Time out!



Today I got a break – from pretty much everything. I didn’t work, I didn’t try to build an aluminum shed, write, or mow anyone’s lawn. I should have been doing all of these things in some measure. Instead, I buzzed between home, the hospital, and downtown Wasilla in an effort to take care of home and family.

My eldest son had to have his appendix removed today. It was stressful. He was terrified, and quite contrary to his usual nature, handled without drama. At the moment he’s in the hospital recovering and seems to have come out fine. I brought my laptop and spent a few minutes poking around on my first full rewrite, but really there were other things to worry about. Once he was out of the O.R. I sent my wife home to get a shower, see her animals, and gather essentials for the overnight.* While we watched cartoon network and waited for mom’s return, I looked at my computer bag and didn’t pick it up. The situation reminded me that I work entirely too much.

Working too much is something of a problem in my family. There was a time I was working two jobs and building our house – and that was with a new baby in the house. At the moment, it’s not quite so bad, I’ve only got the one job and I write a lot, then there’s all of those other hobbies, and commitments. I don’t often take a time out for family, at least not often enough.

That said. This weekend it’s my daughter’s dance recital**. I usually take a bit of writing time out for that, but I think I’m going to go a little farther this year. It’ll be game time with the boys too. For the rest of the summer – I’ll get my fishing license and take them fishing, perhaps a night of camping, and maybe even a baseball game. The book will wait, but the kids won’t be kids forever.

Good advice for any full-time working parent & writer: don’t forget to make time for your family.

* In case you’re wondering about what sort of sexist pig I might be at this point. I just want to defend myself with a little vignette: My wife took him to the urgent care this morning, because I was working and she wasn’t yet, and she expected to get some antibiotics or a very stern lecture about fluids and rest. Before the operation we asked our son who he wanted to stay with him overnight. He told us to play rock-paper-scissors to determine – he wasn’t about to take favorites. I told him it would be in everyone’s best interest if mom stayed because she wouldn’t sleep unless was certain he was okay. The only way to ensure that would be to have her there, which is true. For my part, I took the other two, made sure everyone was fed and any farming chores were taken care of.
** This is a BIG deal. It’s held at the Anchorage center for the performing arts and amounts to professional dance experience. It’s such a big deal that even with Influenza B, she insisted on getting all dolled up to go in for her pictures.

photo credit: Time via photopin (license)




I finally gave up on rehearsing my presentation. Provided I can see my slides, I’ll be able to talk about them for 15 minutes, easy. The trouble will be trying to stay under 20! Anyhow, this week has been full of distractions. For lunch today, my wife and I popped down to the coffee shop in Palmer. I brought my notebook, and got to work. She commented that she couldn’t concentrate in a place like that – Too many distractions. It’s the best place for me though. Yeah, it’s full of distractions, but they’re all minor and not particularly engaging anyhow. A barista flitting by to wipe down a table, an elderly couple talking with their pastor about what’s going on in church this Sunday, the woman with too tight pants sauntering by to get her double tall quad-shot skinny late. It goes on like this for hours. This past fall I was stuck. For whatever reason, I couldn’t conjure the words to describe my way past the first few paragraphs on the second chapter of my sub-plot. My solution? Go to the coffee shop and break the jam. It worked, within a few hours, I had the entire chapter knocked out. It may have been rough, but it was there and something I could work with, and it felt good.

For me, the real distractions are work, home-life and TV. We don’t have cable, nor do we live in a place where broadcast is a realistic option, but we do have Netflix. It’s my wife’s one weakness. I don’t complain though, she needs it to wind down. We both do. The problem is that even when I really don’t care much for the show, I find myself distracted by the story-line unfolding in living color on the other side of the room. It would be easy enough to wander off to the sun room and quietly click-clack away, I do that sometimes, but I just can’t do it all the time. My wife and I work off-schedules so those two or three hours in the evening are all we get, well that and the exasperated glances over the children’s glacial routine each morning. If I don’t spend those few moments, we wouldn’t have any moments.

The past few weeks I’ve been in a bit of a rut with my current chapter, which happens to be the last chapter in the sub-plot. What I’d like to do is go to the coffee shop and spend the day with a cup and type a way, oblivious to the random happenings all around, but it’s just not possible at the moment. I suppose until I can make that a reality I’m going to continue to scratch out a sentence here and there in the cracks between responsibilities and family – and TV.

photo credit: Tapping a Pencil via photopin (license)