Sometimes it’s all I can do just to keep up.
Like Alice, from Lewis Carrol’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, I am doing everything as fast as I can and barely staying even. Nothing makes sense.
Like Alice, I can’t stop feeling the world around me as real, even though it’s manifestly nonsense. A fairyland. A dreamworld. I’m trying to maintain logical thought and reasonable standards in the face of the absurd.
Unlike Alice, I don’t expect to wake up anytime soon.
I don’t know how I can still be surprised by the terrible nature of things; you’d think I’d be used to it by now. It never happens, though: I am routinely shocked by the worthlessness of what seemed important and by the horrible things other people do that I’m forced to take part in. I cannot believe the thick heavy syrup of day-to-day existence, poured over and obscuring the hypothetical pancake of the infinite world.
I am burdened with empathy, and bounded by entropy. There’s nothing keeping me from sweeping the kitchen floor but confusion, but confused I remain and the floor stays dirty. The world feels like a series of discrete moments, without flowthrough, without connection. I used to believe six impossible things before breakfast, but lately I’ve had to up the numbers and reduce the meals.
The other day, I tried to connect with my dog. She came upstairs (where she’s not allowed) and tried to get on the bed (where she’s DEFINITELY not allowed) and stopped her and I told her to lay down on the floor. She just looked at me. Like she’d never heard the words “lie down” before. Like there was no such thing in the world as lying down, and like her legs didn’t bend. Like she was some kind of statue. Like her belly couldn’t reach the floor.
None of these things are true: my dog is two years old, which means she’s never been alive when Donald Trump wasn’t president, and also that she’s neither a puppy with no knowledge of the world nor a senior with creaky joints without give in them. I was neither asking an old dog to learn new tricks nor asking a baby to reach beyond her knowledge. It was just too different and therefore too confusing.
I get it, I said. I get it, dog. I feel that way too.
And she KEPT looking at me. And didn’t lie down. And I got mad. Super incandescently angry, the kind of angry that lets people punch their ex through a window. Can’t breathe angry. Can’t think angry. At a dog, who wasn’t even being defiant, just stupid.
I don’t know why I got so angry; some of it was that my schedule is off the hook and my phone is on it. Some of it is that work is stressful. Some of it is the absolute indignity of being looked at like you are an idiot by an animal who is only probably smarter than mayonnaise.
I’m serious: this dog tries to eat wires that are dropped on the floor. And onions. And raisins. She has an unreasonable attraction to things that will kill her.
Same, I guess.
So, back the other week, I screamed at the dog and then I went on with my life. She doesn’t remember, because she’s a dog. I only remember because I feel guilty. I feel like I failed. I had a bad day, I took it out on my pet, I went to work, and came home and who-knows what. And then the next day I did it again. And again. And again.
It keeps going. Tonight, I’m tired, but I can’t sleep. A cat is biting me, I ate too much dinner, and I need to finish something I’m supposed to have had done last week. And there’s work again tomorrow. And the gym. And band practices, multiple. And I should go grocery shopping, and run the laundry. And make some jewelry. And there’s work again tomorrow. And I have to plan meals for the next week, and take the dog to the park and make sure there’s a vet appointment for the new kitten. And there’s work again tomorrow.
It makes me tired just reading it. I was tired already.
I want to be Superwoman, but I’m not that strong. I want to be the Red Queen, but I can’t be fast enough.
At best, I’m Alice, and I’m running as fast as I can and falling behind anyway.