Saturday, November 30, 2013
Holding My Mind Together, Loosely.
Our apartment is more art studio and storage space than home. The youngest daughter's keyboard sits in a corner of the living room; music compositions line the window sill and clutter the floor, no matter how many times I order them into neat piles. Her cello sits in its case in the middle of the floor on its side. The oldest daughter's bike rivals the cello's odd placement in the center of the floor, waiting to be used. Book cases filled with books line the walls. Homework assignments clutter the would-be empty spaces. I've given up trying to determine what belongs and what could go into the trash. Dishes are piled in the sink, though they were washed just yesterday. Someone is always consuming food, it seems. I spend about $200 a week in groceries. So, there's proof in perpetually empty pockets and dishes. I am not imagining these monster appetites. It's all very real.
The girls' bedroom is an abyss. Clothes carpet the floor and spill out of the closet. Everything is in danger of being eaten by their bedroom. So, I try not to allow anything of mine to enter, including my own body.
At the front door of the apartment, the oldest daughter's visual art portfolio hangs from a coat closet's door knob. It is bright cherry red. And shoes, often without their matches, line the floorboards in no particular order. Dissonance rules here.
The cat rests on top stacks of student papers in my room, giving me one more reason not to grade them. And my desk is a riot of books, my own writing, and random objects - hair moisturizer, a small statue of Obatala, an amber ring, a broken pot bearing mostly burned white sage, a small tower of CDs and DVDs, a hole puncher, two elephant earrings with turquoise inside their tummies, a straw hat, a basket full of photos. This all makes an obstacle course I avoid deciphering daily.
One family turtle stares at me from his aquatic home next to my desk; he looks bored. The other family turtle is doing her morning stretches on top her small coral mountain beside the keyboard in the living room; I know this because I just checked. Believe me.
But the questions my daughters make in my mind find their way through all the mess and mayhem, screaming at me through this Saturday morning silence:
I would list the questions, but that is too much for me right now. Wouldn't it be too much for you too? I'm a playwright in the Bronx, and a mother of two, their sole adult care giver for miles and miles. I am an adjunct professor, hustling knowledge by the hour with a MFA, not a PhD. I am a Program Coordinator for a women's center on a college campus. That's recent. So, now I work 40 hours a week in Brooklyn, an hour amd 20 minutes worth of time on the iron horse twice a week day. I have so many due dates looming, I've become immobilized by the weight of When and How. I am working on my first draft of a book, and there are two new plays vying for my attention. But all the stuff in my apartment drowns out inspiration, mocking me with the questions my daughters' lives make. So many questions. The questions are about more space, more money, more and more and more. And I am a playwright. Laugh now. I will ... if the laughter can find me in all this stuff.
In the last three months I have managed to:
1. Rehearse for Crank & Groove: A GoGo Love Story and perform in it down in DC in the midst of the opening of my semester with my students
2. Go through a pre production process for a lab for one of my plays (meetings, photo shoots, budget crunching, phone calls, emails, more meetings, door hunting ...)
3. Lab the play that's held my attention for the past three years ... There were grand challenges. We did it, though. I am still reeling and making sense of what comes next.
4. Take my daughter to weekly private piano lessons & craft a friendship with the eldest (She is a young woman in college still living at home ... We must be friends. No space for less.)
5. Come to class prepared to teach and teach (I have)
7. Drink too many Jack and Cokes ONE night ... only ONE night ... not every night, not one night a week. Just ONE night.
8. Take a new job, making my total "official" jobs two ... They're "official" because a paycheck comes. Writing is a third job. The paycheck? Ummmmm ... Some say being a mother is a fourth job ... The pay is love, even if it comes in the form of a side eye and scowl.
9. Fight for love
10. Be in love
11. Make love
12. Hold my mind together loosely.