So I was pretty miffed about the Convergences thing and I thought long and hard about composing a letter of protest to Lawrence Weschler, but really I have no evidence of a crime and no way to prove my essay came first other than an email I sent that he never responded to. Plus I would likely spend hours agonizing over every word in the letter and then when I got no reply (again) or a reply of denial, I would kick myself for wasting my time which is what frustrated me about the whole thing in the first place. I have better things to worry about right now. Like the fact that whenever I put her down in the backyard, my daughter won’t stop eating dirt clods.
Another thing I’m worried about right now is my 20th year reunion coming up in two months. Several months ago when I made the realization that it had been 20 years since I graduated from high school, I vowed to get in shape and look my best for the reunion. I’m not sure why this is so important to me. My friends – the people I hung out with in school and still keep in touch with – have already seen me at my best and worst and love me for who I am. But strangely, it’s not them I’m worried about. I want to look good to all the other 450 members of my graduating class whom I hardly know and have not seen in 20 years and will likely never see again. This is completely absurd, I know, but there it is. I’m a mother, a college professor, a confident, mature adult; but put me in a room with my graduating class and I am 16 again, obsessed with what other people think of me, worried that my hair will go flat before 4th period, convinced that all the keys to happiness are held by the thin, tan, well-dressed popular creatures who glide down the halls like demigods.
But then I have those rational moments where I say, “pshaw to the class of ’87! What do I care what they think of me?” and I sit in bed reading the fifth Harry Potter book for the 4th time instead of jogging and I eat chocolate chips by the handfuls, which is why my vow to get in shape isn’t going so well. I’ve always been a black and white thinker. I don’t spend much time in the gray areas of life. I am skinny. I am fat. I am dieting and training for a marathon. I am a slug.
Mark Rothko, Black on Grey
I feel this way about most things, not just dieting. Maybe I take the whole “those who are lukewarm will be spewed” warning too seriously because I tend to go for the extremes. Some days I come up with a stroke of genius idea for my class and I think I’m the worlds most brilliant teacher. Other days I stand up there struggling to remember a simple word like “superstition” and I realize I’m a total fraud. One moment I’m already mentally spending the millions I’m going to make from my best-selling novel. The next I’m utterly embarrassed by my various pathetic attempts at a first chapter. Are my kids fortunate to have me as a mom? Or will they rightfully tell their therapists someday that all their phobias, hang-ups and failings are all my fault? She was always nagging me about putting away my cereal bowl and she never shared the chocolate chips!
Maybe I need to wallow in moderation once in a while. Today, for example, there’s a lull before the storm (end of one term, beginning of another) and I don’t feel like donning my Nazi uniform for the SS Chore and Practice Patrol. My boys are playing with Lego in their pajamas and I’m okay with that. My house is not a total disaster, but it’s not clean by any stretch of the imagination either. I’m an average mother of typical dimensions with a medium-sized collection of un-recycled grocery bags wadded up in her garage. I am not Paris Hilton and I am not Rosanne Barr. I am something in between.