Unfinished Business, Part II

Continued from Thursday, September 23 post.

Making giant To Do lists was a bit like that evening back in February 2008 when I finally sat down and wrote out my household budget, listing all my debts, smallest to largest, and creating an envelope system for my switch from debit and credit card to cash. I had just moved into my apartment, just started a job with a regular paycheck (rather than the contract work to which I had been accustomed), and I wanted to be mindful of my spending and saving.

Both with the lists and the budget, putting it all on paper was hard. There’s the awful voice that says, “You should have done this years ago.” That voice’s real message is, “You are irresponsible. You’re not doing it right.” The voice is clever because “it” can be anything—a budget, a career, life. Whatever “it” is, the voice says I am screwing it up. That voice is poison, and I have worked hard in my adult life to neutralize it. (Poet Toi Derricotte said at a 2007 reading and discussion at the Lensic in Santa Fe that she was advised to ask that voice, “Where are you getting your information?”)

Despite my best efforts, it creeps up now and then in periods of instability and/or transition. It creeps up when I try something new. The budget was new. I grew up in a home with a simple budget. My parents made a little more than we needed to get by. (My dad has always said that if he won the lottery, he would “pay bills as far as it would go.”) Our vacations were camping trips and annual treks from Deming to Albuquerque to visit my Aunt Rita and her family. We bought our school clothes at JC Penney, where my mom had credit. Our cars were never new. (My first car was a 1976 Buick Skylark that my grandparents had purchased brand new when I was four. They sold it to my Uncle Joe, who drove it for a few years, then sold it to my brother Tim. Tim later sold it to my brother Frank. Frank drove the Buick in college before selling or giving it back to my parents, who had it repainted and reupholstered in Palomas, before giving it to me when I was sixteen.)

Fortunately, I have learned to pay attention to another voice, one that sounds more like the real me. It calmed me through the budget and list-making processes, saying, “No one will judge you here. Just put it all on paper. Once it’s done, we’ll deal with it. One thing at a time.”

Read the conclusion of Unfinished Business on Thursday, September 30.

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 6:52 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I love that–“where are you getting your information” Brilliant!

    • Great question, no? The answers can be hard-hitting, though. Toi Derricotte said at the same Santa Fe reading that the first time she asked the question, the voice answered, “Your mother.” Ay!

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