Apr 8, 2008
I've been revising this paragraph of my Bread Loaf application, and I'm tired of revising it, so here 'tis:
The old lady in the apartment below us lives in a different solar system ruled completely by anger. She has this enormous picture window that looks into her entire apartment, and although she's intensely private and standoffish, she always has her blinds open. Looking in her window, as I'm walking up the stairs next to it, is almost too much to bear: her discontent and disorder spills into the living room with the uncontrolled defiance of a teenager. I don't need to fucking change, her disarray tells me. The reminder notes on her desk, written in angry black marker for all to see, tell a different tale: GO OUT AND WALK. DON'T ISOLATE. GET A ROUTINE. BE POSITIVE. For something so positive, these reminder notes seem incredibly sad to me. I don't need YOU, her desk says with a bitter look, the same desk that is buckling under the weight of so many unopened self-help books. I see her on the street or at the market, and I want to throw a cantaloupe at her face, just to get a reaction. I want to see her feel something other than scorn, I want to see her smile--but I'm afraid it will be hideous, the smiling and the feeling. I hate feeling sorry for people, because I would never want others to pity me, but I feel sorry for her. And that makes me hate her.
This woman's name is Ellen. She has never said hello, never been pleasant--she won't smile, and doesn't acknowledge me when I speak to her. She's pretty rude, as far as humans go; I even heard her hiss once, in response to us smoking on the sidewalk (nowhere near the apartment building). She spotted us, hissed, and walked around us--and when I say 'around us', I mean she walked about eight blocks out of her way, just to avoid being six feet from us. That kind of dedication to unabashed surliness is commendable--entertaining, even. I thought it was me, but apparently she does this with everyone, which relieved me at first. Now it's worrisome. She's either been on a long vacation (since before Easter, which would technically make it a pilgrimage), or she's dead as a doorknob. Cory said to me last night, "Have you seen Ellen lately?" And I thought, holy shit--I usually see her every day, either in the window or on the street. But she is nowhere to be found. I might speak to the apartment manager about it, since Ellen and I aren't friends; just mention that her apartment remains untouched and it's a little out of the ordinary. I can't believe that my capacity for worrying extends to those I don't even LIKE, to people who can't even be bothered to exchange banal pleasantries with me. Worrying is like the second career I need to resign from. It's annoying and I'm not getting paid enough.