Monday, September 8, 2008

Frazzled

A year ago this week, Bella went to school for the first time.

A year ago, I got off my antidepressants.

A year ago, finally granted with 7.5 hours/week to myself, I decided to try and regain a grip on my rapidly snowballing life. 7.5 hours isn't so much when you think about it, and so I made what I thought was a wise decision: Instead of making a mile-long to-do list and going ape-shit in my small window trying to get things done, I would prioritize my list, and focus on chunks. So. First priority? Get back into shape, lose weight. I would spend the majority of my 7.5 hours doing that. In any free time I had left over, I'd do something for me. Something mentally healthy. Something to put some definition on my grief.

A year ago today, I started a blog.

**********

Last week, Bella went back to school. I now get 20 (!) hours a week to myself.

And I realize, I am exactly where I was a year ago: a list now five miles long, in need of prioritization, that sadly, reads exactly like last year's: firstly, get back in shape and lose weight. And sometimes, like last Friday, where I went from a tile appointment to a lighting store to a deli in order to buy lunch for my contractors, to picking up Bella and then hustling out to buy gifts for two birthdays this weekend, to preparing dinner so she could eat by six because she was looking a bit peaked, to treating myself to an after-dinner glass of wine only to have Bella wake me up at 1:30 a.m. and never really falling fast asleep again for the rest of the night . . .

I think, Why bother?

Here we go again. We all know how well last year's number-one flab busting mission went. (Not.) And here I am, finally running again in tiny little chunks with walks in-between a la my carefully crafted program by my wonderful PT staff, and I'm developing blisters on my arches where the orthotic hits. Podiatrist appointment set for my "free time" on the 15th. I am still overweight (18 pounds to be exact), and I'm fucking depressed by it. I haven't run in almost a year. And all those things that were supposed to happen after I lost a few pounds and got back in the swing of running? The playroom still isn't painted. The groups I wanted to check out last year, the job possibilities, the yoga class, the incredible list of house projects, the restaurants, the movies, all remain un-checked off, un-crossed out, looming at me, laughing.

Time to myself lately has been hard to come by. After the whirlwind family visit of almost a month, we barely had time to recoup when other family arrived for a three-day tomato jarring extravaganza. With nary an inhale between cleaning the pots and stashing the jars in the basement, Mr. ABF disappeared for four days on business pleasure work-related entertainment. Bella was dropped off at school on her first day, and we immediately went out for coffee and pastry and finally had a meaningful discussion together for the first time since June went out on a fruitless search for a kitchen faucet.

Some of my August bills are unpaid and I'm nearing their September due dates.

I still have a plethora of health-related appointments I need to make for myself, that got shoved aside while I dealt with my foot and its myriad of podiatric, orthopedic, and physical therapy appointments.

To massively mix metaphors, it's like ground-hog day while putting out fires. I'm on a hamster wheel with a wee hose. Just yesterday, while looking at tile in our gutted kitchen, Mr. ABF brought something up, which illicited a now-typical "Crap, I don't know when on earth I'll have time for THAT I barely have time to shower or think anymore," and then two hours later I went to him and said:

Um, you don't happen to remember what the thing was that was so important that I needed to find time to do it? The thing we discussed when we were downstairs?"

Mr. ABF couldn't remember.

I'm sure we'll remember and have the same exact conversation with zero activity and no memory until the next time whateveritwas comes up.

sigh.

But before you whip out the tiny violins and join me in the chorus:


I've been blogging for a year. And while I feel terribly that my bloggy life has suffered miserably in the last two blenderized months, when I look back on the past year it really remains my singular accomplishment:

I started a blog.

I started writing on another blog.

And in the process, I met (what to me comprised) an unimaginable number of empathetic friends who've made me think, ponder, cry, shout, act, feel comforted, want to meet them, and perhaps most importantly, laugh. I talk about so many of you now as though you lived down the street: "This woman I know? You'll never believe what happened . . . . " "So my friend in Canada? You know what she said?"

My body and my to-do list may be stuck, going round-and-round on the squeaky wheel whilst dodging the brush fires, but my mind is active. My brain to a great extent feels unfettered and worked over (minus the occasional and still-panicky lapse in short-term memory). My spirit is comforted and strengthened, and I know when I come here to speak -- and I don't mean about how no one makes an aesthetic, integrated-spray gooseneck faucet -- about how my grief intertwined with my day, whether amusing, frightful, or despondent, that someone out there in the computer will respond. Even if I feel so mashed out, a human ink-stain in need of paper towels, unable to cobble together my own thoughts, one of you will write a post that will tweak a synapse and suddenly make my fingers move, my eyes focus, my mind inspired.

I'm sure if at this birthday party yesterday (where, incidentally, I tried out the phrase "only living" to answer the "is she your only child?" question with a new mom. She quitely said "Oh," there was a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, and while she didn't follow up on that, she did keep talking to me and even sought me out to talk to me some more later on. So maybe someday?) I announced that my singular achievement last year was starting a blog, that the party would've ground into silence, and people would've stared at me somewhat forlornly, and someone would've muttered under their breath something about blogs being egocentric vehicles, and another about how the web spurs unsocial behavior. But I'd be smiling. This experience has been better than a support group, better than a writing workshop, better than a crossword puzzle. It has undoubtedly saved me, improved me, and given me confidence.

Admittedly, part of my current to-do-list angst is blog-related: I have two big writing thingies that have been mothballed since, um, early July; my blogroll and reader are horribly out-of-date and lack symmetry (there are some provocative new reads out there, people); those with private blogs have fallen into the black hole of my memory. (I'm hoping to carve time to put all of you in a tidy (neon, blinking, screaming) button somewhere obvious on my dashboard.) My email is unanswered. My comments have been a bit terse.

But it's all good. This was the second thing on my list last year, and I've accomplished it.

And I owe you all a thousand thank-you's for abiding with me on this journey.

25 comments:

Which Box said...

Anniversaries are, at best, bittersweet these days, aren't they? I'm stuck in the one year ago cycle, too, but as you know for completely different reasons.

But yeah - my to-do list reads nearly exactly the same as it did a year ago, and honestly, it's not much different than the year before, and the year before, and the year before.

But the blogging...yes, the blogging. It has been a good thing. I'm glad you're here. I've not reached out as far and wide as you have, and yet my little universe has been my lifeline. you've been a lifeline. Thank you.

CLC said...

Thank you for being here. You are always very insightful and I often think "yes, exactly" to whatever you wrote, even though I would never be able to verbalize those thoughts in a million years.

And give yourself a break and throw out your to-do list. Maybe make a new one, but this whole grieving thing takes a lot of energy and the fact that you are still here and living is a huge accomplishment. Most people might not look at it that way, but we get it. You are fighting an uphill battle every day and you are
winning, even though it hardly feels like that.

Happy blogoversary.

sweetsalty kate said...

I'm so in love with this post. And blessed to know you and walk this path with you, with my own extra pounds and aspirational to-dos weighing on me, too. But happy to have the company.
xo

Sharon said...

I found your blog this summer. As a reader for a short time, I am amazed at how busy your life is and all you have on your plate. The home remodel alone is a full-time job. Your life has changed in the last year, so your priorities and to-do's have changed, too. Thank you for writing about this because I, too, have been wondering what I've done in the last year...

Aunt Becky said...

Tash, I'm so glad to know you. I know it sounds stupid and corny and trite, I know it does, but that doesn't matter.

I'm feeling sentimental, dammit, and I wanted you to know how much I care about you.

G said...

I am so glad you got #2 on your list from last year done. I am a better person for "knowing" you.

Here's to another year, may you get at least one thing crossed off the list :)

loribeth said...

Glad I'm not the only one with a "to-do" list that never seems to get any shorter. Happy blogiversary to one of my favourite bloggers!! : )

k@lakly said...

I don't know where I'd be if you hadn't started your blog...you hit it on the head, the women here save us, everyday. So no matter what didn't get done on that persnickity little list, always remember that by starting your blog you made it possible somewhere, probably a lot of wheres, for someone else to actually contemplate being able to write a to do list when for a long while it might have felt like there would never be anything they could do again.
That is one hell of a thing to have gotten done.
Yay you!
xxoo

c. said...

I think it's safe to say that you have done just as much (if not more) for the likes of us.

Stunning post, Tash. Happy anniversary.

Amber said...

Happy blogoversary! You're new to me (or I'm new to you) so I can't comment much on the past. But I hope this next year brings good things.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

Happy blogoversary! It's funny that you wrote about talking about us because I was telling Josh about the tomato sauce making event on our ride this morning.

Melinda said...

I, for one, am sure glad you're still blogging one year later. Happy blogoversary.

MsPrufrock said...

Every post you write ends with me staring at an empty comment box, wondering what I could possibly write. I sit here, always thinking how much I adore you. I just can't help myself!

Congratulations on your blogiversary. It's a better sphere with you here!

wheelsonthebus said...

Happy blogiversary. I am glad I have found you and added you to my Reader. You are a strikingly honest writer.

SmartOne said...

Wasn't here for most of the first year, but I'll be here for the second. I'm lucky to get to know you, and your witticisms, insights, your stories, and the way you always get me to look at the other side of things. Gracias, mi amiga.

luna said...

I love this post. happy blogoversary, tash. I've always loved your writing, your insight and sensibility, and of course your humor. I'm so glad you have this outlet, and to have "met" you through the magic box.

my to-do list has also become completely unmanageable -- when my 'check engine' light went on this morning I just about lost it...

Dayna said...

I'm glad to be along for the ride, Tash. It's nice to know you.

STE said...

I'm so glad to "know" you, too. You are an incredible member of this community. I think we are all richer for having gotten to know you this year. Looking forward to the next year, too.

You totally rock. Happy anniversary!

janis said...

Like STE said, you ROCK.
I am SO glad to find your blog, to know you. It's one of those amazing things on my list for the past year.

Tell me about to-do lists. Belch. I hear you about the faucet and stuff. I've been meaning to write up a list called: These need to be invented/designed.

And, I think about your foot often. I know how it sucks that it's taking so long. Those little steps along the way, and waltzing back and forth. Healing thoughts for your foot. xo

charmedgirl said...

licking the doritos spicy sweet chili flavoring (who knew they made such a flavor??) off my fingertips, i, too, sit here pissed at the thought i am at a year...with LOSE WEIGHT and GET IN SHAPE at the top of my freakin list...while eating doritos spicy sweet chili chips.

i don't think i ever realized that you started blogging only a month before i did. when i started reading you, you felt like a wise ever-present mentor sage-like entity who'd been bloggling about deadbabyland from the beginning of time; and you especially had me at, "and the bus spun out of control..." you are fucking brilliant.

as i look down the barrel of another year and try to compile a new list of my own, i am so, so, so humbly grateful that you are here.

niobe said...

I'm so glad you started this blog.

A.M.S. said...

I sympathize with the frazzled-ness of it all. I finally just resorted to carrying a small notebook with me at all times to write down reminders for myself. My brain runs faster than my short-term memory can transfer thoughts to long-term.

I'm glad you started blogging a year ago.

Antigone said...

Two weeks after I had a stillbirth, you mailed me a book. And then you bought and mailed another one. You *always* left a comment when I posted. You wrote e-mail. You offered to call.

You did more for me in those first weeks than any of my family or friends. Hell, an aunt sent me a Get Well Soon card.

And I noticed as I began to explore this community, you left meaningful comments on everyone's blog. I saw your name on site after site and if only one person got what the writer was feeling or thinking, well that person was always you. Always.

I know what you did for me. I know there are dozens of other women you've done just as much for. You, Tash, did a whole helluva lot more than write a blog and meet new people.

Cara said...

Like some of your commenters - I am also a recently inducted blogger (with a recently begun blog of my own) yet I feel the connection to your "angst".

I once read "make shorter lists (six items to be exact) and don't go on the the next item until the one above it is done". I tried...seriously...it isn't possible. But, on the upside, even if you don't "follow the rules" set by the illusive "they" of the world - I do find that more of the list is crossed off than usual. (helpful??? I don't know)

But seriously, anniversaries are hard, regardless of their focus. On September 8th, 2007 you started a blog...on the same day I was remembering my stillborn baby on her seventh birthday. So, one year later I join you in an anniversary, you - with your blog (CONGRATULATIONS BY THE WAY!) and me now remembering Emma Grace at 8 years old and looking longingly at all the third graders in the world.

Congrats to both of us...progress is progress after all.

Julia said...

Way late, but I needed to say "Amen!" Though my reader is more than 800 posts in the red, though that gives me anxiety, though there are more than a few piles of shit I need to dig out of at work and at home, the thing that is taking up so much of my time? This blogging thing? It has been nothing short of a life/sanity saver.

Happy very belated anniversary.