I took yesterday off because I was too mad at the world to do anything personally productive. So I concentrated on projects for my actual (read:paying) job, I looked a job postings, applied for two, set up alerts. Cried. Ate one half of a Breyer’s container of Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. Went for a walk. Because? Mad.

Mad because on Friday, after writing for a long stretch about the inauguration, I got thoroughly depressed. Partially about the soon-to-be state of the union, partially because I was not and had not been doing enough to hear my voice heard. And, of course, partially because I continue to be thoroughly disappointed with the state of myself. Truly, no depression, minor or major, would be complete unless I reflect on my various failures. That day, my melancholic energy was bound up in how much time I spend on things that never go anywhere, and how alone I always am in my endeavors. I thought about how many times I have asked for help, asked to be taken on as a mentee only to be rebuffed. And so then I go it alone, but fail.

So I was contemplating this, brooding, really, to the point of agitation. And I remembered my Dad saying in a phone call recently that his wife (an unequivocal success by most measures) believed that what one needed to do when setting a goal was to write out the parameters of what was desired and how to get there. My dad is not terribly great at giving advice; he tends to say “I don’t know much about __(insert almost anything)__. Let’s pray.” I love Dad. He’s not holding back, he’s just way more honest than most people about what he is qualified to give advice on, which is nothing. And to be fair, when he has given advice, it’s usually awful, like “don’t buy a house. lawn maintenance is too expensive.”

But in this case, writing down the goals clicked with me. Clicked in my head, because I like to write things out in order to think them out. Clicked in my head, because I’ve heard that advice in terms of goal setting any number of other places. I hadn’t done it yet, or rather: I’ve talked immensely around the issue, and am always happy to try and talk about it some more. But on Friday, being exhausted and distraught, all I could do was put down a wish. Which is kind of setting yourself up for failure, unless you believe blowing dead dandelions of stargazing is going to give you anything other than some momentary joy (momentary joy not to be discounted, but I’m getting at the “make a wish” issue). I wrote down what I wanted, didn’t publish it, too embarrassed to, and within a half hour something came through my email that sounded like the beginning of a solution. Believer beware: you want life to be that uncanny, and will put too much stock in the accidental nature of things.

What had happened was that I had specifically asked for help, so that I’m not always tackling life alone. And through a particular feed, I saw a call for local writing group with a published writer leading that promised to focused pitching and getting published.

And I thought (dangerously hopeful): this is … it?

A start?

But then my husband came home and let me know that his family was asking for $300 a month for the care of his father. My husband wasn’t keen on paying up, but I felt that it was a moral responsibility. Ethical, to care for those who need, particularly if it’s your dad (or in my case, the grandfather of my kids). By Sunday this tension over the needy father had blossumed into my husband’s thought that I should take a job in six months, once our younger son was a year old.

We’d never planned on staying home as long as we did, after all. With our first son, the plan was a year. And after a year we said 18 months. And at that point I was furiously trying to get pregnant before I was too old to conceive again. Now with the second and the desire for a third, I’ll admit I was settling into the notion that I could use the time for my own purposes, namely to write this blog, continue working on short stories. I also want to learn more coding, master drupal’s backend and any number of other goals. But I was getting used to the idea that I couldn’t take structured classes (I had tried, and failed miserably, which was  terribly painful and frustrating. I worked hard, I worked exhausted and pissy and spent hours coding and reading and looking for solutions as then newborn’s lack of schedule and pressure from work beat into me).

Thinking about applying to jobs through me into a black depression. That, and the lack of sleep for weeks. Playing a role. Pretending I cared. Actually, I DO care, I throw myself into jobs, and always regret it. At the end of each job, all the projects I have worked myself to bone for suddenly seem frivolous. What did the client, or my boss, really care?

And the crueler pain was that I had once again made a decision –just to focus on an hour a day of writing– and now everything would be disrupted. To be fair, every day I am balancing getting that hour in, usually with several interruptions. And I’m still not quite on the path I would like to be, which is focusing on stories and essays: usually I’m still reeling with emotions and a need to process them.

I told myself it didn’t matter whether I got a job or not: the hour still stood. But I didn’t feel that way.

But I’m going to stop this post now to leave some time for working on other stories.



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