First World Smudges

Photo By: Ed Leszcznskl on

Damn it, I have to clean my glasses again. It’s the pandemics fault! No, I’m not being ridiculous. You’re being ridiculous. What? I don’t know! Before this, I didn’t have to wipe smudges off my glasses nearly as often. Now, every ten minutes there’s a new smudge. I blame the mask I have to wear. Stupid muzzle smudging up my glasses. Doesn’t it know I need to see where I’m going? I’m clumsy enough without my vision becoming obstructed by the stupid smudges.

Gawd, it’s so…Arg!

Am I being petty or humbly bragging that I wear a mask because I, in my pixie-like frivolity, care about the strangers that cross my path? Oo, now I’m being passively snarky. At least it’s passive, and I didn’t suggest that peoples reactions to recent events just might prove Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Oh no, that would completely erase the passivity of my previous statement, and we wouldn’t want that. Would we? 

Well, someone’s in a mood today!

I know, and I half-heartedly apologize. To say my whole heart backs the apology would be a downright fib, crock, loaded piece of mendacity. Who else loves the thesaurus? Me, pick me! Actually, don’t pick me because I’m in a mood for which, I’m afraid, I will not willingly part with just yet.

Sooner rather than later it will burn itself out and I’ll, once again, be the same old me. Weird, awkward, a little frayed around the edges, but quirky in a way that’s a little endearing and slightly terrifying. Yes, my friend, the mood will fizzle out and we’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming. Until then?

Do you ever find yourself in mood that seems quite contrary? I’m easily irritated by trivial things, but in a way that mildly amuses me. There’s a silliness that’s irked by an almost overwhelming sense frustration because I can’t pull it together. Curiosity tickles a head that feels bloated and teeming with canned sardines. I’m restless and I feel like I need to do something important, fulfilling, or constructive. I also feel this exhaustion that’s seeped into every bone, joint, and ligament. It’s making my eyes twitch and pulling the blinds down despite my best efforts to stay wide-eyed.

I want to see the world, enjoy life, and experience every second but, damn it, my glasses have a brand new smudge. How? I haven’t moved in several minutes. In fact, the only part of my body that’s flexed with intent would be the fingers typing this very long sentence. The rest of me is locked and loaded. Sitting rigidly just in case the smallest vibration interrupts the creative juices.

Is that what I’m experiencing? An excessive rush of juice. That sounds disturbing and/or wildly inappropriate. Next, I’m going to use the word moist and set off a wave of cringing groans. I’m incorrigible! 

Alas, I think my juice to creativity ratio is well within an acceptable range. Which can only mean that this is nothing more than a mood that’s been brought on by…Uh…Something?

What, pray tell, is going on? Why am I so frustrated by something as trivial as smudges on my glasses? Why do simple sounds grate on my last never? Why did I just watch the same video three times without registering a single frame? Why do I have the attention span of a squirrel that accidentally ingested illicit drugs? Why did it just take me three attempts to write the word squirrel? Why is the mere thought of making dinner so aggravating? Why do I feel like I’m living the same one hundred and sixty-eight hours over, over, over again?

I know that these are all first-world disgruntlements and I should feel lucky that they’re my only “problems” at the moment. If Life, the entity not the temporal illusion, really wanted to be a vindictive little shrew, it could make my life really miserable. The entire month of July was a prime example. Back-to-back-to-back health shenanigans and that was Life being moderately vexing.

A full-blown hissy fit? I shudder at the thought. 

I don’t think I’m the only one experiencing this mood disorder. Is it a disorder? I’m not a psychologist or a mental health expert of any sort. I have seen a number of these experts but I don’t think that qualifies me to pronounce something a disorder. Or, does it? Hm, we may never know.

How else do we explain peoples behaviour as of late? Adults who, by all accounts, are usually calm and rational are turning into toddlers throwing tantrums. A woman is told she can’t go into a big chain store without a mask, so she sits on the floor and pouts. A man berates an employee, who isn’t paid enough to deal with it, because the store was out of toilet paper. A group of, let’s call them, “special” people are suing the Canadian government because the government is trying to stop people from contracting a virus that’s already claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Now, when it comes to governments and politicians, I’m a cynic. Power and money are corruptible forces. Even the most righteous among us will be swayed by the Sirens call. It’s inevitable, but that doesn’t mean everything they do is wrong or motivated by greed. They want to keep people alive and healthy. What good is money and power with no one around to watch you gloat?

How’s that for cynical?

Oh, and politicians might actually care about the country and the people they were elected to serve. Especially in times of crisis. In Canada, our government has listened to the scientists and followed their lead. This is why, compared to some of our allies, we’ve had fewer cases of this damn virus and fewer deaths. But sure, sue the government for not letting its citizens suffer and die you witless, puerile…

No! Be nice. Be nice. Be nice.

But they make it so hard!

My apologies, I lost control of myself for a moment. I normally strive to be understanding and when I can’t do that, I aim for compassion or tolerance. This mood of mine is getting the better of me, and a lot of other people, it seems.

We’re all being a little more glib and short-tempered. Some are taking it out on strangers or the government. While some of us are keeping it closer to home. Standing at the kitchen sink, on the verge of tears, staring at the dishes we need to clean. Again. They keep getting dirty! I wash them so I can use them and once I use them I have to wash them. It’s a vicious cycle. When will the madness end?

Sure, I just have to rinse them and put them in a machine. Push the button and walk away. It’s really not that hard. It’s not like I’m scrubbing the damn things by hand. I’m certainly not kneeling by a river filled with animals that could eat me. Oh, and I have food to put on those plates that I’m crying about washing. I could be crying about an empty stomach.

I look myself in the mirror and remind my reflection that this is a first-world problem. Pull it together and realign the wayward priorities. It could be worse. A lot of people have it so much harder than I do. What is wrong with me?

What’s wrong with all of us?

The things we complain about are trivial in the grand scheme of things. There are much larger problems to deal with and complaining about the lines at the grocery store won’t solve them. Crying over a pile of dishes doesn’t help. Yelling at an underpaid, and under-appreciated, customer service employee? Well, that’s just asinine and it doesn’t solve the problems we face.

So why are we doing these things?

I don’t know about you, but there’s only so much I can take before my resilience runs low. I start crying because the dishes are piling up or I can’t find that one thing I went all the way to the store to get. I refer to the special people as witless and puerile and I call them special. I’m easily frustrated and my attention span is…Where was I going with this?

It’s not about the dishes, poorly stocked shelves, or how special other people may or may not be. I’m tired. We’ve been running at this heightened state of alert for months now and I don’t think our minds are supposed to do that. The whole fight, flight, freeze, or ignore reality and believe every conspiracy that pops up onto Facebook thing is supposed to be a one-off. It’s a short-term survival strategy who’s helpfulness is questionable, at best.

The key words there: Short term. 

Five, six, months? I don’t know how you define “short term,” but this is starting to look more like a longing running tv show that should’ve been canceled three seasons ago. The plots running a little thin and the characters are derivative. I’m starting to look forward to the commercial breaks because at least they offer a few minutes of rest.

When do the commercial breaks come on in this pandemic? I’d like to mute them, get some snacks, and empty my bladder but, uh, I don’t see a break coming.

The mood I’m in, the things that are upsetting me, are symptoms of emotional exhaustion and frustration at a situation I can’t control. I’m tired of fearing for my life because people would rather be comfortable than safe. I’m missing my old life. I’m grieving the plans that were lost. This year, I was going to do a lot of things, and those things have been put in storage.

I want my life back, but my life hasn’t gone anywhere.

I’m still alive. My heart is still beating. When I take a deep breath in, I feel my lungs inflate and deflate on exhale. I know I’m still alive because I’m feeling so many different things, and those emotions are causing seepages in unlikely places. Crying over silly things. Getting angry at smudges on my glasses. Forgetting to be kind when kindness is a much-needed commodity. 

There’s nothing wrong with feeling frustrated at this situation or grieving the losses of things that, in the grand scheme, are trivial. Yeah, they’re first world problems but that doesn’t mean the emotions behind them aren’t real and valid. Dismissing or diminishing that because we don’t have it worse? It doesn’t help the people who do have it worse. It just makes us feeling more alone because we aren’t free to feel what we feel.

If we were free to own our emotions and express them in healthy ways? Well, we wouldn’t stage a sit-in at a big-box store or hold our breath and stamp our feet in the middle of a fast-food joint. The special people? Yeah, okay, there’s always going to be a few outliers, but even they could use a good cry every once in a while. It’s cathartic. It’s freeing. These feelings have to come out at some point, and I don’t want them to come out in viral video or in a police record.

First world problems or not, if I could cut myself some slack, and let these emotions roll out more often then this mood wouldn’t interrupt an otherwise beautiful day. I’m going through a lot, you are too, so let’s give each other a little space to feel it, own it, and get through it. It won’t last forever, and when it’s over we can either be better for it or not.

I’m hoping we come out stronger, but maybe that’s just me being a silly optimist. For a change. It’s new. I’m giving it a try. Optimism tastes funny. 


One thought on “First World Smudges

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  1. Sometimes it’s all about where you go, in the middle of all this stuff that seems to bave stolen you – the real you – anyway.
    I am struggling not to disappear right now…
    and most of the rhetoric I get thrown at me frays like a staircase woven out of holes.
    But you write like someone wanting to stay… like small precious reasons trying to find fingerholds on a rock…

    Liked by 1 person

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