My favorite thing about my apartment is the fact that every room has a tin ceiling. Each one boasts a different pattern, and each one is 12 feet high. Because of these ceilings, I actually own a ladder—two of my three closets begin six feet from the ground, and my overhead lights blow out with a serious regularity. (My intuitive abilities have something to do with the frequency, all puns intended.) Given that each fixture is a pre-war oddity–gorgeous, fragile, and one-of-a-kind–I have to really psych myself up to replace a bulb. During the retrograde, they all blew out, but I decided I wouldn’t fix anything until Mercury went direct lest I compound the damage. I actually put FIX LIGHTS in my calendar for January 8, that’s how serious I was about waiting. So today I donned sneakers, pink rubber gloves, and overalls with 65 watts stuck in each pocket. Cussing and sweating, I dragged the ladder from room to room to carefully so carefully repair each one. Not one of those lamps unscrews easily, and while balancing at the top of my ladder, I cried more than once out of frustration and fear before the covers finally gave way. People often ask me how I do public speaking without getting nervous. The truth is, I get very nervous, every bloody time, but I am accustomed to doing things that make me nervous as hell. It’s called being a grown woman.
It is 11:18 pm and my house is finally clean, de-Christmassed, and organized for the major brain-and barn-storming that the rest of this month requires. Just as I reenter the apartment after toting the last bag of pine needles-laden trash down to the curb, a certain permakitten strides casual-Friday out of her hiding place and leaps into my arms. Man, we are so Grace Gardens.
I wake and for a few seconds savor the uncharacteristic stillness of my neighborhood and the chirping of birds, agog: “I got the best crusts of panettone for christmas!” “The people in #3L gave me brioche crumbs!” Then I turn on all the holiday lights and put on my favorite holiday albums–Stevie, Jackson 5, Vince Guaraldi, Otis, the Supremes, Smokey, Mariah (yes), Prince (double yes). I’ve decorated my whole front room in a mermaid pagan Jewish Middle Church menagerie of gold and blue lights, green and red candles, birds and giraffes and cats, pine cones and pine branches (rescued from deli trash, for reals), and blessed blessed menorahs and Mother Marys. This is how I pierce the darkness of ambiguity and abnegation–with my own admixture of faiths, inherited and inspired. First and foremost: what pleases my inner 8-year-old, forever tapping her foot and mending her heart. Sparkling and soaring, that’s what she likes. So I decorate what I can, breathing in the joy of time with my loved ones in days before and to come (gosh, I’m the luckiest lady), and allow the loveliest permakitten to arrange herself decorously on my lap. From here I can dream up anything.