how to clean the attic

13 05 2009

DSC_0005Step 1:  

Go to have your teeth cleaned.  Never mind that it has been over 4 years and you aren’t having any pain or trouble.  Let them do a full set of x-rays which will suddenly change the course of your life.

Step 2:

Meet with the kind receptionist who is left to tell you that your “no pain-no gain” clause will cost you at least $3000.  Now you have pain.  There is gnashing of teeth, clenching, grinding and other goodies that will eventually cost more if you don’t stop and get a grip immeditately.  Smile, thank her and tell her you’ll get back to her soon to schedule.

Step 3:

Wait two weeks – Eat a pretzel and allow one chunk of salt to find its way to that spot of decay that they said they saw on the x-rays that you instantly believe really IS there.  Ponder the tears in your eyes and the pain radiating from your jaw, through the side of your head, directly to the brain center that triggers the dialing mechanism in your fingers.  Try not to cry while talking again to the nice receptionist and begging her for an appointment NOW.

Step 4:

Go to the pharmacy to pick up the meds she phoned in for you to take while you wait another 4 days for your appointment.  Caution: remember next time when she asks if you want a prescription for additional pain meds the answer is always YES even though you don’t have an insurance plan that will cover the expense.  Some things are just priceless.  Do not question why you have been prescribed steroids and an antibiotic.  Begin to trust the dentist’s wisdom.

Step 5:

Pay careful attention to the literature accompanying the meds which will alert you to the onset of periods of delusional or psychotic behavior.  By day 2 of your 5-day blister pack, you will notice aforementioned changes.

Step 6:

Go to the appointment for the root canal that you never knew you needed because there was no pain.  Ask for the gas and cry when they take it off your face and tell you they couldn’t get to the root and you now need to see a specialist NEXT week.

Step 7:

Open the sunroof and all car windows.  Allow the Tourette’s to flow freely as you drive home.  Take more steroids.  Watch HGTV.  Be aware as the anger becomes part of you.

Remember that the workman are coming this week to install new attic windows.  Do not despair that you ordered them before you knew that you were going to give the dentist money because you had no pain.  Dwell on the fact that the workman will NOT be able to install the windows because there is no floor space left in the attic.

Step 8:

Take yet another day of steroids and begin your attic cleanse.  Your body will not feel what it is doing.  Note:  again it is important to remember that next time the nice lady asks you if you want pain meds to say “YES, OF COURSE!”. Tell your arthritic hip with referred knee pain that it has been magically healed by the steroids and that is why it is able to make countless trips up and down the stairs like some spring chicken.

Step 9:

Stand after 8 hours of frenetic activity and take in the handiwork.  You will need this mental picture for reference in a few hours.

Step 10:

The following morning when there are no more steroids in the blister pack and your body racked by pain is wondering why a trip to the dentist resulted in 10 bags of garbage and more curbside recycling in front of the house than the whole block combined – make a plan for next week’s project for post-REAL root canal DEAL and don’t forget to ask for additional pain meds.   That is how you get the attic clean.

Gentlemen, start your engines!

9 02 2009

dsc_00057We hadn’t been married but about five years when the Good Dr. began his post-graduate studies that happened to be at a stateside university some 3,000 miles away. It worked out best with all aspects of life for him to pack his bags and hit the road for sometimes six weeks.  He could totally give himself to his studies, finish up projects and shop for the million things on our wish lists before coming home with suitcases full of peanut butter and certain cereals we couldn’t get in Spain at the time.

Meanwhile, I was home with the kiddos.  We would do all kinds of special things in his absence to try to keep our minds off the fact that he was so far away and working his gray matter in such an intensive way.  We felt like it was our duty to not complain about his leaving…our small contribution to helping him get through those extra years of book learnin’.

I remember being terrified the first times he was gone.  I was in a foreign country and not totally savvy about banking, legal matters or even driving for that matter.  But with each summer “adventure”, I got more confident and quit fretting so much. Little did we know at that point in our journey that we were being prepared for a lifetime of these kinds of absences.

One of the wonderfully bad habits we (the three left behind) got into was making these times a different kind of “vacation”.  I don’t need much encouragement to chill. Given a choice of things I “should” do but don’t “have” to do…I do nothing!!!  I am a totally undisciplined slob.

Now – none of this is intended as a negative reflection on the Dr.  Our ying and the yang is that he brings order and structure to my chaos…and I bring him a huge dose of spontaneity.  Can you read the understatement???  He really has had to put up with alot of packratedness in these 11,000 plus days with me.  Me – the Queen of Clutter.

I am within hours of crossing the 48 hour mark until I pick him up at the airport. Mad dash time.  I don’t know what the psychological deficiencies are in my character that make me this way…but here I am.  I put the PRO in procrastination.

Tomorrow I will be daytripping south to make arrangements to replace a storm door that got ripped off its hinges during a snow storm that dumped 24″ on a few square miles. How lucky am I?  That door was just replaced a little over a year ago.  The weather is supposed to be in the 60ºs so a good driving day.

And the next – thunderstorms.  What’s better to do on a stormy day than to clean like a mad woman?  I will double dare my Dyson to clog!

I am kicking ass and taking names!

30 09 2008

Remember the story about my Granddad when my Mom went to show off her new engagement ring?  Refresh your memory in an open letter to my nieces and nephews be they tulley or mcniece.  I am channeling him these days.  I feel surly and churlish – trying to get a job done because I won’t be free to feel what I want to feel until she isn’t chomping at the bit.  So, I am posting fair warning to stay out of my way.  If my concentration gets broken for any reason it is not going to be pretty. 

We started in on the famous bookshelf yesterday.  I had planned a strategy to help keep focus and minimize distraction.  First, I took three small bins, piling in anything and everything that wasn’t a book.  Oh the glorious bounty!  But alas, three bins did NOT do the trick – so it overflowed on to a chair and in plastic grocery bags and anything else that would serve a containerish purpose.  

Then with the mrs. at my side we started at the top and worked our way down.  Book by book she was allowed to condemn them to death or grant them a stay of execution.  Two shelves worth stay pretty much intact.

She has always been a reader.  Her favorites authors and series: not ones I’d care to read once let alone re-read them year after year as she does, but that doesn’t matter – they are hers…she wants to see them on the bookshelf, in her TV room, in her house.  Once her favs started lining up all organized and dusted – she could hardly contain herself.  She can’t stop staring at it.  She says it’s changed the whole look of the room.  

Throughout the evening while she worked her word puzzle, I started in on the nooks and crannies that had been the filing system for Billy’s newspaper clippings.  Like an archaeologist at a dig site in the Negev Desert – a pattern slowly formed before my eyes:

  • Obits for anyone who had attended Emerson High School, worked at Nipsco or lived on Gary’s East Side.  
  • Anything having to do with the Cubs.  
  • Members of their church-in name or photo-snipped and saved.  
  • A column that used to run in the paper written by a guy living in LA who had grown up in Gary back in the “good ol’ days”. 
  • And finally – a shared section.  Once she was done with her wordsearch…he’d have his turn to carefully scissor his way around the crossword puzzle. All of them were blank.
Today, a very Fallish day – cold blowing winds, big puffy gray clouds rolling in off the Lake, leaves coming down like what.  It’s time for the trees to be bare for awhile…to rest naked in the snow. They have their own kind of beauty. Just like this bookshelf.  Old is giving way to a new look.  Once this room is to her liking…she’ll be ready to hibernate and wait out the winter.
This is a very disconcerting process.  Everytime I throw away a pile of half bent paperclips, plastic milk bottle tops and screws to who-knows-what, I feel like I’m erasing a little bit more of him.  He doesn’t reside in stuff…he’s in my soul and if I never have a trinket that was his – no one can take him away.  My hands are open.  
I haven’t been able to write for a few days.  The very act of blogging is counterintuitive to censorship.  There is a lot more going on here than what meets the eye.  Meanwhile, there is a job to do and it’s going to get done…

psycho writer

16 09 2008

I can barely contain myself.  It is like I just found someone in the universe that I really relate to.  And it was a chance meeting…

As a fledgling blogger, I am learning what this process is supposed to look like – and one of the components I’ve seen mentioned in numerous articles I’ve read say I should be reading other blogs to see what’s out there.  Good research…any amateur writer knows that.  

So I try to find other bloggers talking about things that sound like my life. I’m not looking in the political arenas, or the techie closets – mine is just the mundane with a psycho twist.  Hard to find that category in the WordPress index of themes, but today was different.  In their business section (who knew?) I notice a blurb that catches my eye and changes my day and maybe my life!  Words from a nationally exhibited working artist– trying to wrap her head around getting her life in order.  What a relief!  It’s not just me.  I’m not the only one struggling with which comes first the chicken or the egg – do I write first, or clean first?  Am I not productive artistically because I’m not organized or am I not organized because I’m not writing?

Now, I know most of you reading this today (or should I say posted today – read on a Thursday as I get the feeling that my readership is sneaking peaks at their workplace and really can’t afford to until they are well into their work week and sufficiently caught up…) have better things to do than to be inspired, entertained or motivated by blogs.  It is my personal goal each week to keep you sufficiently engaged to keep coming back for more of my own musings..let alone expose you to the big dogs in blogworld so don’t feel pressured to click on the link to read some really good writing…

I’m not the kind of disciplined writer that has a set pattern to my day – a this-is-when-I-work-so-do-not-dare-interrupt-me.  Nor does my inspiration come to me like that.  Much too random.  Much too chaotic. Take today for instance – “to do” lists aren’t really part of how my brain functions. It’s more of a kaleidoscope of things moving around in my brain like a pseudo LSD trip you’d see on a bad music video from the 60’s…forms emerge, retreat, morph into other things.  That is a typical day for me.

I am understandably fragile and moody and easily given over to whim. When that flow starts out my fingers – the rest of the day can settle into whatever.  It’ll all be good from the moment my curser moves to the “publish” button and it’s public. But if that inspiration isn’t quite ripe yet, then it’s a arduous process.  Like the urges we feel when we need to go to that one room of the house…but things weren’t really in “place”…you get my drift.

Worse yet, when I finally find that inspiration waiting quietly like a dust bunny in the corner – and something happens…a phone call, a knock at the door, a “can you tell me where…?”, or “what were you thinking about for lunch?” (the answer is always, “I wasn’t”) – and poof…the magic moment is gone and I’m deflated and feel like I have to start all over again.  Little noises, subtle squeaks in the floor, the cat meowing – anything can derail my train of thought.  So today I’ve decided – since my workspace is too public, too accessible – I will only write in the dead of night.  It is the only Do Not Disturb time when I’m not in peril. 

Actually I’m trying to figure out if I’m more frustrated by having started this process after 25 years “off” and not having the perfect writing environment or was I better off never having started back and having all the pressure mounting inside my head unexpressed.  See why I’m certifiably psycho?

I think it’s better having started writing…I think I am making progress.  I did take 500 lbs. of old magazines from a pile on my dining room floor and into the drop box at the hospital for re-purposing.  That felt good. And shredded bunches of junk mail just in time for the recycle pick-up tomorrow. Baby steps, right?  Baby steps. And today I have to wash my hair.  I may be on a roll here.

Just in time for me to pack up and go back to do the same thing at Billy’s. But what writer would be put off by being back in the space with such potential great ideas for future blogs?  It’d be like a sculpture artist passing on a trip to see Michelangelo’s David.