Veronica's Garden

Rachel Creager Ireland on writing, living, the Flint Hills, and the Post Rock Limestone Caryatids

Tag: not writing

Solstice Dream

“. . . the Cancer Solstice pulls us within to explore the deepest desires of our heart, while also calling us to express our feelings and visions in our wider community, finding appropriate forms and mediums through which to communicate our message.”Gray Crawford, astrologer

I was going back to school, my alma mater, Knox College. But I was going into a graduate level program in some kind of health field, something that would lead to a professional career that would build on the healing work I’ve done as a massage therapist for the last twenty years.

I met another student with whom I would be working frequently. She was young, just out of undergraduate study, and she was enthusiastic and energetic and made friends with me immediately. “So, what number would you call me?” she asked. I didn’t understand. She explained to me that it had always been her fond wish that someone would give her a numerical nickname. “So what number am I?”

How on earth could I give somebody a number? Numbers are so impersonal. “Well, what’s your favorite number?” I asked, but she was gone, leaving me puzzled and amused at the idea that somebody would actually want to be known as a number.

Looking over the curriculum, I read that some students in this program still had their Hematology textbooks, which would come in handy. Hematology? I know nothing about that. I knew many of the students in this program had come from the nursing field, but I hadn’t thought it was a requirement. I must be in way over my head. Maybe I should drop the whole thing now, before it went any farther.

But, the school had accepted me to the program. They knew my history, and clearly believed I could succeed. If they believed in me, why shouldn’t I? It would certainly be a big challenge, but I could tackle it, with determination and my natural ability to learn. I could get through this education, and graduate, and go into a serious professional job, with responsibilities and a salary, more money than I’d ever made. I could support my family.

And it would be a full time job, and I would not have time to write anymore. I would never write again. The pain was visceral, wrenching my gut, the realization that I would never be a writer again. How could I possibly have chosen this? How could I live with this choice?

Journal 2

Lost Key

floor
There was so much to do, but this frail,
aged cat wanted nothing more, lived for
nothing more than to sit in her lap
and bask in her attention.
And the violin over there in the corner,
it would like to be played.
The dishes in the sink were miffed
that they might be neglected.
“What about us,” cried the muscles, “you
haven’t stretched us in days. We need yoga.
And the mind agrees.”
Clutter chuckled. “You think the mind is going
to settle down, with us hovering all around?”
Bits of debris snickered on the rug.
In her heart, poems wept to be written.
The phone rang with a to-do list.
And somewhere, she was sure it was in this house,
a lost key whispered, find me.

Hamster Wheels

my kitchen

This is my kitchen. It is not worse than usual. I usually keep it hidden from public view. I haven’t invited someone into my home since last October, and it was ill-advised and won’t happen again. Why show you my kitchen? Why play so coy, when I could show you my dirty underwear instead?

My brain’s been running on hamster wheels all day, sometimes three at once. I do clean, it just never gets better. In recent weeks I’ve been working on this a lot, materially as well as mentally. I find a lot of resistance to the expectations of others, that I should be some ideal kind of person, keep a magazine-spread house, do the things those people do. Meanwhile I feel overwhelmed by the crap and I don’t even want to write, I need some space and some clarity and some quiet nothingness, which doesn’t happen in a room that looks like this.

I just read Marianne Williamson‘s Return to Love, about A Course In Miracles. It is a wonderful reminder to me that when I feel anything that is not joy, I am to pray for a change in perception, to miraculously know myself to be one with the Divine, whose dearest wish for me is perfect happiness. The shift I’ve been getting is that there is no one outside of myself who is holding expectations for me. I can’t even remember a time when someone expressed any thought about my lack of order. (Well, okay, it was my sister, and it happened last October, but sisters always have expectations for one another and we all ignore them, right?) What I’ve been rebelling against is nothing more than my own self-judgement.

I’m using all my new age hocus pocusey tools to change my thoughts from I can’t live up to your expectations and You expect too much it’s too hard I can’t do it I quit to I accept and love myself as I am or I access every imaginable resource for the fulfillment of my Divine purposes or both.

I was feeling pretty good about my perception-shifting this week, until I was reminded for the second time of the negative reviews posted about our motel on tripadvisor. Go ahead, look at them, then come back and look at the kitchen some more, but I’m not giving you the link. Our motel rooms are actually quite clean, in sharp contrast to the house, but when business and home and marriage are all tangled up together, well, everything’s tangled up together. My first thought was to ignore the reviews, like, for example, writers are supposed to do. It’s part of life. Just let it be.

But Kevin pointed out that there is a place on the site for responses, and thought we should take advantage of it. He’s right. It’s an opportunity to turn the situation around and demonstrate our professionalism and caring. So I had to think about what I wanted to say to those reviews, and the more I thought, the more annoyed I was. Clearly, at least in some of the complaints listed, the customer’s expectations were unrealistic. (Seriously, can you get someone to fix your cable TV service on a weekend? Do they do that in cities? We have one person who drives all over the state, and he gets here when he gets here.) Which brings us to that e-word. It turns out that some people do, in fact, hold expectations for me and my behavior, and those expectations are not within my ability to fulfill. Which means I have to start all over with my thought management. I don’t even know where to go from here.

Why can’t I just be a writer? Then I wouldn’t be obligated to respond to criticism, I’d be obligated to ignore it. I could be so much happier that way. I could just put out my best, and everyone could take it or leave it. I wouldn’t even have to refund their money if they complained. But I am so over my head with debts and commitments and bookkeeping, I’m stuck on this hamster wheel for the foreseeable future. There was a while when I dreamed of writing my way out, but I knew all along that was a fantasy.

I’d like your thoughts on one last question. When you check into a lodging, when do you expect to be asked to pay?

 

Imaginary Conversations

I started Twitter-following Mark Lee because he has a review blog, Masquerade Crew. It seemed like a good idea to network with people like that. He seems to have a genuine desire to help other writers, particularly by building community. I notice that he often tweets late at night, when I am on Twitter because everyone in my house is sleeping, and therefore unable to ask me for anything. (Well, actually, the kids often cry in their sleep, or wake up wanting something, but that’s another story.) I like that he often asks open questions of whatever writers might be looking at Twitter at the moment. Not many people who don’t even know me are willing to get into a conversation. It strokes my pathetic, hungry little ego. He appears to believe my claim that I am a writer. Really, I am.

The other night Mark noted that, what with NaNoWriMo underway, fewer writers are on Twitter, and he asked how we writers are doing. I replied that I’m not writing, but am otherwise same as usual. I might have said “otherwise fine,” but I don’t feel fine lately, I feel challenged to manage my mental health, but that is pretty usual, realistically speaking. We exchanged a couple niceties and I went to the kitchen to wash some dishes.

Washing dishes is a good time to think. I thought about not writing. I imagined myself in a conversation with Mark. He would ask me, in sort of a fatherly, concerned way, why I’m not writing. I would say, well, I’ve been so busy, with Halloween, my daughter’s birthday, soccer season, etc. I would say that I haven’t had an October that I didn’t feel crazy and unable to manage since my Mom died two weeks before Halloween, four years ago. I’m probably feeling the emotional affects of the shorter days, and I suspect hormonal swings are involved. Halloween could be a weird time for me already, since I had an ex-boyfriend who committed suicide on Halloween, but that was twenty-five years ago. Claiming that would just be a lame excuse. It’s all a lame excuse, really, and surely my friend Mark would kindly point that out to me.

Then I would cop to lameness. I would say that I do have ideas, and want to write, but I need to finish my last project before I move on. It is in fact complete, but I haven’t published it. But why, he asks. Well . . . it’s money. It’s not that there is no money, it’s that there are too many bills. It won’t take much, and I had set aside enough, but then I spent it on a birthday party for my daughter. I could continue putting off the bills, it’s been so long now, what difference would another month make? They were put off for lots of reasons, some not any more or less pressing than my need to publish my novel. So really that’s not exactly the reason.

When I keep thinking this far, I find I’m waiting for someone to give me permission. I want someone to tell me that this is as valid as I think it is. It’s as important as replacing the oven that blew up three weeks ago, it’s as important as old credit card debt, it’s as important as giving my daughter a birthday party. I want approval. What have I ever done of any significance without permission from someone I saw as an authority? It seems like most of the decisions I made entirely on my own went stupid. (Must state here that my marriage would be the one obvious exception.)

So there’s my answer: I’m not writing because I’m waiting for someone to give me permission.

I went back to the computer and tweeted Mark, “I just had an imaginary conversation explaining to you why I’m not writing. Thanks for not accepting my lame excuses.”

But, surprisingly, he wasn’t too pleased to have been a visitor in my imaginary world. I can’t imagine why. I had to explain. I swore to him that it was only a conversation, and I did most of the talking. He didn’t like that any better.

I suppose any chance I might have had of a professional relationship with this person is shot. Is that so strange, imaginary conversations? It’s not like I don’t know the difference. (Notwithstanding my thanks expressed to the real person for what the imaginary person said. That was tongue in cheek.) It’s something I’ve done all my life. It’s kind of how I think, sometimes. Does everyone do this, but just not tell anyone?

Who do you talk to, in your imagination?

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