Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kafka and My Feet (finally) in the Sand

Yesterday I finished reading Kafka's The Trial. This morning I woke up without the cloud of melancholy that I've been unable to shake for the last week or so, when I spent a little time each morning and evening losing myself in Joseph K.'s tribulations. It was an engrossing read, but perhaps starting and ending my days with it was the wrong approach.

I know I've thought of the tedious process of washing, drying, folding and putting away laundry as byzantine more than once in the last week. I don't think the word byzantine is anywhere in the book, but I'm willing to bet you'd find it in the Cliff Notes. And considering that my washer and dryer are just down the basement stairs and to the left, straightforward would probably be a more accurate description of my laundering process. Boring would suffice if you wanted the subjective experience captured in a word. Byzantine it is not.

I also remembered that 1) my previous employer (actually, it's the agency we partnered with, but my office was in their building, and they thought of me as their own, so...) holds a Thursday morning playgroup for stay-at-home mothers and their children, where I can stop weekly and visit my old friends, and 2) I had promised to host a Friday night get-together for all of them, and promptly forgotten all about it. So for all my complaints about loneliness, in lieu of making new friends I could choose to expend a modicum of effort and simply get in touch with the ones I've got.

My husband spent the weekend building a walkway from our driveway to the deck of our home. It was an eight hour Saturday followed by a twelve hour Sunday. I think this concludes our home-repair projects until next spring. We do have to fix the snowblower (again) but he claims that this will be short project (I'm not sure why I believe him; this is a standard lie he tells me to make both of us feel better; we always choose to believe it; we want to feel better).

He has done a major home repair project every. single. weekend. since. the first one in August. No wonder I'm lonely! I lost my job, began working at home with only the company of young children, and lost my husband to a mistress much larger, older, and more demanding than myself, all at the same time!

He has a new job; I have a new job; our home repairs and upkeep have been on fast-forward (and our previous speed was ultra-low), and we've taken almost no time at all to rest, relax or unwind. This is a tough transition. We're ready to shift gears, settle down, maybe spend a Saturday picking apples and pumpkins instead of replacing doors, rearranging attics, building fences or scrubbing baseboards.

I kept wondering why Joseph K. continued to show such willingness to participate in his trial. It's as if the events swept him up and along like a river, and he couldn't seem to stick his feet in the sand and stop moving. Reading the book was dream-like: the attic labyrinths with their stuffy air where the court resided, my short morning stints to myself before being overrun by the needs of several small children, the odd encounters he had with strangers who seemed to know more about his own trial than he did; my husband and I, self-deluded and scrambling to survive this last, momentous project we had promised to complete before we had any inkling of how overwhelmed we would find ourselves by late October, the way he knew he was supposed to plunge the knife into his own heart at the end, the harsh standards we're holding ourselves to, and the moments where we find ourselves, exhausted and almost weeping over the kitchen counters, clinging to each other, showing one another the kindnesses we seem to be withholding ourselves for no very good reason whatsoever, except that we've been picked up by this current and carried so far into the river of having to do it right that we haven't stuck our feet in the sand and simply stopped.

The Court wants nothing from you. It receives you when you come and it dismisses you when you go.

And it's that simple! Well, then, I think it's time to go.


  1. Did you go to the playgroup or host the get-together? If so, I hope you had a good time.

    I think you have several online friends too, though I know it's not the same. If you ever find yourself in our neck of the woods, I'd love to organize a play date!:)

  2. I went to a Halloween party/playgroup they hosted, and it was great to see all my old colleagues! And I have a playdate scheduled tomorrow w/my old babysitter and my son will get to see her grandaughter, who is his favorite little friend too. No hosting yet b/c our weekends are booked, but I will do it sometime soon!

    I will let you know it we're coming your way, and if you're ever traveling through CNY, let me know! A playdate would be a lot of fun! :)