"Everything's great" to "I'm so f*cking irritated" in 10 seconds flat
I love gray days like this. Not for picnics in the park or weddings obviously, but for just those routine times where you have an infuriating magic trick of a to-do list that never gets shorter no matter how much you hack away at it and little indecipherable post-it note reminders plastered around and a toddler shaking sand-filled shoes over the rug you just vacuumed and deadlines you're way behind on. The gray is calm. Like this placid high-school history teacher when you come to class panicking about the exam and she reminds you that no one is asking any more of you than you can handle and now you can just sit quietly and focus on showing her everything you know about the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles. On sunny days, even the sticky, awful days when you burn your hand just touching the slide, there's so much guilt and uneasiness about not being outside enjoying yourself.
There's this great Italian (maybe Sicilian -- will have to ask Alex) poem by Matteo Campagnoli called "In Principio" which has a verse translated as:
Try to love the gray days, the dullness
of days when the sun denies itself.
Remember: in the beginning it was a gray day.
Then again I still find on these days my mood can suddenly shift from that coffee-buzz, everything sort of flowing along, Wally occupied with a little truck he found behind the couch, to I-am-absolutely-going-to-punch-the-wall if he doesn't stop pinching me and grabbing onto my legs from behind. He's learned now to undo his stroller straps, so even that little minute of calm--no one's asking any more of you than you can handle-- before leaving the apartment has reversed to the hysteria of previous months. But just as suddenly he's let go of my legs and is making helicopter sounds happily looking out the window. "Where did it go?" he asks, smiling because he knows that on gray days the clouds block out the airplanes as well as the sun. That mystery pleases him. He can still hear the sounds but can only marvel at such a good hiding place.
(Now back from putting the laundry in. There are people in this building who, I swear, sit in the laundry room with the express purpose of saying, "You dropped a sock" to me before it hits the floor even, "You dropped a sock!" while it's still airborne and meanwhile I'm holding Wally's wrist so he doesn't run out to 9th avenue and putting his soaking wet sandy outfits into the machine, pouring in the soap, putting money on the card, etc. There are lots of other things I could use the help for but one thing I don't need is someone standing sentry for a ratty old beige sock of Alex's which probably lost its mate before the start of the new millennium. Is there some 5-second rule with dirty laundry like there is with snacks that hit the floor that I don't know about?
I should probably end the post with a moment of great tranquillity and enlightenment -- a sense of purpose about how isn't this just all so completely worthwhile and meaningful once you get past all the little minute-to-minute irritations and setbacks? The sun just came out really, literally, right this second, just beaming in like it had been there all the time, which of course it had.)