“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”–Will Rogers
I’m starting to lose myself in this transition…I don’t think this move is going to kill me, but I doubt it’s making me stronger…don’t worry, Mr. Nietzsche, everybody says stupid stuff to make themselves feel better in times of despair; your optimism is a comfort to us all. Though the house is on the market and people are showing interest, there is still much to be done. I spend my days thinking about small things around the house that might not be putting the house’s best foot forward. Then I clean and or fix those things. I need to be thorough…I don’t want to let my family down on account of my laziness. All these projects are slowly making my hands and back strong, and my mind weak. Merle Travis, and later, Tennessee Ernie Ford were very clear about their views on manual labor. I’m starting to think they were right. We all owe our souls to the company store in one way or another.
Small projects, like the ones I have left to accomplish, are kryptonite to obsessives. Yesterday I worked until around 10 in the evening detailing a stove that will probably be exchanged for a nicer unit within the year. The little dishes underneath the burners (it’s an electric burner style stove) were caked with shit, remnants of nearly a decade of life. I had to scrape them with a razor blade to get them clean. Why? I really couldn’t tell you. The job was frustrating, the results: disappointing. But that’s the nut of the problem with obsessive people, isn’t it? My wife thought my neurotic fixation on this project was both funny and maddening. When the job isn’t going smoothly everyone in the house pays a price. When I am frustrated I should just walk away rather than cuss and scream the thing into submission. She knows this and it’s painful for her to watch me make an ass of myself in front of God and man. I know she’s right.
The thing about people who are obsessive or compulsive…or both is that there is no right answer once our minds have locked on to something. I’m one of the lucky ones as I don’t lock onto much. But when it happens, the cycle is nearly impossible to break. When I’m fixed on a thought or project it is natural for the people around me to see that as being unhealthy and the loving thing for those folks to do is to tell me to stop…to walk away and come back to it. The problem is walking away makes me feel just as bad as pushing through. It’s not as though I’m thinking: “This sucks and I need a rest, but if I push through the reward will be great.” My inner dialogue is more like: “This job sucks, rest sucks, nothing is working fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, fuck!” That’s the rub, I can’t rest while a project is unfinished. I just think about finishing it the whole time. When my hands stop hurting, I go right back to it. My hands generally stop hurting long before my brain is emotionally ready to reengage the challenge.
Before the stove project I got locked into pressure-washing all of the concrete and the cedar fence around my house. It took me the better part of 40hrs to get it all done. 40 miserably cold and wet hours holding on to a wand that was hell-bent on causing permanent nerve damage in my hands and wrists. Three days after the project feeling returned to the tips of 9 of my fingers. One of them, the one I smashed between to ductile-iron pipes when I was a kid, has yet to relay sensation to my brain. During the entire project my wife was encouraging me to take a rest. She was probably right; the project would’ve gotten done just as surely with breaks in between as it did with none. In retrospect I can see the value in what she said…I can see the truth. Right and wrong and truth and lies are all so damned esoteric in the throes of a good obsession. It becomes the comedy of reasoning with an ant. Everything becomes impenetrable save the task at hand.
Cry much, diaper-baby? It’s not all bad news…actually none of it is bad news per-se. It just is what it is, and I’ve found that it rarely is what it isn’t…so there’s that. The house is looking better and better, and I’m confident it’ll will be someone’s dream-house realized in short order. On an unrelated topic, if you know anyone looking for a nice house in the west Bremerton area here is one.
I learned how to blog from watching television’s Doogie Howser, M.D. when I was a kid. Most of us did. Doogie always ended the show by journaling on his computer…he would type out a paragraph and then stare of into the distance while the sickly green cursor would blink at us stupidly and impatiently waiting, like a reasonless ant, for its next group of letters to drag–from God knows where–onto the screen. Doogie would come up with one beautifully succinct sentence to conclude his thoughts…it was always so perfect. I’ve found that those lines are more abundant on television…