Is your refrigerator running?
Well then you’d better go and catch it!
Remember that prank friend? Back in the day when phones were attached to the wall, and tweens relied on them for rebellious shenanigans.
I mean I am aging myself. Some of you bright young minds were born into the cell generation. You don’t know what phone books are. But the wilder among my generation of youth found all kinds of entertainment searching up numbers that were typed onto an actual page, calling up strangers with very clever jokes or invites to rate our singing voices on a scale from one to ten, or pretending we were conducting surveys with very prankster questions peppered in. We thought we were hilarious.
Which brings me to the call I received, oh maybe two weeks ago now which was like a prank, not from a giggling brat child but, you know, just THE UNIVERSE —and the answer to why I have been living at a hotel for some time now practicing having the car brought up (my chic mini-van with the dent on the side), being greeted by effervescent front desk staff as they clock my temperature 8 times a day (I tell you, if I was trying to get pregnant they would be my secret weapon), and having a mom come over and make my bed to a new standard of artistry (I do appreciate an artfully rendered bed) while stacking my bathroom with delightfully folded towels, that I did not launder.
Some backstory: When Covid hit last March I was in another country helping a loved one recover from major surgery, came home to a loved one in a mental health crisis, took a weekend away, had my car break down on the highway, then detoured to help my mom who was rushed into ICU with massive internal bleeding, stayed 3 months at her house caring for her and my aunt, made it home in time to get Covid, then pneumonia, then long hauler’s syndrome, then back to mom’s as my aunt was diagnosed with cancer to spend time with her before she passed, and somewhere in there came home one day to find my house had flooded through three floors.
I just want to touch base for a moment on what a house looks like when the kids are stuck inside for a year, and you’ve spent the better part of that year flying around managing shitstorms while working full time, and then you’re really really sick. Well let’s just say that no one from Home and Garden is banging down your door for an exposé. Nope. I don’t know what your place looked like during the COVID ONE NINE, but I was not burning through home reno projects, baking OR planting. I was caregiving and working and dragging my sorry ass from the couch to the bed while all kinds of weird symptoms enjoyed a playful game with my best laid plans. Like instead of sleeping again let’s lie awake with burning skin for 8 hours, or which day would you like headache and nausea free, Saturday or Sunday? My house was the anti-Pinterest. I mean this is not a sad story, you can put away your emergency tissues. I like work, I like you, and I am gonna be okay! But I did not love the chaos, and it was super extra duper with chocolate sauce on top violating in some soft part of me that hasn’t overcome her need for basic human dignity to have emergency crews of men storming through three floors of my chaos at unexpected hours running dryers and strategizing demolition, NEVER on schedule as if they were sitting around the staff room charting ‘most embarrassing’ opportunities, like dropping by when I had all of my underwear hanging to dry on the bedroom dresser. No problem Erin I just need to take a quick measurement IN YOUR ROOM, BY THE UNDERWEAR. As I stood there, helpless, in my messy bun, Covid sweater and gym shorts thinking about scrambling ahead, praying that they would somehow just keep their eyes on the prize to a god who was much too busy helping folks through a world wide crisis of faith to protect my privacy.
For months I worked with my carpet ripped out, my office in my living room, a toilet in the hallway, and missing ceilings which made it sound like the dog could throw her voice. Industrial, we joked. Hahaha. BTW a good time to have a flood is when there is a home improvement craze on a global scale and it’s taking 3 months to order a floor. I’m pretty sure they picked up the trades by offering free beer and donuts to some high school students. They are greener than the grass on the other side of the street. So ya, this goes on and on and on and then one day the repairs begin! And boy-howdy that’s a lot of fun, like mid Zoom-call and the drilling, which my pal promised was done for the day, starts up with a shrill ear piercing whine followed by a thud thud thud. Drywall dust is everywhere. My introverted daughter stops using the kitchen between 7 and 6. We somehow live through the week without yelling at anyone (ish) and then it’s Saturday. Blessed Saturday, and I lace up my sneakers and head off for my run. And that is when it happens, Friend. The crank prank call.
Mom, the fridge is flooding the kitchen and the basement.
The basement, where all the contents from my other daughter’s room have been moved.
Where all of the office contents have been resituated.
Where the drywalling has begun.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Ha. Ha. H.
Now, Tess and I have conversations about what time I can drop her off at home and one of us means the house and one means the hotel, and who has the dog (daily I panic that we have forgotten the dog). Everything we can’t cram into the smallest mini fridge of all time comes from a restaurant. She keeps forgetting to eat, and I keep forgetting where I live. Last year’s dystopia feels like a cute baby hamster version of this year’s.
I made a very decided decision to be LOVING and KIND to everyone in my chaos, from the 6 hours of bureaucracy involved in having the insurance company pay the hotel and the hotel email the insurance company, with 1.8 gazilion interruptions in my work day, to the week of trades not showing up at all, to the absolute utter dishevelment of everything I own as it gets moved around from room to room by very enthusiastic donut addled teenagers.
At the start of the year I like to create a mantra, a comical phrase embracing the shit that life throws at us, like You can’t get me if I’m already laughing about it. Past mantras have included: Take your win. Fuck it and bucket. The impossible is possible. I like to flip the story, you know?
Back in January I was mulling over some kind of embrace the chaosmessage. I kept thinking of the buffalo and how they move right through a storm because that is the fastest way out the other side. I was busy trying it on: Charge the storm. Storm the chaos. Swim into the wave. Steer into the skid. And while I was negotiating semantics and splitting hairs, down the rabbit hole I fell.
It’s weird in here but I am leaning in. Talking to the Cheshire Cat. Drinking Coke Zero with the Mad Hatter.
As soon as shit goes down in my world I am looking for silver linings. How is higher help spinning my chaos in order to help a girl out? Like maybe at the end of this all I will have the shiny pretty environment that I have been working toward for years and years. I ask the important questions like whom can I forgive to turn this around?Because I understand that judgment creates a lens of confusion and fear through which we see ourselves and our world and our circumstances. It keeps us repeating patterns and enmeshed with someone else’s pain and unable to heal or feel joy.
But especially I think there is value in not fighting ourselves. Or our pain.
In not giving power to disaster to define us.
In laughter and dark stupid humour to jinx the ego.
In allowing all of our ingredients to be thrown into the blender, or our precious belongings into a heap, and waiting to see what comes out of it.
It’s in those LEAN IN moments that we see the light.
We open our hearts.
We make a new friend.
We change people’s lives.
As the world speeds up again and the chaos comes to a theater near you, again or anew or much worse than I have had it, lean in a little. Breathe. Look that dark cloud in the eye until you start to see past it, to the divine order spinning the odds ever so slightly in your favour, the prank call into a small miracle, and your lead into a fine thread of gold. It’s a sight to behold.
And if you need a witness, some warmth, a voice on the line, someone who’s got a head start on all of it well I offer you me, a herd of white buffalo, and a purple puffy cat who brings up the car at your beck and call. We’re chasing some storms over here.
— Love Erin.
P.S. 2021 I am bringing on the love. I’ll be featured in a podcast all about better loving, from healing your broken heart to intentional dating to creating a relationship that thrives, and I’ll be launching a sister site for all of you relationship and love enthusiasts, with all kinds of insights and offerings. Stay tuned!
P.P.S. One of the kindest things you can do for me is to share my writing. If you enjoyed today’s Monday Musing and know someone else who would please forward it to a friend.
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