Thursday, March 4, 2010

Time to March Forth

I started this blog with an elusive onion story, but it wasn't the elusive onion story. The original story, while simpler to tell, would have made my blogging much more complicated.

The original story also takes place in that teeny, tiny town in Midwestern Ontario where I was a new school teacher. I spent many hours outside of classroom time planning lessons, hanging artwork and taking care of the hundreds of small tasks that school teachers do each day. Add to that meetings, report cards and after-school supervision and there were days when I didn't leave the building before 6pm. Long hours aren't uncommon for new employees. I had expected that. What I hadn't expected was that the teeny-tiny town basically closed at 5pm. That wasn't usually a problem. It wasn't like I wanted to go out and party after a long day at work. All I wanted to do was eat, relax and get some sleep before doing it all again the next day.

Eating sometimes presented a problem. Inevitably, I'd get home, start preparing my meal and discover that I was missing a key ingredient. Often that ingredient was an onion. You'd be surprised at how many quick meals require an onion – at least they do in my mind. If it was after 5pm there was nowhere to get an onion, or anything else for that matter. Those nights often ended with me on the sofa, watching re-runs while eating microwave popcorn. I used to find the whole situation quite frustrating. Having moved from the city, I was used to having what I wanted pretty much at my fingertips 24 hours a day. I was annoyed that I couldn't get what I wanted when I wanted it in the teeny, tiny town. To hide my annoyance I'd joke that if I ever wrote my life story I'd title it "The Search for the Elusive Onion".

Of course, this blog isn't really a life story. The problem with a life story is that it can't be told in isolation. Each life intersects with many other lives, and it's almost impossible to tell our stories without revealing the stories of those around us. I started this blog as a food blog - mostly because the topic interested me, but partly because it gave me a place to hide. I could choose what I wanted to share about my life and the lives those around me. Things were far less complicated and scary that way. We've all heard stories where sharing too much in the blogosphere has backfired on the writer. I didn't, and still don't, want to be one of those writers. Sometimes though, I feel like I could share more – that I could be less elusive. Today in particular it feels like I should honour the spirit of that original story. It may be the date, but I feel inspired to boldly march forth and reveal something about myself. Here it goes....

About a year ago I was laid off from my job. That in itself wasn't a bad thing. I was ready for a change. I had a few options open to me at the time. I could bump someone else, I could go on recall, or I could leave. I chose recall – if someone else is away, I'm high on the list of people they'll call as a replacement. Not a huge change I'll admit, but it was a safe one. I think of it as a compromise between bumping, where I would be doing the same job but on different days, and starting over elsewhere. Most of the time I enjoy the freedom of being on recall, though sometimes my bank balance is a bit frightening.

I think I've adapted to most of the challenges presented by an unpredictable schedule, but it has been surprising to discover how much I'm a creature of habit. When I had a regular schedule my writing had a schedule too. I worked Thursday evenings, therefore I wrote Thursday mornings. Now that I don't have a schedule keeping me organized, my writing is all over the place. Yes, there are weeks where I work all kinds of hours, so it's difficult to find time to write. I can accept that. What I have trouble accepting is that I often can't find the time to write when there's no work. I'd like to say it's because I'm off doing all kinds of exciting, important and enriching things. I'm not. Usually I'm hanging around the house compulsively checking my email and playing solitaire. I'm certainly not cleaning! Part of it is that I hate to start anything in case I get called to work. The rest of it is that I seem to need a routine to keep me organized. And not just any routine, I seem to require an agenda imposed by someone else. It's painfully obvious that I'm not setting my own schedule for writing. This has been an eye-opening realization for me. I had secret hopes that I could be spontaneous and cool. Obviously I can't. Without that schedule I have trouble deciding what to do first, so I do nothing – or at least nothing much.

Thanks to those of you who have stuck around in spite of my lack of predictability. Now you'll know what's up when the posts are few and far between. I hope you'll be kind and assume that I've had several calls to work. Sometimes you'll even be right!




  1. Well, wasn't that some sweet insight into your elusive self. I had wondered where the name came from too!

  2. Hi Meghan,
    It was so nice to find your comment as I was compulsively checking my email. Believe it or not, the phone rang just after I got your note. It was a call to work. I turned it down. I'd much rather spend this sweet Sunday with my sweet hubby as per my original plans.

  3. An interesting and insightful post, Laurie. Isn't it funny how we (or, rather, I) chafe against someone else's agenda for us but dissolve into chaos (or solitaire) without it? I feel frustrated just thinking about it.

    It made me happy to see your comment to Meghan, to know that sometimes, you are setting your own agenda, especially when it involves Sundays and a sweet husband. (Swoon!)

    Now I have to ask the question: could you do the same thing with your writing? Just something to think about...

  4. Oh, I know all about that kind of frustration Rosiecat!

    Yes, I could do the same with my writing, yet as soon as I write that all those crazy excuse-gremlins raise their ugly wee heads to tell me why I'm wrong....

    I just keep looking for balance. I know it's out there somewhere.


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