A Last Summer’s Retreat at The Green Study

The Green Study will return on September 4th, 2018.

canstockphoto6437374It has become obvious from my last few posts that I’m in a bit of a mental muddle. I turn 51 shortly, which is neither here nor there, but makes me think I could do for a birthday break. The dog days of summer are now here. The cicadas drone on all day and the mornings roar with the croaking of toads and the chirping of crickets until the oppressive heat slows all living creatures to a crawl.

I’ve hit my social interaction saturation point, where the sound of my voice is like that old Volkswagen commercial, except the lyrics are: blah, blah, blah. This week I went to a garden party, which sounds more posh than it was – a fundraiser for a state representative. The governor was there. Being a political junkie and writer, I like to go to these sorts of things and observe politicians in their natural habitats of glad-handing and smiling relentlessly. I hung about the edges of the lawn just watching people and slipped away at the hour mark. I’m toast.

In the midst of civic engagement (how I’ve begun to loathe that phrase), I went to the funeral of a man whose 100th birthday party I attended a few months ago. At the time, he was smiling and laughing and talking to all of his friends and family. It was hard to see the funeral in a tragic light, when he left the world on the heels of feeling surrounded by love after a century of life. We should all be so lucky.

canstockphoto12816020Yesterday, my daughter and I worked at a food shelf distribution center, sorting and packaging 10lb bags of potatoes. One in ten people experience food insecurity in Minnesota. As a child of government cheese and butter lines and food stamps, it feels like a good way to spend a morning, but I am tired. I think about this social media idea of virtue signaling and how I’ve exploited it in my writing, talking about civic values and volunteering. I’ve become cynical about my attempts to be a good person, which is a signal in its own right – it’s time for a break.

The field of candidates when I filed for a vacant seat on city council expanded in the last few days from 1 to 12, so I’m bracing for failure. Bracing for Failure is the title of my unwritten autobiography. There is a certain panache to losing well. I always find the lesson, sometimes even before failure has been ascertained. I’ll know in the next couple of weeks where I stand and I’m sure I’ll be back writing about it then.

Ucanstockphoto8858462ntil then, I’m withdrawing into my shell with a pile of books, a list of house projects, and a penchant for belting out blues songs without provocation. We’re replacing our deck which has become a regular haunt for woodpeckers, due to the rotting wood and the bug buffet it hosts. Another DIY project that will involve arguments and injury and will be a relief when it’s over.

I hope to return in a couple of weeks recovered from burnout and with a better sense of direction. My energy is going all over the place these days. It’s not anything particularly interesting – just life coming at me from all directions and I need to retreat, rally my mental troops, and prepare for the next charge, wherever that may lead.

Wishing you the happy last dregs of summer!

14 Comments on “A Last Summer’s Retreat at The Green Study

  1. Enjoy the break and happy birthday in advance. “See you in September,” as the song says …

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  2. Happy break and birthday! I had not seen the VW commercial and really liked it, and I learned a new phrase: virtue signaling. So even as you wave (temporarily) goodbye, you have taught me something. I’ll see you whenever the heck you feel like returning. And remember, re. the deck: 99 percent of home accidents occur at home.

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    • Thanks, Cate. I had that song stuck in my head and it took me awhile to find the source. It’s a goofy commercial and that song is a serious earworm!
      And thanks for reminding me that signaling only has one “l”. I try not to go too heavy on social media terminology, but that one felt like it struck a little close to home.
      We’ve been lucky so far as a home repair duo – no ER visits yet. Now I must go superstitiously knock on some rotten deck wood.

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  3. Michelle,
    Happy birthday. See (?!) you in September. My weather-improving skills seem to be working. We’ve had a relatively mild summer where I live in the Deep South, or maybe I’m used to it. Cloud cover, breeze, more rain than in previous years. The mosquitoes have apparently flown north. Who can prove me wrong, when I say I’m influencing the weather? Human-induced climate change: A scientific fact

    Your autobiography sounds like a series. 1. Bracing for Failure 2. Surviving Failure 3. Rebounding from Failure 4. What Failure?

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    • Thanks, Katherine. We haven’t had a bad mosquito season here, which is unusual for Minnesota. Apparently, the baking heat keeps their numbers down.

      I’ve already done my spin-doctoring with this council thing. Either way, I’ll come out okay. Doing something that pushes me beyond my comfort level means that it will be impossible to go back to the status quo. I’ve been in a rut for a long time, so this is giving me a good shove.

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  4. The times are tough for us sensitive, thinking types! I’m reminded of Yeats’s poem ‘The Second Coming’ –
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Enjoy your mini-sabbatical, Michelle!

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