Tuesday, June 03, 2008

the pathetic trials of the middle class

Yesterday the tone of the day was set before I"d even had a cup of coffee. The husband burst in when I was still in bed, waving an envelope about and asking if I could go to the bank stat as we had to draw on our home equity line to pay the bills. The husband was rather intense and bitter about this, which in turn sparked a bit of temper on my part, as the reason we are short on the necessaries is that the husband traveled to the East Coast to be by his friend's deathbed, then took a second trip to Chicago for a memorial service despite having previously attended a wake on the East Coast, plus the entire family is (over my strong wishes otherwise) being dragged out to Martha's Frigging Vineyard at his mother's command. I feel quite resentful of any guilt-trips or emotional discussions about money when, once again, I've written off any chance of a vacation due to the husband spending all available funds on trips of his own devising (to be fair, it was my idea that he go out for the deathbed vigil, but I opposed the extra trip to the memorial service on the grounds that he'd already been to a wake and we were already out thousands). I know so many people who are darting off to Europe or Mexico now and again (including my mother-in-law, who seems to go there several times a year), and I'm stuck here being a frigging martyr.

Next the phone rang. It was Jim, our pre-k teacher, asking if I could chaperone a trip to the beach (the very worst sort of field trip, involving shepherding the children a long way on a crowded bus line and listening to their whining out in the fog and wind) AND if I could come in another afternoon to do a planned project with the children. I'm committed to volunteering one afternoon out at Iris's school, so this would mean working three afternoons this week. There seemed no decent way out of this, but my crabbiness was enhanced.

The remainder of the morning was spent chivvying Lucy about and arguing with her over her swimming lesson. Ever since Lucy had a technicolor daydream in which "a killer shark" ripped some hair out of her head, she has been terrified of swimming. Countering my argument that swimming is a safety skill, Lucy proposed that for the rest of her life she avoid all water. "You'll never be able to go to Venice," I said, but she was unmoved. It ended in tears, and I felt like crying myself as I watched her little chest heave with sobs as she sat on the edge of the swimming pool.

We are leaving for the children's annual week at Camp Mather on Sunday, and I have very limited time to get everything necessary done before then. Saturday is being completely wasted by attending a party celebrating the end of second grade for Iris's class. This party is being held up in Calistoga at a private club used normally for "leaders", according to their website. This party has my hackles up because I have been told both to bring my own picnic as the catered meal will not include any vegetarian options AND to shell out $50 to subsidize everyone else's catered meat. I contemplated staying home to prep for Camp Mather, sending the husband up with the children (and given how bitterly the children fight in the car, that would be a delight for me), but then I realized how useless that would be. We're a one car family now, and the sorts of errands I need to do (driving out to a suburban Target, going to BevMo for a case of wine, etc..) require a car.

I did manage, in all my crankiness, to run several errands yesterday, but this just added to my foul mood. A prominent item on my to-do-before-Mather list was to get a hand-sewing project together, and I carved out an hour for going out to my favorite fabric store, only to discover that the Black Cat Quilt Shop is going out of business. Say it isn't so! My life is going to be blighted without that place. It is the only fabric store the children will voluntarily stay in while I engage in the time-consuming project of matching up prints for a quilt, due to the rockstar presence of the eponymous black cat.

The day dragged on in this manner, with one stress or annoyance after another. In the evening the Sober Husband came home late from work, which isn't particularly unusual these days, but aggravating as Lucy had a lengthy meltdown after I stopped her from drawing on the floor with Sharpies. I rather meanly vented my spleen on the long-suffering husband, informing him I had no interest in hearing any more talk about money woes when we were spending "a metric fuckton" on his mother's birthday (such a grasp of mathematics and finance I have). In an attempt to suck up to me, everyone ran about tidying up the cluttered and filthy house, and then we all went off to bed, longing for a better day.


JKG said...

Here's hoping your better day is around the corner.

No more trips to MIL's, I say.

No $50 meat subsidies, when you are forced to bring or go hungry--this is a no-brainer, and easily the rudest possible approach by the host.

Say, "No, I'm sorry, but I am far too overcommited for the next 3 weeks," the next time the sainted Jim asks for your help with the kiddies.

Hire (for nothing but the grace of your presence) Hughman as your personal assistant (hope you don't mind, Hugh).

Finally, no more blog-kill entries from the Mr. DH'08, as it apparently retards participation.

Camp Mather--if memory serves and it probably doesn't--is usually fun, no?

Anyway, here's to your little whirlwinds. May the histrionics recede...

Silliyak said...

And the good news is that H and I (and probably Jim) have your back when it comes to defending your honor on the kitten front. Thank Gob they didn't see the kitten you fed to, I mean rescued from the raccoon.

hughman said...

yeah, the $50 thing is a no brainer. it's like bringing your own food to a restaurant then asked to chip in on the (expensive) bill. $50 for a kid at a party??

believe me, if i lived there i would be the DH's PA in a heartbeat. for free! we might not get much done other than giggling and drinking but still... fun! also lucy and iris could play with polly all day.

and yes, we do have your back in all things. your knights in shining armor ready to defend you to the end.

2amsomewhere said...

Ech. Been there on the money squabbles, and that is a slice of hell that I recommend to no one but might be willing to offer up as a curse to unfavored souls.

I love the term "metric fuckton". Back in my years as an engineering student, we'd talk about "sh'loads", which was the standard measure of a "shit load". Of course, then we'd have discussions on the distinction between Imperial and U.S. sh'loads.

Here's hoping things get better for all of you.


the Drunken Housewife said...

p.s. You aren't a blogkiller, Jim!

Silliyak said...

H, uh, does it literally have to be "shining"? Will there be inspections or just the honor system.

Silliyak said...

You might mention to Lucy that H and I are well versed in the eradication of hair sharks, although my motivation may be dependant on receiving a "get out of Hell" card or at least a "free chocolate drink in hell" coupon.

hughman said...

silliyak -

shining!! pretty as a princess!!

also, i'm not bad with hair sharks since i have a shaved head, ie no hair on my head. maybe a beautiful shower cap with flowers is an option.

hokgardner said...

I'm so sorry about your bad day. Having had more than my fair share of them lately, I know how wearing they are. Here's hoping today is better.

And I'd be tempted to tell MIL that if she is demanding everyone's presence on Martha's Vinyard, she should pay for everyone to be there.

And we're working on the name list. As I said, we've had a run of bad days around here.

Missy said...

Hokgardners, I'm sorry to hear you as well have been having one of those rotten weeks, and may I take this time to remind you that Cady Elizabeth is still a very good choice for a girl?

Just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

calistoga for 2nd grade graduation? damn. where will their 3rd grade graduation party be, rome?

Epiphany said...

Sounds like you're having a spiffy Mercury in Retrograde day, DH!

My suggestion: try to borrow a car from someone on Saturday so you can get your errands done, and send your husband and kids to the party. It is the one thing you can shift about fairly easily to get a bit of sanity.

And perhaps you should suffer some strange, last-minute illness, thus preventing you from going to Martha's Vineyard. Then you could have the plane ticket credit to travel somewhere you really want to go! (For instance, you could come visit Hokgardner and I and Thi and the Nettles in Austin!)

Hope today is a better one.

Anonymous said...

I can completely relate. I have 7 year old who keeps accusing me of wanting him to die every time I bring up the prospect of swimming lessons. The drama over this issue has reached the academy award level.

hughman said...

melissa -

yeah yeah yeah, we heard you already. too bad the contest is CLOSED!