I took all the blog post drafts from the past month, pasted them into one file, and am taking out approximately every third paragraph for the sake of brevity. Enjoy!
1. Two Poems
About Under-6 Boy’s Soccer
The worst thing is not the rain
or the wind
or that it gets dark while we stand, hands jammed in pockets
and it is only just October,
or that we have peanut butter sandwiches for dinner
because the timing of practice is all wrong.
The worst thing is the grass clippings
tracked in on cleats and rubber boots,
left to dry
all over the floor.
my son scampers and bounds, a blue polyester-clad lamb,
dances across the field, leaving kicked-up clods of dirt behind him,
calls his coach ‘Coach’
and chases the ball with fury in his brow
makes me smile.)
You will never hear the following from a parent:
Hip hip hooray!
hip hip hooray!
we get to sell chocolate almonds today!
2. On Writing, Some More, Like the Last Time
Does it count as ‘writer’s block’ if you just don’t give a damn? I always thought people who were blocked had the will to write but no ideas. In the past two months it is as if the will to write has been scissored from my body.
This creates in me the worst kind of self-doubt; the kind that doesn’t even present you the option of a work-around. How do you work around “I Don’t Want To”? I can work around “no time” and “no ideas” and “no paper” and “pink eye” and “carpal tunnel” but if I don’t want to? It is not going to happen. Nor should it. Why would you force yourself to do something that you can’t do if you don’t even want to?
Of course, I cared enough to be angry about it and write multiple blog posts of misery. Which, hi, counts as writing but whatever, you know best brain.
For a while I piled on some guilt to the anger and added a smear of bitterness to stick the whole sandwich together. Then, even if I had wanted to, I couldn’t write because all that would come out was I HATE EVERYTHING AND YOU AND ALSO JEGGINGS AND RAISINS.
One day I was walking to the store to get groceries and I realized something. I was focusing on church, at the expense of state. Two children started new schools, with the attendant bad attitudes, bad sleep, tears, and head colds. There has been more laundry than I’ve ever seen and a peanut free, healthy lunch to be un / packed every day. The people and things around me need a lot more care and maintenance than they usually do, than I am used to providing.
The church is thriving, like worms in a bin of compost, but the state is the scraps that are being eaten.
Despite this decomposatory (IS SO a word) imagery, I feel positively about this realization. If I look at my ‘block’ as merely a temporary shut-off of that particular valve, it helps. I’m not having the valve removed. It’s just shut off right now so that all my energy can go through the other valve.
3. On Running, Which Is Not The Right Word, Telling the Truth, And Getting There
What I do in my running shoes is emphatically, laughably, not really running. I think it might be more accurately described as a brisk trudge, what I do. And my goal today was to trudge briskly for 30 minutes without stopping.
A large part of the time I was putting one foot in front of the other, keeping my head up. Hoping to get to the top of the hill before my children graduate from high school. Looking at that stop sign a block away, aiming for it. Obviously doing something and yet, thinking, this isn’t how I’m meant to be doing it. This is not running. THAT GUY is running. Look how fast he’s going. I’m barely moving.
It’s not a race. I am slow and steady. I am aiming for the stop sign, not the Olympics. Getting to the stop sign is something, it’s enough. Making it to that light is enough. Then the next one. It’s how we — greeting card alert! — move through life; one challenge to the next. And whether the fast runner guy gets there first or I get there first, I’m still sweating. I’m still aching. I’m still going to get there.
Where? The place I am ending up, of course.
I’ve been consumed, lately, by my own general discontent. What am I doing with my life? Why don’t I want to write? Am I just done with that? So now what do I do? Is it possible there is a life’s purpose I have managed not to see for the past 30 years? Should I do career planning? I still have the binders and brainstorms and mind maps from the last time.
This morning, trudging briskly, I talked to myself. I asked what I wanted to do with my life. I replied, to my surprise, that I wanted to be trustworthy and knowledgeable. I pictured myself standing up straight, smiling, confident, and sharing some kind of information with people who needed and wanted it.
“How will you get there?” my brain persisted, “Are you going to go back to school? Is this a career change or just a shift in perception? If you’re planning to go back to school you’ll need money. How are you going to get the money? We are talking another ten years of switching to a new career. One you haven’t named yet.”
If I could force my brain to trudge briskly, I would. Is that meditation, I guess?
At the end of the 30 minutes, at the top of one of New Westminster’s many hills, I grinned and gasped and that was that. Goal: reached. So I guess I can do anything.
4. The Golden Retriever and the Shitzu
I have no idea how to position this information as useful. But when I am about ready to send both children to boot camp, it helps to think of them as a breed of my favourite animal, the dog. Perhaps, if you have children, it will help you as well.
The golden is Trombone: Blond, agreeable, long, loping strides, easily pleased and eager to please, great smile.
And the Shitzu is Fresco: Hairy, yappy, loveable, runs with great speed, seems to have a bouncy ball trapped in his belly, will attempt to distract you from disciplinary technique by licking your face.
(Really. He will lick your face. Because he thinks he really is a dog, you see.)