stacy was here (and probably spinning....): caterpillar season, and thoughts about the future















Stacy Was Here :
Back at the Beginning

Sunday, October 21, 2007

caterpillar season, and thoughts about the future

Ever winter, we are inundated bya hordes of little furry caterpillars, kind of like this one:

They show up all of a sudden, and you see them inching madly across streets all across town, like some sort of great, furry pilgrimage. Now, in a confession that will surprise no one, I am really a giant five-year-old inside, and I LOVE these little guys. When I was a kid I would find them, and bring them home, and put them in a jar with leaves and holes in the lid and try to keep them like pets. My first instinct when I encounter just about any living thing is to want to take it home and take care of it. This is why I have so many pets, but it turns out that it doesn't work so well for furry little caterpillars. I don't take them home and put them in jars anymore, but I will go to completely abnormal lengths to avoid squishing them. I haven't caused an accident yet, but I do swerve around them when I see them on the street. Today I almost hit one with my bike, and I was so upset that I went back to check on him. I was so relieved to find him still inching determinedly along! So I scooped him up into my hand. He promptly curled up into a tight little ball the way they do, like "nothing to see here! just some wierd plant thing! you should just put me back down again!" I wanted to pet him, but he was scared enough already, so I took him across the street in the direction he'd been heading, and set him down gingerly in the grass. This is me at heart: a caterpillar shuttle service.

I've been getting itchy feet again lately, due to a great combination of things ranging from my recent trauma to just being tired of my messy apartment and the degree of cut-offness in this area. I like the small town thing, I really do, but all the same I wish it wasn't 5 hours to the nearest city. This is what I like about where Chris comes from, it's small, with more quaintness even than you find here, but it's close to Bufallo and Toronto without the grind of Southern California. And I mean quaintness in a good way - nice houses, nice people, small businesses in addition to big chains, lots of parks and green and everything.

When I think about my life after this, I don't think about being rich, or successful, I think about being comfortable. A nice house, but nothing huge. I think about getting up on weekends in the winter and making cinnamon rolls. I think about having a big, squishy bed with lots of comfy blankets. I think about sitting around in the evening knitting, or walking my dog (who will be a mini english bull dog named Winston) on sunny afternoons. I think about sneaking over to see my mom on snowy Saturday mornings in a pair of furry slippers to drink hot cocoa, or what Christmas will be like when we have kids, or Easters or Halloweens for that matter. I'd still really love to write, and to write fiction.

The more I think about all this, though, the more I realize that, most of all, I am defeating myself in my life and in my goals. I always feel like I don't have time for anything, but I spend so much time in front of the computer already, not doing anything productive. I watch way too much TV. I get depressed about the house being such a mess, but I don't get up and clean it, either. I might not be able to fashion this place, or my current day to day life as it is right now into a Norman Rockwell painting, but some of these things that elude me are possible right now. I don't have to wait for the mythical future, I just have to get off my ass and do it.

My counselor, Vincent, and I were talking at our last session about my anxiety attacks. They're really not attached to anything concrete. I've just been blindsided really badly a couple times this year, and so I start to feel like the sky is falling, like something vague but really terrible is going to happen, and I don't know what it is or when or anything. I should really see about getting a job with homeland security. But what Vincent pointed out, and this is brilliant, was that there are things I can control, and things I can't. I know, earth shattering, right? But it's absolutely true, and worrying about things you can't control is a huge waste of time. This is obvious, painfully obvious, to most people. It was perfectly obvious to me a few years ago, before I started this damn battle with anxiety, and before the events of this summer. Somewhere along the line, though, I lost site of it, and I feel like I need to make myself a huge poster of this and stick it up on the wall where I'll see it every day.

But it's freeing, too, in a big way. If I stop wasting time worrying about things I can't control, this will free up lots of times to concentrate on the things that I can control. I can control what I eat. I can control how much I clean, or write, or how often I practice my cello. I can control how much time I watch TV, or how I react to certain situations.

So here are my goals, by day. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't make them, but they are something for me to focus on, something that I can control and change, an alternative to giving in to the anxiety or the depression.

Monday: 2-3 hours between classes to work on my TA and RA stuff in the lab. Home, at 5:30 at the latest. Clean for about an hour, practice my cello for 30 minutes, this brings me to 7pm. Write or edit my book for at least an hour. Could work out or knit if have time.

Tuesday: 2 hours between classes and work. I usually nap with Franny, which is relaxing for me so I'm not going to veto it, but if I'm awake this would be a good time to clean, as well, or to practice my cello. Get home at 7pm, so I'll work out, or work on my book.

Wednesday: like Monday, work on TA and RA stuff in lab. Home at 3:30, so have a bit more time, which will make it a good time to work on my book. Can clean during breaks or when I either get enough done or hit a spot where I've got no more juice for the day. Also will work out.

Thursdays: same as Tuesdays.

Friday: Work all day until 5pm, but this is the beginning of the weekend. Will reserve this a break day from book if I need it. Can work out, or knit, or relax with the cats.

Weekends: mostly free. Use this to work on book, work out, clean, get things done.

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