In lieu of the Christmas letter, I give you one day.
If you're going to try on every piece of clothing in your closet and decide if it stays or goes, this is the person you want to advise you.
"Absolutely not," said the person (who once believed she was cat) when I tried on a long narrow skirt
and matching top. "It looks like a nightgown from a Victorian insane asylum." She explained that the pieces were nice enough--good even, if worn separately, but together were too matchy, drab, and shapeless. Another matching outfit made me look like a nun from some remote country in the Far East, she said. With C's advice, I mixed and matched things that hadn't occurred to me, and they looked great. Of course, I never go anywhere these days, and given the state of affairs around here, what I probably need is an insane asylum nightgown. Earlier that day C also helped me by impersonating her sister over the phone. "Hmmm," she said when I asked her if she would. "I've impersonated you a lot," she said, (I didn't ask) "but I've never pretended to be M." Who, by the way, has always been able to rock a good outfit herself.
After a brief review for fluency in uttering M's birthdate and phone number as her own, I got Triple A on the line and had C (pretending to be M) cancel M's membership so I could add her to mine since she lives here. A $70 savings! Triple A had previously refused to cancel M's membership without speaking to her personally despite the fact that it is my credit card that has always paid for the membership. I suppose that maybe ex-spouses go around canceling one another's Triple A memberships right and left, perhaps just after inducing a slow leak in a tire. I live in Margaritaville now--not Divorceville, so I don't know anything about that. C and I also had some quality time by spending an hour or so going through the box of Barbie dolls my mom trash-picked a few years back (a former favorite hobby of hers--and yes, I am aware that I have a weird family.) My mom had always meant to clean them and wash their clothes, but never did, so C anti-bacterial wiped and shampooed while I washed clothes. There was also a bit of Barbie surgery which invloved a switching around of heads. C is nearly done with her surgical technician training, and I'm proud to say that she handled the needle-nosed pliers and matte knife expertly. We plan to outfit two Barbies for each of my granddaughters if we can successfully remove the taint of years spent in a a cardboard box in a home fogged with cigarette smoke. Why in the hell are we doing this? Because my mom grew up during the Depression wearing church rummage sale shoes, and she can't stand to see anything usable go to waste. There was a talking Barbie in the box, too. We have to buy a battery, and we're hoping she's one of those Barbies that made the news a few years back for saying, "Math is hard," and "Let's bake some cookies for the boys." I'm not sure what we'll do with her if that turns out to be the case. Hire a hacker to re-program her? Sell her on e-Bay? Post her photo on a Barbie shaming site? C and I also spent a good chunk of time researching chicken pox and shingles while calling back and forth with my daughter-in-law, and one of my mom's doctors. My oldest grandchild has chicken pox (despite having been vaccinated.) The verdict is that the sick child cannot be in the same house with her great-grandmother. So in lieu of buying a new wardrobe ( I would never even entertain the idea of buying a new wardrobe, really) I am putting my son and his family up in a motel so we can visit with them. C has not seen them since her wedding two years ago, and this trip of hers from Minnesota was meant to coincide with theirs from Arizona. So now my mother and her great grand children will smile and wave and talk a bit through the patio windows, and all of my children can get together. And me, too, because after viewing my Kaiser records online, which took about one minute, I see that I was vaccinated for shingles in the most efficacious time window. Really, can't we just merge Kaiser and the ACA and call it O-Kaiser care?
C's wedding two years ago
Oh--and yesterday, there was a one-hour beach walk as well, during which time we left my mom home alone with instructions to be very careful. When I get all my ducks in a row, there will be no more of that. The leaving her home alone, I mean. There will be walking or I will be donning that Victorian insane asylum nightgown. And during the beach walk I took a moment out of the here and now and made a vet appointment for our 20-year-old cat so she could get a rabies shot (even though she is an entirely indoor cat) so that she may get her license renewed (her license for catting, C calls it). Last year Piper was caught up in the City of Oxnard door-to-door dragnet and cited for catting without a license.
And I should mention how the day began. T'ai Chi Chih. I even got to student teach a mini-lesson. T'ai Chih Chih, I'm certain, is making a substantial contribution to my well-being. Immediately after I came home, I found my mom's glasses, which she'd lost behind her recliner, and I'm happy to say that she did not try to get them, thereby propelling us back to the ER with another fall. And then at 6:00 p.m. with the closet purged of this:
C began boiling water and chopping onions while I ran out for a zucchini and some mushrooms. We made spaghetti with vegetarian sauce. My mother proclaimed it delicious and went to bed early. M came home from work at some late hour. C and M and I gathered in the kitchen and found something to laugh and talk about, but I don't remember what. Then I put some of M's laundry away. (She is in grad school, has a job, and an internship with a 100-mile trip one-way from my house to the farthest point in this busy routine--so I assist in a little thing or two. She calls me an angel when I do these things.) And somewhere in here, I spoke to the man who loves me. He was doped on the pills to kill his pain. Someday soon his surgery will be scheduled. And maybe, if I'm lucky, things will line up so he can come here to recuperate. Actually, I would be happy to have him recuperating on the moon or anywhere he chooses as long as he's well-cared for and not alone. So there was a nice symmetry to the day. A box of things out of my closet with help from C, and clean laundry into M's closet with help from me. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. That's one day here in Margaritaville. May your 2014 be filled with love.