Monday, July 31, 2006

I am woman, hear me...

Twin yellow bruises. One on each leg, just above the knee. Various other discolorations that mark the occasion of a living room rearrangement. Weight on the legs, not the back. I recite this mantra to myself as my muscles and ligaments go into shock, as I balance a bookshelf taller than I am on the top of my legs. It’s 95 degrees in my apartment and the humidity is high enough to verge on requiring gills to breathe. I’m hauling – not dragging – bookshelves around the room. I’m lifting them over the explosion of dispelled books and bric-a-brac on the floor.

I’ve spent two solid hours of the morning sipping coffee and looking at the living room with lethal intentions. I’ve hit the burn-it-or-change-it stage. My insurance isn’t high enough to make me independently wealthy and I’m not an experienced pyromaniac, so changing it around seems to be the only option.

It takes hours. All those books. All that vacuuming, dusting, hauling. The table returns to the tiny dining area. The plants move out. I’m sweaty and panting with effort. I eat boiled eggs and toast in the middle of a suburban war zone where the combatants have tried to kill each other with copies of How to Grow A Novel and small wooden cow ornaments whose "hooves" double as muscle massagers.

A male friend visits the next day. “Did you do all this yourself?” Oh, I’m smug. I’m smirking with self-satisfaction.
“Do you see anyone else here?”

Damn! This makes up for the desk I spent hours assembling, only to haul it upright and have it collapse on my knees. At midnight. It makes up for having to holler for help from my next-door neighbor, Kevin. Who tells me, sympathetically, that I had all the pieces together right, but I just (a tiny detail) didn’t tighten the screws right.

It makes up for the Scorpio snickering at my standing fan assembly last summer. There it was, fanning its’ heart out, revolving like a good fan, upright, sturdy. I was so proud. And he started to grin.
“You see that piece there? In the middle?”
“Yeah. It’s decorative.” Oh shit. Shit. It isn’t is it? “Decorative,” I repeat, defiantly.
He gets up, whips the stand apart and puts the decorative piece on the bottom, where, strangely, it actually fits.


But now? My friend stands back and observes the rearrangement. “It’s about perfect,” he says. “You got it just right.” I puff up with pride.
“You’ll be moving it in the winter though, right? Because it’s blocking the heat vents?”