Tuesday, September 1, 2009

mess

I haven't been able to sleep at night recently. I stay up all night doing nothing of interest or importance on the computer, and then when I hear the alarm clocks start going off in the morning, I quickly turn off the lights and try to fall asleep before everyone gets up and sees that I stayed up all night again. (I'm trying to set a good example — or at least not set a bad one — for Michael and Dakota, you see.) When I finally do fall asleep, I sleep all morning and wake up around eleven if I'm lucky and then I feel like a slug for the rest of the day, and it's so hard to get anything done. It's pretty much the opposite of the first part of last week.

This creates two problems: 1) I have things I really need to be doing that aren't getting done, and 2) staying up all night on the computer makes me feel angsty. I'm revisiting trains of thought I thought I'd thoroughly worn out in high school, and they don't satisfy me anymore, but nothing else does either, and that makes me angstier still. It's meta-angst.

I think the problem here is my protracted transition from summer back to school, partially caused and then compounded by the unexpected developments and general chaos of the past week or so, the biggest chunk of which is the loss of my room. Okay, to explain:

Through a long series of events which is not mine to relate here, my cousin Dakota, who is fifteen, has moved in with us for the time being, and is living in my room. Which is perfectly fine by me, since I hardly use it at all, even when I am home, and I'm leaving for school very shortly anyway. However, this is what really began all the upheaval for me, because it's one thing to clean out Michael's room (which we did for the new school year), put away what he wants to keep and throw away what he doesn't. It's quite another to clean out three years' worth of stuff from my room that's never really gotten put away, since I'm only home during the summers and mostly just use it as storage. Turning it back into a usable living space for someone who's not me (meaning I have to put all my little knickknacks and things somewhere out of the way so she'll have room to live in there and not feel crowded out by somebody else's junk) was pretty much a task of biblical proportions.

And of course, the great difficulty is, I now have all this stuff that I've taken out of my room so she'll have a place for her stuff to go in, and now what do I do with it? Most of it I'm keeping and taking to school, so it's not like I can just put it all in garbage bags and be rid of it, but a lot of it (namely clothes, shoes, etc.) I'm still using, and will be until at most a day or two before I leave, which isn't for another week yet. So I'm sleeping on the couch in the living room, my clean clothes are stacked up in an open suitcase downstairs, my shoes are in three different corners of the upstairs, and I've just basically spread myself all over the house. Which is exactly what we're trying to get the other two, especially Michael, not to do, so now I feel like a giant hypocrite, telling him he can't leave his backpack in the living room while I sit digging through my pile of laundry next to the couch.

It also means things are just incredibly cluttered. Much as I try to keep all my stuff organized and together, without a place to actually put it away, it just doesn't work. This is compounded by the fact that I did so much cleaning, organizing, and putting away last week in Michael's room and mine/Dakota's, that now I'm thoroughly sick of it, and this is further not helped by the sheer size of this mess. Sure, it's just one person's junk, but now instead of cleaning one small 10x12 room at a time, I have to clean basically every other room in the house. And that means the big rooms: the living room, family room, and the kitchen. And I have to clean them up without having any real place to put my stuff. I'm going in circles here. But you see my dilemma, yes?

It's the kind of mess that stresses me out, and if you know me, you'll know that those are few and far between; I'm usually quite alright with a certain level of controlled chaos in my life. But that is chaos in my room, my own personal space, not the house's public spaces. This chaos, being out where everybody sees it, is not controlled to my satisfaction, and so it's making me lash out and obsessively organize everything else I can get my hands on. I've been compulsively picking up after the kids, barking at them to put their things away, making sure their homework is done and put in its proper folder, things like that. I've been planning and cooking evening meals each day just for the calming effect of having a sit down dinner where we all sit and talk about how our day went. I've been doing dishes with far more relish than normal, because it is a task I can finish, and the sight of the clean, empty countertop is just so goddamned soothing. I've been doing the laundry voluntarily and asking to do the grocery shopping, because, again, these are small tasks that I can finish, and that makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. I've turned into a perfect little housewife, and it doesn't even bother me, except the house is still a mess and I can't really fix it until I leave. How irksome.

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