Waiter, I Didn’t Order This

TW – I warned you this was coming toward me.

I sat on the couch last night numb after we delivered the overdue books back to the library.  We have what I’ve whimsically decided to call a “rental fee” of $16.50, which at a quarter per book per day for our six books seems excessive to me.  If I could charge a fair rate for my services maybe it wouldn’t.  But they are 11 days overdue, and that is the penalty for my inattentiveness to my children’s library activities.  I wasn’t irrational, which is my normal go-to.  I wasn’t angry.  I was just numb.

I’m not numb from the penalty.  I accept the penalty.  I’m numb from feeling numb.  I don’t have an explanation.  I sat on the couch to feel it because that was the first chance I had to do nothing.  It’s not just numbness.  It’s numb with a side order of helpless with despair dipping sauce.  I can’t fix anything.  I can’t do anything.  Or at least can’t do anything right.  Right now.  In a while I might feel motivated and mildly manic again.  Hope it doesn’t take forever.

I wrote that I was aware it was coming, and today I see it’s bright headlights flashing at me and I hear the big horn alerting me that it’s here and I can’t get out of the way.  It’s a semi truck going 161 km/hr, and I’m in the road waiting for impact.  I told my wife about it.  I told her I was feeling helpless and hopeless again and she just said, “don’t,” and did her best to smile and be supportive, which isn’t ever quite what I really want and isn’t really ever quite enough. Because it’s not her fault, and because she doesn’t understand it.  And because, although she knows what I want, it’s not what she wants, and I can’t prove that it will make any difference if I get it.

If she did understand it, she would know that it’s not my fault either, it just is.  If I controlled it, when she said “don’t,” I wouldn’t.  I’d call the waiter and alert them, “Waiter, I didn’t order this.  Please take it back and bring me a double order of successful, with a side of fulfilled dreams, with extra, ongoing joy on the side.

“The world is not my oyster,” I once wrote as one line in a poem, in a prior y<0 phase.  It’s still not.  And if it was, when I cracked that thing open I expect it would smell bad and contain no pearl.  There are several schools of thought on this.  My wife thinks the world is her oyster but she has to crack it open herself, and she’ll get a bigger pearl if she cracks harder.  It seems to work for her.  She gets the opportunities.  I’m diametrically opposite in actual life experience, and in thought process.

I tried cracking open the oyster, and it slammed shut and pinched my fingers, several times, until I finally gave up and put my sore fingers into some ice water to help them start to heal.  Of course it’s a metaphor, and I said fingers when I mean feelings.  I trusted that people were trustworthy because I was trying to get started in a professional field where the expectation was trustworthiness.  What I found out was that people were prideful, controlling, manipulative, and suspicious.  They like their power, their influence, far to much to help me, because I threaten them somehow.  I came alongside to help, made things better, and they shut me out.  Or they never even let me get my foot in the door.  I wanted to help in bigger ways, but they’ve broken me and I quit offering more because when they took it they didn’t reciprocate with any kind of practical support to keep it coming and I burned out.  I’m able to ignore the feelings of burnout and brokenness until the mildly manic phase of the sine wave is done, and then I feel it again.  I’m feeling it again, and I wish I could just choose “don’t,” like she suggested.

When life gives you lemons…

My wife makes lemonade, since she is made of sugar, and then she sells it at a tidy profit and buys more.  Thank God.

When life gives me lemons…

I’m pleasantly surprised if they aren’t moldy on the bottom of the fridge, and I slice one and twist it into a vodka tonic.  I then remember that I prefer limes.  But I drink it anyway.  There isn’t enough to sell so I’m taking what I can get, and it looks like this tiny tumbler of vodka tonic with lemon is it.

I just saw something and it’s a perfect word picture of how I feel.  I got the tea bag out of my cup, aimed for the trash can, the string caught on my finger and instead of the perfectly aimed landing straight down into the trash, the bag falls to the floor, wet and staining, on the carpet.  And then after I clean the carpet the best I can, the tea is tepid.

If the world were my oyster and I could order what I wanted, I’d say, “Waiter, I didn’t order this plate.  It’s OK, but the steak looks like a brussel sprout and it’s too rare and foul smelling for my taste.  Could you please  bring me a ribeye steak, a glass of pinot noir, and for dessert a hot fudge sundae with whipped cream and a cherry on top?”  These would be metaphors for success, reciprocated love, and happiness.  Maybe it’s coming, but right now I’m starving and I think the steak is cooking on a very low temperature grill and it’ll be a while getting to me because it’s frozen.  Maybe it’s thawing and the brussel sprout was an accidental hors d’oeuvre.  “Hope springs eternal…” (Alexander Pope)

I love the group Cake.  My wife has come a long way, because when I first shared their music with her she turned it down because it was too loud.  Reminded me of my dad, who only listened to classical music and hymns as far as I knew, and that old depressing country music, when I was a kid.  But now that they were her discovery, she is listening to them too.  It might shorten the y<0 phase of the sine wave if she comes around more agreeable more often.  I like their music.  The trumpets, the hooks, the poetry, it’s excellent.  It doesn’t fix anything to listen to music, but this cheery sound helps distract me from being numb for a while.  They’re playing this, now, and she’s listening.  It seems small, but it’s noticeable progress, to me.  And while I don’t know if I really want all that, some of that might be nice.  Or maybe I do want all that.  She fits the bill satisfactorily, when she wants to.  Funny thing, listen carefully to the lyrics, she used to drive a white Chrysler LeBaron, further proof of her blossoming perfection.  I don’t want to send her back.  Ever.  Just the numbness please?


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