Sunday, August 26, 2012

Little House in the Big Hurricane Country

Yesterday, I decided not to go to spin class so that we could batten down the hatches.  Of course, the time period where we were dodging storms to shutter our windows was the worst weather of the day.  The afternoon was cloudy, but relatively calm.

Still, I enjoyed the process of securing our property--very Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The most vivid parts of the Little House series, what I remember most is the process of getting ready for winter, getting everything prepared as blizzard season closes in.

And we will have tropical storm conditions.  I was awakened early this morning by a wind gust.  I like that I'm not worried about the hurricane shutters being ripped off the house, the way I would if we left them open.  They look like metal awnings, and it's easy for wind to get under them when they're open.  A big enough wind means they're torn from the hinges.  And we may have a big enough wind today and tomorrow.

I've been a little worried about losing power completely, and I have a big application due on Monday or Wednesday, depending on whether or not my deadline is 5 calendar days or 5 business days.  I may write in more detail later, but basically, on Wednesday, I was told of workplace restructuring and how I must apply for a version of my job in the new organization. 

I didn't want to risk missing the deadline because of storm disruptions, so I spent hours yesterday working on application materials.  In a way, it's good.  As I updated my CV, I updated my website, which I've been meaning to do.  I keep my job search materials ready to go, as my dad trained me to do, just in case an opportunity comes along.  Still, I hadn't updated anything since January.  But updating the CV didn't really take all that time.  It was updating the various versions of the CV and writing the cover letter and filling out the online application and reformatting everything that I uploaded to the online application--the whole process took much of a morning.

But it's good to get it done.

I always feel a bit of manic anxiousness as a storm approaches.  I want to watch the radar, even when it's not changing.  I consult all the websites.  I want to go to the beach to watch the clouds and the waves and the wind.  I feel cooped up, even when the wind is calm.  Especially when the wind is calm.

When a storm approaches, I can't just settle down and read a book.  I'm not sure why.  I can't sit still for long.  So, with my short attention span, it seemed the perfect time to do some sorting.

I tackled the piles of papers, some of which I haven't looked through in decades.  I wanted to check my various desk cubbyholes, my files that I haven't stashed away into a filing cabinet.  I looked through almost a decade of assorted photos.  I discovered all sorts of drafts of work.  Once upon a time, I kept every copy of every draft.  I didn't trust the computer to store my work.  I wanted to chart all the changes, in case I changed my mind.

I've changed.  I still don't entirely trust the computer, but I have various back ups stored on various drives.  I'm tired of storing all this paper.

As I sorted and moved all that evidence of my writing life into the recycling bin, I felt a bit of sadness creeping in.  I discovered the file of letters from agents from the last time I tried to get one of my novels published.  Instead of saying, "Hey, I really tried," I focused on the failure to secure an agent.  It was easy to cycle into a full-bore tailspin where I thought, "I once had such promise, and it's all come to this!"

Happily I found a paper file of e-mail exchanges that I had with my writer/monastic friend in Charleston.  Years ago, we spent a season sending each other a poem every Friday.  I remembered writing the poems, but I didn't remember the exchange.  I loved reading the accompanying e-mails.  I think of that time period as a time of blissful writing and accomplishment, but the e-mails show I was still subject to doubt, still frustrated with not being where I thought I should be, still wondering if I should be doing more.

I plan to write to that friend to see if she wants to try a Friday poetry exchange again.  Yesterday, after spending the morning writing my job application materials and not the short story I planned to write, I rescheduled the meeting with my local friend who writes fiction.  I didn't cancel, mind you.  I simply decided that I needed an additional week because of unexpected work demands.

Those e-mails with their accompanying poems helped restore my peace.  It was good to remember that I can write poems, even as life takes twists and turns.  It's good to remember that I do have a writing network.  I have friends who cheer me on; I found several file folders of e-mails and cards that cheered me on in the past.  It's good to remember that a lot of the writing that I'm doing now is not anything I could have even imagined a decade ago.

I still have much sorting to do.  I have a filing cabinet of teaching materials from over a decade ago, for example.  I'm not likely to need those handouts, some of them from grad school (with that purple ink from the ditto machine).  I have decades worth of financial data, but I'm not emotionally ready to look at my retirement account statements from the turn of the century yet.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Oh, good luck with everything, Kristin, the hurricane, the new application, and the whirling mood! You've made all this so vivid that I am there with you!