Let’s get this over with.
Things came to a head with the neighbor, so I am hoping this will be my last dispatch about her. A couple of days after the shrub incident I discovered that something else had taken place earlier that day. I spoke to my contractor the following Monday morning and he said that she had trespassed into the house and yelled at the electrician on Friday, demanding to know where we were and telling him that she “had to talk to us.”
I filed a police report and the cops spoke to the electrician, who gave his account. Now we’re on no contact. I am left scratching my head over what made us so infuriating on that particular day that she had to burst into the house and begin yelling. I cannot come up with an answer, so I am going to go with “is crazy.” Naturally she had the no-contact order extended to us as well. The funny part (in a way) is that the only time we’ve contacted her was to knock on her door to ask her to stop digging up our yard.
Anyway, lately it probably seems like all I think about is my crazy neighbor. I guess in reality it’s something less personal and dramatic I can write about. There’s a lot of old ground I don’t feel like retreading lately. It’s for the best, not to bulldog everything until it’s shaken into shreds. Also, I am an insane Bisy Backson. I feel like my time is claimed from the time I wake up until I lay down in bed. I stand at work all day so some days I feel like I don’t even stop moving until it’s bedtime. I suppose there’s dinner, too, though.
I had my sister over for dinner last night and we talked about being on cruise control and what the year is shaping up to be. She was saying she doesn’t have any burning goals right now, nor any huge obstacles.
“I keep thinking I should get a hobby, but there’s nothing else I really want to be doing,” she said, while I stirred my bologese.
“She’s 26,” I said to P. by way of explanation, who was listening.
“You’re just living!” he said. “That starts to happen in your late twenties if you’re doing okay.”
It was funny to hear her talk about her life with some wisdom and calm clarity, as opposed to the kind that comes with “this crisis is happening and I just had this epiphany at 3 a.m.” That shit is exhausting. Not to hear about, but to live through. I’ve done a combination of holding my breath and cringing for my sister for the last ten years or so as I’ve watched her move out from my mother’s shadow and grow her own life, as you do.
I remember that strange feeling when I started to realize the years really had a rhythm to them and if I chose, I would be doing the same thing over and over again every year. I would be making the same meals, or something just like them. I would be pulling the same weeds out of the garden beds. When it got cold, I would pull out my sweaters for the fourth year in a row. I would spring clean the same house, or at least in the same way. There are small victories and disapointments, but the only real difference is that I’m getting wrinkles and the girls are getting taller. I guess one of the keys is to ask yourself if you still like what you’re doing every now and then. Cruise control does have a seductive quality that can turn into inertia.
I was considering taking up a new hobby this year as well, since I so love new years, but I made the same decision as my sister. I don’t have any serious medical complaints right now, other than my normal bag of genetic weirdness/early old age. I don’t have any goddam court cases. Maybe this is just a year of normal doing, and being grateful for that.
Franny and I have been touring high schools around town right now. I feel really lucky to be in a position to let her make a choice about which high school she wants to attend. It’s been fun spending time alone with her, and hearing her reaction to the schools.
We went to her neighborhood school, which allows thousands of students in. It is an old 1950s building, which I find inherently charming because I am mushy-headed, but even I can see the drabness of the grey and yellow bathroom tiles under the fluorescent lights. I was embarrassed to feel the unpleasant visceral reaction I was having to being in a building like that, like I immediately wanted to graffiti on something or go outside and smoke. We were wandering the halls after the initial orientation was over and she got the standard “Oh my god, that girl has teal hair,” from some students who were there late at a robotics club, which completely irritated her.
We popped into the art classroom and looked around. It looked like a very cool studio space, and was obviously some kind of haven for freaks, as it always is. The walls were covered with handmade posters the teacher had done about bullying and about the studio being a safe space. It was nice to see that being addressed head-on.
The girls in the robotics club went by the art classroom door to spy on us and did that loud griefer thing that kids do when they want to harass someone without directly confronting them. It reminded me of nature shows with monkeys screeching with displeasure when there is a foreign monkey in the next tree scoffing all the best breadfruit. Franny’s cheeks colored and she rolled her eyes.
We went to the opposite of that the next night–a very small school housed in The Seattle Center, which is where the Space Needle is, if you are unfamiliar. We were shown slides of test and SAT scores, but I imagine the makeup of the feeder neighborhoods surrounding the center (mostly white, wealthy) may have had more to do with test scores than the amazingness of the school. I suspect most of the kids in the school have enough support to do well wherever they went. Franny was very charmed by what was presented, and I’m sure she’d do fine there. I think the dealbreaker was the attitude of the kids themselves, who were allowed to present a large portion of the curriculum and programs, and the fact that there is no Japanese program.
I’m informed that this reads, in part, “You are a butthole.”
We picked up some dessert on the way home. Strudel and her father had been out to multicultural night at the girls’ school, but they arrived home first. When we walked in she was making a face like she was going to pee herself with excitement and she started whispering at her dad. Something was afoot. I put my coat away and Franny walked into her room and promptly screamed. Strudel had picked up a life-sized standee of Justin Bieber abandoned on the side of the road on the way home, and had installed it in her sister’s room. All her idea. Franny took it with good humor. The funny part is that Franny is one of the only ones in her peer group who doesn’t like the Biebs. We like to tease her about the Biebs since it’s what she’s “supposed” to be doing. She still has the card I sent her last summer at her dad’s house.