Please excuse my mess. I am currently in the process of changing my website’s appearance and focus. Reopening soon!
How many ways can one procrastinate? I have a long way to go to reach the pinnacle of procrastination. When I wrote papers for my classes from grade school through graduate school, I was obsessed with having them ready to turn in before the due date. Once an assignment was given, I began working on it right away. Whether the assignment was due the following day, the next week or at the end of a semester, I felt pressured to have it ready on time. Now the pressures rarely have any of the dire outcomes I anticipated if I was late for anything, but often I create my own dire outcomes.
Procrastination may not have come easy, but is an art I am rapidly learning. Putting things off is one thing, yet stuff needs to be done so happily or grudgingly or at times obsessively, I still want to do things on time. If I don’t get to the airport well before the suggested 2 hour time frame I panic. I need to get to the theater at least a half hour before the show even if the seats are reserved. That gives me plenty of time to judge all those folks who are scrambling to find seating at the last moment, or even worse once the show has begun!
I am however becoming a master at doing lots of things in preparation for doing or starting a project and can spend an inordinate amount of time planning my planning. Getting any necessary supplies together adds to the slowness of my completing anything. Lists must be written, and I will even rewrite a list that has a grammatical error or is messy-like anyone at the grocery store would notice or give a shit that I misspelled cereal. Which I would never do!
All this preparatory writing is to set the stage for what I did today. Going to the gym and the bank was done in a very timely fashion, but once home with plans in mind for what I wanted to do, the effort to follow through took multiple turns and as I write this I still haven’t done anything I’d planned. I am working towards my goals but have sat here at my desk shuffling through all the lists that clutter it and deciding what to throw away. Ultimately I don’t throw anything away and end up with neater piles of scraps of paper. I’ll do it tomorrow….
I do not need to write this and as I do I consider the fact that nobody needs to or will read it. Not only that but what I am putting off are things that I look forward to having time to do, like painting. And painting is a good excuse for putting off vacuuming. I used to be fanatical about having a house devoid of fur tumbleweeds, but now? Sitting on the porch doing nothing is a perfectly good alternative and gives me time to contemplate all the stuff I could be, or should be, doing. I get a goodly amount of mental exertion by running ideas in circles around my head. That is comparable to the circles I spin while standing in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom or walking through the house. I need a spinometer. That is an idea that I can take hours pondering. Hmm?
Apparently I never got around to reading The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Maybe the fact that she had inscribed a copy for me created the illusion that I had taken in the words, but then my book group chose this book. I pulled it off my bookshelf and set it on the table figuring a quick peek would be enough to remember the story. As our meeting approached, I finally picked it up and realized that I had no idea what it was about. It’s not that I forgot. I’d just forgotten to read it.
Wow, how glad I was that I was brought round to the Round House a mere seven years after its publication. The first sentence, “Small trees had attacked my parents’ house at the foundation,” was indicative of my reaction to this book. I attacked it. Maybe it attacked me, but I was captured within the very trauma experienced by the mother, the family and community that surrounded her, and the larger reality of how so little has changed for people whose history was written by men and women who profited by creating false realities.
As with a lot of nonfiction The Round House, based as it is on a modern Native Indian family living on a reservation, brings to the forefront some truths about the awful realities and conditions faced by the majority of American Indians, past and present.
Readers should be captivated and upset, horrified actually, by this story. A reader might want to pass judgement on the actions of the characters, yet the reactions of the characters to the situations, agreeable or not, justifiable or not, legal or not, cannot be separated from history.
The Round House is a story that I will not forget-well, the characters’ names maybe and some of the action-but never the feeling that surrounded my conscience.
The Afterward in this book details some facts of which few outside of Indian communities are aware. Few people know that Native Women along the Northern American and Canadian border are being murdered and/or disappearing. Newsworthy? Why bother? Who cares?
Given the current attitudes that seem to be reverting to hate and discrimination, it is frightening to read Erdrich’s story and realize that gains and protections for women and minorities are rapidly being whittled and legislated away. The continuation of lies and covering up of facts is a purposeful act. Not knowing, caring or acting is a purposeful act. To read Erdrich’s book and remain unaffected and unchallenged is testimony to the strength of her words.
I have a shelf of Erdrich’s books and all are fascinating, but this one affected me in a way the others hadn’t. Maybe it’s just too close to the reality of so many. Me Too.
On Bumper Sticker:
Jesus loves you, everybody else thinks you’re an asshole
Message on a streaming digital school sign:
One part congratulated a school team for winning the Chapionship, and another reminded students about a school socail. Education at work!
Struggling through a tar pit is a familiar feeling for some of us who live with depression. The struggle may be kept at bay with psychiatric pharmaceuticals which is an enormous relief for some.
Still the demons lurk in the background. Sometimes I forget, or at least hope, that the darkness won’t envelop me once again.
While on occasion there is an almost imperceptible shift in my view of the world, more often than not it is a sudden collapse, and I drop precipitously into the pit of doom. A good scene for a horror movie. For a person who is depressed the horror is all too real.
No, I cannot just get out of it and think of all I have to be grateful for. No, I cannot get over it by thinking about someone else, someone who has it worse than I. The fact is I can do these things. I am grateful for all that I have, and I can be glad about helping another who asks for or needs my help.
I can know all this. I can know how those close to me would feel if I decide life is more than I can handle. I have put my loved ones in this position and am fortunate to be able to write this. I understand why others take this final and irreversible step, yet even knowing this I get angry at them.
The bleakness of my world in times of depression is all consuming. Everything is hard and exhausting. I will never emerge from the misery and often don’t even care. For those who step in to throw a lifeline with no judgement attached, I know what you’re doing even if I can’t be bothered to acknowledge the proffered hand or help myself.
Despite myself, eventually the tar pit becomes less thick and the struggle is less of a slog. The darkness and the demons recede and the pit of doom is less doomful. Life returns. It feels not unlike returning home from a long trip and having to reorient myself.
Time to breathe and hope.
“The work of language deserves our greatest care, for the tongue’s fire may devour the world, or may light the way.”
Scott Russell Sanders