Monday, September 12, 2011
Dog Shit/Get Your Game Tight
What a shitty start to a new week! This morning got up, crabby that it was Monday but determined to meet the day with diligence. Tidied, laundry and then down to a whining Joey. Gathered myself and as we were leaving my nostrils were assaulted by the smell of dog shit. Right by the door a huge messy poop on a very special afghan that one of the girls had thrown carelessly on the floor. I guess I must have a lot of rage seething not so deeply below the surface these days, because I flipped out. I grabbed the dog, shoved his chin in the messy poop and then dragged him to the back door and pushed him out the door, all the time yelling at the top of my lungs about what a piece of shit he was. He looked sadly at me through the glass so I threw my jacket at him. Taking the hint, he slunk down into the yard, shamed. I sat and cried, not sure what to do next. Finally I got grim and dealt with the poop, and then got dog shampoo and a towel and went to him and washed the shit off of his face. We went to the beach but in keeping with the crappy day, couldn't stay because the flies were biting again.
When we got back home, I surveyed things with rageful eyes. The cats yelled for their food. Joey begged for his breakfast. I was pissed and said, "F*& you," to all of them and proceeded to take my coffee in solitude on the deck, putting their needs on hold. And this is what I thought about. I hate the seamy side of life. I think I hate it more than most people because, for me, order and cleanliness has been hard won. That Charlie Brown character, Pig Pen? That was me as a kid. Because I was one of five kids and probably as a function of the hippy '60's, I was neglected. I never bathed. My long hair was wild and matted. My clothes were bizarre, mismatched, too small, worn wrinkled from the bottom of the laundry basket (this was before knits when everything needed ironing). I smelled bad and I seem to remember wearing the same pair of underwear for weeks. By the time I was a teen, I started to take care of myself and had some standards, but we still lived in chaos.
Now, I have daily awareness of infrastructure and I nervously attend to all the stuff that has to be done to live a normal life. I strive to keep things in order and myself well cared for. It will never be natural for me....I always worry that if I slip up, I will once again descend into dirty chaos. There was an episode of CSI that spoke to me. A new CSI arrived late to a crime scene. The veteran CSI scolded him for his tardiness and when he glimpsed the new CSI's forensic kit which was in disarray, he took him to task - advising him sternly on how he should conduct his life, how he should take time every day to "get his game tight" - making sure he got to bed early enough to be on time, going through his kit the night before to ensure everything was replenished and neat. Since watching that episode, I have adopted that phrase and made it into a personal mantra - "make sure my game is tight."
I love beauty and order. I hate waste and carelessness. I live in a house where there is no thoughtfulness or attention given to keeping things nice. It must be my fault....I raised them after all. And yet it enrages me. If they only knew how hard won and fragile my ecosystem is, they would understand that when they defile things, it literally hurts me. Today I surveyed the damage and the carelessness. I see a grocery bag of antique Stieff puppets, precious relics from my childhood that were properly stored in an airtight Tupperware container - the container appropriated for a camping trip with the promise that the puppets would be restored to it - never done - the container apparently lost. Expensive binoculars cast off in a corner, out of their case because someone decided the case would make a cute purse. Guitars out of their cases, played and cast carelessly aside. Piles of clean laundry I carefully folded with the expectation that their owner would put it in drawers, thrown back into the dirty laundry because it was too much work to put it away... I find myself washing clean clothes that were just, days before, cleaned and folded. Coats not hung up, boots and shoes scattered around the house like chicken feed, toilets not flushed (when confronted I'm told they are saving the environment by not using too much water). It's all gross and seamy.
And so I restore order. I clean and hate. I dream about a time when everything will be mise en place. But I also know to be careful for what I wish for. I already know that living a mise en place life is a lonely one, that yes, I will always know where the scissors are but I run the risk of living lonely. Maybe there is a compromise where there can be basic order without neuroses. All I know is that I need order in my life now. I am a volcano about to spew - when I blow it ain't going to be pretty. So, I need to try and stay ahead of the chaos, tackle problems, one thing at a time with equanimity. Everything is crumbling.... This morning I made a token gesture for order. I looked in disgust at the silverware drawer. I fail to understand how a silverware drawer can get dirty - it only contains clean forks, knives and spoons. And yet, I see bits of encrusted food, crumbs and other gunk in it. I said, "Enough is enough!!!" and emptied it on the counter and cleaned it. One messy drawer cleaned, the tiniest of victories.
The challenge for me today, is to harness this energetic anger and start cleaning in earnest. I need to clean up EVERYTHING! I need to clean up the house, the garage, the basement, the cars, the office, the divorce, the finances, the business. Everything. I need mise en place to be happy. And I need to do this all by myself. Captain of my own ship. Put this rage to work for me. I dunno if you can relate to any of this....these issues may be peculiarly mine. But if you are feeling that life has gotten out of control, seamy, frayed around the edges and that it is eroding you, maybe you can harness some energy and take it all on, one thing at a time: that laundry that needs to go to the cleaners; the shoes that need polishing; the moldy caulk that needs replacing. All of these things that mock us with their brokenness or dirtiness must be attended to. We need to triumph over decay. Restore order and beauty.
Found this image on the web. Next time, I will expect Joey to pick up his own shit!