Or, in Christopher Robin’s words:
See you here next week.
Seeking roses in December and other magical delights
Or, in Christopher Robin’s words:
See you here next week.
The spring I was a senior in high school, I caught a few minutes of a college football game on TV. The Northwestern Wildcats were playing in Evanston, IL, and I got excited.
Not because it was a good game. In the spring of 1982, the Wildcats were experiencing a 34-game losing streak that hadn’t ended yet. Nor was I excited because I would be starting classes at Northwestern in the fall. I wasn’t thinking that one day soon I would be sitting in the stadium I could see on TV.
I got excited because it was snowing there, on my birthday. It seemed so romantic to live somewhere you could get snow in March. I grew up in Maryland. We got snow only occasionally, if at all. By my birthday, daffodils were up, and spring was on its way.
Why did I think snow was cool? Because snow meant no school. It only took an inch. Snow was the cosmic gift of a Saturday in the middle of the week. It was even better than a real holiday, because it was unexpected. Some days, it even felt like a stay of execution.
Once I got to college and had to deal with the Chicago winters in person, snow was less attractive. We never got days off, no matter how much snow fell or how cold it got, but somehow it didn’t matter. I think it helped that I walked everywhere. I had to bundle up, but I never had to drive in it.
Years later, when I lived in upstate New York, I had to get to work no matter what the weather. Cornell University had a snow policy like Northwestern’s. I used to think that if the end of the world came, I would be able to turn on my radio and hear that everything was canceled due to Armageddon — except for classes at Cornell, which would be held as usual.
I no longer loved snow. Driving on slick streets made me anxious. My little Honda Civic never got stuck, not even the time I drove through snow that came up to my bumper, but I did slide through a stop sign once and just missed getting hit by another car. Snow became something I dreaded and fretted about.
Now that I live in Colorado, my family and friends think I spend October to April staring out the window at drifted snow. It does snow here, but the sunshine melts it and keeps it from building up.
The main concern when it snows is keeping the school-age children safe. In my neighborhood, they only plow along the school bus route, which does not go past our house. Our street never gets plowed. We just drive on the snow, no matter how deep, as if it weren’t even there.
When I first moved here, I was not happy about this cavalier attitude towards snow. I’m slowly adopting the local attitudes. I’m a pioneer woman. What’s a little snow? We bought a car with 4-wheel drive that handles messy roads as if they were clean and dry and now I am almost cavalier myself, although I still drive slowly when the roads are white.
I miss snow days. I tell myself that adults don’t get them, except in some places they do. Friends living in the northeast post online about spending their snow day knitting or sewing or reading and I try not to hate them. The last time my plans were completely altered by the weather was back in September during the flooding, and that was too scary to be any fun.
I fight to regain the sense of holiday that goes with fresh snow by taking time to really look at it. I see the six-fold symmetry in the flakes that land on my windshield. I decode the stories that tracks in the snow tell. I admire the way a thin layer of snow outlines every twig and branch, as if the frost faeries from Fantasia have paid us a visit. When the snow is heavy, the transformation is just as magical. The dirty and dormant landscape becomes a smooth, white, frosting-covered vista that sparkles in the sun.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t mind a little spring, some warmer weather, flowers and rain instead of snow. But I’m making peace with this long snow-filled season and trying to enjoy it for what it is: a glorious vision to enjoy, not just a hardship to endure.
Have you had it with this winter? Are you tired of snow? What do you do to cope with being an adult on a snowy day?
Today is my last day at my writing retreat. It’s time to pack up and go home. I had hoped to get so much done here and I was sad yesterday because I was feeling like I had failed.
Two weeks ago, I looked at my writing schedule and realized I could actually finish my Rapunzel draft while I was on retreat. That was before my computer died and I got sick. I lost a week and a half of work time, putting me way behind on my writing goals.
Although I managed (with lots of help from my wonderful husband) to pack and get up to the mountains as scheduled, I was still recovering from my cold when I arrived at the cabin. I’ve had to spend time sleeping, reading, napping, and oh, yeah, sleeping. I also did some writing, but no more than I would do during a normal week at home. And that bummed me out.
The retreat has not been what I expected. I have not accomplished the things I wanted to. But the good news is, other things have happened while I’ve been here, and I realize now how valuable they are.
I wanted a finished manuscript, but I needed good conversation, creative support, and improved health. Fortunately, this week gave me a whole lot of the things I really need.
I’m feeling much better about the retreat now. So much better, than I can’t wait to get back to my writing.
I’m there again. At the cliff’s edge. Paralyzed.
Because I do not outline or plan my novels before I draft them, I come to this place fairly often when I am writing. I race through my story until I no longer know what’s next, and then I skid to a halt, panting. I lean forward, looking over the cliff’s edge, into the blackness below my feet. Faced with the great unknown, I struggle not to panic.
I hate the unknown. It’s so closely related to uncertainty and change. I like to be comfortable, and it’s hard to relax when you don’t know what’s coming. Fear that I won’t be able to continue writing, that the abyss is the end of the line rather than a temporary darkness, paralyzes me and I procrastinate, doing anything to avoid writing. (Well, almost anything. Nothing except guests can get me to clean the house.)
It’s easy to put my dreams in the back seat, to make them wait, especially when I’m scared.
The only fear bigger than my fear of the unknown is the fear that I will not write the books that are in me. I have at least three books I want to see to completion and no drafts completed. I have to keep moving, keep working, keep writing, or they will never be done.
Every day, I get closer to dying, whether I write or not. That’s the thing. Death is the ultimate deadline. I only have the time I have.
I can use my fear that I won’t have enough time to help me get past my fear of the unknown. I’m racing the clock. I ask myself, “Did I write today?” The answer needs to be “yes” as often as possible, or my fear that I won’t have enough time will become a reality.
I take a deep breath. I remind myself that discipline is just remembering what I really want. And then I turn my mind to the writing at hand and stare down the unknown until I start to see the light in the darkness. I will discover the next pieces of my story and move into certainty, possibly even inspiration, as long as I keep writing.
First, my laptop died. All my writing — novels, blog posts, journals, even packing lists — lives on my laptop. Losing that tool was like having an arm cut off. I would think of something to do, then realize I was missing most of the parts of myself I use to do that thing. Bewildering and frustrating.
Before I could adjust to my situation, my husband got sick. I got busy helping him get better: making chicken soup, buying ginger root, pouring him another cup of tea, keeping him company. It was easier than solving my “now what?” dilemmas about writing (although I’m pretty sure if I’d gotten some paper and a pen, I could have written something).
Then, as he was getting better, I got sick, and that was the final straw. I find sinus headaches incapacitating. I can read or watch TV, but only if it isn’t too challenging. Any independent thinking seems impossible, like someone replaced my brain with frozen slugs.
Once I realized I was truly sick and needed to take a few days off, I let go of my writing goals. I could have worked on my novel or drafted a blog post, but the effort would have been extreme and there would be no way to tell if the results were worthwhile. (I find a slugafied brain a very poor proofreader.) Better to declare myself on leave and let go of my usual goals until I was well again. I hated doing it, but it gave me room to rest, relax, and heal.
My convalescence is over. My new computer is up and running, with my recovered files on board. Best of all: I am in the mountains for a writing retreat, with my days open to a schedule of my own devising.
I want my top priority this week is to be my writing, but even now I have to compromise. I will write, probably a lot. But I must also continue to heal. I have to rest as well as write, and it pisses me off that this is the case.
But I’m happy that I get to write again, and even happier that the slugs are out of my brain.