When Will It Be Spring?

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It seemed like a daunting task. The snow was ten inches deep, my boots sank into a white mess that was well over my ankles. I didn’t know how I would get through it. I also don’t understand why it only snows when there’s no one else around to shovel it. It happens year after year.

I am usually the only woman on the block picking up huge chunks of snow in my little shovel and heaving it over to the untravelled side of the front of the house. They wave and say hello, they smile, I wave and smile back at the men in the neighborhood going about the business of clearing snow with their heavy duty snow blowers. They don’t offer any help and I am certainly not the type who’d ask for help or for anything at all. So now I am sleepless and exhausted. The lower back pain and my aching arms are making it difficult for me to go to sleep, or perhaps it’s just the midnight hour caffeine binge. I’ve never believed that caffeine can keep me awake, but here I am wide awake, typing incoherently while the screen casts an eerie glow over my unsmiling face.

Why I had to qualify the state of my face and call it ‘unsmiling’ I don’t know. It isn’t as if I am unhappy or angry or sad. I just don’t find much to smile about these days. But then automatons don’t smile either do they? They run through the preset programming in their complex circuitry and do what’s required of them each day as efficiently as possible.

I approximate an automaton. I had said somewhere that I am an approximist. I am not as efficient as I would like to be. I wake up at every hour to glance up at the digital clock, I squint as I try to scrunch the lenses of my eyes every which way possible to get an accurate read of the clock. The green digits get confusing when its 3 or 8 or 5 or 6, the 4s are easy, no other number looks like a 4. After I determine that it’s only 2 or 3 or 4, I go back to sleep telling myself I have another 4 or 3 or 2 hours of sleep left. And then at 5:55 I tell myself…ah, another 5 minutes. Sleep overwhelms me at this stage and by the time my befogged brain thinks back to the 5 minutes that were left, 17 minutes have gone by and it’s almost always 6:17 AM when I throw the covers aside and drag my feet to the bathroom. Yes, efficiency is sorely lacking. The rush that starts at that moment keeps me clock bound and inefficient till 4:30 PM.

A coworker or my boss always stops by for a casual chat at 4:26 PM as I smile and nod at their comments that are only reaching me in slow motion at that stage. Nothing registers as a voice inside my head tries to will them to stop talking, “Please stop talking, please stop talking, PLEASE STOP TALKING!” As soon as they stop I do a run-walk to the bus terminal, sweating inside several layers of winter clothing as my heart rate soars and then I look for a seat next to a skinny person who appears to be a non-dozer, a well contained person whose arms won’t fall on me as they doze or whose legs won’t sprawl across the seat as sleep takes over, or whose head won’t loll onto my shoulder. But I am rarely lucky and I suffer in silence for about two hours.

Whether or not the bus takes me to my car by 6:10 PM is always a bet I have with myself, a losing one. The next race is to the daycare center by 6:30 PM for if I am even a minute late they leave me little slips of paper asking for a $75 late pick up fee. I accumulated $375 in these little slips last week. So yes, I am certainly lacking in efficiency, not a very good automaton yet. The only thing I have successfully emulated is an unsmiling face.

So it’s Sunday morning now, 4:00 AM and I am still awake. See one of the things bothering me was that I haven’t been able to write. There are things I want to write, things people want me to write but there’s never any time. So I try to make time on weekends but it isn’t possible to summon the muse when one has made the time. There are no tales I can tell, no poetry within, no inspired commentary on my surroundings. This isn’t a bad situation I am in, but it is a situation all the same. And I have no one else to bother but myself in trying to think of a better way to deal with the situation.

You can only hear “this too shall pass”, “that’s life”, “things will get better”, “you’ll do alright” so many times, then it grates. People don’t realize how much. I am not a complete moron, I do know that this will pass and will only be replaced by something else. I know too that this is life and things get better sometimes and worse at other times. I have also learnt that it isn’t very useful to classify things as ‘better’ or ‘worse’; they are all events that trigger an appropriate or inappropriate reaction and each reaction has a consequence of its own.

One minute I am sitting at my desk worrying about the levels of snow accumulation and the sludge and slush on the roads of the city, the cold water that would seep through my footwear, the snow that I would have to clear from my car as the blizzard like conditions whip about my hair and face. I think about how impossible it all sounds, about yet another late pick up fee and in the next minute I am gingerly stepping through the slush, cell phone to my ear as I call a friend and beg for her to pick up my child at the daycare, while straightening an upturned umbrella. The bus gets there, I clear the snow off my car and I get home with my daughter, safe inside and immune to the winter weather advisory. Yes, ostensibly this too has passed.

It is meaningless to talk to anyone or to “share”; there is no help out there. And help is only something one needs when one is in dire straits, I am not. I am just rolling that big old rock uphill and back after it’s rolled all the way down. It does me no good to complain, this is my thing to do. I doubt Sisyphus was ever able to take a break. I can, if I stay awake, I can type all night and tell the hard drive of a computer that this isn’t making me smile, that it wears thin sometimes.

One gets better at every mechanical task, so will I. Continuous improvement they call it. It will happen I am sure. It’s something to look forward to. One day I’ll be a super efficient machine with high levels of productivity and tasks completed in record times. Then the machine will get old and rusty, as is their wont, and one day finally stop.

4 Comments

  1. You are amazing prags..and by no means inefficient.You arent a machine -you are just doing the best you canhugsjo

  2. Come ON, now! Don't stoop to feel like you're up against automatons. Of course, you'd think we'll say "cheer up," or worse, "que sera sera…" But then, I think that when a story is compelling enough, it will find a way to be told…it's just that certain situations are either not volatile enough, or held up. The dynamic is in there, yes, like it'd be chipped into automatons, but see? The point is, you have a mind to figure out how to tap it; you don't have to endure a sufferance and spew it out. Patience is good, they say 🙂 Hugs!Ronj

  3. In a bizarre sort of way, I think, I understand what you're talking about… sometimes things just get to the point where one simply doesn't understand. But hey, at least, you've managed to write about it and articulate something that many of us want to express, but feel that it may be quite pointless to do so,

  4. "One gets better at every mechanical task, so will I. Continuous improvement they call it. It will happen I am sure. It’s something to look forward to. One day I’ll be a super efficient machine with high levels of productivity and tasks completed in record times. Then the machine will get old and rusty, as is their wont, and one day finally stop."The last sentence was a great metaphor, and an even better conclusion.


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