Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, May 14, 2012

Countdown to the New Old House: Small Virtual World

Spent a good bit of my Mother's Day tilting at windmills, and by "windmills" I mean "the interiors of my new kitchen cabinets."  Doors to the cabinets open, me standing with my head tilted to one side, trying to figure out what is going to go where, and how far apart the shelves ought to be placed.

After this exercise, I created a short list of necessary cabinet organizing gadgets.  On the list:  a rack thingy (that's a technical term) to hold muffin tins and loaf pans on their sides, which I think will be much more user-friendly going forward than my current system of nesting things in other things. 

So I locate the one that I think I want, which, interestingly enough, is consistently identified on the Interwebs as the "RUBBERMAID 1H42 PAN ORGANIZER."  This description makes me laugh, because it is INCREDIBLY specific, and, also, because 1H42 makes me think of H1N1, giving rise to a visual of a housewife organizing pans containing vials of influenza virus.  This image in my head, in turn, makes me wonder, WHY DOES THAT WOMAN IN MY HEAD HAVE SO MUCH FLU VIRUS THAT IT'S NECESSARY FOR HER TO ORGANIZE IT?  AND DOES SHE REALLY THINK IT'S BEST TO ORGANIZE THE PANS OF FLU ON THEIR SIDES?

After that outburst, I probably don't need to explain that I'm not operating on a whole lot of sleep.


When I pull up the RUBBERMAID 1H42 PAN ORGANIZER on Amazon, I am encouraged to also consider a similar product on the Miles Kimball Web site (I'm assuming that Amazon gets a kickback?).  So I go to the Miles Kimball Web site, and I view their product, and it has a mixed bag of customer reviews.  Some people love it, because it's "lightweight," but, apparently, some folks' "lightweight" is other folks' "flimsy."  I start reading the reviews one by one, and my eye catches on the reviewer description in the left-hand margin of one of the positive reviews:

Shreveport, LA."

Huh.  My dad has a cousin Penny in Shreveport, LA.  One of my favorite relatives, actually.

For a split second, I acknowledge that it's possible that there's more than one Penny in Shreveport.  But then the instinctive part of my brain kicks in:  "Nah, it's Cousin Penny.  Buying, and reviewing, kitchen organizers online is exactly the sort of thing that Penny would do.  And the review totally sounds like her.  It's your Penny, for sure."

At this moment, another part of my brain opines that it's probably NOT rational behavior to assume that there's only one Penny in the ArkLaTex who could possibly be my Miles Kimball reviewer.  Said brain segment starts to blame my lack of sleep - and then blames Fort Worth, my beloved adopted hometown which, I continue to maintain, IS THE BIGGEST SMALL TOWN IN FORT WORTH.  Everyone in this city is connected to everyone else, at least five different ways.  It happens several times per day:  someone mentions a name, and that name not only corresponds to a client/my child's teacher/my down-the-street neighbor/a friend from college, but the actual person corresponds to that other person as well. So forgive me if I'm predisposed to presume that a person who fits the general description of someone I know is, in fact, the person that I know.  I come by it quite honestly.

And then it occurs to me that I am also known to describe Fort Worth as being more Southern than Southwestern (notwithstanding that we're supposedly "where the West begins").  Not sure if Texas A&M will fit into the SEC tailgating culture, but let me tell you - TCU would fit in without missing a step.  All of the elements are there:  the men in seersucker pants and khakis with embroidered motifs, the little kids with their smocking, and women who can rock some serious hats along with their monogrammed EVERYTHING.  In a lot of ways, Fort Worth reminds me of . . . well, my dad's hometown of Shreveport, where I spent summers with my grandparents, watching Pearlie the housekeeper iron linens while she yelled at her "programs," and where dinner was called "supper" and was always accompanied by a relish tray, and at least four vegetables, three of which were fried and one of which was stewed okra.  And occasionally Cousin Penny and her sweet mother Fabol would kidnap me and take me to the country club or the tea room and encourage me to eat way too much dessert.

I have never actually lived there, so I can't technically own the philosophy that "you can take the girl out of Louisiana, but you can't take Louisiana out of the girl" - but there's a part of Louisiana in me, for sure.  For example:  I morph into Louisiana Girl every time I order the special or a vegetable plate-to-go from the cafeteria in our building.  Doesn't matter how much spice is already in a dish:  I instinctively reach for the jar of Trappey's Tabasco peppers that they keep next to the iced tea dispenser (I do opt for unsweetened tea, not "sweet," because when all is said and done, I am a Texas girl).  Then I douse everything on my plate with pepper-infused vinegar.  Why?  BECAUSE IT'S THERE.  It's just what you do.

So perhaps my ready acceptance of the supposition that everyone is no more than 2.8 degrees of separation (I'm estimating) removed from everyone else is a function of both nurture AND nature.  And, perhaps my tendency to gravitate towards all things funky and vintage, and my insistence on housing said things in a drafty old Tudor in an established neighborhood hunkered down under centenarian trees, comes from Cousin Penny - the first person I ever knew to:  convert an entire bedroom into a closet; appropriate an antique dental cabinet for jewelry storage; utilize an old ladder for towel storage in a bathroom; wallpaper her dining room with pieces of torn brown kraft paper bags; and carpet her kitchen (in an anything-but-neutral Art Nouveau pattern - the better to camouflage stains, I guess). 

Fitting that her name would randomly pop up on the day that Spouse pulls the trigger on a wall of vintage school lockers for the Big Kid's room.  (Because you don't particularly want to LOOK at teenage junk, you know?  It's so . . . junky.  Better housed behind steel (ventilated!) doors.  And, also, I am looking forward to conducting random locker sweeps - bolt cutters in hand, in case the cheeky monkey invests in a combination lock, or two, or three.)

Upgraded-but-still-bound-to-be-sorta-funky house in Funkytown, here we come . . . .

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