Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Heat Without Light

Years ago, I wrote a personal mini-essay of slightly fewer than 250 words as directed -- which I post in its fairly brief entirety -- as an arrogant shot in the dark endeavor to swing the Yale Law School admissions officials to overlook the factors stacked against me (bottom edge of the Yale range LSAT score; a royal buggering by the LSDAS in collapsing my two-year engineering GPA (abysmal) into my five-semester liberal arts GPA (sterling) into a single, unrepresentative number), with the obligatory shameless allusion to my grandfather's Yale legacy. I wasn't too proud to beg; I'm still not. I also had no illusions about my chances.

I am freezing. That is not a metaphor -- an exaggeration, perhaps. But I am very cold. The landlord of this over-priced, trendy Pittsburgh apartment building had a genius-stroke: to use a thermostat that triggers in response to outside temperature. It seemed like a workable idea when I signed the lease in June. Which was sort of like grocery shopping while hungry. Well, maybe it was more like not grocery shopping simply because one is not hungry.

I have given up my attempt to understand why the only time my steam heaters have been truly warm this winter was on a rainy day during which the temperature never dropped below 45 degrees. It is too cold to think. It is also too cold to entertain. It would be embarrassing, and when I am this cold I am not very entertaining.

This morning I lay buried in bed in dim morning light watching my ephemeral, slightly vaporous exhalations. I was trying to decide whether this constituted an ‘emergency’ worthy of my landlord’s designates; whether I could afford to await his return from vacation three days hence. Mostly, I kept thinking about how miserable I would be to leave bed. Mom would be worried about me catching my death. My fire detector beeped once piercingly, portentously, ironically.

It is almost too cold to type. It is so cold that I actually think this is an appropriate and topical essay to submit to the Preeminent Law School in the Known Universe. My late Grandfather (‘33) is turning over in his grave. He may be the only [Moon's surname] colder than me, God rest his soul. But even he is probably not as stultified as I am by the vagaries of a Parsimonious Landlord.**

I think of this only because I am sitting here, sweating freely, in a sort of torpid hell borne of utter environmental discomfort. This is nothing new. It's been like this for most of the summmer. Today wasn't even an extraordinarily hot day by 2005 standards. It is what it is.

But I simply cannot sit about reading, loll about really, loll about flipping between women's beach volleyball and whatever other terrible TV I can find, with a house hanging over my head like something from an Escher lithograph, closing only one week away, the move only thirteen days away, and not a thing boxed, insufficient boxes in my possession as yet, hundreds of pounds of things to throw away lest I give friends hernias for things I didn't need, lest I get off on the wrong foot by allowing my incipient packrat to play with the embarrassment of storage space he'll enjoy in the new digs. I have it in me to become one of those old bachelors with twelve cats living in the narrow corridors between stacks of newspaper. I will not give in to it. I must not. I like getting laid way too much to develop habits that repel women like kryptonite. Or rather, more such habits than already own me.

And it is a sort of ownership relationship, our habits and us. That is, in fact, my working definition of habit: a pattern of behavior or thought that exercises functional autonomy within its subject-host('s) environment.

But it's just. Too. Hot.

To do anything.


Long weeks ahead. Hard decisions. Painful signatures. Boxes and wrappings and painful good-byes. Things forgotten. Things remembered. Stair cases. Ornery cats. Hidden dust-kitties ascendant.

There are two things one should avoid in August: third-trimester pregnancy (so I'm told) and house buying.

** Don't think I don't recognize that the last sentence -- "vagaries of a Parsimonious Landlord"!? -- is a howler. Or that there's a -- unf*&kingbelievable -- grammatical error in the next to last sentence ("colder than me"?) But I keep it real, folks, and I bring it now like I brung it then. Admit it: you're all shocked and appalled I didn't get in. {Shakes head.} Anyway, then there would have been no MoonOverPittsburgh at all.


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