Ever have one of those days, one of those awful, shitty days and really, it’s all your fault anyway?
I will speak for my kids and tell you that they have them all the time. ALL the time. One has them almost daily. She’ll have the most spectacular, venomous meltdowns that only teenagers can have and the whole experience is exasperating and exhausting and she can’t help it and so I feel mean getting frustrated with her and yet… I still poke the bear. I will sympathize a little, but then I basically tell her to suck it up, that she controls her attitude and it’s up to her to turn things around. She can make everyone else miserable or decide to be pleasant.
Yeah, it’s about as effective as you’d expect.
And so it was that my fresh day, all sunshiny and new, which started with such promise spiraled into such suckiness that at one point, I looked at the stack of Chick-fil-A sauces from last night’s 9 p.m. drive-through dinner for the ravenous 15-year-old who’d been on the basketball court or courtside for four hours and I actually considered slurping them down, one after the other, because that stuff is sheer comfort in a teeny plastic packet. But, I didn’t. Score one for Self-Control — although when it did battle with the Girl Scout Thin Mints later, the cookies won.
How did things get so bad that I decimated three-quarters of a sleeve of Thin Mints? Well, if you care, read on. If you don’t and want to check your email for the 50th time this morning, I don’t blame you. I’d rather not relive it, but book sales have been sluggish and this is more affordable than paying for actual therapy.
Some backstory: I’m trying to be a better carbon-based life form all the way around. More positive, more helpful, more of a friend, more of a good citizen. And while I’m trying to be more when it comes to spirit, I’m trying to be less in body.
For the past year, I’ve been a five-days-a-week CrossFitter, which sounds braggy, but it’s not. You definitely can’t tell it by looking at me and I pretty much suck, but I go religiously because it’s a luxury that I have the time and the money to do it at this point in my life and who knows how long I’ll be able to, and so I feel like I can’t not. Plus, I want to eat a dang cookie and not automatically gain 1.35 pounds.
I never look to see what the scheduled workout is for the day, lest I chicken out, and turns out on this day it was a 20-minute rowing test. I grew up in the desert, I know nothing about rowing and can’t quite get the hang of it. But I rowed, dammit. I rowed hard.
I rowed until my legs burned and my butt ached from that hard seat and I kept rowing even though my mouth was so dry I thought my tongue would shrivel up and fall right out of my face and I didn’t stop even though I really, really, really wanted to. And you know what? No one is ever going to make one of those triumphant underdog movies about me, think “Rudy” but with CrossFit. I did not hit my goal. I fell short. Fell flat, metaphorically speaking not literally, although I did once fall off the rower because I wasn’t properly situated. Again, desert girl. Everyone around me leveled up and blew past their previous times. For me, “PR” usually means Profound Regret.
I drove home angry and fatigued and feeling the sting of failure and also annoyed because what the hell? Exercise is supposed to pump you full of endorphins that make you feel amazing and/or high and it suddenly dawned on me that I have NEVER in my life felt like that after exercising. Ever. Could I be endorphin deficient? Is that even a thing? So, I get home and forget about showering and start Googling and guess what? IT IS A THING. One of the symptoms is moodiness. So snap — I made another successful self-diagnosis and am now going to describe myself as an MD on LinkedIn.
I didn’t get the chance to investigate what kind of supplements can be taken to remedy this situation before I had to jet off to a volunteer gig. Yes, in my bid to do more and help more, I’ve landed on way too many school committees and a weekly visit to help a blind couple, which is funny to anyone who knows me because I am very nearsighted. On this visit, the wife wanted to grocery shop. I took her to Fry’s, where every other senior citizen in an 8-mile radius of the store was looking to take advantage of that once-a-month, 10 percent discount. Now, I hold grocery shopping in the same regard as toilet cleaning when it comes to least-favorite chores. Shopping on senior discount day did not improve its ranking.
The aisles were clogged with carts and people who moved slower than Sleestaks*. I didn’t know the layout and there was a lot of back-tracking and one knocked-over display (my bad) and we’d already been there two hours and I was hangry and kind of bitter and then mad at myself because I was the one who volunteered so I really had no business feeling any of these things. Still, I thought about how I could pass out from low blood sugar, right there in the boring cleaning stuff aisle, and some 89-year-old would probably just roll his cart right over me in an excruciatingly slow beeline toward the 63-cent canned peas.
I’d just unloaded 27 bags of groceries when the woman realized she’d forgotten something, so we went back into Fry’s and while we were waiting in line, again, her phone rang. It was her husband. Their little dog had been in the backyard and was now gone.
Needless to say, they were both quite distraught. I knew this meant my afternoon was completely hijacked but… how could I not help look for the dog? I was the only one who could look. The yard seemed pretty escape-proof to me, but he was a terrier and originally a stray, so he’d Houdinied out of a yard at least once before. I wound through the neighborhood streets while she called his name. Twenty minutes later, we had no other game plan, other than posting on the neighborhood website so we went back to the house.
“Well,” I said gently, knowing how unlikely it was, “he might come back on his own.”
I was halfway through unloading the groceries when I caught a glimpse of something in the front yard. The dog. Their dog! He did come back.
“You are a naughty boy,” I told him as I scooped him up. He seemed quite pleased with himself.
“Guess who just showed up in the front yard,” I yelled as I walked into the house.
They couldn’t believe it.
And I thought about all the annoying things that happen in my life that I deal with on a regular basis, like just the other day two of our dogs bolted through the side door (for the third time in a month) and I had to track them down. I just fired up the Subaru and cruised the neighborhood until I found them. I grumble about it, but when a kid texts me after I’m halfway home from Target that we’re out of milk, I can easily run back to the store to grab a gallon. I don’t have to count on anyone else, I can handle it myself. Independence is so easily taken for granted and yet it’s not such a small thing for many.
“I’m so happy you were here,” the woman said. “I don’t know what we would have done. We wouldn’t have ever found him.”
And that made me feel pretty good, not surge-of-endorphins good, but pretty darn good.
* Gen X reference! I LOVED “Land of the Lost” even though that seemed so preposterous that the Marshall family was freaked out by Sleestaks because they had mittens for hands and they were freakin’ slow and they had those giant eyes that would be so easy to just poke with a stick and run away.