"Let us not be ashamed to speak what we shame not to think."
-Michel de Montaigne

Friday, April 30, 2010

Crisis Mode, or, Who's On Your Team?

"People often meet their destiny on the road they take to avoid it"--French Proverb

I came home Wednesday night completely spent. The end of the semester is wrapping up, and I've been pulling late hours or waking up at 3-4am to get my assignments done before work because it's the only quiet time I can manage to get with a toddler in the house.

Bleary-eyed and hunched over from the weight of my laptop bag I came in the door to be greeted by my best friend sitting on the couch. He took one look at me and said, "You look like a zombie." My thoughts exactly.

(AN ASIDE: I love friendships that are honest. I love friends that will tell you: "Yeah, you look like crap in those shorts, go change." It's real love, truly, to be honest with people).

After throwing my bag down, I made my way to the basement (where it sounded like a small war was happening because my husband was playing Halo with the surround sound on). He was just about to start a game when I sat down in front of him and began to bellow like my two year did last week after I told her she could not wear her playtime princess heels to bed.

Wretched and exhausted, I told him about the relentless conversation I'd been having in my head all week:

Bad Christeene: "Drop out. Drop out and write."
Good Christeene: "Who says you're even any good at it?"
Bad Christeene: "Who says you'll be a good librarian?"
Good Christeene: "You're 30k in debt. You've invested an entire year."
Bad Christeene: "She doesn't want to invest another minute."

Jason looked at me with those tender eyes that I love, his arms curled around my legs, and said "Forget the money. I will support you no matter what you choose." Right there. That moment. The two of us in the basement with the Halo intro blaring, was the moment I remembered why I married him, and not someone else.

I am fighting a war against myself. The good girl that everyone praises (including myself), wants a stable career. She wants multiple degrees so she can reassure herself and others that she is good enough, smart enough despite where she came from. She wants stainless steel appliances, an annual vacation to the beach, and a retirement fund. She wants respect and validation.

I have not registered for fall semester, and I am praying on whether or not I will. It's not that I don't love the library/librarians (libraries are my favorite places!), or that I think it's impossible to have a day job and be a writer (most do). But it's good to know, that no matter what I choose, I have amazing people on my team. And that makes all the difference.


  1. I have this fight, this dialog, this dilemma in my head and in my life EVERY SINGLE DAY and sometimes, EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of every single day...exhausting! The reality is there is no good answer. When I start my grad program (in a million years), I won't have a moment to art. Even now, I am barely making enough money to count while not having a moment to dedicate to myself, my art: lose lose. It is hard to think I am working this hard in order to not art. I totally get this. Whatever you chose, I am happy to see you have that support! It makes all the difference. Hard things never pay off unless you have the support, especially in the ugly times...which, arn't all times ugly times in some way?

    I am having this problem myself, so it is hard to tell someone what to do, but I will say try and be proud of your accomplishments, even when they are riddled with shortfalls. I am trying to do that. Otherwise, we will never be what we think we should. I have been struggling with things that have not been my choice. I have friends who are graduating with their doctorates, living overseas in amazing places, and having solo art shows in Germany amongst the hippest artists. But who has more to be proud of? This person with such obvious success who has had full financial support, no obligations, and been taken care of in every way possible for the 30 years, or someone like myself with none of those credentials/experiences but who has overcome/still overcoming so many obstacles just to stay above water. I am trying to think, maybe the latter is more praise worthy. At least, in my own head, I am trying to give that person more praise.

    Best of luck!!!

  2. Best of luck-so glad you have a support system it is so challenging balancing it all but you my neice are very centered and focused and when I grow up instead of grown out (LOL) I want to be just like you. Thanks for reminding me that we can be like Nike and - just do it! PS I haven't registered for next sememster either I did apply for graduation though baby steps.

  3. niece I meant to write so tired from last night late night class

  4. And semester too where is the spell check on this LOL! Great Blog!I love the way you write!

  5. A quote for Christeene:

    "Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still."
    Henry David Thoreau

    Keep gnawing.

  6. I completely feel your pain! I know what a struggle school can be - and I REALLY feel your pain on the money invested aspect. You are truly blessed to have a great support system and even more blessed to be able to identify your TRUE passion. Embrace it and enjoy every minute of it - even through the exhaustion! You're truly awesome and I admire your ambition, artistry and intelligence!