Dusting. Sweeping. Washing. Wiping. Scrubbing. I gave it all up for Lent.
Actually, I know the premise of it all is to give up something you like. Chocolate would qualify. Chocolate is not labor intensive. Although some Dove chocolates are user unfriendly with arthritic fingers manipulating the foil wrapper. Yes, that is an admission of arthritis. Can chocolate reverse the aging process? Can it straighten the joints? Can I phone the Molly Maid people to come clean house? Why did I cut my hair?
I have a grandson. Three years old. And as tiny as he is he manages to find things at his eye level. Dust balls. Small spider webs. The Pringles can that rolled under the bed. “Mom, the house is dusty,” said my son Lance. Presenting him with the dust rag and furniture polish I encouraged him, “Here ya go, Lance, you can start over in that corner.”
Bathrooms are tricky. I have to concede a nasty bathroom will not go unattended to. But, I have kept apartments and houses clean for nearly the entire time I have been married. Four decades of unceasing cleanliness. Time out for Lent.
Training bra. I was never quite sure what it was that was being trained but that was the name given to the little stretchy thing. Similar in appearance to a crop top. No darts, no padding and no support because, after all, what was there to support?
When I was in 7th grade, during my ’67-’68 school year, I had the physique of a small boy. At that time P.E. students were required to shower upon returning to the locker room after play. There I was in my tiny fake bra standing beside the Amazon who was already in a “C” cup. But if that wasn’t humiliating enough our P.E. teacher passed out towels to each of us as we paraded by her. She made the towels available to us first by scrutinizing to make certain we were wet, that we had actually showered. Oh, the indignity.
That was then, this is now. Times have definitely changed. When I pulled a stint for a few years as a dance teacher in a local high school the shower stalls in the girls locker room looked as dry as the Sahara. Spider webs and dust balls decorated the unused stalls. Decades had passed since the teenagers in this venue had been required to shower.
Training bra. Waiting for that “C ” cup to develop. P.E. teacher. Showers. Towels. Rite of passage.
Some years back our rooftop air conditioning unit became dysfunctional. It would only take $17,000 to replace it. I don’t think so. Growing up as an Orange County girl I lived where weather didn’t exist. Once, in acute delirium, I stepped away from California to a place where people were known to use the expression, “There’s a front a comin’ in.” Well, in Orange County we don’t say things like that, we just recite the mantra, “Thank God this isn’t Minnesota…they are still shoveling snow!” Back to the dysfunction. We have developed amazing adaptive qualities. We didn’t replace the unit and we have been living without A/C ever since. When anyone in the house complains of the heat I point to the pool. There’s your relief.
Here in Northern California summers can usher in those triple digits. This may be sacrilege to some but I pay homage to the heat. As long as it’s hot that means it is not winter. A high temperature is just the ticket for me. Less clothes to have to wear. I do not go swimming in January. Winter, bad. Not winter, good. That vision of Minnesota. Ugh. Besides all you have to do when the heat persists, assuming you do not have a pool, is step into any Safeway. The refrigerated air inside makes it possible to hang and preserve a side of beef…in the aisles.
Winter is full of foreboding. Always battling cold symptoms and such. Bone-chilling air. Three sweaters layered. Summer serves as respite from the cold and we do not miss our air conditioner. A $17,000 cache could pay for the fun provided by multiple trips to New York City (see NYC).
102 degrees…and climbing. Splash.
Spanish for the weeping woman. In Mexican folklore, La Llorona was known to pass through the streets crying over the fact that her children were gone and she was weeping as she went. La Llorona appears as a spirit.
I spent two days in a psychiatric hospital some years back. Psychosis sent me there. It really wasn’t scary, really. It was a very quiet place. Therapists, nurses, counselors. All poised and ready to provide for the residents. Those of us there in need of respite.
My Llorona came to me in the form of my roommate. A woman in residence for undisclosed reasons. Undisclosed to me anyway. She cried. Under her covers. Consistently one entire morning. Enough already. As we were summoned, it was time to eat, I stepped near her bed and urged her to move. Anything to shush her crying. I went on my way, because I do not like cold reheated food.
My La Llorona quit crying and joined us at breakfast. I do not believe that lost children had anything to do with the weeping displayed by my La Llorona sharing space with me at the psych hospital. Who knows? I suppose it isn’t always important what triggers tears. Just make sure breakfast isn’t sacrificed over weeping.
My exposure to Spanish came first from the spoken word in my home. In my earliest years I recall hearing it often. My mom came from Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to California in the 1950s. She demonstrated courage and resolve as she gained skills in her second language.
Mami became the domestic goddess extraordinaire. She took care of her two daughters while she cooked and baked. Her knack for producing perfect meringue which graced the lemon pies was not lost on me. To this day lemon meringue is my pie of choice. She sewed, knitted, and embroidered. She painted. She sang. She served as the self-ordained landscaper. Carefully choosing plants and trees to adorn the front and backyard. She did the mowing.
The days she and I spent at the beach were the highlight of my visits. Mami loved the ocean, the seashells she collected. Swimming was not her calling but she appreciated the crashing of the waves and the sea spray. Proving to be much smarter and more cautious then her daughter (who dismissed the importance of protection) she always wore a wide-brimmed straw hat while urging her wayward daughter to do same.
I have lost the one person in my life who understood the lyrics to the song, Las Mañanitas. It is a traditional Spanish song offered at the celebration of a birthday. I would place a phone call to my Mami and when she answered I would regale her with a serenade of the song native to her birthplace.
Mami outlived two of her sisters. Her own mother reached her early eighties. Longevity seemed to favor Mami, with one caveat. In the last few years of her life dementia robbed her of her speech. Phone calls were very difficult to maneuver through. Though I could speak to her in Spanish, it was never quite clear which language she was using. It all sounded like gibberish to me. Sigh.
Mami you have been given release. I will see you again one day.
This was the statement I made to my supervisor in a telephone conversation. She was in charge of district-wide testing of all ESL students and I was one among the staff members responsible for administering these tests and working the follow-up clerical tasks. Clerical work has always tested my resolve. This annual testing ritual was met with mixed emotions. I enjoyed interacting with students. Paperwork, on the other hand, was torturous.
I had commandeered one classroom which served as the holding place for piles of tests. That is to say I carefully arranged test forms by grade level and assigned each pile a different desk top. And then I stared at each pile. I stared for a couple weeks. All of us working this cycle of testing had a deadline. I knew the deadline. However, that did not make a dent in the staring binge I had launched into. I was to use a certain protocol to detect anomalies, correct them and record data in a binder. Ugh.
My work was not progressing. I had elevated staring at the piles to an art form. They were right there on the same desk tops that I had placed them on nearly four weeks prior, undisturbed. I called my supervisor.
“What was that process … I think I forgot step 4a … You mean there is no step 4a …What happened to it?”
Ultimately, I had to confess. “Sometimes I don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground.”
The supervisor roared with laughter. I collected the tests, took them to her office and she finished the clerical ordeal. Sometimes.