Monday, September 17, 2018

Threading the Labyrinth

Good Monday morning.

I hope that you, like me, arranged your entire Saturday around LSU's contest with Auburn & were, like me, rewarded for your efforts. So often my love of college football brings nothing but frustration & heartache, & I suspect there may well be some frustration & heartache in the weeks ahead, but then come the Saturdays I am vividly reminded of why this is my favorite time of year, & for a brief time all is right in the world & the LSU Tigers are invincible. I do hope Ed is able to quell the team's enthusiasm so they do not enter Saturday's contest against Louisiana Tech believing they are invincible. 

Last week I penned a treatise on a handful of topics I've covered in my speech class thus far this semester. You all seemed about as interested in it as my students, but that's okay. Since posting last week's dissertation on the importance of quiet, contemplative time, my life's been a whirlwind of busyness & noise. Of course. Last week was Cheer Camp.

Every fall the varsity cheerleaders at Reagan's school hold a week-long camp for young cheerleader hopefuls. This all culminates on Friday when the cheerleaders-in-training join the varsity cheerleaders & perform at the pep rally & then at the football game on Friday night. 

As I sat at the game last Friday night watching Reagan cheer a barrage of images were in my mind.

Two years ago, in the fall of 2016, Reagan attended her first Cheer Camp. I recall very few details of that week. I'd just begun my stint as a high school teacher a few weeks prior, & I was very tired. What I do remember vividly is meeting Trey & my parents & my in-laws for dinner before the football game that Friday evening. We all had plans to eat & then attend the football game to watch Reagan cheer. Ah, plans. During dinner Henry vomited. My mother-in-law took him to her house while the rest of us went on to the football game as planned. I sat & watched Reagan cheer while internally begging the Lord that the vomiting would end with Henry. 

Henry spent the weekend in quarantine at my in-laws house. He threw-up a lot. What unfolded in the week that followed Henry's initial vomiting episode was exactly what I had so desperately hoped we could avoid. Trey got sick. Then Reagan got sick. Reagan & I spent one night in the hospital; I had to take her to the ER because she was running ketones I could not flush, & I was worried she was getting dehydrated. 

His first year in school was hard on Henry. He was three years old, & he had never before been exposed to a great many of the germs he encountered at school. He picked up a lot of germs, & then he shared them with Reagan. In fact, that first stomach virus took down the four of us & a handful of Henry's grandparents. There were a few additional vomit instances that year, many nights spent sucking down steam from the nebulizer, &, yes, lice. Oh, also, he got the flu, though I remain unsure of whether he gave it to Trey or Trey gave it to him. 

When I got home Friday night a friend texted me to tell me she'd finished reading Dear Miss Moreau. Sunday morning at church someone presented me with a paperback of the book & asked me to sign it. I am telling you all this, & I shared the trip I took down memory lane Friday night with you, to say this: I look at my past self & the things she navigated & the things she accomplished, & I am happy for her. I also wonder where she went. 

I am tremendously frustrated right now because I can't manage to read an entire book. I once wrote a whole book, you know? I have no idea how I did that.

Looking back on the years since Reagan was born I can see a pattern in my behavior. From the moment I became a mother I gained a new understanding of the value of time. When Reagan was about three months old & started sleeping longer stretches, I began blogging. When she was about a year old, I began writing a book. When she was around two years old I joined my book club &, for the first time since her birth, I began reading regularly, meaning I read almost every night & I read entire books within a reasonable frame of time. I loved (& love) the pressure of time inherent in the idea of a monthly book club.

As Reagan grew & slept more & didn't need me constantly, I increasingly challenged myself in personal ways. I am sure something in me subconsciously didn't want to totally lose myself to motherhood, so I clamored to claim something for myself, which for me means time to read or write or both.

Let me tell you what I have done now. I decided since I am not teaching high school & I am not parenting any infants & theoretically have "free time" during the week I should read more. I began reading the first book in not one but two lengthy series. I am a few chapters into Outlander, the first book in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. These books are not short, & there are a great many of them. I am also a few chapters into The Eye of the World, the first book in a fourteen-book series begun by Robert Jordan & completed by someone whose name I cannot recall because unfortunately Mr. Jordan died before completing the series. I thought I'd leisurely make my way through these books &, as the years unfold & my children grow & my hair turns gray, gradually read all of both of these series about which I continue to hear great things.

I have not even begun reading Everyone Brave is Forgiven, which is this month's book club book. We are scheduled to meet next week. At this point I don't know if I should throw in the towel on book club this month or attempt to read the book in a week's time. I am a squirrel turning circles in the middle of the road, if you will allow the metaphor.

I have managed to take the one thing on which I can always count to relax me & provide me with an escape from life's stresses & completely stress myself out over it. I tell you, *the week ahead is a week I need to bury myself in fiction.* This next week is going to be a brutal week in American politics, though nearly every week in politics is somewhat excruciating here lately because everyone has lost their minds. I am currently so envious of people who don't pay much attention to politics & could not pick Brett Kavanaugh out of a line-up if their life depended on it.

I was going to blog about the #metoo movement today as it relates to Brett Kavanaugh. I decided against that, opting for the more riveting topic of what I am currently attempting (& failing) to read & the various ways I feel like a failure at the moment. I will say this one thing & then shut up & let you go. I am a fan of & a champion of the individual first & foremost. People should be treated as individuals (rather than as a generic member of their race, gender, political party, occupation, etc.) at all times, but especially when serious accusations are leveled against them. Today is Constitution Day, & it's worth noting that all of our founding documents (as well as our entire judicial system) are predicated on the idea that individuals trump the state & individuals are innocent until proven guilty.

I am not a fan of movements that sweep hysterically through our nation (& social media) because they usually overreach & innocent people (men, in this case) become the victims of mob mentality. Men should be treated as individuals, & accusations against them, be they of a sexual nature or otherwise, ought to be assessed on an individual basis.

Maybe someone assaulted Ms. Ford when she was fifteen. Maybe she was drunk & genuinely believes it was Kavanaugh even though it was not. Maybe he was drunk & he did it & does not remember (Note to teens: STOP DRINKING). He adamantly denies it, he has passed multiple FBI background checks over the years, no one else has accused him of so much as hurting a fly, & so right now I have to hope the Republicans agree to hear what Ms. Ford has to say, but if she has nothing else to offer, they need to go ahead with a vote. One uncorroborated tale of an incident that allegedly occurred decades ago is not & should not be enough to deny an otherwise qualified man a seat on the Supreme Court.

In my opinion, her story has been purposely, vaguely crafted so as to make it impossible for Kavanaugh to indisputably prove his innocence. Ms. Ford cannot recall whose house she was at or exactly when the alleged incident occurred, & she claims no adults were present in the house at the time. The story is conveniently vague. I am nearly thirty-eight. Ms. Ford is about a decade older than I am, but I can recall with clarity many things that happened when I was in high school. Unless she spent her teenage years in a drunken stupor, I would think she could remember a few more specifics about this incident that supposedly traumatized her.

Whew. Okay, so, that's what I have to say about that. It is wrong to sexually assault people. It is just as wrong to weaponize sexual assault as a political tool. When everything is racist, nothing is racist. When everything is sexist, nothing is sexist. When every man with whom you politically disagree is accused of assault, suddenly the legit claims - - & I know there are some - - get lost in the fog as it becomes clear many innocent men are being viciously slandered. If new evidence emerges, I will reconsider my thoughts on Kavanaugh. He wasn't even my first pick to replace Kennedy, but caving to the mob now & withdrawing his name would set a terrible precedent.

Obviously I need to find a good piece of fiction in which to lose myself else my sanity take flight. My recent mistake, I think, was assuming I could casually read a few books simultaneously. I don't casually read, really. I am an active, insane reader. I need a plan; I need to better organize my time & my days. I am juggling my own teaching & the kids' schedules, & Reagan's schedule is quickly becoming more complicated as soccer season commences. Between her schoolwork, her piano lessons, soccer, & her health, Reagan needs a full-time manager, & I suppose I am it. Henry remains low-key at the moment, but I know that will soon change.

I am frustrated because I am not finishing anything, & I am not finishing anything because I have been too passive about setting specific goals. You know why I sat to blog today? Because it is satisfying to work through my thoughts, reread & attempt to quickly edit them, & finish the thing & hand it off to you fine people. It is satisfying to finish reading a book. It is satisfying to steadily write a book, & though finishing one takes an inordinate amount of time (& then you have to edit it), there are incredibly satisfying milestones along the way. I feel a little lost in the labyrinth right now; at the end of most days I feel I've accomplished very little but rather have been scrambling around doing a lot of things in a halfass way. Pardon my language. There's no better word to substitute there.

I see & I read all the encouraging blogs & scriptures moms post on social media that let me know I am enough. It is enough to be a mom. It is enough to just get them to school on time & help with their homework & if supper is not home-cooked & organic & their socks aren't perfectly matched it is fine. To that I say, Blah. It's not enough for me. If my kids were infants, yeah, fine, I could buy into that. I often mention Maslow. I mention him again now to say he was a genius, & I know this to be true because even when everything appears to be wonderful I am internally raging because of a lack of, to borrow Maslow's terminology, self-actualization. If you are a runner or you enjoy some other sport, think about how you feel when it's been raining or you're injured or for whatever other reason you haven't been stretching your muscles & using them in the way you can & the way you love to do. That's how I feel now. Mentally restless & frustrated.

Thank you for reading. I hope to return next week to tell you all about how I've restructured my life & my time so as to fulfill my motherly duties while also satisfying my deep need to read & enjoy fiction. Here's to a week of reading fiction & ignoring the hellish mess in our nation's capitol. Cheers. 


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