Tuesday, June 2, 2009

R.I.P Gloria -- Now Can I Turn off the Heat in This Foyer??

I've shared this with many of you, and I mentioned it in my last blog, but it does deserve its own post.

My neighbor, Gloria, passed away in late May. She was 83.

You remember Gloria from my blog posts:

"Meet the Neighbors: The Golden Years" - http://tommymac71.blogspot.com/2008/09/meet-neighbors-golden-years.html

"Say It Ain't So: My Girl Gloria is Cheating On Me" - http://tommymac71.blogspot.com/2009/03/say-it-aint-so-glo-my-girl-gloria-is.html

"Love Notes from Gloria" -- http://tommymac71.blogspot.com/2009/04/love-notes-from-gloria.html

I cleaned her car off in the snow. I bought her cheap wine and made sure to give her the exact change. I "fixed" her answering machine, in reality erasing the messages when the inbox was full. I even mistakenly bought her a Christmas gift once, when it turns out the other old lady neighbor was the one who left me a snowflake pencil and what i think were bath beads.

She went into the hospital for a procedure (remember the note about hoping the doctor knew what he was doing) that I didn't care to ask about, for I feared knowing too much about this woman. The procedure went well, but she suffered a fatal heart attack 3 days later in the hospital.

I found out when a couple, which turned out to be her son and daughter in law, were taking grocery bags of food from Gloria's apartment to their mini-van. They had trash bags also which I assumed contained clothes and other possessions. I thought it was a bad sign, but that maybe she was in a rehab facility or nursing home. She was having a lot of trouble climbing the stairs to her unit lately.

When I introduced myself as the next door neighbor, the daughter in law said "Oh, you're the wine guy!" I told some neighbors about Gloria and I attended the wake. Some of the things I heard and learned:

* Neighbor: "Oh, you were her wine guy. I was the grocery girl. I think someone else was the mail guy but I can't be sure."
* Relative at the wake: "Oh, you're the wine guy. She loved you! Tom? Tom McSeeley, right? (Close enough)
* Gloria's birthday was September 11, 1925. I feel such a sadness for anyone born on that day. I hate being born on Dec 21, for selfish reasons, but Sept. 11 is worse, and far more sad.
* Gloria had some hot granddaughters and extended family. I stayed at the wake for about a half hour, despite not knowing anyone. During that time I wondered about the etiquette for flirting at a wake. Surely SOMEONE has met SOMEONE else while mourning, no?
* More than one person literally walked in an out of the funeral home in under 3 minutes! Sign the book, kiss a few cheeks, mutter a few "sorry for your losses" I'm sorry, this isn't speed waking. Pay a little respect and turn off the mini-van's engine.

My first memory of Gloria came before I even met her. I moved into my apartment two years ago on Memorial Day weekend. It was a good 85 muggy degrees outside. When I walked in the foyer leading to our units, the heat was on, full blast. It must have been 100 degrees.

I turned it down.
She turned it up
I turned it down.
She turned it up.
I turned it down.
She left a note to keep the heat on so she won't be cold while waiting for her rides.

Okay, sauna/foyer it is. I just hope I don't have to pay for that.

So the day she went in the hospital, it was a warm day. The foyer was about 4 degrees cooler than the sun. I turned the heat off, knowing she was gone for a few days.

It was the last time anyone touched the heat. And she's gone. Her note is still there.

Rest in Peace, Gloria.
And Rest in Warmth

Monday, June 1, 2009

May -- The Dryest Month of the Year. Well, THIS Year

I'm not the smartest guy going. I know this. Sometimes as soon as I say something, I immediately wish my words had a little string on the end of them, so I can pull them back in. (Never mind, the string on the end made me think of tampons and.....ew)

Anyway, my good friend Jeff was going to visit a brand new doctor in late April. Over our weekly breakfast, he tells me he wants to build good healthy habits, drop a few pounds and get reinvigorated. Sounded like a good idea to me.

So I made one of the dumbest suggestions. Ever.

"Well why don't we go on the wagon for the month of May," I said. "We'll give up drinking and try to build some good habits."

My egg-white ommelette tasted like crap that day, by the way. My mouth got dry, and not the way I like it to.

So we did. May came and we stopped drinking. A few days in Jeff asks "You meant getting drunk, right? Like we can have a couple of drinks, but no more getting tanked, for the month."

"Jeff," I began to reason with him with my new, clean mind. "if you're drinking you NEVER think you're tanked. Unless you've lost the feeling in your legs, and you'd probably blame that on your belt anyway."

Sure, drying out for a month sounds like a great idea. But picking THIS particular month didn't make much sense. Consider:

* May had five weekends. FIVE. That's like 10 percent of the weekends for the WHOLE year.
* I was invited to two birthday parties in May, including a 40th birthday barbecue. Ug.
* Mother's Day. Extended family time. I even babysat my two nieces for a whole day and didn't cave.
* Golf season. I'm not good when I'm focused. Lose a couple brain cells, lose a couple strokes.
* Memorial Day. I felt un-American by not honoring our fallen veterans by getting a little lubed up on imported beers.
* My next door neighbor Gloria died late in the month. I wanted to at least hoist a very cheap glass of read wine in her honor, but I settled on a few prayers.
* Baseball. I have about 18 lonely beers in my fridge. Every day another Met got hurt. It wasn't looking so good. I needed liquid company!

My cousin always goes dry in February. He says it's so he knows he CAN give it up for health reasons if someday he needed to. But, let's face it -- February is the softest month of the year. Shortest month, barely any sports (though the Super Bowl is now played in February, but still)

I didn't tell many people about this "experiment." Frankly, I got tired of hearing "YOU gave up DRINKING. For a MONTH!? Are you dying?"

Those who know both Jeff and I wondered who would crack first. We never even bet on it, we both decided to just do it, and believed we both could, so we never considered betting. Me not considering competing!! Can you believe it!

May came. May went. No alcoholic beverage touched my lips.

It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought. So what did I learn?

* Water is your friend. I feel like a freakin' fish I drank so many gallons of water;
* Hangovers suck. Most mornings I was rested, refreshed. It was weird. I almost liked it.
* Finishing something is way harder than starting it. The last week was hell. I think my Bombay Sapphire was literally calling my name. Oh, BS, I'll be there soon.
* My ADD is not solely attributable to Heineken. I still forgot stuff. Woo hoo! I think....
* Bars actually charge you to drink seltzer water? One place stuck me for $3.50. And no free refills!!! Hell for that kind of money, I should have been drinking a G&T at half the pace!
*Susan Boyle really is ugly. Drunk or sober.

So today is June 1. It's almost 2 p.m. No liquid lunch, no shakes, no hives (other than the one on the deck the bees built)

So cheers to me! Gifts of gin, Heineken mini-kegs and Advil are currently being accepted.