Monday, October 13, 2003

The Wrong Shirt

Autumn is my favorite time of year, except for one thing: I have a hard time dressing myself correctly. It seems every shirt I have is either inadequate or excessive... today when I left the house it was sunny and cool so I put on a medium-weight sweatshirt, no t-shirt. And now it's too hot for this sweatshirt.

Ordinarily, during the Idunnowhat Season (when you just can't guess what the weather is going to be like... which, in Northern California, is pretty much all year long), I wear a t-shirt and a light sweater and carry a jacket, so that I can add or subtract a layer when the weather changes. Later, when it gets colder, I keep a parka in the car and wear heavier sweaters over t-shirts that can't be seen without a sweater.

But this summer was very warm, and fairly regular in its changes... a climate would last out most of the day, and you could guess by nine what the rest of the day was going to be like. And since it was so warm, I got out of the layering habit, simply switching back and forth between light sweaters, t-shirts, and jerseys, whatever the weather seemed to decree at nine, when I usually get dressed.

Well, it's all simply a matter of conversion... I just have to get back into the layering habit. Which means I have to wash all my dirty t-shirts to I'll have more of a selection on hand. That's the real problem getting dressed in the morning these days: things are such a mess that I can't quite find anything to wear at any given moment.

Speaking of messes, though, I have stopped the weird dreams. My guess was right, that it had to do with my bed. On Thursday, though I hadn't had a freaky dream that morning (the only thing I remembered was this one phrase that echoed in my head all day long: "My daddy taught me not to think of myself as attractive to earwigs"), I changed my sheets and cleared all the stuff off my bed and remade it with an extra blanket and a new pillow. Et voilĂ , no weird dreams. Now if I can get the rest of my room cleared up, things might be good after I wake up, too.

I also managed to get down to my drag-room, with Caroline's help, and got everything squared away. Aside from a great deal of open space, I got two big garbage-bags full of stuff to give to Goodwill, one smaller garbage bag of trash, four boxes of clothes I want to keep but probably won't need any time soon, two milk-crates of clothes I will need but which don't need to be hung up, and about a half a rack of gowns that have to be kept upright. It's all terribly tidy-looking.

The next thing we have to do down there is clean out the cabinets behind my drag-rack, which are full of all sorts of weird objects from fifty years worth of National Geographic to broken toys to bags of plastic flowers, because the cabinets will have to be moved when the earthquake-retrofitters come at some undisclosed and most likely undecided future date.

I am trying to talk Grandmother out of the retrofitting, which will cost her around $25 grand and will not do anything even remotely useful for us. Sure, it will increase the value of the house, but who cares? We're not selling the house, at least until Grandmother is dead... and after that, who knows how long we'll keep it around before it's sold?

What would really increase the value, would cost way less, and will do something for us that we can appreciate while we're all still alive, is having an irrigation system put into the front lawn. But my uncle Junior suggests the retrofitting, and Grandmother believes every word that comes out of his mouth, as if he were a prophet of God.

I grant that he is a reliable source, wise and well-informed. Though I feel differently about the danger of earthquakes (there is no evidence that any house in our neighborhood, which is built on a yellow clay deposit upon a granite hill, would slip off its foundations, unless the whole hill fell into the ocean first), I usually trust his judgement and will go to him for advice. But I find myself resenting his virtual apotheosis, since Grandmother will not believe one word I say... if I told her the sky was blue, she'd call up Junior to verify my facts.

My opinions on the likelihood of a 7.5 quake (which is what the estimators said it would take to knock our house off the foundation), which are essentially that if we had a quake of that magnitude the entire Bay Area would be under water and our house's foundations would be the least of our worries, fall upon deaf ears.

Also any information I share with her about nutrition and diet (such as the fact that previous USDA recommended allowances of certain foods were lobbied by the farmers and ranchers of our fine nation... nobody needs to drink eight glasses of milk in one day, as we were taught when I was a child, calves don't even drink that much, and Americans as a group eat way too much processed grain) is met with a suspicion that borders closely on scoffing.

If I challenge her politics, citing statistics and fact-based analyses, she tells me I am misinformed; if I challenge her on religion, citing her own scriptures as proof, she tells me that I am twisting the truth. Yet, if Junior called her up in the middle of the night and told her that her ass was on fire, she'd stop-drop-and-roll without even bothering to look behind her. It's very irritating.

Oh, well, I guess it's the privelege of the elderly to be infuriating. It's one's reward for living such a ridiculously long time. I expect that when I'm eighty-five, I'll be driving somebody crazy. If I can be bothered to make it that long. Honestly, sometimes just living through my thirties seems like an insurmountable task.

So, anyway, that's what's going on in my head today. I'm going to go to the gym now, do some cardio, go home and eat dinner, and maybe wash a load of t-shirts and light sweaters. It's all about wearing the right shirt... once you get that right, everything else just falls into place.

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