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Wednesday August 02, 2000, 00:08

Great drama is unfolding in my life right now, on so many levels. Illness in the family. Job confusion. This city. My future. But even more pressing right now (besides the daily debate I run through in my head about whether or not I would want to be on the Real World1 or any of these other "Reality" television shows, back and forth between thinking that it might be a lot of fun to realizing that I'm just not that interesting and realizing that while nowhere in there is the worry that I would be on TV I'm sure it exists somewhere in there) is the situation with the soap in my bathroom.

To be sure, this does not sound too important when I first mention it. I have a container that originally held Dial brand anti-bacterial soap. It now holds the remains of what was originally a full bottle of CVS brand generic drugstore hand soap. The dispenser is almost empty and it is at the point where the spount sputters a bit when I press down to try to get any sort of liquid on my hands to wash them2. Well, the simple solution would be to reach under my sink, grab the refill bottle of generic drugstore (or in fact, name brand drugstore, since we know that it came from CVS) liquid soap, and fill the container up. And yet, for some reason, I have left the dispenser on the verge of empty for the past several days. Is it just that I have not thought to fill it when I was not in the bathroom, and when I am in the bathroom it is to wash my hands and in that case I want to wash my hands and not dirty up my cabinets to get the soap from under the sink and once my hands are clean I don't need to refill the dispenser so I don't? Or is it something deeper than that.

A theory is that the soap represents my life. If I reach down to fill the soap dispenser when I need to wash my hands, then I am straying from the task at hand (washing my hands), as difficult as it might be in the current situation (with little soap) in order to procrastinate (filling the dispenser) even though it might help me in the long run. The belief then is that if I do not fill the dispenser and instead just go in and wash my hands then I am taking a bit of inconvenience in my life at the moment (having that momentary panic when the soap may, or may not come out) and doing my job (washing my hands). As I am waffling on my life3 at the moment, it would seem to make sense that I am seeking out a situation where I just suck it up and deal with my current situation instead of looking at the big picture, which I think I have already done, and put the obvious solution4 into practice.

I in fact was standing in my bathroom and was about to reach down to fill my soap dispenser when I realized what a brilliant metaphor it would make and postponed, once again, the inevitable for me to come into my living room to write this. I was considering filling the dispenser up before writing this and then lying about it, but realized that it would not feel right doing so. Or maybe I was just scared to take the step if I could put it off just a bit more. I mean, what's another day? There's still a bit of soap left in there I can use and what if I refill the dispenser? That's just a temporary solution and then I will be completely out of soap under my sink and I will be stuck the next time I am in this situation. Instead, it is better to just wait, wait until things just become too unbearable, and then take the plunge.

I feel the need to change directions here, so feel free to insert the appropriate paragraph break, ellipsis, or perhaps little row of flowers here to signify a shift in time and place.

I actually used a piece of discared phone wire as a conversation starter on Friday as I was heading down to New York for the weekend. Well, it wasn't actually the starter, but it did help to ease any awkwardness that might have existed in casual conversation among strangers.

I was myself creating a little sculpture of a little figure swinging from a rope on a tree branch. There are many of these sculptures around my parents' house, one involving a man hanging from a noose was in what can be considered the den5 for as long as I could remember (though it might be gone now). I had created this little man in mid-swing and had been looking at this girl for much of the trip. Regaining much of my New York confidence I made an off-handed comment about the child who was running up and down the aisle of the train. The young woman sitting next to me responded and I in turn asked her where she was going. The conversation progressed until I asked her if she would like to try her hand at making a wire sculpture as well. Realizing that this could be a request being made by an individual who could be considered a bit "off" I would have understood if she had said no at that point, donned her headphones and left me (the presumably "off" individual) holding a piece of wire. Instead, she took the wire (under my insistence that the wire was "cathartic") and proceeded, over the course of the next hour and a half, to make a dancer, a moon, and a flower.

When at last we reached Penn Station and it was time to leave, she offered the flower back to me (and what is it about flowers6?) and insisted that if I didn't take it that it would just end up in her bag where she would lose it for months. That, I told her, would be perfect and would remind her of the conversation that she had months prior with a stranger on a train from Connecticut to New York, months before she started college. She agreed to this logic and put the flower in her purse where, the idealist in me will say that it will remain until a time several months in the future when she finds it in the bottom of her bag along with the tic tacs and the hair clip that she thought she lost and she will be reminded of that conversation that we had and where, the realist in me says, it will have stayed until she got back to her house at which point it got thrown out with her ticket stub and the wrapper from her new CDs.

The conversation was had, however, and I was reminded of how friendly people going to or living in New York can be, and also how I feel much better about myself when I am living there. It had been noted that just prior to my leaving the city I had started acting and sounding like a real New Yorker, whatever that happens to be. I think perhaps it might be time to act on this once again.

But first, I have to refill my soap dispenser.

1. Of note the Real World / Road Rules Challenge will be coming to town tomorrow and, of course, I will be there (and while it would be appropriate here to say "With Bells On" I will not because I do not own anything with bells or even resembling bells, though I do have that collar, but I don't think it would be appropriate for some reason) and I will get to see what it's like, from a third party perspective, for these people to be living their lives in front of these cameras. All of this is spawned by the fact that I just spent the evening watching way too much of the Real World New Orleans tonight catching up on episodes from when I was on vacation and the most interesting thing I found was that I was able to make such quick judgements about the people that I was watching on the program which means that both the editors have done a bangup job but also that I am just super-reactionary and pretty much a sheep, just like the rest of the television-watching mindless drones out there in this country. I, like the rest of the world, would really like to meet these people (which also proves that the editors have done their jobs), but I am also suffering from a "grass is greener" sort of a situation where I see people doing things, fun things, in a group setting, much like college freshmen (persons? sheesh) and I long for a situation where I can place myself in a group of like-minded people (whether it be people attending the same university or people placed in the same Television Owns Your Life thing) who are total strangers and can once again go through the fun of meeting new people.

2. I'm something of a compulsive hand-washer. This has only come about after working with computers for almost a year full-time and has to do with the fact that the grease from my hands gets onto my keyboard which in turn gets onto my hands which in turn start to feel disgusting which in turn causes me to go wash my hands which in turn causes my hands to dry out and produce more grease and which in turn causes me to get my keyboard even greasier. (It is important, for reasons unknown to me right now, to realize that instead of typing "turn" each of those times in the previous sentence I instead typed "tern" which is totally incorrect and which felt prefectly right, but instead is absolutely wrong.) I also realize that my vocabulary is lacking. I don't know how to fix that.

3. Job.

4. I leave this one to the reader, but in the metaphor, it is filling the soap dispenser with the bottle of soap that is sitting right under my sink. In life, this might take a little more imagination, but perhaps the more astute will be able to figure out where this convoluted story is heading.

5. We call it the museum, thus named for the cooper tools belonging to my great-grandfather that hang on the wall and for the various other artifacts contained in the room. On shelves are everything from old nails to photographs to old light bulbs to the obligatory musket hanging over the fireplace, though the musket is perhaps one of the more recent items in the museum having been procured by my father during the Vietnam war. There is an old gas mask in that room that sits in a cubby by the fireplace that I used to try on when I was younger. I would wear it on my head until the goggles fogged up. There was also the WWII air raid warden (or something similar) helment that I used to put on my head and then thump repeatedly, just because I could.

6. Old school: February, 1998 - "I would walk up to her, give her a flower, and she looked down at it, knees together, feet slightly apart head down eyes away typical shy girl getting flower from boy looking taking smiling at me made me feel so good." I had written. Hidden.

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