Blame it all on Grandma Joan
I just spent the last five hours digging snow off my deck.It was a huge endeavor considering the nasty heap of what looked like avalanche debris was 3 feet thick in some spots and had layers of solid ice that would have been hard to get through with a jackhammer, never mind the measly plastic shovel I used.I was a woman possessed, hacking away as if that mess on my front porch represented everything that’s wrong with my life.In many ways, it does. It occurred to me, for example, that it probably would have been a hell of a lot easier to get out there and shovel each time it snowed rather than let it accumulate for five months, melting and freezing into a concrete heap of nastiness. Something that started out as innocently as coveted snowfall turned into an obstruction, a burden and a nuisance.Maybe I am overanalyzing it, but whatever. Let me backtrack a little.It’s all Grandma Joan’s fault. When she died, we found out she hadn’t paid her taxes in more than 10 years. That didn’t really surprise anyone, considering Joan always lived by her own rules anyway. I remember she used to take library books without signing them out, which she thought was fine as long as she returned them. If a line was too long at a checkout counter, she’d simply walk out with whatever item she intended to buy and come back and pay for it later when “the service was better.” A single mom, she and my dad shared a Corvette when he was in high school until she almost lost her license from getting too many speeding tickets. Once she bought me this piggy bank that had a scary green hand that would come flying up through a trap door, snag your nickel or whatever, and pull it back into the box. She thought it was the funniest thing in the world even though it scared the crap out of me.But she also went to journalism school at the University of Missouri back way back when women didn’t go to college. And even though her entire estate went to those back taxes, she had invested in random real estate properties around Queens that continue to go up in value beyond anyone’s wildest dreams (Why in God’s name would anyone want to buy a Laundromat in Jackson Heights?). Let’s just say it paid back the IRS tenfold in the 20 years since she died.Of course everyone says she and I are exactly alike (journalism school notwithstanding) even though I always thought she was weird. My other grandma did more normal stuff, like needlepoint and play golf down in Florida. She’d take me to the country club for Ladies Lunch long before she’d ever set foot in a library.Joan died when I was only 13, but I’ve always followed in her footsteps with blinders on, probably because my whole life everyone kept telling me, “You’re just like Joan,” a comment my parents always made while rolling their eyes.For the most part, it’s worked out great. I managed to get into a decent college even though I blew off most of high school and bombed the SAT. I somehow graduated from college, even though I didn’t complete my math requirement. (“You won’t believe what came in the mail today,” my dad had said after hounding me for months about finishing that one class. “Your college degree. I’ve already wallpapered my office with it.”)I was recruited for a great job two weeks after I “graduated” at a snowboarding magazine without filling out a single application. I traveled the world on someone else’s bill, writing stories about fun stuff like surfing and skiing and snowboarding. I got paid to hang out with hot guys and snowboard the best powder and surf the best waves. I was catapulted into a niche, writing about women’s action sports, so I never had to compete for jobs. And the jobs I got hardly seemed like work.That trend has continued in Aspen, a home I picked somewhat randomly. Even though I have no idea why I came here, this town has given me opportunities that, like Joan’s real estate investments, exceeded anyone’s wildest dreams.But lately, my luck’s been running out. My agent sent me an e-mail and it didn’t say, “We got a seven-figure offer on your manuscript from the biggest publisher in the world and a movie deal from Miramax,” like I expected. Instead, she said I needed to flesh out the outline more, create more tension, more surprises, more twists. I was like, “You mean I have to like, do more work on this?”Then my friend got pulled over driving my car back from Glenwood last week (I sort of forgot to mention I didn’t have current registration or proof of insurance). Normally I’d tell him to mellow out and stop being so anal, but I actually felt bad when he freaked out about how I’d devirginized his perfect driving record. (Meanwhile, the cop is sitting there going, “Mellow out, dude. It’s a no-points violation.”)And that same friend got really mad at me when I left town last weekend and left him with my psychotic dog, whose tie-out and leash was buried under that very snow that started me on this whole tirade in the first place. And it got me thinking about that never-ending list of stuff I tend to ignore (like parking tickets and taxes) hoping that will make it go away. Even though I know it just gets worse, like that damned pile of snow outside my front door.Maybe I’ve gotten myself in too deep. I just hope it’s not too late to dig myself out, even if all I have is a plastic shovel.The Princess knows she’s being hard on herself, but that could be a first so she’s going with it. Send your supportive e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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