Drawn and quartered

Yesterday there was snow. Heavy wet snow that weighed down tree boughs, and flattened our lilac bush. It lay spread-eagled in the backyard, not looking at all like it would survive the assault. And one branch of it will not. This morning the snow is gone from it but one limb remains on the ground. It is an old lilac and has been looking tatty since before we moved here and acquired it, the enormous Norway maple out front, an ancient dogwood, and this house. This spring may be its last. Depending on how and whether it recovers from this weather event, we may decide to dig it up and rethink that bit of our little landscape. Lilacs are flexible; bendy and forgiving of stress, but this one has seen better days.

When I awoke to this sight after the weekend we had here, I recognized myself in the lilac’s plight, splayed out and weighted down by wet snow and ice. I have moaned on before about the amount of stuff I need to do, and I am indulging myself again, wondering aloud how I got myself into this when the answer is in the question. I did it.

I am pulled in four directions. There is my so-called-job which demands so much of my energy and with which I struggle through various threats to my equanimity. There is my diaconate study which sometimes feels pointless, wasteful of time and money, and as though it will never end — at least not where I hope it will end. There is my docent training which feels thrilling and worldly, demanding and frivolous, and fits me well and does not suit at all — all at once. And there is my role as mother, which is really my highest priority and has been since Kate was born. The incremental letting go as she matures combined with the increasing demands on her time (and subsequently mine as chauffeur until she is getting herself from points A to B to C and back on her own) has its own toll on my energy and well-being.

Case in point: This weekend just past began with a class, Friday night through Saturday afternoon. Because Kate and her quintet-mates had a gig in Syracuse Saturday evening, we agreed that Bruce and Kate would swing by the retreat center where I was staying and pick me up immediately after class, and we would then make our way to Syracuse, dinner and then the concert venue.

I do not sleep well at the retreat center where the class meets, and the class was on ethics, particularly that of war (pacifism v. just war v. the Christian realism of Niebuhr with a little Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sprinkled in) — heavy stuff. I was exhausted by 3 p.m. They picked me up at about 4. We made it to the event on time, stayed for the reception after, and arrived home at 12:30 Sunday morning. Kate had a piano jury at 1 p.m. Sunday, and we had a date with friends for lunch at 2 that lasted until at least 4 — I lost track. I attended a lecture at 7 p.m. Yesterday morning I hoped for a snow day and freedom from responsibility for just one day. It was not to be, and off to docent-training and a mini-presentation I went.

Now I have a paper to write in response to that class, and another class to prepare for in two weeks. And there’s that pesky job and docent-training with their own demands.

I did this to myself. The worst of it will be over in mid-June. Here’s hoping I am as bendy and forgiving as the lilac was in its younger days. I fear I may not be.

Of course the prize for all the weekend’s effort was hearing this:


About pattiblaine

Raised under the name of Snyder in the upstate NY town of Vestal, I've worked as a typesetter, a fast food salad bar tender, an art reviewer, a waitress, a part-time nanny, and a very-bad-with-phones temp. Once upon a time I was all-but-thesis toward a Masters in Art History. Now I'm just a mom with a lot of fiber squirreled away throughout the house. We call it insulation. In 2013 I completed a life-long learning program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and am a postulant toward the diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. In addition to coordinating volunteers for the soup kitchen, I volunteer as a tutor at a deeply impoverished city elementary school, and am a docent at the Memorial Art Gallery.
This entry was posted in Extracurricular, Higher ed, On the fly (aka from a mobile device), Worky work and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Drawn and quartered

  1. D'Alta says:

    I, too, hoped for the snow day… It does seem that all the pieces of living cry for our undivided attention at once. For me, those pieces are an elderly mom, a home needing to adapt to new needs, an adopted dog whose health has made unbelievable demands on our lives and pocketbooks, the demands of docent training, a granddaughter’s request for new shoes–why didn’t I just shop online??–and my own desire to have a lie-a-bed snow day. Did Buddha ever feel like pull apart monkey bread?!?!

    • pattiblaine says:

      I have days on end where I really need to do one thing, but must attend to three or four or more. I think that is the most difficult, monkey bread (excellent analogy, Dorothy), tiring aspect of this spring for me. And it’s caused me to write papers that should have taken a few days or more in one day or a little over that. They are terrible papers, but somehow no one notices that but me… So far. The one due next week? We shall see.

  2. Your plate sounds overfull, Patti! And not just with cookies – haha. I , too, struggle with this and I am coming to the conclusion – very, very slowly – that the only solution is to give up some things that I love. It hurts to consider doing that but, ultimately, what are my priorities? Perhaps there will be another time in my life when it will all fit. Or maybe there won’t be such a time but I think there might not be another solution. But which one to sacrifice? That is the tough question!

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