Microblogging And Essaying

The big news is I’m writing a creative nonfiction collection. I realized this when I started microblogging about two and a half weeks ago. In case you missed it, here they are.

View this post on Instagram

One year ago today, I came back to life. I’d had my first cofeature back in March for B J Spoke Gallery where I reconnected with people I hadn’t seen and had known for over a decade. I became good friends with the co-feature, whose poetry was brilliant. A few months later, I was walking with Whitman. The open mic was fun. My reading made me feel energized. For the first time in a long time, I felt completely at ease, totally in control, and simply happy. I met people from far and wide; several still keep in touch. The band 1 Step Ahead played, starting with a few bars of Brown Eyed Girl since I’d referenced it in a poem. Then a few months later, I was named 2020 Long Island Poet of the Year for @waltwhitmanbirthplace . I am forever grateful for this day, this reading, and all the people in my life who have gotten me through and continue to. #poetsoninstagram #poetsofinstagram #longislandpoets #longislandpoetry #waltwhitmanbirthplace #1stepaheadband #walkingwithwhitman #bjspokegallery @b.j.spokegallery #gettingthroughit #grief #heartbreak #gratitude #grateful #longislandwriter

A post shared by Christina 🖋📚🧘‍♀️🚀♍️©️ (@christinamrau) on

View this post on Instagram

Nature is a newish thing for me. I’ve always been scared of it—I’ve always been scared of everything. Something in my brain switched either off or on and I understand it more. I still jump at every sound. And also I stand in awe at the vibrant life that simply is. Here I am in nature in the summer wearing a fall jacket because nature does what it does. The heart wants what the heart wants. I feel silly and foolish for hurting, and also what a blessing to release what’s been stored there for so long. This doesn’t mean I haven’t been truly happy all this time. It means simply I’ve been both. Gleeful and awkward and laughing and wailing and always thankful for the wonders of this world. #gratitude #gettingthroughit #alwayslookup #grateful #grief #heartbreak #newyork #iloveny #ispyny

A post shared by Christina 🖋📚🧘‍♀️🚀♍️©️ (@christinamrau) on

View this post on Instagram

Sometimes FB does nice things like this video of me and my brother. We weren’t super close growing up. We liked each other and had movies we like and still quote from. We liked some of the same music; he’s the reason I adore Def Leppard. Also, we made fun of our parents together. We never really hung out though. At some point in our youngish adult lives, we started to treat each other like real people. When I was married, I always made a point to invite him along on nonromantic fun excursions. Looking back on those years, I realize he returned the favor by calling me once a week. Our sibling adventures began before my marriage, continued during it, and keep going now. In the past weeks, this is the advice he’s given me: 1. Keep being yourself. 2. Keep your head up. I’m grateful to have a brother I can call my friend. #gratitude #siblingadventures #siblingbonding #bestbrother #gettingthroughit #grief #heartbreak #grateful #longisland #queens #siblingadvice #familyiseverything

A post shared by Christina 🖋📚🧘‍♀️🚀♍️©️ (@christinamrau) on

 

The Funny Things About Death And Grief

There’s a global pandemic happening. Alone in my home, I have a lot of time to think, and a lot of my thoughts have turned to my dad. He died two years ago. I had to look that up. Years are hard for me. Dates and numbers were his thing. I still might be wrong but I’m pretty sure it’s two.

This fog is the kind of fog I was in for the rest of that year and at least half of the next. In times of extreme stress, like when you’re banished from your job and the world shuts down and some of your friends are telling you how you might not be able to leave to get food soon, the fog can set in. The fog isn’t necessarily passive. Sometimes it’s more of an anxious brain scramble. This fog is part of grief. This pandemic is putting a delay on the life I really started to live beginning last June and really revving up in January and February (Long Island Poet of the Year! Oceanside Library Poet in Residence! I was dating and looking friggin fantastic in short skirts!).

Back when my dad was in the hospital, I would have the sudden thought throughout the day, What will it be like to think about him when he’s gone? I didn’t really think about it after his first stroke. Not after the many mini strokes. Only after the last one, the second major one, the one that sent him to critical care, the one that wasn’t funny anymore.

Strokes aren’t funny. Sometimes, though, funny things happen and funny things are said. Like the one time we were in the ER after a TIA, and I was standing bedside, clearly having been crying, and my dad looked at me and said, It’s gonna be okay kiddo. Never in his life had my dad ever used the word kiddo, let alone called me that. So I answered, Thanks, Pop!, which made my mother laugh so loud she shushed herself. This wasn’t the only time we laughed in an ER or intensive care. After my dad’s first stroke, he had a visit from a very close family friend, and they told each other dirty jokes, which led to riotous laughter (I thankfully didn’t witness the dirty part—that’s gross). The staff asked them to keep it down but also said it was nice to hear laughter for a change.

That first stroke was hemorrhagic. He’d been stroking for hours before he knew something was wrong. Only after did we know how long—he’d been at a street fair the night before and couldn’t remember how to get home. Someone who knew drove him home, not realizing that could be a sign of something wrong. The next morning he got up, got dressed, and started breakfast. My mom thought something was a little off. We went to the ER. This became serious when they said they were rushing him to another hospital that specialized in this kind of stroke.

My dad survived that stroke. He was in critical care for maybe a day. While there, he was very concerned about the Walk for the Poor. He was supposed to walk soon. What did all this mean for the walk. As usual he was concerned about other people.

That was the same concern he showed on September 11. After a day of almost dying, he was upset about the young firefighters he saw running into the building and up the stairs while he was making his way down and out.

The first stroke should have caused more damage. He had some sight problems and some cognitive stuff going on, but the sight returned quickly as did most of the cognitive stuff. We had a running joke that pre-stroke dad kind of walked offbeat to the beat of his own drum, so like, when he would knock over a cup of water, we would think, that’s not the stroke—that’s dad. It wasn’t a rationalization; it was simply reality.

Mini strokes are sneaky little buggers. They slip in and take away tiny pieces, but those tiny pieces aren’t apparent until much later. So right after a TIA, he could seem fine, and then a few weeks later, something would be suddenly and strikingly different. Like he once had a mini on Easter, so I brought him his Easter basket in the hospital. The next day, the basket was pretty much empty. He’d eaten all the chocolate. We laughed about it. He was still dad. A few weeks later, he couldn’t remember dates.

I lost my dad long before he died. Slowly, over the course of about 7 years, he was becoming someone who wasn’t the whole man. He never lost the capacity to recognize us. He lost the capacity to be independent. There were times I didn’t want to visit my parents because it made me sad. I’d feel foggy and sometimes I wouldn’t feel anything. Other times, I was the most upbeat person ever, tearing into the house, telling my dad to grab his coat because we were going out. He never said no. My dad rarely said no to anything. He loved going out, seeing the world, helping people, talking to people, and walking.

That man could walk! Everywhere. For however long. He’d be gone for hours, walking, stopping to talk to people, and walking more. Sometimes my mom would be out in town and she’d get so excited to see Joe Rau walking along the street. The two of them were always excited to see each other even while they lived in the same house.

After the last stroke, my dad was in the hospital a long time. In addition to his being mostly asleep, he got itchy. His skin was always sensitive, so whatever cleanser they were using made him red and inflamed and all he did was scratch. It was awful. He had some bad days when I’d go in for a visit and they’d tell me I should talk to the head nurse about what happened that day. I thought about what it would be like to not have him around, and it didn’t upset me. It was more of a statement instead of a question because it had no answer and simply was a thought in a fog of thoughts.

When he came out of the hospital, that statement went away for a while. He went into a rehab home, and he couldn’t walk. He also couldn’t swallow or talk much. Still, if I played Elvis, he found a way to slowly push out three words of In The Ghetto. He also was my teammate on holidays when we brought games, and he would look on intently and laugh and laugh. Whenever his mind would clearly wander, I’d hit him in the arm and say, Pay attention! And he’d laugh and pay attention for a while again.

The first night in the home, he got sick and went right back to the hospital. High fever. They thought he might not make it. And then? There was my dad laughing in the critical ER room when someone joked about him being high maintenance.

Then he kept getting sick. That happens when you have a feeding tube. He was back to the hospital and then back to the home. Back and forth and back and forth.

Then finally, we all decided this wasn’t a way to live. He got sick and didn’t go to the hospital. Instead, he stayed sick and stuck around for longer than anyone expected.

I no longer had to ask myself how I’d feel when my dad wasn’t there. It was real. I still felt nothing. We said our goodbyes, and my dad’s last gift to us was to not have a funeral or wake but to simply be cremated, easy peasy. That was it. I asked my mom if I could open her house for a few hours at the end of the week to avoid random people dropping by at all hours, and so we did just that. A few months later, my brother organized a lovely memorial tribute.

I won’t say I wasn’t upset. Of course I was upset. Still, the fog of all those years was constant grief—grief over losing my dad each time he had a stroke and came back a different dad. I’d get used to that new dad and I’d lose that version too. Constant grief lurked and grew, and I didn’t know it. I knew I was sad to see him sometimes, but I didn’t know the unfeeling was a real thing.

I’m grateful my dad isn’t here today living through these strange, fatal, uncertain times. If he were in a home, we wouldn’t be able to see him, and we wouldn’t be able to keep on top of his care, and I wouldn’t be able to play Elvis for him.

If he were living with my mom, the version of him before the last stroke but after several TIAs, I could imagine what it would be like. His face mask would always be on wrong. He’d probably have to try at least 20 different masks before he found one that didn’t irritate his skin. The mask elastic would get tangled in his glasses and he’d curse at his glasses and mask, and we’d probably laugh but then help, and then he’d laugh too.

Recently, a friend who didn’t know my dad told me he seemed like a happy person. He said, Whenever I see a picture of him, he’s got that same smile that seems so joyful.

And he was. If I manage to live my life with even a small fraction of my dad’s happiness, I’m one lucky person. CC875755-B6AB-47A3-91A2-74CC5FB3C97A

Still Here

I could write about the chaos of a semester that never ends. I could tell you about my Instacart freak out concerning lots of frozen broccoli. I could also discuss what it’s like to live alone and not touch anyone for months and feel like everything is okay until going out into the world and being shocked by the sun and the grass and realizing my brain has been coping but this situation is far from okay.

Instead, I’m going to write about how I’ve gotten to do all the things I usually do in person (like teach and workshop and write and practice yoga) from my office and my living room and my backroom that is now my yoga room. I’ve been able to see my mom and chat through a window and across a yard. I’ve seen my brother, too, both in person and through technology when he’s not big on technology. I’ve started to go out and take walks with friends. I’ve started a fashionable mask collection.

I’m still here, and I’m healthy. Actually, I’m in the best shape I’ve been in for a while, and I know that’s probably not everyone’s experience, but it’s been mine. For that, I’m grateful. For all the things I’ve been able to do, I’m grateful. It’s these silver linings that make life still a wonderful and beautiful life.

 

One Tale From The Crypt

Halloween is fine. I’m not big on dressing up, but I will if asked. A few years in a row, I’ve worn my Batman t-shirt to work. This year is the first year any of my students acknowledged it. Someone asked, “Is Batman your favorite?” I was like, “Yes.” Good talk!

This year, I had plans! DB asked if I wanted to go to a crypt in a cathedral. I was like, Why is that even a question? Of course, I want to see a crypt! Remember the catacombs? I like dark places under holy buildings. Totally my jam. Like, holy jam.

The weather decided to be Halloweenish all day–windy with a chance of trees falling on me, so I remained appropriately terrified all day (S texted me to ask if I had PTSD, and I was like, yes, yes I do).

I just realized–I don’t think I ever wrote about the time the tree fell on me at work. That’s the short version: A tree fell on me at work. I survived. No, I didn’t sue.

Anyway, the wind remained whipping well into the darkness when DB and I went to the cathedral. At the threshold, a woman greeted us and handed us each a bag. I thanked her and then said to DB, We can go home now because my night has already been made. A bag! I didn’t even know was in it! I was thrilled to simply have them give me a bag.

IMG_5886

Not. Creepy. At. All.

Then we checked in and the woman said to us, “Now you’ve been checked in; let’s see if you’ll be checking out.” Ah, ok. So it’s going to be that kind of night.

We sat towards the back of the church waiting for the group ahead of us to finish. Then we moved to the front where there was a screen and a handful of people clad in black roaming around, guiding people to seats in the dark. We then watched a film that was supposed to look old-timey. It was the story of a guy, Something Stewart, who basically owned Garden City. Then he died. Then his grave was robbed. Then eventually the widow tracked down his remains and had this cathedral built as a huge gravestone for him. She hid his remains so they couldn’t get stolen again. The end.

Then some guy basically pounced out from behind the screen to greet us, asking if we’d heard the bells tolling. Now I kind of expected that to happen because I’d heard a shout from the group ahead of us. The women in front of us, however, did not expect anything scary to happen, so they jumped, completely startled. Then one of them proceeded to take at least five of the same picture of everything we passed, so that slowed down our progress towards the crypt.

We were guided by another man who carried a lantern. We found the spiral staircase, and the three women freaked out about that. I don’t know if the stairs or the spiral was scary for them, but they were terrified. The staircase was really narrow and it was hard to see, but it was still kinda neat. Not as terrifying as, say, a gigantic tree falling down on  you. (That’s now my measurement of terror: tree tragedy).

IMG_5966.JPG

This is the face of fear.

At the bottom of the staircase was reason to be freaked out. A woman was sitting in a corner, wearing a black veil, praying loudly. There was smoke pumping in from the hallway. Now things were getting weird. The three women also freaked out more when the smoke machine made noise.

Next we met a statue of Mr. Stewart’s widow. It was surrounded by candles. We heard more about her efforts to find him. Then the guide was like, Oh, look, it seems like his funeral is about to start.

We walked to the other side of the room where there were mourners and chairs. DB and I sat in a back row and noticed the body in the coffin was totally a real person. We were like, he’s totally going to move. The guide narrated more but it was hard to hear because the widow with the black veil sat in the front row and started wailing, and the guy comforting her kept making snide remarks about the dead guy, which was really funny. Then, sure enough, that dead body moved. And sure enough, the three women somehow didn’t see that coming and shouted in terror. This? Was entertaining.

We then moved toward the hallway again, hearing more about grave robbers. As we entered the hall, we were greeted with two grave robbers trying to seem like they weren’t robbing a grave–which was super funny–and enough smoke to make your lungs simply stop working. Before that happened, we were ushered into a crypt where there was more smoke but I’m pretty sure it was real smoke because we were lighting candles.

This was nice. It was an interesting way to forget the spooky for a moment and light a candle for someone. My candle wouldn’t light. DB lit my match twice because that wouldn’t light at first, and then I tried five candles before getting one to catch. Then we stepped back to take in the glow. It was heavenly, which makes sense because we were in a cathedral.

IMG_5895

That woman who was scared and took a billion photos? Yep, that’s her. And now I look like the psychopath for snapping this.

On the way out, there was a basket of candy! This is how every mass should end! We took some pieces and put them into our bags. Then we found our way out by climbing up the creepy stairs outside. There was smoke drifting about as we ascended, and the wind was still whipping around. It was still Halloween and still super eerie and we still don’t know where this guy’s remains remain. However, I do know where all the candy went. Plus, there was more candy in our bags along with some pamphlets about the cathedral. Really, the contents of the bag weren’t as exciting as the act of getting the bag itself.

So to recap, Halloween was awesome because:

  1. Someone acknowledged my Batman t-shirt
  2. Bags
  3. Creepy crypt
  4. No tree incidents

Now that’s a good All Hallow’s Eve.

Marco! Polo! Pyramid!

As you may know by now, I was a contestant on $100000 Pyramid.

Pyramid (28)

If you know that, then you probably know I did not win $150000 and a trip, which is the most you can win. I also didn’t win $100000 or a trip or any combination of any numbers of moneys and trips.

However, I did win.
I won LIFE.

I got to play games during the audition process. I got to play games during the day we taped. I got to play games on television.

I got to meet Michael Strahan, make a weird face at him, yell Marco to his Polo, and also awkwardly pass him in the hallway not realizing it was him and having to go back to shake his hand only after everyone pointed out to me that I’d snubbed Michael Strahan.

I got to meet Katie Couric and Mario Cantone. These two people make me feel better about living in this world. They were so kind and so down-to-Earth and so into wanting to play a fun game and maybe even win.

I got to meet some incredibly fun and fabulous people. By the time we were ready to play for real, I’d gotten to know the casting team and the other contestants pretty well–as well as you can when you’re in a room for a day–and they are also people who make me feel better about living in this world.

It’s a very unique kind of joy that unfolds when you’re meeting people who love the same things you love when that love is something that not everyone gets to experience.

I lost a lot of rounds. I was nervous for months, thinking about how I may have looked sad or disappointed.

Then in the season finale, there I was, smiling the whole time. Losing round after round, I laughed and smiled and laughed and smiled. Because it wasn’t losing. It was living.

I had my family and a friend there to witness every second. They brought snacks. They brought flowers. Friends who weren’t there sent texts, sent messages, and posted pictures of me on tv on their feeds. I heard from people I haven’t heard from in years. The next day at work, one of the office admins could barely contain her excitement because she watches the show and didn’t know I’d be on and she was so giddy about it.

I also made these faces.

The gratitude I feel still makes all my insides all gushy. I feel like I’m soaring every time I think about it, and even when I don’t. I’m walking around on a game show high that won’t quit.

Then in my writing for the sciences class, this happened:

Student: Professor, can I ask a weird question?

Me: Always.

Student: Were you on tv?

Me: Yes.

Other Student: Are you a vegan?

Me: Odd follow-up, but no.

Other students: What show were you on?

Me: Have you heard of $100000 Pyramid?

Most students: No.

Me: Well, [first student who asked] how did you know?

Student: My parents watch, and I saw you on the screen when I walked in.

Me: Oh, did you watch, too?

Student; No, I just saw you and left.

Me: Yep, that  sounds about right.

Moral of this story: Stay humble, bruh.

PS: My mom and brother got me Rice-A-Roni as a consolation prize because the 70s were sometimes better.

Pyramid (22)

PPS: Why is this post entitled Marco Polo? You’ll have to watch this little gem to find out.

Dance Your Ass Off

Years ago, S and I met Jean, and Jean changed our lives. Jean, if you don’t remember, was our dance teacher. Her  name was not Jean. Jean is the name S came up with when she was trying to remember her name, and it kind of stuck. Ahh, Jean.

The days of Jean eventually ended. However, the days at Jones Beach began. Nights, actually. There was free line dancing at the bandshell once a week. Then the consistent dancing faded away, and then the dancing stopped.

Basically, this story is exactly like Footloose only without Kevin Bacon and the Bible and everything else in Footloose except for the dancing.

I came across the bandshell calendar online the other day and there it was. Wednesday nights. Line Dancing. 7:30.

So on Wednesday at 7:30, I took myself on a dancing date. Muscle memory is miraculous (as are my mad alliteration skillz). I. Danced. My. Ass. Off.

I also made a friend, an older gentleman who turned to me after every dance and said, “You’re good!” At one point, he said it to the two women who had been following my feet, and then he leaned in and whispered something to one of them, and her face was partial shock and she laughed. I’m guessing he said something about my wiggle or my butt. I didn’t ask. He also pointed out to everyone around us how I could put so much energy into the dancing because I’m so young. To that I replied, “Yes, keep calling me young.” I don’t think he got it.

The two women who were following me were really fun. At one point, we wound up facing each other because they kept turning the wrong way, and we just laughed at each other. I tried to help the best I could by changing my spot to be next to them on the wall when they had no one to follow, but overall, I was there to learn, not teach. The “you’re good” guy told me I should be the teacher, though. I like to dance, but I’m not a dance teacher.

Funny, though. My yoga students also ask me if I’m a dancer. Hmm. Yep, I get it. I am soooo friggin graceful.

2D2CB369-CBAD-4D47-9B0F-1B927BDAC6FB

Later on, when the dancers who dance year-round take to the floor without instruction and do all the more intricate dances I wish I could do, he found me again to let me know there would be more country line dancing soon. Then he left and came back with a flier for it. I thanked him. Now we’re, like, BFFs.

One dance that the dancers did without instruction is called “Toes.” Without instruction, I got out there and faked it hard. By the end, I almost got it. Almost. I think I got it more than I thought I did because one of the women who had been following me actually came out to stand next to me to see if she could pick it up. It’s not a difficult dance, but if you’ve never danced before, it can be difficult without instruction. I’ll probably spend more than a normal amount of time watching videos to see if I can get it right on my own. It’s in me somewhere. I’ve just gotta find it.

So now I’m readdicted. Every Wednesday evening, there will be a boardwalk and a bandshell and a step-together-step-scuff-step-together-step-pivot-cha-cha-rock-recover-clap-clap-clap.

Official Voice Over-er

Remember back in June when I joked around about that Groupon I got for that voice acting workshop and I was all like This could be my side hustle ha ha ha? Yeah, so fast forward to the next few months when I find myself deep in commercial and narrative scripts and on three separate phone calls devoted to learning about the industry and my own voice. Yeah, that’s right. I signed up for the course.

Fast forward to October. Instead of a phone call, I was up for a face-to-face session of recording several of those scripts using the voice I’d been working on for those few months. Voice Coaches set up some studio time for me on a Friday  as per my request to make it “before the snow comes.”

Now,  you may remember the last time I drove upstate for a reading at Bright Hill Press and Literary Center. That’s located in  Treadwell, NY. Do you know where that is? If you’re answer is “no,” then you’re not alone because the GPS didn’t know where the heck it was, either. There was a lot of drive-crying when I missed a turn and wound around some mountain roads and double-backed a few times until taking myself to Oneonta via the road to Delhi because the road to Oneonta from Treadwell was closed. I mean, the reading was totally worth it. And I also ended up drive-crying on the way home when I didn’t even get lost; yes, there was drive-crying because I was so proud that I didn’t get lost on the way home.

That little refresher is to inform you that there was no drive-crying on this trip! There was a case of Wow, I forgot to bring extra deodorant so let me find a CVS to buy some because the Great Natural Deodorant Experiment of 2018 sometimes doesn’t pan out so well. But there was no drive-crying and there was no CVS-crying or Where’s The Deodorant At-Crying. Overall, no crying. The studio was in Albany, so the GPS knew where that was and it also found the CVS without a hitch.

VoiceOver (8)

Instead, there was a whole lot of being completely psyched to be recording my demo. When I got to the studio, I was even more psyched because they had awesome mints and fun fish.

Then we recorded. Oh, btw, “we” is me and the producer-tech-voice-over-er-instructor Josh. That guy is the definition of pumped up. Like, every phone call started with Christina, are you ready??!!??!! The same thing with the demo. Christina, are you totally ready??!?!?!!!When I got into the booth after a tour of the absolutely gorgeous studio and found the mic magically at my height, I asked him how short the person before me in the booth had been. He probably wasn’t expecting this question, but I notice when things are actually my height because that rarely happens. Turns out he lowered it a whole lot after briefly meeting me in the waiting area. Ha! Stealth. Also we found the smallest headphones because short gal’s got a small head, too, yo.

We plowed through script after script. Every take was exhilarating. It went by so fast. Seriously fast. I can read! Out loud! All those years of being an English Professor, paying off in a little booth in Albany.

After we finished recording, we started talking about when my demo would be ready, how to land jobs as voice talent (that’s me! I’m the talent!), and networking. The conversation derailed into hockey and tiny towns where there’s nothing to do. We got back around to the voice stuff and then it was done. And done!

I knew I’d get the downloads for the demo in a few weeks. I knew I would get demo CDs in the mail around the same time. When the email arrived with the link (it’s here!), I was excited. When the CDs arrived, I was thrilled.

But then? Then! I got a certificate! It’s got my name on it and everything! Okay, okay, so I have diplomas and certificates for stuff I’ve completed. Usually, I’m like, oh that’s nice, here’s a frame. This one, though, was totally unexpected. I didn’t know I’d get a certificate, so I squealed like a five year old and danced around my kitchen when I saw what it was.

VoiceCoachCertificate

And that’s the story of how I’m now an official voice over-er. Thank you, Voice Coaches, for the motivation, the fun, and the voice adventure.

Sob Story

[This may be more for me than for you. Or maybe I just want pity.]

I’m down to my last pair of contacts. I’ve been wearing my glasses. I need a new eye doctor. My old one retired and the one who took over basically told me I’m old and listed a bunch of things that were about to go wrong with my eyes. I already have terrible vision so this information was not doing any good. Also, they offered a test that insurance didn’t cover but they said would replace a dilation. I did it and paid for it. Then they told me I needed to come in for a dilation. I explained how I did the other test. They said it wasn’t the same. This is not a way to be a medical professional.

The check engine light came on in my car. I brought it to the mechanic who says it’s a faulty sensor. He suggested I take it to the dealership because I might get them to fix it for free because of a recall several years back.

I call the dealership. They tell me my car has a current recall. I say I got it completed. They say, no, there’s a second part to the current recall. I say, okay I work from home on Fridays so I can bring it in then. They say, we don’t do recalls on Fridays. Then they go to check to see if they can make an exception. Then they say they don’t have the part for the recall and they will call me.

Then I drive around with the check engine light still on. I feel like Penny.

Then I can’t get into my house. The door is locked. I have the key. The key won’t open the lock. I can open the screen door with the key. The inside door won’t open. All the other screen doors lock from the inside only. I call the locksmith. I sit on my side step and cry. The locksmith says he’ll be there in 25 minutes. An hour passes. I call the locksmith. He says his GPS says he’ll be there in 15 minutes.

In a half hour, the locksmith arrives. I show him the door and the key. He tries the key. It doesn’t work. He asks to see the other doors. I show him the doors. He says that he will try the front door. It will cost $600 in the end if he needs to drill through the lock and then replace it. I say, what about breaking into the side screen door? He looks at me puzzled. I say, this key will open the inside door if I can get by the screen door. He says he will try.

He uses a rudimentary system of inflatable balloons and tubes. It looks like a blood pressure checker for doors. The door pops open. If it hadn’t, I was ready to slash open some screens and unscrew some hinges. Screen doors be gone.

The key works on the inside door. He tells me I can check the front door and asks if he can come in. I tell him to come in as I grab the door knob of the front door that’s jammed. It simply opens. I look at him. He looks at me. I’m like, You know it was jammed. He’s like, yes it was.

Because otherwise, why are we here?

Then we play around with the lock. We try to replicate the problem. We can’t. I say that I’m getting new screen doors that can unlock from the outside in case this happens again.

Then I pay him much less than $600. While we wait for my credit card to go through, he becomes mesmerized by the poster in my kitchen. It’s a play, I say. He asks, Shakespeare? I say, yes it’s a full play on a poster. He says it’s cool. Then he leaves. In the mailbox is a postcard from the car dealership about the current recall. Again.

A red light on the dashboard in my car pops on along with the words CHECK MANUAL and a loud dinging sound. The red of this light compliments the orange glow of the check engine light that’s still on. The manual tells me that the engine is too cold. That can’t be right. Then it says not to drive too quickly or carry a heavy load. I realize that I need an oil change, so I hope that’s what it is. The rain is teeming and I go back to the mechanic and ask for an oil change and tell him about the new light. He doesn’t seem concerned about the light and doesn’t ask follow up questions about possible noises, and that makes me feel better about it. I remind him that the engine light is still on and he says he’ll ignore it.

The rain is still teeming when he calls me and says that the car is ready to go. I go get the car. My plan to get into my jammies early and watch movies has been spoiled but now only one light glows on my dashboard again.

In a few mornings when it’s no longer raining, I decide I really want to walk outside even if it’s cold. I bundle up. I walk outside. It’s sunny and cold but by the end I’m a little sweaty. Things are feeling good. After my walk, I come inside. My glasses fall on the floor and snap in half. I sob. Literally sob. I cannot see without them and I have just the one pair of contacts left and I can’t wear contacts every waking moment. I call in sick to work. I cry some more.

I go to the eye doctor. Everyone there is so very nice. The doctor talks about how he loved an English class he took one summer and how he hosts a sci-fi radio show. This is refreshing since most people who first learn I teach writing tell me about that one essay-writing course they had that they hated. Instead, as we check out my eyes, we talk about Stan Lee and new kinds of contact lenses. He says my eye sight has gotten a little better. He doesn’t tell me what might go wrong with my eyes and doesn’t insinuate that I am old and falling apart.

I find new frames that are almost an exact match to my now broken frames. I shell out a pretty penny for the exam and the contacts, but the contacts have a huge rebate and insurance is paying for my new glasses. I give the doc my card with the astronaut to tell him about my sci-fi poetry, and he gives me a CD of his show plus a website where I can listen to the archives. I’m going back later this week to check out how the new contacts fit my eyeballs.

Then in my night table, I find an old pair of glasses. They seem to be my current prescription. They can tide me over. I can see.

Happy ending.

Frankenstein Is Alive! At The Morgan

Since going to see the Frankenstein exhibit was a literary-infused outing, I wound up writing about it for Book Riot instead of blogging about it here. There are probably other things I could be blogging about, but I’m finding myself in a whirlwind or vacuum or some other kind of place where moving air is a consuming factor. So for a taste of a jaunt into NYC, head over to Book Riot to read all about how I did not get kicked out of the Frankenstein exhibit. It’s right here: Frankenstein Is Alive! At The Morgan.