The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

The Realization of an Inexorable Choice August 4, 2009

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — michellehuegel @ 4:07 pm
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in⋅ex⋅o⋅ra⋅ble /ɪnˈɛksərəbəl/
1. unyielding; unalterable: inexorable truth; inexorable justice.
2. not to be persuaded, moved, or affected by prayers or entreaties: an inexorable creditor.

In my somewhat-extensive reading experience, I’ve noticed that writers like the word inexorable. It is frequently used to add dramatic flair when writing about the passage of time, which could be a boring subject to read about.

Until recently the word slipped past my eyes and didn’t really register. Now I understand. Inexorable time means that my baby is learning new skills every minute. Each hour he’s on the floor he moves faster, farther. Every day he gets less and less easily pacified with a playpen or bouncy seat, preferring – needing – face-to-face interaction and new stimuli. A couple more months and he’ll be walking. (!)

But there’s a dark edge to the word inexorable. As exciting as all these changes are, they’re still changes (a word that deserves its own blog post!). We’re balanced precariously right now – I take Cai to work with me, and he naps in the playpen, plays on the floor or in his pen or bouncy chair, and sometimes in my lap. Every day I watch this balance tip inexorably toward the impossible.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future lately – not the distant, where-do-i-want-to-be-in-10-years future, but the immediate, what-am-i-going-to-do-in-3-months future. I feel the pressure of my English degree weighing on me, pulling me seductively to open Word or grab a smooth pen and fresh paper and just write. Every month when I pay my student loan bill I feel guilty that I’m not using my degree. But right now, paying bills and spending those rare moments of free time with my son and husband win out over writing.

Back to thinking about the future – because nothing stays the same forever. Sooner than I want to imagine, the day will come when I can’t bring Cai to the office with me anymore. Is that the time to finally take the leap of faith that being a freelance writer/editor requires, and risk my family’s financial security? What other choice do I have? Do you ever feel like life is conspiring to narrow your choices? Dare I even mention the word destiny? I refuse to put my son in daycare (not that we could afford it anyway), and that greatly limits my choices. I wanted to be an editor so I could work from home.

So why is that inexorable choice so utterly terrifying?


Thoughts on “Back-to-School” July 22, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — michellehuegel @ 2:17 pm
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Having completed 12 years of schooling and 4 years of college, the past couple years I’ve enjoyed the right to breathe a huge sigh of relief and smile nostalgically at the piles of backpacks, pencils, and colorful ephemera that appears in stores mid-July.

But with my husband’s sudden decision to start college and the whirlwind of FAFSA, financial aid, applications, phone calls, and paperwork that involves, I find myself suddenly thrust back into the school mindset, at least peripherally. So here’s a few of my random thoughts as we gear up for his first “back-to-school” in quite a few years:

  • School, like many other things in life, increases exponentially in cost every year. Josh is attending classes exclusively online, so he doesn’t need pencils or a lunchbox ($25 total?). He does, however, need a new laptop ($700?).
  • I never appreciated my mother enough for providing all the tools I needed for school – including filling out the endless forms. It’s one thing to fill them out for myself, which I did all through college. It’s another thing entirely to fill them out for Josh, because he believes himself incapable of both finding our tax returns AND then typing the numbers in the right little box on the FAFSA. And it would never occur to him that he might need a notebook and maybe a pen or two, even for online classes.
  • Whoever controls the FAFSA/financial aid determination has WAY too much power. At least over my mental and emotional state.
  • It’s a good thing Josh married his IT department. And I have no idea how he’s going to manage online classes, since he couldn’t figure out how to turn off the pop-up blocker.
  • Who made the ridiculous marketing decision to advertise “Back to School” in the middle of JULY?!?!? It’s barely warming up in Michigan. It’s depressing. I hate you.
  • Seeing all the cute back-to-school clothes makes me want new clothes.
  • I’m really proud of Josh (and all the other adults in the same boat) for making the decision to go back to school. In addition to balancing a full-time job, he’ll be juggling the roles of hubby and daddy too. I certainly don’t envy him, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure he succeeds.

Good luck, my dear Josh, and every other student out there groaning at the pen-and-calculator-laden shelves! Can’t say I miss being in your shoes!


Messes June 16, 2009

Filed under: Writing — ashleybarrett @ 11:34 am
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In one of my all-time favorite books on writing, Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott says,

“Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. Clutter is wonderfully fertile ground—you can still discover new treasures under all those piles, clean things up, edit things out, fix things, get a grip. Tidiness suggests that something is as good as it’s going to get. Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation, while writing needs to breathe and move.”

Even though she’s speaking metaphorically, I’ve thought about it’s possible literal meaning when I ask myself the question, “Should I write or clean the bathroom/ clean the kitchen/ mop the floors/ slice that fruit?” God willing, I’ll have time for both but which comes first?

I often choose the cleaning, when I know I’ll have time for both because, well, I like a clean apartment. I feel more at ease. Maybe I just need to loosen up. But this morning because I’m not sure I’ll have time for both, I chose writing. And although I feel pretty good about it, I also feel somewhat anxious and distractable.

Many of my writing friends say they’ve learned to live in a house that Martha Stewart might scoff at so they have sufficent time to write. When push comes to shove, they felt called by God to write but not to dust the chandelier daily. Pretty liberating, huh?

I understand why a lot of writer’s leave the house to work. Since being in my messy apartment makes me more anxious and therefore less creative and efficient; I’ll probably leave home when I have lots of writing work that needs done and a less than tidy apartment. But for the most part I enjoy the ability to switch mental gears between writing and homemaking. I’ve also found that while rinsing plates or sweeping, my subconscious mind untangles knots that tripped me up at my desk.

I also feel more comfortable in my own space, I can listen to music, eat for free and talk to myself as needed. And when it’s relatively tidy, I think my thoughts can move around without bumping into anything.

What about you? How do you balance your professional life and housework? Do you a little mess comforting or annoying?

I’m off to slice the fruit.