Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Another existential crisis and a new writing room

Next month it will have been four years sense I left work to stay at home with Lily.

Recently, I've found myself feeling left behind by the women I used to work next to who've continued to pursue careers while raising their children and others. They're getting new jobs, pursuing doctorate degrees and getting published while I continue writing generic web content and picking up the odd features story now and then for my hometown paper. It's none too glamourous. It's becoming less fulfilling. As expected, I still can't have it all.

I tell myself regularly, that freelancing is a means to an end. It was never meant to be a stepping stone in my career as a journalist, but rather a stop gap toward a more stable, happy family. And it has been. I wouldn't go back to the runaround of working full time with kids in day care. For our family (i.e. my sanity), it just wasn't a good fit.

In this past, this blog, writing columns and working on my novel have always been a remedy to these moments of feeling obsolete and unfulfilled. They've given me a sense of purpose and a creative outlet. A way to connect with other moms and artists and people who themselves feel a little adrift in the world.

But I haven't been blogging that much at all. I haven't felt like there are easy stories to share. All the topics I feel like I want to write about -- concerns about how we handle our aging population in our country; racism, modern civil rights and how to raise tolerant, empathetic children; better treatment for drug addicts and the mentally ill; teaching my girls to be strong, self-realized women in the face of unrelenting sexism -- seem too enormous and too controversial. So they sit as unfinished drafts.

As I continue editing yet another draft of my manuscript, marching toward the scary prospect of trying to publish it, I ask myself, then what? What if it nobody wants to publish it? Then what do I do? (You know, after I curled up in a mental cocoon and wept for eternity. It would have to be a mental cocoon because the girls would never allow for an actual cocoon -- they'd need chocolate milk, yogurt pops and their butts wiped from time to time, after all.)

I guess I'd just do it again. I have other stories that could be written. I'd go through the process all over again. That's what real writers, do, right? Groan.

Some days it just seems so futile, right? Like, in the grand scheme of things, if Lily, Jovie and I spent most days snuggling in our pajamas, eating cheese balls and watching "Sesame Street" the world would keep on spinning and the end would come when the end came. Our tiny lives would just be these little cheesy finger smears on the history of the universe. 

Why doesn't Elmo sing a song about that

What's the word on the street? Existentialism. 

Before the various relatives and close friends that make up this site's audience come rushing to my house armed with axes to break down my front door and rescue my girls from philosophical peril, please be reassured that we're all fine here. Seriously. 

We've all bathed (relatively) recently. We all got dressed today. Ate food that wasn't fluorescent orange. Even left the house. And despite the fact that we're entrenched in the endless tundra of Winter Suckfest 2015, we're all in good spirits.

Hey, a directionless SAHM is entitled to have little mental crises from time to time, right? I'm mourning a cat and the end of "Parenthood" while reading "Being Mortal." It's a toxic brew of introspection. I know this too, shall pass.

Before too long, the girls will be in school and I'll (probably) re-enter the (more) professional world in some capacity. And more than likely I'll pine for these days when I had so much freedom.

And anyway, even if I haven't been writing anything that matters a whole lot to me, after (almost) four years of working from home, I finally made myself a home office. 

A couple of weeks ago I turned this strange little wood-paneled room that we called my "Craft Room" (because six years ago when we moved in here, I'd planned to use it as such) into a space I'd actually want to spend time in. Over the years it's been used as space to stow oversized baby gear we'd outgrown (thus allowing me to procrastinate on any long-term family planning decisions) as well as an assortment of items I could use for artsy-type projects I've yet to complete.

Here's a some befores: 


Welcome to the 70s.
Ducts/Built-ins!

Jovie, my little voyeur, looks through this odd little window into the bathroom next door, while I try to decide between Sea Breath, Aqua Glass, Dancing Mist and Grand Hotel Mackinac (I went with the Grand Hotel ... probably for the name alone).
And some afters:


The girls find yet another playroom!
And, because I know you're wondering, more on that doll later.
My new favorite remedy to unsightly clutter --
just stick a curtain over it!
I'm gonna need a lot of curtains.
I bought these poppy decals shortly after we moved in,
with the intention of using them in this room.
 Excited that they've finally gotten the chance to bloom.
Jovie misunderstood when I suggested
she might enjoy devouring a good book.

I'm pretty pleased with the results -- the room's now bright, clean and open for all my creative business. Brad graciously let me paint the desk he had as a kid. Whenever I can get moving on that again. It might lack the novelty of Hemingway's little carriage house, but it beats the kitchen table. 

And maybe it will be the place I start that next novel. One day.

As for my quiet muse in the corner -- the doll was a gift from my dad back years ago. A throwback to when I collected dolls as a kid. She's from the turn of the century and no, she's not haunted.

Finally, I don't know about you, but I could watch this commercial all day. I mean come on, a puppy in a carseat? Adorbs.

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