Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Road Basement

I think it was part of Mrs. Tabackman's  homeroom morning routine: the pledge of allegiance, a Bible passage, the Lord's Prayer, (Yes, I'm that old), and her looking at me and saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Well, OK, maybe she didn't say it everyday, and maybe she wasn't looking at me, but it seemed that way, and it was appropriate then, and ever since. I've paved that road pretty well by now.

One item continually on my list of good intentions is to clean my basement. Since I've been avoiding this for so long, maybe I can't even claim my intentions are good. The task just seems insurmountable. If I am to face this, I must clear off the dust and cobwebs and figure out what to do with the following, most of which contain their own good intentions:

  • Baskets of clothes that no longer fit, but that I hope will again some day
  • Rolls of insulation I intend someday to use to cover the steam pipes
  • Jelly jars for the next time I get around to making jam. (The last time was 6 years ago)
  • Screens for doors I no longer have
  • Old lps for a turntable that no longer works
  • A chest of needlework materials for the next time I get a yen to crochet or knit or embroider
  • Carousels of slides from vacations back to 1973, or maybe earlier, I'm not sure
  • Boxes and boxes of old pictures. Some are of ancestors I faintly recognize. Some are my own in need of sorting, labeling, etc.
  • Stacks of paint cans each containing just a bit of leftover paint from one room or another, most of them without a label. I'd throw them out, but the directions from the city on what to throw where and when are too confusing.
  • 10 cartons or more of income tax papers. How many are you supposed to keep?
  • A doll's crib my father made for me that I keep because he made it. Maybe one of my nephews will have a child that will want it.
  • A carton of leftover mugs from my 40th high school reunion. The 50th is in October.
  • Christmas cards--lots of Christmas cards
  • A Christmas tree stand I haven't used since my last real tree
  • 6 remaining screwdrivers from the set of 12 my father gave me
  • An ironing board gathering dust, next to the sewing machine in the same condition
  • A basket of clothes needing mending or ironing (hmmm)
  • A variety of cleaning products I no longer use
Well, you get the idea. It's easier to say I intend to get to this chore than to actually go down the stairs and face it. There's another factor too. When I go down the stairs, I have to face the perfectly round hole in the wall made by my head from the time I decided to paint the stairs and fell over backwards. It's just too scary down there.

Except, of course, now I have to go and do the laundry which is, you're right, in the basement. Check on me if you don't hear from me in a few days.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Home Again

I’m back from a wonderful vacation full of writing, meeting great people, walking among the redwoods, and being awed by the majesty of the Pacific. There was a moment, though, when I thought I might not make it back, and which, reflecting on it days later, causes me to consider my fate, and fate in general.

Here’s the situation: I’m driving alone in a middle lane of a crowded freeway, maintaining a speed consistent with the traffic. I’m following my GPS, trying to determine which lane I should be in and when so as to make the next exit. The lanes on either side are full, so I’ll have to determine exactly the right moment to go. Then I hear a roar to my right as if a jet bound for SFO is headed right at me. As I gasp and grip the steering wheel tighter, I see the blur of a motorcycle flying between me and the car to my right, then weaving in and out of the lanes ahead and disappearing.  After I regain my composure, I start to consider whether my encounter with this hurtling Harley could have been my fate.

Most of the time I can live very comfortably in denial, living by my motto of procrastination: never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow. Then a motorcycle flies by, or a doctor finds “something suspicious” on a mammogram, and I am forced to face the fact that tomorrow is not guaranteed. Is this fate, as in a predetermined future out there waiting for me?  I suspect it's more about the physical world we live in.   

And if I rouse myself from denial and think about this, will that change anything? If I drive down the freeway looking for the speeding motorcycle, will I be any safer, or only slow up traffic and miss the world I'm passing through.

OK, I've decided to redefine my position on this. I am not in denial, but I am living in the mystery. I cannot know what my fate is or when or how, so why slow down in anticipation.