February 28, 2011
I’m running out of February!
Gypped out of two or three days of it
by calendrical machinations over the course of human history, I find myself facing March in approximately three hours. The first of the month is always a time to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Too bad I can’t find my boots. I have some ten pairs, the whereabouts of any of them unknown at this time. None, I suspect, are sequestered with their mates. Some, I imagine, are stuffed into one of three closets, others dragged somewhere by one of three cats. None are accessible like a fireman’s ready gear as I hurry to board some transportation to some destination for some assignation.
At the author’s local firehouse,
SUCH IS MY LIFE.
But why? Why do I relinquish control of my surroundings until even the producers of “Hoarders” have seen nothing like it? There is an underlying order and even charm to my living spaces, born of treasure hunting on world-wide wanderings from Thrift Town to Rio to Beijing. What starts out as cozy eclecticism steadily devolves into cluttered hazardous chaos with no discernible path of travel.
MY FANTASTIC DREAM
of “a place for everything and everything in its place” is a reality of not enough space for anything and everything in any old place, wherever it last landed, and all of it covered with cat hair. I am both lazy and easily overwhelmed, and it’s so easy to sink into one of the several soft spots around the house till I need a crane to pull me out of it. And when there are 35 pounds of cat on top of me, moving is a major disruption to household equilibrium.
SO I MUST CART THE FLEXIBLE MONTH OF FEBRUARY
around with me, to make the adjustments I need to the space/time continuum to carry things out in the fullness of time. Luckily I know just where my copy of David Berman’s The Portable February is, a compilation of nonsensical or incomprehensible doodles depicting the confusion, absurdity and silliness of life as we know it. There’s a sketch much like me, for instance, an overstuffed blob in an overstuffed chair, captioned, “Death just sitting around with no one to kill.”
SO INSTEAD I KILL TIME
which, as H.D. Thoreau put it, is to slay eternity. But I remind myself that February doesn’t actually crash-land and collide with March, that time does not pass, it flows, and that calendars are just a grid of cells that people fill with the routines of one day and the next, a prison in which I’ve already served my time. I invoke the magic of the Mensis Intercalaris, an adjustable number of days inserted between February and March by ancient Romans to suit their own purposes.
SO I AM NOT, AFTER ALL, RUNNING OUT OF FEBRUARY.
Instead, I am giving myself as much February as I need to suit myself. I turn to a passage in a book I picked up on the street to see what it held for me. It reads, “I used to struggle a great deal over my perception of not having enough time. I would rush around trying to get everything done. I blamed my schedule, my family, my circumstances, and anything else I could think of for my plight. Then it dawned on me. If I wanted to be happy, my goal didn’t necessarily have to be to organize my life perfectly so that I had more time, but rather to see if I could get to the point where I felt it was okay that I didn’t get everything done that I felt I must.”
THE BOOK, I KID YOU NOT
is Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff, by Richard Carlson, Ph.D., which I found on a window ledge on the way to see Philip Glass’s Orphée at the Herbst Theater. It reminds me I don’t need to post a column in February, because there is no February, no March, no time but the present moment, the one in which I’m writing this, and you’re reading it. It takes place in the mensis intercalaris of my mind, aka The Twilight Zone.
The author’s 35 pounds of cat,
I did, you know. Publish this in what y'all call February.
copyright Alexandra Jones 2011