I’ve been having a hard time lately. The dips in my emotional rollercoaster have been, well, deeper. Harder to struggle out of. The other day I felt so depressed for a while I had trouble maintaining a normal telephone conversation. I just wanted to put the phone down and walk away. Maybe go to sleep.
Of course, at this particular historical moment in time, with the Corona-warming-global-virusing-frog-raining-race-rioting Apocalypse going on and all, it is incredibly, incredibly likely that I’m not alone in this, just as it’s also likely that I have absolutely no right to be having a hard time. I mean, I know that I’m extremely lucky to be who I am, where I am, with enough food, shelter, safety, loved ones, probably a few too many dresses, definitely not enough bookshelves, and no murder hornets in sight… so what’s my problem, exactly?
I’ve had this thought before and I will have it again: people are suffering, people are dying and you’re sad? Who the hell are you to be sad?
The best part is that then, of course, I feel worse.
My rational brain knows that even people who have won the actual lottery can be sad sometimes, feel overwhelmed, depressed, or despondent. Sometimes they can’t even say why.
For me, I know one thing that contributed: The Chicken Who Lived? Died. This is one of our teenage chickens whose beak I wrote about being torn off by our friendly neighborhood raccoon. (Although I know raccoons can be lovely, intelligent animals, we have come to regard our personal backyard raccoon as the Ted Bundy of the animal kingdom.) After our chicken managed to survive The Incident for two whole weeks we had grown quite fond of her spunky attitude. We made the Huge Mistake of naming her (“Queenie”), and despite her beaklessness she had learned to feed herself again, and went hopping about the metal tub we were separating her in impatiently trying to escape. She had convinced everyone, even the vet, that she was going to make it: return to a normal life in the coop eating bugs and arguing over stray feathers. Then she developed a fever, stopped eating and died in a period of 24 hours.
Just like that.
Unfortunately Queenie wasn’t the only thing around here that seems suddenly ready to die; another is my ten year-old car. As it turns out I am a Bad Car Mom. I don’t remember to go for oil checks, ignore the check-engine light, NEVER wash my car, forget to get it inspected for never mind how long. And all of this has finally caught up with my poor, neglected Subaru, which at the quasi-youthful age of 160,000 miles is now lurching alarmingly whenever I press on the gas pedal.
Apparently this is very bad.
Meanwhile, as we inch ever-closer to the half-way mark, things have continued on a fairly even keel in the No Garbage department, although there are assuredly days when I feel I might lose my resolve. These are usually the days that are hot, sticky and uncooperative; the evenings when the various food wrappers that are necessitated by three-meals-at-home-a-day-because-quarantine have accumulated by the side of the sink each awaiting their own separate rub down and spa treatment and I’m not sure I can quite face it.
“Wow. We take such good care of our garbage,” Ilsa marveled one evening as I draped a freshly massaged and buffed piece of Saran Wrap atop the overflowing dish drainer. We do indeed.
Every once in a while there’s a bit of excitement when I become possessed by the spirit of the Spanish Inquisition: “SO WHO PUT AN ENTIRE ROLL OF SOGGY TOILET PAPER IN THE ‘HEALTH AND SAFETY GARBAGE’? HMMM? COME ON! OUT WITH IT!” I don’t know why everyone looks at me like I’m crazy when this happens.
Once Greta casually mentioned throwing out (!!!!) an empty shampoo bottle because she and her boyfriend have been staying in our AirBnb guesthouse during quarantine and she had heard someone say at some point that the guesthouse “didn’t count.”
“Are YOU an AirBnb guest?” I asked her with poorly concealed exasperation.
“Then it counts.”
My husband Steve has been known upon occasion to skirt the spirit of the project too, if not the actual rules. I’m sure he finds it adorable when I harangue him about putting the PERFECTLY RECYCLABLE TOOTHPASTE BOX in the much-discussed Health and Safety Garbage, for the reason that brushing our teeth falls under “health.” Or, discarding his foil photographic film wrappers in the “can be used for kindling” bag that we keep for campfires.
“This isn’t paper, darling!” I call to him across the kitchen, waving the foil wrapper at him as daintily as if it were a linen hankie.
“It does burn though, my love” he smiles back at me.
“But my dearest,” I say, battling my eyes sweetly, “IT SHOULDN’T.”
So to sum up:
I’m a good garbage mom,
a bad car mom,
a sad chicken mom, and
apparently even the Corona-warming-global-virusing-frog-raining-race-rioting Apocalypse will not deter… the Toilet Paper Inquisition.