Thursday, January 22, 2009

21 Day Fade

21 Day Fade

I shop for my household, my business, and my mother and her cat. I always tell Himself which bags are to come inside and which are destined elsewhere. Inevitably he lugs in a fifty lb. canister of cat litter, although we have never used it. I return home with the hatch full of fully sorted purchases, and stewing that Himself will undoubtedly drag in and then drag out, in a big huff, those things that were destined for Grandma at the hotel. I enter and ask my beloved to BRING IN EVERYTHING BUT THE BAGS FROM TARGET. I enunciate in that way that I enunciate proclamations I suspect will be insufficiently heeded, which I guess guarantees that they are. But I am in a lousy mood and I when I see him drag in the Target bags, I am perhaps a teensy bit unkind.

I am privileged to drive the 16 year old to meet some friends in Glendale to see Notorious which is not a remake of the Hitchcock film and is rated R, seldom a problem for him to be admitted to and I never bother to ask why it isn’t. His friends are coming in from Silverlake on the bus but have gotten a late start. The 16 year old is punctilious about his movie going and expresses a disgust with his best friend's flakey tardiness that seemed uncharitable and intolerant. I realize his tone is a dead ringer for mine when I was castigating himself for not listening to me about the shopping bags. I drop him at the theatre and head with Spuds for his ice cream consolation prize for having a more austere social life. The 16 year old calls and says he was refused admission to the “R” rated movie. I race to the theatre and buy tickets, I guess illegally, for seven barely under age seventeen kids and I end up with a $5.00 profit which makes me consider this as a fledgling service industry.

I am surprised that I am one of the only moms to keep my children home to watch the inauguration but they were sick anyway so it didn’t matter. I wake up early and bake cinnamon rolls that turn out lousy. The kids watch, sort of nonplussed but sensing this is something they are obligated to witness in order to tell their children about. Himself stays upstairs until the last minute of the inaugural address, the tacit “no Obama talk” rule still in effect. I expect to get all gushy watching the inauguration. I am particularly unattractive to himself when in gush mode, almost as abhorrent to him as when I am in “talk about my feelings” mode.

I feel miffed and excluded when Rick Warren mentions Jesus, who is, as the Doobie Brothers stated so eloquently, just alright by me, but not my guy and not the guy of a lot of other folks. This reminds me how polarized our country still is and while Obama’s election is a huge step forward in the name of equal rights, there is still a long way to go. I concede now that Warren was a lousy choice, although his counterpart, Rev. Lowery also causes my jaw to drop with “… help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right,” Didn’t these guys have to get their sermons pre-approved? Plus, who the hell signed off on Aretha’s hat?

I am underwhelmed by the inauguration and find the message warning us of all the sacrifices we’re going to be called upon to make now on behalf of the next generation frightening and sobering. I think Obama, a complicated man, had a complicated reaction to the gravitas of the day and my pure joy at the magnificence of the occasion is dampened by his honest appraisal of the trials we face.

Our carpool is a sophisticated algorithm, a fragile flower and friggin’ sacred, as in if it’s your shift, it doesn’t matter a bit if your kid is sick but not on life support. I like the kids in the carpool and take them for snacks and enjoy chatting with them. Himself drives the carpool on Tuesdays. He would rather have a colonoscopy. Spuds is splayed out on the couch, froggy and feverish but I tell him to take a ride to school with Himself for afternoon pick up and go wave at the lady in the office so the school can count his attendance towards funding. I remind Himself , expecting a big tizzy, of our ironclad obligation to pick up, despite Spuds’ malaise and but he just makes a sour face. I am relieved that the anticipation of reminding him is actually worse than the actual reminding itself. I realize that I’d obfuscated a bit with Spuds about sending him to school with Dad so I tell him that I think it will be easier for Dad with the carpool if he rode along. He shrugs, “Yeah. I knew that when you asked me.” “I just think it might be a little awkward for Dad and the carpool if you’re not there.” Spuds croaked, “It’s awkward even when I am there.”

I was with a girlfriend who’d had a big fight with her husband of many years, but knew she would return, like I do, again to do battle against ancient hurts. It’s not just that the logistics of divorce are too daunting to a working mom. The ancient hurts predate us and maybe even our grandparents. We learn more and more to navigate around them and staying on course nurtures gentleness in us and rewards us with powerful grown up love. We miscalculate inevitably and salt each others’ wounds and at our depths it sometimes seems like it would be easier to walk away. As our marriage endures though, we rise to the occasion and fall back together with greater alacrity when ancient wounds are open.

My husband isn’t withholding, just thrifty. I am his conduit to the real world and he is mine to the world of ideas. He makes terrible faces when he eats or hears something he dislikes. He attributes this to a sensory integration disorder which I have always suspected is just an excuse for being an asshole. He enjoys being with people but only very specific people, for brief intervals and in groups of two or fewer. He rationalizes this social affliction with a diagnosis of introversion, an article about which is practically tattooed on his chest. He will happily send you a copy.

I am vain and needy and a control freak.. I tell him the same trivial things, that weren’t interesting to him the first time, over and over again. I can be sanctimonious and my DON’T BRING IN THE BAGS FROM TARGET voice must grate on him something fierce. Sometimes I intentionally don’t recycle out of spite, knowing he will find it when he paws through the trash and that he’ll know I’m lying when I blame the kids. I eat rice cakes in bed. I have ruined one of his favorite bands, Yo La Tengo for him forever by playing them over and over. I beg him to have two people over for dinner and end up inviting 10. I am fussy about manners and calling a “plate” a “plate” and not a “dish” and other stuff he finds a big stupid waste of time.

We remain pretty much in dĂ©tente. I’ve given up on the cellphone but because I am sanctimonious and he is a withholding, er, thrifty, asshole, I make certain to inform him, and readers here, when his failure to use it has caused an inconvenience. He knows to move the decimal to the right for any guest list. We throw up our hands again and again but we also marvel at how much of the ancient crippling broken hearted loser crap that we have blown to smithereens. We have healed some ancient wounds, and staunched lifetimes of bleeding and found that even the most jagged ugly scars can fade.

We have our issues and our dark days but we fall back together, in love and even if we weren’t, we’re probably too lazy to do anything about it. The girl from Juno appeared in yet another comedy romp called Smart People, about how cool unplanned pregnancy can be and how neat it is to have a baby. The Juno girl pontificated in the movie that the time it takes to heal from a break up is half the duration of the relationship. We’d be too close to death to even ponder it. The rental and watching of this movie fulfills my beloved’s prophecy that the acquisition of the big TV would cause us to watch a lot of crap and piss away valuable reading time.

Of course the Juno half life heartache answer is pat and silly and everyone recovers at a different pace. I mentioned that no one had ever joined the Peace Corps., or for that matter, crossed international borders, to be rid of me. So even in the face of utter heartbreak, I know when to take no for an answer, unlike my poor relentless sister, smothering and clinging desperately to all manner of men, none fit even to shine her boots. The endings of her relationships were prolonged and strident and drove her to spectacular humiliation.

I don’t have a chart of how long I grieved per heartbreak. It used to be that the silent telephone was the bane of the broken hearted but now I guess its e-mail or text messages that never friggin’ arrive. I quit opiates and I kicked cigarettes but love and food, things we can’t live without, will probably fuck with me forever.

I worked for many years at a methadone clinic. We offered a maintenance program for those who chose surrender to the demon. Before being accepted on the methadone maintenance program, clients had to have two treatment failures. The most common was a 21 Day detox.. I don't know how scientific it was but the wisdom was that 21 days is enough time to titrate from a moderate dose to zero without physical risk. So, the 21 days was physically possible although most clients ended up on lifetime maintenance. But it was possible. I've always been superstitious about numbers and desperate for possibility, and I adapted the notion that twenty one days of suffering would get me over the hump and on the path towards recovering from love left to fade away. I would count each day that I heard nothing and that I didn’t cave and make contact myself, over and over again on my fingers and toes until I ran out of digits. The 21 Day love detox is about as effective as a 21 Day Methadone detox but there is no love maintenance program to fail into.

Business is lousy and the market continues to fall and Obama reminds us of the hardships ahead. We eat at home and read and watch t.v. and it is nice and as frightened as I am about economic Armageddon, this fortifies me. I have two excellent novels from the library. Himself likes my new Internet radio station at Lost FM better than my old Launchcast one so we can have music all the time and are spared his sour faced audio integration disorder. I eat too much although try to inhale rice cakes instead of bread and candy. Except maybe for internally, I do better at the love stuff than my sister did and I guess I can feel sort of superior, given that we had the same blueprints. I know I’ll never get it completely right but perhaps as I wrangle with this love thang, I’ll become less and less my mother’s vain and needy girl. In my life I have been laid low and mystified by all the love I’ve proffered that’s been dismissed or in a pathological Mexican stand off, condemned to fade. But when I stand shaky and naked at the mirror it is amazing to me that scars really do fade too.


FionnchĂș said...

"Caring for Your Introvert." Jonathan Rauch's article from a 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly is one of its top-five favorite e-mailed pieces ever. It's too long to tattoo on my chest, however. And, halachically, I couldn't be buried next to my beshert either, beneath the stacked pebbles. xxx me


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