Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I am a creature of habit. Bad habits, as a matter of fact. I tend to "loop" on things, which means I just go over and over them in my mind, rather than breaking the loop and being healthier, wasting less time, being more productive, etc.

Take, for example, my blog. I didn't want to update until I had time to fully update on ALL the FUN things! That have been going on this summer!

But today I finally realized that that train has left. I will have to let it go on without me, without you, and I will just have to accept the fact that I cannot simultaneously live my life AND document it, no matter how much I'd like to. I narrate my life constantly in my own head, saving up posts, but then I can't type enough to keep up with it.

Suffice it to say, I am having a fun summer.

The second example of bad habits and looping is this: Whenever my client work slows down, I pause on the last assignments, drawing out the time between getting them and doing them, because I don't like the idea of having NO work. It doesn't occur to me that maybe I'll get MORE work if I just DO the work I have!

For the past four years that I have been self-employed, even though I have had dry patches, I have always gotten the work I needed, when I needed it (knock on wood, spit on the floor, stave off the evil eye). However, this does not stop me from lingering over the last assignments, or flinging resumes into the wind desperately, or cringing my hands and worrying and thinking about getting a job telemarketing so we don't starve. I worry to Dereck that my clients secretly think I suck (and they probably do when I DON'T FINISH THEIR WORK), and that I have had a good run, but now it's over, and I don't know what I'll do to earn the money I need to earn.

Dereck is patient with this loopiness, but he is always the first to tell me (and he is right) that the work will come, that I don't suck, nobody thinks I suck, don't personalize it, it will be okay.

So, my goal for the day is to finish my assignments (one I won't quite be able to finish today, but I can get a head start) and then to try to enjoy my time between assignments.

I have had a goal every day this summer that I have not yet met (No, Heith, it's not to blog daily, though I did sort of set that as a goal, didn't I?): My goal is to return to my poetry roots and to begin writing again. I have started playing the guitar daily, and I have some wicked cool blisters, but can't actually play anything yet. However, I have not written. Anything. Nada.

I realized the other day that when I wrote my thesis, I wrote most of my first drafts on yellow legal pads, and then typed them on my typewriter. Instead, I have all of these wonderfully cool notebooks, which I end up either giving away to other writers, or just carrying around, or just leaving on the shelf. So, I got some yellow legal pads. That was two days ago, and so far two people have used them, but none of those people were me.

My parents just came out for a week-long visit. They left for the airport hotel yesterday afternoon. It is odd to be in the living room without them to chat to. It was a successful visit as defined by the fact that I did not lose my patience with my mom. I have noticed that she is very good at pushing certain buttons I have, and for her, it's probably just the ritual, the loopiness of conversations we've had for years. But instead of engaging, I murmured soothing words of, "I'm sorry," about her pain, her health, her troubles. Instead of engaging, I took her into the children's room and gently rubbed her back. My friend Jamie noted, when I mentioned this, that I was replacing words, the verbal, the metaphorical, with touch, with love.

I think I did this, I chose this, because the first day she was here, I didn't get a chance to rub her back, and I was devastated that evening that I hadn't even performed that simple act for her. So, I made a point to do it every day after that. Just to take some time to touch her, to love her. And the act of loving her, the physicality of it, helped me to soothe her and to soothe my own nerves, helped us to reconnect in ways we had connected when I would rub her back when I was a teenager.

That's how long she has had the pain-- for about 25 years. She mentions that she has never been in so much pain. This may be true, but I've heard it before. She mentions that sometimes the pain is so great that she wants everything to be over with her. This usually gets a pretty big rise out of me with some yelling and some tears. This time, I just rubbed her back and said, "I hope you don't. I'm so sorry you have to bear this. I love you."

I am hopeful that after four years of her making comments like this that it's just something she says, something she needs to articulate, rather than something she would act on.

I told her that I would come out to visit her for her birthday in October, and I will. Something for us both to look forward do, something for her to hang her endurance on, something concrete and specific.

Something to live for.

1 comment:

L said...

What a nice solution, for you and for your mother. You're never going to get her to change, so you may as well react in a way that gives you something to take pleasure in. I'm thinking how I might apply this principle to my relationship, pretty nearly a non-relationship, with my own mother.