Archive for February, 2013

February 28th

Posted: February 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear journal,

Dinner last night was a little tense, and the fact that it was delicious didn’t help make the girls any happier. They had a hard first day of school because it was basically one long meeting with councillors who asked them endless questions about their lives: where their families where, what they liked about school, their favourite subjects, how many people they have seen dead. They were both white as sheets when they got back to the house, and they didn’t have much of an appetite. I don’t know if I would either – I always remember not being able to eat after particularly harsh session with Rick. They don’t really want to go back to school this morning, but what choice do they have? I walked them again this morning, and hopefully that gave them a feeling of not being alone. At least they have each other for comfort, and I told them that I am here if they want to talk.

I don’t know if they will ever take me up on that, but I suppose it might be a comfort for them to know that they could if they wanted. I think they have another meeting with the councillors today to sort out their courses. It must be strange to be joining a new class halfway through this semester, but Dana said it is much better to get back in the swing of “normal” life than to sit around and wait for the new school year to start in September. This is probably true, and I don’t know what I would do with two teenagers sitting around the house all day for six months before they got into the groove of school again.

Ellen is out handing out her resume, and Nick is at his first official day of work, although they kept him there until dinner yesterday, showing him around and introducing him to the other employees. I guess he was a big hit, and there was a recent vacancy so they need all the quality help they can get.

I wonder if this is what the latter years of having kids feels like. I mean, obviously I don’t see them as such, and I don’t want to be changing their diapers ever, but I kind of feel like I am at the central point where all these lives cross over, and even though I have only known they all a short while, I feel like we all depend on each other a little bit. That might sound crazy, or it might be my mind’s attempt to feel included in lives other than my own, but it was a random thought that came to me today while I tidied up the kitchen after I walked Penelope and Mandy to school and came home to an empty house.

I’ve potentially grown a little too fond of bubble baths, because I indulged again today, since no one was home and I didn’t have any pressing tasks to which I needed to attend. I’ve found that if I am really interested in the book I am reading, I sometimes sit there until the water has grown cold without realizing how more than an hour has passed. It really is a toss-up between adding more hot wanted or getting warm and dry, then continuing my reading. Today was a “use up all the hot water because no one else needs it” sort of day, although I’ll have to make sure that I don’t make it too much of a habit, or I won’t have any profit from taking in tenants.

Hey, two months and I am still writing in this journal. Rick would be proud. Actually, I think he might be surprised, but there would likely be some pride in there, as well. I only have to do what I have done five more times and I’ll have done the entire year.

Always,
-Miriam

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February 27th

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear journal,

The girls were reluctant this morning, but I had a couple of bowls of cereal ready for them, nice and early, and even packed their lunches, since the school is too far away to come home for lunch. They hovered by the door when it was time to leave, as though deciding if they could set foot outside. I walked between them, opened the door, took one of each of their hands and told them I would take them as far as a block from the school, so none of their peers would think they needed a babysitter. Penelope locked up, Mandy double checked that she had her keys, and each did a quick scan of their backpacks – pens, paper, lunches, and purses. They had everything they needed for the first day of school, and the Recovery Team had already cleared up everything from yesterday’s breach.

When I got back from walking the girls in the direction of school (and after I made sure they had my number in case the school needed to get in touch), I returned home to wake up my unofficial tenant. I told Andrew that he seems to sleep on my couch more often than not, but he claimed that it wasn’t his fault that there was a breach every time he was in the neighbourhood.

Nick and Andrew bonded over dinner last night, and Nick went with Andrew to work this morning. It is mid-afternoon and we haven’t heard from him, not even for lunch, so Ellen and I figure that must be a good thing. I’ve spent most of my time since dropping the girls off helping Ellen finish laundering all of their items and organizing – since they hadn’t done it upon arrival due to exhaustion. The basement is looking like a nice home now; it doesn’t have much, but Ellen seems happy with it. It also gave us time to get to know each other even more. I learned that she and Nick have been together nearly three years; they knew each other in high school but didn’t get together until years later. They were both only children, which means that they haven’t lost any siblings in this terrible mess, but they did witness the attack of Nick’s father by zombies. Ellen’s parents fled town before she even finished high school, not even stopping to think about taking her with them, and she grew up in a friend’s house. Nick’s Mother died of cancer years ago, but he told Ellen that she went peacefully in the end. It is amazing how much death there is around us in this day in age.

Ellen wanted to work on her resume before looking for work tomorrow, so we wandered upstairs to fill our stomachs so her brain would be properly energized. After we had some lunch, I curled up with a book, but my eyes didn’t seem to want to take in any of the information. I kept wondering if Ellen finds it strange that she is renting from someone three years younger than her, but if she does, she hasn’t let on. I don’t think age has really factored into any of the accommodation situation, besides the fact that the girls need to attend school. In fact, I actually have no idea if they know how old I am. During high school, what few people talked to me told me that I always seem more mature than my years. I just hope I don’t look older than my eldest tenants, especially since I am trying to work on my fitness.

Speaking of which, I should probably consider getting down stairs to start chopping up the veggies I’ll be making for dinner tonight to go with our chicken, since I’ve given up on getting any of this book read today.

Always,
-Miriam

February 26th

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear journal,

I have decided that Sundays are my unofficial day off, and as such, breakfast is the usual “get it yourself at your own pace” deal, but so is lunch. For dinner, I’ll be letting a large vat of chili slowly cook itself on the stove at a low heat. Today will be my day to relax, catch up on reading, watch a film if I want, or just do anything but work, unless needed.

… I don’t date when I write entries, so I just want to point out that I wrote that last bit first thing this morning, before I even got out of bed. It has not gone that way at all. It’s nearly midnight, and the fact that we had chili on the stove is the very least of what is on my mind and in my priorities.

You’ve probably already guessed it – another breach. Fortunately, this wasn’t another one right near my house, but unfortunately it did occur while Penelope and Mandy were out for a walk. I just happened to be coming back from the grocery store (needed more onions for the chili) and suddenly they, and a few other people, flew by me, running for their lives. I ran after the girls I pointed them to a short cut back to the house, making sure that in their panic, they still had their keys. I don’t know what made me do what came next – probably all this talk of needing more adventure – but I didn’t go with them back to the house. I thrust the grocery bag into Mandy’s hand, told them to run, and went in the direction of the breach.

I’m not suicidal. I went back but I hide on a corner and watched what was going on from afar. I didn’t run directly into the hoard, which had five or six zombies in it, spread out down a street where they had just finished feasting on a person (I could honestly not tell if it was a man or a woman after they were done) and what I assume was a dog (I could still see a leash in his/her hand). The zombies had clearly fought over the deceased, as blood and guts were cast in all directions.

A hand came down on my shoulder, and I have never in my life been closer to crapping in my pants. I spun, ready to punch what I thought was a zombie in the face, just to stun it so I could run, but was face to face with Andrew. “Are you following me?” I think I asked this out loud, but it could have just been in my head.

“What are you doing? Let’s go!” he said, regardless of if I had accused him or not. He pulled me away from my hiding place and we ran. I pushed him down the same short cut that I pointed out to the girls, and we were there in no time. I arrived ahead of him (that running hobby is good for something), unlocked the door and let him in. As I locked the front door, he started my usual system of checking all the entry points on the ground floor. Nick and Ellen came up to see what all the noise was, so I introduced them to Andrew, told them there was a breach and went upstairs to make sure the girls had made it back.

I found Penelope and Mandy in my old room, huddled together on my old bed, crying and looking terrified. It took a really long time to calm them down, but they are finally sleeping now. And I finally introduced Nick to Andrew, so, you know, silver lining.

Always,
-Miriam

February 25th

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear journal,

Everyone is out, familiarizing themselves with their new town. “Breakfast on your own time” seems to be working just fine. Lunch tends to happen around the usual time, although I guess I need to start packing lunches for the girls as of Monday. Dinner tonight should be easy, since I made way too much pasta last night and will be revamping it with more vegetables and adding a different sauce. Laundry is all done and distributed to the various owners (in a basket as it came out of the dryer, because there is no way I am folding everyone’s clothing, especially not their underpants). So far, this “being my own boss” thing is working out just fine for me.

I half-jokingly offered to everyone at lunch that they could come with me on my run if they wanted. That was a big, fat “no thanks”. Ellen actually seemed appalled that I run for fun, but I’m not surprised by that reaction, considering the first images that come to mind from most people’s memories of running involve running for one’s life. I explained that I used to like it when I was younger, and it was a new hobby this year that I was careful to do in the daylight, so I didn’t freak out the living or get jumped by the dead (obviously, I picked my words more carefully, but I have a feeling that after a couple of months of living together, we will be comfortable speaking frankly instead of sugar-coating).

A couple of times, I have overheard the girls talking to Nick and Ellen about people they all knew, even though they never met before they were brought back to our town. Some people were rumoured to be picked up in other operations from other towns, some people decided to leave of their own accord and haven’t been heard from since, and some people were confirmed dead. It was almost eerie listening to how calm their voices were while they talked about people they used to know and love, and how they no longer existed, or were as good as lost.

I guess that hope is keeping them afloat – maybe the people supposedly picked up by other towns are fine. Maybe the people who decided to go it alone are doing a good job and staying out of trouble. It seems unlikely, but there was a time that zombies were unlikely, and we all know what became of that.

I was able to do my run and have a long bath before anyone got home, which either means they have found things of interest, or they are really lost – which further means they forgot the address and/or are too shy to ask for directions. I’m sure they’ll all crawl in for dinner time, and if I am in luck, I’ll get to hear of their adventures. It might be interesting to see the town through the eyes of people who have just arrived – as though it is completely new (and maybe gives off an illusion of being in any way remotely exciting or mention-worthy).

I do like living here, I really do, but I don’t really know anything else, do I? I know it is stupid to think about trying something else, somewhere else, when I am (relatively) safe right where I am. I really am going to have to seriously look into how I can inject more adventure into my life without these silly thoughts of finding outside my town. I mean, I am technically on an adventure now – being my own boss – but it isn’t exactly what springs to mind when you think of adventure. I tend to think of mystery and intrigue and seeing new, interesting things; instead, I have: who are these people in my house? Do they have any unique stories or deep hidden secrets? And, is Nick going to wander upstairs without a shirt on all the time? (Admittedly, I could get used to that.)

Always,
-Miriam

February 24th

Posted: February 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear journal,

I was right – not a single person came into the kitchen, living room or dining room before noon today. In fact, the girls didn’t make it down until 2pm, by which point I had put aside a couple of plates for them of the lunch that Nick, Ellen and I shared around 1pm. Everyone is looking a little bit more lively, but I think it will be a while before they are all fully charged. I let everyone know that I would have dinner ready for 6pm, and encouraged them all to either get more sleep or go exploring in the neighbourhood; the girls went right back to bed, whereas Nick and Ellen elected to go on that walk, probably to scout out a few places to apply for work.

I decided that Friday night would be pasta night, because it is a personal favourite of mine, and since I did the prep work last night on the giant mountain of vegetables that I always incorporate into my pasta dishes, I knew it wouldn’t take long to through things together, so I left a note in the kitchen and went for a run.

It was really nice to get out into the fresh air, even though it is a little chilly today. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, considering how much our winters have warmed up in the last ten years – I don’t even remember the last time I saw snow. Maybe this crispness was a sign that things are slowly getting back to normal. I don’t know. Either way, I didn’t have to completely shed my sweatshirt mid run like I usually do, but rather unzipped it and rolled up the sleeves to create a too warm/too cold balance. My water bottle was super chilled by the end of the run, though, so it gave me a little brain freeze.

I got home well before I needed to start dinner, which was great because I really needed to shower first. When I came through the front door, the girls were in the living room. They gave me a shocked look as I opened the door, but that seemed to turn to relief when they recognized me, and relaxed even more than I explained that I was running for fun, not because anything was wrong. I almost said, “I wasn’t running for my life,” and I am so glad I stopped myself. My filter occasionally kicks in, and that was a perfect moment. I told the girls to help themselves to tea or juice in the kitchen if they wanted, and jetted upstairs to get myself smelling human again before making dinner.

Unless everyone is just being nice, dinner was successful again. The girls chatted about how they probably overslept and will not be up all night. Ellen said she saw a couple of places where she could apply for work, and Nick reminded me that I offered to get in touch with Andrew, so I’ll give him a call tonight, since I know he doesn’t work this late, but he also won’t be asleep this early on a Friday night.

Everything seems to be going really well, but there is a part of me that is still waiting for it all to go wrong. I keep telling myself that that is a silly way to look at it – some things are bound to slip up from time to time, but that doesn’t mean everything is going to blow up. I’m doing the best I can, and if I make a mistake, I’m sure it won’t be something catastrophic, so I need to give myself a little more credit and just bask in this time and be happy with life until the next time there is a breach. I’m sure the first breach in a new home is going to be scary as hell for Penelope, Mandy, Nick and Ellen, but I have things under control, and if there is something I know I am good at, it is surviving zombie attacks, even if I end up a knife short or perched atop a dumpster, waiting for help to arrive. I wonder if Dana would have me a copy of the orientation package, so I know what kinds of things Penelope, Mandy, Nick and Ellen already know. I’m sure I could build on the Tips section.

Always,
-Miriam

February 23rd

Posted: February 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear journal,

The soup was a success, and last night’s meal had many less awkward parts to it than the open house. I am even more confident that I made the right decisions as far as which tenants I picked to live in my house, and I am still very happy that they accepted.

Penelope and Mandy made it to the house just before dinner started, so I told them to just leave their bags in the living room and wash up before sitting down to dinner. They looked like they could use a break – both of them were slow-moving and had bags under their eyes from dealing with this whole moving situation, not to mention the legal paperwork. I can’t believe that Dana was able to fast track their applications for the local high school, and that they will be attending starting on Monday. Somehow a three-day weekend doesn’t seem like enough time to transition, but I’m told the school is used to having students dribble in throughout the year, and they we do some assessments and have access to a councillor. It is really unfortunate that our society has to have those things in place, but I’m glad that they girls will be taken care of.

After dinner, I helped them get their rooms in order (well, mostly, I helped carry what few things that they were able to scavenge from home up to their rooms). The girls flipped a coin to see who got which room, since they are pretty much the same size and the rent is the same. Penelope ended up in my old room, and Mandy took the room down the hall. I told them that the bathroom was shared between the two of them, since I have my own en suite, and gave them a more in-depth tour of where things are kept. I left them to it after that, because they looked ready to fall into bed, and I didn’t want to get in their way. Downstairs, Nick and Ellen had already packed up most of the dinner things – without me even asking. I finished up loading the dishwasher and put the leftover soup away for a snack or lunch in the next few days. I found some tape that is great for labelling, so I scribbled what was in the container and when it was put there, so no one eats anything too old and unhealthy.

Reading back on this, I feel like I am full of boring details again, but there is no turning back now. I will still have time for things that make me happy besides helping these people after their transfer to our town, and I hope that I get more interesting as their tenancy goes on. Right now I am just trying to be supportive, calm and helpful. I’m not expecting anyone to spill secrets or feel like they have to tell me every detail of the hell they have gone through, but I won’t close myself off to listening if that is what they need. I had someone to talk to when I lost Mother, and that might have been what kept me going, so I just hope that each of them can talk to someone, and if that someone is me, I’m okay with that.

I’m going to go prep the foods I’ll be making for lunch and dinner tomorrow – breakfast is going to be easy cereal at everyone’s own pace, because I have no idea if any of these people are morning people and I don’t want to set a time by which everyone has to get up, especially since they are all so tired and I don’t really expect to see any of them until the afternoon, at least.

Always,
-Miriam

February 22nd

Posted: February 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

Dear journal,

I talked to Dana last night and she passed on to Penelope, Mandy, Nick and Ellen that I had accepted their applications. Dana let me know about the process – as soon as the would-be tenants confirm that they are still wanting to rent from a landlord/lady, they are given transport of their items from the temporary accommodations and payment to my account is set up automatically so they don’t have to worry about paying rent on time unless they get to a point where they don’t have enough in their account on the first of the month.

I am delighted that all four of them said yes! Nick and Ellen have already arrived and are downstairs sorting out their personal items. I already have their laundry in the wash and started up a big pot of chicken and vegetable soup that should be ready for dinner, but which time Penelope and Mandy should be joining us. They had a little bit more paperwork to sort out, since they are both underage, but are eligible for access to their deceased parents’ accounts (which will take some time to verify that they are on the only living people who are eligible for access, and that their parents are not still alive). Dana was telling me how they might have to stay in temporary accommodation until all this is sorted out, but I told her that the first month is free for the girls while everything gets sorted out legally. I also get to fill in some extra paperwork, since I am basically agreeing to become a sort of guardian for the girls, but since they don’t seem to be trouble makers, I don’t think we’ll have many problems.

Nick and Ellen seemed relieved that they were accepted; Ellen let slip that they looked at a different place before they saw my house and the other place was the same amount of rent but about half the space and only some food was included. I joked that I might have to raise the rent if everyone starts eating the goats, but I’ve actually spent a fair amount of time going over recipes that will feed five people and can do each month for about the cost of one of the single rooms as long as I am smart about getting items on sale. Besides, I’m not in this to become rich, and I like that I can help some genuinely nice people who really need a roof over their head and three square meals.

Nick mentioned that he used to work construction, so I told him I’d introduce him to Andrew, who could introduce him to people who might need someone of that background. He might end up being someone who fixes the barricades when they get breached, assuming that the appropriate people are hiring. Ellen used to work as a cashier, and there are tons of places around where she can apply – I just hope that there is somewhere that has an opening. Unfortunately, sometimes there are only openings because there has recently been a breach and someone was attacked and killed by zombies. I hate thinking about it like that, though. On average, the circle of life seems to have a pretty small circumference in our town, and I really hope that I live to a point where it starts getting bigger again.

The girls should be here any minute, since Dana promised they would be allowed to move in before dinner time, so I better go make sure there are fresh towels upstairs for them, and switch Nick and Ellen’s wash into the drier, because I’m sure Penelope and Mandy would appreciate some clean clothing, too. The soup is simmering away and smells great, so I’m really looking forward to having our first sit down meal in the dining room. It will give us a chance to get to know each other a little better, and I can hand out everyone’s house keys, which I managed to get cut this morning before doing this week’s grocery shop.

Always,
-Miriam