My editor at the Charlotte Observer called the other day. She said she knew I must be busy because she checked my blog and nothing new had been posted since Jan. 27. Yep. Burning the candles at both ends lately. Just not the blog candle. This is going to be one of those rare personal posts…
For starters, we relocated from the Piedmont of North Carolina to the western mountains a few days after Science Online 2011. This move was harder than any other move I’ve made. It came at the tail-end of a month of travel — literally a month — where I was home for maybe six out of 31 days. So the move itself was jarring. I was frazzled before we even taped the first box shut. The house we now live in was a mess. It required days of cleaning. Last night, when we tried to change the air filter we discovered it had not been moved in a very, very, long time. Maybe it had been changed once upon a time… but not within at least the past two years. It was so bloated with dust and filth that we had to forcibly tear it out of the HVAC unit. After the cleaning, it required days of painting. Seems the previous tenants owned three dogs (and never vacummed) and had painted right over dog hair on several of the walls. They also painted over light-switch plates and curtain rod holders and felt that turquoise and smokey purple were admirable wall colors.
Next there was the box elder beetle problem. Seems the previous tenant didn’t mind the 1/2-inch gap between the kitchen door and the exterior threshhold, but a resident population of box elder beetles that are hibernating beneath our wooden lapboard siding discovered this portal to warmth. Many crawled into the house, probably convinced by the electric heater that spring had arrived. So until we got the door repaired, my morning routine consisted of waking up (dressing in the bathroom because we had no window coverings in any of the rooms, they just yawned open to the street), and picking beetles up off the floor while the coffee brewed.
Our new place has a finished basement, which we thought was a huge bonus. Only it turns out the real estate agent neglected to tell us it was not connected to the HVAC. So when it is 30 degrees outside, it’s maybe 42 in the basement. Which is our new media room. Which means M. was spending hours down there shivering under a sleeping bag to watch a movie. There is a propane heater down there, we discovered, but in the dead of winter it took us two weeks to get on the propane supplier’s list so they could come and install a ginormous 100-gallon tank to fuel the heater. (I now fall asleep at night unnerved that 25 feet from my head is a 100-gallon tank of fuel.) Now, it is probably the warmest room in the house.
Our driveway is beautitful. Three large cherry trees line it, and I can’t wait to see them transformed by blossoms in spring. But we’ve learned that our drive is also the neighborhood cut-through. People use to get to a development behind us that is not connected by a road or sidewalk. At first, I was thrilled to see people walking down the drive — I thought they were coming to introduce us to the neighborhood. But no one stopped. They just kept walking — to the vacant lot behind us.
After we got the house “liveable,” I tried to set to work on playing catch up on assignments that were languishing. Two weeks and four articles later, I’m glad to check that off my list. (Two very cool Observer stories are waiting for their turn in the Sci-Tech feature slot — you won’t be disappointed!)
Then there is the not-so-small matter of planning my wedding. This is probably the sole to-do item that is gobbling up all of my extra time (now that the house is sort of under control); time that used to go into blogging and writing. And believe me — it’s not that I’m not excited to get married, I dearly love my M. — it’s just that I’m not excited to be planning it while trying to balance freelance work, moving and getting settled in a new town, helping M. get his new business up and running, and last (but certainly not least) writing my beloved book. (I know it’s not considered gracious for a bride-to-be to seem to be complaining about her wedding, and I certainly don’t mean to be; I’m just struggling to keep my head above water at the moment.) Talk about life coming at you fast.
I wish I had some magic scissors that I could use to snip-snip-snip my book out of my current life and then import it to a quiet, task-free alter-life where no one can reach me by email or phone. In my alter-life I’d enter a monk-like existence and just work, work work on the book. I’m sure I’d love every minute of it! I wouldn’t worry about other stories and projects, the wedding, M.’s business, or the lawsuit we’re still dealing with over our car accident. I would just focus 100 percent on writing. But there are no magic snip-snip-snip scissors, so I’m doing the best I can to manage that time thing as it is now.
On a positive note, I have learned so much about my writing process throughout this ordeal. I’ve learned that I need extreme quiet and stability daily to be productive, and that having a fractured attention span is poisonous to culturing creativity. Honestly, I could have told you this before — but after the experience of the past month, it is ingrained in every brain neuron inhabiting my skull.