Of bureaucracy and mattresses and automobiles.

The weather splintered into fall overnight, it seems. It was just after all that rain that the trees turned. I went walking down to the creek with Molly and the Boy and Annie the other day. At a very propitious moment, the Boy leaned against a tree, assumed an air of nonchalance, and began lecturing us on the properties of leaves and why they turn. Apparently it’s the chlorophyll leaving the leaves, receding back into the trunk to hibernate for the winter, leaving behind varying levels of xanthophyll and carotene. Molly was very impressed. So was I.

I’ve been spurred to greater heights in wedding planning. I’ve got a dress! It’s in ivory (thanks peanut gallery) with a lacy keyhole back and a slip which I chose myself. At the bridal store they’ve got meager imaginations. I went on Monday to actually buy the dress, and I tried it on again, having forgotten I was wearing Ashley’s smarmy socks. The woman was very judgmental and kept eying my feet so I took them off as soon as I had a chance.

The Mattress Warehouse was right across the street and I went by there too. Our mattress is like a cardboard valley. I’ve seriously never slept on a worse mattress. And I lived in Africa! Even a nail bed would have support. Annie was delighted with the store. I think it’s the first store we’ve ever been in where she couldn’t get into trouble. I saw a lovely mattress which cost the same as my wedding dress and was soooooorely tempted. That reminds me. I still want to try and sew some sort of outfit out of my old electrical blanket. I get incredibly cold in the winter, in this freezing house (back in the seventies people apparently had lava for blood)– so how cool would it be to just walk around and plug yourself into outlets? I could do it. It would just be complicated. A little vest, some pantaloons. I’m picturing Hessian.

Also, wouldn’t it be funny to go into a coffee shop with a rolling suitcase and set up a desktop computer at a little table?? I first thought of this when Ashley wanted me to buy a desktop instead of replacing my laptop. We literally do not have a desk to put in on, however, so I won that battle. Wouldn’t it be funny? to go into Open Eye and order a small black coffee, roll over to a little table and commandeer the entire outlet? Or you could bring your own strip. Whichever is funnier.

Anyhow, the Mattress Warehouse was enchanting. It reminded me of the airport, now that you have to take off your shoes for security. I love the feeling, it’s reminiscent of the laundromat. You get a personal look into peoples’ lives. Really personal. It’s sweet. I like to pretend we’re all at a gigantic slumber party at the airport and it’s fun to imagine all the grungies and business ladies and expensive men having a big party. A dog party! a big dog party! Big dogs little dogs black dogs white dogs! If you get that, you either have a child or a good memory. The Mattress Warehouse is like those things because you lay down to try out the mattresses. I threw myself down on one and bounced a few times, which is what I do normally when I get into bed, but the salesman laughed. He talked up one which was half price (250) and I loved the price but when I thumped the mattress with my fist it echoed. I said I liked it but that it sounded like a kiddie bed. He said he’d never seen anyone do that before. I said well listen. He agreed. I put ten dollars down on a different mattress and felt very effective. This is a problem I’ve been having lately, feeling effective. It’s hard. You would think that not being a full-time worker and spending all your time at home with a baby would be easy. It is, but it’s not. It’s tricky to explain. Babies are very demanding. They need tons of attention. In general Annie and I get along very well because I completely understand needing attention. (I was shaking the tree for her this evening and leaves were falling, and she kept toddling over to pick up the ones that fell and handed them back to me to stick back on.)

It’s the little things that make me feel ineffective. Things like my car breaking, or not being able to sort out this court business. I got a ticket back in May, when they were doing that extremely fishy sting operation in front of Fitch Lumber. I was tooling down the road at 20 miles an hour, speed limit, and an undercover cop stepped into the crosswalk on the far side of the street. I calculated our trajectories, the string of cars behind me, and kept going since I was about a yard from the walkway and it would have been dangerous to brake and I was in no danger of hitting him. Then I got pulled over and joined a line of other cars with sweet little old women and innocents. It’s silly to plead ignorance, so I didn’t, but I really was not aware that if anyone steps into a crosswalk you have to wait. Anyhow. I got the ticket. And put it off. And put it off.

Long story short, I was on my way to court yesterday morning, a gorgeous fall morning, and waved goodbye to Ryan who wished me luck, and my oil light started beeping when I passed Johnny’s. I didn’t even know oil lights could beep. So I pulled over at the nearest gas station, because I listen to CarTalk and I’m a quick study. I bought a quart of oil and was pouring it into the car in all my court regalia when three men came over and began offering a very spirited analysis. (I was telling Ryan before I left that I hoped this would be the last time I had to go to court because I really had nothing left to wear that they hadn’t seen before.) They told me to go buy three more quarts of oil, so I did, then I drove off. The one who reeked of alcohol whistled sharply as I was starting to pull away, so I came back. Back to a parking lot of oil. The engine was spewing oil like a demon. You can’t drive a car like that. 1) It’ll run out of oil and crack the block (been there done that, in godforsaken VA) and 2) You look like a smaller, more culpable version of BP. I’d forgotten my phone so I walked with the baby to Clay’s house. Clay was a prince. He dropped everything he was doing (I think it was something on YouTube but he really does have important work) and we borrowed the Boy’s car to drive to the VW dealership where they charged 11 dollars for a rubber band, essentially. Then he bought me lunch, on top of it all. I gorged on fried plantains because I was feeling sorry for myself. I called Ashley, stricken with terror at the thought of his reaction, and he sighed and said he’d meet us with the tow chain. So I went to court, in the Boy’s car, while Ashley and Clay worked on my car.

Annie and I were almost alone in the courtroom. She gurgled happily while I tried to shush her. The judge stopped what he was saying and looked up, kind of sniffed the air. “Is there a baby in this courtroom?” he asked, and everyone turned to me. I lifted Annie in the air and everyone laughed. I asked if I ought to take her out and the judge, who was a grandfatherly-looking man, said, “No, no. I was just confused. I don’t mind.” I wish he were my judge. I got stuck with Judge Scarlett, who doesn’t take kindly to no-shows or babies. Anyhow. This isn’t about court. (Which is deferred, again). It’s about my feelings of incompetence.

Clay, bless his heart, fixed my car. I got back at 6 and remembered that I hadn’t gotten to the voting precinct. My voting info is still Roosevelt, but I couldn’t remember what the address I’d given was, so at 7.05 on Raleigh Rd the gentleman sent me to my precinct, McDougle school. I parked where I usually do, for the library, then realized I was on the wrong side. I ran and got to the gym two minutes before closing and voted. All the old people were charmed by my disheveled hair and falling socks. By the way, it’s interesting that Orange County barely said no to the increased sales tax. I, for one, would like the property taxes and such to remain as they are, so I voted yes for higher sales tax. Who was I telling.. oh yes. It was Clay. I said how interesting it was, how primitive the way the election signs are. Because what’s to stop the supporters from pulling up opponent signs at traffic lights and such? Because the opposition would do the same. It’s like the most primitive social compromise. Don’t do unto others because they might do unto you.

Today I went to my vision appointment and was harassed by the doctor, who seemed to find my extraordinarily bad vision amusing.¬† When I’d taken my contacts out, he led me by the arm back to the waiting room, even though I told him that I was practically blind, not altogether. Then he looked at my New Yorker and asked how close I had to hold it to read, and then he nudged his assistant and giggled. He was very curious as to why I had so many left-eye contacts left and no right-eye and I explained that once I found a bunch left by some girl in the student union, and they were pretty close to my prescription so I just took them. His assistant, a girl with a sour expression, looked horrified. But the doctor did say that I had “gorgeous optical nerves,” and called the assistant back into the room to get an eyeful. They were very admiring. The word textbook was even brought up. I feel quite pleased tonight with my gorgeous optical nerves. Eric Oates claims to have some too, but I challenged him to an optical nerve beauty contest, so we’ll see about that.

All in all, I suppose the bottom line is that I’m somewhat effectual. I get some things done. Some peoples’ cars break down, even though it seems like most people just get in their cars every day without wondering whether or not they’ll work. I’m grateful that Clay, a diamond in the rough, fixed mine. I owe him a red velvet cake. What a southern darling he is, to request red velvet! I’m also happy about my optical nerves. I lost Risk tonight, and we couldn’t play bridge, but it’s autumn and Annie’s sleeping in her crib with a nicer mattress than mine and the leaves look like a field of monarch butterflies in the afternoon light if you lie on the ground and I’ve got ten dollars on a mattress¬† and an ivory wedding dress and a laundry shed in the making and a recipe for red velvet cake and it is an indisputable fact that Iris’s hot tub is now fully operational!

One Comment

  • Emily Wimbish wrote:

    Red dogs, blue dogs,
    yellow dogs, green dogs
    are all at a dog party!
    What a dog party!

    One of my only 3ish-year-old memories is reading that to my Great Grandmother while she was in the hospital before she died.

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