Letter P is for the pandemonium in a day and inside a head.
A to Z entries: My post for each letter of the alphabet will be anecdotes or musings based on an element from the previous letter’s post. Names always changed, events always real.
~ Letter O was for Ongoing and correspondence to do with the aftermath of 9/11, which not without its share of…pandemonium. ~
Today was particularly busy: Cleaning for the cleaning lady before she, the blessed lifesaver, arrived. Doing away with snowboard gear strewn about like after-carnival discards. Out-of-town guest arrival. Academic counselor appointment — good thing I’m expert at cancelling. The whir of my stopless mind.
And, my P post.
I had one planned. In fact, it would’ve been called Planning vs. Playing. But that would’ve been too involved. So as I tidied up and scrutinized my eyebrows in the mirror with a tweezer, my mind did its usual round of random words starting with a given letter.
The shortage of topics is never my problem; the surfeit is. Hence, the A to Z Challenge to flush out clutter and debris from my brain.
So the letter P.
And washing the dishes, taking out the garbage and changing the sheets. I couldn’t have him, my out-of-town guest, see how I really lived.
Soon the sweet girl would arrive with her scouring agents and dust cloths. Must get dressed. Glancing in the bathroom mirror, thinking hard…P is for Pancreas — wait, what? Just pluck the stray eyebrow. Tucking in the laces of my snowboard boots…P is for Perseverance — ugh no, that’ll overlap too much with my Q for Quitting post. (When will that get done?)
P is for Petless. I really want to do Petless, but I have too many cute animal stories, and I’ll annoy myself if I don’t get them all in.
“Annoy” is an understatement. That touch of OCD kicks in hard with my need to organize and list every like item in one place.
And I needed to do justice to little Magenta, the palm-sized, black kitty I snuck in my room for all of thirty-six hours when I was a teenager. Magenta, the angel-devil, who slept when I slept, all day, curled up on my shoulder. Magenta, who sometimes nuzzled and played, and other times remained chill and independent, like a furbally mirror to my own soul. The darling that filled every companion-seeking hollow in my heart.
Perfect Magenta, that I had to give back, because way in the other rooms, where no one was the wiser, my younger brother’s wheezing became worse and worse. When my parents were about to take him to the hospital, I finally accepted there was nothing psychosomatic about my poor brother’s cat allergy.
And what about that other black kitten I bought for a dollar at the flea market, years later when I had my own apartment? The mousy woman who handed her to me was all in black too, and took a dollar from me so that I would “take the transaction seriously.” Suffice it to say, by the end of the day, I was thankful she had given me her phone number in case there were “problems.”
The kitten’s fur was sparse and dull, but I didn’t pay much attention to that. As soon as I brought her home, she had a fit. She was terrified of her own reflection in my black-lacquered piano, and refused to take comfort from me. In a word, she hated me. She squirmed out of my hold and ran around like an animated inkblot, jumping and hissing at every object. There was no winning her over. We lasted six hours together, and then I called the woman. I wore a scarf around my shoulder like a sling, put the kitten in it and walked to her old home.
The woman’s apartment was filled with incense, candles and…pentacles. She was a witch, wannabe or otherwise. And she had four healthy-looking, shiny black familiars running around. They were brothers and sisters to the runt of the bunch writhing in my scarf, the antithesis to my perfect Magenta. P is for Petless.
So maybe I don’t have to get all my animal stories in.
At the end of today, I was out and about with my guest, when the cleaning lady called me from my own apartment. She told me she felt awful, but she had accidentally broken my turquoise vase.
I hastened to tell her not to worry.
But only so she’d get off the phone before hearing the heartbreak in my voice.
P is for…Patience.
A few weeks ago, there was an earthquake at 4 a.m, and my first instinct had been to jump out of bed and grab that same turquoise vase.
The vase belonged to S. It had traveled with me on an airplane from New York to Los Angeles, rolled in bubble wrap and clothes, fourteen years ago when S. was still alive.
The vase had been what clued me in to my very first earthquake in 1999 when I watched it microscopically hop on the dresser. Now, in subsequent earthquakes, it was the only object I ever grabbed.
It survived travel, airplanes and earthquakes, but not the cleaning lady. Please don’t worry, I repeated to her.
I hung up the phone, blood-drained. My guest gave me a squeeze, and I kept telling myself, it’s just a thing, the vase is a thing…
When we got home, my apartment had a familiar smell. Was it…Krazy Glue?
Then I saw bright turquoise like I always did when I walked in, and I was elated: The vase was sitting intact on its usual spot.
I grabbed and hugged it. The shoddy, unflush glue-job was unimportant in light of not finding tragic, broken pieces. I even laughed, thinking there was something oddly right about it, scarred up yet whole. The first person who’d have appreciated such thinking was S.
My guest was sincerely happy for me. This touched me so much, it left me with no will to drag myself away from him to write the still-looming P post.
But I pushed through.
In the end, with the perfect and imperfect pets, panic, glued-together pieces, and even a little perseverance, I still don’t have a true P post. Only pandemonium.
But I’m not unhappy.
~ Part of the A to Z Challenge ~
A post a day except Sunday for the month of April to cover topics beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
Cathartic Monkeyism returns in May.
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