Monday, May 18, 2009


My carpenter fantasy came true today, albeit with pressed board rather than real wood. Either way, I helped build something with a real hammer and nails. It seems to be standing, at least a few hours in. It was a great way to start the week. Monday mornings should be about accomplishing something right off the bat, to start out feeling useful, like there really was a reason to get out of bed and out of the house much as you'd liked to have stay under the covers, inside.

I stared at the many components and contents of the cardboard box with the school librarian, who I help out as part of the PTA, who has become a friend. We were both afraid, daunted by the task of putting together this little shelving unit, of focusing so early in the morning, first thing. Really, we had both put it off for a week, who am I kidding? Doing things you don't want to do is always daunting, you will always put it off as long as possible. But it is my job. My son Oscar disses me all the time for having quit my real job, is so proud that I "work" at the school. I can't disappoint him. Or my friend, the librarian, who needs me for moral and physical support as she tries to do three jobs, like most people in the public school system.

"Ok," I said, feeling like I did when my son Eli demanded that I, not a paid instructor, teach him to ski. "I can do this. We can do this." And we did. Roughly 45 satisfying minutes later, it was done. Not perfectly, as we learned some lessons too late along the way, but pressboard is forgiving, luckily, and the expectations for this item were low given its shockingly bad quality. Mission accomplished! Hopefully it will not be one of the many examples of taxpayer money gone to waste. Hopefully it will help the awesome librarian be more awesome.

I whistled as I walked to the cafe, feeling deserving of my morning coffee and moment's rest before the gym. As I sat, enjoying the cool air, listening to my iPod, reading a fellow student's memoir for class tomorrow, I felt a tap. The stranger next to me was alerting me that my phone was ringing its porn-sounding "Rough" ring, annoying him I'm sure.

"Thanks!" I said, "Sorry!"

"No problem," he said, clearly meaning it. I noticed he was drinking out of an artsy, homey mug, not the white Chinette of the cafe.

"Cool mug," I said. "Did you bring that from home?"

"Yeah," he said. "In case I don't finish, I don't want to have to use paper."

It launched us into a discussion about staying or going, being relaxed or in a rush. For a long time, I told him, I hadn't felt like I'd had coffee unless it was in a paper cup, even if I was staying. It was an on-the-go mindset. Now, I'm the opposite. We both agreed that the best thing is probably having the flexibility of spirit to handle both well, to rush when you need to rush, rest when you have the time to rest. It would be the best of both worlds. It is something we're both striving for.

He is building an urban forest in his backyard, around the corner from the cafe. He has suffered a major loss recently, of his mother, and is intent on growing things, on seizing life. He is studying and learning all about trees. He loves it. He is communing with the earth and it is making him feel, if not better, at least at peace in moments, I imagine. It is giving him much-needed solace and clarity at a time when it would be all too easy to give himself over to fear and panic. I gave him his gold star happily. He is working hard. I hope for him that his garden grows. I need one of my own. Today, I'll have to settle for building a pressboard shelf. It feels like enough. For now.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done. Now that you're the master carpenter, maybe you can build us a new bed frame. Any old growth trees in your friend's forest?