It’s funny, really; I was as excited as a kid about this whole Leap Day thing. It was going to be this great, bonus day to be filled with reading, thinking thinky things and (to be honest) hanging around on Pinterest letting myself get distracted by bright shiny pictures. It was also supposed to be a Snow Day; there was supposed to be close to an inch of treacherous ice forming in the wee hours of the morning that would make the Superintendent shake his un-combed head, and reach with his pajama’ed arm for the phone to make the call, and give us a day off. I have grown cautious about believing in predicted weather events this winter; so far we have had only one Snow Day, which is highly unusual for this part of the world. Predictions have come and gone, but this one…this one seemed to be confirmed in advance by NOA and The Weather Channel and all manner of maps with blue and red arrows with a smattering of important looking “H”s and “C”s. Both my brother and my son explained, patiently, what it all meant: there would be an icy mess this morning and no one was likely to be going anywhere.
Instead of ice, I woke up to grey skies, rain, and just another day of business as usual. Ordinarily this would just be a kind of “buck up” situation – I would tell myself that the day could still be special, it would just be special in some way that included going to work, getting the boy to school, and getting into actual clothing at some point. As I said, this is not my first time at the Snow Day Disappointment Rodeo, and I am far too old to believe that the world will come to a grinding halt and the air will fill with all manner of fairies and glitter because the earth has turned a certain number of times and discombobulated the calendar.
Here’s the thing, though: I hit a life bump yesterday that severely displaced my buoyancy and joie de vivre. I was wounded, dropped on my head from a second story window, and desperately in need of some R & R, dreaming, napping, and maybe even loud music and angry thoughts. It would do me a world of good, right about now, to play “Hollaback Girl,” selected Pink, and all of the Alanis Morrisette I can find, maybe throwing a few feints and making a terrifying face as I listened and muttered to myself. I guess I can still do that, but it isn’t the same when you do it at work with headphones on, or you try to fit it in between scheduled activities. It is an activity that requires time, space, and privacy, particularly if one is a frustration-weeper. I am a frustration-weeper.
The bump, in case you are wondering, involved an unpleasant, political-related scuffle on Facebook. I will not go into details because my sparring partner (who is not a person I know in my actual life) scares me. Suffice it to say that my usual life on Facebook is kind of like a combination of a cocktail party and a sewing circle; I try to be funny, I try to be kind, and I try to avoid anything serious, political, controversial or otherwise likely to turn my source of lighthearted fun, crowdsourcing and local news-gathering into one more source of stress. I have political opinions, lots of them, and I respect the fact that many people use Facebook as a forum for such things. I choose not to for reasons both personal and sound.
Yesterday I blundered into a political argument, made the grave error of challenging someone who dislikes being challenged, and found myself frantic, wretched, and (for me) very, very angry at the same time I was trying to decipher my mother’s handwriting at the unfamiliar grocery store my parents prefer. I was on an errand of mercy, stocking them up for the predicted Icepocalypse, looking for the right kind of creamer, talking to the butcher, and reading Facebook messages in my Inbox that made me flush a hot red and shake, just a little.
I will confess, now, the part of the episode that really, really upset me. I hate confrontation. I want everybody to like me, I want peace, conciliation, and harmony at any cost. Also, and this is hard to admit, I had a strong sense that my Personal Importance had been missed, disrespected and trampled in the unpleasant exchange. Didn’t this person know that I was Special, a Good Person, a Nice Girl, a Good Friend, someone who will ask about your sick kitty or your mother-in-law’s visit and really, actually care about your answer? In the course of four-comment exchange, the bright, floral balloon of my Facebook Persona was shot full of the greyest and deadliest of buckshot. I deflated, I sunk, I was really nothing to write home about after all.
And so I find myself, not celebrating this Leap Day but quivering with existential dread as I look out the window at what has now turned into a steady downpour of rain. I am saying to myself that it’s good for the plants forming under the cold and sodden soil, and cajoling myself like a child who didn’t make the team: if you get dressed and go to work you can try out your new body lotion. That will make you feel better! Have a muffin, the carbs will calm you down. Wear something cozy, do that thing with the eyeliner that makes you look a little bit like a “Pan Am” stewardess, listen to “Hollaback Girl” in the car and scream the lyrics as you go.
This is life, real life, and it isn’t a floral balloon. The buckshot is always out there, filling some unseen muzzle, ready to fly through the air and pierce our pitifully thin protective covering. This shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s. And so it goes.