Forever throwing bottles – Polishing up the facade, part I

Polishing up the facade is a very simple project. It means that even though you feel like you are not really alive, not really the master of your fate, and not even remotely the captain of your soul, you can still make yourself look like a goal-oriented, self-controlled person who knows what she wants and is on the way to get it. Predictably, as soon as I start to display activity and ambition, people will ask what sense it makes to pretend I´m something I´m not. Well – most of the time it doesn´t make any sense to me at all, but for some reason people are not happy with that, either. They regard that as an excuse to be lazy.

You see, currently my life looks like this: For two to four hours a day at best I will be at college, once a week I work a shift of five hours at a local library. The rest of the time is spend in front of my computer doing nothing. I´m at home most of the day, and when the doorbell rings and the mailman asks me to store a package for the neighbors since no one´s home over there, I wonder  if he will believe me if I say that I´m only at home and in jammies at this time of the day because I work night shifts in an emergency room. (Probably not.)

Given how pathetic and useless I feel, it would greatly increase my self-esteem if at least I looked less pathetic and useless! I mean, come on, I´m in my mid-twenties and I still live at home with my mommy! And that´s not because I love her so much! I´m just deeply, deeply apathetic and I feel like I will never get anywhere with my life anyway. The thought of having to earn my own living scares me shitless. And particularly given that there´s no career I can imagine for myself, nothing I really want. Just a whole wide world of one-way streets none of which I want to take. It´s been like that for as long as I can remember.

And still, on some days, I can accept that I will never be happy in this world and that I will still have to live somehow. I´ve toyed with suicide and I realized I don´t have the balls to do the deed, so I´m stuck here. Enter this great gift called dissociation. “So I will have to go to some stupid office doing stupid work all day, but that won´t really be happening to me. I will be somewhere else in dreamland, and I will only come to life in the evening, and one day, for some reason, the life I come to will be wonderful.” Not that this didn´t make me even more of a zombie, but who cares. Nothing is real, anyway.

And so I start to polish up the facade. I have to learn to reliably function and get my life under control, then there will be nothing to be overly scared of. If I can just go through the motions of sustaining life I can escape to my dreamworld without anybody noticing and the world can kiss my ass. And there is this desperate hope that if only I learn to do things and stop being apathetic then I will one day feel free; feel like a real person; want, get and enjoy things. And if I should always feel numb and apathetic under my facade, at least that facade will gain me some self-esteem, and I will be less vulnerable to criticism and judgment. So I got started today. By starting to clean up my room.

If you are currently eating, don´t go on reading, it will spoil your appetite. I was going to describe my room to you, but maybe you can guess what a room looks like when it is inhabited by a person who 1) is deeply apathetic and 2) is at home all day and 3) still needs to eat and drink at times. Precisely. It is littered with trash, bottles, pop cans, clothes, books and some more and some less important piles of paper, some of them newspapers. Today I dedicated myself to the task of throwing out the bottles. The good thing about this is that at least I didn´t have to try to distinguish between important and unimportant things (like when sorting out the piles of paper). The bad thing about this is that it is absolutely disgusting.

What´s disgusting about collecting the bottles from my room? Well, first of all, the sheer number of them makes me feel like I´m a piece of garbage myself. When I carry them back to the supermarket for recycling, people will think I collected them from the trash cans in order to fund my dinner (something my mum will never tire of mentioning). In a way, that´s true, because 1) my room looks like a trash can, and 2) I´m pretty much out of money.

Another thing is that bottles have a tendency to roll underneath the bed or the couch. And if my room is a trash can, these hidden places are…well…I´ll leave that to your imagination. To cut a long description short, the bottles are typically covered in dust and dirt, and I´m always scared that I will reach straight into a spiderweb or – yuck! – a spider itself when I collected the bottles from under the bed.

The worst part, however, is emptying the bottles. Have you ever seen what iced tea turns into after a few months? I don´t want to bother you with descriptions, but you´d better empty such a bottle into the toilet, unless you want to hand-pick chunks of mildew out of the sink.

And then there you are, with six or more bags filled with dirty, disgusting, but finally empty bottles. You can´t carry them all to the supermarket right now, you will look like a bum. So you have to store them and carry them off bag by bag. Which is possible if you live alone. It is not when you live with a mother who is phobic of litter.

My mother starts to wince every time she has to look into my room. She even scolds me when the doors of my wardrobe don´t close properly (we have a row of closets in the hallway, I don´t have a closet in my room). Well, the result is that I grab a good bunch of clothes and just throw them onto some chair in my room. And then she complains that my room looks like a mess. All mothers nag about such things, but with her, it is different. She is genuinely repelled and disgusted, and as a result, she turns against me. It makes me feel like I am disgusting and repelling. That does not exactly make cleaning up any easier. Most of the time I just pretend the mess isn´t there. Leave the lights off, you know, which is quite easy, given that most of the light bulbs in my room are broken anyway. This behavior increases the mess, my mother is even more shocked, I feel even more disgusting and horrible and I want to look away even more. Talk about a folie à deux.

Anyway, the bottles are gone from my room, which is good, and the room still looks pretty much the same, which is bad. We´ll see if I manage to polish up this part of my facade, and how long I will sustain the illusion this time. In the meantime, I will just dream up Mickey Knox knocking on my door, asking me to join him on a road trip. I promise I won´t make such a big deal out of him flirting with some hostages.

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