Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Unfinished Life

Strawberry Heart has no relation to this post.  

In the dark medicine cabinet of my charmingly outdated blue tiled bathroom, a ¼ tube of Colgate toothpaste lies in wait. Beside the Colgate, practically bragging about its superior performance and obviously preferred status, a new nearly full tube of a different formula boasts. The ¼ tube has been waiting to be cradled in my hand since the new tube arrived, but like the iPhone 2, its worth declined substantially when the replacement arrived. This sad relationship is replicated other places in my apartment - the miniscule remnants of a container of Smart Balance resting a shelf below a recently christened tub of Country Crock; the un-pumpable inch of Vaseline Intensive care lotion, deemed useless at the arrival of St. Ives creamy relief. 

My preemptive purchases of replacement household items almost always results in the abandonment of the last 15% of its predecessor.  I don’t want to finish the first item, and find myself without. I buy in advance.
Worst of all, this habit spills over into my relationship with books. As a public transportation commuter, with a busy extracurricular schedule, I'm often carrying yoga clothes and mat, breakfast, coffee, lunch, a book for writing, and a book for reading.

I try to eliminate unnecessary items from my luggage. Sometimes, when the bag is too full I forgo lunch and opt to buy.  Or I leave my two-inch hard cover writing book at home and carry a smaller moleskin. Sometimes, if I’m in the last 20-40 pages of a book, and I know I’m going to be on the train for and hour or more, I have to make a decision. I either bring a second book to replace the first when I finish it (and increase my load), or I leave the denouement on the coffee table and start fresh with a new book. I promise to return. I promise to finish those remaining pages and return the book to its subject matter- arranged crate having fulfilled its journey.

In full disclosure, I usually leave the book behind. And I usually don’t return. In at least half of the books I have read in the past year I left the last 20-40 pages unread. Those books eventually get returned to their spaces, like the butter that eventually goes in the trash when I determine it’s probably not safe to consume.
Those 20-40 pages will still be there if I ever decide to return, but the toothpaste and lotion won’t.

Which behavior is more wasteful?

Friday, September 9, 2011

127 Hours Part 2: The Closet

Every time I open my front room closet door, to retrieve cat food, a winter coat, a reusable shopping bag, a sombrero, or my Bacon and Egg themed Halloween costume, Shakespeare The Cat bounds from his meal, nap or hiding spot to try to sneak in the closet before he misses his chance.
There's nothing especially intriguing in there for him. I don't hoard a secret a pile of fish or yarn or frosted mini wheats (things I'm told cats like) in said closet, but regardless of what he would gain by accessing the space he races to the door like it was a shrinking portal to the future providing his last opportunity for survival in an early 90s sci-fi film.
Usually, I just scoop him up mid-cat-jog and toss him gently away. Some days, when hes too quick for me and gets in, I have to leave the closet door open and go about my day.
Sometimes, amid all the smoke and mirrors, with a sleight of hand or whisker, he darts into the closet without my knowledge. He is sadly unaware that this trickery can only be harmful to himself.
Such an illusion on Shakespeare's part resulted this week in his spending the night locked in the closet. I was dog sitting, and did not sleep at home - or I surely would have heard his scratchy voiced cries. When I returned to my apartment and called for the two felines to greet me at the door, I was slightly alarmed that there was no sign of Shake.
I cased the apartment, checked the bedroom closet, confirmed that there were no ropes made of bed sheets hanging from any of the windows and then, finally, heard his tiny cat cry coming from the closet.
He emerged from the closet a little startled. As I snugged his face and led him to his water dish, images of James Franco and a pocket knife filled my head. Maybe he thought about ways to escape, or contemplated what items in the closet were edible and what could be poisonous. Maybe he thought about me and his brother and hoped to chocolate that we would still eat salmon flavored treats without him. Maybe he closed his eyes and imagined his favorite toy - the rainbow fleece - floating dreamily against the rising sun in a field of cat nip.
I was thankful that he emerged from the closet with all four paws, but I hoped that the experience wouldn't scar him forever.
I'm starting to think that Shake lacks the brain capacity to hold on to this fearful experience for too long because this morning, as I opened the closet to retrieve a plastic bag, he sprung to his feet and darted for the door - determined to revisit the place where he so recently almost met his maker.
Brave little man.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Edward Hammerhands?

I love my apartment, but my building is almost 150 years old and my appliances might actually be even older. Especially be fridge/freezer combo.  When I moved in, Moses' baby picture (basket and all), was stuck to the refrigerator door with fossilized tree sap. I found an abacus in the freezer. This thing is old.

Its also not grown-up sized. I don't know if Americans were between 13 and 18 inches shorter 100 years ago, but a race of mini-Chicagoans occupying the Lakeview neighborhood when my building was raised would really be the only legitimate reason for the minute size of my fridge/freezer combo.

Surprisingly, this is the "after" shot.
I'm not ageist or sizeist, even regarding appliances, but I am functionist. I mean, a fridge is meant to keep food and drinks cool and a freezer is meant to keep food frozen (and liquor crisp). So on this level I discriminate against this "machine" on the basis of not-workingness.

In my fridge things spoil or freeze, in my freezer the ice wall creeps around and engulfs all of my food items and, yet, some how ice cream still melts and meat spoils. Usually I just get around this by buying very little food and eating it quickly before the ancient fridge beast has time to claim it as a victim. Or I buy no food and eat Subway twice a day.

Sometimes the massive encroaching iceberg in my freezer makes me flip my grid and get a little crazy. On that special day, once a year, I calmly walk over to my tool box, carefully remove the hammer from its hammer-shaped slot, and return to the kitchen. I open the freezer door, and like a coked up Edward Scissorhands I swing the back of my hammer at the ice wall over and over again with all my might. As ice chips and chunks fly at my face, body and kitchen walls, I break a sweat and begin to see the edges of what might be a bag of frozen corn or a bottle of Jagermeister. 

Eventually, my bare feet are covered in an inch of ice on my kitchen floor, and the freezer looks more like a storage space for food and less like the ice-cave of a Yeti.

It most likely still won't freeze food, but at least I feel better about it.