You know that scene in The Painted Veil where Naomi Watts and Edward Norton are having dinner and she bursts out with, “Walter! Sometimes I really think you have gone insane–!!”
I know just how she feels.
It’s 11:04 AM right now, and last night hubby assured me he would be leaving for the office very very early this morning, because he had to do something very important. But this morning, after having breakfast (which involved rice and sausage and egg and many dishes to wash afterwards), he sat down on the couch to watch a basketball game. Then he decided to sweep the living room. Then he made himself a drink (since not yet noon, must be anticipating a hard day– ha ha ha!).
Had planned on starting my application for the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship this morning, but thought it prudent to wait until after hubby left, to avoid any untoward interruption (And, what crock! Why can I never resist the siren call of this $25,000, even though I know that judges open my application and read my work with puzzlement, even annoyance, since they will not be able to place where I am from, I’m such a tease that I never state my characters’ country of origin, expecting — probably white — NEA judges to be able to figure it out from idiosyncratic syntax and occasional unintelligible words in Ilonggo, Cebuano, or what-have-you?) After three hours of waiting, decided I couldn’t put it off one minute longer, sat down and tried to get started.
Hubby now watching Wild Wild West and every time I look up from the computer (I have decided to file electronically, alas, if I had known that I would have to read miles of instructions on how to use Citrix, PureEdge, and all that gobbledygook, would never have started) I see Will Smith and Salma Hayek engaged in some sort of silliness.
Very very hard to concentrate, end up downloading the same thing two, even three times (as witness how cluttered my desktop looks at this moment). Finally come to the prompt: Open your grants application package. And my machine tells me: FILE CANNOT BE FOUND.
Changing the topic a bit here, it has indeed been a very very eventful morning. First, I decided to call Tita I, and found that her husband had an “episode” a few days ago which necessitated a visit to the emergency room. Then, discussing Dear Mum’s coming when Tita asks in tone of playful irony, What can we ask your Mum to bring us from the Philippines?
OK, since she couched it like a game, I rise to the occasion, say “Pastillas!”
Yes, Tita I says, And what else?
Not just food, Tita I says.
OK, what about jewelry?
Yes, yes! Tita I eggs me on. And I start listing: pearl earrings, tortoise-shell bracelets– Hey, this is fun! But after a few more minutes Tita I is crying because she longs so much for pretty things and has nothing.
OK, next phone call: brother-in-law visiting niece for Parents Day at Stanford. He says he was shanghaied last night into treating 12 of niece’s friends to dinner.
“Parents Day is a sham!” He exclaims. “Why did none of the parents of those 12 kids show up? It is just an excuse to fleece unsuspecting parents!”
Suddenly he tells me he’s standing on a street corner in downtown Palo Alto and does not know whether to cross the street because, even though there are no cars in any direction, the pedestrian signal light is still showing the red hand. He continues, “In New York this would be no problem, I would just cross, but here everyone’s just standing waiting! Will I be arrested if I cross?”
I tell him to go ahead and cross.
He says again, “But I don’t understand why everyone’s just standing here waiting!”
I tell him, “Cross! Cross! Go ahead! You won’t be arrested! Everyone’s just very polite here!”
(I also feel like telling him: It’s all part of the California veneer, I assure you everyone hates each other here as much as they do in New York! But here even when sticking you in the back they must smile, say “Have a nice day!” If only I had managed to figure this out earlier, it would have made my “adjustment” infinitely easier–!! But no, I had to blunder about for years taking people at their word when they asked questions like, “How are you?” veritably unloading a torrent of unwanted information that made people stop, freeze up, look at me as if I were demented . . . )
Now I have to pause and ask myself, wherefrom this bitterness? Am I not happy with my simple life (even though I have still not figured out how to download Citrix/PurEdge/Grants.gov, thereby hampering my chances to win coveted NEA fellowship, deadline only days away, minutes ticking by inexorably, will also bring appearance of dear Mum momentarily–??!!)
Deep breath, my dear, deep breath.
Hubby has finally stepped out the door, and though I’ve been holding my breath for loooong minutes, door remains firmly shut. Last week I stood at window waving him good-bye, and in answer to my wave he got out of his car, came up the walk, entered the house, and sat down in front of the TV, declaring he’d decided to wait a little bit until traffic cleared. Who’s to say same will not happen today? After all, have been forewarned.
Idly, while awaiting further developments on the hubby disappearing/re-appearing act, look up horoscope on My.Yahoo.Com, find this wonderful nugget: “If your social life feels humdrum, mix things up — take a walk on the wild side.”
Meanwhile, hubby has stepped back inside. Forgotten something, I suppose (my nerves are shot). He again walks out, smartly this time. Rattles the doorknob cheerily, as if just checking to see that door really IS closed. (Otherwise he’ll come back in again to check that lock actually functions, I am sure …)