23 October 2007

Garage Sale of the Mind

There's all the usual stuff: household appliances that don't really work, chipped dishes, mismatched silverware, and then there are the out-of-date textbooks, the framed "art" that was pulled out of Aunt Betsy's attic, old floor cushions, cheap romance novels, work-out videos from the eighties, and tools without a purpose.

Each thing is taking up space, making clutter, and making it difficult to see what else is there. The junk all seems to come from different places; none of it matches and not one thing compliments another, not even in an eclectic kind of way.

Caring for my family is the biggest item, and includes managing finances, making sure we have food, driving the children to and from school, keeping the house from falling into chaos, and lately, eradicating fleas. Next comes work, which can kind of be contained, but still gets mixed up with the other junk. As if this wasn't enough, I'm taking the GRE literature test in less than two weeks, and am still working on finalizing my list of graduate programs. (Do they allow for a creative dissertation? Do I meet admissions requirements? Can we afford to live near the school?)

Like any garage sale worth its salt, there are also the little treasures to be found, mixed in with all the junk - lunch with a friend, an afternoon to myself, an unplanned trip to the playground on a 75 degree fall day, a few stolen hours working on a story in a coffee shop where no one knows me, a bottle of wine shared with my partner in all of this. Almost all of them are hidden under the broken pieces of the other junk.

The junk that is taking up all of my mental space in tiny fragments, bits that beg me to glue them together into a semblance of a life. To make something cohesive out of a multitude.

On a typical day I get Matilda ready for school, drive her, start some laundry, do work, pay bills, put the laundry in the dryer, make lunch for Freya, do some more work, study a little bit (maybe), wash some dishes, do some more work, pick Matilda up, do a little more work, make dinner, wash dishes, bathe children, flea comb the cats, vacuum (because of the fleas), get the girls to bed, study or research grad schools online, then watch TV while I fold laundry.

It's not so much the actually doing of things that exhausts me. It's the constant shifting and the mental strain of trying to keep myself focused and on task, and remember what has to happen next and next and next. Partly this is due to the fact that before and after work, Steve is here to help with the actual doing part. But the mental circus is entirely mine, and I have yet to find a way to avoid it.

All of these things add up, they build on top of one another until they resemble my desk, which is so full of stacks of papers as to render it completely unusable. And the more things pile up in my mind, the more I try to reassure myself that it's all going to be okay. Things will settle down once the girls are in school, once the GRE is over, once my applications are in, once... you get the idea. They never do, my life is full and rich and my cup is freaking spilling all over the floor and not only do I get to drink it, but I am also the one who has to clean it up.


Bubblewench said...

Amen. I know that feeling.. the neverending What's next and how do I keep moving... The mind never stops, neither do we.

Stepherz said...

Does it ever slow down though? I'm starting to have some doubt. Maybe I'm being a pessimist, but it seems that just when things should slow back down, something else gets piled on top.

I'm so relating to ya, Chica. Chin up!

Deb said...

Ohhh... I have the same cup! Brilliantly put.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

Brilliant Nell, just brilliant. I know this feeling well.

andi said...

I'd like to put some of the stuff in my mind up for sale, but I don't think anyone would buy it. I really must start cluttering up my mind with higher quality items.

Heather, Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Yes, when my boss tells me to quiet my mind, I laugh in a snarky way. But she KNOWS having been a mom herself and doesn't judge me for my lack of quieting the mind.

Great post nell!

Cathy said...

Hey, you've been peeking in on MY brain, haven't you?!

Very good description of the messy filing cabinet that is a mother's mind.