Did the election reveal any of your frustrations to you?

It did to me.

In general, do you have anyone you love, you spend time with, in your life, who is also a source of election frustration, or downright anxiety? Who, perhaps, watches the “wrong” news channel, and listens to the “wrong” guy on the radio, and so knows everything already? (Which is not like me listening to NPR. NPR is golden. And it’s not my fault if it’s made me a bit of a Cliff Claven. It’s good to be Cliff.) So do you have a person for whom ABC, CBS, NPR, and etc., are not good enough? A person who needs to have secret inside information, rather than the regular information the rest of us get, and has this secret conspiracy information, and so refuses to do most logical and helpful things because he or she knows better?

I believe, to begin with, this troubling tendency is found more often in people without good self-esteem. That is my main thought. These folks must just lack an inner voice that tells them, in so many words, you don’t have to think about you, because you’re basically okay; you may not be the richest, or the thinnest, or the most important, or the … whatever, but you’re basically okay. Of course, were I to tell my people I feel they lack stable self-esteem, and that their basically okay, and so don’t need to have Q’Anon lock down gay people or whatever, well, the volume would get right past 10 to 11, and they would tell me how PERFECT their own self-esteem is, and at least one of them would say a few things to knock my own self-esteem, and try to get me defensive about myself. They would tell me I can go to wherever un-needed people go, the less pleasant a place the better. And, of course, as often happens, would refuse to cooperate with any ideas that weren’t theirs. Ha! And these are the folks Biden has to try and build consensus with. Good luck Buddy.

How about the pandemic? Has it made you take a long (continuous? ’cause you’re stuck with you?) look at yourself? Do you feel okay with you? Has it made others frustrated with you? I think I’ve become a source of frustration for one or two in my life.

I have a lot of frustrating flaws I wish I could fix. I am working on some of them, but there’s only so many hours in the day, and so I have to go forward and live on with my damn flaws. But, I can say that this pandemic has made me realize that I am Jim-dandy okay with myself. Like, I can hang out with myself all day. I can hang out with my husband, and my daughter, and I find them fascinating, and they don’t bore me, though we do occasionally have our dust-ups. And I can think of things to do with my time that don’t involve household chores or TV or doom-scrolling on my phone, though I like a bit of all three of those too. And I think that I can (usually) be calm in the face of chaos. For example, we three made ravioli from scratch last night, with the very pasta roller my mama purchased for me for my birthday, and, yes, we had a little dust-up in the middle… three cooks can be a challenge, but we worked through it with grace I think, in the main, and had a good time and fabulous ravioli. And this morning, the counter is still covered with flour, and the mixer is not put away, but this early time, before my other two awake, is my time for writing, and so I did not clean up (which would be noisy and wakeful for the others anyway). I made coffee, and here I sit, ¬†philosophizing, at the kitchen table in a (frankly) dirty kitchen full of flour-mayhem. This is a bit of being okay with myself, and this would frustrate the hell out of some people in my life. I know my mother does often remark on me being sort of calm and happy and comfortable to be around, though she absolutely hates it that I’m always saying some version of, “I’m fine.” Do you want me to make more coffee? No, I’m fine. Do you want me to make another side for dinner? No, what you have is fine. Do you hate having so many cats? No, they’re fine. Is Dave angry that he has to empty the litter from so many cats? No, he’s fine. Do you want the temperature up, down, sideways? No, it’s fine. Stop at the gas station; let me put gas in your car. No, it’s more than half full; it’s fine. OH, FINE! YOU’RE FINE; EVERYTHING’S FINE! ISN’T IT GREAT TO BE YOU?! Yes, I am fine. I don’t know that’s it’s so great to be me, or why that drives her so bonkers, but it does. And yes, I am fine.

Another thing that I think frustrates some of my near and dear is the homeschooling. I have some friends/family who, for whatever reason, want to hang out with me. Which makes me a very lucky person. And they also happen to be people who are not working due to age or health or whatever. And so, they would very much like to hang out (socially distanced when necessary, none of them are reckless) during the weekdays. And I am teaching my classes for two colleges during the weekdays (with all that entails… live Zooms, grading, the like), and I am also homeschooling my daughter. The second is harder to justify. People think That’s not a real thing, or, That’s an optional thing. And it actually isn’t. People also think, So you’re one of those nutters. HA! Yes, I guess I am, this year. I’m homeschooling, and I have to refuse my friends/family my afternoons or lunchtimes because I’m teaching my kid during them, which seems like a fake or optional thing to them.

Has anyone got a friend or two who tells you what your level of lockdown, bubble, or mask wearing should be? People who tell you they’re okay with hanging out when you’re not at their level of “eating together in a restaurant is fine?” Or are you the one who wants to go out, and your more cautious people are frustrating you?

Being on “lockdown” has given me less frustrations than, perhaps, it has given other people because it has helped me have an excuse to say “No.” I’m in the bubble of three seniors, and so I am not okay with hanging out in most situations. I don’t want to be the weak link that brought Covid home. While this has been hard, it has helped me to prioritize and to do the things with my time that I want to do with them, and, still, with the extra time this has given me, there is not nearly enough time to do all I want and need to do if I am going to homeschool my daughter, make DPP a success, and finish my own damn novels. As we can all see the light at the end of the lockdown, I see an end to more time than I’ve ever had, to more freedom than I’ve ever had, to more autonomy than I’ve ever had. My frustrations yawn before me, like the great vista we can all see through the end of the tunnel. So, yeah, the “stay-at-home” part of this pandemic year+ may almost be over. And I don’t want it to be, and that frustrates me. Must. Get. More. Done. Before. It. Ends.

How do you tackle your frustrations?

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