Saturday, April 10, 2010

Order and OCD

copyright 2010, Aaron Paul Lazar

Since I was laid off last year, in spite of the trauma of dealing with the feelings of rejection that accompany such an event, I’ve actually accomplished a great deal. Lasting things. Things that will make our lives better. Unlike doing the dishes, which seems the most thankless and forever job. ;o)

I’ve detailed some of the joyful events experienced in my “Paradise” articles here on MB4, but today I want to talk about the supreme joy of having things organized and in order.

I’ve had the luxury of accomplishing tasks that rarely even glimmered on the things-to-do horizon when I was working. Projects are popping up all over the place and actually getting completed. Today I learned how to lay ceramic tile, and though my knees and back are aching, I completed the job (the grout goes on in 24 hours) and it looks amazing. Everything has fallen into place with a very nice sense of order.

I used to dream of having a month off, a summer off, a year off. I often imagined retirement, and dreamed about all the stuff I’d do in the incredible world of having time. Now I’ve been given the gift of seeing what it will be like in retirement, and I love it.

If I put aside all the negative aspects of losing one’s job and partition out the amazing stuff that happened, it’s been a super year. I thought it would be fun to chronicle some of it here and also ask you if you ever get that feeling of elation like I do when stuff falls into place and when things are actually IN their places!

First of all, I started and completed two full manuscripts, possibly the best two books I’ve ever written. (Don’t Let the Wind Catch You and For the Birds.) These books were written in the environment I’d always ached for – being home, tending the fires, cooking soups, playing with grandkids, keeping up the gardens, and writing to my heart’s content. (We’ll ignore the parts where I had to constantly be checking for jobs, networking, and fearing survival! LOL)

I also completed edits on two more books that are coming out this year – Healey’s Cave and Firesong. And most recently, I revamped and beefed up the third book in the Moore Mystery series, entitled For Keeps. I added over 17,000 words to that novel, then sent it off to my publisher.

It feels good to know that even in tumultuous times, I accomplished something worthwhile.

On the home front, I managed to do major renovations in the house and on the grounds. Here are a few shots of the newly done over bedroom. I think we were watching Mrs. Doubtfire that day (grin). How do you like our new wallpaper? It's so much brighter now that the old stuff. The whole room seems more spacious now. 

Balto watched the whole thing. 

And on the days we had Bella, she kept wanting to go outside. I took her out in between all the projects, and the fresh air felt good.

But the accomplishments that made me ridiculously happy were the stupid little things that annoy you every day that never get fixed. Know what I mean? Like finally securing the screw on the rake that kept twisting off its pole, or super-gluing the rear view mirror that keeps falling off ever since the glass people replaced the windshield, or gluing on that darned dimmer switch knob which falls off every day. Dang, it felt good to fix that stuff!

And boy, did I go “hook” happy. No, not literary hooks. I’m talking about regular white plastic stick-em-on-the-wall hooks. I put them up beside our bed to hang our glasses, on the side of the kitchen cabinet to hang our many sets of keys, on the back of the bathroom door for robes and backstraps and more, and I’m still thinking up places to use them. I find an inordinate amount of joy in these things. It's a little scary.

More and more, I’m seeking order. Organizing has always made me happy, but now it’s almost a religion. When things are organized, I feel like I’m in control (for a few sweet moments), and I get such a thrill out of figuring out better ways to store and handle things that I’ve nearly become obsessed with it. I’m already rather borderline OCD, so I guess it isn’t a huge surprise.

This week I even organized my wife’s jewelry. She had her earrings in a big old pill bottle and everything else in a fifty-year-old, very tattered and falling apart jewelry box she’d had since she was about ten. I ordered a beautiful wooden box for her necklaces and such, and then found a free-standing “earring angel” to organize her earrings. Dale’s not really much of a jewelry lady – she doesn’t salivate over diamonds or gems. But she does like to wear earrings and I love to buy them for her. There was something very satisfying about matching up the pairs, and something very sad about the ones that were left behind with no partners. I know they’re lost for good, because when I redid the bedroom, I went all the way down to the wood floors and every single corner and crevice was cleaned before I refinished the wide pine boards. We’re saving those lonely soldiers for our daughter Allison who might want to wear them in her extra pierced holes in her ears. I don’t get that – to me, symmetry is essential. Must have something to do with the OCD thing. LOL.

Have you had any of these feelings? Do you long for time to get your life in order? Although I don’t wish losing one’s job on anybody, there is a bittersweet kind of satisfaction that comes with the experience.

And now – shock of all shocks – I actually have a job interview coming up on April 22nd. A German company with a small office in Rochester seems to want to chat with me. Hmm. I love and miss Germany, and always enjoyed working with folks from Germany when I was at Kodak. Matter of fact, that was my favorite part of the job. 

But I’m also signed up for grad school in the fall. I'm still excited about that possibility. ;o)

What will happen, only God knows.

Either way, I’m game.  :o)


Hart Johnson said...

It's so heartening to hear about someone surviving and thriving in our economy. I still have a day job--I am our family's insurance carrier, so it isn't optional, but someday i hope to be our writer/project person only, rather than our primary breadwinner.

It DID crack me up though, to see your sweet Balto--my current trilogy (6 chapters from done) features a primary villain named Balto, and your version is SO opposite!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thanks, Watery! Yeah, it is hard being the only breadwinner in the house who carries insurance (that was me! My wife can't work.) But the COBRA benefits have been okay, especially with the governments subsidy of paying 65% of the premiums. Of course, the premium this year for family coverage went to $1758 per month! So we dropped down to a lower coverage level and found alternate insurance for our only daughter still in college. Now our new rate will be $700 something per month. Still pretty high, but better than the previous option! New York State rates are so much higher than the rest of the nation, it seems. Crazy...

Anyway, thanks for your comment about Balto. That is a riot!!! Glad my Balto is quite a bit sweeter than yours!!!

Kim Smith said...

Hey Aaron, great post. I am actually feeling like there is a life out side the hospital for the first time in half a month.

I am looking forward to when I can use my vacation time to either 1. have time away for r and r or 2. time at home to do these sorts of things.

Love to hear your successes :) and on another note, actually am getting a change to take pics of my step-grandkids today and am too thrilled!!!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hey, Kim. Man, you and your family have been through the ringer this past month. But maybe now you'll get a chance to sample life outside of work and the hospital - yay! And just in time for spring. Have a blast taking pix of the step-grandkids!!! Sounds like a ball!

s.w. vaughn said...

Oh, it looks gorgeous, Aaron! I knew it would! *G* And YAY for getting the tile down! You are a real inspiration - I can't wait to find out what's going to happen with you next. :-)

The baby is getting so big!!!

LOL I love Mrs. Doubtfire. Hilarious movie!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Thanks, SW! Mrs. Doubtfire is one of our all time faves, and we just introduced the boys to it. They get such a kick out of the whole premise - they're watching it again tonight. ;o)

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