It seems no matter where I am on the web right now, someone somewhere is headed Back-to-School. Mothers are sad summer is over (or secretly not), healthy lunches are discussed (or those not so healthy tsk-tsked over), and teachers are settling in with yet another year’s classroom full of children. The smell of crayons and freshly sharpened pencils waft through the streets.
I shouldn’t be writing now. I definitely shouldn’t be writing this right now. I’ve just put in a nice 12-hour day and if I want to sound coherent, then I should have some time to collect my thoughts. Unfortunately there are too many wanting to crowd the space on this page, urging me to put them down to relieve the over-crowded conditions in my brain.
Imagine: The “I wish I’d been more diligent about writing something of substance in the last two years” thoughts sitting alongside those having to do with, “Get to work at 6:15 today so I can make sure everyone has everything for the planned session today” robotic reminders. Or consider the awkwardness of the “Oh my $#&* goodness, she really needs to get a grip” thoughts and the “Goodness, I didn’t realize her husband’s boss’s wife served on that committee” thoughts being in close proximity. Shameful.
Like I said: coherent.
Last night I sat on the couch after I got home and begrudgingly embraced the old familiar YOU’VE JUST BEEN RUN OVER BY A TRUCK feeling I became accustomed to after 20 years of the opening of school. You plan for it, it happens, you’re exhausted. Period. You get to the point of being able to look past the tread marks that run up and down your body and learn to admire your new physique, tempted to ask others if you look good like this; more slender.
Remember the part about coherence?
In my flattened state, I sat on the couch in front of the television — something I never do before eight at night. With a glass of wine in hand, I flipped channels until I found a show that required no effort on my part to stare at other than tolerating the commercials. It was one of those shows where pack rats are reformed by cheerful home organization/decorator types, and thinking about it now makes complete sense: A mess is transformed into something blissfully organized; there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end; the sun comes up and everybody’s happy when it’s over.
If I wasn’t so flat, I’d apply to be a guinea pig on one of those shows because it seems like cheap therapy. But I could also build myself a nifty exercise program that would get all my endorphins coursing through my veins (arteries?) and then I’d be able to fit more into my day.
I’ll make a note of that.
With every day that passes, I find myself adjusting to my new schedule. I haven’t quite gotten back into the habit of mentally planning what I’ll wear to work the next day (because let’s face it, priorities are priorities…) but it’s only a matter of time. Some mornings, I lag so badly after checking emails and messing around with a few other odds and ends on my Mac, I have to hurry to dress and slap on my make up in less than 20 minutes. Not bad.
I don’t mind the work, the setting is beautiful, and the people I work with are very pleasant, so the day passes quickly. It’s arriving home that requires more of an adjustment because whatever I haven’t taken care of is sitting and waiting when I arrive. Clearly I don’t have a fairy godmother. Sure the MoH helps out — he always has. It’s more an annoyance to have to be more organized again so that when I do want to enjoy my evening with the menfolk, I’m not having to stare at undone chores and tasks. Not exactly relaxing, but I suppose that’s what I get.
And then there’s the cooking.
You do understand that a dent has been put in that as well, right? We don’t do take-out very often, so as much as some may seize the opportunity to fall into that routine after returning to a full-time job, we don’t. In fact, I starve most of the day and then come home wanting to eat the broad side of a barn. Unfortunately, that leads to an immediate lack of interest in dinner. Whatever attempt I make in the feeding the family department is usually decent, but I see it as a string of dominoes. If I cook, then I have to clean up. If I cook and it’s tasty, then I have to take photos. If I take photos, then there’s an outside chance I’ll need to blog about it.
You caught the “need,” right? Need to blog about it.
There used to be a want, but let’s face it — I treated blogging like a job — a job I wanted. At least I used to. Sure it’s a job that pays crap for the amount of time and effort that goes into it, but it felt like a job nonetheless. So “need” isn’t quite cutting it any longer.
I’m not sure where I was going with this other than to put down how my thinking is changing as I adjust, and how quickly old routines fall back into place. At the same time, it shows how quickly new interests fall to the wayside if we don’t continue to nurture them. It’s forcing me to think about the work to live vs. live to work dilemma. I’ve decided to take one week day off while it’s slow during the summer and that’s probably helping me put things in perspective. It’s fascinating that on that day off, I can push even the smallest thought of work completely out of my mind — almost as if it didn’t exist. On the weekend, it’s even better. And I guess that’s all great, except I miss my quiet time.
Somehow, I have to find that again — even if it means hiding in my closet once in a while.
In the dark.
I could call it meditation.
Busy season is finally over yet another year. There have been so many I’ve lost count. It means the MoH is home before dark, and that it’s time for me to have an idea or two to plant in his mind before he heads for work in the morning about what we might do in the evening. It’s so he can begin to feel like there’s actually a day — or at least part of one — to be enjoyed even though it’s not quite the weekend.
Or maybe it was that we were celebrating the beginning of the weekend — the first of many to come before the next string of late nights and work-filled weekends.
William Zinsser says, “To write well about your life you only have to be true to yourself.”
I knew that. It doesn’t make it easier to choose to delve into something I don’t feel like delving into, however, and I recognize all the signs of avoidance — like grabbing my broom to rid the stairs of the dust bunnies that have taken up residence since we got rid of the carpet.
They’re huge, shadowy puffs that seemingly morph from one corner to another, gathering cat hair and our life’s dentritus with each pair of passing feet.
I see them as I trudge up and down to refill my coffee cup or half-heartedly perform some chore and marvel that they appear so quickly. They’re fascinating until they become a larger mass, swept to the bottom of the stairs waiting to be scooped into a dust pan and into the trash along with my determination.
* * *
I’m tired of thinking about food, about writing about food. Tired of organizing my life around the planning and shopping, organizing and preparing of food. If I needed just one scapegoat for my lack of productivity, it would be that, and yet the amount of time it takes contradicts any lack of productivity.
I’m tired of thinking about food. Tired. But that will most likely change at lunchtime.
* * *
I’ve been trying to decide whether it’s better to classify myself as a procrastinator, or dreamer. Drifty is more like it. Drifting like those dust bunnies from one point to another with little or no substance or anchor. Well, not quite that dramatic, but puffing along from one whim to the next and incapable of moving of its own volition. Lacking initiative.
* * *
It was foggy outside this morning when I woke up and the residual dampness has given the air a smell that comes only when raindrops first hit the asphalt. I stand on the patio in the slight chill, my not so willing to be outside this early in the morning toes curling against the flagstones, and I breathe deeply. The trees rustle with the slight breeze and I’m surprised to hear a bird’s call I don’t recognize, wondering where it’s coming from and why I haven’t noticed it before. Happy thing.
* * *
I just finished Blessings by Anna Quindlan. It’s about identity and the effect family can have on it — or not. It’s about quite a bit more than that, but when I talk about a book I’ve read I somehow find myself feeling like I’m completing a book report and have to supress the urge to run screaming from the room. I’ll find myself later picking this one up to read parts of again because Quindlan’s writing has that effect on me, most likely because I can wallow in long passages of description and deep delving into a character’s thoughts to a level not unlike that of my dust ball analysis. Unfortunately, I read just before I go to sleep each night and not many pages at that these days. Any influence her words have on me is lost in the jumble that has been my dreams recently, and since I still can’t quite give myself permission to read during the day, my thinking is lost and with it any inspiration to write.
Why a person needs to give herself permission to read during the day is fairly stupid.
* * *
You’re wondering about the silly asterisks right? Me, too. But it’s the only way that I could actually sit down and write something today. Anything.
And so I did. I’d call that being true to myself.
Or avoiding being true to myself, which is probably more the case.
In the last many days, I’ve had time to think about this space in my life and its accumulation of nearly two years of what passes for me these days — me in writing, that is. Whenever I run through the archives and skim the content, so many thoughts come to mind about when the piece was written — the season, the weather on a given day, what I was preoccupied with or annoyed about. It’s been more and more difficult to write here and so the frequency has decreased and I’ve found myself adjusting to that, but not particularly enjoying it. I’ve taken the time on my occasional walks to make mental plans where I’d whip myself into writerly shape working on one project at this point in the day and another later on, somehow fitting it all in.
The implementation lasted one day.
I’d decided to do some admin work related to my sites and busied myself in all that it entails, which is a lot when one might consider that I currently qualify for the old dog aspect of the whole can’t teach new tricks classification. Bound and determined to prove it wrong, I spent ridiculous amounts of time reading codex and phoning and thinking and whining to get everything moved and it just never worked.
With every piece I had nearly worked out, another arose and on a computer screen it looks like two window open with several tabs to access in each one. My head spun with angst over root directories and files, php and FTPs, domains and DNS. Having much experience in the area of reading research, I can tell you that when content is dense, even proficient readers default to subvocalizing in order to digest and comprehend new information. It helps — but only if one is also willing to repeat the process over and over with little or no distraction.
I Twittered much. I wallowed in Bubble Bazinganess. I bonded with Facebook finally, and satisfied my creative spirit cooking, shooting photos of what I’d cooked, editing those photos, and then finally writing about what I’d cooked. *insert note regarding food obsession here* It only fills the hours, but it never quite fills the spot that this space fills and the longer it was unavailable to me, the more I realized that although I could live without it, I just didn’t want to.
I thought about people who have lost posessions in a fire, or who have had property vandalized. I morbidly recalled my trauma induced by the loss of my hard drive on my beloved MacBook and all the glorious photos of our trip to the UK and several years of my son’s boyhood. I conjured up all the images of loss I could to add to my incessant mulling over of not having this space because I may have been careless. And if I had, nothing could be done other than start again, because that’s what I do. I’m good at it.
So that’s what I was ready to do this morning when I sat down. Start again.
And metaphorically, that’s what I’ve decided to say I’ve done, because clearly my archives are in order and everything is up and running. But I have perspective I didn’t have a week or so ago and need to put it to good use.
It seemed appropriate to make a few visual changes to celebrate moving on with new purpose.
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Be satisfied with what you have.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Dude, make it a double. That was a close call.
I should go outside today and walk.
The cold isn’t quite as bracing as it’s been the last week or so for my west coast bones, and I’m tempted to stretch them in the warm, bright sunlight somewhat like a fat, old lazy cat.
Tempted would be the key word there.
But if I ventured out to traipse back and forth through my old walking course in the neighborhood across the street, what would I think about? The thought is almost as scary as being stuck on an airplane without a book — nothing to occupy my busy brain. Nothing to worry about or to plan for, to gossip with a friend over. Just quiet. Well, and the occasional home owner who seems surprised to see a human walking down his street after his garage door opens just enough to allow him a line of vision. Interloper that I’d be, my presence would put him in the awkward position of making eye contact and possibly uttering a greeting, or more commonly, have to avert his gaze so as not to invite one.
I could use the time to prod myself over writing if I went for a walk. Or organize my plan of attack on the area of our house that is supposed to be a garage and is more like a junkyard right now. Or make some kind of a schedule for something. Anything. You know, so I can have one.
Aren’t people supposed to have schedules?
I think people have schedules to have them — not because they’re necessary. It takes time to plan them, and keep them, and check things off as you complete them. It fills the time in a day so that when your head hits the pillow at night, you can feel like you’ve been a good productive human instead of a lazy ass.
If I had a schedule, I would be well into it today, have my grocery list made, probably already have purchased and put away those groceries, and be up to my very sore elbows in some new recipe. (Minestrone sounds heavenly right now in case you’re wondering, but I’m struggling to decide whether that lentil recipe with orzo would be better….)
But I’m here instead, thinking about next week, yet another new year, and the overwhelming possibilities that come with that inevitable flip of a single calendar page.
All I have to do is reach out and choose.
It’s amazing, isn’t it?
For instance, I could write a book. I keep threatening to, but know that I’ll get around to it some day — after I have a schedule. The world needs another book about yet another human who overcomes challenge and adversity and still has a positive outlook on life, right? I’d definitely need a schedule to complete this daunting task, and would absolutely need to walk every single morning to get it done. I know this. Walking helps me sort out the tiny details as much as it also helps me unravel huge structural knots.
I could finally upgrade this site to 2.7 because I should have a long time ago. But where would the spammers get to park their disgusting crap?
I could flip the switch on my food blog since it’s been ready and waiting for the domain I’m paying for and haven’t used so far, needing a week to work out all the kinks I never quite understand. Actually, I will be doing that next week. Yikes!
I could make a list of resolutions to consider, but I’m never very good at that, so wouldn’t take it very seriously and would struggle not to put something on it like, “I will make sure I change out of my pajamas every day all year before 2PM.” What’s the point of taking off flannel bottoms if all I’m going to put on is yoga pants?
I could get a job, but then I’d have to have a schedule, right? And clothes, and, and, and…I’m still removing suit coats and trousers I no longer wear. Why would I want to start that all over again. God forbid having to worry about whether my sweater is five years old, or my shoes are not quite fashionable.
I could go on a health-nut get-into-shape change-my-life type permanent binge, but then what would I do with a new body? Write a new blog so I could tell others how they, too, can have killer abs? I know mine are under my middle age spread somewhere.
I’d rather say, “Let’s not and say we did” to it all right now.
But that walk is sounding kind of nice about now.