Last week, I went to the supermarket at 4 pm because we were desperately out of a few staples and I knew that I wouldn’t want to set foot near anything selling potato chips on Superbowl weekend (how about them Packers!?). My mistake, as it might as well have been an hour to kickoff rather than 72 hours before, as the place was a madhouse! There was a weird grim determination on the faces of all the shoppers, people were getting territorial and some woman actually pushed her cart into me and then just said a bland “Oh…whoopsie” which made me wonder if she did it on purpose. I would have just blew that off as an isolated incident but at least three people said an exasperated “EXCUSE ME!” when I either didn’t move out of their way fast enough or lingered too long over the yogurt selections. I realize though that this is just how grocery shopping is in the rest of the world (and I’ve heard that the Berkeley Bowl shopper is particularly outspoken), but in the cultural terrarium that is Wisconsin, we would patiently wait for you to set us on fire rather than speak up and complain about it. Apparently the prospect of getting our drummies for the big game? Get out of the way, lady, we’re burning daylight!
But then I wonder if I’m not just especially fragile right now, that the grocery store shenanigans were bothering me more than normal. This month, Ward and June are in Hawaii for a friggin month, which means that I’m living a solitary life at their house, roughly 10 miles from our little post-War bungalow. And this week, Esteban is in San Jose for work, which means that I have to maintain both houses on my own. Not especially hard to do, since I now work from home with my new job (still really glad that I changed careers, oh so much) but it does mean that I get up in the morning, feed the dogs and clean up at that house, drive them to daycare and then go to my house to work and keep the cat company. I spend an hour with her after my office hours, plus doing housework there (Esteban himself is the first to admit that he lives like a feral dog during this month. Generations of feminists, please shield your eyes, but I did five loads of Esteban shirts this week. Five loads! Holy crap, man! Stop wearing four shirts at a time, please!) I’ve said before that I actually like doing housework when Esteban’s not here, because everything actually STAYS clean. My friends who are moms have made similar comments and while Esteban is certainly not a child, it’s something anyone who shares a living space with another person can relate to, I’m sure.
It’s almost like all of the concentrated good karma got burned up with the Superbowl victory and now that we’re low on those perky brain chemicals, all of the lousy shit is coming out of the woodwork. My best friend from high school, Fern, lost her father this week, so I spent a large portion of Tuesday and Wednesday at various funereal gatherings. Fern’s mom is from the same Native American tribe as my aunts and step-grandfather, so their family was always very comfortable for me. Hearing the traditional drum circle and singing was comforting in a way I can’t really explain. Our public radio airs Native singing after ten on my pottery nights, and I leave it on for my 45 minute drive home from the studio more often than not (although if the Chatty Kathy is there and I have a stress headache from her constant commentary, I usually retreat into The Cure’s Disintegration instead) but hearing the sounds of a language that I don’t understand to the loud heartbeat of a giant drum pounded by six men in unison, you can project your own meaning onto the songs. It’s serving a human instinct to keen, I think, and while Amazing Grace is beautiful, it’s just too pretty for what people feel at funerals. Being sad is messy business. And not even twenty four hours after Fern’s father was buried, Esteban sent me a link to the obituary for the father of HIS best friend in high school, a man that had been influential for Esteban at a tumultuous time in his life.
On top of this, my grandmother had to go in for another round of blood transfusions. The chemo is causing her to bleed internally. I brought her to the hospital this morning and she was out of breath walking down six steps, but it was comforting to know that she would start feeling better as soon as she got a few pints into her. I felt awkward telling my boss that I was going to be away from work yet again this week unexpectedly, but since the blood transfusion is really just a matter of sitting in a chair hooked up to a bunch of stuff for a few hours, I only had to drop her off and then could get back at the challenging tasks of learning a new career (hey, I heard someone say “members of the press” on an IT story on NPR yesterday and realized “Oh, wow, that’s me. I’m the press now. Whoa.” Weird!). While I’m confident in her oncologist, it’s still upsetting to know that the CT scan is showing the tumors aren’t shrinking (but they’re not getting bigger either) and the chemo that’s keeping them from growing would be making her bleed to death if the doctors didn’t watch her blood counts.
Bad things really don’t always happen in threes, right?
It’s so lame to be upset about this stuff, that these things are happening to the people I love, it’s all very “but what about MEEEEEEE?” But suffice to say I’ve been slightly pushed off center this week. I skipped my pottery studio time so that I could sit in a recliner and watch Tifauxed Glee and Modern Family. I said I was skipping it because it’s so fucking cold outside (it was negative 14 this morning) and I didn’t want to get bone-chillingly cold by playing with freezing porcelain clay for four hours (there really is nothing like the cold you get from handling cold wet clay for several hours), but really, I just couldn’t deal with the stimulus. The spinning wheel, the sharp tools, it should be calming and at the moment, it just seemed like too much. I plan to skip my studio time again on Saturday, just because. It’s nothing I can put my finger on but it’s like the world keeps bumping me with its shopping cart and shouting “EXCUSE ME” when I don’t move fast enough.
I used to loathe January, but I’m starting to think that February got off too easy.