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Still missing

August 30, 2010

I’m in some kind of weird fugue state, caused by the unprecedented convergence of the following:

The continued absence of my children, whom I have not seen in nearly two weeks.

The emptiness, vastness and squalor of my house.  I am presently existing as a domesticated hobo,  scavenging for foodstuffs among the rubble, sleeping curled in a bed half buried in detritus.  This morning, I woke to found myself (and my sheets, and my duvet) covered in blue ink from a leaky rollerball pen.  All my plans for scrubbing and laundering have fallen by the wayside–I hobble from floor to floor like a crone, munching on toast rinds and muttering to myself.

The departure of my lovely about-to-be-divorced friend (aka Take Five) with her son, for France, for a semester.  I drove them to the airport.  I’ll miss them,  and I wish I were going to France for a semester, damn it.  Drove home feeling bereft.

The aftermath of an overzealous return to yoga after two weeks’ hiatus.  Many muscles and joints have violently rebelled.  See above re: crone, hobbling.

The absence of the newspaper, whose delivery I (in a rare fit of mature frugality) remembered to stop while I was away.  However, the phone call necessary to recommence delivery is beyond the scope of my abilities.  I have no idea what is going on in the world.

Many small assignments.  Stirred together, they provoke panic; individually, none is particularly galvanizing.  I keep getting the deadlines confused, with the result that I become anxious about the wrong one, then wildly relieved when I realize I have an extra day or to to complete it.  This leads to a false sense of accomplishment, which displaces any anxiety about a truly imminent deadline.  I am now beyond eleventh-hour fucked on all fronts.

The emptiness of not only my house, but my whole town.  My consoling-windows friend has been gone for two weeks, and her windows are dark and demoralizing.  The swimming pool down the street is desolate.  Everyone seems to be on vacation; Facebook bursts with cheery dispatches from beach and lake and woods.

I suppose it’s peaceful, though things would feel more monastic and less squalid if I bit the bullet and tidied up (today, perhaps?  One never knows.)  I have fallen into a strange routine of staying up until all hours, doing god knows what, then sleeping fitfully and guiltily until I bolt from bed, horrified to have slept so late.  This can’t last. The frenzy of back-to-school will begin soon enough, and I daresay there’s a certain comfort in the impending chaos.  However, I dread winter so much that it makes me virtually unable to enjoy fall.  The last few days have been rainy and cool, which worries me.

Subtending everything is the crippling fear that financial ruin lurks, biding its time until I make one mistake too many.  I cannot afford to live in this house, with its attendant expenses, for much longer.  Every warning light in my car is on.  My older son’s tuition bill is due.  My health insurance costs too much and covers too little.  School supplies need to be purchased.  The children, curse them, keep growing, thereby requiring new shoes and clothes.  Several appliances recently broke simultaneously, and I am far too daunted to pursue fixing or replacing them.

This morning I was awakened at dawn by a battalion of dumptrucks reversing down my street.  They’re digging up the water main, apparently, which requires the  street to be closed for several blocks in either direction.  So there are endless trucks and steamrollers and workmen and bulldozers and jackhammers as far as the eye can see, and yet no cars or civilians anywhere at all.  My driveway is blocked by an enormous trench.  When I first peered out to see what on earth was making that dreadful racket, I laughed–the streetscape out front is, actually, a perfect replica of the inside of my head.  Vacant without being picturesque, deserted and yet over-busy, with a horrid, insistent cacophony grinding away in the background.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. txmama permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:06 am

    Oh no! Quick. You need to snap out of the funk. Work will be difficult until you get the house tided. Put on your favorite peppy music — LOUD to mask the din of the workers outside — and let it cheer you. Tackle one room, then rest. Try to tackle another. You can get there, and you will feel so much better when you do. Make a list of your work deadlines, prioritize one, and sit down and get cracking. Then reward yourself.

    That’s just my practical suggestion — which may or may not actually feel practical to you — but mostly I just want to sympathize and offer cyber good feelings.

  2. Bethany permalink
    August 30, 2010 9:43 am

    Oof, I know. I am in a similar mind-place, and it seems to be some weird stage of divorce where I wander around the house, accomplishing nothing and rapidly running out of money, feeling guilty for accomplishing nothing and running out of money but not really doing anything to remedy the situation.

  3. August 30, 2010 5:36 pm

    So, if it were me, I’d clean the house. If you need motivation, pretend a wonderful new acquaintance whom you want to impress is arriving for drinks and a full tour in three hours; allow the imagined embarrassment of squalor to fuel you. It feels so much better to be alone in a clean house. And you can’t get any work done in squalor, right? (Or maybe that’s just me.)

  4. August 31, 2010 12:51 am

    I find that physical clutter leads directly to mental clutter for me. Like all the commenters above, I would clean the house too, but plan to reward myself when it was all done. How about ordering delivery from someplace yummy (perhaps someplace that the boys wouldn’t like, but you love. And there should be a glass of wine too.

    Your mood is completely understandable. I think that I would be rather morose if was in a big house without my kids for two weeks. Maybe next time the boys go away with their father, plan a vacation for yourself.

    And maybe this sounds totally crazy, but if you really want to go to France (or elsewhere) for an extended period of time, perhaps there is a way to make that happen. Find a teaching position, rent the house, take the boys with you (hey, you won’t have to pay tuition for a semester!) and go. Obviously you would have to clear all this with the ex-husband but maybe, just maybe, it is possible – if not now, then in a few years. Stranger things have happened.

  5. August 31, 2010 4:55 pm

    When I get like this I read a bunch of my old children’s books. Madeleine L’Engle. Lucy Boston. Norma Klein if it’s a certain type of ennui. Sometimes I borrow my son’s Ramona books. Less fattening than ice cream. Easily accomplished. Good luck.

  6. Celeste permalink
    August 31, 2010 7:09 pm

    Set the alarm and get up tomorrow at the time you need to readjust to. The first day of this will be the hardest. Do the FLYLady thing and put on some lace-up shoes when you get dressed and it will just make cleaning up that much easier.

    The hobbling crone has had her fun. The kid-chaos will be infinitely easier to handle if they come home to a clean house. RE: the work stuff, I have no idea. Maybe it will just look easier once the house is picked up.

  7. September 1, 2010 11:12 am

    While I’m sure the tips on how to get cleaning come from a really sincere and helpful place, I’m sort of guessing the wallowing in filth is more of a symptom and less of the big problem. Not that I have any useful advice on the whats and whys of problems in your life. Does it help that I enjoy reading about them?

    But. The suggestion of reading kids books suggestion is so perfect I might go pick one up myself!

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