18 months of living on my back in our bedroom was more than enough.
Last summer I told my husband that I needed to move downstairs permanently so as to be closer to the kitchen, the kids, and the yard.
We made a plan to turn our family room (once my mother’s dining room) into a finished master bedroom by Thanksgiving. And we made it! But only by compromising the definition of “finished”.
Tucked between the garage and the porch, our new bedroom is the coldest in the house. January and February were rough (but then again, they always are). Also I still have to use the upstairs shower, which is an event; and in lieu of a door Tommy put up a skeleton wall and hung strips of tarp, which block light but not really sound.
Still, it’s cozy, it gets the job done, and it keeps me close enough to the daily ebb and flow of family life for me to be a part of it, as opposed to isolated upstairs alone like someone’s sick grandmother in a tower, winding down her life in the same room where she takes her meals and never seeing another preson unless they make a point of stopping by.
Progress on the rennovation, since has been quite slow. Aside from the whole “kitten invasion” distraction, we’ve struggled with cold weather-induced apathy, health issues, time-space management problems, sleep problems, communication problems (I speak poet, he speaks engineer), Virgoan analysis paralysis, and global shipping delays,; but with the weather getting nicer, I have high hopes for a productive summer.
I WILL have that full bath and a fully-insulated bedroom – with door – by next Christmas.
Meanwhile, it took a few months for me to fully adapt to my life in this new, slightly larger fishtank. Mentally and emotionally, I’m worlds better than I was. I can walk from room to room. I sit at the table for most of my meals, with my kids. I can fill the birdfeeders and play with kittens.
Physically, I’m maybe slightly worse off — an armchair is not much of an upgrade from a bed, as far as the body is concerned, and the more time I spend upright — even in an armchair vs the bed — the harder it is on my brain. I have very low energy, I’m sick most days, at best, and I feel much older than I actually am.
But like with the downstairs-but-no-door situation, by sitting upright or walking around and otherwise doing more with the upright time I do have, I’m making a conscious tradeoff to put up with brain-drag and armchair body for a better overall quality of life.
I have been writing A LOT. Like, all the time. Every day, all day, or at least until I can’t think to put words together and can’t see the screen anymore because my contacts have become like glue. I’ve been working on my novel (or novels); I started submitting again and sold some stuff; I rebooted Riddled with Arrows; I’ve even started reworking my shelved poetry manuscripts. I still feel pulled in all these directions, but I’m getting better at switching between them.
In short, I spend as much time writing as I can, which, aside from the disability part, is all I ever really wanted to do with my life. So that’s pretty cool.
My biggest problems lately is actually that I”m writing too much. How’s that for irony?
I find that I’m still struggling to let go of the anxiety that became attached to writing somewhere along the way–the triage-mode approach to life that I had to learn as a working student, and then a working mom, and then a stay-at-home/ homeschooling /special needs mom and working author. The only way I knew how to keep all those plates spinning was intensely. How badly did I want it? Very.
Now, even though I’m no longer under the same kinds of pressures, I still have the same intense and desperate feelings; and though I love the productivity that these things drive, I fear I’m pushing my body too hard.
If I collapse for three days after polishing a chapter or launching an issue, or if I have to skip three nights of mommy-daughter time because I’m drained from eleven straight hours of anything writing-related, can I really say I’m well?
But in triage-mode, I used to be able to do a hell of a lot more in one hour than I can now in a day without distractions. That may be hyperbole, but not by much. The time goes by so fast, is what I’m saying, and I’m rarely satisfied with what I’m able to accomplish in a given day anymore.
And if I’m being honest, I’m always thinking about that ultimate writer’s deadline, which seems uncomfortably close given the way disease and bad things seem hover over us like stormclouds anymore. I think about all the books I thought I’d have written by now, all the stories I thought I’d tell, and it’s powerful strong motivation to just keep push through the pain, at least until something inside says “okay, that’s good enough, stop.”
At least I’m self-aware, anyway. I recognize that triage served its purpose but that something else is called for now. Smell-the-roses kind of stuff, I’m thinking. Anyway, I’m using this time to be productive, yes, but also to take a long, hard look at myself and my #lifegoals in light of the plot-twists that life has thrown at me.