REPORT A PROBLEM
Thereís no problem. Iím okay. Everyone else seems to have a problem with me and whatever I do doesnít seem to be right. So when I point out that the errors can be corrected at any time by those who seem to have the problem taking up the utensils and actually pitching in to help, then I am the one who is bitching, crabbing and biting off heads. Yeah. Right. I didnít raise my voice, I didnít attempt to make fun, I just put in the time to get it together for everyone else to take apart. Thatís my problem.
Every day is a new start, new resolve. This time it will be different. This time I will spend my life fruitfully, economically, efficiently. The bed will be made Ė sheets changed, even Ė and floors vacuumed and laundry folded, perhaps even put away. Then Iíll have time to write a couple of pages. Pages of whatever, does it matter? Every bio of important and successful writers talk about the need to write at least 2 pages a day but they never say of what. I bet that doesnít include the grocery list or list of the dayís chores. Mow the lawn.
Ignore the ladies chatting away on the treadmills beside me. Now I know why this one isnít occupied. Go to the weight machines, try to remember the routine so carefully taught by a personal trainer who is now improving her kickboxing on a beach in Thailand. Is everyone into this gym thing into being the externalization of Ďso coolí ? I really donít belong. My pants are genuine sweat pants. Grey, lumpy, baggy Ė Iím smuggling potatoes out of the old country in the pocketsÖno just my car keys and cell phone. In case the kids call. I donít belong here.
Each day starts with great intentions, a plan of action all ready to be implemented. Why shouldnít this be the day everything gets done or at least started or at the very least planed for the next day. Then a child phones home, sick, wants to come to bed. Well, not actually to bed, more like as far as the couch to play video games or watch the latest crap on Much Music. Is there a special hell reserved for the person who created the idea for Ďthe real lifeí? Is the road to it paved with my good intentions?
Pizza lunch. If there is one reason to be a working parent, it can be summed up in those two words. These are the duties the not-working moms all know about. The Ďwe need volunteers forí words. The school trips and fund raisers and all the other events where the few who donít work take care of everybody elseís kids. We become the uber moms serving in the front lines of the budget battle over what is good for the kids and what is good for the tax payers. We canít serve all masters because weíre busy serving the pizza.
It doesnít seem like another week has already gone by. The days drag on a minute by minute basis but suddenly a batch of them, bundled into days and called a week has been tossed out the window. Again. The saying is, Iíll never have those days back again. And thatís true. Even if another day will come hard on its heels looking almost exactly the same. Take a look at a picture from three years ago and realize even if the days look the same, I donít. I think the same but looked a lot younger then. Everyone does.
The greatest sport in the world and for such a quiet, shy country, itís funny how blood sport is the national past time. And how everyone is an expert. He needs to stay in his net, that boy better shoot the puck, címon, check the bastard harder next time. Check him into the boards, into next week. That wasnít boarding. Quit acting. And all on a first name basis with the players Ė a real Homer boy, arenít you. Well, letís see you in a few weeks when theyíre not doing so well. When itís someone else running up the score.
Easter obligation. Havenít missed it for quite a few years and this year I sit at home. It isnít the same anymore. A child of Vatican II. This new old conservative movement, back to the good old fundamental days before the doors were thrown open, before the people were allowed to actually think for themselves. Strange to be an older person and fighting to maintain the progressive ways rather than step back to the conservative, repressive attitudes before Blessed John XXIII. Itís like watching the children of the revolution rioting, waging war and dieing to build the regency of Napoleon.
Read about how there is a new evangelism among atheists, the need to preach the death of God and to prove themselves as insensitive towards the spiritual believers as ever an fundamentalist preacher was towards the godless. And Iíve seen it grow around me. Watched the jokes, the humour, the not so subtle digs at traditional dress and beliefs and little respect for what I may or may not actually hold dear. It is all part of being smart, I guess, to be adult, mature and part of the real world to be rude and unfeeling to what others believe.
And so the week begins, now that the holidays are done and I can return to my normal, somewhat solitary existence. Pretending to clean but not really having the energy to do much more than tinker on the computer, pretending to write and playing flash games for real. It is much easier to listen to someone elseís creative output and focus on matching tiles in a mahjong game. It was good enough for old Chinese ladies, bound feet, opium pipes, waiting for their sonsís wives to bring them tea. If only my mother-in-law smoked opium and liked to play mahjong.
Blood pressure is coming down, three days a week in the gym and double up on the ACE inhibitors. No salt. Except for Doritos, of course. And welcome to the second half of existence. Metamucil and a rec centre pass. Golf is later on and curling is over for the year. Lawn bowling is still a few years off, thank god for that. Donít look forward to having to wash all that white laundry all the time. And how do you keep the grass stains off the white shoes? Ask Pat Boone. Iíll tell you who he is later, child.
So, will this lady phone back? Do I want to try going back to work again, again? After the last experience of enjoying getting back into it only to be shown the door Ė after two years of being a pretty darn good employee, despite having someone breathing down my neck and answering to the bossís wife whose only real work experience was a few months in a government office before coming to work for daddy. The bossís wife used to be the bossís daughter. Should have known it would end badly. Maybe this will be different? Only the phone rings.
Trying to get too many things done today. Makes it obvious just how much I donít do the rest of the time if this is doing too much. Bake a cake. Blow some eggs Ė literally, wasting water using a venture system and flask to suck the guts out of dyed eggs. Canít use the eggs Ďcause the dyes are toxic. Like most pretty things: vibrant, deep, rich colours but make you puke you guts out and dye ifín you eat Ďem. This should serve as warning to most people but we keep on falling in love with the pretty ones.
Running around, hurry up and wait. Everyone has places to go but I can stay home and clean to keep it all ready for when they get back. My life in a nutshell Ė keeping the shell tidy for all the nuts Ė ha ha. When one gets older, one enjoys this weak little jokes. Itís from too much time spent inhaling cleaning fluids, I suspect. Or the dust or the grime or all the bullshit from the younger generation; it all ads up eventually Ė it isnít gravity that kills you, it is the burdensome accumulation of everyone elseís expectations piling up.
Happy birthday, 16 years ago today. 16 years ago at 2:34, give or take, I wasnít really there at the time due to stress and a healthy dose of anesthetic just in case they didnít get in there in time to make sure the birthday girl actually survived the whole event. Just a tiny bundle Ė literally a bundle, wrapped up and rushed down the hall before anyone has a chance to take a look. At least I got morphine out of the deal, made it all quite bearable for me Ė I was just glad to be able to fall asleep.
Trying to get things organized, again. Start out the week with good intentions and end up wondering what will happen. Practice up on excel, I taught myself a lot of it but who knows what Iíll be tested on come Wednesday. I hate interviews, typing tests, program tests and even spelling tests. Why not accept the fact that by the time someone reaches this stage in life, they can either do it or fake it or figure it out? Why the hell not? Cause everyone says the same thing, I guess. Just get ready for the thanks but no thanks.
This is a day to forget absolutely everything, it seems. Go off to do one thing and get back just in time to remember where I was really supposed to be or at least who I was supposed to talked to instead of strolling through the gym pretending to lift weights. Shoulder doesnít hurt anymore but I still havenít had a shower. Everything is coming down to the wire. And I missed the damn dentist appointment Ė again. Rescheduled it 3 times already. Itís not that I donít like dentists Ė I donít like their fee structure and mine doesnít use gas.
Time to cram and type and see what I donít know. It makes perfect sense that it is harder to get hired these days because it is so much harder to get rid of someone once they are part of the organization, especially a government organization. Still, it would be nice if it were just a matter of saying, now really, do you need someone who knows how to do some minor word processing function or someone who can learn it, do it their own way plus already know a bunch of other stuff only learnt by years of experience.
Hide the sharp objects and find a quiet place. Everyone is home today and itís the kind of day I really just want to be alone. I hate the day after an interview and especially one that involved testing to confirm my inadequacies. I donít need a variety of tests to tell me and the whole world I donít know what Iím doing anymore. Isnít it a given that as one gets older, one gets less important, attractive, fertile and mentally agile? Even if it isnít true Ė or doesnít matter. The less fertile part can be a plus for some.
Ah, the weekend is here. Well, almost here Ė tomorrow it will be here officially. That used to be a pretty important weekly milestone. The chance to kick back, sleep in and do whatever the weather and the mood permitted. That was before every day was the weekend. Iím not sure if working again is such a great idea after all. Except for the lack of money, it would be just about perfect to be not working in an office or wherever. The real world contact is nice but some of us arenít cut out for it on a regular basis.
Ah, this is why I want to work. So I can go out and buy something without feeling guilty or having to explain/justify it to someone else. Someone who never really has to justify expenditures to me. There may be a pretence at seeking my approval but it doesnít really matter in the long run. In the intermediate run, actually and usually in the short run, for that matter. It can be a source of resentment. The hard part is that I donít actually lack for anything in terms of necessities. Compared with most of the big world, Iím laughing.
So it begins. I get the left overs, the hand-me-downs and the just-waitís. Story of my life. Before it was because I was the youngest, now itís because Iím the mom. We are the ones who stand beside, behind, just off stage and wait at home for. This is the role unless I can find something to save me. Even after the children have been living on their own for years now, my father-in-law still canít make his famous macaroni salad for less than fifteen people. Is this what the future holds for me? I never did like macaroni salad.
Where did the day go? All those things I had planned and a minute later, the kids I just took to school are breaking the door down, asking whatís for supper. I donít know. Doesnít matter what I suggest, it wonít do. Did I hear that Dayle got food poisoning on the ferry ride home yesterday. That certainly adds to the dinner conversation. A minute of sympathy for Dayle, several minutes of joking sympathy for the poor person who ends up taking the complaint call from her mom. Momma Bear, she likes to call herself. And with very good reason.
Take a moment to brush the hair from her forehead. The breathing is steady, she is still asleep and I have to wake her for school. If I could have this moment forever, hold her in my arms as I used to when she was small, when she lit up at the sight of my face; her grey eyes blinking with the joy of a life untouched by life. Her heart was mine then, all mine and we were the world to each other. Brush the hair from her forehead and whisper, quietly, do not wake just yet. Not yet.
The rule of the Benedictines, apparently, is to start each day as if it is a new day. Which is, of course, fairly obvious, if you stop to think of it. But the concept is also not to carry within your heart what wasnít done yesterday or the day before. Leave what was unfinished yesterday in the past. Take up that same chore as if it is the first moment you lifted the hammer, the pen, the spoon and carry on as if this moment is the first moment. Do not forget what happened before but do not dwell there.
Itís a sign of some kind of mental pathology, the inability to make a phone call to anyone, known or unknown but especially unknown. Even if the reason is a regular one, like making an appointment with a dentist or calling someone back. I wander about the house, puttering, not doing any other work but most especially not phoning. Every room in the house has a phone, reminding me of the obligation, that I said I would, that I should be, thatÖoh hell, Iíll check my mail, look at google banner ads and feel the phone, looming over my shoulder.
Sitting and listening to the stories, he needs to talk to someone and I figure it is a way to pay for my renewal of a contact. This is a person who can teach me, even if he is 15 years my junior. He wrote a great piece on testicular cancer Ė from a personal perspective Ė that didnít whine, or seek pity but simply put the way it was out there for others to read. Thatís what itís all about, after all, isnít it? More coffee than I should drink, jangled and feeling apprehensive, something bad about to happen Ė coffee breath.
A beautiful day for a drive in the country. Stopping here and there to pick up fresh veggies, a fresh chicken, fresh eggs. How healthy Ė except for the poor chicken, wasnít such a healthy ending for her but, you know, she had a happier life than most chickens and isnít that more important? We raise these critters for our consumption and justify their slaughter by saying they lived a better life than if theyíd been raised in a factory farm. They donít have the reflective ability to see, in the last few seconds of terror, that it wasnít all bad.
Sailing on the cold blue sea. An unreal existence but for some it is all that life is about, should be about and everything they do is directed to getting themselves back out on that boat, on that water, the wind, the sun, aging the outside but keeping the inside young. There is still a status thing about it but, not even I can fault someone for pursuing the lifestyle and bragging in little ways about their good fortune and their golden children and their small but exquisite house, flexible hours. If that was my life, Iíd brag offhandedly too.
When will this grouch leave me. The old lady that sits inside, wizened, bitter and continually nagging about not being good enough, being too fat, eating the wrong things, saying the wrong things, regretting everything and paralyzed into inaction so as not to make another mistake. Better to take baby steps. There are a few minutes here, a few minutes there. Close down the stupid game. Just start one hundred words, thatís all, just for today. Even if it means nothing. It is something. Be busy. Even better: look busy, move a rock from here to there then back again.
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