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Monday, April 2, 2012

shades of snow and toast

"If only something would change," I overheard myself thinking this morning, and I was rather indignant. Hasn't enough up-heaved itself over the past three months? (I still dream of nothing but home and routine. I can't get enough.)

But my thoughts had obviously not translated well into words, because on closer examination two mortally opposed definitions of 'change' emerged and differentiated themselves in my mind. Yes, in my mind there is a great difference between change (in a person, in a life) that is the result of exposure to the elements--change wrought by outside circumstances, beating on the individual, making her conform (or deform), and change that is actually healthy growth--springing from deep desires and making the individual more of whoever she wants to be. To use a shrubbery metaphor, it is the difference between hail damage and swelling buds.

What qualify as "outside circumstances" depends of course partly on attitude. The elements which I feel have whipped me raw are elements to which I willingly, if not happily, submitted myself. It was my own decision to change jobs, switch neighborhoods, become a candidate for an internship, and enter into a business relationship with my in-laws, and yet these experiences have quickly become alien, forced me into unexpected compromises, made me unhappy and guilty in my unhappiness, and so distanced me from myself.

The craving for change is really a craving for growth. It's as if I'm Pa Ingalls, and it is high time to move even further West. I long to finally start work on my manuscript. To tear down the ugly lean-to in the backyard, cut down the moldering pine tree, scrape up the trash, plant apple trees, build raised beds. To begin my own venture--some sort of business, or a magazine. To make more complicated things: tables, socks, sweaters with inset sleeves. To pull of fabulous "gourmet" meals, like my Dad's Julia Child meals. To get a hell of a haircut and once again recognize myself. To speak my mind as truly as I know how. To romance my husband and strengthen my friendships.

I feel that I am growing so slowly, and "changing" so quickly. I keep harping on the same string--even my writing twiddles its thumbs. But, to record a specific example, last year I wrote that nature and the body were my only, overworked, and inappropriate motifs. I knew hardly anything of either. Why could I write about nothing else? I still know hardly anything, but there is a new theme running through the recent poems. (I'll give you a clue: it's the title of the felt books.)

What a blatant case of an inner-April. What about you, friends? I'm reading her poetry and writing letters and trying to make bagels and reaching out as much as I can.

2 comments:

  1. A few things (since I haven't seen you in a dog's age):

    What ever came of the internship? Did you have an interview?
    Did you ever find renters for your upstairs?
    Do you have to boil bagels? I have no idea how they're made. They seem mysterious.

    And:

    I know completely how you're feeling. My backyard seems so desperately ugly to me right now, so much so that I can't even stand it, but the work of fixing it up (building a fence, planting more grass seed, pruning the out-of-control crabapple tree, filling in the holes where the dogs have been digging, making beds and planting plants) feels overwhelming, so I don't do it or even begin to do it and then feel anxious and frustrated about it. And this is what my whole life is like: with writing, finding jobs, even doing the stupid dishes.

    Why is it a struggle? Why do other people seem busy and productive and happy about it?

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  2. I had an interview that I felt uncomfortable about, then heard nothing back.

    We have renters. A young couple from Newfoundland and their old friend. I like hearing people upstairs.

    You do have to boil bagels--for about a minute. They're not too hard to make. These were my first, and they seem slightly tough and dry on the second day, but overall, pretty good.

    Getting little things accomplished feels like a revelation every time. Today I am planting seedlings--including a basil kit that I've had for over two years. Tim and I both have enormous trouble making ourselves do things.

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