Smart Dreams for My Memoir and Dumb Behavior – Again

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Last week I enjoyed a lovely vacation in the snowy Pacific Northwest. My biggest problems were: walking a puppy in snow, choosing a restaurant, and deciding which book to read for hours and hours.

But in the back of my mind I was planning the road trip to Iowa to do research on my birth mother and her family for the last part of my memoir. Like a wasp humming near my head, I don’t think there was a minute when I wasn’t slightly anxious about logistics, costs, plans, hopes, dreams and fears.

Dumb Behavior - Again!My secret internal fears became the 800-pound gorilla that thumbed a ride on our vacation.

As a reporter, an accomplished researcher, I was mentally plotting trips to rural Iowa libraries, courthouses, high schools and – surprise! surprise! – my anxiety levels climbed.

So I did what I usually do, I said nothing but began to snap at my husband, at the puppy, even at myself when that little voice in my head reminded me that I probably won’t be able to accomplish half my goals anyway and really, what was the point?

Who cared? Would any amount of information about my origins ever satisfy me?

I held in the building pressure until little crying jags started breaking out. And that’s when I realized the obvious. With a year-long goal within weeks of completion I decided to add on a new, emotionally challenging, costly and logistically challenging epilogue.

Wait, an epilogue comes at the end. So, it was more like a prequel to an epilogue, a prepilog? Yeah, the world has been waiting for my sickness – The Prepilog!

And like so many annoying, upsetting and weirdly repetitive events in my life it felt familiar in a sad sort of way. I had done this before.

It’s what I do with diets, with career goals, with laundry.

Just when I get to the home stretch I find a really personally upsetting way to stretch it out a little further. I tack on extra work. I tack on special research. I’ll decide I need new hangers that all match and that everything needs to be ironed with spritzes of Martha Stewart laundry scents because, you know, the laundry police could raid my house.

I’m such a genius.

I have a smart dream and I’m distracting myself with dumb plans that are not needed at this time. It’s snowing in Iowa and I can’t drive in snow. Looking at weather records, I should wait until May at the very soonest. And as soon as I realized that – guess what? – I stopped feeling weepy.

Gorilla Banksy Dumb Behavior - Again!No more scary buzzing sounds of waspy anxiety.

It was if the gorilla that thumbed a ride and tried to wreck my vacation was kicked to the curb, bouncing like a fur bowling ball into a fluffy snowbank, growing smaller and smaller until he was a speck in my rear-view mirror.

Note to self: Now is the time to embrace the writing work. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by invented expando tasks. Finish first. Then accept new tasks if they are necessary and can be done without emotional risks.
Rayne Wolfe’s dream is to write her first book Confessions of an Undutiful Daughter by the end of 2011. She completed her dream journey May of 2011 on 8WD after a year living her dream. You can find her at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

  • Nadine

    Sounds a bit like my life. I’m also always finding things to do to postpone the things I should get done. I have to deal with an insurance file of a car accident dating back to 2007. I finally managed to write the lawyer that I wanted to re-open the file as I am not happy with the proposed settlement. The accident affected my life more than I expected. But now I have to send him all the documents… In stead I have been cleaning my garage, working on websites, shopping for kitchen appliances (that I need), shopping for furniture (that I don’t need) and running around to find the best price to sell some old gold (yes, that’s money too).
    As for going back to my roots, my dad’s oldest brother died and the funeral is Saturday morning. We always went on visits to my mom’s family. Why, I don’t know. I think my mom doesn’t like my dad’s family very much (well, she doesn’t like anyone very much). I hardly know them. So apart from the fact that I am not talking to my family at the moment, I am wondering what I am gaining by going to the funeral (does it really matter now why we were not close to my dad’s family?). I will be missing my dreamweaver class, and I really love that. And webdesign is a valuable skill for my future projects. The funeral will bring me only stress. I have to face my family (parents and sisters) that I have been successfully ignoring for two weeks now. I will see aunts, uncles and cousins that I will not see again till probably the next funeral. I have nothing in common with them, not even that many childhood memories to reminisce about. I have nothing interesting to tell them as an unemployed single mom, I am the shame of my mother anyway. My youngest sis had a cheating ex. I only left mine because he was mentally and economically abusive, really it can’t have been that bad leading the life of luxury I had… There are no other divorcees in the family. So I think I’m going to combine my smart dream of great projects for the future with smart behaviour of staying away from the past… Ok, not the accident, I’ll work on that file. I promise.

  • Teresa

    This resonates with me. In fact, I just sat down at my computer, at the home stretch of a project, with an idea for another thing I needed to do before it was complete. Luckily I read your post first and realized what I was doing. Thanks for pointing this out so clearly.

  • Rayne – are you reading my mind? I am the queen of adding a million things for the purpose of torturing myself toward the end of a project. Congrats on the win with the gorilla – great post as always!

  • Remy G

    the PrePilog? Lets go on another vaca! great post Rayne! xxo Rem

  • Lisa

    Rayne, so glad you kicked the gorilla to the curb ;) and allowed yourself to enjoy being where you are… I too am going to have to continue to watch vigilantly for that as I work to complete my book manuscript this year. While doing more research and reading memoirs and endlessly PLANNING for finishing my book is fun, at some point I also have to simply… finish it. :)

    And so I will! And so you will! Go us! :)

    Here to cheer you on,

  • I love this: “The Prepilog!” I laughed out loud at that one!

    I do this over worries at night when I am just about to fall asleep. All sorts of “What if” situations come up in my head winding me to a place of no return. If it gets really bad, I sit up, find meditation music and try to meditate my way out it it. If that doesn’t work, then I find a book and read until I fall asleep with my glasses on my face and the book on my chest.

    In the morning I wonder why I do this to myself and vow to never let it happen again . . . until the next time.


  • You are not alone. I am a master at:
    Burying unfinished tasks with brand new ones
    Embellishing a project to the point of making it impossible to complete
    Sabotaging my success right at the point others start to take notice

    I appreciate your honest & insightful view of our behavior when we start to do these things. This post will definitely be something to keep in mind next time. I think inside we know we are doing it, are angry at ourselves, and then take it out on others. Thanks, Rayne!