Hard work: On the retreat of the Write-a-matrix and the victory of her nemesis, Hacıyatmaz


une réunion pas stable

A dark army of roly poly Haciyatmaz warriors – laying in wait in case the Write-a-Matrix comes back with her own army of whipcrackers (Photo credit: bu.)

Now that I have challenged myself to carefully consider the topic of “work” as part of December’s NaBloPoMo, two of the primary metaphorical puppets that have inhabited my mind for some years now are popping up once again in earnest.  I think they are bubbling up with a geyser-like fury because the BlogHer writing prompt of the day is “how hard do you think you work?”

Regular readers will recall that on occasion, two or more of my mental puppets get into what I have dubbed “a puppet battle” (you can click here to read all posts categorized as such) and there is no more fierce a battle than the one in which the Write-a-matrix and Hacıyatmaz (Hah-juh-yacht-maz) are engaged in.  It may be an eternal battle, but I hope it will just subside into the occasional debate/skirmish that dissolves with subtle mediation.

Now, one of my Moms, who is likely reading this post, has told me that she worries about these Karagöz puppets in my head, with all of their battles.  She wants me to feel whole, not so fragmented. Of course, I can understand and appreciate this loving concern.  My take on it is that this puppet exploration is a natural and healthy part of the process of figuring things out that must be named and recognized before moving on. She’ll likely sigh, maybe shake her head, and chalk it up to personality differences, but the puppets and I are asking her to please not worry, I am on the right path, and it is a healthy one. Let me encourage her to listen to the other puppets in the Karagöz puppet troupe, who have different stakes in my brain, heart and soul.

Those puppets are reminding me that Hacıyatmaz and the Write-a-matrix are located in only one side of my self – they are not in my whole self.  Hacivad Bey reminds me that Hacıyatmaz (named for a Turkish children’s toy that has a roly poly bottom and never stops rocking, albeit gently) was sent by the rest of the puppets to tango with the whip-cracker herself, that Write-a-matrix.  You know, fighting fire with fire, and all that.  To bring you up to speed, the Write-a-matrix was the dominatrix-type who had me by the throat, publishing scads of articles for tenure…too many articles compared to what secured what I now know to be the bittersweet brass ring for my colleagues.

Ignoring all that noise from the Write-a-matrix, Hacıyatmaz stayed true to his mission, to shock me back into some better balance.  As a result, he decided to affix me with the creative writing bug with as much energy as I had devoted to my academic research. Not a perfect approach in the larger scheme of things as for a stretch I was throwing myself into both, but that approach did engage the part of me that was caught up in the frenzy that is the Write-a-matrix – and made it take notice.  As it turns out, it took about a year, my Dad’s passing – and a rotator cuff injury on my writing side to wake me up from the madness. I need time for my own writing work – and my academic work.

So, as I leave my Write-a-matrix in the corner and head upstairs into a more healthy, but uncharted territory, I agree that it is time for more balance (can you hear the cheers and huzzahs of the puppet troupe?). Hacıyatmaz is smiling now, but the rhythm of his roly-poly-ness is steady. You see, has been patiently waiting for me since the 6th grade, when I turned down the special art/writing curriculum as the cool kids made too much fun of me already – why be a bullied artsy geek, I reasoned without a second glance.  I could just lift that young girl up and shake her senseless, I am so disappointed in her for that. Hacıyatmaz has a lot of compassion for her, it seems, and just stuck around, almost imperceptibly, rolling back and forth in the corner. He doesn’t speak, he just rolls, functioning as some sort of Buddhist metronome from which I should take my cue.

Seeing me write all this, the Write-a-matrix screeches in a banshee-like wail and claws at the walls. It is beyond painful to watch, hear and write about.  That poor Write-a-matrix, she cannot bear this utter *failure* on the loss of additions to “what’s in the publishing pipeline” writing front.  She tells me I have yet to publish in the journals with the highest “impact factor” using more advanced statistical analyses. She tells me I am an academic nobody who has wasted my training, my potential.  For her, existence itself equals an unhealthy all-or-nothing approach to one tiny sliver of what life can be vis-à-vis making a contribution to the world. She is upset beyond red, puffy-faced bitter rage, as she is realizing that I now know I only need her in moderation, such as on a deadline, not all the time. She is also horrified to hear that I am no longer trying to make my parents proud by amassing an academic publishing record akin to their own, regardless of impact factors and fancy statistics. But more than anything, the Write-a-matrix is also afraid of what is lurking behind all of that whip-cracking workaholism that needs tending to, but that is another story altogether.

So as the Write-a-matrix retreats in despair and Hacıyatmaz rolls steadily along, I am reminded of a playground fixture I saw in my childhood – it was something in between a carnival tilt-a-whirl and a see-saw, and it required all the kids playing on it to balance just so in order to keep the spinning up at a fun – and reasonable rate. That’s how I will approach the work of writing from now on.

It’s a new world out here.

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This entry was posted in A Karagöz puppet battle, Academic hell, Family Challenges, On writing about my life with the Karagöz puppets, Visits from the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Hard work: On the retreat of the Write-a-matrix and the victory of her nemesis, Hacıyatmaz

  1. Alan says:

    . . ahhh! A teeter back just when such thing was called for. In UK these wobbly chaps were called ‘Weebles’ as in ‘Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!’

  2. E. says:

    So…THAT’S what it is called! Thanks, Alan. A name to go with the image.

  3. Pingback: How to relax after a hard day’s work? Karagoz chortles and snorts | Slowly-by-Slowly

  4. Nancy says:

    And I do SO agree, that you are on an important path with these puppet voices, and that you are healing yourself in letting some of this come out, that cannot make it to the surface without the puppets.
    And the key line I hear in this post is how disappointed you are in that young girl you were. How very disappointed. And that has come up so very often, and I want to say I am not disappointed in her at all. And I knew her, and watched her then. There were no wrong paths, no wrong ways, no wrong choices. All the meanderings have given you experiences, wisdom, friends, insights, and that’s what life is for, that’s the gold in the mine. The thing I think you are so hard on yourself about is that you didn’t grab that brass ring called Happily Ever After. But dear heart, that brass ring is imaginary, no one, absolutely no one, gets that. Yes, I know some people talk about their wonderful lives, but they are: burying stuff; lying; trying to convince themselves; unwilling to share how hard their lives have been, because they, too, feel guilty, feel punished, feel judged (by themselves, they are) as failures because their lives are hard, hurt, and they are not in Hap. Everafter Land. No one is. And that isn’t a punishment. Life is just life. Very hard and wonderful. H’s was. E’s was. M’s was before you. Yours has been. Life.
    Anyway, keep writing. This is good stuff! Hugs from me!

  5. E. says:

    Dear Nancy,

    Thank you so much (really so much) for your support on the puppets. I think the fam is pretty worried. 🙂

    I appreciate your support so much – and you are giving me some perspective on that young girl. As I sit here, pretty much burned out from academia after burning out on social work direct practice, part of me wishes that young lady had taken the art/writing opportunities that I passed up so many times…I agree that life is just life – and this is really the lesson of the hour (or of this mid-life crisis, at least).

    Also, I appreciate your comments on the illusion of the brass ring. Perhaps that is what started this mental avalanche – that when I caught the brass ring at tenure, it immediately disintegrated in my hand, leaving me falling onto a far down floor, in a heap, and getting some bruises along the way.

    Thank you most of all for your encouragement and love, I feel both your wisdom and Mom’s in your comments, and it helps me so much.

    Love, “Liz”

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