Friday, June 23, 2006

Uh... now what?

Yep. That's it. (although, at some point, if something presents itself, there will probably be some kind of epilogue post, for the sake of symmetry.) Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.

I'm looking forward to taking some time off, but I'm sure I'll eventually start another "Year" of something (don't know what yet) and when I do, I'll be sure to post a link here.

Until then, keep in touch.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This day, June 21st, has been a significant date for me for several years but it wasn't until recently that I realized that it's also the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.

I guess I could have tried to spend the day doing something deep or symbolic, but things are busy at work, and that would have been kind of silly anyway. I did have about an hour around dusk, though, between work and heading out for an improv meeting to go out and walk around the neighborhood with my camera, hoping something poignant would happen to me.

And nothing did. But it was nice. I nodded to people walking their dogs. I saw rabbits run back and forth across yards. I watched at least seven planes move slowly through the sky and thought about how nice it can feel to come home.

I tried to take pictures of what I could, but rabbits are fast, planes are far away, and some moments aren't easily captured or translated.

Occasionally, if it didn't seem like anyone was looking, I would hold my arm out as far as I could and take a couple candid photos of myself. Those came out pretty alright.

a year following the breakup,

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mom: [via voicemail] Some bad news about Holden. He hadn’t been eating for the last three of four days. Initially we thought it was maybe because Allie went back to school for summer training. He’s been acting goofy as heck lately, trying to get up on the chairs, even when I was in the room, trying to get down into the basement. Anyway, today he took a nap and I couldn’t get him to get up. I called Dad and he came and took him to the vet. The vet said it looked like he was in some pain and we could try to keep him alive for a couple of months or put him to sleep. Dad decided to put him to sleep. I’m... I'm surprised. I feel really bad about it. So… there’s no more Holden.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The girl had a long term relationship come to an end around the same time things were coming to close for N and me. She had a few drinks with her ex, J, on Thursday for his birthday. He talked about the girl he's dating now and asked about me. She told him about this blog and gave him the address. "I just thought he would like it."

This sort of surprised me. Not that I mind J reading it, but I know this weird blog, and the fact that I tend to write about the bad more than the good, must frustrate her. She's better about it than most people would be, but the picture of N and I about to kiss certainly made her sad. "Sometimes I hate your blog," she said, "But it's also, in a way, part of how I fell in love with you."

J read the blog and wrote the girl that it was a strangely voyeuristic experience but that he liked what he read and he thought I seemed like the kind of guy he would enjoy talking to. "I've always said you have good taste in men," he wrote. I can imagine myself making that same joke.

People ask me if N knows about this blog. I say, "I don't know." I haven't heard from her since before I found out she was diagnosed with MS. I've thought about e-mailing her recently, not to prod her into a response, but just to let her know I'm still doing well. I don't want it to seem like just more material for the blog, though, so I've decided to wait a bit.

When people ask me if I think N knows about the blog I also say, "I doubt. I really doubt it." They seem dubious that she wouldn't have googled me in all this time, but I know her better than they do. She took everything that might remind her of me and put it in a shoebox, and put that shoebox in her closet. But she'll keep that shoebox, just like she kept the shoeboxes for her other ex-boyfriends (most of them, oddly, named J).

I keep a lot of junk, a lot of it literally trash, but I don't have any shoeboxes. I looked for one today. Young didn't have one either.

Okay, wait for it... I guess this is my shoebox. One than I'm very close to putting the lid on and stowing away.

Someday, if N does see this, I hope it doesn't upset her too much. And I hope it makes her think that I seem like a guy she wouldn't mind talking to.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

The girl has been wanting me to meet her family recently, so for Father's Day I drove us out to the suburbs for her big family barbeque. We stopped at a mall on the way so she could buy golf balls for her grandfather. While there she slipped into a party store and bought me a ribbon that read, "MVP," I guess as a sort of thank you in advance.

Three moments:

1. A small child kept staring at my wide-eyed. I smiled at her and said, "Hello there." She immediately started screaming and crying.

2. Someone asked the girl why she was wearing sunglasses, to which one of her aunts replied, very loudly, "Because Arnie beats her up, right?"

3. "We should get a picture of you two together," one of the aunts said, and then just before the flash went off, "You know how it is with couples and pictures, right? As soon as you take a picture together, you break up."

It was a good time.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Hansen had a barbeque which led to a girls versus boys game of washers.

Maloney: Two points! Yay!
Young: [angrily] Remember what we talked about at the grocery store?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Even the most creative writing, when done all day, can become monotonous. The ladies at work decided to do push-ups to clear their brains. Chris watched.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Kirk, the history teacher at Nick's school, is an old high school friend of mine. I hadn't seen him in years but he stumbled across this blog and saw Nick in it.

Nick: Here's how I know that he knows you... he said that it was weird because he hasn't seen you in so long, and last night he pretty much was able to catch up on the last year of your life in an hour. "But that's Arnie!" he said. So you were always known for the quick and pithy life synopsis, huh?

I grabbed a beer with Nick and Kirk at the Holiday Club. Kirk and I talked about the fact that we've heard a handful of people we went to high school with are living in Chicago, but, besides Tom, neither of us are in contact with any of them.

Kirk: Some of my grad school friends are even starting to drift away now.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My parents set aside a small amount of money for each of their children's potential weddings. Nothing extravagant, but a nice amount.

One day over the summer, when I was living in Ohio, Mom mentioned that she had opened some of my mail ("I thought it was for me, I didn't even look at who it was to," she fibbed) and saw my credit card statement. It was nothing ridiculous, but yes, I had some debt hanging over my head that I was slowly grinding out payments on. She offered to pay most of it off with money in my wedding fund.

Mom: That way you're not battling the high interest rate.

First I was angry, then defensive, then a bit demoralized. I'm an adult, right? Finally, I agreed that it made sense.

Mom: After you finish paying off your credit cards you can pay it back. Or not. Really, it's your money. But if you don't, you just won't have that money whenever you do get married.

I'm not exactly debt-free, now. I have a car and student loans, but last month I paid my last credit card bill. And I recently made my first payment back into my "wedding account." It feels good to do something so optimistic.

Honestly, I can't see myself entertaining the idea of marriage or another engagement for a long time still, but it seems important to put that money back where it belongs and towards what it was intended. It's one small adult gesture.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

This calendar was on the wall in my grandmother's room. "Vacation Month" seems like a cruel theme inside a nursing home, a place almost no one wants to be.

I visited N's grandmother once, with N and her father. During my visit, at least, N's grandmother tried to hide her Alzheimers with a kind of elegant misdirection. If N's father asked her a question she didn't understand or know the answer to she would lean over conspiratorially to N or I, patting our knee and smiling as if to say, "Do you hear that silly question? That question is too silly to answer. Let's, you and I, not answer that question."

Afterward, as N's father drove us all back to his house he said that he never wants to get to that point, and mentioned, off-handedly, that he and his wife, N's mother, have an informal suicide pact for when they get old. It was hard to tell how serious he was, but it clearly upset N, who sat in the back seat, and I sensed that this subject had come up before.

I sat quietly in the passenger seat, not knowing what to say, but when N's father speculated that the hard part would be picking the right time, not too early, of course, but hopefully not too late, I nodded my head a little in agreement. That moment would have to be impossible to find. I would certainly slip completely into senility for fear of going too soon.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Tom is 30 now.

I sent him a text message reading, "so, was the day after 30 worse than 30?"

He replied, "Actually today is 30. And it's not too bad so far. But I'll let you know tomorrow."

I typed back, "what?! i thought your birthday was on the 10."

"Not so! June 12."

"my daily planner lied to me."

"Never trust a daily planner."

Happy birthday, Tom.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The girl and I went to Ravinia for an Elvis Costello concert. We had lawn seats ($15) so it was impossible to see any part of the stage, but the music was all around us in the air.

People have been asking me if I'm going to move to Boston. I answer, "I've instituted a strict no-moving policy."

The girl and I have been discussing the possibility of a long distance relationship, even though it is, obviously, not ideal. There is the worry that long distance relationships are like virtual pets. Time to feed my relationship. Time to play with my relationship. Yay, my relationship is happy. Oh no, my relationship is dead.

Girl: I loved virtual pets. But, yeah, all of mine died.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Things like weddings and babies seem to come in waves. Recently a lot of people have been breaking up.

A while back I mentioned an anonymous friend who was breaking up with his live-in girlfriend until they decided to try to work it out. That friend was Glynn, and sadly, things ended up not working out after all and she, Kerry, is moving out at the end of the month. He jokingly suggested that since I was going to be done with this blog soon, he should take it over.

He also said that "not long ago (or AGES ago, depending on your outlook)" he had considered asking me if I'd be willing to sell him N's engagement ring so that he could have it reset.

Glynn: Would it have seemed sleazy if I approached you about it?

I think that would have been a nice way to get rid of the ring. Then again, maybe, like the pig bank N and I used to save for our wedding, it's bad luck.

[I did, by the way, check with Glynn to make sure it was alright to share these things. And he checked with Kerry.

Kerry: I can't believe this is what it took to get in his blog.]

Friday, June 09, 2006

I suppose I could kick around a couple metaphors about healing and emotional scars, but really, these days I find my literal, physical scars more interesting. When I rub my finger along my bellybutton, there is a jagged line there now.

It's strange to think that it'll be with me forever.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Had some drinks with Jeanine. She recently broke up with her long-distance touring-musician boyfriend ("It happened over e-mail, which is terrible, but he doesn't have a phone, which was part of the problem") and tomorrow is the last day at her old job.

Jeanine: It's sad. And scary. But I don't mind change. Some people hate change, but I like it.

Then she pretended to fall down, which she does often.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The girl got her hands on some amazing free tickets to the White Sox game. Ground level, row five. My first White Sox game and the first time I've ever been that close.

The White Sox won.

Girl: Maybe YOU'RE a good luck charm for the Sox.
Me: That seems fair.

The girl is moving to Boston in August. I will miss her.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Watched the season finale of the Sopranos, which I had recorded on the DVR for the girl and me.

[I guess I should say No Spoilers, at least for this season]

Years ago I recorded all of season four of the Sopranos for N, waited to watch them until N had time, and then we slowly caught up together. It's how a nerdy guy expresses his love, I guess. "I will tape our shows for us."

We watched the finale of season four the night I planned to propose to N. I could be wrong, but I don't think anyone died in that episode. It simply showed Tony and Carmella's relationship finally reaching the bitter breaking point. An exhausting hour ending in their separation.

It seemed like a bad time to give N the ring, but I had backed myself into a corner. She was going home for Christmas the next day to visit her family. I wouldn't see her until New Years, and then she would be expecting it. I decided I preferred the surprise.

If it seemed strange or sad to N to get engaged the same night we watched a relationship fall apart, she never mentioned it. Instead we went from room to room in her apartment, seeing how the ring looked under different light.

Monday, June 05, 2006

While playing Cranium with the family, we kept saying things like, "Did we do these cards last time? Are we using the same side of the deck? Didn't we have to hum the Pink Panther theme last time?"

Then I looked at the extra pad of paper in the box. The picture on the left is from this game. The one on the right is from Christmas. They are both, I have no doubt, "desert."

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The other main reason for my visit is to finally see my new nephew, Will. He seems very good-natured, but he is also a spit-up machine. He spits up so often and at such volume that everyone was a little concerned until a doctor explained that it is completely natural.

Still, the spit-up comes frequently and in huge gushes. At one point I didn't even see it happen, but heard it and the sound was like liquid being squeezed from an athletic water bottle.

He is also quite strong for his age, like the Hulk, if the Hulk spit up a lot.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One of the main reasons for my trip to Ohio is to see my grandmother and check out the nursing home where she's staying. It seems reasonably nice, I suppose, clean, but as Grandma said, "When I get in bed, I look up at the ceiling and think, is this where I'm going to live?"

Grandma: This is where Ralph died, you know.
Me: He did?
Grandma: He was here a couple weeks after the hospital. Cancer.
Me: I thought it happened in the hospital.
Grandma: No, he died in this place. I just figured out what room last week. It took me a while to figure it out because it's over on the other side of the building.

My two year old nephew, Ty, was with me, and as we were saying goodbye, Grandma leaned down to him and said, maybe joking, maybe not, "Take me with you."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Hometown, Ohio. The present.

Mom: I thought your camera was broken.
Me: Well, it is broken. Something's broken on the little door in front of the lens, so the camera doesn't know when it's on. I have to hold it open at a weird angle to trun it on. It's awkward, and I keep accidentally turning it off midpicture, but I can get it to work.

To demonstrate, I surprised both of my parents by taking a picture of them

Mom: Oh great. I'm sure I looked like a real winner in that picture. With some of the pictures of me that end up on your blog, I think I wish your camera was broken.
Me: I think I can keep it working until the end of the month.

All joking aside, that exchange did happen at Cheddars, but I'm using this picture instead because it's more flattering.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I took this picture on December 4, 2004.

Living in Arizona, with N, I always wanted to take pictures of her and she hated it. So, sometimes I would be sneaky. For this picture I hid the camera in my lap and just as we were about to kiss, I took it.

Of course, taking the picture stopped the kiss from actually happening. A giant flash of light went off, N looked at me, looked down at the camera, sighed.

Sometimes I wonder if this blog is like that.

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