Monday, October 27, 2003


I took a course in thermodynamics in college. This fact never ceases to astound me. I believe I passed it. Thinking of the course produces in me a vague frisson of confusion and displeasure. I can picture the classroom. The amount of information I have retained from it is practically nil. I recall one word. I do not remember what the word means. The word is "hysteresis." And when I look it up today I find that it pertains to magnetism, certainly not a thermodynamic topic, or, if so, so abstrusely linked that, absent repeating the course, I have no hope of retrieving it.

So, officially, I remember nothing. What I know about entropy (the second of Thermodynamics' "Laws," right ?) is what any educated liberal arts type might know: the tendency of a system to move toward maximum disorder. Including my memory.

It's possible that there is some data culled from "thermodynamics" that lurks silently integrated within something else I "know" or "understand."

But, mainly, it's a hole. A shadowy classroom. A misremembered word. An impressive hole.

I was thinking of entropy last night, since the structure of my sleep -- under the accumulated weight of wearing the collar, taking then stopping valium, and relative inactivity -- has decided to attain maximum disorder. This is the first year I can remember when I greeted the prospect of "gaining an hour" of supposed sleep with dread. My computer, even more bolluxed than me, set itself back two hours.

I had been thinking of entropy all day. A walking tour of the downstairs had filled my inner neat freak with horror. The mail table: heaped, overflowing. The frontroom: newspapers on the floor and a dismantled bicycle. The den: dead flowers, toppling stacks of magazines, shoes, socks, detritus from the kitties' cardboard catnip scratching box. The living room: the site of DK's abandoned late-summer rearrange-the CDs-etc. project, sprawled like a patient on the operating table, wide open, tubes and drains in place, abandoned by the doctor. Beginning to rot. The kitchen table: vanished under its mounds of papers and books. Two auxiliary piles in the corner on the floor, rising to the chin of our kitchen penguin. Two or three pairs of shoes. Some socks. Crumbs. The "head of the cellar stairs" pile growing larger each day.

And the back stairs rug, unvacuumed, what, five or six weeks, turns furry. Mackled with kitty litter.

The system needs a definate input of energy. And mine has been ebbing toward absolute zero. Abulia. Catatonia.

Lying there last night, I realized my Aspen Collar had undergone a further Kafkaesque metamorphosis -- from a pair of Albert DeSalvo Boston-strangling hands to a Gregor Samsa-like carapace, encasing and isolating my whole being in its plastic shell. Nolo me tangere.

"AS I awoke one morning from uneasy dreams I found myself transformed in my bed into a gigantic insect. I was lying on my hard, as it were armor-plated, neck..."

And again, my daily 10:30 AM realization: I am still in my bathrobe.

Must get a grip, eh ? Good project for the day.

Well, life does go on. We had to buy a car. We did. We will pick it up today. I don't want it. The thought repells me.

We adopted a kitten. Orange and white. A six months old girl kitty, a stray. She's getting neutered today at Animal Rescue. Very sweet kitty. Affectionate. Crawled into my lap at the shelter and grubbed up scratch. I feel surprisingly indifferent.

DK wants a chair. To replace the awful one. We looked at chairs. Since we last bought a chair over a decade ago chairs have tripled in size. Sitting in them, one resembles that Lily Tomlin character, the little girl always depicted sitting on a huge chair.

These things are MONSTERS. They come with ottomans (ottomen?) the size of the Ottoman Empire. They cost a FORTUNE.

Why have chairs so engrossed ?

They are big enough for a 6-700 pound person. Literally.

Are we looking at new norms-to-come on body weight charts and in furniture to parallel, for example, the supersized vats of cola and hogsheads of popcorn sold at the movies ?

Days like this I think I must have two or three accessory spleens.

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