I’ve never been one for routine, for rising in the morning and performing the same tasks in the same order day after day, week after week. My husband does this. He relies on sheer muscle memory to jump-start every day. He says it gives him comfort and a sense of control of his life. He says that if he does not go through the same motions in the same sequence every morning, he’s afraid he’ll leave something out. Like, that he’ll be in the car halfway to work and look down to discover he’s not wearing pants.
It’s a skill I have never honed; indeed, a need I’ve never had. In fact, I am quite in need of exactly the opposite. I need variety. I need every day to be different from the last, if only in some tiny way. Routine bores me to madness and only exacerbates my middle-aged perception that life is slipping through my fingers faster and faster, unremarked and unremarkable.
Still, if you spend enough years on the planet, you start to recognize the patterns that shape your days, unbidden as they may be. This time of year—this maddening mid-winter creep toward spring—is traditionally a time of restlessness and tedium for me. It was something I had nearly forgotten about myself. During the café years, there was never time to be restless or bored. I might have traded something very precious for the opportunity to BE bored in those days. Last year, still In Recovery, I almost relished the concepts of restlessness and boredom. So this year, I’ve been kind of taken aback by how much I hate being restless and bored.
It’s not that I don’t have a stack of shelved projects I could be working on. I have a buffet-top that needs tiling and a dresser waiting to be refinished for my office/guest bedroom. But since those projects would involve dragging me away from my cheerful fire and out to the cold, ill-lit (and still cluttered with old restaurant equipment) garage, they have little appeal. I do, however, have one task that has been on a back, back burner ever since the demise of AOL J-land; one that keeps me busy and engaged in the wee hours of the morning when I might otherwise be doing midnight shopping on Amazon or playing game after game of Spider for no other reason than that a day of restless boredom has not tired me out sufficiently to require sleep.
In 2008, after much work and worry (which I could ill afford in the middle of my restaurant tenure), “Coming to Terms…” was saved from the noose of the AOL J-land death sentence and transferred safely here to Blogger. Or mostly, anyway. Every picture I had posted in every entry for five years disappeared into the doomed AOL Hometown ether. So though my words had been safely transported, the pictures were gone. Reduced to empty squares with little red x’s. And since many of my entries were 75% or more pictorial, this was a problem. A problem with which I did not have the time or energy to deal. Until now.
Luckily, most of the images I had posted to my journal had to be manipulated in some way. I would choose a picture, crop it, shrink it, mess with it, and then save it to my desktop so I could find it easily once it came time to upload it. Eventually, the desktop became so crowded with little jpeg files, I created a folder called “Pictures for Journal” into which it became my habit to sweep the files once I was done with them.
In this case, my chronic inability to throw things away did NOT come back to bite me in the ass. It was a lifesaver. Because the lion’s share of the pictures that disappeared into the ozone when my journal was exported to Blogger are right there in a virtual file where I can easily find them. All I have to do is sift through five years of postings, one by one, go into the “edit” screen and re-upload (is that a word?) the appropriate pictures.
I’ve been at it for a week or so, and I’m up to August of 2005. In the back of my mind, I wonder why I’m doing this. No one, NO ONE but me ever delves back into the archives of “Coming to Terms…” What difference could it possibly make that some of the entries are meaningless or irrelevant without the pictures? Or that some of the formatting got mangled in the transfer, or that some of the font colors I used eight years ago are illegible in my current template? What does it matter? Who cares?
I care. It matters a great deal. To me.
With all its warts and boogers, silliness and memes, rants and whining, “Coming to Terms…” is one of the most important accomplishments of my life. It is something with which I have stuck, through tears and anger, embarrassment and frustration, awkwardness and sanguinity, tentative optimism and hopeless pessimism, for almost ten years. That’s longer than I’ve done anything in my life, besides be married. This is a body of work of which I am immensely solicitous and protective. Not just the writing, which at best shows brief flashes of brilliance but no consistent talent; but the growth, and the change (as well as the things that will never change), and the commitment it represents. And the history. The story of my life—at least for the past decade.
Even if I am the only one who ever comes here, ever delves back into the archives, it needs to be good. It needs to be all that it was…all that it can be. I’m pretty sure I don’t cherish some secret hope that someday it will be discovered; that someday someone will come here and read, and come to know something valuable about my life and my times.
I just know in my heart that “Coming to Terms…” needs to be in its best order.
Just in case.