Thursday, December 05, 2013

3807 Kicking

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I'm  hoping to get through the to-do list today, enough of the high priority items that I can head north this evening.

In reference to the previous post, I got the advice of four people.  Three said ignore the woman.  One pointed out that if I restrict communication to email, I am in control and I can decide what information to give her and what to withhold, what to answer and what to ignore.

I decided that she's right.  I am in control.

So I have to do what is natural to me.  When someone extends an olive branch, I can't ignore it and walk away.  That's just not me.  It would bother me forever, and I should know that by now.  Remember - I'm the one who always sent a penny, even though I never got one.

So I did reply to her note.  All I said was that she had written her note entirely on the subject line [and I tried it from Gmail, and yeah, Gmail will allow you to do that without warning] so I don't know what she said; please try again.

That was Tuesday evening.  I have not heard from her, but I doubt she checks her email often.

Now, off to the to-do list.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

3806 Scary World

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I've been searching the internet for people I hadn't heard from or maybe thought about in ages.  It started out as plain curiosity.  Where are they now?  What are they doing?

Men are easier to find than women, because their names don't much change.

It has become scary.

So far, every man I've been able to locate whom I had ever dated before Jay died --- is dead, with the sole exception of Ex#2.  (And him, I don't understand how he's still alive.)

I'm beginning to feel somehow responsible.


Things got weird in another area, too.  I have written in the past about a friend from work and also from Mensa.  I'm the first she called when her husband died, and I helped her through all the messy legal and emotional details that entailed.  She was so grateful she said she would put my favorite charities in her will, donations to be made in my name.  I gave her brain tumor research and doctors without borders.  By the way, she is fabulously wealthy.  We're talking original Picassos and Miros on her walls.  She has no family except a grand-niece somewhere.

She'd always been a drinker, and after her husband died she started drinking heavily.  She started calling friends in our group at 3 and 4 am to chat.  You'd explain to her that you were sleeping and had to get up in the morning, so, uh, goodnight, and hang up on her.  She was hard of hearing and tended to talk right over you, so ... the phone would ring again, "We got cut off!"  That would go on and on all night.  If you didn't turn the phone off it began to sound like an alarm clock.

Our friendship ended when she went to a Mensa party that was supposed to start at 7 pm, and showed up already hammered at the hostess' house at 7 am, oops, and then just stayed, drinking the whole time.  At the end of the evening no one wanted her to drive home, but she fought anyone who tried to take her keys and the hostess had had it with her and refused to keep her overnight.  So I volunteered (without her knowledge or permission) to follow her, to make sure she made it home.

I think my being a discreet distance behind her infuriated her, and kept her alert and on the road.

When I got home I found several messages on my machine, and then the phone rang again and it was her.  She was furious that I'd had the nerve to follow her home.  To treat her like she was incapable.  She yelled at me a while, and then hung up.

I don't think she ever went to another Mensa event, and at any rate, never spoke to me again unless it was the wee hours of the morning and she was too drunk to remember she was mad at me.

Then I moved to New Jersey.

About two years ago I got an email from a mutual friend.  He told me that she had asked for my phone number.  She had apparently tried to call the country house and the phone had been disconnected.  He said he figured he should check with me first.  "Is she still calling people in the middle of the night?"  "Yep."  "Thanks for asking first.  No, don't give her my new number.  Tell her you simply don't have it or can't find it."

And that was the end of that.

Well, last week I got to wondering about her.  She's only maybe two years older than I, but she has always been in poor health, has some kind of balance problems and falls a lot even when she'd been sober, and now with the drinking...  So I searched the internet.  She's still alive.  Ok, end of thought.

Until yesterday.

 I got an email from her.

A strange email, to the account I rarely use anymore.  She even sounds sort of sober...


...the Subject line says: "Hey, are you still out there?  Let me know.  The reason I am writing (besides just wanting to reconnect) is that some time ago I told you that I wanted..."

The body of the email, the text part, is completely blank.  She apparently wrote the entire note on the subject line, which, of course, got cut.  (Sheesh.  How do you even do that?)

Oh, cripes.

I thought about it most of yesterday and today.  It's ten years since her husband died and she wrote the new will, so I suspect her lawyer has told her it's time to review it, and maybe she wants to check my choice of charities.  I don't know.  I'd have to respond to her to find out what she wants to say.

I am torn.  I feel like the right thing to do is to respond.
I do not want to reconnect!
I'd rather she just thought I am lost.
But that's a bad thing to do, to hide from her like that.
It's a moral dilemma.
I do still feel some pity for her --- she's so alone.
She has no interests, no activities, no family.
But I need to protect myself from the suction of her life.

I asked Daughter, who tends to be one of those maddeningly black or white people, and she said I have no obligation to respond.  The woman cut me off a long time ago when I had been perhaps her best friend, and I can leave it at that.  She chose that loss, that path.  My only loss might be some large contributions to charity, maybe, if that's what the note was about.  So I can choose to not respond without guilt.

So, what do you think?

3805 Train wreck, in more ways than one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I turn the TV on for only four shows a week these days.  One of them is "Sunday Morning", although I've been disappointed in that show for the past few years.  Lately it's been just celebrity-type stuff, with a hidden sales pitch, rather than what's happening out there in the "real" countryside, like back when it was Charles Kuralt, remember him?  (Joke:   "My home town is so small Charles Kuralt has been there three times!")

Anyway, I was up this morning, turned the TV on, and instead of "Sunday Morning", it was a report on the Metro North train derailment.  Four dead so far, but so many are in critical condition I think unfortunately that number will rise.  I haven't heard yet how many people in total were on the train.  It had left Poughkeepsie (that's pronounced P-kip'-see by the natives, Po-kip'-see by newcomers, abbreviated "Pok") just before 6 am, due to arrive at Grand Central a bit before 8 am, so it wouldn't have been crowded - likely mostly people who work in the city, maybe some returning from the holiday.  There are a lot of commuters from the Pok area since the mass exodus from Manhattan after 9/11.  I'm sure some work on Sundays.


I am familiar with that train route.  That's the line I took from the country house on the few occasions I ventured into the city.  It runs alongside the east bank of the Hudson, and is quite scenic.

Amtrak trains running between Albany and NYC stop in Rhinecliff, and that's actually much closer to the house, only a few minutes drive.  But an Amtrak ticket is a small fortune, the trains go to Penn Station, the local station is manned only a few hours on weekdays, and there's no real parking lot in the tiny village of Rhinecliff.  You have to compete for parking along the river.  So I would drive the 40 minutes south to Pok where there are huge parking lots and a well-manned station, and take a Metro North train, which was a LOT cheaper and goes to Grand Central.  Metro North cars are the same trains that serve inside the city - some are actual subway trains.  Pok is the northern-most terminus of the NYC subway system.  Weird, huh?

Since so many people moved north after 9/11, there's been a lot of noise about extending Metro North up to Rhinecliff, but I doubt that will ever happen. 

Anyway - the point, finally.

Because Pok is the end of the line, they USED to have an engine at the north end of the train to pull it north, AND an engine at the south end to pull it south.  Then someone came up with a brilliant cost-saving idea.  They now have one engine, on the north end, which pulls it north, and PUSHES it south.


Any child knows that if you link some wagons together and pull them, they follow, and if one somehow goes off the path, it might pull others out of line, but they aren't going to jam up (well, from momentum, but that's all the energy in the jam).  But if you try to push them, if one goes off the path, the following ones will jam up and push even more off the path because of the energy coming from behind, and likely spill the contents.  Violently.

I hope Metro North saved a zillion dollars with that idiotic idea, because those passengers ought to sue the pants off them.

And I'm not an advocate of lawsuits for every little thing.


On the TV, there was a reporter talking from "near" the scene.  She startled me at first by reporting that "five of the seven trains" derailed.   Five trains!  Good Grief!  How does that happen!?  "One train almost went into the river".  "Several trains were on their sides".  And so on.

As she went on over the next half hour, it dawned on me that she was calling the passenger CARS "trains".  Does she not know what a "train", a series of linked things, in this case passenger cars, is?

There had to be people around her.  Why did no one correct her?  It got to the point that I was yelling at the TV, wanted to reach through the screen and personally strangle her.

I guess someone finally clued her in, because she started talking about cars.