The voice on NPR describes agonizing cuts in research funding – post-docs and graduate students losing their stipends, labs shutting down – as I drive to the library to print out my research grant application. I notice that the registration on our car expired ten months ago and so try to stay within 10 mph over the posted speed limit. I run into the computer lab, thinking “wouldn’t you know, it figures.” As I dash from there to the FedEx office, four copies of the application in hand, my cell phone chimes with a text from my husband: “Val asleep, bring pizza, very hungry.” Pizza??? I think irritably. Where am I supposed to get a pizza? Why can’t he call for delivery? Because the delivery person would ring the doorbell and that might wake her up. I picture my sleeping baby and oh, how I miss her. Almost home.
I spent the last five hours in front of the computer at a coffee shop, hammering out the final details of the application. I’m not so good at details. Even though I was hurt when someone described me to a mutual acquaintance as having my head in the clouds, the shoe fits. So I spent most of my time working on the conceptual framing of the grant application – thinking in grand theoretical strokes, broad abstractions. Language, identity, meaning. I nearly forgot that I had to submit a detailed budget as well. And a bibliography. And my CV. And the cover sheet.
Ok – home now. I creep in the back door as quietly as I can, and slide the frozen pizza onto the counter. I grab a slice of bread and find my husband sitting in the lazy boy with the baby asleep in his arms. I feed him the bread as he catches me up in a whisper on the afternoon and the babysitter’s report. So frustrated – baby didn’t sleep at all until after 4:30, and then only when held.
I kind of hit a breaking point though when I go to the bathroom and find the toilet bowl filled with crap – Crap! I’d forgotten to flush before leaving the house (see, there’s some kind of leak or drip going on, so we turn off the water between flushes, and have to remember to turn it on again when needed)… I think with horror of the babysitter lifting the toilet lid to find… THIS. Then I see the cloth diaper in the bathtub… and remember I’d forgotten to tell her that there were more disposables in the backpack by the door… I feel so defeated. The adrenaline rush from finishing up the grant in time to overnight it by deadline drains from my body. I feel exhausted. How is it that I am so incapable of running a household?
I flush the toilet, then go downstairs to hang up laundry (see, our dryer is busted, so instead of getting it fixed we’re line-drying everything…). Upstairs, I draw the curtains – or, rather, the sheets that we are using for curtains – and turn on the oven to heat for the pizza. Baby wakes up. She looks right at me, cries, reaches out her little arms. I gather her up and sit down to nurse her. Here little bare feet are the most precious thing I have ever seen or held. I feel myself begin to relax. And so it is evening, another day.
P.S. Since I wrote this last night, I learned that I’m probably not actually eligible for the grant I applied for… 5 hours and 30 bucks down the drain. As I said… not a detail person.