the question is to the universe: universe, where is the love?
i'm getting an awful lot of karmic payback for ... for what? i know things always feel more stressful when mo's away: suddenly, i have to do my own laundry (heaven forfend), as well as feeding myself and the cats, watering the plants, taking out the trash and so on. add to that what it's like when you come back from a vacation, all those little tasks you put aside "for later." compound that with the change-of-seasons stuff: because of the april snow, we still have gloves and mittens at the back door, while our summer shoes are -- well, actually, i don't really know where they are, not having got to that task yet. remember the roof? well, it still leaks when it rains, so there's always the buckets to be thinking of. plus there are water stains down the dining room wall and the inside of our kitchen cupboards.
all of that is still just the regular stuff, the property and personal management tasks that are the humdrum necessities of life. i've already written about aunty jo, so i'm sure you can imagine that schlepping to grey nuns, doing her laundry, dropping off her dry cleaning, organizing meals on wheels, talking to doctors, social workers, nurses and home care, and educating myself on the latest incontinence technologies -- all tasks i take on willingly -- suck a certain amount of time, a dose or two of energy.
so i felt pretty justified thinking of my hands as full. i don't need the extras: the dead birds, for instance. yeah, for some reason (and it ain't cleanliness), we have birds knocking themselves out on our windows. for that matter, the live birds are a bit much right now. i don't know exactly what is going on between the magpies and the robins, and i don't think i want to. it's nature "red in tooth and red in claw" right here in the elm tree. meanwhile, out front, and in freaky keeping with the "bird" theme, someone has egged our house. to be sure, the grass is so long i'm sure the culprits thought the house was abandoned (add to list: we need a lawnmower!), but still. also: there are big, sleepy bees crawling into our laundry room. we haven't got a newspaper in ages. i haven't been to the bank since we got home from argentina -- i'm still working on the five dollar bill i had before we left. and it would be nice to get screens back in the windows so we could enjoy fresh air.
then, on friday night, i twisted my knee playing soccer. how do you ice and elevate your knee when the cats' pooperie needs to be cleaned? when you have cupcakes to deliver to a twelve-year-old's birthday party, and a mattress to install in an 84-year-old's apartment? grit and crutches, that's how.
i can tell i'm on the brink of losing it, so i consult chapter one of The Little Book of Stress Relief, which says "do something nice for yourself." a pedicure, i think: some nice heather time on monday, after getting those fillings done. what can i tell you, i'm a protestant. work first, pleasure later. a trip to the dentist earns you the pedi.
i'm not what you'd call a fan of dental work, but i don't think of myself as a fraidy cat. well, i didn't. why, oh why, in the name of all things holy and unholy, do they have to use that huge, honkin' steel needle? the dentist -- a lovely man, he did not deserve me -- started freezing, and i started to panic. i put my hand to my forehead. "are you okay?," asked dr weebe, holding his mediaeval instrument so i could just see it at the corner of my eye. i was scared he'd stop and scared he'd continue, so i lied with a nod. i wasn't really okay. i felt nauseated. my heart was pounding. then the cold sweats started. i raised my hand to my forehead again, but he was all over it. "okay," he said, "okay, you're not okay." the word 'okay' was starting to resonate weirdly. out popped the needle. "we're just going to --" WHOOSH "-- lower your head a little here." now the nausea is getting worse. i can feel my ironic lunch, a cup of 'zen' tea, slooshing dangerously up my gullet. dr weebe addresses his aide, briefly, and suddenly i have a pulse monitor on my index finger.
i ask you, what kind of loser needs a heart monitor at the dentist?
dr weebe's mask looms overhead again. "you don't like this, do you?" i try to joke. "does anybody?" the aide chirps in. "yes," she says, "some people do. do you know who likes this?" i haven't the foggiest. "the people who come in with a raging toothache, that's who!" i drool in reply. the freezing is coming on in my upper lip. the aide leaves. the dentist returns. he asks if i want to come back another day and start all over again. i shake my head, vigorously.
somehow the lower freezing doesn't really take, but we're so far in i say let's finish the job. how bad can it be, getting a filling without freezing?
turns out, pretty bad.
i survive, though, and dr weebe walks me back out to the front of the office. i'm still shaking, but not palsied. the worst is over. i remind myself of the pedicure, which calms me down. we're going through the usual routine: the receptionist runs the charges through my insurance first, then i hand over my VISA for the $39 balance. i'm reflecting on what a strange world it is, that i should pay people for such an experience, when the receptionist interrupts my dentistry-free reverie by saying, "i'm sorry, that card's been declined."
now, i know i'm not good with money. i know i spend too much. since argentina, i have been considering the ole freeze-your-credit-card-in-a-block-of-ice trick. but you know how it is, jo needs things, and we need things, and anyway, if god doesn't want me to carry a balance, he should stop pre-approving me for such great interest rates.
still, if this card is maxed out, that means i've blown through twelve thousand dollars in the last week. is that possible? i feel a wave of cold dread. i really haven't been paying sufficient attention lately. oh god, oh god, oh god, what if i've really got myself into trouble this time?
no. wait a second. twelve thousand dollars?? even i can't blow twelve thousand dollars at the brick discount centre and the incontinence supply store. when i say to the receptionist, "that can't be possible," i discover that the freezing is coming on in my bottom lip now, strongly. "thu cubee poshibub," i say. she looks at me pityingly. "the message here says to phone them. shall we give them a call?" "shu." she dials all the numbers, 1 for english, the 16-digit card number, 5 to speak to an operator. i'm on. "hello, heather," monique-the-VISA-clerk says amiably. "how are you today?" well, monique, i want to say, i'm limping and drooling. i've just had a panic attack in my dentist's chair and my incontinent aunt is in the midst of a health crisis. my partner's away, someone is egging our house, there's a leak in the roof, i haven't done a lick of work in over a week and my VISA's just been declined -- but the right answer is "just fine!," so i give it. "we have a few security questions for you." i stumble through the answers, sounding like a drunk. can she tell? "okay, and one last question for you. where are you right now?" is this a trick question? i've told her already i'm standing in my dentist's office. i say, "uh...." she says, "are you in edmonton?" "yesh..." "so you're not buying gas in quebec?"
turns out someone has pilfered my VISA card number. ultimately there's no particular harm to me, but as always it's a little creepy. "did you destroy your old card?," she asks. "yes!," i said. mo is on a security kick, so the new practice is to cut up the card, shred the statements and put them in the bottom of a bag into which we put the used kitty litter. (which reminds me, dammit, the pooperie!) i spare monique those details, though she doesn't quite act in kind, and i have to stay on the phone while she explains all the ways in which VISA will protect me and my purchases. fair enough, i suppose. it's their dime.
i make it to the pedicurist just in time.
but guess what? it's a cash only joint.
so here i am blogging instead.