Saturday, February 18, 2012

Adieu. Au Revoir. Fuck It: A Lesson in Catharsis, Part 2

Nothing does a manic-depressive's manic-tendencies-heart good like some good Polish OCD weeding out of old crap; in this case, clothes. I really had no choice in the matter; my mother beleaguered me into re-organizing the office closets and the closet in the room I share with Luke.* The last time I weeded out a ton of crap was when I moved out of Camp Swanky in 2009, or when half my shit was tossed out of the townhouse next door to Ma's that I used to occupy when I was married when new tenants, friends of ours from church, moved in and Craig moved out, leaving half an attic's worth of my stuff that ended up in a dozen dumpsters all across Park Ridge without abandon. (Wow, apart from the commas, could that have been a MORE run-on sentence?)

(For the Camp Swanky catharsis story, see

(*Listen. I just sleep in there and my clothes are in there. I spend no time in our bedroom if Luke is home, usually, unless we're conversing or watching something together on TV. Otherwise, there is no trace of anything Annie in the room. It's ALL Luke. I allow him plenty of privacy. I have a bed an an alarm clock, a Bible and a copy of Keith Richards' "Life." That's it. We're working on turning the office into a bedroom for me, because the last place either Luke or I want to be together as he emerges as an adolescent is in the same bedroom, HOLY SHIT NO.)


It all started with me getting my 20 pairs of scrubs that I don't need anymore out of the office closet and up into the attic for their retirement, since I'm one of those hyper-crazy-book smart people who are geniuses at school and are insane and creatively gifted and have documented IQ's of 162, but have completely no practical life skills of which to speak, like the capacity to hold down a part-time job that a 13-year old with decent multitasking skills could do without fucking it up somehow. (The job at the medical practice wasn't difficult. It was just insanely, constantly hectic. And hectic + Annie + anxiety disorder + spending half the day in the bathroom and still taking care of business = bad scene. Hare Krishna that they fired me before I landed in a straight jacket.)

Or, like, not getting the oil changed in the car for 8 months. Or getting straight which days Luke is hot vs. cold lunch. I dunno. Maybe I praise myself too much and put myself down too much at the same time. I can fix computers and shit and grocery shop, but I went to see The Flaming Lips in Milwaukee with a map and a GPS, and I ended up 54 blocks away from the venue. You see my point?


The scrubs got moved to the attic, and I tackled the closets and drawers today. Without a tintinnabulation of a plan, I took a load of garbage bags upstairs and opened my jammed closet. Oh, it was so vestigial at first. First, I found all of my dresses, then skirts, then pairs of pants, then sweaters, then blouses and separated the "keep" pile from the "donate" pile, which went directly into the garbage bags. The keepers turned out to be a tiny pile in comparison to the donate pile, chiefly due to the plethora of clothing I owned that is way too big for me or just not my style anymore. (And really, do I need 3 JC Whitney t-shirts, the last place Chris was fired from?)

In fact, everything from the double closet in my bedroom fit into the little closet in the office. (This does not include my massive shoe collection, which is a clusterfuck of epic magnitude for another day of mania. Holy, Buttery, Lovable, Sweet, Mentholyptic Mocha Flavored Jesus. It takes me about 20 minutes to match a moiety of shoes, which is why now, in my life of leisure, I usually just throw on my Uggs and run to the grocery store in my pajamas and a dorky hat.)

Luke's shirt collection had been a giant, disorganized pile on the floor that was always falling over. A couple of shirts were even stacked on the vents of the television set, which was a fire hazard. His shirts now all neatly hang in the double closet, as do his pairs of "good" pants (non-jeans) and his suit. If ANYONE EVER buys my son another t-shirt before he grows out of a men's large, I'll have a conniption fit, because I swear I put away about 50 of them. The ones that didn't fit filled a good 3 bags, as did sweatshirts and....

EVERY PAIR OF TIGHTY-WHITEY underpants and body-hugging Hanes boxer-briefs the boy had in his possession most of which were never worn. He despised both styles for a cacophony of reasons that I'll keep private out of consideration for Luke. He's a boxer short-wearing man now for crissakes, thus that is all he shall have. I'm totally fine with that.

That was my gesture of liberation for Luke today.

As I went through my own packed to the gills drawers, I swear I had to have roughly 150 shirts of various styles, 15 pairs of jeans, and more combinations of Things To Wear to Bed than anyone could ever need. With regard to the shirts, I parted with the too-large ones, the too-small ones (I'm tiny but I still have big hooters, ya'll), though there were 2 ill-fitting t-shirts that I simply could NOT bear to part with. One was XXLarge (a good shirt to sleep in). The other was too small in the hooter area. Guess which one I bought first during the course of my life. Betcha mess 'em up.

The "Fuck Everything" shirt was purchased during my narcotics addiction in the late 90's. The "Cute but Psycho" shirt was bought on my vacation to Key West with Chris, when I was still unmedicated for my bipolar disorder.

I managed to conflate all the congregate items and neatly fold and stack them in the drawers, which can now actually be opened and shut completely with no effort. There is even room for additional clothing should the occasion arise where I would go fucknuts and go clothes shopping again. (Stay medicated, Annie. Stay medicated.)

But what was the most cathartic and satisfying purge out of all the shirts? I decided to donate EVERY SINGLE POLO OR POLO-TYPE KNIT SHIRT I OWNED, and there had to be about 10, whether they fit or not. I made the decision to abandon the suburbia-sanctioned item of popularity that is so obviously part of the Park Ridge uniform. They're too preppy and common. They decidedly don't rock it. They don't suit my personality. Just as just about every woman in Park Ridge dons Polo shirts when the weather is nice, they all drive the same car (the Lexus SUV is VERY popular in my town), they have the same strollers (when the mothers instead of their nannies are actually carting their cookie-cutter kids around), and they all attend summer outdoor concerts and drink wine and eat cheese and buy their kids ice cream.

Remember the original "The Stepford Wives?" That's what living in dulcet suburbia is like. And unfortunately I'm trapped here until Luke graduates from what is widely considered one of the best public high schools in the state. But trust me, Luke, we're hitting the urban jungle after that. In "The Stepford Wives," all the women, if my memory serves me correctly, were turned into robots through some weird plot all the husbands thought up. The town was perfect, the wives were perfect and all acted alike, and dressed alike until one sharp housewife who was a riot grrl (sic on purpose) figured it all out but, I think, was eventually captured and turned into a robot herself. I'm talking about the original "Stepford Wives" from the late 60's/early 70's, not the dismal remake a few years ago that starred Nicole Kidman. Park Ridge is like drinking an elixir of complacency, which I can't stand as an uber-liberal punk who admittedly still likes ABBA.

I decided that Polo shirts don't coincide with my own riot grrl, punky, quirky, original sense of no style whatsoever. I'm both trainwrecktastic and scrumtrulescent. Fuck yeah, I wear skinny jeans to show off my ass, but I'm a woman who drums to her own literal beat. I like to dress in what *I* am comfortable in. What makes me feel good about myself. I clean up really nicely when the occasion calls for it, and I figured out what I'm wearing to get my tattoo, because it's better to look good than to feel good. I'm joking. I don't dress demurely, and parted with what I considered too square of outfits for me to wear as I press forward with the tattoo and the new piercings (which I haven't completely decided upon yet). And tomorrow I'm getting the spiky hairdo cut to spike up better 'cause it's out of control long and won't spike correctly. Get this! I kept 2 pairs of-gasp-khaki shorts! What the hell am I going to wear them with?

I decidedly dislike subdivisions, where all the houses look alike. I don't even like my townhouses, which all look the same, though no one in the surrounding townhouses keeps theirs up as neatly and attractive as my Ma does ours.

That's what I miss the most about Camp Swanky--it was uniquely me, in the city, and was kitschy and out there and I had a fucking Golden Girls clock with the floating head of Bea Arthur in my kitchen and a hot tub to boot. Still, it's where I hit rock bottom, so my memories of it are a) muddied and b) sort of sorrowful. But at least Luke and I were indie and had plenty of space to roam. Swanky was our demesne of individualism. Luke and I will have that again someday, of that I have no doubt. Not any time soon, but it's a certain goal.

I still have Luke's sock drawer to weed through, which was giving me a panic attack, trying to match socks, when I called it quits before dinner. I'll have it organized by the time he comes home tomorrow. He won't appreciate it, and he'll bark at me "Where are my clothes, Mom?" in the morning, but we'll get over that soon enough.

So now Luke's got his load of boxer shorts, I have my collection of various clothing items (including 3 of the same J Crew hoodie I bought a few years ago because they were so cute) and I'm feeling accomplished and at ease. Nine bags filled. Someone in need's about to land a fuckload of nice clothing, provided they wear a size 6-8. I'm pretty damn happy about the progress towards organization I achieved today. It was manic but calculated. Such is your glimpse into my catharsis today. May your closets not overflow and your socks all match.

I know I'm a little less insane having better feng shui in my room.

‎"When a man forgets to cultivate his inner life, he turns himself into a machine and becomes a slave to material things". Dalai Lama

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