Stress can be a funny thing sometimes. Sometimes you don’t even know you are experiencing it until your snapping or look like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy. Today, the stress of the whole world of change landed on my shoulders. I will admit some of this was self inflicted, I was making poor decisions. Granted stress will do that to you, too.
Now I didn’t go all Jack Torrance on my family, didn’t even raise my voice. The realization came at the end of the day when I realized how frazzled, on edge, and emotionally drained I felt.
Reflecting on the day, there wasn’t a single moment that pushed my off the stability cliff. I think it was a combination of events.
1 – I checked my numbers this morning and both the United States and Italy are trending up again on the growth rate. Rationally, I know that the number of active cases is changing, it is supposed to, and that the there are a great many people with the virus running around (or not because this thing kicks a lot of people’s butts) but have not been tested or don’t have the results of their tests. So when they say we added 11 new cases today, we don’t really know where on the infection path those 11 people are. Chances are that yesterday they had it but didn’t know about it, but we didn’t count them because the test results weren’t in. That makes all the reporting on this thing (and the emotional response) so out of whack.
2 – The wife, because of my daughter’s dance classes, decided to build a make shift dance floor in our living room. She went to Lowes and brought home interlocking 2×2 plywood tiles and a roll of shower pan lining. I was not consulted on the plan or materials. She came into the house so excited and pleased with herself. She showed off her materials and with mallet in hand showed me how the tiles fit together. The plan was that for Tap classes our daughter would be on the bare plywood (makes a really great tappity-tap) and for ballet she would put a piece of the shower pan lining down to protect the shoes. It was during this part of the conversation where I looked down and saw the rolled up lining material. I picked it up, to feel the surface. Mostly to check if splinters would break through. That was when I noticed it.
A big bold warning printed on the surface of the lining. “Caution may cause Cancer or Reproductive issues” Well that was bad. Not because of the toxic nature of the material. I wasn’t too worried about that, because we would just return the roll. No the bad part was the realization that I had to point this out to my wife. She was so excited. So Happy. Proud of herself for taking on a problem and solving it in a creative way. Now the big bad man/husband was going to point out that her solution wasn’t just not going to work, but that it was hazardous to the house and kids.
In all honesty, nothing puts me on edge more than having to point out that my wife has made a mistake. I hate doing it and I avoid it at all costs. Yes, this might be considered a weakness in our communication skills but no one is perfect. There are landmines in these conversations and after 25 years I have learned where some of them are and this conversation wasn’t just a landmine. It was a high yield relationship ICBM.
I tired to ease into the information. But it went over about as well as expected. I ran to my laptop and looked up the manufacture’s webpage to better understand the warning. As it turns out there was actually a message on the product page explicitly stating “Do not use for dance floor!” I was shocked. It was really funny. It also indicated that a whole bunch of people tried to use this stuff as a dance floor and got sick from it.
We brainstormed a bit for a replacement material – settled on a roll of linoleum flooring – and off my wife went to return the toxic stuff.
3 – Day job drama… I will leave it at that.
4 – In the middle of the Day job drama my son starts asking me how to set up the Fantasy Grounds software. I rattled off the URL, told him to get the demo client (because I have the ultimate license and to play he only needs the demo). Mistake one… I was giving instructions across the house because I was still trying to work. This mistake was realized very quickly because he was struggling to figure out how to do it and find the correct client. He was fighting with STEAM when I wanted him to go directly to the website. I went into to his room and discovered that he was on discord (online voice chat/ video chat/ screen sharing app) with one of his friends trying to get the friend’s Fantasy Grounds client set up.
I have worked with computers my whole life, or at least since I was about 9 when I got my first Commodore 64 computer. I tend to speak in short cuts and when I am helping someone on the computer with some software problem (because I tend to do this for most of my family) the easiest thing (and most successful) is to mirror what they are doing and either share my screen or slowly talk them through it.
Mistake Two – I got on the discord channel and started walking them through. Not really a bad thing. I was enjoying myself. I was also really excited about getting the group up and going on Fantasy Grounds so the game could get back on track. Good intentions… Then the rest of the group started tagging in and it was chaos. At first good chaos. Then it was a blend of good and teen chaos. I was giving a tutorial on setting up a character, it was troubleshooting a connection, it was fixing ownership of a PC, it was explaining how dice are rolled. But it was the topic switching that was causing my brain to go into over drive.
Then more work drama happened. Now, I knew that I should have just told my son that I would help after I contributed to the day job events – it was something out of my control, not mine to fix but mine to advise. But I tried to multitask because I have been feeling bad for my son and his friends. All locked up and no game to play — well D&D. I suppose in retrospect I could have told him to wait and they would have all been happy enough to play Destiny 2 or resurrect their Minecraft server (which they did later). I feel bad that I wasn’t able to do a better job getting them set up, but my plan became rushed and I performed poorly.
5 – Social Media – I know I should stay away. I know there is bad information out there. I know the conspiracy theory nuts are having a field day. But I was checking in because Facebook is how I keep up with my Dad and a few out of towner friends. Like all good train wrecks I could stop watching. Post after post of TP searching, bad behavior about hoarding, railing against the local super market for the dumb idea of senior only hours (but there is nothing on the selves), the support of senior only hours.. But why is nothing on the shelves? To help out truckers (good thing) to it is all an Illuminati plot to test the world’s response to a pandemic and guess what we fail!!! I should know better. But I let it get in my head and worry me.
6 – I am losing my big TV and laptop every night to support my daughter’s virtual dance classes. We tried streaming through Xbox live (edge browser) but it was too laggy. We tried an older laptop but it doesn’t connect well to the television (wirelessly). So, after my work day this week I have been feeling a bit a drift. My interests (writing, setting up fantasy grounds, playing witcher 3 on the big tv, are getting set aside for my kids. Good parents do that, right? I don’t feel bad about doing it. I am in no way resentful or irritated about doing it. But at the end of my day, I feel a little lost in my house. Plus it was raining all day, so I couldn’t even go for a walk. This one is stupid and selfish but it is more of cherry on top of the day.
Six little things from my life today that have kicked my ass. I should be stronger, I need to be for my family.. But today I am human and the stress of it all got to me. We are safe and healthy, we thank God for that every night. I know that there are those going through so much more than I did today.
Maybe tomorrow will be better.