My Black Friday Heart

Earlier this month I saved my husband money by purchasing a rug at TJMAXX for 79.99, that easily would have sold for three- or five times as much in a store like Pottery Barn or Anthropologie. Aren’t I a good wife? Well, most of the time I am; but do I really believe I saved my husband money? No. But I do believe a sensible woman knows a deal when she spots one.

I came home grinning. I parked the car and unloaded the purchases (just a few other “saves,” I had found while shopping) but I left the rug curled in the back seat. The plan was to wait until Sunday, that being Cleaning Day: a weekly event I anticipate with an equal mixture of habitual casualness and fizzy alacrity. Waiting would make the whole laying-down-of-the-rug feel like an occasion. Almost ceremonial. As though our bedroom had initiated it. Not one to miss any occasion big or small, I would light candles, play music, the whole nine yards. I am nothing if not theatric.

Sunday arrived, and following a whirlwind of ritualistic fanfare — vacuuming, straightening, dusting, wiping down of all surfaces soft and hard — it was time. I went to the car where the rug had remained coiled for the last forty-eight hours, and after carefully hoisting it onto my shoulders, I escorted Her Ladyship inside the house. Then gently, on hands and knees, I unrolled the tapestry using a flourish like the breast stroke, smoothing down the surface, plucking the loose fibers, and finally, settling the edges and corners at precisely the right angles. Three hours later . . . No — that would just be absurd! Of course it only took two hours. (And fifty-nine minutes.) . . . some while later, I made my way to a spot where I could best admire and dote on my new rug. I stood on my bed.

Can I be honest? It was gorgeous. I may have let out a squeal. Or two. And kicked my heels together. Three times. And shimmied up and down. That’s all, though.

After an adequate amount of alone time with my new rug, I went out and into the living room where my husband was sitting on the couch with a bag of pumpkin seeds in one hand and a spit cup in the other. He was watching a hockey game. I glanced at the TV. 3-2, Ducks, with a little more than a minute left on the clock. I asked him to come and take a look at our bedroom, though refused to tell him exactly what it was he would be looking at. I asked him sweetly and slyly, with an air of coquettish allure. And when that didn’t work I stamped my foot and threatened violence. Just what, pray tell, is the point of owning a DVR if not with which to oblige your wife when she’s spent the afternoon scrubbing your porcelain throne? Indeed.

Well, even my husband agreed it was the most spectacular woven thing he’d ever laid eyes on. The most beautiful of all rugs that have ever been and will ever be. As we held each other, unashamed of our tight brows and flowing tears, I took the opportunity to whisper the set of new rules with which the rug had come. Although we (me) uphold a strong “No Shoes” policy in our bedroom, more often than not — usually when one of us is in a hurry to grab a forgotten wallet, wedding ring, a matching shoe — the rules are forsook and replaced with expediency. Am I really going to unlace my boots just to walk eight feet across the room and retrieve my wedding ring? No. I am crazy and compulsive, but not that crazy and compulsive. With the inauguration of the rug, however, all that would change.

And so, for the next two weeks, each time one of us entered our bedroom, we would first remove our shoes and then sidle along the bookshelf, and through the narrow passage way I had built from door to closet. Generally speaking, I am sweaty person. I sweat while reading, applying make-up, chewing gum, and I could fill a koi pond with the sweat I produce within an hour of cardiovascular exercise. Summer is my nemesis. There are days when I would like nothing better than to leave the house wearing several rolls of Bounty. That said, the purpose of not allowing my bare feet to touch the rug immediately after removing my shoes is to give the carpet time to absorb that sweat. Gross and a little strange? Yes, perhaps; but surely no more odd than using whatever’s handy as a shield to block out the beating sun while driving. (Coats work best, if you can trap them in the window; but in a pinch I’ve used napkins and mail.) As I said, for the next fourteen days both my husband and I took the necessary precautions, making concerted efforts to avoid stepping on the rug prematurely. And there it remained, The Crown Jewel of our bedroom, resplendent, majestic, worthy of all our praise. The rug was . . . magnificent.

Until my dog peed on it.

Maybe you will have heard about select stores modifying their hours this year to allow the public to take advantage of Black Friday deals as early as Thanksgiving. Call me traditional, because I am, but I was no less than horrified. I stared at the T.V. in horror. “But it’s . . . Thanksgiving.” As one friend put it, “What could you possibly need that can’t wait until next week?” Now, I understand those deals don’t last. That if you don’t get there bright and early, or, in this year’s case, dark and sleepy, you would miss the opportunity to pay $199 for a spiffy new iPad Mini with a $75 instant rebate. Tempting. For me, though, it wasn’t a tough decision. I won’t lie. If you ducked out early on Thanksgiving, leaving your friends and family oooing and ahhing over Aunt Jenny’s pumpkin bread pudding, I judged you. I thought you selfish and superficial, and myself just a little more virtuous.

Thanksgiving night, after we arrived home from a lovely evening over at my uncle’s house, Bubba and I curled up in bed and watched Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets. At some point over the course of those two hours, my darling Bella lowered her abdomen to the floor and piddled on my precious rug. At first I could only stare in disbelief. Then I pinched my arms. A nightmare, it’s only a nightmare, Cara, you’ll wake up any second now. I did not wake up. My temper flared, and I cursed her for not urinating six inches to the left. That I could have endured. But not my rug. My ruuuuuug!!!!

It was while whimpering and muttering and dabbing the crimson mosaic pattern with soapy warm water that I realized Black Friday had entered my heart. And probably not only on Thanksgiving, but several times throughout the year. Do I still think it’s a poor choice to sacrifice a moment of Thanksgiving, even if half of your relatives are passed out in the living room and the other half appears to be no more alert and engaged in passive digestion? Yes, I do. Because time with family and friends is fleeting and finite, and things can’t wrap their arms around you when you’re sick or sad. If I’m wrong, if in fact there does exist something capable of bringing you true joy and lasting contentment, then by all means, you should probably leave and go buy it. And if for more than a few days you find yourself happy and full, feeling the way one does after good food with good people, please, let me know. I’d be interested. Because my experience with buying has revealed only brief euphorias, and at best, a surface familiarity. My experience is that which boasts a price tag assumes an inevitable expiration date.

I learned something important this year. Something that, truthfully, I’m certain I already knew and had only forgotten. I learned that a rug is a thing. Possibly a very, very, very beautiful thing — but still, highly vulnerable to urine.

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving. Happy Sunday, everyone!

. . . . you know I wouldn’t deprive you a look after all that build up! Here it is. “The Rug.”


The Amenable Poison

I think that if we were a little more ourselves and little less the people we think our peers want us to be, we might come quite close to knowing what whole feels like.

Just a thought that’s been roaming around this ever-tumultous mind.

Speaking of which . . . the other day, while administering needles into my naked bum, my acupuncturist says to me, “You must slow down. Your brain is always three steps ahead of your body.” Out loud, I murmured a noncommittal assent and pledged to try and downshift more often; however, in my three-steps-ahead-mind, I thought, “Lady, you have no idea.” (I think she heard me, though, because the next needle went deeeep.)

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I Start to Awake.

I woke up with something loud on my heart.

Does that happen to you? For me, it’s quite normal. I imagine that on the slippery tunnel ride out, whatever dreams I might’ve been having leave their foggy imprint on my brain — like a carbon copy — staining my conscious mind.

I am not an expert on sleep, nor do I purport to understand how dreams effect the mind; but being someone who both dreams and sleeps with regular attendance, and then wakes up (Or at least I think I am awake; ever since seeing Inception, I’ve had to wonder if . . .) I can strongly argue a case wherein I hypothesize that, the manner in which one wakes will set a tone for that individual. Maybe not for the entire day, but for some time.

If I were an artist — the kind that uses color rather than colorful language — and I attempted to draw my mind in its unconscious state, I believe it would resemble something like this:

Or perhaps this:

Nonsensical. Incomprehensible. Bizarre. Erratic. Dysfunctional.

I dream loud. And if possible, I’m busier asleep than when I am awake. So, more often than not, the first minutes of my morning are not the quiet ascent into wakefulness, but weighted with the certainty that something unfavorably odd has slunk off into a cavern, where it will wait for me till nightfall.

On this particular morning, I lie in bed for a while trying to define the loudness, staring at the popcorn ceiling, and wondering what it might manifest into; or, if it would stay hidden from me. It does that, you know. There was a puppy to release from the confines of the bathroom, however, and coffee awaiting me in the kitchen, so I decided to leave it be for the time being, and begin my morning.

Today is my day off, and while I look forward to the day in which nothing is expected of me, this day is most often accompanied by wildly eminent expectations. Is there a bit of irony there? I don’t know. Irony is one of those abstruse trivialities I keep a constant wary eye on; I just don’t trust it. I don’t even get it, truthfully. So I turned my back on it, or I didn’t, and I read a magazine. I get magazines.

And as I sifted through the rubbery pages adorned with lovely pictures, Pandora’s finest providing soundtrack, I suddenly knew what it was.

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Restoration Heartware

I haven’t quite figured out what it is that drives humans toward wanting new things. Never have I come across a dog who found disfavor with its bowl because it was slightly chipped or stained. Nor have I seen a bird up and vacate its nest because the view was better from that tree. Taking it one step further, babies don’t wail louder if the blanket you swaddle them in isn’t made of cashmere or Egyptian silk. So long as the provision meets the need, all the above are content and happy. This leads me to believe that wanting new things is a learned behavior, stemming perhaps from boredom, envy, and the desire to belong. Pinterest has become a form of masochistic rehabilitation. Takes no more than a few seconds of browsing before the urge is instigated.

These two pictures best sum up how I feel about the matter:

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