Monday, April 25, 2005

If I am unable to recognize or interact with friends or family members, I still expect gifts.*

Well of course! Gifts, candles, cakes, especially in April.

Okay, please do not tell me I am overdoing the birthday thing. It’s not that I am fiendishly obsessed with April 21st. I did not even post about the day this week-end where I just happen to mention to the Nitty Gritty wait-staff that it indeed was my birth…week (they asked!), which resulted in an additional round of singing, clapping and, most importantly – a gift of a Nitty mug and unlimited free refills on beer until midnight. It is too bad that my dining friend was pressing to leave (embarrassed by this apparent birthday fixation? maybe) – I may have been tempted to raise a toast – one at a time – to all the wonderful people on the planet who also enjoy a birthday on April 21st.

Seriously, what I think I have to note here is that my life is one big disconnected heap of vignettes and disparately positioned people who barely know of each other’s existence. And so the fact that I have so many kind souls taking it upon themselves to wish me a happy day is largely a sign of how pathetic I am – in need of this kind of pat on the back – and also how separated my spheres of orbit are.

Tonight, one sphere is certainly shining through. Tom and his wife, Suzanne, baked me a b’day tart and I have to say this: in all my decades upon decades of life, I have never ever had anyone bake me anything for my birthday. Ever. Not even my mother (who is no cook and has possibly never baked anything in her entire life, which is a good thing). No one in my immediate family has ever cracked an egg and mixed batter, ever. Not even into a cake mix.

And so – a big thank you is in order: it is a first, and knowing their baking skills, worth waiting for.

P.S. It is over now, correct? I mean, no more birthday posts?
Wrong. One more, whereby the two most brilliant and gorgeous (I swear!) women in the world are picking up the tab on a lunch next week in New York at a restaurant of my choice. It can be any place! Will I make a fool of myself and escort my camera into a fine dining establishment in New York just so I can photo-post about it later? Is the Pope German? And please, if you have had a most decadently wild and wonderful meal in the city recently, write and tell me where so that I can call and try to get a reservation. I already know what I will wear – just not where I will wear it to.

* "Living Will," by Paul Rudnick, this week’s New Yorker
A Tom specialty: peanut butter mousse covered with chocolate Posted by Hello

Playing tag with the clock

Of all the bizarre quirky things that I do these days, perhaps the very weirdest is my “get up on the five” rule. I will not get out of bed unless the digit 5 is displayed on the clock. Why that particular rule should be in place is so insanely nutty as to not be worthy of mention here. I am sure not a single reader would come back to Ocean if he or she knew how twisted and convoluted my thinking on this is.

Also notable and considerably less crazy is my internal alarm clock which always has me wake up seconds before the anointed get-up time for the day. Sometimes I wake up a good deal earlier, but always, always, all my life, even when I was a young parent and totally sleep deprived, I would wake up at 6:29 if the get up time was set for 6:30 that morning.

Of course, given my “on the five” fancy, these days I would not get up if I opened my eyes and noted the 6:29. I would wait until the digit five appeared and so I would allow myself a doze until 6:35 made its presence known.

But sometimes I miss it by just a few seconds and just as I am about to throw back the quilt, the clock hits 6:36 and then I know I can (have to?) go back for a quick snooze because it will be another nine minutes before I see the saintly 5.

It’s easiest to start this at 5:00 a.m. because then I can cheat and tell myself that there is indeed a five and then I can get up whenever I damn please, at least for the next 59 minutes. It's like the Sunday of wake up times -- I am given the gift of procrastination within that hour.

Am I superstitious? Of course not! Science rules my life and thoughts and I haven’t made bargains with mystical forces ever in my entire life.

So why don’t I wean myself of this fancy for the five? (It has happened that I will have missed so many rise-at-five opportunities in one morning that I make myself dangerously close to being late for life’s important events.) I don’t abandon the silliness because it is a challenge and it is fun. That’s it. Some people turn on the morning news and wallow in all the tragedies that befell the planet in the hours when they slept. Good for them – if it helps push them out the door. I choose the self-amusement track.

(I am very glad though that I only have one more morning class to teach this semester. I pictured myself many times explaining to the dean why I skipped class on a dysfunctional-five-day and I could not find sane-sounding words to explain it. By next semester I am positive I will switch morning games. It's not fun nor is it a challenge if it goes on too long.)

Where the author of Ocean takes up knitting in a desperate attempt to feel connected to the world around her

So everyone knits these days. My neighbors all knit. Students knit. The world knits. [Admittedly, men do not knit. Why don’t men knit?]

I taught myself how to knit some decades back but I have only once completed a knitting project and it was more than two dozen years ago. I was brooding, the skies were dark and full of ill will, it seemed the thing to do in a Madame Lafarge sort of way.

Why knit now? If others are telling me “you should try it” and it’s legal, there aren’t many things that I would say no to, at least for a one shot deal.

So I bought some fancy needles that have a plastic tube connecting them, making it all look like a feeding tube which definitely has weird connotations these days, but still – that’s what I was told to buy.

And I bought yarn – little balls in many shades of purple green and taupe.

And yesterday afternoon two very patient neighbors came over and showed me what to do. I will, hereafter, be knitting a scarf when I am watching a DVD or sitting in a car and not driving. Because I am all about finishing impulsive projects.

[Why don’t men knit?]

The crucial question, I suppose, is how many hours in the course of any day do I devote to watching DVDs or sitting in a car and not driving? Not many. Not to worry! There isn’t a person I know who is in desperate need of a scarf at the moment. And who knows what life-altering events will place me (in a state of physical or mental incapacity) perpetually in front of a TV screen in the months to come. I am prepared. Plus I have the nifty little plastic tube if my other ones ever fail me.