baby steps

19 11 2008

img_3938I just had a panic attack.  When I got here yesterday, I noticed that the power cord to my computer was being wonky.  The battery was on a recall list a couple of years ago and when they sent me a new one, it never really has been a battery I could use for any length of time.  If I get unplugged, I am seconds away from being advised that I am about to go on reserve power and everything risks being lost.  Whatever.  

So this morning, sitting where I am NOT within 15 minutes of my friendly neighborhood Apple Store, I couldn’t get the plug to light up and tell me it was connected in the way I need it connected.  But fortunately, I am my father’s daughter (somewhat) and decide to check the other little connects down the cord and maybe just maybe if I hold my mouth just right, I might have found the culprit.  I cannot be here for four days this week with no computer.  It would have been worth the tank of gas and a four hour road trip to head back to GR to buy a new cord.  That would have been easier than downtown Chicago, but I’m safe, at least for this post.

As difficult as knowing whether or not our economy is officially in a recession,  I think I’m in the anger part of the grieving process.  I’m not, however, expressing it in a typical fashion that would have me saying, “Billy, why’d you leave us?,” but it’s coming out more in a phrase resembling, “Billy WHAT the FAT!”  When I was here last week attending to things that are important to the Mrs. (like outdoor Christmas lights…), I got woefully behind in the steady paced progress I would like to make on the other fronts.  

My mantra is “one bag at a time”.  One bag of garbage – one recycle bin full to the top with “unnecessary plastic items” – (to quote Nanci Griffith in her reference to things you could only buy at Woolworth’s). My goal each week is to make sure her garbage bin is full to overflowing. Baby step cleaning.  Baby step digging.  Baby step sorting. Eventually we’ll all see the progress but it won’t be an overnight thing.

Last night I took aggressive action against empty boxes piled in the basement.  Tiny little ring boxes, a shiny red box hidden inside a plastic bag to keep it shinier, a huge box from a snow blower that is now living in Cincinnati – boxes of all shapes and sizes.  These boxes once served some purpose and were waiting their next assignment.  Well, I’m sorry to say – their next assignment is to become brand new boxes after they spend some time at the “rehab” center, spa soaking and getting roller massaged.  

As I was slashing my way through the mess, I devised a little contest.  The oldest box prize went to one from gas regulators – addressed to NIPSCO on 15th Ave in Gary.  OK – even if he brought that box home on the day he retired (1983) it would have been a mere twenty-five years old. Twenty-five years of mold from a damp basement…I think I’ll have bronchitis in a week or so. The smallest – went to one of those ring boxes.  There were two and I gave the prize to the silver and white striped one because it was cuter.  The sturdiest box award went to a Bonita banana box which could have served as its very own boat from Bogota it was so strong.  

Anyway – in preparation for this chore I bought myself a serious…a really serious, box-cutter last week, knowing I’d have to attack that space sometime.  It is so serious that it doesn’t even have a retractable blade.  It just juts out there screaming danger to all who come near.  

I’ve had some box-cutter experience at the boutique where Shop Girl hangs out. It is shameful to see how much packaging goes into sending things to stores but at least the stuff gets recycled. One day last winter when I was still working at the hospital and was on my way to interpret for a therapy session, I decided to make a quick stop to say “hi”.  There were boxes to break down and I just love the feel of a weapon in my hand so I made use of my time and got busy.  Ohhh, I could just hear my dad’s voice in my head that I was doing something wrong when before I knew it I had cut across my thigh – slicing open my black cords and just nicking my skin.  Yikes.  That would have been hard to explain in the emergency room being an adult over the age of 50 and all.

Well in my haste last night (or anger? or frustration? or glee that these boxes are going to stop harboring mold and mildew?)…I now have two half-inch slits in my jeans…and one little tiny scratch on my thigh.  Oh Billy’s voice is screaming at me for being so stupid.  He’s yelling as only he yelled…not with terrible words…just those kind that are really recriminating.  Like “only a knuckle head would…”

There were so many boxes cut up and ready for recycling that I couldn’t even take them out to the curb.  I don’t need to give the neighbor anything more to talk about.  They come up with things on their own.  So I will load them into my car, along with bags of leaves for the city compost site and take a little drive.  Besides the sun is shining – and it’s going to be a whopping 45º today.  Good for melting the 9″ of snow that fell two days ago.

The only crazy thing that gives me pause is when I see his writing on some of these boxes…even if it says, “his and hearz buks”  – a clue to the last few years.  But my time in the dungeon was profitable on another front – at least I found a decoration or two that she’d not seen for years because he’d been the last one to put them away – then forgot where they were.  

“Baby step – baby step to the elevator…” Thank you Dr. Leo Marvin.