The day in question being over in about an hour, I feel I can own up to it. I do this in part to counteract any suspicion that I am a weirdly cheery person. I am not. In fact, I have been in a place of despair for a few days, probably because it has been raining a lot and that gets old.
- The day’s awfulness has a sneaky beginning — with numb fingers and toes — it is so cold in our house that I lose all feeling in those extremities. I actually run hot water over them to see if I can restore them to their normal state. When that doesn’t work, I make tea, because tea solves pretty much everything. (And I am not even British.)
- Then I spill the tea, all over a stack of books. I look at the books and think (I swear to God), when I die, my children will look at these books and think, “What a mess. These books have stains on the pages. Let’s throw them out. WHO CARES IF THEY WERE MOM’S FAVORITE BOOKS?'”
- Did I mention that I cried when I thought of my children throwing away all my books, after my death?
- I mop up both tea and tears and go to work. Many hateful signs in the hands of protesters in front of the building where I work in San Francisco and where the California Supreme Court will, tomorrow, be holding oral argument on the question of whether it is at all constitutionally permissible for the voters of this state to say that gay people cannot get married. Bad feeling in throat and in stomach. How can people exist who insist that the only way to “save the children” is to keep my friends from marrying each other? Far better that the children should be saved by specifying in my will that they MAY NOT THROW AWAY MY FAVORITE BOOKS AFTER I DIE.
- It is time for the Stegner people to call the lucky few who will be paid a $27,000 stipend next year for simply sitting in a seminar room once a week and talking about their fiction. I see, on a website, that these phone calls have already happened. Did anyone call me? In fact, no. I am embarrassed to discover how much I mind this.
- I buck up, make a list in which I yell at myself to be a better writer and better person and, while I’m at it, to stop eating bad food. And then I go outside to go home, semi-bucked up.
- All for naught. More insane people have gathered. They are wearing white t-shirts over their outdoor clothing and holding creepy, mean signs. I see a gay friend outside the building on his way home from work. I hug him. And then I walk by a rental panel truck that has a picture of an innocent child on it who must be saved from my friend. The child looks suspiciously like those pictures of embryos they wave around in front of abortion clinics, only aged a little to look like she’s exited the womb, totally shocked to find herself in the Sodom and Gomorrah that is San Francisco in 2009.
- I can’t find my ticket to get out of the parking garage and I believe I burst into tears. Okay, I did.
- I get home and the person who’s invited all of us out to dinner to celebrate my birthday tomorrow decides he isn’t going to be having dinner with us after all. Do I burst into tears again? Why yes, I do. By this time, it has become a regular part of today’s routine. Momentarily wonder whether maybe all this crying is good for dry skin. Decide that’s unlikely and feel depressed.
- I pull myself together and we all walk to Gordo Taqueria, which we love, and then go to the library, which we also love. Dawn, the world’s best children’s librarian beams at all of us. Our Wednesday night library nights are becoming a regular event. I find good books — a picture of which is at the bottom of the post, or will be tomorrow after I find my camera. On the way out of the library an officious jogger brushes by us on the sidewalk. We are obviously in her way. She has a blinking red light pinned to the back of her shirt. Jack says, “Good thing she’s wearing a light.” He pauses. At 13, he has already begun to remember the importance of a pause. “That’ll keep cars from running her over on the sidewalk.” I love my children.
- Upon returning home, I learn that another literary journal has rejected one of my stories. I do not cry. I believe I emit a moan and use an obscenity.
- Oh, do I have to go into the fact that when I returned home I couldn’t figure out how to get the wireless network connection to work on the new mini-computer I’ve given myself for my birthday to replace my laptop, the one that was crushed by a skateboard about two months ago, an event that has led to a notable decrease in the amount of writing I’ve been doing? Or how I spent an hour looking up “what do you do when the little wireless icon disappears” and got nothing and then spent half an hour on hold waiting to be told something, anything? Or that the answer to the problem is to hit the function key and the F2 key simultaneously? Or that I said, in a tart and not very thankful way, that maybe this company could have a little bit better help documentation because that’s kind of a basic thing? Okay then, I’ve told you pretty much all. Except that I’m a very lucky woman to have a job and to be able to afford to replace my crushed computer. That is not something I plan to forget.
It’s almost midnight. The day is almost over. Tomorrow, I will be a year older. I have never minded being whatever age I am. I figure I am just me, and that will not change, ever. Still, something is not quite right here. I’m hoping it will pass. Like me, my blog is also having a birthday. It is only turning three, an event that gives me an enormous amount of pleasure. My blog has never rejected me. There are no tea stains on it. My children cannot throw it away when I die. It has never held up a hateful sign. It has mostly been optimistic and happy and celebrated what is good in the world. If I’m lucky, it’ll be around for another few years of days that are anything but truly awful. I think I will put the spilled tea and the rejections and the hateful signs and the pain in the ass that is poor computer documentation out of my mind and focus on that instead.