This hot weather has revealed a serious gap in my wardrobe. Where did I put all my not-ratty, not-stained, not-holey, not-unflattering t-shirts? I’m good with the jeans (refreshed on my birthday). I’m good with the sandals (footwear should last for years on end). But the t-shirts have up and left town. Actually, no, they’re still hanging around the bottom of my over-stuffed shirt drawer, crumpled and neglected and forlorn.
So here’s a fantasy or two. Or three.
1. Side fantasy to precede other fantasies: An IKEA-like organizer magically appears in my closet into which I can stuff all of my smelly sports-related clothing. Because I have a lot of technical shirts, sweaters, and tanks that are not appropriate for anything but exercise. And the drawer is too full. So I can’t see what’s actually in there. This would save on time and irritation.
2. Sticking with the drawer-clearing theme: Someone goes through my drawer and forces me to give away anything that a) I haven’t worn in a year or b) I shouldn’t be wearing and someone should please inform me. Maybe I’m fantasizing about a What-Not-to-Wear scenario. Without cameras.
3. Now that the drawer has been organized and emptied: Someone, who is my exact size, drops off a bag of cast-off clothes and I dig through and find at least THREE excellent shirts, new to me. (This is how we got all of our clothes as kids — we had lots of older cousins — and it is my preferred shopping method even now.)
Okay, back to reality.
1. I could do this. I’ve been meaning to for months. Why haven’t I?
3. The realistic and therefore less fantastic version: a super-fast t-shirt shopping session at a secondhand store. I hate shopping. But this version looks likely to come true, possibly as soon as this evening when I’ll be taking Soccer Girl to goalie training. Apparently the arena is located near a top-notch secondhand store. Girding loins now.
Thus endeth the fantasy portion of this post. Is it just me, or was that pretty lame?
The fears portion shall begin now, but really it’s just one Fear, an underlying anxious hum. This morning, I woke early. The clock said 4:34. The windows were open, and a machine was beeping the back-up beep somewhere down the street. And I couldn’t for the life of me get back to sleep, though there were still forty minutes before the alarm was set to sound. Finally gave up, and got up to scour The Weather Network’s web site for clues — because there is something about this sudden onset of spring/summer that is distinctly unsettling. I want to be glad to see buds and tulips and green grass. Usually it’s downright thrilling. We’ve survived winter! And here is our reward!
But this year, we scarcely had winter. And it feels like the reward is coming far too early and too easily. And whenever things come easily, I get suspicious. This must be a trick. Fool’s gold. Fool’s spring.
AppleApple sat in my office yesterday and with a concerned face told me she had a theory: “You know how some people think the world is going to end in December, 2012? What if it just keeps getting hotter and hotter and hotter until then? And the world ends?”
Sounds like the plot of a movie in which I’d rather we not star.
I reassured her that such a trend was highly improbable. And said that we should enjoy today, because we can’t predict the future. Like a character says in The Juliet Stories: You don’t control the weather. (Of course, there’s so much we don’t control. Not just the weather. What to do but take my own advice, enjoy today, walk barefoot in the new green grass, bend down and see the flower unfurling?)
Avoided yesterday’s restlessness and instead started the morning with a trek to the back yard. Camera in hand, of course.
Good heavens, what is happening? Buds on the trees? Red lettuce and chives sprung forth in a raised bed? The wading pool full of water? A smog alert in Toronto this morning?
If it were just one day of unseasonal warmth, the buds wouldn’t think it safe to come out; but it’s been enough consecutive days to heat the second floor of our house to mildly intolerable — we ran fans last night. (And really, the flannel sheets seem ridiculous).
It can’t last; can it? We’ll need those flannel sheets again. The windows won’t stay open. It seems impossible.
Given all this warmth, we’ve discovered a new favourite retreat — the upper level of our porch, which we didn’t get a chance to use last fall when it was first built. Already, AppleApple has tucked away there to read in late-afternoon sunshine. And Kevin and I took tea and snacks and a candle out after dark the other night. It was that warm. Venus and Jupiter shone overhead, and the Big Dipper appeared to be upside-down.
It’s not a quiet retreat, let me add. Our street is much too well-travelled for that. Cars are noisy machines. But it’s lively viewing, and the porch feels private. Reminds me of when I was four years old, and would climb a small tree in the backyard, high enough to see over the fence. Behind that house was an apartment building, and I would watch the happenings. Even at that age, interested in observing the lives of others. You have been warned.
The morning slips away. I get up early, I work out, I have breakfast with the kids and see them off to school intact, and then I nap. I have to nap. If the nap is left out of the equation, a fog descends. Napping is a strange occupation, almost similar to meditation. I slip into liminal consciousness and sense myself mulling over problems or concerns. When my time’s up (I set my interior alarm, a surprisingly effective system), I wake and spring upright. And go on with my day.
Today it seems there’s much to do in little time. It’s a half-day work-day. And I have things to do, scattered bits here and there. But I can’t seem to get rolling on anything in particular. I know I’m not using this limited time terribly efficiently. Maybe it would be a better use of my morning to go outside with my camera and take photos of the crocuses blooming in our back yard. Or the tiger lilies already poking their stems through the earth. Or to hang a load of laundry (yes, in March; it’s that warm). Or to start supper.
But instead, I sit here in my office … and wait …
**Juliet news** I have to share this beautiful response to The Juliet Stories by my literary friend Heather Birrell. I was honoured to be an early reader of the manuscript that would become her second book, Mad Hope, which is just being published RIGHT NOW! Look for it. We’ll be reading together at a few events this spring. More info to come.
Spring. Spring! The last day of March break. My children occupied elsewhere. A quiet and completely empty house (just now). Not-so-deep thoughts. But persistent ones. I’m tired. My body hasn’t made a very successful switch to the time change. I’m listening to classical music, while wearing ear plugs; an odd but necessary combination. Ear plugs signal work-time. Classical music signals calm. This is ramble.
I am feeling, well, drained, rather. The big publicity push seems to be resolving itself, slowing, and I can stand back and breathe. And as I breathe, I think about that phrase “feeling drained.” And it seems to express an almost literal sensation. Because I’ve been pouring myself out, pouring myself into the effort of spreading the word about Juliet. At some point, I will have to stop pouring and start replenishing the well. Which, though not dry, seems to be creaking with complaints.
Patterns. Habits. When something isn’t working anymore, it becomes steadily more apparent, harder to ignore. And then the question is: what to change? and how?
One change would be to break myself of the BlackBerry habit. I’ve become accustomed to receiving new! urgent! exciting! messages throughout the day, and it’s changed my brain — I expect and anticipate the little ping. It’s like a hit of affirmation. I’m not alone! Connect, connect! Trouble is I’m starting to crave the ping even when I’m in the midst of seemingly interesting Life. Worst of all, the ping itself has almost become more meaningful and exciting than the message received. I am Pavlov’s dog.
A second change. I think it’s time to shift gears. To stop writing about Juliet, and start writing on/into/toward a new project. Even if the new project doesn’t take shape immediately. Even if I feel uncertain. If this is what I want to do, go on and do it. It’s been a real pleasure this week to shape a new poem, to see that I can make something with the kind of accessible tone I’d want to read. More of that! Please.
There is a third change, but I have nothing to pin to it. I want to pursue another goal (not writing-related) like the triathlon challenge. I want a particular reason to be outdoors. To run or bike or swim or yoga even when I don’t really feel like it. I am lacking in meditative space right now. I feel almost incapable of sitting quietly and resting my mind. It seems the only time that happens is when I’m working really hard, physically. Some writers turn to alcohol. I understand the impulse. One needs to turn to something. One longs for a mind at rest, at ease. I crave the spiritual rootedness that comes from discipline — and I find discipline in physical effort. It connects me to some part of myself that knows endurance and ambition and suffering, and is rewarded by it. Which probably sounds weird. And isn’t exactly the path of least resistance. I’m only half-heartedly committed to that work at present (partly due to being in rehab for the running injury), and I want to reconnect with whole-hearted commitment again. Stay tuned.
We’ve stayed home for March break. Kevin and I are doing our best to split the days so that we both have time to work; this is a blessed change from past holidays when the bulk of the sudden increase in childcare fell directly on me. (I hope to sustain this change, at least in part, over the summer too, and without relying too heavily on camps.) The kids love being at home and doing next to nothing. Add in a few friends, a few sleepovers, and this beautiful spring weather, and home is a pretty happy place to be. Our big outing for the week is going to a matinee movie, planned for tomorrow. Set the bar low and we’re all totally excited about this small adventure.
Reminder: I’m reading tonight at Conrad Grebel College, 7pm!
And: Here’s a link to my post today on The Afterword, on judging my book by its cover.