On a Saturday morning in the middle of October, you will sit on your porch and let your coffee warm itself in the sun. Your child will be nearby, toddling around in a shirt and a diaper, peeking through the shrubs to watch the traffic — constant, hurried, loud. The cat will be somewhere around you, eating spider webs and green things, relishing his momentary freedom. You’ll be planning your day, trying to plot out showers and travel times and parking spots and meals and naps. You’ll look at your child’s head full of hair and wonder how the spinning globe we’re riding on got us all to this one moment in time, and you’ll sip your coffee again, its warmth extended for a little while by the sun’s efforts.
There is a spider just outside the front window. She is suspended on a single thread, bisecting it between the points where it is attached to the pane. She’s halfway between her origin and her destination, dangling and swaying back and forth in the breeze. She’s dead. Kicked ye olde bucket while making a go at another web: her first, seventh, dozenth, hundreth — who really even knows but her. There is just the one thread she is suspended from, the beginnings of her new sticky hammock. So she had just gotten started.
She was setting up a new shop, spinning spinning spinning, driven by instinct. Something happened and she gave out, I guess. Seven of her little legs are curled up beneath her while one — the one she used to guide herself down the thread — sticks out behind her. A crooked little aerial ballet pose for the ages.
This is going to sound like bad poetry because I am not sure how best to articulate it. But I’ll try.
Once in a while, the mind takes hold of something and slows down everything around it — the clock ticking, the Earth’s revolutions, the breaths coming from your own nostrils — as if to crystallize and distill and separate out the destination, faint pinprick as it may be, from the rest of the ordinary ebbs and flows of life.
I wonder if the brain worked this way before movies or if this is something my brain has begun to do because of movies. It is theatrical in nature and dramatic at heart and it perplexes me, the ways in which the organism functioned before the ways in which we function now. What if I would have been better in and at another time?
This life springs people and circumstances into your orbit you must evaluate and categorize carefully should they prove useful or harmful or worth more time than you initially thought. Or less.
It is the waiting to find out which shelf to put you on that I have little patience for. My brain fancies itself a label-maker, one of those crude punch-letter contraptions, and it is constantly wanting to slap an explanatory strip on everything, and then a new one on top, and then an updated one on that, and so on. All that time spent thinking about shelving does strange things to one’s perception of reality and possibility.
I’m not a great judge of character but I am goddamned sincere.
One of the best things about life is not knowing what’s around the corner. One of the worst things about life is not knowing who’s around the corner.
My mind is this great humming butter churn of a thing, moving unformed chunks of ideas around slowly and with great struggle.
I have nothing to write about. It is driving me fucking bonkers. I have been sitting here staring at this screen, trying to make it happen, trying to remember something, anything, worth sharing and I have nothing. Everything is extremely mundane. I can’t just write about my kid all the time, cool as he is. I can’t write about work, insane as it is. That’s it, though. I don’t have anything else. I’m not overly happy or overly sad about anything. I just continue to have absolutely nothing to fucking talk about and I think it’s time to pronounce the blog dead because maybe then I will get my mojo back.
I can’t keep writing about not writing.
OK. Now that I got that out of my system, I am just going to write. Some stream-of-consciousness shit helps unclog the mind, doesn’t it? I swear I think I have done this before here and yes I did just search my archives for an example and I came up short.
You are going to think this is ridiculous but I just made myself cry up there, when I decided to consider killing the blog. I’m not even PMSing. I am that emotionally constipated and frustrated. This thing that is mine that used to give me such joy is such a point of stress now. Self-imposed, completely stupid stress! No one cares! Once Google Reader is dead, there might be four people who ever remember to come by here and they know how fucking crazy I am anyway and don’t expect anything from me!
I’m, like, three months behind on Holden’s month-by-month posts. I feel a ridiculous amount of guilt about that, which is sort of making me feel like I shouldn’t write about anything else until I get those out of the way. Stupid.
Is it living in Nashville that has sapped me? Because crazy shit used to happen to me and around me all the time in Memphis. Nothing happens here except sometimes I get irrationally angry at a song Pandora will play. I don’t ever see or interact with people except for the ones I live with or the ones I work with, and all those people are off limits from my (public) online smartassery. I want to tell stories about all you delightful weirdos, dammit! Middle management has taken that from me.
I was thinking earlier about how I have been a middle manager at heart my whole life. How I always wanted to do roll call at school and take names when the teacher left the room. I always wanted to please the authority figures in life so they would know that secretly, despite my age, I was one of them. This explains why I never snuck out of the house or blew curfew without calling my parents and letting them know I’d be a smidge late.
Being a manager, though, has been an interesting trip. I have always always always been nonconfrontational and uncomfortable with delivering bad news or having to provide discipline or critique. It’s the people pleaser in me who is crippled by the thought of hurting someone’s feelings or saying something that will make them like me less. Learning to be OK with people not liking me has been a lifelong struggle, even though I am POSITIVE that there have been plenty of people throughout my life who haven’t liked me. Because, as I discover every few years or so, I am a serious asshole sometimes.
So now I kind of have to get right with that asshole part of me and harness it for good. Harness it to keep people honest, to foster productivity, to pressure people to stay on track. Use it to provide a push but not too hard.
WHY AM I WRITING ABOUT WORK? OH MY GOD, NO ONE CARES.
Work is my life right now. I think about it almost obsessively. How can I be better, do better, cultivate better results?
Is it because I think I’m a terrible mother? Or do I think I’m a terrible mother because I am so focused on my career?
Ew, those feelings are sticky. Best not touch them.
Last January, I did one of these so I could remember how it was taking care of a newborn while on maternity leave. I figured I’d do one again while I am a Working Mother of a Toddler, so that in a year or two when my life has changed yet again (spoiler alert: it just keeps changing!), I can look back and try to remember what this life was like.
So here is a pretty typical LT day, told in pictures. To see the captions, you have to toggle on full screen and click the picture, I think. You can hit pause and then scroll through them at your own pace.
Sometimes I ache so hard for a future life that it ruins my whole day.
Many people, most people(?) live their whole lives and they don’t get what they want. And that’s OK. Because no one is entitled to get what they want. Even if what they want is totally reasonable. Why the fuck should the universe align itself so that you get what you want? That is not the purpose or the function of the organism. Surely by now you have accepted that.
It’s 10 p.m. and I’m sitting at a blue plastic table, sipping a canned Coke. I’m surrounded by banks of whirring silver washing machines, and I’ve figured out that by sitting at this table, I can feel the blasts of cold air from the AC. It’s a nice counter to the heat radiating off all these dryers. This is the Wash Tub Coin Laundry, open 25 hours, according to a sign on the side of the building. I am not entirely sure that’s meant to be funny.
Visiting Laundromats every other week or so is something I’ve been doing since we moved. Of course, I should be doing it much more often than that but we literally use every piece of clean fabric in the house before I get weird about not having anything to dry off with after a shower, and surrender and load my car up with every rag we own.
Our landlords were kind enough to leave their washer and dryer in the house for us in case we wanted to adopt them, but they warned us that there was an issue with the washer that would need to be repaired. I tried to get a repair company to come out and look at it but they refused to do so since the house is rented. Besides, I think having the thing repaired to the degree it is probably going to need might cost more than I am willing to spend on a repair job. Just a hunch. I finally decided the other day to throw in the towel and just buy a new washing machine because going to the Laundromat is a pain in the ass when you’re single and you just have a trash bag full of your own clothes. It’s practically torture when you’ve got three towering baskets full of three people’s clothes — some of them sporting more than a little poop (I won’t tell you whose) — to wash and dry using every quarter you can possibly get your hands on.
The Wash Tub has an interesting ethos. There are three things on the wall that are not washing related:
• A poster featuring the characters of the Marvel Universe
• A poster featuring a blonde beach babe busting out of her bikini while reclining in water
• A calendar featuring pictures of churches
There’s also a pool table. When I first got here, there were a couple of guys playing a game. Now the guy who helped me get my clothes inside (such service!) is lying down on it, watching TV. There is a group of three teenagers who came in with no laundry; they just wanted to play the shitty arcade games, I guess. I feel like someone should tell them they’d get a better value for their money if they gave me their quarters to finish drying my jeans. It’s an investment.
I remember doing my laundry in college sometimes at that Laundromat next to La Siesta, near Murphy Center. (I seriously just had to sit here and think for a few minutes about what Murphy Center is called. Shameful.) I didn’t have any concept then of the sheer volume of laundry that was to come in my life. Just like I have no concept now of how much laundry is going to be involved as my child gets older and we stop being lazy and put him in two-piece outfits more often.
Life in Murfreesboro was ages ago. I think if I went back to my old haunts, I’d be really pissed that I let my youth slip away so quickly. But what can you do. I purposefully did not put a question mark on that last sentence. Because I am not asking.
The pace of everything is maddening. I am having a hard time getting settled, getting footing, re-settling on routines. I hate living out of boxes and I hate feeling like I don’t know anything about my own life anymore. It’s part of the transition but not having any time to sit and think and wallow in what I should do is really throwing me for a loop. That checklist of stressful life events? I am marking things off one by one like a shopping list. It will all congeal eventually but right now it feels like constant chaos. I still need to do Holden’s 9-month post. Nine months! But I can’t find my camera’s card reader and I rarely have a moment to myself to sit and do anything but think about other things I need to be doing. I signed up for this; I’m not surprised and I’m not complaining. I am just documenting.
I am forgetting what a luxury extra time is and my hunch is it just keeps telescoping from here.
I look at these pictures and they pluck a string of intense familiarity in me. It makes me sad, in some ways, that I won’t be raising my family on a farm. I got just a taste of it as a kid and turned out to be more of a city gal, so I guess if I had stuck around (and my own family hadn’t majorly downsized our farming efforts due to a variety of reasons, many of them economic) I would have been the one to insist that Triple T Farms have a website and get on Facebook. Maybe I would have had to slop hogs too. But there is something so honest about farming. Something so real about it. It’s not all flash and pretense, branding and focus groups. It’s just dirt under your fingernails and long, hot days, and the smell of diesel following you everywhere you go. A challenge to make the land do your bidding but to be its steward and protector too. It’s intense. It’s humble.
I miss it.