Thursday, March 31, 2005

current conditions are not good

I am re-reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (I think I first read it when I was 19 or so). It is a rather clever and self-satisfied little book.

As I read, I picture the BBC miniseries. Since it was made in 1981, I think this association dates me (and perhaps reveals my nerdy side). I was 10 years old at the time. My friend K. -- she was also rather clever and self-satisfied -- had read the book and insisted we watch the TV series.

I remember the BBC's special effects were low tech. But high-tech special effects were not really necessary for the story, even though it falls within the realm of science fiction. I do remember that Zaphod Beeblebrox's second head was rather stiff and and wobbled around on the actor's shoulder. Sometimes it looked like it was held up by strings. The powers that be also put an eye patch on this second head, perhaps in an attempt to mask its plastic-ness.

Anyway. In chapter 20 of the book, Beeblebrox says, "I only know so much about myself as my mind can work out under its current conditions." I like it. Though I am not a huge fan of quotes out of context and no quote fits a new or different situation perfectly, this one feels right and reminds me of my "bad memory" post and, in some unfathomable way (or am I just too lazy to figure it out?), about the relationship between time and eternity.

Beeblebrox adds, "And its current conditions are not good."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

"time management"

I think most of my stress stems from a major issue I seem to be having with so-called “time management.” I can’t get anything done. Yes, I have much less time to get things done while taking care of my son. But, I swear, I will have two hours during which my son is playing by himself happily or taking a nap. Yet I cannot finish that editing job (FYI: I am a freelance editor and writer), or I can’t finish cleaning the kitchen (which has needed it for longer than I care to admit). I have not been watching TV, nor have I called a friend. In fact, I may not have even sat down. I may have put on a load of laundry. But two hours have disappeared. And I could have finished that editing job or cleaned the kitchen in that time – and all would be well with the world. I feel like I am in a time warp of some sort. This is driving me crazy! Where the hell is the time going?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

bad memory

I think I have a bad memory – or maybe I am very good at forgetting embarrassing or difficult memories – I am only thirty-three and I feel like much of my past is foggy. Is that normal?

I have formative memories: those memories that I like to have, that I think formed who I am. They are not all cheery, but I am proud of those memories. They make me tough woman (though I might not sound or appear so).

I can tease other, less loved memories out of the fog. This is my goal: write down the formative and the foggy ones.

Monday, March 21, 2005

how can I?

But this time and eternity concept is too contrived for good writing. Right? For years, I studied, researched and examined twelfth-century thinkers and how they conceived of the relationship(s) between time and eternity, how they tried to explain and describe eternity at all when they lived "in time." I can’t just take that tension and apply it to me, make a memoir that somehow discusses that relationship in my terms (and certainly not in the religious terms of those twelfth-century thinkers).

How can I? Because that is exactly what I want to do.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

while sitting on a beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica

My mother, the writer, tells me I should write, that I am a good writer and always have been. She remembers that I wrote novels when I was thirteen. Actually, I wrote only beginnings of novels – 50 or so pages here and there.

I should write about the middle ages (which I studied in college and grad school) – historical fiction – but I am not interested in that genre. I didn’t study day-to-day life: whether or not they used tapestries to keep homes (castles? stone buildings?) warm, non-drafty. I studied medieval “intellectual history,” which does not much help to inform my potential readers about a regular, everyday medieval person of any class. I did study medieval literature and how it connected to medieval history – but that is also divorced from day-to-day reality. The topic that fascinates me most is how medieval thinkers understood and discussed the relationship between time and eternity.

I should write about my first years of teaching – right out of college – at a tiny special education school in the East 30s in Manhattan. A school run by a crazy, control-freak woman who drove employees out, usually forcing them to resign, if they didn’t keep her informed about their personal lives of if she imagined they said bad things about her or favorite employees. It is hard to explain how someone is crazy without sounding crazy or paranoid yourself. She was exceptionally hard to work for. I adored my first students, though. They are now in their early 20s, the age I was teaching them. But is this a story? Honestly, I’ve tried to block most of it out. I don’t even know if I can remember the details of those years. I have journals that I am unable to read. I do remember being put in charge of the lunch table of the oldest boys in middle school – the seventh graders – and the peas that were thrown and put down people’s shirts.

Right now, what is on my mind most is my son, my first child (my only child so far). He is eleven months old and amazing – all consuming. But so many people write about motherhood/parenthood experiences. Do I have anything original to say?

As a mother, I feel more myself in some ways. But I am also striving to be more myself now that my self-ness is threatened, subsumed, consumed. I want clothes like I wore ten, fifteen years ago – or a more “mature” or “modern” version: the big boots with a vintage dress, the chunky rings, the fishnets (except I now hate wearing stockings of any sort – so binding). What I used to wear as a teen and twenty-something in New York City is now practically mainstream, which is good (access) and bad (trendy): The low-rise jeans, the vintage dresses, the big boots.

My post-baby body is fitting back into old clothes, but it seems different in shape. I want to start over, go back, clear things out but return to the essential Morgan. I don’t think I mean the younger Morgan – I’m not too worried about being in my 30s. (though now I look at people in their 70s, 80s… and wonder how in the world I can possible turn into that… or how they used to be me.) It did dawn on me that I am about to turn 34. That gave me pause, for a moment.

While I feel like I am returning to my self – the roots of Morgan – I am also worried that I am not myself. Maybe if I can dress the way I did, listen to the same music at full volume (to which, thankfully, my son bangs his head – I think I’ll have the grunge, punk-rock kid) – then I am still myself.

This is the first time I have written – really written what I am thinking – in years. I have written race reports, edited business writing, written notes on ideas for catchy little articles that I have never pitched to anyone because I don’t know how to sell myself.

Maybe this is all about time: the relationship between the “eternal” Morgan and the “in time” Morgan.

Or just finding the time. I am on vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, as I write. Vacation is very different, slower, with an eleven-month-old. I have not been anywhere tropical since I was fifteen. My sister-in-law is napping in the hotel room with my son. And I wondered: what did I do – before baby, before marriage, before lots of things – with free time? I am not a person who takes naps (my mother has something to say on that subject, too: she wants to force me to like them); they make me feel odd – my ears ring, my head pounds, I get a headache, I can’t fall asleep easily (and I fall asleep within minutes at night), and I wake up grumpy and can’t shake it off for an hour or more. I do like reading, but I rarely read for hours on end anymore and reading feels like a bedtime thing now.

I used to write. But that was so long ago – but it feels right now, sitting on a beach in Jamaica.

Dusk in Montego Bay Posted by Hello