A few nights ago I dreamed that I was starting college and the housing people had placed me in an ordinary-sized dorm room along with nine other people. It was one of those dreams where you find the phone number but lose the phone, then vice versa, and that was going on as I was trying to yell at anyone who would listen that this was really, really not going to work for me, that I need my space, etc. The guy on the phone, when I finally got through, recommended I take a course on how to get along with people, then hung up on me.
If you think this sounds like the dream of an introvert with too many social things going on, you are right. I’m sure that it also has something to do with the recent bad thing that happened at work, which I will break my vow about not posting about work to recount here, vaguely:
Two weeks ago, in a meeting meant to clarify our job responsibilities, a person at work accused me of habits and personal qualities so opposite my view of myself that all I could do in my own defense was eke out some incoherent protests and cry, more or less for the duration of our half-hour conversation. It was the kind of unladylike crying where there is a lot of snot and you can’t say more than three words at a time without becoming incomprehensible. This conversation took place in the presence of our boss, who defended me so calmly and thoroughly that if I hadn’t been so covered with snot I would have kissed her on the mouth right then.
Now things are at some kind of cold equilibrium with the coworker, but I had never been a part of anything even a little bit like that. I usually get along with people! It made the whole front half of my skull hurt for a week, and I’m embarrassed about the crying, and I still don’t really get what happened, or how on earth I am going to work effectively with this person in the long run.
I’m still behind on everything, although I guess less hopelessly so than before. We decided to put the girls in day care for an extra day per week (a total of three). They are happy there, sometimes happier and more engaged, I think, than in a day with me at home, and I have been floundering for too long to do all the work that’s coming my way without cutting too far into my sanity. And, ideally, this will also give A some more respite time, too, since he had been leaving work early one day each week so that I could work for a few hours.
It’s a relief to have that solution worked out, but we haven’t felt the full effect of it, because everyone has been sick with one thing and another for the past two weeks. August had a case of croup so bad no one slept well for a week and a half, and then the cure (prednisone) caused wacky behavior and awful night terror episodes that made me wish for the halcyon days of sitting on the toilet lid half the night with condensation running down the walls and a wheezing two year old in my arms. And May had an ongoing cold which has developed into an ear infection and “probable pneumonia.” She is feeling much better after two days on antibiotics, but is still draggy and hard of hearing.
One brilliant thing happened last week: May’s class at day care visits every week with what they call “the grandfriends,” who it turns out are not all grandparent-aged but are either elderly or disabled in one way or another, and who live at a long-term care facility near the girls’ school. The kids and the grandfriends have formed a jug band together and they performed at an educators’ conference last week.
Seeing them play was all manner of motley and weird, and simply beautiful. A guy in a wheelchair, with giant swollen ankles, sang extra loud and low and croaky. A very old, skinny lady wearing a leopard-print coat scraped the washboard. A man whose whole body had one spasm after another sucked on the harmonica. All the four year olds were wearing their favorite special outfits: dresses and shirts and pants in all colors, none of them matching, all of them bright. Half the kids were too nervous to venture onto the stage until several verses into the first song. When they did, most of them stood with their backs to the audience, facing the grandfriends, shaking their homemade shakers or beating their hand-decorated drum. The sound was extraordinary: syncopated, loud, wonky, and yet, somehow, still musical.
It was a short performance; four songs. And at no point during the show did everyone at once seem un-self-conscious and in the flow. But I saw it flicker through each of them, I think. Joy at the sound, at making it, and pride for each other. The audience clapped and sang along.