The Horse You Rode In On

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Book-reading horse-rider, Vancouver, BC.

Book-reading horse-rider, Vancouver, BC.

You aren’t asking for excuses about my lack of posts recently, and I don’t have any good ones anyhow, but I still feel compelled to explain myself to you, or at least to Z, who has given me this gorgeous gift of a year of writing, and yet I spend what feels like inordinate amounts of time NOT writing.

 

Do I have a good reason? Absolutely not. The best I can come up with is that I’m overwhelmed by the muchness of life and my own lack of decision-making ability. This is a regular annoyance of Z’s: my inability to choose a place to eat or a show to watch, but it is just not a skill I have. I often don’t care, and even when I do care, I am certain of only two things: 1) there is a “best” decision to be made 2) I will not make it and will regret it indefinitely.

 

My plan this past week  or so was to get several full-days’ worth of writing done while Z was finishing up his quarter. I’d completed some editing projects, the laundry was caught up, the dishes were done, and my head felt clear and sharp and ready to get words on the page. Perfect. But then I thought about how I couldn’t decide quite what to write, and so maybe while I figured that out, I’d do just one little thing on my to-do list. It was a little thing, paying an insurance bill, but the day spiraled from there. And then other days have been lost to me because of similar non-reasons. Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

Here are the things I obsessed about yesterday after opening my bank’s bill-pay window, did internet research on, wrote emails to friends about, and stared out the window trying to solve:

 

  • What is the best budgeting app I should be using?
  • Instead of a budgeting app, should I just use the old envelope system my grandparents used?
  • If I use the envelope system, which envelopes should I use: the brightly colored ones that might take the sting out of having budgeted only $37 for eating out during the entire month of April, or the vintage charm of the special brown ones I stock up on every time I go to Ireland that might help me harken back to the simpler, belt-tightening times of yesteryear?
  • Will Z approve of the system I choose? The envelopes?
  • Since I don’t have a regular paycheck rolling in right now, what exactly am I budgeting for?
  • That mildew in the bathroom? Is that deadly?
  • What’s the best way to get rid of mildew?
  • Am I the sort of person who loves the environment so much she won’t use bleach to get rid of mildew or am I the sort of person who would use the most poisonous form of it to make sure the bathroom is 100% sanitized for our protection?
  • Once I decide, am I really going to clean the bathroom?
  • How long can I not clean the bathroom before Z will just do it? He’s so much better at it than I am.
  • Does this make me a bad wife? A bad housekeeper?
  • How much money would I need to earn in order to hire someone to take care of my finances? My mildew?
  • What job should I get that would pay me a lot of money while still allowing me plenty of time to write, so I could afford a financial manager and housekeeper?
  • What about Crimea? Should I know more about it than I do (which is about .02%)? Am I bad a person if I don’t read up on it?
  • That crunching sound my knee has been making ever since I fell three weeks ago, is that normal? Should I see someone? Buy one of those braces? Go to the gym? Take glucosamine?

 

Every day there’s a new spiral to lose myself down, like Alice and her rabbit hole.

 

I keep thinking I might like to hang out with Thoreau at Walden Pond, unplugged, uncomplicated, just being. But then I remember that I don’t really enjoy the outdoors. Plus, I was a little put off by the idea of Walden Pond when Z and I drove by it two summers ago and there was a big illuminated marquis on the road pointing towards it and flashing “WALDEN POND” as if we were being encouraged to attend a church chili supper. Maybe it was a temporary thing due to summer road construction—I like to think it was anyhow—but the bottom line is, as much as I despise it, I am more a child of electrified signage than I am a child a nature. My idea of spending an afternoon in Thoreau’s old haunt would have been a slow drive-thru with Z in our air-conditioned rental car. Maybe parking under a tree and regarding nature through the windshield, where it’s less likely to make me sneeze. I would have looked at what’s left of it and felt nostalgia for Thoreau’s past and genuine remorse that the natural places on the planet are disappearing at an alarming rate. And then I would have urged Z to drive us back to our hotel where the wi-fi was running quick and strong.

 

So clearly, persuading Z to live a life of simplicity with me in a tiny cabin in the Pacific Northwest outback (wherever that is—Forks, I think), is not the cure for what ails me.

 

When we were in Vancouver in January, I fell in love with this weather vane of a man riding a horse backward, reading a book. (I feel certain it is some literary reference I should get, but all Google searches provide me with links on how to ride a horse backward and why I should pedal backward on an elliptical trainer, neither of which seem like a skill I need to develop right now.) The man is so intent on the page, he seems not at all bothered that he is on a horse heading in the wrong direction.

 

At any rate, this is how I want to write: just doing it, even if I’m lumbering along backward on a half-lame horse whose mildew-encrusted saddle is all I could buy with the money in my “travel expenses” envelope. I want this kind of focus. I want the distractions to be no more bothersome than the fruit flies currently residing in our kitchen, easily swatted and cursed at before we go back to our original activity.

 

(I wonder if you can use bleach to get rid of fruit flies?)

7 responses »

  1. Looks like you managed to produce a fine piece of writing in spite of yourself! I love the fellow on the weathervane. 🙂

    As an aside, while Walden Pond is a very popular swimming hole for the residents of Concord, there are a few wooded areas around the outskirts of the pond where one can find a bit of solitude. (But even Thoreau walked into town every day. He liked the outdoors, but I think he also liked people. 🙂 )

  2. Such a good post, and it’s all so very familiar …… I shall be writing shortly, after having checked out the blogs I subscribe too, and sharpened my pencils and arranged them in order of size. Then I’ll get down to it as soon as I’ve had a cup of coffee (and washed the sink which is looking grubby), and rinsed and rung out the cloth and hung it up to dry in the garden, pulled up the weeds, noticed the lizard in the sunshine, run for the camera and spent a couple of hours editing the photos. If there weren’t all these interruptions …….. In the meantime I am wondering why I need to sharpen the pencils that I never use? 🙂

    By the way, beware of bleaching the fruit flies. They probably won’t keep still for long enough, and you may end up spraying it in your eyes. Then you wouldn’t be able to write.

    • At least you already _have_ the pencils. I would decide I needed new pencils and then spend an afternoon researching what are the best pencils and another quarter of a day trying to determine if the pencils were from a sustainable source. And then I’d wait for the rain to stop before I go out to buy them.

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