Tuesday, March 17, 2009


One of my favorite children's books is Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It details a day in Alexander's life when just nothing went right.

I had a day like that yesterday only it was worse. It collided head on with my daughter-in-law's own Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Combine the two and I had a day of epic, bad proportions.

It all started at seven in the morning with taxes. That was actually going well until I went on the bank's site to print up the record of the charity checks I had written and found I couldn't get to them with the proper date. That ultimately meant another hour's work on the computer. Then, I locked Plato into the kitchen while I went to a doctor's appointment. When I came home an hour and a half later he had gotten into a box of fertilizer and theoretically could have eaten some, although what dog in his right mind would eat fertilizer? I didn't know the fertilizer was there. My daughter-in-law hid it in a box in the kitchen and put a very heavy rock on top of the box. She loves her plants and where else could she put it where it would be readily available? Plato is persistent--he got to the box.

Another hour spent calling the vet, who said they would probably have to induce vomiting. I was going to have to drive Plato down to the vets as no one else was available and I'm not supposed to drive, given my knee goes out at inexplicable moments to horrible effect. I called my son and daughter-in-law and they got in the car and started rushing home but I had this feeling that if I didn't get Plato down there RIGHT NOW I would have a dog writhing in pain and dying right at my feet. That didn't seem fun, so I was prepared to take my chances with my knee. My son called and said he would rather lose Plato then lose me and would I please wait until they got there? I then realized that if the knee went on my way to the vets I would not only kill myself and some unlucky pedestrian or driver but I would also kill Plato so I said yes, I would wait.

While I'm waiting I get a phone call from our agent for our home insurance who informs me that the insurance for our home at Tahoe is being cancelled. No reason. They're trying to get us set up with another insurer, because of that, they need to ask me some questions. While I'm reeling from the news, she's ticking off the questions: has the house been rewired? When was it done? How about the plumbing? Then she starts asking questions about our house in Berkeley, and I'm thinking, are they going to cancel the insurance on our house in Berkeley too?

That is when I think I really lost it. I had to go to our Quicken account and try to access accounts going back to 1991. 1991! I made it back that far but couldn't find a blessed thing.

Glenn and Wendy and Theo got there. Glenn rushed to the vet with Plato and the offending fertilizer; Wendy, Theo and I went up to the house, where--as I'm reaching desperately for a glass of wine--Wendy begins unleashing her own Horrible, Terrible, Not Good, Very Bad Day.

Wendy's days are theoretically harder than mine. She's six months pregnant--give or take a week, and that--while exciting--can be enough for most women to handle. She's got the very adorable, very active, three year old Theo who tests constantly. If they gave a prize for a child who tests adults the most he would win it hands down. One of her favorite comments to him these days is "If you don't put that down right now, Theo, you'll have no ice cream!" He likes to throw things and sometimes the things he picks up should not be thrown because they connect with things like people's heads and very expensive new TV sets. She will bribe without compunction. One has to survive so one bribes.

She had been at her father's with Theo and in a strange environment when she's being asked to deal with a lot of very difficult things, Theo's testing goes into overdrive. Her father, Clyde, is dying of cancer and her Uncle Vic is not in his right mind. He's just a little addled. Even with that, his idle chatter is amazing. The two old men are intellectuals whose vocabulary and choice of subjects is esoteric, to say the least. Clyde is 86 and Vic is 92. Vic pushes a wheel chair around for stability and Clyde is confined to one so they are constantly colliding. While Wendy's trying to control Theo, "If you throw that one more time, Theo!" she is being pestered unmercifully by her father's and uncle's caregiver about an abdominal pain her uncle is having which they believe is caused by constipation.

Enter my son, Glenn. He picks up Wendy and Theo to drive them to a store so they can buy Theo some new shoes. Wendy is crying the whole way there, having reached the end of what she thought was her Horrible, Terrible, Not Good, Very Bad Day. Enter Plato and the fertilizer issue and they come rushing home without buying Theo shoes. Wendy isn't quite through venting and Glenn is out of range so she unleashes her day on me as I grope for my glass of wine.

Glenn comes in an hour and a half later, rounds the corner in front of where I'm now sitting trying to enjoy my glass of wine, and he screams. He, of course, has also had his own Terrible, Horrible, Not Good, Very Bad Day because of Wendy's bad day and my bad day and it all ended up in his lap because he had to take Plato to the vet and that meant an hour and a half waiting for them to resolve the fertilizer issue. There was fertilizer in Plato's vomit. That dog will eat anything.

When Glenn screamed I jumped. I don't particularly like to hear him scream. After another glass of wine, I got the gist of his discomfort (Wendy cried all the way to the house, I had to sit at the vets for an hour and a half and now--and now...)

And now? And now? What and now?

Wendy's uncle had to be taken to emergency for the stomach pain. It apparently wasn't constipation. Wendy and Glenn immediately get on the phone and arrange to relieve the caregiver for Uncle Vic who has taken him to emergency. While they're in emergency with Uncle Vic, who's taking care of the little tester of adult's patience? Right!

I want to tell you, what with the taxes, and the charity checks I had to retrieve, and the fertilizer, and the dog who eats anything, and the call from the insurance agent I was--I repeat--not very happy about sitting the little character who tests for even an hour, much less the amount of time Wendy and Glenn might end up in emergency with Uncle Vic. Trips to emergency can last up to 20 hours or more. Theo mostly sleeps with his parents although he's graduating to a youth bed soon. When I crawl into bed the only person I want in bed with me is Jerry.

But off they go to emergency while I sit there with my wine, emotionally and physically gone while Theo does his testing thing. I ignored him. Bad Nana. Slap my hands! I didn't care. You try dealing with a kid that's a testing fool at the end of a day that's been tested with taxes, charity checks that haven't the right date on them, fertilizer, a dog that eats anything, possible knee going out incident, Wendy venting so I couldn't get to my wine, and a call from our insurance agent.

Oh, I forgot! One more thing! Plato, having had to vomit, now has to have rice and cottage cheese for dinner. I haven't got dinner started, I don't think I have the energy to even think about what to fix for dinner, I certainly have no way to drive down to get the cottage cheese. I am certainly not going to risk life and limb for Cottage Chese. On top of having to fix a dinner I don't want to fix, I have to boil up some rice and the kitchen is a shambles because Jerry, said, on pain of death, that I was not to do any writing until I finished the taxes. To me, that also meant I was to do nothing else, so I hadn't done the dishes. Try fixing a dinner when you haven't the faintest notion what you're going to fix and having to boil rice with a kitchen piled high with dishes.

Jerry came home after getting the cottage cheese and beans and hot dogs because I decided that was the most I was going to manage for dinner. Here comes the sad part. I reached up to an upper shelf to get a large four cup measuring thing so I could start boiling up the rice and I dropped it. It survived but it broke a beautiful wine glass of mine--an irreplaceable wine glass and did major damage to one of our favorite mugs. The mug is destroyed, but it can be replaced but it will cost $25 to $30. I mean, this is an expensive set of dishes--one's I've always wanted and finally got, after forty years of marriage. The wine glass cannot be replaced. Luckily I have five more of them so at least we can entertain a small group. It was so beautiful. Sigh.

Glenn called to check on us about that time. Jerry is cleaning up the glass. I have retired to the sitting room for another glass of wine. Glenn is saying they haven't gotten Uncle Vic into emergency yet and they don't know when they will. Jerry says, "You need to come home now. There are a few things going on here."

He and Wendy showed up about an hour later. All that time Theo tested. Hardly ate a thing. All I could manage for him was the hot dog; he threw it on the floor.

What was your own Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?


Heidi said...

What a very frustrating day!! You know, any one of those things might have been manageable, but all together - yikes! And no doubt the bum knee made it all the worse!

I totally get the wine glass too. On our last move the ONLY thing that broke was a wine glass I got at a ball at West Point - completely irreplaceable, and a piece of memory. I'm not attached to a lot of things, but I cried over that one.

The good thing about bad days? They always come to an end! Hopefully today was better.

marsh to the fore said...

Yes, today was immeasurably better. I left taxes until two in the afternoon and worked on the blog and that helped. I worked my way through the bad day. I hadn't taken a break except for lunch the day before. I did find a lot funny in the day when I wrote about it. I ended up chuckling about Plato and the fertilizer. It's good when you can remember a bad day and laugh. You write about it and it becomes funny.

How sad about the wine glass from West Point. The glass I lost didn't have memories attached. It was just so beautiful! Attached to a memory and I would have really cried.

As you said, bad days come to an end and how good it is!

JKB said...

Aw, you poor thing. An djust think, today you have an operation on your knee.

Try not to let it get you down, bb. Keep yr chin up.

Heidi the Hick said...

I have had a few days when the kitchen was a mess and I felt like crying. Luckily my kids are old enough now to cook up something simple.

Wow, your family really did get blindsided with trouble in one day.

I like how Jerry ordered the family home. He stood up for you. Good for him. Your daughter in law must be under a tremendous amount of stress... too bad she has to wait a few more months until she can get a glass of wine...

Kerri said...

That's a crazy day. Hopefully you're having better days now.

We miss you!!!