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10:14 a.m. - 2012-06-30
Wordless?

I can't believe it, I met someone I can't talk with. Me! I can hold perfectly good conversations with people I don't even share a language with, yet there was something about this guy's manner that made it impossible to speak with him. The guy is an electrician. He'd done work for MIL before and she said he did a good job and his prices were reasonable. I need some electrical work done, a few niggly little small repairs and I want to have under cabinet lighting installed to replace the crappola halogen hockey puck lights the ex put in 10 years ago. The stupid things are all burnt out and replacement bulbs blow the instant you flip the switch. Driving me mad. I love my kitchen except for the poor lighting. Anyway, when we spoke on the phone the other day I noticed the weird way whatever you say to this electrician guy seems to hit a wall and thud to the ground. He doesn't echo or make "Uh huh" (I'm listening) noises. Nada. You say something and thud. Silence. It was horribly awkward on the phone but I figured he couldn't possibly be that bad in person...but he was. Worse even.

Best as I can tell he's not hard of hearing, his own speaking voice is normal. I think he's on the spectrum somewhere, but he didn't do any of the typical autistic/Aspie stuff like standing too close or not making eye contact. His body language was a bit on the reserved side but it wasn't like he was insanely shy. I simply could NOT get any normal response from him. He doesn't nod. He doesn't smile. He doesn't give direct answers to straightforward questions. Whatever I said went nowhere. And it freaked me out. I found myself stuttering and verbally stumbling. At one point I turned to Mick and silently screamed, "HELP!" Mick shrugged and mimed back that he was as foshed as I was. I'm used to contractors who are blowhard know-it-alls. Guys who come in, let you say about two words and then bully-talk right over you and pontificate about their expertise and try to upsell you into an entire kitchen renovation when all you want is a new faucet. At the very least a normal contractor will seem interested in the work and will reassure you he can get it done, no prob. Not this weirdo. He kept asking questions of his own, really technical questions that'd I'd turn up my hands to and remind him that I don't know if there's a 76 hertz framastan connected to the whatseehoozit. THAT'S what I need a damn electrician for! If I knew all this stuff I could do the work myself, you freakazoid. The guy must be an Aspie of some sort, but not a variety I've ever come across before. That's the only thing I can figure. In any case he's about the last person who should be in business for himself, a personality-driven business where how you speak to clients is at least as important as how good your work is. Sheesh. As it ended up I don't know when he's coming back, if I should buy the fixtures or if he's bringing them. And I couldn't get a price estimate out of him about any of it. It was nuts, the whole visit yesterday was nuts.

This visit from the space case electrician churned up all sorts of other bad feelings too. My own frustrated inadequacy when it comes to electrical stuff. I hate it that I'm so bad with electronics and wiring. My forever fury at the ex for being such a shithead and completely unreliable. A decent ex-husband in the building trades should come over and make sure the house his child lives in is safe and fully-functioning. Nevermind the ex-wife and her new husband live there too. Snorting disgust over my MIL and her aggravating subservient thing where she makes a hero out of even the most inept dimwits. (Until you cross her, of course, then you're a blood enemy forever like me.) MIL bends over backward for strangers and goes gooey wide-eyed sycophant without the least bit of evidence of competency from any and every chucklehead she comes across. See above example of her gushing that the freaky electrician is THE BEST ELECTRICIAN IN THE UNIVERSE!

Mostly though what got me was dumbfounded wonderment at actually coming across someone I can't talk to. Talking is what I do best! I'm charming godammit! I can finesse a smile from the biggest grouch. I can get the most tongue-tangled wallflower to tell me her life story. Jill of all trades- master of none, my ability to make chat with anyone is the one constant in an uncertain world I've always counted on. Strand me in a foreign country and within the hour I'll be sitting at a cafe table surrounded by folks roaring with laughter and inviting me home for dinner. Sure, occasionally people wake up later with a "WTF? I hate her! LA is a total bitch!" hangover, but they are almost always attention hogs themselves and are ticked off somebody else got in the way of their personal limelight and that I didn't give them the instant slavish devotion and coolth validation they crave. Feh.

While I'm the subject of talking, I'm going to see Steph tomorrow. We're having lunch and then going to see '1776' at a local playhouse. I'm stoked. I adore theater and don't go as often as I'd like to. My own fault on that one, there's plenty locally and the city and Broadway are a short train ride away. Sue me, I'm still getting the hang of this whole 'leave the kid on his own' thing and the freedom to have my own life. So. Talking. Last time Steph and I got together we had lunch at our fave diner. We were at the salad bar and clucking over how they had whole hard-boiled eggs and chicken liver and nattering in best friend shorthand about whose husband likes what kind of salad dressing and did the other want bacon bits and ooo look, pickled beets and...it hit us. We'd turned into Them. Twittering biddies. We cracked up! Laughing so hard we staggered back to the table like a pair of drunks. We could not believe it had happened to us. Not that either of us believes we're still in the first flush of youth, heck, one of our most common subjects of discussion is aging and the ever-mounting evidence of our advancing decrepitude, but twittering biddies? Had we REALLY gotten that old? How long before we bust out the tote bags and start surreptitiously filling baggies and plastic containers at the salad bar to bring home to eat later? Stashing the crackers that came with our soup in our cavernous purses? Was it only hours before we brought sweaters everywhere because we get chilly in the air-conditioning and have folding plastic rain hats that we don at the slightest chance of rain? Had we truly become a pair of old ladies without us even noticing?

No decision reached. On one hand if Steph is an old lady I'll eat a plastic rain bonnet. Vital, interesting, stylish, despite living with fibromyalgia Stephanie goes more places and does more cool stuff in a month than most folks do in a lifetime. She dresses well and always looks amazing. Never says no to an adventure. I've yet to spend any time with her when at the end my ribs weren't aching from laughter and my brain wasn't sizzling with a 1,000 new ideas.

On the other hand I am floundering a little. Less a midlife crisis than it is a midlife Sargasso Sea. I am becalmed in the horse latitudes between who I was and who I am becoming. My stodgy, fluffy, boringly dressed and coiffed exterior is the outward manifestation of my inner stall. I so rarely look for outside validation anymore because it doesn't seem to matter what I look like. This being secure in my relationship and being happy is so new. My whole life I've fought and struggled and longed for love and acceptance and peace. Now I have them. I have everything the huge aching hole in my heart has always craved.

So now what?

This is where it's gotten murky. I truly never expected to get here. Really. I had no plan for after. I had no "Okay, I have my heart's desire so onward and forward" contingencies lined up.

They never told us what "And they lived happily ever after" really entails. The story always ends there.

I am NOT complaining. I wouldn't have my old life back for a zillion dollars. I am happy. Absurdly so. It's just that I only know how to be stressed out, jangled, soul-starved, aching LA. This new LA with her good son, adoring husband, steady finances, and solid future is totally weird to me. I know I should simply relax and enjoy, but real life isn't a vacation in the Bahamas. Real life is about goals and accomplishments and doing something. A meaningful life is about producing things of worth, generating a substantial income, growing as a person, and leaving the world a slightly better place for having been there. And this is where I've hit a wall.

I tot up my accomplishments. The primary one being I've produced two new human beings. The elder one loathes me, but so what? He's still a functioning member of society. As far as I know he's educated, employed, and in a loving relationship. He owns property and has pets. No kids so far, but his contribution to the GNP and society as a whole is on the plus side. Good enough. Alex isn't in jail or sucking off the public tit or a member of a street gang. I'm satisfied.

My younger son's future is still something of a question mark. A condition caused by a bad economy and 30+ years of Reaganomics as it is the fact that he's on the autism spectrum. On the personal Wolf is funny, loving, sweet, and smart. Only a parent who lives through the accomplishments of their kids would ask for more than that. Wolf is a good guy.

As for me I've produced over 7 million words. I've written four horrible novels and over a decade's worth of essays. I've written everything from porn to the specs of the most specific and esoteric of machines, machines which recycle, pave roads and maintain heavy equipment. I've kept a blog for 11 years and through it have gained perspective, mental health, and most of my friends. Heck, I met my husband online. (Thanks, Match.com!) Words have been my life. Whether it was selling used books, new cars, kitchenware, or myself as a potential mate, me running my mouth is what I do and who I am. Words got me this far and now I'm flopping around figuring out where else they will take me. Where it is I want to go.

And yesterday I met someone who didn't get or respond to my words at all. Scared the living hell out of me.


Full of questions, but still looking forward to seeing a funny play and my best friend tomorrow, ~LA


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