Friday, January 25, 2013

Romance, Cancer & Attack Toilets

So, my sister called me this morning to announce, "You have a sister!" My first reaction was "When? From where?!" It's been a while since I communicated with the wider world. Over three weeks sans blogging, and it's starting to tell on my relationships, familial and work-related. For one, I've been excessively chatty at work, to the extent that one of my colleagues, not one to beat around the bush, told me yesterday to pipe down as I was talking nonstop. Living alone and not expressing myself in print leads to otherwise verboseness.

My bosses sister got diagnosed with breast cancer last Wednesday and had surgery on Monday. This Wednesday she got the pathology report back which said the margins weren't as clear as they'd like, so they are planning to go back in and take out more tissue. As you'd expect, this has been hard on her and her whole family, and thus affected the time and energy my boss has been able to devote to the business.

The sale has been further complicated by the lingering presence of the previous owners of the house which the Korean government has purchased to restore to pre-Japanese acquisition condition. The husband sorted slowly through items we'd already thought cleared for sale, essentially ruining a day's worth of organizing, and actually removed a $1800 mirror two days ago, after we'd posted pictures online and advertised it for sale. The final irritation was early this afternoon, when he showed up with a video camera, during the sale(!), and took stills and live feed of every room in the house. We are all paranoid about what this means. Does he have some irrational notion of our cheating him? Is he going to compare the numbers of imported items (agreed to as part of the contract) with the items that were present in the house? Doesn't he realize that the more he makes, the more we make, so that even from a paranoid point of view, it doesn't benefit us to report fewer sales of his possessions, as that would mean a smaller gross for our company? It's all decidedly weird, and given the time and energy that we've devoted to the house, just cleaning out garbage (his wife claimed that we were discarding valuables--an insinuation which horrified me, as I know for a fact nothing of any worth was thrown out...just because the Koreans paid them more than double the accessed value of the property (I know, I checked the government records online), which is probably at least 30 times (no exaggeration--it was a sketchy neighborhood back then, now it's a posh address) what they paid for it back in 1977 doesn't mean that all the contents, including the used electric razors, have similarly increased in value. If something made of fabric or paper is spotted with mold, unless it's THE original copy of a pivotal document of international importance, or proved to be worn by Jesus Himself, it's worth nothing. Sheesh.

Couple this reality with the sculpture class that my bosses niece, her sister's daughter, is taking. It's a 200-level class, and the art teacher told them that she loves shit. Feces, in her opinion, is a wonderful medium for art. Now, Connie (the niece) is not conservative by any means, but unlike every other member of the class, she has a science background, and she pointed out that use of bodily fluids (or solids, as the case may be) in art projects was a health code violation if such artistic media were on campus. She's all for the artistic value of watching things decompose, burn, or even explode, but she told me that if anyone brought such biohazardous materials into the classroom, she was going to report them to the local health authorities.

Other than reminding me that I actually have siblings [my mom is on her honeymoon in Hawaii, and all we get from her is random pictures of wildlife, Ford Mustangs, and the official Hawaiian national meat (Spam)], S Dawg told me about my niece's and nephew's love lives. My sister was picking up my niece from second grade the other day and a fellow parent introduced himself to her: "I'm Charles Davis." Rita overheard him, and asked "Are you Brandon Davis' dad?" He said he was. "I'm in love with Brandon," my niece stated, matter-of-factly. My sister was a little nonplussed, this being the first she'd heard of this romantic attachment. She asked Rita why she liked Brandon (apparently, "he's nice") and cautioned her never to be the first to tell a boy she liked him, especially as it would embarass Brandon at this age. Such sage advice has apparently not been imparted by the mother of one of the fellow four-year-olds in my nephew's kindergarten. He came home sighing and told my sister, resigned, "Frances likes me." "How do you know?" S Dawg asked. "She told me," Brad said, with the implication that he wished the young lady in question would go back to being normal. There you have it--as pre-adolescents, my niece and nephew have more romance in their lives than I do!

Prior to going to the singles group at my church this last Sunday (the new assistant pastor, who is a PK from east Tennessee, is doing a wonderful series on Esther--it's the first time I've heard a pastor not use her as an idealized model, but point out how screwed up the whole situation was, and actually do his historical reading in Herodotus, rather than relying on the Cliffs Notes of EZ sermon prep of dubious reliability) I was assaulted by my bosses toilet. I was innocently flushing when the blasted thing stopped up. This happens occasionally to all toilets, but I was in the dark at the time. She started remodeling this bathroom ten months ago and though the toilet was left installed the sink and the light fixture was torn out--it took almost a year for her to get a new vanity installed so we didn't have to traipse to the kitchen to wash our hands, but though the sink is now functional, there still isn't a working light, so one has to wipe one's butt in the little illumination which leaks under the door. Somehow divining that the water was reaching the top of the bowl, I whipped the nice rug off the floor and tossed it outside, then took off the back of the toilet to try to stop the flow of water. I've repaired many a toilet in my time, from replacing the chain attached to the stopper to fiddling with other bits in the tank, but in the dark I detached the wrong tube, releasing the intake valve from the pipe, which began whipping around like a snake, spraying (thank God, clean, fresh) water everwhere, from the walls to the floor to me. I did start yelling for assistance at that point. My bosses husband, who is a doll, though not that mechanically adept, came to the rescue (much to my humiliation), and managed to turn off the water at the bottom of the tank. Then he plunged the toilet excessively, causing me concern that he would extract the matter which had failed to flush (thereby making the mess considerably worse), so I turned tail and headed out to hang with the "holy" crowd.

Our trivia team made second place on Monday. We would have won first, but the tiebreaker questions were all geography, and none of us knew the name of the longest river in California. Susan, Steven and little Theo are in Ohio. I am sure the latter is being spoilt rotten by his grandparents. He slept on my chest for two hours last Friday while his parents watched the B&W version of Horatio Hornblower online. It is such a pleasure to have a tiny baby conk out on you! I enjoyed several days of maternal envy, and then I suffered several days of potent indigestion and was again grateful to live alone and childless, without others to offend or defend!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Year In Review/The Year in Preview

The biggest event of this year so far is the birth of Susan and Steven's little son, my latest honorary nephew, Theo, this morning at around 3:30!  I am blogging from their house, as they had an apple-cranberry crisp in the oven when Susan's water broke last night, and they just switched off the heat and left it there and Steven asked me to come by and put it in the fridge.  It was still warm, and perfectly baked, when I got here, so I had a scoop of that and four chocolate-chip cookies for supper.  I am drinking milk again (I didn't notice a significant reduction in symptoms when I quit, and frankly, I love dairy too much to forego it).  Milk and cookies are a great way to celebrate a New Year.

So, a review of last year's ten wishes list, and the introduction of this year's...

I did start writing what will (of course, inevitably) be a best-selling novel.  I didn't get the co-translation published, but this year, I will, by golly.  I didn't travel outside the US in 2012, but I have a $450 plane ticket voucher I have to use by November 2013, so that's a means to accomplish that end.  I didn't buy any real estate, but I did buy many, many more art supplies.  None of my quilted bags sold, but my lamps did pretty well.  My mom didn't get a cent back of the money I owe her, but I managed to refrain from borrowing much more!  I'm not in the best physical shape, but injuries can take some of the blame for taking me away from the gym.  I still want to go traveling with my "baby" (thirty-year-old!) brother, but that depends on his availability and willingness.  Didn't shoot anything, targets or otherwise, but now carry an axe in my car.  Missed ComicCon and so those autographs, which was a bit of a bummer.

So, these are my goals (wild wishes!) for the Year of Our Lord 2013:

1. I want to finish the best-selling novel and get an agent.
2. I want to see my non-fiction Russian co-translation published!
3. Maybe the fourth time's the charm as far as international travel (I do have a leg up thanks to the plane ticket voucher): I want to go to the Czech Republic, Canada, Ireland and (new this year!) South Korea.
4. Buy a condo (if only they'd convert my apartment complex into condos...!); I am so tired of seeing my rent disappear every month without any growing equity to show for it.
5. See at least two dozen of my lamps sold at galleries and estate sales (I achieved a dozen in 2012--I'm doubling up for 2013). 
6. Pay off at least a third of my financial debt to my mom.
7. Resume my personal physical fitness training and develop decent abs and non-bubbly thighs that I won’t be ashamed to show off come my honeymoon.  No, as of today, I'm not seeing anyone, but...
8. Be discovered by an awesome (Asian?) guy who wants to marry me and get engaged by 11/12/13!
9. Go out West to see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone again. 
10. Make $10,000 in jewelry sales alone.

Must refill my glass of milk and return to the Kdrama I'm watching....