There is a possibility that I will change the name of this blog to “The ‘Ruin Your Life’ Blog”. I have favorite books that I call “ruin your life” books. They are the 900 page epics that you can’t put down, that you ultimately pry out of your own hands reluctantly at 2am. You know that when the alarm goes off in the morning you are going to be sooooo sorry.
Maybe I won’t actually change the name, but I did consider it. My mother emailed my youngest sister today and said she was worried about me… that I looked haggard and harried! I had sent both my sisters emails earlier this week with links to this blog. I wondered why I hadn’t heard from this one, she is usually quite vocal and analytical about any topic that involves the workings of the human psyche. I surmised that maybe she hadn’t had time to read it yet. Her children are still pretty young and I figured I’d hear from her when she got around to it. When I called, she began the conversation by telling me that she was feeling guilty because she was going out soon with a friend and hadn’t yet fed the kids dinner. She said her house was a mess, and something about it being the least she could do before leaving for the evening to give the kids dinner and get things picked up so that her husband didn’t have to do it all. I asked her why she felt like she had to do that and if she’d read my blog yet… We discussed, at length, the difference in how men and women seem to approach the job of “stay-at-home” parent. We talked about value and how our culture attributes it. We talked about why, as women, we often use a money meter to assess our contribution to our families and to the larger community, when the men we know who have the role of “stay-at-home” dad don’t seem to suffer from this self imposed measuring stick. She has a lot to say on this topic and I’m sure that there are many of you that do too.
On a similar note, another thing I have discovered this week is that both men and women who have chosen occupations with smaller paychecks, or in fields not typically considered “professional”, find themselves challenged when answering the question “What Do You Do?” I think that this question of value is pervasive and I’d love to open up this conversation to a broader audience than those who I initially addressed. Today someone asked about whether blogs are really about conversations or about their authors offering their own ideas. I like to think that this has the possibility of becoming a real conversation with many contributors. So please, feel free to comment!
I like to work out my ideas on real paper. To that end, I spend a fair amount of time with a pen in hand. This morning, dressed in my dog-walking clothes, I dashed off to meet my friend Pam in a cafe and write for a while. I had to turn the wipers on high as I drove across town in the near dark at 8:20am. The standing water turned two lanes into one in low-lying parts of the city near lake Union and the Arboretum. I decided that the dogs could wait. They don’t like to go out into a downpour anyway. Besides, Pam and I had demons to subdue in our notebooks. The idea was to meet around 8:30, after I got Gillian to school, and Pam sent her children off with her husband. We would write until about 10 or so. I had my camera, and amused myself while waiting for her by shooting photos of my cup of chai sitting in front of the rain splashed window and then with my notebooks and pens. By the time she arrived, I was settled. We compared notes for a bit about what we were working on, then settled into our own worlds, both enjoying the camaraderie of writing in each other’s silent presence. When I got in the car to go home it was 11:45. Almost noon and I hadn’t accomplished anything so far. No one pays me to write, maybe they never will, so am I a writer? My job is taking care of my home and family – stuff like laundry and dishes. Isn’t it? Was I really neglecting my responsibilities? I was momentarily seized by a feeling of panic. Then I realized how deeply the questions raised in this blog slice into my being. I hadn’t “done” anything. I had been lost in “being” for the whole morning. Writing what I felt like writing… Shooting photos of my tea just for the pleasure of how it looked… Playing…