Here’s what you need (given that you decided, after earning an M.F.A. in May and your TA-ship is over/done/gone baby, to drive west—it’s not like you have a job—to escape Iowa and the unequivocal fact that you are a part of the 2009 graduating class steeped in the Great Recession) to patch the whopping hole in the foundation of your house since the Creature—a substantial, lumbering, boisterous thing rousing at dusk and strapping on (what sounds like) tap shoes to shake off his untamed entourage of fleas—moved into your cellar (via the hole) while you were gone.
Supplies you’ll need to repair the hole:
Bonding cement—20 lbs: $29.67 (Use your credit card. Astonishingly, you’re minus money in spite of the four part-time jobs you’ve scrounged together.)
Bricks—7: free (Salvaged from a circle of bricks beneath the Black-eyed Susan’s you planted oh-so-foolishly—prior to Lehman Brothers collapse—in the backyard last summer.)
1. Assemble at the base of the hole: cement, trowel, bowl of water, spoon (sturdy), bricks, breadknife.
2. With trowel in hand, dig away loose debris and remove that 6 lb. rock that, yes, is part of your home’s foundation but now resembles a loose tooth hanging on by filaments of grit. Go ahead, take a moment and marvel at the opening big enough for a small bear to crawl through. (Set aside the throb of guilt in your gut because, in truth, you’ve known about the hole for quite a while, years in fact, and did nothing.)
3. Start laying bricks inside the hole, all seven of them, despite the fact that you have never restored a foundation in your life (how, after three failed marriages, do you manage to find yourself alone? Without a mate? A man, for Christ sake, that could—theoretically—patch this damn hole for you? You could have stayed married to that rich one, but no. You left him and finished your education instead—six bloody years it took for undergraduate and grad school—after a lifetime of dancing that barely paid for the pointe shoes you wore, and now—middle-aged and hating it—you’ve amassed a fortune in student debt).
4. To open the bag of cement (forget ripping it) slit the sucker open with a breadknife. Dump the powdery cement into the plastic bucket (the one used to mop the kitchen floor that alternates as a bathtub for the dog). Turn your head aside from those bluish-puffs of cement whooshing up from the impact incase it’s carcinogenic.
5. Don’t bother reading the cement-making directions in English and Spanish. It’s not unlike mixing up biscuit batter. Put less, rather than more, water. Stir with spoon (of course you could say: Assimilate with spoon. It’d sound more scholarly, distinctly dissimilar to that phone interview you blew with that Jesuit University offering a 4/4 English Composition teaching load and knowing you blew it when the hour-long interview ended in half the time following the question: How do you handle stress and stay focused when November rolls around and you are teaching so many classes? Leaning against the fake-wood paneling inside a Sinclair gas station off Route 80 in Wyoming, phone in hand and resisting the urge to tug on a pair of cowgirl boots, hop onto the back of a pinto and ride into that distant blue-mountained panorama directly north of the gas pumps, you say: Well, I’m naturally an energetic person—a shallow and predictable answer when you could have said: Actually, bitching to colleagues, followed by a shot of tequila while grading papers, does it for me…how about you? Though the real answer was: Feeling stressed? Staying focused? Why, I’d go to church, drop to my knees, and pray to our Lord Jesus Christ our Savior…it was, after all, a Jesuit University. Skipping the part about masturbation as well as the entertaining/escapist dimensions while maintaining constant vigilance scoping potential “matches” on eHarmony was a no-brainer.)