Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On Malaise

The twins have been home from school for 12 of the last 13 days. The baby is on his second cold in the last month (though this one seems quite minor, but still). I am behind in almost every conceivable way. Willow is also behind, so the idea of one of us throwing another a lifeline feels impossible too. We are simply not set up to do full-time childcare for three and maintain full-time (or even part-time jobs.

So at the moment, I have a batch of undergraduate response papers to grade, all of the material for my grad class to prep for tomorrow (three plays by Pirandello), a stack of PhD applications to read, and on the horizon, another batch of response papers and two sets of midterms.

And at the moment, instead of doing any of these things, I am blogging. Sitting in front of the magic happy light box (which isn't at the moment, working wonders), listening to Junebug cry while somehow not managing to cry himself to sleep.

Paul Atreides, of Frank Herbert's Dune series, uses the mantra, "Fear is the mind killer," but frankly, I am not so much afraid of everything as simply buried and therefore rendered completely inert. And my mind is dead. I am unexcited by my objectively exciting classes, unwilling to crack the top of that stack of response papers, even blase about going up to soothe the baby (bad daddy).

If the sun doesn't come out soon (tomorrow is, after all, always a day away), I'm going to burst. If I have to wear my goddamn winter boots to walk to campus another day, I'm gonna scream. If it doesn't stop snowing soon so I can send the twins back to school, I'm going to curl up in a little ball and weep. None of which will help anything at all.

Ash Wednesday is the inauguration of Lent, a period of doing without. In Christian terms, it's a self-shriving to prepare for the grace of Easter, but on a broader, pan-spiritual level, it's seemingly related to the necessary practice of stretching the remaining provisions through the winter. Willow and I are responding to both terms this year by forgoing meat. It's an environmental decision first, with elements of finances and spirituality mixed in. And it's a test run for perhaps a more permanent solution down the road.

I wonder what the connection between these Lenten sacrifices and winter malaise might have to do with one another, and whether the discipline involved in going without might also be related to the discipline of muddling through.

For now though, the happy light box has finished its cycle, the baby has finally fallen asleep, and I think I'll read a play. We'll see whether the winter malaise has faded any by then.


Earnest English said...

Perhaps it's a bad part of my personality that I appreciate hearing about frustrations of parenting from others. Or maybe it's that when IN the frustration and malaise, it feels so cut off from the world that it's a relief to know that others are out there, albeit also feeling cut off from the world with sick kids!

For whatever reason, I hear you. And it's all made worse by the derangement of going on to campus for short periods, playing academic, then coming home and being mom to a Very Cranky Boy lately. I hear you. I hear you. It will get better. The sun will come out. By the time those things happen, you may have gotten used to all this, but still. I hear you.

neat ideas about Lent and the shortest month of the year that always feels the longest

Sisyphus said...

Poor Horace! If you need to hire out your grading or cleaning or childsitting, remember I'm underemployed.

Or, alternately, I could offer you a sublet of my lovely California apartment out here away from the snow for a very reasonable price... ;)

Flavia said...

This is an unexpectedly lovely post, H. Thanks for it--though I hope the malaise lifts soon.

Maude Lebowski said...

I have nothing intelligent or comforting to say except hugs to both you and Willow and here's hoping the kids get better soon and you're able to crawl out from under this. Sometimes I think Eliot got it wrong; sometimes I think February is the cruelest month.

RE: giving up meat. I've been struggling with this. I'm vegetarian and vegan off and on. My vanity gets in the way because I cannot lose weight as quickly as a vegetarian--one would think one could, and really part of the problem is that I am a wee bit lazy.I can maintain as a vegetarian, but I cannot lose as much. But I really struggle with the ethics and morality of this, along with my own inability to not eat meat at family gatherings because it hurts other people's feelings or I don't want to be seen as being ungrateful, so that's part of it. Although I do aim for a diet that is 70-100% vegetarian and/or vegan for any given week, when I do buy meat now, it has to be free range, vegetarian fed, certified organic and humane. If you're interested, I have some really good vegetarian and vegan cookbooks I can recommend, but from the bounty you post from the Farmer's Markets, you probably don't need my help with recipes. :) Good luck!