Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I got up at 6am today. An electrician was scheduled to come to my apartment at 7am and install a special type of smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Many months ago the fire department came and inspected our apartment. The landlord was told of small fixes she had to do to make her property comply to code.

Yesterday my husband and I spent some time cleaning the apartment. When we had the flu none of the chores got done and the place was a mess. Dirty dishes heaped at the sink, clean laundry dumped on the sofa, food stains on the white kitchen tablecloth, mail all over the counters, dog hair all over the carpets, and even, in one place, dried cat vomit. But now I'm proud. We did the work and everything looks pretty and civilized.

I'll try not to be a drama queen, but I must confess it was a little traumatic to have strangers spend time with me in my apartment. Two electricians showed up to do the job. They were young and very nice. I offered them coffee, they declined. We toured my apartment and the one above it and discussed where they would install the electronics. There is so much art and books in my apartment that it took some negotiation to find an empty wall spot. I put the dog in the kennel so she wouldn't get in their way and I retreated to the art room to paint. The electricians worked in my bedroom and the library. I was listening to classical music and my CD ended. I put put on a rock 'n roll CD and started to turn down the volume but one of the electricians called out that they like to listen to loud music, anything but country he said, so I turned the volume up instead. Nothing abnormal happened, I did my work, they did their work, but oh, the stress!

Without a doubt I appeared to be an ordinary, friendly woman. I don't think those boys would dream that I have a mental illness, especially not a schizophrenic kind. I know how to talk, smile, and say the right thing. But even the simplest of social interactions with a stranger requires real effort. After those boys left I crawled into bed, shut my eyes, and said over and over in my head, "you're safe, you're safe". Then, even though I had had four cups of coffee, I fell asleep.

Just a little while ago my mother called and asked me to come down to Connecticut tomorrow to meet her cousins that are visiting from Germany. My sister and brother will be there. I don't know what to do. Before she called, in my mind I had anticipated painting a horse tomorrow and then working out on the treadmill for the first time since I got sick with the flu. The reason I don't use the treadmill today is kind of strange. I used up all my willpower and energy hosting the electricians. I've got free hours in the afternoon where I've got no plans - but I can't seem to get out of bed. It isn't that I'm tired, it is just that the bed is the absolute safest place I can imagine. Only in bed do I feel whole and normal.

I don't like the picture that is forming here of a fragile invalid, but I swear, it is the schizophrenia that is doing this to me. My relationship to other people is warped. I'm too sensitive and I've got too much fear. This morning I used inner resources to beat back the schizophrenia and to conquer my anxiety. This afternoon I pay for the morning's show of strength.

To give a total confession, then I must acknowledge that a small part of me feels victorious. Oh, I feel guilty for lying in bed and not using the treadmill when I know I could use the exercise. But the fact is that in this apartment and the one above it the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were successfully installed, and as the landlord's representative, it couldn't have been done without me. My mother being the landlord, this is now one small worry that is erased from her mind. And this as well, - I painted today two large and strange red flowers. Positive, productive things happened this morning. I gave 100% of myself and maybe a little extra. I like giving something my all.

Having done my mother one favor today, I don't think that I shall be visiting her tomorrow. I want to be selfish with my tomorrow and spend it exactly as I design. Mom's cousins from Germany are meeting with a large enough representation of the family.

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