Thursday, April 24, 2014

Anticlimax

I did not think that it would come to end like this. To quote my favorite movie ever, Apocalypse Now, "Not with a bang, but with a whimper. And with a whimper, I'm splitting, Jack." I have been to Family Court probably fifteen times over the years with MOTY, and she has been there at least twice that many times with the fathers of her other children and with her mother back in the day with her oldest child, the last time she was in active addiction. And never once did she not show up for court. Even back in the late 1990's, when she was so goofed up she could barely stand, did she not now show up.
But she did not show up yesterday. I have sole, full, uncontested custody. Sabrina has choice of visitation, subject to my approval, and given the circumstances of what's been happening, she's not going over there again for a while because the addiction has taken full flight again. Per my lawyer's instructions, I did not talk to the CPS investigator that is currently handling MOTY's case until after court yesterday regarding what Sabrina told me when she returned from there the other day. But when I did so, I found out that MOTY lied to her; she has not passed a drug screen, but has refused to take two of them now, leaving the testing place on one occasion when she found out she was going to have a monitor watch her give the sample. Her claims to our daughter to have put it down a few weeks ago are fiction.
When I told Sabrina her mother had not shown up, she deflated visibly, and ended up not going to the meeting last night like she has been for a long time. There is no bigger kick in the ass for a child than the discovery that a parent will, when the chips are down, choose an addiction over them--whether the addiction be drugs, a partner, their job, or something else. I know Sabrina is disturbed by what's happened, and I know that she wants much to change over there; this petition was filed at her insistence, after all. But I also think that she wanted--needed--to know that her mother was willing to fight for access to her, that even if she is messed up and unable to care for her, that Sabrina mattered to her enough to contest the inevitable. Discovering that she did not, that she is so locked into her addiction that the drugs matter more to her at this point than her only daughter, might well be the most painful thing she has ever done to that daughter.
I'm not quite as surprised as Sabrina was, but I still was floored nonetheless. One of the truisms that we hear in recovery is that during relapses, it gets worse than it was before, that new bottoms are reached, and although that's not in the realm of my own experience, I can see it in MOTY's. She's not 24 now; she's going to be 40 in a few weeks. And I'm less worried by the behavior and the relapse as the apparent giving up. In the past, in even addiction, she had some fight in her, akin to a snarling cornered small animal. To see the fight drained away--I have frankly been shocked by how little noise she has made since this all started months ago--has been, in an odd way, deflating and painful for me as well. I don't have any substantial feeling for her any longer, but she is my daughter's mother, and as such, I would like for her to be present, to be a positive influence, and to share the responsibility of (still, even at 15) raising our child.
To see her descend beyond the level of where she was in 1999 is frightening. Because she ended up almost dead, with seven active criminal cases and two Family Court violations pending before she put it down then, and even then she abandoned a newborn baby and only got clean because she nearly died and detoxed in a hospital ward in serious condition.
And from this distance, I really have come to believe that the biggest reason she embarked on a recovery journey at that time was because she had enough fight in her to not cede her daughter to me. I remember one of the first conversations we had after she had left the hospital and she had been gone up to Dick Van Dyke for in-patient. She really thought, when she relapsed after Sabrina's birth, that I was going to leave the halfway house I was in and come looking for her, come be her shield, protector, and wallet like I had been for most of the previous two years. And although she is generally not good with words, she conveyed clearly enough that day her mounting sense of disbelief and then fear when she looked out the window for days at the place she was holed up in (when she had something to smoke), looking for my car to come around the corner, and how when she was walking the streets, looking for ways and means to get more, she kept hoping my car was going to come around the corner. And it finally dawned on her, after five or six days and as the UTI that nearly killed her got worse and worse, that I was not coming, and that I had made the step, made the commitment that I was, at least for that time, leaving that life and that existence behind. At 24, that was enough motivation for her to move forward when the hospitalization ended.
At nearly 40, with the prospect of another infant being taken away from her, will it serve as some kind of motivation again? I don't know. But I'm not hopeful. There is no longer the small solace of being young and with time still to get it together. There is no longer the solace of inexperience, no longer the crutch of blaming her mother and the family for her situation. She has had the primary responsibility now of raising two boys that have turned out to be train wrecks, while the daughter who has been primarily parented by her father has turned out to a shining jewel of a child... in other words, the grinding, nagging sense of failure that bedeviled and nagged her fifteen years ago has reinforced to the point where I really don't think she is going to be able to ever overcome it. And more sadly, I believe she thinks so, too.
And if there is any more depressing sight in this world then seeing someone just give up, I don't know what it is. I vividly remember watching Leaving Las Vegas with her during active addiction, as background noise and distraction during a several-day run, and thinking to myself that that grotesquely depressing, profoundly disturbing movie just might be our story. It turned out not to be mine. But it's looking more and more likely that it is going to be hers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

We Can Do Better

I don't usually go to the Monday night meeting around here. My years-long stint at the candlelight notwithstanding, I've never been terribly comfortable at large meetings, and the Monday night meeting is as big as it gets around here, often north of 75 people in attendance. But in the springtime, circumstances like practices, cancelled games, and spring break disrupting normal routine lead to making the meeting four or five times in a span of several weeks, and my daughter and I were there the other night.
And were treated to a spectacle that is distasteful in any circumstances but is unfortunately common in a meeting so large--the irresistible temptation of some of us that are caught in some drama or another with another member of the fellowship to attempt to use the room as a jury to defend their conduct or viewpoints. I've been trying really hard recently to not get into specifics about people I know whose behavior I have issues with; I can, and have in the past, used this space as a more subtle way to engage in the very thing I'm writing about now, trying to manipulate those around me into seeing my preferred view, and in a recovery setting, manipulation is never a good thing. And I'm not going to comment on the nature of the disputes themselves; of the two most egregious examples the other night, my friends and others know where I stand on one of the situations, and my views are "a pox on both of them" for the other one. Even though I've gotten to a point in my recovery where I'm not going to give an impassioned, curse-dropping, defense-lawyer, bully-boy harangue when I am sharing, I understand that it happens, especially with some individuals whose recovery programs are in a different place emotionally than mine.
But there is a greater good that needs to be addressed. The Monday night meeting is different than every other one we have, in that the in-patient rehab in town brings their clientele to the meeting. One of the reasons that the meeting is so large is that there are always 15-20 people that have days clean in attendance, people who are being introduced, in many cases for the very first time, to Narcotics Anonymous and a program of recovery. And one of the basics of any functional and effective recovery program is that the disease of addiction is more than our drug use, and that a program of recovery is more than abstinence from using. The core of our disease is obsession and compulsion, characterized by overwhelming self-centeredness. The Twelve Steps combat, on a deep and meaningful level, selfishness and the inability to have any sort of concern or even awareness of the greater good of others.
And so, when someone laces his sharing with profanity and ends by telling all those "motherfuckers" that are "judging" him for recent events "fuck you"--well , that's a problem. When someone goes off in sharing time with a several-"fuck"-per-minute rant about the end of a relationship and the other person involved in it--a person sitting four rows in front of the person sharing--that's a problem. It's not indicative of a functional recovery program in any circumstances, but none of us are perfect, and occasionally this kind of thing happens for all of us. I've done it myself a few times over fifteen years.
But never in front of an audience that included seventeen people with days clean. Not in front of people who are trying to decide whether recovery is for them, trying to decide whether they want to be a part of Narcotics Anonymous when they leave in-patient. And I'm sorry if it sounds judgmental--but we have an obligation to share responsibly. It is possible to share about the issues you are having in your life without telling a portion of the fellowship to go fuck themselves, or coming across as a particularly obnoxious and unpleasant street urchin unwilling to let a relationship go. Especially since both are clearly adults, people for whom youthful indiscretion is not a remotely plausible excuse. How is engaging in this make recovery attractive to the newcomer? How does one justify putting their own concerns, their own drama, ahead of the larger responsibility we have, in that setting? How do we serve the interests of the newcomer that we pay so much lip service to by gorging at the table of self-centeredness like that? Yes, I know we are all suffering from the disease no matter how long we've been around, and none of us are perfect, and all the rest.
But there comes a time where the "I'm still an addict" excuse stinks on ice. And this is one of them. If you can't get out of yourself for five minutes in a meeting that serves as the initial exposure to Narcotics Anonymous for the people we are ostensibly trying to help, --well, it's not attractive to those we are supposed to be trying to help. And it is not possible to insert one's head far enough up one's ass to not realize it. It was disease, not recovery, on full display.
And we need to do better. This fellowship's ultimate survival depends on new people coming into the process, and new people come into the process because we make recovery seem attractive to them, not by indulging our disease. A whole bunch of people left the meeting feeling like they needed to take a shower. We cannot do this on a regular basis and claim to be acting in good will toward others, being of service to the addict just coming in the door, helping each other recover, or applying principles in our life. None of us do this perfectly--but we need to hold ourselves accountable a hell of a lot better than we do. There needs to be a figurative and emotional distance of more than a few inches between the crack house and the meeting place, and we need to consciously make an effort to make that gap as wide as possible.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: FIRE AND LIGHT

James MacGregor Burns' Fire and Light is a departure, to a degree, from the historian's usual emphasis on American history. This book is essentially a review of the entire Enlightenment and the men that created and sustained it, beginning in the Europe of the Reformation and continuing down to the nineteenth century. As with any book of this scope, many figures that could have been given deeper treatment are not, and the account suffers some from this tendency. The last third of the book, Burns does focus on the American and British political arena of the 1800s, taking the position that the Enlightenment values best were exemplified by what course politics took in those two countries. There are some interesting vignettes and mini-biographical sketches in the book; many names known to me only as distant memories from political theory classes three decades ago, such as Hume, Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and the like, are given a little more substance by this book. But on the whole, unless one is deeply into history, this is not the most riveting material.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What Now, Columbus?

There are times when it seems like nothing much is going on in our lives for weeks or even months at a time, and then there are times when it seems like where an ice jam has given way and our lives are careening forward at a not-quite-breakneck-but-not-quite-controlled-either speed. And this is one of those times. I don't have time or inclination to go through all the changes that are taking place, but I do feel like I should address at least one of them.
The Family Court petition I filed nearly three months ago is finally going to make it to the courtroom later this week. Even though it's an initial appearance, there have been enough developments since it was filed that a resolution might well happen while we are in there. The obvious has been acknowledged to my daughter, if not to me, and if that admission is revealed again in a setting where some accountability can be put in place--well, ultimately that's what I've wanted all along. And with that admission comes some soul-searching  on my part, too. Everyone deserves a chance to recover. It was easy to talk about this stuff with whoever and wherever when it seemed like there was no chance that paths would cross in a healthier setting. To be sure, that chance has not become reality--but it seems somewhat more likely than it did even a few days ago. And I have to do my part to make sure that, should someone want to pursue that option, the atmosphere for that person is welcoming, non-judgmental, and conducive to recovering. I have no illusions that a corner has been turned or that everything is going to become all better now. But the fact that at least an admission has been made to someone, propriety issues aside, is progress. And I really do not want to step on a tiny green shoot pushing up through the dirt.
In a related note, I have not gone to the Sunday night meeting of the fellowship I belong to in many, many years--but before that meeting was over last night, I heard from two different people that someone was speaking there that has not been a part of the fellowship in recent years, someone that my disdain for in the past has been no secret regarding, due mainly to the consequences of his own toxicity. Regular readers of this space will have no doubt whom I'm referring to, and I have to say that on a personal level, I don't really wish to have to deal with this guy. But he has as much right to recover and to belong to the fellowship as anyone else does, and if he feels the need to return here--and I am aware that much has happened in his life in the last few years that could charitably be described as "unmanageable"--then he should feel as welcome as anyone else. And since open-mindedness is the second indispensable principle of recovery, one that needs to be practiced on a daily basis, I am placing personal history aside, at least just for today, and refraining from commentary. The motivations involved will become clear soon enough, should his presence become regular again.
And I find it somewhat ironic that he is returning to the fellowship at the same time that his old fiefdom is engulfed in controversy once more. I'm going to hold my tongue again on details, especially since I've had a semi-direct stake in it--let's just say that if a member of the fellowship that has been a par  of the subcommittee this past year that has a great deal of experience had been listened to and his input valued and heeded, a lot of the controversy would not be taking place. Service work in this fellowship is sometimes the greatest test and reflection of our programs--the disease of addiction is at its most virulent when it uses the forms of recovery to manifest itself. It is a slippery slope, indeed, between service motivated by good will and using the idea of service as a forum to gratify our own egos and control tendencies. I have a certain sympathy for the embattled individual because I have slid down that slope more than once over the years myself--but the slide was arrested when I came to understand that if there were a lot of people that were questioning what I was doing, I had to first realize that the problem wasn't the other people, but me, and I had to stop being a defense lawyer for what I was doing. One can rationalize conflict with one or two or four people as born of the other people's defects of character, but when you're in conflict with pretty much everyone around you--it's you. Maybe enlightenment will happen in this case, too--but part of enlightenment is not only being open-minded to input other than from those willing to co-sign nonsense, but willingness to implement that input, and there have been few if any signs that will take place.
I am undecided about remaining a part of this committee; I'm a little tired of being a Cassandra in the Trojan palace. I'm certainly not looking for things to do, and in the last couple of months or so, I've really started to spend more time around people much more committed to living a more principled, God-centered life than I have been in a long time--and not only am I making progress in my personal journey at a pace I haven't maintained in a long time, but I'm enjoying the experience. And not for the first time, I'm finding that the more I progress, the more people want to be around me. I literally don't have time to wrestle in the mud-pit. Conflict is not what gives my life meaning these days. There have been too many cautionary examples of what happens to those that get caught up in those kind of conflicts for me. There are those that can't get a couple of weeks clean that are still fulminating against "those people;" there are those that, although clean for the moment, are so stuck in anger and resentment that they are painful to be around; and there are those who have departed from this journey only to find it necessary to return, including the person that I started this thread with.
We share our experience, ultimately, in the hope that others will not have to go through what we went through. And I am paying attention to what is going on around me, believe me... for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, I truly feel like I am in uncharted territory. But unlike most of the other times it's happened over the years, I am not feeling lost and uneasy. I've addressed a lot of the underlying issues I've been dealing with for a long time; I've gotten some relief from them, and as a result, the ground in front of me does not inspire dread or trepidation. I'm aware, cautious--but not afraid to move forward, not even hesitant. Are there are going to be financial concerns? Sure. Is there are some juggling acts of time management ahead? Yes. But there are a lot of good things going on, too, and being able to just move onward and seeing what's ahead without looking over my shoulder or hearing nagging voices of doubt in my ear or being consumed by fear of the unknown is a feeling I've had only fleetingly during my entire life. And it may not last, to be sure, but it feels different now. I truly am more optimistic about it all than I have been in a long time, maybe ever.
For a decade and a half, I have been trying to find out who and what I truly am, and to become comfortable within that skin. I'm not all the way there yet, but I'm a lot further than I ever have been before. And that comfort level makes a big difference.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Thoughts

Easter was one of those occasions that I never "got" when I was a kid. As a adult, I now understand why the actual date moves every year, but as a kid, it was frustrating, especially since the only coherent answer I ever got from the adults I was around--"the Sunday after Passover"--didn't mean a whole lot, either, since none of them knew why Passover moved (the date changes because it's the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, in case you are interested). And very early on, I had a tough time connecting the secular ritual--the Easter Bunny and baskets full of candy--and the religious. It's the Big One, even bigger than Christmas, as far as the Catholics were concerned; you couldn't find a seat in church, the service itself took nearly two hours, and all the spectacle the Catholic Church has to offer was on full display; incense, a dozen altar boys and priests, bright robes, extended gospel readings with the congregation having a role--and what a change that was, having the Passion narrative read like a school play with different people other than the priest having speaking parts! But the novelty wore off when I was about nine, and the whole thing degenerated into something we had to suffer through before we could go back home and gorge on the candy that we had gotten that morning in our baskets waiting for us when we woke up.
I was already losing the faith by the end of grade school, and it was long gone by time I got into high school, and even my parents didn't seem to really care anymore once my youngest sister made her First Communion. By time I was driving, I didn't even have to go on regular Sundays anymore with them, and I am sure that they knew that I was going to Jimmy Herceg's house across the street from St. Joseph's rather than the Mass itself, but they never said anything. And even that fiction was dispensed with after high school graduation. I have not been to a Catholic Easter Mass since. I did go a few times during the decade I was with my ex-wife; the Orthodox Easter Mass is even more of a visual and auditory spectacle than the Catholic, and it held my interest for a few years, but after the marriage ended and after embarking on a different spiritual path in recovery from drug addiction, Easter has become more or less just another Sunday for me.
And now that all my daughters are high school age or older, I don't even bother with the Easter basket stuff; I always ended up eating most of the candy anyway, as Sabrina's pretty finicky about what kind of candy she likes and the older two always brought their haul to their mother's house. Sabrina is, at 15, a fairly aggressive atheist, and while I have a very strong belief in God, I don't practice any religion in general and don't believe in any of the central tenets surrounding Easter in particular, so today is more or less just another Sunday around here.
Except--not quite. The core idea of Easter--a rebirth of the soul--is something I not only identify with, but have experienced. It's been an experience shorn of the theology, to be sure, but nonetheless, that is what has happened and continues to happen. I'm not the man I used to be, and I have long since come to believe that what I did many years ago is not evidence of who or what I truly am, but has merely served as a way to bring me ultimately closer to God, and to lead a more God-centered and spiritually-based existence. I'm not knocking anyone who finds meaning in the practices and rituals of their churches and religions; it's easy to see whether they have found that meaning in the way they live their lives, and it's easy to find common ground with those people. While the Easter narrative is the climax of the Gospel stories, the important chapters are in the precepts and principles that Jesus of Nazareth expounded on during his lifetime--and I have discovered that trying to live by those precepts and principles leads to a better and more fulfilling life, whether I attend church services and believe he rose from the dead or not. And when I live by those precepts and principles, I am redeeming my own catalogue of sins. I don't believe that there is a judgment of souls after death--but if there is, I'm not afraid to face it, because I have done what was asked of us while I've walked the earth.
I am not perfect, but I don't really think God expects or even wants us to be. If we were, we would have no reason to seek to become closer to God; instead, we would, given the workings of the human mind, believe we were equal to and a rival to God. What we are supposed to do is do our best to help each other, right the wrongs we do to the best of our ability, love each other, and try to leave the world in a better way than the way we found it. And most of all, we are supposed to act toward the rest of our fellow travelers as God does to us. To err is human; to forgive is divine. It is the ability to cut each other a break, to not judge and exact retribution for wrongs done, that is the mark of a person that is moving closer to God--not leading and living a "perfect" life. I don't really believe in the theology of Easter--but if it is true, and if it did happen, I think the entire point of the exercise was God telling us to not worry about what happens in the future to ourselves so that we can concentrate on making this existence as happy and meaningful for all of us as we are capable of doing.
Happy Easter, everyone.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Not Bored

One thing that drives me nuts when I hear it, at least on a regular basis, is "I'm bored." To some extent, it's unavoidable with kids and teenagers around; some or much of what they think they want to do, they can't, for one reason or another, and distraction is a concept that becomes increasingly difficult to successfully achieve as a youth ages. It's easy to interest a toddler in something else; it's not easy to get a teenager focused on something else.
But it really kills me when I hear young adults say it, and it really irritates me when people that are certainly "mature" or older say it. Because to my mind, all it tells me is that you're not really trying, and that you've made a decision a long time ago that it is the world's job to keep you entertained and occupied. And bluntly--no, it isn't. Today is a little out of the ordinary, in that it is the day before Easter and there is some activity going on around the community that normally isn't. But generally, I'm hardly ever looking for things to do, and I really wonder sometimes at the emptiness of some people I know that appear to totally, 100% depend on the outside world for intellectual stimulation. Because I, and most other healthy adults that I know, do not have any problems filling up their time. Yes, some of it is drudgery, routine maintenance that isn't the most rewarding part of existence. But 1) it does fill up some of the day, and 2) it should allow you the time and energy to fill up the rest of the day by making sure that the things in your life you take for granted are there when you depend on them.
For example, dishes and laundry are not things that I enjoy doing for their own sake. I normally have an automatic dishwasher, although mine is currently not working, and it is only recently that I have gotten a washer and dryer, which has relieved me of the necessity of taking two hours every week to go to the laundromat. I know many people who leave dirty dishes stacked in the sink, and there is a large percentage of people that will not put clean dishes away for days a time. I know people who wait until they have a dump truck full of clothes before washing them, and then clean clothes are piled around the house like furniture. My view is that when I want to eat, I want to reach up in the cupboards where the dishes are, and the cups, and the silverware, and the bowls, and have something there. When I get out of the shower in the morning and go to get dressed, I want something in the drawers and the closets to put on my body. That doesn't happen if I don't invest the time in doing the routine chores of washing dishes, washing clothes, and then putting them away.
But on a larger scale, too, I can't imagine laying around staring into space or into a "device" or in front of the television for hours a day. I spent many years living in apartments, wishing I had a lawn and a garden--and now that I am living in a house where I have a lawn and a garden, I spend time in the warmer weather taking care of them. Part of my story is drug addiction and recovery, and one of the ways we keep from returning to active drug use is to stay involved in our fellowship--which means being at a few meetings a week, sponsoring people, getting involved in activities associated with that community. I have a job that I do well, and sometimes that takes time and effort outside the office. I have kids that are involved in their own activities--sports with Sabrina, band (before they were college age) with my older two--that requires parental involvement. Granted, not everyone has kids or a fellowship to go to. But we can make friends. We can get involved in something outside our living rooms. And even when you have down time, you don't have to depend on television or social media. Reading occupies a percentage of even my busiest days--one of my favorite quotes is "How long you live is limited; how much you learn is not." I have a wide variety of things that interest me because I've worked on finding things that I was not familiar with and becoming more informed about them. Many of those things did not become lasting or passionate interests--but some did. And even less stimulating activities don't have to be routine. I don't watch a lot of television, and what I do watch tends to be sports programming--but my current interests in NASCAR and Premier League soccer are direct results of seeing them on television and not changing the channel, of challenging my preconceived ideas about those things by seeing them for myself.
And the result is a fuller life. Today is a Saturday, with some I've spent 30 minutes writing this--and this blog has taken part of my day for nearly five years now. I will go to the store and get food and bedding for the guinea pig, then change the cage--kind of drudgery, but it takes 30 minutes at most and keeps the family pet alive and happy. I have grocery shopping to do. I have to get my daughter to and from her practice. There is an NA meeting this morning that I helped get off the ground last year and that I enjoy going to, not so much because I might use drugs today if I don't, but to compare notes on living life clean with dozens of people who have become my friends. I might be able to help our program volunteers with outreach activity at a community event for an hour or so, though Sabrina's practice time makes that doubtful. I've made a commitment to go to another event this afternoon. There's yard work to do, a house to do regular cleaning in, and laundry to do. There are usually texts and phone calls with friends of mine, people that are highly valued by me for their role in my life. If I am lucky, I will get a chance to sit down with a book sometime tonight--I'll probably fall asleep before long, but still, I might learn something I didn't know before that happens.
There's no time for "boredom" in there. And this is pretty much the story of my life these days. There is some variance in the way and amount of time I commit myself to other people in my life--but I've made the effort to have those other people in my life, too. There is some routine work to do--but I'm not overwhelmed with it because it gets done regularly. And in general, it's led to a pretty happy and pretty full existence. I really don't get how "bored" happens anymore. And I feel more pity than anything else for those who claim that they are bored on a regular basis, pity tempered with a very strong suggestion that they make an effort to find something things to fill their mind and life.
I used to imagine hell as a place with people writhing in various forms of pain from inventive forms of torture and torment being applied to them. Now I imagine it as a bunch of people sitting around staring into space saying, "I'm bored." This may not be a perfect world, but not only is it the only one we have, but there are all sorts of interesting creatures populating along with ourselves--and that's just those of the same species. The trouble with being bored is holding the conceit that the world exists for the purpose of entertaining oneself. It doesn't. It's a participatory undertaking. And if one participates--well, boredom is not one of your issues anymore.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Household Funk

Yesterday, I went to start the automatic dishwasher as I was leaving the house in the morning, as I often do. The door didn't seem to latch when I closed it, so I tried again, and the latch that closes the door came off in my hand. I diddled around for a few minutes, and figured out that I had half a shot at getting it back in if I could get the front of it off. But I had to get going, and subsequent efforts later in the day revealed a stripped screw that is preventing me from getting the door off. The landlord does not want to have to replace the entire dishwasher if she doesn't have to, and since I have only just put the month's rent check in the mail, I didn't argue the point. I'm going to have one of our friends that handles a lot of the medium-level handyman stuff around here come look at it today or tomorrow.
The point is, I have felt really weird since it happened. I don't like when things I depend on do not work. At least with this, I can function; I went and bought a dish rack at Family Dollar yesterday and have clean dishes (many men, and more women than I ever suspected, will let dirty dishes pile up in the sink until they are growing interesting strains of mold on their porcelain and glasses, but I am not one of them; I wash dishes immediately after eating, and always have). But this is not the first time when knowing something that I depend on for everyday life as I know it is broken has left me feeling out of sorts. It's not quite on the level of a car that is not working--I cannot be without a working vehicle for even a couple of hours without having a serious anxiety/stress episode; even if my car is going to be fixed in a day or two, I rent a car--but it's there enough so that it is bothering me. It's a luxury, not a necessity, and aside from losing a couple of feet of counter space (which isn't exactly at a premium, in any case), I could very well do without it. Intellectually, I know all this. Emotionally--I want the damn thing fixed. Now.
But I think part of the unease is the realization that I am coming up on living in this house for seven years, and everything that was great and cool and functional and an improvement over the apartments I was living in before living here is starting to break down. I've had to have some semi-major stuff done in the bathroom since I've been here, and I've replaced minor appliances such as toasters and microwaves. But the big-ticket stuff is starting to break down. I need a new front door lock badly; I don't even use the door because the lock isn't going to stand up to regular use, and the dead bolt works fine. The driveway needs to be repaved--but I can't get that done till the front door gets taken care of, because I won't be able to use the side door while the driveway is being done. There's a window frame on the outside of the house that's beginning to rot. The fence is falling apart; part of it has been taken down, and the rest is coming down this summer. The garden box I built the first year I was here needs to be repaired. I had to replace the thermostat this winter, after coming home to a 78-degree house, and I live in fear of the water heater breaking, because it's sister unit on the other side of the basement for the upstairs half of the house went a couple of years ago. If the central air conditioning goes down, I will be completely miserable--and so will my friend Kathie, whom I lent my window unit to years ago and has come to depend on it in her house.
It's grown-up stuff, part of being a quasi-home owner (I do not own this home, but I am more or less independent regarding what goes on around here). I know dozens of people who deal with recalcitrant, devious, or uncaring landlords, so I know I could have it a lot worse, and much worse things can happen to me than waiting a few days for a part or trying to find a free afternoon to change the front door locks (I'm not incompetent when it comes to that stuff, but it does not come naturally to me; I pore over the directions when I do things like they were some kind of esoteric religious text). And it does sit on my soul a bit uneasily, too.
It's like knowing that there's a mouse in your walls or that there's a bat somewhere in your attic. It's not directly affecting your quality of life--but you know it's there, you know it has to eventually be taken care of, and the knowledge drives you up a wall. And the knowledge that today is Good Friday is not helping; should my friend not be able to make this thing functional again, it will be next week at the earliest before the matter will be taken care of. And silly as it is, it bugs me knowing that's possible.