Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Shit-storm (in the Making)

I was ecstatic to find reminders that the Everything's 99 cents store across the street sells a merry and motley assemblage of items at the obvious price point; to that end, today I acquired - for less than $5 - scallops, asparagus, spinach, and a small packet of very small shrimp. I was beyond enthused when I started layering pasta and asparagus, a garlic and onion sauce, shrimp and scallops into a casserole dish.

By the time I was chowing down while pouring over someone else's homework, I reflected fondly on my weekend - the weekend of my 30th birthday, mind you, spent happily drunk and in very good company with the Czarina and the Great Prince.

I reflected not-so-fondly on my father's actions while I was gone. Being the well-meaning but controlling octogenarian that he is, my father took it upon himself to redecorate the room where I've been sleeping - my childhood bedroom. The couch he moved in when I moved out, when this became his TV room, belonged to one of his cadre of girlfriends. Seeing me still as a messy teenager, he determined that I would somehow (someday) spill something on the gray, brown, and black (with green accents) Southwestern patterned Victorian couch.

While I would offer that spilling something on such a couch would only lessen the poor thing's pain, my father's concern led him to pull it into the middle of an already small bedroom, in order to drag my heavy, large, antique head-board and foot-boards, along the steel bed rails. Consequently, when I walked into my bedroom, expecting to find the room as I left it some days ago, I find instead a shooting pain in my left foot where I stubbed a toe on the offensive / offending couch. It remained in the middle of the room.

I climbed over it - in the mid-morning darkness - to reach for the lamp that sits on a low-slung, marble table. Imagine my surprise when that, too, proved elusive. The bulb in that lamp burned out Friday morning (my actual birthday), and as I was in a rush I did not replace it. Rather than buying more light bulbs, my father simply switched out the four feet tall, blown glass, amber lamp with the hand-stitched shade that gave off the most perfect, indirect light ... for a turned wood affair that would be easily at home in the back corner of Mike Brady's den / office. It is only two feet high, has an oatmeal colored shade reminiscent of a pop-corn ceiling, and I am fairly sure that in its light I not only appear to have put on 20 lbs., but somehow actually have.

An hour later, fuming but unwilling to open the doors to yet another battle in my father's and my long, ongoing war history, I moved the offending couch out of my room (and into the kitchen - specifically - on top of the couch where my father likes to take his naps in the late evening). I hung artwork that I avoided hanging - as it implied a permanence to which I am still having difficulty considering - and I laundered all the fine bedding and vintage linens I acquired in the course of the three years I lived in my much-loved, very missed little high ceilinged studio apartment.

There was a brothel next door, and a toilet on the front lawn (only for the first three months), but it was home.

At this moment, as I pounded in the last nail, hung the lovely and awkward self-portraits of the Straight Boyfriend, and as I settled in to review the Microsoft Office 2007 textbook from which I did most of my client's homework, I thanked that ever-present figure (God, or whomever ...) that sometimes life works as it needs to, even when it is not as we want it to.

And then I shit my pants.

Well, I would have had I been wearing pants. I was poring over the text one last time before getting in the shower. I had a job interview in just under an hour, an interview that involved a skills assessment on - among other things - Microsoft Access, which I have never used and - until fairly recently - which I had never had occasion to open. I was nervous about the interview, as it is a job that could change my desperate, often crazy life into something a Camry driver might envy. So, as I shed my clothes to hop in the shower, as I memorized how to create and save a data sheet, leaning back briefly to reflect on how the bad lighting was giving me a headache, I let out a good fart, a fart of contentment at a meal well-made and a decorating job well done.

What I got was a very bad reason to throw out a very good silk duvet.

It was my indomitable great fortune that had me, twenty minutes later, driving across town on almost no gas, in a non air-conditioned car with leather interior while brewing within me were the hounds of hell. I told myself that it would all be okay - that somehow, some way, I would get through the test, the awkward - "So, what are your employment goals?" small talk, and that I would get what I needed, i.e. - simply - a job.

I got through the skills assessment in record time, and my accuracy was exceptionally high. Whether this was owing to the hour I spent - with a cocktail and determination - on the Czarina's computer, the step-by-step Microsoft provided guide, or the incredible motivating factor of not wanting to crap my pants, we may never know. Suffice it to say, I was glad when the exceptionally busy staffing representative gave me her card, shook my hand, and told me to expect a call the next day.

I am at home now - doing someone else's homework, thinking about my old apartment, and hovering as close to the bathroom as my hard-wired, 10 years old Apple laptop will allow.


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