|Thanks this week to Elizabeth Q. Without you, I couldn't write this.|
I try and give the house a good cleaning before the semester starts. The computer screen plays a looping clip of terrorists running through a supermarket in Paris. It seems that every room I try and clean ends up worse than before. I pull the couch across the room to sweep beneath it, then, satisfied with the block of newly clean floor, I lose interest.
I decide to cook. I have to make something really stunning. A recipe for Homemade perogies looks good, sufficiently complicated, nice and comforting for the weather we've been having. I roll out the dough with a bottle of red wine we've been given as a gift. I can't drink red, anyway. There's flour everywhere. The filling requires me to boil four huge baking potatoes, so I fill up our biggest pot with water and tote it over to the stove. It will take a while to boil so I wander to my room to wait. You know what they say about watching water boil.
When Dave comes home from work, he finds me tucked in bed reading a book. He looks at me for a moment. "Are you cooking?" He asks.
"I was," I say, and turn the page.
On the phone the next day, I tell my mom I'm thinking about dropping out of school. My new job is perfect, I explain, but it takes so much time. I don't see how I can do both.
A few seconds pass in silence. Then I hear her sigh. She's struggling to find a way to say something hard come out soft, and there's something about how earnestly she's trying breaks my heart a little bit.
"The money you're making," she says, "it's good. It's such a good start. But it's not nearly enough to support you."
"I know," I say, cutting her off. "I know that. But we've become really thrifty- now that we buy dry beans in bulk instead of cans, our grocery bill is a lot less."
The words come out so impossibly lame that I want desperately to separate myself from them. I suddenly feel like a third party in the conversation, someone floating on the ceiling looking down on us both. How do you respond to that one? I want to say to my mother. How old is your daughter again?
My emotions don't seem to have much barring in reality. I can work all day writing an article, doing an interview in the morning, sending out emails and meeting my deadline, but when the evening comes I'll feel gripped by guilt, convinced that if everyone knew just how obscenely lazy I was, no one would want to associate with me.
Other times, I'll quell a rising panic about money and employment by reading some article about 100 ways to use coconut oil. This is the ticket! I'll think. We just need more coconut oil around the house! And I'll bundle up and head to the store to buy a third jar of coconut oil, and I'll feel absurdly productive.
Things can be confusing.
Then there's the news to consider, all those people scared and dead in Paris, an armed man wandering the parking lot of an elementary school in Washington. The new year starting off with a bang, but this is what's normal now. I drag the couch back into its place and pretend like it's not happening, and while I'm at it I pretend the climate isn't getting all screwed up. By lunch I'm playing a game in my head where the continuation of our species hinges entirely on my floor being swept and dinner being ready at its usual time. The day seems more interesting when I think Big.
****Now to choose the winner of this week's mystery prize, which I've refrained from opening myself so far, but if it doesn't get dropped in the mail tomorrow we're all toast.
If you haven't checked out the comments, you ought to. Between us all we've had quite the year.
Congratulations Liz! I commend you, as I've never been able to get into a yoga practice myself- I can't even touch my toes. I lack the discipline, but giving myself the benefit of the doubt sounds nice. Maybe I'll try it again this year.
Stay warm everyone! I'll see you here very soon.