Notes from the Krazy Kabin: Invisible Work Sucks

I’ve reached that point of the winter when I am absolutely desperate for some fresh air in the house. We have not been pounded to death by snow like the East coast, but it is cold enough to sear your lungs if you’re outside for more than five or ten minutes. Cabin fever has set in (helped along considerably by my own hermit tendencies) and I think I’m doing all right, but how the actual hell would I know? I’ve been staring at the inside of my skull for how many days?

The good news is, I’ve managed to keep fairly busy between working quite a bit from home and tending to the needs of our animals. I sometimes complain about how needy they are, but I’m really very grateful to be of service to them–they help keep me out of my head, and that is the best therapy there is for someone like me.

Being somewhat housebound has inspired (HUGE eye-roll here) me to do some deep organizational projects around the place. Forget any mental images you might entertain of pretty boxes and baskets and color-coded files. I’m talking shredding here, people. Lots and lots of shredding. These are papers that have been languishing in boxes in my “office” (HAHAHAHAHAHA) for longer than I am able or willing to admit. But every day I’m knocking a little bit more out, doing a little early purging for spring… should it ever get its sweet ass back here. If it ever gets above fifty degrees outside again, my hope is that I will be ready to just throw the windows open and let this place take a nice, deep breath.

Basically, I’m doing a lot of what I like to call “invisible work.” It is like a deep cleaning of cabinets and drawers that no one else will ever see, but I will know is there. Getting through this process is how I feel about getting through these seemingly interminable winters: you do the hard work, feel great for a little bit, then take a look around and all you can see is how much more work there is to get done. You have plenty to show for it, but it doesn’t actually SHOW. The feeling of lightness I achieve by purging all of this crap won’t actually show up on anyone else’s radar, and that can be incredibly discouraging when I need just the teeniest, tiniest “attagirl.” I’m guessing you can relate, yes?

INVISIBLE WORK, YOU GUYS. If you do it and things go smoothly/as they should, no one notices. If you don’t do it and everything goes to hell (you can’t find anything you need, there’s crap everywhere and you can’t clean properly), EVERYBODY notices. It is damn hard sometimes.

And here’s what I’m doing about it: I have this wee corner in my living room that is spare and lovely and calm. Even when the rest of the place feels knee-deep in dog hair and grit from outside, this place is calm and pretty and CLEAR. I look to this corner when I’m doing bottomless paperwork or shredding, or the damn dishes AGAIN (wth? Didn’t I just do these?), or society expects me not just to wash and dry my clothes, but fold them and put them away (again, wth, society?). I can look at that spot and have VISUAL PROOF that all of these tiny, annoying, but necessary chores are actually in service of something greater: the well-being of myself and my funky little family.

I cannot recommend this little trick enough. What does your wee corner look like?




Dog Songs: Grabbing Joy at the Unicorn Discotheque

My iPod is really kind of an embarrassment. I use maybe .0004% of its capacity, my playlists are weird and narrow, and let’s face it–it’s mostly 90s. There is a decent amount of blues, a dash of 70s, some pretty terrific stuff from the 2010s. And while the 80s produced a LOT of really abysmal crap, there was some downright awesome music, too.

So I have all of my songs on shuffle, because I have stuff to do and can’t be arsed to choose a playlist when I’m going somewhere. I’d rather skip through dozens of songs like a maniac until I find the perfect one, doncha know. Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” has gotten lodged in my head after coming up on the playlist recently. But instead of being annoying, it’s made me quite happy because it has fed another ongoing source of joy for me: my dogs.

Seti is, like all of our dogs, a rescue from a local shelter. She is an incredibly sweet and good dog, even handling our recent addition to the family beautifully. But for weeks after she got here, we couldn’t for the life of us name her. We had plenty of names that we loved, but they just weren’t HER. For whatever reason, her first and enduring nickname (our dogs historically have about ten names apiece) was Puppypie. Eric almost immediately worked this into “Yesterday” by the Beatles, and I banged out some new lyrics:

Puppypie, you are so crazy and I don’t know why/

You want to stay up watching “Superfly”/

Oh, I believe in Puppypie…

You get the idea. It was cute at first, then quickly became hideous because Eric wouldn’t. Stop. Singing it. Then some time passed, she finally told us what her name was, and it became cute again.

Now, I have many fine qualities that make me a decent, productive human citizen; being even a tolerable singer is not one of them. It’s not good, you guys. I have friends who also can’t sing, but love to do it in the car or shower anyway. I can’t even do that. Nope, nope, that’s not helping anybody out.

But oh, to sing to my dogs. The privilege! The joy! The absolute lack of judgment! They may think I’m insane, but they’re not talking. And really, they will take all the attention they can get, so I’m chalking this up as a victimless crime.

Back to Nena.

It’s not just that I have “99 Luftballoons” in my head, it’s that I’ve got my new lyrics, too, about my beloved little mutt:

“Puppypie in a little toy shop/

Buys a bag of balloons with the money she’s got…”

And now all I can think about is my sweet pup who had a rough start in life but landed safely and now is buying herself some balloons with her walking-around money. This is totally weird, I know, and couldn’t be further from the anti-war anthem the original is. But it makes me indescribably happy that our girl got another chance and is now thriving away from the chaos and want she came from.

Joy is a weird, slippery little monkey and you have to grab it with both hands when you find it, wherever it is. Shit is getting weirder and weirder these days, you guys, and it would be the worst kind of extravagance to waste joy.

I also find my pockets of joy in the following places, to name but a few:

Laughing and being incredibly inappropriate (to say the least) with my husband and friends; knitting; doing yoga; walking on the beach every chance I get; excellent naps and baths; watching a really smart movie or TV show; making a new friend who is similarly twisted and bent. It’s like falling in love, really.

So lick those beaters clean. Go find your joy, or remember it. Make it where you can; don’t worry about how it looks to someone else.  Most importantly, GET AMONGST IT.