I think that one of the main problems with infectious moods is that bad moods are so much more infectious than good ones. I have done my best not to post about it here before, to avoid upsetting her further, but I think she’s just going to keep getting into bad moods no matter what I say or don’t say. And it makes me feel bad, and no matter what anyone says or does, she refuses to be cheered up when she gets into one of these moods, and so it is my business to post about it. Keep in mind that all of this is from my perspective, and may in fact be quite flawed. In fact, if it is, I wish she’d clear it up for me, because GOD DAMN IT she won’t ever clear it up in person or at the time.
My sister, see, she gets into bad moods. Personally, I usually have no idea what is causing these moods, because she won’t say. But her mood is like a physical presence in the room, a mean and repressive presence… more often than not, this aura of bad mood drives people out of the room, out of the house, whatever, away from her. She usually doesn’t lash out loudly or violently, she just seethes.
It could be (guessing here) that she had a bad sales day at work, or maybe that her work schedule keeps her from getting to church on time, or maybe that she’s going to have to work two jobs she hates in order to support herself next year when my dad and brother move to Pine and sell the house in Phoenix, or something with my other sister that no one knows about, because the other sister says less than this one… and it’s probably an accumulation of all this and more, but she gets in a mood and she’ll stay that way for days.
And sometimes she’ll cover it up and try to pretend she isn’t a mood, and that’s when I get in the most ‘trouble’ – because the most observable thing that puts her in or deepends her foul moods is when the people around her are happy or have fun or worst of all spend money. On anything. My dad gave me a little cash so I could go watch a movie tonight, and drove my brother and I down to the Cine Capri, so we could watch Once Upon a Time in Mexico on the really big screen there. Sort of an advance birthday gift, and probably all we can really afford. Which is cool, I understand we’re not in a very good position financially as a family, and watching movies is my main amusement and passtime. It makes me happy. But here’s what happened: My father works nights, delivering papers, and tomorrow morning, immediately after working half the night, he and I are going back to Pine to work a full day at hard labor, so really, he needs his sleep. He went to sleep right after taking us to the movies. Now, I could have woken him to come get us and he’d still likely have gotten ‘enough’ sleep, but my sister gets off work not long after the movie was to end, and comes home from work on the 101, and it seemed it would not be too far out of her way to pick us up on her way home, so I called and asked her if that would be alright, or if not I’d just call dad. And at the time, she seemed fine with it. I have a feeling she was already in a bad mood by then, perhaps the same bad mood she was in last night, but she covered it in her voice and her words and I genuinely believed that it was no trouble for her to come pick us up. Except that she had a church meeting after work that wouldn’t get out until 9, so she wouldn’t be able to pick us up until 9:30 or 10… which seemed fine to me, I checked the times and there was another movie, Matchstick Men that I wanted to see that got out at 9:20, which seemed perfect to me, so Heath and I wouldn’t end up hanging out in a sports equipment store for two and a half hours… so she said she’d do that and Heath and I went into the movie.
And then, I guess my sister started having trouble with her phone and couldn’t communicate with us that she’d got out early, or where to go or what to do, and she couldn’t leave a voicemail or stay connected when I answered the phone during the movie… I guess she’d got out of church early, and I don’t know what time her first call was (because my phone stores only the last time a particular number has called), but something like half an hour before the end of the movie. What could I do? I couldn’t communicate with her, because of the phone problem, I couldn’t find out what was going on or where she was or when she’d be there, or suggest that she go to the restaurant outside the theatre and have a drink or a bite to eat or something and I’d pay for it for inconveniencing her, because she couldn’t hear me and we couldn’t stay connected… so I just watched the end of the movie (which was good, but had a tacked-on ending that … felt like test audiences didn’t like the real ending, and I hope the real one is on the DVD….) and the moment we were out, we were able to get her on the phone at least long enough to say we were out, and she was there and picked us up and was clearly angry. And she wouldn’t say anything about it, and she drove angry, and that mood was there with us in the car, giving me threatening looks, because my sister just wouldn’t look at me. And after watching two good movies and buying a new pair of shoes in between (on sale, too! And waterproof! Pictures at eleven!), Heath and I were in a good mood right up until the moment we stepped into her car. And now we’re back at the house and if we so much as make a sound as though we were happy or having fun, Angela’s mood tangibly lashes out at us, scorns us for being happy when she is not.
And I tried to get her to talk about it, and she didn’t want to. And I tried to apologize, but she’d have none of it. And I just don’t know what to do. She’s had a bad day or two (or ten, who knows if she won’t fucking say?), and now I feel as though a great pressure was squeezing in on my ribcage from all sides, pushing any good feelings I may have had right out of me. I didn’t have a bad day. Talking to Laura two days in a row certainly has helped brighten my days, but there wasn’t anything particularly stressful or awful about them… though I think that has a lot to do with me, with how I deal with the things that come up in my life.
Like, two days ago when I learned that my grandparents would be coming home early from their trip (they arrived yesterday), I was a little upset, a little stressed, not sure why, but I wrote about it, thought about it, found out why I was reacting that way and realised that I didn’t have anything to be upset about, and I wasn’t upset anymore. None of the things that I thought were worth being upset about are worth even giving a second thought to, they are selfish, egotistical things that I am better off letting go. So, no big deal. Or… last week was the very, very last check of unemployment I’ll ever get, and I don’t know whether I’ll have enough money to pay my bills after a couple months (my father, who has been reimbursing me for the work and help I’ve been giving in Pine, will no longer have a steady, guaranteed income after he moves to Pine at the end of the year), but I have faith and I have hope. I haven’t got word back, good or bad, from the people who have volunteered to read it for me, and when I set down at a Wintel box today to look at the file I sent them, I think I can see why; there are some weird formatting issues with it that I’ll have to fix and re-send the document out. But, what can I do? People have other responsibilities than reading my book, and I can’t fix the file until I’m back to my computer and can access the original, so … Why be stressed about things you have no control over? And I killed my laptop and have no visible way to replace it unless my book does well, sales-wise, so there’s pressure to get the book together and to figure out how to market it so people will even hear about it, let alone buy it. But it has to be reviewed carefully before I can try to sell it; I don’t want to put out a substandard product (though I do wish someone would order that pre-birthday edition; heck, I’ll throw in a bound final copy to anyone who does). And I need to have a cover designed and copy written and for Cafepress to get their perfect bound tech online, and I need to record the audio version of it (which I won’t do until I’ve got a final draft I’m satisfied with), and most of this is also outside of my control, so although my ability to have ANY extra money to spend on movies or a new laptop or plane tickets or anything is tied directly to my ability to sell my art and sell my book, I am not stressing out about it. I am doing everything I can to get it done and done right, and all I can do is be calm and do my part and hope for the best. So … my life isn’t stressing me out.
But my sister’s stress is. And I wish it wasn’t. I’ve tried to do everything I know to do, and it’s out of my hands. She does not want to be affected. I think she subconsciously enjoys being in these foul moods. And when she is not in them she really does seem to be glad to help and she is fun to be around. And … and … so I don’t know, if I want to ask her a favor and she doesn’t say she doesn’t want to and seems happy generally … what can I do? Read her mind? Be paranoid that she may be in a bad mood and never talk to her or try to spend time with her or ask her for anything, because it MIGHT put her in a worse mood? I like, when she is NOT in a bad mood, going out with her, and whether she says she has money or not, if I’m spending money on me I try to spend money on her, too… I try to do that with anyone I like. It seems like the right thing to do, a spirit of generosity, and an expression of the golden rule. (which I wish worked better and more people at least tried to live by) And she more often than not refuses to accept any generosity, no matter how small, good mood or bad. Actually, she gets angrier when you try to do the same good things for her while she’s angry, I think because she thinks you’re doing it to calm or soothe or placate her, and she doesn’t want to be calm, soothed, or placated… but I just want to be the same nice guy I always want to be.
Heck, if there was a single bus that ran within a mile of the CineCapri, I’d have taken that home, and not asked her at all.
Sigh. For all I know she’s already calmed down and when she sees this post tomorrow it will just upset her again. But she won’t say anything about it. She never does. She just seethes silently, and we wait cautiously, hoping that she next time we say something, to each other or to her, it won’t upset her further.
I’d hoped writing this out would help, and maybe it has, but that mood is still there, tainting my state, crushing my lungs. I’m going to go post about my shoes now.