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I try to carry too many things
and I drop a lot of them
I keep trying to find a way to pick up everything in one armload, to get everything in one trip. I drop things—this morning it was matchsticks, all over the kitchen counter and onto the floor. I had a fat piece of buttered, toasted sourdough in one hand, balanced on top of a candle, and the pretty matchbox my daughter gave me as a gift in the other. I stuck the toast in my mouth and set the candle down on the counter while I tried to refill the pretty matchbox, which lives on my writing desk, from the utilitarian matchbox which lives in the kitchen junk drawer.
I’ve heard “junk drawers” called “utility drawers”, and that sounds nicer. What do we put in junk drawers? Random rubber bands, broken pencils, a deck of 49 playing cards; some paperclips, ink pens with dried globs of indigo at the tips; tiny post-it flags, twist ties from the bread bags; a chop stick, chap stick, and binder clip. I’ve inventoried the contents and I can’t decide if this is a list of utility items or junk. Possibly the drawer itself is the utilitarian device: a place to dump your crap until you decide where it actually goes. The whole thing could be emptied into the trash without any loss.
Except the matchbox. I need a place to store the utilitarian matchbox until my pretty one needs refilled. Where else would I keep it if we didn’t have a junk drawer? With my toast in my mouth and the candle on the counter, I tried to pour the matches into my hand, then into the pretty box. I had both hands free so this should have worked fine but matchsticks get all out of order when you try to pour them. They are not like grains of salt, or milk. They are big, disordered fire-toothpicks and they don’t flow well. Some spilled on the counter and onto the floor, and by now I’m drooling buttered toast at the corners of my mouth, fire slipping through my fingers.
I should have put the toast on a plate. I made my toast on the cutting board: sliced it, toasted it in the toaster, then set it back on the cutting board and buttered it liberally. I like a fat piece of bread frosted with butter, melting oozily into ovals left by escaping gases in a perfect loaf. It drips crumbs and butter everywhere, and I rarely bother with a plate because I am not one to savor this toast. Maybe I’ll savor the second piece, but this particular piece is the first one and it is for scarfing. I don’t have a plate, so the toast remains clenched between my lips and I try not to bite down on it while I use thumb and pointer to pick up individual matchsticks from the floor and counter. Tedium. I was trying to get this done quickly.
The match gathering was preliminary. So was the toast. I make the coffee, slice the bread and toast it, light candles around the house, choose a playlist, throw in a load of laundry, and straighten up my desk before I sit down to write. Sometimes I get waylaid: there is wet laundry in the washer, the dryer is full, there are no empty baskets to move things forward; the matchbox on my desk is empty; I ate the first piece of toast too slowly and now the second one is cold; my coffee is cold; the house is cold; I need to make a list of to-dos for today so I don’t forget. Do preliminaries become secondaries when you have to re-do them? I add to the list: turn on the pellet stove, put on a sweater, dump the cold coffee and pour another cup (microwaved coffee is anathema), forego the second piece of cold toast, light the candle on my desk. Write.