Mouthwash

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Just some musings not long after turning forty.

As I swish the mouthwash back and forth I sway and pace,

earning my steps like a robotic, dedicated champion

Who thinks only of gorging on the sweet tastes of weight gain.

I’m forty, and failing.

I’m forty, and flinching at the forward trajectory of my life --

What have I done with it?

Are these mediocre accomplishments venerable?

I’m the director of something and I run marathons,

I have a dog --

she’s dying,

(I walk her three times a day)

I have a cat who might hate me,

I have a very nice car and I hate buying groceries and vacuuming.

I almost certainly look my age or close to it.

I still like music and it’s the only thing that makes my commute worth it.

I gave up caffeine for breakfast,

I ate an apple today,

Yay?

Congratulations I got a raise!

No one bothered to tell me about it,

probably because it’s so small.

Should I look for another job? Should I just eat the fucking donut?

Should I expect that my stepdaughters will simply never love me with credulity?

Because they are tainted, turned, spun and spigot-ed --

water hoses connected to a frozen pipe by birth

and to a summer-baked, dripless faucet by marriage.

I wish I could feel more for them

but I don’t know how.

So I lay on the couch, considering ways I could be more normal and fit in with the pseudo-rich matrons in the neighborhood.

Why do all pseudo-rich matrons seem so much taller than me?

Are there really no short, slightly athletic Lexus drivers who secretly wish they owned a Maserati?

Is this what they call “white people problems?”

Am I unhappy? Bored? In need of a new hobby?

Should I volunteer?

Are there always people around when you volunteer? Can I find a way to be alone when I do my public service?

Is it really okay that I spend this much money on organic skin care?

I floss. So I have that going for me.

I can’t remember the last time I cooked a real meal.

If I am not motherly, nor social, nor civic-minded,

Nor beautiful, interesting or more than moderately talented at any one thing….

do I live only for the relief that rain brings

from the slimy, dripping tongues of sweat that envelop my entire torso

when all I am doing is standing still at a concert?

I don’t even sweat this much when I run, do I?

Or am I just wrong about myself?

Am I secretly a well-liked, decent person who decided to do the best she could

and care for someone else’s children like an Aunt would?

Why does it feel like I’m useless?

Why does it seem like my only life goals

revolve around a Fitbit?

Wasn’t I once

a writer,

a singer,

a single, independent homeowner,

a frequent cupcake-baker

making birthday wishes come true for kids in group homes once a month?

Am I as vapid as a diet cherry dr. pepper drowning in a red solo cup of ice?

I have the attention span of a possum

and the focus of a shaken, spewing can of soda.

Forty and unfiltered,

hardly the dripless faucet I feared,

but worse than that!

Perhaps

a smelly, unappreciative

selfish, sushi-eating,

double-Samsung-phone-owning prick

who wonders why people who work at Ross

aren’t kinder!

All of that probably,

but nothing to notice.

I counted to one-hundred and forty --

but only gave myself credit for seventy --

while I swished and swayed

the spoiled breath of my day away.

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