It’s been a long while since I posted here, but I was crocheting and knitting the whole time. Honestly. But I only finished a couple of things, because I was running here and there. I finished the Rose Garden Shawl, and I’ve promised to send it to my sweet cousin, Heather, but I haven’t done so yet.
It’s still draped around Viola-Mae (the dented dress form I named for my bootlegging great-grandmother who lived in southeastern Oklahoma hill country). But I’ll get it out to her, to Heather, not my dead great-grandmother. She won’t have need of it. Anyway…
All of my work has been stilted this year for a myriad of reasons. A death in the family, family who hates me, friends who need me, friends who’ve come to hate me, children who graduated from high school, children who started college, children who transferred to new colleges, my own graduate school classes, surgeries (again), book-writing, and freelancing. Of course, there’s always MG as well. It lurks behind my eyelids until it slams them shut–literally. Every day during the sleepy midday hours.
But I have recently ended a lot of things, because things are not experiences. Sometimes, they’re just rat races and sleep-stealers. One afternoon, after a phone call to the cardiologist, I realized that I was probably being stupid with all this activity. It was causing those benign heart skips again. So many, in fact, that they could actually cause my heart muscles to weaken, so not benign anymore. At least, not if I kept up this frantic pace of running, when I don’t even have the kind of muscles that work that way.
I know, I know…I’ve been writing posts like this for years, but something inside me snapped a couple of weeks ago and I realized that I have no more capacity for the running. I realized that none of this “stuff” is important. Yes, children growing up is important. Losing my grandmother was important. Helping my father adjust to new life, from the great wide West to the tightly wound Northeast, is important. But graduate school? Not important in the scheme of things. Freelancing? Not important when I am working on novels as well. Helping new freelancers? Super important. Life-giving important. Porchsitting? Infinitely important.
So, I gave it all up. I had my most recent jaw surgery–a big ole bone graft and implant–and I enjoyed the pudding and yogurt without the graduate worry. I started reading books for the pure pleasure of it again. Audible and Kindle both gave me badges, because I’ve been reading an average of 10 hours every other day. Good stuff. I started taking walks and laughing at the chickens again. They bring joy in their frenetic scurrying towards anyone who passes their pen.
I’ve been getting up every morning and working on my new novel, and I’m remembering what it was like to love writing just for the pure story of it. I’m reading Stephen King and Nicholas Evans again. I’m deep into a Kristen Hannah novel called The Nightengale. Absolutely brilliant.
Man, she has a way of building characters with so much tension and conflict that you truly get stressed out over their bravely stupid decisions. I want to write like that, so I’m reading like that. I think my characters have always tended to be a little too safe. Reading Kristen Hannah helped me to realize this. I wouldn’t have noticed any of that if I hadn’t stopped reading about writing and just started reading for reading’s sake.
Yes, I will have student loans out the wazoo, and I will maybe/maybe not ever complete my MFA, but I’ve done enough studying for a while. Time for long walks, more MG stop/start hikes, baking yogurt cakes, and blogging when I remember it.
And I’ve started to knit or crochet on a near-daily basis again, writing down my designs as I alter and measure them out. I’ve started working on this Big Orange Scarf, because it’s almost autumn, and because walking in the Pennsyltucky woods during hunting season requires this, even when the woods have “NO HUNTING” signs posted everywhere. So, yes, it’s ugly, but the Chinese say orange is lucky and people can see me for a mile.
So, I’ve learned a few thing in this most recent, and genuine, slowdown. I’ve learned that I can only please people if I cook for them or write their copy, that people will use you constantly if you let them, and that life is not about doing all the things. It’s about experiences and the people who don’t use you. I’m done with the rat race of social media and politics. I don’t care who you’re voting for or how you worship. Do as you wish, and Godspeed to everyone.