Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Another reason not to write

Ready to show

We continue to clear surfaces, sort drawers, pitch expired canned goods like crazy people. We are almost ready for the 360 Video Tour. By Saturday Toad Hall will be listed. I’ve heard that when people look at a house for sale, they open drawers and cabinet doors. Would that be the case? I mean do you have to be interested  in buying before you open the dressers drawers? Or are we just a snoopy species and look anyway? I shuddered when I looked under the bathroom sink with snoopy eyes wondering what whoever might think when they saw ... well, when they saw what they saw? Like a gallon of periodontal mouth rinse, a dried up box of soft wet wipes, and much else. This stuff is going straight to the trash, no thinking about who might be able to use this.
The big triumph today is that my office is ready to show and it looks magnificent. Never better. Better than Denis’. His desk tops are always organized and clear. I admire this, but one just shouldn’t do that much clean living. It makes me slightly bitter. But right now? Clean. Clean. Clean. I WIN! You’d think anyone would be able to write a book and more here, it’s that inviting. For the time being But not one word will get out because as soon as I start, books and papers gather from nowhere and start breeding like rabbits and this in the digital age! When everything could be done online? But now, at least I’ll have the memory of this tidy place where I’ve brooded and wasted so many years staring out the window. Eventually when I look back at these pics, I may try to rewrite history to say it looked like this all the time. But now that you know, you can hold me accountable. I’m asking you.

(Yeah.  And speaking of the Happy Bunny "let's focus on me" could the video I took be any more out of  focus?)

Anita just came up to show a spring-time wreath she made for the front porch. It is so so so whimsical and sweet with that little crocheted hen sitting one her nest surrounded by pussy willows and baby’s breathe I could eat it! If I came to our front door, I’d want to buy this house just because of that. Wouldn’t you?
Spring is here. Maybe.

Saturday is it, then. The house goes up for sale. We are in the chute and I don’t know where or when we will come out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Against Anxiety - "put it into practice"

Snow just a few days ago and now inches of rain on top
“The Lord is near.” I’ve known that phrase since I was a child. I think adults said it to make kids afraid to scratch and pick the dead skin off their heels or other socially unacceptable behavior because this very important and glorious person who has power to see you through walls is watching so you better behave. No, I think Jesus means to calm us, to love us by being near.
Do you ever waken from dreams that are not specific. They aren’t frightening, but they leave you with impressionistic confusion and foggy memories of busyness that makes you anxious?  I want to know, really know, the meaning of “Rejoice … the Lord is near.
I came away from home a few days to visit long-time friends who make people feel loved and at-home. I am experiencing the grace they offer. You can get up get a cup of coffee that is already perfectly made and go back to bed, even. This seems to be a good place to be before we dive into the unknowns of the coming days. But thoughts keep knocking at my door: will Toad Hall sell right away or will we endure weeks, perhaps months, of see-sawing on the market? Will we forever be grabbing wet towels and stuffing them in baskets? Wiping the crumbs? Recycling newspapers, tidying pillows, etc, etc? Right now it is a little exciting. I hope the next stranger who enters our door will become the owner and will love this place as we have. However, it’s possible this will all become so tiresome I’ll want to kill any agent who dares show the house and I will despair of EVER selling. I don’t know. And what if it sells immediately and we do not have a place to go?! What then?
Here, in such a beautiful place where the desert blooms and the light reaches the mountain peaks with friends I love, I should not be thinking about anything except where is my wine glass, but even my subconscious conspires to dream empty, busy, confusing dreams.

Thankful for outrageous Bougainvillea
“Do NOT be anxious about anything.” The Pauline prescription for anxiety follows this up with “but in everything let your prayers (more formal words …Our Father) and requests (a little like begging) AND thanksgiving be known to God.” These three things are part of the formula. Pray. Ask. Be grateful, you who could be living in a refugee tent somewhere.
The news that it is raining back home doesn’t help. All day rain has poured down on top of four feet of snow. A foot of ice.

Desert peaks lit by setting sun
Trying to shovel it away or dig a trench is quixotic. Some of it is sure to leak into our basement because it has nowhere else to go other than down through the walls and out onto the carpet. The past month I have already spent time worrying about this possibility and in case it should happen I may have mentioned it to Denis and Anita possibly ten or twenty times. Please help me watch for it, I say. (And they flinch.) And now? Rochester is a hellish mess. Water pooling every where on top of mountains of snow. So I have to ask. Is our basement leaking? I could tell Denis didn’t want answer that question. He wants me to not worry and to have a good time - to rest before we plunge farther into no-return. But I must ask. Is water leaking into the basement?
A long pause. (Not good.) Yes. It is. But we have the carpet rolled back, the heat is on and the fans are going. It’ll be okay.
I am silent. There is nothing you can do about such things after all, is there? So many things in life like that.
Stop your infernal worry. Before that statement about not being anxious comes that well-placed reminder “…the Lord is near.”  Yes, he is. It’s like the SWAT team, your Grandma, your bridegroom and the sheriff who is your brother - all rolled into one is watching out for you. Petition. Prayer. Thanksgiving.  Do it, Margie. Pester God. Say your formal prayers. Add a list of things your are thankful for.

There is more to this piece of advice that is worth thinking about. But I’ll skip to the end where Paul cryptically says: “…put it into practice. And the peace of God will be with you."
I hope you don’t find this territory completely foreign. We like to think we are not alone in our neurosis. I pray you find comfort for whatever you are facing this week. Peace.

Let it rain and snow. Thankful to be here awhile.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Forgive yourself

I’ve had a little vacation from my computer when I sent my old one off to Ed in Florida. Lucky me, he transferred all her data to a new one - as long as Ed is around (thank God he is doing pretty well and about to be another “first” in getting a new-fangled treatment for stage IV metastasized prostate cancer) he still keeps our machines rotated and up-to-date. It felt good to have it gone, gone, gone. Like I was free from one of those enslaving robot pets that quack for mama duck all night. I looked at that empty spot on the desk and was happy not to hear the little ploops announcing the arrival of messages. It reminds me that there were days back when, when I still knew how to use paper and pen.
Now she's back. I call her Jane. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s Calamity Jane I’m thinking of - blazing fast and easy on the eye. I quite like her, but I’ve still been avoiding her, distracted as I am about selling, moving and buying the next place in life. It’s the best excuse I’ve had for not writing in about a hundred years. Don’t bother me, I’m sorting moldy tub toys that haven’t been used since my 36-year-old daughter was a baby. Go away, Denis and I are in intense and delicate conferences about finances and futures.
When pressure mounts to brain stroke intensity, I feel like beating myself up all the way from here to Glen Allen, Alaska. Then I realized something important about forgiveness. You need to forgive yourself, Einstein. Stop your ridiculous self-abuse.
I came across this by Ann Patchett and I’m pretty sure it applies to a lot more than writing:
     Forgiveness. The ability to forgive oneself. Stop here for a few breaths and think about this because it is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life. Every time I have set out to translate the book (or story, or hopelessly long essay) that exists in such brilliant detail on the big screen of my limbic system onto a piece of paper, ... I grieve for my own lack of talent and intelligence. Every. Single. Time. Were I smarter, more gifted, I could pin down a closer facsimile of the wonders I see. I believe, more than anything, that this grief of constantly having to face down our own inadequacies is what keeps people form being writers. Forgiveness, therefore, is key. I can’t write the book I want to write, but I can and will write the book I am capable of writing. Again and again throughout the course of my life I will forgive myself.  - Ann Patchett, “This-Is-Story-Happy-Marriage"
For me this translates to: I grieve most about lack of diligence. I can’t or don't write as much as I would like, but I can and will write what I can when I can. Does this make sense?