Damn. I had visions of all the laid-off blogging I would be doing, but there is never as much time as you think there will be. Especially not when your daycare ends at 1:15 p.m., and you are trying to strip the godforsaken wallpaper from your godforsaken bathroom. What made me think that was a good idea, again? I think it was some kind of lay-off hysteria, making me believe that everything was possible. Now I am scraping this shit off bit by painstaking bit, and discovering an absolute disaster underneath. Now I know why someone, some horrible despicable person, decided to cover these walls with wallpaper. But what I will never understand is why they chose crazy pastel faux-Monet flower explosion wallpaper. With every square foot I scrape off, I realize how much more complicated this is than what I thought. We will have to remove the toilet and the vanity to get it all off. And then once the horrible, cheap vanity is removed, shouldn't we just go ahead and replace it--you know, with all our spare cash. And the lower halves of the walls are so bad that we are now considering tiling them. Won't that be fun, and expensive. And ... well, I'll spare you the rest of the details.
So ... where were we? Last week, my first official act as a laid-off person was to take a mini-ski trip. We found a super-budget deal and we went to West Virginia and had a blast for two days. I felt that the trip, while maybe not financially prudent, made an important statement about how I wanted to start this new phase of my life. Leaning forward, taking risks, pushing fear out of the way, and having a hell of a lot more fun than I have in a long time. Then I came home and recovered from the resulting head injury, and so this is my first real week of the new life. And the verdict is ... it's kind of freaking me out.
I told myself that I would give myself this one month to not work at all. To not work at finding work. To just recover, focus on fixing up my house a little (cursed wallpaper!) and allow myself to lie on the couch reading a book sometimes. But that is hard, harder than you might think. Because there is this fear that keeps trying to creep in around the edges, saying, "Quit wasting time! You might not be as secure as you think. You need to get going or you will end up poor!" The thoughts about what I should do, and what I need to do, and what I haven't done, start circling in my mind. And pretty soon I hardly know what I am doing, because the tornado in my head is thinking about what I need to do next, or what I don't have time to do. At least when you're at work, you know exactly where you are supposed to be and what you're supposed to be doing--however miserable it might be. When your time is a blank slate, or at least when mine is, I am faced with such an overwhelming array of possibilities. Should I clean the house, continue with my clutter purge, reconnect with friends, schedule meetings with professional contacts, look into creating a professional website, plan activities for Mia, cook, start writing a novel, read a novel, knit, exercise? Maybe I'll just strip some more wallpaper.
And then someone emailed me earlier this week with a freelance writing offer, and I about had a nervous breakdown. Because I didn't want to do it. They wanted me to write about a topic about which I know nothing, and so it would have taken a lot of time, and the pay was pathetic. But there was a part of me that said, "Who are you to turn down work of any kind? Money is money. And if you pass on this, maybe you will close more doors down the road. And what if you end up poor???" But if there is anything I don't want to do as I begin this new life, I do not want to make decisions based on desperation or fear. I am not desperate, and I don't want to behave like a desperate person. I don't want to run around after every low-paying assignment that crosses my path. I want to be methodical. I want to do it on my terms. Maybe that is too much to ask. I don't know, but I turned it down. And for the moment, I'm at peace with that. More time to strip wallpaper.
My afternoons are now all about Mia. We went to half-time preschool, and I am experimenting with this whole stay-at-home parent thing. I have to admit I've been nervous about this part. Sometimes on the weekends, being with her feels oppressive. Every minute, she is asking me to play, crawling on me, wrenching my back, making me ask her 14 times to put on her shoes, asking for milk or snacks, asking to paint, asking, asking, asking. It feels like, when she is around, I never get to do anything I want to do. So I decided that, on our afternoons, being with her is my job. I made a schedule, similar to her preschool one, and I am firm about it. I'm planning activities and crafts and outings. In three days, we have gone to a science museum, made stained glass with wax paper, baked cupcakes--and more. I might not be able to keep up this pace, but so far, our afternoons have been lovely. She responds to the schedule, and to my ability to be fully present with her. If nothing else good comes of this layoff, even if we end up poor (OMG POOR!!!), this time with her will have been a gift. I am not going to let myself forget that.
Oh, and don't forget the wallpaper. Come hell or high water, that Monet explosion will be gone. Do you hear me, Wallpaper? I am going to kick your ass.