If ever I needed proof that I am only mid-way through the birthday year where I naively wished for a spate of fresh challenges, it has fallen into my lap like spilt New Year’s champagne.
Any thoughts that the clinking of bubble-filled liquid in crystal would somehow wipe the slate clean and bring me respite was about as viable as believing hugging a skunk would turn out favorably.
I’ve have witnessed those who’ve tried and made a wide berth of their error.
And if I believed my deceased female relatives—a band of cackling, clever ancestors to whom I sent this credulous ‘speak-to-the-dead’ request to—had left their watchful posts for one instant when the clock struck its first moment of 2020, I was sorely proven wrong.
They are nothing if not dogged, steadfast, and no doubt thoroughly enjoying themselves.
It has been half a year of watching me trip over my tongue, toes, and trifling talents and land ungainly in cow-pie patties so stench-ridden they even give pause to most dogs.
I have hosed off and gotten back in the proverbial saddle more times than a handful of stuntmen. And my message to them on this fresh first month of the year is thus:
Go choke on it.
As of now—simply two weeks into 2020—I have the new and unwanted experiences of
- One dead deer
- One damaged car (soon to be …)
- One dead car
- One dead residential water system
- One restored residential water system minus one toilet
- One dead computer
- One restored computer (think snail with a limp type vitality)
- One partial electrical failure
- Two partial electrical failures
- Three whole electrical failures
- A request from the IRS to provide all receipts from when I was fourteen and started working part-time in a strawberry patch.
- Lost productive work hours wishing for the traumatic fatality of the IRS
I’m sure with one refreshing glance upward you can pinpoint the theme present in abundance:
I’m in need of a drink.
And likely an exorcist.
I’m not entirely sure what kind of a kick these vengeful visitors are experiencing as they continue to shovel calamity upon calamity in my direction, but referring back to that whole “spot the motif” concept, my guess is they have some sort of monthly execution quota to fulfil, and I was an opportunistic target.
Or … it could be that thing I did in the grocery store on December 31st.
I walked through the produce section to pick up a few last-minute things for dinner. There, squeezed between three elderly turnips and a basketful of withering Brussels sprouts was a bag of black-eyed peas.
I picked them up and rolled my eyes—which must have made a loud sound—or it could have been that my eye-rolling was accompanied by some giant snort, because a tall sapling pretending to be a human scuffled over to see what was amiss.
Is there a problem, ma’am?
I glanced up at the young man’s employee name tag. Just bemused by the fact that a package of dried black-eyed peas is mixed in with the fresh produce, Leverette.
He studied the sad display. Well, because it’s New Year’s.
I scratched my head. But they’re dried.
He shrugged. Doesn’t make ‘em any less potent.
I must have rolled my eyes again because he continued. Surely you aren’t one of those scoffers, are you, ma’am? One of the reasons we place them here is for ease of access. A reminder of necessary tradition.
I picked up the sad sack of Brussels sprouts. I’m more into “necessary nutrition.”
Leverette’s eyes went wide, and he jabbed a pointy finger toward a faded insignia on my hoodie. NASA thinks they’re good enough. They’ve been test-growing them for years in fake space vehicles and Martian greenhouses.
I narrowed my eyes at him and then whipped out my phone. Standby, Leverette.
I texted my daughter.
Uh … sure, that sounds like a thing we’d do was her reply.
I threw my nose into the air and glanced back up to catch the supercilious expression Leverette now displayed. I’ll pass, I said, and gave him a wave. Then I mumbled something under my breath about going home to make a pot of four-leaf clover soup.
Apparently, the witches were watching.
And likely rubbing their hands together with glee.
Which I find extra annoying as it makes the scent of one of those old aunties materialize. And it is an aroma that was long ago burned into my brain as specifically identifiable to her. All musk, earth, and sandalwood steeped in the smoke of her long, thin Virginia slims.
Well, that’s what I guessed they were, but I was young, and for all I know she could have been smoking incense sticks.
But the scent is present, and I’m sure it’s her.
Or it could be the wires in the walls finally sparking and smoldering. Chances are that’s what’s next on the list.
As I sit in the dark and shine a flashlight on my taxes, I try to hearten my gloomy mood with the acceptance that it’s only another five months.
I then load up another spoonful of black-eyed peas and force myself to swallow it.
Because who couldn’t use a little extra fiber, right?
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