Monday, September 10, 2007

The Empty Hole

Kara’s blanket term for what sometimes troubles me from time to time is laziness. When I sit on the couch lacking motivation, it’s being lazy, or when I crawl back into bed for another couple of hours of sleep after my early morning shift with the kids, I’m being nonproductive (which is a sugar-coated word for being lazy), which is probably a little true, but it isn’t entirely accurate. Sometimes, I stare at the ceiling wishing I was still asleep so I wouldn’t have to face the day, or if I am up, my priorities get so altered that I find myself in the garage sorting washers by diameter rather than writing an article that was due a couple of days earlier or getting ahead on my various projects. At the end of the day I’m right back where I started, just a little older with nothing to show for it. And on days like today, I'm okay with that and it kills me to be that way.

The lawns need mowing again, and thanks to leaving the damnable pool out on the grass for the triple-digit solar smackdown that we endured over Labor Day Weekend, I’ve got a ring of sickly grass, which to me is like seeing a ring on an Ethan Allen coffee table. Granted my lawn isn’t akin to Ethan Allen furniture, but I still cringe. I stood in the middle of it in shorts and a t-shirt yesterday morning, despondent, cursing the sun to blackness and wishing there were lawn coasters. Of course, it couldn’t of killed the dandelions; no, it had to cut a crop-circle dead center on the lawn, and I not only cursed the sun, but my own compulsive perfectionism that everything be centered at right angles to each other. At least the ring is in the middle. Sigh.

I spent most of last week looking for something I couldn’t find, and I didn’t even know what I was looking for so I don’t think I found it. At least it doesn’t feel that way. Hence the empty hole. Sometimes I see little point to my daily routine, as I feel as though I’ve hit a stride of complacency on the scope of a giant hamster wheel, something I’m not use to and I don’t know how to deal with, as I do the same work, turn off the same lights, walk the same path on the floor, clean up the same toys, fret about the same problems, and daydream about the same dreams, wash the same dishes, pick the same weeds and type the same words over and over again, ad nausea. Normally, I strive to excel, always looking for a better way, a step up, a new horizon or a fresh goal, but lately I’ve wondered what the point would be. At the end of the day I'd be back where I started, and tomorrow seems to never come.

But then I look at the children, and it is really hard to stay depressed when they’re around. Matthew tackles Natalie to the ground for no reason, except to satisfy that mischievous little glint in his eye, and Natalie savors a big hug long after he’s “all done” and tries to push away. While he slept, Natalie watched a movie cuddled next to me on the couch with her pillow; she was wiggly during the good parts of the movie and I fell asleep for a while. It was a moment of hard-to-find happiness. I always secretly admire Matthew’s spirit of independence, because he’s started to test the envelope of my discipline, standing there with an impish grin, waiting until I just count to “three” before he jumps into action with an wicked chortle. And I say "secretly" because I don't want to outwardly encourage any disobedience to me, but I always find myself applauding his effort to want to go his own way. On the naughty spot, out come the puppy dog eyes and the curled lip, which has zero affect on me. Friday afternoon, they both sat on the floor next to each other and watched a TV show together, and I wondered what it is I was looking for when the empty hole I need to fill—for whatever it is that I might think is missing—is right there on the floor all along. If you can get over the “babies” and the “so money” parts of the movie, which certainly dates it, the moral of “Swingers” is that you should count the things you have and not those things you don’t, and it’s cliché, sure, but still a good axiom to consider.

Of course, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m still unhappy about the course in which I'm presently headed, and we even went to Disneyland yesterday, a place where the Mouse demands full emotional allegiance around every corner. It was a rough morning for me, alone but surrounded by people, smiles fizzled and joy depleted. Plus, it took me all day to get over the raging desire to kill everyone I saw who so much as existed in a fashion I didn’t approve of, which is most everyone at Disneyland on a Saturday afternoon. I pictured pushing this guy over the railing into The Rivers of America because he was smoking a cigarette outside the designated area, and I wanted to hold a guy’s head under the water on the Pirates of the Caribbean until the bubbles stopped because he was singing a song too loudly (sure, it was a pirate song, but not the right pirate song; get with spirit of the ride). And Heaven help me if I have to hear one more person mispronounce Autopia… for Christ’s sake, it’s not Auto-topia; it’s a portmanteau, morons. Automobile + Utopia = Autopia. Get it? Please, get it so I no longer have to hate you from a distance.

But what is really wrong I don’t know. I never do when I feel this way; All I know is that I’m off a bit, and my only solution is to slog through it, wait for it to pass, or do the manly thing and “walk it off,” change the subject, get over it. There are lawns to be mowed and cheery happy articles to be written, trash to be taken out, diapers to be changed and dogs to be fed (well, one). There’s no time for to share ones feelings, especially since psychotherapy is a fruitless endeavor designed to release emotions that were padlocked tight for a reason.

I guess that’s why there’s the big empty hole, in which nothing will fit probably because there was nothing there to begin with. How do you fill something like that?

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