Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Fifteen (Not Entirely) Impossible Things

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

(Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll)

This morning I woke up thinking, for some inexplicable reason, that what I REALLY needed to do was go get a PhD in feminist theory. Then I walked out into the living room and saw the cat rolling around on the floor in the remnants of my latest quilt project, the couch covered in yarn, drafts of a few writing projects strewn across the table, and my guitar sitting there reminding me there is a song to learn before Saturday’s lesson. Meanwhile, the cat has been busy removing books from the bookcase again, the recycling is piled up, and my bedroom looks like a bomb of clothes went off everywhere. I haven’t been to the gym in a month, and have been subsisting mostly on Luna bars, Cadbury eggs and diet Coke. (After 20 years, diet Pepsi has finally started tasting weird to me. Go figure.)

Sometimes, I think there is a fine line between creativity and mental illness.

But it actually gets worse, because I sat down at lunch today and made a list of the things I daydream about, thinking I will accomplish in the next 30 years or so (in no particular order):

1) Getting a PhD in feminist theory. (Some days it’s public policy.)
2) Getting an MFA in creative nonfiction. (Because apparently one master’s degree is not enough for me.)
3) Writing a book. (Some days it’s fiction, some days it’s essays about growing up in rural Maine. Other days it’s a coffee table book of photos of downtowns in Maine, an idea that was roundly trounced by three publishers when I tried to do it as a fundraiser several years ago.)
4) Starting my own business making quilts. (Partly because the idea of spending all day in pajamas sewing patchwork really resonates with me.)
5) Moving to Ireland for a year. (A place I’ve YET TO ACTUALLY STEP FOOT IN, though that will change soon enough.)
6) Going on some sort of meditation retreat. (Despite the fact that every time I meditate I fall asleep.)
7) Learning yoga. (Despite the fact that every time I try, I fall over and hurt myself.)
8) Becoming a vegetarian. (The most laughable one of all, since I hate vegetables and require one cheeseburger per week to function properly.)
9) Falling madly in love. (In my head he’s smart, funny, kind and creative. He doesn’t get angry when he finds pins in the carpet or knitting needles buried in the sofa cushions. And he will let my cat sleep on the pillow next to his head. Did I mention he adores me?)
10) Being able to play a guitar and sing at the same time, in the same key. (My neighbors would like this too.)
11) Having a house in the woods with a porch and a small garden and a sunny room with lots of windows that I can use for a studio, with quilts on the beds for when my nieces come to visit. There are lilac trees and a cat or two and maybe a dog and maybe even some chickens. (Oh, and raspberry bushes.)
12) Running for political office. (Usually this fantasy is me being Governor of Maine; given the current guy in office, this obsession has recently become infinitely less outlandish. And the fact that I no longer live in Maine is apparently no deterrent whatsoever to my imagination.)
13) Winning Powerball and moving back home to Maine where I would buy the old Opera House and rehab it into a community arts space. (I rarely buy lottery tickets, and usually when I do it’s because I’m at the gas station and need to break a $20 and I’m trying to cut down on the M&Ms in my life.) And then setting up a foundation where I give money away to artists and women’s organizations.
14) Going to law school, not because I want to practice law but because I loved constitutional law as an undergrad and still have this odd obsession with Supreme Court decisions. Or divinity school, not because I want to be a minister (or even go to church for that matter) but because I have an odd obsession with religion.
15) Becoming fluent in another language (despite six years of French, I can barely muster Je m’appelle Lori).

[And this doesn’t even include stuff like learning how to dye fabric, crochet, make those nuno felted scarves, or explore mixed-media collage. Thank God I have utterly no interest in learning how to spin yarn.]

All of these things are possible. Highly unlikely, in some cases, but possible, to one extent or another. Somehow, though, that just makes it worse. I can totally understand people who have a passion for something and pursue it…but what happens when you want to do a bunch of conflicting things all at once? While simultaneously holding down a day job – one which I actually really like – and spending 2+ hours a day commuting? And making sure you are the best aunt possible to three amazing kids? And, y’know, not made of money?

It kind of makes my head spin just thinking about it. I think I need to go lie down and knit.

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