Monday, December 11, 2006

I took the night train to Epiphany and missed the stop

I feel like there are two of me lately.
There is the me who is out there doing the usual things; running, being wife and mom. She is out there doing wife and mom stuff: volunteering, kissing boo boos, work for husband, hanging with friends, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, shuttling kids around and doing errands.

But there is this other me that is wondering where all the time I use to have went. I feel like everything is taking me so much longer to accomplish and I am just not getting stuff done at the speed and efficiency I use to. I am thinking that the me who gets shit done is distracted by this new me that zones out on thinking about time, wondering where her missing hours went.
She is a wasteful thinker; she is a putzer.
I hate putzing.

I couldn't sleep last night.
I sometimes have this problem. It is nothing new. Eventually I get so tired-- because I can't take naps-- that I will inevitably get a good night's sleep by default just from being so damn tired. Then I fall back into my regular getting eight hours of shut eye and will be blissfully well-rested for months at a time. But the not sleeping--when it is happening-- really sucks.
I will lie awake for hours worrying and thinking about random things. I will try to think up things that do not cause me panic but inevitably all thoughts will fall to anxious things. And I will worry and my heart will race and sleep will edge further off into the distance. I will get up, give up and come downstairs and jump from hyperlinks to hyperlinks--a stream of consciousness for the technological age, I guess. James Joyce would have a field day.

So that is what I did last night-- along with designing and ordering my Christmas cards from Shutterfly. But even with that being crossed off my list I couldn't fall back asleep.

I tried though:

I lie there in the quiet; listening to the house sounds and passing cars and watching shadows change on the wall.
My thoughts inevitably fall to Evan.
I think about how awful it was when he was in the hospital and my mind relives those sad days and I have to see everyone crying and experience it all again in my head.
This makes me realize how fragile life is.
How precious Carmella and Beau are and I am overwhelmed that it is up to me to keep them safe.
I am reminded of those races we use to have in elementary school.
I make the metaphorical leap that the egg race was to prepare me for raising children.
I am carrying two spoons, balancing an egg in each one. My arms are outstretched to keep my balance. I want to hold the eggs--the spoons-- close to my body, cradle them but this is impossible with two eggs and two spoons.
I manage what I can.
I find that I can run with outstretched arms balancing eggs on spoons.
But I see that I am not only in the egg race but the three-legged race and the potato sack race.
It is ridiculous but I find that I am also trying to pin the tail on the donkey and all the while I am blindfolded.
I race out of the school yard and I am remembering James Dickey's poem The Eye-Beaters.
It is about blind children who beat at their eyes.
Dickey thinks it is because they are seeing cave images in their heads.
While I was in graduate school I spent a good bit of time in the Emory library in the special papers room looking at the Dickey papers. I found some notes on The Eye-Beaters and I wrote a paper about Jungian archetypes , cave art and The Eye-beaters based on my research and my own ideas. It was a pretty good paper and I got a good mark for it and was even invited to present it a literary panel.
I declined.
I don't really like James Dickey.
I think he is a great artist, writer, poet, whatever but I also think he was a failure at being a human being. I never knew that an artist could do great art but be terrible at empathy, kindness, humanity. That still seems so antithetical to me. So sad and just wrong. He didn't get it.
But at times it seemed he did.
So, yeah, it was neat to delve into another writer's notes and see how they work but even then I thought: this isn't important.
I knew then that neither James Dickey-- nor I studying James Dickey-- was going to change or impact the world in any important way.
And that brought me back to thinking about Evan.
And really, here is what I think about a lot:
At Evan's funeral the minister, Davis Chappel, said something along these lines: Three years is not long enough.
But it is enough to change the world.
Jesus, was in Galilee for less than 3 years preaching his ministry and he did change the world.
The world was changed by one man
and what he said
and what he did.
In less than three years.

So, yeah, maybe three years is enough.

And I have been thinking about that ever since.
The complexity of it boggles me:
How can three years be enough?
It riddles me like it does for Beau that Parker eats turkey.
Beau tells me everyday that Parker eats turkey.
He is amazed, baffled by it.
In awe of it.
That Parker eats turkey is some sort of fantastic, brilliant mystery for him.
Me too; because Beau tells me so often that Parker eats turkey that I am wondering if it is a code.
I have begun to think that if I can crack it I will solve not only why my little boy doesn't speak well but maybe even how three years is enough and how to change the world.
I know, that is a huge, ridiculous leap.
But still I circle around the thought daily-- not Parker and his turkey--but about Evan and how much he has changed my world and how I want to do more to honor that, respect that.
Show that.
It is maddening and I just can't quite get to the answer, the how, the Tao.
It needles me.
I know there is something I am missing, not doing, not seeing.
And I wonder, endlessly, what. I. Can. Do.
No. No, I'm not looking to save the world or really even change it but maybe be a little Ghetto fabulous and change my little corner, you know make it better, brighter, nicer. Find a way to reconcile the senseless loss and that three is enough.
This idea though--it is big-- and the feeling that I am getting is that not only am I missing the point but worse, that I might be being wasteful of this here gift.
And that is what is keeping me up at night.


  1. No suggestions, just wanted to give you a comment. Thinking about you.

  2. Hey Natalie,

    Three is never enough...neither is 13...nor 33 or 63...but when it's time, it's time.

    How's skirt doing...the running skirt that is?

    What's your next race?

    Good News Here! I got my early Marine Corp Marathon reservation in the mail...I'm IN for the MCM in Oct 07! Yippe! Doin the happy dance! :o)

  3. Three years Steph--is it enough, how can it be enough. I am just trying to think it down and I can't.

    Charlie, I am quite dedicated to skirt even when it was in the 20's last week I wore skirt with long johns. This week is much nicer but it is hard right now to get the time in for my runs.Very frustrating. I am super busy but I am still managing. I don't have a race til ING. I'll have to see what comes my way in the New Year. Nothing for Decemeber though.
    Congrats on your MCM entry.
    You need qualify for Boston 2008--Bruce did and he is planning on 2008 too. We will all have to have a little party.

  4. I've been reading the blog of another runner lately that I thought you might enjoy and give you something to occupy your mind.

    I have trouble sleeping sometimes too. It does get better.

    Give yourself permission to be inefficient and not get everything done. Run if it helps you feel better. You're not putzing, you are healing. You wouldn't be so hard on yourself if it was a pulled muscle. You'd baby it and walk slower.

    Three years isn't enough...but in the words of Janice Joplin, "..if you have a cat for only one day, don't spoil that day crying about the other 374 days..." You have these perfect and beautiful memories of Evan. Take them out and hold to them to the light and let them make you smile. Don't neglect them because your too sad about the memories that won't be.

  5. Howdy! Did I hear "little party" in Boston? PARTY, PARTY PARTY (running around the room like the shouting "toga, toga, toga!!!" moment in the movie "Animal House.")
    Happy trails, Bruce

  6. I LOVE Toga parties! Okay, maybe we should all run Boston in togas and just go ahead and give ourselves the laurel wreaths too. Would that be blasphemy?

  7. Nat, your mom is obviously very wise. And you already have made our little corner of the world tres ghettofabulous. we love you for it.

    If you figure out a way to make things a little better, let us all know if we can help.

    You know what has helped me? I plant a tree for people (and pets) when they are gone. Then it becomes "So and So's tree." I usually pick a bloomer, so that every time that tree blooms, it reminds me of its person or pet. Might not work for you, but it really works for me. Not that it makes it go away, but it makes you pause and remember in a positive way.

  8. BQ for Boston in 2008 is a must now! ;o)

  9. I am thinking you and Bruce will need me to make shirts that say "I Chase Skirt"

  10. LOL!...I would wear about you Bruce!