My friend Curtiss, when he greets me, always asks, “Nan, how is it?” He did it back in our college days and he still does it every time he calls. He’s got a certain way of saying it that is just so Curtiss. There’s no other way to explain it.
But when you parse it out, it is an interesting question. HOW IS IT? Not “what” is it, which is easy to answer – it’s a THING, an object or a thought or a non-human creature (in the case of a HUMAN creature, of course, it would be “WHO is it,” which is an entirely different exploration) – but HOW. In what manner is your life now proceeding? It is going smoothly or roughly, well or badly? What is your overriding mood? Are you happy or sad, frustrated or excited? It’s really the perfect question upon greeting an old friend.
So, if Curtiss asked me today, “How is it?” I’d have a multi-layered response.
(1) I am angry and sad that 59 innocent people were robbed of their lives, and hundreds of people injured and permanently scarred, by a lunatic with many, many guns. I’ve written before how much I hate – DESPISE – guns and would like them removed en masse from the world. (See “Frustration Overload”, 6/21/17.) I know that is an impossible dream; I mean, despite the overwhelmingly positive results in Australia when the nation’s government paid their populace to give up their guns, even they couldn’t get rid of ALL of them. And I am grudgingly respectful of people who grew up in a culture where killing wild creatures to eat is acceptable. But why in the name of all that’s good do normal citizens need semi-automatic weapons? Frankly, I don’t know much about guns (by choice), so I don’t know what type of gun it is that can shoot multiple rounds, one after the other, without reloading, that I could only imagine would be useful in a war. And those types of guns may very well have limited use in military situations (I’ll leave my anti-war blog post for another day), but why does Joe Average Citizen need one? Why does Joe Average Citizen need over a DOZEN when one is enough to kill the intruder from which you are supposedly defending yourself and your property? I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT AND I NEVER WILL.
And then, of course, there is the ever-present dark cloud that is the Trump presidency, which I was sure would have ended by now. I was certain the scales would fall from the eyes of the unfortunate folks who fell for his bamboozle-ry and they would kick his fat ass to the curb (and tell him to take his entitled spawn and spawn-in-law with him). So on top of being angry and sad, all of that leaves me feeling frustrated and drained, because there is nothing I can do about any of it except worry and sign petitions and call my congresspeople and hopefully, in 2018, put Democrats back in the majority in Congress to stem the bleeding of our hallowed democracy, despite the institutional efforts to prevent that. Consider how large a risk it is that the Supreme Court will find in favor of gerrymandered election maps in Wisconsin to preordain election results presumably forever. (The ever-wise Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a great line about this case: “It’s drawing a map so people think ‘Why bother voting? This is a secure Republican district or this is a secure Democratic district, so my vote doesn’t count.’ That’s not a good thing for democracy.” Touché, Ruth.)
(2) I also feel happy and optimistic, looking forward to some pleasant activities this week. Darian is coming home for the weekend, and the Rangers’ 2017-18 hockey season starts on Thursday. I’m surrounded by furry affectionate beings who follow me around like I’m the Pied Piper, although they only listen to me when they want to. Case in point: Lately Munchie has been hiding under the bed when it’s time for walkies. From all indications (other than this hiding-under-the-bed thing), Munchie seems to ENJOY walkies. So why is he hiding under the bed? More importantly, why does he refuse to come when I call him? I’ve basically given up. He’s the only one of the four pups currently at my house who only ever goes on the weewee pads or outside, so I don’t worry about him leaving me gifts where he shouldn’t. And the cats are always up for a cuddle, except for my crazy foster kitten, Gigi, who would rather run wild in the “kitty playroom” (i.e., Darian’s room, which will be converted back into Darian’s room tomorrow, which will create an interesting dynamic since her cat, Jojo, is the undisputed queen of Darian’s room) than snuggle with me on the couch.
Another thing that excites and pleases me is getting my cash-back rewards in the form of a $25 iTunes card (“free” music!!) and $25 Amazon card (perhaps a nice book or CD??), so I can treat myself to some new tunes and/or reading material. And something else happened today that left me feeling like the universe is looking out for me. Unfortunately, I came in about $500 short on my bills this month (the punishment for enjoying a relatively lazy summer, workwise). I was going to have to borrow some of Darian’s extra student loan proceeds that I’m holding for her in my savings account. But lo and behold, today I received a surprise refund check from my health insurance company. Huzzah! It was in exactly the right amount to cover my shortfall! I remember reading Lit by Mary Karr (2008) and being struck by her realization that, even though she struggled through some tough financial times, just the right amount of money would always show up when it needed to if she hoped for it hard enough. I must confess that has happened to me a few times recently, which brings me to the last arm of my current “how” state, which is . . .
(3) Grateful. I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head (almost half entirely owned by me!), a big-screen TV to watch my Ranger games, a comfy bed to share with some of my creatures (I’m down to two or, at most, three, if Savannah decides to join us, in my actual bed – everybody else is on their comfy little pillows scattered around my bedroom floor). I’m grateful to have JUST ENOUGH money in the bank (although a little lottery win wouldn’t hurt!). I’m grateful for my amazing human kid, who makes me so proud and who’s turning into quite an impressive adult who’s got her whole life ahead of her, and all my “fur babies.” And I’m grateful that, even though I do have my health issues (obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and a weird seasonal allergy that I seem to have developed in my late forties), I am reasonably healthy. This is especially the case because I’ve seen some of my friends suffering through life-or-death illnesses and conditions that leave me feeling sympathetic but impotent to help them, and yet secretly thankful that, so far in my life, I have been incredibly lucky with my health. (Now if I would only take better care of myself, I might be able to improve that situation . . . )
So how is it? It is MOSTLY pretty damn good. Let’s leave it at that.