Apathy, Anxiety, and Avoidance

It's Columbus Day, a holiday for the grade schools, so my non-duty day (Stuffolk's term for the day during the week we don't teach classes) will actually be filled with lots of duties, just not academic ones. 

There are a lot of housekeeping details to take care of after our house was ransacked for the boy's 4th birthday party . . . which managed to be a good party for him -- really just one big play-date with his little friends, dressed in their superhero costumes, without a lot of structure but WITH a whole lot of chaos. Somehow, between the herculean efforts of my sister, her boyfriend, and my husband, we managed to get the house ready for the party even though, about two hours before the party was scheduled to begin, we had a major plumbing incident that covered most of the kitchen in debris from the garbage disposal and required dismantling part of the pipes in the basement. 

I still don't know how A. managed to keep calm and cool and be persistent and finally find the blockage, and remove it, during those two hours. I nearly lost my shit, and even though I was moving through the house at warp speed trying to shove crap into places the party-goers wouldn't venture/see, I don't think I actually accomplished much, other than to make everyone around me wish I really wasn't there.

And then when the party began, my mother-in-law not only ran to the store to purchase the items that I hadn't been able to buy yet -- that I was supposed to get while A. cleaned the house, although A. couldn't clean the house because he was trying to fix the plumbing -- she also took over in the kitchen and managed to cook all of the side dishes we hadn't had a chance to prepare during the Great Plumbing Disaster of 2012. In addition to that, she reminded me to do all the things I hadn't done in my fit of paralyzing anxiety -- so one way or another, our guests actually felt like guests and not like prisoners in a house of horrors.

Of course, my mother-in-law and husband and sister and brother-in-law may not have felt this way, but I felt that my mania and anxiety over the plumbing was preferable to the complete apathy and detachment I've been feeling over the past few weeks, not to mention the sadness and sudden crying jags. I met with my midwife last week, which was a traumatic but ultimately good visit, I suppose, and between a team of specialists, it turns out, I might finally stop bouncing between rage and numbness. So, you know, yay for me. I feel completely inept and incapable of leading a normal life unless I have a slew of people telling me how to do it and another team assembled to help me actually live it. 

I feel like our home is a sad reflection of myself, too. There are weeds overtaking the flowerbeds, a summer garden rotting away in the backyard, room after room filled with books and papers and small, probably-inconsequential things I can't bring myself to throw away. If I don't do something about it all soon, I'm sure some neighbor, probably the one who comes to look after our dogs during the work week, will call that show Hoarders. All in all, my house and home is just one big lesson in avoidance . . . this is what happens, kids, when you muddle priorities and stop shouldering real, adult responsibilities.

And speaking of responsibilities, I let an entire weekend go by without sending out ONE of the daily emails I was supposed to send out as part of my role as Chair of the Faculty Association's New Member Program. Personally, I think sending out emails during the weekend is silly -- because what member, old or new, is really looking forward to receiving email blasts from the school on their days off? But I fucked up, once again, and now today's duties, while primarily dedicated to child-rearing and clutter-cleaning, will also entail researching and then typing some long email that will probably be read by . . . um, no one.

So I'm in a good place, aren't I? Actually, right now is pretty pleasant, because the sun finally came up and the house is quiet -- the kids are hungover from their sugar-packed, cake-filled weekend and still sleeping, and the dogs are shredding yet another rubber toy quietly between them on the living room carpet. There's the prospect of accomplishing things that cheers me up, although if I was to be realistic I'd note that there's no way I'll actually get the house tidy, the laundry cleaned AND FOLDED, and the emails typed and the papers graded by the time the sun sets in just a few short hours.

But I'm rarely realistic, am I, in terms of self-assessment? So here's to more blind optimism and avoidance. Cheers, mo'fos!

P.S. As a mea culpa for writing such babble about my quickly developing insanity, I offer you this lovely poem by Cynthia Marie Hoffman, from her manuscript Paper Doll Fetus. I was able to read the Paper Doll Fetus a couple of months ago, and I can't wait for it to be published. Really -- it's an incredible accomplishment, a truly good book.


STOP beating yourself up about housework!!!

Now that Frida is almost 7, we are finally getting around to doing some renovations on the house. I finally was able to take 2 weekends to pull weeds. Yippee!!

You have a ton going on! Give yourself a few years' break to let the house/weeds do what they do while you do what you can.

The most important thing is to take care of the little life inside you, and to stay sane by doing what you can with your writing. The crazy weeds don't matter in the grand scheme of things.

sarah gutowski said…
Thanks, Bernie. A few years' break sounds nice -- if only I had better control of my neurotic side! I mean, I STILL haven't done anything about the weeds, and I probably won't, because they're pretty low on my priority list . . . but their presence irks me, you know? They're constant reminders that I have too much to do and too little time.

Still, I will try to take your advice to heart. (I really appreciate your note!)

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