Tuesday, June 18, 43 A.B.

Day 366

It's now been just over a year since I first saw the house I currently live in.

FYI: If you don't live in a house, there are very few other things you can do with it.

FYI #2:  It doesn't feel like it's been a year since I first saw this particular house.  Maybe that's because I slept through about a third of it?  Maybe it's because I've spent much of the rest of the last twelve months thinking about other things?

I don't know.  Truth is, I'm not sure what a year feels like anymore.  And I have to look at each one pretty close before I can remember its name....

There was a time when years seemed orderly and understandable - like so many Tupperware bowls stacked neatly in the cupboard of my life.  At some point the years changed to dirty plates, scattered willy-nilly all over the house.  Tracking down the one I've eaten off of most recently is a chore; determining from the crusty residue exactly what it was I ate often seems impossible....

FYI #3: You can't hoard a year, or herd a year, or teach it to jump through a hoop.  The best you can do is invite it to brunch and hope it shows up, like I did today.  It turned out to be an interesting experience....

"You seem to have changed this house," I delicately broached the subject that was foremost in my mind after having plied my guest with eggs, tofu sausage, and strawberry-filled crepes.  "I've looked and looked for the house I knew 12 months ago.  It's nowhere to be found."

"It's your mind playing trick on your consciousness again," the year gruffly informed me without bothering to swallow first.  "New things are overwhelmingly new until you learn to separate the important from the unimportant data they're pelting you with and you've internalized the results.  You know - you need to map the new terrain.  And once you've mapped that terrain, that map forever comes between you and it.  In a very real sense, you've forgotten the raw reality of your house and are now only dealing with your map of it.  That's why you think there are two different houses.  There are!  But I didn't have anything to do with their creation.  Your mind simply took the chaotic newness of the one you first encountered and transformed it into something else - something easier to handle.  Something 'familiar.'  And now you can never really go back to the chaos.  But you could at least get off your duff and get me some sugar for this coffee."

"Oh, sure thing," I replied, getting up and going to my office to draw up a list of the concrete changes I'd made to the house since I moved into it.  I was in no mood to continue talking to a year that made me feel intellectually inferior.  And I didn't know how to explain to it that all the sugar I possessed had been pre-drooled on.

That list ended up looking something like this:

1)  Painted the interior except for the room with the trompe l'oeil bees swarming around the light switch.  (I've lost count of the number of trompe l'oeil bee stingers I've tried to dig out of my fingers.)

2)  Have spread Scotts-brand weed-and-feed granules on the lawn three times now - yet have managed to feel guilty about doing so at least 7 times.

3)  Replaced the stove after not being able to figure out how to open its oven door.  (If YOU ever sell a house, be sure YOU leave all the appliance manuals behind for the benefit of the new owner!)

4)  Fixed the shingles on the barn roof WITHOUT falling off the ladder and breaking my neck.  Afterwards, while waiting for the cold sweat to dry a bit before going inside, I re-examined my belief that every structure on earth more than 10' high must have been built by ancient alien visitors using a technology far beyond my comprehension.

5)  Put down 15 brick pavers in front of the barn doors to keep my feet from sinking into the mud when I go to the barn in the rain.  Now when it rains, I get to enjoy the sight of 15 brick pavers sinking into the mud instead.

6)  Put in 5 stepping stones between the patio and the 15 brick pavers in front of the barn doors just to make it a bit easier to go and watch those pavers sinking into the mud when heavy rain makes it difficult to see them from the kitchen window.

7)  Planted 5 male ferns along the north side of the house; checked on them every morning to make sure no passing female ferns had successfully lured them into their sportscars during the night.

8)  Took down 180' of rusty chain-link fence along the south side of my lot and put it out for our regular garbage men to haul away after discreetly hiding it all beneath an extra-large pizza box.  Giggled at the sight of these garbage men actually falling for my ruse and hauling the fence away - and then licking their fingers!

9)  Planted a 38" tall lilac bush in front of the 80' tall power line pole in the middle of the back yard in an attempt to hide the pole.  Doesn't work quite as well as expected, but the wonderful fragrance of the lilac blossoms DID take my mind off the 60,000-volt lines for about ten minutes on May 10th.

10)  Planted 2 so-called burning bushes along the south side of the garage.  This autumn, they ought to turn a blazing red - even sooner if I can remember to get some red nail polish the next time I go to the drug store.

11)  Finished picking up the last of the green plastic Easter grass the previous owners had left strewn across the front yard.  Sure, it took me longer to get it all than it took others to clear the World Trade Center site, but you've got to remember that they were permitted to use cranes and bulldozers.

There - now that I've convinced myself that all these changes have resulted in a house that really ISN'T the same one I first saw a year ago, I can get to what I really want to say:

I dreamt I had an Afro the other night.

A reddish-blond Afro.

"You look like a very poor carbon copy of a black person," my wife told me when she saw it.

And then the squirrels living in my basement expressed their opinion by trotting upstairs and attacking me.

Which just proves that old adage about how it's better to have brunch with even the rudest of years than to try to sleep your life away....

Especially if your sleeping brain doesn't have the good sense to give you dreadlocks.

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(©Now by DJ Birtcher while his wife helpfully holds the ladder)

(©Again by DJ O'Brother, the world's first faux Irish rapmeister)

(Click on the above image for a list of all 49 episodes,
any one of which is far more visually appealing than this entry)