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Mom was right, A Mother's Day Piece.

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oceanvu2
Senior Member
since 02-24-2007
Posts 1007
Santa Monica, California, USA


0 posted 05-12-2008 07:28 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Mom was right.  You’ve got to clean up your own room.

About a year ago, I went through an excruciatingly painful surgery to remove the last of my cancer-prone large intestine.  Being more concerned with just getting through the day than handling routine household maintenance, my “pit,” the room where I work, went completely to hell.  Stuff all over the place.

I have always been the sort of backyard-garage mechanic who knows by memory exactly where a given tool lies on his cluttered bench, though no one else would have a clue.

This is not exactly uncommon among writers. Some may prefer a meticulous work place, but the most common images of writer’s writing rooms show stacks of stuff, books,  tchotchkes, and clutter.  But it’s only clutter and disorganization to someone else, right up until it becomes overwhelming and stops a writer, or a mechanic for that matter, dead in his or her tracks.

I’ve had to deal with severe, endogenous depression -- probably why I write a lot of humor -- all of my life.  Post surgery, immobile for a while, I became more depressed than usual.  Not because of the pain, or even as the aftermath of facing likely death. Once again I came through with somewhat mixed results.  Facing death doesn’t exactly grow old, but it becomes less intimidating with practice.

What hurt me, depressed me, was my inability to help my wife Deb.  She’s the one with major illness and unable to help herself.  I’m just the chopped up nut case in the family.  She’s the one with the joie de vivre, but bed bound, nonetheless.  We have help, but I hate it when I can’t pull my weight.  

Depressed by being depressed, and in an act of childishness, I decided to get off all my prescription medications to see if that would help cheer me up.  My pain level was down to tolerable, so I tolerated it.  The childish, or, more accurately, stupid part, was giving up the prescription meds that had been keeping me reasonably functional, Zoloft, Xanax, and my beloved sleep-permitting Valium.  

Yeah, I distinctly remember reading the prescription fine print, back when I could read the fine print, which suggested that if one quits this stuff or similar after 30 years, it’s gonna hurt. I distinctly do NOT remember reading a big, red, bold faced warning that said, “This means you, too, Stupid!” though it is probably in there somewhere.

I didn’t go any crazier than I usually am, but I did become damned near inert, and my pit, my room, went to hell.

My wife came to the rescue.  “Take your (common expletive deleted) drugs and knock this (somewhat more colorful string of expletives  deleted) off!  Ok, so it was a little more than a gentle nudge.

Well, it takes a little while for brain maintainers to kick back in, so it’s not like I felt better the next day.  Or week. Or month. But one day, I looked at my pit and said, “Cripes, this pit is a PIT!”

So I immediately set about searching for someone else who would be willing to clean it up.  Couldn’t find a soul.  Probably for a reason.

The reason was, Mom was right.  “You’ve got to clean up your own room.”  Daunting task though it seemed, there really wasn’t any way around it.  No one was going to do it for me.

I hit upon a less than novel solution.  I bought a box of those big black garbage bags with red tie strings, and threw most of the crap that I hadn’t looked at in a year and wasn’t likely to look at again in this lifetime.

Someone with no interest in my junk could probably have done this in three or four hours.  I, of course, had to consider every piece of drek in hand before whacking myself on the side of my head and chucking it, so it took three days or ruthless recycling to do one room.  Plus another day to organize the junque that I will only part with on my last, very much for real, death cot.

Now, there is a point to this.  Somewhere in the process, I realized that it might be useful to clean up all the crap in my brain:  the grudges, the doubts, the fears, the could have been’s and the should have been’s.  I have always espoused living in the NOW, but certainly hadn’t been practicing it lately.  

Letting go of mental clutter is not much different, or easier, or more pleasant, than bagging up physical clutter.  It doesn’t take courage. Just as an old stack of National Geographic or box of junk mail isn’t going to bite you when you throw it out, cleaning up one’s mind is not likely to result in physical damage.  Both acts require intention, though, and a willingness to LET STUFF GO.

The worst that can happen is that one ends up with a clean room.  The best… Well, here’s what happened for me.  I started paying true attention to Deb again, giving care with intentionality.  And I started writing again.  And writing is what I do when I am being “me” cleaned up and focused.

Thanks, Ma, though I apologize for taking so long to get it.

Best to all, Jimbeaux
Balladeer
Administrator
Member Empyrean
since 06-05-99
Posts 26302
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA


1 posted 05-12-2008 09:19 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

This is really a great piece, Jim, well-written and very thought-provoking. I have no idea why it is in the alley but thanks for sharing...
serenity blaze
Member Empyrean
since 02-02-2000
Posts 28839


2 posted 05-12-2008 09:49 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

smile...

I love you both.

And I too have been on a rampage of late--it feels good to put things in boxes.

I was "storage" for a long time, and that does something to your head.

I was going to give you a detailed list, but Mike is right--you slam-dunked the subject.

Now if I can only get my mother to clean her room...

And I lost my gold tacks too, or I'd hang a fresh blanket over the window. *chuckle*

Susan Caldwell
Member Rara Avis
since 12-27-2002
Posts 8464
Florida


3 posted 05-13-2008 09:09 AM       View Profile for Susan Caldwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Susan Caldwell

meh...

you will never find my room a mess or even a tiny bit unorganized.  *sigh*

enjoyed reading this very much...

"too bad ignorance isn't painful"
~Unknown~

Sunshine
Administrator
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart


4 posted 05-13-2008 09:48 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

I don't care where you posted this, Jim, but I'm glad to see it. Helps others put things in perspective, y'know?

Yep, you know!



oceanvu2
Senior Member
since 02-24-2007
Posts 1007
Santa Monica, California, USA


5 posted 05-13-2008 07:41 PM       View Profile for oceanvu2   Email oceanvu2   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for oceanvu2

Balladeer -- I posted this in the Alley because my Pip friends tend to show up here.  Sometimes I write just to talk to my Pip friends.

It's an amusing situation.  In the main, few Pipsters seem to agree with me about anything.  But, Lord knows, there is no lack of respectful discussion.  As you have said before, agreement is not the point.  Discussion is.

A couple of things:  

One, I am truly glad you took on the Workshop project and revived it so well.  One consequence is that it seems to have cut down on submissions to CA, since you provide a "safer" place for working on mechanics.  This is very, very good.

Two, given the open access of Pip, I find it difficult to converse with naif's and children.  I love them, as I love my own children, grand children, and my in-the- works great grandchild.  But gosh, sometimes I just want to say "grow up and get over it."

Which means I get either sarcastic or too blunt.  I don't do it maliciously, but I admit to an impatience with children and fools.

You don't do that.  I admire your equanimity, even though I will probably never write a ballad.

Best, Jimbeaux
latearrival
Member Elite
since 03-21-2003
Posts 4407
Florida


6 posted 05-14-2008 04:37 AM       View Profile for latearrival   Email latearrival   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for latearrival

oceanvu2, I do not know if you would consider me one of your PIP friends. But I always read here. So thank you for this piece. It fits me also. "late"
nakdthoughts
Member Laureate
since 10-29-2000
Posts 19275
Between the Lines


7 posted 05-14-2008 05:56 AM       View Profile for nakdthoughts   Email nakdthoughts   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for nakdthoughts

Jim, I have had a lot on my mind lately...eventually all shall become clutter and I shall take your advice.

This  is a wonderful write and expression from your heart. Mind if I print it out and post it so I can remind myself of the truth you shared?

Hoping you and Deb are feeling better~~~
this is my week to use that box of bags I bought over a month ago to clean up the clutter in my life.


M
Balladeer
Administrator
Member Empyrean
since 06-05-99
Posts 26302
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA


8 posted 05-14-2008 10:30 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Thank you, Jimbeaux. You may be the only person who has ever referred to me as not being sarcastic or blunt and I happily accept it

I appreciate your kind words referring to the workshop. Hopefully more people who would like to either sharpen their skills or learn the basics will join in. CA is an excellent forum and the workshop can be considered a stepping stone to it. It is easy to be helpful to those who want to learn or improve.

You may never write a ballad but, if you can write pieces like this one, you have earned your salt as an excellent writer. Best to you...
 
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