Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's My Birthday and What Have I Done?

“And so this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year older and a new one just begun..” or something like that as the lyrics go exhorting us to reflection. My son went to the Paul McCartney concert at Fenway Park last week. He called so I could listen to a crackly version of Eleanor Rigby in real time and save them to my messages for perpetuity. A small moment of wow in my life.

My son is my youngest child. He turned 23 last month. That arranges me somewhere on the spectrum of life and death, a little closer to the latter than the former. My mom called me last night to wish me happy birthday. She was ready to go out and do her grocery shopping before the winter day grew dark. My mother lives in New Zealand; she is 82. More arranging of the spectrums. She was already in the day of my birthday and her package had arrived all the way from Oamaru, New Zealand to Chambersburg, PA (pronounced pee-ay), from one small town to another small town with remarkable precision on the eve of my birthday.

I have never really understood how people are able to do things on time, to get things done, completed, packaged, and mailed to the past in their lives. I did not inherit my mother’s efficiency, her perpetual preparedness for the future. It is a mystery to me how this happens. My life is littered with neglected intentions; fabric, thread, and jee-jaws from a thousand beautification projects; wood, screws, wire, and tools from a hundred fix-it-up gaps; cards purchased and never sent; paint never applied to canvas, pens not drawn across paper. My future looks as messy as my past.

My intention for this summer’s writing was to start a blog. It is now the last day of my summer vacation and I am writing this as an intended first entry in my blog to be. Three things have inspired me. I write with a partner, Harriett. Harriett gets things done. She started her blog earlier in the year, (www.welcometomyyardshow.blogspot.com) and has mastered the art of inserting photos into her funny, wise, observations of her life. Harriett is very creative and she gets things done. Earlier this summer I adopted a "What Would Harriett Do" antidote to my procrastination. It serves as a forward push into my creative intentions. Each day when we meet over the summer, I can account, or not, for what I have done, or not. Without recrimination or judgment. It helps.

I started a time journal. I made a spreadsheet, set it out in blocks so I could record what I did and when. I wanted to see where I wasted time. I didn’t need a spreadsheet; I already knew. I spend too much time in the evening sitting watching TV. It’s a complete waste of time especially in the summer when there’s nothing but re-runs and hopeful but often pathetic pilots. I mean, Dating in the Dark has it’s very brief moments of social commentary, but how many episodes do you need to watch to reinforce any and all heretofore suspended indictments of the superficiality and unreality of reality television?

So, to ensure that my time journal does not show how much time I waste in front of TV, I do other things in the evening while the TV just might happen to be on. It’s one of the few delusional aspects of defensive denial. I have a friend with a beach house on the Delaware shore. Calories from ice cream, she assures us, do not count in Delaware. I believe her because I want to and I want to eat ice cream. And, I do not set foot on the scales until after I return home. Delusional spreadsheets also help.

Last night I went to see the movie Julia & Julie. I so understand Julie. I was right there with her in her frustration with her life and her attempts to fulfill a mission. I completely understood Julia’s frustration and angst in her attempts to get her book published. I have a day job that supports my attempts to write into my future, dragging my desire from my nine-year-old inner child into my present. Like three and a half million other writers I am inspired to start my blog after watching the movie. That’s the population of New Zealand, or at least it was the last time I checked.

When I left New Zealand in June of 1976, I was just weeks shy of my 25th birthday, a bit younger than Julie, a bit older than my youngest child and the same age as my daughter. And today is my birthday. Time to clean up one small path into my future.