I'm now working at home on Tuesdays to do marketing and customer development.
So there I was on Tuesday, making a spreadsheet of information on all the engineering firms and physicians in town. I was cutting and pasting. I was sorting. I was working like a factory. I was getting a ton of work done. And then, in the midafternoon, my left wrist seized up.
It felt as if something needed to "pop." I couldn't move it without exquisite pain. Five years working in ergonomics at Los Alamos National Laboratory was not lost on me: I figured it was a sign to stop.
When Michele came home, we took Ike for walkies. My wrist was still killing me, and if Ike tugged on the leash, I almost levitated. Michele said that I should go to urgent care. I said bravely that the pain would go away, but my wrist was telling me, "You can always bite down on a rubber spatula when I spasm! BWA-hahahahahaha!" By the time we got home, I told Michele that going to the Doc in the Box would be a really, really,REALLY good idea.
The whippersnapper of a physician on call, Doogie Howser, MD, poked, prodded, and percussed and said that I had tendinitis, an inflammation in the wrist. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory medicine, a muscle relaxant, a wrist brace, and some pain pills slightly stronger than aspirin. I got everything at the pharmacy, took it or wore it according to direction, and yesterday felt quite fine.
One of the bad things about living on 48th Street in the 1950s was that lots of my playmates had older sibs who gave them a head start at school. John H. had his sisters Maribeth and Diane. Sandy C. had her sister Avril and brother David. Lynn J. had Lee. They knew all about Tip and Mitten, and I was completely bewildered by what they were talking about. John H. once even told me, "You're so dumb, you can't even spell Tip!" Then he sneeringly spelled it: "T-I-P!" Lynn and Sandy weren't much nicer to me when we discussed reading and spelling. (A gang of five- and six-year-olds is the very crucible of Social Darwinism.)
I was desperate to catch up and learn to spell and read, so when I entered first grade, I was excited. Finally I'd learn to read by myself! I wouldn't have to ask Gram to read the Bazooka Joe comics to me. I wouldn't have to ask Mom to read the books and comics with bigger type! Let's go! Let's read!
Probably the lamest comics ever, but I really wanted to know what they said because the pictures were no help.
Miss Norma Jean Herman, my first-grade teacher, passed out the readers: Tip,Tip and Mitten, and The Big Show. And we read them over and over and OVER. No plots. Vapid characters. No themes. No building to a climax, no tension, no bad motives, no moral uplift. Just those three kids, Jack, Janet, and Sally, with their parents, Mother and Father, and their pets, Tip and Mitten, running, looking, and hopping. You can't build a compelling narrative with such limitations.
My desperation reached a white heat in second grade. Fortunately, second grade brought Miss Donna Siegfried--may her name be a blessing--who recognized a hunger when she saw it and fed that hunger. She read to us every day: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Real Book about Abraham Lincoln stand out in my memory. I think she was as bored by the primers as we were.
Tom paints the fence.
Dad also recognized my hunger then and let me join the Real Book Club (whatever failings he had, he always said "yes" when I wanted a book). I got Real Books on jokes, magic, horses, dogs, the Mounties, Abraham Lincoln, farming, tall tales, crafts, mountain climbing, and the US Capitol, among others. The 16-volume Children's Hour set appeared in the coffee table in the living room. I ate them up. I was on my way!
The Children's Hour
Years ago at Izzy's suggestion, I made it my goal to read 25 new books a year. Now that I own a bookstore, I read for a living. As of today I've read 67 new books in 2008. The best one so far this year is The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
Friday, Izzy, Bobbie, and I cleaned out the three crawlspaces under the house. Izzy pitched stuff out onto the lawn; I did a preliminary triage; and Bobbie drove the truck to the dump, where Izzy and I had the satisfaction off-loading everything. We took 1000 pounds of crap to the dump on Friday.
We also went through several dust masks and many pairs of latex gloves. With all the dust, mouse droppings, and a hunk of asbestos, the project was just made for respiratory distress, hantavirus, asbestosis, and general malaise.
Mei and Xin came home from school while we were in the middle of things. Mei wanted to hug me, and I told her not to because I was so dirty. She said, "Okay. Good-bye, Stinky." After I got home I felt I should have taken a garden rake and a box of matches and burned my clothes in the driveway.
Foreman Izzy, who has been On Task since the day she started to walk, was thorough and merciless. The key to working with her is to keep moving, because if you don't, you'll find yourself deep in a carton next to a half a salami and an opened jar of mayonnaise, and Izzy writing "perishable" on your forehead with her Magic Marker.
We found a couple treasures, including the box of Magic Lantern glass slides of penitentes and a Japanese rifle from WWII. The trash included a bald tire, two garbage bags of styrofoam meat trays, strips of curled linoleum, carpet scraps, gallons upon gallons of homemade wine-now-vinegar, and boards. Izzy left the desiccated squirrel under the house.
On Saturday Izzy and I went through the triage pile and separated out items that would be of interest to the family and sorted through some boxes. Bobbie drove us to the dump with a small load.
Today Izzy and I tackled the storage shed and went through some of Dad's stuff. We have a pile of stuff that will go to Casa Mesita, recyclable cardboard, and several bags of trash that we can take to the curb.
Izzy and P-doobie carried baskets of crap to Bobbie's truck.
As we approach the weekend and Izzy's visit to help clear out the old homestead, I ask each of you to read my friend Marion's profoundly moving sermon, Crap-free Jubilee. Use it to inspire you; to help you look forward to that great day in which the magazines will have been recycled, the wine-now-vinegar will have cleaned the pipes, our childhood mementos will have been dispersed to the rightful owners, and all the other detritus of the past will have been taken to the landfill; to be able to stand tall and say, "Today, I am clean!"
The family devised a way to get the crap down the front slope to the street.