Under the Rug

dancers

Have you heard of the idiom to sweep something under the rug?  It usually means to try to hide something embarrassing, like getting into a fender-bender while applying mascara or texting your boss a sexy message meant for your husband.  Things like that are meant to be glossed over and forgotten, banished into the distant past, and swept under the rug.

This weekend I learned the true meaning to the phrase as more than just figurative language.

We had a group of rowdy, rabble-rousing friends over for a few days.  After a night of debauchery, we returned to our small home to wind down when I felt the twinges of a headache/meltdown begin after watching the gang share a bag of Doritos.  Junk food alone does not usually cause this reaction, observing them use their pants and couch instead of napkins to clean their orange fingers does however immediately cause this reaction.

It was then that I excused myself to bed and allowed whatever mischief and bad behavior was left of the night to play out unhindered by the likes of yours truly.

And it did play out.

What I found the next morning was a pile of dirty white socks, Gatorade bottles, half eaten brownies, and two kittens concerned with the ever-changing environment and weekend tenants.  Naturally, the boys were still fast asleep.

Then, I discovered the white plaster chips and flakes on the floor from something that had shattered.  I first thought it was a hole in the wall and prepared for my head to explode.  Thankfully, my head stayed in place as there was not a hole in the wall and my temper subsided.  I looked up to the shelf and found only a ring of dust and bare place where something had once been standing.  As any good detective, I began an interrogation of the suspects who were busy snoring on the Dorrito dusted couches.  They waved me off as the guilty often do.

I started to gather evidence.  First, the white chips and flakes by the door, then an arm, and a head were located under the back of the couch.  While I was low to the ground, I noticed the lump under the rug.  I didn’t have to move the rug to know what it was; they had literally swept the broken statue of dancing lovers under the rug.

So I scooped it out from under the rug and held all of the pieces mournfully in my hands.  The boys tried to make it right later in the day by reassembling the piece into something that they considered modern art.  In retrospect, I should have put man-proofed our home before the gang arrived, removed all fragile knick-knacks and thingamajigs, and felt happy the figurine was the only causality of the weekend.  I’ll try to remember this peaceful gratitude as  I continue to find treasures lost in the couch and swept under the rug for the next few days.

She found one.

The day started with a light drizzle of rain and progressed into a full-on deluge by the time I arrived at my first appointment of the day.  A streak of yellow lightening split the sky in front of me as I popped my umbrella into shape.  Fortunately, when it rains like the world is coming to a certain end, the punks of the street take cover.  Plus, it was too early in the day for most of them to be up.

So I sloshed happily down the cracked sidewalk into the front yard of my client’s ramshackle house, unmolested by the usual people of the street.

My client sat at the table picking at a microwaveable meal of gelatinous meat with a side of green mush that was representative of vegetables.

We went through the usual list of questions and finished pretty quickly.  As I stashed the paperwork into my bag, I asked, “Anything else going on?”

She slyly looked at me and confirmed that my pen and paperwork were safely tucked away.

“Don’t write this down, but the prostitutes have taken over this block.”

I egged her on, “Oh yeah?”

Nodding with a grim expression, she said, “I don’t even go out to my back porch anymore.  I’m afraid of what I’ll see now that it’s covered with condoms.”

She was stone-cold serious while I tried to figure out if this was a dementia thing or a little joke to get a reaction from me.

Not waiting for my comment, she continued, “In fact, my granddaughter took the trash out there last week and found one.”

I asked, “A condom?”

Disgusted that I wasn’t following the story, she shook her head, “No, a prostitute.”

“My granddaughter screamed at her because she’s got a real nasty attitude, she always has. I heard her in here and thought something happened.  She came back in here and told me, the prostitutes thought this was an empty house.”

“But your lights are always on and the grass is mowed and your front door is open and…” I tried to make sense of how the prostitutes could have made this mistake.

“Don’t worry.  My granddaughter set them straight, but I’m still not going out there.”

She shrugged her shoulders and returned to her meal, now cold, and started picking at it again.

“That’s just how it is,” she said, as though to comfort me.

I left certain that it might be that way today, but it doesn’t have to be that way tomorrow.   Yet, I was uncertain as to what should change: the neighborhood, her living situation, or my attitude towards the whole thing.

Love in the time of Layoffs: Chaos

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For people living on love in an economy in which love hasn’t been paying well, prospects are not promising in a time of layoffs.  Today was the fateful day when my darling man found out that he was to keep his job, while 800 others lost theirs.

On learning the news, we were somber and grateful, sad for the others and happy for ourselves, all at the same time.  Swirling around our heads and hearts, these emotions mixed and melded into a sense of guilt that weighed heavier on my man’s shoulders because he was the survivor.  I was just there to greet him in the life boat and pull him away from the wreckage, but he was the one to helplessly watch his friends and co-workers be left behind in the choppy seas of unemployment.  However, it is because he is a survivor that we will be able to pay our rent, keep the lights on in our small apartment, and put food in our pesky little cat’s dish.

We aren’t the only ones trapped by this sense of guilt and helplessness at the chaos surrounding us.  Five minutes of watching, reading or listening to the news tells me this truth and more.  It tells me that we are just a microcosm of the society in which we live, a mere reflection of our humanity and current civilization.

The walls are crumbling down around us on many levels with the government on a shut-down since the folks in D.C. can’t get along, killer bees wreaking havoc on the countryside, diseases like measles and rubella breaking out when vaccines are available, and the cruel attempt to provide affordable healthcare to people who need it but are fighting it tooth and nail (in my neck of the woods, anyways).

We have entered a time of chaos.

So what can get us through and give order to our lives?  For me, it starts with embracing simplicity, mindfulness, appreciating the little things, and wine.  Of course, wine.  It helps with living on love and maintaining hopes for the future.

What is going to get you through the jumble or disorderly mass that we call life?

Here are some articles on coping.

http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/stress-tips.html

http://www.cdc.gov/features/handlingstress/

photo: The Lorenz Attractor, found on http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2009/entries/chaos/