I shouldn’t, my daughter’s birthday is in February, and I am usually on the upswing by Valentine’s Day, even when I haven’t been in love. I can understand why red signals prosperity for the Chinese – I love seeing those cupids and hearts everywhere, drugstore windows made me smile, and the candy!

Good things have happened in February: I moved here on Valentine’s Day 1989. Childbirth, Chinese New Year, and other explosions. The evenings lighten. I find daphne and camellia and hellebore surprises consistently.

But I spent one and a half days last week convinced I’d be fired Friday afternoon. It was a level of paranoia that I don’t think I’ve experienced … ever – although I think it was also based on some decent observations. And the truth is that since I got married and didn’t need the job so much – this is the first time in my adult life that I've not been the breadwinner – I have been phoning it in, at best. I can’t handle the detail in the kind of work I used to do, which they hired me for. I don’t have the patience for it, or the eyesight. I’m impatient and stupidly unafraid to show it. And I’m bored with doing it after 10 years and I don't fit this particular environment.

And the next tasks which they’ve trained me to do seem to antagonize someone important to a degree that I can’t imagine fighting, or winning, or accommodating and hugging into some great hippie happy ending.

Combine that with all the other things that sucked the past few weeks:
-- Mr. Fresh got a notice from IRS saying he owes $17K. He was super upset. While he has been blown away by my competence and ease at hiring a professional to do tough stuff, it's a stress on a new relationship, one that has had to hit the ground running.
-- Volunteer work for church has been haywire because I couldn’t get the data I need (just got ‘em; supposed to be done tomorrow; Good effin’ luck!)
-- I got angry at one of my NIMBY neighbors and he exaggerated our conversation to the point where the community association has called and asked if it’s true that I have giant plans to destroy the character of the neighborhood. I was provoking him, I’m mad at myself, and of course, I still want everyone to like me. (And no, this will not be what makes me rich, not in the next 10 years anyway).
-- I ran out of time to schedule an art thing that will be fun, but requires preparation, and now I have to do it this weekend.
-- We got an offer from the cab company that destroyed our front yard in September and the company is in bankruptcy. We may have to settle low.
-- We reserved honeymoon tickets, but then had to confront that they cost money.

And oh yes, the economy. Yeah, that. We didn’t want to notice, but the hammer keeps getting bigger every few weeks and those whacks are beginning to smart. On the Tuesday that the stimulus bill passed and the market tanked anyway, I told someone that I felt our whole town woke up and could see the vultures circling above. Did I mention Mr. Fresh was trained as an economist? He had been pretending along with the rest of us, sanguine, it will be limited. No more.

I am pretty sure someone put itching powder under my turtleneck two weeks ago and it’s still there. So in the hallway in my great anxiety I told a friend how I hate February and she said, “Isn’t that when Gavin died?”


He died in June. But let me think of that February. 2006. It was effin’ hell. He was dying on the couch. I could see him receding from us. I was furious and trying all kinds of futile manifestations like taking him to a neurologist, vacation, church, anything. Anything! Let it make some difference! Let it HELP! HELP.

The insight is that this loss still connects to everything in my life. Nearly three years later, I’m not in active grieving, but find a thumbtack on my chair and my first thought will be “why me” all over again. All the pain, the anger, the position of widowing comes flooding back. I’m there again, not here, not married again and better, not mothering competently, not holding down a job. There, watching someone fade and flow away from me. Unable to do a fucking thing to stop it. So sad I could kill.

The rage that sent me crying after the argument with my neighbor. Crying in Mr. Fresh's shirt: “Why do those people care what I do with my property when they never did a goddamn thing to help us after Gavin died? They were all one block away and we could have died a dozen fucking times! And they couldn’t bring one fucking casserole?”

But it’s a lie, this position, my widow’s anger. (Though it is true that widows traditionally exploit their properties. That’s another kind of rage.) The fury that made me provoke a good neighbor who is actually one of the only people who helped out that year and a half when we were dying, Short Stack and I, and who put a gate in the fence so she could play in his kid’s treehouse.

Maybe it’s rightful rage – loss sucks – but like so much in my life, it’s been misdirected.

I still expect that ax to fall, and I am still angry. But I already saw one lawn full of purple crocus, and I can work on the resume. [I am so bad at ending on a hopeful note. Ack, February!!!!]

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