Overflow

I’m liking that word more and more: not quite overwhelmed, but certainly it feels as though things gush out of the tap at a pressure that leaves me scrambling to contain them. Something slips: the laundry, this blog, the dinner we intended to make but forsook for frozen tortellini , my novel manuscript, my vitamins in their little daily cases, the cases themselves (which Isaac likes to fill for me when I actually find the time to set him up with little containers of zinc and vitamin D and vitamin C and immunity boosters and the like, and he goes to work, because if that kid likes something, he likes things that live in their own special little containers). On Monday, I realized that I had somehow checked the wrong box on the sign-up form and signed myself up to coach kids’ soccer (oh, the irony), and had to explain like a jerk to the utterly gracious organizers of the league that actually I had just screwed up and they would have to find someone else.

And then there’s the book: I became utterly absorbed in the Mysterious Benedict Society trilogy that I randomly picked up for Rowan’s birthday back in November. I’m on the last book, with seven pages more to read, and now I can’t find the damn thing anywhere and it is making me insane. Insane. I keep rummaging through the house, running my hands over shelves, checking under the beds and above the washing machine, trying to imagine myself as this book, but it is stubbornly gone and I just want to know what happened. On many levels.

While rummaging under Isaac’s bed (or, as he refers to it, Isaac’s “old bed”), however, I did find this:

This is a very special wooden pen in its own very special wooden case, a gift from a local organization where I’d done some volunteer work. Ever since I brought it home a week or two ago, Isaac — passionate aficionado of all things that come in their very own special containers — has been fascinated by it. Apparently, he just needed it to be his for at least a little while. I burst out laughing when I saw it, at his magpie tendencies, at the passion and how much I identified with it. Almost made up for the last seven pages.

And yet, there’s so much that we do squeeze in, the writing that does get done and the dinners we do make, the brunch we throw together for beautiful friends on a Sunday morning. And there was “Overflow,” the title of both the reading I did on Sunday and one of the pieces that I read, the brand-new piece that I somehow managed to write and edit and rehearse in between all the other things. The crowd itself at the Northern Woman’s Bookstore spilled over, seated on the floor, in the aisles, perched on the edge of cash desk. Rachel Mishenene and Meghan Eddy read beautiful, brilliant, brave pieces. And the generosity and response and warmth of the crowd spilled over, too. I read another essay, “Friend me?”, that talked about the social pecking order of my eighth grade class and its aftermath, and that, too, sparked its own series of — not unwelcome — ripples.

The Northern Woman's Bookstore's indomitable owner, Margaret Phillips, introducing the reading. That's Meghan to my right; Rachel is hidden behind Margaret, but she's there.

I keep pushing back the writing in favour of all the things that keep piling up on my desk: the receipts to be filed and the library books renewed (just ordered a library version of MBS III, with the idea that the moment I bring it home the original version will magically reappear), the endlessly morphing to-do lists. Need to shift my brain: it’s not that the writing isn’t getting done — to the extent that it isn’t — because I have too many other things to do, but rather that I’m letting the things keep me from the writing. My papers will pile and overflow, but I don’t actually need a clean desk in order to put everything else on hold for half an hour and get something down. Let it flow, let it flow, let it flow.

 

 

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