I hardly know what to do with myself, now that I don't have Moby Dick on my ever present, psychic to-do list. Of course, that list is long, and likely endless, but that is one large thing done. Given that I didn't sleep and am feeling pretty down, the temptation toward sitting in bed to watch many more episodes of Get Shorty is quite compelling.
Last night's lack of sleep uncomfortably skirted genuine insomnia. The reasons for such sleeplessness aren't at all clear to me, as at about 4:00 while driving on the freeway, I could scarcely keep my eyes open. And when you really need a purring, cuddling cat to soothe you, where are they? Cooder's finest quality was her curling up in my arm every night, next to my head, purring me to sleep. None of this current crop seems so inclined.
I broke rules yesterday, buying (quite inexpensive) yarn at a thrift store, and coming home with MORE BOOKS! And cookbooks and novels at that. If only I cooked or read novels these days. That's where the ennui kicks in hard. I just like that rush of thinking I am going to do things, not actually doing them.
Oh, and a couple more plants.
Is it physiologically normal to be so addicted to consumption or have we just managed to condition ourselves? As I was saying yesterday, or meant to say, why am I so, at the moment of seeing them, enthusiastic about plants for instance? It's not as if I spend a lot of time outside here doing anything BUT gardening (and swimming when I am into that). Would my life be diminished at all without plants and gardening? I know the physicality of gardening is good for me, but I do tend to lose interest or be intermittent about keeping things going. Yes, I let them die.
I have always had a surfeit of enthusiasm and energy at the outset of things, excited to think of projects, and have not found follow through to be one of my shining virtues. Like many of us, I am overwhelmed with stuff, and the stuff of others around me. Blah blah blah. Perhaps slowing down, even-ing out, smoothing out that energy surge to take me through completion.
Wait. Am I endorsing consciousness and awareness here? A refocus from just the beginning and the end? Interesting that one of the activities at which I am most successful is reading. I don't like beginning or finishing books. I prefer to be thick and deep into the process of the narrative. Hmmm ...
In the interests of generating energy, I think I will put this aside for now and see if I can't get a few things off of my to-do list. Maybe even plant some plants.
Almost anything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing if not carcinogenic.
— Ursula K. LeGuin
I feel that way about Saturday afternoon. Saturday afternoon feels like time running out, not enough time to do ? to be ? I realize it is a different animal when the rhythms of family and work are swinging along. Maybe Saturday afternoon feels the loneliest. This is likely another artifact of my romanticizing the life I don't have. I could revel or even just enjoy not feeling particularly pressured, feeling a bit in the nap mode, feeling I got some things done today ... I took my mom to get a haircut and for a threading facial.
I suppose I am in between compulsions and those many tasks that are weighing on me. I haven't paid this month's bills yet, picked out a health care provider, wrapped some presents left over from Christmas, made the homemade chicken-turkey sausage for which I have already procured the ingredients, or planted those nice plants I showed you the other day. Or continued my Monsterwood edit/re-write. Or begun to knit the new scarf with the yarn I bought the other day. Or started reading our next book group book, The Left Hand of Darkness. So, see? Lots to do, but I feel anxious, drifting, and in some kind of free fall.
The next morning.
Going out with the cousins to have a birthday lunch for Janet in a bit. Also have to give a shout out to two Debs. D. Hammond is having a birthday. D. Molina saved my ass last night by having sent a book a while back that I happened to pull out of the pile. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things had me laughing into tears and changed those brain chemicals that were getting stagnant.
Be grateful, am grateful for friends.
In the pile of books I shouldn't have bought was New American Poets of the '90s.
HOW I HAD TO ACT
One day I went and bought a fake fur coat
from two old ladies in a discount shop
no young woman should have walked into: taupe
fluff with leopard spots for four hundred bucks
which I charged — no cash till my paycheck —
admired by the two old saleslady crooks.
Five minutes later I was at my shrink's
casually shoving the bag by a chair
one arm flopping out synthetically. Trinkets
all belonging to my crooked grandmother,
floated across the wall already filled with the shrinks
trinkets. Afterwards, among the minks
on the street, I caught sight of my grandmother
in a shopwindow. The wind was howling.
I wore the fake coat with a babushka. Another
possibility was: that was me. I didn't
have four hundred dollars and felt humiliated
by what I had acted out and berated
myself for buying a blazer in the size
of my sister the week before! You MESS!
I called myself a lot of names. Eyes
on the bus looked up when I barrel on
in the coat I couldn't return to the store.
I refuse to go shopping alone anymore.
My rich friend said, "A fun fur . . . how daring."
How daring to become my clever, lying
grandmother and before that my sister, whose loved,
dirty stuffed leopard Gram craftily destroyed.
I had promised myself a real fur coat
which I wanted as I did a real self, employed
with real feelings. Instead I bought a fake
which I couldn't afford. "What a mistake!"
I chortled to my shrink, who agreed,
though I did not want her to. How terrible,
I wanted her to say, How terrible
you have to act this way.
Molly Peacock, Take Heart, New York, Random House, 1989.