At the Still Point of the Turning World
Residency is over, NOW what? (While I'm waiting for the answer, I'll get some spinning done....)

Wednesday, October 16, 2002


Why neurosis? Because I took my car to be washed today and freaked out--mildly--while going through the washing process. I find the whole process psychologically unnerving. First, they (the hapless Car Wash Guys) tell me to turn off my engine and put the car in neutral. Then they spray soapy water all over my car so I can't see at all. Then, moved by unseen (and perhaps unkind) forces, the car begins to move forward and I CANNOT CONTROL IT. Then the giant mop--you know, the thing made of a zillion strips of fabric--descends upon me like a huge, malevolent squid and I cannot see out at all. Now the claustrophobia begins. I feel the car shrinking in upon me. I have difficulty breathing. Then--a glimpse of light as the mop releases its grip. Immediately the two rotating brushes close in. For some reason, the scene from The Godfather in which Sonny Corleone is shot down at the tollboth springs to mind. I think: These two scenarios are not entirely dissimilar. The rotating brushes move away, and then I am blasted by forceful jets of water. I have nightmares of drowning. Then I move through the wind tunnel, in which some sort of NASA-inspired wind machine blasts every molecule of water off the surface of my car. I watch the windshield wipers trembling and realize that any minute now, the windshield itself will shatter. I cover my eyes with my hands.

Finally there is quiet. A long-suffering Car Wash Guy dries off the sideview mirror and hood as my car moves the final yards along the automatic track. For a moment, I forget how to turn the car back on. You have to put the car in Park, silly. The motor revvs to life again, and out of sheer relief I drive speedily away, bypassing the rest of the Car Wash Guys who were waiting to towel dry the remainder of the dripping car.

Yes, this is a true story.

(Attention Central Coast residents: I will knit a complicated top-down Faroese style shawl in exchange for having my car taken in to be washed once a month. Please reply via private email, with the subject heading "Knitting Neurotic.")


Shall I indulge myself with this silly item of home decor? It perfectly captures two of my greatest loves. Perhaps my mother will surprise me for Christmas. Oh, I forgot--I've already asked for something like these instead.