Friday, August 24, 2012

Routines

We all have them. Mine for many long years is to get up in the morning and hit the internet and then stay there, reading, for hours. Which would be all right if I wasn't hitting the same old sites hoping that something new would come up, and if I didn't have the Banshees to raise.

Even before The Strike I knew that I was spending far too much time in the interwebs and I had even figured out why: When faced with the unbearable, I hide. What had become unbearable was my home life, the same intractable problems every day, the same grind without ever even the hope of daylight at the end of the tunnel. There is never enough money, never enough time, not ever enough resources. I have dreams, little bitty modest dreams these days, and there aren't even crumbs to be had to feed those dreams. These are days where every dollar is accounted for and there aren't enough of them to go around. These are times when there is only one parent to watch the children and there is no time left over to do anything else. I can't even get a single Banshee to perform a chore they've been doing for years, and that they've known for years just how to do. It's easy to feel like a failure. There is no money. There is no time. Suddenly I'm 45 years old and what stretches out in front of me is decades of penury, of never having enough, of always being afraid of the minor emergency that will lead to the death spiral of not being able to meet the basic obligations of food, water, shelter, medical care.

Situations change with time, of course. I'm still so damnedly cash poor that there are stretches of time that I can't go to my knit-nights because I don't have the gas money, let alone the price of a cup of coffee. There are a lot of places I don't go because I have to preserve that tank of gas as long as I can. Still, the job I had earlier this year has eased some of the harsher pains of being working class, half a paycheck away from utter disaster. DBS is working insane amounts of overtime to keep the wolf from the door, and the Banshees aren't toddlers anymore. It's possible to leave them alone for stretches of time without worrying about whether they're going to try to juggle knives or stick forks into light sockets. So it was possible to have one of those transitional epiphanies - the ones that don't actual stick at you like a bolt of lightning, but rather take a few weeks to sneak up on you before grabbing you by the ear and making themselves fully known. That's sort of what The Strike was, really. The realization that the Banshees weren't toddlers anymore, that I didn't have to stand between them and every little consequence, that I didn't actually have to be present for every moment just in case. Well.

There are days when it works so well it's frightening and there are days when nobody does much at all but I'm still astonished at how well it's going overall. I'm writing more and yelling less and if the Banshees are so loud that I can't hear myself think I pull the headphones on and write anyway (Alison Krauss and Union Station right now, but I have a fairly wide range of listening interests). The writing is important, so important that I'm hesitant to actually look at it directly and acknowledge it. This is the one thing that has been lost for the better part of a decade and a half. For nearly fifteen years my voice has been stilled and I'm afraid my skills have atrophied horribly.

There were reasons. Lots of them. I had been hurt so badly at one point that I couldn't write, and that is a hurt so profound that until it happened I didn't think it was possible. Writing is how I dealt with pain, with hurt, with the myriad confusing disasters of life. To have that excised from my existence was so crippling that only now, perhaps, am I figuring out how much I lost. The poetry, gone. The fiction, gone. The long essays to myself that are my way of deciphering what is going on and how I'm dealing with it, gone. And then the Banshees came along and for a long time I was essentially a single mother with no social safety net to fall back on. (There was a cousin, bless her heart, who is the only reason I have any sanity at all left from that era. It's too easy to write these stories without including that bright spot of hope.) But where I had been too hurt to write, now I was too busy. Three toddlers is no walk in the park, unless that park includes tight-rope walking over a pit of jagged glass while juggling chainsaws. I did a little humorous writing about coping with parenting and homeschooling in that era and realized that I had missed out more than I thought during high school -- I am a natural class clown. But the deep down writing that I had been doing since I was 11, no, that was gone.

I think that's why blogging here has become so important. As rambling as it can get, it is also serving as my gateway back into what I thought gone forever. It doesn't really matter that it's rambling, it's also writing. My voice. It's how I'm figuring out how to get done what I absolutely must have done. I'm discovering that what I took for granted as impossible is now imperative. I'm realizing that withdrawing from heavy internet usage isn't going to be so much painful as a matter of changing habits. Less Andrew Sullivan and social networks and half a dozen news outlets and more blog time, more time spent with my Scrivener program (I cannot help the shiny gadget magpie in my system, I just manage it), more time doing the literary equivalent of wind-sprints while preparing for November's NaNoWriMo.

My slow-developing epiphany is tugging on my ear and saying that my life is undergoing a seismic shift. An era is ending. An era is beginning. This is just the chaos before coalescence. And my writing is back!

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