Monday, January 31, 2011

“I hate grease and what it stands for.” Vita in Mildred Pierce

One of the headlines on the Yahoo home page one morning is: Are repairs to your house keeping you awake at night. Yahoo knows me inside out and there’s little I can do about it.
This is what I lie awake thinking about my house:  The topmost gutter that is now too scary to reach and is therefore clogged with two years worth of rotting leaves that will eventually totally rot and ruin something called a soffit.  I used to be brave enough to climb out the window of the top floor bedroom onto the slope of the roof, hold on to the projecting gable trim until I reached the flat part, climb onto it, get on my stomach and inch my way like a paratrooper at Iwo Jima to get to the gutter grab the contents and put them in the Hefty bag I had stuffed in my pocket. When I was solidly on the topmost flat part, I even had the presence to survey my entire .16 acre and sneak a peek at a few other yards.   Of course, I had on my best ground gripping sneakers and also my best underwear in case I fell and died.
Last fall I climbed out the window three times and could not summon the courage to continue.  There was about a two-foot spread where I could not reach the gable trim and had to just crawl un-tethered up the slope and I could not do it. I think about those rotting leaves and have climbed out onto the roof several times and climbed back in, locked the window, pulled down the shades and gone downstairs.
The second thing I think about is the state of my eighty year old septic system. When you see that cesspool guy pull into your driveway with that huge barrel-shaped truck and his t-shirt reads:  “your s**t is our bread and butter” you realize that you can pay off your mortgage and lock the door at night but you will never escape dealing with the world. 
We’ve all been led to believe that our responsibility for what’s under our care stops at the kitchen drain.  You think that the government or some municipal department or the universe or some other entity is in charge of the place where all waste goes.  Nobody teaches you about drain etiquette.
The drain, I’ve learned, is connected to an unforgiving eco-system that while it sounds sort of simple and dorky can turn on you like a mad cobra. Everything that goes down either helps it or hurts it. Grease hurts it bad.  Tempting as it is, you can’t pour all your bacon grease down the kitchen sink without eventual disaster.  And, guess what?  It’s your responsibility to keep the system in good health.  Otherwise you have to deal with the man in the t-shirt with that message.
No matter how much further up we arrive on the evolutionary ladder, how much faster we can download a file, how instantaneously we can connect by phone to China, our waste systems are still in the Middle Ages. In fact, they are worse because back then they used waste to enrich the fields.
This is some of the mind clutter I could leave behind if I would just sell the house and be done with it. If I sold the house, I would take the money, put it all in a big briefcase and sit on a park bench for a few hours without one other possession and then begin anew. No pictures of the kids when they were babies, no sentimental knickknacks, a clean new start.  Buy a toothbrush, buy a bowl, maybe a spoon.  When the old house next door to me sold they tore it down and built a big showy house.  The house across the street has been sold and rebuilt twice in the last five years.  In the current phase, they added another wing and a stone chimney and moved the entrance to the side.
I don’t know what my new wealthier neighbors are going to think about my dowdy little house.   It may become a blight on the neighborhood because of its size and vintage. I see the handwriting on the wall – and it doesn’t bode well for my lifestyle.  Maybe Yahoo will tell me what can be done.

On the e-book front there is encouraging news.  I sold twice as many books in January as I did in December and one title “Nothing To Lose” accounts for more than half of the sales.  I did have a small ad for this book in the middle of the month but the sales came much later.  The other title that has surprised me is "Report From The Heart."  As I've said, when I read this non-fiction book about my life as a young mother, I become very uncomfortable.  I never promote it.  This month, the title has been selling despite the fact that I keep it locked up in the attic.  Now here’s the thing about selling books on the internet:  things happen and you don’t know why.

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