The Crazy

I kicked a coat yesterday. I kicked it right in its stupid, uncooperative coat face.

For the past few days, I’ve been fiddling with a post about The Crazy, but I’ve been having trouble articulating exactly what it’s like. Our family, as far as sleep and eat and health and temper goes, has enjoyed a patch of relative smoothness. Thank goodness yesterday happened so that I can fully impart to you the feelings that lead up to a coat ass-kicking.

The Crazy feels a lot like bombings in war movies. There’s an explosion, and tinnitus-like ringing, and the camera tilts back and forth until you’re dizzy.

The real life example I was going to use for this had something to do with being awake at 4am after trying every conceivable thing to stop your child from crying and telling the dog that you will “end him” if he doesn’t stop barking. That example is a vague amalgamation of several nights. It is far more useful to imagine yesterday morning’s scene to fully grasp The Crazy.

Friday night, my neighbours had a party. They were whooping and running around playing, what I imagined to be a midnight game of thunderball, a popular game on Planet Leigh’s Pissed Off Imagination. Between their screaming, and Joanie’s cough, I slept three hours. Saturday morning, I was due to leave for Ottawa to visit my dad, but when the time came to start packing, it dawned on me that I hadn’t showered in three days, that I still had to do groceries, laundry, and the weeks preparatory cooking, otherwise this family would be eating pizza every night. As much as I want that, I’m a full grown adult now. I don’t say that to boast of my maturity, simply to say that my tum tum doesn’t like that yum yum. Point being, I let everything pile up, emotionally speaking. Joanie was having one of those days where she was only happy in my arms, so I was doing my chores one handed that day, and as a result doubling my work load with all my clumsy mistakes. Nothing particularly bad happened, but lots of little things weighed me down, or rather pushed me to the point of madness when I tried to zip up my coat. Joanie, who hates her baby sling, was screaming as loud and as close to my ear as she could. Frank was barking, as he’s expected to do in such a situation, and my zipper, which I cannot see below Joanie, got stuck just above my waste. I took a deep breath and tried to wiggle it free but it didn’t budge. I tried again, but this time with more force. It didn’t move. Joanie, still screaming, was getting hot, transferring her body heat to me, as we both sweat in my parka. Panic washed over me, and I tugged on the zipper as hard as I could. Nothing happened, so I took hold of each side of my coat and Hulk-shredded my way out of it, pushing it down over my waste, then in a fit of fury, stomped and kicked and raged against what it, my mother who’d purchased the coat, and the God-foresaken manufacturers who made it, did to me. Then I grabbed another jacket, threw a blanket around Joanie, and went out to walk in any direction until we both stopped crying. It was only minus 4 or 5 out and there were kids playing in the park. Birds were chirping. There wasn’t any wind. With renewed calm I strolled into the grocery store, and, like the totally normal person I am, did my shopping. Joanie was perched in the children’s seat of the cart and we smiled at all the other shoppers. I remembered everything on my list, bought myself an extra sweet treat, and returned home to make soup, have lunch, and clean the living room.

The Crazy is losing a plot. The Crazy is being unbound. The Crazy is not a cataclysmic destruction. We move through our day, being piled upon by little obstacles, by broken zippers, by barking dogs, by chores, chores, chores, and then something happens. The Crazy happens. We get hot. We sweat. A noise comes out of our chests and ekes through our teeth until they spread apart and release it in rage. The Crazy happens and then, before we know it, we’re outside. The air is fresh. We’re walking fast. We’re breathing deep breaths, the biggest breaths we’ve ever breathed.

That’s The Crazy, and I wish I could offer advice as to how to deal with it, but I don’t know any, and this isn’t really an advice blog anyway. Generally it passes rather quickly. Take solace in that, I guess.

Fine, Loverboy, I’ll Work for the Stupid Weekend

Joanie is napping. I’ve just finished half the dishes, filled the slow-cooker, put the groceries away and found the first few minutes I’ve had to write this blog (with the exception of Friday night’s Grey’s Anatomy hour), in months. I took a hiatus from my weekly posts when I started working full-time in order to ease back into my usual overly ambitious list of projects. It seems fitting that my first post back should be about going back to work.

My intention was never to be a stay-at-home mom, but I did want to relish the first few month’s of my daughter’s life and to be physically present for as much of that time as I could. At least that was the way I approached the prospect of maternity leave during my pregnancy. After four long months of preventative leave and two months of maternity leave, I felt the walls absorb me as they did that poor woman in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall Paper.” Okay maybe not to the extent that. No one was oppressing me, but I was feeling terribly anxious. To combat the cabin fever I picked up two shifts at a restaurant. Twice a week I’d serve brunch, meet new people, wax baby with other young couples, and make a little cash to help support my family. The walk to work was my favourite part; ten brief minutes under the early morning sun, with no one around, no crying, no chatting, not even another pedestrian. It was magical. Then winter came and the stroll became a trudge, so nuts to that.

When Joanie was four months old, a spot opened up at the daycare. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to let her go, but there was a time limit on the offer, and, as you’ll note in previous posts, it ended up being the right decision. Any job prospects I had weren’t due to start for a few months, so apart from my shifts at the restaurant I was suddenly flush with time, beautiful, luxurious to the point of naughtiness time, time which I used to tidy my apartment, write short stories, prepare lavish meals, and read the first three volumes of Knausgaard’s My Struggle. This was magical too.

Then January happened. I picked up four more shifts, then quickly changed to a new job, overlapped the two positions for about a week and watched the tidiness of our home erode and the vibrant green of my houseplants turn to a crispy brown. I now write in short unproductive spurts, have abandoned the dream of a clean sink, and order pizza more often then I should.

I can deal with a chaotic life. A woman at the daycare recently said to me, “It’s amazing what the human body can put up with.” I repeat that phrase in my head a lot, usually when I’m pushing a baby carriage through six inches of snow and stifling all sorts of horrible words. It helps me stay proud of what I’m doing and of all the good things I’m able to manage, even when so much is left unattended. The one thing it doesn’t ease, the one thing I can’t deal with, is the amount of time I spend away from my daughter. Today is the first day in months that I’ve spent a full day with my daughter. We woke up, drank some milk in bed, read some books, folded and unfolded the laundry and played with blocks. It’s been the best day I’ve had in ages and I wish it would last for several more, but I have to work tomorrow. Joanie will go to daycare. I will rush home from work to pick her up, push that damn buggy through a blizzard, and make it home with just enough time to shove dinner into her face, sing a couple Journey songs in the bath tub and put her to sleep.

I finally understand that stupid Loverboy song.

Note: All this is to say that I will now be posting every other week. Sorry for the long winded explanation.