Wednesday, February 06, 2013

750 Words: The Anti-Complaint

I often complain about laundry (and other things, in case you hadn't noticed), but often, they are trite complaints about ordinary annoyances such as unidentifiable objects left on my bureau (a stray Tupperware handle covered in candle wax or an artistic attempt?), mismatched socks (a trend in some circles) or cat vomit.  But I don't often write about the subtle blessings I sometimes get from things like piles of clean, unfolded clothes.  Though it might loom large and ugly like Jabba the Hut, sometimes, laundry offers an opportunity to be grateful and Zen out--not often enough, because I'm usually too busy think about it in this way.  So now, I will take that time.

As I sit here in socks that do indeed match (actually, two pairs because my feet are almost perpetually cold), I am thinking, wow.  There are people out there right this second who would literally beg for my laundry.  It's winter, a cold winter, and some of our community is living in tents and torn coats, using sterno to stay warm.  I've got my fireplace on, a spoiled geriatric cat eating Fancy Feast, and nothing pressing to do other than write, exercise and later, cook on a gas stove in a warm house.  And tonight, I've got the opportunity to fold, a mindless, sensory activity that can be soothing in the company of family.  How many people in the world can actually say this?

This leads me to another thing I've complained about over the years, which I know I've sometimes acknowledged as a blessing but mostly not: working from home as a freelance writer.  The downside is, it's too easy to become isolated, and there are no benefits (retirement, in particular). I don't earn a lot of money but work hard.  I often put in more hours than those in traditional 9-5 jobs, but most people think I'm just goofing off, blogging, composing useless poems and posting on Facebook.  The fact is, so long as I can maintain some structure, don't overload my brain, physically interact with professionals, artists and friends, I'm fine. In fact, I'm better than fine because I can make appointments in the middle of the day, be here for those necessary calls ("Katherine, you're [now infamous] car will explode if you don't get it into the shop today"), sort out bills, take care of the family schedule, all without being fired.  And though I don't have taxes taken out, which demands I keep better records of necessary expenditures, I can now write off things like dry-cleaning the clothing I once would have shrunk to the size and look of a used tissue. 

I save money in gas and find more coins in pre-laundry pockets, money I squirrel away for things like Fancy Feast, which, by the way, our cat is now addicted to because my husband introduced him to it.  He wants to eat off and on all day (the cat, not my husband), which I can accommodate, because I am working from home.  I am able to let the dog in and out at least five times, take her for a walk and enjoy the company of our fat cat who sits on my desk and purrs (albeit taking up practically my whole desk, sitting on the keyboard, obstructing the mouse pad and chasing the cursor).  And it's quiet.  My long suffering, tinnitus-ridden ears are saved by the hum of our multiple computers, the soft tapping of keys and gentle spin cycle of the washer. I can light candles, take medications on time and nap if need be (which is usually need be, especially if I am intellectually overwhelmed, otherwise known as brain-zapped).  I can continue my e-course, which helps connect me to the outside world, and electronically do my volunteer work without injuring myself.  And obviously, I don't have a horrendous commute to worry about.

And so, while I write this, I plan the rest of my day and send out grateful energy because I know part of this day will include advocating for the disadvantaged, the underdogs, the suffering, the victims of unjust systems, the emotionally impoverished and so much of the world that is left to its own struggle, abandoned, scorned or ignored.  I can practice my faith in a free country, aggravate politicians, spread kindness in creative ways, and accomplish things I would not be able to in a traditional work environment, all while taking care of myself. 

And yes, I can get that laundry folded.
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