On Perry Mason -- and countless police detective shows since -- the questioning begins with the cops frog-marching a suspect into bare room. Tilting a desk light into the perp's panicking eyes, one of the cops barks out: "Where were you on the night of June the 12th?"
Even when I had volumes of storage space in my brain (many quantum chunks of trivia ago), I wondered: what if someone didn't remember where s/he was that night?
It nagged at me, an inconsequential, paranoid worry about not being able to give the fuzz a sharp-edged answer. I didn't plan to need an alibi, of course, but still, I worried. It's just one result of having television provide a person's wider socialization...
Later, pondering the flight of days through my memory, I put myself into the dark blue uniforms behind the harsh light and wondered, "Where was I on the night of -- oh, any date?" And also, "Am I supposed to be someplace tomorrow?"
Hence the shelf of appointment books. The year I left high school, I started keeping a datebook. I jotted down all kinds of things: tests, assignments, lunches, dates, musical happenings, friends' birthdays. Later, it was deadlines and events and meetings, confirmation and flight numbers, video conference passwords, dinner reservations, and so on.
Like my antiquated Rolodex, a datebook leaves room for me NOT to think. When is the flight? I don't know, it's in the datebook. When is the dentist appointment? I don't know, it's in the datebook. Are you free tomorrow? Honest to pete, I don't know. It's in the datebook.
Which is splendid until the 2014 datebook fell out of my bag when I was crossing Philadelphia International with my elderly dog...and nobody turned it into the Lost and Found bin. Or if someone did, the Lost and Found people couldn't <irony alert> find it.
Since the end of September, I have been hoping for the return of my 2014. I've missed a handful of appointments. I've scattered mass confusion about upcoming events and missed birthdays. I've spoken the words, "I don't know, it was in the datebook," about four hundred times.
It's a first-world problem, but I feel it like the loss of a tooth.
I have 2015 in hand and am looking forward to knowing again where I was. And where I'm supposed to be.
In Mary Shelly's original Frankenstein, the creature lopes away onto the ice floes, never to be heard of again. At our house, the monster got decommissioned.
And the next Challenge on the slab will be even more challenging...
The WaterTribe™ Ultimate Challenge is a circumnavigation of Florida in small boats: 1200 miles of open water, backwater, river, a 40-mile portage, more river, and then more open water. It starts with an Everglades Challenge, and then just keeps going. And going. And going. Competitors take 20 or so days to circle the state. Hmmm.
Or perhaps instead compete in the other Challenges: Minnesota, North Carolina, and the Chesapeake?
Preliminary plans are on the table...quite literally, on the table.
Depression. Ugh. Even the sunniest of us can be ambushed by the chemicals of sadness. Without reason, without season, without warning, the dark tide rushes in and leaves a person clinging to -- or maybe just reclining listlessly on -- a seaweed-covered rock.
I don't know how to recover. I don't understand why it happens or why it goes away. All I can say is, hang on. The tide's going to change. Send up a flare and hang on.
Those first farmers were the daredevil revolutionaries of their time, probably all, "Carrots? Cool. But I think there's a future in barley." And, "Grains? Grains are SO yesterday. Why not figs and grapes?" around the campfire with their like-minded pals.
Meanwhile, some bright spark engineer-type was thinking, "But how can we get a few more plants growing where we could keep track of them..."
I imagine that's how we moved as a species from poking a seed into the ground with a stick to swinging a hoe, to steering oxen-drawn ploughs, to using seed-drills and the rest of modern factory farming. The variety of specialized, very cool, and mostly expensive farming equipment available today boggles the mind.
For the Would-Be Farm -- our own little experiment with agriculture and new neural pathways -- I do not need a soil-pulverizer, or furrow-opener, or manure spreader. Oh, I admit to a touch of tractor envy (especially the ones that look as if they burst into song like Jiminy Cricket when the moon is full) but my desires are modest. I want a nice orchard ladder.
An orchard ladder. Teetering somewhere between a crutch and a step-ladder, it's designed to let a person access the whole tree without the romping rodeo ride one gets when putting a standard step-ladder on uneven ground against a tree.
I want one but without -- and here's the rub -- paying more for the ladder than we spent on the camper we made into Base Camp. <Heavy sigh and slow eye-roll>
Patience is a virtue often heard of/seldom seen...Saabu, if you please, bring me the Mauser and the pith-helmet. Memsahib is going on safari for an orchard ladder. Equipment auction, here we come!
The sacred roster of good dancers from high school, the horsey adventures with best-friend Sue, the thrill of getting her own first apartment and a sports-car -- I inherited these adventures from my mother. Like the bone-structure and the need for glasses. As well as this wordy impulse to turn incidents into epic.
Rules can make the difference between civilization and anarchy in a household. Around here, the rules sound draconian, but it keeps us in order:
Rule #1.) No human food from human hands for the dog...
...although I can't deny, it's open season when food drops on the floor. As soon as she hears me cooking, the small dog skitters into the kitchen and peers near-sightedly at the floor, waiting for manna to fall. When in doubt, she'll inhale whatever loose items she finds. Garlic skins are a frequent disappointment.
The small dog is such a splendid janitor that my neighbor has been known to borrow her for clean-up jobs. Grated cheese spill on Aisle 4! Bacon splatter emergency! Cheerios down! She's a slobbery cross of a Swiffer Wet Jet and a Roomba.
Rule #2.) Everyone sleeps in his own spot. That means the small dog stays off the bed...
Unless she is required as an organic heating pad. Or for when she's helping wake somebody up. Or if it's very very cold and her little jaws are chattering.
Until recently I thought that these two rules -- strictly enforced! -- prevented the small dog from turning into a begging machine and a cover-stealer, but maybe not.
So I've been caught up in the story about Time magazine suggesting that "feminism" is a word to ban for 2015. Evidently they are tired of having celebrities announce their affiliation with the concept of equal pay for equal work.
So I went to make a pot of tea to take my mind off -- no WAY. My tea is right in the middle of the controversy.
Hey, why should we be bothered if this tea chooses to be loose or bound? It's nobody's beeswax but the tea's. Transgression? Misbehaving? Societal norms?
What's up with the unkind judgements? Oh, that's right: because it's human nature to categorize and set things into a hierarchy. To judge and label.
Even a tasty traditional beverage is subject to this nonsense. Gah.
Where do ideas come from? This letter came cartwheeling down the sidewalk, with a few obvious stories already leaking off the page.
He wasn't sorry. He'd known that he was going to hurt his friend's feelings. Known it, and meant to do it again, and what's more, he was going to continue to shave the edge from his apologies by spelling it "sarey" as if he didn't know any better until well into his 20's. What he didn't know was just who was going to see through the ruse and plan a bitter revenge.
He still wore his Columbia U sweatshirt, still pushed his tortoise-shell glasses up his narrow nose when he concentrated. He continued to pile The New Yorker and The Economist and Smithsonian magazines on the mudroom table. He kept the boxwood hedge sharp-edged and neat, and left bags of leaves waited at the curb after a weekend of lawn-work. But the ruined Lexus was never replaced, and the big dining room never again filled with dinner-guests. He didn't read the magazines, and the home-health aid only ever used the microwave in that big airy kitchen, heating up his nightly meal from the stack in the freezer.
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