Today was one of those days.
When you ask someone, either out of some misplaced sense of social duty or just as an innocuous greeting, “How are you?” and they say, “It’s been one of those days,” you understand. You know, from experience, that the emphasis in that answer isn’t on the word “one.” It’s not, “I’m having one of those days.” Nobody ever has just one of those days. It’s “one of those days.” To which the proper response is to offer a hurried condolence and to scurry away as quickly as possible.
Today was one of those days. It was, to be clear, not life-changing. But it was the kind that mocks your meager attempts to control it, rips up your clever plans, laughs at your little lists, and throws banana peels at you as you furiously backpedal. In a curious way, as I get ready to put this baby to bed, this day actually has been kind of life-affirming.
We all have plans. We all have things we want to do, things we have to do. Things that we may not want to do but we need to do.
Here’s a daily for-example:
- Write a blog post.
- Go to the dentist.
- Work out.
- Figure out dinner.
- Research that book project.
- Check in on a friend.
- Pick up some salmon while it’s on sale.
- Clean the garage.
- Do some laundry.
- Cut your nails.
- Put that console table together.
Mary Jo compiles lists. It sometimes seems that she puts together lists for no other reason than to check things off of lists. If you’re a list-writer, and you can come to the end of the day with lines through everything on your list, or through most of it … whew, that’s a good day.
On the other hand, there are those days — yep, those — where nothing’s getting done, nothing’s being crossed through or checked off, where those banana peels are flying and you’re upset that you didn’t just put “Open eyes” or “Go downstairs” or “Don’t fall down” on your list. I have suggested that a good first entry for the inveterate list-doer would be “Scratch something off list.” Boom. Congratulations, you go-getter.
I do lists, too, on a pad next to my laptop and on Google Keep when I’m away from my desk. Long-term plans. Today’s to-dos. Somewhere in-between personal wants and dreams. Boring tasks. My list-points are scratched out, once in a while. Circled. Underlined. Boxed in. Mysterious arrows reveal strange phone numbers. Names I barely know appear and are lined-through. Hieroglyphics arise from, I guess, some multiverse.
And often, for all the sweat we put into these lists and the promise that checking them off may hold, it just doesn’t matter, because one of those days comes along. Those freaking days.
It wasn’t a terrible day. It was like most of those kind of days. I walked out to the garage to get in the car to run a few quick errands. I remembered a pothole on a downtown Atlanta street that I hit the night before. I checked the tire. Hmm. Bulge in the sidewall.
And so started a trip to the dealer, where I waited around and waited around and waited around some more just to find out that the tire was not covered under warranty (it had less than 10,000 miles on it) and that they didn’t have a replacement tire on hand anyway. I called my insurance agent. (A bad tire can be claimed under a collision provision in your policy, evidently. But, of course, you’ll have to fork out a deductible first.) I sat in the car in the dealership parking lot, looked up tire shops, found a Walmart almost next door, and walked into their slimy-looking auto shop in the back where they shut me down on the spot. I called around to a half-dozen other tire retailers — my to-do list now suddenly flying away before my eyes — until I found one that could get me the rare piece of rubber I needed … if I wanted to wait a couple more hours and pay a stupid amount of money.
I ran to the post office (stood in a line), then to pick up a prescription (another line), bagged the grocery shopping I had on my list (had no idea how long the tire was going to take, and couldn’t really have a pound of on-sale salmon in the car while I waited), and then bolted over to the slimy tire shop where a too-courteous young man told me not to feel too bad about the price I was about to pay, that he just put a $550 tire on a similar model car. I wandered the semi-sleazy neighborhood while they changed the tire, shelled out some $300 (!!) for a single fricking piece of round rubber and rolled home, four hours after leaving, beaten and exhausted.
No one dear to me was hurt. I didn’t lose my wallet. Didn’t get in a wreck. Didn’t make a fool of myself. So it wasn’t one of those terrible, irredeemable, life-altering days. We’ve all had those, too.
But, as days go, it could’ve gone better.
One of the standing entries on the lists that I write down, and always on the ever-lengthening list in my ever-crowded head, is to post more. If I’m not yet ready to knock out that Great American Novel — when I am, you’ll know — the least I can do is to pop out a few posts on a blog. It’s not Hemingway, for god’s sake.
Today was supposed to be one of those posting days. This particular post, the one I’m feverishly tapping out now, wasn’t the one I originally envisioned. That one was going to be on the perfect being the enemy of the good, on so-called “perfectionists” (hate the idea) and paralysis by over-analysis. I’ll get to that soon enough. I’m gonna post more. Honest. It’s at the top of my list.
But, for now, after a day like this one, this will have to do. And even if I don’t hammer out this post by midnight — and it looks, right now, as if I will — I’ll slash through something on my list. Even if I have to retroactively go back and write “Knock something off this list.”
(Pardon any typos. One of those days.)