bunt sign

April 24, 2000

Never tempt fate by saying something like, "If nothing goes wrong " That's a certain way to make Herb and Ida get creative. They love a challenge.

That would be Herb and Ida Gold, the invisible beings who control my life. Sometimes I just call them "the Golds." Sometimes I leave out the "l".

As much as I complain about answering the phone all day, I'm going crazy without it. And it's not just because I can't get on line.

Here I am in a new home, far from the activity of the city, isolated and alone. Working in an office with a dead phone line is like being alone in a coal mine, or the desert, or the moon. I'd have though it might be liberating, but in fact it's downright eerie.

Pacific Bell was here before nine this morning, ready to activate my lines and put in phone jacks everywhere I wanted them. But the guy couldn't even get started without getting past my neighbor's dogs and into his yard, where the incoming phone box is located. I was sure someone was home, but no one answered when he rapped on their door.

And that was that. He told me I had to reschedule at a time when the dogs were contained. When I saw the woman who lives there leave for work just a few minutes later, I flagged her down and asked her what would be a good time. "Any morning," she said, because her husband is off work and home every day. She couldn't believe they hadn't heard the knock on the door. I couldn't either. Her suggestion was to tell him to knock louder next time.

Later I called Pacific Bell from Mom's house and asked them to send someone out tomorrow. They're not coming until Thursday morning. I'll have to get used to be unconnected.

I also called the Boss from Mom's to explain why I wouldn't be in contact with him for three days. I apologized for not being able to get things done. I'm sure he thinks he would have been able to bully the phone company into doing his bidding, but he knows me well enough to realize that kind of attitude just isn't in me. He allows me these little failings because he values the things I do well. I complain, but I know I'm lucky that way.

The cable guy came at 11:30, and he was in a foul mood because the company was running him all over the county on a Monday morning. His disposition didn't improve when he saw that he had to add a cable line in a location where there was nothing coming into the house already. By that time I was in no mood to compromise. I've taken enough time deciding how I want everything arranged. Starting over had no appeal.

He did the work, and then graciously made the interior connections for me. "I like my customers to be satisfied," he told me. He acted as if he knew what he was doing. After he left, I tried out the VCR and got snow and static. I reversed the input and output cables, and all was well. I'm satisfied, I guess, that he tried. He was probably having a bad Monday, too.

Know what would be cool? It would be cool if just once, something I needed was in the first place I looked, instead of the ninety-first.

Okay, maybe just once isn't enough. But at least half the time would be cool.

I'm living mostly out of boxes. I've found most of the supplies I need to run the office, and the bathroom is (out of necessity) in good shape, but the kitchen is a disaster. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by how much there is to do that I just sit and think about it, gazing at nothing in idle contemplation.

All of my dishes are still wrapped in newspaper, and I never know how long I'm going to have to look when I suddenly need a sponge, or a paper towel, or a glass.

It's disjointed. It's awkward. It slows me down to a halting, tentative crawl. I take many extra steps in the course of a day.

On the other hand, it's kind of an adventure. I'm on a constant quest. When I open a box, I probably won't find what I'm looking for, but I might find the thing I was looking for a couple of hours ago. I might find something I didn't even know I wanted. I might even find something I didn't know I had. This is how the new place is gradually getting that lived-in quality that will make it a home.

And I'm already developing some new routines, based on the changed ergonomics of the place. The out basket that used to be over my right shoulder is now behind me on the left, and I'm already reaching that way for it. Not every time, but more and more often. I now know automatically which way to turn to find a stamp, or the stapler, or my Diet Mountain Dew. Semi-automatically, anyway.

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