Monday, January 14, 2008

back at work after almost a month break, many of my colleagues are welcoming me with well-rested smiles and relaxed demeanor; in spite of the grim, cold and often rainy weather, december-january is at least a long break, and one works at one's own pace, if one works at all. but, having a two-year-old, and a wife not only busy with an overcrowded schedule, but also having health issues, i'd been both up late and up early, and, still somewhat dazed by my fall from a ladder, prone to fall asleep at various times, right up until a single-day trip to lawrence, kansas on saturday. the trip was good, got me out of here, made me feel just a little outside of the grind if only for a single stretch, and we each (my older sons and i) had a plate of arthur bryant's barbecue in kansas city, giving me a nice sweet rumbling in my stomach that kept me awake, after 3:30, outside of st. louis, when the 15-yr-old finally gave up and fell asleep. leaving carbondale at about 2, we'd noticed that it got colder going west across missouri, and we were a little unprepared for the bitter cold wind coming across the prairie; also flew right by the restaurant exit not realizing that it was only an exit on the eastbound interstate, not westbound, so wasn't that easy to find after all. from being late, missed the connection in kansas, thus the late trip back, and had a good view of lawrence on saturday night, and a good time talking to the boys about various subjects, college, '60's, music, life. got back at 5:30 am, bad coffee still working on the barbecue, but nodding off wasn't an issue, and seeing first-hand, the college student, identity put in the hard drive, perched on a seat and then delicately on a duffel bag, gave me enough memories to power the long trip home.

at home, the moving process continues, mostly moving stuff, my stuff, out of back rooms and closet where rain could damage it and roof is being repaired. but this involves facing a recent history where stuff has been put somewhere, but not sorted or used, and calls to question why i would collect such "junk" or need to keep it. much of it is ending up at the bottom of other people's closets, or under the beds of the youngest children. stamp collection, old african instruments, pants that still need to be sewn, quarters for all the states, and a couple of foreign coins and bills thrown in, old books and articles, magazines that i've been published in, you get the idea. i'm not throwing this stuff out. you can guess why it might take a while to jam it under a bed, even. and i'm really not a pack-rat anymore...i really really don't save it, unless i know i'll use it someday. except for the stamps, which are cultural artifacts, and which i've been collecting for, maybe, 46 years.

the two-year-old has moved into a disturbing phase, one where he has long, somewhat pointless tantrums and doesn't even use his words, which are usually quite effective, to describe why he's unhappy, refuses to eat or get dressed, or in whatever way feels he needs to assert his will. this puts everyone on edge, the screaming, the unreasonableness...in some ways, it's probably developmentally normal, in other ways, maybe it's a deep frustration only he knows, and can't really explain. it adds a challenge and pressure to nerves already a little frayed. tonight my schedule was changed- went from a normal overload, to an overload that has me teaching at 8 am- this, if it continues, will change the routine and who knows what will follow from that. the classes begin again, and i'm reeling, still not adjusted.

christmas shopping not finished- the last one, a magazine subscription, complicated by details. a book i made, of stories which are here, didn't print right, and has to be redone in some way, this time maybe professionally, in a way that doesn't take as much of my time. a family letter is here, if you've read this far you're surely welcome to it, i post it every year. a cat, still sick, still losing weight; a dog, very old, has to be in the main house with us, his pack, yet has control issues, occasionally and randomly pooping when we for whatever reason didn't pick up his cues, or assumed he wouldn't forget to do it when he was out, just minutes ago; these are witness, as are the others, and friends, and those who passed through over the break, for whom i'm grateful. people move to these small towns for the calm, for the relaxing lifestyle, lack of traffic, friendliness. and it's all true, except sometimes for the relaxing part, which, depending on who you are, can turn into a pressure cooker, a "no outlet" side street with nothing but farms, cows, ozarks & semitrailers for miles around. gives a new meaning to the word "break," i guess. the plants, a veritable jungle in a small office, were justifiably parched upon my return. get tough i told them. only the strong survive. and that has surely been true, over the years.

2 Comments:

Blogger Peggy said...

Two year olds are trying to figure out what they have control over and what they don't. A lot of the tantrums develop when they think they have power over some aspect of their lives and they just don't. It is especially bad if they're tired, not feeling so well or hungry. I loved the two year old stage with all my boys. I hope the wee man gets back to his happy self soon!

2:08 PM  
Blogger tom said...

Thanks, Peggy. Actually I should know this, he being my fifth (and all of them did this)- but, why had we been so lucky for so long? Why did they hit all at the same time? Probably because he was stressed from moving up to a higher level of pre=school? Or something? We may never know. Thanks for the encouragement.

2:12 PM  

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