January 14, 2010


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Ear’s the story: New Year not off to very good start

•December 31: Today is the day I must find my mother’s diamond earrings. I swear they were on the coffee table last time I saw them, and I thought I had put them away. I’ve looked and looked and looked, but I can’t find them anywhere. There is only one thing to do.

I got some rubber gloves, spread newspaper on the patio and took the vacuum cleaner outside. If the earrings are in the vacuum cleaner bag, I’ll find them.

My sister will have a huge fit if I lost them. She keeps track of things. I’ve tried to explain that nothing really has monetary value until it’s sold, like the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy. I told her I will never sell the earrings because I wear them, but she doesn’t see things that way.

Luckily, she’s far away from all the cold weather on a cruise ship on the west coast of Mexico.

The contents of the vacuum bag were disgusting. All that stuff was once on the floor of my house, and I lived in it. I felt through every square inch of dirt and hair, trying to find something hard and earring-shaped. I found two pennies, lots of dry cereal, a few screws and three pills. Which made me wonder, “If the pills got sucked up into the vacuum cleaner bag, but I thought I took them, and I’m still alive, do I really need them at all?” I put the pills back into the bottle.

“You’re not going to take those; are you?” asked my husband. “They were in the vacuum cleaner bag!”

“Sure.” I said. “I’ll just wipe ‘em off and kiss ‘em up to God.”

And exactly what did people do before rubber gloves were invented?

I did not find the earrings. I decided I never want to own anything valuable again, especially things small enough to be sucked into a vacuum cleaner. I feel much better. I don’t know what I’ll tell my sister. She won’t believe anyone could be dumb enough to lose diamond earrings.

She’s away until next week, so I have some time to get my story together.

•January 1: Very bored, we decided to go to a movie on New Year’s Day.

“Nobody would ever think of doing that on New Year’s Day,” we thought.

If we ever looked up from what we’re doing, we’d realize that there is life outside of this terrarium we call home. A lot of people go to the movies on New Year’s Day, it turns out. In fact, we couldn’t get two seats next to each other at “TheYoungVictoria.” Hugh sat six rows behind me.

A shame, because the movie is exquisitely romantic. When we watch a scene like the one where Victoria and Albert finally get married and kiss, I would normally lean over and kiss Hugh, but I had to turn around and find him in the dark theater. (I wasn’t going to kiss the stranger sitting next to me.) It wasn’t hard; Hugh was the man blinking his watch face at me. I blew him a kiss, which surprised the people behind me, but I’ll never see them again, so who cares?

“Will you be returning to your vacuum bag exploration?” Hugh asked when he got home.

“No, I’m done,” I said.

“A basement workout?”

   “No. Too late.”

“A pudding snack, perhaps?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Two puddings?”

“No, just one. I had popcorn at the movie.”

“A New Year’s Resolution?”

“Oh, you know, for today... I‘m trying to eat healthier this year…”

“Well, good luck with that.”

•January 2: Extremely cold today. I went to the gym anyway. The wind blew right through my coat, and I forgot to bring my hat and gloves. Once that body heat is gone, it’s gone.

I got a late start, though, so it was dark when I left the gym. It was very, very cold once the sun went down. Dangerously cold. There were other cars around, but I seemed to be the only person walking in the parking lot.

I had to go to the supermarket. I would have skipped it, but we were out of pudding, as well as bread, milk, eggs, cereal and bananas. And fruit and vegetables. Also meat, yogurt, juice and Klondike bars. And candy.

Cold weather makes my eyes water. The tears freeze on my face outdoors, then thaw indoors. If I seem to be crying in Acme, I an actually shedding tears of gratitude that we have food and central heating in this country. One can’t take things for granted.

My hands became very painful and stiff just walking around the parking lot, trying to remember where I parked my car. I always forget where I parked in parking lots. The wind blew trash around.

“Too cold…chilblains…groceries in car…get in car, start heater…get in car, start…get in…” Parts of speech in my brain were starting to freeze. I threw the bags of groceries higgley-piggley into the back seat, not caring whether the eggs were on top of the heap or not.

Just at the moment the wind blew a stray shopping cart across the dark parking lot to smash into my car like some projectile tumbleweed, I pictured my sister sitting in a deck chair in the warm sunshine somewhere off the coast of Western Mexico. People are always delighted to find out that the weather at home was awful when they were away on vacation. And she’s a gloater.

I wheeled the runaway shopping cart to a safe place. And in the lonely Acme parking lot, with the real-feel temperature at three degrees, I remembered that I never have to tell my sister about the lost earrings unless she asks.

In fact, I’m going to destroy this diary. Her husband is a lawyer. What a year so far. And it’s only January.


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