Teeth and Claws

I couldn’t find my phone this morning. I’m not a married-to-my-phone kind of gal but I use it to time the early morning ten minute writing I do. If I don’t do it, I’m an even bigger bitch to the world. We don’t want that. Every night, I turn it off and leave it by the coffee pot. When I wake up, I turn it and the coffee on. When I get out of the shower, I’m ready to go. But, by the time I found it this morning (living room table – wth?), I’d wasted that precious ten minutes and the cats were flinging themselves (literally) against the back door, howling, wanting their breakfast.

Recently, I’ve taken to hiding in my room, coffee in one hand, pen in the other, to write before I let them in because otherwise I’m covered in “playing” cats while trying to write and protect my coffee from flying animals.

This morning, though, I had to be [insert sarcasm face]  flexible, which pissed me off. I have a routine, dammit! It keeps me sane, for gods sake! I let out a large sigh, cursed the universe, let in the cats, fed their sorry asses, and then went back to my room to write.

Naturally, when they were done eating they came to find me. The kitten, belly full, began to attack the others in the middle of the carpet. Pokey, my long-suffering sleek black panther, jumped into an open window to get away from her. She leapt and leapt at him until he hissed. Not taking the hint, she kept at him until he growled, threw a punch, and jumped out of the window, fleeing to another room. The kitten, convinced this was part of the fun, ran after him. He sat in front of Dusty’s closed bedroom door, meowing to be let in. He needed sanctuary and knew he’d find it under her bed in a kitten-free environment.

I am truly feeling Pokey’s pain these days. I’m chased by kittens all day long in the form of needs, requests, expectations of others. They are piling on top of each other, each with their particular teeth and claws, grabbing hold of my sanity in all the most tender places, the most vulnerable spots. I’m ready to quit and run for the hills but I’d take a weekend with no must-dos. I want that under-the-bed hiding place behind the camera bags and chemistry textbooks and middle school diaries full of angst and woe. I want a window sill high enough to keep the predators of my time at bay. I need a wife. A personal assistant. A new car. Money and time to solve the problems their lack has created.

I am reminded of my favorite Steve Martin bit: “You can be a millionaire! First: get a million dollars!”

It’s Friday. It’s been raining forever. If I was the praying kind, I’d be praying that the football game would be cancelled so my sick daughter can come home tonight at a reasonable hour and get some sleep and kitten-free sanctuary before her band competition tomorrow (before she ends up with pneumonia). Instead I will just send a message up to the clouds to keep pouring down on us (soundtrack: Quadrophenia) until that email comes. Our Sunday will be filled with must-dos, the teeth and claws of things that gotta be done. But hopefully there will be some rest in there, too. Some deep, boneless kitten sleep full of loud purring.

Or, at least a damn beer.

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The Season of No

I gotta tell ya, August just about killed me. Everything was too much. The schedule was untenable. I’m back working two jobs which means 12 days on, 2 days off in a fortnight. My volunteer gig has turned out to be much more work than I’d been led to believe it would be. The rules changed suddenly. I’m trying to figure out how to manage my time.

Red got braces a few weeks back and couldn’t eat the first night and was sad and it made me sad and then we figured it out. But it has taken all I have to get through the last couple of weeks. I’ve finally caught up with the mowing but the garden….sigh. Let’s not talk about it. Really, everything started to fall apart when I went off to Nashville for four days. It’s taken a month for me to get back to a place that feels less crazy and unmanageable. It’s very hard when there’s no backup. No one I can count on to help. No one close by. And it’s not like I ever really had back up but life has gotten more complicated lately.

I was lying in bed the other night, not sleeping (as per usual; I rarely get anything other than snatches of sleep on a good night), and listed all the things I have to let go of for awhile. And some of those are things I have loved to do, things that define who I am or who I was until the shit hit the fan. Things I’ve been guilting myself over not doing. Because I can’t do them. I can’t. I have to step back and re-prioritize in the short term.

And then my horoscope – written as an affirmation – for the week popped up in my overloaded in-box. And it was as if I’d written it myself during a long night staring into the darkness of my room. I’ve cut it down to the important bit:

I remember to go with the flow. I remember that everything will happen in its own way on its own schedule and that my schedule might need a little tweaking here or there. Which of my daily rituals work and which don’t? Which parts of my schedule are just too much to keep up with and which help to keep me on track?

 

Yeah. So, here’s what I’m allowing myself to let go for now. I have not put an end date on “now”.

  1. Blog-writing. Maybe this is ironic because I’m writing this but I bit off way more than I could chew with blogs. So the Motherhood one will be put on hiatus or turned into a place to post my art. Or I might just take it down altogether. I don’t know why I thought I could that. Three blogs? I’m out of my mind. I am. I am full of ideas – bad and good – but no time to make them happen. This blog will continue (I mean, it’s not like I’m writing much these days anyway so I don’t feel the same pressure.) The Route One blog will continue because it’s updated whenever I have something to share.
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  2. Novel-writing. This novel I keep thinking about? The one I started writing about a year or so ago? I’m allowing myself to not write it. At all. Guilt be gone! I’m officially not writing a novel. If I feel the urge, I’ll move a pen across a pad of paper but I’m not writing a novel.
    *
  3. Volunteer work. As soon as one board tenure is up, I’m not accepting another one. As soon as the second one is up, that’s it. I’m done. Not that I hate doing it. I don’t. It just takes up way more time than I’d anticipated.
    *
  4. Conferences. I used to love them back when I yearned for time alone. Now that I have that pretty often, I hate them. I rarely return with anything I can possibly put into place because I am a solo researcher and all the things I learn are helpful to bigger shops with newer databases that do whiz-bang amazing stuff. I ain’t there and I may never be. I’m kind of done chasing my career. I’m ready to not have a career. I just need the semblance of one until my kids are grown.
    *
  5. The garden. I know. I know. I swear to you, I know what I’m saying. And I say to you I just don’t have the wherewithal to keep up with a garden any longer. The weeds took over when I was in Nashville and the sky dried up and the temperature rose and all my free time was spent mowing and working. And everything kind of died and felt horrible but I can’t feel horrible any longer. I can’t. I can’t even look the garden in the eye. I can hear it moaning. I’ve let it down. I’ve let myself down. I have to stop doing that.

    I’ll go out soon (when, I have no idea) and pull everything up and figure out what I can handle and scale that shit down. Because it’s not just the tending to, it’s the harvesting and turning all that produce into food that’s time consuming. Tomatoes rotted before I could eat them all. Peppers came in prolifically and I tried as hard as I could to use them up. I failed. Most of the cucumbers were turned into pickles (which are still taking up an enormous amount of real estate in the fridge) and a few sat on the counter and slowly turned into ooze. I made hot sauce and spaghetti sauce with most of the tomatoes but still. It got overwhelming. So, the garden will be a different place next year. I’d like to say I’m giving up gardening but we both know that’s a lie. By March I’ll be ready to go back out and try again. Hope springs eternal in spring. Hope is a cudgel that passion hits me on the head with every year. So, I’m not giving up entirely but I might do a lot of it in bags and containers on my deck where it’s easier to deal with. I don’t know.

I don’t know how to quit. I don’t know how to pare down. Whenever I stop doing one thing, I come up with 12 other things I want to do and I try to do them and end up spinning myself into a pool of butter at the base of the tree. I don’t do it on purpose. I might be a glutton for punishment but I’m unable to stop doing. I can’t turn my brain off. I have difficulty sitting and reading longer than half an hour these days.

Sometimes I feel how short life is and I want to cram as much in as possible so that when I do die, no one can say my life was full of nothing. I like to be busy but not to the point of insanity. Finding that line is what I’m trying to do. So, allowing myself to let go of the things I feel I *should* be doing but can’t right now, is the first step.

So, I’ll be back but I don’t know when. This is the Season of No. The Season of Let Me Get Back To You. The Season of I’m Not Dead Yet! Give Me a Call and Let’s Do Something! The Season of Finding the Right Balance for Now.