Today is Friday. Lots of people like to go out on Friday nights, but after a long week, I just want to relax.
My life is stressful. Sure, there are lots of good things going on, and I have a lot to be thankful for. Nonetheless, I am stressed. Fall is coming, which is my favorite time of the year seasonally, but also means that I go from working one job to working 3 jobs--my regular one plus two teaching jobs late at night. I've done most of the prep work for them, but it's still stressful to contemplate. I live with 4 cats; you can guess which of the 5 warm bodies in this house has to pay the bills, deal with paperwork, clean the house and take care of the yard on a weekly basis. The first of these things is particularly stressful when you're broke. And driving--I drive an average of 70 miles a day just going to work. Today I got to drive 135 miles. While none of these things are inherently bad, they do eat up a lot of my time, and I do like to do other things--like have a social life, go out for a beer once in awhile, work on my novel.
So, now I am home for the weekend, and I would like to just chill out--make some dinner, have an Irish coffee, maybe read or watch something decidedly non-educational. Nay, there are other forces at work that conspire against this goal. So, tonight I bring you:
The Top 8 Things That Keep Brigid From Relaxing After Work
1. Motorcycles. I live in the country, near a not-so-major highway. There is nothing that makes you want to rip your hair out like the sound of motorcycles tearing down the highway, loud enough to wake the dead in the cemetery across the street. Even more special is when one of your neighbors has a bike and does this repeatedly up and down your street.
2. The Sound of Children Playing. I was a kid once, and I used to love to run around outside yelling and making lots of noise. My feelings used to get hurt if someone told me to pipe down; now I get it. I know, I should be enchanted by the sounds of kids babbling, running up and down the street, riding their bikes, playing games. Heck, at least they're outside getting some fresh air. But the fact is, I am not a child lover, and the sound of one of the neighborhood girls riding her bike in circles shouting LALALALALALA very loudly and non-stop is only slightly less tolerable than nails on a blackboard. If I say anything, people will think I'm a criminal, because as a female, I'm supposed to love kids. I agree with my friend's son--as an old person, I want to live in a scary old house, have weird habits, and whenever kids play outside, I want to run outside and yell, "You kids get the hell out of here!" And people would accept it because I was an old and cranky person.
3. Loud Music. I love music. I listen to it all the time. I do not assume that the rest of the world around me also wants to hear my music. Music is like religion--it's a matter of private taste. There are only two types of music that I despise: country western music (except Johnny Cash), and rap and/or hip-hop music. My neighbors are fans of both, and just love to play them at Nigel Tufnel's famous "11" volume. If it's before 10pm, they're not violating any noise ordinances, they're just offending my audible sensibilities. I'm not one of those people who can ignore a song when it comes on, no matter how much I want to concentrate on something else. And when it's rap music--you might as well be in my house whacking me repeatedly over the head with a stick.
And speaking of music...
4. Bagpipes. I live very near a church that has an official bagpipe band that rehearses regularly in the cemetery near my house. Between that and the annual fireworks the church likes to shoot off in the cemetery once a year, I think the dead buried there have a lot to be angry about. I should probably move before we have a vengeful zombie invasion. Anyway--I usually like bagpipe music, but these folks--well, they're still just "learning". Part of the problem is that they only know one song, and they play it over and over again. The song is "When the Saints Go Marching In." I told my friend Ann about this, who is part Scottish and likes a lot of Celtic/Pictish sort of cultural activities, and she told me this was impossible. Bagpipes have only one octave, and no bagpiper, no matter how skilled, could hit the notes of "When the Saints Go Marching In." Someone should tell these guys. They rehearse for a couple of hours, and then parade down the street, right in front of my house, creaking out their sad version of "When the Saints Go Marching In", with a drummer behind them who is always out of rhythm. I would laugh if my nerves weren't already fried.
5. The neighbor's dog. My neighbor has a pit bull. He's actually a very sweet dog, and when he gets loose, he'll come charging over if he sees me outside, wanting to be pet. He's a nice dog, but he doesn't always get all the attention he wants/needs. It's hard to know where to draw the line--dogs want attention from you 24/7, and your entire life should be dedicated to rubbing their belly or throwing a stick for them to fetch. (This is also true of cats, in spite of anything anyone else tells you about them). So, I can understand the neighbors putting the dog out in his kennel for awhile to get a break. But when the dog not only barks, but whines and whimpers like he's being taunted by gremlins--and he does this for HOURS--it makes you want to put a Vicodin in his water bowl. I am sure this is why the neighbors have their music up loud and all the air conditioners on in the house--to drown out the sound of the dog. I want to pound on their door and say, "Do something about your dog, dammit!", but that' s more out of futility than rationality. They can't do anything more about it than I can.
6. The basement cats. I live in an old house with a root cellar. It can't be accessed from the inside of the house; I have to walk around to the back of my house and open the iron doors to go down there. I have two cats that live down there, one who was there when I moved in, and one that moved in after I took it to the emergency vet when I found it torn up and bloodied. The latter kitty is just fine now, but likes to go out every day. I can't always let the cats out every day, especially if it is going to rain or if I'm not going to be home. I need to leave the basement door open when I do let them out, so it only happens when I'm home. But basement kitties love to scratch at the living room floor (the ceiling for them), and mewl incessantly and insistently at the sound of my voice.
7. The telephone. I have my telephone set to one and a half rings. That is about all I can reasonably stand. I never answer my phone--9 out of 10 calls are from salespeople trying to sell me new mortgages, satellite TV, or a new warranty on my 180,000 mile car. For some reason, they no longer make cordless phones with volume control, so I can't turn the ringer off or down if I don't want to hear it. So, I'll be dozing off in my bedroom, and suddenly I'm awoken by RRRRINNNGGG!!! Sometimes I actually scream. Even worse, sometimes it is someone whom I might want to talk to, but I'm usually too tired to get up and get the phone. Inevitably the person leaves a long, awkward message, or has an irritated tone in their voice that suggests that they KNOW I'm home and just not picking up, so that I'll feel guilty when they've hung up. But I don't feel guilty. People who do not understand why I don't pick up the phone at 9:00 at night do not realize that it would be worse to talk to me at 9:00 at night. If it's someone I haven't spoken to in awhile, I will feel obliged to have more than a 1-minute conversation with them. Knowing this is not possible, I wait until a time when it is possible. It drives me nuts when people don't get that, and those people often are family members. My friends do seem to get it. That's why they're my friends.
8. Kitty "accidents". My indoor cats have two well-maintained litterboxes. Nonetheless, my little female cat insists on crapping on the floor outside the box, as a protest over the fact that her brother also uses the litterbox (the horror!). She will pee in the box, but not the other. It's my male cat who pees outside the box, and not because he is angry. It's because he's a long cat who steps into a smaller litterbox meant for his sister. The box is hooded, but instead of turning around, he just stands there and pees OUT the hole of the box hood. It's not malicious, just stupid. There is nothing that says "Welcome home, Mom!" like the sight and smell of cat piss and/or shit on your floor when have come in after a long day. Aww, how did you guys KNOW that Mommy wanted to wash and disinfect the bathroom floor when she came home?
Ah well. That felt better. I'm off to watch MST3K reruns. Enjoy your weekend.