If I wrote every night insomnia pestered me, I’d be up to #200 by now. Nothing works, not exercise, not skipping the wine, not the poppy tea or wild lettuce tincture. Desperate to shut off my brain, I’ve started a Tylenol PM habit. It’s kinda gross. My lifestyle falls short of pure when factoring in the booze element and I am not adverse to necessary pharmaceuticals, but still, dependence on an artificial sleep aid offends my sensibilities. I’d probably obsess over that fact if the pretty blue-and-white pills didn’t trigger such a dependable – at least for a few hours – fade to black. Can’t depend on them forever, though.
But I also can’t write much these days.
Being neither a big wave surfer nor a woman with the time and means to travel, winter equals a drought of sessions to record. I am, rather desperately, trying to convince my family a President’s Week road trip to Santa Cruz, predicted to be 70 degrees and sunny, with swells running 5-8 feet, however. And why is my suggestion met with anything other than enthusiastic “Yeah!”? The answer lies in the circumstances keeping me from sleeping.
But the children are too old, too aware, for me to chronicle my mothering concerns with much in the way of details. I cannot say, “Nick this – ” or “Kaylee that – ” without committing gross invasion of their privacy. So I will say merely, “Teenagers… and all that that implies.” Of course, Chelsea is no longer a teenager as of Saturday – I am the mother of a 20-year-old! – so the toll she inflicts upon me cannot be summarized so succinctly. Because she is far more overt in spilling the details of her life that I would ever be, I can note that her choices currently reflect a certain insistence on learning how to be an adult the hard way, no matter how much we encourage her to make better decisions. I tell myself, and my friends tell me, that she will sort things out. On good days, I believe it, I do. During bad nights, however, every way in which she might be floundering is clearly the result of my failures as a mother. I was too young, too scared, too exhausted, too desperate, too likely to snap in anger. She bore the brunt of all the outside forces working against me: the lack of support, the poverty, the struggle to figure out parenting and marriage and adulthood all at once. The years we spent confined in a living situation so awful I still cannot think of that era without rage and regret. But here I am, having learned so much, could help her so much, and she will not take advantage of that knowledge one bit. It kills me. I love her so. I love them all so. It’s terrifying. No wonder I can’t sleep.
And when I force my mind away from parenting worries, thoughts of work rush in. So much to do! I love this new job, but the challenges certainly lend to 2 a.m. obsessing. Then there’s my next money column for the NCJ – I’ve written and rewritten it several times now. Mentally. (Too bad I didn’t get up and actually tap it out!) At least I’ve finally finished editing the manuscript that came to me months ago. I’d taken the freelance editing offer post Eye-cutbacks when I was scrambling for any sort of work; shortly after committing to it, the Ocean Conservancy gig manifested, creating new circumstances (thankfully) under which I would have declined to take on more work. A smart person would’ve immediately notified the client of the change, offered regret that she could not now follow through with the agreement and walked away. I, on the other hand, can’t abide not following through and so put myself in this unfortunate position of taking months longer than I promised to get the job done. My editing job merits satisfaction, yet the delay in providing it leaves me feeling too guilty to even charge the guy even my underbid fee at this point – I plan to mail the manuscript off tomorrow with a “whatever you think it’s worth” note.
I am a really good editor, by the way. At least those skills are not in doubt.