Because I’ve got nothing better to do with my time, and it’s about time I faced it.
Today I woke up especially tired. I thought I would lie down for a nap as soon as the last kid left for school, but by then I was distracted by some other stuff, i.e. the internet, and then I thought, “You know, maybe I’m not that tired after all, maybe I should just stay up. That would be better for me.” But then around 10:50 a.m. I realized that I just wasn’t going to make it if I didn’t lie down and have a nap. But I didn’t want to sleep the rest of the school day away, so I set the kitchen timer for 40 minutes because shorter naps are supposed to be better for you anyway. Then I lay down on the couch, and it felt good to lie down, i.e. it felt much better than standing up or sitting down and certainly better than moving, but I couldn’t get to sleep. I think my feet were too cold. I hadn’t put on socks this morning. When I realized that my feet were freezing, I should have gotten up and just put on some socks, but it felt so good to be lying down instead of standing up and moving that I just continued lying there and thinking, “I’m curled up under a blanket. Eventually my feet have to warm up.” But no, actually, they don’t. And they didn’t. But eventually I got comfortable enough, even with cold feet, that even though I was not asleep, I was definitely very relaxed, and that was a super-good feeling.
It was around this time that the kitchen timer went off, and I thought to myself, “It feels too good to be lying down to get up and turn off that timer. I’m just going to keep lying here until I feel like getting up.” I would not have been able to tell myself this if my kitchen timer were the type that just keeps beeping until you turn it off. It beeps three long beeps, and then it shuts up for, like, a minute, and then it beeps three long beeps again, and it just keeps doing that until you turn it off. It really is just as annoying as it sounds, but when you’re super comfortable on the couch and don’t want to stand up, you talk yourself into thinking it’s not that annoying. And it was a little less annoying about 10-15 minutes later, when I finally thought to pull the blanket over my head. (Between my good ear being stuffed up next to the pillow and my bad ear being bad, this was more effective than it ought to have been.) But eventually it did get to be too much. The good news is that by the time I got off the couch and turned off the timer, it was not quite noon. That was a full half hour earlier than I expected it to be.
If I hadn’t insisted on 25 minutes of intermittent high-pitched beeping, I might actually have fallen asleep and taken an actual nap, but despite having not actually slept, I did feel much better than I did prior to lying down, so I considered the exercise a success. I use the word exercise loosely, of course. Perhaps if I had tried exercising instead of sleeping, I would have felt even better, and also like I had accomplished something. But then I wouldn’t have this scintillating story to tell my loyal blog readers.
What happened next? Well, I’ll give you a hint: it involved dishes, a dishwasher, a peanut butter sandwich, and an episode of Law & Order:SVU. I started binge-watching SVU (again–these things are cyclical) on the Netflix a couple weeks ago when my husband was either out of town or away from home most nights (doing what, you might ask? you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but okay, he joined an Andean folk rock band and they’ve been rehearsing a lot–see, I told you you wouldn’t believe me), and I got kind of addicted to it, to the point where I sometimes watch it during the day while folding laundry during the day while the kids are in school. I almost never watched television while the kids are in school. It seems like such a waste of time; in point of fact, it is a waste of time. This is why I can never manage to watch my Netflix DVDs because when else am I going to watch a DVD except while the kids are in school? This is why it is a waste of money for me to still get Netflix DVDs, but I can’t bring myself to quit because I really do want to watch Howard’s End, eventually.
I know a lot of people don’t like SVU because they just get sick of all the rape. But there isn’t actually that much rape on SVU. It’s probably more kidnapping than anything else. Sometimes the kidnapping does get tiresome. I don’t think of myself as a person who enjoys television shows about rape. I’m actually super-uncomfortable with seeing rape in my entertainment selections, but I do love me some Law & Order (it began while I was in college, but it became really serious once Sam Waterston joined the cast of the original series, and I fancied myself in love with Sam Waterston for many years until just recently when I realized he was older than my dad–by like, a lot–and why that bothered me so much, I can’t be sure, but I haven’t felt the same about him since), and I love the cast of SVU. I like Richard Belzer better on SVU than I ever liked him on Homicide, and I loved Homicide (mostly because of Andre Braugher, a little bit because of Kyle Secor, I admit it, I’m not above that). Richard Belzer has done some surprisingly nuanced work on SVU. But what I really love is Ice-T. Ice-T is awesome on that show. (Tangentially related aside: I also love this guy talking about Ice-T on SVU.) But I enjoy the whole cast, even without Christopher Meloni. So enough justifying my Law & Order obsession. I shouldn’t love Law & Order as much as I do, since it tends to glorify abuses of government power, but screw it, not everything has to be political. AT LEAST I KNOW IT’S A FANTASY. Okay. Why did I mention SVU? Because I was watching SVU–and eating popcorn, if you must know–and this particular episode actually made me cry. It was the one where Patricia Arquette plays an aging hooker (an aged hooker, really) and Mariska Hargitay is trying to get her off the streets FINALLY. It was surprisingly touching. That, or I am becoming emotionally unstable, which I will also buy.
It wasn’t even an Ice-T-centric episode.
But back to my emotional stability or lack thereof. I saw my psychiatrist on April Fool’s Day (no joke here, that’s just how I remembered the appointment and why I continue to remember it long after I kept it), and it was because I needed new prescriptions because we changed insurance in January and it’s a long story–I hadn’t seen her in a long time because I haven’t really needed to talk about anything. Since my PMS was magically cured (with SuperGyno science), I pretty much walk around like a regular human being, albeit a heavily drugged one. So I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk with her about except that I needed new prescriptions, but I ended up talking about how I’m having a midlife crisis.
I used to talk about midlife crises very cavalierly. When I was a teenager, I thought I could write a memoir and call it I Was a Teenage Midlife Crisis because I was always having an existential crisis of some kind, and also I didn’t particularly expect to live past the age of 30. (This was mostly a result of my Cold War-era Mormonism. It took the Berlin Wall coming down and a major rearrangement of my personal theology to undo such fatalism. Although I still haven’t quite worked my brain around the idea that I might live to have grandchildren. I know I’ve told you this before, but maybe some of you are just now joining the program, or maybe you were absent that day.) I know all teenagers have existential crises all the time, but mine were much more serious because they started in grade school and also, I was just a piece of work. Anyway. Oh, yeah–I used to throw that term “midlife crisis” around like it was nothing, but I have finally reached a stage of life where I might technically actually be having a midlife crisis. I am almost (very close!) 44, and the fall of communism notwithstanding, I think a life expectancy of 88 is more than optimistic. I could technically be having an end-of-life crisis, for all I know. In eight and a half years, I will have lived longer than my mother did. I’m not really hyper-aware of my own mortality, I’m just saying ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
Regardless of how long I have left to live, the fact remains that I have lived for (almost! very close!) 44 years, and I have nothing to show for it, aside from this beautiful family. But looks aren’t everything. Certainly, as a teenager, especially one who didn’t expect to live past 30, I expected a lot more out of my adult self. I am certainly not where I thought I would be at this point of the game. I am not remotely close. I am pretty much a failure, and I don’t say that in some dramatic way like you have to talk me off a ledge–I’m having a crisis, but thanks to modern medicine, it is a very calm crisis. It doesn’t make it less depressing, just less…urgent, shall we say. I mean, whatever. I’ll still be here with the same problems tomorrow. Back to my story, if I were a dude, I’d be buying a sports car or having an affair. I guess. Since I’m not a dude, and it’s pretty clear that I will never realize my dreams at the rate I’m going, i.e. not at all, I am trying to switch dreams midstream–only I’m out of dream ideas. I thought about becoming an accountant, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I wouldn’t be as good at it as I thought I would. Maybe I just can’t face the possibility that I might suck as much at being an accountant as I have at being a writer. That’s possible. I’m really good at avoiding things. If it were a career, I’d be at the top of my field.