Tuesday, September 18, 2007


A big contributing factor to the Funk is sheer, absolute panic. My mother-in-law, who has lived in our building for 8 years, announced last week that she is moving by this coming weekend. This means huge changes for us, in a very short time. First of all, this awesome woman, who moved in two months before Bobby was born, will no longer be right downstairs. Secondly, we will not be able to use her apartment as an "annex" to our tiny, cramped, dump of a place. Family gatherings in our building will cease (our place is too small to host our growing family). We will no longer be able to use her printer/fax/copier, steal her New Yorker magazines and NY Times, borrow the proverbial cup of sugar (or, in Bob's case, coffee). Our child-care situation will change--no more occasional sleepovers at "Gramus" when Mom and Dad are going to be out late, no taking the kids downstairs for a bit so Mom or Dad can work upstairs.

The last few times we renewed the lease on our undermarket, unrenovated two-bedroom, we rationalized staying another year with the assumption that we would have Ma's place to spill over into while she was at work. (And she was always very generous in allowing us to invade her home.) At the time it did not occur to us that she would move. Even if we could afford to move, now we're stuck until next August in a home that has been non-functional for quite some time.

Yes, this is totally selfish. The landlords had jacked up her rent ridiculously, and her new place (which is in the first floor of my sister-in-law's building) is lower rent and newly renovated, and there's a new grandbaby just two floors up. I'm happy for her, I just wish we'd had more time to prepare, could have seen it coming. And it would help if we had more than $29 in our checking account right now.

And while I'm venting, feeling childish and self-absorbed, one more thing, in case anybody is listening: I am on sabbatical, not on vacation. This is not "free time" to play around, nor does it mean extra time for home improvement, cookery, or even playing with the kids. My employer has granted me a leave from teaching and administrative work so I can complete a project (based on a proposal, submitted last fall, that in itself took a great deal of effort and time I didn't have) the proportions of which I have never before completed.

For the first time since 1996, I do not have to help other people with their writing (dozens and dozens of them at a time--I've taught 4-5 classes, or the equivalent, each semester for over a decade). I can focus entirely on my own. Unfortunately, this is not always freeing. This is, in fact, scary. Especially because I am accountable to FIT for this time, and I must produce a book. I am daunted and stressed, my courage is faltering. I only have one semester, and it's going by much too quickly. I've waited a very long time for this, and I will have to wait seven years for another such opportunity. The last thing I need is to feel guilty on top of it.

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