Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nothing is at hand

Photo by romanlily/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tonight I sliced not one, but two fingers with our new kitchen knife. Serves me right; I was using the wrong blade for the task at hand -- a long vegetable slicer to chop basil -- and the knife insisted on slipping gently to the left twice in a row, as if to call attention to my rookie error with a couple strikes.

As such, the cuts are not deep. They drew no blood, just nicked my nails and created two tiny, jagged edges that I did not have time to file before I left (already late) for Writing Club, so now when I rub my fingers absentmindedly at the keyboard, I am reminded of my missteps.

Such is my life these days, a brisk march -- or should I say aimless ramble? -- of inefficiency that finds my muscle memory out of date, my judgment delayed, and my mental to-do lists under constant threat of scattering. I no longer feel like the reliable and punctual person I have always prided myself on being, and to tell the truth, it's making me anxious.

I could cut myself some slack, I suppose. In the last six weeks, I moved my house, moved my desk, threw a wedding, began married life, and started preparing for my first shared international trip with my spouse. But I don't cut myself much slack. I'm Type A, a top producer. I can't let incidentals like Metro track work and stifling heat waves and fruit fly upticks stand in my way. I am a doer, dammit, and doers DO, in time and on time.

One layer of what's bothering me boils down to logistics. I've had to replan all my public transit routes, for example, which in turns affects my once-precise, now-unpredictable time estimates. My internal meal-planning calculator has not yet readjusted for another mouth who may or may not remember to bring his lunch. And morning wakeup calls and bedtime rituals have taken on a "come what may" quality, in that as long as they happen and we don't miss important meetings, we consider them a success.

Ah, there's that "we" -- the indicator of the deeper layer that's really at work in my current unsettled state. At the heart of it, I have been thrown off course by the simple fact of having another person in my daily life. Up until six weeks ago, he was a very pleasant and deftly managed visitor within my carefully calibrated routine; now he has become a still-pleasant but variable constant, one with different alarms and different hours and different habits and different, well, different everything. (Something I'm sure he is also thinking about me.)

What I professed to know intellectually about the transition to married life is now hitting me with full emotional honesty: I am on a learning curve. A steep one, too. It encompasses learning about myself, about my spouse, about the routines and habits that constitute not just my life, but also the perception of my life that I've held since going off to college. I am realizing, with abashed clarity, how truly convicted I am in the "rightness" of my ways. Surely no other technique can be as efficient or productive. Surely my methods do not require evolution. Surely if I keep hacking at the basil with the wrong knife, the knife will eventually see the wisdom of my approach and fall into line rather than into my fingers. Right? Isn't that how this works?

I have brought a vegetable slicer to a gun fight, and the gun is winning.

As well it should, though. My routines are important -- they make me healthy, calm, productive -- but so are the shared routines currently under development. What we create together will find a way to balance our individual needs with our unified ones. Besides, six weeks is nothing in the grand arc of our life together. We have time; now we will add patience.


Prayer #303: Misplaced Mise en Place

I'm left of where I was.

I see where I used to sit, reliably within reach for all who needed me, but my recent move down the countertop has shifted my existence. Where once I jumped into action, ready and sure, now I await rediscovery, shy and uncertain. Every meal feels ... off. Or maybe I am the only thing that's changed?

Domestic God of hearth and heart -- rearrange my shelves, scatter my habits, but please, when the dust settles (and I have remembered to wipe it up), reveal to me who I've become.

Amen.