I generally do not indulge myself in post-holiday depression because I am so often overcome by post-holiday euphoria: my children go back to school, my husband goes back to work, and I get the house to myself once again, the happiest circumstance. Now I can get work done.
Or so it’s been for the past few years. Last January and the January before, I threw my efforts into my graduate work. January 2007, I was applying for grants, freelancing for a magazine, working part-time for my blind friend on the weeks she was home from the hospital.
In May 2007, a friend offered to buy me a laptop so I could work while in grad school. We took my acceptance letter to the Apple store, to get an education discount. I said to my friend, we can return it if I just don’t open it. He pulled out his pocket knife for the UPC symbol on the box, for a rebate of some kind, and the deed was done. I was going to school, or else.
My blind friend entered the hospital for an extended stay, the same month. I was writing a story about her the morning she died in December 2007. Then came January 2008—behind on my reading for the first quarter, I determined I’d not get behind again.
In January 2009, I prepared my critical thesis and kept reading.
In August 2009, I finished grad school and packed my children up for a long road trip, following one travel extravaganza with another. From the passenger seat of the car, I phoned to accept a job offer, teaching a course for first-year students at a nearby college—for one semester. The semester ended in December and I spent the first days of my kids’ Christmas break grading papers.
When I look through my own papers, I find ticket stubs from Santa Fe and Cincinnati, and New Hampshire. My bedside is awash in student papers, literary journals, spiral-bound notebooks, and knitting projects.
We had a lovely Christmas. It snowed at the beginning, and snowed again at the end, and in the middle we stayed home most of the time, cooking, preparing, singing and enjoying our new gifts.
Now they go back to school and jobs and I am not a student anymore, not a teacher this semester. I am freelancing, or I am unemployed, or I am just catching up with myself. I am frustrated that I’ve gotten so little done this week: I’ve attended a school party for my sixth grader, applied for a state grant, organized a list of literary contest dates. I’ve written each day. I’ve begun to clean house and restore order to our lives.
I’ve not made resolutions nor lost 20 pounds. I’ve not cleaned the icons off my desktop. I’ve not won literary awards nor found a well-paid job. I’ve written a few email thank-yous, but not nearly enough for the gifts I’ve been given in the past year.
I will need to shed another skin to enter this new 2010 life of mine. I need to make my own deadlines, like a grown-up, and keep them. I will need to make inquiries for magazine stories.
A friend needs a babysitter for two days next week, at a pre-grad school rate of pay. Her father smiles as he says, “You will sleep well when you are done!” The two-year-old laughs and prances all day, then she naps. When her mother arrived home at the end of the day, the child pointed at me and announced, "Mama! She SINGS!" And so I do. It’s a happy match.
Catch up soon.