One of my very first posts, I spoke of how difficult it is these days to find time and opportunity to put more than two thoughts together. Forget entirely creativity.
Today it took me forty-five minutes to look up an address in an old email, write a check, then address and stamp the envelope.
I am not simple. I am not stupid. I am injured (I reintroduced myself to a back injury from my car accident in 2007, exacerbated by lack of sleep, impatience, and scoliosis) but not enough to reduce my speed to a crawl normally only seen on the Edens Expressway anytime I am on it.
No, the problem was external bombardments. Grenades were lobbed at me with a fury unlike most days. Two two-year-old boys who are curious, strong, active, and chatty. They like interaction…when one picks up a blue crayon and says, “That’s a blue one!” he needs specific feedback. A nod won’t do. A “Yes!” won’t do, no matter how enthusiastic. If a “Yes, that’s a blue one!” isn’t volleyed back to my monkeys, “That’s a blue one!” will be repeated ad nauseum and with increasing volume, speed, and irritation until someone cries. Usually me. Then it’s requests for snacks, water, stories, socks to be righted, Play-Doh to be shaped, songs to be sung, hugs to be had. Absolutely. Take the hit, get up, get bombed some more.
It’s like living with two little Rain Men. Just swap “Little Einsteins” for “Judge Wapner.”
They are savvy little buggers, too. They now look for when I’m preoccupied with their brother to strike. I can now guarantee that if I am elbow deep in J’s poopy diapers, L will
push a stool up to the counter problem-solve and drop whatever dishes are drying on the counter into the sink. Then he will drop Play-Doh, shoes, or dog food on top of this. This is followed by, “Mama wash dishes!”
If I don’t answer, of course, it is followed by “Mama wash dishes mama wash dishes mama wash dishes mama wash dishes!” until I run in there and say, “Yes, now I have to.”
Monkey J likes to wait until I am in the bathroom to find something with which to bash his brother’s skull in. This week he’s choosing items from my closet, usually a natty pair of pumps. L screams bloody murder, J confesses, and then they both find it funny that I’m trying to discipline them with my pants around my ankles. (I wear tunics, so there are no inappropriate visions of my underwear lodging into my kids’ subconscious.)
I have tremendous insight into all those kids I see running amok, angry, needy, disenchanted and rarely smiling. It’s easy, nay addictive, to give up, give in. The whining is constant. The teaching is constant. The loving is constant. The need is constant. How glorious to give a cookie or a toy or an hour or seven of television for a moment to think.
NB: I do let my kids watch some television, but I am always watching it with them and talking about it with them. I try to make it as interactive as possible, so tv time is not break time for mama. Usually. Sometimes I do allow myself a potty break where I can be assured four sticky little hands aren’t trying to break down the door in fear I’m doing something much more fun than they are.
I’ve learned some lessons about timing and surrender: In the time it takes to kiss one boo boo the other has dumped the dog food into the dog’s water. They test long after the lesson has been learned. Consistency is queen. Post-bed time Kahlua may be king, but I’m not admitting that here.
Life is sforzando!
Eternal Sforzando, which is draining.
I love my boys and I love their energy. Mine doesn’t match it.
I am also tapped by the amount of picking up I do after people who are not me. Huzzy seems to follow the new math that floor = hangar = hamper = drawer. I ask him to please put away what he uses. He says a clean house isn’t livable. I try not to nag.
My respite, my oasis is the 60 or so minutes I have while the boys are napping and after I’ve unstuck the dog from whatever that was the boys spilled on the floor to go in my office and do my dream work. That’s ideal, of course. Sometimes I just sit in there and know anything I pick up is because I put it down. It is my wonder space. It is my creative womb. It is also, oddly enough, livable, but let’s leave that snark alone for a moment, shall we?
I am tired most days. Mommying takes work. To use the parlance of our times, and I hate that I say this, but the last two shows shot my energy wad. OR something like that. I need a vacation. I need creative refueling. That can only come from (a) stopping and (b) seeing shows/reading books that inspire me.
I don’t feel I can do much of either, so I’ve spent a lot of time staring at my fairly blank Final Draft-ized script. I have the ideas, the big picture, but I can’t make the script come out of my head at all. I did a couple of scenes and now…I’m stuck. I’m tired. I’m trying to just write out an outline, some notes, for when I am caffeinated/rested/happy enough to tap into whatever creativity is snoring in the recesses of my brain. I know it’s there. I used to bang out entire 30 page scripts in 24 hours. Now…nothing. Well, not exactly nothing…more like dreck.
I knew that setting a New Year’s goal for a completed draft was doable…and it was. I’d built-in enough buffer time (for me) to be able to dabble and work through the blocks…let myself write dreck and move on. I was actually thrilled with the idea of puttering through my writing for a while, knowing and trusting that the bursts and fits of wordiness would, as they always do, break through for me. Three days of long, painful pauses as I write would be followed by a day where my fingers wouldn’t go fast enough and I would have to keep stacks of post-it notes next to me so I didn’t forget an idea that was five steps ahead of what I was typing.
This was all until last Monday. My Wiggles have no place to wiggle and my Dreamy Creative Womb has expelled me for a month.
We got flooded when a severe rainstorm met a local sewer project. They tore out the drywall and the carpet. My office was unceremoniously placed all over the house. The boys have nowhere to play other than underfoot.
Five of the last seven days, workmen are now here at 6:45 am. They need a lot of guidance. In Spanish. My kids have no room to run around, so they are unhappy unless they can explore the refrigerator and all her contents. (Mostly they focus on the buttercream frosting. They are my kids, after all.)
The silly notes and pictures and prayers and dreams I wrote/drew/ripped out of magazines that were in my office, my Batcave (NO ONE ELSE ALLOWED!) are now all over the house. Exposed.
My secrets. My silliness. Those embarrassing things that we cling to for nostalgia, for hope, or for fun. All there. We all have our keepsakes, we all have our hopes in one form or another. Most of us have a space, a box, a corner of the world to keep them sacred. Or at least private. Do Not Disturb my Disturbing Items!
Some would say that improv/writing/performing is the same thing, a tortured exposing of the real inner ugly/silly/painful/glorious truths…to me it’s not quite the same. To some extent we control the message in those areas. (Not a great extent, if we want to be Good or Great.) But some control. This was my soul, my stupidity, those things I am ashamed of, those things I’m proud of that I know few others understand. My prayers. My dreams written out. My goals. My private desires.
The weight loss products I tried years ago that I keep around for some unknown reason. They are untouched since then. I am embarrassed my entire household saw them and commented on them. I think I don’t toss them because there is a story in there, a story I am not ready to tell yet. But now I feel ashamed.
I feel exposed and raw, like my story leaked before I was ready, before it was ripe. Before enough time had passed for me to be okay with this part of my being to be displayed to the world.
And I am unable to create with my secrets, my journals, my silly books and pictures all around the house on display. I look at my notes and…it’s as though I’ve never written a thing before. I am trying to power through it…I know that the best way to end writer’s block is to write. Unfortunately, I am all too aware that what I’m writing is terrible and self-conscious.
All I can do is come here and
whine try to make sense of it all. My early guess is that I feel terrible and self-conscious and that’s dribbling into my creative stuff.
I hope the fits and spurts of creating The Project come back soon. I’ve got a lot of recently unearthed stacks of Post-it notes that I’d been hiding in my office sitting right here.
I’m also waiting for my own personal Vodka ad: Absolut Pickadilly, for those among us bombed during the day who want to get bombed on their own time. Still working on that one.
Hopefully I figure it out soon because my in-laws are visiting three separate times this week.