This is Trader Joe's in Westport at about 8:30 last night. Milk and eggs, I believe. Elizabeth's dad took the picture. He'd gone back to return bottles. I used to think this was an indication of crazy and over reaction. I now believe it's a reaction to feeling helpless. By all means, if buying milk and eggs that you don't normally drink or eat on a regular basis makes you feel better, then clear the shelves. Trader Joe's is prepared. They were apparently restocked by 10 PM. If that's all it takes to sooth those Old Brain fears, god bless you. As it turns out, I need a little bit more.
Well here comes a storm and we’re all excited about it too. I hear everything from 18 inches with winds of 25 mph to a Nor’easter bringing 24 – 26 inches with gusts up to 60 mph. Well alrighty then. Here’s what I haven’t heard, a name. I have not heard anyone name this storm. Did we take too much shit last year and the year before and maybe even prior years for naming snow storms the same way we name hurricanes? Have we finally stopped that shit? Is that too much to hope for? Perhaps. I’m going to be happy about it anyway since I have only heard variations of sharknado in hopes that sharks will also fall from the sky for the sole purpose of entertainment because snow is no longer entertaining, if it ever was. I think it might have been, once. I know I am no longer entertained. I am either frightened or exhausted by the thought of it. I keep thinking I’m getting too old for this shit.
And then I was thinking about NM’s mother. She had a lot to say when I met her over Thanksgiving break and I learned A LOT. I think I’m still processing some of that information. Anyway, one of the things she talked about during one of the stories she told, which happened to be about her plow guy who died in a car accident leaving her plow guy-less (I wasn’t clear about why she didn’t have another plow guy) was shoveling her walkway and driveway and at one point doing what she called ‘pulling the old lady card’. I was flabbergasted. Flabbergasted really is the only word I can come up with. Flabbergasted because I looked at her and I thought, Lady, you’re in your late 80s and you’re shoveling snow off your walkway AND out of your driveway. You are more than entitled to pull the old lady card. Permanently. For real. Of course, being 50 and not 80 much less in my late 80s I don’t actually know what that feels like so I don’t really know how I’d feel about pulling the old lady card. I just know how I feel about shoveling snow.
I used to like shoveling snow. Now I hate it. Totally and completely hate it. I hate it because it means I’m snowed in and I have to get out and there’s an actual time limit. I hate it because at the end of my driveway there’s going to be a four to five foot mountain of packed ice left by the plows and I’m going to have to get through that. I hate it because what used to feel like a relatively short driveway now feels like the length of three football fields. I am not happy about this. I am not happy about how I feel about this. This does not alter my coping skills; it just scares me.
I find myself thinking more about independence these days and what it’s going to take to maintain that independence. There are things I don’t know how to do. Hell, there are things I don’t even know that need doing. The first thing NM did when he walked in my house was walk around and look at all the things that were either esthetically unpleasing or wrong with it. I’m not sure about the esthetically unpleasing other than his wife is or was a painting contractor and so he’s got an opinion about houses and I think some things are perfectly fine, especially if they aren’t hurting anything. I took care of what I found offensive when I first moved in. Black shag carpeting freaks me out; I tore it up before I moved the bed in. A gilt painted fireplace mantle was distressing to my eye so that got painted the hard way (I don’t know there’s an easy way to paint a mantle that’s made of built up intricate molding; it’s really rather lovely. Well, I think it is). After that, I left everything alone.
In terms of maintenance there are things I know absolutely nothing about. And I mean that. It’s entirely possible my parents didn’t have a clue either. After all, we moved every two to three years. One time we stayed in a house for five years but I don’t recall doing anything other than painting the eves over the deck that wrapped around the house. Wait. My dad rebuilt that deck over the course of those five years. He worked on it every Thanksgiving break. This drove my mom nuts. I paid to put a new roof and new furnace on and in the house in Stamford where Elizabeth’s dad and I lived in Stamford because it was time. I don’t recall how exactly I knew it was time but I did. I think it was leaking very badly and it turned out there were three layers so everything had to come off and some rot had to be repaired. The furnace was just very, very old and at that point I had the $6,000 to cover both. It would cost a lot more now. In Oxford with Cletus’s dad we put the new roof on together. I don’t know how we knew we had to do that other than maybe it was leaking. It’s been a very long time. I honestly don’t recall.
I have painted the interior of every house I’ve ever lived in with the exception of my current house where I just haven’t had the motivation. But that brings me back to maintenance. NM says my house is falling apart. I don’t honestly know what I don’t know. I’m going to have to ask my dad because suddenly I feel completely incompetent. It doesn’t feel like it’s falling apart. It feels like it needs to be scrubbed within an inch of its life.
I need a much smaller space. I know this. I need it to be OK if I’m snowed in. I know this. I need a way to be OK if I’m without power for a week. And I mean really OK, not just, we can feed enough wood into the small stove to keep ourselves from freezing within a 10 foot radius and the pipes may or may not freeze if it’s really cold outside. A generator isn’t going to work if I’m remote and I can’t get gas; my thinking isn’t exactly binary right now.
Truthfully? I need my house to come out from underwater so I *don’t* have to live there. I have 3.5 years before Elizabeth is done with this public school system which is why I stayed. This is almost funny. Almost. She was 8 and half done with 3rd grade when I made the decision to take it from David and not dump it on him (or insist on some other solution). Now she is 14 and half done with 9th grade and the market has not come back. I’ll be damned. (possibly)
I can stay here indefinitely or at least for the next 15 years if I really have to. If I truly do not want to live here I can rent it for the mortgage payment (maybe) and move into something smaller in another town. There are always choices. I look at them until I stop panicking. It’s just a storm coming, that’s all. And there’s a plow coming with it this time and there is wood in the garage and food in the house and blankets and candles and a tent if we need it. Elizabeth and I are strong women. It’s just that sometimes I feel like crying. I don’t suppose that makes me any less strong. I don’t *want* help. I WANT to not need help. I WANT to not be helpless. Up until recently I actually felt competent. Most of my life I have felt competent to at least some degree or at least I have believed, rightly so or not, that if I wanted to or focused on it, that I could. Especially after David left. Lately, not so much.
The chickens, by the way, are half battened down for the storm. They really did NOT want to come out this morning. I think they know what’s coming. The food and water have been moved inside the coop with the water nearest the door so that the ice can be broken and hot water poured in tomorrow morning. The door will be closed sometime this evening when I’m sure they’re all back in. By tomorrow when the snow stops the fence will be useless. We will shovel a path to the baby pen and then a small area for wandering and they will be fine until the runoff.
Note: I went looking for links to Old Brain and Lizard Brain and was kind of appalled at what I found. Pop psychology seems to have latched on like a starving infant and a spewing nipple and the definitions and analysis are frightening so let me boil it down without boxing it because boxing it is dangerous as hell. The Old Brain is responsible for your survival, people. It's where your flight of fight instinct comes from. You don't actually stop and think about this, do you? This is the brain of your ancestors. It's what, hopefully, keeps you alive. It also gets you in trouble because sometimes it's louder than your conscious and rational and much bigger more thoughtful, smarter brain. It is often referred to as the Lizard Brain because it's, well, reptilian. I just found a blog thing out there that's broken it out into three parts, the Lizard, the Dog and the Human. Christ on a Bike. The whole is to be human. The Lizard is for lust, anger and something else. The dog is for loyalty and the Human is for everything else or something like that. This is what I mean by the boxing. Gak.
The Lizard or Old Brain, at least the way I learned it before the boxing and labeling became a 'thing' is inherent and also inherited. We have memories that go back to the dawn of time; or that's the theory. This is to keep us alive. Then, to make it worse or better, depending on your point of view, we can add to the mess through trauma. If we are beaten, or abused or frightened badly, the Lizard is going to remember this shit even if the new and enlightened brain finds a way to either forget about it or move on. The Lizard holds onto this shit because for the love of god, dude, IT COULD KILL YOU!!!! The Lizard, if nothing else, is actually pretty reasonable.
So the thing is, we're supposed to recognize our Lizards. Really. The Lizard is not bad. Really. On the other hand, the Lizard is not always telling the whole truth but the Lizard is telling an old truth at the very least. Not all dogs bite. But some dogs bite. Does this dog bite? Let's find out.
Sometimes you really need to get a grip on your Lizard. Cielo once sent me a big old plastic Lizard, a tiara, a mirror and some cosmetics because my Lizard, I've noticed, is fascinated with her reflection. Kept that girl busy for a couple of days while I settled some things that needed settling. Metaphor works for me. Sometimes you just need to be with your Lizard and say, thanks for sharing. Now I've listened to you, if you could just go sit over there quietly, I need to get on with my day.
And sometimes you just need to cry it out.
- Never shut the Lizard down. The Lizard might save your life some day.
- Never let the Lizard run your life.