Monday, January 11, 1999

Pennies from Heaven

My friend promised me that if I got a job she would come over and help me clean out and organize my closets. So with this extra bit of incentive I decided that yes indeed, it was time to end my retirement. This past week I took a position with the Senate Publications Office (for those of you who HAVE to read every word I write you can see my work at: True to her word, my friend was over on Saturday to work on the project I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

I have a bit of a secret. The reason my house looks as clean as it does is that everything of clutter is thrown into my limited closet space. There is stuff stored in my closets that I haven't looked at since moving into my house three years ago. Darn if my friend didn't do a miraculous job. She reorganized my closets to better organize my clothes. She showed me how to properly fold my pants so that I don't end up looking like a hobo. She even suggested buying a pants hanyer (or as we Maeda's say, "hanger." Since when is a "G" silent I ask?) which can hold multiple pairs of slacks and a tie rack to organize my impressive collection of hideous neckwear.

So as I prepare to begin my new job on Monday I may still have the same old clothes but now I can better find them and they don't have a permanent wrinkled look to them. My appearance promises to dazzle all down at the State Capitol. I'll knock their socks off, and now that my own socks are neatly arranged, I may even have on a matching pair my own self.

My friend left with some further suggestions as to how I could reorganize my rooms and closets and furniture to get my money's worth from my space. So as I was rearranging some furniture (in between bouts of anxiety worrying about whether or not this is truly the time the Earth has broken out of its orbit and we are hurdling away from the sun- thus the frigid weather) I accidently bumped into my dresser and down crashed my whiskey bottle full (and I mean FULL) of pennies. Glass and pennies flew everywhere. Mr. Max proved he hasn't lost any of his reflexes. I've never seen a cat bolt out of a room faster. I spent the next hour trying to separate the glass from the pennies. It seemed like an insurmountable task and for a moment I seriously considered giving up and leaving the mess there- my own little version of what Ground Round does- only with pennies on the floor instead of peanuts.

Of course as I carefully separated the glass from the pennies I couldn't help but get a little philosophical about my blasted predicament. Life is like a jar of pennies. You save up in hopes of building up a nice nest egg. Most often throwing the pennies in the jar is an afterthought- you have nowhere else to put them. You never think what you collect will add up to much. But after a period of diligent saving you actually accumulate a nice little stash. (Heck I may have enough where I can put a nice down payment toward another whiskey bottle.)

But through clumsiness or laziness or lack of attention you bump into the savings you have taken for granted and it all comes crashing down. Now the valuables you have saved are mixed in with dangerous sharp pieces of glass- some so tiny you don't seem them until after they cut you. And it's up to you, and you alone, to clean up the mess that's left behind. You grab a plastic water pitcher you never use and begin to put the pennies inside. You fret that it doesn't look as impressive without the clear container that allows you to watch your collection grow. But you soon realize that the container isn't nearly as important as what is inside. It's the inside that most often matters.

One by one you gather up the pennies. You wonder if you'll ever be able to get them all bottled up again. Sooner than you expect the pile doesn't look so intimidating any more. You actually see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. And the moment eventually comes when you are done. You sweep up the glass and look at your dirty hands. You may have made the mistake of carelessness but you have corrected that mistake and you have the sweat and blackened palms to prove it. You've even learned a valuable lesson from your experience. Whoever said never put all your eggs in the same basket didn't have it quite right. It's more accurate advice to say you shouldn't put all your pennies in a glass whiskey bottle. And it is always quite helpful getting advice about what should and when you should come out of your closet.

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