Home » Creative writing » A Gray Funk, Deciphered

A Gray Funk, Deciphered

With a gray funk over my head, I swerved through Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. I thought I knew why at first, so I didn’t dwell on it. I searched for light misdirection and any harmless whim within my slim powers to fulfill. I tried to be my best friend, but I rebuffed myself at every turn. I don’t suffer ingrates well and the urge to take myself aside and slap some sense into me, began to hover arm in arm with that persistent gray. Wednesday morning my irritation threatened to consume me the very moment I was scooped out from the temporary solace of a sweet dream, after another night of too little sleep. I began to analyze in earnest. The logical reasons were out of whack body chemistry, lack of sleep, or a sudden wakening from positive thinking to the cold, hard realities of life. Since focusing on the cold, hard monsters has never lifted me out of their hungry jaws, I went about trying to self soothe again, but it didn’t work.

My bathroom window

I was in the middle of trying to approach my homework on a promising new project, when (swerve!) I shot into a flurry of small chores instead — feed cat, clean her box, corral trash. I was in the bathroom when I found myself staring at the open window. I’d known since last Friday, from several news outlets, that the weather was going to change that night and get very close to freezing. My ex-husband had got the (brilliant) idea, when we were first married, to change the bathroom window so it opened down from the top. (We were sick of the view the people next door had of anything either of us did in there when the light backlit us through the curtain, or whenever the wind blew it open.) I’d been unable to get enough force under the new handles at the top to get the window open or closed, so I’ve had to pay the handyman in the next block a little something to help me with it when the weather changes drastically. I usually try to have something else for him to do at the same time, like some heavier bags of garbage to take to the alley, but it seems silly when I’m not a weakling and I’m not made of money. I’m rarely able to pay him what his work is worth and there’s a long list of things that go wrong here, so it’s not that I begrudge him a fiver. He’s trying to get along on not enough, just as I am, but still I stared at that window and found a fiery anger coming down through the gray cloud.

Hermione Granger

Hermione Granger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to get my step ladder to try it for myself one last time. I’m no scientist, but as I worked at it to no avail, it occurred to me that it wasn’t so much me having become a weakling, as it seemed that the step ladder put me too high at the top step, and a little too low at the next one down. Well, I turned into a madwoman then, lobbing curses at the thing like Hermione Granger in a snit (more to vent the anger than to actually damn the thing to hell.) I thrust the handles hard from side to side and jiggled them front to back, back and forth, and lo and behold it began to give. I began to smile. It took maybe five minutes of diligence that way to slowly inch the window up enough to save myself from 40 degree Fahrenheit torture for the next few days.

As I put away the step ladder and became the real me again, sans soul-sucking darkness, I realized that I’m so completely not the hothouse flower I was labeled as when I was younger. My gentleness was often mistaken for so much “girlie” weakness, so freaking often in fact, that it’s been hard to separate that stupidity from my self-image. It may be sensitivity that made a sticky window drag me down simply for what it represented about my life, but it was my natural strength and desire to take care of myself that made me figure out how to make it move. I don’t think it’s weak to get help when it’s needed, but today I didn’t need it, and I can’t begin to say how good that feels.


18 thoughts on “A Gray Funk, Deciphered

  1. Re, I love the authenticity of emotion you expressed here, and how wonderfully you made the connection between the window being stuck (and thinking that you weren’t going to get it undone), and what it represented in your own life. That you were able to pry it open, and take care of your own self, never minding whatever “girlie” impressions anyone had of you, is very symbolic, and probably even timely. I love how you expressed the host of emotions you felt, and how they unravelled.

    Very beautifully written. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have to agree – very beautifully written. And about something as simple as opening a window! However, it symbolizes so much more, which you made obvious at the end of your post. Sensitivity is one of my serious downfalls and at times I suck it up and become determined to do anything I can without help from anyone else.

    While hanging out with girlfriends, I usually volunteer myself to move heavy objects or do any sort of handy work. It makes me feel good that I can do it myself!

    Good for you, moving that window and squashing that “girlie” image. 🙂

    • Thanks, Nicole. I’m glad the symbolism was clear — I wondered if folks would think it was completely about the window itself! 🙂 I wish more people understood that being sensitive doesn’t mean we can’t do a lot of the heavy lifting. Thanks for stopping by, and for the feedback!

    • I love the thought of being inspiring! I’m so glad there was some solidarity here that brought a bit of joy into your morning, Anna. Thanks for letting me know. And you’re very welcome. 🙂

  3. Been inspired to work really hard to de-allergenize my house since a couple of days, but paid for my over-enthusiasm by pulling a muscle in my forearm. That, coupled with severe asthma (for which I finally got effective medication today) rendered me pretty useless, except for a post I managed to write about my state of dazedness and A.D.D.
    But I used the opportunity to teach my daughter to chop veggies and chicken into stew sized pieces for dinner, so all was not lost…and yes, it IS nice to ask for help and receive it when you need it.
    Nice post Sparky. I’m glad you vented your anger and got that darned window closed all by yourself 🙂

  4. Hi Re,

    It’s so wonderful when we are able to recognize symbolism i our every day lives and apply it to our interior issues. I find it helps A LOT. It helps more than when someone points it out to me and it goes without saying that I am pleased as punch when I defy my own expectations. Very glad that you found it within you to do the same and are warm to boot! Friends are priceless but being your own best friend is a skill you only learn, and prize, as you get older. Kudos to u!

    I was up late last night, as I am also suffering from insomnia, at 2 AM. I heard the quiet humm of the furnace and stood there puzzled for 2 mins. attempting to locate the source of the alien sound. Jeezly crow, can’t believe Fall is upon us…

    • I know! My fingers are uncomfortably cold on the keyboard now and I just thought — Noooooo! Not again — I’m not ready to be cold for 7 months or more. I usually try not to turn on the heat until the last week of October, if it doesn’t freeze before then. I hate paying the bill.

      Thanks for seeing the symbolism in my window troubles, Coco!

      • Sparks!

        Happy Saturday! My tired brain is fogging over and (1) I can’t find an email for you on your site and (2) I want to join the 100 Word Challenge and all I am finding is blog entries. Help a Sista Out :). Thanks in advance.



      • Coco, you’ll find my email address under the photo of the angel statue on the right sidebar, and the 100 Word Challenges have moved to Julia’s Place at: http://jfb57.wordpress.com/2011/09/12/100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups-week-10/ Glad you’re interested in trying them!

        I had a brainstorm last night (early this mormning!) and started this new site Words One Hundred — I’ve got a stockpile of writing prompts from Lisa at the Satsumabug blog, and of course Julia gives us one every week, so I feel like it’s a really good idea in more than one way. I’m still working on it, but I’d love to know what you think. 🙂

  5. Sparks!

    Do you mean this to say that you are starting your own 100 writing site? 🙂 Or, just segregate your offerings and some contributors to the new site? In any case, it is a lovely idea and I love the posts you have chosen for there. I am following u…


    • Thanks, Coco! I hope the About page for the new site explains it’s purpose. It’s a new home for the tiny stories I write from prompts. They’ll all be different of course, but still one kind of post, and none of them too long. A blogging rulebook’s dream. (But on my own terms! Yay!) I’m still in the process of duplicating past works over there. I’m glad you like it.

  6. I understand, having been forced by solitude to kill three fat spiders and chase a chipmunk out of the cabin with a broom last week. I also babied that cranky car of mine across the desert with a broken radiator fan and an on-again/off-again temperature gauge.

    Here’s to managing without a man.

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