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Tuesday, February 27, 2001

I'm really stupid, but at least I'm smart enough to know it. I'm not stupid about everything, but I'm really, really dumb about things like laundry. In every possible way that there is to do it wrong, I have excelled.

My latest effort is twofold. (I'm actually pretty good at folding.)

First, I let myself get down to zero socks and underwear. Now, part of this was on purpose. With the energy shortage, I've been saving up for big loads. But I didn't need to save up so long that I had no margin for error. I mean, what if I'd stepped in something or sat in something? I'd have had nothing to change into, unless I went through the hamper and picked the least gross things in there.

At the same time, I had just one T-shirt left in the drawer, and not wanting to wear fancy dress shirts to work, since I don't go to work and don't have to impress anyone with my impeccable appearance, I wanted to do shirts yesterday after underwear. That would make at least two, possibly three loads in one day.

I could have started as soon as I got back from my morning errands. Indeed, that was my intention, right up until the time I forgot about it. It was after six o'clock when I started the first load, but I conquered one of my previous laundry challenges by remembering to put the clothes in the dryer, and then remembering to take them out when the buzzer went off.

So, one down, one to go. It took two loads in the washer to do all the shirts, but I waited to dry them so that one cycle would take care of everything. My dryer isn't the swiftest appliance in the house (I'm not sure what is), so I set it for the maximum time of 110 minutes.

At eleven thirty I remembered that I hadn't heard the buzzer go off to let me know the shirts were dry. This isn't unusual, because I often have loud music or Ally McBeal (same thing) going on, or maybe I was having my sneezing fit when the thing buzzed.

When I went in to check, I was horrified to notice that the dryer had not gone down to zero. In fact, it was still set at 110 minutes. Obviously, I had carefully set the time and then completely forgotten to push the start button (or just didn't push it hard enough). My shirts were no drier than they were two hours before. Wetter, if possible, or so it seemed.

Not inclined to stay up all night to wait for my laundry to dry, I pushed the start button anyway. I took the shirts out this morning, and they were quite dry. The fact that I'll be wearing wrinkled shirts for the next two weeks will most likely not serve as a badly needed lesson. I will either do the same thing again next time, or pull some other unbelievably stupid stunt.

Because that's the way I am.

Last night I was sitting in the loft after a fun-filled day of work (sleeping, if you must know), when the phone ran. The Boss. One more question about something or other. As I hung up, I looked out the window and saw the most colorful sunset we've had in weeks.

I stumbled headlong down the stairs, grabbed my camera, and scrambled out to the driveway in my house slippers. I wasn't going to let this one get away.

a sunset

And it's a good thing I did, because five minutes later the sky was mostly that dull gray we've seen for the last several days. And in another ten minutes it was dark.

It was sobering to watch the memorial service on the streets of Isla Vista on last night's news. Friday night, a UC Santa Barbara freshman drove his car into a crowded street in the student community just off campus. Driving at what reports called "freeway speed," he killed four people and critically injured another. Since he's being charged with murder, police apparently believe the act was deliberate. The suspect frightened the other residents of his dorm with his actions even before the fatal incident.

I lived in Isla Vista for three years while I was a student at UCSB. This was in the late sixties and early seventies, and the atmosphere at the time was politically charged, but it was also a place to have a good time. There were parties everywhere, and everyone knew everyone else. We would amble through the streets at night, from the dorms to the beach, or maybe to the Magic Lantern Theater. It was a friendly, peaceful atmosphere, most of the time. When political demonstrations would occasionally get out of hand, the odor of tear gas overwhelmed the scent of marijuana. Otherwise, it was a place where you could nearly always feel safe.

I haven't been back since 1972, so I don't know what's changed. But what hasn't changed is the easy access to serious drugs. It doesn't take much for an 18-year-old who's already mentally unbalanced to declare himself the Angel of Death and then prove it. I'm not going to say that something like this couldn't have happened thirty years ago. But it's a shame that it can still happen today. A shame.

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"I don't see how you stand this," he said.
"You forget," I told him, "I've been married."
--Anne Tyler