The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


There comes a time when there is no escaping it. The personal living space must be straightened out, dusted off, wiped down and made presentable to the outside world. For some it is easier than for others. Some folks just dust off the top of the refrigerator, run the vacuum around the room long enough to scare the cat, spray and wipe down the bathroom porcelain, and empty the trash. They are ready for visitors. For the rest of us -- well, we have more stuff than we have places to put that stuff, and not all of that stuff should be seen by visiting eyes. Underwear and personal enrichment cassettes aside, there are things we own that we just don't need others to know about us.

Nobody needs to know I own an iron and an ironing board. Like my thirty year old sewing machine and vintage sewing supplies, this says things about me I would prefer to keep to myself: I do not sew well, (nor often) and I iron every ten months or so. These things must be out of the visitor's line of vision. No one needs to see the wonderful grapevine basket full of purple yarn and a 3/4 finished crib blanket that I started 'way back when my second-to-the last grandson was born. Since him, there has been another grandson, a great grandson, three great granddaughters, and several friends with babies that have entered my life and the purple crib blanket is still unfinished. No one needs to see it, no matter how good, how domestic, how 'designer placed' it looks in its grapevine basket next to the book case.

No one needs to know I have a table fountain and some wonderful stones upon which the water tumbles in what my cat believes is surely her own personal water fountain. Where I live, the water is extremely limey -- and a deposit forms almost immediately on the stones. I''ve tried diluting the water with vinegar, but Liberty the Cat is totally opposed to this, and besides, the aroma of vinegar counteracts the tranquillity of such a fountain in the first place. I should probably give it away -- the fountain, I mean -- and be done with it. But you know, I have wanted one of those things for years and years, and when I bought it, several years ago on e-bay, I got such a deal! I could buy bottled water specifically for the fountain, but I suspect some of the stones are limey, because when I tried it (once, a long time ago) the lime deposit was delayed only a day or two. No one needs to see this decrepit fountain. And if I put it in the closet, I have to take something else OUT of the closet, and I can't figure out what that item should be.

I suppose I could take the old stereo I bought, complete with speakers, at the flea market some ten years (or more) ago out of the closet. I bought it because it had a turntable, and I have (why does this not surprise you?) a collection of vinyl records. All that is wrong with the stereo is that the belt that goes on the turntable needs to be put back in place. I mean, the belt is THERE, it just needs to be put in place. But even if I find someone to put the belt in place and I can actually listen to my vinyl records - even record some of them to cassette! -- I will have a problem. All the vinyl records I have stashed in cupboards and cabinets and in the bottom of the closet will have to move out where I can get to them. That means anyone who comes to call will notice that I own such vinyl as Rod McKuen, Mystic Moods Orchestra, Gershwin -- as well as jazz and rock classics, a smattering of classical music, and a Robert Frost reading Robert Frost record. I am not sure I want others to know that much about me.

Besides, if I take the vinyl out of the cabinets and cupboards and from the bottom of the closet, I will have to put something else in those places. Not a problem. I have boxes, dishpans full (hey, it is a fine filing method) and plastic storage containers full of poems, parts of poems, copies and re-writes of poems, and Other People's Poems that I am fond of. But if I put all these scraps and semi-finished chapbooks and poems-on-napkins and such in the cupboards and cabinets, how will I get to them when I have a few minutes and want to work with them? Most likely I would just start another pile of them somewhere...

There are other things, of course, that I wish to keep to myself. Correspondence (often in the same or adjacent dishpan as poems and poem parts) and family pictures, the scrapbook my daughter thinks I should be keeping, the journals (ditto) and notebooks scattered about which speak volumes about me without a sound; the strings I hang from lamps and doorknobs to amuse my cat; the tarnish on the silver plated platter upon which I feed my cat; the assortment of books I have begun and left about the place (who needs to know I actually skimmed "Growing Up Brady" by Whatsisname, who played Greg on the show?) and read in bits and pieces? Or the cuttings I acquired from the courtyard downstairs that are beginning to root in cute little pots my window?

Anyway, it is a challenge -- and I have until 2 PM Friday to make my little apartment 'inspection ready.' Because this here is an efficiency apartment ina Public Housing building, I am supposed to be inspected at least annually. I have been certified to begin my third year here, and no one yet has inspected my apartment. Ever. But there is a new management staff, and these folks seem more efficient than their predecessors, so I feel I am doomed, this time.

I am still writing from the computer lab, not my apartment, and I look forward to the weekend. My apartment, having been made inspection ready (by then) will host a techie inclined friend (who built my computer for me in the first place) to install an (are you ready?) updated version of XP on my machine, and track down the connection problems I have been having. My friend has recently had his heart broken (again) and I think I will do something creative with a chicken and listen to him weep over dinner. It's the least I can do!

I hope to continue this no later than Monday (June 20) from the comfort of my own chair in front of my own computer in my own apartment, which, having been made visitor ready, somehow, will have a semi- open door policy. I still intend to keep at least one day a week to myself -- no visitors, no anything. But I will be able to write and blog as I choose again.

It may well be worth the trouble.


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