On Boundaries and Floating and Grounding

Posted by on Sep 16, 2008 in Writing | 3 comments

I. On boundaries, or, the lack thereof

Anyone who read yesterday’s post and who’s familiar with me might have thought, yikes, not another one of Lisa’s moody-writer days.

So it was. But it was also more than that. For months, I’ve felt untethered, which might explain the impetus to adopt a dog back in June. What could be more grounding than picking up poop? And I might be in need of grounding because, well, let’s examine all the ways in which I have no boundaries:

  • The big one: no job. No need to get up on a schedule, so I don’t. No automatic begin and end brackets to the day, or the week.
  • Not a mommy. There are oodles of women out there who don’t work in the traditional sense, but they’re raising kids. Talk about a grounded existence!
  • Single at the moment. Relationships provide boundaries. Go to bed nearabouts the same time, get up nearabouts the same time, eat dinner together, stuff like that.
  • Funky sleep cycles. Since I have no schedule, over the course of months I fall asleep later and later, and sleep more and more fitfully. This goes on for awhile until I wake up, as I did yesterday, exhausted and undone. Then I reboot myself back to 11:00 p.m. to begin the insidious cycle again.
  • Iffy personal hygiene and general dishevelment. Shower? If I feel like it. Hair? What about it, it’s naturally curly — it’s supposed to look like this. Clean clothes? Bah, no one’s going to smell me today. Makeup? Come on now, don’t be like that.

II. On floating, or, my weird day

I know exactly zero people with my lifestyle: living alone and working from home. There’s the folks who work from home but have families/significant others. Then, there’s the folks who live alone but leave home for work. Either way, they bounce themselves off their boundaries each day, and aren’t boundaries a fundamental source of comfort and security whether or not we care to admit it?

This is what I’m talking about, this floating sense of living outside everyday reality. Yesterday, I felt bizarre with it. And it didn’t help that atmospherics from the atmosphere lent the air a post-apocalyptic orange haziness.

I thought to accomplish one task — just one, the easiest. So, I brought a research book I’d already read and highlighted to — you guessed it — a local cafe. Fat City Cafe is a classic neighborhood greasy spoon (est. 1974) with green leatherette booths, a counter reminiscent of an old-time soda fountain, and walls covered with signs and license plates.

Unfortunately, sitting around a cafe dosing on humanity and eavesdropping on others’s boundaries, didn’t ease my floaty-ness. I tried to chat with the cute guy who worked there, but that didn’t ground me. And instead of browsing the highlighted text for possible inspiration, I stared at the colorful walls. I left after a turkey sandwich and coffee, and stepped into the orange haze to float my dog up and down the block.

Home again, I slept hard, and I mean hard, for an hour-and-a-half. Woke up with headache. Floated around the apartment. Scratched the dog’s belly. Prepared sugar-free, fat-free butterscotch pudding and ate every last bite while watching second-season “Weeds” episodes.

III. On grounding, or, I’m working on it

At the end of the day, what did I learn? Nothing. I know that I created this writer’s life of mine. I own my choices in doing so. I own the consequences of those choices. For now, because I’m writing in a boundary-less bubble (image works for me), I’ll have days like yesterday. I’ll write funky posts on this blog. My emotions will rollercoaster more than I consider normal for me. It won’t help that I’ll continue inhabiting fictional worlds much of the time.

Who’s life isn’t a work-in-progress? In this, at least, I’m no different than anyone else.


  1. That’s a tough one, but boundaries can work both ways with writing. There are a lot of times when I dream of having large chunks of time to write – especially when I can’t seem to find anything other than 20-minute pieces scattered about between the boundaries of work, home, wife, work, etc. I think all writers have barriers to break through to make it happen. They may be different for each of us, but we still feel quite a sense of accomplishment when we do. Just keep at it.

  2. so you “floated your dog up and down the street …” great line/phrase … I wonder if writing this entry opened up what you really wanted to be working on? Hey, there have to be “wandering” days, don’t there? Just becaue you’re a writer doesn’t mean you’re writing every second, right? A banker doesn’t bank every second. (matter of fact, the way the econ is going, the banker may not be banking much at all!) Anyway, nothing is for nothing. This is a great entry. Here’s to your book and any forward motion on it, whatever guise it takes.

  3. Hi Chad, I agree that we all have our writing struggles. I’m finding it interesting that given no boundaries, I find that I crave a few!

    Oh, thanks! Seems like I have many “wandering” days! When I think back to my 9-to-5 days it strikes me that I wasn’t a busy-bee all the time — plenty of fooling around then too!

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