Anne Notations

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy happy Saturday

I live for these days – the Saturdays when sun spills through our south-facing windows and the bay sparkles bright blue, dotted with gulls and geese. The days when Michael is home and makes the best coffee – I don't bother drinking it except on weekends when he's here – and I sit with one of my blue and white mugs on the sofa, drawing in the rich coffee goodness and reading the Providence Journal. Michael sits at the kitchen island drinking his coffee, and thanks to our little house's open floor plan we trade remarks about what we're reading, which right now has a lot to do with college sports – mostly the NCAA hockey Sweet 16 but also basketball March Madness.

I walk the dogs at 8 a.m. along our shore, and because it's cold with a fierce north wind blowing, we have the place to ourselves. They run off-leash (me gripping the remote collar controller in my right hand just in case I need to remind them what "Come!" means, but they've learned well and thankfully I almost never use it anymore), tumbling alongside one another, play-jawing and leaping over each other's backs, briefly lost in pure canine ecstasy. Yogi collects mussel shells and rocks from the sand and carries them in his big funny mouth; he makes me laugh. We practice "Out!" so he'll release them for me. After a half-hour, breathless and windblown, the dogs thunder up the front porch steps like stampeding elephants. I make them sit and wait for the invitation,and then we come in to the warmth of the house.

Saturdays have always been oases, the one day I wasn't either working or getting ready for Monday's work. Now, more than ever, I treasure them for the full day of being with my husband before he returns to New Hampshire on Sunday. I've become accustomed to living alone most of the time; indeed, I've enjoyed my own company ever since I was a young girl playing in my big bedroom closet with dolls and Breyer horses and troll figurines, constructing elaborate rooms and towns for them out of shoeboxes and cardboard.

But I'm also a companionable person, and the freelance life can be a lonely one in between interviews and the occasional client meeting. My old work environment at Brown, I realize, was my social life as well. And while I've kept in touch with friends from the workplace, it's not the same; it never is without the daily casual contact the office affords. So on Saturdays I feel like a flower opening in the warm sunshine of my husband's presence. I'm nearly giddy. I talk too much! – something he remarks on wryly. That makes me laugh.

Such luxury, to have a loved one nearby to hear me laugh!

Later we'll watch college hockey on TV, and maybe an On Demand movie – we've wanted to see The Fighter. We'll get takeout from the Greek place on Oakland Beach Avenue; the moussaka pizza is to die for. I'll do some laundry and change the sheets.

My Saturdays are full of the simplest pleasures. Thank God.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nothing but the (partial) truth

When Sigmund Freud's nephew passed along an editor's proposal that he write his memoirs, Freud demurred with the scruples of a scientist. "A psychologically complete and honest confession of life," he responded, "would require so much indiscretion about family, friends, and enemies, most of them still alive, that it is simply out of the question. What makes all autobiographies worthless is, after all, their mendacity."

In a way that's how I've been feeling about this blog – this poor, neglected, cobwebby blog. This beloved blog.

I've loved writing here and sharing my thoughts and modest adventures as I fumble my way through life these past six years. The problem is, I've begun to self-censor to the point of verbal constipation. I'll think of something or someone to write about and then shut down: "No, that wouldn't be prudent." Because it might cost me a future job or recommendation. Or jeopardize my severance package. Or simply make me look like a colossal whiner.

So here I am in mid March, up to my eyeballs in a Norovirus that has knocked the stuffing (quite literally) out of me since Sunday night and also, much more pleasantly, in freelance research and writing. For the first time in my life, I have no employer except ME. I think I'm happy about that. I know I'll be much happier when I finish clearing out my workspace at home and making it more like a real office. I'm completing a smaller writing project that has been rewarding – Oh, how I've missed interviewing people! – and am launching a year-long family history book project on behalf of a dear, admired friend.

While my health insurance situation is taking a nose dive and I no longer have either a pension or a free RIPTA bus pass, I'm lucky to have any sort of work, and I know it. Also on the plus side, our kids are doing well in their respective colleges and careers. I lucked into a fun if hectic six-month creative gig at Hasbro Inc. that ended last month. A scary biopsy in December came back clear. The death-row shelter pit bull I adopted impulsively in November has settled in, not without some major drama, such as a terrifying fight between Daisy and Yogi last month that I managed to break up with my bare, trembling hands.

Yogi's adoration (something I truly need right now, even from a dog) and his silly antics, our growing bond, and my walks with him and dear old Daisy on the beach every morning help salve my loneliness. Michael, newly a college president in New Hampshire after nearly two years of living and working in Connecticut, comes home on weekends when he can. These years apart undeniably are changing our relationship. Most of the time I live as a true empty-nester, a role that doesn't come naturally.

Where does all this leave my blog? When my most regular contact with friends happens via pithy status updates on Facebook, what shall I say here?

I have written something tonight, the hardest step of all. I hope I'll be back.