Notes from a Drama Queen

Sandwich Generation

Monday, January 26, 2009

So did you think I got my office cleaned out? Ha! I got half the desk cleared off where I make my jewelry, plus emptied one banker's box that held some of my old Signet books (my agent has received interest from Thailand, of all places, for Nightfall and Moonrise and the like). But that's it. Nothing in my bedroom either, which is worse.
I did, however, write thirty pages in between rushing around doing things for other people, so it could be worse. I'd rather have the writing done than the cleaning, any day.

Do the rest of you end up doing everything for everybody? I'm a part of the sandwich generation, and my 21 year old son is at home, as well as my 94 year old mother living down the road. My 64 year old sister is disabled (two miles away), and my husband has suddenly had to take over runnning his mother's estate (she's 91 and just down the road in the nursing home with late stage Alzheimers).

Everyone seems to need me to do something. To visit my mother (who otherwise would go nuts with the isolation -- she doesn't know anyone else around here and she's not a very social person). To help my son deal with college applications and forms and transcripts. (He's got some learning issues so secretarial type help really comes in handy).
I have to do the food shopping (while Richie struggles with taking over the estate and see about renting the albatross of a house on the lake). Have to spend time with my last remaining friend in this unfriendly little town (we sew together and it's good for my mental health and I love it but it's still one more thing taking my time).

There's cooking (Tim and Richie do half) and cleaning (ha! what's that?) and doctor's appointments 75 miles away. Plus taking my mother any place she has to go (checks for her coumadin level, food shopping, arranging for her car for the summer, paying her bills (I took over her finances). Luckily my disabled sister has a SO to do a lot of stuff, but he's monumentally grumpy and trying to get her to do more for herself (which she should) so I end up taking up the slack for her (transporting her to appointments, etc).


It's something so many of us are going through. It's worse when you've got a refilled nest. I think if I managed to carve some space out of my horrendous office I might feel better. If I felt I had my cave. The kids are still in the pull me pull you stage so I can't redo their bedrooms, but somehow or other I've got to find some kind of physical and psychic space in the midst of all the demands so I can do what I love to do.

So all you other prisoners of the Sandwich Generation -- how do you manage? Do you have any advice for me as I go slowly mad in northern Vermont?

Cleaning House

Monday, January 19, 2009

So is everyone feeling as energized as I am? Everywhere I turn good things are happening -- the miracle on the Hudson, the miracle in Washington. Hope is all around, and I'm ready to jump in, feet first.
The world seems like a wonderful place, and I don't have to go anywhere to take advantage of it.
But first things first -- time to declutter. I wanted to upload a photo of my horrendously messy office but things are so messy I can't find my card reader or the cable that goes from the camera to the computer. So I'll start work and add a picture later (if blogger will let me). I'll simply have to describe it. Going clockwise, I have the dog crate, with a banker's box and a pink milk crate on top. Next to that a desktop area filled with jewelry making stuff, which I love, but it's prime real estate and I don't play with jewelry that often. So that's going to have to find a place to go. Underneath this six foot area I have tubs filled with jewelry-making supplies and little plastic boxes with findings and such separated out. Next to that I have two tubs full of unknown office supplies. In front of that, another tub, a pile of CDs (Best of L'arc-en-Ciel, Bruce Springsteen in Dublin etc.). On top there are a couple of books and a fancy box. moving closer, I have three bankers boxes piled on top of the other, one with a bunch of books I have to send to my agent, and god knows what are in the two beneath it. Then two down comforters, a grabber thingy, an overflowing waste basket, and my little rolling chest from Ikea. On top of that is software two engagement calendars from last year, an Amazon gift certificate, a plug for my back up hard drive and a plastic bag with two connectors for network cables (we're wireless).
Then a lamp with a musician's drink holder attached to it (very handy when you're mainlining Diet Coke) and my big red recliner with me in it. Behind it is a door hanging of the Great Wave of Kanagawa (I think that's the official title) by Hokusai, then on the other side is a keyboard I bought so I could learn piano on the Mac and play with Garage Band. Then a pile of boxes in the corner (five of them -- the lower ones are getting crushed) with God knows what inside, nexxt to a plastic mini chest of drawers with 12 drawers filled with things like mini-discs (and nothing to play 'em on) and audio tapes and old cell phones etc. A tiny table next to that with the squid (holds all sorts of plugs) and a copy of 45 MASTER CHARACTERS. On the worktop there are three pairs of large headphones (and three pairs of iPod headphones for my sister on the pull out keyboard), a light that plugs into my laptop, a horse and warrior from ancient Japan that I got at the MMA, a bunch of scattered CDs, tons of paper, two revolving pen holders, three mugs full of pens, a printer that works but isn't connected to the laptop, where I usually work, a laser printer that doesn't work, a bag of old potpourri that's lost it's scent, the audio tapes of THE CREATIVE FIRE by Clarissa Pinkola Estes (much recommended), a box of tissues, some paper clips and a couple of contracts that need to be signed. On the wall behind it are photos from Terminator, Notorious, Maya Angelous, Gackt, and the others are hidden behind the crap.
Underneath the desktop is another tub. Next to that is a file cabinet and in front of that, higher than the file cabinet, is a tub with books on top, six plastic Christmas plates, a basket with my daughter's iCat, another basket on the floor in front of that.
We come to the door. My new Gackt calendar is up (gotta kiss the Gackt calendar everyday before I work), a bird house in the shape of a castle, my bag full of swimming gear, a half filled trash bag, a paper bag of unwanted books, the baby refrigerator with my altar on top and a Christmas tree on top of that. Then we get to the dog crate again. Oh, and I missed a purple milk crate, a sagging wicker basked, two banker's boxes and a small plastic container with rubber stamps.


So I've written eight pages. Now I have to learn to be brutal with all these boxes of disorganized crap. I think I'll start with the jewelry first. Find a tub that's not being used (and we probably have 100 ones in use in my cluttered household) and pack the jewelry stuff away carefully. When we set up my sewing space in the basement we can put aside a section for jewelry. In the meantime I have books to write.

That's my task for today. I think, to keep thinks under control, I'll just do two containers a day. But what do I do with all the crap in the containers?


Anyone got any advice for attacking the Augean Stables? Besides a pitchfork and a dungheap?