Friday, September 26, 2008

Swirly, sparkly, addicting things

Is it normal to feel so bereft after being practically done with the project that has consumed every free minute of my life for several months and that has haunted me (the guilt, mostly) for years? I feel out of sorts. I keep thinking of things like public space, private space, house as a symbol of (fill in the blank). That's not just a "green home"--that's a political stand, a sign of the times, a vote with dollars. But maybe it's just a cool house with a living wall and roof, graywater processing system, and solar panels, all backed by someone with more time and money than he/she knows what to do with. Perhaps some things are not more than the sum of their parts.

We have fun family or mama/SB things planned all weekend. I have a stack of magazines, all glossy and undogeared, waiting on the coffee table and nightstand. I even bought two brand-spanking-new books, which I never do, cheapskate that I am (Plenty and House at Sugar Beach). Yet, I'm fighting the urge to sit at my computer or scribble notes on scraps of paper. While eating lunch with SB, I got up and wrote the following on a Working Assets pad of paper I found in the debris of my desk: "Public v. Private lives. Milk on porch. Internet. Green parenting. Risk private for public? Holloran. Losing data and identity theft. Embrace public." Good grief, woman. Let it go for a couple of weeks.

But I'm Type A--can't sit still, have to stay busy. Which is a kind of sickness. Or is it that cliche about scratching at a long-ago amputated limb? One day, if I'm lucky, I'll forget about it. But that day is not today.

When we were out celebrating Alex's birthday the other night, he asked, "So, what are you going to do now that your thesis is mostly done?" I was supposed to say, "I'm going to Disneyland!" but instead my shoulders seized up and I felt a flush of panic flood my body. What am I going to do with all my newfound time?

My acupuncturist says to maybe just let the rest of my life, the stuff that's been crammed into the tight corners of my days, stretch out a bit. Don't fill yourself up again, she gently warned me, as she stuck me with about thirty needles meant to beat back an encroaching cold and get rid of weeks of stress. But she's not like me. She's a mellow, relaxed person. Just being in the same room as her makes me sleepy. I might be lazy, but I'm rarely ever relaxed.

The thing is, I remember a time before full-time work and family and trying to live a greener life and writing in the spare minutes of a day and hanging out with friends. I had less to do, I was more relaxed, but some days, I couldn't even get out of bed. There was nothing to yank me out of own head and into the world. I cried a lot and felt sorry for myself. That was a crappy time of thinking too much and doing too little.

The swirl of sound and color and motion—of SB and her friends running through the house while unwinding a ball of yarn, of jam burning on the stove, of hooting and moaning at the Daily Show, of Twittering about Project Runway, of newspapers and magazines slipping off of every flat surface in the house, of weekends so full that they feel like weekdays—that mess of parts equals the sum total of my life. The energy of this crazy book project can't just disappear, so where will it go? I'm not worried: something else equally sparkly and distracting and addicting will come along. And honestly, I can hardly wait.


melissa s. said...

i like to think that now that my free time is more limited, i'm more selective about the projects i start, books i read, etc... but i can't say that's actually true. but it's a nice thing to tell myself.

i am off to check out the 'women against sarah palin' link on your sidebar. now THAT looks like a good use of my time!

Susan Denning said...



Who do you think will win on Project Runway? I like Kenley's designs but I think her attitude will hold her back from winning it all.


Rebecca said...

Well, I think it's obviously time to seek out literary agents, get that thesis published, go on talk shows, embark on a book tour, sell the movie rights, star in the movie yourself, etc. That should keep you busy. Congratulations and good luck finding your next obsession!

DomaMama said...

Mel: I think it's true that our lives fill up on their own, whether we want them to or not. I'm resigned to it.

Susan: Thanks for the congrats! I have no idea who's going to win PR. I'm a Leanne fan (go, Portland). But it's hard to call, unlike last season.

Rebecca: Can't imagine making a movie out of my book, but I was at damali ayo's lecture last night, and they're making a movie out of her book How to Rent-A-Negro, so anything's possible. (What about a movie about your forthcoming book?)

fasenfest said...


Funny, I was just thinking about what to do now that the garden is almost to bed for the winter (besides the tons of green tomatoes I will be confronting). And, among other things I was thinking - getting together with friends. What I mean is that this "homesteader" movement (and it is not about more money than time in case you were really wondering), can be very isolating. Particularly if there are no little children left in the home. Or even if there are.

So how about a weekly "what the f--k" coffee group to discuss what the f--k is happening in the markets, the world, the home the planet or, just in our own heads. I think a group of women with overly active minds stoked on caffeine sounds like a political action group. Or, just plan f--king fun.

fasenfest said...

Just wanted to comment on dmali ayo's book soon to become a movie.

I can only tell you that I used to work with her and her lens and attitude about our contrived relationships with other cultures and races is contrived in and of itself.

It is dangerous to assume you can feel and know what other people's experience have been. And that I am not black I will never know how the world would look and treat me. That is clear. But her life represents what happens when we transcend all the labels and limitations society wants to put on us.

All of us carry a burden of culture, experience and legacy. My own is the weight of the holocaust and how it moves me to confront man's inhumanity to man. It drives me crazy and has made me a melancholy person. I've got the eastern european second-generation survivor blues. And, yeah, nobody can point me out in a crowd but it has defined me. I carry it when nobody can see it which is just as difficult to transcend. Honestly.

So perhaps we want to continue talking about what led us to our burden or imagine what allows us to transcend and re-envision it. Certainly there are proponents to both sides. History illuminates for sure. But let's not get so fucking cheeky and so self involved that we imagine we are the only ones who have carried a cross or suffered the consequences of man's inhumanity to man. It is the stuff of the human experience rather then the exception.

That fact is the thing to acknowledge and move us toward attempting greater love and acceptance towards other. Yeah, highlight the funk, even make a silly movie about our discomfort and lame attempts of stepping outside our own culture. But at some point we got to get on with it. Really. Hopefully after this movie she can.

DomaMama said...

Harriet--I'd love a regular "what the f--k" group! Let's set one up. Talk to you about it soon.

Also, re: damali, I think she gets that she's done with publicly talking about race. I've got to say that as a person of color living in Portland, I really relate to what she says and love her outlandish twists on those tough interactions and conversations. But she says that she is moving on to healthier modes of expression (yoga, I believe), so that will be awesome to see.