places to go! People to see! Writing to be done! Work to be done! I have a fabulous life and I fully intend to live it! And it's tax season and I'm busy, for which I am very grateful. In this economy, to have more than enough work is such a blessing. It's a stability sort of thing. I do love stability. I already did the I'm-broke-and-expect-my-next-abode-to-be-outdoors thing years ago, so this is a nice change. 

This thing, this fibromyalgia, it went away for years, except for the occasional bouts of pain and low energy, and I thought that perhaps it was gone for good. Perhaps I'd imagined the whole thing and it never really existed. Alas, no. 

But I'll come out ahead. I'll persevere and I'll whip the butt of this stupid thing. I may not look like I'm persevering, what with the occasional nap and the blank stares while my mind tries to catch up, but it's all on the inside, you see, the persevering. You can't necessarily see it, so you'll have to take my work for it. 

Oops. Word. Take my word for it. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Getting Old Is A State of Mind (and feet)

And the state of my mind is questionable.

There are things they don’t tell you about getting old, things that are painful, sometimes traumatic, things that we can’t possibly prepare for, and frankly, it sucks.

I can deal with certain aging issues. As an example, I’m becoming used to being rotund. Technically, this is not an aging issue, but it’s as good an excuse as any.

My memory hasn’t started going yet, though I have taken to writing copious notes just in case, which often read like this: After waking up, go to bathroom. Eat now and then. Remember to breathe. Just the basics, y’know?

Wrinkles I can live with because I don’t have any. Then again, my eyesight is so bad maybe I just can’t see them.

My looks haven’t gone yet because, well, there wasn’t that much to start with. At least now I have an excuse for not being hot – I’m not supposed to be at this age, am I?

But there’s one thing that really got me: my feet.

Why didn’t anyone tell me they’d grow? It’s not as if they weren’t big enough to start with, but a person of my height needs big feet. It’s what keeps me standing upright, on those occasions when I’m upright. Small feet would just not do the job very well, and I’d spend my days falling over. So here I am with my big feet, and suddenly . . . they’re bigger. Suddenly the size I’ve been wearing for years doesn’t fit anymore, and this is unfortunate since all my shoes are in that size.

So what do I do? Do I go out and buy new shoes? Of course not. This is called denial. I am certain that if I just continue stuffing my feet into the same shoes they’ve been accustomed to wearing, the shoes will stretch out. Or the feet will shrink, much as my oversize belly is shrinking just because I want it to.

I live in world of fantasy. I like it here very much, and I’m able to ignore the signs of impending middle age. All is good in my world. Except my feet hurt like hell.

I’ve never been a good shopper. I do it out of necessity. I like new things just fine, it’s just the obtaining of them that’s the problem. So there’s that – I’m not in any rush to run out and try on shoes.

Last year charming husband brought me several pairs of flats in various colors from our local . . . well, large store. He is so good to me. He knew I needed shoes, so he bought me some. I like to find something I like then buy it over and over again in different colors. It’s because I’m lazy. However, those fabulous shoes are now too small.
And my feet hurt.

I kept saying, “One of these days, I’m going to get some new shoes.” Then I’d put on the old ones and walk around in pain.

There are people roaming this earth who think I’m quite bright. Shows you how much they know. How hard is it to buy some shoes? Well, hard if you don’t have funds for shoes. That used to be me, back in the Stew years. I had no money for shoes, or clothes, or utilities, so I walked around barefoot covered in a blanket. That’s not technically true, but it makes for a better story. I’m still learning, all these years later, that sometimes it’s okay to spend money on me.

I’m not even fond of shoes all that much. Sometimes they’re fun, especially if the weather’s bad, but my feet really like to walk around naked. They only deign to wear socks when they become unnaturally cold, and they refuse to sleep with socks on. They like fresh air. But I can’t very well go out in public shoeless, can I? Besides, my feet, while being independent minded (if feet can be said to have minds) are still wimpy and likely to become upset should I so much as come close to a pebble, which are plentiful out in the world.

So  I’ve been avoiding going out just because my shoes would hurt. This is not a healthy way to live. How many times can I cancel appointments with the excuse that I’m “under the weather” when the truth is my shoes are just too small? There comes a time when people start becoming suspicious and wondering if I’m going to die soon, or if I’m just chronically ill forever. Then they start sending get well cards, and I have to come up with a good story . . . you can see how messy this can get.

My feet aren’t getting any smaller, and something had to give.

Today I made my way to a store, and I bought shoes. Two pairs actually. I tried them on and everything. I was so proud of myself, and they were on sale. Somehow, buying things on sale makes it seem much less decadent.

Then I happened upon another shoe store and I went in to check it out. And I bought three more pairs of shoes, two of which were on sale. It wasn’t an easy task. My feet were complaining loudly the entire time, but they were so happy to get the crappy too-small purple flats off for any reason at all that trying on new shoes made them a big more agreeable.

I have FIVE new pairs of shoes. FIVE. I couldn’t find anything in my super large size in any interesting colors so they’re all black and brown, which is sad since my feet like purple and taupe and red, but since I may be getting the hang of this shoe shopping thing, there’s still hope.  Anyway, it’s a start.

I’m still aging, but at least I have the proper shoes for it.