Sunday Afternoon: Stressed Out, I Guess

Just went up and took a shower. Two o'clock in the humid afternoon. Spent the morning doing chores around the house. Washed both cars inside and out. Cleaned up my basement workbench. Threw in two loads of laundry. Cleaned out the Shop Vac and regular vacuum cleaner. Helped clear up after my brother helped my daughter build a wooden prop for one of her photo shoots. Lots of sawdust. While I was at it, I swept out the garage. Busy morning. Good to get things done.

The humidity is knocking me around. Woof, it's like being on some science fiction planet where gravity is twice as strong. It should make me stronger when I come back to Earth, but I just want to lie down and give up.

I've had symptoms of something. An odd, underwater kind of headache. Feels like my spring has wound down. Aches all over my body. Fatigue. Trouble sleeping and night sweats. I'm moodier than usual and filled with the desire to be alone. Even when I get a writing idea, it feels like too much work to pick up the pen or computer. It all feels like too much under this gravity.

The next door neighbor is shunning me. Maybe she's embarrassed. A couple weeks ago I told her she had to do something about her barking dog. For hours early in the morning and late at night she left him out, his bark like cannon fire. I told her, we can't take it. I said, this is no way to be a neighbor. Okay, she said, her head down. The dog has been more quiet. That moment of conflict keeps barking in me. She walked by this morning while I washed the car. I said, good morning and asked, how's it going? She and that dog walked on as if I hadn't spoken.

The neighbor across the street was having his house painted but the work stopped while the cladding above his garage was removed and a guy is now rebuilding it. Things rotted out. I bet the whole thing was a shock, an unplanned expense, and though it's not my garage or bills to pay, it makes me anxious. The circular saw cuts my nerves. I feel like my world could rot out any moment.

The window sills on one side of our house are rotten. I need to call for quotes to replace them. My wife has been calling for roofing quotes. It rained hard yesterday and again it rained in the dining room. Four ceiling tiles are bowed, browned, and disintegrating. The drips fell into a bucket placed next to the pile of things my daughter will bring to her first year at college.

We take her to college Thursday and this is exactly how things are supposed to work, but, well, you know. She's our girl. Our first. And she's so good. Not having her home on a daily basis, it's going to be a tough adjustment. I know she's ready, but I wonder if the rest of us are even close.

Speaking of ready, my mind keeps thinking that I have to get ready for school. An old colleague told me there's an ice cream social for the teachers tomorrow. I won't be at the social or back to school this year, but my mind and body don't yet understand. I've had school nightmares for weeks, sometimes more than one a night and they dog me into morning. In the dreams I'm unprepared and things go desperately wrong. I wake thinking I've got to start planning lessons, though I also know I'm no longer a teacher. That logic has little weight even on my higher gravity world. It floats away like smoke.

My new job is fascinating and partially undefined. I'm being trusted to shape it, to create a position at which I can excel. Lovely, really. There are parts of it for which I have buckets of talent. There are other parts I don't feel I'm learning fast enough. No one else fusses over the speed at which I'm learning, but it reminds me of another set of nightmares in which I need to run or walk somewhere but my legs hurt too much and lack the strength to support my weight. I'm pulled down far from where I need to go.

This week I have meetings in which I need to be both learner and leader. At one meeting, tens of thousands of dollars rest partially on my performance. I wonder if the people who hired me made a dreadful mistake. Logic says they haven't, but at about now I feel like lying on the ground, sore of leg, and overcome by gravity as I look up the slight incline which transforms into something mountainous.

I've put on a record. Supertramp's Crime Of The Century. I'm sitting still as I type this. The headache is held at bay. There are drops of rain beginning to fall. The air is still heavy with humidity, but I know it's about to become filled with a storm of rain. Likely some of it will trickle into the bucket through the dining room ceiling, next to the things my daughter will take so school, each drip feeling like more and more weight, things for which I am or should be responsible.

That or the sound will be a rhythm that carries me off to sleep, for a while, a quietus in which my body will be held up by the soft couch cushions as if it were weightless and gravity, anxiety, depression, all three were the stuff of make believe and pain is less than a fiction and dissipates like the humidity on the breeze signaling changes in our world.