This is “Case Zero” in which I began to enforce the new boundaries I am building. Chi was now getting zapped as if running into electric fencing where there had been nothing before, as I got more and more committed to clearly setting my intentions and asserting my newly-developing boundaries. 

Listen while you read to a rough early mix of “Resistance”, a piece in the tradition of Celtic war songs. This is slated to be an anchor track on the “Victory Speech” album.

09 March 2014

By this point I was having difficulty deciding which was more infuriating: the head-explodingly stupid things Chi did and said all the time, or the inconceivably idiotic excuses he proffered up when called out on it. One of the things I am especially looking forward to once Chi moves out is liberating the living room from all the crap it’s jammed full of and totally reconfiguring it, including painting it and refinishing the floor (again, since Chi has made such a mess of the restoration job I did on it two years ago!). I am really eager to get that room set up as a productive creative work space instead of the dark, dirty, cramped, cluttered pile of shit that it currently is that makes me cringe and grit my teeth in disgust whenever I go in there; and no longer being stuck with having to use the most ungodly uncomfortable, awkward, ergonomically fucked-up workstation I’ve ever been subjected to and will surely leave me with a repetitive strain injury if I don’t fix it.  

I am most pleased to report that I finally AT LONG FUCKING LAST (HELLLOOOOOOO!!!!) figured out how to stop letting Chi force intolerable conditions on me: just fucking refuse to tolerate it! Stupid-simple. I literally went on strike. Why in the hell didn’t I think of that a really, really long time ago?! I have been aware for many years that the only form of communication Chi normally responds to is physical violence and ultimatums which is anathema to me, but if I am to force compliance from him (which is often the only option he allows me), then I must resort to it sometimes. In fact, I am getting rather good at beating him at his own game of brinkmanship and emotional extortion.

Anyway, we were supposed to record this afternoon but he crippled up his hand trying to whack Dusty with a shoe who was (allegedly) attempting to open a drawer in Chi’s dresser to get a sock to eat, but he missed the cat and bashed his hand on the bed frame instead. He said that he was in too much pain to record this afternoon and asked to put it off until evening. What-the-fk-ever. That left me at loose ends since I had planned on finally getting back to doing some serious recording.

his specialty-eating Brendas socks

I dithered for a while deciding what to do with the “found time”, thinking that it would be a good opportunity to take another crack at the horrendous mess in the office room, but felt stymied by the pile of e-waste I’d dug out from under the desk the previous weekend that was now occupying the only available floor space in that room, making it an even worse mess than it was before. More ridiculously still, there is absolutely no other available space in the whole house to put that stuff until Earth Day on April 22nd when my day job hosts a big e-waste disposal and environmental awareness event.

The house was an even bigger mess than usual since I had been convinced for over three months that Chi would be imminently moving out and taking a new job in Hawaii in which case there was no point in wasting my time and energy on the Sisyphean losing battle with household maintenance when he was just going to shit it up all over again before I’d even finished cleaning any given part of it. Once he’s gone I can call in a professional HAZMAT team to decontaminate Panache House, which by that point may well qualify for classification as an EPA Superfund Site, but I digress as usual….

At any rate, I came up with a brilliant plan for how to spend the now-vacant afternoon. I decided to use this “found time” to accomplish something that would enable me to function more effectively and produce better quality output with less frustration and wasted time and energy, not to mention potential injury. I had succeeded in getting Chi to clear a massive amount of junk out of one corner of the living room (which he occupies as his own personal space) the previous week so now approximately 20% of the room was (relatively) clutter-free.

reclaiming one corner

Believe me, it was infinitely worse before!

When he proudly showed me what he had accomplished after I got home from work that day, once I recovered from the shock and amazement that he had truly in fact done it, I introduced the topic of trading work areas with him, i.e., me getting to use the nice big desk with a reasonable amount of work surface and storage space as the new home for the recording rig and all the stuff that goes with it, and he take the rinky little thing I’ve been having to make do with and pile the whole recording rig onto, which is hopelessly inadequate for that purpose, as his computer station. From all the crap piled all over the big workstation he occupies, it is clear that he does not use it for anything other than a surface to put his laptop computer on and a repository for all his media clutter and random junk.

This looked like a golden opportunity to follow that up, but before I did, I attacked the adjacent corner of the room that was clogged to the ceiling with a massive armoire and ginormous TV he’d bought a few years ago and the TV had recently died, leaving something like 15% of the entire area of the room occupied by a huge pile of generally useless crap. Making matters worse, he had turned the top of that humongous armoire into a boneyard for broken, fucked up electronic gear that he has been insisting for the past several years that he plans on having fixed some day. The sodding hell with that! If he wants to keep that shit, he can fucking well keep it in his own room. I’m done having my home jammed to the rafters with his fucking junk. He did cooperate by putting the detritus I cleared off the armoire somewhere else, even committing some of it to the burgeoning pile of e-waste I am amassing for e-waste day. That’s where that fucking TV is headed, and the armoire will be sold off as soon as the TV is gone.

clutter TV etc

We ran into an impasse when I perhaps a little too strongly suggested that we use the remaining available time to swap workspaces and let me move into the bigger space that he has heretofore been occupying. Given my extreme frustration at having to make do with ridiculous conditions and the asinine excuses he kept spouting at me in refusing to shift from that workstation, I lost my shit. I tried my best to keep it reasonably civilised, but I have absolutely run up against the end of my tolerance for that fucking nut case forcing me into having to make do with total bullshit or do without altogether while he sits there helping himself to a free ride without making anything distantly orbiting an equitable contribution to our combined existence. The more I thought about the absurd lunacy of this, the more indignant and angry I got. I announced that I am done, and the only reason why he is even still here in this house is because of the recording project, and set about dismantling the recording rig.

It was as if my “higher self” that must have run away screaming in terror upon realizing where this relationship with Chi was headed many years ago had suddenly reappeared from out of nowhere, grabbed me by the shoulders and gave me a good, hard shake and said, “WTaF is the matter with you??!!! That asshole isn’t even paying rent, and yet you are allowing him to occupy *your* entire living room and turn it into an embarrassing, disordered, dysfunctional pigsty??!”

I had Indeed somehow let him con me into buying into the notion that he is entitled to more space in the house than just his own bedroom, and to my eternal regret ceded the living room. I had tried to corral him into one small area of the house due to his inveterate propensity to turn any space he occupies into a filthy confused pile of shit, but was unable to do so. Unfortunately he not only has absolutely no housekeeping or organizational skills, he gives every indication of being a pathological hoarder(!) — a collection of traits I find intolerable.

I also really resent having my own office room (part of my personal space) clogged full of crap I have to deal with because of him, i.e., his endless administrative problems that throw off tons of paper junk, the musical project…well, I don’t resent the musical project itself — just all the clutter and crap it generates that I have to figure out storage for: i.e., all the promo stuff, administrative stuff, artwork, contact info, PA gear, innumerable electronic gadgets and all their cables and power supplies and things, media clutter such as blank CDs/DVDs, film cartridges, archive CDs/ DVDs, photos, fuck-trillions of batteries in all different sizes and chargers and A/C adapters of every manner and kind, etc., etc., etc., not to mention the annual tax horror, and that’s not even counting the perpetual tsunami of online bullshit the music gives rise to that *I* have to deal with as well! Oh yes, and data management of the stuff on the computer is yet another continuous, ongoing nightmare….

Jesus Christ, *I* am the one who single-handedly pulls down practically 100-fucking-percent of the Panache House annual GDP, AND *I* do practically every single fucking thing to make everyone in the whole house’s life work! Why in the motherfucking hell did I ever allow that leech to occupy well over 50% of the economically productive space in the whole house with his stuff when he isn’t producing a single fucking thing?! As far as the music he composes is concerned, he is 100% dependent on ME to put it into a tangible form, and yet he makes me have to do that under truly insanity-inducing conditions! As far as his acting work goes, I have to do all that shit for him as well in my office room that is crammed to the ceiling full of all the stuff enumerated above, which makes it genuinely maddening and downright depressing to try to get work done in that space!

Anyway, to make sure I understood correctly (and to clarify to Chi what he is causing), I asked him point-blank to confirm that having to sit in that exact spot in that room is more important to him than getting his music recorded, to which he reacted with a confused look. Apparently his intransigence on the matter was no longer making much sense to him either. After a couple moments of puzzled silence and unsuccessfully trying to fob me off with unacceptable compromises (on my side, of course!), he agreed to relinquish the good workstation after the TV/armoire was gone. “Very well”, I said, adding that I may have to get rid of him before then since I do not much care for the idea of having to sit around for a whole month with nothing happening but him continuing to shit up my life.

I moved some more e-waste into the pile and some janky-junky furniture to the neighborhood dump across the street, opening up some more premium-value floor area, and moved his drums and guitars and stuff that had previously been jamming up all the remaining available space in the whole room into the newly vacated space I’d created by dismantling the recording rig. While doing that I contemplated a workaround to make the TV/armoire disappear before April 22nd. We’ll see if that pans out within the next day or so. In the meantime I have a massive amount of additional clutter and crap of my own to sort through and get rid of, which being on strike from recording will allow me the time to do.

dismantling the recording rig_n

And the crowning irony of it all was that the nicest bass amp we have — a vintage Ampeg B15 flip top that sounds particularly warm and rich and sweet with Chi’s vintage P-bass from the same era — has heretofore been inaccessible because of all the clutter piled in front of it (well…the makeshift recording workstation since that was the only available space in the whole fucking room that I could put it until now!) so we couldn’t even use it to record the bass tracks we’ve done so far!!

VICTORY! The ensuing week following the living room showdown was more or less of a stalemate. Some friends at the day job advised me to make sure Chi takes some responsibility for dealing with his shit (getting rid of the TV) in order to train him to start being an adult and stop depending on “mommy” to do every single fucking thing for him, so I told him that he needs to find a way to get that TV out of the house and into the truck. He ran an ad in the Japanese classifieds. I got permission to bring the TV to the day job location to store it until the big e-waste event on April 22nd, and they would help unload it out of our truck and transport it from there. Fair enough.

Well, nothing came of the ad, but on Saturday morning when we were out front drinking our coffee during the kitties’ “chotto-soto time”, there were a couple strong-looking guys doing some work on the house across the street. Chi suggested offering them 10 bucks each to move the TV once they finish their job. That sounded like a splendid idea, and it worked splendidly! Chi came up with another brilliant idea: stop by the metal recycle place downtown after the play we had tickets for that afternoon and see if they would take it. They did, and we got $9 for it, so a near 50% refund of what we had paid to have it moved! AWESOME! Now to get rid of the armoire.

I photographed it and ran an ad on Sunday afternoon, and expected that Chi would help me move the bus stop bench that has been standing in for a sofa out of the living room to the back parking area where I have been trying to set up a pleasant outdoor living space but haven’t succeeded yet due to the perpetual absence of time and funding, with the idea being to shift the workstations that afternoon and set the recording rig back up to begin making progress again. Unfortunately Chi flatly refused to move the bus stop bench (that is jamming up a whole corner of the living room and serving no particularly useful purpose other than being another repository for more of his crap) until the TV armoire is gone.

I managed to get the recording rig set up in the new big workstation and all the gear working without another big blowout. It was an amazing experience to finally be able to set up for a recording session in a matter of minutes without the maddening, time-wasting hassle of having to climb through confused piles of stuff and move a shitload of it out of the way just to set up a fucking mic stand, and then hunt around for mic mounts and cables and having to untangle them, then wade through more bullshit to plug them in. We may be on the verge of actually being able to make some real progress!

I appreciate how confusing this must be to Chi, as I have been going without getting my basic needs met and putting up with conditions I find intolerable for as long as we have been together, of which today’s showdown over the location for the recording rig (and more broadly, the space in which we do our creative work) is only one little thing. Nevertheless, part of the process of overcoming the “learned helplessness” I have developed over the years that I have been stuck in this hostage situation and winning back my freedom is erecting and enforcing boundaries. I am no longer a prisoner.