Sunday, January 25, 2009
I hate the month of January. I feel guilty about it because it's the birthday month of both Cupcake and my father, but there it is. It's gray, it's cold, it's back to work, it's drab, it's looooong. I once wrote in a old journal that January is like a month full of Mondays. Hardly an original sentiment, but still so true.
January reminds us every single fucking year that we here at Golden Manor do not plan ahead well enough. You see, the school system pays its staff early in December (on the last day of classes) and we go six weeks without MathMan's paycheck.
Each year, we try to set enough money aside to get us through and each year we fail, leaving us with at least a few days without funds for even the essentials. We have tedious discussions about how we'll have money for gasoline and groceries. We eyeball everything in the house carefully, wondering what will bring in the most money at the pawn shop. We gather the children and brainstorm legal ways to raise cash. In private, MathMan and I debate the merits of and potential income from having one of us turn tricks.
This year is no exception. Now that we're in Chapter 13, we can't even slide on paying bills to ensure that we have the cash we need. The banks, bless their stone cold hearts, are getting their money through automatic deductions from my paycheck. So we'll hang on a few more days, wishing for January 31st (of course it can't be on a weekend so the money would hit our checking account a couple of days early) to get here fast, fast, fast!
Money issues give me a knot in my stomach. You'd think by now it's a familiar sensation, and I suppose it is, but it still makes me edgy and desperate. I think of the mistakes I've made and the high price we all continue to pay. Each time I have to say something like "Be really stingy with that milk, it has to last us" or "I wonder how long this tank of gas will hold up," I'm covered up in guilt and chant stupid, stupid stupid to myself.
The money angst bleeds over to other areas of our lives. The tension is thick, the anxiety palpable. Each of the Spawn processes it differently and reacts in their own ways. The Dancer escapes to a different kind of life, enjoying moments of calm as the guest at her friend's country club for brunch or by rehearsing her solo piece at the studio. The Actor sulks alone or gets very loud and obnoxious and pushy. Cupcake, rather like a poodle with a nerve condition, develops physical symptoms such as tummy aches and bouts of crying. I contemplate suicide until I remember that my life insurance isn't paid up anymore. MathMan tries to remain calm for all of us.
Yesterday was the kind of day that requires an emotional jujitsu I simply wasn't capable of. I've been doing the mental equivalent of curling into a fetal position and humming Journey tunes to myself. Cupcake decided that she wasn't going to her basketball game, but we forced her anyway. Yeah, that was a great idea. We may have stuck to our principles, but she was just as determined. As we sat and glared warnings at her to shut up and cope from across the old gymnasium, she sat on the bench melting down, crying and begging her coach to let her go home. I swore under my breath about having given up hours of my morning and the gasoline it took us to drive the forty miles round trip to watch this lunatic child cry in public.
Giving up, MathMan finally crossed the gym to retrieve Cupcake and after a thorough ass chewing punctuated by some vileness from me, we rode home in silence. Pulling into the garage, MathMan ordered Cupcake to her room and requested that I stay put. I knew what was coming. MathMan was as disturbed as I was by what I'd said to Cupcake. I owed her an apology, to be sure.
The worst part came when MathMan wanted to know what was in my head. He should know better. When it's bad, it's really bad. The word that I'm fixating on lately is futile. And there seems to be no end to the futility. I tried to explain what I mean when I say I just don't want to be anymore. Be. I don't want to be. I don't want to be guilty. I don't want to be angry. I don't want to be worried. I don't want to be anything. I don't want to be. There are moments when I'd love nothing more than to just cease to be.
But it won't happen. I know this. When Suzanne Horne, who blogged as Liquid Illuzion, committed suicide on Christmas Eve, my reaction was one of horror and the first thing that crossed my mind was "how could she do something so cruel to her children?" That tells me everything I need to know about whether or not I could actually perform that final, selfish act. I could not.
I hate how judgmental that last paragraph sounds. Although I cannot imagine the depths that Suzanne must have reached, I do understand that what drove her to do what she did was a combination of profound sadness and a sense of overwhelming hopelessness that most of us will never encounter. Thank goodness.
As unhappy as I get, as much as I blame myself for our problems, as much as I would like to cease to be, I understand that more than anything, I owe it to my children and to MathMan to continue. I have much to make up for and so much to repair. As imperfect as I am, they'd rather have me here, than not. Besides if I cease to be of my own accord, how will they ever have a chance to deliver the revenge I so richly deserve?