In the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the best character is, hands-down, the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by the uber-charismatic Alan Rickman. In my favorite scene, Nottingham, clearly frustrated by Gisborne’s inability to capture Robin, stalks through his castle halls, kicks open Mortianna’s (the creepy, white haired, white-eyed witch) door, walks up to the altar where she is reading stones, picks up a daggar and just starts stabbing at the stones randomly, throws down the daggar, leans back and sighs in temporary resignation. Mortianna looks at Nottingham and says, “Something vexes thee?”
Lately I have been feeling vexed, and it came to a head yesterday when I was feeling especially frustrated and stabby. It’s a good thing there was no Mortianna around to do my evil bidding. John is on vacation this week, so I went on a temporary retreat to my new (more on that) bedroom and avoided people most of the day. It helped. I mentally listed all the things that have been vexing me. That did not necessarily help, but I present them to you now.
Last week we did some shifting around and the girls now each have their own bedroom, and John and I have a whole wing of our house to ourselves. This move has been a long time coming, and we’re all happy with it, but there are laundry baskets full of random things that we can’t get rid of, but has to go somewhere. Clearly, I am going to have to enter the Storage Space of Doom and get rid of some junk in there to make room for the things we need to keep.
Yesterday I found a cricket in my new bedroom on the underside of a towel that I had left on the floor. I don’t know if I have ever detailed my irrational fear of jumping insects/creatures here before, but crickets pretty much represent all that is unholy, evil, and fearful–with their black bodies and their gigantic jumping legs. I just know that they’re aiming to jump on my head and chew my face off. And there was a cricket. in. my. bedroom. Who’s to say that I won’t find one in my bed next time? Why would I worry about a cricket in my bed just because there was one on the floor? Because our box springs don’t fit through the doorway of our new bedroom, so our mattress is on the floor until we can find a solution. So yes, there could be a cricket in my bed.
Ever since 4th of July, retail commercials and my friends on Facebook have been determined, determined I tell you, to remind me that “back to school” is almost here.* Gah! It’s not that I don’t want to return to school, but I didn’t like my summertime peace to be pecked away in large chunks when we were only halfway through summer break. Now that August is upon us, it makes more sense to me to be talking about back to school. But even still, we have 2.5 more weeks, peeps. I can get a lot of work and a lot of relaxing done in that time… so let’s not hit the “bummer, it’s over” button until it’s actually over, okay?
*My fb friends who are teachers and are already back to school are exempt from this.
******** Long vex ********
We have lived in this house for 10 years, and our elderly neighbor, Mrs. B, has become like a grandmother to all of us. She has always had a bad memory. She can never remember my name, and I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t know the girls’ names either. We’ve noticed that her memory lapses are growing worse, and there are other indications that she is really slipping. Examples of this are many and frequent, but probably the most notable one was when we were under a tornado warning–meaning a tornado was in the area–the sirens were going off and the girls and I were down in the basement waiting for the storm to blow over. The tornado ended up being a few miles away, but right in the worst of the winds and storm, the doorbell rings. I just knew it was her because she is the only person I could think of who would be outside in this kind of weather. Now, I can understand not realizing a storm was coming in because you had the t.v. and radio off. But storm sirens are pretty distinctive. There really isn’t anything else like them, and anybody who has lived here for one season knows what the storm sirens are. And poor Mrs. B, she came over to ask us what those sirens were. She didn’t even know what they were for.
Example #2 just happened yesterday morning. We returned from Chicago late Tuesday night. My brother stayed at the house to take care of the dog while we were gone, but we didn’t ask him to do any yard maintenance. Yesterday I overheard her in our front yard mildly chastizing Super L, who is 4years old, that “that man” (my brother) didn’t water our flowers and that we need to do that because they’re looking pretty bad. She wasn’t mean about it, but she was talking to SL about it the way you would talk to an adult. SL and Mrs. B are great friends, but SL didn’t know what to do with that conversation so she came and got me.
There are so many other little things–like not knowing what day it is (which, to me, that can happen to anybody), one day she asked me if it was 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. because she had just woken from a nap and wasn’t sure whether it was morning or afternoon. She doesn’t seem to recognize the appropriate timing for things. For example, John will be in the middle of mowing the lawn–actually pushing the mower up and down the yard and she’ll walk over with a day-old newspaper and expect him to take it from her right then and there. She’ll ring our doorbell at nearly 10:00 p.m. to give the girls some chocolate. One day John was outside with SL and Ms. B came over to chat. SL fell and scraped her knee pretty badly in the driveway. When SL hurts herself, she cries really loudly (it’s a bit annoying actually). John was trying to assess the cut and take care of her, the whole time Ms. B was bending down right in John’s face trying to talk to him about the tree in her front yard.
I know it sounds like I am complaining about these things because they inconvenience or annoy us. I’ll be honest and admit that sometimes these things are irritating. But, we love Mrs. B. She is always kind, always good-natured. She has given us more chocolate, cookies, soda and ice cream over the years than I could even calculate. She watches over our house (and our landscaping) like a hawk. They are irritating because it’s hard to watch someone you care about start to decline–even if the symptoms don’t actually hurt anybody. It’s just obvious that she is just unaware, and I wonder if she often feels lost or confused. She’s so good-natured, I think she’s pretty good at hiding it or compensating for it in other ways.
This is what really vexes me about the whole situation. She has two grown daughters who live in town, and I see her come by Mrs. B’s house about once every two weeks. I tried to talk to her once about the things we have been noticing about Mrs. B, and she totally brushed me off and minimized it. I know that is natural to want to deny that our parents are getting older. I even understand if she was offended because she thought I was sticking my nose in her family’s business. But, if your elderly parent’s neighbors came to you and said they were concerned because they’ve noticed new/worsening things, and they’ve never brought up concerns before, wouldn’t you at least hear what they had to say? Wouldn’t you show up a little more often to check on her?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m way out of line here. Mrs. B’s daughter knows Mrs. B way better than I do. I just know what I see. And I also know that I’ve bumped into her daughter two times around down since I tried to talk to her and she has avoided me both times. So. Yeah. This vexes me because I feel like my hands are tied. And yes, it made a bit angry when her daughter said, “Oh, you’re just now noticing Mom’s bad memory. She’s been like that for years!” No, lady, I’m not “just now noticing.” I’ve had the exact same conversation with her every day August through May for the past eight years because she forgets that I work. So when I come home from school, every day, she asks me where my “other daughter” is. I tell her she’s inside with her dad and that I’m just getting home from work. And she replies with, “Oh, you work? Where do you work?” And I tell her that I’m a teacher, and she tells me where she used to work when her kids were growing up. So…. Yes. I am aware of her bad memory. It’s way beyond all of that. Mrs. B seems more confused and nervous and anxious these days, but I don’t know how to tell her daughter this since I was summarily shut down the first time I tried to tell her. So…. yes. This is wearing on me.
There is one more big vexing thing, completely unrelated, but that will have to be a post for another day. I still have to process it to even know what I want to say about it. Don’t worry, we are all happy and well… but it’s clear to me that some changes are needed to keep things…peaceful… around here.
See? I already feel a little better, and I didn’t have to stab anybody.