One of those days

So, I have a cold. Not a super-yucko virus that has totally knocked me out. Just a cold bothersome enough to make me tired and dried up because of all the mouth breathing I am doing. When I visited Mom Sunday, I noticed she was close to running out of underwear. Oh, how I wish I had taken care of that on Sunday, before I knew I would be getting a cold. She had three pairs left, meaning Thursday would be the magic morning when she would have run out – theoretically, at least. I stayed home from work yesterday, hoping that a day of truly nothing but rest would help get rid of this little bug. I toyed with the idea of running a quick errand given all the extra time, but no, I told myself, don’t do it. I didn’t even change out of my pajamas.

So today I HAD to get that underwear. No big deal, right? Well, theoretically, anyway. First thing this morning, a plumber came to replace our 1939 original-to-the-house toilet, which had become corroded and leaky and just dangerous enough that we weren’t comfortable with it anymore. Not a big deal for most plumbers, but our vintage toilet was so corroded that the part that is critical to the connection between the toilet and the lead pipe through which all the waste is flushed required a replacement. So the plumber had to take a trip to the city’s south side to buy that part. That added a good 40 minutes to the job. I stayed home – I have more flexibility than my husband about missing work – and was able to do some work while he was at the house. But I was a little stressed, a little thirsty – but off fluids while the toilet was out of commission, a little under the weather, and eventually very hungry.

I got to work by about 11:30 and was able to spend the next few hours catching up on things, arranging interviews, and trying like hell to get into a groove to finish a story that has been hanging over me for weeks. I had a late afternoon meeting, and then a massage right after work. What could be wrong with that? Well, it’s true, I can’t boo-hoo about a massage. It was great, and helpful, but the therapist told me throughout that I need to come more often, that my muscles are too tight, that I should hang from bars and stretch more often to help with this tension in my upper back, neck and shoulders. My husband and I cut back on massage when I took a paycut for my current job, and adding more appointments really isn’t an option. So there was that. And of course, being face-down for 45 minutes let all the snot in my head push its way into and eventually out of my nose, never ideal during a massage.

OK, quick trip to the grocery and I can get Mom’s underwear and be on my way. At the grocery, the underwear weren’t where they used to be, and I feared they were no longer carried by the store. So I am scanning all the probable aisles, and lay my eyes on…a friend I haven’t seen for many, many months, really more than a year. One of my very oldest friends. And another woman I don’t know as well and haven’t seen for years. And I become intensely aware of the crust on my red nose, the creases in my face, the mascara smudges under my eyes, and my messy hair. No time for a proper greeting: “I’m sick and I just had a massage, so I’m a mess,” I said. I felt acutely in need of explaining my appearance. No big deal, they can relate, we’re in our 40s now and don’t have to worry so much, but still, I felt like shit. Thankfully, my oldest friend and I are Facebook friends – thanks to her effort to find me. But still, pausing to have a relaxing chat would have been nice. I just couldn’t pull myself together to do it. I did find the underwear, thanks to a friendly staff member. This same staff member also shooed away a customer who was chatting after finishing her purchase at a self-scan checkout and tying up the spot. While I was waiting to buy disposable underwear and four bottles of juice. I told that staff member that she was awesome.

And I haven’t even seen Mom yet, though she did call today to fret about the cat and talk about something mysterious and green that she had come across. By the time I got to her apartment, she was lying in bed. No surprise. Her evening meds make her sleepy. I loaded up her underwear drawer – and found, to my dismay, that Mom still had two pairs of underwear left, meaning she is not changing daily. And I hoped to escape without much talk, but she got up and started to chat. She asked where the cat was, and for a few painful seconds, I could not locate him and I could feel a headache coming on at the thought. But then she pointed him out in her closet – a new lounging spot for him, as far as I know. I’m just glad she knew where he was. And then she started talking about a container that had “green guck” in it. And how she gave it to her neighbor, and she wondered if I could give her neighbor a new container. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I guessed she came across something moldy in her refrigerator, possibly carried it to the lobby where her friends were hanging out, and one of her friends graciously threw it away. But really, it is just a guess. Mom seemed very insistent that I plan to replace this container. I told her I would as soon as I could figure out what kind of container it is. She was mixing container talk with a discussion about how much she loves the cat and slept with him last night. Her evening meds sometimes intensify her confusion. But this has been the nature of many things she tells me lately. It is very hard to piece together what she might be trying to tell me. I am still working on my interpretation skills.

So, this was one of those days. I do try to keep in mind that things could always be worse. Much, much worse. But they could be better, too.

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