With high fashion labels like “Hanes” and “Just My Size,” who WOULDN’T want to display them for all to see?

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Mornin’ all.

I have two bureaus in my bedroom.

In one, I keep hard copies of the stories I’ve written, DVDs, and knives. In the other, I’ve got a random assortment of pillow cases that I haven’t used in 14 years, a few keepsake baby items from when the boyos were little, and an entire drawer of mystery cords and keys. I don’t know what they power or open, but I can’t throw them away because the moment I do, I’ll need them. That is how life works and you know it.

I also have a closet. It’s tall and long, but narrow, with a six foot shelf over a six foot pole. The closet is juuuust wide enough to hold the clothing on hangers from that pole, and the shelf is juuuust wide enough to stack neat piles of folded laundry on top.

I’ve got plenty of storage space for our clothing. So of course, my clothes are kept on cardboard boxes in the corner of the room. They’re folded and stacked in two large piles, a dusty one of clothes my man and I never, ever wear, and the other small pile contains the few things we wear when we’re not working. Our work clothes get hung up on the coat rack. Downstairs. Next to the front door. Duh. Where else would I hang them?

Every family has their quirks. Think back to when you were a kid sleeping over at a friend’s house for the first time. There was definitely something that family did that made you say, “whhhaaaaa? People DO that?”

When I was growing up, our family’s oddity was laundry. Dirty clothes were piled in front of the washer. They’d go through the wash and dry cycles, then be put in a clean pile on the floor in front of the dryer. Once in awhile, Mum would get sick of it and go through a “I mean it this time, we’re going to get this sorted and KEEP this sorted!” phase, which usually lasted about two days until one of us didn’t feel like folding the clothes fresh out of the dryer and began a new pile.

When I grew up, I decided I would be better at laundry, mostly because I absolutely HATE doing it and the thought of having to sort an entire pile that got out of control was nauseating. I figured that if I just got on top of it and stayed on top of it, no piles would grow.

That plan…it did not go so well. I vastly overestimated my interest in sticking to laundry commitments.

When we moved to this house fourteen years ago, I decided to finally do what I actually always wanted to do and get the laundry situation manageable. The new place was larger, and we actually had some space, so we picked up real bureaus. Nice ones, too…for the most part. One of the dressers in my room is coated in Pepto Bismol pink paint that I’m fairly certain is lead-based. We got it for free from the junk shop across the street, so I don’t mind the color, and I didn’t plan on licking it, so the lead paint wasn’t a drawback.

Fourteen years later, I still haven’t licked it. *knock wood*

I’m saying that I have plenty of socially acceptable storage space for our clean laundry. Hell, I even fold everything as soon as it comes out of the dryer. I don’t have a pile on the floor that would be excellent for hide and seek (…just sayin’), but I also just can’t take that final step and put it away where it belongs. In my room, it’s all folded on boxes. In the boys’ rooms, it’s on chairs. I’ve got linen cabinets in the bathroom, yet the linens sit on top of the dryer because why would I put linen in a linen cabinet when I could use that space for spare computer parts?

I’m looking at a move within the next year or so. Big changes in Le Chateau au Bethie have led to the man of the house now having to commute three hours a day. That’s not sustainable, especially in the winter. I’m beginning the process of cleaning with the intent to move, no small feat for a hoarder.

Here’s the thing, though. As I lay in bed unable to sleep at 3 this morning, looking at the dressers and clothes in the dim glow of the night light, I couldn’t decide if I should just actually be better at laundry, or stop fighting what is clearly in my nature and get rid of all the bureaus.

Bureaus are heavy and bulky. Tough to move. I’ve done well with the not-eating-the-lead-paint goal, but how long can I really sustain that level of self restraint?

Maybe I can just look for a place with built-in bureaus. That would solve all my problems. I could ditch the dressers and still have plenty of storage space for my DVDs, knives, and spare computer parts.

Ya know, I think I might just be on to something here…

Thus concludes a quick Musing for Wednesday, May 30, 2018. I wonder if they have a “built in bureaus for hoarders” tag on Zillow?

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You call it “procrastination,” I prefer the term “creative time management…”

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Mornin’ all.

When we last spoke, I was about to embark on a mission to clean my house. I got garbage bags, extra coffee, queued up a good podcast, and dug in.

Now, I’m not so sure how it happened, exactly, but I started the day cleaning and ended up welding together a new lamp.

Company will be here tomorrow. TOMORROW. They’ve got nowhere to sit. But at least there will be plenty of light…?

…I don’t know why I’m like this.

While I was cleaning, I found my stash of transmission gears and sprockets, and uncovered the MIG welder. It was nice weather, I hadn’t been able to weld yet this spring, and the urge to smell hot metal was too strong to ignore. I suppose I understand what led me down the path, I just wish I had a bit more fortitude against my own impulsiveness sometimes.

*sigh* I guess anyone coming to my house should know me, right? I mean, there are some things I’m very good at. I’m a good cook, I’ve got a decent brain, even if it’s as little scattered sometimes, I try my damnedest to be kind to other people… And there are a few things I don’t do well at all. I’d say the three things in life I really suck at are being skinny, respecting myself, and keeping the house in shape. In the grand scheme, that’s not so bad…right?

So I have to mad-dash clean today and tomorrow between work shifts. It’s not the first time. Won’t be the last.

I should be doing it right now, in fact. And I’ll get there, but first, let’s get distracted by something else. You know what we haven’t done in awhile?

*cue the go-go dancers* *strike up the band* Let’s have ourselves a good, old fashioned…

* * * HEADLINE ROUNDUP ! ! ! * * *

You know the deal. I peruse the news for headlines that jump out at me. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re poorly worded, and sometimes they just beg for commentary. I gather them up and present them to you as nature intended. I just add the snark.

Let’s begin.

– African American pastor warns, “Black folks need to stay out of white churches” ahead of megachurch opening

Hoo boy. So much to unpack, so little desire to leave indelible footprints through this internet minefield. Imma step away from this one slowly…

– People have tried to stop lava from flowing. This is why they failed.

Oh, honey, no. If an entire MOUNTAIN isn’t strong enough to stop magma from bursting forth, what in the holy hell do you think YOU can do? Hm?

– Residents voice frustrations at meeting as Hawaii volcano continues to wreak havoc

“I don’t know whose idea it was to allow the magma to flow down my street, but this is a clear violation of my rights as a homeowner.” “Um, ma’am? We can’t control the lava. You do know that, right?” “But I pay taxes!”

– Idaho State University loses weapons-grade plutonium

Some people misplace their keys, some people misplace their elements of mass destruction. Don’t judge.

– Tourists unknowingly toss dinosaur footprints into lake

HOW!?!?

– Man mauled to death while trying to take selfie with bear

Sounds about right.

– Scientists excited by huge New Zealand sinkhole

In other news, a recent survey shows nine out of ten New Zealanders think scientists are dicks.

– Jennifer Lopez shows the world how to rock an exposed leg

I sure hope it was hers.

-McCain’s critiques of Trump anger president’s supporters

*crash* Oof! *scramble* *uprights chair* *mops up spilled coffee* Oh my god, that’s never happened before. I was literally bowled over by that shocking news. Wow. I always thought it was just a figure of speech.

– Jessica Simpson back in her Daisy Dukes

Okay. Thanks for the update? I guess?

– First Lady launches initiative to stop cyber bullying, is immediately criticized for husband’s social media history

I believe Melania is a fairly smart woman who put herself in a stupid situation in life. I think she’s trying to make the best of it, and she’s trying to do something that will make her feel good about this time her husband is spending in office. But I just think the reality of her situation is going to belie anything she could promote for the happiness and well being of the children she’s trying to reach. I actually legitimately feel bad for her in this endeavor. Her critics aren’t wrong here, and that’s sad. #FreeMelania

– Israel offended Japan’s prime minister by serving him dessert out of a shoe

Sometimes it’s difficult to navigate the challenges that arise when two different cultures are trying to come together. It’s often hard to know what’s going to cause offense. But sometimes, some asshole blatantly serves dessert in a fucking shoe. You don’t need cultural context to get that message loud and clear.

– Israel offended Japan’s prime minister by serving him dessert out of a shoe

Sidenote…Who even thinks of that, anyway? Who sits there and has a “eureka” moment that leads them to filling a loafer with tiramisu?? You’re a weird dude, whoever you are.

– In Japan, remarks by finance minister spark #MeToo outrage

The guy was caught on camera asking a female reporter if he could hug her and touch her breasts. I’d like to apologize, Israel. I get it now. #LoafersOfTiramisuToo

– “Heroes” rescue special-needs teen dodging rush-hour traffic

Uh, not so sure why heroes is in kind of sarcastic quotes up there…

– Heroes stop rush-hour traffic to help ducklings cross road

OHHHH, okay. The full stop heroes title is reserved for those who save cute animals, not human beings. Got it.

– Daughter of NYPD hero who died on 9/11 follows in dad’s footsteps

*DANGER* *DANGER* *DANGER* …sorry. That was the new warning app I installed. It’s supposed to help stop me from making completely tasteless jokes on the internet that could have lasting consequences. Seems to be working as advertised. Four and a half stars.

– Teen accepted to 113 colleges, awarded $4.5M in scholarships

Her name is Jasmine Harrison. Just wanted to give a shout out to a young woman who is absolutely rocking life.

– Trump considers benching Guiliani from doing TV interviews

Oooh, Trump’s jelly. Since Guiliani’s been on the team, the press is all, “Rudy said WHAT?” and “You won’t believe what Guiliani’s doing now”. Trump hasn’t been clickbait all week! That’s GOT to be killing him.

– Rubin: What exactly are Republicans running on?

Tears of migrant children. Stronger than coffee.

– Trump: “Every…AHAHAHAA!!!

Sorry. *snicker* Sorry, guys. It’s just, this one is so hilarious that I’m having a difficult time spitting it out. Let’s reset and I’ll try again.

– Trump: “Everyone thinks”…GA HA HA HAHAHAHAAA!!!

DAMNIT! I’m GOING to get through this with a straight face! *deep breath* Okay. *lips twitch* *calming mantra* Okay, I got it this time:

– Trump: “Everyone thinks” I deserve a Nobel Prize

SEE?? *groan* *wipes tear* Now my sides hurt.

– What’s killing the west coast’s young great white sharks?

Ennui. Lack of leadership. Parents who didn’t instill the value of hard work and the importance of goals. It’s a complicated issue, really.

– How salad became a major source of food poisoning in the US

The vegan movement is just a ploy by the Illuminati to dumb down the masses and make us subservient. They’re poisoning you, sheeple. The truth is out there.

– Canadian zoo faces charges after taking bear out for ice cream

I don’t know if anyone has ever Canadian-ed so hard before.

– Massive chocolate spill shuts highway after tanker truck crash

Oompa loompa doopahdedoo, I’ve got another riddle for you…What do you get when your truck has a…FLAT…Tipping and slipping with a chocolatey…SPLAT…

– White House says Iran nuclear inspections must continue

Oh my god I can’t even take how stupid he is. Yes, you gangrenous knob, we DO need to keep monitoring Iran’s nuclear program. THAT’S WHY WE HAD A DEAL WITH THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. *thumps head on the desk* Someone fix this.

– France condemns US over Iran sanctions

*heavy sigh* That’s fair.

– Students use history books that claim not all slaves were unhappy for ten years

Yes. Yes they fucking were. It makes me sick to think that children are being encouraged in any way to think that ANY person likes being owned as another person’s property.

– Oregon school forced LGBTQ students to read bible verses as punishment

Slavery being touted as “not really so bad”, forcing kids to read the bible, punishing anyone at all for their sexual orientation…what year is this? Did we go back in time???!!!

– Oregon school forced LGBTQ students to read bible verses as punishment

To be clear, the facts as we know them are that these are allegations that are still being investigated. However, an unnamed administrator of the school admitted it to police, which is why the investigation is continuing and will go deeper. I could get on a rant here, you KNOW I could, but that won’t reach the people I want to reach. So, I’m just going to ask this question: How would you feel if your child came home and told you they were forced to read the surahs of the Quran as punishment for having blond hair?

– Dragon float in Disney parade catches fire

…they say, as if realism is a bad thing. Pfft. Some people just don’t appreciate art.

– Scientist: Hawaii lava flow has similar chemical structure to 1955 eruption

It’s the same magma source. Same location. In geological epoch terms, it’s essentially the same eruption. I’m not so sure these science writers know how to science…

– US fighter jets intercept Russian bombers in international air space near Alaska

They were flying planes legally in a zone that’s designated free range…air space they use for military practice, just like us. It’s like kicking the kids from the other neighborhood out of the town park because they brought bats. Doesn’t matter that they are planning on playing baseball. They have BATS. And it’s sorta close to our house. Can’t you see that means they’re going to smash our car windows!? It’s ridiculous. WE were the aggressors in this situation. I will not go back to McCarthy era paranoia. I never thought I’d say this, but I am rejecting the trip in the time machine.

– Nearly two years later, “world’s saddest polar bear” no longer sad?

I didn’t click. I was afraid they’d interview an “animal psychologist” and I’d have no choice but to quit the internet. You understand.

– Family chased by cheetahs highlights the dangers of wildlife parks

No, it highlights the stupidity of humans. #TeamCheetah

– An emergency call center operator tells dying woman that “everyone dies”

It’s graduation season. Some of you reading this may be wondering what you want to do in life, where you’re heading, what will bring you happiness. Here’s a tip for ya…if you hate people, and have zero compassion, maybe don’t be a 911 operator, k?

– Opioid crisis makes more organs available

“Mr. Smithers, I see you’re awake. The operation was a success. You no longer have cirrhosis! But your insurance restricted us to a level 2 organ donation. Got it from the free clinic down the street. You might feel a bit jumpy and edgy. Fortunately, your insurance covers methadone, so I’ll just write you out the scrip…”

– People “outraged” to discover cemetery threw away flowers day after Mother’s Day

Oh grow up. You left flowers on a rock. You already flushed that money down the toilet. Close the Twitter app and put that energy into something meaningful.

– Ukraine: Army dolphins starved after Russian annexation

Russia, heart to heart: Wtf.

– A Vietnam veteran was going to be buried alone. Then a stranger helped find his family.

…and now they’re being buried with him?!?

– Avalanche survivor’s final thoughts: “This could be it”

Final thoughts? She survived. Is she just not planning on thinking anything else ever?

– Astronauts give commencement speeches from space station

If they didn’t tell the students to reach for the stars, I’m going to be very disappointed. I don’t pay taxes to have astronauts drop the ball when it comes to bad jokes.

– You’re reheating your cold pizza wrong

You don’t know me. You don’t know my struggles. GTFO with your pizza shaming.

– Scientist trains spider to jump on command

“Bethie?”

Yes?

“I can’t help but notice that you are now scraping the bottom of the barrel.”

…your point?

“Stop procrastinating and go clean your house.”

But…

“Bethie. *stern look*”

*sigh* Fine.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Thursday, May 17, 2018. I guess I hafta go clean my house now ‘cuz you’re gonna be all mean about it and stuff.

Can’t tell if it’s the cold or the paint fumes that’s got me feeling sappy…

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Mornin’ all.

Guess what? The world DIDN’T end in 2017!

…um…at least…I don’t *think* it did. I’m holding my face over a hot cup of coffee (the only hot thing in the entire northeast right now) in an effort to keep the blood flowing to my brain so I can type through the -11 degree morning.

“Achem, Bethie. It’s already warmed up to -10.”

Oh. My b. Lemme just run and find my tank top and hot pants.

Anyway, as I was saying, I can actually feel the pitifully small amount of heat radiating on my shivering chin. I can sort of feel my fingertips creak over the icy keyboard that I can see sitting on the desk in front of me. I can hear dueling tv shows the kids fell asleep watching (probably before midnight, though none of them will ever admit it). And I can smell an odd aroma I think is coming from the bathroom wall that we’ve got a space heater aimed towards in an effort to thaw out pipes.

Side question: Can you get lead poisoning from inhaling melting paint fumes? Asking for a friend.

My point is, I think I am observing these sensory inputs. Maybe I am not. Maybe we didn’t actually make it through 2017 and this is some bizarre afterlife.

“Um, I think you should probably move that heater away from the lead paint wall.”

It might be asbestos. I’m not entirely confident I know what asbestos is…

“You’re experiencing some kind of reality, right?”

Right.

“And I’m here, too, right?”

Welllll….technically…

“Let’s just say we made it through and move on before the coffee ices up and we freeze our faces to the rims like jackasses, okay?”

…fair enough. I think we can say with confidence that we may have actually made it through 2017! And if we didn’t, we have no idea. So, happy 2018!

Everyone’s doing this “What I learned in 2017” thing on Ye Olde Booke of Faces. I actually kind of like that. I’m one of those super annoying people who thinks there is something of value to glean from every situation, no matter how shitty. In fact, usually the shittier the experience, the more valuable the lesson.

I learned many things in 2017. I learned that my boys are far more capable than the Mummy in me wants them to be sometimes. I don’t really mean that, of course. I want them to be very capable, independent men. But I still want my little boys. If you have kids, you understand. Teen Prime has taken on a very demanding position at work and is thriving, Teen Beta is in college and broke as shit (as any decent college student do), and Teen 2.0 is gainfully employed and killing it. The Littlest Pup is having himself a great school year, and is finding his voice in my often exuberantly loud pack. And though I still want to protect them all against the trials and tribulations of life, they got this shit. And it’s awesome to watch.

I also learned that 39 years is apparently enough years of carefreely eating shellfish. The Last Lobster was damn good, though. I put the sea bugs on a charcoal grill, right in their shells so they cooked in their own juices. Man oh man, if you want the best tasting lobster of your life, don’t boil it…grill it whole. If at all avoidable, I’d skip the Benedryl dessert, though. Bitter taste, groggy finish. Still, better than dying, soooo… 3.7 stars out of 5

I’m not really that bummed about avoiding Maine’s number one export. I only ate me some lobstah maybe once every 5 years or so as a treat. What does make me sad is that the shrimp toast I tried a couple weeks later yielded a very similar “lack of breathing” result.

Top tip kids: You want to breathe. It’s the preferred method for staying alive.

*sniff* I love shrimp. I guess they got sick of me killing their brethren and finally launched an effective counter attack. Touche, shrimpies. You have bested me in this contest of life, and I concede the match.

In fact, 2017 was the year of general body rebellion. Maybe it’s age. Maybe there’s a genetic component, which seems very likely when viewed with others in my family. Hell, maybe it’s just 39 years of not taking care of myself finally catching up. Whatever the cause, the smiting I took at the fins of The Shellfish of Justice was just the harbinger of things to come. What followed was a couple months of serious stomach pain, until I tried an elimination diet to see if I could figure out what was causing the issue.

“Um, Bethie? Maybe you should just go to a doctor.”

Ooooh, look at Ms. Fancypants over here with her “health insurance”. I don’t work enough hours to qualify for insurance through my employer, I don’t make enough to be able to afford the “Affordable Care” promised to me through legislation, and I make too much to qualify for state assistance. I tried to straddle it, but I’m afraid I am one of the millions of Americans that has fallen into the coverage gap.

If I thought it was something super serious, I’d go to the doctor even without insurance. In fact, my self diagnosis plan was:

– Google

– Trying the reasonable things found on Google in order to eliminate certain possibilities (no, that did not include drinking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day, or eating a paleo diet that only kept the average cave woman alive for 35 years)

– Going to a doctor and working out the enormous debt later if steps 1 and 2 failed

They didn’t fail, though. I got a result, the pain stopped, so I really think it was diet related.

I’ve narrowed it down to wheat or dairy. I haven’t had either in many months now, and the stomach is much, much happier. It wasn’t the same reaction as the shellfish…it wasn’t like I was having an “oh shit I can’t breathe” moment after a cheese sandwich. But I was definitely in awful pain after nearly every meal. And since I cut those things out, I’m not.

“Do you miss that stuff?”

I enjoy not doubling over in pain when I eat far more than I miss pizza. It was one of those “I didn’t realize how truly awful I felt until I stopped doing it” kind of life changes. Here’s a surprise: I like not being in pain. I like it so much I don’t miss the things I’ve cut out of my diet.

It’s like when I quit smoking. I quit because I got the flu and couldn’t breathe. It was the first time ever that I couldn’t pull in a solid breath, and it was terrifying. I stopped smoking right then and there and have not once thought “man, I could use a cig.” Not a single time. That’s not a brag…that’s trying to explain how scared I was, how awful that experience felt. The same as sticking tweezers in an outlet, or trying to quick iron your skirt without taking it off first. You get hurt bad enough, you learn.

I’m just not a fast learner about some things.

I guess we’re down to my personal life lesson of 2017. It’s a big, emotional can of worms and there’s no way to say it without sounding like a total douchebag, so I’m just going to spit it out and give myself over to the dark side. I think in 2017 I finally learned that it’s okay to take care of myself.

“UGH.”

I warned you first. I’m going to sound like one of those annoying “it’s time for ME” people, and trust me, I’m not happy about it, either.

“I was only kidding, Bethie. You SHOULD take care of yourself.”

I’ve always had a difficult time doing that. In fact, I kind of perfected the opposite. When I feel bad, what makes me feel better is treating myself horribly. Maybe not always intentionally. Or maybe sort of intentionally with the comfort of guilt after.

I think a lot of people would understand what I mean by that, and if you’re not one of them, then I envy you. I truly do.

I had this realization in the middle of the grocery store health and beauty aisle when I was shopping for lotion. It was the third item on my list, right after “wheat free bread for stuffing?”. Yes, with the question mark, because just writing down such a selfish indulgence was hard for me to do. I found the bread, talked myself into buying it because stuffing is the only reason to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and moved on to lotions.

My skin is having a very horrible time right now. I think some of it is the weight loss (no cakes, no cupcakes, no cookies, no cheese covered sammies…can’t argue with the unintended results of cutting that shit out), some of it is age, a lot of it is working in a dry bakery… I’m chapped all over my hands and lower arms, and my legs from my knees down. It burns and catches on my sleeves and pants and starts bleeding. I need lotion.

I need it.

And it was so hard to buy. I was honestly in tears.

It just…it hit me, ya know? You ever have a moment when you stop and legitimately ask yourself what the hell you’re doing? I felt so bad for shopping for the foods that won’t hurt me, and buying lotion which – I’ll say it again- I absolutely, without question NEEDED, that I stood in the aisle and started to cry. It wasn’t the four bucks for the damn lotion. I had that in my pocket. It wasn’t about the cost, that was only my justification. It was because I still couldn’t shut that voice up in my head that was saying I was being difficult, needy, high maintenance, selfish…

I can’t do it anymore. I can’t bleed quietly while I convince myself I deserve it.

I don’t know where exactly all these feelings come from. I’ve got some obsessive tendencies I honestly believe are genetic. You all know I’m a hoarder. I’ve made no secret about that. Cleaning out my dad’s place after he died and finding the most bizarre stashes of random shit led me to thinking about things from my childhood…I think he probably fought that beast, too. I also have other harmful tendencies that I would also classify as obsessive compulsions. Perhaps it’s an extreme version of the genetic mutation which allows for altruism as a means of advancing the greater Us. I don’t know. That seems like a can of worms for a different day. As with hard solipsism, it’s a brain exercise that has little to do with reality when you get right down to it. At the end of the day, this is the reality I am experiencing. It’s the reality I at least have the illusion of controlling. How I got here matters far less than what I’m going to do about it.

I have to start taking care of myself. I have to figure out how to do it without feeling guilty.

I’m gluten free. I don’t eat dairy. I’m a douche who covers herself with cocoa butter lotion.

*author’s sidenote: Cocoa butter is UH-MAZE-ING. I got this “healing therapy lotion” for “severely chapped skin” that burned so bad I was fighting back tears for almost an hour. Only after the hour in agony did I read the back of the bottle and found that it had acid and two types of alcohol in it. Who the HELL puts ACID in a cream you’re going to rub on severely chapped skin?!?! Psychopaths, that’s who. Absolute maniacs. After scouring the lotion aisle once again and discovering all the big names are run by horrible, uncaring MONSTERS who get their jollies by tricking you into rubbing your already beaten body with what equates to the classic tequila shot, I found one that didn’t have acids and alcohols in it. Cocoa butter, kids. It’s just cocoa butter. No acid that will sear your already damaged flesh. No alcohol that will continue to dry your skin out further. It just creates a soothing barrier between your tender cracked shell and the cruel, icy world. Learn from me before it’s too late.*

Listen to me. I’m becoming a person I always secretly mocked.

Part of me hates that I’m at this point in life where I realize that I’ve belittled those who treat themselves well because deep down I was jealous that they seemed to deserve being treated right and I didn’t. Most of me hates the fact that it’s taken 39 years to come around to their way of thinking.

We don’t know what happens after we die. People aren’t exactly clamoring to come back and let us know for sure. The one thing we do know is that we’re here now. We definitely have THIS life. I’m hoping for at least another 20 years. I don’t want to spend the future the same way I’ve spent the past.

It’s not really a New Year’s resolution. It’s a New Year’s revelation, one that really shouldn’t be. This year, I’m going to try really hard to stay this new and slightly uncomfortable course. I’m hoping that it’ll get easier with time. And I’m hoping I have the fortitude to keep taking care of myself even if it doesn’t.

Thus concludes the first Musing for 2018. This one turned serious on me. I didn’t intend for it to. I wanted to joke about the cold and maybe do a Roundup. Guess sometimes you just have to go where the winds take you. I do feel a Roundup beckoning, though. Stay tuned. The next one will be fun. I promise.

*growl**grumble**curmudgeonish snarl*

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Mornin’ all.

Winter is over and the bears have come out. And not “internet” bears…

*If you don’t already know what the internet calls a “bear”, then you don’t live a life where the info would be very pertinent. I’m just sayin’, Google at your own risk if you must, but don’t get offended if you don’t like what you see.*

…I’m talking teeth gnashing, ornery summbitches that’ll mess your shit up for a pile of trash. They’re out and they’re fierce.

At least one of them is. I’m in a terrible mood. Not even this coffee is helping.

To be fair, it’s shit coffee because I had to make it. Teen 2.0 forgot to set a pot up for us. It’s okay. Since he is the coffee connoisseur in the house, he’ll be suffering for his forgetfulness. Instant karma.

The cat woke me up early by licking my nose, then screaming in my face. I didn’t actually mind because I was having terrible dreams. I got downstairs to find a pile of rubber-band-induced vomit.

Bad dreams. Shit sleep. Horrible coffee. And cat vomit. Helluva great way to start the day.

“Bethie, where did the ‘glass is half full’ attitude we constantly get annoyed by go?”

Sorry. I warned you I was feeling snarly. I’ve got a lot of clutter at the moment, both physical and mental.

See, I’ve been trying to clear out the dining room, AKA:Oscar’s Trash Can. I’ve got guests coming all through May, and I must must MUST get that room in order. Or, in as much order as I can get it. I’m going to do my best, but I’m still a hoarder. There will be a lot of shit left in there even when I’m done.

“Just grab a box of trash bags and go to town.”

If it were that easy, don’t you think I already would have done it? HM? I’d LOVE to be able to let go of shiny things and greasy things and squiggly bits and knobby doodads and twisty thingamabobs… I look at other peoples’ houses and honestly wonder how in the hell they live with nothing in their rooms. It’s legitimately a mystery to me.

I actually have let go of a lot, you know. I have one room that’s crammed full, not an entire house anymore. The Big Clean a couple years back has stuck for every other room.

And I will throw out a fair amount from the dining room, too.

It’s just going to take me awhile. I can’t just grab shit randomly and shove it into a trash bag. I can’t do it. I will sit there side eyeing the stack of bags and get so anxious that I have to- HAVE TO- know what’s inside. It’s a compulsion, not a desire. Not a want. Not a “quirk”.

And, to be clear, it’s not “garbage”. None of it is rotting or discarded wrappings or a collection of every rind from every piece of watermelon I’ve ever eaten. There aren’t stacks of junk crushing mummified animal bodies flat or piles of rat shit heaped up on anything. It’s mostly metal bits I’ve stripped from cars and electronics, all sorted according to the CCFS.

“CCFS?”

You aren’t familiar with the Coffee Can Filing System? It’s similar to the tried and true Dewey Decimal, except for in almost every single way. The CCFS goes like this:

Greasy things go in large plastic Maxwell House containers. Once they get de-greased, they are broken up into large utilitarian bits, like brackets and push rods and structural pieces, and small shiny bits. The utilitarian pieces go into large cardboard cans, like from cheap ass coffee we drink on our broke weeks, and the regular shiny bits get placed in small metal cans, like from Hills Bros., or Chase and Sanborn, because they are special.

Springs have their own cans, because springs are awesome and deserve their own cans.

Nuts and washers go into old film cans, the metal ones 35mm film used to come in before they started putting it in little plastic cylinders. I know they’re not technically coffee cans, but come on. They’re just nuts and washers. Duh.

…unless they are brass. Those are special and, as such, also get their own can.

Bolts or screws go into a huge Folger’s can, because why wouldn’t they?! Unless they are automotive interior bolts, which go into a separate can, or tiny electronic screws, which go into several small Altoids tins.

Now, electronic bits are harder, because they are small, fragile, and somewhat toxic. I have a bead sorter for the most delicate parts, which also holds transistors and resistors. Those go in there because they are small and round. Like beads.

Then we get to my super special cans. They’re not actually coffee cans. They are aluminum food cans, the kind that have the lining on the inside for acidic foods like tomatoes. Those are where the prime bits go, and I have made a special little stand for those out of an old film projector case.

“What would be a ‘prime bit’ Bethie?”

I’m glad you asked!

A prime bit would be something either very shiny, like a computer hard drive internal disc, or something that’s uniquely shaped, like the impeller from inside a diesel injection pump that looks just like the inside of the Hadron super collider if you hold it out away from you and squint. Basically, if I’ve never seen it before, or it’s super shiny, it goes in a special can in the special drawer in the special stand where I can easily access it.

So that is the CCFS in a nutshell. Of course there are tons of variations of the system, depending on the finds, the season, my ever changing whims… It’s kind of a subjective filing system.

But it’s mine. Every hoarder has one.

We have this customer at work that the night crew calls The Magazine Lady. She comes in and sits in a mart kart in front of the magazine rack for hours early in the morning. She does buy some things, and when she does, those things need to be placed in bags. She’ll pull her money from her purse, which is also in little bags, and then sort her change and her receipt into bags when she’s done. Everything she buys goes in its own bag, even if it’s a bagged product, then they get put together in a larger bag inside ANOTHER bag.

I know what her house looks like, folks. I know what her car looks like. I know what life looks like for her day to day. She follows the PBFS, and she is bound to it by much stronger ties than those I deal with. I feel bad for her.

Mostly.

She’s not just a hoarder, she’s also a real asshole, so my sympathy only goes so far. You can be a kind hoarder. And let’s face it, if you’ve got such a strong difficulty for people to look past to begin with, you SHOULD strive to at least be kind. I’m grouchy today, but I’m not an asshole. Usually.

Hell, could you imagine? A fat, broke, inept, compulsive hoarder…I really can’t afford to be an asshole on top of it. I have to have at least one redeeming quality. If you can’t achieve any other standard in life, kindness is the one quality you should always prioritize.

It’s not easy to work through the stuff in the dining room. It brings up other things for me, memories and emotional baggage I wish would just get out of my psyche forever. I wish you could tip your head to the side and whack the top and let the mental clutter fall out of your ear like in the cartoons. Wouldn’t that be great?

Ah, but then you’d risk throwing the baby out with the bath water, eh?

I just have to keep at it I suppose. I completely cleared a walkway on my first day. I broke down a holding box of parts I grabbed and hadn’t yet processed on the second. I’ll get there. I know I will. My guests will still think it’s a horrible mess, because let’s face it, the CCFS isn’t for everyone. But I’ll know how far I’ve come.

I just have to keep plugging away.

Thus concludes a bit of a Musing for Friday, April 28, 2017. It’s already the 28th? Where did April go??? Shit. Now I have to register my car before work today or risk getting a ticket Monday morning on my way in. We’ve got some really sneaky cops that have gotten very good at hiding along the route to work. It’s kind of impressive, really. This one hides his rig so well you absolutely cannot see it at all until it’s too late. I have to tip my hat…and hurry to get my car registered before the shark gets me…

And so, we meet again…

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Mornin’ all.

Pat Benatar is belting it out on the radio right now giving me the urge to snap my fingers and jerk my shoulder in a sassy fashion. I’m drinking my coffee tempered with chocolate milk this morning, the delicious result of my man’s store ordering way too much and having to sell it at half price just to clear the shelves…

*Top Tip: If your SO comes home with two gallons of chocolate milk, definitely add it to your morning coffee. I feel fancy. Like I’m drinking those International Cafe drinks the ads used to make seem so sexy. I’m still drinking it out of an old salsa jar, so not fancy fancy. I’m not letting it go to my head or anything. But I’m definitely feeling upper middle class redneck. Ooh la la. Maybe I’ll really treat myself and let Calgon take me away later.*

…and the pup is going to try it on Special K for breakfast. It’s going to be an icky weekend for me. I know this. However, I can’t fault the start. Perhaps it won’t be so bad after all.

So how’s it going?

I feel like I haven’t been on in ages. This week we had beautiful weather.

Let me clarify. It’s been March in NH beautiful. No Bermuda shorts and tank tops or anything, but it was perfect weather for working outside on the cars. I was doing repairs on two of them, and a mad-dash stripping parts out of another so we can get it out of here before the next one arrives.

*Important message: These are hoopdies I can make money off, folks, so don’t get the wrong idea. I know I already put on airs about my coffee, but let’s keep it all in perspective. Salsa. Jar. Coffee cup. We didn’t hit powerball. It’s not like I’m having to Tetris Lambos around Ferraris to fit them in the drive. We just got lucky and hit a string of rusty money makers.*

I was scrambling to get $$ off the parts car, stacking bits and doodads up like a pro. And then yesterday hit. We’ll call that chapter, “The Day of Reckoning,” in which our brave heroine literally becomes the victim of her own hoarding when parts go a’tumblin’ to and fro and on her foot.

“Oh, Bethie.”

Hey, in my own defense, we stripped out three cars over the winter. People don’t buy car parts for their projects until spring. I went into the deal knowing I’d just have to…uh…creatively stack the stuff. I knew space would get temporarily tight again.

A couple weeks ago, my man looked at the room and said, “We need one big tool chest instead of all these small ones.”

He was right, because we’ve got tools spread far and wide and it would be lovely to have them all in one location so every repair doesn’t turn into another round of “If I was a wire cutter, where would I be?” Don’t get me wrong. I like that game. I just get sick of playing it every fucking time.

Gets old.

The tool chest is a three part-er he got at one helluva deal from Harbor Freight. I don’t know how many of you use tools, but if you do and you don’t shop online at Harbor Freight, you’re missing out on sweet, sweet savings. Even with the shipping, the unit cost less than half of what it would have cost locally. Taking the price as a sign of organizational fate, he ordered it.

The Tool Chest of Awesomeness arrived.

It arrived before I could sell some parts.

It arrived amid the mess, sitting empty, eyeballing the piles of tools longingly.

“I can be so useful if you just let me,” The Tool Chest of Awesomeness said as I stood stirring regular milk into my coffee yesterday morning like some uncultured swine.

That combined with the alternator deciding to obey physics and crush my toe gave me a reality check. It was clear that I had to put the wrenches down for the day and dive into the hoard. The Tool Chest of Awesomeness is right…it CAN be useful. I would definitely have more usable space if I can get the other tool boxes out of the way. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work.

…and then rolled one sleeve back down to mop up my tears of helpless frustration a few hours later when it felt like nothing would ever be right in the world again.

I get overwhelmed, folks. I think it’s part of the hoarding deal. I reach a point where it honestly feels as if there is no hope. That point used to stop me.

Let’s be clear. That feeling, that brick wall, is not a matter of boredom. It’s not like I get halfway through an organizational project and am like, “Meh, screw it. I wanna go glitter something.” I mean, of course I *always* want to glitter something, but that’s not what stops me in a cleaning project. Glitter can wait.

No, in those moments, it’s not a matter of boredom, nor is it laziness. It’s a war inside, because I most definitely, absolutely want to finish the task. I just get an almost consuming feeling that I cannot do it. That I, personally, do not have the ability to put things in a sensical order and that I’m an idiot for even trying.

Like I said, that used to stop me. Now, if I’m working on my own, I step back, wipe my tears, and make a list.

*Sidenote to my big sister: Yeah, yeah…yuk it up You win. THIS TIME.*

I’ll write down the ideas, take a break, and wait until I can go over it with someone before continuing.

Yesterday I didn’t need the list because I had something better: The kids. The teens had no school, and the pup had a half day. Boy, are the kids good at talking me out of my own head. I called Teen Prime in when I started to feel like it was too much and I wasn’t enough and he knew what to say to keep me moving forward.

I just need to know in those moments that my idea will work, because my head tells me it won’t so loudly that I get muddled and can’t tell the difference. If I can tell someone else the plan and they think it’ll work, I get rejuvenated. I just need someone else to say, “I agree.”

“You just need to learn to tell yourself you can do it, Bethie.”

Dude, I just rolled my eyes so hard it put every teenage girl throughout history to shame.

See, that’s the thing, folks. If it’s not your issue, of course that’s what you think. Of course you look at me and say, “Just believe.” I’ve heard that over and over about all kinds of my, uh, we’ll call them “quirks”. “If you just…” “You don’t need someone else to validate…” “You need to love you and embrace your inner power and trust in your feministic magic vagina yadda yadda yadda blah blah…”

GAH ENOUGH!!!

Yes. I *should* be able to know that I can clean a fucking room, for gawd’s sake. I mean, it’s just a room. It’s stuff. Put it in stacks that make sense, throw out what I don’t use, and move on. It doesn’t have to be such a goddamn ordeal.

But it is.

That’s how my head works. Logically I agree 100% that it’s “just” and I “should”. Thinking about the car work I did this week, all of it is arguably much more difficult on the skill scale. Don’t take this the wrong way, but can you weld a cracked door panel back together without warping it when the break goes through not one, but two critical bolt holes? Because I did. I didn’t even think twice before diving into the job, either. I saw the crack, got out the welding supplies, and went for it.

Yet, I see a messy room and it’s like I’ve been dumped into the middle of someone’s brain surgery, handed a scalpel, and told, “You’re his only chance now. Don’t fuck this up.”

Don’t you have those “things”? Isn’t there something you look at another person doing and think jealously to yourself, “It looks so easy. WHY can’t I do that?”

So no, I’m not enough to be my own pep-talker. Maybe someday it’ll be easier for me, and I will be enough to talk myself out of that rut. For now, I need an “attaboy” from another source. At least I understand and accept that. At least I figured out how to work with what I’ve got, not just wish for something different.

Have you had enough of my personal psychoanalysis? Yeah, me too. Let’s get back on track.

Anyway, I got a good chunk done yesterday. Today is going to be jam packed, but this evening I should be able to finish up with the parts organizing and get to where I can roll out all the other tool boxes and fill the new Tool Chest of Awesomeness.

I can’t wait to get that puppy all set up. I get to use a label maker for its intended purpose, not just to annoy the kids by labeling all of their stuff. I mean, I’m still going to do that, too. How else would they know a pencil is a pencil? But I finally have something that actually requires legit labeling.

Pat Benatar was a fluke. The radio station went to something very Bieber-esque, so I decided to switch to the pc and Sia is now blasting through my headphones. Fire is meeting gasoline right now and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s getting me pumped. That’s a good thing. I need to be jazzed right now.

Sia. Fancy coffee. Tool Chest of Awesomeness. A label maker locked and loaded. And you putting up with my shit for awhile to help me clear my head.

Okay then. *deep breath* Unto the breach!

Thus concludes an emo Musing for Saturday, March 19, 2016. *clickity click* Hear that? I just made a label that says, “fancy milk.” …what? I have to warm up the label maker somehow.

A sick kid, a dead mouse, and a broken window walk into a bar…

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Mornin’ all!

I got up to one “awwww” thing today, which was so much better than the not “awwww” thing I found when I woke up yesterday.

The awwww thing today was a note pinned to the hallway outside my bedroom from my 9-year-old. It said, “I threw up in the night. It did not feel good. 😦 ” Now, why is this “awwww”? Because he could have just knocked on my door, ya know?

But that’s just so him. Everything about it was my little MacGuyver. He had no paper, so he snipped open a toilet paper roll and flattened it out to write the note on, found a thumbtack somewhere in his room, and pinned the note right at my eye level where I’d see it when I opened my door.

Again, he easily could have just knocked.

Ah, but he’s one to take care of things himself. Poor little guy. Guess my plans are scrapped for today and I need to run for ginger ale before the teens head out for school.

The not awwww thing was a gift from kitty. Dead mouse (not to be confused with deadmau5… *glow bracelet fistbump*). She left it at the bottom of the stairs for me, presentation style. It was sitting in the middle of a plastic grocery bag (her favorite thing in the world) with a black sock placed right next to it. I’d like to think that the smelly, dirty black sock was an intentional artistic addition to underscore the fetid morbidity of Death. As soon as I heaped on the praise, though, she sat down and started licking her ass, so she’s probably not a deep artistic thinker after all.

ZOMG. WAIT! Maybe the ass licking was a living art piece, a biting commentary on the entire event summed up in one controversial and provocative performance? I mean, when you think about it, could there really be a more succinct statement on the terrible emotions one must deal with when there’s been a death than the horror of licking ones own ass??

MY CAT IS BRILLIANT.

I’m glad we have a mouser. It’s getting colder, and the mice are getting bolder. The cold weather is kicking off some deep instincts, not just in the mice and Rembrandt Kitty.

*author’s note: Yes, I, too, found it a bit odd that I went with “Rembrandt Kitty” when I easily could have taken the opportunity for punnery. I’m not saying that “Picatso,” “Meownet,” and “Renrawr” weren’t given serious consideration. In the end, though, I decided that if Kitty was going to be all high brow, then perhaps I, too, should take the more mature route.*

Around these parts, the first time you see your breath in the morning, something deep inside says, “SHIT! WE WASTED SUMMER!!!” You start looking around in a panic at all the things you can’t do once the snow flies. You can’t fix that car. There’s no way in hell you’re getting concrete poured on the one stair that mysteriously disintegrated once it’s sitting under six inches of snow. The garage still needs cleaning. The deck is a mess. And let’s not EVEN talk about the plans you had for that broken window.

The cold hits the ancient internal “go” button.

That’s good in a way. I mean, the shit really does have to get done. It’s not about the beauty of the home…it’s about the knowledge that if a foot of snow lands on that deck, you won’t have a deck once it melts. These are NECESSARY repairs, not weekend do it yourself projects to give the joint more curb appeal. These things have to happen, and time is tickin’.

On top of that panic, there’s the incessant obsession to gather in a hoarder such as myself. I’ve mentioned before that the apples highlighted my hoarding thoughts. It’s so much worse when it turns cold enough to wear a cardigan in an un-ironic manner. The empty spaces in the cupboards fill me with a sense of dread. It doesn’t matter how much food is around those empty spaces. There are EMPTY SPACES people! It’s a CRISIS. We will STARVE if I don’t cram those cupboards!

This year it’s particularly bad.

I think since the man’s schedule is still all up in the air and there are many changes afoot, my system is trying to compensate by over-controlling other aspects. Food is only one of them. Then there’s just the general need to acquire and prepare for the times when we “can’t.” Can’t afford, can’t get to, can’t find…

See? I get it. I know and understand my compulsions. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t giddy as a schoolgirl at her first dance when the junk shop heaped tons of shit in the free pile across the street yesterday.

“…oh, Bethie. *sigh*”

I got tiles! TWO boxes of them.

“And what are you going to do with two boxes of tiles?”

Look at them. Have them. Know that they’re there in case I need them. Oh! And a fun crate! It’s got such a cool shape.

“Did you need a cool-shaped crate?”

Actually, that one I can legit use. It’s very wide one way, and tall and skinny the other. It’ll be perfect for holding the paintings I’m doing, a place to safely store them before sale. So *pfflllbttthhh*.

The urge to get the rest of the stuff from the pile was almost overwhelming. There was a chair that has just a bizarre vibe that drew me to it. I kept staring at it. No, I did not go over and get it. No, I won’t today if it’s still there. I’ve already got one chair project going, and don’t really have the space for the that. I don’t need/can’t fit another. There was also a pile of unusually shaped cinder blocks. I have never seen cinder blocks that looked like them. I couldn’t think of a real purpose for those, so they, too, stayed put.

I’m trying, folks. I really, truly am. I blew it on the tiles, but the crate will honestly help with an organizational problem I’ve been having.

I got the first layer of concrete poured on the stair yesterday. I need at least one more layer, but I thought it best to do a series of thin layers since it’s cooler out, and since I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Landlords didn’t fix it, and I was sick of turning my ankle every time I left my house. Three of the household guys suggested I use the tiles on top of the stair and make it look fancy, because:

a) they get me…

b) they know how hilarious fancy stairs leading up to our just-this-side-of-a-tar-paper-shack house would be.

Could you imagine stepping onto icy tiles, though? Yikes. I’ll have to find another way to make an ironic statement about my home.

When I was a kid, I saw a house that was decorated with political messages. Not in my town. Over towards where my grandparents lived all the way on the other side of the state, a good two whole hours away. The owners would paint huge messages on the clapboard siding.

Shit. Was that over by my grandparents? Bah. Who knows. I was a kid. Somewhere in NH there used to be a very political house.

…or was it in Maine? Ya know, it could have been Maine…

Anyway, I could do that. Instead of going with the ironic fancy route, I could be more blunt and write things like, “I refuse to live my life under the imperialistic constraints of a straight roof!” or, “Is the foundation really warped, or is YOUR perception of it the problem?” You know… make people think.

“Wouldn’t your landlords object?”

Well, see, here’s the thing. The house has been peeling for years. It should have been painted at least five years ago. They ignore the problem by refusing to walk over to this side where the damage to the paint is very apparent. True story. That way they don’t have to look at the paint and can pretend it’s still perfectly fine. What they can’t see, they don’t have to fix, right? I think that’s how landlording works.

In order for me to make tall statements on the clapboards, I’d need to first prepare the surface. And that would mean a free paint job for them! If they don’t care about piles of peeling paint, I highly doubt they’d give two shits about a few words.

There’s a flaw in that plan, though. I could paint all the words I wanted and the real statement would be totally lost on the Landlords. They wouldn’t get it. They honestly would just be jazzed that they didn’t have to hire a painter after all.

Someone’s already done it, too. That’s another drawback. Someone else has already painted their thoughts and feelings on their house. I guess if I’m going to passive aggressively shame my landlords in a manner that would go completely over their heads, I should at least be original about it.

Maybe I could do inlaid tile work around the broken window? It’s facing the road so everyone will see. I’ll lay the tiles out, then surround them with gold painted filigree work to highlight the absurdity. Picture it. The paint will be peeling all around it. The window broken and askew in the rotting frame. And yet, a peek of Taj Mahal level opulence…

“Whoa. I’m not a home improvement expert, but wouldn’t that take a lot of time and effort?”

Yep.

“…for what is essentially an inside joke that pretty much no one will ever understand?”

You do realize that all you’re doing is talking me into the idea, right?

“*shakes head* You have issues.”

So, so many.

Thus concludes a ramble for Tuesday, October 13, 2015. It’s light out. I’m not going to look across the street and see what’s still left in the free pile. I don’t need it. Right? I mean, who wants a stupid chair, anyway? A stupid, unusual, different, captivating chair. Heh. *breaks out into a sweat*

Renaissance Cavewoman

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Mornin’ all.

You want some applesauce?

My apples are coming in. BOY are they coming in. I haven’t even really had to set up a contraption to harvest them yet, though my guy and a buddy of his had some great redneck fun climbing up there and shake shake shaking the branches. They climbed just high enough to scare me, but still in a range where a fall would most likely be survivable. I’m not going to lie and call that a sober endeavor, though I really feel like that goes without saying.

Between the drunk apes and good old fashioned gravity, I’ve gotten enough apples so far to make three batches of apple crisp, two apple cakes, and four gallons of applesauce.

Four. GALLONS.

Three of the gallons are divided and ziploc-ed in the freezer. I always use ziploc bags for freezing stuff like that. Once you fill the bag, squeeze the air out, and zip it closed, you can lay it on the counter for a bit and it’ll get very flat, making it good for storage.

Admittedly, it feels very, very odd to have a sac of warm applesauce in your hands. It’s like some bizarre boob implant gone awry.

“Bethie, I’m offended by the word boob.”

Of course you are.

Once you get the edible implants flat and stacked, they fit very nicely in our small freezer. It’s times like these that I wish I had a chest freezer. Though I guess if you look at it the right way, now I do.

BUH DUM DUM CHING

I’d guess a good two thirds of this year’s apple crop is still up in the tree branches. I’m going to make some apple butter and jar it, so I can store that in the cupboards. And I’ll keep cranking out apple cakes and crisps and crumbles and buckles until the kids can’t stand the smell of apples and cinnamon.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?

“Yes, but they don’t mean you should cram the whole year’s worth in at once.”

Eh, semantics.

We had use of a standing freezer at one time. It was great. My mum got it for a song from the junk shop across the way, and we muscled it into her garage when she lived next door. It gave us a few good years, then shit the bed. We used it for storage of woodworking materials and hand tools after it would no longer chill our grub.

You all know how much I love having a new thing to fill with all my junk, so it wasn’t really a heartbreaking day when the freezing element conked out. But having the ability to hoard food is something I miss.

I was thinking about hoarding the other day while combing through the tall grass for apples, my shirt full because I didn’t have the forethought to bring the cooler over to the other side of the tree. Had I been a chipmunk, I would have started cramming my cheeks full.

You’re welcome for that mental image.

I bent over to pick up another apple and the makeshift “pouch” of my tee shirt bottom gave way and a few apples fell out. I’m not going to lie. It gave me a moment of panic. It truly, honestly did.

“Uh, Bethie…”

Yeah yeah yeah, I know. Just bend down and pick them back up. I get it. But in that moment, all I could think was, “Shit, I just lost them! Hurry and get them back right now or the kids will starve this winter!”

Here’s a theory, folks. I don’t think my hoarding is a dysfunction. Instead, I propose that the hoarding “illness” is actually a recessive genetic trait carried from our hunter/gatherer cave-cestors.

Now wait. I’m not justifying any of the alarming or truly damaging aspects of hoarding. There is no reason to get so much junk that you can’t tell when you’ve got flattened, mummified cats at the bottom of the heap. There is absolutely no survival benefit to owning mummified cats.

But if you were to come into my house right now and look at things through the eyes of a caveman or cavewoman, you’d not only be impressed, but you’d put down your rock and club in concession to my obvious superiority and crown me Queen of the Caves.

…”*dubious eyebrow lift*”…

…okay, well you’d at least whistle and waggle your bushy cave brows and thump my man on the back while saying, “mmghfm, brah,” which I don’t even think needs translating.

I’m saying that while I may fail at being a modern chick in many ways, I’d friggin’ rock the hell out of cave life.

*sidenote: The misogynistic OpenOffice spellchecker approves of “caveman” but not “cavewoman.” Someone start an online petition toot sweet.

**sidenote p.s.: Also not allowed are “spellchecker” and “sidenote,” though I doubt this will raise enough ire to warrant a petition. Still, worth mentioning. Tighten it up, OpenOffice.

Cheekiness aside, I do think I might be on to something here. I wasn’t kidding when I said the apples falling out of my shirt caused a moment of panic. That’s what actually gave me pause and sparked what might be the first epiphany of the school year. With the kids gone during the day, I can actually think.

Look, I’m not at all unaware of my stupidly obsessive thoughts. I know it was utterly ridiculous to feel fear at the potential loss of three apples, especially given the circumstances. They didn’t actually “go” anywhere. They were still there in front of me, cushioned in the grass, waiting for me to bend down and pick them back up.

Right now, in modern life, I didn’t have to worry at all. I didn’t lose them.

And even if I had, even if they had tumbled down the little hill into the drainage creek to be swept out to the Ashuelot river, there were plenty more apples for me and my family. Too many, actually. I don’t have a freezer. I can’t possibly use all the apples Nature has provided this year. I honestly did not need those three apples.

But cavewoman Bethie could have. Cavewoman Bethie probably would have. Every single scrap of food was necessary. It makes sense to have a mini panic attack when you think about it from that standpoint. I might live in modern times, but I’m still an animal. At heart, we all are. And what more animalistic endeavor could there be than gathering food for a family? Not shopping. Not opening a can. Real, honest, raw gathering. Out there, barefoot in the morning dew, eyes carefully scanning the tall grasses for the bright red that signals another step towards full bellies and healthy cubs.

Instinct. In that respect, hoarding food is simple, pure instinct. Grab as much as you can and then protect it, because those three apples could mean the difference between life and death.

On the “stuff” side of hoarding, as the gatherer half of this h/g team, my ability to scavenge and save and stockpile would have been a massive advantage. My little clan would have had things to trade, more possibilities for tool crafting, greater comforts than other groups. Those things would have given us status.

I would have OWNED caveman life.

Modernity hasn’t negated the inborn need humans have to amass huge quantities of things. I hoard stuff. Junk, if you’re going to insist on cold, hard truth. I love the things I gather. To me and my little clan, it’s useful, even if others don’t see the glorious piles in a twinkling, rainbowy light. However, while others are shaking their heads, the vast majority of the tsk-tsking naysayers are also hoarders. They just hoard money. Or shoes. Or nice furniture instead of curbside freebies.

Think I’m off base? Then explain storage units to me.

We humans have created a multi-billion dollar industry that exists for the sole purpose of storing all our extra crap. If you’ve got a storage unit that holds all your extra stuff, then you’re actually pretty much just like me. The ONLY difference between the two of us is that I refuse to pay someone $300/month to keep all my extra shit. I don’t tuck my hoarding away and pretend the urges aren’t there. I face it and live with it every single day.

“Bethie, we need storage units. What about when people move? They need a place to keep their stuff for awhile.”

Yep. But that’s not how it plays out, is it?

My uncle had a storage unit. He got it when he downsized after his divorce (lawyer speak for “he had to sell the house and give the ex the money”). When he started out, he *intended* for his storage unit to be temporary, as most folks do.

But once he got into the apartment, he realized how empty it felt. So, he started to buy new stuff. Why not? His house stuff was really for a house, after all. He needed apartment stuff.

When he died, we had the job of sorting out his storage unit. What did we find? Copies of the stuff he had in his apartment. Another couch, another stereo, an outdated computer. At that point, he had been divorced for nearly two decades, and had been shifting that crap from storage facility to storage facility as he moved. He paid every single month to house his “house” stuff for decades.

You’re laughing, but his story is not at all uncommon. In fact, most people who rent a storage unit end up paying to keep it for years. Some people have multiple storage units.

How is that NOT hoarding? It is hoarding. It’s just socially acceptable hoarding. That’s the only difference between the average Joe with a storage unit and myself. Society okays one and pretends the other is different. We are alike, though. We’ve all got that little side to us.

It’s a compulsion that’s been in our genes since before we were humans. It’s an ancient survival instinct that happens to be more prevalent in some people than others. I’m simply more in touch with my ancestral heritage than most.

I’m not a hoarder. I’m a Renaissance cavewoman.

Wait…why are you groaning and rolling your eyes?

“Because it just dawned on me what you’re doing.”

Uh, what do you mean? I’m proposing a very important biological, sociological, and anthropological theory here.

“No, you’re trying to justify ignoring the housework for another day.”

Whaaaa? Meeee???

“That’s what this entire post has been about, isn’t it?”

*whistles* *picks lint off bathrobe* *develops a sudden deep interest in the position of the stapler on the desk*

“Bethie.”

…yeah?

“Go clean your room.”

*grumble* *glare* Fine. See if I try to enlighten you again. *mutter* *shuffles off to get the broom*

“Don’t forget the trash bags.”

Tyrant.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Tuesday, September 1, 2015. I guess I’ll go clean my stupid room now and conform to your modern oppression. But you have to admit, excuses and stalling and epic procrastination technique aside, I might just have a point.