Tuesday, May 31, 2005

getting better all the time

Well, it feels like the worst is over.
Some of it is environmental: the weather cleared up, Nell's future looks more secure, and I got to see actual forest over the weekend.
I got some old paperwork taken care of today, and went out for Thai food with friends in the neighborhood.

All of that stuff helps, and I'm glad of it.

I suspect part of it, though, is the simple passage of time. The intensity level of badness I felt over the past week and weekend can't be sustained for that long; like a sprain or the stomach flu, sooner or later it has to clear up on its own. I still feel a little unsteady, just the same as if I were recovering from an actual illness; after the flu, I wouldn't go out and eat pizza and drink til dawn. And after a hard-core case of the existential jumps, I've got to remember be a little gentle with myself. Eating regular meals, getting enough exercise, spending time with trusted friends - these are all post-nervous-collapse type activites that I've learned help keep me from falling back into the funk I've just gotten over. Please forgive me if this is too personal a topic for blogging, or is turning into The Adventures of Self-Absorbed Neurotic Woman (and her sidekick, Obvious Girl). But one of the big reasons I started blogging in the first place is to leave a record of the ups and downs of living alone, so I can go back and re-read about the peaks from the valleys, and vice versa. A reminder that none of it lasts forever, and hopefully a guidebook for getting through the next time.

Thanks for bearing with me; I'll try to get back to arboretum pictures and pirate jokes soon.

Monday, May 30, 2005

a day in the sun

I went hiking here this morning; it was absolutely beautiful. I was worried that the Arboretum would be packed with people for Memorial Day; frankly, I was worried that Moose Hill would be, too. It was just fine, though - I only saw about four other people the whole time I was on the trails.

There's something about hiking around in the woods by myself that makes everything seem like it's gonna be alright, after all.

Not that you asked, but a Mass Audubon membership is only $25, and it helps keep places like this protected and accessible. Plus you get a nifty sticker for sticking on things.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

snuggly kitties

Suki and Nell seem to be getting along pretty well these days...
(For those of you just tuning in, Nell (in stripes) is the latest member of the household. She's a shelter kitty, mostly feral. She's very, very shy - she won't let me get closer than about three feet away - but she's obviously taken a shine to Suki!)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

here comes the sun

Wow, the weather really makes all the difference.

I even pulled up the shade to the window behind my computer this morning - there's finally a view out there worth looking at.

It's ludicrous how connected my mood is to how sunny it is outside - now that we've got a clear day, I feel like myself again for the first time since I got back from vacation. Whew, that's a relief.

I'm not sure how long it will last, so I've assigned myself a mission for this weekend: go hiking someplace I've never been before. I've got three days. (Well, two, really - I have to work this afternoon.) A good long hike on a new and adventure-filled trail is just what I need to sweep the last bits of rain-blues out of my system.

I'll bet I'm not the only Bostonian who feels this way; maybe I'll see you out there.

Friday, May 27, 2005

rattling the cage: update

Home from work, I hoofed it down to Roslindale Village to see what my adopted hometown had to counteract the aforementioned meemies.

I returned, 45 minutes later, with a six-pack of Newcastle and a $2 copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in tow.

It's not much, but it may be enough to stave off the willies for one more Friday night.

(It would be nicer to be out with people somewhere, but I guess I did make this hermit's bed I'm lying in. This is one of those times where it would actually be nice to live a little closer to civilization; in Cambridge-ville, I could just pop down to the local bar for decent music and good company. In bucolic Rozzie, the best I can do is a beer on the porch with my headphones on. Which is still pretty good, when you think about it, but just not the same.)

rattling the cage

Every so often - about once every two or three months, I'd guess - I get the creeping crawlies. Anxiety is too clinical a word for this feeling; "anxiety" is medical, chemical, subject to the mediating influences of caffeine and the environment. That's not what I've got. I've the crawls, the screaming meemies, a dark night of the soul that, ignoring the laws of semantics, hunkers down and stays for days. I still go to work, brush my teeth, pay the bills, but it all happens a mere toehold away from the dark undertow of fear and restlessness that lurks blackly in the not-so-background, waiting for the slightest opportunity to drag me under.

It's come and gone my whole life, this tidal system of unease, and from longstanding familiarity I've learned to recognize its character, its habits, its leering, pointed face. I know that a series of dark, chilly days will set it off, as will the possibility of a major upcoming change - both of which may have been factors in this latest bout. I know that getting outdoors - walking around, listening to the birds and watching them (and the insects, and whatever else is out there) do their daily things will help take the worst of the edge off it. Playing music helps, too; the focus it requires gives meaning and structure to what would otherwise be random nervous energy. I also know that nothing really helps except time - slowly but inevitably, the beastly jumps will recede and a calmness approaching normality will return. It always does, though never as quickly as I'd like.

In the meantime, though, I have to keep going to work, keep brushing my teeth, keep paying the bills. The little elements of my daily routine are a comfort, albeit a small one, and they give me something to do with myself while I wait for the tide to recede, so I can stop climbing the walls, once again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

generalized blech

Today has been one of those days in which all of the ordinary events take place against a low but steady background hum of anxiety. Nothing too urgent, nothing too focused, just a constant and low-level uneasiness. Should I apply for a PhD program I'm looking into, or is it too soon? Is my landlord going to evict Nell (my cat's cat), or was it just an offhand comment? Is there going to be enough water to drink in 10 years, and will there be any trees left to drink it under? Will it ever stop raining and feel like spring? Will I ever feel like I have a purpose, or will the next 60-odd years be one long stretch of meaningless bumping around, sometimes with friends but mostly alone?

It's hard to believe that one week ago, I was happily and confidently forging my way (quite on my own) across a foreign country with nothing but a Rough Guide and a steady intake of nuclear-strength coffee for security and courage. Now that I'm back home, every little thing seems too overwhelming, too suffused with hidden pitfalls and vaguely menacing consequences to take any action at all.

God, I hope it's just the weather. It's been dreary enough long enough to knock the starch out of the staunchest pirate (when did pirates start taking over this blog? that's the second reference this month...). Maybe I better go look at my vacation pictures again, in the hopes that photographic evidence of my former moxy will cause it, like the mythical south, to rise again.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

a splash of color

Here's a recent photo of some of my plants (on the front porch), taken in a brief period of non-rain last Saturday morning. Just around the corner, out of the lens frame are: a little herb garden (basil, oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, and marjoram), some viola seedlings, some marigolds, and a lovely lavender bush. The herbs and seedlings are currently crowding my kitchen table - I'm worried they wouldn't survive tonight's cold, windy rain. The lavender, the marigolds, and all the others are still outside; I'm afraid they're gonna have to make it through the night on their own. Just like the rest of us.

Friday, May 20, 2005

am i blue

Well, I made it back from Ireland in one piece, thoroughly thrilled with the week's adventures. Now that I'm back home in my little apartment, though, I seem to have contracted a bad case of the post-travel blues.

I took way too many photos while I was away (read: >250), and my current preoccupation is the organizing of the best of them into some kind of coherent scrapbook, commemorating the trip. Once I have a handle on that, I'll try to post the highlights here on blue wail.

In the meantime, I guess it's good to be back. But it would be better to still be away...

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

bon voyage

Well, me hearties, in a little over an hour, I'll be heading to the airport to fly away for my week-long visit to Ireland.

I'm planning to keep a journal of what I see and hear while I'm there, and I promise if there's anything that bears repeating, I'll post it here when I get back.

In the meantime, all that's left for this travellin' geek to say is "so long, and thanks for all the fish!"

Monday, May 09, 2005

planning 101

In preparation for my impending trip to Ireland, I made a list of things I needed to do before traveling, and another list of things I needed to pack. Then I made another list of items I needed to purchase for the trip, and added a list of things I need to do to get the house ready. I lost the original list, which was ok, because I had come up with an entirely new set of items that needed to go on it. I made a list condensing all of the above lists. I then (you guessed it) made another list - this one of all possible bus schedules and routes between the Irish towns I'll be staying in. I threw in a list of hostels, complete with addresses and phone numbers, that I'll be staying in for good measure. Finally, I made a folder in which to store all of these lists, complete with a master list on the front of it, denoting which lists are contained therein.

So all I really need to do now is, well, um. . . .pack.

Friday, May 06, 2005

thinly stretched

Those of you who have been following this blog since its inception have probably noticed that my postings have plummeted lately, both in frequency and quality. Part of that decline is due to my swiftly approaching trip to Ireland, of course. But there's another factor contributing to the literary desert that Blue Wail has become over the past couple of weeks, one that my tired and burnt-out brain has only recently assembled (sans directions) in the dimly lit garage of my consciousness.

This blog began as a vehicle for me to write about living - and therefore, spending long stretches of time - alone. The ups, the downs, the round and rounds. The problem is: lately, I haven't really been alone. Not that much, anyway. It's a wonderful thing that my social calendar has been so chock-a-block, I guess. All I have to do is glance through last month's postings to see how eager for companionship I was in the none-too-distant past. And I certainly don't regret the time I've spent lately with friends, old and new. Honestly. It's been lovely.

Still, though...

I feel a bit like Goldilocks - for a while, I complained that my social life was too cold. Now I'm griping that it's too hot - at least for a self-proclaimed hermit-by-choice. In my defense, though, I work six days per week (well, ok, one of them is a half-day. But any day I have to haul my guitar around and sing "Daisy Bell" at all counts as a work day in my book, thank-you very much), and the one remaining day I have to myself has to get me through the next six, each and every week.

Trying to see my friends and family occasionally, going on the odd date, and getting done all the time-consuming little errands that always seem to need doing (note to self: look into getting a valet immediately) AND making a little time for solitary Arboretum-rambling, book-shop browsing, and otherwise decompressing, all in the few and precious hours that are left over, is proving a Sisyphean task.

I mean, honestly, something's gotta give, and soon.

Because I'm wiped out.

Monday, May 02, 2005

roslindale: the city that never forgets

from the LANA (Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association) newsletter I found stuffed unceremoniously into my mailbox this afternoon:

"The Arnold Arboretum (as part of Harvard U) wants to put research facilities on 14 acres of open space at Walter, Weld, and Centre Streets.

. . .Forty years ago, the City gave the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center permission to build a facility for seniors at the nine-acre Joyce Kilmer Park on Centre Street. After promising to protect the remaining open space at that site, the City later allowed the Rehab Center to double in size in 1973. Most of the remaining parkland was subsequently paved for cars in violation of public deed restrictions on the property.

The lesson of Joyce Kilmer Park [currently Park-ing lot] is that once an institution gets established in a location, there is little a neighborhood can do to limit its eventual expansion."

Later in the same newsletter, LANA appeals to me (and my neighbors) to do something about a developer's evil plan to build five big nasty condos on a wetlands parcel of land, adjacent to the Arboretum.

OK. This is one of those issues I tend to react to before I have all the facts. It seems to me that somebody is trying to build stuff where 14 acres of Arboretum land, plus a few more acres of local wetlands, currently stand. This is very bad news, right?

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know how I feel about the Arboretum.

Before I go chain myself to a tree, though, I feel like I should at least make an attempt to get the other side of the story. What's going on here? What, exactly, does Harvard want to build? How much green space will be lost, and how many new roads/parking lots will be added along with the actual structures? And how do you stop developers from building condos that will disrupt a wetlands ecosystem (however small) just to cram yet another condo into a neighborhood that's already chock full of condos for sale?

If you know, you'd better let me know soon. There's a hardware store right in the Village that I'm sure can outfit me for an extended protest just as soon as I march my morally outraged butt down there, bright and early tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, here are the phone numbers of city officials who can do something about the developers (although not Harvard, unfortunately. . .):

Maggie Goedecke, Boston Redevelopment Authority: 617.918.4253
Dave McNulty, Mayor's office: 617.635.4830
Chris Busch, Boston Conservation Commission: 617.635.3850
Councilor Rob Consalvo: 617.635.4210