Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Dedication to Pessimism

It's hard to feel like the world is coming to an end when you're spending the day with your daughter and her friend on the beach in Santa Monica...sun, sand, surf, a pier full of rides, little girls screaming for pure joy in the waves (and then complaining about the sand in their bathing suits), waving with glee from the top of the towering ferris wheel.

It's hard to feel like the world is coming to an end when you're spending the day with your daughter and another friend on the beaches of La Jolla...more sun, more sand, more surf, splashing seals everywhere you look, little girls dining at a fancy restaurant where they sip Shirley Temples and wrinkle their noses at every 'unusual' ingredient in their food.

It's hard to feel like the world is coming to an end when you're spending the day with your son and his friend at Legoland...Lego boat rides, Lego helicopter rides, Lego horsie rides, Lego car rides, ice-cream and pizza and little boys splashing in fountains, getting "soaping wet."

It's hard, but it's not impossible.

Despite the fact that we're sending this summer out with a bang, my kids and I, I've been visiting my ugly place a little too often lately. In my ugly place, I'm in danger of losing my university job, and maybe my website job as well, and of screwing up a long(ish)-term relationship with a decently paying consumer magazine. In my ugly place, this is all my fault. (In the real world, it's probably about three-quarters true, and three-quarters my fault.)

And the worst part? I can't seem to get out of this place. There are things I could do...proactive steps, remedies, even just ways to adjust my thinking...but instead, I spend a lot of time pretending this just ain't happening.

I'm overcommitted, overextended. There are things I ought to be giving up, and things I ought to be putting at the top of the to-do list. But the things I need to give up are the easy ones, the fun ones. The things that keep sliding down the to-do list? Would save me my university job, maybe, but are hard, and a little bit scary, because what if it turns out I'm not good enough? There's a lot of learning to be done for that job, more than I'd expected, and I'm afraid to tell anyone that I need to be taught, because why keep on the stupid girl when you can get someone who knows what she's doing, you know? And the magazine piece, the one that--in the ugly place, at least--is torpedoing my entire freelance career? Well, instead of just responding to the 15th round of edits (I wish I were kidding...), I'm sitting here stewing about how unfair it is, how stupid the questions are, how wrong this editor is. Because that will take care of the problem, won't it?

So instead of taking positive steps, getting stuff off my plate, I go hang out in my ugly place. I think about how much it's going to suck when we have no health insurance, no significant income. I think about where we'll move when we lose the house. I think about how close I am to that exposure I've always known was coming...the one where everyone finds out what a sham I am, what a fraud, how useless and untalented and yadda yadda yadda. (In my ugly place, I'm not even original enough to come up with interesting angst. That's how ugly it is.)

When even I get bored of being in my ugly place, when I drag myself to what approximates the surface these days, I write blog entries and design ads for the temple, because that makes people respond positively and occasionally even praise me and tell me how wonderful I am. But that doesn't help, not really. Because what do they know? They can't see the ugliness.

And so I get in the car with my kids and drive to the beach, drive down the coast, drive to Legoland. And I smile and laugh, because their smiles and laughs are infectious. Because while I can't make money at it, and it won't stop us from losing our house, and it doesn't make me any less of a professional sham, making memories for and with them, watching them enjoy life...being there with them, being their mama...keeps the ugliness at bay. My kids are the antidote to ugliness. They are, simply, beautiful. And that may be what, ultimately, saves me.

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