Attempts at Self-Preservation

It's been a week of sleep and silence, more or less. I'm really tired lately. I've been using the mornings to rest instead of waking and writing, and not feeling too poorly about it because I'm having one of those do-I-really-have-much-to-say moments. 

I've been doing more reading. I have a huge stack of books in my bedroom and a larger stack of chapbooks piled precariously in my living room that I need to read, and I'd all but taken a blood oath to refrain from book-buying until I'd made my way through these stacks -- and yet last week, before I attended the art crit in Brooklyn, M.S. and I ducked into Books are Magic and I bought -- because I have absolutely zero impulse control, apparently -- two books, one of which is Durga Chew-Bose's Too Much and Not the Mood. The title of the book comes from a diary entry of Virginia Woolf, who was also deep inside one of those do-I-really-have-much-to-say moments, and I suppose some feeling of solidarity was partially responsible for the impulse buy. (Also, I must emphasize: No. Self. Control.)

This gorgeous bee DID NOT want its picture taken.
This idea of self-control and/or discipline or will power (are these terms synonymous or more separate and distinct than I conceive?) has surfaced in various ways lately. A podcast I was listening to during my commute meditated on it for a few minutes. Also, I lost my will to adhere to a rigorous schedule of school prep and summer grading one night recently and instead drank beers and watched a movie -- an actual movie, ya'll -- and woke up late the next morning feeling ambivalent and restless. And since then, the feeling has persisted. I feel weirdly in between. And kind of apathetic about most things.

So. I'm going to take a day to recharge. Or something. 

It feels really indulgent to do that. I mean, A. and I just escaped last weekend for an overnight, but I've felt this overwhelming need all week to spend most of a day in silence. Not talking after talking too much, I guess -- it happens when you have to lecture for two hours four days a week. So I'm going to take a little pilgrimage this morning to a place remote and lovely -- even in the rain that's forecast -- and then, perhaps, if she's available and willing, spend a little time over dinner or drinks with my dear C.C. and THEN end the evening by visiting the Wayfarer's gallery in Bushwick for the opening night of M.S.'s solo show. 

I'm trying to cram far too much into a day, I know, but such is my way with this life. If I'm going to do these self-indulgent but soul-feeding things I need to load them into a 16-hour span, because this weekend is filled with children and grading and Father's Day activities and probably NOT a lot of quiet and stillness or moments for being inside my own head. 

Really, my trek into Manhattan to the Cloisters is ridiculously, nonsensically long and I'm sure that to some people it would be hardly worth the trouble. It will take me 2-3 hours to get there from my house, and I'll spend approximately the same amount of time there before I have to leave. And yet that travel time is monastic in and of itself -- solitary and without speaking, full of listening and reading, and it's something I am selfishly, selfishly going to take today. 

I rationalize that school is over next week and THAT will be the end of most opportunity for these kinds of excursions. They're not impossible at this point, but far less likely to occur. It's easier to escape when the kids are preoccupied for 7-8 hours with school and -- in Vampire Child's case -- her baby cousin and the idyllic fun-land of my babysitter's home. Once school is out, the guilt is a little too much. Especially when I consider how much time I spent away from them last summer.

Mom guilt is such a weird thing. I was just wondering about how to title this piece. The current winner, "Small Attempts at Self-Preservation" seems to imply that I don't get to do this much -- but I'm pretty sure my kids would be like, "oh yeah, my mom goes out all the time/is never around/works a lot." It's another example of how I do lots of little things but never really spend enough time doing any one thing, and no one is satisfied.

Then again, I wonder if there's really an "enough," a "too much," when it comes to parenting or doing the things that really satisfy you, like, strangely I suppose, reading and writing. Or if one can truly be "really satisfied" with one's efforts in parenting or writing. Or if *I'm* just someone who can't be truly satisfied with my endeavors. 

It's probably the latter. Because, well: Me.


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