I later learned that life had its serious moments...but they weren't much fun. Serious moments weren't the time for antics, attention drawing, or even speaking. Serious moments were for sitting still and not drawing all over one's church bulletin. Serious moments were for conforming and staying out of trouble and trying to find something interesting that the teachers were teaching me that I didn't already know. Being an early reader...I don't think there was anything new to me until something like 4th grade when math started getting real and we had to start writing up science experiments and learned how to spell words like "hypothesis."
On the other hand, I so admired those people who thought that life was one big party yet everyone thought that it was okay. They would dress wacky and it was considered cute. They'd laugh and glow and make people smile and shake their heads. In a good way, of course. I never really experienced a whole lot of that. Unfortunately.
For years, though, it rarely dampened my enthusiasm. I'd get my hopes up, get excited about something...and then it wouldn't work out the way I had planned. I'd have a good cry, regroup, and then head down another path with gusto. Somewhere along the line, I realized that this wouldn't work for me either. So I just melted into the background and observed. This was primarily during my last two years of college...where I studied pretty relentlessly and ended up with great grades. I actually enjoyed that...and so I kept it up into graduate school and left there with grades high enough to bypass the comprehensive exam. I had also started work in a "real job" and was married...and had responsibilities and trying to build a career to do. Being serious was actually beginning to pay off.
For a while...
Somewhere over my lifetime...I began to realize that those who had learned to lighten up sometimes were certainly a lot more fun and had a joy about them that I certainly didn't have. So I started lightening up as well. Not that life doesn't have its solemn moments...it does. But there are times when I was trying to be all formal and "doing the right thing" and was completely and totally missing it. The joy of life, that is.
Not anymore. At least most of the time.
Take today, for instance. I went to the office of the Internal Revenue Service voluntarily. Yes. We received a check from this leviathan of governmental (in)efficiency for a tax refund from 2011. Never mind that we already went down there and proved to these people that someone had commandeered Brian's tax refund from 2011 and changed the address from wherever it was...which was "nowhere around here" and received 2012's using the helpful code that we thought would deal with this in the future. However, a Mensa candidate (or more likely "summer help") thought it would be an excellent idea to reissue the checks that didn't clear from 2011. Among those was the check that was attached to the fake return that the yahoo who stole Brian's social security number filed. Except this time? It came to OUR address instead.
Thus this big ol' check in my hot little hand that needed to go back to its rightful owner. Not that we couldn't use an extra $2,500 dropped from that model of efficiency that will someday soon be in charge of America's healthcare management for no reason whatsoever.
But since we are Christians, conservatives, and obsessive list-makers....I will not rest until this check gets back into the apathetic hands of someone employed by the IRS.
Being a banker and all, I figured that the likelihood of me actually being able to give this check back without Brian present was a long shot. But I figured I'd give it a whirl anyway...just in case. I mean...I do not want this check in my possession. I don't want to find out that it was some big ol' conspiracy to give a family of Conservatives a check and then see if they would do the right thing or not. After all, it isn't like they aren't reading what I'm writing right now or flying overhead to read it over my shoulder if they so choose. At least that's what I hear.
The right thing being passing through the door at the IRS that should say "All Ye Who Enter Here Abandon Hope" right after my purse check and being wanded and partially patted down by the very nice but very efficient security guard. I proceeded to the table that was clearly labeled with poster board instructions and dubious spelling to press the button and receive number 906. I found a chair in the tightly packed four rows allotted for that purpose that was probably the most uncomfortable chair ever constructed and joined the huddled masses that had been there for various eras and decades before I joined them. The television on the wall...high enough where people couldn't mess with it...was turned to CNN and the sentencing in a high-profile kidnapping case being carried out. Every so often, a little bell would ring and a random number would flash up like "574."
Yes. In order for you to not get your hopes up...they just put random numbers out there so you won't know who was next and how many more years you have to sit there until someone flashes your number and you get to skitter away to a cubicle like you are being called to a feast or for some absolution.
We sat there listening to the television, and I did smile a lot as there was a running commentary about the perpetrator of heinous acts who was trying to explain his actions to garner some sympathy from captive audiences like ours everywhere. Except this group wasn't buying ANY of it. Which gave me hope for the future of America, y'all.
Eventually, as I was sitting there deciding whether getting up and moving to another chair might end its reign of terror over my right thigh, one of the ladies behind me providing the interesting commentary said, "That's you."
And so it was.
I opened the door with another posterboard direction to "pull right" on the cubicle handle to find a lady totally enthralled with a package of cheese crackers, bless her heart. I hated to break that up...but I hated even more actually staying there a moment longer than was absolutely necessary. Because it is my humble opinion that time just stands still in that office. What feels like an hour and three decades is in reality...fifteen minutes.
So not kidding. I was there for 30 minutes...which meant that I felt that I looked like Granny Clampett when I left. With the lovely addition of a thigh bruise, of course.
Anyway, she informed me that I could do what I wanted with that check (other than cash it) but that she couldn't look up jack squat without Brian's permission. My protestations including offering to show her my stretch marks and my empty bank account...which I clearly thought was sufficient evidence that I was his mother...but that mattered not to her.
Cheese cracker loving heifer.
Anyway, I still have the check. And I only aged twenty years in thirty minutes apparently jumping ahead of others because I had a "simple question" on the list that I scrolled down when they assigned numbers. Not bad....considering.
I left numerous people sitting there for reasons known only to them. I cannot believe that there are that many people who received bogus checks or who needed help doing their taxes in August. But then again, they may have been there from March for all I knew.
Now, I had two choices today...laugh about it...or be furious that I still have this check. I opt for what's behind Door #1. Because, honestly, it wasn't as bad as all that. Except, of course, for this bruise on my leg from the chair. And that will pass soon enough.
When you have husbands, dogs, children, or neighbors, it is always good to keep a sense of humor. Because their job in life is apparently to keep you grounded. And rolling with laughter, of course. Which really beats being all serious about everything like we first children are prone to do
I've also found that humor is helpful when you are dealing with disappointments of various kinds. From coping with a trying situation to wanting to beat somebody about the face for whipping into the last conceivable parking spot on the AUM campus as I was there to try to sell back three of Brian's books that Amazon was not interested in. At least I sold one of them and received $41.50 for my trouble. Plus, I really needed that mile and a half walk anyway.
In a week, I'm going to need to really focus on lightening up as my little guy is leaving the nest for the wilds of Huntsville. He will have his own address and Big Dave and I will again have the opportunity to walk around the house in our underwear and scare the dogs.
Laugh, people, any chance you get. Life is serious enough without devising ways to make it more stressful. It is a series of appointments that are meant to teach us something or get us from point A to point B. Even today, as I consider a day of housecleaning in beautiful weather (which really ought to be illegal...but since I'm tied up for the next three weekends...there is no choice in this matter) and braving some errands with every parent of school-age children out and about looking for a way to maximize their back-to-school dollars out there too. I'll just wear my tennis shoes expecting to walk, and make sure my phone is charged so I can play "Words with Friends" while I stand in whatever line for whatever I feel I need...if it can't be avoided.
Might as well laugh about it. It beats getting into a verbal altercation with some woman with some serious attitude and six kids over who was in line first. Bless her heart. After all, I'm about to send my last kid off in a week. She probably hasn't been to the bathroom by herself since 2002.
Have a wonderful day...keep your head up...and just let it down today. Don't stress and laugh as much as you can. It sure beats the alternative.