I wrote the initial draft of this entry on 11 January, and then, forgot about it. So, a bit of editing around the edges but I didn’t want to change verb tense.
It is physically satisfying to type 2020.
What a weird day! Second week of January and 65 degrees F (18C), unusual for Boston, completely foreign for someone from Wisconsin. Julia has Saturday afternoon theater workshop with a group that works with youth with disabilities to develop theater pieces. This is her second time; the workshop is 4 hours long. It is close enough (on a Saturday without traffic) that I could go home but she asked that I say close. Last week, I found an interesting diner but it is no place to stay anywhere near on a diet. I am on a diet. South Street Station is around the corner; the food court has WiFi and a Starbucks.
The noise of a train station—arrivals, departures, delay, people milling and rushing with bags, greetings and farewells. I can almost pretend that I might be traveling. A giant latte—3 shots of caffeine—fuels fingers. Do I really want to travel that much? It is the time of the year to begin planning again; however, I don’t know what will be available for Julia to do this summer in school or the community. If there is a chance for a summer job/volunteer gig, I want to take advantage of that. And there are wedding plans. I want to be available.
Julia says something that reminds me that vacation doesn’t have to mean a month driving around Ireland, my current spun fantasy. It can be a long weekend in Maine, another one on the Cape and a third on the Jersey shore. A respite weekend for me. Is that the summer plans?
Two hard mornings this week. Julia a demanding teen, treating my getting her to school like punishment, blaming me for clothes not in her closet, meds not on the table. Oh, the attitude! Yes, I know. It sounds like 15 which she was 4 years ago. I get tired and ‘walk off the job.’ I told her to do what she wanted to get ready and let me know when we should leave for school. She managed, even to make her own lunch, and was late for her first class. Also my fault. Later, when she talked to her school counselor, she complained that she wanted more independence. This from the kid who would rather not take the van that stops at our front door to school. The push-pull of delayed adolescence. She has all the animal desire for independence that any typical kid has but her skill set is hardly like an early teen and her temperament much younger.
Thursday was a bit better but still the attitude. Friday was okay. This morning, Saturday, we slept in a bit, breakfasted and then straightened the house. Straightening, tidying is what we used to do before the cleaner came and I miss the regularity of it. It took two hours to put all the holiday decorations in the cellar, gather clothes for the laundry, hang and put away all other clothes, put away books and files and drawings and pencils and Christmas gifts still laying around the living room. A bit of a vacuum. I tried trimming Julia’s too long bangs and recalled before I did too much damage that hair was not my area of expertise.
We were on time to the workshop; they ask for 15 minute early. Next week, for sure. I hope.
Days when Julia is uncooperative and argumentative are tough on me. Even after she was at school and I finished with my necessary chores, I couldn’t write or do anything much of value. Never sure what to do with the extra worries, the extra emotions, that cannot be put aside to get myself back to some even keel and move onto my own day. Sitting helps, journaling or talking to a friend sometimes but there is no cure. I can understand how our bad mornings at home bleeds into Julia’s school day because those same mornings cut into time I’ve set aside for my own work.
My work. After the intense NaNaWriMo and 50,000 words added to the story that just doesn’t let go of me, I came into December with diminished expectations but a lust to move forward. What is needed now is research, world building/backstory, sorting and editing. The satisfaction of the word number graph is gone-A time chart does nothing for me. And the concrete goal is up in smoke. I whine with a rich range of self-pity. Of course, what I have is what I’ve always wanted! With a bit of a smirk I might expect to hear, ‘be careful what you wish for,’ and this is exactly what I’ve wished for—time to create something without deadline or pressure. Time. If I can carve it out of my days, I can satisfy the itch of this story.
Almost two weeks later, it is my own New Year’s Day. Birthday today.
We—Cheshire, Justin and I—celebrated Julia turning 19 last week with a visit to a very small Ramen restaurant (the very delicious food of the Little Big Diner) and a cake at home. On Saturday, Julia, Cheshire and I went to a comic con which was different from the other two cons Julia and I have attended. There were not as many costumes, not as many panels or demonstrations centered on gaming, comics or sci-fi. It seemed to be more centered on adult socializing. There was still enough for us to enjoy the day and do some fun stuff. And there were some costumes–Julia finding at least two other My Hero Academia fans.
Julia’s was our first family birthday in Boston and worthy of a few tears of joy. I am so grateful for family and friends sending wishes from afar during the last nine years. There was the year that Cheshire and Linde came out to throw me a party and years that friends took me to lunch or dinner with or, with the help of respite, without Julia. I don’t know how I would have made it through so many personal holidays without those calls and emails and messages and invitations but always planning and managing birthdays, graduations and other celebrations with just Julia and I has never been easy. I have missed David’s presence, and not that we ever did gigantic celebrations—birthdays meant little more than a choice dinner with dessert and a few packages to open, but we made a whole that has been missing. And I admit to a good dollop of self pity laid on top and a weariness. And my birthday at the end of January, with the winter holidays finally all put away and Julia birthday celebrated a week before has been particularly hard.
This year it is all open to change. It is time to put away the pitiful widow’s weeds (I had to look it up to find out that the word “weed” comes from an Old English word for “garment.”) and enjoy the new whole. I feel myself coming into a new time. Since the beginning of the new year, I am taking writing days, well, half days. I am welcoming the ambiguity of not knowing where the writing will go as well as not knowing how long I will be living in this house, this town. Right now, my intention is to publish the finished novel serialized weekly in a separate part of this blog. This inspired by Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, that was serialized in the literary magazine All the Year Round in late 1860. As to home, I am not looking or planning to look for anything more permanent for awhile yet. I am happy in my pretty rental.
Last Sunday, after a very rough morning with Julia, I began to wonder if the Newton Unitarian Society is the best place for us to be. We began going to services in the summer as soon as we moved in and I plunged into choir and a chalice group in the fall. It is a congregation centered on social justice work with less of an emphasis on cultivating other spiritual practices. I’ve enjoyed the people I’ve met and the chalice group discussions, but at this point I don’t see potential for more. What’s more, because choir sings every Sunday, Julia is left sitting alone and more apt to spend the service on her phone than listening, responding and singing. There is a youth group which Julia (and I) attend. They are planning a coffee house at the end of February and Julia will take part in the work that needs to be done but in truth, she cannot really participate in the planning and discussion. The RE director who I have been in conversation with has too many balls in the air to figure out something for Julia. Because she is finished with RE classes, there is no natural niche for her and I recognize that she may be the only person who needs this niche. I mentioned both of these things in chalice group yesterday—two other people voiced the same concern about spiritual practice. Another member talked about how social action is a spiritual practice and during a brief exchange about that, I realized what I need has to do with filling my soul so that I can continue working for Julia which is my own brand of social action. I have an appointment to speak with the minister next week. I am not looking for change, I am not ready to lead some new initiative, I just want us to fit into what is. If we are the square peg here, we may have to look for a similarly square hole. Convenience and welcoming people are just not enough.
Cheshire came over with breakfast and packages on my birthday. It was a perfect beginning to the day. The rest of the day was rather mundane which was perfectly okay. Many emails and facebook messages came with smiles. And that too, so appreciated was just perfect.