Saturday, June 10, 2006

My Life Is Now Perfect

"My life is a mess," I wailed at Jeanette, my calm, zen-like friend who usually hears me out when I'm on a rant.

"Yes?" she raised one eyebrow in that inimitable way. (believe me, I've tried to imitate and I can't)

"Yes, everything is all over the place. My finances are so screwed, I don't bloody even know where my tax file is, my documents, my certs are as scattered as the spawn of Satan and I don't even know where the Golden Key cert is which probably means I will have to write to Australia to get another one and just take a look at my desk!"

Jeanette did and allowed herself the slightest of ladylike shudders.

"Well?" I looked at her inquiringly. We all need someone to sort out our lives for us. In that way, we never ever have to take responsibility. Jeanette was that for me.

"Well?" she answered.

"Aren't you gonna tell me what to do?"

"What do you think I am, dial-a-solution?"

OK, so this was not going to be as easy as I thought. I poured out some more Wolfblass. Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't usually like Cab Sav but the Wolfblass version is pretty damn good. Also I couldn't find the Cab Merlot. One of the trials of not being in Australia with a handy bottle shop around the corner stocking my favourite wines for a fraction of the price.

We both sipped meditatively.

"You need to file," Jeanette said, finally after like a hundred seconds of silence.


"Are you a fucking parrot or something? Stop repeating what I say."

"Oh file. Right." I nodded.


"Yes. What you need, what would really sort out your life, is a filing cabinet!" Jeanette made the pronouncement with the air of a magician pulling furniture out of a stocking and my mouth fell open.

A filing cabinet. How abso-fucking-lutely brilliant! Why hadn't I thought of that? It would solve everything! Everything! Then I could file away all the untidy bits of my life and everything would be neat. Or else, at least neatly filed away to be taken out and wept over at appropriate times.

The thing is, where does a private citizen without an office, go about looking for a filing cabinet? I looked at the furniture shops near my house. They didn't stock it but if I wanted to order, they could have it for me in a month for about a hundred thousand dollars. Or some such ridiculous sum. My little sister, Julie, whom I tortured daily with repetitions of "I need a filing cabinet!" found a brochure for them at an office supplies place in Brickfields, for about half the price, and when we went there all enthusiastic, the bloody place was closed. Public holiday!

We came home disappointed to find a cousin who knew where to find this, that and the other in this haphazard place we call home.

"Hey Thomas, do you know where to get second hand office furniture?" By this time I had decided that second hand was good enough. It just had to file my stuff. It didn't have to look pretty.

"Yes, row of shophouses in Taman Tun. Opposite the IBM building."

Julie and I took off on a quest for the needful the next day. What can I say? The secondhand furniture dealers were CLOSED. It was a Sunday, but still! It seemed that the universe was conspiring to keep my filing cabinet from me.

So, it was a Wednesday and I was feeling pretty damn low. Here I was, with my life still unsorted. An SMS from a Mary, saying she was taking off for the wide open spaces the day after (actually she was baliking kampung or going home to Sungei Petani to sort out her taxes there) and whether I would be free for a cuppa.

Yay! I would not be alone with my Promethean struggle. So we had rose tea at this place, (she didn't think it was rose tea and asked our waitress to show her the tea bags) and some sandwiches and pie a la mode and were good to go. Then I asked, rather diffidently (as Mary is a busy woman with a hectic social schedule) whether she would be free to follow me to Taman Tun, to trawl the secondhand furniture shops there. She was. Yippee! We were off.

I didnt' realise before that Taman Tun was an impossible place to park. After circling the parking lot a few times, negotiating tiny spaces (everyone was doubled parked everywhere) I finally parked illegally. I mean, I needed to get there and it would only be for a short time and ...OK whatever. We jumped out of the car and ran to our first furniture shop.

Old stuff was laid out in the most unattractive way possible ("We're not fancy, but we're cheap!) and we made our way into the shop and looked round. Nobody to tell us where the filing cabinets were. Finally we noticed some guy hovering outside and Mary gave him her million dollar smile. "Could you help us?"

Mr Congeniality made his way into the shop and regarded us with sullen suspicion. It was pretty obvious that this would not be a big sale and he would not be wasting any good cheer on us.

"Filing cabinet?"

He was a man of few words. He led us to the cabinets and pointed. All were of the four-drawer variety. Too tall. I wanted a three-drawer model. I shook my head. He shrugged. Told me how much these cost. (Not that much cheaper than getting one new from the office supplies) I told him this and he seemed uninterested.

We left the shop, somewhat dissatisfied. Is this how the second hand junk dealers behaved? The second shop along the row, though, we struck gold. The guy gave us this wide, wide smile, showed us what we wanted, quoted a pretty good price and said he would have it delivered for free.

"Hold on a minute, OK. We're pretty sure we like yours, but let's just see what's available along the rest of here."

"Sure," he put away the bill he was just about to open.

We strolled rather half-heartedly to the rest of the shops. One of them had a grotty Christmas tree (white with a fine coating of grime) which he was trying to palm off for RM250.

Mary: "If cleaned up, it would look pretty damn good."

Me: "It looks so grimy. Maybe they should clean it up before trying to sell it. I mean Christmas in June, all very charming and all that, but yuck at the tree."

The guy trying to sell us the tree: "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the waaaaay..."

Never a dull moment.

So I hurried back to nice shop with nice guy, ordered my filing cabinet and it arrived yesterday. I regarded it with pride and a sense of achievement. Then, I made my way out to go buy a bottle of wine and box of chocolates. My cousin Eve and I were taking our friend Addy out for her birthday and I had no time to sort my stuff out.

Who cared? My filing cabinet would still be waiting for me when I got home. Everything would be taken care of.

My life is now perfect.


goldennib said...

I bet it feels so satisfying to have a perfect life.

I need to get me a filing cabinet, too.

part-time buddha said...

I like how merely getting the filing cabinet has improved your life. You haven't mentioned yet actually using it to, you know, file things away. But, there is something to knowing there this a place for the mess, even if the mess isn't in that place.

I could use about four filing cainets. Or perhaps a maid.

Jenn said...

Nessa: Yes, if everyone in the world got a filing cabinet, the world would be a better, neater place and everything would get done on time and everybody would be much much happier and I wouldn't be such a failure at everything I touched.

PTB: A maid? No. I think a filing cabinet would be better than a maid. Start with one before you work your way up to four. Yes, I know I was happy with the getting, before I even started on the actual work of sorting out my stuff. But then, I am very much Bridget Jones-ish in that way.

part-time buddha said...

Sure, a filing cabinet might suffice, but they don't traipse around in those little outfits now do they. Hence, the maid.

goldennib said...

Jenn: What's with this failure talk? Don't let me catch you doing that again, lar. (Did I use it right?)

PTB: I've seen a few maids in real life and not one has ever had a skimpy outfit.

A thinker said...

If only it was that easy.

Secondhand shopping is so much fun, isn't it?

But now...dum da dum dum...

Comes the fun part! FILING.

Which is not as easy to do as it sounds.

Good luck!!

Jenn said...

PTB: Hmmm...I think you are stuck in England in another decade when maids wore uniforms...but I can appreciate your point. In that case, no, I don't think a filing cabinet would do the trick for you.

Nessa: (sheepish grin). OK. And yes, you used that perfectly. Welcome to Malaysia. You're practically one of us now.

A thinker: Haha. I know. I spent the last three days filing. And I've made up some weird categories (such as kooky stuff and wrapping paper and new cards). So it was quite fun. And now nearly everything is filed away.

Now I am waiting for all that good energy I have cleared up to flow through my life in Zen-like feng shui manner and start making waves.