Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Soldier or Prisoner

A few days ago I did something I've never done before,  something that is both disgusting and oddly satisfying, something that only people in the Army and in prison do: I cleaned the toilet with a toothbrush and a razor blade. Why a toothbrush and a razor blade? I don’t know! Even as it was happening I couldn’t explain it. You know how there are certain moments in your day when you are in the present and involved and there are other moments when you are outside of yourself watching and narrating? This was that second thing. It was like I was sending my self on a hero’s journey and these were the tools I was giving/ given. Adios! Fare thee well! Discover something about yourself that you never knew before and don't come back until you do! (slam)

I'm not a cleaner. I usually put it off until my only options are to either deal with it or set fire to the whole shebang and walk away. I mean, I straighten and tidy. I shove things into drawers and closets and dump all kinds of things straight into the trash, but I'm too busy or tired for more than that. Still, I'm always amazed at how good the world, and life in general, feels when things are sparkling and clear and organized. I feel like it bleeds off onto me somehow and makes me a better person, an upstanding citizen who is responsible and disciplined and on the road to success. 

On a side note, it's strange how many similarities there are between soldiers and prisoners; maybe more similarities than differences. But the differences are huge. A soldier, when he works, thinks: "Yes, Sir, thank you, Sir, I will clean this toilet to the best of my ability, Sir". A prisoner thinks "This is motherfucking bullshit. Why the hell do I have to do this? I don't deserve this". My thinking was much more along the lines of a prisoner. And yet, of course it was my decision to do it in the first place. 


I have been getting into a lot of fights lately, both real and imagined. I feel agitated and annoyed and chafed. Everything feels like a shove. I was at the grocery store the other night, Harry and I went in for a second to get a movie, and when we got out, there was a note written on a napkin on my windshield. "You hit our car the other day when you were parking. A witness saw. My husband wants to press charges. But I don't. Please contact me blablabla". I thought Press charges? Press motherfucking charges? Because I bumped your car while I was parking? I'll go back there right now with a fucking bat!

Freeze that frame.

See the way my face is right now: screwed up and pissed off? Kind of a "Are you kid--What?.. I'll fuckin..."? That's a picture of me getting my button pushed. When I say I've been getting into a lot of fights lately, this is what I'm talking about. 

Okay, back to the scene.

 I looked around the parking lot and didn't see anyone slinking off. I thought, have you been following me? It's dark out, how did you even know my car? I did bump that car. I was parking on a hill! What do you think bumpers are for? Sneaking behind me while I'm with my son? Why didn't you just wait by my car so we could have a conversation like two humans. Go ahead, press charges. The cops will have a good laugh. Then they'll get pissed that you're wasting their time.

I took a deep breath.

Harry says "What?"

Nothing, bub.


Here's a list of possible reasons why I've found myself in so many confrontations:
From Philly
Single Mom
Working for the man every night and day
Been Shafted
Because I'm the oldest
Because I hang out with negative people
Unresolved issues
Combination of all of the above

I was going to say bad timing, but that's not it either and as far as luck, I'm one of the luckiest people I know. I'm an optimist too, so that's not it...

Ssshh, ssshh, ssshhh: It doesn't matter...Calm yourself.


One thing that happens when I am cleaning, or doing anything physical really, is that my mind rests. It doesn't shut off exactly, but it gets to a place where thoughts drop in randomly and out of the blue. I wish I could say that while I am cleaning I go through my personal inventory and examine it carefully, sorting through what needs to be addressed and coming up with solutions that are pleasing and satisfactory to all. I like to think, oh I'm crossing paths with this particular person for this particular reason and it's going to lead to something good or, I understand that other person, why she did what she did, and I needed to have this experience to help me understand this, that and the other about myself. But it doesn't work that way, especially when you are scraping poop off of porcelain. There are no sudden awakenings or brilliant insights; you've just got to get it done. This time the thought that dropped in out of the blue was this: are you a soldier or are you a prisoner? Are you going to be mature and efficient, respectful and thorough, courageous and above all, honest? Or are you going to be disgusted and hateful, angry and insufferable and blame the crusty brown smears on everyone else? 

No comments:

Post a Comment