Saturday, July 21, 2007

Gimmeme Five!

Who can pass up a meme on a pleasant Saturday afternoon at naptime? Not I! From DCRMom (Musings of a Housewife).

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Heavens, I can't remember what I was doing 10 minutes ago, but I'll give it a stab. (Bear in mind I'm 40, so anything I contend to recollect merely proximates the truth.) Hmmm...That would be Nineteen Hundred and Ninety Seven. Now let... me... see... Oh, oh yes, here's a moment that encapsulates the desperation of the entire summer of '97.

Actually, this month marks the 10th anniversary of a strangely monumental day in my life. That day, I stared newfound independence (and the limitations of my bladder, but we'll get to that part in a bit) dead in the face with a mixture of hope and terror.

Up until that summer, I'd always dwelled among family, college roommates, or with my husband. But that year my young marriage was withering, I was separated from my husband and staring down the barrel of a divorce, living hours from my parents and sister. Apart from a few casual friends from work, I was on completely my own in metropolitan Atlanta. Returning to my hot apartment late in the day July 3rd, I changed from my work suit into shorts and a tanktop, and flopped down in front of the TV to polish off my newly adopted single-woman's dinner of a quarter of an ice cold watermelon. On the evening news, local reporters hawked a plethora of pre-holiday concerts, parades and festivities all over the city. I'd no plans to attend these or any other such celebrations... I really couldn't contemplate the idea of seeking any sort of new companionship now, after so many years of having a guaranteed "date" everywhere I went. And I wouldn't be spending time with my family since I only had the holiday off and was due back at work bright and early on the 5th.

After getting my fill of news, I went through my usual docket of evening duties: scooping the cat litter, checking the mail, and heading out onto the balcony to water a dejected pot of flowers that was quickly giving up the ghost in the summer heat. Now, though I lived inside the city limits of Atlanta and spitting distance from downtown, my balcony, three stories up, protruded over a deep and densely wooded ravine. I had always loved that I could drive (or ride the train) a few minutes out of Midtown's booming business district - busy streets lined with skyscapers, museums, bars and restaurants - and be at home in what seemed like the wilderness. On that balcony I could neither see nor hear (beyond the distant rumbling of the 16-lane highway that bisects the city) anything that belied my proximity to a major urban hub. I'd sat for hours on that balcony, contemplating my marriage, my life experiences, my dreams, my heartache... everything... and I'd always done so uninterrupted by any other human soul. I was alone in an isolated treehouse in the sky, and until today, the aloneness had served me well.

Stepping out onto the wooden floor of the balcony, I quickly turned to close the door to prevent the cat, a proven escape artist and daredevil, from exiting behind me and shimmy-ing up or down from our forest perch, onto the roof or into the ravine. I'd no desire to spend the waning hours of daylight and dusk plodding around outside trying to locate an illusive and very very adventurous kitty. Sure enough, he'd seen the door open and bolted at top speed toward me, his eye on freedom. I quickly (all too quickly) grabbed the handle and slammed the door shut with such force it jarred loose the safety bar on the inside of the door. I observed the bar falling across the track of the door in scary slow motion, rendering me a virtual prisoner on my own treetop perch, three stories up, looking back at the cat, who, unharmed, meowed at me with unshrouded indignance and ire in his green eyes. After apologizing to the cat, I began to contemplate my own precarious situation. I was high above solid ground on a wooden balcony overlooking a ravine full of spindly pines, scrubby thornbushes, and a conservatively estimated four hundred and eleventy million thirsty mosquitoes. (You'll harken back to it being July. In Atlanta.) At my disposal on the balcony were two pots of wilted red impatiens, two black wrought iron chairs and a rusted bistro table, one bladder already beginning to whimper about the half-gallon of watermelon juice flooding the plumbing, one tank top and one pair of shorts and about 3 cubic miles of exposed skin. I was barefoot and already beginning to sweat, and as I gazed about and took stock, I realized in an instant, this here was a predicament of prodigious proportions.

Thanks to my newly found independence, I pondered, there was NO ONE ON THIS WHOLE PLANET, (much less within shrieking distance) who would notice at all if I remained stuck on that balcony until the day after tomorrow. My soon to be ex would assume, even if he called (which he wouldn't) the apartment and didn't get an answer, that I was out having fun somewhere. Same with anyone in my family. None of my co-workers would call. I couldn't call anyone... the phone was inside and although I'd made several serious attempts using peanut butter and masking tape, I hadn't been able to train the cat to dial it. So, basically, I could quite possibly be discovered oh, maybe 48 hours from now, the hovering mosquitoes having long ago syphoned off the last few drops of my blood. I'd have spent my final living and functional moments peeing out 2 liters of watermelon juice and scrawling out a meaningful elegy on the glass door using only my feeble fingertip and a paste of dehydrated impatiens petals. The other side of the door would be smeared and dotted with cat snot and pawprints from the nose and feet of the cat who would still be glowering at me over foiling his plans for escape. If he had made it outside, I considered ironically, as I stood there still alive, I could have written a note pleading for help for his mistress (who could be found hopping up and down, crosslegged and scratching herself like she had a catastrophic flea infestation, right around here behind this building... yes yes, up there, on that third floor balcony, behind those dead flowers!) and tucked it into his collar, and perhaps have been rescued without having to do what I DID eventually decide rather piteously that I had to do, which was to begin to WAIL (because to simply shout would not have conveyed the urgency I felt about this whole situation), HEEEEEEEEEEEEELP MEEEEEEEEE! PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!! HEEEELP OH HEEEEEEEELP! I knew that as the evening wore on, fewer and fewer of the single, hip youngsters inhabiting the complex with me would all be gone soon, partying it up at any or all of the events I'd heard hyped just moments ago while I was eagerly horking down the watermelon whose juice was now backed up past my eyeballs. To commence the caterwalling expeditiously was crucial to my survival. As I keened pathetically into a dusky hollow of boughs, branches and thicket, I felt the aching aloneness of my present life and wondered fleetingly if the future would be worth survival, anyway.

Moments later, I believe no more than 7 moments, I heard footsteps through the scrub below. From around the corner crept a youngish guy, my age or a little younger, looking up. I peered over the railing, sheeplishly. And thus began my physical rescue - moments later I was back in my home in a hot bath, having hastily liberated the watermelon juice inundating my lower regions, the whole ordeal having lasted just over an hour. Emotional rescue was longer in the making - my heart foundered in the wilderness of confusion and disillusion for half a decade. Ask me where I was 5 years ago and hear a considerably more providencial tale, full of redemption and miracles. Another day, another post.

Five snacks you enjoy:

1) Pretzel/cheese Combos
2) Watermelon (IRONY!)
3) Sourdough bread and warm, soft butter
4) Fried Okra (yes, even served lukewarm as a snack, it is pure heaven.)
5) Smoked almonds

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics:

1) Sweet Baby James - James Taylor
2) The Power of Two - Indigo Girls
3) Overjoyed - Stevie Wonder
4) Some Children See Him - Alfred Burt
5) You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile - from Broadway's Annie

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1) Encourage hubby take a year or two off from working to finish the degree he's working on.
2) Travel with hubby, Bean, family and friends.
3) Hire Stacy and Clinton of TVs What Not to Wear (and you too, Nick and Carmindy) to coax out the middle-aged fashionista in me.
4) Finish the basement and put in hardwoods on the main level of my house.
5) Invest for Bean's future.

I ran out of money after number 3, but this is all theoretical and one must consider my phat negotiating skillz and the impact they might have on the bottom line.

Five bad habits:

1) Biting my cuticles. GROSS!
2) Eating when I'm not hungry.
3) Fidgeting.
4) Blogging too long and having to rush around to accomplish my "real" resposibilities.
5) Not returning phonecalls.

Five things you like to do:

1) Fritter away hours doing nothing of import with hubby and Bean.
2) Cook.
3) Eat.
4) Talk and think about cooking and eating.
5) Travel. Luxuriously.

Five things you would never hope to never wear again:

1) Those hideous chunky shoes. With the squared toes!
2) Pants that come up past my belly button - unattractive and NOW! Extra-confining!
3) Clip on earrings. One word: Permaheadache.
4) Sweaters with ribbed bottoms. (I call them "blob sweaters.")
5) An immobilizing neck brace or cervical collar. Torture!

Five favorite toys:

1) My laptop.
2) My camera.
3) My microplane (kitchen gadget).
4) My husband's new wireless speakers.
5) My All-Clad skillet and chef's knife.


  1. You, my dear, are an excellent writer! I am enjoying your blog so much!

    And I'm awful about returning phone calls.

  2. this here was a predicament of prodigious proportions.
    Perfect! I will now be stealing this phrase from you and plunking it down in everyday conversation, and my friends will think I am ever so witty and wise for coming up with such an alliterative and charming little phrase!

    Ask me where I was 5 years ago and hear a considerably more providencial tale, full of redemption and miracles. Another day, another post.
    I will be holding you to this!

    I also would love to have Stacy and Clinton on payroll. Yes, fine by me!

  3. Megan, if it were me out on that balcony, the front door to my apartment would be locked. How did your rescue go? Was the door unlocked? A hidden key? Did that stranger have to go get a key from the manager? Did he stay long after he let you back in?

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. You had to delete a comment? I'm curious but I won't ask. Not really. ;)

    So.. what were you up to 5 years ago? Because you know. We HAVE to know now.

    I can't believe I picked THIS weekend to be internetless most of the time, when you posted so much. I am behind, argh!