Crabalocker Crabs Boxed In Sideways

Some get the gravy
And some get the gristle
Some get the marrow bone
And some get nothing
Though there’s plenty to spare.
– Joni Mitchell (Banquet)


They say that moving houses is one of life’s most stressful situations. With this statement I tend to both agree and disagree. However, more to the point is that it’s just a depressing affair. There are surprises, usually of the morose kind, as well as subtle disappointments, bith expected and unexpected. The ‘normalcy’ of what you have come to expect, even if defined by ‘normal standards’ as ‘abnormal’, tends to be replaced by a form of irreverent and frenzied ‘hell’ …a helter skelter of sorts that fans of the ‘Lost’ television series know all too well. Yes, I think ‘lost’ is a shade of one way of describing how I feel these days.

I really don’t know where to begin in attempting to extricate myself from this self-imposed purgatory, because ‘sideways’ is not a usual option. But, that is pretty much the way I’ve been moving through life the last 2 months or so. Shuffling to the left, shuffling to the right, I shuffle and shuffle … and then I shut down. Not one for banging my head against a wall over and over again, I’ve just withdrawn into my crabby shell and have been waiting for this state of suffocation to pass … sometimes even forgetting to breathe.

In truth, I tried writing this post last week, but it was all too difficult to dig myself out from hole I’ve hurled myself into. Yes, I think “hurl” is a good choice of words, all things considered. Anyway, here I am today trying desperately to tunnel myself sideways out of my misery and get myself back into some semblance of a daily routine. I’m trying to breathe again (insert a pregnant pause for a wheezy breath). Strange … I’m not sure why the expression ‘ass-backwards’ has just sprung to mind … perhaps you’ll be kind enough to leave your thoughts on this random thought.

Now crabs tend to go through life sideways … never really moving forward. They constantly dig themselves into holes and wait for the parade of pedestrians, pedagogues and poachers to pass by. Eventually they come out for a while and waddle about. If they don’t find themselves in a good element, they simply retreat back into their holes. Yes, I am a crab – I have the astrological birthright to prove it.

However, I get the feeling that crabs rarely feel boxed or hemmed in by their life choices … even when thrust into a boiling pot of water they rarely rebel against their fate. Moreover, crabs never complain of being claustraphobic … at least none I’ve spoken to. 

Cracker Boxes

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently moved from my old apartment or 12 years or so. Well, moving day came and went smoothly, but the settling in process has dragged on and on, leaving me in a very solid ‘funk’ … and I don’t mean as in a funky way … I mean as in a ‘hitting rock bottom’ and actually falling right through it … much further than Alice ‘down the rabbit hole’ ever fell. And trust me, this is no ‘wonderland’ I’ve found myself in; it’s more of a China Syndrome, as in nuclear meltdown.

My life has become a testament to that old advertising slogan for “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. Depression? Anxiety? Doldrums? Those seem to be my ‘modus operandi’  for life these days. It feels like someone or something has stolen my ‘bootstraps’. And, worse of all I am finding myself increasingly claustrophobic as I bumble and stumble about, tripping on all manners of impediments, including myself.

From my new balconies, which are larger than the actual lving space of the apartment it seems, I can see … more balconies. Gone are the busy street below and the constant drone of cars and people passing by. Gone are the sky above and the view of some breathing space. Gone is the reassuring noise suggesting that life is going on all around me. In these items place is the silence of underwear and nightgowns flapping on clotheslines and the occasional thumping of an old woman dressed in black beating her carpet two floors above me. Oh yeah, in case you are new here, I live in Grease (yes I  know it’s spelled ‘Greece”).

Greece Is The Word

Make what you want of that. I live in Salonica, a city whose history of metropolitanism predates even Athens. Still, the cultural norm suggests one not throw toilet paper in the toilet and to rather chuck your wads of ‘morning constitution‘ in a little bin. You see, the country’s charming drainage and sewage systems, designed sometime back in antiquity, have still not been updated to accommodate the silky and cottony soft consistency of modern toilet paper. Yes, as you can understand, it’s not just the country’s inept economic policies that are full of shit.

Still, I’ve moved into a newer apartment building than most in the neighborhood; it was built in 2000. Most other apartment houses in this neighborhood where in built in the 50s and 60s, based on the designs from 20s and 30s … apparently the 1820s and 30s. Nevertheless, for all its modern appearance there is no hot water running in the kitchen. Ok, I’ll be fair … there is a hot water pipe under the sink, but it just disappears into the wall … sort of like the Alaskan ‘Bridge to Nowhere‘ of Sarah Palin fame. 

Could it be that the pipe is just for show? I wouldn’t put it past the owners of this cracker box, but there is certainly no connection to anything found terminating at the water heater. Thankfully there is hot water plumbing leading to the bathroom … and there is a bathtub … or at least a half of bathtub, which is far better than a shower head centered over the toilet; a system (or lack of one) that was all the rage here in Greece less than 50 years ago, as I understand.

As I said, the apartment looks new. It was very impressive when we first walked in. In fact, it was so impressive in comparison to the older dust traps my better half and I had seen, that we failed to take into account the myriad of problems that existed. Yes, a sucker is born every minute.

Size matters and in this case it is also what is most disturbing. Yes, I wanted a smaller apartment. Yes, I wanted to give up the overbloated and sprawling trappings of my home office. Yes, I was looking to cut my expenses and lighten the load so that I could even consider leaving Greece in search of a real life in a couple of years or so. And therefore, I settled on this place and went about trying to fit the contents of a large two bedroom apartment with attached office to a small one bedroom hole in a wall.

Oh, did I mention that the kitchen is in the living room? No, it’s not a studio apartment, but it is certainly trying to pass itself off as one. There is probably a fancy French word for the design … something a bit kinder than ‘cracker box’ and more appropos than ‘crabalocker’.

A Place For Nothing

When was the last time you took the wrong bus and ended up lost … just beyond the range of familiarity and normalcy? Blind alleys, vacant storefronts and faceless people seem to hang in limbo momentarily as they slide past your wandering view, fading in and out of your peripheral vision. They float like pieces of lint trapped in a bubble captured in a wayward breeze … twisting, turning, and spinning. Aimlessly you drift … waiting for the illusion to burst and the familiar buzz of reality to come rushing back.

That’s pretty much how I’ve felt for the last 3 weeks. Everything that once had a place is now homeless. My old routines of creature habit now give rise to a sense of dementia. I grasp at things that are no longer there. I look in drawers with a blank confused expression, as much as an alzeheimer’s sufferer might stand before the front door of his house, key in hand, wondering what he is doing there.

Creative types like me tend to thrive on chaos, disorder, and the surreal. Nevertheless, it’s an etheral type of psychadelia that drifts through one’s mind, teasing playfully on the heartstrings that synthesize the random musings and whims of ones mindset. It’s a very different form of foggy lucidity from that which stems from your stumbling around funiture that doesn’t fit in place or tripping over half-opened moving boxes containing items with no apparent place to call a home.

Slapping Myself Silly

Certainly, there are those worse off than me; the homeless, the gypsies, the suicidal … and the mindless soul who wanders down the street with one hand holding up his pants missing a crotch. There are those who live in monsoon plagued areas, whose possessions are annually washed away in a flood. But still here I sit, bitching ad nausuem over my own undoing.

Bitch bitch bitch moan moan moan crab crab crab. Gone are my my desks that I intentionally left behind … and my old TV that we dumped because it was larger than the new living room … and my normal computer that is now serving as our TV … and my old kitchen range (cooker) that was deemed by my better half as being too dirty to bring … and my reproduction of Miro’s Upside Down Man. 

Yes, maybe I should just slap myself silly and start being grateful what I do have. I should know better. Yes, perhaps in light of all the suffering that goes on in the world I guess I should tell myself that in terms of my complaints, I really don’t have a leg to stand on . Yet, I can’t help but feeling that even if I did … there would likely be no place for me to put it in this new apartment.


Suggested Reading

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life Making a Change for Good: A Guide to Compassionate Self-Discipline

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