Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I've got my eye on you.

I'm looking at you.

Watching. Studying. While you talk about your windshield or your invoice or the weather. Your job, your dog, your grandchildren. Kids today, politicians, the economy.

I can't help it. When I first see you, before you walk through the door, my insides crumble. Fight or flight. I want to run. Then I bolster myself for the impending small talk. It's not that I don't like you. Well, sometimes I don't, because you're mean, but mostly because I wear myself out during the conversation.

First I wonder if you're going to be nice to me. Or if you're a man, whether you're going to suck your breath in through your teeth and try to pin me down with that lecherous grin. I won't give you the satisfaction. But it's tiring to watch you ogle my boobs. All the while I'm studying your yellow teeth, the cigarette smoke you carried in with you. Wondering about the woman who has to cut your hair or the waitress who has to wait on you at lunch.

I wonder what your wife thinks of you.

Or maybe you're a sweet little old lady shuffling in and you'll sit at my desk and chat. Make an event out of paying your bill. Not every old lady is wise, but I think you are. Not in a fairytale kind of way, but practical. I try to glean what I can from your stories. How tough were you? What kind of mother were you? Were you pretty in your youth? Were you always this self-assured? What kind of marriage did you have?

Will I hobble around town in a similar knit cap all year long?

Man or woman. Young, old, fat, skinny, rich, poor, sane, crazy.

The shape of your lips when you talk. The way you pronounce 'Saturday.' Whether you really think I'm buying any of this. How you make a big show of producing your invoice out of your oversized purse or pocket protector, pulling out your checkbook, putting on your glasses, reading and rereading, carefully writing out your check and presenting it to me with pride.
How in the hell you get your hair to do that. Ugh, the smell of your perfume. Or lack of deodorant. Or both.
I wonder how you have a girl/boyfriend or spouse, because, well, wow. Or conversely, how did you get your teeth so white. What's it like having skin that soft and pretty? Are you really that cheerful?

For some of you, it's the same exact conversation every single time you come in here. Is that OK with you? Because it's not always my fault. Some of you are obviously on or off your meds. Seriously, you said hello to Jesus as you gazed directly over my brother's head. You I like. But I do worry about you.
Dude with the new dangle cross earring and not a single tooth. You're always friendly and respectful. 'appreciate that.
Male nurse in the black leather motorcycle jacket, you are a frickin drama queen. Get over yourself.
Grown woman with the plush kitty cat purse. What made you chose those tattoos? Are you always this timid? Will my curly hair eventually look like yours if I let it go grey?

And if you stay for any longer than 5 or 10 minutes and we're not discussing actual business (or horses, there is no time limit on discussing horses. You have my complete attention.) I will start to panic a little. Because my brain is becoming exhausted from all the tangents I've travelled while you were talking. My cheeks are starting to hurt a little from holding this cramping smile. And maybe I can feel myself sweating or it feels like there's an eyelash in my eye or there's a booger hanging or my eye is twitching or am I staring at you too hard or coming off unpleasant in some way. I'm telling myself to hold on, focus. You can get through this. It's important to me that I really try to give you my full attention while you're here.

So if it's 4 o'clock and I look a little conquered, just give me a second to snap to. I'll be right with you.

And all that discomfort starts to accumulate until I wake up on an ordinary Tuesday, shower, make coffee, pack my first grader's lunch, and crawl back in bed and cry for a couple minutes. So it goes.

What really freaked me out today though, was that my mini-me Lil had a similar meltdown this morning. And I can't even think of when she's ever done that. She didn't see me cracking up, so it wasn't that. We had a nice cuddle on the couch last night. She wasn't up late. She seemed fine to me.

I was scraping ice off my windshield as she walked out to the bus & she quietly burst into tears. I asked her what was wrong and she said that she didn't know why she was crying. That her throat was 'clogged.' I whispered to her that I was having a bad morning too, that I wanted to stay home, but for her to look forward to the weekend and sleeping over at Nanny's. I told her that she'd feel better once she got to school, to just try to relax. She looked miserable as I drove away.

So I've either genetically screwed her over or didn't realize that I wasn't hiding my own craziness well enough and made her tense that way.
Maybe it's the barometric pressure or something. Hell, maybe I sent her to school sick again. Chalk another up. Why not.
We had a pretty good weekend, too.

Friday was Lily's first ever having a friend sleep over. Her little first grade BFF. It's funny because both K's mom and I have been putting it off partly out of shyness but mostly out of not wanting anyone to see our homes in their various states of disrepair/remodel. When I dropped K off Saturday morning, I admitted to her mom that I kind of panicked after I'd extended the invite because our house is a wreck. She said she was very relieved, because she's also self-conscious about the amount of lumber and debris lying around her house. AND! Since we'd never really met until then, she said it was nice to put a face to the name --the girls are in the same class, ride the same bus, go to scouts together, talk about each other all the time -- and she said, 'The Pretty Mom.' Sha! At least that's what my shocked ears caught as I stood there unshowered and sweatpanted in her yard. What a nice lady! Really I'd call myself Awkward Mom.

Anyway the girls had a really good time together, played nicely, and were well behaved.

Sunday the kids and I took the dogs on a hike up our hill and West-ish through the woods. We'd gone from no snow to 3 inches over night and the woods were beautiful. It was really pretty awesome. We hiked for about an hour and a half, and I'd even go so far as to say that our woods made for a better hike than the trail at Deep Creek. We've got creeks and ravines, magical clearings and monkey vines for swinging.

And Lily even made it through most of our trip without begging for a rest. At one point we watched her from her solitary lagging point. She was way behind and standing in a clearing talking to herself, poking at something with a stick. She wasn't really concerned that we were out of sight.

Then later she complained that she was getting stuck by all the 'jaguars.' (That's 'jaggerbooshes' in Pittsburghese.)

Sam laughed at me because I fell down more than he did, and he's pretty much famous for falling down. Copper, our kangaroo/dog, came charging from behind me, leapt (leaped?) over a huge fallen tree in single bound and landed right in the back of my knees. I landed on my bum with him balled up under my legs. Dog loves to jump.

Aggie took some very shaky video, but she did get clear footage of Sam on the vine that broke. He smashed to the ground and immediately asked 'Did you get me on video?!!'

We had cupcakes and ice cream for Aggie's big 1-0 last night and will have some more again tonight. Par-tay!

Let's get some festivity up in here.

last minute update: Turns out she has a fever. I sent her to school sick, but at least she isn't mental like her mother.
and don't let me forget to tell you about the guy who showed up right before closing today. Guy living in his van.


Camp Papa said...

1. Speaking as a long time observer of parents, parenting, children, and families, I can tell you you're doing just fine.

2. The very small chance that I was ever going to meet you in person has now shrunk to a percent of probability that is approaching zero. I don't think I could stand the scrutiny.

3. Is the van insured as a vehicle or a home? Does it matter if it runs?

Amy said...

That's funny--as you described Lily bursting into tears, I thought-"I wonder if she wasn't feeling well." (Only 'cause Ava's just recovered from a similar fever.)And I agree--you have definitely NOT damaged her.

I love your work stories--your descriptions of people are just so good. What a wide array of humanity! ;)

osagebluffquilter said...

Your work situation sounds a lot like mine. I work for an Electric Cooperative. We get a lot of meth customers being in the "country".
Today will be a doozie, it's shut off day. Why some people think we can give them electricity unlimited for free is beyond me!
Have a good one

Becky said...

Oh wow, shut off day! My sympathies go out to you, Osage Bluff!

And Sara, I love your posts because I feel like they really, really give a sense of who you are. Most people's blogs don't do that. And I swear you have got a book in this stuff.

Sara said...

C Papa: It's just when I'm feeling tightly wound! I *can* be normal. Promise!
The van runs...

Amy: Spot on! She was under the weather. And so far I always let her stay home a day late. When she's fine.

Osagebluffquilter: Oh! I'll be thinking of you! First-of-the-Month is our dreaded time. And if it's a full moon-Look out!

Becky: Sometimes that's what I'm afraid of-What the heck am I really like?? ha!

Sorry to whine, everybody!

ERageK said...

Alas, you are like your mother and me!!!!