I solve most of my problems with duct tape; some, with ribbon. Tybalt, my fat cat, likes to push the window open so that he can catch a breath of fresh air. When it is thirty degrees outside, that is an expensive breath. The windows in my dormers are as old as the house, hanging sort of square, with gaps as wide as Lauren Hutton’s tooth gap all over the place. They just push open because they used to have locks that no longer thrust anything out to keep anything in place. The left living room window actually dangles from the frame like a loose tooth. I was beginning to realize it was a simile kind of day.
So I go to the bathroom for an innocent pee, and the gust of cold air hits me, and I curse Tybalt, and shut it. That’s how I’ve managed the problem in the past. One blessing is that the air flow from an open bathroom window pulls the bathroom door shut. Still, the window opening and the gaps and all result in $150 gas bills, and no one feels sorry for me because I don’t pay rent, but then, it’s still $75 wasted or something on heating the outdoors, not for anyone’s pleasure at being outside, but so that Tybalt can smell squirrels and birds and dirt. Maybe it is worth it.
The carriage house has no proper surfaces or materials of any kind. If you hammer in a nail, you hear something crumbling and breaking in some other corner of the place. The windows, to return to them, have the original locks, a latch that no longer has anything to latch onto, and a handle that I can’t imagine what it’s for except to reach out across the roof and grab for your window. What a deal. Trying to put a hook or a screw or a nail into something is not as easy as it might seem, when you’re in the carriage house. But now. I. Had. A drill!
I drilled two holes in the window frames, one on each, and then screwed in two gold hooks, which also came with my birthday tool set. (Quite extensive, it is, including even a saw, and enclosed in one of those toolboxes you can sit and stand on.) Then I went to the closet for a bit of ribbon. I was solving my hardware problem with ribbon? I was. I removed the duct tape cure, which had not worked at all, trying to seal up the window with duct tape. Tybalt, I think I mentioned, is fat, and a little leaning from him is stronger than even duct tape.
I tied the ribbon in a little bow. I felt it looked rather ridiculous, but still might work. I put two more gold hooks in the bathroom door for my towels. After years of trying to resolve the Towel Bar Situation, along with various configurations of The Litter Boxes, it was time to try plain, uglyish old hooks. Who would ever see them? Where else would my towels be?
There it was, things improved, and I had gotten to drill four holes. The speed and efficiency of the drill and a little twisting blew my mind. All these years, I have been nailing a nail and then pulling it to make a preparatory spot for a hook when I needed a hook.
I watched “Bartleby” the same morning. The colors in the movie amazed me. I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from or going, acid colors and also navy and also certain kinds of gray. Sour orange-reds and then sour yellow-oranges, and a whole-wall picture of deer and forest in sedate tones. I couldn’t figure out when the movie was made. People had 1970s cars and 1980s hair and a 1960s office and then Crispin Glover—who knows how old that crazy is? I love that short story, in fact, it is the only short story I love.
I am completely uninterested in: watching ballet, anime, and short stories. But “Bartleby”—it’s such a kick. The whole story is kind of, as they say, “a dick move,” and yet you want to thank Melville at the end. Well. I do. The movie is bad, badly written, weirdly uneven in its acting styles, but also funny and amazing to watch, like I thought I had to rethink everything I knew about color and I was excited to get dressed and see what colors my clothes really were. The last time I was that excited about color was the first “Mad Men” office, and before that, the record with the goofy saxophonist which has all the colors I want in my house: navy, black, mustard, orange red, gold. When I get this excited about color, I worry that I am in the wrong business. The literature business is not so much about color, although my writing feels to need color.
Thank and apologize to Melville, as, of course, he came to a conventionally unattractive end. Maybe he was sad about that. Success and failure are both difficult. Going home to see if fat cat can conquer ribbon.