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Monday, June 28, 2010


I'm calling this day an aquarium day. It's so humid I feel the water in the air. I stick my arm outside, I bring it back inside, there's no difference in the temperature. Not only is the atmosphere so thick it's permeated me, so that my internal body temperature and fluid levels have reached homeostasis with it, but also I'm feeling a bit pescine - or is it piscine? pescatory? pissy? - I'm feeling like one of them fishies in the pet shop: trapped in my glass box, swimming around and not making much sense of what's outside that boundary.

It's not just that the big girl is off at camp, a drop-off that went without a hitch. "It's a Dodge," she said Sunday as we watched the big purple van bouncing down 48th street, right on schedule. (She's become an expert at identifying vehicles, since we spent a year discussing the cars we were going buy when we left NYC.) After several hugs and a couple of tears, and many reassuring comments from one of the other parents there, she left. Her sister cried all the way up the West Side Highway, until we stopped for bagels....

But I digress. Back to the aquarium. Now that all those errands for camp have been run, and now that the 2nd grader has started camp as well, I am left, I am tempted to say, bereft. Not exactly, of course. It's really that loose-ends feeling that happens when you suddenly have six hours of unstructured time. Six hours unstructured sounds great, right? But when you start to think about the zillions of things you ought to do and the three or four things you want to do, and the one or two things you absolutely have to do, then you start to feel like you're swimming around and around in a rather claustrophobic space.

I took care of the must-dos, early - mailed off the forgotten items to camp, saw off our houseguests. But then the oughts and the wants and the humidity all mixed together and it was like, how do I get out of here? So I looked up some job possibilities (oughts, musts), took care of some volunteer work I'm doing,  and I sent off one story to a contest and another story to a literary magazine and had to call it a day, as far as personal accomplishments go. Time to walk the dog through the soup, and pick up the 2nd grader from camp, and do the mom thing.

I figure days like these are like those rare periods of childhood boredom. I am a big believer in the possibilities of boredom. When my kids complain they're bored, I give them an, "Oh, um, hmmm," and after a few minutes, they invent a new project. For me, some swimming around is necessary, as frustrating as it is, before I can settle down on something new. I am in a creative transition anyway. Now that I have completed two stories, and have two more to finish revising, I'm starting to contemplate the next project. Some treading in place is not the worst thing. After all, I did send out two things today. Flung 'em out into the void.

At dinner, observing my soggy posture, CFA (husband) said he wants me to make sure I spend two hours every day writing during this month.

"Daddy, stop controlling Mommy," said my child, which amused me greatly. He wasn't controlling me, he was trying to give me the permission he knows I have trouble giving myself, he explained. Job hunting is the main task now, and anything that isn't that is hard to contemplate, and the job hunting is its own mini aquarium, the one you stick the fish in when you're cleaning the big one, as I go around and around trying to find new leads and beef up my resume for re-contacting old leads.

The 2nd grader took my hand and said, "Mommy, go upstairs right now and start typing." Her little fingertips were very soft, but also very firm. 

"That would be difficult," I said, "because my computer is in the dining room." I joked, but I appreciated the permission all around. And here I am now, in the dining room. And thank goodness, the temperature has dropped a little and I feel the suggestion of a new front coming in.


  1. Give yourself permission, also, to leave a few pages in your day blank.

  2. This is great. The boredom, the soupy air, the tossing stories into the void. Oh, I wish I had someone ordering me to write two hours a day. Maybe I would learn to curb my procrastination that way.