03 July 2014


Life's ups and downs are one thing.

Then there is a variety of "down" configured so precisely it is difficult to avoid superstitious commentary. Among the distinguishing characteristics of these mysterious phases:
  • Cyclic. I have not clocked them yet in my life (but have committed to do so at last) but at some point during each of the serial calamaties of the my life a sense of "wait a minute...this is familiar" kicks in. If I were writing a fictional account, I might describe as a dark, rolling cloud that blankets my life every two/three/five/? months/years/fortnights/?
  • Synchronous. What I mean here is that after two or three things go "wrong" in a relatively short amount of time and close succession, I will explicitly state, to myself or a witness, "Well, at least x, y or z can't go wrong" and very soon afterward, x, y or z will happen. At which point, I ask myself whether x, y, or z would have happened if I'd kept my mouth shut.
  • Multifaceted. While the multiple elements of the "down" seem unrelated at first glance, it doesn't take long for a "theme" to present. An example: my young son throwing up in the car one afternoon...that evening I burn dinner...the next day "Little Green Apples" is playing on the car radio ("I haven't heard that song in years....) when I notice a favorite restaurant has closed. To my mind, at that time, "food" seemed to be a "theme"...
In addition, the phenomena will (seem) to refer to something wonderful that happened recently.

In the case of the most recent episode:  My savings account balance reached $2000 a few weeks ago. This is the most money I have ever had at one time in my life. The following week I made the final payment on my car. I was, understandably, feeling pretty good.

Soon after, a woman called to enroll her daughter in piano lessons.

On the day of the first lesson, she called 10 minutes before the agreed upon time to cancel due to a change in work schedule. We rescheduled for two days later. She did not show and, this time, did not call.

A few days later, hoping to drum up some business, I placed a largest-ever (viz most expensive) ad in the local paper.

The next day, I received a Discontinuance of Benefits letter from the Food Stamp office. And a regular student informed me she'll be out of town for the next two months. The next day, another student informed me she'll be away at camp for a few weeks. And another student's check bounced.

At which point my mind began to overload with disaster thinking, largely centered around "I'm not gonna be able to go to Brazil!" spiraling quickly into "People are awful...life is awful...I'm going to un-Friend everybody on FaceBook..."

The next day, after leaving a VM indicating she would bring a "good," i.e., replacement check to me that evening, the bounced-check parent did not show up or call.

The following morning, I looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud "Well, at least I'll still have the income from the church gig. I mean, who ever cancels church?"

That evening a church leader left a VM informing me that church will be canceled this week because most everyone will be out of town for the Fourth of July holiday.

That was the "Wait a minute...this is familiar" moment in the current "down" series and I actually burst out laughing. There's a kind of "click" that registers with the "say it can't happen" and "then it happens" sequence and that VM triggered the "click" this time.

The thing ends eventually but it's impossible to predict when so I just wait for some number of days to pass without bad news.

Yesterday, a few days after the "click," a student did not show for her lesson -- or call or text or email or respond to my "where are you text message." I smiled. The mother of the evening student telephone an hour before her lesson to cancel and reschedule for Friday.

"Apparently "it" isn't over yet..."

I'm not superstitious.

Or am I?

Does it matter?