Change Now?

who asked me to hold up the worldThat’s it, I’m making some changes. I don’t WANT to feel like Sisyphus pushing the same rock up the same hill every day. (See yesterday’s.)  Back in ’08 when I began writing this blog in earnest, I said I would post every day and it was huge for me the first time I skipped a day. Who am I disappointing? was all I could think. I trained as teacher and began adult  life in the classroom. It would be like just not being there when the kids showed up. Eventually, though, I was given to understand that even famous bloggers take the weekend off, so I started doing that around last summer.

But then this last Sunday night I went to bed with nothing at all dreamed up for Monday morning’s post and I knew I couldn’t write it at 7 and put it up at 8. The morning hours for me have always been for the newspaper column that I’ve been writing since 1980 and I know if I start writing crummy columns, people WOULD be disappointed and they would be the editors of those newspapers and that would be the end of THAT career.

So now here I am wandering the house in my nightie between 6am and 7:00, watering the plants and looking at the sky and watching the small figures of commuters hurrying to catch the train into Boston.

It feels odd. It’s scary when you feel yourself changing.

For the the last ten years since our last child flew the nest I would write every day for two hours, THEN eat, THEN go to some damn gym at 9:00 in the morning.

It took me years to realize I was mostly sitting outside the gym, reading old Time magazines and writing in my diary, and on lucky days scribbling down sweet things I saw out my car window, like when a squirrel would sneeze, or one of those parochial-school girls would pause in the alley before going into the building to hike her skirt up a foot above the knee.

I got so I hated the gym, yet it took my years to cancer my membership. Even today if I never see another Nautilus machine it will be too soon.

Now I go to the Y. At 10am instead of 9am and it makes all the difference.

I still hurry right past even the treadmills and just do the dance classes. I look at the faces of the other ‘dancers, ’ all of them lit with the joy you get when you move to some music. Zumba alone!  Little did I think I could do those mambo moves, a stick-in-the-mud wonk like me who looked while dancing like one of the extras from The Walking Dead! Sped-up stumbling: that’s what my moves were.

I know I’ll keep going to the Y. God knows I need to keep moving, but beyond, that my days are  changing. I can feel another rhythm trying to get established.

Suddenly I just want to sit on that sunny window seat and read my book.

I want to write more notes to people going through hard times. I want to sit beside my husband and try to figure out from him what sanity feels like.

I don’t want to be writing bleak limericks in my head at 5am, wasting that first fresh hour of wakefulness just so some fool looking for dirty rhymes can happen upon my blog

Well, we’ll see if I can make the changes stick. I sure hope I can. It’s exhausting to be my brand of crazy.

Make a List

“She got a lot done.” That’s what it will say on my headstone when I die and the reason I got a lot done is that I made To Do lists all my life.

This is today’s list on the left. I made it at 2am perched on the bathtub’s edge when sleep once again eluded me.

A person’s list can be puzzling to others: My list sometimes says “Remove nails” which sounds like a terrible sort of torture, pulling someones toenails out of their nailbeds I know but actually refers to taking off the polish.

The personal care items appear at the top of most day’s lists but soon give way to the larger projects, like this lofty goal penciled in on list for the weekend. “Edit book,” it could have said because I’ve decided to take one of my audio books and release it as a black-and-white-hold-it-right-there-in-your-hands document that people can read and look back . I’ve already picked out my assistant editor who will watch the most glaring errors from the script that I used in recording the thing. Though just 17, this person is only one I know under 75 who uses the words “shall” and “will” correctly. Plus the young have good eyes, and their bottoms don’t get as tired from sitting as the bottoms of us old folks. Never mind that a young person practically has a laptop sewn to his thighs most of the time. Easy money!

Here’s what Annie Dillard wrote on the subject of lists and they schedules they give rise to:

“A schedule is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order…. a haven set into the wreck of time. It is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living…”

I love that idea, that a schedule makes the scaffolding that holds us aloft even when we think we might tumble from the great heights at which we balance in this precarious life.

Remember that so when trouble does come you will have your list: “Bathe, 7am” it will say. “Fold wash 8:00” and on as you make your way through even the hardest days, when you file for unemployment, say, or wake to remember your diagnosis. My young grandfather wrote this in his journal just hours after his wife and unborn daughter died of a raging infection:

This morning I will go to Undertaker Feeney’s and choose my darling’s narrow room. Now I will lie down on the couch now and watch the blackest day of my life dawn, though the sun comes up brightly and the birds sing in the window. How will I keep sane?

He kept sane the way we all do: by drawing up a little plan and putting one foot in front of the other. And savoring the sweet moments, and laughing as much as you can.