I walk outside my front door on a crisp, January, afternoon. The fresh air and the Texas sun envelop me.
“This feels so good,” I think to myself. It’s amazing what fresh air and sun can do for the mood.
I play in my garden for a few minutes, cutting overgrown Big Blue Lilyturf plants, and pinching back golden pansies with a splash of purple, hoping to make them stand tall and appear fresh.
The picture above is my cute, outdoor, office set-up for the day. Harry, my dog is sitting peacefully next to my colorful pouf, and teal-blue, painted, Adirondack chair. It was my Instagram picture of the day. I used it in my “story” with no description. Just “prettiness.”
It may have reached seventy-degrees, on this beautiful day but the intense Texas sun made it feel at least ten degrees warmer.
I think to myself, “How lucky am I to be able to create out here?”
*This is the "trying to be positive and grateful me."
Then I think, “It sure would be nice to have a more private outdoor space in my backyard?” Which is currently a train wreck.
*This is the real me.
The real story is, I need to escape the noise inside the house. I need to escape these people in my house (my family).
My husband, Alan, works from home as he has for several years now. Except for this past year, there is zero business travel. Zero as in nada! Business travel has been the saving grace of our marriage for 26 years. Absence keeps you from killing each other. Isn’t that how love works?
During this 27th year of marriage and pandemic togetherness, our success tool has been banned. My loving husband is here having one boisterous conference and Webex call, after another, from the time I crack my eyes open in the morning, until well into the evening. His “office” is right outside my bedroom door in our open-floor-plan family room, which allows his voice to carry throughout the entire house, all.day.long.
Can you feel my eyes rolling out of my head?
Cole, my 22-year-old son is doing college classes in my kitchen, which is adjacent to my Writing room where there is also no door to close as of yet. My writing room is actually our dining room, which was converted into my mother’s “temporary” bedroom, for ten-years!
As of this summer, I converted it into my Yoga/Writing/Happy Place (only so far it's minus the happy). It's happy when there is quiet in the house, which is rare, or when I’m wearing my noise-canceling earphones.
(Feel free to send donations to the Get-Karen-A-Door fund. See the link below. Kidding. There is no link below, though perhaps there should be.)
There is an advantage to college-at-home. He gets to class on time every day. I get to hear how brilliant he sounds during his Philosophy class discussions. I see and hear his leadership and fearlessness up close. I would never see this if he was on a college campus or in a dorm room. (Dear Lord, why isn’t he in a dorm room?)
This is remarkable for the boy who dropped out of college because of anxiety after the first year. The deadlines, the organization, the waking up in time for class, was all just too much for him right out of high school at 18.
The disadvantage to college-at-home? Way too much family togetherness. We are a family unit of three #athometogether all.of.the.time! My son has become the second husband, I never wanted.
Everyone is constantly, consistently, aware of what the other person is doing, saying, eating, drinking, and using the bathroom. There is the uninvited personal commentary to go along with all of the minding each other’s business all.day.long. Every.day. For almost a year now!
I am a writer who creates at home. Well...who tries to create at home. When I’m not working on healing and my mental health. Occasionally, I do write something decent.
I have this successful blog, which is ready for a re-vamp and re-launch. (Help!) I’ve published stories on countless websites about parenting, autism, and mental illness.
I am a writer, with a terminal compulsion to string words together and tell stories. (Lately, most of the stories are only on Instagram and Facebook.)
Yesterday, I discovered that I am not Amanda Gorman. I was so inspired by this young, black girl and her poem at the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021. I have listened to her recitation more than once and thought, “I can do that. I can inspire the world with my words. That is my purpose! That is my journey!”
Only, that didn’t happen in the pretty picture setup of my outdoor writing space yesterday. I sat and I wrote six-pages of what felt like total crap, otherwise known as a shitty-first-draft.
Will I try to publish it as a personal essay?
Will, I ever put a complete book of my stories together?
Do I have enough focus and drive to make that happen?
Is my fatigue from trauma, PTSD, ADHD, lack of focus, and self-sabotage, standing in my way?
I won’t bore you with all of the negative self-talk that runs through my head when I write.
I kept writing, going at it for hours because the sun felt so good on my skin. I had so much to say, or so I thought. I was translating from a journal entry, which the day before was an awesome spark. Only once I started typing, it all felt forced and disjointed. I worked to make it make sense. I don't think it ever did.
Finally, hours later, I walked away from it. I got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face brushed my hair and gathered groceries to take around the corner to my mom’s apartment.
My mother (my employer who does not pay) calls with something she “needs” from me every.single.day. Even when she doesn't really need anything. It’s attention-seeking behavior. Every adult in my family does it. They are constantly seeking my attention.
Yesterday she needed paper plates from my pantry, chicken wings, from my freezer, frozen taquitos, and forty-dollars’ worth of quarters, from the bank of my husband, for her elderly neighbor who can not easily get to a real bank.
(Tootie, mom's neighbor, needs the quarters to wash her clothes in the coin-operated laundry room in their Independent Living Senior apartments. She washes her clothes in the laundry room, where three out of four lights are burned out, and nobody (the management) has done anything about it because according to Tootie, “No one cares about seniors.”)
My privileged mother, (otherwise known as Employer, who doesn't pay, but always in dire need of services rendered by me) has her own, personal, washer and dryer inside of her apartment. She also has a wonderful, paid caregiver, who comes in to actually "do" her laundry. (I digress.)
I crawl in bed last night. I swear I will not write another word tomorrow. Nope. I'm definitely no Amanda Gorman.
In fact, there are days I don’t know who I am or what it is that I’m doing and feeling.
Is this a mid-life crisis? Do women have those?
Last week I wanted to leave my family. I mean seriously...divorce. All of them.
Is this p.m.s.? Is this perimenopause? Menopause? It’s hard to tell because the periods haven’t completely gone away. They taunt me. One month it’s here. The next month? Maybe. And then...bam! Here the mother f*#%er is again!
Whatever it is, that I’m going through, half the time I feel crazy, confused, and moody. I hate everything and everyone, especially the people I love.
Is this pandemic/quarantine blues?
People aren’t talking so much about it anymore, but it is still the elephant in the room that is making us all lose it. My house has become increasingly smaller because of this god-dammed, pandemic, elephant taking up space, squeezing me closer to these people I live with.
This is happening just at a time when I hoped to have an empty nest. I thought I might have a little freedom from the responsibility of taking care of adults, deciding what they will eat and how it will all magically appear before them.
Today I woke up thinking, I will just take care of the laundry list of boring as f*#% to do’s. Maybe I can be successful at the laundry, grocery shopping, and hunting down a CoVid vaccine appointment for my mother.
But alas, I woke up inspired to write this lovely blog entry for those of you who may also be feeling a little bit of pandemic, quarantine, p.m.s., menopausal, compulsion to divorce your family.
I love you,
Not that Karen,
Not Amanda Gorman
The one & only Karen Wesley, Writer