Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oh Pungy We

Well, I can't say I'm bored.

Right now, I'm currently working on:

1. My parent's 50th anniversary party
2. Directing the play
3. Preparing for college in the fall
4. Writing three pieces of long fiction
5. Helping to establish a day care center with Corrine
6. Actively searching for a new vehicle for our tribe
7. Looking into adopting a child
8. Building three web sites
9. Trying to save our house from foreclosure
10. Raking, shoveling, wood-stacking and all the other parts of outdoor spring cleaning.

Many of these are with Corrine of course. My partner in crime, for better or worse, sickness and in health. Some of these make us sicker than others. But that's life. A constant parade of to-do items that march through your brain at night in the form of nightmares.

But I don't know a single person not in the same boat, so why is there no solace? We are surrounded by humans enduring the same struggles yet we all seem to be miserably alone. Acting like our situation is worse than everyone else's. And why is there always someone around whose life seems to be going better? Someone who doesn't ever seem to get shit between their teeth? They come out of the woodwork just in time to stand over you as you wallow neck-deep in it.

I know of a few people who got enormous tax returns. In the thousands. One in particular could renovate his bathroom with his return and then go out for a nice steak and seafood dinner afterwards.

My bathroom has walls missing behind the toilet where the pipes burst this winter; the floor sags from a who-knows-how-long leak. My dad refers to the sag in the floor as being "pungy" with a hard "g". A word that does not exist in the dictionary but seems to adequately describe that bouncy nature of rotting floorboards.

We're taking bets on which of us will fall through to the basement and breaks their femur.

We owe the Feds and the State this year. No bathroom remake for us.

It's easy to look upon our current luck and be discouraged. It's as simple as waking up, in fact. They're right there staring us in the face: the sopping bathroom, the broken car, the leaning barn, the empty wallet, the screened calls, the certified mail.

And I know where the pinch comes. It's always in the same place. When stuff is going bad, it hits your closest relationship. You bicker. You snip at each other. Tempers bubble over the dumbest arguments. Like mismatched socks or the dog pissing in the house or misplaced keys.

Your relationship becomes pungy. The sub floor of your love has a little too much give in it and if you don't get in there and replace it, you'll both fall through.

Corrine and I are not immune to it. In our quest to provide a solid, comfortable, meaningful life for ourselves and our children, a lot of times it feels like we're doing more harm than good. It feels like we're just not equipped to raise a patch of grass let alone other humans.

Unpopular food in the cupboards equates to poor parenting. Clothes left unwashed because the washing machine is down means you're pathetically inept to raise kids. Forcing four teenagers into the cab of a pickup to take them to school is just plain cruel and unusual treatment. YOU'RE FORCING THEM TO SIT CLOSE TOGETHER! (cue the woman screaming in the horror flick of your choice).

The cumulative effect is a resounding sense of utter incompetence. While the rest of the world figures out the Rubik's Cube, you can't even do one side.

I hate boredom. It's worse than hunger. It drives me batty. But I dislike discord more than anything else. Particularly between me and the woman I love. And to make matters worse, my sarcasm and moodiness has the same effect lighter fluid does on a pile of charcoal briquettes. One shot of cynical sourness and the place goes up.

How does one avoid it? I don't think you can, completely. It's inevitable that people who love one another are going to go cross-eyed every so often when they stare each other down over such vital points of contention as spilled eggs or a low tank of gas.

I think the answer is to try to redirect the flue that carries the exhaust of my inner anger that has been directed straight at her all this time - the easy target. Instead of spilling out of my mouth, aim it straight up to the sky. Right out of the top of my head, where the worst that can happen is that it contributes to the depletion of the ozone.

I'm not sure how this is done. Or if I'm mechanically equipped to do the work necessary. But I'll try. I may even break the flue itself, cutting off the air to the fire, until all I am is a smoking bluster.

And that in turn would allow me the patience to work on the pungy floor.

Maybe the bathroom one too, if time allows.


  1. I can't think of one pithy comment. You're right about a couple of points, for sure. You're not alone (no matter how much it seems so) and you have to figure out a way to protect your core relationship. Otherwise, what is the point of all this struggling we seem to have to do?

    Now that I'm all depressed, I'm off to do some job-hunting...

  2. I think you voice what so many of us feel, but so few of us can articulate. Sometimes in the midst of a storm...all you can do is hang on tight to the liferaft with one arm and your loved ones with the other. I'm sure we will all weather this storm...but it sucks to be in the middle of it.

  3. The floors may be "pungy", but not you and I.
    I love you as much as ever, and will even more tomorrow.
    What we need is a little luck...AND SOME TIME TOGETHER!!! Not 5 grand or a new bathroom (however that would be great, don't get me wrong).

    I will ride a bike, and live in a box as long as I am yours and you are mine!!!

  4. Honestly, you two have the most inspiring love I've ever witnessed. It's, like, truly generous of you to share it with the rest of us. You're just so sweet together. It's an inspiration to be more in love myself, and be a better person, and just...Aawwww...

    (Are you with me, Mary Ellen?)