We sent the most awesome Claire the four bold and bolded questions below, and her responses kick another GITP week off into high gear:
I am a mom, a professor, and, less often than I’d like, a writer. I grew up in Utah and still miss it a lot (as is evidenced by the tattoo of the desert on my left shoulder). My husband, two kids, supercentenarian dog, snapping turtle, and I live in a 230 year old house in the forest of rural PA. I love to run and ski. I’m an environmentalist, a Unitarian, and hopefully still a bit of a rebel.
1. Are you in a tight place? If so, what are you trying to do about it?
Ha. (Slightly pained laughter.) Everything feels tight right now. I have so many things squeezed into my days that, for example, I have been jotting down bits of answers to your questions while doing any or all of the following activities: baking muffins with vegetables hidden in them, doing laundry, coming up with reading questions for one of my classes, talking to an advisee, driving to work, lying on the floor until my son falls asleep, eating my lunch, going to physical therapy and the list goes on. My consciousness is pretty fractured, which I think is utterly common for working moms but nonetheless hard for me. There are also some things about my family situation that make me feel a bit caught and panicky sometimes. My husband lost his job two years ago; he struggles a lot with depression and some other issues that he’s doing an heroic job working on. But I kind of have to keep my shit together on a regular basis, which doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. We’re okay living on my salary, but the thing that keeps me awake at night is the worry that something might happen to me, that I might somehow not be able to keep going and going at the pace I am now emotionally and physically.
What do I do about the stuck in a box feeling? Mostly I just try to breathe and exist in the present moment. I don’t have a lot of wiggle room (I can’t just quit my job, abandon my family and join a cult, can I?) so I try to create some space inside the chaos. One of the very surprising things about really consciously practicing this frame of mind is that it leads to a ton of unexpected joy. The future may not be certain but damn, my four-year-old has 42 amazing tiny freckles and my daughter’s hair smells like summer because she’s on the swim team and the Amaryllis on the mantel is most vivid red, and Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil and sea salt that I had for dinner taste better than ice cream. I try to live my days on that level, and mostly it works.
2. What do you want to get done this year?
I would like to not give up on my writing career. This would involve actively trying to publish things rather than bemoaning the fact that I haven’t published anything and not realizing this is directly related to the fact that I never submit anything. I would also like to run a few half-marathons, make my body stronger. I probably should try to brush my teeth before I fall asleep at night more often. And I have this really strange, hazy plan to build an elaborate micro-village in the garden with my kids this summer, before they’re too old to want to do such things anymore.
3. What inspires you?
Rocks. Trees. Rivers. Birds. Museums. Architecture. Science. Music. Not people so much anymore, though I guess the last four indicate that I find something lovely in their artifacts.
4. What is your favorite legwear?
Do cowboy boots count? They kind of go up my legs. And I have a great story about my current pair. They were purchased the night my agent told me the memoir I had written and re-written for years was unmarketable because the protagonist was too unlikeable and most readers wouldn’t relate to her. They’re a really rich brown with funky turquoise insets. I feel as though I’ve been waiting for them my entire life.
If you’re talking tights strictly, I’d have to give the very unfashionable answer of running tights, especially the kind with all of the cool joint and muscle compression features.