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6:16 p.m. - 2012-03-19

The most useful thing I've gotten recently was a big package of clothespins. Dead handy. I don't have an outdoor clothesline. Wish I did. Had one at the old house and I loved it. The property here is simply too steep, anything bigger than a sock would drag on the ground. Plus my washer lives in the cellar. The cellar stairs are a horror- narrow, oddly pitched and irregular (they were homebuilt a zillion years ago) I have to duck my head to get up and down them, the ceiling's too low. To haul a heavy basket of wet laundry up those terrible stairs, through two doors that have to be opened and then shut behind me so the cats don't get out, and carry the basket up the hill and way out back to the only place in the whole yard level enough where a clothesline could possibly, no. I do a lot of air drying with stuff hung on hangers, the cellar has plenty of exposed pipes to hang things from if the load isn't too heavy, but an outdoor line is a total no-go. Even one of those umbrella dealies. So it never occured to me to buy clothespins until recently.

I bought them specifically to clip the curtains in the bedroom out of the way of the window a/c unit. But once I had them I saw how useful they are. I've got clothespins doing all sorts of jobs. Keeping opened bags of noodles and cereal shut tight. I love my pashminas but they are slippery devils, the clothespins are doing a wonderful job of keeping the pashminas on their hangers. I have papers and coupons bundled with clothespins. I mated up all the winter gloves and secured the pairs with a clothespin each before tucking them away for the season. You get the idea.

I didn't bring this up to be a showboat about what a Clever Gretel I am- mating gloves and using a clothespin instead of a binder clip is hardly brain trust stuff- it's just that the clothespins put me to thinking about how some things can just move into your life with such ease and are so damn handy that you wonder why it took so long to think of getting some.

I thought about Jean Kerr lamenting over how the last of her kids' cloth diapers had finally shredded away to nothing and what wonderful dust cloths the diapers were and how sorry she was she wouldn't be having any more kids and thus scoring a whole new set of dust cloths. Then how she laughed at herself when she realized she didn't have to have another baby to get new diapers, duh, she could just go buy diapers to use as dust cloths right from the start.

Sometimes the obvious escapes even the brightest of minds.

Lord knows I'm no Jean Kerr. I don't know if I could find the funny if I had six kids, let alone marshall the mental resources to write down their antics, and churn out a couple of award winning Broadway plays to boot. I can relate to her though, if for no other reason than she was a large woman too, and wrote eloquently about how women of her height and girth were entirely ignored by clothing retailers. Her riff on having to wear the same ratty tweed suit for 17 years because she couldn't find a new one that fit makes me laugh and nod with teary-eyed recognition every time.

No worries, I'm not going to go off on one of my 'LA is a sasquatch' boo hoo pity parties. Not when I can whine about what a bitch it is to let my hair grow out.

Which I am, and it is a bitch. Despite finding the wonderful Carmen who can be trusted with my coif, I've got a bug up my butt to have a bob. I've bitten the bullet and have made it about halfway there. The layers are growing out nicely and even the shortest pieces of my mop are almost covering my ears already. One of the best perks about being a bum is being free of the obligation to look decent on a regular basis. If I had to go out to a job every day looking this bad I couldn't handle it, but the life of an artistic hermit might not pay well but it does allow one a great deal of freedom when it comes to dress and grooming.

Why a bob? No specific reason other than I got tired of pointy hair. I'm over my pointy hair thing. I don't feel the need to be so fierce anymore. Plus I've put on an appalling amount of weight and having super short hair leaves too much face hanging out. I have a big old Charlie Brown punkin head with jowls and an ugly wobble of sagging double chin. It's not disguise, the bob, there's no hiding this mess of drooping fatty yuck that used to be my face and neck, but there's no need to advertise either. A nice swingy longer hairdo will help balance things.

I also miss having hair with options. With a bob I can wear it straight or push it back with an Alice band or tuck it behind my ears or part it differently or put some clips or barrettes in it. With pointy hair it's spiked with gel or it's a flat mess. No in-between. The bob is akin to how my basic wardrobe is jeans and plain tops in black, white, or grey, and then I change things around with the accessories. It's cool how tying a scarf around my waist or neck or tossing a pashmina over my shoulder can liven things up so much.

I don't know. I'm slogging along through so many changes these days. Menopause is a biggie, but it's not the only thing. How I see myself is in flux. My active duty Mom days are rapidly drawing to a close. The ground and the future about who I love and where I live are solidifying beneath my feet and I like it. So, so much of the bullshit and strife that pushed me along for most of my life is gone now. And I like that too. I'm closing in on 50, which isn't a bad thing at all, but for me it's a time of drawing inward and letting go of a whole lot of outside influence and judgment. The autonomy of deciding for myself about who I am, what I do, and what I want- all free from perceived societal expectation and 'must be, must do' goals is both delightful and scary.

Since I was a tot I've mourned over what an outsider I was. God knows, starting with my parents I had my nose snubbed in what a disappointing failure I was to them. To society. To the norm. Never allowed in to the 'right' way to be, everything about me from my physical size to my mushy sentimental heart was wrong. Like Jean Kerr and her tweed suit I had to make do because there just weren't any other options available. Nothing fit.

And now by dint of age and experience I'm cut loose from buying off the rack about everything. Ain't nobody looking at the tubby old lady. No one cares. YAY!

I have my life's mate at last. I've raised two sons- one badly, but with everything I had at the time and maybe someday he'll forgive me and call to say, "Hi." The other is doing so well it's sometimes difficult to reconcile the wayward tantrum-ing awful child from before and the decent, kind, smart and funny guy he is today.

Then there's the messy, needy, in so much pain I couldn't breathe LA. That poor sad thing who was toting every bit of misplaced guilt and sorrow that one human being could hold. She is mostly gone, in her place is a happy, loved, accepted woman who's striking off into places unknown. Unknown, at least to me.

All I ever knew was wrongness. What I thought, what I wanted, how I saw the world and its people, all wrong, wrong, wrong. All I ever knew and was told was how I was ugly and took up too much space and demanded too much. Jam my face into the mess! How stupid I was! I thought I'd done right as a wife. Wrong! The first one blacked my eye and the second one made a sport of holding love and affection just out of my reach for 25 years. Making me jump for it like a pathetic poodle. And I did.

I thought I was a good mother and I wrong about that too. Alex is horribly unhappy and dissatisfied- with life, with the deal he got, with me and all my failures. That his father is a complete asshole and do-nothing doesn't ever enter the picture. On some level Alex knows how useless and stupid his father is, but me? Alex has always expected better from me. And believes he got a really raw deal. But I couldn't have been wholly incompetent. Alex has straight, cavity-free teeth. He's never been beaten or addicted to a drug or even had a broken bone. He graduated high school with a decent academic average and a varsity letter in more than one sport. He's mastered and can play several musical instruments and participated in everything from marching band to jazz ensemble. He has a bachelor's degree. He owns his own home. He manages a restaurant and has the free time and money to pursue a master's degree. Except for the high school diploma I never got any of those avantages and I'm doing okay. What the hell did/does he want from me? More than my best efforts provided, that's obvious.

Yet Wolf's okay. Tougher than his brother, I suppose.

Wow, we've come a long way from clothespins. Yet, not really. Those humble tools which have added so much convenience to and have so many uses in my life can also stand in for how love, age, and perspective are making everything so much easier now. Took me a long time to throw that package of clothespins into my basket at the dollar store, but, damn, I'm glad I did.

In a metaphoric frame of mind, ~LA

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