Monday, January 28, 2002

Crash Boom Bah

Visitors to my house are as unlikely to compliment me on my taste in decor as they are the warmth of my house. One thing I do hear however is how clean I keep my home. Call me Howard Hughes but I just can't stand clutter. It bothers me when my mail sits on my kitchen table rather than the ten feet away chair that is designated to hold my unpaid bills and unread magazines.

Over the years I learned the secret to a non-cluttered environment is to jam everything you can't deal with into your closets. If it's out of sight it may not ever be out of mind for us obsessive types but at least it's hidden from the people you love most. Frustration sets in however whenever something needs to be found and then you have to dig not only through piles of crap, but unorganized piles of crap at that.

I haven't reached the depths of Fibber McGee quite yet but the other day when I was digging through the closet I was truly a bit afraid for my life fearing I was risking being buried alive. I didn't exactly find what I was looking for (I never quite do) but nonetheless at the back of my bedroom closet sat an item I had kind of sadly forgotten about and set aside. It was one of the last gifts my Mom was responsible for giving me.

As long as I remember my Mom liked putting together jigsaw puzzles. I remember as a little tike the day Mom tried to teach me some of the tricks in assembling all the jumbled pieces into a whole. She showed me how to pick out the pieces with a straight side to put together the edgy shell of the frame first and then fill in the rest later. I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment whenever I could dig through the 1,000 pieces and find a piece with one straight side. I wouldn't have a clue where to plug the piece in but it seemed to help Mom that I had found the one piece she was looking for.

I have never had the patience (or is it lacking the skill?) to finish a puzzle all by myself. The little surprise I found at the back of my closet was a framed completed glued together jigsaw puzzle my Mom had done, the picture of a panoply of kitties. Next to the finished puzzle sat a bunch of old puzzles Mom had sent home with me to give to my friend at the time, the World's Greatest Soccer Player, who had recently expressed a love for doing jigsaw puzzles. Somehow I never got around to giving her the puzzles Mom had carefully selected for a person she never met.

Two of my best friends in life happen to be M.D.'s. They're not doctors, they don't even play them on TV (although both have personally witnessed enough of my neurosis to qualify for some sort of honorary degree), those just happen to be their initials. Their opinions to me are gold, they matter more than just about anyone else in my life. Thus when both made movie recommendations to me I made an effort to put aside my boycott of motion pictures (a piece, missing or not left behind by the aforementioned WGSP) to set aside some time to watch the two films.

About a year ago I was talking to M.D. #1 about my attempting to write a novel. I was in a mode of jotting down notes and sketching out an outline of a plot of a story- about a fiction writer who suffers through a writer's block only to take up non-fiction writing to get him through his troubles. After much thought I decided to change the profession of the character to a painter who becomes frightened of the consequences of his work and who takes up photography to work his way through his loss. I asked my friend if she thought this was plausible and she told me to watch the Michelle Pfeiffer movie The Deep End of the Ocean which is basically a story of a family who loses a son, but also has a subplot about the mother who is a photographer who loses her ability to shoot pictures because the reminders of the emotions of her art are too painful to endure.

More recently I was talking to M.D. #2 whose opinions on pop culture I have learned not to ignore. She raved about seeing the French movie Amelie, about the uplifting story and the wondrous cinematography work. I made it a point to take my last day off for too long a while to see the movie. Though it may not live up to the billing as the "greatest movie of all time" I indeed was entertained by an always amusing film.

The movie is about an unconventional woman who revels in her quirky nature by devoting her life to doing small and seemingly unnoticeable acts that makes the lives of others in her world just a little bit happier. She ultimately finds her own purpose in her separation and isolation from others by finding another outcast who has devoted his life to finding a ghost with an affinity for having his picture taken, but finds a logical explanation instead. It reminded me of the mood I was in when I left the sole party I'll probably attend this year where I found myself sitting awkwardly on a futon couch with my feet far from the ground noticing, painfully for a while but comfortably after some thought, that I was the only one wearing white socks. Unfashionable? Perhaps. Unable to speak? As always. Increasingly comfortable in my own skin? Yup. The edge pieces firmly in place, the bigger picture more in focus.

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