Wednesday, May 21, 2014

chapter 2

Chapter 2

Living On

“All of what we see and seem, is but a dream within a dream.”
-Edgar Allen Poe

The thought of finding that old observation still fresh in my mind, the second day at work surprisingly went by pretty smoothly. My kids were pretty much all in school on time, I had received phone calls from parents if they were home sick, and once again documented everything. EVERYTHING.
It’s the best feeling when work ended without a hitch and everything was accomplished to my liking. I really don’t want anymore drama and was hoping that the situation in aforementioned rebuttal would never resurface.
When I got into my car (a green Mercedes. Used, thank you very much. I’m only a guidance counselor, after all. Not a media mogul, though that would be awesome.) I turned the key into the ignition and waited for Eddie to warm up, excited to have experienced such an easy day and ready to go home and relax.
Yes. I’ve named my automobile Eddie. Once I found this car, I realized it was a match made in heaven and went for it. We’ve been happy ever since. Another thing going right in my life. Meanwhile, hating the cold, I pushed the button to the CD player to load my Jimmy Buffet songs and began driving home-dreaming of a life where me and Michael were happy and together and under a palm tree enjoying tropical beverages from inside of coconuts.
When I pulled up on the block by my apartment 30 minutes later, I was more than a little tired. I picked up my bag, this week my large tan Kenneth Cole tote, big enough to fit everything in it and began to make my way to the apartment building.  
As I went to turn the key into the lock, I heard a scratching noise from the other side of the door followed by a snuffle.
Mooshoo! I hurriedly picked up my mail and unlocked the door to my apartment.
“Hello, my baby! Did you make a mess everywhere today?” I ask. Mooshoo wags his tail in response.
Mooshoo is my baby (other than Eddie. 2 of the few things that brighten up my day.) He is a white Maltese puppy who has a big black nose and a character all his own. I adopted him from a couple of actors when he was only eight months old, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. I also knew it was a match made in heaven, since I am such a Disney movie fanatic, and he happens to be named after the small and fiesty dragon in Mulan.
I’m sure he hopes that his original owners become famous one day, but right now, I think he’s pretty happy with just me. He continues to dance around in joy with his pink and white striped T-Shirt. So what if he was a boy? The funny thing was, given a selection of clothing to choose from, he always went after the pink stuff. Mooshoo points at anything that’s pink (could be a sock; could be a bra) and runs around with it. Such a happy puppy.
As I scoop up Mooshoo, I feel the waggling of his tail behind my arm. He is wiggling out of control. Pretty soon, Mooshoo began his daily routine of one thousand licks before retreating to his spot under the big chair to lick himself. Ick, I thought to myself as I began to push through the refrigerator. Puppies. Well, at least he seemed to be satisfied with himself.
I take off my black Coach pea-coat, and take a look around the place. Home. My home. Unlike other peoples humble abodes, anyone who walks in here knows that it’s MY place. There’s no way that someone would not be able to tell.
The walls are painted a fire engine red, and the big chair appears as if it was taken out of a well-known lawyers office, circa 1800s. The couch is brown and looks sleek, until you attempt to sit in it and get sucked in by the luxury that is fluffiness. It would make anyone feel better, even if just a little, at the end of a long day.
I sit on that couch for a minute to gather myself and notice the books stacked on the coffee table, next to my magazines. Of course, not far off from those is a pile of various books: books of fashion, psychotherapy texts, and the DSM-IV. I take a look at where I dropped the mail that I bought in, on my marble table that I only purchased because it looks as if it came from a castle way back when.
I move on to the kitchen after kicking off my shoes (Guess faux-snakeskin stilettos). I wander into my bedroom and take a deep breath. I’ve always read in magazines that bedrooms are supposed to make you feel serene and calm, and put you to sleep easier. I’ve always loved this room just because it made me feel that way. My walls are painted a deep yellow, that I imagine you would find in a Spanish-style Villa in New Mexico. It’s a habit of mine, peeling off my clothes from the day in here and pulling on my pink Victoria’s Secret PINK pajama top and sweatpants which I always leave conveniently on my four-post California King sized bed.
It was a must to have such a big bed, and I had figured not so long ago that it would have been mine and Jim’s- never forgetting about the fact that I sleep like I’m insane. I toss and turn and stretch in an unnatural position. Jim always woke up asking me if I had hurt myself in the middle of the night.
Now, here’s the toughie- should I snuggle under the covers and then pass out? No, that would lead me to getting absolutely nothing done.
Changing my mind, I quickly walk into the kitchen. The good thing is, walking into my kitchen also gives me a great relief. It‘s where I sometimes take out all my frustrations on cooking, and I LOVE my own food. I enjoy cooking for others, like my friends and family (and back then, Jim). It makes me happy to know that at least what I’m cooking, I enjoy eating. Which is weird- I know a great many people who cook but can‘t stand to eat their own food. Jim’s mother used to be one of them and she was such a fantastic cook, that the only woman she claims to rival her was her husband’s mother. It‘s something I‘ve never understood.
Great. I haven’t gone food shopping in about a week. I suddenly realize that there is also nothing in the cabinets. As I feel myself give in to the temptation of making Macaroni and Cheese, I figure that it was a good choice since Mooshoo is going to eat most of it anyway. He loved most of the things that I ate, and wasn’t picky one bit. About food, that is.
Most of my portions went to him as well, and he was just about the tiniest Maltese you would ever see. Ironically, when I heard when Rachael Ray came out with a puppy food line and I went to go purchase it for Mooshoo to try, he didn’t even go near the stuff. Go figure. He thinks he’s people.
My train of thought was interrupted when the telephone rang. Trying to juggle a dish and the strainer for the pasta, I struggled to pick up the hot pink phone. The caller ID box said it was my parent’s international cell phone number.
“Hi, Mom. What’s up?”, I said, as the strainer clattered into the sink.
“Hi. How’d you know it was me?”
“Caller ID, Ma.”
“Oh. Well, it could have been your father.”
“He doesn’t call at this time”, I answered, shaking the lime green strainer about so excess water can drip into the sink.
“Blah, blah, blah. Your sister is complaining about the kids again”, Mom says between sounds of chewing.
“What else is new? What are you eating?” My mother loves to call me when she’s eating.
“ A crepe. She says that your nephew received another 27 on a vocabulary test. She’s wondering why you don’t go over there and help him out. You do leave work around three”, she swallows, obviously still eating.
I sigh. “Ma, we‘ve been over this before. I go over there, and he yells that he‘s playing video games. I get him to stop, get a good half hour of work in, and then his mother comes home and distracts him. He whines when I make him study, and we end up arguing until I leave.”
“He looks up to you.”
“Then, he could suck it up and do homework. I‘ve told you, I‘m only going over there a couple of times a week because my sanity can‘t take it after the days I‘ve been having.”
“What’s wrong? What‘s going on?”
“Ma, where are you calling from?”, I question while mixing butter with the Mac-and-Cheese cheese into the pasta.
“We stopped in Turkey to look around…”
“Well, when are you coming back home?”, not even hesitating about this location. My parents go everywhere, and there’s rarely a lull in their travels, business or other.
“Oh, well that’s what I called to tell you! This weekend.”
“Alright, don’t worry. I’ll come by Sunday,” I stated, twirling a curl around my finger.
“Come by whenever Sunday. Mi casa es su casa. We can catch up. But what‘s wrong with you?”
“Ugh. I had a dream again.” I cringed at the thought of what my Mother would say, because there was no way to ever know for sure.
“Oh.” Silence. “Which dream?”
There we go.
“Great-Aunts came back. This time in an elevator.”
Silence. Then, “Well, what did they say?”
“I don’t know. The brunette was livid. I wish I knew her name.”
“Again? She’s getting on my last nerve…livid about what? Maybe she could tell you what it is AND offer you her name!”
“I don’t remember.”
“Darla! I told you that you have to…”
“Ma, I can’t control what I do or don’t remember after I wake up. If they really wanted me to, don’t you think I’d remember SOMETHING?”
“No. They’ve been driving you crazy since you’ve been young.”
“Yes. Whatever it is though, I feel as if I should be careful…”
“Of what? Honey, are you OK? I don’t need to stay in Turkey…” How she was going to get back home as soon as possible was already running through her mind, I could just tell.
“Relax, Ma. It’s not some horrible feeling. Just a dull ache, that’s all.”
Yelling in the background. Daddy’s home. Here’s my chance…
“Love you, Ma. Say hi to Daddy. Have fun.”
“Wait! Ugh. Fine. Love you. I’ll have fun.“, she half-growls into the phone.
“Bye, Ma!”
Sigh. Sunday. It seems like it’ll take an eternity to get here!

Sitting in front of the television with my luxe dinner of the Macaroni n Cheese, I wondered if it was better to have a roommate to share these things with. Food, talks of first dates, last dates, someone to watch late-night movies with…or was it better to keep those things to yourself while pondering over the meaning of life in your underwear? Hmm.
Forking my pasta, I think to myself how there are times (plenty of times) when I wondered if my life would ever change. It felt like the same routine day in and day out. Ugh.
After dinner, I begin taking the remaining macaroni from my copper pot (from France. It was my Grandmothers but she gave it to me as a housewarming gift, stating that practically my entire family tree from her side had eaten food from that very pot!), and sticking it in a Tupperware, I think about my life never changing.
That’s what gives me the feeling as if I’m crazy. I wondered why there were times where I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Belle always wanted more, just like me. When I set a goal for myself, I stuck to it, and I got it. Usually. I was always happy and never bored. Right now, feeling like there is nothing more to work for in the near future. I have my career, and my friends, and a roof over my head. Good, sturdy furniture, great clothes, money in my pocket. Shouldn’t that be enough?
“I guess not”, I thought to myself. I finished the last forkful of Macaroni and Cheese and got up to quickly wash the plate, and Mooshoo’s bowl, and crawl into bed.
Deep down inside, I am proud of the life I’ve created for myself. When I graduated from junior high school, it was with the same 25 kids in class that had been there since the beginning of the 6th grade. High school seemed to be a high and low point in my life, high since that’s where me and Mariah bonded, and learned what it meant to be a true friend. I decided to open my journal and begin writing:

Dear Journal:
I know that at this point in time, the 25 other classmates I had back in Junior High, are either raising their children already or at least trying to get settled in their career/job choice. I was past that…or procrastinating that.
My train of thought was interrupted when the telephone rang. The caller ID said it was Mariah.
“Hey, sorry I had to run out before. I wanted to tell you that my schedule has cleared up for Thursday, so I'm going to call Nick today to see if he will be able to meet us in Brooklyn.”
“How don’t you breathe while saying all that?”
“Don’t be cute. Anyway, Isabel is going to see if she has a promo that night, and if not she is going to come. Stacey can’t come ‘cause she has bridal fittings. Should I invite Vicky? Then again I don't want to see her crew. Sara is in Brooklyn right? Give me ideas of who else to invite.”, she seemed to say in one breath.
“I can’t believe you talk that fast. Anyway- oh my god!! Don't call him, that'll make you seem desperate!!” Nick was this guy who she had been involved with on and off for the last year. I didn’t like him because he didn’t treat her the way he should have. That, and it seemed like he wasn’t going very far with his life.
“Hm. I don’t know. I just got a text from Vicky. She said she has an overnight call, so who does that leave us with?” Mariah muttered.
“Ask Sara. We should make for a fun night.”
“OK. I’m also calling Nick to make sure he’s there.“ She giggled. Sigh. You can’t win them all I thought, especially with Mariah.
She continued, “I’m going to actually see him after a month! Call you back!” She said before I heard the click of the phone disconnecting.
That’s one quirk Mariah’s got. It seems like she's got everything going for her, but not a brain in her head when it comes to men. I went back to journaling.
Me and Mariah were always very different. Mariah is doing well for herself except in the department of men. It’s as if she believes that she doesn’t deserve to be treated well. She wants a guy who can create such a challenge for her that she winds up getting hurt. Worst, she claims that without lust, that she’ll never be in love. That’s something I don’t understand, and I’m sure something that she doesn’t quite understand either. Eve and me have spent years fighting her on this to no avail. We have come to accept her as she is…and just try to change the subject really quick.

The phone rang again. “Alright,” Mariah said from the other line, “Sara gets home from work at 7:30 and wants to meet up with us. She’s excited. I’ll call up Jodie and find out the details of Level and whatnot. I had a really bad day at work.”
“I know. So you deserve peace and quiet, and to relax.”
“Yeah. Whatever. I just need to do something different.”
“Aren’t you always doing something different? Try sleeping instead. Try giving yourself some more respect. It could be fun.”
“Yes. Well, bye! Love you!”, another click disconnecting the line.
Sometimes, I know Mariah feels the same way I do. That she too, feels in the depth of her soul that this is not where we ultimately want to be, and I have no idea what it is that I really want, and she probably hasn‘t a clue what she wants either. I know I want to be in love, traveling, planning a family, be happy…
And shop. Big addiction. Sometimes big problem. Not to be taken lightly on a guidance counselor’s salary. Sometimes, I feel that I’ve made it a pastime to search the internet for shopping deals, and sample sales. This is what I usually do on nights that I am the most bored, and do not want to succumb to the temptation to the chocolate and red wine. Even though I always keep them in the apartment, I don‘t go near them unless I absolutely have to. Lately, my quick grocery shopping usually consists of these two things, for what better dessert can one have than chocolate and red wine?
No, I say out loud while closing my journal. That’s probably what I usually do on the nights that I was most seeking comfort. Bubble bath, glass of red wine, some chocolate and sleep.
Sleep was something that only came when I think about Michael.  My mind is like a ticker tape that I can’t shut off once head hit pillow. Me and Michael on a vacation, on a cruise, tanning, dining, wine tasting. Sometimes I can't see the face and I'm always left wondering if it's Michael or Jim I'm truly thinking about. It is a list of things that I want for myself, with a little tidbit of the work I have to do the next day mixed in. Before bed, I think about how hard it is to find someone who loves me, who loves doing the same things as I do. Since I was a little girl, I dreamt about the perfect mate.
Amongst other things.
Sigh. Doesn’t everyone?
Tucking myself under the covers after throwing Mooshoo on the bed was not an easy task. Reason being that Mooshoo always gets comfortable first and then I have a hard time trying to move away the big lug. Yes. He’s small, but mighty.
Once he gets on the bed he likes to pretend that he’s out cold and weighs a ton, so that it’s more difficult for me to move him over. Sometimes I think of it as my nighttime exercise routine, trying to accomplish comfort and trying to settle Mooshoo at the same time. When it takes longer than usual, I know that I’m going to be in for a long day again tomorrow.
Of course.

From: Isabel
To: Mariah;
Subject: 10 Quirky Facts About Kissing
10 Quirky Facts About Kissing

By Laura Schaefer; the author of Man with Farm Seeks Woman with Tractor: The Best and Worst Personal Ads of All Time.
Think you know a thing or two about kissing? You probably do. But the facts below are so off the beaten path, we'll bet you don't know them all -- and they could come in handy. Not only could they provide some steamy "Did you know...?" chit chat, but they'll help you see all the benefits a satisfying lip lock can bring into your life. Happy smooching!

1. Two out of every three couples turn their heads to the right when they kiss.
2. A simple peck uses two muscles; a passionate kiss, on the other hand, uses all 34 muscles in your face. Now that's a rigorous workout!
3. Men who kiss their partners before leaving for work average higher incomes than those who don't.
4. Kissing is good for what ails you. Research shows that the act of smooching improves our skin, helps circulation, prevents tooth decay, and can even relieve headaches.
5. The average person spends 336 hours of his or her life kissing.
6. Ever wonder how an "X" came to represent a kiss? Starting in the Middle Ages, people who could not read used an X as a signature. They would kiss this mark as a sign of sincerity. Eventually, the X came to represent the kiss itself.
7. Talk about a rush! Kissing releases the same neurotransmitters in our brains as parachuting, bungee jumping, and running.
8. The average woman kisses 29 men before she gets married.
9. Like fingerprints or snowflakes, no two lip impressions are alike.
10. The longest kiss in movie history was between Jane Wyman and Regis Tommey in the 1941 film, You're in the Army Now. It lasted 3 minutes and 5 seconds. So if you've beaten that record, it's time to celebrate!
What was wrong with her? I always found it hysterical that for one who has claimed to be a workaholic, that she always has a time for scheduling and executing her own social gatherings, and actually sending out forwards as well as actual e-mails.
Isabel is my first cousin on my Father’s side. She knew Mariah for about a minute when we were young, but met her again during an elective course in college. They had hit it off, and when I introduced Mariah and Isabel to each other they wound up becoming the best of friends.
Isabel has a huge personality, amusing even for her petite frame. Of course, her red hair that always hangs in waves to her shoulders and piercing green eyes might sometimes suggest a hint of temper. This is the reason I believe that we get along so well.
Our distinct personality characteristics bonded the three of us ladies: workaholics, shopaholics. Shopaholics when we had the means, of course. There were times where a few months can go by for the three of us where the only connection we’ll have to each other is telephones and e-mails and the like.
Isabel works with a PR company in Manhattan. It suits her, and she actually has a lot of chances to meet up with Mariah if she is still in Manhattan for lunches, and to prep for company parties. I, too, had attempted to pursue my career in the wonder that is Manhattan, but my path had kept me in Queens for the time being. Though I have no complaints about Queens (it is where I’ve lived my entire life, so how could I?) I sometimes wondered if I am missing anything in Manhattan. Would I enjoy the hustle and bustle? The noise and the endless crowds of people rushing this way and that way during every season? Would I love to look out the window at the snow-covered sky scrapers during the winter, and the foliage in Central Park in the fall?
Of course I would. I’m not that big of an idiot.
Needless to say, when the three of us have the chance to get together, one can have a hard time trying to get us to shut up. We are always gossiping and making plans, talking about recipes for a great comfort dinner or the future, or men. There were times I thought about where I’d be without my friends. I’ve been blessed with great ones who have never led me down a wrong path. If anything, they put me on the right path while chasing me with their stilettos in hand!

The next morning had started off all wrong anyway.
First, I awoke dreamless and realized that my alarm clock didn’t ring, mainly because I fell asleep watching Sex and the City reruns until the wee hours. Lately, that’s the way I’ve been falling asleep, which lets me KNOW that I’m at a stand-still.
Then, I got stuck in traffic trying to get to work in time. This is when I started thinking to myself how my career/job was the only thing that was going right in my life right now.
Of course, the first day almost ever that I was late for work, the principal had decided to call a first ever recorded, first period meeting to which I had to be even more late for by the time I ran to my office and obtained all my records.
I knew I should have stayed in bed.
Before I even realize it, it’s the next morning again.
“How I loathe thee, work week,” were the first words I spoke upon waking.
Thankfully, it’s about an hour before I’m officially supposed to wake up. I figured at this point I can boil some spinach for my spinach and rice dinner and read some of my e-mails. I flip open my pink laptop and log on. Apparently, in one day I can receive over 50 e-mails (from friends and for fun: Victoria’s Secret, Daily Candy, Frommer’s…) and sometimes I’ll receive none at all.
It was a 50+ e-mail kind of day.
The next one I get is from Doug at work, who, although he was Michael’s best friend, has also become a good friend of mine. That’s the nice thing about working where I am, the fact that the staff has somehow formed this family, like the Brady Bunch. That’s probably because the students drive us crazy and the amount of drama within the building, but anyway…
I opened up Doug's e-mail:

From: Doug Glanow
To: Darla Finch

I hope I get to see you, & P at my show!! This show might knock the earth off its axis!!! It’s 2 Saturdays from this weekend, so put it down in that ridiculous agenda book everyone sees you carrying around! It’s going to be at my place is Brooklyn.
People been getting excited about it, and Keith, he says he'll try to be there, but- I’m gonna keep pressuring him. Haven’t seen you around work lately, where’ve you been?

From: Darla Finch
To: Doug Glanow

I can't wait! I miss you! Me and the others have been locked in our offices trying to get everything done from the powers that be, and actually service these children all at the same time. We'll see each other soon... I will try to make my way down to the first floor for lunch today. It’ll be the first time I’ve had lunch in 3 days. And my agenda book is not ridiculous, but thank you for noticing my organizational skills!

The following e-mail was one of the many documents to hit my hot pink files the next morning:

Requests of the UFT Executive Board
November 29, 2007
The UFT executive board, as representatives of the teachers at Middle School, request the following:
1)there should be clear distinctions between formal and informal observation reports. A labeled listing whether the report is formal or informal would be sufficient.
2) if the observation is informal, no lines for a teachers signature should appear anywhere on the report.
3) ratings should be uniform throughout, and based only on numbers, rather than a combination of numbers and letter grades.
4) observation reports, both formal and informal, should contain both commendation and recommendations to support the teachers improvement.

Wonderful. Just like the dreams I’ve been having since birth, the onslaught of these list-type memos were almost too much for me to bear. Thank you for informing the faculty of these facts, but shouldn’t they be forwarded to the principal and his “committee”? In my opinion, they left much to be desired.
Our monthly family dinner back home couldn’t come fast enough. I needed to unload my 

stress, fast. It looked like things would be crazy until next Friday night.

(See you two weeks from today with chapter 3-- thank you so much for reading!!)

No comments:

Post a Comment