the chronicles-kind of

October 11, 2019

It’s the small things.
This week I started a usual “custodian chronicles“ post, but did so half heartedly. I kept trying, in fits and starts, and kept getting interrupted . . . by small things.
And this morning it occurred to me that, for all the wildness that this custodian job has been for me, as I settle into the routine of it, I find it not all that different from any other sort of job – not all that different from life.
It’s the small things that mess you up: the last glove taken from the last box in the closet. You realize that the supply list was turned in last week, and no one realized that gloves should have been on it. In this sort of work, latex gloves are not an afterthought…they are a necessity.
But it’s also the small things that make it all worthwhile. The interruptions. The little one who gets a splinter at the outside lunch table and needs someone to walk her to the nurse’s office.
“Does it hurt?” I ask, to break the silence. “A little,” she nods. I smile at her six-year-old courage, nodding “Yeah-it will.” She smiles back.
The next day I see her in the hallway and I pause. “How is your hand?” She shows me the reddened spot where the splinter had been. “My nana pulled it out, “ she tells me. “Did it hurt?” I ask. “A little,” she says. I smile. “Yeah-it will.” She smiles back.

*photo comes from earlier in the week, when I wrote this first, and only, note for the weekly “chronicles”:

Mulch can grow on you. Before you picture pine straw shooting out of my head, I should explain that my first round of it, for work purposes, at least, was done in our recent run of blazing hot days, using bales of straw that had been left to accumulate dust and critters over the course of a summer. I spent that day sweating, sneezing, and sniffling my way through the process.
But today the day was cool (so much so that my nose – large and prone to chill as it is – was having fond memories of my New Hampshire face covering winter cap. With newly cold air and newly purchased mulch, I spent the morning inhaling fresh pine and fresh air, and marveling at this novelty of changing seasons.


October 7, 2019

“So how was your birthday?” Good …isn’t that what I’m supposed to answer? But what if life doesn’t care if it’s your birthday or not? What if you get a “surprise-you owe us!” bill from the insurance company, after enough phone call and letter writing time already spent so as to assume it was taken care of…
And what if your plan for a peaceful evening with your husband gets interrupted by a well-intentioned, but less-than-welcome banging on the door? (No-our goats are not roaming the streets. They are right there in the field grazing. But thank you for letting us know!)
I started to feel angsty and how-dare-you-universe-y about what I wanted, and didn’t get, for my birthday.
But you know, minor annoyances are, well, minor. In the grand scheme of things, what I DID get for my 40th far outweighs anything I did not.
I got a day-of series of videos from my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. My sister’s usual beauty wowed me, and her voice made me ache for her presence. Her boys serenaded me and sent a series of requests. We dutifully videoed ourselves and photographed the attendees of my birthday party (which were, at the time, our 3 furry friends). They responded with follow-up videos, and a new list. Our auntie and uncle tasks are looming 😉
I got a day-after full of festivities orchestrated by my mother, with a church family party to start the day and a cozy family dinner to end it.
I got a Saturday of freedom from work to galavant about with a best friend of a husband who is possibly even more nerdy than I am …and who gets a similar pleasure from randomly amusing, outwardly boring excursions (“Oh-let’s go to Walmart and I’ll buy beer so I can show off my ID … do I ‘appear to be under the age of 40,’ and so get to be carded?”).
And I could not help but remember, with a sobering dose of reality, that last year this day was spent in a hospital, recovering from a terrifying brush with the nearness of my own mortality.
So yes, I have just turned 40. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this year holds little to fear, and much to joy-fully anticipate.

1. Sweeping a football field (not to be confused with “dressing” it, as I had mistakenly called it before learning what the job actually entailed) is significantly more relaxing than sweeping a crowded cafeteria
2. From a 3rd grader, as he watches me spray down a graffiti-style series of math equations from a hallway desk that is infamous for such “artwork”: “Sometimes I try to wipe up some of that. To make your life easier. You guys get paid to wipe off desks; but sometimes it gets boring …”
3. Somehow I doubt that the School Custodian Manual will include a clause addressing “How to handle a dead bird if found sitting on a cafeteria table”