Child's Play:

Time Keeps on Slipping

By Justine Manzano

            As you all know, I am setting out on the road towards rebalancing my life.  You may be wondering what exactly brought this whole rebelling against reality thing on.  The answer is easy.  Having been away from reality for 11 weeks while on maternity leave, I got a real taste of life with a veritable clean slate.  Because when Logan was asleep (moments that were few and far between, I might add), all of the things I normally did to keep myself busy were gone.  I wasnít at work for 10 hours a day (when you count commuting) and, having graduated from years of college that May, I know longer had classes or homework to worry about.  I was in a position I hadnít been in since summer vacations when I was 13.  I had nothing to do that I would normally do.  After years of going to school and working nearly every day of my life, I had not become a domesticated individual.  I didnít know how to stay inside and cook and clean and just spend time with my family.

            It wasnít as though when Logan fell asleep, I was bored.  It was that, when Logan fell asleep, I was faced by the sheer magnitude of possibilities of all that I could be doing and I clammed up.  So I did nothing at all.  And I know why.  I have always been a slave to a schedule.  This comes from the mild case of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that I have.  And no I am not joking.  So, I make myself insane because instead of obsessively checking if the ovenís off or obsessively cleaning my hands, Iím an obsessive time checker. This means that I break my time down into hour long chunks in which I should be doing whatever task I assign myself and only that task. And when a phone call comes through in the middle of it, I have to force myself out of that routine and into a new one.  Itís not so bad that I canít control it, and I would fend it off at work or at school with excessive overworking.  At work, my co-workers would see it come out as running to my boss and constantly asking for more work.  My work life has become a constant mantra of ďDo you need anything?Ē to everyone around me.  As for school Ė if a lecture didnít particularly hold my interest I was doing some of the homework for that class at the same time.  Sometimes I think that if it werenít for my OCD, I would have never gotten any homework done!

            So, as the mother of a new baby, my OCD faces two problems.  One Ė you canít schedule a baby and the first few weeks involved me going a little insane because Logan would cry in the middle of a task I had assigned myself Ė which involved me forcing myself to pull away from that and move to something else and makes me very anxious. vI was used to controlling my OCD at work and at school, but never at home.  Eventually, I learned to make time alone with Logan one of those places where the scheduling only worked when he was asleep.  And I slowly learned to handle that.

            The second problem was scheduling when I could schedule.  THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE TO DO NOW and I had HOURS AT HOME.  I made a to-do list and nearly went crazy.  Where could I begin?  I still hadnít baby-proofed my apartment yet (thank God heís too young to get into things), my apartment looks like itís been the victim of a cyclone, my friends and family (and my husband and I were blessed with a lot of people in each category) all want to see us and we want to see them, I have tons of little home organization projects that I have started and not finished, I really need to learn how to cook (something that was never close to a priority until I realized that kids canít eat fast food nearly as many times a week as I do Ė and neither should I), never mind the three novels Iíve started working on that I never finished, the fact that I want to write short stories, articles, all of my professional endeavors.  WHERE THE HELL DO YOU START????

            And thatís when I realized that, no matter when, no matter how, writing had to become one of my priorities again.  I wouldnít let it get in the way of my new and growing family, but it had to be there.  It was a sanity maker for me Ė a part of who I was that didnít need scheduling, that just flowed like wine when it was done right.  And I had spent more time phoning it in on writing than I truly cared to admit.  I have so many things I want to do professionally and writing is just the start to many of those, but I saw that, if that start wasnít made, I would be left with very little that made me the truly original person that I had grown to love.

            So here I am Ė writing. Iím a fiction writer by nature, so itís not exactly the same thing.  But itís something. Itís the re-establishment of brain to hand thinking.  And I love it.  Because itís me.

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