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Eventually | The Bleat.

Took a hookey day to burn off some accumulated time-off, and get things done. Part one: the Gross Oversimplification Project, or perhaps the Historical Purge, or maybe the Wife-Induced Winnowing, or some other such term. You get the idea. I’ve been at this for a while. It’s grim work. Boiling down the essential ephemera to a few boxes, consolidating and backing up the digital archives, printing out for Posterity, winnowing, winnowing. The curse of the digital age: you spend as much time fretting over the tags of your music collection as you do listening to them. God help you if you have a substantial classical collection; one album was entered into the global database according to movement and key, and another performance by tempi and the time of day. Anyway, everything must go. Well, not everything – these are old hotel soaps! C’mon!

I’m not a hoarder. Really. The only reason I want to save old hotel soaps is because they’re really old, and it would be unconscionable to throw them away. They’re one of the few reminders of how things used to smell, and that’s something no picture or article can ever bring back. But when it comes to stuff I set aside five years ago, thinking it would trigger memories later: sorry, Charlie. Bushels from the storage unit have been heave-ho’d. Old college notebooks: gone, save one example. Such good notes I took the first year! How little I ever consulted them! When it came time to bang out the final I relied on memory and BS and soaked it all with “fine writing,” hoping the floral prose would waft me to a passing grade.

Scratchpads that captured the common everyday concerns of the mid 90s: gone, save one example that included a design for a backyard Contemplation Bench at the old house. I did that the year I started the website. A stone path by the garage, leading to a bench, with a tree. Lovely. I was so proud. No one ever sat there, let along contemplated anything. I think I sat there once, and that was when I was done. Had a beer and a smoke and that was it. We went back to the house a few months after we sold it, and that was one of the first things the new owner ripped up.

And so on. CDs, newspapers, magazines, out to the thrift store, the antique store, the paperback exchange, the second-hand music store. It’s liberating, and it feels great – right up until the moment you come across something 45 pages long that needs scanning and posting in its entirety. No one else will, and it has to be done. You’ll see what I mean in a month or two.

So. I fired up the scanner this morning, discovered it wasn’t working again, and swapped out drive with the new OS for the old one. While I was in the innards of the computer I discovered why one of the drives didn’t want to go in – the connection slot was bent. So. Spend some time jiggering around inside the computer. By now it’s ten AM, and I’ve done nothing of consequence on my day off yet, but that’s okay. All I have to do is file a column and replace a sink.

The sink. O Lord. The nightmare. It’s in the laundry room. My problems began months ago, when the spray hose stopped working. Well, that’s easy to replace – except that the hose was permanently attached to the faucet-type-stuff, what’er the technical term might be. I decided I’d have to replace the faucet. But it was attached in such a way that it could not be unscrewed or detached, because whoever built it installed some peculiar metal cowl. The only way to replace the sprayer was to replace the fargin’ sink. Does that not seem utterly insane? Like getting a new car because you have a flat? Worse: the sink has a hose from the washing machine piercing its side, caulked with silicone, so I’d have to drill a new hole . . . providing I could find a sink to fit the hole.

This is the sort of thing I prefer to ignore entirely until my wife nags me, and then I make a half-arsed attempt to solve it with plumber’s putty – which is useless – or by “fixing” the spray hose, which now dribbles and leaks instead of merely dribbles. She has to nag me a lot. When I was going through the scratch pad from the 90s, I found a list of things to do, and the top entry was DOORS THAT CLOSE, and I heard her plaintive voice. She wanted doors that closed. It was an old house; they didn’t always close easily. The solution involved planing off the wood at the top to compensate for the gentle settling of the frame. Uh huh. It was easier to move.

Anyway: Last weekend I found a sink that would fit. Rather: might fit. The dimensions were right, but the back part where the holes were – hope I’m not confusing you with technobabble here – seemed a bit big. Well, it was the only sink in town that fit the bill, so I bought it: $41. Took it out of the garage today, lifted up the old sink as best as I could – the hose prevented its complete removal – and dropped it in. It doesn’t fit. Back hole-part problem. Despair. I’d told my wife I would fix this on my day off. This was my last chance. Doom looms. Only hope: work on that damned faucet. I disassembled everything that could possibly be disassembled, until I realized I’d have to get a metal saw and hack it off.

Usually this is where I put everything back together and say “next weekend, perchance,” but I was on a roll. Made dinner, with the thought I’d get a metal saw afterwards.

Dinnertime: child announces she has a school project due. It has to be done on 11 X 14 construction paper. NOT poster board. Well, I’m heading out to get a saw; I’ll see what I can find. Walgreens: nothing. It feels odd to leave without buying anything – what, you couldn’t find one thing? Butane? Snaps candy? Lubricant? Salve? I hit the highway, drive to Target, because it feels like the last possible evening that resembles summer, and I want to hit the highway and drive fast and listen to the radio. Hit the 80s channel: “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Mental checklist. First hit song with samples / Trevor Horn producing / he was one of the Buggles / the sample was “Orchestral Crash” on my old keyboard / great crunchy guitar solo / remember that album where the drummer counted out 7/4 aloud, how pretentious / never liked Yes, too hippie / high school friend in Chicago was a big fan, wonder where he is now, talked to him years ago, no connection anymore / Roger Dean did the album artwork for Yes but “Owner of a Lonely Heart” album cover looked more like Hipgnosis, confirm later on google

All that takes about five seconds. Change the channel.

I like Target in the evening on a weekday. Quiet and deserted. Dale runs at me in his wheelchair and I dodge out of the way. No construction paper. Think: should check to see if there are any Frosty Paws. This is the frozen treat the dog loves. They disappeared from the shelves a few weeks ago. The company’s Facebook page says it’s a “distribution” problem that will be solved the first week of September. All that are left are the individual Frosty Paws nodules, which just aren’t the same, and no one’s buying them. All the stores have boxes of nodules. I should be glad; the dog probably forget about them, and no longer seems so angry when they’re not forthcoming. But still. He loved them.

He’s been awfully stiff in the hindquarters lately. Still up for the walk, though; still as engaged and interested as ever at dinnertime. But slow on the stairs. It pains me to see him work hard to get up the flight to the back door, let alone the big flight going up the hill. Natalie takes him up the side flight when she walks him. That was a new twist this summer: she walks Jasper. She puts on her headphones on her iPod and bops around and walks him in the evening. Freedom and music. I’d give anything to know what she thinks about, but of course she’ll never tell. And I don’t ask.

He makes it up the back steps and barks with lusty irritation: I was told there would be a treat after this. Then he works his way up the steps into the house with careful ut determined steps. He has no interest in being defined by infirmity. Things just are what they are.

Every now and then the back legs give out.

The other day he declined his breakfast, and we thought: oh no. No. That’s it. My wife said he’d taken a tumble at the bottom of the stairs (we stand by him as he goes down, looking through his cloudy eyes to see where the next step is, but sometimes he goes too fast towards the bottom and slips at the end) and he might just be unnerved. This, I think, reads too much into doghood. Food will renerve an unnerved dog. I had some wet food – the good stuff – in the pantry, and put it out to see if he’d try it.

Ate it all up. Whew.

Target aisle: No Frosty Paws. I hope they come back soon.

There’s a crafts superstore across from Target, so I went there. It’s a woman’s world. Halloween decorations already half off, because the store’s target market shops ahead for these things, and they need to make room for Christmas stuff. (There’s already Christmas stuff.) Here I discovered that there’s no such thing as 11 X 14 construction paper. Only poster board. To hell with it: bought the poster board. Hit the highway at sunset, a swollen harvest moon was rising in the east, a big baleful orb glowering at the sun: get lost.

It was 20 degrees cooler today than yesterday, by the way. Yesterday I sat out in the sun and wrote. Today was long pants and an appraising look at the gas fireplace.

So I got home, delivered the poster board, and it was okay. It would do. As I walked in the house I realized I hadn’t finished the sink. But the husband / dad points I got for going to three locations for 11 X 14 paper was enough. Tomorrow: the sink, continued.

It’s amazing how long it takes me to do things. And by “Amazing” I mean “depressing.” But I’m happy. That counts for something. Put daughter to bed, did some scanning, did my pushups, carried the dog up the stairs and put him in bed. He did not protest to some nuzzling.

Went outside to write, but the wind came up and the wind was cold. Probably put the shorts away in the drawer in the spare room tomorrow. The paper says we can expect some frost. The geese fly nightly now, honking their way south. This afternoon a Monarch butterfly entered the gazebo, fluttered around, then found an exit and headed to Mexico. You wonder what you’ve done since the last time the green leaked out of the world.

Well, I wrote two novels. And I bought a saw! Wednesday is SINK SUCCESS DAY.

No, Wednesday is a column day.

Make it Thursday.

Or the weekend. It’ll get done. Eventually, everything does.

 

55 Responses to Eventually

  1. shesnailie says:

    _@_v – speaking of public infrastructure that seems to be disappearing. six months after 9/11 i’d visited ground zero and bought some postcards intending to mail to friends. couldn’t find a mailbox. ended up posting them from a box near the empire state building.

  2. chrisbcritter says:

    Impersonations? Sure, I can do lots of ‘em. Listen:

    “Phineas J. Whoopee, you’re the greatest!”

    Neat, huh? How ’bout this:

    “Sorry about that, Chief!”

    OK, big finish:

    “Go go gadget copter!”

    Whaddaya mean, they all sound alike?

  3. Ross says:

    Maharincess:
    We did that one as kids, too–I think it’s a John Byner(maybe even Rich Little) bit.

  4. Dave S. says:

    I hear you on the sink thing. Surrender and call Soderlin. In the long run, it will be cheaper.

  5. nixmom says:

    “She puts on her headphones on her iPod and bops around and walks him in the evening.”

    James,please ask Gmat, if she really must listen to her iPod while walking, to only put in one earbud? A young man in our neighborhood went for a bike ride one beautiful July afternoon, put on his headphones, and didn’t hear the car that hit him.He might be lucky enough to be discharged from Gillette this weekend. He was definately lucky to survive at all.

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