The Places That Scare You.

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If you haven’t been watching the news or following the Twitstagrambook feeds of your friends and loved ones in New England, we’ve been effectively hobbled by repeated “significant weather events” for several weeks now. We have been buried under many feet of filthy, dog-pee-and-car-exhaust-riddled snow. It’s not Currier & Ives; it’s the Apocalypse. Roofs have collapsed, snow emergencies and parking bans are everywhere, and public transportation has become a terrible, terrible joke.

Because of what I’ve learned in recovery, I am grasping onto a precious few straws of gratitude in the midst of all of this. One is that we have not lost power during any of the meteorological pummelings we’ve received. Another is that my mother-in-law is snug and warm in the memory unit of the assisted living facility she’s been in since late June. I cannot even fathom how awful all of this would have been had we still been in daily, on-the-premises charge of her care. I frequently have to stop and remind myself of this as I start to complain about the 10’ piles of snow outside our house which are obstructing our view of the 10’ piles of snow across the street.

But in the midst of all of this, we’re trying to move. Granted, we’re just moving from our downstairs apartment into the upstairs apartment formerly occupied by my mother-in-law. But this has required Herculean amounts of organizational skills which I do not possess. Purging a three-bedroom apartment of possessions and clutter acquired over a period of decades, when the former occupant is still among the living, is emotionally trying and just plain shittyawfulhorrid. It is constantly second-guessing and attempting to determine value, both sentimental and monetary, of these things. What goes to charity? What gets saved for the grandchildren? What gets thrown out? I try to be efficient, and wind up wandering weepily from room to room, overwhelmed to the point of distraction.

I have, however, managed to get most of this packed up. There are boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff that can go to charity at any time, except that it can’t really, because of the aforementioned piles of snow. They have turned our fairly wide street into a barely-plowed-out path flanked on both sides by pee-stained, icy behemoths. No truck could idle there for even 10 minutes without drawing the ire of our neighbors and those who use our street as a throughway to get onto Route 1 more quickly.

I am beyond stressed about this. We have to be completely moved upstairs in a matter of weeks; our friends are moving into the downstairs apartment and must do so by the end of March. The whole shebang requires trucks. Big trucks. If I think about it too much I start getting wheezy and unhinged. I mean, more so than usual.

So I’ll talk about one thing I managed to do which I’d been putting off for a long time, and that’s empty out the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Most people would think, “What’s terrible about that? You toss a couple of bottles of Drano and a few old hairbrushes, right?”

No, friends – that cabinet was filled not only with the things you’d expect to find in a bathroom cabinet, but a whopping load of real bad mojo.

As some of you know, the final year of in-home caregiving for us was pretty bad. My mother-in-law’s mental state had deteriorated to the point where she could not/would not care for herself in the most basic ways. Brushing her teeth. Bathing. Properly disposing of toilet paper. Her Alzheimer’s had also ramped up her pre-existing OCD, causing her to scratch and pick at her skin, leading to a constant threat of cellulitis and other infections. Mornings and evenings were spent donning latex gloves and coating her hands, arms, and ankles with both prescription and over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. Because she would slap at me and yell if I tried to get her to take a bath, many times I had to give up that particular battle and use pre-moistened washing mitts, which she would permit, up to a point, when she would then threaten to scream if I came near her with them. And when incontinence became an issue, the cabinet was then the home of the flushable wipes and Depends.

So this cabinet was something I’d been trying to avoid, even with the knowledge that I no longer was responsible for any of these things on any significant level. I just didn’t want to go there. I didn’t want to open the scary bathroom cabinet and deal with the physical and symbolic throwing away of these things. I felt guilt, remorse, sorrow, fear, and resentment, in varying order and degree. It felt very much like avoiding looking under the bed, or into my psyche, really the same thing if you think about it.

But one afternoon about 2 weeks ago, I grabbed a trash bag and did it. Out went the prescription ointment, the latex gloves, the Depends. What I could handle saving, I saved (boxes of gauze pads and BandAids, hand sanitizing wipes). I tied up the bag when I was done and brought it into the room where we’re storing all the stuff that needs to be thrown out/trucked away.

Here’s where I’d like to say that I felt as though a great weight was lifted, that I was washed clean in the light of my bravery or some such bullshit. It didn’t feel great. It felt sad. It felt crappy. I have to do this. When faced with any seemingly insurmountable obstacle, my mantra has always been “It’ll get done because it HAS to get done.” You’d be surprised how calming this actually is. It’s much more of a soul balm than “You don’t have to do it alone!” or “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle!” Because I’ve found that neither of those things are necessarily true. Sometimes you do have to do it alone. You have to go to the places that scare you, even when it’s just under the sink, and you have to do it alone. Because you HAVE been given more than you can handle, and this is one less thing you have to worry about.

This Week On Facebook

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I’m toying with making this a regular feature, if only to get me posting here more. Basically, I want to observe some of the things that my friends are talking about on Facebook, and go into a little more depth here. It’s a prompt of sorts. We’ll see.

At any rate, this week I’m seeing a lot of this:

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If you’re not familiar with Terry Richardson, here’s the deal: he’s an “American fashion and portrait photographer.” His “snapshot aesthetic” utilizes a white backdrop, and lighting which gives his subjects a very blanched, beat look. He’s very trendy.

He’s also a completely repulsive human being.

It doesn’t take a lot of Google sleuthing to yield some very unsavory information about Terry Richardson. And yet celebrities flock to him, because – simply put – having Terry Richardson shoot you means that you’ve “arrived.” A Richardson portrait is the 21st Century equivalent of a Warhol silkscreen. And because of this, famous people are completely willing to overlook the nastiness, the abuse, and the degradation of NON-famous people in order to have those bleached-out, totally gross portraits of themselves. Status will always trump decency. So, you know, well played, famous people. If you stay good and drunk, you can continue to not think about how many women have been exploited and abused by this fucking creep, and that you’re basically enabling him to do it. May you treasure those pictures always.

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On a more bittersweet note, loads of my music scene pals posted the link to this bit of news, about the impending demise of Central Square’s, um, “finest” pizza establishment: Hi-Fi:

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What can I say about Hi-Fi? From around 1988 to 2002, it was the place I went to because I was too scuddered to walk down Massachusetts Avenue to Wendy’s. Unceremoniously jettisoned from TT’s or The Mid East for being a drunk ho? Get your shit together at Hi-Fi.

Once I got sober? Never set foot in the place again, even as I continued to see and play shows in the immediate vicinity. One – because I no longer needed that refuge in which to weep while attempting to “soak up” the alcohol braying through my bloodstream. Two – because sobriety afforded me the chance to get reacquainted with my taste buds.

Horrible pizza. Just terrible. A friend of mine has argued that it was at least “good enough” to keep them in business for 40 years, but I don’t buy that. The reason they stayed in business for 40 years? LOCATION. Within stumbling distance of two major clubs. I ask you, fellow denizens of The Scene: did you ever actually, specifically, go to Hi-Fi for pizza when NOT either at a show or playing a show? Like, did you go there to have dinner/lunch independent of a show? If this was a place you willingly went to because you loved that pizza SO MUCH, I would love to hear from you. Because you puzzle me.

And yet, I lament its closing. I truly do. It’ll be said over and over for the next few days, and I’ll say it, too, because it’s true: END OF AN ERA. My 23-year-old self would not recognize Central Square these days, and this is one more landmark that will be replaced by a Domino’s, or a bank, or some terrible place that sells those Vera Bradley quilted bags. Sadness.

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What Animated Dog Am I? Mr. Peabody. DUH.

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Finally, it’s March in New England, which means volatile weather to the max. Yesterday it was sunny and in the upper fifties. On Monday we woke up to snow. It’s going to snow tomorrow, too, probably. It will go back and forth like this until at least mid-April. We know this, and still we complain. And if we’re not complaining about the snow, we’re complaining about people who are complaining about snow. Because Facebook.