Monday, August 11, 2008


My contract project ended four days ago. For the first two days, I kept myself busy by getting ready for a BBQ we had with some of my old colleagues at our place on Saturday. Then we had the weekend. And this morning, I woke up, finished the last 100 pages of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, read the papers, had breakfast, emailed the contract people I worked for to see if they needed any more help, drove to the gym and ran for about half an hour because I didn't want to overstrain myself in case I am pregnant, and went to Safeway to pick up some groceries. Now I am back, and it isn't even noon yet.

I've already picked out the books I want to tackle next. The yard is pretty much done, but there is one little corner where we had talked about putting some mondo grass on the mounds. I will save that project for tomorrow. I can take the dog to the beach, and I have a few long term projects on my list like putting together our wedding album and organizing my contacts list. I have yoga and pilates DVDs, and lunches planned for the rest of the week.

Now what? The truth is that I am afraid of too much free time. I can handle spurts here and there, such as a planned vacation. But undefined and unlimited free time with no clear end in sight makes me feel lost... and useless. I flitter around like a fruitfly around a lightbulb, overwhelmed by the very thing it's attracted to.

It isn't really fear of time itself. It is fear that I am not spending my time as well as I could be. And in the process of fearing, I squander the very thing I am trying to optimize. There are so many choices about how to spend each minute, and that choice can be overwhelming, especially when you don't know the outcome. Somehow this didn't seem to be as much of a problem when I had a law firm job and my time was already paid for.

I need structure, as a house needs rooms, a garden a layout, a book its chapters. And I need boundaries, like a pool, like a petulant child.

I'm debating whether to seek a full time job. The contract work, while it lasted, was perfect. I had just the right amount of work and adequate pay. And while I worked, the idea of a break in between projects sounded like just the thing. I could work on my writing and try to chart out some ideas for a possible novel. Sounds great, doesn't it? But now that the time is here, I am picking at my nails, sifting through a mound of books that I can't seem to get into, wondering if I should be out enjoying the sun when I'm behind the computer and then wondering if I should be working on my blog when sitting at an outdoor cafe.

A part of me is hesitant to seek a full time job. I am trying to get pregnant, and I don't want to start the job, get pregnant, then take a three or six months leave less than a year later when I am still trying to get integrated into the job, and then deal with the possibility that I may decide that I really don't want to have the baby raised by a nanny or someone at day care. Sticking a new boss with a maternity leave pay and the possibility that I may not stick around doesn't seem right. But what if it takes me over a year to get pregnant? Then what?

And the other part of the hesitation is that this could be a great opportunity to try this writing thing. Isn't it time I need more than anything if I am really going to do this?

Someone said that this would be a perfect time to live the life of Eat, Pray, Love. Somehow moving to Italy and taking on an Italian lover does not seem to be the right direction for me. Jeff may tend to agree.

So maybe this is one of these personal skills I need to work on. Thinking about how I want to live my life, instead of just burying my head in work and pretending that is fully justified because I get paid a high salary. Time is ticking away no matter what, and I have to figure out what I think makes my life worthwhile. It is the accumulation of these everyday minutes that makes up my one life, and I don't want to look back and regret vats of empty time that give a semblance of structure around their hollowness.

Just clinging to what I know, like clinging to the side of the pool afraid to let go, won't get me anywhere. I want to let go, to be at ease with uncertainty, to know that I won't be floundering for floundering sake but because I am learning how to find my own rhythm amongst the waves. God knows I've put it off long enough.


  1. It is easier to "do things", to strive towards something tangibl, than it is to sit back and figure out WHY you are doing what you are doing.

    Having the courage to look at oneself is the hardest of tasks. But it produces the worthiest of results.

  2. You really shouldn't worry about the job/pregnancy bit. First off, most places won't even pay for maternity leave if you've been there less than a year (although they may still give you time off). And you really won't know how you feel about the whole nanny/daycare v. SAHM bit until you try one way or the other. And as you said, it may take some time to get pregnant again. If I were you, I'd just decide what you want to do, write full time, or work and do it, worry about the future later.

  3. Take a year, treat writing like your job, give it a go. Create your own structure, validate to yourself that writing is a real "purpose," and enjoy. One year in the grand scheme is just a blink of the eye.