Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Witchy Women

The other day, I was talking to a friend who spends a good bit of her time cleaning up her eighteen year old daughter's poop, among other things related to her daughter's disability. I talk regularly to my friend Erika, who's wrapping up another prolonged visit to the PICU with her daughter whose Angelman syndrome causes not just seizures, but strange bouts of cyclical vomiting and complications that warrant breathing machines and long, sedated weeks in the hospital. I write ad nauseum of the trials and tribulations of uncontrolled epilepsy in my daughter Sophie, but probably less so of the conflict better known as why sweat the small stuff? You know what I'm talking about -- the mindless aggravations of modern, in my case, urban life -- the traffic, the school situation, the incessant driving around of our children, the agony of it all.

Erika and my other friend roll our eyes, generally, at this regular stuff that consumes our days and those of our regular friends. We don't sweat the small stuff as a rule, until we do. Sometimes, it is the small stuff that breaks the proverbial back, and yesterday as I drove around the city, while the terrible devastation wreaked by hurricane Sandy and my good friend's dying sister occupied my heart, it was the small stuff that occupied my brain and, eventually, drove me to, if not weep, then at least scream.

It was the couple being interviewed on NPR whose faith in the Southern Baptist God informed all of their decisions, including their recent "problem" of whether or not they could afford a new bookcase for their living room.  They also expressed bemusement at why they were so financially successful when others -- even family and friends -- were not. Why the hell were these people being interviewed?

It was the woman yakking on her phone while standing in line at Trader Joe's, who dismissively spoke to the cashier bagging her groceries and flicked her hair around her finger. I sunk to the level of contempt when I looked at her long, skinny legs and her three-inch heels and imagined her going up in a blast of fire and smoke.

It was the crap lying all over the Halloween store and the tortured indecision of my son over what to wear for Halloween. Am I a spoiled brat? he asked, as we left the store. You're a spoiled brat if you complain one tiny little bit for the rest of the day, I said, feeling justified given the 1/2 hour wait on line to pay for the costume, the screams and wails of the Halloween sound system and the haranguing I did with the cashier over the price of the Halloween pumpkin mask that was missing one bobble eye.

So, now it's Halloween, and I'm feeling particularly witchy today. I promise, though, to have some cheerful photos of the children frolicking on our urban streets, collecting candy filled with chemicals while I eat chili and drink wine with my good friend, Cara before heading back home to stand at the door and drop candy into the tiny outstretched arms of neighborhood ghosts and goblins and princesses.

Witchy women sweat the small stuff AND handle the big stuff with guile and cunning and sometimes, rarely, uncommon grace.


  1. ha! in the face of hurricane sandy i am trying not to sweat the small little minds who are trying to turn this disaster into a political football because i really could go there and scream.

    i am a lucky one. i am trying simply to stay focused on that.

    i did love this post, though.

  2. I laughed out loud at the image of Barbie going up in flames. Cynical and sick I know, but just what I needed today...thank you.

  3. I'd say uncommon grace is the rule and not the exception when it comes to you witchy women. I sort of revel in the small stuff myself.

  4. it is always the small stuff that breaks me. every. single. time.
    i need more witchy women in my life, methinks.

  5. "I sunk to the level of contempt when I looked at her long, skinny legs and her three-inch heels and imagined her going up in a blast of fire and smoke" -- FABULOUS witchy line. You always tell it like it is, Elizabeth.

  6. I know we're not in frequent contact, but Elizabeth, I think of you every damn day and try to imagine a connective link that buoys us both. I love this post, and it must be no small coincidence that in adulthood I've usually been a witch whenever I've dressed for Halloween! Love you and miss you...

  7. Well, you are entirely forgiven. It is the small stuff that wedges its way into the cracks and irritates and distracts and drives us all freaking nuts. I mean, when you slam your finger in the car door, people expect you to scream, "F&*k!" but when the tag on your underwear is poking at you all day long, there's no acceptable release.

    Have a fabulous Halloween and embrace the witchiness. If not today, when?

  8. I was just posting about grace under pressure. Believe me you've got it, Witchy Woman (my favorite type). See how high she fli-i-ies! x0 N2

  9. Honey, it IS the small stuff. The big stuff wears you down and then, it is the proverbial straw which does indeed break the strongest camel's back. Can I be a witch with you?

  10. I hope you put a spell on the woman who spoke dismissively. I have faith in you to use your powers well.

  11. It is always the small stuff that gets to me. Cancer for three members of the family, I can deal with that! A young friend of the family died last week from choking on her vomit. Ok, we can deal with that too. Someone doesn't signal when turning I go ape-shit crazy.



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