Yesterday at a staff meeting, the director of the program said the greatest line, “You have to be comfortable with conflict.” I immediately revised it in my mind to “You have to be able to tolerate conflict” because comfortable seemed an impossible stretch. How can I ever be comfortable with conflict, that thing that gets my heart racing and causes me to misspeak? Truly nothing makes me more uncomfortable.
And yet conflict is part of life, isn’t it? Often it’s everywhere you turn, an unavoidable presence that lurks behind you whether you want it to or not. Tolerating it I can handle, but again, being comfortable with it? Isn’t that like embracing it?
My biggest weakness as a fiction writer has always been protecting my characters too much. I understand that conflict is an essential ingredient for fiction so I definitely include it, but in a watered down drink kind of way, where it’s hard to taste the gin under all that tonic.
My current novel in progress has conflict coming out of its pores and I have no idea what to do with it. From the first page the conflict is nonstop and I’ve gotten to the point that I have no idea how to get my characters out from the avalanche that’s fallen on them. In many ways it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, but also the most difficult to complete as I’m not used to finding a way out of real substantial problem.
But that line, that idea of getting comfortable with conflict is something I’m carrying with me. It’s something I’m working on and I think once I get there, finishing this novel will be a breeze.
Things at work have gone from crazy busy to INSANELY HECTIC. I’m putting in too many hours and feel like I’m eating and breathing work (which isn’t too far from the truth as I haven’t been taking lunch breaks and literally dream about my job each night). I seem to remember something called ‘balance’ but can’t seem to figure out how to work that into my days. Last week I was telling myself it would be better this week and I tried to tell myself that again about next week but I called my bluff on that one. I’m failing in most aspects of my life and can’t even say I’m thriving at work because there are 50-some things to do and all should have been done last week. And yet I’d still say life is good and that I love my job… I just hope things settle down soon.
My interest in Twitter has waxed and waned, but lately it’s been bordering on an obsession, now that I have the ability to access it at my fingertips with my phone. It’s a fun hobby, where I can write short blips throughout my day. (The closest I’ve been getting to writing for myself lately.) I enjoy the links to stories and posts that I wouldn’t otherwise know where to find and the funny random thoughts people share.
And yet I realize how silly–even stupid–it seems to someone who doesn’t use the site. I was trying to explain it earlier today and realized how almost juvenile it sounded. But it’s a fun way to spend idle time. Surely we’re all entitled to a guilty pleasure; Twitter is mine.
This past week I worked more than I have since beginning my new job. In preparation for a new computer program, deadlines have been pushed forward and little Miss Workaholic here has kicked herself into overdrive, accomplishing more in a week than I had thought humanly possible. I found it all immensely satisfying as I take so much pleasure and pride in my work.
I also thrive on chaos. So despite my long work days this week, I began a new writing project… I even wrote consecutively for two days straight… before sitting idle again. (And by “idle” I mean working even longer hours later in the week and never stopping for lunch and going so far as to work at 10pm on Friday night as well.) I’ve let myself chill this weekend and I feel refreshed and ready to tackle it again. Stay tuned.
Yesterday we hit Goodwill because I had a clothes crisis the day before when I had court and nothing that fit, was clean, and appropriate for the day ahead. (I ended up wearing a pair of pants that I had to cut the bottoms of and have slight frayed edges, but weren’t conspicuous enough for the judge to see.) It was one of those great shopping trips when you score a lot of great finds. To make room for his clothes, Alan began going through his closet–and filled 3 garbage bags with clothes he no longer needed.
I went to my closet to do the same thing and pulled out one thing. I don’t have a hoarding problem except when it comes to clothes. Even the clothes I know I’ll never wear, I like to hang on to “just in case.” Alan laughed at my pitiful purge and offered to help. I accepted and he was ruthless with my wardrobe, pulling out cherished items I’ve had for almost 20 years and admitting that he’s never liked this shirt or that sweater. Other things he said were fine, but didn’t fit me right. It was difficult to do, but one and a half garbage bags later, I can now fit all my clothes inside my closet. And I can actually say I’ll wear everything in my closet.
Last week I moved into my own office at work. Previously I was in a lovely big office with lots of windows that I shared with a great coworker who I enjoy talking with. I was content in my little corner with plenty of sunshine, but then an office across the hall opened up. My office-mate has been there one week longer than I so the vacant office was hers for the grabbing. And yet she didn’t. I’d pass by the empty office and gaze at it longingly. Yes, my space was fine, but the longer the office lay empty, the more time I had to pine over the alternative and the idea of being able to close my door when I want to be alone.
Eventually I asked if my office mate was going to move in as it was technically hers, but she said she wasn’t interested. I still felt strange taking something I wasn’t entitled to, so I waited it out another couple days before asking her another, final time if she wanted it. She insisted that she didn’t, so I slowly moved my things over.
I’m officially moved into my own space and loving every minute of it. I gave up the luxury of windows for my own four walls (and door) but it turns out that I’m more productive when I don’t have a window to stare out. I would get lost watching the used car lot across the street with several cars missing doors and watching the snow collect on the seats. I never find myself staring idly at the wall, only reveling at the virtues of having a room of my own.
I know I’ve been MIA for a while now. Things aren’t any more hectic than usual and it’s not that I’ve lost interest with the blog, but that I have become obsessed with eliminating clutter. Last weekend we got rid of a carload of junk and came up with some organizational systems to try to prevent the chaotic buildup again. Now I can’t stop: cleaning out my bags, wallets, chucking a dozen loyalty cards that only have one punch in them and that I know will never have any more. (If I got the card two years ago and have only bought the one drink, what makes me think I’m ever going to buy eleven more to get the free one?)
I tend to do the same thing every year: go on a mad hunt for what I don’t need and get it O-U-T. And I suppose it does tend to happen in the spring, in that space when the calendar insists that the season has changed and yet there is still a blanket of snow outside my window. I enjoy the ritual purging and that intense feeling of renewal that follows.