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Thursday, November 5, 1998

 The Crazy Jane Chronicles
Part I

Now, why did I do that? Gillian was still in bed. The covers were soft and warm and the air from the bedroom window was cold, the way it often is in New England in November. The ceiling fan was turning slowly for circulation and the television was on. Why don't I use the radio, like everyone else? I could be listening to Mozart. The television was tuned to CNN and the segment was about the recent elections and how the Republicans were scrambling for cover and searching for blame. I hate the news. Gillian's husband was already gone. It was 6:10 A.M. He avoided the commute by leaving the house at 5:30 A.M. No kiss again. Her one child was still asleep, waiting for her to wake her up and nudge and urge her to get ready for school. She is a freshman at the High School. Still lying there in bed, Gillian drowsily watched the news. There was a story attempting to summarize the killer hurricane, Mitch, and the images were of mud slides, and bodies and then the talking head of the desk reporter. Oh, crap! I've GOT to get up. The floor must be cold. Got to get some coffee. What am I going to wear? Shoes! I need new shoes. I've got the pants and the rest, but my shoes are horrible, clunky. Underwear? Suddenly she threw back the covers and emerged. She is wearing flannel pajamas with T-shirt and socks. She heads to the downstairs kitchen. The coffee pot is brewing, but it looks weak. Shit! He did it again! Gillian likes her coffee normal, and Jack likes it so strong that it gags her. So the agreement is that he makes a new pot when he leaves. She is now standing there looking at the pot. It's tea, not coffee. Then she turns to the little laundry room just off the kitchen and looks in the washing machine. The spin cycle was completed some time ago, and the clothes are flattened against the edges. She lifts them out. They are retaining their curved shape, which means they've been in there too long. She opens the dryer, but it is jammed with half-dry clothes. Shit. Shit. Shit!! Now she is shifting through the clothes from the drier, finds her underwear, goes the kitchen sink and rinses them in cold water. Goes back to the drier, pulls everything out on the floor, there are slopping sounds. She throws in her underwear in, sets the cycle for delicate, and hits the start button. The drier begins to turn. Now she goes to the counter, turns on the TV (I need some company) pours herself a cup of coffee, takes out an instant coffee jar and spoons in about three-quarters of a teaspoon, stirs it and takes a sip. Her eyes close sharply and as she swallows she makes a choking sound. That's awful. The TV is talking about the wrestling guy who won the governorship in Minnesota. She is standing there in her pajamas, drier doing its thing, coffee in hand, sink full of Jack's dishes, watching the bald guy, now Governor, say, "I'm starting to like this gig."

"Hi, mom. Why didn't you wake me?" Daughter Adrienne had made her appearance. She is running late. In the next few minutes while the CNN announcers discussed everything from the stock market resurge after the election to the professional basketball players' negotiations, Gillian and Adrienne rushed through bowls of raisin bran ("Mom, I HATE this stuff!"), showers (Sure, I get the last one, cold one.), got dressed (These things are NOT dry!), made some lunches, rushed out of the house, ten minutes late, Adrienne drove to the High school (Mom! I can't drive any faster! I 'm just learning.), and Gillian walked into her job just five minutes after the staff assembled for the meeting. She is the Town Manager of the small New England town her husband, Jack, grew up in. The staff is sitting there with half-full coffee cups, growing luke warm, waiting impatiently. Gillian sits down at the head of the large historic table. As she did she felt a slight dampness seeping through her shirt from the strap of her bra. Her heart was pounding from the rushing, but also from the combo coffee she gulped down. She had left her purse in the car. Everyone was waiting. Crazy Jane arrives, disshelved, disorganized, but totally in charge. Her thoughts soothed her down a little. She always referred to herself in her thoughts as "Crazy Jane." It was the alter ego, the risk taker, the devil-may-care secret identity that got her through things. She thought, Jack has been at work for two hours. She turned to the department heads, brushed her strawberry blonde hair off of her forehead, back behind her ears, and then addressed the group, "Did anyone watch the Selectmen's Meeting last night?" She wiggled her toes around in her shoes. They just felt wrong.

See you next time?

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