Friday, January 7, 2011

2011, the Idiot, and the Elusive Necessity of Yellow

So far, the New Year has proven a whirlwind of social activity. In fact, this week has kind of felt like a roller coaster ride between one visit and the next. Lots and lots of fun, but...  A friend of mine said it seemed like her best years often began with little to inspire confidence. So judging by the past seven days, here's hoping for a year of discipline, balance, and perspective. It's going to be exhausting just to recount the events of the week, but the mean streak in me wants to wear you out with it too. Starting with the Cheeks' house for New Year's Eve with Wii, movies, music and dancing - of course a very late night ending in a sleepover and completely wrecking the whole next day. (We were all pretty much lost causes on Saturday...but then that is sort of a normal condition for New Year's Day, isn't it?) Then Sunday evening at Grace's house for a conversation that ended up lasting past 1am, then on Monday to the movies (Secretariat!) with the Bennetts, followed by late-night stargazing on the Cowpens Battlefield, catching the Quadrantid meteor shower on a particularly beautiful, crystal clear night.

On Monday I found out about two great job opportunities but was also introduced to Prince Muishkin, one of the most captivating fictional men I have ever encountered. I met him in my NOOKcolor, in a set of 50 classics for two dollars, in the book entitled The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This is after learning about him in that book I mentioned in the previous blog post, deciding immediately that he would be my introduction to the great Russian author.

For the last few months I have known that January would be the beginning of my re-entry into so-called "real life." I have been healing, pressure free, for a while now, and pursuing my passions with gusto, but I knew that at some point I would need to begin, in earnest, to look for work. The kind that gives you reliable money. (It seems the penniless invalid artist persona has an expiration date.) Fortunately, two bones were thrown my way, on the very first Monday of the year. If I had been a good girl, or perhaps hadn't recently been spending so much time having fun with friends, or hadn't just this week reduced my medicine dose by half, certainly if I had not encountered Prince Muishkin, I might have jumped on it and been able to get those applications in by the end of Monday, Tuesday at the latest. But I am not a particularly good or industrious girl, and I have been spoiled rotten of late, so I have managed to drag the applications out all week whilst running around having a jolly time. At least I got one done today. If I can wrap the other one up by the end of tomorrow I won't beat myself up too badly.

But on to Tuesday. I had been staying up far later and spending more time out than I have since...before the Training, really. Plus I had just tapped into a novel more engrossing than any I have read since...again before the Training. Waking up befuddled, but with the earnest intention to spend a serious day's labor trying to procure employment, I was offered a proposition by my father: go with him to take Mom to work, and then take our Nooks to Barnes and Noble to sample their "select in-store offerings." I had a pretty strong suspicion that making that choice would put my job applications in the back seat, but I chose to, nonetheless. With guilty delight I read the Idiot all the way in the car. When we got to Barnes and Noble, I passively watched two or three hours slide away while devouring books, magazines, essays, and a free smoothie. I did run into an old college acquaintance and had a lovely chat and fellowship. He's on break from seminary. Never would have expected it of him. Weird wonderful world.

Having managed to fritter away the morning, I came home with a somewhat weakened resolve to continue work on the applications (I really despise filling out those things. In fact there is little in life that I find more unpleasant than job-hunting.) Perhaps half an hour into that, I get phone calls confirming an arrangement made to spend time with Pam, my best friend somewhat neglected of late. That led into an argument with my dad over transportation at the end of which I felt emotionally ruined, for the day. My last sprig of industriousness fled, I decided obstinately to curl up and escape it all with the book that had been haunting me, blessing me, wooing me for two days. I went up to my room, opened my Nook, and didn't come out for air all afternoon. After a brief dinner with my parents and pathetic token effort toward the job applications, I returned to Prince Muishkin and spent the evening with him, not seeing, hearing, or caring for anything in the world but to follow him and his Christlike love and sufferings all the way to his quiet, sad fate. Finishing the novel in the wee hours of the morning, I was exhausted, transported, and vaguely registering the fact that I'd managed to escape the job hunt for an entire day, and that consequently I would really need to "buckle down" in the morning.

Wednesday morning I did manage, somewhat, to "buckle down," but being rather sleep-deprived, overstimulated, and distracted (my dad's the worst help - constantly reminding me to "focus" while simultaneously accompanying me down every philosophical, theological, and fantastical tangent that pops into my head), the best I had in me to put toward the job applications was rather less than one could hope for. But dutifully I plugged at it until Pam's mother and sister came to whisk me away to their house for an afternoon and evening of Bollywood dance videos, Wii Fit, Kinect Dance Central, Rock Band, guitar lessons and improvisational adventures. Giddy and physically drained, I came home with the knowledge that if I didn't finish at least one of the applications the next day I was going to get kicked and would fully deserve it.

I am pleased to report that one application is in, complete with glowing cover letter and resume printed on Kinko's best. In addition to that mighty feat, today's activities have included picking up a score of library books, visiting the Hub City bookshop for the first time, catching up with Patrick Whitfill and Betsy Teter there, seeing my friend's boyfriend at the coffee shop next door and making the delightful discovery at the back of the shop that not only has Liz Blanchard realized her dream of a bake shop, but she and her husband Andrew have had their first child, a six-month-old girl named Simone.

Taking a most intriguing SC arts/music/culture magazine from the book shop to Venus Pie for lunch, I found out that Daniel Machado, with whom I had the pleasure of a brief conversation as fellow performers at Converse's Earth Day Concert back in '08, has, with his new band The Restoration, produced a noteworthy concept album called Constance. Its southern-gothic storytelling and history-laden accompanying compendium (resonance with the Decemberists here) appeal to me so greatly I am afraid I will be unable to resist, broke as I am. Going to give it a few days to see if I can really afford two week's worth of carrot juice earnings on a CD and book.

That's not even the end of it. I come home to find I missed Bryant dropping off some borrowed books by a mere 20 minutes. I make Suzanne's carrot juice, learn to make soy milk from Dad, and then Suzanne is over and we are watching a movie, eating marshmallows and a dinner of spinach and avocado smoothie. Not half an hour into the movie, we hear a knock on the door and find, to our utter surprise, Jidong Xiao and his six-year-old son Caleb, acquaintances from the church in Simpsonville. We have a lovely time with the Xiaos, playing and drawing with the son, talking Scriptures with the father, but don't finish our movie.

Now everyone's gone and I've just eaten into the early morning hours once again, this time on the computer. I figured I might as well make a full week of it. Maybe after I get that other application in, after Bible Study and after the Dixon's breakfast visit on Saturday, I will be able to calm down and begin to restore some measure of routine and balance into my life. I'm missing it sorely right now. The doctors since California have been beseeching me to engage in "structured activity." (It's the Yellow I crave. Too much Red, not enough Yellow - all play and no work makes Jane sore, tired, and poor.) Before the holidays, I was beginning, in my own odd way, to structure my life. It seems I am having to start all over again in 2011. Oh well. I guess that's what new years are for.

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