It’s the tightrope season. A shaky line between summer and winter that could drop either way – snow or soul shaking thunderstorms; socks in the morning or sandals; trudging steps to inevitable winter or a woozy last skinny dip in the lake at dusk.

Today, silence woke me up, not the birds. Not even the 4:15 cardinal was around to sing awake the day. Instead, crickets provided the first clatter of the morning. By the time the sun fanned half-tone rays over the roof, the cicadas chimed in. But no birds. My budgie – Kiwi – is silent, too. The bird-feeder is full and not a single goddamn feathered-pecker is there.

I’m off-balance. Too many things have changed in the last few months. My husband, a former high school teacher, has retired, making me the bringer-home of bacon. Our middle daughter started her first year at university (when did she grow up?). Our oldest is entering her final year of undergrad and is in a dither about what to do next. I am starting an intensive 4 month writing course and I’m scared shitless. Next week I have knee surgery. To say the household is unsettled is to observe that San Francisco is built on shaky ground.

Becoming the official bread-winner is not a heart lightening task at the bruised age of 58. Ironically, I was the breadwinner at the beginning of the marriage, too, and find myself, as a result of the usual choices lots of people make in their working lives, having to work for quite a few years to come. While my husband forgets what day of the week it is and now drives everywhere at the speed limit commenting what a hurry everyone else is in, I watch the running clock as I try to get done the things that must get done for someone else’s benefit. But the clock is not sticking to the speed limit. The hands seem to whirl around as fast as hurricane force winds.

One of the kids asked me how old I would be when I retired. “Sixty-five,” I said.
“How old will dad be?”
“That sucks,” she said.

It seems a long way off and yet it isn’t. Much can happen in 7 years. Mild panic pushed at me when I did the age calculation. Imagine me on the tightrope, left leg off the wire, arms windmilling as I tried to find equilibrium.

While back-to-school clothes shopping with my youngest daughter, she observed how much she likes the fall because everyone dresses nicely.

In the summer you’re sweaty and hot so you dress like trash to stay cool. In the winter you don’t care what you look like cuz you’re just trying to stay warm. But in the fall everybody cares.

I’m almost across the tightrope. I can see my husband waiting for me on the landing platform. But I have a few more treacherous steps to navigate, not the least of which is writing. Writing is my last gasp of passion – don’t tell him I said that – and I indulge it with the awareness that I am doing it ONLY for myself. At this stage of life, the energy and time required to search for publication opportunities seems overwhelming. And so I debate with myself “What’s the point of writing at all?”

I don’t know what the point of writing is, but I know it is fall. As noted by my fashionista daughter, I care in the fall. Fall is the tightrope season. Fall is a balancing act imperative – winter is coming. I’m shaky at times and steady at others. This is normal, right?

Today my left leg is secure on the rope and the right leg begins to tip. Bacon in one hand, a dictionary in the other, I am petrified of falling.

Holding on for dear life.

33 thoughts on “Tick-tock

  1. Julie Ethan September 5, 2015 / 12:17 pm

    Reblogged this on The Village Healer and commented:
    Transitions in life happen. I invite you to climb (“Inside Out”) style into the head of a kindred spirit of mine and experience the seamless flow of her narration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 5, 2015 / 12:20 pm

      Hey, Ms. Julie – thanks!


  2. Bruce Goodman September 5, 2015 / 2:06 pm

    This is a wonderful piece of writing, Susanne, as we’ve come to expect. And it brings all sorts of conflicting thoughts into my head at once. My own little blog (which these days is the only writing I do) I can’t talk about at home because they have no idea why I’m “wasting time with that nonsense”… 🙂 From your husband’s perspective maybe, as one retired myself and my partner not, I wake at night and worry about what would I do if the bread-winner didn’t wake up!!!! The stress of life! All the best for the knee surgery – and I love the name of your budgerigar!

    Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 5, 2015 / 4:24 pm

      At the moment I think the ol’ fella is just too damn happy with his new status to worry about whether his missus is about to kick the bacon bucket.

      I thought you might like my budgie’s name. He was named by a child long before I was a blogger. Speaking of stress, he’s been thru 3 females and is now living a monk’s life. I refuse to get him another girl bird because I figure he must be near death himself. We’ve had him forever. Tough old bird.

      Non-bloggers just don’t understand us, do they?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce Goodman September 5, 2015 / 4:35 pm

        😀 By ol’ fella I presume you’re not talking about the budgie in your life!

        Liked by 1 person

      • redosue September 5, 2015 / 5:04 pm

        He’s old, too, but I don’t know how old in human years.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Cynthia Jobin September 5, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    “This is normal, right?”…….I don’t know, hardly ever having been normal; but I wish you safe passage through that knee surgery

    Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 5, 2015 / 4:21 pm

      Thanks, Cynthia. By the way, I like your version of normal, whatever that is.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. hilarycustancegreen September 5, 2015 / 3:26 pm

    I started writing in my fifties. There is a lot to enjoy (though no income from it). Good luck.


    • redosue September 5, 2015 / 4:20 pm

      Thanks, Hilary. I know many people who took up writing in their 50’s, some even making a tiny income from it. I just don’t know if I have the energy required to make the effort. My small attempts have taken a fair bit of work which I’m know you must be familiar with. Looking forward to hearing more about your manuscript soon and good luck to you, too!


  5. exiledprospero September 5, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    A writer is someone that writes; therefore, this can presumably happen at any age, except before the age of two–I find that basic letter recognition is generally a prerequisite. But beyond that–it’s an open field.

    If you look at it this way, there’s no pressure. The worse that will happen is that you will get it all wrong. Then you can start again. In fact, getting things wrong is probably a good thing: it’s the only way to get better. So you start again, and lo–it’s still an open field.

    Liked by 3 people

    • redosue September 6, 2015 / 8:31 am

      The open field beckons! The pressure is self generated (I’m sitting on myself!) and comes from a desire to improve. But you’re right – it’s easy to crumple the paper and start again.

      Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 6, 2015 / 8:27 am

      Thanks, Derrick. Funny thing is, I’m not too worried about the knee, more about the writing course I challenged myself to do AND being the bread-winner.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Manja Mexi Movie September 6, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    You are quite a motivator, aren’t you. 🙂 Heading for that fall myself now! Just don’t know about that gasp of passion. 😉


    • redosue September 6, 2015 / 3:55 pm

      Maybe it’s a roar or maybe a soft voice whispering encouragment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Andrea Stephenson September 6, 2015 / 4:03 pm

    I love autumn but it can be a tricky time, getting things into balance as the seasons change. I’m glad that despite the things that are making you off-kilter, you’re not giving up on the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 6, 2015 / 4:08 pm

      I would give up coffee before giving up writing, Andrea – caffeine headache bedamned! I usually like fall. I like the change of seasons and the feeling of new beginnings but this fall feels different. Maybe because my husband is starting a new phase of life w/out me and I’m jealous!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. J.B. Whitmore September 6, 2015 / 6:52 pm

    Here’s a pole to help you balance, and special tightrope shoes. You can do it.


    • redosue September 7, 2015 / 5:34 pm

      Thank you my fine Scribbler. I have no other choice BUT to do it, with or without a pair of Nikes.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Anthony September 7, 2015 / 11:41 pm

    This is a lovely set of scribbles–and strangely relevant for me at the moment.

    I just jumped in a life changing career path and it stalled just as we were getting the go of it. Suddenly my wife has become the sole bread winner (she’s always been the big hawk, but now I’ve got no load; she has the whole heft).

    My mother just retired. She’s looking at the road as trying to do all the things that she never got to do when it was just her and me–and all the things she’s been waiting to do now that she has time *and* a little bit of money at the same time.

    The balance comes with time. With practice. With patience. And from what I’ve seen, you’ve already got your writing chops. Now it’s just time to let the fear take over and just walk the rope.

    You can do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 9, 2015 / 10:05 am

      I like that expression “She’s always been the big hawk”! I’m more like a spunky sparrow than a big hawk but I just chose a different path than hubby – working in underfunded non-profits which didn’t provide benefits for employees – so there you go. As for you, my blogging friend, being a full-time dad is a lot of heft and responsibility as you’ll learn once they’re ready to fly on their own. It’s a full-time, life-time job.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Cynthia Jobin September 8, 2015 / 10:28 am

    I’ve been thinking about you ever since our conversation about ‘fresh pressed’ on another venue. You are caught between a rock and a hard place, Scylla and Charybdis, the devil and the deep blue sea. You are the baloney in the sandwich. You cannot reach the more settled mind of one who retires from active life,(your husband’s) or the mind full of hope and youthful aspiration for the future (your daughters’).

    You are neither here nor there, and you just may fear that time is not on your side. Complicate that with a deep wish to “be a writer” even though you would be hard-pressed to know what that means or when you will have achieved it. STOP! Don’t just do something, stand there….

    Build yourself a little time-space nook and go there to write, religiously, on a regular basis, without judgement, punishment, or reward; without coaching, permission, or the opinions of others. If you give yourself this, something will come of it. Patience. Just write. You’ll know when–and if ever—it’s time for publication, fame and fortune. A writer writes. So write. I’m rooting for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • redosue September 9, 2015 / 9:42 am

      Once again, Cynthia, your words come at the right time and are as usual insightful and true. I have my time-space nook, created on the long weekend and I will go there regularly now that I have a spot. You know what I get bound up in? Organization. where will I put all this writing? A book, a binder, an electronic file? I share computer space with several people and have the stuff all over the house like a squirrel hiding nuts. I need a better system. Anyway, I read your words as I was sitting in a wheel-chair post surgery and I wept at your kindness. Thank you for your encouragement. It means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cynthia Jobin September 9, 2015 / 4:14 pm

        We all organize differently, I guess, according to how our minds work. One thing I started doing, back when I was sharing a computer, was to keep my stuff in electronic files on those cute inexpensive thingies called flash drives/disks….from finished manuscripts to works in progress to even my desktop! I still do it, and keep the little suckers in a little paisley purse that belonged to my grandmother. Otherwise, I have hard copy of everything in manila folders, filed in a portable plastic file box. It’s easy to pull folders out and put them back….same thing with the flash drives–in and out of the UMB slot. Otherwise, I carry an old fashioned Composition book, much the way an artist carries a sketch book; it has everything in it—bright ideas, words, rants, fragments of drafts—and I go through these like water. They stack well and make a good record, too,….you know, for your legacy…..

        Liked by 1 person

  11. D. Wallace Peach September 9, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    The ongoing balancing act that sounds so familiar, only the details are different. Breathe, Susanne. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn’t come and may look entirely different than you imagine.

    And if that doesn’t work, make lists! That’s what I do. 😀


  12. Cynthia Jobin September 9, 2015 / 5:08 pm

    Oh,,..and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on the Vogue Knitting publication coming up at the end of September!


  13. Ellen Morris Prewitt September 11, 2015 / 9:00 am

    I love the bit about your husband driving the speed limit now and wondering why everyone else is in such a hurry 🙂 I also greatly admire your taking the writing course. At this point, I’d be afraid to take one because I might learn I don’t know as much as I think I do. Good luck with the surgery too.


  14. nancysheys12 October 5, 2015 / 3:50 pm

    Be kind to yourself! You do have a lot on your plate, but you don’t have to decide everything today or do it all today. Allow your daughters to own their on stuff. Live your life first and then, if there is time left, live it somemore. Keep learning, keep stretching and swing on that tight rope. I’m relieved the knee surgery’s behind you. I’ve had two surgeries. Now we can officially call ourselves bionic. Live, laugh, love and be happy.


  15. insearchofitall October 1, 2016 / 10:37 am

    I liked this post. It resonated on several levels for me. Going to read more.


    • Susanne October 1, 2016 / 10:46 am

      Very pleased you liked it. I find September a discombobulating month.

      Liked by 1 person

      • insearchofitall October 1, 2016 / 11:32 am

        I agree with you on Sept. It was a very odd one this year especially. And I don’t have school to think about.

        Liked by 1 person

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