I’ve got a system

This has been a weird week, a hard week for many reasons.  I’ve got a lot of changes going on in my life and I’ve always been one to embrace change, but I usually have to freak out to myself a little bit to push on through.  Now I have a blog, so I guess you all get to freak out with me. 🙂

Last week my husband quit his job so that he could stay home and write.  He more than had my blessing to do this.  His job was horrible, he hated it and he brought all of his anxiety and frustration with his job home every day.  It was getting to the point where neither one of us knew why he was going to a job to make money to pay for a life that was, in fact, pretty freaking miserable. 

So, he’s home now.  With me.  All the time.  This first week we had some stumbling, some realizations that day-to-day life wasn’t going to work the way it did when he was only home late in the evenings and on the weekends. 

We each get a two-hour block in the day to write while the other tends to the kids.  That is working out okay, but we’re still trying to wean the kids from asking me for everything.  I drop the boy off at school and he picks up.  I get the trash ready and he wheels the bins out to the curb.  You get it.

It’s nice to have help and it’s…hard for me to have help.

We went to the grocery store.  You guys know how I like the grocery store and I use it for thinking time, plotting time?  I like to go down all the aisles because I rarely make a grocery list and I depend on seeing things to remember that we need them.  My husband is an efficient person.  He goes to the grocery store for what’s on the list and then he leaves.

I’m standing over by the eggs and he takes the cart with the kids in it and goes down the soda aisle to get his Dr. Pepper.  And I just…

That’s not the way I do things.  So, I marched down the aisle, huffily put the eggs and the milk in the cart, grabbed it by the handle and said, “I’ve got a system!”

He let me push the cart until it was time to go out to the parking lot and load the car.

We’ve been together for twelve years, so I’m thinking he has a system too.  A system for dealing with me and all my systems. 🙂

Then, the next day I got word that my cousin had passed away unexpectedly.  We hadn’t seen each other in decades, but he’d joined Facebook a few months ago and we’d chatted a couple of times – about sports, about kids, about our parents and our granny.  Say what you will about Facebook being a time-suck, but it did give me some “time” to spend with him that I will always be grateful for.

Naturally this made me depressed and being depressed is something that I always feel like I need to drive myself to get over as soon as possible. Because I have children and responsibilities, I can’t become a useless person who sleeps all day, even if that’s what I want to do. 

I always try to picture myself on the other side of it.  My system for that is a lot of driving and crying and listening to loud music.  A lot of standing outside and staring at the sky. It only kind of worked this time around.  So, without becoming useless, I’m trying to just hang out with the feeling and let it be.

I’d been on a roll with Glow, writing over 1K a day (which is good for me), but I struggled with writing yesterday and only got 880 words out. When I reached the end of my alloted writing time, I realized that I knew what came next but I just didn’t feel like writing it.  And then I thought some more and realized that not only did I know what came next in the chapter I was working on, but I knew what came next for the rest of the book.

That’s never happened to me before.

Should I make an outline?  Was I going to forget what I knew?

It seemed dumb to go with my regular system of jotting bits and pieces down on Post-it notes when I knew it all.  That’s an assload of Post-its.  Like, a whole pack.

I noodled on the idea of writing an outline for a day. Got my courage up from talking to some ROW80 peeps and reading and commenting on a blog post by Kristie Cook. So, when it was my writing time today, instead of writing I outlined the remaining chapters in Glow – chapters 8-21.  And they just poured out of my head.  It took me twenty minutes.

Okay, I didn’t so much make a formal outline as I wrote a summary of what happened in each chapter, including snippets of dialogue and gave each chapter an overall theme.  Still, it’s all there. I felt like I’d finished writing the book.

It was weird, but I felt…better.  Lighter. Cool with things.

I’ve said before that I’m the most human-y human that ever lived (or something like that) and like all humans, I’ve got control issues.

But I can adapt.  I can change.  I can trade out one system for another or, hell, completely get rid of a system that doesn’t do me good anymore. 

And if I can do it, so can you.

Sometimes you just have to hand over the shopping cart.

14 thoughts

  1. This was an awesome and touching post, Stacey, and one I relate to. As much as I love my husband, I cannot cope with him being here with me all time, showing me how I can improve all my systems–or lack thereof. Just…no. So more power to you.

    I’m sure there are going to be people who think the whole job quitting thing was nuts, but as much as a certain level of “security” seems important, what is it when things at the job are so bad that that it’s taking such a physical toll on your spouse? There’s nothing secure about killing yourself with stress.

    We went through this too, and the shift from the tech world, to an extended period of underemployment (low-pay, unskilled labor stuff), to finally finding a whole new line of work starting at about a third, maybe, of the previous annual salary–that was really hard.

    But totally worth it.

  2. While you’re seeing more of your husband, mine informed me this morning that he would be working 7 pm to 7 am for a long while, and mostly six days a week. Grrrrr. The only drawback to having my husband at home (which he was for several months when he was out of work)is that we kind of argue over what to watch on TV. Oh, plus he was hogging my computer. LOL

    I wish you and your husband the best of luck on the new arrangement and hope it all works out great for you. I didn’t even know your husband was a writer. I can’t even get mine to read my work. :0)

  3. Oh, Stacey, I want to give you a hug. I’m sorry there’s so much stuff happening at once. It’s when everything comes together that it becomes a need to step back for a second and just take a breath and hope that it will feel . . . different. You’ll find your footing again, promise. I’m sorry about your cousin, that must have been shocking. I get what you mean about knowing what will happen but not having the will to write it. That’s what happens to me too. I know I’m not saying anything remotely helpful, I swear I’m more useful in real life. 🙂

    But, best of luck to you and your hubby. I hope it goes well, I don’t believe in wasting time in a job you hate either. When my OH stayed home, it felt like he was taking my place but really he was making a place of his own. Still, it’s a hard adjustment – we all have systems. 🙂 I always get the impression that you’re a bounce-back kind of person, you get on with whatever is thrown at you. I’m sure you’ll all get through this intact. 😉

  4. Insightful post. My sister had a similar situation and its all a mattter of figuring out how to make it work for both of you. That’s great you had a flash if inspiration and got a outline done for the rest of the book. I love when everything falls into place. Sorry to hear about your cousin. Kudos for facebook.

  5. Thanks, Claire! I’m accepting virtual hugs this week only. 🙂
    I was just about to reply to your post when I saw you replied to mine. Instead, I went to Twitter and blocked all my spammers. I THOUGHT they were writers I was following and vice versa, but no! Seriously, who has the time to track down other writers and spam them? And who thinks this is an effective marketing technique?
    Super annoying on FB too. If I like your book, I’ll promote it on my page. Please don’t do it for me! The last person who did that is now a very famous Author Behaving Badly, so in my eyes, she’s been behaving badly all along!

  6. I’m glad to hear that someone else gets why we did what we did. Yes, most people think we’re nuts.
    It’s already been totally worth in the sense that my husband is actually happy and fun to be around again.

  7. Oh, my husband doesn’t read my work either! LOL
    The never having him home that you’re dealing with doesn’t sound fun at all. Sorry for that!
    Looks like we’ll both be on the computer more. 🙂

  8. Off-topic, but how great is wordpress for keeping track of comments! I finally feel on top of things. Okay, just a little, but still. 😀

    I keep saying I’m going to do a clear-out but there’s just so many of them that I avoid it instead. I know, it’s gotten crazy – is it working for them though? And how do they ever get any work done, all that spamming must take up a lot of time. I get tired just deleting it all. 😉

  9. Sorry to hear about your cousin. I’ve never discounted online/electronic mediums of communication (it’s the quality of the interaction that counts!).

    I guess I’ve got “control issues” to some extent too (perhaps everyone does).

    Good to hear about your positivity re: system changes. I try to keep going during “down times” also. Will usually try to channel all the negativity into something positive.

  10. Yes, sometimes you do have to let go of the shopping cart. 😉
    Awesome post. Good luck, and just remember: space. Everyone needs it, and it’s all about balance.

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