Thursday, February 29, 2024

Leap Year


I'm out of practice writing here. I've been busy finishing the book, all the stray details, there are still a few, but the heavy lift is done, the work is accomplished, and one year ago, I could not quite imagine being in this place, but here I am. The people who need to be happy are happy, and I am, too. But now I have no idea what to do with myself, after a solid year of knowing very clearly what my day was about, even when I chose not to be about the central labor, the writing, it was there waiting for me, a structure, an organizing principle, a source of everyday meaning. And now, not three days after the manuscript has been officially "transmitted," meaning no more writing to create whole cloth, no more nips and tucks and revisions, just the steps of the publishing process from here on in, how quickly the thought reasserts itself, what on earth am I doing with my life, there's a whole world out there, and I can't bring myself to go out and engage with it, and be useful in it, useful even for the purpose of entertaining myself, I am at a loss again, no more hiding out, no more sense of purpose, just me, too much with myself, devoid of imagination as to what to do with my days. 

Soon the magazine I edit for will gear up again for the next issue. Stories will begin showing up in my InCopy queue for me to top edit, but for now, I am aimless, lost, imagining the rest of the world busy and purposeful while I lack all imagination of how to meaningfully occupy myself. My son in law to be gave me a one year pass to an art cafe for Christmas, so now might be the time to investigate that, busy myself with a creative enterprise, but really, I crave company, and everyone else is busy, doing their day jobs, especially the young people, they're all gainfully employed and I am at a loose end again, but not ready to dive into another book collaboration yet, and don't I sound pitiful and poor me. Hello out there, friends. I'm getting used to this shore again, dipping my toes into the tide, glad to be back with my friends in this virtual place, today you feel like my salvation. 

Here's something. My niece, the youngest of them, who moved to the city after college last summer, stopping over in our home for a couple of months while she searched for an apartment, reached out to her uncle and me to see if we wanted to go see the movie Dune 2 with her. I have not much interest in this movie, but I was so touched that she wanted to go see a movie with her aunt and uncle that I said yes, to which she texted back, "The roomies ride again." So I'm going to the movies tonight at the theater with the reclining red leather seats and if there are too many explosions on screen I can just drift right off comfortably, my head on my man's shoulder, and it will be good to get out of the house for any purpose at all. I seem to lack imagination these days about what to do, so I'm glad she proposed the movie.

Painting: "Cross the Tropics" by Ali Beletic

21 comments:

  1. So good to hear from you, dear friend.

    That disorientation after an extended period of creativity is disconcerting, isn't it? There must be a word for that set of feelings, but I can't think of a word in English that fully conveys what it feels like. For me, that painting by Ali Beletic comes close.

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    1. am, the painting did make me think of your art. i was drawn to it at once. and yes, i'm disconcerted, disoriented, maybe slowly floating back to earth. or something. thank you for being here, friend.

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  2. I do indeed long for the young people in my life too; my kids grew up so fast.
    Congrats on finishing the book, a massive accomplishment.

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  3. An audible exclamation of appreciation from me when that artwork popped up. Love it! Glad your project is complete. Not worried about you entertaining yourself. You live in NYC after all. MS Nell

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    1. MS Nell, there is indeed so much to do in NYC, but sometimes, just getting past the front door is the challenge. Glad you enjoy the artwork!

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  4. Oh my we have missed you! So glad that you have surfaced again. I will be interested to see what your thoughts are about the movie- it is getting a lot of attention! Son, Erik is going to go this week end when he has a breather from a DOC project. I can rely on his reviews usually, still I want to hear what you think because I do believe that you and I are on the same page re: sci fi movies- movies in general...anyway I hope that you have a relaxing time in the chair that leans back.

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    1. Dear Linda Sue, I understood hardly anything about Dune 2, even though I had seen Dune 1, but I have never read the books, and that's the real key. My movie companions, my husband and my niece, understood much more, and explained it to me afterwards, including all the ways in which the movie deviated from the book. Still, it was a visual spectacle, and that alone kept me watching.

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  5. I'm sure it's a huge relief to be done the book, but then what? You'll figure it out, you always do.

    Love that painting.

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    1. Pixie, yes, a huge relief, and yes, I'll figure it out, because what choice do I have. Time hangs heavy in the meantime. But what luxury, really, to have nothing that I HAVE to do. I need to appreciate that a little more. Glad you like the painting.

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  6. I'm sure there's a period of readjustment and emptiness after "transmitting" such a huge chunk of work. You will reach equilibrium eventually, as you re-enter the world! Glad you're going to see the movie. That will help.

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    1. Steve, I think you nailed it, I am now trying to "re-enter" the world after a year away from it. Even when I was in it, my mind was otherwise engaged, working things out for the book; channeling another person's story is such a constant process, and now I'm back to my own rambling thoughts, not quite as absorbing. But I'm trying to key in on how fortunate I am to have this time to do as I wish. I feel guilty not using it for more life-enhancing pursuits, but maybe rest is life-enhancing, too.

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  7. When I saw that painting I thought it was perhaps some ancient silk scarf in a museum. Beautiful.
    I can only imagine that when you have reached the end of one of these massive projects it's a little bit like the last child leaving the house.
    What? How can this be? Now what is my life about?
    Just as you become comfortable, another project (baby) will come through the door. I know it. Meanwhile, enjoy the movie, your niece, your husband, the art cafe. And welcome back to this world. We missed you.

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    1. Dear Mary, so happy to be back with you here. You know, I never equated it before, but the feeling I'm wrestling with at this moment is very akin to the empty nest feeling I had when my kids first left home. Thank you for that insight! And that painting would indeed make a beautiful silk scarf.

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  8. Rest, relax and recover for the next project will start before you know it! Time flies by and it is good to relish the down times when you can.

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    1. Ellen, relish the down times, good advice. I think I would like a little break before the next project. Of course there is always the worry about where and when the next project will show itself, but I should push that away for the moment, and recharge and refill my energy coffers. Maybe that's the emptiness I feel, and it's not a lack of purpose at all. Hmmm.

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  9. I understand where you're at. it will pass. for now you are simply empty. what you do now is simply relax, take a stroll through the park, window shop. you've been driven for a year and now your mind just wants...nothing, to not be doing.

    I read Dune many decades ago and really liked it but then I was and am a sci-fi fan (though I never read any of the sequels because to me Dune stood alone and I thought the sequels were just an attempt to cash in on it's popularity). we recently saw the first movie on TV. it was good I thought but I think it helps to have read the book. I can't imagine you will know what is going on in the second movie not having seen the first.

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    1. ellen, my husband agrees with you that the first Dune book was the whole article, and nothing more was needed. He says both Dune 1 and Dune 2 are taken from the first book, and that they haven't finished the story yet, so there will undoubtedly be a Dune 3. He liked the movie, because he'd read the books. We did see the first movie, but it didn't really help me understand much of the second.

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  10. You sound as if you do not like being alone with yourself. There are so many people who would give up a decade to be where you are right now. I used to be like them. I used to feel like you do too, so I have sympathy and empathy, which when combined equates understanding.

    Why not practice being grateful for the down time. It's there for a reason. You seem to worry needlessly over people who seem to be just fine. Gratitude is THE attitude. Let us be grateful for everything in life. I read recently that God gave us weaknesses that we might become strong. We become strong AFTER we overcome. In your defense, at least you are paying attention.

    I read Dune when it was first published. The first movie was a tremendous letdown. Here's hoping this one will live up to its promise. I hope it will be all you need it to be. Enjoy.

    Be well.

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    1. Dear Anonymous, I wish you'd left your name along with this kind and wise comment. Do I know you or did you just happen by? Whichever it is, I'm glad you left these thoughts. Becoming strong where we are weak, that's the work of every life, I suppose, though easier said than accomplished. Still, it's good to be reminded to put the focus there; it means what feels amiss is merely information about what we need to work on. I can follow that map.

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    2. Hello again. I returned to apologize for offering unsolicited advice although it comes from experience. How kind of you to be receptive to my input. I read your blog (Have done so for a very long time.) but do not always comment. Sometimes another soul needs to know they are not alone--that we share the same life experiences.

      I was recently reminded that Holy Writ reminds us that God said He gave us weaknesses for a reason. I spent a great portion of my life struggling with that one, then lo! and behold! I got it. We grow from adversity. We learn by doing. We learn to respect fire by getting burned. I could go on but you are a wise woman. You ask the good questions too. You, dear sister, are a thinker.

      Be well.

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    3. Thank you, friend. I like knowing you're here.

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