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Friday, September 8, 2000

My latest bout of "not sleeping" (I can't really call it "insomnia") caught up with me today. I'm biting bullets and gripping armrests and trying with all the self-control I can summon not to get caught up again in the swirl of negativity that plagued my inner life before I moved to the Fortress.

But then there's this "flood" thing, on top of the "not sleeping" thing.

Earlier this week, Landlord Jerry snaked out the drain that had been keeping me from doing laundry. He assured me that I was "good to go," or some such affirmative colloquialism. So today I did my first load of wash, and my last for awhile.

When the washing machine had cycled through its various rinses and spins, I opened the door to the laundry room and stepped in a puddle that soaked my socks. Then I took a step back and saw that the leakage had seeped under the door and saturated the hall carpet. When I checked the kitchen and bathroom, it was apparent that water had found its way under both of those walls as well.

I slammed my first door here. That's as far as the physical manifestation of my sense of powerless frustration went, but you can bet that every muscle in my body was clenched. It took a while before I could breathe again. When I could, I called both landlords and put pleading messages on their machines.

Then I tried to swab out the laundry room, with as little success as you're probably imagining. Mops, towels, buckets, rags - all were inadequate for the job, except in the sense that it made me feel better to be doing something, and to be able to tell the landlords that I'd done what I could.

All this time, I was trying to keep focused. I kept drifting off to the land where I go when sleep deprivation gets to this level. It's a place where every setback is a crisis. I can't pick anything up without dropping it, and then I have to pound the desk and curse. I can feel the blood vessels in my head, and I have a hard time swallowing. I marshal all my resources to get myself together, and something else goes wrong. My coping mechanism seems more or less permanently jammed up.

Jerry called me back late this afternoon, apparently unconcerned about the immediate problem. He wanted to wait until tomorrow morning to send someone out to take care of it. He knows someone who does maintenance for hotels, and he thought this guy would be able to come up with a solution.

He's coming between seven and eight in the morning. There goes sleeping in on a Saturday.

I'm not a gardener. I've never been enthusiastic about working in the yard. It's probably because I haven't had much exposure to it. I wouldn't mind learning how to make my yard look good, but here I'm starting from a kind of hybrid of planted and wild foliage.

Tonight I spent an hour out there, untangling hoses and spraying the heck out of everything green. If it were that simple, I'd have no problem doing this two or three times a week. Some of these plants are obviously weeds, and others are obviously not. Many are not obviously one or the other, and I have to decide whether to water them or rip them out of the ground.

If it were just a small area, or if there weren't so many weeds, I'd spend a day putting it all in order, so that I'd know what I was watering. For now, all I can do is water all the planted areas. But I sort of resent knowing I'm spending time keeping weeds alive, especially when in doing so I'm spreading the seeds that often make it hard for me to breathe.

It was a hot day here, but it cooled down early and quickly. If I did nothing else right, I think I picked the best time for watering, just as the sun was setting. If I only knew what I was doing, I'd find it a relaxing interlude. This time, it actually turned out to be the best part of a difficult day.

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