Everything and Nothing: A Day in the Life
Yesterday was one of those days filled with everything and nothing. I bet you can relate. It started in the wee hours:
4:00 am Matthew, a high-school senior, is picked up by his girlfriend and her dad. They head to school for the band and chorus road trip to Cleveland. I have left a good-bye note for Matthew; I stay in bed.
6:00 am Up for the day — late. Abbreviated morning practice. Make tea. Husband departs.
6:20 am I plan the day and drink my tea. The three cats are acting somewhat frantic. One of them, Finn, is scheduled for surgery today so no one has had access to food or water since last night. Sasha tries to eat a houseplant.
6:35 am I carefully read through the thick recital packet from Emma’s dance school, decide that I’m not going to volunteer as a chaperone, and calculate our ticket purchase. Emma is still in bed; I go upstairs to confirm that she wants to stay home today on account of last night’s late concert. She does. So I don’t need to make her breakfast or lunch. Bonus!
6:50 am Liam, who just turned four years old this week, gets up (unusually late). We snuggle and eat breakfast.
7:20 am After settling Liam on the couch watching Tom & Jerry, I go upstairs to shower and dress.
7:40 am Seven-year-old Aidan is still asleep. I wake him up, hurriedly get him some cereal, make lunches for both boys, and dress Liam. I put Finn in the kitty carry bag and make it out to the garage.
8:10 am We drive down the hill. The school bus rolls up and Aidan departs. Liam, Finn, and I set off for the vet’s office. Finn howls all the while, trying to claw his way out of the carry bag. Perhaps he knows that he’ll be leaving the vet’s office with a little less than he’s bringing in. Each time Finn howls, Liam screeches in delight.
8:30 am At the vet’s office. I fill out Finn’s paperwork and Liam kisses Finn goodbye through the carry-bag’s mesh.
9:00 am We arrive at Liam’s school. Liam hates his school, and informs me of this repeatedly, as he always does, clinging to my leg as I try to leave. I extract myself remorsefully, telling myself that Liam’s acceptance letter to his new Montessori school is surely imminent.
9:25 am Back in the car, I listen to an installment of The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, which is lovely. En route to the studio, I pick up a cappuccino at my favorite local café.
10:00 am At Open Studio for the monthly meeting of my nonfiction writers’ group. (I am a member of this group, rather than the facilitator.) I love these women. Great feedback and encouragement on my e-book project, which is nearly finished.
12:20 pm Check e-mail from the studio, respond to a few client messages, take my turns at Words With Friends via iPhone, and plan the rest of the day before heading out. The vet calls to say that Finn did great; he’s still seeing double but I can pick him up anytime after 2:00.
12:40 pm Heading for home. On the way, I drop off two bags of shirts at the dry cleaner’s and stop at the pharmacy to pick up an rx.
1:15 pm At home. Eat lunch. Check in with daughter, who is enjoying her day off. More e-mail triage. Let dog out. Register Emma up for a creative fashion camp.
1:45 pm 30-minute phone call with student from my Wednesday writers’ workshop who missed class yesterday due to illness.
2:15 pm Brief chat with my oldest, Russell, about last night’s concert. Russ just returned home from college yesterday and I haven’t had much chance to see him yet. I also spend some time mapping out the choreography for the afternoon, as Matthew, who normally drives Emma to her voice and dance lessons, is en route to Cleveland and there is a lot to juggle being down my Thursday afternoon chauffeur. Russell is on deadline with five papers that are due tomorrow so I can’t assign him any driving.
2:55 pm Depart for Emma’s voice lesson. Emma, who has her learner’s permit, does the driving. I practice my deep breathing as Emma hesitates in the middle of an intersection, nearly causing a five-car pileup. But she’s doing great.
3:20 pm Arrive music school, late. Emma goes in for her lesson. I get into the driver’s seat and head to Liam’s school. More of The Forgotten Garden.
3:30 pm I retrieve Liam, who is always deliriously happy to see me. I have brought him some leftover candy from his birthday piñata, which he munches intently as we drive back to the music school to get Emma.
3:45 pm Depart music school with Emma and Liam. Emma is driving again. Getting to the dance school two towns over requires several highway stints. More deep breathing. Meanwhile, Russell, who is at home working on his papers, will meet Aidan when he gets off the bus.
4:10 pm Park outside the dance school. Emma goes inside for class. I check in with husband via text to be sure that he’ll be home by 6:00 in order to take Aidan to soccer practice. Everything seems to be on target. I have promised Liam a treat at the bakery next door (the piñata candy hasn’t made a dent in this child’s appetite for sugar and even though I try not to eat the stuff myself, apparently I have no problem feeding it to my children); we attempt to enter the bakery but they’re closed. Liam bursts into tears. I assure him that there’s another option a short walk away. He cheers immediately and we have a nice walk in the sun. He ends up with a brownie and apple juice. Happy.
4:40 pm Back in the car, we still have over an hour left to wait out Emma’s 90-minute class. I allow Liam the rare delight of watching a DVD in the car. I queue up Monsters Inc. With Liam plugged into the electronic babysitter as he happily strews brownie crumbs all over the car, I sit in the passenger seat and prepare to do some work on my laptop. I realize that a studio document I need is only available online, and I have no wifi access here. Instead of doing client work, I opt to make edits to my e-book based on feedback from the morning’s writers’ group. Nothing like creating in the middle of things. I make excellent progress punctuated by intermittent conversation with Liam.
5:40 pm I hear an unfamiliar beeping noise and suddenly realize what I’ve done. In my frantic attempt to jump out of the car and run around to the driver’s side, I get caught in the strap of my messenger bag and nearly wipe out in the parking lot. By the time I make it to the driver’s seat, it’s too late. The car battery is dead. I’ve been playing a DVD for nearly an hour without running the engine.
5:45 pm Call husband, who is nearly home. We decide that I’ll use the roadside service deal that comes with our car lease. I call and make arrangements for a jump. They tell me it will be about an hour. This is going to be a very long hour. Emma asks me if the battery will recharge itself just by sitting there. No, I tell her. That’s not how it works.
6:00 pm Liam is hot, as he’s sitting in the sun, and Emma is cold, as the windows are open and she’s sitting in the shade. I’m on Liam’s sunny side, and I’m pretty sure my left ear is getting burned off in the late afternoon soon. I’m unable to address any of these climate control issues, seeing as the car is dead. I tell Liam to climb into the shady side of the car. I check in with my husband, who has arrived home to take Aidan to soccer, but Aidan isn’t ready. (I neglected to ask Russell to tell Aidan to get his soccer kit on.) Aidan will be late for practice. I inform my husband, in case it isn’t readily apparent, that I will not be making dinner.
6:30 pm We’re getting hungry, and I really have to pee. Meanwhile, the vet closes at 8:00, and someone needs to get there in time to fetch Finn. The tow guy calls to tell me he’s on his way. He’s leaving from Newton, which is at least 45 minutes away. Seriously? Time for action. I decide that Liam and I will walk over to the pizza place around the corner while Emma stays with the car. As Liam opens his door, the interior light flicks on. How can the light go on if the battery is totally dead? I turn the key in the ignition. The car roars to life. Apparently that is how it works, I note for Emma’s benefit. It’s been a while since I experienced this level of gratitude for the combustion engine. We set off for the vet’s as I call to cancel the jump.
7:05 pm We make it to the vet. Liam, ever curious, comes in with me. $210 later, we come out to the car with Finn in his carry bag, which I hand to Emma. At which point we discover that it’s soaking wet. Apparently Finn, in his post-surgical state, relieved himself upon being installed in his bag. (At this point I can relate to his sense of urgency.) Given that Emma doesn’t want to hold the wet bag on her lap and Finn is meowing his head off, it’s an interesting drive home.
7:20 pm We’re home and I make a run for the bathroom. Emma takes Finn upstairs in the pee-bag and the boys sit down to eat the veggie corn dogs that my husband has set out for them. I scrounge up some dinner for myself. Aidan, recounting the day’s events at school, bursts into explaining that when he was out at recess, a second-grader named Tommy gleefully pulled a worm in half, brushing aside Aidan’s protests. Aidan, haunted by the image, is devastated, sobbing uncontrollably. I stifle the urge to do to Tommy what Tommy did to the worm.
7:40 pm My husband takes Liam upstairs for a bath. Aidan is still too emotional for bathing. We talk.
7:50 pm Partially recovered, Aidan heads upstairs to brush his teeth. I clean the kitchen.
8:30 pm It’s way past bedtime for the boys. I go upstairs to tuck Liam in and read to Aidan. We’re in the middle of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Aidan and I very much look forward to our nightly reading ritual.
9:00 pm At my desk. As he has requested, I edit two of Russell’s final papers.
10:45 pm Russell brings his laptop into my office and shares a few funnies from the interwebs. Emma makes an appearance and laughs with us. I advance the laundry.
11:05 pm Upstairs, I say goodnight to Emma and get ready for bed. I check my pedometer and see that I’m 100 steps short of my 5,000-step daily minimum. So I run downstairs to grab my prescription. By the time I get back, I’ve hit my quota. My husband has long since turned out the lights. I’m too tired to read my book, even though book group is on Saturday night and I’m only halfway through. Sleep awaits.
If you’re reading this line, you are the only person in the world to get this far, and I hug you for keeping me company all the way to the end.
Despite the day’s adventures, I’m pleased that I managed to create in the middle of things, and that I kept my cool rather than succumbing to stress. I know that by this time next year — heck, this time next month — I won’t remember this day at all. And yes, tomorrow is another day.