I’ve spent the last 45 minutes ironing handkerchiefs.
On and off all day today I’ve been working on trying to clean up my front rooms, and get my laundry properly done. In trying to clear off the table in my front room I kept coming across old stacks of pages I’d written or sketches I made and pausing to read or try to decide what exactly to do with what I’d found. I posted a couple of the things I found earlier today on Modern Evil.
I also addressed the mound of clean laundry that has existed perpetually on the other side of my bed for a while now. As I cleaned the laundry that was dirty and sorted through and folded the laundry from the mound, I discovered that the lowest layer of clean clothes was my work clothes. Which means I haven’t actually put away my laundry in three months. I’d just clean it and dump it straight from the dryer onto my bed, and dig through the pile when I needed to get dressed. I had noticed some time ago that the mound had stopped growing, probably right around the time every article of clothing I own was already in the pile, but I didn’t do anything about it. Until today. Today I sorted and folded all my laundry and seperated out all the work clothes that need ironing, and today I included my cotton handkerchiefs in that set.
I’ve been out of work for three full months now. I’m literally running out of money. All my credit lines are tapped as far as I know how to tap them. Next week after Apple announces whatever it announces and its stock goes up a dollar or two for a day or two I’m going to sell the 37 shares I own at around a 50% loss from my original investment, but for a few more dollars than I would get if I sold it last week or today. That’s just a couple hundred dollars, but maybe between that and Unemployment I’ll make it through another month, right up until the moment I have to pay rent again. That’s it. My 401k is cashed out. My credit lines are tapped. My spare electronics have been sold on eBay. I never had any real savings. I have been applying for jobs left and right without much in the way of responses, mostly because everyone is looking for years of experience I don’t have, and no one is hiring in the field I do have experience in. For the first time I can remember, my cupboards are beginning to empty and I can’t refill them, and seeing the places I know food should be is like my sadness exteriorized.
For New Years Eve I was whisked away by Zoe, and for about 36 hours with him and his wife (and a few others at times) had a good time. And ate and drank and ate and ate and ate. Too much. (You’ve seen those ads for losing 5lbs in 48 hours? I gained 5lbs in 36hrs. I weighed 225 again when I got home Wednesday night.) And I can’t thank Zoe enough. He wouldn’t let me pay for any of it, the saint. For me, when I moved out on my own and found myself with money that was my own, the reassurance that I was successful was that I could afford to buy name brand food and was never short of food I liked to eat. Over time, as people who have shopped with me or seen the insides of my cupboards know, I got into the habit of practically stockpiling certain foods. When I lost my job I had close to 20 boxes of cereal, over 5lbs of peanut butter, a dozen cans of canned fish, pounds and pounds of crackers, dozens of cans of vegetables, my freezer stuffed with frozen dinners, and 4+lbs of cheese in my refrigerator, and on and on, not because I knew I would be losing my job, but because having a refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards full of food is comforting to me. I didn’t eat constantly, but having the food available feels good. Or it did, until it started to dwindle. I’m not out of food yet, but there are gaps, and they’re growing. I know I’m trying to lose weight, but I’m trying to stay healthy at the same time, and feel good generally. Food is very emotional for me, and facing more food than I could eat for New Year’s Eve lunch and dinner and then breakfast lunch and dinner the next day, I ate more than I could. Thank you, Zoe.
It’s little things. Eating without thinking about when I’ll be out of food. Clear horizontal surfaces and clean floors. Crisp, clean, creased handkerchiefs in my closet. Soon, a closet full of clean, crisp, ironed shirts sorted in rainbow order. Fresh, clean sheets on my bed and no mound of laundry waiting to be done, taking up half the bed. Plenty of posts on my website. Paintings hung instead of stacked or leaning against the wall, on the floor. A clear counter with dishes and appliances put away. Holding someone’s hand for the first time. Not big things, because there aren’t many big things left to be happy about. Not things that will last, or things that will make a difference in the long run, or things that will change the world. Still, things that are worth the time and effort and thought and sometimes struggles that go into reaching them. Little things.
I’ve spent 45 minutes ironing handkerchiefs tonight, and I’m glad I did.