I am sitting in my chair in the living room, glaring into our tiny kitchen. Hating on the dishes piled there, breeding by the minute.
Our tap mysteriously failed, you see, and until the morning, there’s nothing I can do about it. That’s when the landlord comes along, fixes everything, and I come home from work much later to exactly the same scene, minus the malfunctioning tap.
Yes, I am disproportionately cranky in this moment. Yes, I have no real reason why. But inasmuch as writing has lent its soothing services to me over the years, I intend to use it again to sit here and do something useful, instead of furrowing my brow further and fussing about those damn dishes.
Perhaps I do have a reason. I certainly have a pattern of character to refer to. I always tell my husband that the one thing he can do for me to win the day is the dishes. Roses are nice, and chocolate is soothing, but having a clean counter laid out before me when I walk in the door is the sure-fire way to win me over. I can go from mellow to murderous in one minute if I see a counter full of sticky, grotty dishes. At work things are much the same – throw me a hundred customers in an hour and deprive me of the chance to wipe the counter and clear out the mess and I go from friendly to miserly in moments.
I am also a bit too easily disappointed – a meal slaved over proves underwhelming, an anticipated evening proves boring or a sewing project goes from dreamy to wardrobe disaster – I’m always on the verge of drowning in the imperfect aftermath, and take these fumbly things dangerously and foolishly to heart.
I am also rather clumsy at bee-bonnet analysis. My stormclouds roll in, I focus in on a particular circumstance, and no amount of cheering me up or pointing out the absurdity of my attitude can keep me from the well-worn path of a good old fashioned mis-directed grump session.
I’m great at grasping for reasons: (is it that time of the month? Have I been secretly harbouring resentment about something? Do I need some sugar? As Douglas Copeland puts it, “It’s not cosmic. You just need some lunch.”) but usually come up gasping for air, and still grumpy.
Why, indeed, does a mere dish pile-up threaten to undo me?
In fact, it’s almost worse when one feels inordinately upset and can’t trace it back to its sour little roots. To be surrounded by such convienience and care and still have such a scowl is another exacerbating layer of angst. As a rather smart French philosopher said recently, pursuing happiness has become a duty that is making people really stressed out and unhappy.
As I sit in a warm living room, shielded from the wind and rain, a full belly and creature comforts like constant electricity and indoor plumbing close at hand, I am tempted to analyse, which, I cannot forget, is a luxury that the majority of people on this planet go without. Perhaps I can be happy about that – that I have the time and money to ponder my lack of self-fulfillment.
So. Perhaps I’m simply unhappy about being unhappy. Whether it’s a dish pile-up or a missed bus, I really dislike not being able to fix things, or more simply, have enough control to change things. Even in this moment, my writing is becoming infused with familiar writer’s grump as I look at this post and wonder if it’s any good and why I don’t have more skill, patience, time, wit, blah, blah, blah to write what I mean. Which is probably sign to end it, and fast.
Having everything in my life just so is never going to happen, and spending all of my time either in self-circular analysis, or reaching for reasons to explain my less-than-perfect state isn’t going to change a thing.
Instead, I’m going to toss my latest just-so/I wanted this to be perfect in the growing pile of dishes, and leave it till the morning. It’ll get scrubbed out in the wash.