Last Saturday, a week ago, I got together with 5 friends at a park, more than socially distanced, to celebrate my and Chuck’s birthdays. Chuck said something about missing my blog, and I said I think all the time about writing, but I just can’t find that space I used to be in where I wrote about vaginas and dildos and cookies and various funny human foibles. I can’t find my voice in this new world, and I don’t want to burden people with what’s coming out of me when I try to write. And he said he gets it. We all feel exhausted and unnerved and angry and lonely and it’s hard to focus. Everything seems too serious, and it’s not just the pandemic. The seriousness started almost 4 years ago. I don’t have much funniness in me, although I do find moments of joy and delight. I also have lots of bitter. Lots of depressed. Lots of indignation and …. well, rage. Hopelessness even. And now, since March, I summon Dolores, my muse, sit down here to write, intending to focus on the positive things that happen, that keep me going, that somebody might want to read about, and all I get is about a paragraph before I just can’t go on, usually because I can’t stay on topic or another shoe drops on my head or it turns into a political rant, and I don’t know about you but I’m fucking sick of it all. So I’ve got a bunch of unpublished posts that are about a paragraph long and a lot built up inside me that I suspect nobody wants to read because you’ve all got your own shit going on, but I need to write and this is my blog so I’m going with what I’ve got.
A lot of shit has happened this year. It would be a rough year even without a pandemic. It would be a rough year even without Trump. I grab on to any bright spots and clutch them like they’re a piece of driftwood and I just fell off the Titanic. From a terribly unjust and expensive custody suit to a surgery to remove my 5 front teeth (because of a fall into a brick hearth 20 years ago) to big old house issues (I need about 5 handy-penii) to being robbed to painful breaks in several relationships to lost jobs and all that goes with a pandemic … I feel like I’m in a crazy Jim Carrey movie that just won’t fucking end. Like this can’t actually be real life. I understand why the stakes have to get so high for characters in movies, but even movies eventually resolve and end and our hero gets a fucking break.
This week has been …. I’m not going to list everything. It’s too much. We’ve all got problems. At least I’m not still teaching …. Wait. OK, that’s not true. I’m going to be homeschooling Coraline this year. That was decided this week. No biggie. Did it for 12 years with my own kids. Not during a pandemic. Not as a single parent. It’s OK though. She’s 9 years old now and we’ll have fun. She’s always busy learning and experimenting. Then again it’s not really OK, because we love her school and don’t want her to lose her place there, and her community, but not much is under my control. All of my side gigs have slipped off the side and disappeared so I’ll have the time. (Ray of sunshine: One of my employers is still paying me half what I was making. I’m extremely grateful. See? There are some bright spots. I’ll highlight those for you.)
This week though. What a fucking week. First, my dog Crow has had a nasty ass for weeks now. I took him to a walk-in vet to get his anal glands expressed, because of the nasty, smelly discharge that was leaking out of his asshole, and the tech ruptured one of the glands. After 3 weeks of antibiotics and continued ass-leaking and hosing off his asshole out in the back yard, I took him to another vet who prescribed a different antibiotic. Finally it’s working (fingers crossed) and $350 later Crow’s stinky leaky asshole is …. well, not as leaky as it was. If you’ve never smelled what comes out of a dog’s anal glands, count yourself among the lucky. It’s pretty much a biological weapon.
On the way home from the second vet’s office, I was stopped at a red light when my engine revved just a bit. I had my foot on the brake so my van didn’t jump forward. In fact, when it was time to go, it didn’t go at all. It just idled along at about 5 mph no matter how hard I pushed the pedal. The long line of cars behind me went around when I turned on my flashers and nobody honked at me or flipped me off. I pulled into a parking lot, turned my van off and on, and it worked fine, other than running a little rough. I made an appointment with Darryl. “Should take an hour, two at the most,” he said. “It needs a tune-up at the very least. Bring it in tomorrow.”
Before I even got up the next day, my lawyer’s office called. He wanted to make an appointment for a phone consult. He makes more in an 8-hour day than I do in a month. But OK. I made the appointment and started worrying about the custody trial coming up the middle of August. I don’t dare write publicly about that, for so many reasons.
And then it was off to Goodyear on a steamy August day. Coraline and I took books and our camp chairs so we could sit in the shade to wait. Not a mask in sight at Goodyear, other than mine, so we certainly weren’t going to sit inside in the AC, despite the temperatures in the 90’s. We settled in. For 5 hours. Five fucking hours we sat watching the Main Street traffic and reading our books. Fending off panhandlers. Wishing I’d eaten breakfast. Finally my van was done and I paid Darryl his $500 and left.
Next morning I went out to pick up a package off the porch, and a young man who was illegally parked in the turn-around by my van stepped out of his car and yelled, “Hey, is that your van?”
“Yes,” I said reluctantly. Maybe even suspiciously. I really hoped he wasn’t going to tell me he’d run into my van. Or worse. It had been a short night. My neighbor has a guy living with him who works all night long on a motorcycle. A loud motorcycle. It requires him, apparently, to rev it over and over and over at 11:00, midnight, 1:00 and again at 5:30 in the morning. I sent the nicest message I could muster to my neighbor at 5:40 am and he agreed it was too much and put a stop to it.
“I think your tire is flat,” the stranger said. I looked at my van and thanked him. As if I wouldn’t have noticed.
Of course it was. That’s the second time I’ve had a flat tire the morning after I had my van in the shop. Of course it was flat. I came inside and put in a request for roadside assistance. I received the follow-up text and went outside to wait. And wait. Finally, after about an hour and a half, I called the company that was supposed to come out. I won’t repeat the conversation. The guy was rude. He said they hadn’t gotten a call to come to my house. He didn’t sound like he wanted my business. I put in another request. When the text came in, it was from the same damn company. I got on the phone to try to talk to a real person.
And I waited some more. After almost 45 minutes on hold, I told a real person I did not want that company and I still needed someone to come out and fix my tire. She cancelled my other requests — not that anybody was going to come out anyway — and sent someone else. Someone who was in another county on another job. Fine. Who wouldn’t have expected that? He got to my house when he could. He was polite, quick, got the job done. By the time he left, it had been over 4 hours since I put in my first request and I was just glad I hadn’t been sitting on the side of the road on a 95-degree day.
By now my amazing daughter-in-law felt so sorry for me, she invited us over for a socially distanced BBQ that evening. I needed to drop off my ruined tire at Goodyear, which is near their house, so off we went. We got there just before they closed, which I guess is good luck if it hadn’t taken the entire afternoon to get it fixed. Darryl said the hole was probably too close to the edge of the tire to plug, but he would try. I knew it wasn’t in my stars this week to get such a lucky break and started planning for buying a new tire.
Nevertheless dinner was lovely: chicken on the grill, corn from their amazing, prolific garden, caprese salad, mashed potatoes, homemade lemonade, peach ice cream, and excellent company. After we ate, we made concrete stepping stones with butterfly molds and big leaves from their garden. An oasis from the shit storm that had been my week so far. (In case I haven’t made my point about this fucking year, see the contrast between their garden and my garden below.)
It was a wonderful evening except that I brought my bad luck with me. One of their pretty chickens flew up out of the pen into the yard and within seconds one of their dogs was on it and killed it. They were going to butcher it and eat it and I’m sure it was tasty, but it was supposed to enjoy a long, egg-laying life before it ended up in the soup pot. Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t my dog who killed it, but he stopped when I called him off. Him and his stinky ass.
The week kind of went on like that. I’m not going to describe it all. Suffice to say I somehow screwed up making yogurt in my Instant Pot twice, even though I’ve made yogurt that way many times. We made chocolate pudding and it didn’t thicken (so I made it into rice pudding). I couldn’t get eggs today at the farmer’s market. Shit like that. Annoyances mostly that just seemed to pile up.
I have more. Some of it is too personal though. Too painful and I don’t need to spread my own existential crises here like moldy cheese.
I’ve had too many weeks like this in 2020, but who hasn’t? I try to find the bright spots and highlight them in yellow. It’s pouring down rain today, which we desperately need. We’re in a moderate drought situation here. But I won’t even go into my basement to see how much water is pouring in through the walls. I’ve done everything I can on my property to divert the water from my foundation. It’s just one more old-house issue I need to figure out. I’m not sure if every dark cloud has a silver lining or if every silver lining …. yeah, that doesn’t work.
Honestly, I do have good things going on in my life, even in these crazy, unsettled times. Friends who come over for socially distanced porch-sitting. My next-door neighbor to the south came over today and helped me change the way-up-high light bulbs on my outside lights. They’ve been burned out for …. I don’t even remember how long. My next-door neighbor to the north plays his guitar and sings for me from his porch sometimes. We have good, deep conversations. Coraline is happily making Tik ToK videos today so I can sit here and write this whiny post. We’re hoping President Butt-Hurt doesn’t shut Tik Tok down just because hardly anybody went to his stupid rally in Tulsa. Or maybe it’s because of this ray of sunshine named Sarah Cooper.
OMG! I just love her face. I want to socially distance porch-sit with her.
It feels good to be writing here again, so I’m going to keep it up, even if I drive all 12 of you away with my whining.
Before I go I’ll tell you the last straw for this week though. In the mail today I got a summons for jury duty. I’m supposed to be there just 3 days after the big custody hearing but I have always wanted to perform my duty as a juror! I’ve been rewatching Boston Legal the past few months and I’m ready. Denny Crane! (Mmmm. Alan Shore.) I’m called to a grand jury though, which can last for 4 months. And did I mention I’m going to be homeschooling Coraline this year? And do I have to mention we’re in a pandemic and I don’t have childcare, because otherwise she would be in school so ….. yeah. I think I’m going to have to get out of it. It would be a perfect homeschool activity for her to sit and watch, but those cases are often murder cases and it might not be appropriate. Also, the judge probably wouldn’t let her in the jury box. If only they were doing Zoom trials.
How’s your 2020 going? Any good news out there? Anybody else need to whine? Feel free to fill the comments. I want to know I’m not alone in this mad, mad world.