Everybody's Cake

Cake I am tired.. My grandmother wants me to keep her company while my uncle is away – I’ll take you out for Chinese and to the movies she entices. She is 93, how many more times will this offer be offered? My friend Joan needs someone to take her to the eye doctors for shots in her eyes – her eyes will be dilated, but we can go out to dinner and maybe to a movie, she suggests. Another friend thinks we should get together to exercise. Another needs me to help her out as a favor. My mother has to have knee surgery, but she is not sure when so I wonder how my schedule will change. I received my assignments through July for one publication and have yet to hear from others. I need to meet with the head of a local writers’ space to see about offering new classes there, I am scheduled to start teaching a poetry class next Monday (no syllabus yet) and a new Memoir class at the college in March (twice a week). I have to figure out when to schedule this month’s private class, and I owe a student in it a drawing for his book. On the 18th of January I sit in on a friend’s writing class to see if it is something I can help with in the future. These will be on alternating Saturdays for the next few months. I have taken the initial steps to start a pet magazine, but there is so much more to research to find out how to do it and I’m not sure where to turn. I’d like to write a few more short stories see if I could connect those together into a book, then there’s the book on the pugs I’d like to write. I have a poetry class on Wednesday I need to gather my poems together for – we are reading them for VPR. I want to get my hair done on Saturday but it is my niece’s birthday party. My  nephew needs a ride to a church meeting. Tuesday I drop pictures off at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, I got two accepted there. I thought about seeing if I could learn more about doing Kindle covers, wish I knew more about fonts and text. Asked my brother, felt inadequate. My other brother has painted his first painting. He listed it on Facebook and has 10 buyers. Another guy contacted him and said he could sell as many as he could produce. My father calls me up to ask me about making giclee prints of them. I’ve been hoping to make prints of my work for some time, haven’t yet figured out how to yet. My brother thinks I should help paint some to sell, too, which is cool, but where to find time. My father asks why you can’t just figure out how long it takes to make them and charge accordingly. I say you can’t price yourself out of the market. He asks what’s the point if you can’t make a living off of it. I’ve been trying my whole life. What’s the point always lingers in the background. You decided not to build a house on your land, my uncle says. I’ve decided nothing. There is no money, what’s the point. My life is lived in the shadows, a thick fog blocking what I do from others' eyes. “I thought you might be willing to earn a little money,” a friend says. “I thought you might be willing to keep me company.” “You better go write your articles so we can go…” “We should get together on Tuesdays.” “Your mom is lucky to have you.” “Why haven’t you written a book yet?” “This is what you should be doing.?” “What are you doing today?” – as if the whole day is free and obviously work is not on the plate. What extra time can I carve out? “You need to focus on yourself. You need to prioritize.” How? Time slips by and suddenly a year or two has become 10 or 20 and look my life is full but where am I in it? I’m too busy with the mop and the broom and the glue and the gun – cleaning up and fixing to reap any reward. I have a syllabus to create and soon it will be March and then July and then September and a life is lived only I wonder where was I when it was happening? I’m sure somebody else knows. They are always happy to decide what I am doing.

I am tired and I guess I am angry. I want to do everything – help the friends, spend time with my grandmother, get my work done, set out in new directions, create a purposeful life with a measure of security – I just don’t know how to do it all. And, I know I’m not the only one that feels overwhelmed, but something about the nature of my life seems to make others feel there’s more room for debate. I must have lots of options when it comes to juggling. I can be flexible. And, probably I’ve helped give them that idea, by bending over backwards one too many times to get the job done. But perhaps I’m too old, perhaps I’ve reached a breaking point, perhaps there’s just no more room to bend. I just don’t know how. I can’t eat everyone else’s cake and have mine too. It’s too heavy a weight.