WHAT WORLD IS THIS? – Marilyn Armstrong

When I was first married we lived in an apartment on the second floor of a building that was one of two identical brick buildings. We lived in apartment 2Q, at the far end of the hallway … a corner apartment which had better ventilation than apartments in the middle.

I didn’t drive yet.

One day, having taken the bus home from shopping, I went in through the front and proceeded all the way down the hall to our apartment. As I started to put my key in the door, I realized that there was a nameplate on the door. It said “2Q, Kincaid.”

Not my name. Right apartment, but not mine. Hmm.

I took a deep breath, walked back to the elevator then went back to the apartment. It still said “Kincaid.”

I immediately realized what had happened. I had slipped through into a parallel universe, another dimension. I didn’t exist. I’d been replaced by someone named Kincaid. It took me a while,  standing there and staring at the door before it occurred to me that I was in the wrong building. It was a simple enough mistake: the two building were identical and I just hadn’t been paying attention.

What’s interesting is not that I went into the wrong building but that I immediately assumed I’d slipped into my own personal Twilight Zone. That building today is student housing now, but it was a private rental building back then.

Would most people, finding themselves in such a situation jump to the conclusion that they’d slipped into a parallel universe? Or would think they had maybe walked into the wrong building?

What would YOU think?

I sometimes wonder if a lot of my ability to get through a variety of bizarre and scary situations was because I didn’t relate to life as real but rather as if life — MY life — was a long book in which I was the main character. It was the narrator’s fault.

From when I was perhaps 4 or 5 years old until a few years ago, I lived life in the third person. I had a narrator. She sat on my shoulder and told my story. She added “he said” and “she said” and provided full descriptions of people, places, and events as they were happening. She flushed out experiences by providing context and commentary. She’d always been there, or at least as far as I could remember so it seemed normal to me, though distracting.

This was nothing like “hearing voices.” The narrator was not independent. She WAS me. She didn’t talk to me but about me. She wrote me. She was a mini-me, perched on my shoulder, always watching, then instantly translating everything into a third person narrative. I was detached but watchful. I saw everything and remembered everything, especially what everyone said and exactly how they said it. I was almost never fully engaged, but I was an excellent witness.

Does — or did — everyone have a narrator at least sometimes, or it was only me? I’ve always wondered if it was something to do with being a writer.

A few years ago, I realized my narrator was gone. Did she slip away a little at a time or suddenly depart without so much as a note of farewell? I wonder why she left. For that matter, I wonder why she was there in the first place. These days, she is gone as inexplicably as she arrived.

By the time I sat down and wrote a novel, she had been gone a while, though that was when I noticed her absence. Without a narrator to tell my life story, I find I am more surprised by experiences and have lost the ability to detach.

I’m real. Not the main character in an endless saga, merely another confused soul on the road from somewhere to some other place.

SHARING YOUR WORLD – IT’S BEEN QUITE THE WEEK! – Marilyn Armstrong

Sharing My World: What A Week!

What household chore do you absolutely enjoy doing? (can be indoor or outdoor)

I don’t really enjoy household chores. I get a certain satisfaction from getting stuff done, but enjoying it? Not really. I’m just glad when it’s finished. Probably the best I can do with this is feeling pleased that something which needed doing got done. I won’t have to worry about it at least, not until the next time it needs doing.

Back when I had a spine that bent, I used to enjoy gardening, but these days, it’s more work and less fun. I still love the flowers, though. Even though it hurts.

Create a sentence with the words “neon green” and train.”

The neon green train roared across the Providence-Worcester bridge in Uxbridge.

Everyone stared, rubbed their eyes, then — being New Englanders — said “Well, that was different” and moved on. You can’t surprise people in this region. We’ve seen it all.

Other than your cell phone what can you always be found with?

A camera. Actually, you may not find the cell phone (though it’s usually somewhere in my purse, but not turned on), but there are cameras everywhere.

A bench full of cameras

If I’m in the house, computers too. I have too many cameras and I love them all. Each one is unique and special in its own way.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? 

Garry finally got to talk to the doctor who is going to do his cochlear implant and now things are moving forward. I think sometime before summer ends, the surgery. It’s kind of a miracle because it will be the first time in his life that Garry will be able to truly hear.

Then the long process of tuning up and learning the sounds and waiting for his brain to make it sound “normal.” Apparently, at some point for no known reason, your brain will turn the mechanical sounds you get from the implant and make them sound normal, like they used to sound when you could hear.

Why does it happen? No one knows, though many people have made good guesses. The brain is an amazing tool.

RUINED BY RETIREMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

Not all bad dreams are nightmares. I have dreams which are bad because they’re too close to reality for psychic comfort.

First up in last night’s doubleheader, I dreamed I urgently needed a shower. Okay, fine, soon as I get up, I promised my unconscious. Sheesh. It’s not that bad … is it?

The next round of REM sleep informed me I couldn’t fit into my jeans. That got me so upset I vowed if it turned out to be true, I would end it all by jumping head first into the bathtub off my shower chair. If that didn’t work, I’d have to get a new pair of jeans.

I tried waking up, then going back to sleep. Maybe it would shake off the dreams … but it didn’t work.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Leaving me feeling grubby with unbearably tight blue jeans. Was worse yet to come?

I decided not to lie around waiting for an answer I might not like. Dragging my reluctant body from the comfortable bed, I went straight for the dresser and pulled out my jeans. Shucking my nightgown, I stepped into them and discovered — oh joy! — they fit perfectly.

I would have done a victory dance, but I first needed to give cookies to starving puppies, start the coffee, and hit the shower. Today, I’m going to wear those jeans until I remember if I’m just going to sit around the house, I might as well go for something loose and stretchy.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Vanity and fashion have lost their power over me. Instead, it’s easy-to-launder, resistant to dog hair, and comfortable. Every time. I still think about putting on make-up, just to prove I can make myself look nice if I try …  can’t think of a reason. Garry genuinely doesn’t care. Unless someone is taking pictures and I don’t have a camera in front of it, it seems pointless and anyway, I’d only have to wash it off later.

Retirement has ruined me. Yet somehow, I love it. Retirement is good that way.