Tuesday, May 24, 2011

From the Inside Out: The Daily Spackle

Every year in April or May I get the spring cleaning bug. This year I washed windows, as nearly always. I made a curtain and I am doing some house-painting and major scrubbing. I am also looking around at what I have and how I have not taken care of it. I mean, I wash dishes. But I haven't invested in my assets. I haven't had a plan.

I am not a big believer in buying the newest new thing, but I do think there's a point where the old stuff can get in the way. Perhaps this last few months has been about this, from the dentist to the baseboards.  I also think I will never be the best of the householders, but I have always done a hell of a lot better than this.

Anyway, I don't remember when, but the refrigerator I always hated when I bought this flat finally conked out. It was too big: I had to edge past it every time I used the kitchen. I bought a new smaller one, which was perfect: 24 x 24" instead of 30 x 36". I did choose that properly. It is however taller than the old one. Therefore, I had to take a cabinet out.

I did it myself, no sweat. I had to: the delivery guys were coming.

You never saw such a mess as was hidden behind that cabinet. The plaster is fifty years old and broken, and studs were inset into the wall to hold the cabinet. They are exposed. Around them a 1/2" wide, irregular gully ran along the top and bottom of both of those impromptu studs. Just ick.

Home Improvement v. Solitary Confinement
My stronger, less cowardly self would have been onto that like white on rice. I would have been revved because I had the chance to consolidate the gains from the space-making refrigerator. Not this time. It just looked like another crisis. Maybe an ugly wall became a way to punish myself for getting something nice. Now how stupid is that.

Two years (or however long) later, I started spackling the plaster but couldn't sustain the effort. The spackle sat in the kitchen along with the putty knife for months--at least eight of them--because it was on the floor when my sister came to visit in September. Lately, I have returned to the daily spackle. I am almost done--a couple more layers. Then I will paint this offending patch of plaster with primer. I have some other major caulking to do. Then I will paint the whole kitchen.

So, I know I am not the only reluctant handyman on this earth. But I have to wonder, with the sheer number of items like this, WTF have I been thinking?  I figure I am coming out of depression after all. That means it hurts to see how I have let things slide and damaged my life further by letting things go. Just down and down. After down and down, there has to be up and up. Living through the down and down was hard work. Coming through the up and up is a different kind of work.

As I fix things, my outlook improves. Last year I was just trying to get out of the house. This year, I had the dental work which meant I had to do that part all over again.  I put off the dental because I knew it would precipitate a crisis, but I didn't avoid a crisis anyway. I do think I was stronger for it this year than I would have been last year.

I also think this decline relates to unresolved grief. I had no plan. All I knew was that I couldn't let go because I hadn't resolved my husband's death. Nothing worked, nothing advanced, and then it started to fall apart.

Therapy works. So does a putty knife. Right now these things are inseparable. Right now I am working on having a place that reflects me and my taste but also my self-respect. A place where people can come in and see what I have to offer. With agoraphobia, I couldn't go outside. The flip side of my agoraphobia was also that no one could come in. Soon that will not be true. I will not have to be ashamed for letting things go. I will live again in an atmosphere of achievement.

It may look like hell, but this is MUCH improved.  I've put two coats on since,
and I think two more are needed. Whatever it takes.

Not pictured: the 3-M sanding sponge I bought last week.
That sponge is making all the difference in the finishing
aspect of this wall!!!
I also rode my bicycle yesterday. But I had to hurry home and do some upkeep, so we were not out long. I have a list of forty things I want to get done. Forty steps toward getting my life back.


The Bug said...

Having steps always helps. I think that I've had some depression lately (mild mild) that has turned all of my household chores into giganto man or something - too much to face. But a list! I could probably face that.

I'm proud of you for working through all of this. I like the Daily Spackle - you should find other things to spackle once you're done there :)

The Observer said...

Ann T:
"The Daily Spackle"--sounds like a blog title or perhaps a newspaper.

What I have missed especially not hearing from you is reading your truly gifted writing, that so often causes me to say, "Yes, I understand--nay, have even lived that--she nailed it."

Thank you for sharing your struggle and your gift.

The Observer

Ann T. said...

Dear The Bug,
You are right about the steps. Sometimes it is not the list, but the steps on the list that make these things easier to resolve.

On and off with my two counselors we have tried to break gridlock, not just by examining it but figuring out what part was doable first.

It's not always rational, in my mind, what's doable first! But waiting around for rational hasn't been working, LOL!.

I hope you get over that mild mild. It drags the spirit, for sure. If I could send you a batch of tulips, I would.

Thank you for ALL the encouragement.

Ann T.

Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
"The Daily Spackle" beats the hell out of "The Daily Shellac!"

I am so glad this resonates for somebody besides myself. I always feel there is this inexplicable side to being depressed. It always sounds like an attitude adjustment problem. What it feels like is an iron band around my chest that keeps me from making the changes necessary. The lifting of that band or restraint is very hard to explain.

Thanks so much for hanging in with me. I am so grateful.

Ann T.

Bob G. said...

This post is a testament to your self-sufficiency as well as your self-determination.
I applaude them BOTH...and loudly!

Much as I even hate to admit it, there is NOTHING as therapeutic as HOME REPAIRS...LOL!

Maybe that's why I don't feel like moving from this ghettohood (for the time being)...My (own) THERAPY isn't quite finished...!
(yeah, this house needs maintenance and lots of TLC)

WTG, girl!
Keep up the great work.
And stay safe out there.

Ann T. said...

Dear Bob,
I guess home improvement is a lifetime skill/task/therapy! I am glad I learned how to do a few things along the way. Although they are still laughing at me at the hardware store.

One guy have me a clueless look when I asked for a silicone washer that would hold my lampshade down, LOL . . .

Thank you for the encouragement!!!

Ann T.

Momma Fargo said...

You write so well. And I feel your pain. Although...in a different way. You are very strong and an inspiration. Loves ya.

Slamdunk said...

I could learn a lot from your courage in prolonged home improvement projects; well, that and other things. I hope you are enjoying some sun this weekend.