My life is actually quite good. I have the requisite food, clothing, and shelter. I have had the same faithful husband for nearly 37 years. My children are all grown, productive members of society, and not a single one of them asks me for money to support a drug habit. I do not have to visit anyone in jail on the weekend.
But every once in awhile, I give in to some strange, moody funk that goes against everything I was taught as a child. You know—Garrison Keillor’s observation that all Norwegian-Lutheran children are admonished to “Cheer up, make yourself useful, mind your manners, and above all, don’t feel sorry for yourself.”
Well, yesterday, I allowed myself to be un-cheery, un-useful, ill-mannered—and to top it all off, I kind of moped. Yes, moped.
It wasn’t that I wanted to listen to fifteen hours of books-on-tape while driving across the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It wasn’t that I wanted to stay in a Days Inn in Colorado Springs and eat the pop-up toaster waffles in their breakfast bar at 6 a.m. this morning. But when my husband Tom and daughter Shannon loaded up the car yesterday morning to leave for Arizona to see the new grandbabies, I felt a little mopey. I had already had my three weeks out there. Fair is fair. I had held the babies and chased Colbie and made a general nuisance of myself. Now it was their turn.
Tom and Shannon Deserting Me at 6 a.m.
So yesterday I visited my parents. I had lunch with a friend. And then, with rain coming down again for what seems like Noah’s fortieth day in a row, I had an afternoon movie marathon that stretched into the evening. I watched “Shirley Valentine” about a 42-year-old woman who runs away to Greece to feel alive again. I watched “Seraphine,” the true story about a mentally ill artist/cleaning woman. I watched “Walk to Beautiful,” a sobering Nova documentary about the Women’s Fistula Clinic in Ethiopia. They were all wonderful movies, but all just a bit on the Debbie-Downer side. They fit in perfectly to my self-imposed mopey mood.
I didn’t clean my house like I should have. I didn’t go for a walk. I didn’t cheer up, make myself useful, or mind my manners. I just allowed myself to shuffle around in sweatpants, sighing and feeling sorry for myself. In my head, scolding voices with suspiciously strong Norwegian accents berated my woe-is-me attitude. I secretly wondered if I was getting enough ketchup in my diet (another Norwegian belief, according to Garrison Keillor, is that ketchup will cure depression).
Today will be different, I know. I will rise up, meet the day, and move a mountain or two. I’ll throw a little ketchup on my Cheerios, if I need to. But yesterday, I just needed to let myself feel a little down in the dumps.