A celebration—of sorts.

Usually, when I'm writing something to be posted here, I have music blaring. Not tonight. Tonight I want to hear the uneven clacking of keys as I hesitantly pound out the thoughts that have stayed with me today. Better, I think, the thoughts get put down—even at this late hour—than to take them to sleep with me.

I am a regular at the new Publix store out in Madison. I think most of the people who work there recognize me now. They greet me with smiles that seem unforced: I would like to think this is because I am cheerful—dare I even say funny?—with them. Several people have noticed that I often come in with Kat, and I think that for a moment or two, some of them presumed that she and I were a couple (judging by the surprise elicited when I mentioned she had a boyfriend and I a husband, neither of whom are ever seen at said grocery store).

There are two …. men? boys? males?—how does one refer to someone of the male gender who is barely out of the teen years, not quite adult, but is younger than yourself?—who commonly take my bagged groceries out to my car. Both of these two have encountered the speaker system in Kat's car, and both of them had taken the time to learn my name and Kat's, ask how we were doing, and chat with us beyond the requirements of grocery duty.

Today was different. No smiles today, even for a regular customer with a friendly voice.

While having my groceries put in the trunk of my car this afternoon, I learned that Anthony—one of those two fellows with the charming smiles and the appreciation for a good sound system—was killed in a freak car accident on his way to work this morning.

Three months after his twenty-first birthday. Gone—a momentary lapse of control, a curb struck, a car overturned in the median, and thus it ends. Too soon, too suddenly.

The worst thing for me is to hear someone say, "It was so senseless." Congratulations, Captain Obvious, and for your next trick would you please point out the person whose death does make sense?

I hate the feeling of inanities bubbling out of my mouth—although you'd think with the regularity that they come out of mine that I'd be accustomed to the sensation by now. The first thing that came out of my mouth was, "So senseless. So absolutely fucking senseless."

The second thing: words that came out of my grandmother's mouth years ago: "He was so young." Except when she said those words, they startled me—for they had been said about someone who had died in his mid-forties. (My grandmother was in her late seventies at the time.) It was the first time I had heard someone past forty referred to as too young to die—whatever would she think of something like this, someone barely old enough to comprehend the meaning of death, let alone deal with the reality?

Yes, what an absolute waste. Bloody hell. Fate, you have a lousy sense of humor, and I don't like being reminded that for some scary reason that I've lived long enough to see people die. Worse than that is living long enough to get a taste of the finality of death, and living long enough to understand that there are places in your life held by people that, once gone, cannot be replaced.

Was this person one of them? Probably not. I don't even know his last name.
But—not to rehash something I've already said, but it fits here: in the end, does it matter, really? Does the manner of teaching affect the permanency of the lesson? Of course not.

Despite the fact that I needed something to shake myself out of the self-questioning loop I've been in this week, I don't think this was the correct way to go about it. I've been mulling over the fact that after two years of none-too-patient waiting, Jeff will get his master's in a month. (According to the graduation countdown clock, 32 days to be exact.)

I won't insult your intelligence and say that I'm glad this will be over soon—anyone who has had the displeasure of listening to me for more than five minutes in the past two years has known that I've been gritting my teeth to get through this time. More than anything, I've desperately wanted to have a semblance of a normal marriage. I have railed against the mental and physical demands graduate school placed on Jeff—everything from our division of house chores to our weekend activities to our sex life has been negatively affected.

Thus, I'd like to present my list of things to do when your spouse is in graduate school, you hate it, and there's nothing you can do about it:

  1. Cry.
    Doing so openly gets your point across but hurts others, doing so behind closed doors lets you make those really ghastly sobbing noises without anyone around to think to call an ambulance.
  2. Drive.
    Generally doesn't matter where, but the movie-rental store was one of my favorites. Generally you find some entertainment to pass the evening by yourself, but this is a bad idea if you've just completed a smashing round of #1.
  3. Visit friends.
    Helps if you know people in town. Again, doing this after a rollicking romp through #1 generally isn't a good idea, especially if you're just furious at your spouse but you don't actually want them dead. Mostly because halfway-decent friends know that you don't generally walk around with bloodshot eyes, and they definitely know you don't have allergies like you're claiming.
  4. Call other friends.
    Great for you, lousy for the poor sot on the other end of the phone, who probably had a lovely evening (with a nicely microwaved dinner and an 'unrated' DVD with extra scenes) planned. An extra helping of pity for the poor sots who feel obligated to talk to you until you're happy again due to some misguided notion of longstanding friendship or previous social debts owed.
  5. Ice cream.
    This is generally done in conjunction with #3—because, after all, ice cream eaten in the presence of consoling friends has, of course, negative caloric value. Ice cream eaten alone generally tastes better, no one has to know you ate the whole damned tub in a vicious bout of self-pity, and nobody gets to see that you actually bought the tub of Quadruple Fudgy Death Mocha (now with caramel and marshmallows!) that you publicly mocked in a pathetic show of face.
  6. Drinking.
    Again, a dastardly act best perpetrated after accomplishing #3 by way of #2. Remember: drinking together is commiseration; drinking alone is alcoholism.
  7. Constructive things.
    I've heard rumors of stuff like knitting and other creative pursuits, but I have a theory that they're pursued by those with much healthier egos and mental states than I could ever aspire to. I tend to stick to crudely manipulating pixels in Photoshop. It seems to soothe me.
  8. Reading.
    Remember, romance novels are right out, unless #5 is involved. In this case, be sure to get the tub of Quadruple Fudgy Death Mocha, and don't forget the damn caramel and marshmallows, and be prepared with a glass or two of good wine to get you through the smutty sections (which are, as we all know, the best parts, and the only ones worth rereading).
  9. Watching movies.
    Try to stick with middle-of-the-road fare. Anything with Audrey Hepburn in it is a lousy idea. I highly recommend John Cusack or Kevin Spacey movies, with the exception of Say Anything, mostly because I have a 0-for-8 track record against that movie. One of these days I will watch that movie without sniffling at one point or another, but I won't be betting my retirement fund on it.
  10. Random furry pets.
    I highly recommend cats, but that's probably due to the fact that I have approximately twenty-eight pounds of cats that I'm currently contractually obligated to. If I don't suggest them as a source of solace—despite their penchant for leaving smelly deposits in the litterbox / clawing the furniture / waking me up at ghastly hours of the morning—I can guarantee that one of them will be attempting to suck the breath out of my body while I sleep tonight.
  11. Housecleaning.
    There's always something to be said about an angry woman bleaching down her countertops like there's no tomorrow, but it's probably a very sexist something and it's not very flattering, so perhaps it's best just left alone. That, and bleach hurts when it's thrown in your face.
  12. Attending a graduation ceremony.
    Good as a closer—seems to work when all the others have been tried, used fully, recycled once or twice, and then finally discarded out of pity.

I'm currently concocting a scheme that involves cleaning my house, baking a lot of food, decorating the place for a party, attending Jeff's graduation, inviting friends to come over for a drunken reading of really trashy romance novels followed by a viewing of an Audrey Hepburn classic or two, sharing a tub of Ben & Jerry's with said friends, scritching the cats, and then calling every single friend I've squalled on in the past two years to tell them that it's over, it's really over, and that I'm holding Jeff's diploma in my hand right now. Then, right after that, I'm going to hang up the phone, kick all of the friends out of the house, and celebrate.

With Jeff—and no one else.

Because you know what? Life's too damn short and senseless to do it any other way.

This is currently scheduled for Sunday, May 13. Get your RSVP in soon, so I'll know how many to bake for. Just be ready to clear out when I start giving you the "leave NOW!" look.