Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dear difficulty,

Ordinarily I would not begin by calling you "dear."

Of you, difficulty, there are various kinds. Of the first order, the trivial. To this category belongs mislaying one set of keys in yesterday's purse. Forgetting one's water bottle. The fact that the battery in the garage door opener is, apparently, kaput. These difficulties make the project of leaving the house in the morning a small ordeal. But small: an ordeal, but just a small one.

The order of the second kind of difficulty is the trial. To carry on with the courtroom metaphor, a trial of the small claims court variety, wherein one goes in to speak to the judge, to argue--suggest, really--that one's ill temper in the morning meeting* was occasioned by a series of small ordeals upon leaving the house that morning. At this sort of trial, not really a trial at all, the judge is inclined to let one off with a warning or perhaps a small fine. The thing that makes this trial a trial is that being cautioned or fined by a judge is in itself a trial, the kind that leaves one muttering about injustice for the rest of the day.

Dear difficulty, in the third order, there is the aching back that cannot be entirely eased, not even by stretches performed behind one's desk, accompanied by a small dose of anxiety that people can perhaps see the stretching through the not-quite-opaque glass. The aching back, added to the rest-of-the-day meetings, added to the sixteenth day of the government shutdown and the endless posturing by smug, bloviating bastards. The third order of you, dear difficulty, is a difficulty added upon, a difficulty by means of compounding: a difficulty that is, by virtue of its many parts, magnified and aggregated and addendum'd and be-densified until it seems very like a juggernaut: a whale of a difficulty, verily! an ogre and a golem of a difficulty.

But when the day is done, dear difficulty, one arrives at one's home, despite the aching back, to find that there is half a pizza. One enters to find a home which, despite its various slovenlinesses and disarrays, has a dog who finds one's arrival, and a husband who is prepared to watch Modern Family and the hot mess that is Nashville. One can dress down, and seize upon one's most comfortable clothes and one's slippers. One may read, upon refreshing Facebook and the New York Times website several (dozen) times, that the government shutdown has ended and the debt default is staved off.

And, dear difficulty, yet again one finds that without you, none of these comforts would be half so sweet.

But no more debt ceiling shenanigans--that was too far, times a million--

Exaggerating only a little,


*the "ill temper in the morning meeting" is a fiction enacted here to illustrate the second order of difficulty. There was no actual ill temper this morning. No indeed! The author arrived at the morning meeting in fine fettle and full of good humor. In fact, the author is creating this entire fiction because (a) she has taken the government shutdown and debt ceiling brinksmanship rather hard, perhaps even personally, and thus (b) she is srsly relieved that it is over. 

(--at least for now.)


  1. Can't imagine you in ill temper. Your fettle always seems remarkably fine.

  2. Dear Difficulties:
    My letter to you involves some more "choice" words.


    A Davie



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