It builds slowly. I’m not sure exactly when it starts, maybe around Halloween. There’s a shift, subtle, like a drop or rise in barometric pressure. Maybe it’s the appearance of Christmas trees and wrapping paper in the stores even before the Thanksgiving turkeys have a chance to gobble. Maybe it’s the energy that kids put into wanting things, or the unrelenting media onslaught of “how many shopping days ’till”. Whatever it is, it’s like the full moon and werewolves. Things begin to morph and shift. Small irritations that one might have brushed off in August become huge dramas in November, lasting days, weeks, an endless screech of nails on chalkboards running just under the surface of the skin, a constant irritant. I could snap the neck of the next person I see and go on, calm and collected, not even worried about the devastation I left behind.
This is what Christmas and the end of the year is like around my daughter. Every year for the past, oh, I don’t know, decade, has been like this. There’s always a crisis, always a drama. Usually it involves her uprooting herself and the kids and flinging herself out of the house with her meager belongings in black garbage bags, the boys pulled along half asleep in pajamas, Christmas gifts left behind in her wake of disaster. Last year it was the opposite. She and her now ex-husband fought and HE left, taking all the Christmas gifts he had bought for them with him. Low life fucking bastard. If I saw him on fire I wouldn’t spit on him to put him out.
This year, for some reason, she’s had to go to Colorado Springs every weekend. I guess she was tired of staying in the house. She let some guy friend of hers nephew and his girlfriend stay in her apartment. Will she never learn? In less than a week she will be 29, she’s not a naive kid. She’s seen more of the seedy, sleazy side of life than I ever have or wanted to, and yet she does this stupid shit. So, she gets back and Oh, they took all my shampoo, my laundry detergent, my food, my toilet paper. Oh, really? Ya think? These people are SLEAZEbags, darlin’. You don’t have any decent friends, what do you expect? Oh, but I can’t say that, oh no, then I’m just “ragging on her”.
So, it builds. Starting in October. The “holidays” loom and there’s a tension in this house, like static electricity and we jump and start, expecting every phone call to be a disaster. We snap at each other, talk about it, smooth things out between us and then it starts all over. She shows up and hangs around, not asking, never asking, but she’ll sit here and chat and want to use the computer or whatever and just be here until some kind of check or other monetary arrangement is made. I see people writing about their kids, missing them, wanting them to come home for the holidays, etc. etc. All I want to do is go somewhere at the beginning of November and not come back till February. Miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and her birthday and be done with it.
The last two days it’s been her phone. Since she was about 12, a phone has been surgically attached to her body. It’s like she can’t breathe without it, like it’s a miniature iron lung that sustains her very existence. Apparently, GS1 went running into the bathroom the other day and knocked her phone into the toilet. Really? REALLY? Who takes a phone into the BATHROOM, for god’s sake??? See, there’s enough of her father, the pathological liar, in her, and I’ve caught her in enough weird stories for me not to really believe anything she says. Whatever. She stopped telling me the truth about anything long ago and she’s not going to change now. That’s is one thing I’ve learned. People don’t change. If they were liars and cowards then, they’ll be liars and cowards now. Whatever the circumstances are just brings out the true nature of the person. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
And then there are the boys. The 2 kids who’ve been yanked and jerked and pulled all over the place with her. Who’ve shot and been shot, had their toys taken and sold, their clothes and furniture abandoned, gone for days without food or baths, their pets taken away, sent to the pound, left behind and yet, their eyes shine so bright when they see the things we got them–a cool black basketball for GS1 and new sheets for his bed (“Dinosaur sheets are getting old, gramma.”), an E-bay ripstick for GS2 (all he’s talked about for weeks), Lifesavers and Starbursts in their stockings (Broncos for GS1, Raiders for GS2), and 12 pairs of socks for each of them. Not a lot, but enough. They are sweet, bright, loving boys and I don’t know what my daughter did to deserve them. Just like I don’t know what I did to deserve her. What goes around comes around, I guess.
Speaking of coming around, my company changed our pay rate again. We were for a time making the absolutely exorbitant, bottom-line-teetering sum of $12.50 per hour. I know, the wealth is staggering, isn’t it? Starting yesterday we were put back on production pay. $3.50 per report edited, $0.08 per line for reports actually typed and $0.04 per line for “speech editing” reports, which can actually take longer than typing the damn thing. The last 2 days I’ve done in total 27 reports. Work is slow in Buffalo this time of year. If my next check is $200.00 for 2 weeks work I’ll be lucky. Yeah, welcome to 2012, here’s your “incentive”. God forbid we pay you when you leave your computer to pee. I try not to let it get to me but Goddamn it, I have worked for nearly 40 years, worked HARD, done a damn good job at every single position I’ve ever been in, and now THIS? THIS? I have people’s lives in my hands doing these reports, when fucking doctors can’t dictate the right doses for medications or say the right one or can’t spell it, who corrects them? WE do. If your medical records are right in your doctor’s office, better thank a medical transcriptionist who managed to decipher the damn doctor’s stupid mumbling because they were in too big a hurry to bother to pronounce a word right. Yeah, the patients are important all right. My ass.
So, this is Christmas. I try so hard not to let it affect me, but it always does. I have so much and and I am content, truly, deeply content with it, but it seems that the world is conspiring to yank it away from me as fast as I can accumulate it. Sometimes I think maybe it would be better to just be homeless on a beach somewhere than to have to deal with this shit. It makes me want to strap on my backpack, spend my last few dollars to go back to Spain and send what’s left of my time walking back and forth on El Camino, depending on the kindness of strangers.
I. Am. Done.