Monday, September 24, 2012

New perspectives

 A few days ago I wrote a self-pitying blog post about how I don't feel like I have time to think anymore.  Can't afford the gym and am compelled to graze all night, so I feel like a fat-ass. Can't find new music to listen to.  Can't find a book compelling enough to finish.  Can't even fathom the idea of sitting down to write something meaningful.  Between work and home I feel like I have nothing else to give, so I was becoming accustomed to the idea that this was just how life would be, that you just kind of give up on everything else and keep your head down and watch your body become that of an old person.

I've been revisiting that draft post in the last few days, and I think I've done a pretty good job of taking concrete steps to combat it.  To wit:

1. I joined the gym at work and signed up for two classes on Sunday.  I went for the first time yesterday and it kicked my ass.  My body is sore all over the place now.  I felt so happy to be moving and sweaty.  At one point we were doing push-ups and the floor around me was slick with sweat that I could barely keep my bearings.  The last time I was in this gym was in 2005, in a boxing class that I loved, and it was a very odd sense memory to return to this place in a completely different life.  While I feel guilty about being away from the family during that chunk of time on Sundays, I think it's worth it in the long run, especially since A is usually napping and L can use the time to herself.

2. I bought "David Copperfield" at the bookstore and so far I'm loving it.  I was trying to read all these contemporary books that just felt very transitory and slight.  I like reading something that has endured, and Dickens is weirdly accessible to me -- it is popular entertainment, after all.  I'm excited to have one big fat book to chew on for the next two months.

3. Alice and I are doing a dance class at Alvin Ailey on Sunday mornings.  Bringing Alice to the studios where I used to do hip hop is hilarious.  Yesterday I could hear a hip hop class thumping in the room next door to us and it broke my heart (as we ran around with jingle bells tied to our wrists and sang songs about butterflies).  But I like having our own little thing together, and Alice enjoys it and I think it's helpful to teach her the basics of rhythm and movement.  L noted that Alice has been nicer to me since we started doing the class together -- it's our own little adventure, her and I.  The funny thing is that I feel weirdly competitive with the other little kids and their parents (mothers), like I want the teacher to be impressed that I've mastered these exercises designed for 2 year olds.  See me twirl the scarf!  I know what sound a froggy makes!  Watch me gallop!

4. Yesterday we also went to see the big new public art spectacle down at Columbus Circle, in which a Japanese artist has built a living room around the statue of Christopher Columbus on top of a six-story obelisk in the middle of the intersection.  I found the piece more powerful and compelling than I expected.  It was neat to see this old hunk of marble up close, and the views were great.  It raised interesting questions about private ownership of public art/spaces.  And it was amusing to watch Alice ignore the tremendous statue dominating the space so she could flip through the coffee table book at its feet. 

And that's it.  Right now I'm just trying to fight entropy and reclaim some things about life that I enjoy.  If it doesn't happen now, before this new baby comes, then I think we're in trouble.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I've been too busy to think lately. Work has been madness since late August, as the new year began and I started working with a new set of responsibilities and challenges. L started a new job, and so our household has been leaning into the chance for her to make a great first impression, especially considering that she'll be on maternity leave soon. Alice has started potty training and is copping new attitudes and new sets of vocabulary -- today she came back from kiddie yoga and told us, in all seriousness, "NAmaste" -- and all the while the new kid in L's belly becomes all the more comprehensible. There is more to come.

I've realized, in the middle of all of this, that I really miss a few things: reading, exercise, writing.  I feel like a fat slob.  I haven't been able to sink my teeth into a book for a while. I'm dying for some new music. I recently retread John Williams' Stoner, a novel I first read in 2006 and immediately adored. It struck me as one of the most perfect, best novels I ever read, even with its flaws.  Reading it again it maintained its power and inspired me as a writer, a feeling I haven't had in a while.

Throughout my adult life, there have been things that I was so excited about -- I would shape my weeks by thinking about them, anticipating, considering, and the afterwards, reflecting and hoping for the next time.  It stated with improv class, then the gym, then hip hop, and then my writing class a few semesters ago. I miss those things. Now I think about the time commitment and the things I would miss -- time with Alice, family dinners, holding up my end of our domestic bargain. I miss that casual selfishness that made early adulthood so exciting and free.

So I'm trying to do something about it. I rejoined the gym at work and I'm looking for classes. I'm trying to carve out more time to be thoughtful and purposeful. But I still have that nagging fear, that this is the time when we put childish things aside -- passions, exploration -- and disappear into the daily routines that become the engine and the sum of our days.