One of my personal goals for the school year has been to be more productive. I wasn’t sure how that would look. I’m still not, but there have been encouraging signs along the way. First, I started this blog and some other writing projects. Though I haven’t been on here as much as I first thought I would, I have loved the process of just writing. The other projects are theoretically novels. I say theoretically because I really don’t know where I’m going with them yet, but the beginnings are there and I am still slogging along with them. That has been fun too, in a “there’s something I should be doing, but I don’t quite know how to do it” kind of way. I’ve also picked up a project from over a year ago that had gone into a temporary state of suspended animation. It is still very slow going, but it is moving again and I’m glad of that. What is it? Oh. I’m editing a collection of essays on the topic(s?) of infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, and adoption. It’s a work in progress, so the actual tight topic statement has yet to be, well, tightened. In fact, it is getting more fluid right now. Funny how that goes. Not much funny in the project, though. It is gut-wrenching work to write, read, or edit such sad, sad stories. Slow going seems apropos.
Another sort of productivity became imperative last week as I prepared for, celebrated, and then cleaned up from Thanksgiving. Any holiday about people and food is good with me, so I spent two days cooking the side dishes and desserts that we took to our friends’ house. That is two days of cooking, the cleaning that must happen in order for the cooking to happen, and the cleaning that must follow in order to find the kitchen again. So house-cleaning became my new production. We cleaned this house more thoroughly than we have since we moved in. All books, papers, magazines, newspapers, and other wood-pulp products have been shelved, filed or trashed. Incidentally, my computer desk, bed-side table and dresser actually have wood tops – who knew? I cleaned bathrooms, floors, windows, book shelves, and even bleached all the grout in my kitchen. That one was not fun. It makes cleaning toilets seem delightful. We are now ready to decorate for Christmas. How productive! Of course, the one sort of physical productivity completely removed the desire to accomplish the other, more cerebral, sort. Funny how that goes. I am ready to get to the decorating, the writing and the maintenance cleaning…it has to be easier than the “get a handle on the disaster zone” sort I’ve been doing.
So what more could (or should) a stay-at-home, writing, editing, house-working mom be doing with her hours and hours of free time? Practicing snarky, sarcastic comments and questions? No problem. How ’bout making money? Ah. Money. Does it make the world go around or is it the root of all kinds of evil? Do answers to philosophical questions about it change our need for it? Or greed for it? We have lived comfortably on one salary since…almost always. Now here I sit, my children both in school all day, almost fifteen years since my undergraduate degree, amidst the shambles of my nascent plans for graduate school, and I wonder: Should I get a job waiting tables? It’s a bit…lowering…to tell you the truth. There is nothing wrong with working in the service industry and I like food, people, restaurants and multi-tasking. I make a good waitron unit. I just don’t want to go back to my pre-college job. So another option is applying at the local, independent coffee shop that we frequently patronize. I had decided to do just that this summer, but changed my mind. In fact, I had pretty much decided not to apply for a job right now at all – I’m actually keeping pretty busy and feeling pretty productive (it’s a theme, ya see). We’re still living comfortably on one salary, though we could spend another one in about eight different ways if we were given the chance. So I finally threw the application away during the Great Paper Purge. Last Friday. And then yesterday, Adam texts me from the coffee shop. It turns out the owner asked him if I was interested in working there. He’s hoping to find some “reliable, mature employees.” I’ve decided to be complimented and not offended by the implied characterization. So I have another application to fill out. Funny how that goes. My decisions, no matter how wise or practical they may seem, are very rarely final.