“I feel like I’m the only one doing anything for the RV,” Brian complained.
“Well…you are” I replied before I’d thought more deeply about it.
“Almost all the money has come from you because I’m not making much of anything right now. You’ve done all of the repairs and maintenance so far because you know how and I don’t,” I added.
Just what is it I’m supposed to do, I wondered to myself.
Over the next day or so, this exchange replayed in my mind.
No, Laurie, the sky is not falling
On Thursday of this past week, a roofing crew arrived at our house around 7 AM, tore off our old shingles and had a new roof on and the job site cleaned before 7 PM.
These guys (and one girl – you go, girl!) sweated their asses off in 90°+ heat and humidity to get the job done while I stayed in 78° comfort unless I needed to speak to the contractor or take a dog out.
Except for having all exits simultaneously blocked by debris for the first couple of hours, and having to clean pee from the carpet three times that day, all the exterior work went well. Laurie (our 14-year-old Greyhound) was frightened by the constant thumping and hammering overhead, and upset that she couldn’t escape it.
Earlier, we woke up to a puddle. Once the overhead racket began Laurie created another one in the office, where she’d tried to run and hide. The third greeted me when I walked in the door after going outside to ask the contractor to clear the back steps first so I could let the dogs take care of business.
It’s hard to think straight
I’m a college-educated woman with a dozen years of professional experience, plus another half dozen or so years as a freelance website developer. How the hell I’ve allowed my life to devolve to the point that I mostly spend my days doing laundry, cooking, caring for “special” dogs and cleaning one part or another of our too-big house is beyond me.
These and other household tasks must be done. How often or how well is sometimes a source of friction between Brian and I. Mostly we just accept that the other partner’s standards are different.
Brian cleans almost nothing, I clean whatever I can’t ignore or won’t let go any longer. He tends to get things done quickly, while I do them well (or not at all) and for the long haul.
I pretty much gave up the idea of neat when Brian and I married. When pain made it hard to work (whether housework or website work), I let my standards of cleanliness slide as well. As we’ve focused on downsizing, getting ready to sell the house, and getting our RV ready, I’ve tried to ignore the clutter.
It affects me, though. I’m sensitive. Not in a squishy, teary way as much as that I can’t help but pay attention to everything I see and hear. I can handle a certain amount of chaos, but the more of it there is the less I can expect to have my best thinking or focus.
This is all a roundabout way of saying I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances. I don’t yet see a clear way out. Working outside the house seems impractical at this time, as does working very many hours from home.
I’m doing small things toward bringing in money – working for the odd client, marketing my book, reaching out to others if it seems there might be an opportunity to do any of the above. No, I’m not great at self promotion, but not doing it is less about promotion and self-worth than mental breathing room.
Feeling “less than” does sometimes mess with my head – especially when I place a low value on my contributions to our household, and they’re near worthless to Brian. Sometimes I look back on what I used to be and, even though I wouldn’t go back if I could, I feel like a middle-aged dependapotamus.
We have some interior damage that’ll be repaired starting Monday. One of the damaged areas is in our master bedroom closet. The project manager brought us wardrobe boxes to temporarily hold our clothes outside the closet until the job was finished.
Today (Sunday), Brian has to go to the RV to disconnect the kitchen sink plumbing in preparation for the repair we have scheduled tomorrow. He also plans to assemble and bolt down the new reclining RV sofa we bought last week before realizing I’d cracked the sink and if it can be repaired it’ll cost us $400. But anyway…
“When am I going to have time to do all of this before Monday?” Brian worried.
“I’ll move your clothes and sort out ones I don’t think you’ll want to put back. You can look through them when you get a chance.”
He agreed. One thing off his plate. Yeah, that’s a pretty low-value task but it has to be done before Monday. Urgent, but not important, if you’re into the Eisenhower Matrix thing.
See – I can fucking help, even if I’m not bringing in money or fixing our RV >:-|
So, If I’m going to spend my time doing something at all, I’ll do it right. I hate half-assing things I know I’ll have to come back to. Even worse is missing an opportunity to do something better, easier or faster.
The combination of an only partially-filled dumpster in the driveway (thank you, roofing job) and the need to clear out the master bedroom closet and dining room led me to put PURGE at the top of Friday’s to-do list.
Wardrobe boxes look to be roughly the size of half our RV closet, and seemed to me to be a good way to decide what we ought to keep in the way of clothing. There is the issue of how much of what we currently own will be practical, so we’ll likely do additional purging and buying in the coming months.
For now, though, I filled two boxes with clothes that will go into our estate sale, not our closet. Brian’s shop uniforms took up a third box. He’ll need them until he shuts down the shop. I didn’t think until just now about where in our RV they’ll live if we can manage to get out of our house sooner. That’s a problem I’d like to have – please and thank you 🙂 One more box for each of us to hold anything we’ll wear now and that may make the RV-closet cut.
Thursday evening after the roofers finished I began looking around for junk that wasn’t worth selling. It went into the dumpster in our driveway. I knew they were coming for it in the morning, so I was keen to chuck all I could.
Brian came out to see what I was doing, then joined in. When it seemed we’d purged everything we could, we went inside. But Friday morning I got rid of probably a few more cubic yards of stuff before they took the dumpster away.
By the time Brian got home on Friday the closet was empty. If its contents were salable they were in our spare room. If they were trash, they’d been hauled off in the dumpster.
I don’t remember exactly what he said, but the gist of it was that I had wasted my day. That the crew coming to do the closet would move everything except the clothes out of it, and I should have just let them do that.
When Brian and I got married and he and the kids moved from their apartment, their move was relatively easy because the vast majority of their stuff went into the dumpster. We are trying to do something different.
Yes, I/we currently own too many things given the lifestyle we’re pursuing. If money was not an object I’d throw open the doors and give it all away, and purchase anything we needed new. But even though we won’t make a lot of money on the estate sale, we’ll make something that will help.
Our house holds enough things that we’ll find in it a lot of what we need to live in the RV. That does mean sorting through its contents, but also saves us from spending on replacements.
I’m not going to waste an opportunity to purge and organize, just because it’s easier to dump shit in a pile and deal with it later.
We’ve got enough chaos, I think.