Saturday, January 15, 2011

There's a war going on for your mind

When last we met I was referring to myself in the third person and worrying about unemployment benefits.  Family members were all up in each other's business as we got through Snowbound Day2 and the cats took to dark corners of closets for fear they may become stew.  Or casserole.  Who cares?

That's my prevailing attitude. Not only was Wednesday cancelled, but so were Thursday and Friday. A long weekend.  It's the winter break that never ends.

Does my voice sound strangled?  I feel strangled. I miss my alone time.  I've gotten some writing done, but it's been chaotic with kids darting in and out of the house bringing cold air and the metallic smell of snow with them.  I'd get started on a good writing jag and someone inevitably needed something.

I'm hungry. Have you seen my gloves? When do I get a turn on XBox? I left my phone charger at my friends, can I get a ride back over there? Can I mix this with this? Who took my last piece of gum?  The container of pudding in the fridge is mine, I may or may not have spat in it.  Who did that?  That's not one of mine.  Why do you have your purse, Mom? Are you going somewhere?

I'm not going anywhere.  I'm fleeing.

I did get the unemployment issue sorted on Wednesday afternoon.  A representative explained that my year was up and they had to see me in person to re-certify.  Nevermind that I was just there on December 28th.  So I'm back on the dole, sucking up the resources the rich so desperately need and clicking through the jobs websites and whimpering at the paucity of openings.

I looked for any excuse to nor sit down and focus on writing. I usually found one, too.

One afternoon, MathMan, sick of my whining about not having the peace and quiet to write, duct taped decorative pillows over my ears and motioned to me to sit down and start typing before he left the room, slamming the door behind him. That was some slam. I could hear it through the pillows.

Another morning, he watched me from the back door as I shoveled snow.  When I came to the door, he opened it and announced, It's nineteen degrees. When we move back north, I assume you won't complain about the cold. You just shoveled snow in your pajamas and slippers. No coat, no gloves, no boots, no hat.

I was wearing gloves.  I showed him my hands.  He made that face.  I bet his students are familiar with it.

I didn't feel like typing, but felt compelled to use my hands. To do things that required tools, that could be easily completed. That I could point to and say, "I did that and it is done and it is good."  Except for blog posts, I'm not getting that from writing at the moment so I sought substitutes.

"You know, I love Naked Lisa, but Naked Lisa with a screwdriver peaks my curiosity," I didn't realize he was paying attention. He'd been deep in the development of a Calculus Powerpoint.

"The drain is clogged. I thought I'd take care of it before I got dressed instead of getting my clothes wet."

"I'm coming in to see your plumber's crack."

I assume the Phillip's head will leave a star-shaped scar.

Reduced, it would appear we were either rocking each other's socks off or snarling and circling each other with our marital, I know your weak spots knives drawn.  But mostly we just shared the space of our bedroom which doubles as an office, he doing his mathy things and me getting into word mischief.  Him snoring softly to some video while I stayed up til the wee hours reading.

It wasn't all wasted time and minor stabbings.

I learned how hard it is to photograph birds close up.  I lured some to the deck with birdseed so I slunk down the steps into the daylight basement and dropped to the floor so I could crawl commando style across the floor.  I reached the door, raised the camera to the window and watched through the viewfinder as the finches took flight in every direction.

A cat sat on the window sill a few feet away looking at me like I was an idiot.  I mean, more so than usual.


  1. Lisa,

    Your page looks fantastic. Keep up the good work.

    I've been writing a blog for the last year. It started as a journey through unemployment. Then I got a job.

    Then the job went away.

    I hope you get a chance to check it out at

    All the best.

  2. I'm laughing and wincing at the same time. It has to end soon--and then you'll get to deal with the mud and the catch-up.

    Come North! Not only are we better equipped for this madness, the climate shift has made it a lot easier than it used to be.

    Hang in there, kid. (BTW, the writing here is flat-out superb; you ain't lost your chops!)

  3. Commenting that at least the pillows were decorative doesn't seem to cut it. Like Tim, I thought this was terrific writing; sharp but with a lot of soul.

  4. At least you kept busy. If I could get my wife to do home repairs in the nude, we'd have all sorts of things to talk about. There's something about a woman with no clothes on and power tools.

    Why were you approaching the birds with no underwear?

  5. You capture intimacy at its very core. When we have out Big Love establishment (you know, the one I mention every other comment), you can be the maintenance man. I can paint the walls in the nude.

  6. Lord, I hear you sister. My family seems to have some sort of sixth sense about my writing, and never need a single thing until I'm on a roll. Then it's taxi service or dinnertime or someone needs a bandaid. I have taken to writing very late at night, when I have only my husband to contend with. Sadly, he's the neediest one of all.

  7. deciding to capture fleeting birds eating in delicate poses with a camera sounds exactly like something i would come up with to avoid writing.

    you know what i would like to read? this voice but in that civil war historic tale. wouldn't that be fun? a woman on the verge trying her best to avoid carpet baggers and stray yankees?

    not that you don't have enough going on; i'm just putting in a personal order.

  8. I love the blog layout, have I missed a major remodel?
    Snow days so close into this semester is TOO EARLY....I was cheering the morning the kids went back to school!!
    The birdies are precious!
    Would Math Man be interested in long distance help/tutoring(free of course)?, Caitie is taking AP Calc this year, she's in Calc 2 or BC now.

  9. Back on the dole. Great, that's one less ivory backscratcher for one fewer rich person, one more moment of misery than the zero they'd otherwise feel this year. I hope you're happy.

  10. Okay, I still love the birds. I am completely distracted by small animals. I blame ovaries. But one thought did occur to me, other than bird admiration. Have you considered doing writing exercises on off days, just to have a little something completed, to make you feel more confident? Best of luck through MLK Day. Does Georgia call it MLK Day, or have they added some sort of commemoration of a Civil War dude as well?

  11. Don't feel too bad it could be worse. Mathman could be unemployed and you'd both be too young to hit retirement. So don't feel like the Lone Ranger. We're all in the same sinking boat looking for jobs that aren't there.

  12. Every single time I try to photograph the birds eating they fly away no matter how sneaky I go about it. I'm sure my cats think I'm a dunderhead too.

  13. When one is used to having alone time, having an extended influx of unplanned together time is rough.
    Even though we always say yes to our college aged kid when he seems to have monthlong bouts of staying here for health reasons, or in between one project or another.... it gets a little crazy.

    Can you pick up your dirty dishes?
    Rotate your laundry?
    Put the phone back!
    Not leave the wet towel on the floor for many days?

    Just a host of annoyances.
    Plus I have always embraced the child rearing philosophy.... if you can make a mess, you can clean a mess.

    I may be yo' Momma, but I ain't yo' maid!

    I grew up in Illinois-- there had to be 6 foot drifts before they would declare a snow day, but I remember the sheer joy & bliss (as a kid) of when they did.

    Glad the cash flow is flowing once again.
    Woo Hoo!!

  14. Whew. Ten minutes to get you loaded! Anyway, I guess I have to say i take some perverse delight in seeing you guys in snow. It has been a good six weeks now that I have dressed in the house in three layers, and in longjohns for bed with 2 extra quilts and one afghan. And it's getting really cold next week! Still I feel for ya girl. Best.

  15. How much fun it was to read this post! You're reminding me of what winters -- Januarys especially -- were like in Minneapolis, back when we couldn't escape the place. "Why do we live here?" I'd ask for the millionth time, and my husband would say, "J-O-B." I don't miss those winters --- and now that I think about it, I don't miss how much he hated that J-O-B.

    There's a lot I'd like to say about this post, but the biggest and most important is that your writing style kills me. I love, love, love it. You can make a cat nervous. How scary are you?! Ha!

  16. Hey, at least you're getting some blogging done - and excellent blogging it is, too!

    I'd wish you good luck going forward, but you know how it is: if things were better you'd have nothing to bitch so superbly about.

    At the risk of cutting off my laugh-rations, I'm gonna wish you better times anyway.

  17. I'm growing weary of looking thru job listings...shoveling snow...same old, same old! Are those gold finches that you photographed? They are Jersey's state bird and I haven't seen one here in years...they must have all gone south! :(

  18. Distractions both self made and not are much the same no matter the medium. I'd loved to have seen you with the decorative pillows taped to your head. What a great image.

  19. For real, this IS the Winter Break that simply won't end. And it's been driving me bat.shit.crazy.

    I REALLY miss my alone time. And, come hell or high water I desperately need to get some alone time ASAP.

  20. I wish there was a picture of you with your do-it-yourself designer/decorative earplugs. They might be the new Snuggy.

  21. So glad you finally got that unemployment thing sorted! Naked Lisa with a screwdriver *snort* Next time have the kind of screwdriver with vodka in it... That will get the writer juices flowing...

    Seriously though, I do get the 'you do it and it's done' thing... Writing isn't that until you PUBLISH the damn thing. It might be why we are insane...

  22. lololol. you are a marvel with your pen (or keyboard, as it were). I love the finches.
    The Middle Ages

  23. what I'd really like to know is why no one has bothered to photograph you crawling commando style across the basement floor stalking the birds. Or maybe if they have why you haven't ammused us by posting it already. I mean COME ON! And also, if someone has already brought this up in the first 24 comments I'd apologize but I do believe it bears repeating.

  24. You'd think someone would hire you for your wit alone!

    Such discriptive writing that I can just picture you in your pj's with snow all over you slippers!

  25. Glad to hear that the unemployment stuff is going to get resolved in a sane way. That must be a relief.

  26. Poor Lisa! Hope you get some time and space to write.

    I am getting to know the snow again myself. Sigh.

  27. Lisa, wonderful writing as usual. I am glad to hear the unemployment issue is resolved.

    I know about those cat looks.


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