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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hot Spell

We didn’t break a record for heat yesterday, but according to the Boston Globe, the city reached 100 degrees for the first time in eight years, only the 24th time in the last century that temperatures were recorded that high. At my non-air-conditioned house, fans blasted. The thermometer recorded 99 degrees in the shade outside the family room and it was over 90 in my kitchen before I high-tailed it out mid-afternoon. Driving across our sweltering town, I staked a newly acquired beach umbrella and planted myself in its shade as the tide rolled in over the smooth stones and seaweed rags decorating the sand.

In spite of the fact that I was up and writing at 7:00 yesterday and didn’t stop until 1:00, after so many years in which an employer called the shots, years in which my schedule wasn’t my own, I can’t get used to this freedom. I twisted and turned in my beach chair, cognizant of the fact that even though I spent the morning writing, it wasn’t paying work. Freelance jobs seem to have dried up in the summer heat and for the first time, I’m the only one in the house not earning a pay check. My husband commutes to RI each day, and the resident sixteen-year-old heads off to her cashier job at a pizza seafood joint located in the next town over, where the kitchen temps hit well over 100 degrees yesterday, and she is now being trained to cook.

I’m trying to overcome the notion that a sense of value must be stapled to a number with zeros following it, but after so many years of experience in that regard, I struggle. In light of the lack of paying work, I’ve given myself writing goals and am achieving them. This helps in bolstering the old confidence level, and offers a certain sense of accomplishment.

But, sorry to say, I have yet to get to the point where it makes me feel worthy of a day at the beach.

14 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

We having that heat spell too. I can't beleive how hot it is.
But I'm writing in an air conditioned house right now, so all is well. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Liza, I know exactly what you mean about taking time off. I always feel like I should be working on writing until I finish, until I earn money at it. It's important to have down time, though, so I'm trying to allow myself that, too.
I'm glad you went to the beach and I love your description of seaweed rags. Perfect!

Sharon said...

I am right there with you, trying to identify self worth without using a dollar sign. It's so difficult to transition to this unquantified state. If you find a way to enjoy the moments without the caveats, I want to hear about it. Maybe we could call it "research and development"?

glnroz said...

you are worthy of a day at the beach. If can afford to forget about the 0's for a little while, trust what this old codger suggests and take time to "sit a spell"..enjoy..

Helen Ginger said...

I totally identify with you. I went through that when I quit teaching college to stay home with babies. I literally lost myself. Took me a long time to get through it. I think it would have been easier to find myself if I'd had the Internet then. Stay strong, Liza.

Robin said...

I'm sorry I got stuck at the part in the story where you indicated that you staked the beach umbrella. As in by yourself. It gave me instant flashback to my own beach debacle(s) of umbrella staking. The first was the worst when I didn't have the correct equipment and the umbrella flew hazardously down the beach. However, even when I had the correct equipment, I still was unable to do the job. Is there anything you can't do?

Stephen Tremp said...

You've gotta go to the beach. Nothing like a good day at the beach to help heal the soul. And ice cream. Don't forget to treat yourself to your favorite cone or sundae.

Stephen Tremp

Liza said...

Confession to Robin: Yesterday was the first time I ever staked an umbrella, and thankfully, I managed to catch it when the wind lifted it. Then I moved to softer sand, pounded the stake in with a rock and tied the thing to my chair with a piece of plastic. I think the rock pounding is the key...but you probably live where the beach isn't as rocky. In that case, bring a mallet.

Rose said...

I'M RETIRED FOR OVER 5 YEARS, MY SCHEDULE IS STILL GETTING UP AT THE SAME TIME. IT WILL TAKE TIME TO FIGURE OUT HOW YOU WILL MANAGE YOUR TIME. TAKING A NEEDED RELAXING ACTIVITY IS IMPORTANT. wHY DO WE HAVE TO VALUE OUR SELF WORTH BY MONEY?LOOK AT THE WORTH/VALUE YOU GIVE TO YOUR FAMILY AND OTHERS. YOU GET NO PAYCHECK FOR BEING MOM AND WIFE AND THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB YOU CAN HAVE. TAKE CARE

彭怡 said...
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Tabitha Bird said...

I hope you can enjoy the time off :) I agree. I think you are worth it.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Aw, that must be such a tough feeling to deal with. I was a really young new wife and mom, so I never even really started working until later. And even then, I didn't do it for too long before my second child came along, so I haven't had years of a career like that. But I can understand a little, I think. As much as people applaud stay-at-home moms, I often felt undervalued--but maybe it was my own feelings I was pinning onto others? I hope you can find a sense of peace in this. And that the writing jobs pick up for you. Meanwhile, I would love to see your novel come to life.

Ro Magnolia said...

Ahhh! Dig your toes deep in the sand, close your eyes, and pretend you are a little child. Even if you get a solid half hour of bliss out of one whole afternoon at the beach, it will be worth it .... then you can return to your adult angst about money, and self-worth, and the efficiencies of time.

Jan Morrison said...

It is tough. I have a practice as a psychotherapist but it is slim these days (for everyone I know) and always slim going in the summer. I try and think that eventually the hours I put in at writing will be worth it but it is scary. It is a long shot but as my dad is wont to say "keeps you outa pool halls!"
And beaching it is crucial...