Rainy Days and Mondays…

Last Friday, I wrote here about introversion, and about the ways it can, once in a while, have a toll on the person whose job it is to interact with the world in meaningful ways. Perhaps this has all been on my mind lately because this summer’s been quite different from the average.

Today, I walked around in the house I hope to buy (though I fear it will be snapped up by another eager bidder before my current home sells), it seemed to me the perfect place to hunker down all summer–all year, maybe. It might be the fact that its been an unseasonably cold summer in Seattle (still 60-some degrees, overcast and often rainy), but whereas I’m usually craving a swim, a cocktail party on my porch and some new outfits, this year I feel I just want to be home, inside, on my own, in my ugliest yoga pants.

I’ve been craving a reread of Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping, a lovely, domestic novel I think of as We Have Always Live in the Castle “light” (not necessarily a bad thing, just far less fantastical and wild of spirit, and more concerned with flux than preservation). I crave digging around in my garden, though I have no garden, and making spectacular dinners from what I’ve (not) grown. I imagine spending full days working on my next book, sleeping, then working on it again. In short, I’ve been fantasizing about a retreat from the world. And that’s something that’s just not feasible; I have commitments to my students and employers, to the publications I work for, and to the people in my life. And they’re all commitments I keep not because I have to, but because, at a very fundamental level, I want to. The people and things in my life are important to me, and I want to be there for them.

So what’s with this contrary urge, every now and then, to pop off the face of the earth and and enjoy selfish, hedonistic solitude with my curtains shut, my garden producing veggies I probably have no qualifications to grow?

It feels to me like the same impulse behind wanting to read fiction–the desire to be lifted out of reality and immersed in a storyline in which the circumstances, concerns, and stakes have all been changed. The desire to have every action bear infinite weight and deliberation. The desire to be someone other than a bland, vitamin-D deficient Seattleite who needs three cups of coffee stand up straight in the morning.

If I don’t get to change it all, or even change my house just yet, I suppose it’s time to get my bland behind back in the chair and back to work on the new book. So maybe I can’t till the earth, stay in my ugly yoga pants forever, or cook all day long if the mood strikes. But I can get back to the written word. Maybe I can make something that will take a reader on a delicious little jaunt somewhere else–somewhere she would like to be on cold summer days like this.

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6 Replies to “Rainy Days and Mondays…”

  1. This is really nice, Kelly. I too have ugly yoga pants and feel vaguely guilty when I disappear in them to read and cook and do absolutely nothing, although that time seems very fleeting. It’s hard to write about that, although I did this week in my blog.
    I do hope you get the house you hope for. Real estate is a bi#*%.

  2. Hi Kelly, I feel for you, and also hope you get your new house. Place is so important to me. It’s a sanctuary that nurtures creative work and personal joy. I recently had to sell a house I loved, and am comfortable but not really happy in my temporary (I hope) rental condo.

    This weekend I was reading Sarks “Wild Succulent Women.” There is lots of permission in there for hanging out in old yoga pants, taking naps, writing in bed, etc as essential sources of creative insight. So even if you can’t live your retreat fantasies full time, I hope you’ll carve out mini retreats when you can.

  3. Seacliffmom, I loved your latest blog post! I will now make it a point to eat more kale. 🙂 Yes, those disappearing times are so delicious, and so fleeting…

    Kathy, I will take that permission! I’m also coming to terms with the idea that there’ll never bee a big bolus of time. I always think “six months from now there’ll be some down time,” but of course other stuff (life!) intervenes. I think a good mini-break now and then is a great idea.

    Stephanie, that’s a great mental image! “I’m not sitting in my yoga pants, I’m redecorating my house of fiction.” 🙂

  4. Kelly, your blog comes as I’m re-reading David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, specifically his essay on the semi-incestuous relationship between television and fiction, which is born (partially) from TV’s ability to show writers the world outside their writing spaces. In other words, writers, a typically shy but observant lot, no longer need to overcome their reluctance to go outside to watch life, but can lift their ideas and characters from the box.

    Of course that view of the world is the one TV wants us to have, so it’s not necessarily valid, but in much of the writing I see these days, from both amateurs and well-published professionals, there is often that tinge of mass media’s homogenized version of what’s important to us as a society. In that sense such writing is both accurate and inaccurate—it reflects what we have become, but maybe not what we are (or at least could be).

    And also of course, this often drives the fiction these writers write, which then gets picked up as the bases for yet more of TV’s banalities.

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