Yesterday I parked beneath a tree so I could recheck tile we are storing for a missing box. I stepped back outside into a high-pitched, maddening racket of birds. I thought, “Wow, that is exactly how I feel. Those birds are the soundtrack of this slowly escalating hysteria as my life spins ever more slightly out of control every hour or so.”
Every sixty minutes I spend on the phone with my mortgage company, begging for my own money, I go ever more askew. I die a little bit every time I must reenter my loan number (which I will be able to recite, in a barely-masked exasperated tone, until the day I die), the last four of my social, then wait on hold through two alternating “songs” (I am always briefly relieved by the change of tune, until about three bars in, when I become outraged again at its ghastly banality); then orally repeat both numbers and confirm (sometimes for the third time in one day) that my property address is what it is, and that I am still stopping by the mailbox on the sliver of fence that remains; and next I must recite the best number at which I may be reached—to which they respond, “But we have this number,” to which I must always reply, “that was my home number, and as I have told you EVERY TIME I CALL, which is up to three times daily, I am unable to LIVE IN MY HOME, so please note in your record that that number is MOOT and this is the only number at which you can reach me.”
But they won’t. And by the time I am cheerfully put through to the voicemail of the person I need (because they never, ever, ever pick up), my lunch period is over. And you know when they call back. If it is not while I am teaching, it is when I have decided to go on this well-deserved break everyone keeps encouraging me to take, which rather sadly consists of doing school work in a coffee shop with a pumpkin latte–which spills on me as I get back in the car, causing me to fling my cell phone and bags to the floor of my car while I run back in to furiously splash my blouse and capris with water. But inside the occupied bathroom, a woman is using the dryer to dry her hair, apparently, or perhaps she spilled her coffee too? So I wait outside the door as stains dry on my clothes, and the moment I get my turn and close and lock the door, there is a knock on it. So I hurriedly rub out the blotches and when I return to the car, my cell is ringing. “Oh,” I think, “That’s probably my long-awaited call back from the mortgage company. Where’s the phone?” and I frantically throw everything around the car in a failed attempt to find it before it stops ringing. Because then I must call them back, and enter those numbers, and hear that hold music, and orally repeat the numbers, and confirm my address…..
Just that, JUST THAT, at this point, is enough to make me bawl for hours on end. But that is not all.
My work laptop is next to nonfunctional, and fifty percent of the curriculum is on the network I can only access about 20% of the time. I think that is 30% further out of control. Well, or maybe 70%. Math was never my strong suit.
My fall shoes, as you know, were lost for days. I found them. But then we have a wedding on Saturday, and Steve could only find one half of his only suit.
We washed our cool weather clothes at the Laundromat, together with our current clothes, and they are in huge bags which we have not had time to empty and put away, as we are constantly in a state of panic about some other problem. Putting them away is also a concern because we currently need access to our warm and cold season clothes, and during this time of transition, there are simply not enough flimsy plastic drawers. So we have been taking small stacks off the main piles to search through when we need something, but there are no unused surface areas in this space, so each pile of clothing covers something else we need. This morning, it was my footies for the fall shoes I had finally found. The little stockings were hidden under a pile of random clothes. For five minutes at 7:45 a.m. Steve and I turned over the place trying to save my heels from eventual blisters.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Last night, we didn’t find the missing tile. So I walked out to this cacophony of birds. And they had carefully selected the tree, in the space of the ten minutes I was inside, whose branches spanned the short length of my car. And so every square inch of it was now smattered with turd.
We got “home,” and decided after an evening of problem solving (think possible jury duty, in Mineola, till 5:00, and rehearsal dinner, in East Patchogue, at 6:00), that if we just watched Jon Stewart, we would be able to let go. Wait! Even better, Atoms for Peace were going to be the musical guest! In fact, Steve had just exclaimed as such….when the cable went out.
That. Very. Second.
Before two days ago, I had already decided that some kind of soul-sucking spirit has glommed onto my own, and others who only know the half of it seem to agree. But the only two people who truly understand the extent to which we have been experiencing all-encompassing crap continuously are the two who are with me day in and day out: my husband, who goes through it all with me and sometimes for me, and my closest coworker, who, after spending the bulk of the last two days with me, advised me to get exorcised.
How do I know it is targeting me, and not Steve? Because Steve has seen it. He has woken up several times throughout the night and seen a figure standing by my bed. I might add at this point that the movie Paranormal Activity terrified me more than every horror movie I have ever seen stitched together in the fashion of some horrifically severed limb, and then viewed on an iMax screen engulfed in fire in the Ninth Circle of Hell. And now it is happening to me.
Who is this shadowy figure whose idea of evil is misplacing grayish white bathroom pencil trim, or slipping suit slacks into the laundry pile containing Steve’s cement-plastered workpants? Why has he found two people who are living in a concrete room, eating microwave dinners on their laps, and sleeping on bumpy plastic bubbles? Does he like it here? Does he want this place to himself? Dude! Standards!
Seriously! You came back for this? Move along! I would give anything to move along! Does this guy have as little choice as we seem to? Are his poor insubstantial hands as tied as ours? Is he as frustrated as we are? Has this been his life for centuries, perhaps? Decades of turd-plopping bird trees and missing tiles and hackneyed hold music, with juror number countdowns hanging over every evening? By God, he is showing restraint, then!
This guy needs some comfort, and we need a guardian angel. This may actually be a win-win. Mr. Man, if you’ll agree to these terms, you are welcome to come home with us.