Tuesday, August 19, 2008

reality check

OK. I know the last post was over the top. But I was emotionally feeling "over the top" ... or "under the bus" or "through the wringer" or whichever wretchedly appropriate prepositional phrase you (or I!) can come up with.

To make a short story long ...

I've been reading a lot of fluffy-plotted steamy romance novels this summer because, well, I guess for lack of a better reason, because I've been unwilling to literally experience anything deep or meaningful or unpleasant or life-altering or even uplifting. I simply haven't had it in me to want to do any real thinking.

So romance novels it is!

Well, I started to feel a smidge guilty over letting so many of my letter-decoding synapses go all catatonic and then rigor mortis on me so I decided I needed to jump into some "real" reading. So I grabbed Pos's copy of The Grapes of Wrath.

I thought, "Hey, Steinbeck, he's brilliant! He's all literary and poetic and acclaimed and stuff. Surely I'll be able to coax some of my brain cells back from the dead!!"

Boy was I wrong. I slipped from brain dead status to crippling depression overnight. I couldn't get past the horror of deprivation and misery and abject poverty and railing against forces bigger than you and all the kind of things that can keep a person up at night.

Pos did warn me. He did say it was a tough read -- said it wasn't a good book for me. And boy was he right. So I stopped reading

but unfortunately, what that man wrote managed into get lodged in my head anyway.

[Flash forward several nights later, pre-post rant]

Me: Pos, can you please put these receipts in Quicken?
Pos: Sure, I have a couple to put in myself.
Me: Hey, did you manage to log today's haircut expense?
Pos: [looking at his laptop screen; ominously silent] Uh, no!
Me: I told you about it on the phone this afternoon, just before going to pick up a few things for dinner tonight. You said you got it.
Pos: [voice taking on a particularly dreadful edge; his response, more of a snarl] I don't have our Quicken information on my work computer. What makes you think I would have any idea about our numbers?!
Me: [heat rising to my cheeks; begin to seethe] Well, what is the balance?
Pos: [pregnant, obscenely ample pause] Not enough!
Me: Fine!!

[All the while, I'm in a full blown panic!]

*Funny how money always has a way of doing that to me.*

“Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap!!” I mentally moan to myself. “How am I going to scrape us along until payday? School is fastly approaching and there is SO much I have to get. Shoes are needed for the boys. The girl needs new bras. Everyone’s socks have holes in them; quite a desperate fleece situation, really. And the boys need bigger undies!” I can’t even bring myself to look in the frig and take a most dismal inventory of our sparse rations.

My mind races with lists and lists of expenditures and comes completely short of indentifying enough income to match the need. I feel like I’m in a freakin’ Steinbeck novel and we’re about to load up the minivan with our meager, dusty possessions and head west for some seriously hard apple-picking times!


But then I remember, I’m not all that and we’re not all leaving and things really aren’t that bad. I just need to have more patience. And more resilience. And I especially need to have more faith in the overall choices we make for our family.

In the meantime, my dreams about winning it big with the Lottery take on an exceptionally intense luster and gleam in my furtive imagination. And I find myself drifting off into blissfully extravagant daydreams involving an unlimited expense account, a beautifully appointed flat in Paris and all the new underwear my children could ever want!


Dave said...

You didn't read far enough in the book, it's an affirmation of the human spirit facing adversity:


"I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too."

Later, Ma:

"I ain't never gonna be scared no more. I was though. For a while it looked like we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn't have nobody in the world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared.... Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain't no good and they die out too, but we keep on coming. We're the people that live. They can't wipe us out, they can't lick us. We'll go on forever Pa, cos we're the people."

And, of course, they're both wrong; but, wonderfully so.

molly gras said...

they're both wrong?!!

How? Why?

Arrgh!! I guess I now need to read the damn book to figure this all out -- I'm all about wanting to read about the affirmation of the human spirit (*think Power of One to know what hooks me in that department!)