Friday, January 11, 2008

things I did not write about

Emil Nolde, Sunflowers in the Windstorm (1943).

Yesterday was my first day of classes, and we had a violent storm system coming through. Luckily we were spared any major damage, whereas in other parts of the country many people were not so lucky. This morning it is nice outside, and I can think about what I will change in the garden and what to plant.

What I did not write about in the last days:

I worked frantically on two new syllabi for two new courses, one undergraduate and one graduate literature seminar. I always plan out all assignments for every session and create web pages with links to tons of materials. Initially it is a huge amount of work, but once the semester has started, I know exactly what I will be doing, and students are aware of what is expected from them. I am excited about both courses; this should be a fun semester.

Gay Republican Neighbor
One of our neighbors in our street only recently heard about the compound my gay Republican neighbor on the corner is planning to build. She is a true activist and got the plans from the court house, contacted all neighbors in our short street, called an ad hoc meeting, and we founded a neighborhood association. At the end of the month his plans will be presented to the city planning committee. He is applying for tons of variances, since the historic district allows only for two car garages (he wants a four car garage), the driveway can extend only 10 feet (he wants 50 feet), there cannot be a dwelling above a new built garage (he wants to have a full apartment), and there are many more. We decided to tell him in advance about our intentions to oppose his plans, at least to some degree. Yesterday my Activist Architect neighbor, Cool Freelancing Lawyer neighbor, and Most Special Spouse met with him. Wow! Republican Gay Guy was aggressive and defensive from the get go, and had even his lawyer there. He more or less offended all neighbors in the street while stressing how well he can relate to people. “I have lived in Liberal State, I got along with everybody; all kind of people like Jews were living there.” Activist Architect and Cool Freelancing Lawyer are by the way both Jewish. Activist Architect’s professor husband was deemed “a liar” (there had been some misunderstanding with parking at some point). My friend and direct neighbor from other country over there was called “the crazy lady with K-Mart junk in her front yard.” She has a gorgeous flower garden in the front and her husband is an artist, and some of his art is integrated in the flowerbeds. In the past, Gay Republican Guy had told her that she was talking down to him: “You Europeans always think you know better.” In short, our short street is more Bohemian, he does not like us, and he obviously goes more for the traditional and formal look. In the spring and fall he drives off to Lowe’s, buys plants that do not do well in this climate, sticks them in the ground, all neatly in a row and the same distance apart, and after they die, he plants new ones, sees them die, and so on. And these are not just annuals, but perennials and shrubs. As nice it is that he keeps Lowe’s in business, it is sad to watch what he is doing. But enough of that, I just betray my own love for living plants, or is it my ‘knowing better’? So he was ready to fight. Most Special Spouse is the calmest person in the world and explained that we do not wish to fight but live with him. His lawyer and friend tried to keep him under control and told him to let people finish what they want to say. At the end there was some kind of compromise reached, have a little green zone between the garage and our property, not to build the wall right up to the street, have the driveway only as wide as the four garage doors, and that is at least something even if he still goes for the Holdiday Inn look. In some ways I feel for Gay Republican Guy. I think he grew up in the country, and I bet he must have been an outsider in a conservative environment. Maybe that explains his defensive aggressiveness, in my opinion showcasing his insecurities, but going around and offending people to the left and to the right will not help either. He is so full of contradictions, from supposedly getting along, but actually offending, and most obviously expressed by being a gay Republican, in my opinion a contradiction in terms. On Saturday morning our newly formed neighborhood association will be meeting at our house to inform everybody a discuss how to proceed.

Blue Fence
Inspired by Phillip’s purple wall, Teenage Daughter and I painted this last Monday our wooden fence in the backyard blue purple. It looks quiet stunning, will take pictures soon, once I have put up some artwork.

Bone Setting
I had twisted my ankle during writing week, and a friend of a friend who is familiar with bone setting did her magic on me. I could walk right afterwards, but had been on crutches before. I am still amazed. I still can see swelling and cannot wear all shoes, but I can walk. Experiences like that make you question the medical establishment.

Talking about medical establishment. I had stopped taking hormones I had been taking from the time I had for medical reasons a hysterectomy and ovariectomy. I knew that I had become depressed, but I realize only now how serious that actually had been. A few weeks ago, I started taking a lower dose of estrogens, after researching the pros and cons. Now I am back to my old self. It is rather amazing if you go through artificial menopause within three months, a process that naturally is gradual and takes years. It is even hard to write about this now, since I felt such a looser that I am not able to live without those artificial hormones. I do not like to take medication, and I perceive(d) this as such a failure from my side. I still have to tell myself, it is fine to take them. There is a higher risk for breast cancer, but all in all the life expectancy of women who underwent an ovariectomy and taking hormones (HRT) is higher than of those not taking hormones.

And do go full circle with confessions – I still see it as a confession to write about – the day has passed when my mother died many years ago when I was five years old. I learned not to talk about that because people do not know how to react, especially women. It is like you tell someone that you have cancer. Then, you are tainted by a disease, and people who talk to you or even just know you are forced to face their personal vulnerability. If you tell someone that your mother died when you where a child, similar fears emerge, the loss of the own mother, and with that, the loss of some deep ingrained underlying security, even if mothers and daughters always fight or the mother is neglectful, just her existence weaves a layer of security, even if thin. So you learn not to talk about it. I still feel like I do something forbidden when I write here, where others can read it, about the death of my mother. I obviously feel guilty and hence my unconscious choice of word, confession. I am now mentally tired, just writing about my feelings of guilt. Maybe I’ll write about her death another time. I so strongly feel the urge to end on a positive note. Well, the sun is shining today.


Phillip said...

wow - incredible post Sky! Does your school close in the threat of bad weather? Yesterday everyone was watching the weather because we had been warmed that a strong storm system was coming through. It got to the point where all the local schools started closing early and eventually, our college announced that we would close at 2pm. I think this is a bit much - when I was in school, we never got out for storms (snow, yes). I think everyone is paranoid since a tornado ripped through a south Alabama school last year and killed a large number of students. Anyway, there were some tornadoes spotted around the region but it barely rained at my house.

I'm excited to hear that I inspired your daughter! I can't wait to see photos of the fence.

I find the saga of the Gay Republican neighbor very intriguing and can't wait for the next installment! Like you, I am baffled by his behavior. I know what it is like to be the minority in the neighborhood and you certainly don't act that way if you want to make a good impression. Why does he need all this space anyway???

sky said...

yes, my university closes when there is a dangerous weather situation, and sometimes they overdo it too. I guess they want to err on the safe side.

The fence does look cool, even though the color appears strong at this time of year, with fewer plants actively growing.

My neighbor, oh well, I would so much prefer not to be intertwined in this saga...