Boxing Day 2005 -- Cedar City, Utah
To say that this last semester was greuling would be to completely under-rate the experience. By something like the third week of school, I was behind. And I stayed behind for the next 13 weeks. I won't bore you with the details, but let me say that most of it was my fault. I tried too many new things at once, and I found myself once again perhaps a little more concerned about some of the details of my work than I needed to be tangled up with, under the circumstances of having a new baby and a three-year-old in the house.
Things piled up and kept piling up. It was exactly like that episode of I Love Lucy when Lucy and Ethyl got jobs at the candy factory while Ricky and Fred stayed home to do the housework.
For me, the only way to make do was the same: stuff the candy down the front of my uniform or stuff it in my mouth and hat. It was literally three months of paper after paper after paper after paper. It stopped literally on the day grades were due. So, it was swarms of papers.
It got to the point where I lost sense of how to live without the papers.
I wasn't quite sure anymore if I would get clear of the work. It was depressing. I became sick -- passed three kidney stones, had a renal infection, became violently ill twice inside of two weeks right there at the end. I had days when I passed out face down on the bed with the kids screaming. Sometimes I would pull into the carport after taking Zoë to school and fall asleep in my seat because Ike was sleeping, too, and I didn't dare wake him. I lost my appetite but continued to eat food that I knew was horrible for me. I took only occasional joy in anything happening from day to day.
Any time I spent in my house was a reminder of promises I had made and broken. Right before Halloween I came home and bagged the leaves on the front lawn by headlamp because I'd heard on the radio that it was going to rain. It did, and I took pleasure in that. As I drowsed in bed that night, I thought of all those black bags lined up against the north side of the house, under the eaves, staying dry, gloriously dry. But just about everything else fell by the wayside. Christmas literally caught me off guard (aided by the fact that the week before Christmas was abnormally warm -- in the 60s).
I'm not sure I want anything in my life to be that hard or quick again, ever.
So, this morning when I got out of bed, I decided I would try to take care of months of outside chores before another storm rolled in. The forecast called for 50% chance of rain and temperatures in the high 40s all week, but the way my life has been going, why gamble. At the very least I wanted to feel like I had managed to get control of something in my life. I wanted to feel the security E. B. White wrote about in his essay on preparing for a hurricane. When White's storm finally came, he knew everything was in order. He went to bed and let it blow.
Prodded by that work ethic, I worked all morning, jump starting cars, washing them, blowing leaves, raking, sweeping, filling bag after bag after bag of leaves. It was getting dangerously close to being a leaf factory. I drank Cokes and flopped once or twice on a chair, but I kept at it until all the leaves were bagged and everything put away.
As I grabbed my coat and gloves, the first few drops of rain began to fall. Within an hour the yard looked like this.
For the first time in months, I was on top of things. It was marvelous, truly marvelous to behold.