Okay, so the squirrel climbing my pant leg to get away from Barkley wasn't quite what I expected when I intervened...
It was an…interesting encounter. I was trying to dislodge a hanging tree limb broken by the latest windstorm and in the process startled one of the many squirrels that occupy our backyard. Barkley, our English Springer, is always on the prowl for them; when this one dropped right at his feet, he pounced. It squealed. I yelled, trying to call Barkley off before he did any permanent damage. The frightened critter zigged and zagged through the pachysandra and found purchase on my pant leg. Luckily I was wearing long jeans and not shorts! He didn’t stay around long, only made it about knee-height before skittering up the tree again. Those few hectic seconds left Barkley adrenaline-fueled and disappointed, nosing through the garden for the one that got away. After shaking off the residual shudders for a few seconds, I left the tree limb until hubby could help cut it down.
I had the best of intentions in trying to remove the limb and in protecting the squirrel, but nothing worked out quite as planned. As I relived the event, sharing it with family and friends over the next few days, I realized it was a metaphor for my life. I usually make at least a quick perusal of the situation, looking for solutions before diving in. Sometimes I get bogged down in that decision-making and never take action, but that’s another story. When I do find the chutzpah to move forward, things often turn out quite differently than expected.
In 2004, we downsized and relocated to southwest Ohio with no friends or job prospects, confident in our historic ability to always find work in a short amount of time. Boy, did I get that one wrong!
In 2006, I went back to school to finish my long-delayed college degree because conventional wisdom said it would make me employable. I stuck with the fall-back reasoning that my studies in the Classics would give my writing more credibility (read: get my work published). While I grew personally and professionally in a myriad of other ways, again completely unexpected, credibility and meaningful publication still elude me.
In 2008, after finishing my bachelor’s degree, I dove right into grad school. Our driven, goal-oriented son urged me on. The thesis for a master’s in creative writing would be a novel which I intended to write anyway, why not get the degree as well? I was two-thirds of the way through the program before my wise faculty advisor finally convinced me that an academically-finished novel is rarely a publishable novel. I still have lots of work to do on that one.
In 2010, we bought our first home, something I never, ever, expected to see happen. But again, we were overly optimistic. I was graduating with a master’s degree in June; surely I’d find work in no time so hubby wouldn’t have to continue shouldering the financial burden alone. Not –
Here it is a year later, 2011, and while technically I’m living the life I’ve always dreamed of, spending my days writing and making a home hubby looks forward to spending time in after a long day in the classroom, it’s not at all what I expected. I’m shopping completed novel number two, looking for an agent who believes in me, piling up rejections on smaller pieces, and adding a few non-paying publication credits here and there. It’s lonely work, hard work, frustrating work, but it’s work I love…when I allow myself to stop fretting about outcomes and concentrate on the moment.
And when I manage to stay out of the path of the squirrel.