Staggering on

above the daisies

How many times these low feet staggered

Emily Dickinson

How many times these low feet staggered –
Only the soldered mouth can tell –
Try – can you stir the awful rivet –
Try – can you lift the hasps of steel!

Stroke the cool forehead – hot so often –
Lift – if you care – the listless hair –
Handle the adamantine fingers
Never a thimble – more – shall wear –

Buzz the dull flies – on the chamber window –
Brave – shines the sun through the freckled pane –
Fearless – the cobweb swings from the ceiling –
Indolent Housewife – in Daisies – lain!


I identify strongly as an introvert (ISFJ, according to the highly unscientific, scarily accurate Meyers-Briggs test I took online couple of weeks ago) and a homebody. This combination of characteristics can be a dangerous one when it comes to having interesting life experiences. That sounds awful, like it ought to be put in quotation marks. I am also someone who was overpraised for results as a child, so I have a pretty ingrained fear of trying new things that I suspect I might not be good at. This leads to an acutely uncomfortable struggle when I am faced with doing things that I feel I ought to do in the interest of Calvin & Hobbes-style character-building, expanding my horizons, stretching out my comfort zone, etc., when really I would rather stay home and read my book. Either I go forth boldly and end up miserable, or I need to be cajoled out and then surprise myself by having a good time. I don’t feel compelled to provide any specific examples. I have high hopes that the tiny readership of this blog knows what I’m talking about.

Once again, I’m facing the prospect of doing something that I’m dreading, which I agreed to do in an effort to build character, etc. I’ve been putting off thinking about it for five solid months, because I have a deadline (mid-October), and I am also nothing if not a procrastinator. At Christmastime, when my sister was visiting from Asia, we were cooking a meal when we happened upon a carton of six eggs, all of which had double yolks. The statistical probability of this is pretty slim. After the tenth yolk slipped into the bowl, my sister stopped me and proposed a pact: if the sixth egg was also a double-yolker, we would take it for grace. In lieu of new year’s resolutions, she, my husband, and I would all agree to perform some kind of challenge in 2012. The challenges we chose were all physical, and were considered proportionately challenging to the individual. A., being both violently athletic and an overachiever, has already completed his Olympic-distance triathlon. My sister would climb the highest peak in Malaysian Borneo, and I, thinking that I was choosing wisely, decided that I would run a 10K race. I had been training for one when I got pregnant in 2010, but had to quit as my bladder became increasingly squashed by the baby. I will finish this, I thought valiantly; and when I cracked open the sixth egg to reveal two cosy orange yolks, Oh crap.

The problem with a challenge like this is that it can’t be winged. Perhaps there are some irritatingly fit people who could manage this, but I am not one of them. The challenge of this race for me is not going to be the race itself, but overcoming my deep distrust (dislike) of routine in order to train for it. Also, I need to sign up. That might just be enough to scare me into lacing up my shoes. Soon, this indolent housewife will be puffing along the river, gasping like Emily Dickinson, maybe even poetically passing out in a daisy patch.


3 responses to “Staggering on

  1. Great poem, and wonderful story, with a funny ending. Those eggs must have come from an unusually fit and overachieving hen. I am also really fascinated that you are an S instead of an N on Meyers-Briggs. I would have pegged you for an N. Don’t be surprised if the next time we hang out I am secretly observing you with a keener interest than before.

    • I thought I’d have been an N too, and I think it might occasionally surface as the dominant characteristic, but S explains a lot for me – namely, my ability to remember tiny useless facts.

  2. Pingback: Word of the year | love without hope

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