I wrote the following before I became successful, and I can prove it. The news that day was that Bush ws considering going to war with Iraq, and Guliani’s new book just came out. That proves I wrote it at that time because I noted those things at the time in the piece (which I’m editing now to make it present tense) and since generally I can’t remember more than about two weeks at a time, that proves it. Good enough for me. Actually, earlier that day I apparently had difficulty remembering an ATM transaction that I conducted 48 hours prior. I’m not mentally challenged, just a Gemini. I’ve got a hundred thoughts bouncing around my head and keeping track of them takes all my resources. It’s like juggling a bunch of greasy balls while wearing big, thick gloves. It ain’t easy. I must come across as very distant and removed to people, perhaps even arrogant. But I’m just juggling. Then again, I am arrogant. Oh well. Anyway here it is.
I’m writing this during the period of time that my mother refers to as “esta situacion.” That would be my entire adult life.
In my mother’s worldview, the other shoe is always about to drop. I envision a giant shoe floating above my mother’s house, or above her head to be more accurate, always on the verge of tipping over and squashing her under the rubber sole.
There’s never any real hope on the horizon for mom; the only hope on the horizon is a smirking, sarcastic entity teasing her for even trying to believe that tomorrow might be better than yesterday. The present itself doesn’t really exist in her mind except as “esta situacion” which means “this situation” and is used frequently to refer to the present as if we are perpetually in the midst of a hostage negotiation. “What are we going to do?” and “What will become of us?” are questions I’ve grown so accustomed to hearing that it’s approaching self-parody whenever she says it. Nonetheless, at some level deep inside it still annoys me. Which is probably just a masculine way of saying it hurts me. Obviously, it indicates a firm disbelief in any light at the end of any tunnel (I recall a friend of mine once telling me that the last time he saw light at the end of the tunnel, it turned out to be a train.)
That we’re in a tunnel, permanently and perpetually, is self-evident to her. She owns a home, owns a new car (on which she is able – due to her excellent credit rating – to make payments of only $100 a month), has a few thousand bucks in a savings account, and doesn’t have to drive to work since she works at home with my grandmother in the fur business. I’m living in the nicest house I’ve ever lived in which is practically a small mansion, am thoroughly enjoying my work which consists mostly of creative stuff (web design, video editing, etc.) and my grandmother is in good health. Tragedy, right?
Were you to try to convince my mother that her life is a good one (notwithstanding her never-ending physical complaints which are themselves caused, I believe, as a direct consequence of seeing life as a never-ending depressing situation) she would be furious and fight tooth and nail for her version of reality. Most people hope to live a long healthy life. While walking in to a Best Buy yesterday, my mother told me she hopes and prays to God she doesn’t live to old age. Not that we were discussing old age or anything, but segues have never been my mother’s strong suit.
I remember reading Kafka and feeling a profound sense of déjà vu and affiliation with the mood his work creates. The Carol Burnett skits with Moma and Eunice also hit that note. Funny to view, bittersweet to live through. Mostly bitter. Except that the temporary relief of that bitterness is, I guess, experienced as sweetness. Which is like saying I bang my head against the wall so that I can enjoy the relief of pain when I stop doing it. There has to be a better way to feel pleasure.
There again, however, we diverge. Pleasure is something that makes my mother suspicious. She will, of course, disavow that and purport to have no such Freudian misgivings about happiness. I beg, on a bed of nails, to differ. It is pleasure itself that perpetuates the “other shoe will drop” feeling for her. She has said as much to me before in relating what her mother told her: something about whenever you laugh too much it means you will cry that much more in the near future. Happiness and laughter as harbingers of doom. Seems reasonable. Check, please!