Sheila's Diary Review: Volume One

I told the Gentleman Caller that I was planning to mark my 50th year of being by reading back over the shelf of diaries that I have accumulated, all the way back to June 14th, 1982. He grinned and said that I absolutely had to do a blog about it, too. Next thing you know, I'm contemplating making videos of me reading select passages and putting them up on YouTube. Which I might do. But, in the meantime, I can post my first entry and see where this all takes me.


Volume One: June 14th, 1982 (age twelve) to December 6, 1986 (age sixteen)

It looks like: a Mead spiral notebook, size 9 1/2 x 6 inches. The cover is a mottled orange and the word "LOG" is written on it in pencil, highlighted by orange marker.

What's inside? Adolescence. I was awfully boy-crazy, even at age twelve. When I was in Catholic school, I made lists of the boys in the class; each name had a short description of said boy and whether or not he was even interested in girls in the first place. I also detail the all-encompassing crush that I had in high school. (There was a note slipped into a locker involved. A note with poetry on it!)

Slumber parties were another big thing in there. Perhaps because I didn't have much in the way of adventures to go on in that period of my life, so such extraordinary events required thorough recording. I particularly went into detail over an all-Duranie slumber party held at my best friend's house. I remember that one pretty well, and I think I do in part because I wrote down every little thing I could recall as soon as I had the diary in hand. When the entry described a photograph that had been taken of me--in fake leather pants and a frilly white shirt--my first thought was "oh, I think I may have that picture somewhere!" I might put it up here if I can dig it up.

Not all the stuff I go into detail into is pleasant. I lend the same scrutiny to my first serious encounter with sexual harassment, when two kids took turns asking me questions about my sex life and offering to become part of it.

One streak that runs through it is a sense of willful defiance. I was a weird kid, no question, and being teased for it just drove me to double-down in my weirdness instead of shaping myself into a more socially acceptable form. Duran Duran, strange as it may seem, was one of my points of rebellion, and from there, I learned to stick with what I loved without worrying about what other people may think. The downside of my refusal to be normal was that I never really found my tribe--my tribe of Duranies were at another school where my best friend at the time went. When that best friend gave up on Duran Duran, I lost that tribe, and couldn't really assemble anything similar where I was. (I made up for that many years later.) My resistance to "conformity" left me on the outside of things I could have actually enjoyed if I'd given them a chance.

The last few pages are entries where I document things like what I ate, what I wore to school, and so on. It's an interesting glimpse into my version of 80s style.

Stay tuned for the next exciting volume of Sheila's Diaries! High school isn't over yet, so expect some more hormonal extremes.

Today I took pleasure in listening to Paul Melancon's The Get-Gos Action Hour! all the way through without interruption. (I burned a copy that's living in my car right now. Not the optimal listening experience for a concept album.)

Today I learned that I still have a copy of a short story I wrote back in the early 90s. It's called "Bleeding the Blind." No, you don't get to see it. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.

Life Under Lockdown

I asked for evenings off for the Triduum, not even sure if the services were going to be in person or not, and the folks at The Big Green Grocery Store gave me the days off entirely. Nifty! I thought I would use the time as a kind of at-home spiritual retreat, and while I did have some prayerful moments, I mostly cleaned house and ran errands. I took in the virtual services at Saint Thomas More, where I spent many a holy day of obligation as a Catholic schoolgirl. I also took in a virtual Stations of the Cross at Ignatius House, but was a touch disappointed in it. The prayers were a little bit woo for my taste (and I know from woo).

On Good Friday, I went to my folks to pick up a few things they were getting rid of: (1) an oversized planter, (2) a large bag of dirt, (3) a lopper for cutting off branches and (4) a cast iron skillet. One of these things it not like the other, but they all went home with me. Mom gave me a hug on the basis that we were both wearing masks. (I have masks now, by the way. Two I got on Etsy and two I made from bandannas and hair ties. I wear the Etsy masks to work now that they'll let us wear them.) On Holy Saturday, I went to my local hardware megaplex and got a wee tomato plant to put in the enormous planter, which also holds the entire large bag of dirt.

More on that in a minute. I'm trying to do this chronologically.

The Easter Vigil was quite the experience. My wifi crapped out partway through the service and by the time I kicked it awake, I'd missed the rest of the readings. When the priest came down to deliver the homily, he got about as far as remarking on how difficult these times were and then a light started flashing and a woman's voice announced "Attention. Attention. Please proceed to the exits now." I wondered if they'd gotten busted for having too many people. (Two singers, three lectors, one priest, at least one person playing the organ and who knows how many camera operators and crew.) The view cut to a shot of the cross behind the altar as if it was a Please Stand By card. As it turned out, the fire alarm was not accustomed to the amount of incense they'd been using. Everything proceeded as approximately normal until my wifi crashed a second time just before the final benediction, at which point I simply gave up.

Easter Sunday is a day rich in traditions that we could not participate in under current conditions. The big one is Eggs Benedict, which is served three times a year--Easter, Christmas and the beach trip. So this year I busted out the family recipe book, got the ingredients for hollandaise, and made my own.

It was perfect. I don't know if I can fully articulate how happy this made me.

I even made a proper Easter dinner of ham, mashed potatoes and broccoli (with hollandaise!) My mom clued me in on the sauce she uses on the ham (mustard and sour cream--that's it!) and that also came out perfectly. Maybe this "cooking" thing isn't so scary.

Monday it's back to the grind and oh, what a grind it is. I got an email just before I started getting ready for work that they'll be doing roof work on my building and that I'll need to take pictures of all the existing cracks in my walls to send to them to prove that any damage after that point was theirs, OH and be sure to take all the art off of the walls. They start tomorrow.

So a big chunk of my evening was spent taking pictures of cracks (I never realized how many I had), taking all my art down (I literally just realized that I'd missed one as I was typing that sentence) and dragging my plants inside, including the wee tomato in the large dirt-filled planter (that took some doing).

I work a seven-hour shift tomorrow. I can hope that most of the work will be done while I'm gone, but I suspect my two days off to follow will have a lot of noise to deal with. Yay.

Today I took pleasure in a lemon Italian ice.

Today I learned there are new people starting work at The Big Green Grocery Store.

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At Least It's Not Zombies

My job at The Big Green Grocery Store does not have a work from home option, so I'm down in the trenches ringing up groceries and explaining that no, we don't have any toilet paper and, no, I don't know when any will be coming in. Those fleeting moments when we do have toilet paper, I have to explain to people that no, they can't have more than two paper products, which includes the paper towels they're also trying to get. This says nothing of the canned soup, canned beans, canned vegetables and other food encased in metal, which also has a maximum of two per household. Which means I have to deal with people being really pissed at me because their opportunity to stock up into next month has been denied.

They've also got me working eight and nine hour shifts, which is about regular for an office job, but in an office job, you can sit down and not deal with quite as many angry people. Admittedly, many people have been understanding and even thanked me for my service. But one turd has a way of tainting everything.

I did meet up with the Gentleman Caller this past week. Normally, we get together at my place, chat for a while, go out to dinner, come home and enjoy each other's company, often with bourbon involved. This time around, he brought ingredients in a cooler bag and cooked dinner. It was quite good. I had to peel all the art supplies off of the table so we could sit and eat, but I kinda needed to do that anyway. He then informed me that he was going into lockdown so it'll be a while before I can see him again.

Sundays have changed over time. Sunday breakfast went first, as my parents decided to take in Masses online, since they're both in their eighties and a high risk group. We met for dinner and compared survival plans. This week, Sunday dinner was cancelled for an indefinite period. I had some of the leftovers from the Gentleman Caller's dinner (he insisted I keep them) and watched the most recent season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (The Gauntlet!) which has a toilet paper joke that is three times as funny under the current circumstances.

I went to the labyrinth today. The library is closed but the labyrinth doesn't even have a gate. I did a little trash pickup and weeding, then walked the path and sat in the center for a little while, contemplating the state of the world. I think I may avail myself of this more often, since hardly anybody goes there (give or take the folks who sometimes nap on the benches). There's definitely enough weeding to be done to keep me occupied for days.

I have a few weekdays off this week, which will probably be spent recovering from the days on. I never lack for things to do at home, so I won't have boredom to worry about. I've grown to envy those folks "trapped" in their domiciles.

So, how are you doing?

Today I took pleasure in frozen strawberries on a stick.

Today I learned Trader Joe's is still open and wine is still cheap there.

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Posted elsewhere, replicated here...

Ever read that children's book Fortunately/Unfortunately? That was my day.

Fortunately, I had a day off.
Unfortunately, they called me and asked me to come in.
Fortunately, they were willing to cut things short so I could go see my friend.
Unfortunately, my friend had to cancel because her kid was sick.
Fortunately that left me time to visit the labyrinth and get groceries.
Unfortunately, I couldn't go home because of a gas main leak that blocked off the entire street.
Fortunately, the grocery store was willing to take back the perishable groceries and refund me.
Unfortunately, my plans to go to the Irish pub in the same complex were thwarted by the fact that the pub is now closed. For good.
Fortunately, the vegan restaurant in the complex was open and I was able to order a black bean burger.
Unfortunately, the black bean burger fell apart in my hands and I had to finish it with a fork.
Fortunately, that was the last of the unfortunatelies.

I went to a posh restaurant with a fancy bar and had some bourbon and lemonade and used the time to catch up on all the submissions for Decatur Scribes, as well as read the comments made on my own work. (I laughed very loudly at some of them.)

I'm home now. Life is good.

Today I took pleasure in a nice, dry cider.

Today I learned what The Select (the posh restaurant) is like.

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The Ring Cycle

Britpoptarts gave it to me. (I'd link to her LJ, but it got hacked and is now a Russian spam factory. At least, I assume it's spam. I can't be sure; I don't understand Russian.) I think it was a birthday present, but it might have been a Christmas present. I do recall that it came in a package with all kinds of cool things, as her presents often do. I fell in love with it immediately and wore it often. I had to wrap the band in electrical tape to keep it from sliding off with every vigorous hand gesture, but once I did that it was secure.

Until it disappeared.

I'd been in the habit of taking it off and tucking it in the wee fifth pocket of my jeans while I washed my hands after using the bathroom. One fine evening I walked out from a shopping trip at The Big Blue Grocery Store (the chain I don't work at) checked my pocket and found no ring there. I frantically retraced my steps, checked the bathroom and found nothing.

I meditated on the fleeting nature of things and let it go. I got the name of the site where Britpoptarts got it, but found that they required a $100 minimum order, so I put together an order and got about fifty bucks into it before asking Big Sister-In-Law if she'd be interested in going in with me so I could get the ring. She looked over the site and declared the styles too "blingy" for her taste. So I procrastinated figuring out another fifty dollars worth of jewelry and left the order in limbo.

Then I went down to St. Augustine Beach with my family, as we traditionally do. It was a little iffy whether or not I'd be able to make it down because I was still recovering from my injuries after the accident, but I made it and was even able to take (sometimes curtailed) long walks up and down the beach. We were taking care of our Catholic business at St. Anastasia's and as we were making our way out of the parking lot, we had to make a sudden stop.

"Hey, what's this?" asked my niece (who for pseudonymous purposes I shall call Anime Niece).

"Oh, my God!" I blurted.

It was the ring. Electrical tape and all.

Anime Niece was a little disappointed that the ring had an owner--she'd been hoping to claim it for herself--but she surrendered it and I put it back on my finger. Got home and took the picture at the start of this entry so I could let Britpoptarts know that I had it back.

I took the ring to Chattacon this past weekend and wore it most of the time. I went to Big Brother's party and spent some quality time with the Gentleman Caller. We went across the footbridge and got a half-dozen donuts at Julie Darling's, with a stop at the Moon Pie General Store, where I picked up a tumbled stone the color of lemonade. Saturday night, there was a room party called Tina's Tavern, heavily advertised with hand-lettered signs all over the convention.

It was right across the hall from where the Gentleman Caller was staying.

Meanwhile, I'd been given a nice little suite on the 13th floor (yes, really) that had a room with a bed on one side and a room with couches on the other and a narrow corridor with a coffee machine in between. The Gentleman Caller went to his room (he had to push people out of the way to do it, as the party was in full swing by then) grabbed some cheese, crackers and a bottle of bourbon and we went up to my room and we sat on the nice couches and he used the city guide magazine thingy as a cutting board and we sipped bourbon and talked about things.

I shifted from my glam outfit (black velvet catsuit, white go-go boots, white wig, white feather boa) into my red satin pajamas and eventually wound down and went to bed. The Gentleman Caller returned to his chambers, as the party across the hall had finally died down.

Sunday morning I randomly ran into him as I was tucking away my luggage into my car and we spent a little time in the consuite as I noshed a generic Pop Tart and drank what was left of the milk. The consuite was equipped with a jukebox with science fiction related tunes, such as Meco's disco rendition of the Star Wars theme, a sonic atrocity that I consider the musical equivalent of The Star Wars Holiday Special. (The Gentleman Caller didn't entirely agree with me, and I'm still not clear on why.)

I texted Big Brother to find out when load out was and he replied that they were doing breakdown then, so I went up to try and earn my keep, since I get my room and membership through Big Brother. I did my part and kept an eye on things upstairs while they packed the truck then met in the lobby with the Gentleman Caller to say a proper goodbye.

"Did you pack your ring?" he asked.

It wasn't on my finger. He recalled seeing me take it off in the living room of the suite and setting it down on the table. We went to the front desk and they called someone in housekeeping to find out if it had been seen. We went upstairs, found that the key still worked and scoured the room for it. Nothing. We left and met with the housekeeping supervisor, who performed a more thorough search and still found nothing.

I began to meditate on the fleeting nature of things.

We found my sunglasses, which I had also left behind, on the housekeeping cart and the supervisor asked the housekeeper if she'd seen a ring in the same room. She shook her head and said she hadn't. The supervisor went as far as to pull on gloves and rummage through the trash bag and--

--she found it. I have no idea how it got there. I suspect gremlins.

I put it on and thanked her profusely. Then thanked her some more. The Gentleman Caller took a picture of her badge so he could thank corporate properly. He forwarded it to me so I could do the same. I may point them to this blog post.

So the ring is back on my finger and I seriously thought I'd never see it again. Miracles do happen in this lifetime.

Today I took pleasure in a big, cold bottle of fruit punch flavored Powerade.

Today I learned many of the musicians who played on Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk ended up playing in David Letterman's band.

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Yes, I'm Better Now

There's a lot to catch up on between now and my last update. Let's see if I can get enough of it down.

I got home around the end of July. I made plans to have a belated birthday party in August, but then my HVAC broke down and needed to be completely replaced, to the tune of $7,500. Mom and Dad fronted me the money, and I will have to pay them back, along with the money I still owe them for the car I got to replace the late, lamented Red the Disco. (I named it Lucky Penny. I'll post a picture next time I'm here.)

September, the graphics card in my MacBook Pro decided to choke and brick my computer. This means I couldn't email any invites, so hopes of a further belated birthday party were dashed. My computer is so old that the Genius Bar won't touch it, so I relied on a place not far from me that does vintage Mac repair. They had to ship the thing out to California and back, but they did get it done and my Mac is now a happy Mac.

October, I finally had the birthday party.

November, I took on National Novel Writing Month. I clocked in at 51,629 words and even managed to wrap it up with a reasonable ending, which I didn't manage to do last year. It was not the easiest of goings, though. I dragged behind where I needed to be for most of it, some days only getting in a few hundred words. However, I also cranked out some more prolific days which pulled my fat out of the fire. (Thanksgiving is a godsend for American NaNoers.) I wasn't as prepared for this one as I was last year and that hindered my wordcount because I'd be stuck on what do to next. I do already have ideas for the next one, so that'll give me a year to work stuff out.

I took the month off from flower drawing, but I'm falling back into the habit quite easily. I've already hit #4,000 this year, so that's one New Year's resolution knocked out. (Don't ask me about the other ones.)

Today I took pleasure in iced and unsweetened rooibos.

Today I learned some helpful things about my vacuum cleaner.

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Day Twenty

I drew flowers today.

This morning, Mom drove me to my place and we harvested the tomato crop and cleaned out the fridge. I figured cleaning out the fridge would entail throwing out the potentially icky bits and leaving it at that. Mom's definition involved wiping down the shelves and absconding with the perishables that were still good. While we were there, I gathered up some things like a pair of loose pants to do physical therapy in, a couple of magazines to read, and my flower supplies.

When I got home, I cleared off the table, spread out my pens and my index cards, and picked up where I'd left off. I fired up an episode of Bill Corbett's Funhouse and went through the rituals--the grass, the stems, the petals outlined, the leaves, the petals filled in, the signature on the front, the number, the date, the signature on the back, the hashtag, the sticker, the time, and the tiny dot on the grid to mark progress.

I drew as if nothing traumatic had happened. I needed no coaxing or reassurance. I simply did what must be done to progress this project of mine.

It felt good to finish. I look forward to doing more tomorrow.

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Day Five

The pain is persistent. The moment the painkiller starts to kick in, I immediately leap through that window of opportunity to hobble my way to the bathroom to shower or just to pee. This sets everything off all over again and I have to wait it out until the next dose.

I am making progress, however. I can travel short distances with just the cane on my own, leaning heavily on it with both hands and taking small steps. I am able to stand on my own two feet, if not walk on them, for long enough to do things like stand and sit and wash my face. As above, the pain is persistent, but it is not as agonizing as it was.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I don't know if I'll be doing anything more than working to get better. And collecting well-wishes from various sources, which are not to be sneezed at.

Today I took pleasure in scarfing down seedless white grapes.

Today I learned what an Ensure tastes like.

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Two Trips to the Emergency Room

This is a modified and expanded letter to my siblings regarding recent events in my existence that I don't feel like coming up with completely new words for.

Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I started having bizarre issues with my vision, first with vision “scrolling” like a bad cathode ray television set and later with double vision. The problems cleared up with a nap and a little time, but I wrote down the address for the nearest urgent care clinic with my insurance company for future reference in the event that they came up again.

Saturday they did. They also came with a lovely side order of balance problems. I called in sick and with the help of a neighbor (since my vision was so shaky I couldn’t read the screen of my phone) I summoned a Lyft and took it to the urgent care center, only to be dropped off near an industrial property several blocks from my destination. I told the driver it didn’t look quite right; he shrugged. I got out of the car (after having told him that I was having vision and balance problems) and he drove off.

My vision was now so bad I couldn’t even read the nice, big letters I’d written the urgent care center address with. I could kind of make it out, but I don't like venturing on things like that without certainty, so I saw someone walking in my direction on the sidewalk and asked if he could help me.

He walked right past me as if I hadn't said anything.

I asked a few more people with the same result--I was not there to them. In desperation, I even said "I'm not asking for money; I'm just asking for help." No effect. I was invisible and inaudible.

I passed by several closed restaurants and even a boarded-up hotel before I finally found a beauty salon where I explained my dilemma and the nice lady behind the counter pointed me in the right direction and assured me it wasn’t far.

It wasn’t far. The street number (which the nice lady confirmed with me) was out on a big sign that you could see from the street. I lurched my way towards it, my destination in sight.

The sidewalk was closed. While I suppose I could have ignored the signs and picked my way around it, as I saw other people doing, I didn’t trust my own balance around such things. Next to the sidewalk was a large tree that was enclosed in brick walls that served as a kind of planter for it.

So I hoisted my way up the wall, crawled past the tree on my hands and knees, and lowered myself back down on the other side. I made my way to the entrance and into the urgent care center. I explained my problem and the woman at the counter said “Sure, just fill out this form.” I explained that I could not, and they settled for having someone ask me all the questions on the forms and pointed to where to sign in the few places it was necessary. I signed from muscle memory.

They got me in an examination room. The doctor asked me to squeeze her fingers and to walk up and down the room. Then she told me that she was calling an ambulance.

One CT scan, one MRI scan (which was rather like being trapped in an avant-garde multi-media installation, to the point that I laughed out loud until the technician barked at me to hold still) and a few more tests and the answer was that it was NOT a stroke, but probably something to do with my recently updated medication regimen. We adjusted medicines accordingly and that took care of that problem.

This past Sunday gave us the new problem. I went to The Big Green Grocery Store to try and get some breakfast supplies and at least some hours for this week that they’d scheduled me for absolutely nothing. And on the way out, I made a left turn out of the complex onto the main road and I got T-boned by an SUV veering into the middle lane. No idea what happened to the other guy because I was too busy having my car pried open to extract me for delivery to an ambulance. I was X-rayed in various places to be sure nothing was broken (nothing was that they could see) and sent on my way with a brief prescription for pain meds and muscle relaxants and some good wishes. Mom and Dad took me in and have been looking after me ever since. Most of my body is relatively pain-free—it’s just this one area around the left buttock that constantly screams with agony. I’ve just started using a cane but still need parental assistance to get places. (My parents are in their eighties and I'll be forty-nine on Friday. This is supposed to be the other way around, isn't it?) My hope is that things will die down enough that I’ll be able to function with the cane alone. It’s only been a couple of days, so we’ll see how things progress.

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Can't . . . stop . . . laughing . . .

The Gentleman Caller dropped this link in my inbox and I'm been snerking about it all day.

You don't have to know who Ian Curtis was to find it entertaining.

Today I took pleasure in finalizing the time for a phone interview tomorrow.

Today I learned that a job site I only vaguely remember signing up for has some pretty dumb ideas about my skills and interests. (I spent part of this morning correcting it. We'll see if it takes.

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