The Dreariest of Times

The Dreariest of Times February 1, 2020


So far, my February has not been great.

It’s only been twelve hours, and I’m already fed up.

February, my readers will recall, is the month my seasonal blues get the worst. I rarely have pleasant things to say in February.

This year seems more depressing than the last, because there isn’t any snow on the ground. There’s snow in the air, or there was yesterday. But it doesn’t stick to the ground. It doesn’t make anything look pretty or clean. I don’t see the point in snow if it can’t cover the garbage of LaBelle like a Protestant metaphor for grace, personally. It’s useless and depressing.

I want to build a snowman with Rosie, or to do some other physical activity. My fatigue and nerve pain are down from the bad attacks I’ve been having lately, but they’re not gone. My elbow twinges when I reach the wrong way for my coffee cup, and the right knee still hurts if I’m not too careful. But I’m not limping every time I stand up anymore. If the improving trend continues, I can take my last driving lesson and try the test again. But I can’t do that just now.

When I finally, finally get my license, after all this time, maybe we can figure out how to get a car. When we have a car, we can belong to a parish and Rosie can study for her first Holy Communion. But I can’t do that just now either, and probably not as soon as I thought. The best thing about living on gratuities is being encouraged by seeing how many people like my work and want me to keep writing. The worst thing is the absolute uncertainty. After three months of page views and tips so high that they kicked us off of EBT and I thought I’d be free of the department of Job and Family Services, I get sick, and my work suffers, and then the income drops by a third.

I rushed out this morning to catch the bus to the bank before it closed, to make a deposit to keep the rent check from bouncing. This was Steubenville’s infamous Saturday bus, which drives a special route and only comes to our corner three times a day. Some drivers come ten minutes late on Saturday, and one driver comes ten minutes early– guessing who has the route from week to week is one of the challenges I should be used to by now. I guessed wrongly.

I stood there watching for the bus for a comically long time, but no one came around but the Steubenville beat cop in his big black SUV, doing his usual rounds.

I went back inside with my stomach churning.

I don’t know exactly how we’re going to get out of this one.

Today is supposed to be Imbolc and also the feast of Saint Brigid, two things I ought to know about since the majority of my ancestors were Irish. But I don’t know anything about them. I think I was supposed to put a piece of cloth outside for Saint Brigid to bless, but I forgot to do it and anyway I forget the reason I should.
My great-great grandparents were immigrants, and my great grandmother kept a pot of live shamrocks and a green bear that had “Kiss me, I’m Irish” embroidered on his belly on a prominent shelf in her apartment. We went to the Irish Catholic parish in downtown Columbus, that beautiful church with the communion rail and the annual solemn procession in honor of Saint Patrick. I sang in the choir, so I learned the lyrics to “Ag Croist an Siol,” but very badly– my choir director was not Irish. She taught us to sing the Gaelic words with nice round Latin vowels as if it were Gregorian chant, and Gaelic never sounds that way. And that’s the only connection I have to the culture I came from. I am only Irish by blood and by vague inclination that I ought to be Irish.

I’m not really “from” anywhere except Columbus, and Columbus is a place I ran away from. Now I’m “from” Steubenville and don’t like it. My husband is Italian-American, raised Protestant with a tomato allergy and almost no contact with the immigrant side of his family.  Rosie says Steubenville is her hometown, and she wants to be a director of Japanese monster films when she grows up. We three are as ambiguous about belonging to a culture as snow that clouds the air but doesn’t stick to the ground.

Everything in life is ambiguous and uncertain just now.

Uncertainty is my least favorite feeling.

Thank God February is only once a year.

(image via Pixabay)


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