The most stressful summer was the one in which I studied for the California bar. There's nothing that can compare to the misery I experienced doing my two months of mostly sleeping through Bar-bri lectures and coming home to endlessly shove useless bits of information into my short-term memory. My roommates somehow got a hold of a Kirlian photography camera (an aura camera); normally my aura showed up as anything from orange or yellow to blue or white, but all that summer it was a sickly shit-brown.
Now, although I'm not at all unhappy, this is my first summer as a single mother (last summer I had already left Brazil, but we stayed with my parents) and I'm frazzled as heck. I'm unwilling to give up any of my writing goals and so I've been staying up until 2 or 3am and then my kids start bothering me at about 7 every day. My younger son has picked up this phrase from my older one and so he's been running around crying, "I don't know what I can do! I don't know what I can do!" which aggravates me on so many levels because I know what I can do, I haven't got a fraction of the hours that I need to do it though! What wouldn't I give to have back just a few of the hours of childhood boredom...the summers I wasted lying in bed reading piles of trashy romances...
I can always tell when I'm overwhelmed because I put rice on and forget about it and have to pay dearly with hours of burned-rice smell permeating my hair and clothes and every room in the house. Fortunately, I can open the windows now...it really sucked when I did it in the wintertime.
Anyway, I burned the rice yesterday. I've been yelling at my kids. I've been drinking coffee and eating sugar. In one and a half weeks I have a 16-year-old French student coming to stay with me for three weeks and I have this growing panic about what I'm going to feed her. My kids are easy because they don't like variety. But what do I cook for a French girl!? I can't really just cook more of what I eat myself--many of my meals consist of a raw egg or two mixed with water and coconut oil.
I should probably ease up on the writing goals, but honestly, it's the only thing that makes me feel good about myself on a daily basis. A couple people have asked me recently if I make a living off of writing. No fucking way--not even close--and I feel a surge of a multi-layered self-judgment--because I've given myself the luxury of spending all my spare time satisfying this burning need to express, which is perhaps an act of utter self-indulgence, especially since I do it at the cost of my own health and of energy and attention I should be spending on my children. And I can't justify it as being worth my time since I don't make a living off of it.
So, when the rice starts to burn, what to give up? Or should I keep clinging to trying to have everything, but knowing things will fall by the wayside?
Addition: I was just out walking my dog and I remembered my dream:
My childhood friend Gloria accompanied me as my guide into her high school--which was my high school's "rival" high school. Her school was academically far superior. Anyway, she took me to a classroom where I had to take a math test for something. The room was extremely air conditioned, uncomfortably cold--I estimated about five degrees colder than my school. I passed, but I was horrified at my score, which was something like 205 out of 220 or 230--I'd been half expecting to get every question correct.The message I get from this is that the perfectionism is the biggest problem. Because I don't actually have any problems. I passed, didn't I?