Last Saturday, I made sure I was punctual in meeting Bob at the community gardens. This was part of the picture of my new life—growing veggies and canning again, so I wanted everything to work out perfectly.

Bob wasn’t there. He was sick. Carl met me there. I had my $20 for my 20’ x 20’ garden plot. He had the list of the ones available. He also had the map.

Number 227 is available.

Bob had told me during our phone conversation that it’s important to get one near water, because he said that some are far from the spigots.

We walk through a crazy quilt maze of aisles and fencing, some framing the chaotic giving up in the Fall of 2013 and others holding the newly turned promise of Spring 2014.

Parts of numbers; faded numbers written in pencil on plywood. 473 next to 104 on the map; 181 next to 222 in real life. Each garden has a haphazardly-placed storm door as its entrance. Most plots have chicken wire fencing in varying stages of rusting between metal and wooden poles of any-old heights. A few of the fences are uniform, home-quality, and showing off.

Carl is apologizing for things not being organized enough. I’m loving it!

Someone pulls up on a bike. I think it’s a teenage boy, offering to help. As he comes closer, I see a 70-something-year-old guy. Will gardening keep me young?

None of these numbers make sense, Carl tells him. I’m making her walk all over the place.

I love to walk, I say. This is fun.

The bike guy knows where 227 is. He also knows where the 20 by 40 that can be divided is. It’s by 386.

We get to the plot that will be subdivided. Its distance from the water is not good.

We find 227. Another long winding path to water.

Ralph joins us. He tells them why he’s pissed at one of the garden officers. No name, but they all know who. You know what would really get back at the guy he’s mad at? Giving me Plot 470!

Yeah! Let’s do it, they all agree.

Wait, I don’t want to get into a controversy.

Don’t worry– it won’t be your responsibility.

No! I don’t want to tick anyone off! I’m the new person.

Don’t worry.

I worry.

But when all was said and done, there was plot 491, which had been given up freely by its former tenant. A plot to be subdivided. A foot from the water source, right next to the main entrance road. I can back my truck up right next to it to haul off the weeds and debris, a project that I started the next day.

The front chicken wire fence needs to be replaced. Between YouTube, Lowes associates, and everybody I know, I’ll get what I need to know about mending literal fences. I’m going to order a Mantis tiller, which I will also use for weeding during the summer. I found out where the dump is and am headed there today to get the sticker for my truck so that I can clear all the junk (old metal tomato cages, rusty pieces of chicken wire fencing, etc.) away from my soon-to-be 20 by 20 piece of Eden.

This $1 a square foot treasure is the kind of thing that people twenty years hence will talk about:

Remember when the community gardens looked all ghetto and went for 20 bucks a year before (Insert a serious-sounding company name here.) took them over? I’m surprised nobody ever got sued with all that rusty chicken wire. And that nobody’s stuff ever got stolen, either. I kind of miss the messy way the gardens used to be. I think the tomatoes tasted better then, or maybe the happy memories make it seem that way.

I see the happy now.

Well, apparently that last little magical thing I’d kept stored in my heart turned out to be an illusion, too.

Now I’m completely disillusioned, which was the whole point of this blog. After a rough few weeks, I’m finally ready to move on.

I’m done with feeling sorry for myself for any of the hurts, including the disguised one of “I’m done since I obviously can’t trust myself to only trust the trustworthy” that tries to pass itself off as a lesson learned.

I am feeling very free and full of energy. I am an open person who enjoys being that way. If I get hurt again, so what.

I’m bored with the analyzing and energized by my spring plans of planting vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Which brings me to the question, what is smart?

I did not inherit the delicate French, pianist fingers that my daughter ended up with. The genes skipped a generation, and gave me my fat, kohlrabi-planting ones that fondly remind me of my German grandmother, working hard in her vegetable garden.

Vegetable plants don’t jump where they think they should go when you get near them. Links on my phone are activated not only because a fat finger gets in the way, but when a finger is nearby but doesn’t even touch! This is called convenience. Because actually pressing the link would take so much out of me.

Another convenience is when the phone rings when it is deep in my pocketbook. (If I’m driving, I should just forget it, and hope it’s not an emergency. Governor Christie tells me on my windshield sticker that I should “Put the Phone Down”, which is confusing because shouldn’t it be “Don’t pick up the phone in the first place.”?) The purse fumbling activates an inability to answer the call. Instead a list of handy text messages, like “Can’t talk now. What’s up?” or “Did you want me to pick up that movie with Meryl Streep?” pops up, requiring me to choose one in order to get back to a place where I can call back.

Being poor, my phone serves as my music player. Since it pretty much dials and texts what it wants at will, I don’t have any contacts in it that wouldn’t laugh with me were they to get the following text, discovered as a draft after getting home from my playlist-filled stroll around the neighborhood the other day:

“Toof”

To be fair, my phone often ignores links I touch 11 to 16 times, so it all evens out.

*Southern for “getting ready to”

 

I pick a book off the library shelf—Change the Way You See Everything by Cramer and Wasiak. Cool photos, inspirational ideas until they get to be too much. I read a little more. Concentrate on the positive and stop trying to prevent and fix, it says. What???? Preventing and fixing is bad? That’s what I do. I’m furious. Back to the library you will go.

A few days go by. A few days of being at work, trying to prevent and fix, followed by a couple of days with a gnawing feeling that things are unpreventable and unfixable. Meanwhile, the people around me are content with working in pleasant, meandering ways.

I’ve noticed that the words that piss me off the most are often the truest.

I pick up the book again. This approach to things is definitely not me.

Yet.

When trying to keep your New Year’s resolutions, please remember the importance of sticking to them throughout the year all the way through December 2014. With Christmas 2013 behind us, it’s easy to forget that Santa is watching.

http://stayfreemagazine.org/public/irwin-chusid-santa-claus.mp3

When we were kids, we liked to dig in the yard. I scared my little sister once by telling her that the cluster of roots we found was the devil’s hair.

Up was good. Down was bad. Up was heaven. Down was hell. People climb the ladder. People fall from grace.

“I don’t understand where heaven is in space,” was a dilemma nobody would ever help me with as a child.

What is failing? Is it falling?

When we build upon sound underpinnings—great! When things fall apart because they are not based on a solid foundation, that is truth—great!

Hitting bottom when up is good and down is bad sounds awful. Hitting bottom on Earth in the Solar System in the Universe is the natural result of the wonderful force of gravity.

It is Mother Earth pulling you close into her arms and giving you a big hug.

I don’t know if it’s because most middle and above class women get their nails professionally done nowadays, but I’ve been having trouble finding emery boards. It’s not that I don’t eventually find them—but they used to be everywhere. At checkout counters. Even in the nail care section.

Maybe I’m too poor and/or afraid of infection to get my nails done in a salon, but I have my standards, and I can’t stand it if I see my nails in a weird shape. If my thumb starts to look like a trapezoid and I reach into my pocketbook and don’t pull out an emery board, I’m not happy. Or if the emery board has lost its grit, I curse that checkout counter with its array of lip balms.

The best emery boards—the ones that kept their abrasive finish forever—were always the advertisement giveaway ones. I still have one from my North Carolina gynecologist’s office. See, there are physicians who treat the whole person.

Even if you weren’t a good enough citizen to follow the campaign, it always paid to go vote to get the candidate emery boards. They were the best. A good emery board could get a Democrat elected in a rural small town or Roe v Wade overturned in Manhattan.

When is the best time to use an emery board? I worked in a place that had weekly safety meetings, and this one lady used the half hour to manicure her nails. While not on the level of, to quote Elvis Costello, “filing her nails while they’re dragging the lake,” I thought that was pretty rude. But I did admire her efficient use of time. I try to leave an emery board within easy reach of a long red light, or do a nail or two when I have a few random minutes. This avoids looking down on my hands and feeling inferior to those middle and above class women happily choosing among the lip balm.

That’s all I’m going to say. As I type this, my right index finger is looking a little dodecagonal.

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