I woke up this morning in a funk.
And already, I’m critiquing myself: isn’t there a better way than “in a funk” to describe current my state of mind? Such a cliché. I could do better, I’m sure; I could find the right words to describe the general sense of malaise that has overtaken me, the scrabbling in my chest, the heightened irritation at the children (who want only more honey on their toast, enough to spread with a knife so that it doesn’t melt in, just some more honey, is that such a big deal?) coupled with the heavy knowledge that I am a terrible mother. Just terrible. Because I can’t even get through a simple breakfast transaction without arguing about honey. I was stupid enough to weigh myself this morning and now I have those voices singing along in my funk choir, the melody la-la-la-ing away about the fact that it doesn’t like that number while the harmony warbles in and out with a shame that my feminist self even cares about a number on the scale because you look great, you really do, and all your clothes fit just fine so what are you going to judge by?
But of course I’m going to find things to judge myself by (and, by the way, I do not “look great”: I hate my haircut and I am bored to tears by all my clothes), chief of which is my lack of productivity, is the fact that three months have sped by thus far in 2013 and what do I have to show for it? What have I been doing for a quarter of a year besides writing the occasional blog post and even those feel insubstantial, thin, as though I can’t get to the heart of the matter.
And that, really, is the crux of it: I fear that there is no heart to the matter. I worry that I’ve become someone whose life is measured out in loads of laundry and forms filled out and mailed off. I have alphabetized the spice drawer and taken bags of cast-off clothes and toys to the thrift shop. I have removed and wiped down the individual shelves in the refrigerator, and I get a perverse thrill each time I open the fridge and see them — and then I remember that I wanted to be someone whose life was more exciting than this.
What if I’m not? What if I’m simply not more exciting?
And so I am funky. It doesn’t help that we have this never-ending winter, five days into spring and I am bundled in four layers of sweaters. I want to punch winter in the throat. I’ve stopped shovelling the driveway — because, fuck you, snow, we’re just going to drive over you from here on in and pretend that you don’t exist. La la la fingers in my ears to you when you talk.
I sat down this morning with my notebook and a pen (always the same brand of notebook: Hilroy five-subject spiral-bound; always the same Pentel RSVP fine point pen, in black — I special-order refills for them when I run out, because I am that exciting) and started to whine, to rant, to try to get to the bottom of my mental state.
And then, of course, it bubbled up: yesterday, I took out my novel manuscript and I began to read through it. But before I did that, I took out a different notebook, a notebook in which to make notes about the manuscript, and I wrote at the top of a fresh page, “I will have a complete third draft by June 20, 2013.”
And then I sat down for an hour and I read only ten pages but I took copious notes on those pages and I realized that I have a major challenge ahead of me but it seemed kind of exciting at the same time.
And so no wonder I’m feeling the way I am — no wonder that actually sitting down to work on, writing down a promise about, the largest creative project of my life thus far might just engender a wee bit of emotional backlash from my inner demons. That funk? Those voices? They are fear. They are fear of actually spending the entire spring wrestling with this thing until it’s done. They are fear that it might be bad — and they are fear that it might be very, very good and that I will have to live up to it in some way.
So, they can natter away. I’ma keep working. I’m going to take my notes and throw myself at this thing again and again and by the end of spring I will have a third draft. And possibly another quilt top. And a planted (and entirely non-metaphorical) garden. And my house may be a disaster or it may be impeccably organized. I’ll figure out my hair, I’ll try to lighten up (oh God, no pun intended) about the number on the scale, and I will hand the squeezy bottle of honey over to my son and say, “Have at 'er, my love — spread it around, and remember to lick your fingers, too.”