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Sunday, April 27, 2003

In the end, it wouldn't have mattered. Even if I'd made the effort to take the defective aquarium heater back today, it wouldn't have helped. I didn't know that when I decided I just couldn't face another stressful day of trying to make things work. It helps to know it now, though.

The heater that wouldn't start ended up being the heater that wouldn't stop. Once the pilot light came on, the heating element just kept making the water hotter and hotter. When I went to bed last night, it was at 74F, on its way to 78F. I stayed up as late as I could, monitoring the situation, but I assumed it would shut down when it got the preset level.

Then at seven this morning something woke me up. I don't think it was anything but my own worried mind, stirred by a little left over stress from yesterday. I had to get up and check on the tank. I was surprised to see the heater still running. I was even more surprised to check the gauge and see that the water was now at 84F.

Well, sez I, just turn down the thermostat. That's the little rubber knob on top of the heater, and I always knew it was possible it wasn't set at exactly the right level. There's even a set of arrows to tell you which way is hotter and which way is cooler. What could be simpler?

But I couldn't make the thing budge. I twisted and turned and nothing would make the knob move. I pulled the unit out of the tank and dried it off and tried twisting it again, but by this time it was burning my hand. Naturally, I blamed myself. Any idiot should be able to make a little rubber knob move a few notches.

After berating myself for an hour or so, I unplugged the heater, dried it off and put it back in its plastic case. I wanted to take it back today, but I just couldn't do it. I slept so little, and so badly, last night that all I wanted to do was lie around and vegetate the whole day long. I needed to salvage one day from the weekend, especially with month-end deadlines coming up.

A phone call from a distant friend helped me put things in perspective. After talking things over with her, I decided that the prudent course of action was to do as much as I felt like at any given time, and save the pressure for work. This isn't supposed to be work. It's supposed to give me pleasure, and it will. In time, it will. Not today, though, because I took today off.

And it wouldn't have mattered anyway, as I said at the top of this page. Even at the end of the day, the water temperature was still above 80F. If I'd come home with a new heater, I wouldn't be able to use it until the temperature goes below the level I'm shooting for. So I did the right thing, and I feel better about it now even though I did the right thing for not necessarily the right reason.

21 Apr 03

Looking west past the house on a cloudy spring afternoon.

Why I have to justify my own actions to myself I'm not sure. I know why I have to convince Mom that I'm okay, despite decisions that she might think are weak or foolish. And maybe it's seeing myself through her eyes that makes me want to overanalyze my choices. If I want to sit and watch a movie instead of getting up and doing what needs to be done, I have to berate myself and agonize over a justification. Then I go ahead and do what I want to do.

I'm not sure why I don't skip the drama and skate through to the end without guilt or second thoughts. And now, of course, I'm feeling guilty about that. It's a hard cycle to break.

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The movie for today was Real Women Have Curves, which I'm almost afraid to say anything about, except that I loved it and loved the characters. I don't feel qualified to say too much because it's about growing up Latina in East L.A. I wouldn't want to scare anyone away by calling it "neo-feminist" or any such thing. It's actually a very funny movie wrapped around a serious family drama.

The young woman at the center of the story deals with cultural attitudes, economic restraints and body issues, as well as coming of age with a mother who doesn't understand her drive to be independent. You pull for her so much that you can actually (as I did) stand up and cheer for her as she makes her way toward getting what she wants out of life. The movie brings her world to vivid reality.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Happy Endings
"La Usurpadora ended the way all novelas do, with one villain dead, another in prison, and a third in the nut house."

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