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March 21, 2012

Escape

Filed under: Motherhood, Personal — Tags: , , , , , , — llcall @ 5:00 pm

Before I went downstairs to eat lunch this afternoon,  I quickly grabbed something from my Read/Review pile (a GTD suggestion) to entertain me.  It was a 1960 article from the Mississippi Valley Historical Review called, “Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature.”  When I read the title, all my life problems suddenly became crystal clear: I read things like “Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature” as entertainment.  It wouldn’t be a problem if this was actually entertaining, but no, it’s not (no offense, David Brion Davis).  It is exactly what it sounds like — a careful examination of nativist literature from the 19th century, published in a reputable historical review.

I sorely need a little fun in my life, a little escapism.  (Oddly, I started a similar journey almost exactly one year ago.  I guess it didn’t take since I’m back at it a year later.)  I’ve been thinking about this over the past week as I watch Neal pull out his novels, turn on his computer games, or flip on the television during his free moments.  He just escapes . . . in a way that completely eludes me.  I think about what I do when I have free time: I read and I write.  But I don’t read escapist things (see above) and I don’t write to escape my life, but rather to analyze and understand it.  Thinking about this topic over the past week (when I have dearly wished I could do something fun and escapist — without getting out of bed!), it has sort of collided with that Steinbeck quote I keep mentioning: “Nothing good gets away.”  And I’ve realized that one of the reasons that I don’t escape is that I’m too mindful of not letting any good ideas get away.  I’m reading some random Facebook link and instead of just enjoying it in the moment, it sparks something, and I suddenly feel this added sense of responsibility to capture and preserve that spark, that something good.  This is one of the reasons I have a love/hate relationship with Radiolab: I love their thought-provoking inquiries into every topic under the sun, but good heavens, what am I supposed to do with that many interesting sparks in a 55-minute period?!

Now I’m going to confess something that only a small handful of people know about me: once, I escaped.  Like really escaped.  In the six months between the time I had my miscarriage and the time I talked publicly about it, I basically acted like a totally different person.  While I previously scoffed at Neal’s computer games, I suddenly began to play them . . . for 16 hours straight.  I mean, not every day, some days it was only 12 or 14 hours.  I went from humoring Neal by playing Civilization twice during the summer of 2008 to being obsessed with playing it every minute of every day.

If only that were the worst part, though.  There was more.  Much more.  I started watching The Bachelor.  Perhaps watching isn’t the right word; maybe absolutely obsessing over is more fitting?  I had never watched more than a few minutes before, and I have never seen an episode since, but in that six-month period, I not only watched the show but I read blogs about the show.  I searched for online news about the show.  I frequented RealitySteve.com to find out all his insider info about whether Jason would choose Melissa or Molly.  I watched a totally inane two-hour YouTube video by said Reality Steve about the Jason/Melissa/Molly triangle.  I was one sick puppy.

If I were still stuck in that weird Reality Steve/Bachelor obsession, I probably wouldn’t look on that time quite so fondly.  But after it sort of naturally ran its course, I realized how important that experience was for me.  I don’t remember truly looking down on people and their escapist impulses (in all their varieties) but I certainly perceived them as different than I was.  Prior to my miscarriage, I could be experiencing something painful or difficult but still be able to (and usually want to) talk about it and analyze it in a way that sometimes belied that difficulty.  People told me that about myself . . . that I didn’t naturally turn away from painful situations but rather hunkered down to examine and dissect them.  I think, no, I know it was sometimes unsettling to the people around me.  (This tendency was in large part a deliberate choice made following my freshman year of college and my first round of therapy, but that is a story for another day.)  Encountering an experience that was so profoundly painful as my miscarriage was, an experience that I couldn’t figure out how to speak about or cope with, that left me with a single-minded need to escape was probably one of the most productive things that could have happened to me as a human being trying to understand other human beings.  I learned a new empathy for why people need and want to escape, the purpose it serves, why it can be essential at times.

As Neal and I are contemplating new questions about our future — adoption? foster parenting? foster-to-adoption? — I am increasingly convinced that I need to figure out this escape thing a little bit better.  Even in a best-case scenario, adoption and foster parenting are usually difficult and full of waiting.  Wouldn’t it be great if during those hard times and long waits I could occasionally relax and escape instead of thinking all. the. darn. time?!

I guess it’s time to buckle down and really concentrate and figure out this fun/escape thing . . . or does that sound totally counterproductive?  Clearly, I’m new at this.

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5 Comments »

  1. I always learn something about myself when I read your blog. So interesting. And you definitely need to try out the whole escaping thing! It is so liberating to just let go of your own thoughts for a little while to watch some mindless reality t.v. I’m guessing it just takes practice??

    Comment by Jessica Laitinen — March 21, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

  2. It sounds to me like you know well how to relax. It is just different from the way many others relax (through escaping). My mom always says “A change is as good as a break.” Sometimes that’s true for me and I relax by switching gears. Sometimes, I really do need a break or an escape. *shrug*

    Have you read Hidden by Helen Frost yet? no pressure. just curious.

    I’m thinking a lot about The Happiness Project which I know you’ve read. “Trust in abundance” when it comes to those sparking moments. “Just because it’s fun for someone else…” etc. etc. lotsa love.

    p.s. sometimes it is such an escape to me to have someone else make the decisions. “no, seriously, you just tell me what to do and i’ll do it.” I love to be bossed around sometimes.

    Comment by Alysa — March 21, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

  3. Great post. I have issues with relaxing/escaping myself. Last night I watched a movie (Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson) for the first time in a while, and by how much I enjoyed it I realized I needed more entertainment, as an escape/way to relax, in my life right now. I mean, it’s a really good movie, but I was a little too over-the-moon about it. Kind of pathetic. So Ry and I are watching another movie tonight. I’m so excited—I can’t believe how much I’m looking forward to it.

    Comment by v. blanchard — March 22, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

  4. I have had fun “escaping” to your blog tonight, Lindsay. I admire your self-awareness. I just saw that you are doing your own Happiness Project. So much wisdom in that little book! Move to Alabama so the four of us can have great conversations in person. 🙂

    Comment by Sarah Zupko — March 23, 2012 @ 1:06 am

    • So good to hear from you, Sarah! Although I’m not actively doing a Happiness Project, I think about that book a lot. I’m excited for her new book coming out in September! Although a move to Alabama doesn’t seem in the cards, at the very least, I will not sprain my ankle on our next visit so we can have more good conversation!

      Comment by llcall — March 23, 2012 @ 10:47 pm


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