Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Clouds, then sun. That’s how I would characterize these last few days, weeks. Even without the structure and confines of our regular teaching jobs, C and I both feel challenged to achieve the right balance between work and play, social time and solitude, exercise and reading and writing.

Too much work and we get tight, tired, crabby and depressed. The other day we spent about four hours at Home Depot—at least that’s what it felt like—picking out a vanity, sink, mirror, etc for the in-law, and buying joint compound and sheetrock. I should not complain, C has done all of the work in the bathroom because I’m not qualified. Work on the kitchen—the scraping and painting which I am qualified to do—has been temporarily halted while he finishes up.

Meanwhile, there’s the whole rest of life—precious visits with Carla, time spent with my Little Sister—who is testing my boundaries in every way a resourceful, survival-oriented, badly hurt seven-year-old can—Interplay; and pathetic attempts to get some exercise. Oh, and writing. After three days, I finished an essay about the house renovations. It’s in pretty good shape. I’m half way through a long essay about Carla. I haven’t touched the musical we began in May 2007.

My Little Sister and I washed my car. Well, “washed” is a dubious term. We smeared the dirt around and half-rinsed it. Then we started in on C’s Subaru. “Hold up, we’re using too much water!” I called out to her, afraid of the expense because of the drought. “I’m washing his rims!” she called back, hose pointed at his hub caps. “You got to wash a man’s rims.”

Later she told me he had to be my husband and not my boyfriend because “You all sleep together and if he’s your boyfriend he’s supposed to sleep on the couch.”

While we were driving on the freeway she commanded me to pull over, “I want to drive!”

“In your dreams, Sister,” I said. “You are not driving my car until you’re forty.”

“And by then you’ll probably be dead, huh?” she said. I did a few calculations in my head.

“Yeah, probably.”

I don’t know how to balance. I kind of suck at balancing. Either life spills all over me and I just go with it, or I hide away in bed as I am doing now, so I can write.

Last night C was so happy and tender with me because he had spent a few hours playing music. I was renewed from teaching my Personal Essay class at the Writing salon. It has been such a wonderful class! Really one of those I-can’t-believe-they’re paying-me-to-do-this things. I came home at 10 and we slow-danced in the kitchen. Heaven.

The day before I’d been depressed. “Pre-monstral” my friend Angela calls it. I felt fat and bloated. I need exercise, need exercise, need to swim regularly again. God damn the Courthouse for closing. I haven’t been able to replace that gym.

Then I felt spoiled for kvetching about not having a good gym when there is so much real suffering around me. Then I just felt dull and listless. Then those feelings passed and the weather was different again.

p.s. Note about a friend's comments on the remark "You are the most annoying person in the world," which is a phrase C and I sometimes fling back and forth, and which I mentioned in the house remodeling essay. She felt that that was a hurtful thing to say and couldn't understand why i didn't think so. I wrote back:

"As far as "You are the most annoying person in the world," and the reason it doesn't bother me when he says that--it's a standing joke between us--is that I know that I'm not. I have my flaws but I'm not the most annoying person in the world. (I don't know who exactly holds that tile, but I could propose some candidates...)

If C said, "You have cellulite on your ass," or "You sing off-key!"-- that would hurt my feelings, as both those things are true and I feel uncomfortable about them.

But "You are annoying--" or "You are the most annoying--" that to my ears is playful, like we're dropping into being two nine-year-old playing and tuanting and shoving each other on the playground. It might not be fit for public consumption, but I feel very tenderly about being able to play full-out with someone. He has let me see his inner bratty kid, and I have let him see mine. And those inner bratty children even play together and have a relationship.

(And the words, "I love you," and similar appreciations are exchanged between us all the time.)

Maybe what makes it more important and precious for us to be able to be brats and let off steam with each other is that like me, C has spent so much of his life trying to be "good." And sometimes both of us have been "too good," too nice, too accomodating, taken too much shit that we shouldn't have. So being able to assert ourselves fully with another person--to be angry, to be annoyed, to be anal (in his case,) or I-don't-give-a-shit (in mine) and still be accepted and loved--that's where the healing is. Precisely there.

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