Saturday, April 21, 2012

LIfe Maintenance

With the great luxury of an extended stretch of time at home, we’re in a patch where life maintenance can command some serious attention. We’ve been productive and are making headway on items that are on a “house to do” list from.... wait for it: 2006.  That seems to have been the time period in which a whole range of ongoing efforts were disrupted, from the house-in-progress stuff to the book to a personal amusement project I dug out the other day, which has been buried since that same year. Since my hope, belief and plan is that the book will be out of my life by summer, I’m anticipating reviving that project this summer and I’m having great fun planning for it.  My fingers are crossed that this will come to pass.
As is so often the case, this particular binge of progress was rooted in a minor setback: a sick dog left us with a carpet we could not get  de-odorized, so we sent the rugs out for cleaning. That got the ball rolling. We got blinds ordered to replace the ones we installed in the year we moved into this house (1982)--they get installed Monday--and rolled on to other things we’ve known were hanging out there, including replacing some cracked storm windows that have been broken for a long, long time. The progress feels great and is fueling more as we go. I’m not sure how long this roll can last, as I go back on the road again soon, and that consumes energy and requires a lot of rest when I land back in our home haven again. As part of the rested-up experience, we went out to dinner the other night, something I don’t attempt much any more given the noise and sight overload that usually imposes--and since then, I’ve mostly been in bed. Fortunately, it’s possible to plan and order stuff while prone!
In the thinking and staging process, I’m once again confronting the quantities of stuff I’ve saved over the years and not managed to cull enough (ok, or hardly at all).  In general, as a visually-focused person, there’s lots of “stuff” in our environment because I take pleasure in having it around.  There are items we never use yet have on display because they’re beautiful or soul-filling. Lots of it. And, I added some of Michael’s childhood electric trains the other day because they’re so cool to look at.
My desk has massive quantities of paper sitting on it because things I don’t see might as well not exist: I’ll never do anything about them.  At the same time, if the array isn’t reasonably orderly, it gets on my nerves and becomes irritating.  Of course, my stuff always looks neater to me than that of other people (poor Michael) because I understand its order, even if it’s not apparent to others on first glance. This, I admit, comes perilously close to a double standard, and would be, if I didn’t have such good reasons for my own accumulations.  (I can almost say that with a straight face.) 
If I didn’t have such a hard time parting with items that are surplus to requirements, this would all be more manageable.  The accumulation isn’t trivial. Getting rid of garbage and redundant things is no problem: it’s the stuff that isn’t being used that might be useful some day, especially if it’s “perfectly good.” Throwing out items that could be used by others is out of the question for both of us, and finding good homes for them takes time and energy.  Plus, we have a lot of surplus storage space in this house, which leads to a perfect storm of too muchness.  
While in theory, I’m in favor of clutter-abatement, the practice is challenging. I’m sure there’s a deep emotional reason for it, and I’m just not that interested in delving into what it is. Generally, I keep the worst of my tendencies in check on work-related projects by (purposefully) affiliating with people who are reflexive pitcher-outers, so there’s usually a reasonable balance in that arena. Everything else, not so much. 
Sigh.  That’s the next challenge, except for now, I’m going to savor the progress made on these much-needed projects. Cheers. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How did it get to be Saturday afternoon a week later already?

The short answer, of course, is that there’s not time and energy to do all I’d like to do. If I prioritize people on top of work-related stuff, then my frustratingly-low levels of energy run out. If I get more insular and only work, the energy still runs out pretty fast (and then I haven’t maintained the sustaining connections). Admittedly, I still haven’t properly mastered the art of “no,” and slow haredom, while more natural than it ever was before, still isn’t a total fit for my personality and proclivities. While my new energy-management system seems to run autonomously in background most of the time, it’s not got a clean algorithm and it fails (pretty badly) from time to time. It’s all still a work in progress, as they say.
The travel in March, for example, was way, way over the top, and catching up from it has taken a lot longer than I like examine very closely. Overall, it’s slowly sinking in that probably this is as good as it’s ever going to get, and while the glass is plenty full, it has some headroom there at the top that I find exceedingly frustrating. It was a rude surprise—even after the fresh March experience—when two days last week required being out in the world for more consecutive hours than I normally attempt, and it wiped me out for the rest of the week. There’s solace in the fact that I could even pull off the March travel and the two packed days, and they certainly represent progress. I suppose it’s greedy to want more and better. 
On that front, I’m seeking out more physical therapy on my arm and shoulder, as the level of function is declining, and it’s sore most of the time. It’s recalled to mind the archetype sedentary-observer spinsters and widows in some of the afternoon tea novels and mysteries I used to consume, back when fiction featured more prominently in my life. I find myself empathizing with them, as getting up and exercising--which helps, eventually--is so, so counterintuitive at times. There was an article recently in the NYT in which the mysterious symptoms of a young woman were diagnosed, and part of the solution for her was more exercise to keep her joints working as long as possible. Use it or lose it, as they say. 
Excitingly, the book is inching towards production, with the editing process starting and publication slated for October. The title and cover are set (yay!) and there’s really, truly light at the end of the tunnel on this one. In many ways, it was a relief to discover I could still do it, balanced with the reality of how much of a strain it was, with my remodeled brain, to create something that rises above the threshold of “not awful.” It took a lot of help to get there, and I’m so grateful to all those who read and commented and contributed to getting this thing (almost) across the finish line.  
The rowing machine beckons.  Cheers to all.