A tisket, a tasket

A square white plastic basket sits on the hope chest in my bedroom as I write.  It vexes me.  Why?

Because it is filled with two new, empty three-ring binders whose destination remains a mystery.  (Home or school? I’ve asked my children repeatedly, but they won’t tell.)  Said basket also contains two wrinkled but clean white pillowcases , eight single socks (partners’ whereabouts unknown, natch), two pairs of matched running socks, and a pair of thick white McDonalds’ socks, begrudgingly purchased when I took my flip-flop wearing son to their Playland one day last summer.

This basket also boasts a slightly graying undershirt, a black notebook of Megan’s (school or home?  she won’t tell), a ziploc baggie holding numerous outdated pictures of my nieces and nephews (do I save/scrapbook/display/toss these darling photos?  Oh, the guilt, the guilt!), and a paper tulip that somehow fluttered away from the colorful bunch that Rachael made me for Mothers Day (do I save/scrapbook/display/toss this darling tulip?  Oh,  the wretched guilt!)  On top of all this lies an old swimsuit that my mom found while cleaning out her hot tub stuff and has been trying to pawn off on me for weeks.  (Previous owner:  unknown.)  It’s too big for Rachael, too small for me, really out of style and–need we say it?–who wants to wear a mysterious stranger’s castoff Lycra?  Think of where it once rubbed against her and will one day rub against me.  Really.

This basket was born of a need to transport various household items from downstairs to upstairs, because heaven forbid I make multiple trips.  I’d toss things in it throughout the day and then take the basket with me whenever I happened to be going upstairs.  This was a big organizational step for me and was working out quite nicely if I do say so myself.  On the basket’s most recent jaunt upstairs, however, something went awry and landed it atop the hope chest by my bed.  It sat there innocently enough until, on another one of my hurry-flurry days, I plopped the clean laundry basket down right beside it.  The contents of the latter basket began spilling over into that of the former but, ever distracted, I did nothing to stop the drainage.

A few days afterward and running late as usual, I dropped the faceless binders on the clean clothes with every intention of sorting it all out later and yet, later, I did nothing.  A week passed, and with a sidelong glance as I blew dry my hair one morning, I witnessed the paper tulip fall softly away from its sisters in the neighboring vase.  It fluttered and landed on the peak of clean laundry that now rested in the white basket, and yet?  I did nothing.  Shortly thereafter I was careless–but conscious–as I tossed the family pictures and used-up swimsuit onto the monstrous hump, and yet.  I did nothing.  I just walked by each day, watching The Pile grow and wondering how I would ever develop the organizational skills needed to rescue all of those lost children.  They had been abandoned to my negligence, and I could blame no one but myself.  This is what vexed me most of all.

And so.  Today, I look down at the basket with a mixture of pity and revulsion, and it looks back up at me with twenty pairs of vacant eyes, hungry for a home.  And I speculate:  in the time spent writing this post, do you think I could have cleaned out that basket?  Hmm.  I would have to say no.  No, certainly not.  Certainly discussing the finer points of this problem was much more productive than solving it.

In fact, I believe that emptying this basket has evolved into a tightly twisted logistical knot  that will take at least an entire Saturday to unravel.  I’d better look at it and think about it and write about it some more.  Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, my friends.  It takes two weeks for payday to roll around, nine months to birth a baby, and three hundred sixty-four days for Christmas to come back.  Who can put a deadline on Emptying the Square White Basket?  Please.  Don’t rush me.

I’m happy. No really, I am.

So I finally found my wedding ring.  Yesterday, as I was putting laundry away, it peeked up at me through a fuzzball on the carpeted closet floor.  Following the bright little sparkle with my eyes, I knelt down and captured it with that rush of relief one always feels upon recovering a lost item.  (I am keenly familiar with this feeling, as Losing Items is one of my special talents.)

As the day wore on and my initial relief passed, I tried to put a finger on my feelings.  I am happy.  No really, I am.  I suppose this means that I will not be getting a new wedding ring after all.  I suppose this means that I will not have to endure viewing row after row of glass-encased diamonds, deciding which size and sparkle suits my needs best.  (You know how hard decisions are for me.  Who needs it?)

I suppose this means Derrick won’t have to take out a loan to prove his enduring love to me and that I won’t have to wag my left hand up and down, up and down to say hi to all the girlfriends I run into at Walmart.  I suppose this means that I can prove to myself, once again, that I am not greedy and materialistic.  No really, I am not.

Such a relief.  Who needs a carat when you’ve got .3?  Who needs the latest designs and settings when you’ve got the best 1995 had to offer?  Who needs the diamond that your husband can buy you now when you’ve got the diamond he could afford as a junior in college?  Really, I’m too busy to be bothered.

And so happy to have my old ring back.  No really.  I am.

Trying so hard to fit in.

I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  It was fabulous.  Rebecca Skloot is who I want to be this week.  After reading it, I learned that it had been listed as the Best Book of 2010 in over sixty publications.  Wowza.  I had no idea I was keeping such good company.  I am shamefully unaware of what books are on the critics’ Best Lists; such lists overwhelm me with how many good books I should be, but am not, reading.  However, I am not surprised that this one is topping them all.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  You’ll feel smarter and look smarter for having done so (i.e., you’ll be glued to the book and will forget about showering and make-up.)  Enough said.

But after last week’s reading apex, I am now facing a thorny problem.  While perusing Best Lists in regards to Henrietta Lacks, I learned that the New York Times named Beloved, by Toni Morrison, the best piece of fiction written in the last twenty-five years.  This means that after a decade of resisting, I will, after all, have to read this book.  I’m sure it’s beautiful and important and life-changing, but it looks absolutely bone-chilling…and then some.  I like a little sadness, a little drama, when I read.  But I don’t like books that take me to the darkest part of humanity…and then a little further.  Beloved’s reviews alone make me bristle, and the fact that Miss Thang made a movie of it only reduced the book’s readability as far as I was concerned.  Responsible viewers do not mix gruesome dead slave stories with Harpo Productions.  You did nothing in your former life to deserve that, my friend.

And yet I want to read Beloved.  Although I generally rely on the recommendations of sharp friends rather than those of  dull critics, I must concede:  a lot of good books are out there, and if this one’s been heralded by multiple readers and writers as the best, I think it deserves at least a flip-through.

And so, my sharp friends:  Have any of you read Beloved?  Would you recommend it?  Would you read it with me?  I will not see the movie, but I may just have to read the book.  And turn on my nightlight.  And call in my anticipatory Zoloft prescription.  But only if my three faithfuls tell me it’s okay.  And that I will be okay.  Will I be okay?

I’m skeered.