I only blog when I’m busy because that’s when everything is popping and flowing all at once. Right now I’m writing an abstract, shopping for Christmas presents online (thank you Cloudscome for the great links on responsible shopping!), reading email, and listening for danger noises from the next room. ADHD is funny because sometimes lots of things at once are overwhelming and sometimes I need to have five things going at once to get that energy. Everybody’s tipping point is different and mine is different every day. I prefer this craziness to the scatteredness that I’m often plagued with.
Being alone last week was really good for me. I was dreading it for the weeks leading up to the boys’ departure, so much so that I almost felt sick. I have a hard time being alone. Besides feeling that motherly pull toward my child and the gut-level feeling of responsibility for his every need (despite the fact that he was in very capable hands), I just get energy from being with people, my family especially. I was not looking forward to spending Thanksgiving without them. I was not looking forward to the quiet. On top of it all I had to board the dogs because of my work schedule, and by the time I dropped them off at the vet’s on Wednesday afternoon I was a bit of a wreck. I could have accomplished a lot in the two whole free days I had before Thanksgiving in Madison and then work, and it’s true that I did knock out a bunch of nonsense errands (hurrah for not having to haul a small one around for that!), but some of it I just kind of spaced out. I suppose I deserved the break. I dunno. But I was not having a good go of it.
Then on the way to Madison when I had three whole hours to myself with nothing but the radio, and even more time on the way back (see “Thankful”) something nice happened. I started to keep myself company. I haven’t done that in a really long time. I noticed that I had been censoring my radio choices (oh, THAT’S lame! not Classical–husband doesn’t care for it–this is 80’s and I love it but I should be looking for the Grateful Dead Hour–) and as soon as I did I looked for the lamest music I could find and started having a blast. I think there was something about pina coladas and something else about the rains down in Africa.
I started surfing (seeking, I suppose…how our language has changed) more and to my delight I found some Beethoven. Initially I was just trying to remember which symphony it was and before I knew it I was totally gone. I was lost inside the sixth symphony and I didn’t want to find my way out of it, ever. It’s been awhile since I’ve allowed Beethoven to do that to me. I heard it twice, and on the way back I was so into it I completely missed my exit and didn’t notice it for miles and miles.
I also missed my exit because I was thinking about how I’ve slowly been losing parts of myself over the last decade. I’ve been reading The Feminine Mystique and while I’m not a housewife and we’re forty years later, I have been learning about what’s been handed down to me. Now my mother wasn’t a housewife per se–she stayed home with us until I, the youngest, was in third grade–she had a career of her own. Her mother wasn’t solely a housewife either, though I believe she gave up a prestigious secretarial position at the Pentagon when she married. But the cultural attitudes and pieces of pathology that come with being a woman in my family, in this social class, in this country are part of what make me who I am. In this particular case I’ve come to realize that I have always, from my very first real boyfriend as a pre-teen, tended to latch onto the boy or man in my life and take on his interests. R played the saxophone so for five years I loved the saxophone and listened to all the saxophone music I could get my hands on. G’s interests were more closely aligned with mine and I found myself less prone to getting into the ones that weren’t (I just couldn’t get into fly-fishing, though I did come to love A River Runs Through It, and still do), but I did start to really rely on him for direction for how to think and feel about things. It was a matter of admiration and I think it’s one of the things that ultimately cost me the relationship.
It’s been better with Attic Man. Unlike the women in the F.M. I did not give up my career interests and goals. But on the music front I have been giving too much ground. AM just doesn’t appreciate what is commercially known as Classical, so I never listen to it. Nevermind that I played the violin in orchestras through college or that Brahms makes my heart break in the best way possible. Now I’m grateful to him, more than he knows, for introducing me to the blues, the Allman Brothers Band (which I had to listen to first before I understood the blues), and Phish, and for reminding me that I had always love Bluegrass, too. I need to listen to my stuff, too: the Indigo Girls, Ella Fitzgerald, Steve Reich, Dar Williams.
I think that the music thing is just an overt thing, though. I think I have subconsciously been sublimating my own thoughts and opinions, too. Attic Man was a debater in college and while not my intellectual superior knows his way over, under, around and through an argument so sometimes I have to fight to keep my head above water when we’re talking politics or social issues. He’s a hell of a maverick, too, and reads like ten online magazines and newspapers a day, at least. Instead of learning from him I’ve been busy letting his talents make me feel inadequate, not recognizing that I know different things and think differently. I need to put energy back into holding my own in those conversations. Anyway it’s been playing into my career angst of late. I think I’ve been holding back in part because I haven’t let my life be my own.
I don’t know how much this has to do with the way I grew up, but I do know that in a Baptist minister’s family the whole family is centered around the church and the pastor’s work. I have to give my mother a lot of credit because she very firmly believed that her job was not “pastor’s wife” (she wouldn’t entertain anytime day or night and she didn’t go to every church ladies’ meeting like most of her pastor’s wife friends). Nevertheless there’s a certain inescapable hegemony to church life when your father’s the minister, at least in a Baptist church, so I was used to the whole of family life, even my mother’s life, being directed toward making the church work. There was also the “calling” aspect of it, so we moved to follow his career around and she found work wherever we went.
When I figured that all out I was happy to have a few days to myself. I’m working on reclaiming some of the things I’ve lost over the course of my marriage. For the record Attic Man is just about the perfect husband for this kind of re-awakening because he really does see me as an equal partner and not a wife that he expects to cater to his every wish. He’s been trying for years to get me to contribute to the music for trips.
Speaking of having my own life–my kid needs me.