Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Game of Life

I learned something about myself today.

I wish I hadn’t.

For five months, the Hiphugger 1-800 number has been the subject of intense scrutiny and much paperwork. Thanks to having been slammed (that is, illegally appropriated by a rival phone company), the number didn’t work, and was no longer under our name, so I wasn’t even allowed to get it back up and running. It took no fewer than fifteen phone calls, filing two reports with the FCC (and then waiting for the results of those investigations) and a protracted three-way phone conversation today between a representative from the first phone company, the appropriating phone company and me to get the line back up and running. But, in the end, not only did I get my number back and in my name, I was credited for the five months I had continued to pay my bill while we teased this out.

I hung up, all aglow with smug accomplishment and then a flat little voice in my head said “You do realize all you have achieved is getting back to where you were five months ago.”

I hadn’t won the Iowa primary as a come-from-behind dark horse. I didn’t do an emergency tracheotomy with a Bic pen. I got my phone number back. Admittedly, it is a good thing to have a working phone line, but still. I sat at this very desk this morning and realized that 90% of my daily activity can be summed up as:

1.Moving objects, either living or inanimate.
2.Holding off entropy for another ten minutes.

You doubt me? Let’s look at the major elements of my day.

Raising Daughter? Candidly, most of my efforts would be moving Daughter from one place to another; were we to create a coat of arms right now, it would depict a car seat.

Co-owning a small business? That would be moving stuff from manufacturer to customer, from customer to bank, from office to Post Office, from Post Office to office; a small business is like running a relay race where the baton is Krazy-glued to your hand.

Consort is sort of a wild card. I rarely move him, although I do move ziggurats of his New Yorker magazines from room to room, so he doesn’t fit into category #1. As far as category #2 is concerned…how shall I put this? Consort and I do not act upon each other as a soothing spa weekend. Our proximity does not create order and calm. In fact, it creates a dynamic analogous to feeding Jolt Cola to ferrets and locking them up in your circuit breaker.

Once I noticed this pattern in my life, even my hobbies came under scrutiny. Due to some basic defect in my makeup, I have chosen, once I get Daughter back into school, to start training for an ascent of Mt. Whitney. I am also going to try teaching myself Latin. Notice I don’t promise to do either. I will train to climb Mt. Whitney. I will try to teach myself Latin. If I fail at either or both, let us all forget this conversation ever happened.

And why am I training to climb a big rock? Because I believe it will keep me motivated to go to the gym. Why do I want to keep myself in the gym? Because my family has only two gears: live to see ninety-five or dead before sixty. I haven’t started the Sue Grafton series yet so I’m thinking I want to stay around. Mt. Whitney would satisfy #1 and #2.

And why Latin? Because it’s hard, and my brain has been feeling spongy along the edges, and I don’t want to become the person who is really taxed by the TV Guide crossword puzzle (17 - Down: Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the ___). So teaching myself Latin from a book is all about forestalling chaos and entropy. Also, it would be cool to be able to read those mottos over doorways in the snotty East Coast prep schools we always see in movies. Here on the West Coast, our prep schools bore slogans like “Your father the entertainment lawyer underwrote this gym”.

Moving objects and entropy prevention haven’t always been my main objectives. In my twenties, I worked for a lunatic. Is my using the word “lunatic” an exaggeration? Not at all. In a sector of the entertainment industry where everyone is crazy, when I mentioned that I worked for this person, others would making that hissing gasp between their teeth which indicates sympathy and ask softly “Wow. The stories aren’t true, are they?” In fact, they were true. This person had several assistants quit before 10:00 am their first day. I once heard this person throwing a tantrum in the office when I pulling up outside. At that time in my career, my Standard Operating Procedure was:

1.Hide, and if found,
2.Lie.

I must admit this was not my most attractive phase, but I was pretty much prey in that office. And I did live long enough to breed, so it must have been a successful adaptation.

In another phase of my life, my SOP was:

1.Wait for audition.
2.See #1.

This is what an actor’s life looks like when you have nothing else which requires your attention, and no one is relying on you. It’s fun to be that unfettered for a while, but then I started worrying about hitting my head on a cabinet in the kitchen, lapsing into unconsciousness and being eaten by Bella, my roommate’s sullen Persian cat. This roommate was fun, but the cat would have noticed my cold and stiff body a week before he would have.

I don’t lead that life anymore. All the living things in my life require my attention, and I like it that way. The downside is that I now do a lot of things which seem modest and small. Even silly. But every one I care for is getting their basic needs met.

The quadrupeds have shiny fur and are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

The bipeds laugh frequently and are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

The 800 number is mine again.

I’m feeling almost good enough to take on that discrepancy in our gas bill.

6 Comments:

Blogger Mel said...

Great post. (I haven't read any Sue Grafton novels, either.)

4:18 PM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

These days, with two weeks to go before my due date, if I accomplish ANYTHING, I'm thrilled. Today's big accomplishment was getting nursing bras. Yeehaw!

BUT, my friends at NOHO Modern, Thomas and Jeremy, have made me proud. They have taken in a family from the Hurricane, and begun a blog to let everyone know how their new friends are doing. It is http://katrinahurricanelosangeles.blogspot.com/

I know the hurricane and all its consequences are on your mind, too, from a previous post, so I thought I'd just bring this one a little closer to home.

I also know that Echo Park Animal Alliance are collecting pet stuff to mail out massive care packages early next week. Anyone who wants me to forward that info to them, just check my site and use that address.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Rebecca, nursing bras are deeply important and should never be underestimated as an achievement (I was going to say "Nursing bras are huge", but changed my mind).

Thanks for the Echo Park info. I am actually picking up someone's spare dog crate this morning, and will get it over to them.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous DC said...

In these troubling times, it's a blessing to be able to worry about small things.

The fight against entropy is a good fight, and some things just gotta get moved...

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Rebecca said...

Here's the text of the Echo Park Animal Alliance info for those who don't know it already:

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has furnished an itemized list of needed items to assist the animals and the rescuers/caretakers affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Echo Park Animal Alliance and Glendale Humane Society have set-up three locations to serve as drop-off points for donations.

Silver Lake area:
1213 Silver Lake Blvd at Sunset (behind Silver Sun Liquor)
Hours for drop-offs: 8am -11am Thursday & Friday, noon - 4pm Saturday
call first: 323-661-3473

Echo Park area:
2237 Avon St. near Cerro Gordo (3 blocks east of Echo Park Ave, 1+ miles North of Sunset Blvd)
Hours for drop-offs: after 7:30pm on Wednesday and Friday evening, or Saturday 8:30 - 9:30am, or after 2:30pm.  Otherwise, items can be left in the driveway (just pop them over the gate) or by the front door which is hidden from street view. 

Glendale area:
Glendale Humane Society
717 West Ivy Street
(818) 242-1128
Hours for drop-offs: 10am - 4pm,  every day through the month of September.

There is a complete list of what they need at http://news.bestfriends.org

11:01 PM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

Quinn,

Okay that made me laugh! Some nursing bras ARE huge, which is why I went out to the Wizard of Bras in Monrovia. (http://home.flash.net/~bras/) Let's just say [i]they[/i] had what I needed...

11:06 PM  

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