by Laura

Sheer exhaustion has my brain muddled. Recent schedule changes have me alone with the kids for 12-17 hours a day, which isn’t good for anyone, and my intelligence has taken a big hit. At night I try to read articles or stories that would ordinarily fascinate me, but I give up, finding them overly complicated. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m falling behind in the brain department. Oh, there was that blip back in 1986 when I got my first F on an algebra test, after an academic career of straight A’s, but I made peace with that when I learned that you could be smart and still hate math. Unfortunately, I got too comfortable with the idea and began peacefully flunking other subjects, like organic chemistry and home economics. Still, I didn’t chalk it up to stupidity. I wasn’t applying myself. Anyone could, and did, see that. It was a matter of priorities. I was lazy, not stupid. And I was okay with that. But this… this is something entirely different. This is can’t-get-there-no-matter-how-hard-I-try dumbness, and I don’t like it.

I’ve started googling energy drinks. Having never even tried a Red Bull (vodka’s just fine on its own, thank you very much), I know nothing about them. I’m sure there’s some combination of energy drinks, Wellbutrin, ADHD meds and speed that would offer a pinch of clarity, but as I’ve established, I’m no chemist. Plus, that sounds expensive. And complicated. And possibly lethal.

I’ve been giving myself advice on this issue. “If you work out, you’ll have more energy. Just keep drinking that green tea. You need puzzles, exercise for the mind.” Good ideas, all, and I appreciate myself for offering them, but it’s just not fucking working.  What I need is an hour a day to myself that doesn’t involve shopping or cleaning.

I got that on Sunday. Went paddling on a new lake. It wasn’t ideal. The rental place gave me shoddy equipment, a kayak with no seat back and missing foot pegs, and a paddle that was all wrong somehow. But it didn’t matter. I was free. And when the boy spills his yogurt and the girl throws her textbook against the wall, I close my eyes for two seconds and hear the insects buzzing at the shoreline and the water gently slapping the boat and I’m just gone.




You know what’s not complicated? Moving a boat from this place to that, using an aluminum stick. I see a thing I want to see closer and I do. I tell the boat to go left and it does. Sometimes the wind blows and it’s a little harder, and I can choose to fight against it or give up, and it’s pretty good either way. I put myself in the boat. Anything else that happens is manageable. If I screw up, I might get wet or tired, but no one else will get hurt. In every other aspect of my life, my choices can hurt people. That’s a hell of a burden. Freeing myself from these obligations from time to time is essential. I wish I could say it clears my head, but those effects don’t linger. The fog returns about a minute after my legs hit the land. Still, I’m grateful for these short reprieves.

You get what you get and you don’t get upset. That’s a line from a kiddie book, and it’s a lie. Of course you get upset. You get what you get and you try to keep your shit together because that’s what growing up is all about. It’s a shame that doesn’t rhyme.

Anyway, that’s all I’m trying to do, keep my shit together. Tired and stupid and fumbling, but still here, still trying to figure it out, still trying to make it good. And googling energy drinks like somebody’s clueless grandma.