Monday, January 26, 2009

letter #8

jan 23
dear carmen,
wow! i did it, phase 1 is complete: the house is clean and organized, there's new furniture, the art is rearranged, and there's incredible classical music playing on the stereo--i'm going to take some pictures, type up all these letters, and put them on a blog, just for fun...
     maybe soon i'll go to an event in town, see if i can mingle like a normal person, and not feel desperate and lonely when the beautiful women walk by. it will be interesting to see if i've really changed at all. of course everything takes time--i've been seeing you for years and finally cleaned my house.
every morning i vacuum my house for 15 minutes; for some reason that makes me think that all my dreams can come true...
i've got nothing more to say...


letter #7

jan 18
dear carmen,
well, we hooked up the new entertainment center yesterday but there are problems with the sound system and its completely taken over my mind this morning and i hate it because i want to think about other things.  i got so caught up in the sound system that i couldn't take my hike, make food, or start deep-cleaning the refrigerator. maybe if i write a few more sentences i'll get it out of my system.
     i am planning every inch of wire and this guy i've got helping me got irritated and said he wanted to just say, "Fuck you I quit!" i told him go ahead but he stayed, though it was a very stressful day...and it still is. H*** is very skeptical about everything and asked me to explain my relationship to "my therapist." (maybe i should just say "counselor?") he's a  really nice guy but he can be a grouchy old man at times. i told  him not to sit on my new couch in his work clothes; hell, i don't even come into the HOUSE in my work clothes. then i go downtown to get a couple screws, forget something and come back into the house and he's already sitting on my brown leather in his dirty dungarees--i didn't say anything, he's pretty sensitive, but that is not cool! and this is costing me more money if i send this to you--damn i'm stressed Carmen!
     on the positive side i am getting my hikes in the park most days, actually made a beef stew from C***'s recipe, and have finally inculcated the shoulder rehab exercises into my daily routine, ice included, and see my massage therapist and physical therapist on alternating weeks...and i am madly planning my website Community/Advice which i would like to be thinking about now in these golden morning moments with Peets and Mendelssohn. i realize that to make/run a website like that may be beyond me, as you can tell from this wiring project i need help with the smallest tech support gizmo...the site, including all the local goods and services as well as many interactive segments could need practically full time tech help, meaning hiring a web person and bringing in $$$ with Ads, etc: is this really what i want to do? we know i'm groping for something more meaningful to do but i will feel no shame if these turn out to be wasted hours of planning, its a process.
   H***, the handyman, wanted to know, he asked me if there was something i hoped to get out of seeing you, like would i know when i was "cured." i told him its not really what you do or say, its more what you DON'T do, ie, solve my problems. as i see it we talk and talk and then after ten sessions last year i said i don't want to see you for awhile, take a break, and then i look at myself and see what's left, whats left to think about. like YOU are not going to solve my problems i finally realize so now what do i do? i look within and figure it out myelf, or at least get started, or try to.
     of course i have to see you as part of the process of self-examination, like i said, talking it out and then see what's left, for me to figure out, do--i know i'm repeating myself. i had no idea it would work this way, had no idea that house cleaning and organization meant so much, have no idea what my next creative/professional step will be, and have no idea what i will discuss with you at our next session...ok, i have some idea...
P S : have i ever told you about my calendars? for the last ten years i've kept a daily record of of when i smoked weed then totaled it on graphs at the end of the year. a few years ago when i heard wine was good for you and started buying it by the case i added alcohol consumption to the record, then spanking the monkey, then workout times and distances, till there wasn't much room in the little calendar squares for appts., etc. i told myself this was a way to control my consumption of mind-altering substances. when i stopped smoking ten years ago for three years, then started up again my general goal was to smoke just a third of the evenings, well the last few years that has crept up to over june of last year when i went to Mexico i stopped keeping the daily record;  i have now been 61 days off, the longest since i started keeping the calandar.
P P S: ok, much anxiety about nothing; the stereo guy in Santa Rosa walked me through the sound set-up and now i have Music...Music like i've never experienced at home: grand, towering Mozart and Beethoven (as well as White Stripes, Ween, Weezer, Blues Traveler, and the rest.)
Wow, good  speakers...
i get up and down, on and off on the website idea--today i realized that to make a decision about that now as my house is still in an uproar and in progress/process is too much, the decision would be skewed by the chaos. i'll keep planning and thinking and dreaming about ideas for it but won't act till i get this house finished: i HAVE to deal with the refrigerator today!
     some mornings i think i better not write to Carmen more because it is about a 5$ letter now and i don't want to take advantage of her or cheat myself either--isn't that silly? so maybe sometimes i overpay a little and underpay other times--i think it all balances out, not that there was any concrete agreement about this.

letter #6

jan 14
dear carmen, 
     i hope you don't mind these letters--its just something i have to do.
     the other day i emailed my friend who had moved to canada and told him i wasn't depressed anymore. he answered, "it won't last!" and went on to say something about Happy Happy Happy! i emailed back saying i wasn't depressed but i wasn't necessarily "happy." i'll know i'm happy when, after sex with my future girlfriend, mutually orgasmic why not, she'll turn to me, tell me she loves me, i'll murmur something similar, then get out of bed and start my meaningful day doing something i like that is creative. until then not being depressed is alright.
     remember when i writing about the nature of laziness? how i had perceived i was lazy when i just tossed my clothes on the floor or wherever, but discovered it took less effort, ultimately,  to be neat and organized? i'm wondering if that philosophy can translate to other activities. for example i'm wrestling with this idea of starting a blog/website that i could see growing in many directions both profitable and creative. yet i often say fuck it, its too hard, i don't want to make the effort. well, maybe its more of an effort NOT to do it, i'm trying to figure this one out--am i making sense? like its more of an effort to lead an uninteresting life without the attendant attention and interaction this venture would inevitably produce. i need some help here...
     yesterday i was driving down the hiway to this coffeeshop in Mill Valley, where i write you these letters which i assume you read but does it really matter, and i was having these feelings of well-being, i was almost happy, in a matter of speaking, and yet i held back, suppressed my emotions because there is so much suffering in the world; it was like i didn't deserve to feel that good, or something. is this crazy talk? am i feeling guilty if i'm better off than someone else?...and just the way out govt. invades countries, starts wars, and kills innocent people--how can i truly be, well, happy if i am a part of that, my taxes buy bullets killing people in Gaza, for example?
     and also the economy: all these hiways are filled with consuming Americans, the stores are flooded with customers--are they all in debt to their credit cards? and the govt. spending billions, trillions to bail out this and that, just printing more money? how can people just run up credit card debt? even some close friends and family--are they going to keep re-financing till they die? (a 61-year-old friend just took out a $30,000 line of credit on a lot she owns, or maybe it was a 30 year loan--she figures the debt will outlive her.) i don't like being over-extended, maybe it was how i was brought up--my father was NOT into debt, even though that is the American Way, and often the way to wealth, if the timing is right, of course.
     a question i have is : is it actually financially necessary for people to get into debt in order to survive? if so the system is broken. or are these people buying stuff that they don't really need? and then i must say that they are delusional, or stupid, or have a fantastic trust in fate and the future.
     i'm cruising down hiway 101 consuming like the best of them, actually like the worst of them except i'm paying as i go; maybe that's more of a luxury than we think. i am blowing $100's of dollars on a sound system for my made-over house; i am buying every organizer i can find-- i just picked up a three section recycler and a desk paper divider from Costco. i am buying interesting and usually award-winning contemporary novels at every book store i stop in-- i think i have about 20 now.
     they say that consumerism is the american religion and i am worshiping at the alter of hope and shame, exultantly riding down the freeway with rockin' music and books on tape--i would probably give a great Whoop! and break into song if not for the suffering and financial chaos which somehow, irrationally (?) holds me back....and maybe thats all bullshit, maybe nothing is holding me back and this is as good as it gets, on a level.
     when i think about starting my internet and other businesses i always plan in a community service component, start a foundation, reach out to old people, do something to help...but who? i think if i were happy and fulfilled and my cup overflowed i would want to help others, but is that bullshit? if i were in a loving relationship maybe this scattered altruism would flow to my sweetie and family and that would be that. indeed having a lover, holding her tight, being inside her is a refuge from the craziness of the world--thats probably why poor people have so many children, the free drug sex, the  practical economic familial investment of creating progeny.

letter #5

jan 12
dear carmen,
     the last couple of days i have been feverishly planning, thinking about all those business and website ideas noted in the last letter. i'm entering some stage where i think i can do anything, but i'm falling back to earth, reality, and starting to recognize the grandiosity of my delusions, if thats what they are. i suppose my problem is wanting to do ALL this website stuff- be THE Community Website of the sohum area, all these biz ideas, when i probably need to choose one or two and go from there, that is where you might come in handy at our next session. 
     i've pushed our next appt. up to feb 5 as that date corresponds to a cooking class at the Co-op, but the date is not important. i want to finish my house before i have another session. in the last few days i have done about six hours on the kitchen, the deep cleaning, and still need to clean,  reorganize the cabinets.
     some of the old unease crept in yesterday when i told myself i was fooling myself if i thought i could do anything with the computer. the empowerment growing out of my sponge doesn't necessarily translate into the mouse, etc. i'm nothing and i'll never be anything, i i just said fuck it all, relax, just read your book, maybe you've got house-cleaning fatigue? its been almost a month of it with another few weeks to go with the basics. i am enjoying the process... so i'll keep cleaning and when i plateau out i'll come calling.

letter #4

jan 7
hi carmen
     I'm back in Mill Valley for one more trip to Ikea, plus i bought a new sound system in Santa Rosa--today i'll get rugs, table, and side table for the couch.
      i have been eliminating clutter in my mind (newspapers, TV, etc) and my house and it feels great but then i wonder what have i been adding? perhaps patience to scrub and wipe and vacuum? confidence? yesterday i wore my brown fedora and long black powerful waistcoat in a walk downtown to the hospital. (thats where i weigh-in at times- i've lost seven pounds since starting this new program--thats great.) i have had the hat for a year but never wore it because i felt i couldn't live up to the style, that it seemed pretentious. then the day before wearing it i thought that it wasn't just how i felt wearing it, it was something different for others to see and enjoy-- i certainly enjoy seeing different hats. well, as you could have imagined no one noticed!
     perhaps the mere act of hanging up my pants on a  newly installed hook in the closet is a positive addition. everything i talk about here would just seem normal to most but coming from a position of messy slobbiness for decades each new behavior seems like a minor revelation. for example: yesterday i opened the door to my new stand-alone closet in the utility room, took out a large grocery bag from its spot in the hanging Ikea organizer, and reached up to take the drapes i was returning from the "take back stuff" shelf; i put the drapes in the bag, shut the closet door, and delivered the bag to the car.
     i now have many shelves, drawers, and compartments filled with items big and small. i say i am lazy and thats why i just throw my clothes on the floor and leave other things scattered about, but ultimately it is less work, Less Work, LESS WORK to be organized from the getgo. without being organized i would have spent time searching for that bag and trying to find the take-back stuff. ( i doubt if i'm telling you anything you don't know.)
     i suppose one could say that to live in a disorganized state is mild mental illness, what they call neurosis. i just visited a friend up in the hills and her cabin is ten, no 20, no 30, no infinity worse than mine was before i began this Spring Cleaning Plus. she has to clear a place on the couch for me pushing aside a bag of clothes or something. everything is everywhere so i have to believe she is mentally ill. (perhaps i have become like the reformed alcoholic everyone is so annoyed by-- yesterday i was eagerly showing my handy-man and scrabble-buddy H*** my new drawers of stuff.) sometimes i think she lives like an animal: she refuses to get a refrigerator--when i helped her finance her remodel years ago she angered me by not at least planning a spot for it, or a gas heater,for the future--she burns wood. yet she is an accomplished musician, teaches, records, has many friends in the business, and is a respected member of the community, even though at any given moment she might have a dead squirrel floating in her open water tank. i have none of that, not even the squirrel.
     if my makeover succeeds and i actually keep it up (i have high goals like vacuuming every day) i would like to help her, help her clean and make over her cabin, of course people sometimes (always?) are resistant to "change" foisted or legislated upon them. i have another friend who has a disorganized house--you may recall me talking about C*** in the past, the guy who thinks he knows me better than anyone, longer than anyone.  C*** says his house only bothers him when i tell him about my organization project. C*** is a talented musician, actor, very intelligent and funny guy, super-volunteer in the artistic community, an intellectual who is able to converse on any topic, and yet all he has is a bucket! to take a shower he heats water in his bucket and splashes it around on himself. (he calls it voluntary simplicity with a small carbon footprint) the other day i told him he was mentally ill, then a few days later i called him back and said, well, he was just poor. C*** also is an accomplished carpenter who built his own 1000 sq ft house and has installed bathrooms for others. (he will be acting in a play with three other SoHum men at the Ferndale Rep the last weekend in January and the first two weekends in February--the four guys from Garberville could use a place to stay in Ferndale, short-term rental, if you know of one--you're good for that. the play is called The Wild Boys, thursday the 29th at 8pm is the big opening)
     which brings me to my networking: i am a busybody, always trying to find jobs and houses for friends, giving unsolicited advice; when you see someone struggling with an issue you think they could use some feedback, si? i've been intensely "advising" this friend of mine about what to do with his house in the Garberville area--i'm staying with him now in Mill Valley. the other day he told a mutual friend that he felt i was pressuring him and he didn't like it. D** has a very complicated life--you would have a field day with him! (now, WHERE did that expression come from?) really, my friends and family are nuts and you are probably lucky just to have me! i may be the sanest one in the bunch. how can you mentally handle all the clutter of your clients, i wonder?
P S  the other day i started playing with the idea of making a blog called something like Garberville Issues, Letters To My Therapist. then the blog idea morphed  into an advice blog for personal topics, and each day the idea is growing. it has evolved into a website with  advice/ answers to all problems: personal, gardening, legal, health, etc, as well as a local listing of artisans, musicians, builders, services, stores, entertainment, community calendar, art and crafts for sale, want ads including personals, and just everything, including local history, stories and definitely a comedic component....anyway just wanted to share that.
     hey! i'm not depressed anymore; its so classic: i'm not doing the minimum anymore, as in just doing the dishes...i'm doing the MAXIMUM, as in cleaning my ceiling for three hours and vacuuming everyday, etc...interesting...

letter #3

jan 2
hi carmen
     i realized today that i am reducing/eliminating the clutter around me and INSIDE me--its an interesting process of change.
     i installed my new couch, coffee table, and rug yesterday--it is very elegant. i now have all this "stuff" on a couple tables and all these compartments to store it in in an organized fashion. i feel something happening, confidence growing during this process and have all these little creative ideas, possible projects are on the horizon but first i must put everything in its place. i will probably postpone the next appointment as it conflicts with a cooking class--i hope 20$ covers the approx twelve minutes it takes to read these updates. 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

letter #2

dec 28
dear Carmen
     i'm back in berkeley to pick up my new couch, a new cabinet, and other house organization items such as drawers, rugs, drapes, and new furniture. up north my house is in an uproar as i assemble furniture, move paintings around, and make other house changes, sometimes just for the sake of changing things. the house looks worse than ever, hardly room to walk in places, on its way to looking the best ever.
     i moved the computer table, office, etc, out of the middle of the living room and into a corner of my bedroom; to fit it in i moved the bed around discovering that i now had two clear views of stars, creek, and mountains. that was a minor revelation--in the previous configuration there was no view from the bed, or just a little at an angle--i am happy with the new arrangement.
     the utility room was a jumbled mess of rag bags, newspapers tilting over on a shelf, items to take out to the barn, shelves of books, rows of notebooks, shelf of bills and letters, a couple boxes of tools, office supplies, vacuum implements and broom, bags of all types and sizes, one-of-a-kind items like the unused strap for the lumbar support pillow, boxes of laundry soap, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, solar ovens, unused microwave, traveling supplies such as hot plate and mini-cutting board, recycling bottles, drawings tacked on the wall from an old girlfriend's kid, and other various and sundry items.
     i set up a five shelf unit in the kitchen upon which i transferred ten shelves worth of stuff, then cleared out the utility room cleaning each book which i put on a new bookcase in my bedroom organized by # books i haven't read on the top shelf, # borrowed books on another, # and already read ones. i cleaned the utility room completely, wiping down the walls and ceiling and mopping the floor. my handyman H*** assembled the huge cheap Ikea cupboard and we dragged it in on a rug. i liked it so much i'm getting another today within which i'll put hanging shelves, a container to hold dirty shoes, and boxes of drawers to hold the sorted tools, misc, etc. my goal is to have everything behind closed doors, everything super-neat and organized--i want to enter this "anal"  phase that, of course, i've NEVER done before.
     meanwhile in the living room the entertainment center is being assembled; it needs to be planned out, wired in, and i need to research and buy sound and video components. i will replace my boom box on the shelf with a middle-of-the-line entertainment system with speakers all over the house and of course a big screen TV, although i have only been watching it an hour a day when doing my workouts.
     i have put a lot of thought into rearranging my art: i took the large huichol yarn painting (4' by 5') down and put it on the wall of my bedroom, then made a cascade of yarn painting on the wall above the new TV cabinet, four of them cascading from large (3' by 4') to medium (2' by 2') to small (1' by 1') to mini (6" by 6"). its an experiment but i tell you it does catch the eye. i'm thinking about framing them sometime too.
     the holidays have been great. (and you know how much i hate them!)
     # first the thanxgiving sausage party with a couple of guys sitting around eating great food and watching football, etc. (at one point i said, " ok, lets take our shirts off and hold hands in a circle." they didn't even blink- aren't i funny?)
     #then i got a Surprise Invite from my niece and her husband for xmas eve dinner out in the hills with his georgeous sisters from canada. i made CDs to give as gifts and so did they. the food was amazing: barbequed cow, Incredible Salad, great bread and cheese (from the junction), potatoes mashed and re-stuffed, and pies and too many bottles of wine. when i got home there was a message on the machine inviting me to a New Years Eve Music Party.
     on christmas day i baked a leg of lamb for the first time in my life and somehow, sans a thermometer, it came out perfect.
     so here i am at the French Hotel luxuriating in my big one day vacation in the Gourmet Ghetto across from Chey Panisse. last night i went to four restaurants: # first i got a polenta and three yam bran muffins from the Juice Bar Collective/ i ate a third of a muffin and put the rest in the ice chest, # then i went to the tapas place Cesar and had  a beer and an exquisite salad- i pocketed the extra foccacia and olives and stashed them in the ice box,# after, i grabbed a slice of pizza from the Cheese Board Collective, ate one bite, and put it in the deep freeze, # next at the Thai place Chay'am i ordered a delicious fish/veggie dinner with rice, ate half and stored the rest where the sun don't shine. i had plenty of room for the fabulous Gelato down the street--i ate it all.
     On to Ikea...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Letter #1

dec 21
dear carmen                                                           
     a week ago i was sitting around writing, lamenting really, that i spend a lot of time each day surfing the internet, watching TV news, and reading the New York Times. also that i tend to eat all day long, am putting on weight, and my house is dirty--it has all these problem areas.
     sitting there i thought that even though  i always say that how, where, to meet women is my problem, another problem, or maybe the real problem is what do i do with my day, my time. my last thoughts that morning were how can i mmotivate myself to exercise, clean house, and prepare tasty healthy food. could i hire someone to motivate me?
     the next day i decided to start cleaning my house an hour a day and to stop internet, TV, and newspapers. but where to start? really, my floor needs to be mopped but its necessary to clean things above the floor first, si? i picked one end of the living room to start, determined to do an hour each day. i was helped i believe by an incredible collection of diverse music i got from a guy in Mexico in a trade for wireless internet down the hill to his house--i  burned many CDs to clean by.
     the second day i started on my couch; it took two days and three hours to clean it. i vacuumed every inch: over, under, around; like an obsessed tweaker i stood there with patience i didn't know i had--when i saw spots of dust that the vacuum would'nt reach i got a damp rag and jammed it into those spots, rinsing the rags often.
     i thought i was getting ready to mop the floor (by the way it is now a week later, i still haven't mopped, and i'm thinking seriously of getting rid of the couch--Carmen! don't skim! i'm paying your usual rate, pro-rated, to read this!) so it seemed necessary to clean around the wood stove first. however, the spiral staircase was dusty so i went to the top of the  landing to clean that first. when i got to the top i noticed that the vaulted, 18-foot-high ceiling was cobwebby. i started on the ceiling, i cleaned the fan, i cleaned the track lighting. i got the ten foot ladder and set it up in the living room. for the hard to reach spots i attached an eight foot long pole to the mop with bungee cords. i was on a roll so i cleaned the ceiling, the rafters, etc, for two hours that day; the next day i did another hour on the ceiling, which had never been cleaned.
     the first day of this new program i hauled the exercise machine out of my bedroom and into the rec room. i created many energetic workout CDs and each day now i have had sweaty workouts in front of my favorite sports talk show, essentially the only hour a day i am watching. ( it had been two years since i used the machine.) i also fired up the sauna for the first time in a year.
     i have stopped pigging out between meals, i am getting a few recipes from friends, and am on the verge of signing up for a cooking class next month. i baked a chicken with veggies and pasta the other night; normally i will devour it quickly sans chewing thoroughly so this was a real test--i have been known to eat more than half a chicken at one sitting: i poured myself a glass of wine, served a moderate plate of food, and slowly ate a dinner by candlelight. when i was done i put the food away in the fridge.
     part of this program is to get some social interaction--i feel that is important: one day i had breakfast at the local cafe, the next day i decided to go to a winter arts faire. i figured half an hour there at the social bonfire would suffice. i took a CD i had mixed to give to anyone as an xmas present. when i arrived to the event i wandered around for awhile but didn't feel the need  to partake in what is standard social activity: you look around for someone you know, then you go up to them and talk. obviously i do not have the social skills to enjoy that form of interaction. i wandered around the faire, it was the first day of my new program, i did the circuit once or twice and decided to leave. i saw an attractive acquaintence and gave her the CD. i immediately left, not wanting her to feel obligated to participate in boring small talk because i had given her a gift. ( perhaps i should have conversed with her a bit before proffering the CD--by the way Carmen please feel free to circle any phrase or make a note here and there if you feel you might have a follow-up question or comment for our next session.)
     i left the faire and drove home, i had been in the hall only ten minutes, the whole excursion was less than half an hour but i felt very good about my behavior, though my friend  robbie who i saw there probably thought it somewhat odd, and i would have to agree. anyway, i was excited to get home and  do my first workout and sauna. (i had asked a couple friends if they were going and they said no. i guess i'm a "tweener": i don't really want to spend a bunch of time there, yet i know the social contact, however limited, is necessary, good for me, and even a little enjoyable.)   
     i was looking around at my house, my living room, already i was shifting furniture around but i've thought for years that  need a major makeover--perhaps i'm giving myself one too. i seem to be changing a lot, or trying to change a lot. after a few days on this program i started to actually have a more positive outlook because i was taking negative things out (endless hours of news consumption and over-eating) and replacing them with positive activities. 
     of course it helps that i'm also reading one fantastic novel after another. (A Thousand Splendid Suns...The White Tiger...Smonk...And Then We Came To The End...The Wind-up Bird Chronicles...) last night i finally got an email from that attractive woman i met up at the cafe--she said she enjoyed meeting me. i felt that i had somehow attracted that email by my rejunative behavior, hippy-dippy as that may sound. i now have some hope on that level too, that something will happen.
     this morning i decided to drive down to Ikea to buy an entertainment center and other portable closets--i have a desire to continue my cleaning to the point where everything is put away. i'm moving things around, changing things, getting rid of things, getting new things.
     i'm changing so many things on so many literal levels but i am still the same, the same core being. i probably don't know what i'm talking about though its "all good" and i HATE that expression.
     i spent three hours planning my entertainment cabinet at Ikea...