Every so often the universe gives you a poke, says “Hi! You’re it!” You’re about to have one of those days.
You know what I’m talking about. You rip your sock while pulling it on, lock yourself out of the house, knock things over for no reason. You’re two days late and four dollars short and the coffee tastes like bleach or blech.
The universe gives you a metaphysical wet willie just to remind you that it’s around.
I had one of those days today.
It started innocently enough. I awoke, saw the girls off to school and work, and sat waiting for the oxygen tank delivery man. The oxygen tank delivery company isn’t very good at communicating when they might arrive. Typically the new tanks come at around 2 pm, on alternate Thursdays, because I only call every two weeks, and they only deliver on Thursday in this zip code.
There was this huge bulge at the top of the birdcage. That meant that I had to get up from my doze and investigate. That can be bad news sometimes, the getting up thing. I have a couple aches and pains, and the meds hadn’t kicked in yet.
I put my glasses on and approached the birdcage, which is about five feet tall and three wide. I gingerly lifted the outer and inner coverings, to reveal a large orange cat sleeping contentedly atop the cage, his weirdly crooked tail draped over the bars.
Hard to believe the birds didn’t cause a ruckus and wake me up. But okay, I knew what the hump was. I let him sleep. He doesn’t really bother the birds. Ladybird wouldn’t allow that.
I went and fixed me a cuppa, and sat back down, leaned back, and grooved to a 70s game show for a bit, the pain meds starting to creep in around the edges. I had a couple of puffs to help that happen.
Started drifting off. My sore-for-no-apparent-reason shoulder stopped hurting. I got floaty.
The phone rang.
I had to get up and get it. I brought it back with me, just in case. I answered it.
“Do your homeowner’s bills got you down?”
I hung up. “We rent,” I muttered to the air.
I sat down again, in my plush black leather recliner. I sipped just a little coffee, dropped the tv volume down a notch. The birds were still reasonably quiet. I had a puff or two.
Developed a kink in my neck. That made my left arm hurt, really sharp and somewhere around the rotator cuff. Hurt right down into my fingers. I have a pinched nerve or something. It had been hurting most of the night, most of the last two days, and for a stretch before that. I keep forgetting to call the doc because life gets busy even if you’re sitting quietly by yourself sometimes.
I shrugged and called in the reinforcements. Four ibuprofen and a percocet. Another atavan. I was damn tired and was gonna get a little rest. By now it was almost nine.
“Just another couple of hours,” I begged.
I drifted off presently. I was the last man in the universe, sitting in my chair.
A knock came at the door.
We talked in a directionless sort of fashion for an hour, just having a conversation with no real subject guidance. That was actually okay, but I’d rather have been sleeping.
I sucked down another coffee while this was going on, to keep myself engaged. So, by the time he left, I was wide awake, but still muzzy around the edges.
I decided to get some lunch, maybe an omelet. Rinsed off the dinner dishes, put them in the dishwasher, ran the machine, went back and sat down.
Started editing a recent manuscript, forgot about lunch. Finished about one, when the oxygen man finally called to say he was in the area.
Didn’t save the edit.
While I was moving the fourteen tanks out onto the stoop, the cats turned off the computer.
That was all before the girlchild came home.
Bratty doesn’t begin to describe her bahavior. She was willfully disobedient from the git-go. It took two and a half hours to make five flash cards with the words “Respect“, “Cooperation”, “Effort”, “Responsibility” and “Patience” on them.
Four of the cards had no lines drawn on them. I drew lines so that she could print on them. Unlined cards were just right out.
She “forgot” what the actual assignment was. She drew a box around “Respect” for no reason that she could tell me, putting on the pouty face and fidgeting instead.
When I opened the dishwasher to get a glass, she said “Are those dishes fully clean?” In a sardonic tone, as if she were eating from food-encrusted dishes all of the time.
This led to a discussion of what “respect” meant, in her words, with many attempts to change the subject or play with the cat or do anything other than learn.
Finally done with the first card, she wrote the second. Asked what the definition of “patience” was, she replied that it was “being patient”. This of course led to conversation, with examples, and finally to some sort of understanding on her part. It dragged on so long I started making dinner, Sloppy Joe and hand-cut fries, quick and easy.
After we finished the cards, she took a break, talked to the rabbits for a bit, and then we tried to read.
Utter disaster. She refused to sound out words, instead trying to tell me that she grew jealous when my wife and I would talk to each other while she was watching one of her Disney or Nick shows. That she felt ignored because we weren’t paying attention to her 24/7.
So completely, unfathomably, immature that I put her in the corner, which I hate to do. But it’s the only thing that’s effective. She cried big crocodile tears too.
I released her just before my wife came home, so she wouldn’t be squished in the door.
The food was on the table. We had no food-time war. The child piled sloppy joe on half of a bun, got a tablespoon of vegetables, wolfed it down, put her plate in the sink, and went to wash her hands.
The chip on her shoulder just got bigger as the night went on. More time in the corner, more crocodile tears, more pouty.
Two steps back for every step forward, it seems sometimes.
At the end of the day, I relaxed to some music. Probably up too late, but what are ya gonna do?
Here’s a selection of my things: