Lately, I’ve been staring down a multiple-choice quiz. It’s actually just one question, and it goes like this:
1. What should I do now?
a) Get a puppy.
b) Have a baby.
c) Go back to school.
d) Do something with houses/renovation/real estate/move.
e) Write a novel.
I probably won’t have a baby. Much as I think I’d love to, it’s probably just a residual longing, a sadness that my kids are growing up. If I could get a written assurance that I would not have morning sickness, I might do it, but the thought of going through that again is enough to cross this answer out.
The puppy is just a baby stand-in. Just something to smother with love that isn’t quite as demanding (I think?) as an infant, and something to play with the kids so that I don’t have to. I really would probably go get one this weekend (there’s a particular one I’ve been following, and I am already approved to get her), but the one thing that is holding me back is the barking. I just am not sure if I can take barking on top of three kids’ screaming. When I was little and I would ask my parents what they wanted for Christmas or their birthdays, they would snarl, “Peace and quiet.” Yup.
Also, my husband has made it clear that I’m on my own as far as a dog, making it more daunting.
Now, going back to school. I’ve been looking at a few online programs. Intellectual challenges? Yes please. Future fitness for workforce re-entry? No doubt a good thing. Paying for it? I’ll figure something out. But do I really have the time for it? It’s easy to make plans during Christmas vacation, when I don’t have to get up early in the morning or make lunches or do hardly anything, really. Life will be crazy again come Jan. 5. This is something that might work better next fall, when all 3 kids will be in school all day. So says my husband, anyway, who has been very clear-minded and practical about these things lately. I just want to go out and do stuff and worry about the consequences later, and he’s all responsible and shit. Very weird role reversal going on here lately. (Of course, he also wants all of us to go on vacation in the Bahamas this winter, so I guess it’s easier to be clear-minded about other people’s ideas.)
Choice d) is tempting. I am always looking at houses for sale, and went to see one back in November that I loved. But I’d hate to go through the trouble of moving and still wind up restless. There is a financial aspect to it — I think that we could reduce a lot of our expenses by downsizing somewhat. But I just don’t know if the savings would be so significant as to warrant giving up this house, yard, and neighborhood that we are so attached to. As far as remodeling this house, I’m thinking that I could work on plans/colors/etc., develop a folder of ideas, go nuts on Pinterest, but I don’t really want to spend any money on remodeling til later this year or next.
How about choice e)? Oh, writing. The only way I could commit to finishing a novel in 2015 is by setting up some kind of accountability system. I’ll never do it otherwise. It’s too easy to let writing fall to the bottom of the priority list. There’s always something with the kids, or I’m tired, or whatever. And as much as I love writing, working on a book is so hard and the payoff is questionable. I could work on it all year and it could suck. And I would know it sucked, believe me. Then at the end of 2015, I’d be like, what did I do to improve the world this year? Oh, I wrote a sucky novel. Good job!
At least the frugality/sustainability writing has a chance of having a practical impact. Many times this past year, I’ve gone out to the Lady Lair with the intention of working on the novel, only to switch to a blog post, because there’s more instant gratification, in terms of content and in knowing somebody is reading it.
Soooo… what I’ve been thinking is… could I combine the two? What if I set myself a task of publishing the novel via the blog, a chapter every week or two weeks or whatever? You, dear readers (all 15 of you), would hold me accountable. I’ve found over this year that I do feel a sense of obligation to the blog that makes me try to publish at least weekly, basically because I read somewhere that consistency helps retain readers. I also think it would be neat to see what a publishing deadline and a serial-type format would do for my writing, especially in terms of plot, which is my weakest area.
It just sounds like fun, and mostly I think I need a little fun, plus a little mental stimulation.
A long time ago, I read something by Anna Quindlen in which she recalled talking with an elderly woman who said she felt sorry for the women of today because they have too many choices. (I can’t find it on the Internet now, but I swear it existed. I think in a collection of her NY Times columns.) I’m not good with too many choices. Watch me try to order dinner in a restaurant. I know ultimately choice is a good thing. I’m glad I have access to birth control, to education, to a loan to buy a house, to the Internet. But I am a little overwhelmed right now. In the face of choice, it’s easy to succumb to what someone else or something else thinks you should do. No dog, says the husband. Yes, have a baby, says the Church.
I’ll just keep trying to puzzle out the answer for myself…