Wednesday, April 01, 2009

pipe cleaners should be called something else


This morning Orion and I were very nearly late for school. I didn't hear my alarm, because it's my phone, which was forgotten in another part of the house and likely rang its duty loudly and earnestly for no one to hear. He wolfed down a bit of Apple Jacks, then we had to look for matching socks in a huge basket of laundry waiting to sorted.
On the way home I wondered about my inability to 'get myself together' on the details. I miss my girlfriends. I keep wanting to call to make a date for lunch or coffee. I keep putting it off until I find time for a manicure or to 'do something' with my hair. How do they do it? I ask them sometimes. They make it a priority, they say, and they say they're not artists, as though all artists have paint on their clothes, unfashionably long hair and manicures to be hidden behind their skirts. To be fair, I have to consider that neither of them has children. Still, each time we get together they do lovingly and laughingly point out the mess I am.
At home, I can only seem to keep one part of the house clean at a time. There are the open living spaces, then the bedrooms and baths, then the studio. The three are never ordered at once. It's like a game of whack-a-mole. I don't iron anything unless I absolutely can't find something to wear that doesn't need it. I'd thought about hiring a housekeeper, just before the economy took a dive and I had to let the gardener go. And in the studio I'm working twice as hard to make slightly less money. My lists have sub-lists.
This is beginning to sound like one big whine, but it's not actually. I don't feel bad---more like observant. Likely this reflection is brought on by Aubrey's talk of her plans for the future, the life she'll build, how she'll live it. I remember thinking those things. I'd assumed that in my grown-up-middle aged- established future I'd be organized and all my plastic containers would have matching lids. I suppose I thought I'd be someone else.
But I'm not. I'm still fairly in touch and sympathetic with the person I was at nine. Probably I'd be better at organizing if I didn't go off on creative tangents or spontaneous backyard adventures. Forget balance. Tried that. You can't balance tangents or spontaneity. Okay . I can't.
So we got to school before the bell and Orion had all his homework, his teeth were brushed and his hair was mostly not at right angles. And we could argue that 'almost late' means 'on time.'

You may think this little reflection is about me, but it's not. It's about us. Because I know enough to know that this is what we humans do---yes, I mean you. We project our ideas into a future that's usually different when we get there, then we wonder where exactly the hell they went.

Your turn.

14 comments:

AletaMay said...

Nodded all through this.

So odd to be the age I am and I find it overwhelming from time to time to not be where I sometimes think I "should" be. And my whack-a-mole is so out of control that I can't seem to keep any part of my home -- or my life in order.

But.

The idea of approaching that from an observant rather than either whiny or judging place is very helpful. Radical even. Thanks.

~V said...

Your blog echoed so much that I've been thinking about lately. I'm a writer-mom of three kids under 6, and I push myself to all kinds of exhaustion to be able to write productively, edit a literary journal, and stay connected with friends and family back home(I'm temporarily in Germany).

I try to be present with the kids when they're not in school, and even make time for the husband. The casualty? Me.

But I'm honestly ok with that most days. I'd rather write than pluck my eyebrow, go shopping, buy makeup, get manicures.

That is until I'm in a context where my unkept, unfashionable persona is reflected back to me in the eyes of those more conscious of their appearance. Then I feel a fleeting twinge of envy.

I look nice when I put the effort into it, but I choose not to do so most days, opting for more creative pursuits.

You got me thinking...I too am very much the girl I was at 9. I've held onto much of the whimsy, daydreams, imagination, and joy. They don't always "fit into" the vision that the world has for "adults" or so-called "productive members of society," but that's not a bad thing.

It's actually a gift, that we've been able to hold onto something that was (and is) a part of our core, our purest "me," the part of us that creates, that plays, that changes reality or perception even if only for a moment.

Syd said...

Great Ghu...ditto with the nodding and recognition of myself in your post, even though I never had kids. (I have cats. Dogs, too, a decade or so ago, but the back yard is no longer dog-secure and the cats just seem to...appear...) Of course the animals are, in some ways, a lot like kids...except the animals never become able to feed themselves or get themselves to, say, the vet's...

I don't even remember who I was at 9 years old, but I'm pretty sure that where I am now was not on my radar at the time. Unlearning bad habits and replacing them with better ones--not to say "best," just...better--is an ongoing project, and I feel I should be farther along than I am. But I've felt that way most of my life, I think.

This week has been particularly...bad. Without going into the long version of the story, a feral mom-cat with whom I'd made friends had a(nother) litter of six kittens in my garage between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning...but suffered massive complications and died on Sunday afternoon.

The vet and his staff are being great about taking care of the kittens when I can't, but I've been so damned depressed that everything I was planning for the weekend got put off until the last minute. Which was yesterday. Kinda felt like I was running downhill in front of an avalanche. Still does, a bit, but it's getting better.

Because I remembered, or have finally learned, that not everything is, or even can be, a top priority--and that it's okay to ask for help.

And that "not late" really does mean "on time!" in many situations. :)

And I feel like this is full of complaints...but on the other hand, I wouldn't trade where I am now for anything, warts and all.

Winning the lottery would be a nice addition, however. :D

Word v: sucties. You know, I don't think I'm going to go there...

Syd said...

Oh, and pipe cleaners? Kinda long, but maybe "bendafuzzies"?

Carl V. said...

Wow. You've touched on so many things that ring so true. In my life and also what I am seeing with those I am close to both on and offline.

"It's like a game of whack-a-mole." I'm not sure there could ever be a more apt description of life right now. I'm definitely going to be using that phrase at work! I may have to stencil it in big letters on my wall just to help me keep some perspective.

And you are dead on...it isn't about you, solely. This is about us. Collectively so many are just like this. I know that I seem to only be able to have a good handle on one or two areas at a time and then suddenly I look around and realize everything else has gone to hell while I've been doing good, in my mind, in these one or two areas.

I've written it so many times that it could sound cliche, but it is not in my heart...it is all about balance and I certainly don't seem to have found the key to actually attain that balance for any significant length of time. To take your carnival-game-analogy further it seem like the moment you actually get balanced you look out to see a group of cotton candy faced kids throwing tennis balls at you, trying to knock you off and win a prize.

I don't say this to complain either, and my recent posts about this stuff have not been complaints. Like you, it is more of a stoic observation and a realization that this is me. And although I do believe in growth and change, I also have to accept that I am me and concentrate on now rather than hanging my hopes on a future in which the me is more the ideal I've always had in my head.

It is hard to write this stuff without it sounding like giving up, or settling for less than my dreams, but that certainly isn't my intention. I am not quitting, or settling. But taking some time to do some real honest evaluation and observation feels really beneficial right now.

It feels better to know we are all in this together.

Alys Sterling said...

Yeah, this is it exactly.

For me, at the moment the music is winning time away from the writing, and I've actually been trying to figure out which parts of the flat I can get away with not dusting before my parents arrive at the end of the month (given that some parts have probably not been dusted since their last visit!)

Then I remind myself that my Mom treats dusting with the same casual disregard that I do, for the same reasons. Who do I think I got this from?

Part of me thinks if I just shopped at Muji enough, I could be organised. Little plastic containers for everything, in every shape and size. It's a sort of on-going fantasy, cousin to the one about ever having enough bookshelves...

Drinne said...

Doesn't the word "balance" something that means compromising or moving something so that something else can rise to the same level?

As a noun it indicates something "even" but as a verb it indicates conflict and compromise.

Finding the balance is trying to achieve the noun, but balancing is the act of figuring out which thing has to move to make the other thing possible.

The Sword of Damocles is perfectly balanced but it isn't really healthy or productive for the poor sucker under it.

The fact that your house can't stay clean all at one time indicates that there is a balance - your energy is going to keeping the main area clean and making the art and taking care of the kids, so the private areas are suffering right now. You will rebalance to get the bedrooms clean and then you will not make as much art that week. You will need to get your head on straight because of personal stuff so you might not be ready to do accounting that week but the house will be clean, but you won't think of anything new.

Balance is NOT having it done all at one time, balance is having enough of it done at any one time that you haven't killed off pieces of yourself to survive day to day. Your morning with Orion was a win.

The balance to get that win was the stressed out overwhelming feeling. "Whining" is the balancing action that relieves the stressy feeling, which hopefully relieves the stress so that you can appreciate how cool it is and necessary to your art being in touch with your younger self is.

I am a bit jealous because, I think I am more likely to kill off pieces of myself to get through things. I am learning that those pieces aren't really dead though and then I have to explain myself to them when they pop back up. Awkward.

I would also like to point out when big things are happening in your life that the small things become overwhelmingly significant.

My real life suggestion is one that I came to - hire the housekeeper once a month even if you can't really afford it the more regular way. Or every two months. It is a business expense since you will have difficulty working if you feel like you should be cleaning and vice versa. Knowing that the house WILL be clean at some future point helps. You have to be able to let it go or it will become the opposite of Chipping Wisdom, it will just chip away at you, in tiny ways, like micro abrasions.

Drinne said...

That first word in my last post should be "Isn't" not "doesn't"

Don't spellcheck before your first cup of coffee while getting your kids to the bus.

Posting was a win : )

WV "obaso" - It is traditional to mix obaso with the dried sage when making a smoked poultice to heal the injured wisp.

Dunabit said...

I recognize myself in the frazzlement and wonderment of where I am now. Between the day job, my dog, my writing, training for triathlons and a marathon, reviewing music and maintaining another website, my dust bunnies are breeding and the spiders are building a condo. The other day I cleaned my desk and lost my keys.

I'm not at all where I imagined I might be when I was 20. Life at 9 was too full of rules to extend a thought to what I might become. I have a hazy vision of where I might like to be when I'm 80, and my day to day feels like I'm dashing after a departing train.

Priorities, you said. Yes. The safari journey into the backyard, the flash of inspiration, those would take priority over a manicure, in my opinion.

lynD

mv said...

It´s hard for me to explain how I feel after reading this post and all the bloggers´s words (English is not my mother lenguage). I can say that I feel connected with all of you.
I don´t like feeling unfashionable, but I don´t like the slavery of the current beauty archetype. I prefer being myself. I prefer being the 9 years old girl one day I was.
I don´t like when my house becomes into a huge monster I can´t keep clean enough, but I´d rather deal with it, than be "The Vacuun Cleaner Woman".

Nowadays I´m trying to learn how to project my ideas into a future that´s always different when I get there.

lisa said...

wow. I read each of your entries with deep interest. It's not that I ever forget how literate my readers are---I don't---it's that at times I'm in awe of what good writers you are, thinking and articulate.
I've said before that I struggle to balance the honesty of the blog with what is appropriate. Often I wish my blog could be more like my personal journal, which is (at least in my mind) far more interesting.
I've reconciled this by deciding that the things I'd like to write here and can't will be available at a later date----when I'm dead, or when the people that might be embarrassed by it are old enough to know than there's nothing to be embarrassed about.
anyway---the point is, my blog is my blog and I appreciate it for what it is. But the comments page begins to feel more like a refuge, a safe place. All we need is coffee, and comfortable chairs. I'm truly grateful to share this space with the likes of you.

WV: daghtim

Stacey said...

This morning, I looked at a giant cobweb in my bathroom, but didn't wipe it down off the wall.

In the past three days, between clients, I've been at my desk, vetting all of my horribly disorganized bookkeeping from the last year, because TAX DEADLINE is looming like a Sasquatch.

My desk at work is immaculate because I've been dealing with numbers and precision. My desk at home is full of poppets and robots and paintbrushes and camera lenses and teacups and origami papers... I also see a sprig of pussywillow in a coffee cup, a dental tool, three sets of earrings, some cut-up t-shirt for a story, (appearing someday on my poppet blog,)a knit lobster and a sock monkey.

My kitchen is clean, my living room is not. I've nearly decided that dust bunnies are friends that must be nurtured. Every year, I try to "get organized!" and I tear around here for a week like some sort of Tasmanian Devil. The results of that extend for awhile as I try to "keep things nice," but eventually I get sucked into a project and everything else descends into chaos.

There's a part of me that wants to change this, and another that doesn't want to be the "vacuum cleaner woman" as MV comments.

Still, I wistfully envision a tidy and sparkly home, where I never have to hunt for keys or a hairbrush.

Carl V. said...

"My desk at home is full of poppets and robots and paintbrushes and camera lenses and teacups and origami papers... I also see a sprig of pussywillow in a coffee cup, a dental tool, three sets of earrings, some cut-up t-shirt for a story, (appearing someday on my poppet blog,)a knit lobster and a sock monkey."

Can I just admit how intriguing that description is? I've got the biggest smile on my face! Sounds like a creativity junkie's dream!

Lisa, I'm glad that you make your blog what you want it to be. You seem to strike a nice balance between showing your creations, your process, showing an upbeat personal side with your family anecdotes and images, and sharing the down times as well. I am glad it is not all of just one thing. This place feels personal and at the same time feels like the blog of someone who actually is a professional artist. I like it...and most importantly, if it does what you want it to do that is all that matters.

Ed, o Mamute. said...

Sometimes I feel a bit intimidated about posting comments. Seriously. Most of you guys seems much older than me (Lady Lisa included), and often I find my experiences and thoughts a little childish, a little dumb.

Than I remember that child-like thought is something we all strive for. Strange. Imagination is something bittersweeterly unexpected (made sense? english sometimes is a little tough).

Anyway. Experiments lately have all gone gaga. Cells contaminated, mice having sucklings when they shouldn't (this is quite AWFUL, the ones responsible got serious reprimands), virus strains gone awry, all kind of strange and inexplicable laboratory happenstances. And my main project, depends upon a drug that isn't manufactured, and the research group responsible for the synthesis is taking too long to deliver my (much) needed amount of it. On the other hand, I'm having time to collaborate with some of my colleagues, in really great projects, and I'm learning so much, and learning new and much more creative ways to look at science. My way of organizing my thought patterns is changing. And I think that changes are for the best.

My country is striving for something that most of it's population can't get. The disparities and political corruption are reaching some kind of critical mass. But I sense some ggod changes ahead. We learned some tough lessons in the last 8 years.

At home, I'm having this strange and beautiful experience, with the work of some of my family, and I'm learning a lot. A uncle of mine with his little daughter came to live with me. It was quite unexpected, and the routine changed a lot, but in now I'm getting used to it, and I'm thinking that in the end it's the best solution for their previous problem. It was hard for me getting used with a 7 year old child around, but now it's like I received the little sister I always wanted. And he and she could not have kept living in the situation they was. It was a hard change for me, but it was for the best.

I'm at this very new stage of my life, and this week, I feel I'm starting to break free of the "new phase stun", and I'm beginning to react.

It's all up to me. It's all up to us.

It's about paying real attention. It's about awareness. It's about sharing.

Poppets help a great deal.

(wv: incord - inner accordance)