Do you ever consider yourself someone else's bad day?
I do. Often.
Yes, I just said I often consider myself someone else's very bad day, never mind my own.
Cases in point:
* the time the movers arrived with our stuff in Texas, opened the back of the truck and we found that the truck had leaked so horribly that everything was sopping wet, moldy, mildewy, and worse, the boxes had fallen apart so everything had crashed and crushed in on itself...most everything was completely and utterly irretrievably ruined. Photos and furniture, clothing and crystal. Talk about "things we lost in the fire." I was someone else's very bad day for the better part of the subsequent year...almost every day. Never mind my own bad day(s).
Six months preggo me cried ridiculously over the ruined crib mattress as if it were some omen...but I have cause for thinking this sort of thing. I live a very Language Arts life, full of literary terms such as foreshadowing, climax, and denouement. All of which have been known to happen in the same day.
* tomorrow I will probably be someone's bad day. I have to go to the cleaners for the third time in a row and point out yet another Grievous Error, the third in a month (yes, three strikes and they are out). Previously, it has been one or two pairs of my husband's pants MIA, then later (after drama) found. This time, it is the belt of my blouse. The belt I handed over to them with the blouse saying, "Please be careful, this is a new blouse and the belt isn't attached but is a part of it, so keep them together please." What do you know. No belt. I am going to have to complain, and ask for this to be fixed. (But note the overt foreshadowing.)
* I have been someone's bad day when complaining about failing appliances, breaking up, being honest about a toxic person, failing to notice a car needs over and causing him or her to miss the turn, and so forth. Big things, little things...I've been someone else's bad day. I don't think it helps them to know I'm having my own bad day.
Today, of course, I was someone's bad day. It's really all a result of my recent good times of vacationing and traveling and getting out of the day-to-day rut. Later I'll tell you all about my yin-yang-instant-karma existence but for now, I think I can count on you to understand the rude shock that awaits all returning travelers: life went on while you were gone and nobody else lived your life for you. Therefore, it is all there, waiting, when you return.
I got that yesterday, when I finally hit home after constant travel since the end of September. I am officially so far behind the 8 ball that it's blurry even with my corrective lenses. I have today's chores and the last few week's accumulated to do.
So today I had the brain malfunction to think I could be Super Efficient and chug a large number of things off of my to-do list. This included dragging the kids along on errands, with bribes, half of which I delivered upfront. That was the malfunction part.
The kids did okay when we went to pay off the dog-and-cat sitter, even though I took longer than anticipated. Someone was having a bad day (probably me). See, I had to listen to a lecture about how I don't care enough for my animals, field ideas I already know thrown at me for ways to better exercise my dog. Never mind I know I suck and don't do enough. Never mind my dog's been on disability the last six or so weeks because he has the freakishly rare occurrence of being double-jointed and thus strains his muscles more easily and frequently. Never mind as a result there have been no trips to the beach, no swimming, no strenuous exercise and this might be why he seems a little out of shape or slow.
The kids still did okay when we paused at the pack and ship place to mail back the key to the bed and breakfast in New Hampshire. See, Persistence is on this big "I do it myself!" kick, which includes doing Everything Everyone Does. It seemed easier to just let her have the blasted key and open the door every time. We were there and we watched, no problem. Except, huh, at some point the key got away from us because, on a tight schedule to drive from northern New Hampshire to Boston for a 1 p.m. flight, it was time to go and no key.
Someone was having a bad day (me and Jon) and it inflicted itself on the poor innkeepers, too. We pulled apart every single suitcase, looked under beds, in drawers, begged and threatened the children...all to no avail. When did we find it? At Logan Airport, when we broke down the carseats to check them in as baggage. It had been cleverly hidden inside the stowaway cup holder. So we had to mail it.
Thus, there we were, at the pack and ship place. In front of me were two men, each of whom was sending money home to Mexico. As usual, it was a slow and arduous process and I felt my tension rising. I knew I was on the clock, the very limited cooperative children clock.
From the parent point of view, a child minute feels as fast as a baseball minute feels slow.
And we had three more stops to make.
When it was finally my turn, I could barely feign nice. I briskly flew through the mail and pay process.
Instead of making the wise choice and heading home, I strode on through any misgivings to the next errand: returning second-thought clothes. A birthday shirt for my husband (too beige) and a fall outfit for Persistence (too NO WEAR IT MOMMY!).
That morning, while planning my departure and loading up my car and purse with all that I'd need on the long to-do day, I'd searched everywhere---my wallet, purse, former purse, and the receipt bucket---but I could not find the receipt. Suck it up and keep the clothes? Or return them for what I could get? I decided to give it a shot, and so, chagrined, I walked into the store, clothes (with tags on) in hand, but no receipt.
I'm afraid my chagrin came through as just plain irritated.
I admit my chagrin did pretty quickly turn to irritation when I realized I would once again be a slave to a System that was detrimental to me. (I've got a real bee in my bonnet about Systems these days.)
I found out I could get about $15 total for the two articles of clothing (originally more than that, I'm sad to say). I wanted to offload but that seemed like a really bad deal so I said no thanks and turned to walk out. Just then Persistence began spinning---wildly---a sunglass spinner and the sales ladies all gasped, and I don't mean in appreciation.
I did not sound like a patient mommy when I told her to stop it. But it reminded me my sunglasses were broken and I needed a new pair. I decided to trade in the clothes for eye protection. But then, the lady pointed out the "red sale" rows and I remembered my mother in law's birthday. Next thing you knew, we were shopping.
Shopping in a clothing store with a five and two year old, and a mom who is no fan of shopping. What was I thinking? I can count at least a half a dozen very bad days we were a part of:
* The couple who came in to shop and shot me looks of pure disgust as I sharply told Persistence to quit swinging from the racks!
* The sales lady who had to hear me escalate my irritation and threats to stop spinning the spinner!
* The other sales lady who had to help me throughout this sad, sad experience, and then had to help find Lost Robert (Persistence's baby doll, often MIA)
* Whoever happened to go into the store's restroom, now fragrant with the aroma of green toddler poo (and you parents, you know what I'm talking about here) (not that I know what I'm talking about here...but I suspect it begins with green and ends with crayon and has to do with a couple of three year olds who have a bad case of "I'm not the youngest in the social group any longer" -itis.)
* Me, Patience and Persistence
We all ended with a very bad day.
Including my husband who came home from work early (read: on time) because it was our actual anniversary date. Guess who forgot. Again. Now I wasn't just someone's bad day, I was my husband's bad anniversary day. Where's the ticker tape? Any other parades I can rain on?
I abandoned the party game run, the other store to return Patience's second thought clothes, the book store (to collect promised bribe) and geez, whatever all else was on the list.
We came home, where Persistence proceeded to thoroughly hate everything, everyone and the world in general, loudly, whereupon I collapsed in a fit of self-pitying tears, earning a derisive, "Oh my GAWD Mom's a BIG FAT CRYBABY," from Patience.
Yes, I handled it muy gracefully snapping at her that I wondered what in the world I had done to prompt such a lack of empathy, "Do I mock you when you feel sad?" I challenged a five year old, "No, no I don't, I hug and comfort you. Geez!"
We all retreated to separate corners, and I proceeded to work more on my CSS WordPress template for my own domain, which I've been "moving" my blog to for about six months now. I knew that nothing could ruin my day worse than that piece of aggravation, so as long as I was already having a bad day...
When I tried to lay down to go to sleep, unsuccessfully, it occurred to me to wonder how far my bad day extended, how many people it affected, and what kind of day it created for them.
It seems like I often get to have pretty bad days, with lots of unexpected wrenches thrown into the monkey works. Par for the course these days, I think.
Or, is it?
I mean, who has their laundry lost or ruined three times in a row at the dry cleaners? Who loses more or less everything they own in a single move? Did I mention our electronics bag was stolen in Boston? The toughest loss there are the irreplaceable tapes of our kids.
We had fair warning our cameras, phones, etc. were going to be stolen on our trip. Right before we left, the in-laws gave us a big lecture/warning about labeling everything and keeping hold of it, and being safe. "It's amazing how many people just leave cameras behind," my mother-in-law said, after recounting a story of finding one in a bathroom stall in Italy, "Of course I returned it to the lady, who was so surprised and grateful, but that rarely happens." They admonished us to keep careful hold of our important things.
So we did.
And while we held on to those important things---our children---at the crazy airport, fighting for a taxi big enough for us, the kids, and the 200 pounds of luggage we seem to need, someone took advantage and snagged our bag.
It seems like nothing can go without a really bad hitch.
Most of the time, I weather it, figure most people have bumps too, but then people remind me, no, not really, your life is sort of extraordinary in how much it gets screwed up. Or the new favorite thing people say to me, "Wow, if it weren't for bad, you'd have no luck at all."
I can tell they think it's something I must be doing.
I know some people think that; they aren't so shy they won't say it.
Like I said, it's like I live a poorly scripted movie with much audience hand-holding (the blatant and overt foreshadowing) and little character evolution or cluing in.
Each of these days---and they are many, they are daily---I can have a pretty bad day, can be someone else's pretty bad day.
What's amazing is how on these days, these bad days when I am someone's bad day, I also happen to know I am someone's good day.
I joke I believe in karma because I am the Poster Girl for Instant Karma. It's a blatant misuse of the term, but always gets my point across, anyway.
* happiest day of my life, Jon proposes, and I get canned from my job. The boss's son is getting out of drug rehab, and a condition of his parole is "gainful employment."
* happiest day of my life, I give birth to my long-awaited precious daughter Patience. And my adored cat drops dead.
* worst day of my life after getting t-boned and struck head-on in a highway accident, I learn my vertabrae is broken but by some stroke of miracle I am not paralyzed.
I could go on and on.
In the same way, today someone told me how grateful she was for something I did for her. And I was someone's really bad day.
I guess the lesson here is yin and yang. Apparently I need to keep learning it because it keeps happening. Or is that too Boomer-ish? Maybe that's just the way things are. There, that's much more in keeping with my nice Generation X.
It certainly keeps me in line with 'balanced' and 'humble,' although lately I admit I've taken to living in a way akin to constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.
My life is one weird trip, and that's the truth. You come on it with me and be prepared for a real roller coaster, a fast one.
I think it's because I do not snooze at all on this journey. I am wide awake, kicking with caffeine, and expecting a lot out of it all.
So maybe I'm someone's bad day. So maybe someone is my bad day. I know I can count on the good, which drops in just as much as the bad.
This post was one long, crazy journey, but if you are up for some others...there are some awesome trips to take (and bring a hankie, either to wring or to wipe with...):
Ali shares her journey in My Trip
Emily at Wheels on the Bus shares her trip in What I did on my summer vacation
A two-fer!! Lawyer Mama regales us with two different journeys, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear and Happily Ever After
Sephyroth tells us his Memories of Disney
Snoskred wrote A Journey Along The Road To Stopping Online Scammers
Don't miss (eta links)!!
Emily at Collecting Raindrops' The Journey
Painted Maypole's Along for the ride
Kyla of The Journey tells about her journey that prompted her to start her blog in August 11, 2006.
Next week's topic: "Where I'd like to go next." This can be your personal goal, professional goal, cultural or societal goal, political goal...you get the picture. Just tell us something about how you'd like the future to be. Link back to me, send me the link to your post at j pippert at g mail dot com and I'll add you in to the list!
And it's not at all too late for this week...send it on in and I'll add you!
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products