Monday, April 20, 2009

On Bad Days

So today wasn't exactly a good day. I was sitting in class (around hour 3 of 6 straight), leaning back in my chair a bit, staring off into space, and my teacher suddenly chomped at me: "Grover! What are you doing? Why so glum? What's wrong?! Why aren't you sitting at the table with the rest of us!? Why don't you shave!?!"

He was kidding, of course, and I gave an appropriately dismissive response and scooted up. But in that first moment of confusion when he started at me, I thought he was serious and prepared a serious answer—well, a serious evasion. I started to say, "Oh, nothing," because that's what you say when something's not right but you don't want to broadcast your problems. So even though he was just mixing up the class a bit with a humorous aside, it set me thinking about what kind of day I was having and why.

Before I tell you about it, I want to say this: there's a difference between having bad days and being aware that a day isn't great. One gets the feeling that in choosing to call a day "bad," one is choosing to be negative, to see the worst in things. And while that may often be the case, it isn't always true. Sometimes the act of recognizing a day as a bad day is the first step to turning it around.

So that's what I was thinking in my class after being called out. I realized in that moment that the day I was in wasn't my best day, that I wasn't at my best for some reason, and that I was merely suffering through it in hopes of a better one tomorrow.

But that's not entirely true either. The day wasn't all bad. It started quite well. I got up early to do a spot of homework before going with some of my church fellows to the bishop's storehouse to do a few hours service. I'd never been to the storehouse before, and I quite liked it. The smell of cardboard there reminded me of my days stocking a Hobby Lobby, and the smell of the cooler reminded me of keeping the salad bar stocked at the restaurant where I waited tables. Also, my grandparents served a mission in a bishop's storehouse in Houston when I was a teenager, and it was nice to see what kind of service they had been doing all those years, especially now that both have passed on. And it was great to see some Church peanut butter, which is canned in Houston next door to the storehouse, a job my grandfather did for many years.

It was nice to see welfare in action, to see how much work is done and how handily and to become aware of just how many are in need.

So what was making me so unhappy in class? Could it be that I wasn't as prepared as I'd wanted to be? Maybe. I hadn't read the material as closely as I'd wanted to. Could it be the stress of finishing grad school? Maybe. School has been known to cause me undue stress, now as much as ever. Could it just be general chemical biological stuff, the randomness of genetics? Possibly. Spring has that effect on me from time to time (I take Claritin, usually).

But here's another hypothesis. My brother claims that any day on which he fails to shower is a good day. Whenever he's feeling great and wonders why, he inevitably concludes that the reason is that he did not wash away the natural oils that his body produces to protect him. People say that's crazy but he challenges them to find another common factor in all his good days. I, too, enjoy not showering all the dang time, but I think I may have a limit. Sitting in class today I realized that I didn't feel right because I didn't feel clean anymore. My hair was getting greasy and, as my teacher kindly pointed out, I hadn't shaved in more than a few days. I was wearing the same clothes as the day before (and the day before?), and I was a little damp from walking to school in the rain. Earlier in the day I had wanted to shower but hadn't had the time. I was feeling grubby, crummy.

So, could the reason I suddenly felt the day wasn't a good day be that I wasn't clean and wanted to be? Is it that simple?

If so, tomorrow's going to be so good it'll hurt. See you in the morning, shower.


Drew said...

Surprisingly, I'm reading this on a great day, and I just realized that I haven't showered today. I'm so darn consistent!

Jennifer said...

I'm the opposite - things are usually brighter when I shower. Sometimes it isn't the events in my day that crummy it up; sometimes it's the realization that... well... huh. Usually it's the depression talking (look into that, would you?!), but sometimes it's just that I'm zoned out and when I come back, I'm not interested in my current reality. So all reality starts feeling sucky.

Hey, did you get all nostalgic cuz of Mamaw and Papaw and it threw you off? Charlotte cried about it in her bed today. Claire cried about it in the car last week. I almost cried about it today while reminiscing on the trip to Nauvoo I took with Pap, Mom, and Charlotte when Char was only 9 months old.

Oh! And LOTS of times a day starts great and then I get the perception that I made myself look like a fool in some situation, and then my self-esteem plummets (especially on days when I didn't shower or change clothes or maybe brush my teeth or when I've let Gabe run around the front yard in his diaper while the neighbors look on in shock.) Hey - what does the Chicago book of style say about the period in a sentence that ends in a parenthesis? Inside or outside?

I know what you need. You need a Webkinz.

Jennifer said...

That was one long comment.

Amanda said...

I'm surprised--Monday's usually your favorite day. Did you just go to bed real late on Sunday night? That's a pretty sure way to spoil a good Monday.

Have you decided what you're doing next year yet? This summer?

Liz said...

Dre, have you ever heard the sond "Very supersticious!" It reminds us that "When you beleive in thangs that you don't understand, then you SUFFER!" Dave, sorry for the bad day! Hope it picks up today! Love you!

Liz said...

I meant Drew. He's way too supersticious!

Mary Arlene said...

Andrew, mom always tells us about the power of words. If you keep saying something over and over, eventually you believe it. Maybe you have just convinced yourself this is true about the showering. Although the days I shower I have good days (because I am confident that I am looking fine) and then the second day I feel crappy. Then the third day (because sadly there is often a third day I am dirty)I feel great again! I think this is because I have moved into the "yeah, I am dirty, don't judge me" phase, where I am somewhat confident again.

Ande Payne said...

I'm a blog stalker, but I'm completely normal...don't panic. I found your blog through the Apron Stage and I love it! I'm studying English as well, so I love that aspect of your blog as well as the humor aspect. The main reason I am leaving you a comment is to say that when I don't shower, I have bad days too. Something about the dirty hair and the day-old deodorant residue in my armpits gets to me. Great post.


The Hippo said...

When I have bad days I watch News Radio on Hulu and it makes me feel better. nothing is better then Joe Bill and Matthew trying something with Jimmy behind Daves back. And I can watch the space episode over and over again.

Sarah Louise said...

This is why you need to date someone not long-distance. In-person romantic interest encourages hygiene.

Or should.


(As though you needed another reason to be near a woman you might love.)