Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welcome, guest

If you come to visit me, it is likely you will be reasonably comfortable. If you come to stay in my home, I will have a place for you--an actual bedroom dedicated to the purpose of giving my guests a space of their own for as long they need it.

You'll have your own room. It's small and we still haven't painted it, but it will be clean: dusted, vacuumed, and mopped. You will sleep on a bed. It's not an old bed passed down, worn out, and then relegated to the guest room. No, it was purchased new for the guest room, it's a queen size, and it sports a firm pillow-top mattress, soft 100-percent cotton sheets, a fluffy comforter, and, unless you kick him out (feel free), a large, grumpy tabby cat. You will have plenty of pillows of varying density and fluffiness. These are no lumpy, flattened, old cast-off pillows. They are hypoallergenic, new, and intended to help foster a good night's sleep--and there are lots of them.

You will not have to live out of your suitcase. There is a dresser--completely empty--and most of a closet with more hangers than you're likely to need. Line up your shoes on the closet floor. There's plenty of room.

I will not expect you to bring a travel alarm clock or to use your phone for this purpose. No, you'll find a stylish Sony clock-radio on the bedside table, next to the fresh box of Kleenex and the TV remote.

Yes, you have your own TV. It's connected to cable and it has a nice sleep-timer feature. If you prefer to read, you'll find a stack of current magazines at the foot of the bed, along with crossword puzzle books and a sharpened pencil. Should you need them, there are disposable earplugs in the nightstand drawer.
If you stay at my house, you won't be tossing and turning on a rock-hard futon that you had to wrestle into the bed position. You won't have to climb over storage boxes, craft supplies, or a dusty treadmill. You will, however, have to share a bathroom. There's nothing we can do about that until we save up the $10,000 it will cost to gut the half-bath connected to the master bedroom and turn it into a bathroom with a shower.

If you forget your toothbrush or any toiletries, don't worry; I'll have whatever you need. I'll show you the extra pillows and blankets in the guest room closet, and I'll put a nightlight in the bathroom so you don't have to fumble there in the dark. You'll have fluffy towels, and I'll show you where to find more towels and washcloths if you need them.

I'll make sure that your favorite morning beverage is on hand, and you'll have access to a healthy breakfast.

I will not ask you to strip the bed or even make it up. Don't worry about it--I'll do my laundry. It's my house. You are my guest. Relax.

All of this was on my mind when I went to visit my mother last week. She doesn't just insist I come, she demands it, and yet, she doesn't make any effort to create a comfortable space for me. Her "spare room" is used for storage. The futon was an after-thought. The guest bathroom is crammed full of knick-knacks, and although there are four full sets of towels hanging in there, they are only "on display." The hand towels are off-limits, too. There is a roll of paper towels under the sink for hand drying.

I've made a fair amount of visits to friends and families over the years. I try to be a good and unintrusive house guest, but I'm sure I don't always succeed. I do make an effort, though. As a houseguest, I deeply appreciate being made to feel welcomed and knowing that someone put some thought into my comfort. Please don't make me sleep on a couch. I have an AeroBed. It's nice. I'll bring it if you have no other space for me. And here's the thing--if you don't have space for me, I'm OK with staying in a nearby hotel. Don't demand that I stay with you while also expecting me to be OK with being terribly uncomfortable.

To those friends who get it, thank you. Thank you for the real bed, the space for my stuff, and for acknowledging that adults require a certain amount of privacy. Thanks for checking if I needed anything. Thanks for the heads up that I might need earplugs given the kids' noisy morning routine. Thanks for welcoming me. I hope I can do the same for you someday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

May is a tired girl. I just spent five days in Florida. First, I visted with a friend from college who I rarely get to see. We had to arrange it covertly and then break the news to my mother that I was coming to Florida, but she was going to be forced to share the time. She wasn't happy, but she got over it.

I got home late last night--around midnight, along with a cold and an earache. Ah, the hazards of air travel during cold and flu season. At least it hit me on the last day of vacation and not earlier.

The weather was simply perfect. Walking into the 35-degree night air outside of the airport here made for a harsh return. I'll get used to the cold temperatures, but as long as I live, I will never get accustomed to living so far from the coast. For me, it's all about the water.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dark days

The fall is hard for me. I can't pin down what it s--the change of seasons, the shortening of days, the drop in temperature, the frenzied pace, or some other unknown quality. Fall makes me sad. It also aggravates my SAD--Seasonal Affective Disorder.

I recently ordered a fancy wake-up light so I can go back to using my SAD light for its intended therapy. Currently, it's connected to a timer and I've been getting awakened by a big blast of photons every morning. It works, but I'm going for something more natural and subtle so as not to start my day startled and surly from now until May.

Intellectually, I know I"m not actually depressed. Unfortunately, my brain chemistry wants to tell me otherwise. I'm not taking the bait.

The right to die

Dr. Oz and Montel Williams took on one of my favorite topics. Here's the link to watch it online, in case you missed it: