Sunday, March 6, 2011

It All Comes Out in the Wash

The last few days have been bags that were too mixed for my taste. I know it can't be helped.

On Friday my new washer and dryer were delivered, so I am back in the washing business again after too long. Finally able to change the covers on both living room sofas, which needed changing badly (I'm doing that today), finally able to change the sheets on my bed after I won't say how long. But when I moved here into the new house, I deliberately did not use clean sheets on the cot because I wanted the cats to have some familiar smells around the place, and until this past Friday they still hadn't been changed out. 

Things are getting much less gamey around here.

The delivery crew were easily the best and most professional people that I've worked with through this whole process, but did they have to be so young? I'm used to workmen being older than me, or at least my age; now it seems that I've crossed the line, these guys looked like college-age kids to me.

It was so cold that day that something had frozen deep down inside the washer, so the water couldn't drain out. I had to wait a couple of hours for it to thaw out. To aid this, I opened the door that connects the laundry room with the kitchen, and it was clear right away that the screen I put up to keep the cats out was not going to work at all. So most all of them got to check out that room, and Whitey was so funny about it. He loved the washer! Was it the loud purring sound that it made? He was spinning around, wiping his face on its corners, whipping his tail about, kneading the floor with his front paws. Whazzup wid dat?

The washer itself is one of those newfangled low-energy, high-efficiency, low water use models. You even have to use special detergent with it. I almost didn't buy it for that reason, because now I have almost a whole box of detergent that I can't use. Then I realized that nearly all the machines were of the same newfangled breed, and the ones that weren't didn't have the capacity I wanted (I have a couple of comforters that wouldn't have fit). So -- eh, what's a box of detergent against the benefits? 

I read the manual while I waited and I was glad that I did. It pointed out that "you might hear different sounds than what you are used to in your old washer."

Indeed. I would have been terrified that I'd broken the thing!

I stayed out there and stared at the washer, like an idiot, for the whole first cycle. It's worse than watching a kettle boil. I kept wishing that I could open the lid to see what was going on in there.

When the first load was behind me and I knew that everything was working, I was hit quite suddenly and quite hard with a terrible depression. Dropped on me just like those 16-ton weights in the Monty Python sketches. I've tried hard to understand these things, but I could not understand this. This was a good, big task to get done. I should have felt exactly the opposite. 

Instead my whole body began to feel heavy, like a load of mud. Is there such a thing as post-washer depression? It wasn't a tearful kind of thing. I felt dazed and sad and burned out. The music I was playing didn't help: the back half of Renaissance: Turn of the Cards is almost unbelievably depressing, but it had been so long since I'd heard the album that I'd forgotten this. I ripped it out of the player and went through about five more disks trying to find something that wouldn't drag me down, without success. Even the cheerful music made it worse.

It was all I could do to keep from reaching for the vodka bottle. I could not stop thinking about it. Only the knowing that it wouldn't solve any problems, and the line that I drew in the sand months ago about not drinking during the day kept me from doing it. 

I did all the right things. I kept busy and made some progress both upstairs and with the laundry. It got a little better by late afternoon, then worsened again in the evening. I meant to go to bed early, but once again got caught up in another late night of tracking down old songs on the internet. One of the scores I made was Nat King Cole's rendition of "Stardust." Possibly the loveliest recording ever made. That helped.

To try and wind down, I took a quick, late-night stroll around the block of my new neighborhood. It was a freezing, bright night. Plumes of smoke rose out of the chimneys of most of the houses, including my own. I walked up and back, past the high school, then down and around to my own home. I stood out there looking at it for a little while. It's tall and somewhat gothic in shape, if not in materials. I like the looks of it a lot.

By the next morning, I was in full anxiety mode about the public event that I was responsible for that afternoon at the store. I was as well-prepared as could be, but the anxiety was strong enough that it made getting through my morning chores that much harder, which only added to the frustration. 

Worry about my boss was part of it. BS (yes, those are her real initials) is such an intense, controlling micro-manager that she drives nearly all of us crazy -- but recently she has been leaving me alone, and for this event she did not involve herself at all, even when I asked for input. In fact, waiting fruitlessly for answers to some of my questions actually contributed to the anxiety factor by forcing me to cut the deadlines dangerously close, and then having to make the decision myself under time constraints and hope that it was the right one. I'm not normally afraid of making a decision, but I am when it comes to BS, and there isn't a single person who works in the store who doesn't understand why.

With anyone else, her sudden and unannounced shift to non-involvement might be considered a show of confidence. But I have a strain of paranoia in my blood, and can't help but think that her motivations have more to do with distancing herself from my department so that she doesn't get cut when the long knives come out.

The first hour at work was a little frantic, but I slowly got my bearings, and my students were mostly wonderfully cooperative and helpful. One of them even brought her roommates to help out, and they did a great job, too. The event came together really well, and the relief was palpable. You can see it on my face in the picture I had taken with Arthur.

But attendance was down over last year, unit sales were down over last year, and by mid-afternoon I was letting all that get to me. Once again last night I was depressed and tired, and once again I stayed up too late scoring music. This time it was Clannad: Past Present (the first CD I ever bought. I foolishly gave it to an old girlfriend only to lose both of them!), and a compilation of Patsy Cline songs. Eclectic is an overused word, but it describes my musical taste perfectly well. 

Today I slept in an extra hour, and have been taking it easy, puttering around with the laundry, writing this post. When I'm done here I'm going to go into the kitchen and make up a big bucket of popcorn, maybe see what's on TCM. Sometime this afternoon I need to run out to the store. 

Next week ought to be easier.

-- Freder.

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