Friday, August 19, 2005

Torn between two foci

Is foci a word? Plural of focus? Well, I'm gonna use it.

Having raised five kids, I would be a guest of the loony bin, happily sitting in a corner of the garden talking to myself, if I hadn't learned to multi-task over the years. But I think our ability to do anything well, including multi-tasking, nuturing, being insightful, and so on, can't be sustained forever. At some point you use up your resources. You might be able to refill your inner pool of energy, wisdom, what not, but you need the right conditions to do so. In most cases life doesn't willingly give us this "vacation", so we just stay at low ebb or worse, burned out.

I think I do a pretty good job of trying to keep my inner reserves well stocked. It's that or, as I mentioned, the loony bin. But my brain tends to do triage, with our without my permission, and use those recharges in the way it sees fit. I don't always get a say in things, and I've noticed the one place I have trouble is in multi-tasking. When I was young I used to be able to hold baby on one hip, phone under my chin, use my free arm to make sandwiches for lunch, let the dog back inside the screened door with my foot, and quell a spat between older siblings with nothing but a "You are in MAJOR trouble if you keep going" look in their direction. Now I'm lucky if I can walk and talk at the same time.

My point here is, my life is still chopped into different spaces. We could get really specific and break it down into all the subcategories - food, car, banking, animal care, Jeff, William, Joe, (more family right on down the line....), politics, health..... But as I previously mentioned, I'd like to hang on to the small measure of sanity I have left to work with. So let's just break it down into three larger categories - family, house, career. (Oh, gawd, now I'm seeing how each of those really aren't broken down enough to .... NO! SToP! )

Family is a given. They squeak, I run. Sometimes toward the trouble, sometimes away from it. But it's a guaranteed priority, a visceral MUST react. I don't really get to change this, nor would I want to - people come first and all that. I would like to negotiate shorter working hours when it comes to family, but that's another post for another time. Let's just say, there's "Family" and move on from there.

That leaves "House" and "Career" to discuss, and that's where I was headed with the torn between two foci title. Part of me wants to get my house and life all tidy so I can go into the studio and make a lot of mess, guilt free. (and go off and write stories too, but that's another post as well) And part of me wants to pry that annoying little "be a good housewife fairy" off my damn shoulder and bake her ass into a pie just to shut her up. But alas, that little housewife fairy is a part of me - not a good idea, psychologically speaking, to do away with an integral facet of myself, no matter how flaky and light my pie crusts might be.

On the other hand, sometimes I wish I could look the bohemian artist fairy sadly in the eye, explain that I just can't provide a good home, an enriching enough environment, for her. We might WANT to do everything, I'd tell her, but grown-ups have to make choices. I'd wave her off and tell her I'd think of her fondly. I'd say maybe, sometime, in the future... and leave the rest unsaid. I'd promise good references. Then Good Housewife Fairy could clean to her heart's delight and I could invite folks over without having to determine their degree of allergic response to dust, mold, cat dander. I could find important papers when I needed them. I could get blissfully high on the scents of bleach, floor wax, and clean laundry fresh from the clothesline without feeling guilty for wasting my life in domestic invisibility.

The trick is to BALANCE the different parts of myself. I know this. I need to sit down with the "Good Housewife Fairy" and the equally loud "Bohemian Artist Fairy" (the rest of the fairies are easier to ignore, so we won't mention them just now) and work out a deal. The problem is that they don't want to play fair, or share my time. Once I let one get hold of my life, they just charge ahead and ignore everything and everyone else. I don't really mind when they ignore my family, they're loud enough to holler if they REALLY need me. But I don't like when they're in charge of me instead of, vice versa, me calling the shots.

I'd like the pleasure of saying "Oh, will you look at that - Good Housewife Fairy, you've had all morning. Now, hand over the reins and give Bohemian Artist Fairy" a few hours before we run out of time because this evening I have to go to a football parent meeting." I'd like the pleasure of saying that without GHF (Good Housewife Fairy) flipping me off or singing "La la la- I can't HEAR you!" or simply ignoring my command altogether. If I was one of those people on The Apprentice, I'd be called before The Donald, told my delegation skills sucked, and then I'd hear those famous words "You're Fired!"

Why am I so pathetic at organizing the bits and pieces of myself!? I'm actually quite talented at organizing groups of people out in the real world. I'm often put in charge because people know I'm good at getting things done. I just can't quite figure out how to make that sort of process work in my own life. Sigh.

So, here it is, 7:10 pm. I've spent all day cleaning and decluttering. I should feel a sense of accomplishment. A contented sense of a job well done. That is, If it wasn't for the BAF (Bohemian Artsy Fairy) who's having a scene because she didn't get any time today. Oh, look. She's dressed all in black, her hair pulled back in a tight braid and a beret pulled down low over her eyes. She's pulled out a small microphone and stool and now she's reading really depressing, not to mention bad, poetry about how she's invisible and life is just a big ball of aluminum foil (not sure where she's going with THAT analogy) and something about wearing her wings as a yoke of burdens. She's just ruining my good mood. She's BUMMING ME OUT, MAN! And the microphone is getting feedback and .....SQUEAK!!!!...... Ouch! My ears! Only I can't put my hands over my ears to shut her out because, duh, she's not real.

I don't know what to do. I haven't even started dinner yet. And I'm not talking to my husband until he explains his stupidity (something I stumbled upon yesterday, nevermind, again, a different post) and I'm starting to think he either a) hasn't noticed that I'm not talking to him or b) prefers it this way. Which only pisses me off more, but , not gonna go there. And I'm tired. GHF worked me hard today. And I have to get ready to go out of town for a football jamboree tomorrow (oh-joy-i-am-so-excited) and there's laundry to do still to get ready for that.

If I can get William's football pants in the washing machine, maybe I'll just order pizza for the boys and drag my little winged Maya Angelou (NOT) into the studio for an hour and see if I've got any energy left over for her to use creatively. At least she'll have to give me credit for trying. At the very least I can find a scissor and snip the wire to that damn mic.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kate West said...

Why not start out your day by letting BAF have her way for a while? Then, the next day, let GHF have her way first. If you alternate like that, then every aspect of your life gets its turn (because we both know that family interrupts and takes precedence over both GHF and BAF, so it gets its turn no matter what). Just a thought (and something I need to practice myself). :-)

8:12 PM  
Blogger vi said...

thank you for your comment, I agree with you..... I did the pumpkin people cause of the vintage halloween cards I like
hahaha
vi
come back and visit me occationally

4:29 PM  

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