Sunday, March 22, 2009

The forecast for the day is just a thin, lone, wiry lightning bolt. Rainless, and not the least bit intimidating, and hardly inspired.

Slept on the couch last night in a resigned effort to make Saturday last twice as long, since the day ended with little to nothing having been accomplished, like the rest of last week. What I intended was to take a shower before bed, but after the kids were bathed and the chores of the evening were through, I clicked on Mythbusters and plopped down for a breather and...

"Raised children" needs to be added to the list of daily accomplishments, lest I begin to feel like my life is going nowhere. When you get to the end of the day without having even gotten in a good shower, life just starts to feel meaningless. But it feels especially meaningless if you are unshowered, unshaven, teeth unbrushed, and you're wearing yesterday's work clothes.

I felt dirty, which is why I didn't want to climb into bed. I'd come back sweaty from a run in the morning, got pooped on and vomited on and then went out and worked in the garden dirt a bit during the kids' naptime. Then I had my hands in the boat's engine compartment, which reeks of grease and stagnant water. And then there was the fumbling of old charcoal in the barbecue. It was a nice meal, but the Little Ditchman spent most of it in TimeOut, with her face against the wall, defiantly.

All the joys of parenting are diminished during a TimeOut. She had thrown her cup on the floor, after we had told her not to, and then she refused to admit it and apologize. She was trying to outwit/outplay/outlast us there, against the wall, and it was clearly another test of power, which she would lose. When Mommy and I finally got up to leave was when she broke down and gave in (abandonment is the insufferable punishment.) It is good and necessary to teach a child discipline, obedience, and respect, but with every passing battle a tiny, hungered, darkened, heartbreaking distance grows between parent and child. Even if you do it right, they will never thank you for it. It must be how God feels when He tries to teach us an important lesson, and we shake our fists at Him in response: You don't love me! Having nothing to do with any it, The Little Ditchman also said she didn't want to go to church tomorrow.

On the couch, I dreamt I was at a medical supply company, looking through cabinets of hearing aid batteries, to find one that matched the water filter for my aquarium. At one point, I was mistaken for an employee and started being handed things to do and asked questions about this or that policy. I was becoming very popular with the job, and then the boss arrived. I was told his name was "Mr. Frucker" and that I should be sure to pronounce the "r" to avoid the sting of embarrassment. So I said, "You mean like this: FruckeRRRRRR?" And everyone laughed.

That's about when I woke up, without the battery I'd been looking for. I remembered the battery's number: CR2354, and it occurred to me how much bigger it is than a hearing aid. It's amazing to me that my mind will construct such oddly complex scenes, and yet senselessly place a battery the size of a quarter inside a hearing aid. So, I was laying there in the dark, on the couch, silently wondering about it, and I suddenly felt the whole room jiggle beneath me. It only lasted a few seconds, and then a minute later: again. It was almost undetectable. It worries me when it happens, a small quake here could mean The Big One in L.A. or San Francisco, but a large truck had gone by in the distance and sometimes the windows rattle when that happens. Still, I've never known a truck to make the couch shimmy. I looked over at the clock to make a note of the time, thinking I'd check the news for earthquake information in the morning. It was 4:00AM.

Sure enough.

But then I re-read it. That wasn't 4AM this morning, that was 4AM yesterday morning, making this morning's rumblings just a phantom, and no earthquake. Perhaps I'd imagined it. Perhaps it was a truck after all. Perhaps the cat rubbed up against the couch.

In any case, I'm imagining things again. This past week has been one with some profound dreamtime, and wistful days of wishful thinking, with work so slow. I got out in the driveway yesterday and fired up the old boat, the rusty bucket of fiberglass and steel that's slumped in a pile in the cul-de-sac like that character in the Holy Grail bellowing "I'm not dead yet!" After charging the battery for a time, I got it fired up. It ran swell for a few minutes, and then POP! which means another broken pushrod. The problem just keeps happening, no matter how hard I try. And with every pop, snap, and clunk, I feel the dream of being out on the water just die a little bit.

I'll go take a shower now, and drag the family to church, even though it's they who drag me most of the time. Spring has not yet sprung, but it is coiled and set, like a trap for the beleaguered and downtrodden of us, tired of the winter of our discontent.