Seven million and a half years ago, I took a class at church (I know! can you believe it!)about the spirit of Lent and being “Easter People” that is willing to forgive and have an open heart that sort of thing. Every once in awhile I managed this. One September day I almost got it right.
If you are wearing pearls now is the moment you take them firmly in hand because I have a confession to make: my daily entries are often not written in the moment. Usually, I always have at least three ideas swirling in my busy head but sometimes all of my ideas sound lame or stupid or boring or lame, stupid and boring. Other days I’m a procrastinating thing and put it off because…I’m not sure why. And then there are those days, like Monday, I am extremely unsettled and a little addled by the idea of writing.
The bad news I received on Sunday made concentration difficult and everything I considered writing felt really flippant. I found my professional procrastination techniques came in handy as I surfed the web and kept checking Face book like a meth addict calling a connection just before the next batch is cooked. I thumbed through mail order catalogues, marking about eleven thousand dollars worth of clothing I can’t afford and don’t need. I played six hands of spider solitaire. The Girl is due home Monday night and I put together a little flower arrangement so that took time and focused energy…where is the vase, picking out just the right zinnias and just the right amount of lavender. I searched for ripe or near ripe tomatoes and found a couple with big bites out of them so that gave me a chance to metaphorically shake my fist at the raccoons or squirrels or snipes eating my tomatoes. Finally, I discovered much to my delight the kitchen needed attention. So I was just busy busy busy! No time to write. Na- ah. Nope. All the while, like an annoying seven year old, the little voice on my shoulder was yammering:
“Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite Whatchagonnawrite?”
“Oh for the love of God, Shut up! I don’t know what I’m going to write!” I caught myself saying this out loud to my inner critic as I re-polished the espresso machine.
It had been a sad day so nothing felt terribly interesting or amusing. I had just discovered an old chum was suffering under the burden of job related burn out and the idea of suicide felt better than his life and he was clawing his way back to sanity. This news was on the heels of word from a friend her child was so strung out on drugs it necessitated a hospitalization.
The grime nature of two people whom I care for made me spiral into a dark place I avoid going. The hopelessness place. I found myself mulling over how the world is so out of control: the war keeps going on and on and on as we march into another decade of this god damned senseless fight against a stone age “enemy”…the economy continues to unravel…people around me are unraveling…our children are lost or overwhelmed or both by the whole mucked up mess that is our lives…the Earth feels tired and spent; she has battle fatigue and is trying to tell us she’s done and we’re done. The hopelessness I spiraled into was something I hadn’t felt in years.
Life is hard these days. The people I come in contact with–strangers–seem battle weary and frazzled. Monday, as I was coming home from a coffee date with my Spare Girl, I pulled into our ‘hood and once more there were signs up that the road was closed yadda yadda detour. It’s been the de rigueur thing this summer. The roads are closed because we are putting America to work. I was a bit flummoxed by it all because I thought this job was completely finished. Despite the sign, I turned in the street to avoid backing up into a busy street with the plan to make a U around the work area. There were two men standing near a hole the other closer to the sign. The guy nearest the hole was large, sweaty, perturbed and about fifteen minutes from a stress induced heart attack. He saw me turn in and started screaming at me.
“Goddammit can’t you read the sign?!!!”
At first I was angry he spoke to me this way, I could feel my retort building in my head and it was one of those speeches that makes me sound like a white version of a Tyler Perry stock “Angry Black Woman“ character: “Stupid M-f****er I can read the sign, I’m flipping a U turn! So just shut the Hell up!!”
But I very uncharacteristically took a big breath and let him finish his rant:
“I’ve got men in this hole and it’s dangerous! Why do you people keep doing this???”
“I live down the street and was just going to turn down this street and leave the–”
“Oh just go ahead and go!! Gawd!”
So I did just go ahead. But instead of a knee jerk reaction like I had on Saturday when some jack ass almost hit me and I honked and then he had the balls to call me a bitch, which prompted me to open my window and explain at the top of my lungs he didn’t know what bitch was but I would be happy to show him if he would like to discuss it in the adjacent parking lot. And then I cackled like a maniac because, by the frightened look on his face, I knew I had “won” the crazy road rage contest. I’m pretty sure calling him “Honey” is what sealed the deal on my winning the whole game. That and the Texas accent I develop when I yell at cars.
I guess that incident cured me of yelling at rude people because on Sunday, Beav was driving–I kid you not–the very generous speed limit when a teenaged girl decided we weren’t driving fast enough and rode his back bumper for several blocks until she whipped around us and honked at my baby boy who is just learning to drive and flipped him off!! It’s a good thing she was two cars ahead of us at the short stop light because if she had been next to us I would have used up all my “It’s ok mom, you didn’t mean to embarrass me” points by leaning over Beav, motioning her to roll down her window that instant so I could ask her in full blown sarcasm dripping Texas accent, “Honey, does your Mamma know you are a road rage shrew driving way too fast and way too reckless in Daddy’s big ass Lexus?”
(Again, I must remind everyone these are exquisite examples of why the only sticker on my car is not faith-based but fishing based so I just appear to be the angriest Bass Master on the planet when I yell at cars.)
So anyhow, I’m at the intersection in the ’hood entrance, looking at this really angry road worker wanting to accept his ire quietly because these days, life is just too hard and anger laden, when the other guy working came up and told me he was sorry they had the road closed and politely asked if I could just take the other entrance today. I looked over at the angry man in the hole and took another deep breath and said: “Thank you and I’m sorry I turned.”
Angry guy shot me a scowl and was probably thinking I’m just another self-entitled little housewife-mini van driving-soccer mom-with a hubs and two point five kids who is pissed she has to shave three minutes out of her life to go into the ’hood the other direction and the biggest decision I’ve had to make today is what Mall I’m going to wile away the afternoon before I have to take my crown princes to practice or their super special therapy or what have you. Bitch. Meanwhile his wife has left him, he doesn’t get to see is kids; he’s not sure how he’s going to manage the house payment and his rent on top of the fact he has this crappy job…
As I rolled away, I felt sad for this man, his job is outside in the heat and cold plus it’s probably not the safest job in the world, either. That he bellowed at me about the men in the hole made me believe he takes pride in his work and feels responsible to the people he leads. In my subset of rules, anger from a place of compassion is justified. A minute later, I pull into my driveway and start thinking wouldn’t it be nice to do something for this angry, overheated and responsible guy. But I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. Maybe some cookies, Cookies always make things better. I would give him a little bag of cookies and he would be surprised and he would eat his cookie and think to himself how good the chocolate chips tasted and wasn’t it a pretty day today even with gusty winds and that woman was stupid to ignore the sign but she realized this and tried to make amends…
This gesture of good will was out of the question because realistically, I can’t bake worth a damn and he would think I was trying to poison him and that would start the anger spiral all over again.
So I did the next best thing, I prayed grace would visit him and if his heart was broken he would realize sooner than later a broken heart is just a heart broken open.
Which is probably how I should have handled Saturday’s little situation.