Q. Where would you like to be?
A. In a place of greater fortitude.
Q. And what is fortitude?
A. Something like courage, but not quite.
Q. What’s the difference?
A. “Fortitude” implies more of a “just do it” approach. That is, even if one lacks courage in general. Just do it anyway, even when scared. “Saying no” is a good example. I need “fortitude” (not courage) to say “no.” That’s what I think the difference is, anyway.
Q. Does this apply to something in your life today?
A. Lots of things.
Q. How so?
A. I burn out a lot. If I don’t feel like doing something, I usually don’t do it.
Q. Then how does it ever get done?
A. Because I know that later on, I probably will feel like doing it. So I wait till that happens, and in the meantime I do what I do feel like doing — knowing that I probably won’t feel like doing it later.
Q. Does that apply to everything?
A. No. It doesn’t apply to things that I never feel like doing.
Q. What do you never feel like doing?
A. Washing the dishes. I never feel like washing the dishes.
Q. And the dishes have piled up?
A. “Piled up” is an understatement.
Q. How did you allow this to happen?
A. Well – it’s a bit on the personal side, but I guess the answer would be: “When have I not allowed it to happen?” I’m just lousy at washing dishes. They were clean for a while when there was someone here helping me with that kind of thing. But that person isn’t here right now. And anyway, dishes are just an example.
Q. What’s another example?
A. Saying “no” in general. Keeping a couple people from knocking on my door at any hour. And they don’t just knock. They ring the bell. Then they wait, and then ring it five times. Then they wait, and start pounding on the door. Then I finally realize it’s never going to end. So I get up, even from being fast asleep, and explain that I’m sleeping and could they please come back another time.
Q. Where did you meet these guys?
A. At the Recovery Center.
Q. And you gave them your address?
A. Well yeah – we had the one guy over for dinner a couple times, when there was still two of us here. It didn’t seem a big deal at the time.
Q. Then why does it seem a big deal now?
A. Other than that I’m being woke up in the middle of the night a lot? That’s not a big deal?
Q. Isn’t there a bigger deal?
A. Well yeah – at the root of it, there is. The bigger deal is I never just flat out tell these guys that I’d rather they don’t come over at all.
Q. Why not?
A. I don’t know. I feel sorry for the one guy. He’s been out in the cold a couple times. Less sorry now, though, because I think he stole from me, and I heard he’s in jail right now. Didn’t figure him for the “type,” but I noticed something was off last time. Probably they switched his meds or something.
Q. What about the other guy?
A. I keep coming up with a use for him. He’s a computer whiz, and he helped me get the right adapter so I could use my ThinkPad as a desktop now that it’s screen is cracked.
Q. Your laptop screen is cracked?
A. Yeah. I had to plug it into an external monitor and start working from home.
Q. How did this happen?
A. I have no idea. All I know is that it happens all too often. And now I’m tempted to go over to the guy’s place with my old Dell, because I can’t get it to start up.
Q. But didn’t you start it up this morning? Didn’t I read that on your gratitude list?
A. Yes, you did. But it only started up that one time. Every other time I’ve tried it gets into a weird loop telling me it needs to restart, then I restart, and it tells me it needs to restart. And so on.
Q. Do you ever feel like you’re having more than your fair share of technical problems?
A. What do you mean? New cell phone gets damaged due to water damage. Second new cell phone gets cut off because they think I’m supposed to have the number of the old cell phone. PayPal account gets locked for “suspicious activity” when I try to change my phone number. Trying to send money from my PayPal somehow takes the money out of my bank account instead of my PayPal balance (Lord knows why) and now my bank account is overdrawn, plus I never succeeded in sending the money. It’s still just sitting there in my PayPal account. But when I try to transfer it to my bank I get a message telling me that they’re “not sure it’s me.” I called them, and apparently when a person changes their phone number, it is regarded as “suspicious activity.”
Q. Anything else?
A. Thanks for asking. So I wake up yesterday morning to a broken laptop screen. And finally my back-up computer refuses to start up. Well fine. I’ll just work at home even though I’m totally paranoid these Kids are going to start pounding on the door any minute now.
A. Is that all?
Q. Probably not. I mean — I’m an Artist. I live for these moments of ecstasy I get when my work is going well. I don’t know how to make money. I don’t know how to deal with all this technical stuff. They should only lay technical difficulties on people who can afford to deal with them.
Q. When did your life become so erratic?
A. One guess.
The Questioner is silent.
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