Moving right along.

As is often read, time heals all, and I’m slowly becoming accustomed to being out in the working world again.  The adjustments I’ve had to make are minor compared to what others may have to experience under similar circumstances because I haven’t had to worry about finding childcare, or trouble anyone about taking over the few responsibilities I’ve accumulated in the past two years such as car pool.  My pets are relatively trouble free now, and there’s no long commute to plan for.  Surprisingly, most of my work clothes still fit, which is a sort of accomplishment, I guess.

No, that hasn’t been all that difficult.  What has been troubling is the loneliness I’ve been feeling.  It’s severe at times — so much so that I’ve been reduced to tears, surprised, and a bit unsettled about my unexpected emotions.  Although I’m thankfully past the worst of it, I sense a void that reminds me of a similar feeling I’ve experienced before — that of leaving something behind unwillingly, of loss.

It’s fairly painful.

For days, I struggled to think of pleasant things, and to busy myself with activities I enjoy, but wasn’t as successful as I’d liked.  I fell easily into my old habit of thinking of others less fortunate than myself.  Of so many who now find themselves without work and struggling to keep their homes.  And I tried to understand the uncomfortable pressure on my chest that all but screamed I was making an enormous mistake.

To help focus on the positive, I sat down with the MoH and we made a list of all that I’d like to do with my income over the next year:  repair the lighting and drip system on the patio; replace the fencing; install an energy-efficient hot water system, put organizers in the closets, repair a few old dining room chairs, have two other chairs reupholstered….Not quite as glamorous as others may think, but concrete enough to allow me to see that a year of my time at this point in my life counted for something.

I’m a strong believer in the idea that things happen for a reason.  That opportunities are placed before us all the time, and the extent to which we allow ourselves to see them determines whether our lives are rich and fulfilling, or mundane and guarded.  The ironic aspect of it all is that when I take the steps I do in new directions, I rarely realize whether it’s the best decision for me and those I care about.  Instead, it’s more an unknown, a tentative decision at best, and I attempt to keep my mind open to whatever may lie ahead truly believing that a unique experience is just over the hill.

All the while, I’m chastising myself, shaking my head over maudlin thoughts and pathetic self-absorbtion.  It’s grossly embarrassing, yet I can’t prevent it.  So I heave with countless cleansing breaths, and try to relax.  I give in to the sadness and then try to snap out of it.  I count what I should feel fortunate about, and move ahead.  I look for beauty in small things, and count stars at night.  I wonder how on Earth something so good could feel so wrong.

Only those with common experiences seem to understand how closely lives can be linked, how much one can grow to depend on community, on friendship and camraderie gained while sitting in front of a computer.  Over the past two years, lovely people who live a state, a country, or even an ocean away have truly and unexpectedly become part of my small world and enriched it more than I can describe.

Sadly, I’m missing all of them right now, and no amount of organizing my garage, digging in my small garden, or cooking the next recipe on my endless list will make that feeling go away.

The Things We Keep

Yesterday I tackled the garage, and although I’m far from being done, I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made.  It’s  a jumble of items you’d expect to find in a garage: a fairly recent deposit of my kitchen overflow;  remnants of our recent construction;  boxes expelled of Christmas decorations waiting for their return;  and my son’s truly unbelievable collection of crap.

Son's Crap

Not exactly a glamorous way to spend the first day after the holidays home alone, but pleasant.  I popped the garage door open to let in the light and brisk air realizing that if I had an attic or basement, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy either of those or my less than friendly neighbors as they passed by on their morning walk, furtively avoiding my gaze and the greeting perched on my tongue, just waiting for an opportunity to be human.   Ever the optimist am I.

I think the reason I avoid organizing our garage or anything else in my house that collects pieces of our lives over time, is that I’m forced to think about the memories attached to every item I handle.  It isn’t that I regret those memories — it’s more about having to accept the time it adds to the task, and the mood I’ll need to wallow in when I’m finished.

My thoughts wandered from annoyance with my son for keeping what resembles a rat’s nest wherever he goes, to flippant defiance:  What if I printed our address in craigslist in the “free” section and just left the garage door open to  the inevitable riot?  Instead, what I’m left with this morning are what lies between, like thoughts about boys growing up who were never interested in playing sports, but did to indulge us.

Old Trophies

 

 

Old Toys

Thoughts about school and career, and where all that knowledge and understanding goes when one is done with it.  Of an old house and all its poignant memories.   Of grandmothers and Martha, old friends I should call or write, and school kids I will never, ever forget.

Beauty lost to function and sentimentality to practicality on many counts during my purge. Copper pieces that have gleamed in the morning sun and cast sparks of light on my dining room wall for years are in the discard pile.  Decorations for Valentines Day and Easter that used to liven up the house when the boys were little also ended up in the pile along with a huge bag of stuffed animals I haven’t opened in years.  If I see them, I’ll have to think about who owned which and at what point in life.  It’s sort of leaning against the discard pile, not quite a part of it, and not quite separate.  Is there a child’s stuffed animal heaven somewhere I haven’t heard of?

Old Bunny

But there are things I’ve not quite decided to let go of, and If they’re any indication of who I am or what I’ve been, then I’m as odd as I’ve always thought I’ve been.  As odd as the stack of Martha Stewart Living magazines that seem to be about much more than the paper they’re printed on.  What does one do with that many magazines sitting, collecting spiders and bugs with too many legs to count?  Do I get one out each week, leaf through it, cut out what strikes my fancy and toss it to get on with the next?  There’s something about a sharp pair of scissors cutting along a perfectly straight line and thinking through one’s life.

Ferd, a giant bunny, sits in a corner on a stack of coolers.  It’s not a very dignified place for something that reminds me of how simple love can be if we allow it, and how easily life can be taken for granted, or lost if we’re not careful.

And these bottles?  I dug them up in the washed out area of an old dump near one of the last places my grandmother lived.  It was in the middle of nowhere — one of those places people used to go and then forgot about after the freeway was built.  The bottles aren’t valuable, but I like their varying shapes and embossed surfaces, each a slightly different tint than the next.  She was like that.

Junk Yard Bottles

Or a bag I packed the day I left my job, nearly two years ago.  It’s moved from one side of the garage to the other, but I haven’t unpacked it yet.  But I might blow the dust off the silver bar that used to sit on my desk to remind me that others see us quite differently than we see ourselves.

Career in a Bag

I’ve done quite a bit of thinking since finishing my work yesterday, and realize that as much as I got some exercise and fresh air, I’ve only moved everything from one side of the garage to the other.  It’s more organized than it was, but it’s all still sitting there.

It’s only been sifted.

Walk, write. Just get off your ass.

I should go outside today and walk.

The cold isn’t quite as bracing as it’s been the last week or so for my west coast bones, and I’m tempted to stretch them in the warm, bright sunlight somewhat like a fat, old lazy cat.

Tempted would be the key word there.

But if I ventured out to traipse back and forth through my old walking course in the neighborhood across the street, what would I think about?  The thought is almost as scary as being stuck on an airplane without a book — nothing to occupy my busy brain.  Nothing to worry about or to plan for, to gossip with a friend over.  Just quiet.  Well, and the occasional home owner who seems surprised to see a human walking down his street after his garage door opens just enough to allow him a line of vision.  Interloper that I’d be, my presence would put him in the awkward position of making eye contact and possibly uttering a greeting, or more commonly, have to avert his gaze so as not to invite one.

I could use the time to prod myself over writing if I went for a walk.  Or organize my plan of attack on the area of our house that is supposed to be a garage and is more like a junkyard right now.  Or make some kind of a schedule for something.  Anything.  You know, so I can have one.

Aren’t people supposed to have schedules?

I think people have schedules to have them — not because they’re necessary.  It takes time to plan them, and keep them, and check things off as you complete them. It fills the time in a day so that when your head hits the pillow at night, you can feel like you’ve been a good productive human instead of a lazy ass.

If I had a schedule, I would be well into it today, have my grocery list made, probably already have purchased and put away those groceries, and be up to my very sore elbows in some new recipe.  (Minestrone sounds heavenly right now in case you’re wondering, but I’m struggling to decide whether that lentil recipe with orzo would be better….)

But I’m here instead, thinking about next week, yet another new year, and the overwhelming possibilities that come with that inevitable flip of a single calendar page.

All I have to do is reach out and choose.

It’s amazing, isn’t it?

For instance, I could write a book.  I keep threatening to, but know that I’ll get around to it some day — after I have a schedule.  The world needs another book about yet another human who overcomes challenge and adversity and still has a positive outlook on life, right?  I’d definitely need a schedule to complete this daunting task, and would absolutely need to walk every single morning to get it done.  I know this.  Walking helps me sort out the tiny details as much as it also helps me unravel huge structural knots.

I could finally upgrade this site to 2.7 because I should have a long time ago.  But where would the spammers get to park their disgusting crap?

I could flip the switch on my food blog since it’s been ready and waiting for the domain I’m paying for and haven’t used so far, needing a week to work out all the kinks I never quite understand.  Actually, I will be doing that next week.  Yikes!

I could make a list of resolutions to consider, but I’m never very good at that, so wouldn’t take it very seriously and would struggle not to put something on it like, “I will make sure I change out of my pajamas every day all year before 2PM.” What’s the point of taking off flannel bottoms if all I’m going to put on is yoga pants?

I could get a job, but then I’d have to have a schedule, right? And clothes, and, and, and…I’m still removing suit coats and trousers I no longer wear.  Why would I want to start that all over again.  God forbid having to worry about whether my sweater is five years old, or my shoes are not quite fashionable.

I could go on a health-nut get-into-shape change-my-life type permanent binge, but then what would I do with a new body?  Write a new blog so I could tell others how they, too, can have killer abs?  I know mine are under my middle age spread somewhere.

I’d rather say, “Let’s not and say we did” to it all right now.

But that walk is sounding kind of nice about now.

Overhaul in Order…

I guess with the upgrade that didn’t quite go as I wanted it to, I’ll be working on redoing the entire thing again. January is a good time for that…I’ve been avoiding it for quite a while.

And if I don’t tackle these things, then my learning stops, and what’s the point of that? I’m wired to keep pushing to understand things that intrigue me. And this whole business intrigues me. I know I can sit down and write, but the way this looks is an extension of me as well. So I guess I better get busy and figure out how I really want it to look.

I’ve changed over the last year. And as fond as I am of that woman in the header, she isn’t quite me anymore. That’s not a bad thing. I’m not quite ready to give her up, though, so I’ll figure out that, too.

I deplore “shopping” for themes, and with the WordPress upgrade, there seem to be so many kinks about what works with what. Sheesh.

So, I’m off to watch the Chargers play the Colts in the playoffs! GO BOLTS!

Hang in there with this thing. Okay? I promise I’m not going anywhere…

Parts is Parts

What does it say about me when I can admit that I spent most of my morning at work putting labels and stickers on file folders in preparation for this next year of business and L.O.V.E.D. it?

CONTROL. The woman craves CONTROL. (insert wicked and crazed laughter here and clasp your hands near your chin, making sure to rub them as if applying lotion) It’s an office supply problem. You know. Paper, and pencils, envelopes and white out? I’ve always had an issue with office supplies, and I’ve learned there’s no cure.

But wait! There’s more.

I worked a whole extra 90 minutos loving it. I could see a real live finished product that had dimension. And I could carefully pick up all the brightly colored folders, and click them on the desktop to make sure they were PERFECTLY lined up. So. Cool.

About half way through my time, someone brought up New Year’s Resolutions, and I was surprised that I hadn’t even thought of making one. Of course, now, it’s still on my mind. But not so much that it has kept my drawers in a knot or anything. Now that would be quite the conundrum. Call this practiced avoidance.

Why do you need a resolution when you have a list. I made one last night before going to bed so I could hit the ground running when I got home from my J.O.B. Guess what was first on the list? Okay, so you’ll never guess, and although I’m a complete pro at Twenty Questions, I’ll cut to the chase…

…my friends at Best Buy. Or better said if you’ve watched the show on Monday nights, Chuck, which is beyond surprisingly good for television and no, I’ve never watched Boston Legal, or 30 Rock, or…Okay, you get it. Buy More. That’s what the store is called on Chuck. Best Buy is Buy More. Whatever.

Anyway, I called like a gracious and tolerant consumer who has been screwed and dragged over the coals by the capitalist machine that will be the bane of our existence before we know it ahem…has been so patient with an obvious communication problem.

I was less than thrilled when Josh answered the phone after I dealt with the cheerful machine and sitting on hold for 10 minutes. It wasn’t that Josh wasn’t thrilling. He’s been well trained. “Let me verify that the television we’re talking about is at (***) 555-DORK.” I told him that was correct and that there were most likely red flags and unhappy faces stamped around my phone number along with a few Jolly Rogers and a Fickle Finger of Fate for good measure. After a professional pause, he stated that they did not deal with red flags and unhappy faces (bwahahahahahaha!) and then he read me the notes the supervisor wrote on 12-14 after I spoke with her about what could be done.

Poor Josh read, “General Electronics (authorized posers) is having difficulty ordering parts.” I could only gasp delicately and ask him to tell me if that meant the parts to fix our T.V. still had not been ordered before I collected myself to breathe scorching flames through the receiver. He politely responded that,” because I’m not a supervisor, ma’am (wince), I may not be able to access all the information regarding what has transpired.”

So yes I spoke to yet another supervisor whose name I was provided without a request and isn’t that stellar customer service? But after she said hello, she asked to put me on hold so she could review the service notes. Uhhh…what service?

And when she couldn’t tell me whether parts had or hadn’t been ordered, I told her I would take the T.V. to the closest Buy More Sucker Store and stay there until they gave me a new T.V.

And guess what?

She said in her well-trained and pleasant customer type service voice, ” I can submit an authorization for you, if you’d like.”

Huh? “An authorization for what?” I asked.

“An authorization for a replacement T.V. which will take three to five business days.”

Go figure. So I told her I’d prefer the quickest way to ensure the T.V. was totally functional and wasn’t this a lot of horse shit from me.  She said she’d pursue both avenues and ain’t that special. I was smiling, however. And I did NOT raise my voice ONE time. But my eyebrows were very angry.

So next Wednesday, I’ll bring this up again. You will be soooooo over it, but it will be so special to find out whether I’ve been granted a brand spanking new T.V. or parts. And you know what they say about parts.

Parts is parts…OR…the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.

What’s that song that says something about being happy if you know it and clapping your hands?

Yah. Like that.

Now, on to the next thing on my list.

Dear Mr. Gynecologist…

As Toto and Dorothy continue along the long and winding road on their NaBloPoMo journey, Dorothy has gotten snippy, and Toto has begun to look longingly at her ankles, imagining what they might taste like, and just how loudly she’d scream if he chomped firmly on one…

November 20, 2007

Dear Mr. Gynecologist Doctor Person:

Reminder I just received your reminder in the mail about my annual check-up. Damn. I thought you’d have forgotten about me since I only saw you a few times. What a pleasant surprise that you remembered me! Although I must commend you for the stereotypical tasteful predictable pink fuchsia gerbera on the cover and pleasant sans serif font, it doesn’t diminish the fact that I absolutely HATE and am completely TERRIFIED of rarely look forward to taking care of this particular business.

I know. It’s necessary. And I did promised myself that after last winter, I’d take better care of myself.

But you made some adjustments last December, remember? Removed everything? There’s not a single girlie organ left. Not. One. Nada. If you knocked on my abdomen, it would most likely sound like a watermelon. Perfectly hollow.

Okay, so there are still a few other types of guts left in there. But still.

So, uh, I’m wondering just how you go about this favorite check up of mine. You know, the one I successfully avoided for more than five years which is why you had to relieve me of my equipment? Yes, that checkup.

How exactly does one have a PAP smear when one has no cervix? No uterus? Zippo ovaries? Hmmm…? I mean, think about it. You take your car to the garage for a tune up, you lift the hood, and whoops! There’s no trannie. No carburator. Hell, the engine is even missing. So what do you do? Shine things up a bit? Steam wash it? Make sure everything’s squeakin’ clean?

I can see having to go if a tune up is in order, but what exactly will you tune?

I don’t like that table with the motorized end portion. Or the stirrups. And I absolutely detest that light whose brightness resembles the ones they use when they work on freeways in the dead of night allowing anyone interested to see all the way to China without their glasses. Bright. Yanno?

But what I’m completely freaked out about is that you’re going to poke at my scars. You’re going to push on my abdomen. They not only still bother me, they creep me out, and I’m already wincing, just thinking about it.

Completely disgusting.

So I hope you don’t mind that I’ll just put this off a bit until I adjust to the idea of having missing equipment checked and hearing you say, “Yup. It’s still gone.” or “Need anything else adjusted?” And I won’t know how to respond since it’s difficult for me to tell when things are wrong with my body. I’m just not good at it. Well, unless it’s my left elbow which is completely screwed up right now. But you aren’t an elbow man, are you?

What I’d really like to say about this check up is, “Let’s not and say we did. ‘Kay?”

Okay, fine. So are there any bars near your office then? I’ll knock a few back before I get there. Well it sounds better for this situation than sipping wine and nibbling on a salad. Don’t expect me to be able to actually stay on that table once I get there, though. Okay?

Mortified,

Me

p.s. And I don’t want to hear ANYTHING about not taking my hormones. Got it?

p.p.s. I know. There’s no whining, either. Whatever.

Dear Peter Walsh, Organizational Guru…

I’m making progress here, although today, if it wasn’t for NaBloPoMo, I’d probably take the blogging day off. I’m in high gear on this house organizing frenzy, liking it, and noticing some interesting things about what exactly is organized and what isn’t in this house…and why. Like, the answer is Earth shattering, and everyone’s been waiting for it. For world peace. And stuff.

November 15, 2007

Dear Peter Walsh,

The other day, I actually sat down to watch Oprah. That may not seem to be anything special, but I’ve been a sort of lazy good for nothing but blogging domestic engineer for about a year now, and spend no time watching daytime television. I don’t even think about it. You’re wondering what in hell all this has to do with the price of tea in China, right? So anyway, I actually remembered Oprah, clicked on the television, and there was Celine Dion. I’m a closet Celine aficionado — well, not quite an expert, but still. So I grinned, turned up the volume and sang the entire hour. I just love “I Drove All Night,” don’t you? The Roy Orbison version the best, I mean, he’s incredible, but Celine is great, too. Did you see her show in Vegas? It was completely amazing. I know, I know. You’re thinking I’m less than balanced and I can see that wild look in your eye that lets me know you’re planning your escape route. But stay with me here.

So there was a commercial during the show that advertised another show coming later in the week. I think it’s airing today. It was about hoarders. I’ve been wondering about the idea of hoarding, and have been thinking of it while I’ve been going through my house. Sorry it takes me so long to get to what I’m talking about. My mind is full of clutter. Things go in and never come out, all up there waiting to be used. It’s a genetic problem. You just never know when someone may need to know what the botanical name for a Bird of Paradise is at the San Diego Zoo when you’re really there to see lions and tigers and bears. Fortunately, the problem isn’t so horrendous that I never get to my point, though, so that’s some relief. Isn’t it?

But good news! I’m only in the mild to minimal category on the Hoarding Severity Scale. And according to my Clutter Assessment Results, I am a clutter victim, who can blame a “busy life” (um…car pool four times a week and two blogs? No.), “disposable income” (he’s kidding, right? What? You didn’t know money grows on a tree on our patio? Feh.), “and a steady influx of purchases” (well, okay, but they’re mostly food related, so they don’t stay around long…), and “junk mail” (erm, no one’s going to complain if the post office outlaws that crap. Maybe they could get on that?) Like I was saying…

Here’s my progress to date. I have a handle on:

  • where all the bills go now (cool folders with LABELS *Woo Hoo!*) Okay so the folders aren’t cool; the labels are. And I will be getting cool folders. Some day after I get organized.
  • the office shelves are great, the closet isn’t too bad, and the stacks are down to a low roar. Of course every time I get my desk organized, someone leaves a tank on it. Sheesh.

It’s hard to get good help any more, yanno?

    • magazines are now sorted, organized by date, and either recycled or marked and stored (but I’m really lying on this one, because going through the saved issues will take time…and I do have time)

  • the cheese drawer in the fridge (I’m still working on the science experiment that is our veggie bin, but at least it’s not mushy any more)
  • the RT’s bedroom which is much, much cleaner and organized (almost minty fresh and clean) I said almost, okay?

IMG_0936.JPG IMG_4589.JPG

Before and After. Not bad, huh? Now to get rid of the bunk bed. Okay, where was I?

  • the laundry room upper cabinets (so I still have to dig into that stoopid lower cabinet that all those plastic grocery bags are stuffed in but it’s scary in there. Really.)

But I should get credit for some things never, ever being disorganized.

IMG_4707.JPG

They’re always perfect. Except when the MoH empties the dishwasher and just puts the wooden spoons on top of the steel utensils, or the measuring cups in this drawer instead of the one next to it. And the wire whips? You have to put them in a particular way. Because.

The rack below it is also organized by color: greens, reds, blues. So probably a little touch of OCD to add to the mild hoarding tendencies and clutter victim state.

You could come and help me out since Martha hasn’t accepted my offer yet. You know, maybe hook me up with a nice set of shelves for this lame coat closet that builders still insist on including around here, which is truly ridiculous considering we never have to wear coats. Ever. Shelves would be great. Could you get right on that, please? I need the space for my kitchen overflow.

And these built in cabinets? What are they for other than hiding things? My cats love to sleep in them, but that’s not the best idea considering everything in the cabinet gets hair all over it and then has to be washed. What would you use them for? Suggestions when you have time, please?

Well, after you’ve helped that lady who has 75 tons of trash in her house. Which is just plain weird.

Thanks for your time today. Maybe we can do lunch and discuss the possibilities. Yes?

Have your people call my people.

Sincerely,

Me.

p.s. Do you know anyone who does windows?