Tuesday, November 02, 2021


I am pretty sure life has a lesson for me, and I am pretty sure I've faced this lesson before. The recurring test revolves around housework, shame, exposure, and being far too concerned about what other people think. I'd love to write a poetic essay on this lesson, reflecting my humility, and essential truths about time management, how physical spaces can reflect internal struggles, about unhealed trauma being irrepressible, no matter how much I shut my eyes to it. And! Naturally, I would be remiss if I did not include a nod to COVID, lockdowns, and the insular, safe-space I hid in, where I could shirk both healing and recovering from the domestic perils and collateral damages of not being able, nor willing, to keep things in order.

The house has been simultaneously in a state of upheaval, change, and stagnant neglect.

It has become pressingly necessary to both keep the good upheaval and changes moving forward, and to shake up the rest: Clean the dang house. A lot.

I was trying to do more in one week than I have done in three years, and it was really really really hard. Hard and impractical.

I got my ass kicked.

I kicked some ass.

Some of it may have been me, kicking my own ass.

Four minutes before the architect arrived to walk through the whole house and measure things, and get familiar with what we have and where we are going, I started crying uncontrollably, and having a basic panic attack. 99.99% of my life I have been embarrassed, shamed, or strong enough to know damn well when it's ok to cry or get emotional and that's almost always never, and this was not the time, nor place (according to internalized beliefs and expectations, which I have come to realize don't hold up against trauma that has been suppressed and masked and cast aside to be dealt with later.)

I acted bravely, and out of character: I called a friend. Actually, I texted, which was easier to do than speaking aloud. I reached out, I bore my heart, my weakness, and vulnerability. This counterintuitive move made a world of difference... another lesson for me: Ask for help. My friend came through, and I didn't even have time to read her response, but she came through, and even just knowing I was in a safe (virtual/cyber) space, gave me enough relief, to rally, and compose myself, and see a time beyond this moment when it was going to be ok.

The house is way cleaner. I am way tired. And the architect didn't inspect half as thoroughly as I dreaded. And if I have any sense, and want any life lessons to stick I should look into getting back into physical, and emotional, therapies, I should keep moving forward... ride my bicycle, make salsas, call friends (or text them), take risks, take naps, learn and relearn, and question my beliefs, challenge the internalized messages that guide my instincts and actions, push myself to do more, and still, let go of the idea that I am not enough.

I don't want to publish this, but accountability and vulnerabilty are in the lessons, too. And when other people share their truths, I often find it remarkably encouraging, comforting.

Let's change the subject.

I have been making design cards... with Layout, which is an app that works with Instagram, I can create a photo collage. I used it to put pictures of different elements together so we can have a first impression of ideas for the hall bathroom. Since I was ordering things online, it was trickier to get a feel for how all of the different parts would come together, and this has been the most accessible way for me to sort of compose a look. The green tiles surround the white tub. The black and white tiles go on the floor, and this is the blue locker we are putting in there for storage. Last step... find a paint to bring it all together. I chose one of these. Don't worry, I am not asking anyone to choose, or taking a poll. The deed is done. In fact, today the bath wall is getting tiled. It looks amazing! I love it! By the end of the week, I should have a before and after post, in case anyone wants to see what finally happened.

Good things...
After the cats got their clean bills of health, we were treated to this rare and totally precious scene: All three kitties in harmonious communion. And at one point, Feynman sat up and turned to clean Sakamoto. I hope this is a trend. I hope we have a cozy winter, and the kitties never quibble, hiss, bite, grapple, tussle, nor fracas, ever again.
Our Halloween was low key. It comes as a surprise, because I am accostumed to us doing more. Lots more. And I had passing moments of thinking well, this is disappointing, or panicky I am doing this badly. But really, it was nice. Low key was good, and fine, and we had our fun, and I don't feel let down, or like anything was missing, much. I got to cook, which was something fixed in my mind, and I invited friends to come to the driveway, enjoy a fire, have dinner. I watched as my youngest rode off with Alex, Bambi, Acorn, and Armand, to trick or treat, without me. And that was ok. I made my favorite beans, lots of salsa, and guacamole, I marinated carne asada, roasted onions, squash and potatoes. We had corn tortillas, cilantro, and a good fire going. And we had friends drop by, and I ate, and sat, and chatted. I loved watching Maria and Acorn, then joined by Bambi, sit together to sort, organize, and swap their treats. I always love that classic Halloween scene.
The house really is cleaner. And it really needs more cleaning. And that's fine. Announcement: I am not a very good housekeeper, and I've gotten worse since a drunk driver plowed into my car, and I struggle with a lot of things and the worst might be feeling like I am a bad person for not managing everything with grace and decorum. I think it's a good thing to admit all of that, and figure out how to walk away from feeling tormented by it. And another good thing... I found the frame I brought home from the second-hand shop in Portland, same shop where and when I should have got the needlepoint doggie (that ended happily, anyway!) Once I got home, "real life" took over, and the frame was lost in the shuffle. One nice thing about cleaning is putting things together, like this woodsy frame and my woodsy painting. I am projecting hopes and wishes into this... for warmth and comfort and a simply wonderful holiday season.
Here is Cairo, looking debonair? Suave? Fluffy?

Here is Saki, looking like my darling smol boi. He is short and round and shy and insecure and darling and funny and I just love him. My baby landseal. Oh, my heart.

Potpourri: /ˌpōpəˈrē/ noun A medly of things heaped together, oddly tempting to eat as a snack, but not necessarily tasty or safe to ingest. May smell pretty, or for others, smell offensive. To each his own. Can be displayed openly, flagrantly, or discreetly concealed in a pretty, covered dish.


Nicole said...

Thank you for this very honest post! I think it's so important to ask for help, and it's also the very hardest thing to do. I'm glad you have someone to reach out to.

Your Halloween looks lovely! Sometimes it's decent weather up here but mostly it's very cold, so I am a little envious of your outdoor dinner!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Oh, Nicole, thank you for understanding and relating. Second hardest thing, next to opening up and sharing feelings, is thinking I am all alone in those feelings. It's very helpful to get feedback, to hear someone say they get it.
One year we had a wonderful, memorable Halloween in Wisconsin, trick or treating with young children, and the cold was mind-blowing! hahaha! Even after living in Minneapolis for a year, I still forget... we are 100% weather spoiled in Southern California. But, I do miss distinct seasons, forests of maple and oak trees, snow, and spring bulbs!

Little Dorrit does... said...

In the spirit of others sharing their truths, I can whisper to you that you are not alone in the house/housework shame thing... it's an insidious beast, very hard to tame, and very resistant to the reassurance of others...but let me stand shoulder to shoulder with you and tell you that your home looks welcoming and beautiful, all the colour options were delicious, and I'm waiting impatiently to for the before and after post!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Amelia, I feel you beside me, and I'd like to reach for your hand. I feel so comforted and a bit pluckier, standing shoulder to shoulder with you. Lately, if there is a message the Universe has been trying to drum into my head, it is this: Be as kind with yourself as you feel and act with friends, with strangers, and acquaintances. An outpouring of care and tenderness rises in me for you, and I would stand between you and that insidious beast, take jabs at it, and send it running. Thank you for whispering, and sharing that I am not alone.