Thursday, November 6, 2014

For Whom The Bell Does Not Necessarily Toll

Yesterday and the day before were a bit of a shitstorm stress-wise. 

At some point on Tuesday I realized that I'd let my driver's license expire.  Not by a lot, but by enough that if I'd been pulled over I'd get a ticket for driving with an expired license. 

That night Emma came home from dance crying.  I carried her from a friend's car into the house.  The back of her leg.  We weren't sure what the issue was.

I got an email from the pharmacy.  My prescriptions were ready.  Still. 

A collection agency called.  Outstanding doctor bills I could have sworn I paid. 

I wanted to print something out for Emma.  The printer was out of ink.  That stupid fucking printer.  And alllllll that expensive fucking ink.

I had nobody to take care of Emma the next day and needed to go to a doctor's appointment with Leslie.

What.  The.  Fuck.

I lost my mojo.  You might argue there was no mojo to lose, but if I do possess any mojo at all it is a certain unflappableness in the face of all life's little adventures.  We'll take care of it.  There's plenty of time.  Don't worry so much.  I've got this.  That sort of mojo.  Whether you want to call that maintaining a positive outlook or...denial...that is the mojo I lost the day before yesterday.

And I knew I'd lost it.  I watched my pleasant demeanor slip slickly out of my grasp fully aware that I was sinking into a dark and angry place.  Something small and burning was blossoming like a blown cinder glowing furiously orange-red in the pit of my stomach.  Sometimes you don't notice.  Sometimes you aren't aware of how angry you are, how stressed you are, how worried you are.  Sometimes that realization hits you out of nowhere while you're in the middle of absolutely losing your shit on someone or something farrrrr in excess of what the situation warrants.  And you realize in mid-shout...holy crap I am losing my everloving shit for almost no reason at all. 

But that wasn't the case.  Some small dispassionate percentage of my mojo remained in control enough to look at it all and're totally fucking stressed out.  I guess I should be grateful for that tiny bit that remained, allowing me to bite down on the worst of my angry retorts and stifle the volume of my voice for the most part when I noticed it's frustrated crescendo, though I still managed to drag my wife's spirits down into it with me.  Hopefully we're both climbing back out of it today. 

I knew that we needed to handle one thing at a time.  And Leslie helped a lot.  She called the bill collector and straightened out the debt collection.  They'd bungled it.  She asked my dad to go pick up the prescriptions that we hadn't had a chance to retrieve.  She called the pediatrician to start the ball rolling on Emma's knee. 

I called off work for the day.  I got my father to come sit with Emma while we were at Leslie's appointment until I could get home.  I called an orthopedic practice to talk about an appointment for Emma.  When they didn't return calls, we left Leslie's appointment, and went to the Driver's Center to get my license renewed, got some lunch, and then I took Emma to the ER. 
Four more years!  Four more years!
The ER was blessedly slow.  They got in to see her right away (versus the two hours minimum wait we usually encounter).  Sprained knee.  While at the ER, I got ahold of the orthopedic surgeon and made an appointment for next week to discuss her chronic leg problems. 

When we left the girl who registered us was so busy talking to her girlfriend about "what happened after the collection notice" that she couldn't be troubled to wait for me to find my parking ticket to validate it.  She slid a free parking ticket across the counter, said, "just use this" and turned back to her conversation.  Woohoo!

Worried it would take too long, Leslie got her parents to come to the house and wait for Lily to get off the bus.  I got out before she had a chance to cancel them, but they helped around the house and left me free to go buy a printer at Best Buy.

By the end of the night last night the constriction around my chest started to loosen.  There were still a few more barks and bites, but I hope that I was more myself, my missing mojo flowing back into the place where the cinders had been, quenching them with inaudible hisses only I could sense.  Which I guess is also problematic.  Nobody knows you're feeling less stressed unless you tell them.  Leslie asked me this morning if I was feeling better about where things stood and it surprised me.  In my head I think I was wondering..."isn't it obvious?"  It's not.

Nobody can feel that invisible band loosen.  So you need to tell people.  Same when it tightens.  And, like I said, typically, it doesn' I think the people I love get surprised and worried when I'm not myself.  And they don't understand the reason for it.  They see all the stressful stuff you're dealing with day in and day out, don't get me wrong.  But usually that stuff just rolls off you like water off a ducks back.  They don't know the cinders are there burning a hole in your stomach.  They don't feel the band constricting around your chest as it tightens.  And that's when, if you're able, you need to say, "I'm really stressed out right now.  I'm worried.  I need help." 

I felt better when I went to bed last night. 

At 4:30 this morning, Lily sat up in bed and performed her equivalent of "Do You Want To Build A Snowman".  I tucked her in and told her it wasn't time to get up yet.  Calmed her.  Got her back to sleep.  I stumbled back into my bed at 5:00...still a half hour left.

Someone nudged me.  Ugh...did I not hear my alarm?  Was Leslie nudging me out of bed?  I opened my eyes to see the darkened silhouette of a completely clothed Emma standing by the bed. 

"Dad, wake up."

It took my brain too long to figure out what was going on, but the iPhone said, "6:26".  I'd overslept by an hour.  Thank GOD I fiddlefuck around getting ready every day.  I sent Emma to get started on her breakfast and leaped into action, showering and getting dressed and ready and downstairs before the clock struck 7. 

Leslie had gotten up and helped Emma get started.  I felt bad about that.  I'd wanted to let her sleep in.  By the time I caught up to my normal schedule things were back in order.  It was too late to let Leslie sleep in, so I got her coffee and drove Emma to school (so she wouldn't have to navigate to the bus on crutches). 

I think things are back to normal now...or what passes for normal around my house.  I still don't know why the alarm didn't go off.  Maybe I turned it off when I got back into bed after calming Lily down.  I'm not sure.  Maybe I just really needed that extra hour of sleep. 

I'm hoping it goes off tomorrow.


  1. big exhale.......glad you got to reset a bit. Hope Leslie is doing well.

  2. Days like this can be a frightening reminder of how tight our routines are and how things can really domino out of control...