Skip to main content

Okay then...

In school I learned a basic version of the second law of thermodynamics, and over the years it’s been watered down considerably. Which means it’s stuck in place as:

Over time, chaos (disorder) ensues.

I think of this often when I look at my house. Almost everything in my house is something that I cleaned or put away once, that is deteriorating into chaos and disorder as the minutes wear on. It annoys me that this is a law of the universe I live in. It annoys me that I can’t escape it.

When I went to look up the law of thermodynamics today, I also looked up the word entropy, because apparently – in the not-dumbed-down version of the second law – entropy is what increases to maximum levels in a closed system. And entropy is defined as a measure of the energy that is no longer available for use (because it is disordered).


This also make perfect (and depressing) sense to my adult mind. Because as my house trembles toward disorder, it becomes more and more impossible for me to feel capable of creative/useful/positive work. The only thing to be done is to stamp that entropy down and clean it up. But the law makes clear it will return. Again, and again, and again. And the law makes it clear that I am swimming against the tide in my efforts to keep this entropy at bay.


I was offered wise words today. The words were: “Trust in the Process.” This was regarding the process used for PhDs to finish their dissertation, submit their work, place job applications, and obtain jobs. And just as my mind can comprehend the sense behind the Second Law of Thermodynamics, I can also see the sense in the words: “Trust in the Process.”

Of course, just as my mind finds the idea of Second Law of Thermodynamics depressing, my mind finds this theory depressing as well.

“Trust in the Process.” A process that – due to the kind of life circumstances that happen to every person on this planet in one way or another – has had some sucky particulars when it comes to our family’s experience. Oh, what a fun process to trust in! (Cut the sarcasm, my dear.)

Also, I get that “Trust in the Process” means to “Trust that God had a plan for you.” And that, yes, God has a bit more insight into what is best for my family and how to get me there. But that always gets me back to Martha and her words regarding her dead brother, Lazarus: “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24). As in, yes, I know you will take care of me God, but you’ve given no guarantees that it won’t be terrible along the way – actually, you’ve kind of implied that it will.

Such positivity today!


It all comes down to this:

The Second Law of Thermodynamics declares my house will be dirty and chaotic.
And The Process will do what it may, and take me where it wants me to go, so I might as well trust in it, because not trusting in it won't make it come out any different anyway.

And all I can do, in the middle of all this glorious sense, is to stand up and dust my rafters. But I don’t want to dust (as usual).

This all reminds me of a dish towel my friend gave me for my birthday. It reads:

“I could keep this kitchen clean, if you would all stop eating in here.”

Amen!! Death to Mealtime!! And to Entropy!!! And to The Process!!


Speaking of birthdays, mine was interesting this year. It was a school day, and since I’m the teacher now, that meant I was up on the docket.

Last year, I took my kids out of school on my birthday (they were still in the public school) and went to an old part of the University of Iowa campus and let them climb trees while I read a book. It was all very poetic until some dog-walking lady came by and informed me that the grass has been sprayed recently, and then shook her head at how I was poisoning my children as we spoke.

But this year, I could hardly take them out of school, since I’d already taken them out – as it were – and so I decided I wouldn’t be able to read a book all day as I love to do, because that would just be cheating. I would have to teach Math and English, ferry the girls to Music and PE, deliver and pick up Grant from half-day kindergarten, and attend sundry make-up lessons for ballet and gymnastics – classes we missed while in Utah. A busy day.

That morning I got up and did my morning jobs (scriptures and writing) and got dressed and did my hair. Doing my hair on a school day (not before Church or a date) is slightly amazing. I decided it was my birthday and I should give myself a little respect. Justin was very kind during this all and took time feeding the baby all sorts of breakfast – milk! sandwich! yogurt! – so I could have a birthday morning to myself. This meant the baby was plum full of breakfast by the time I descended the stairs, prepared to survey the masses, and get the busy day ahead of us all well and truly going.

And then, suddenly, the baby exploded.

And by exploded, I most certainly mean exploded. Throw-up came pouring out of Sterling, all over himself, all over his clothes, and all over the ground. I came closer to offer comfort, and he went at it again. This time the throw-up ricocheted off of me, splattering the couch, the rug, the stairs, the banister, my clothes, my hair, and the wall behind me. Volcanic proportions of all that food Justin was kind enough to offer the sick little babe, spattered outward at every object it could possibly touch and smear.

I sat for five minutes staring, wondering where exactly I should start. His eruption was that complete, that massive. And then, when I’d figured it had to be done, regardless of any plan, I got myself up and cleaned it up.

Justin was in the shower, and couldn’t hear me, so the older kids shuttled me wipes, and buckets of water, and garbage bags, and dry towels. The baby was parceled into an empty port-a-crib with blankey and binky, a movie put on to steam him into comatose happy land for the rest of the day. I took off my puke-covered pants and shirt and donned my pajamas again. I called the schools and told them we were out for the count for the rest of the day.

And then, with the baby happily entranced by Fantasia, and the older ones overjoyed at being left alone by their task-heavy mother/teacher, I sat and read a book. All day long. Just like I'd wanted to, but just like I'd been unwilling to grant myself permission to do hours before.

All this to say, that a volcanic eruption of throw-up - a seemingly horrible start to the day - is what gave me what I actually wanted in the end. A quiet day at home, with a book, and no responsibilities.


I suppose this is The Second Law of Thermodynamics and The Process rolled all into one?


Popular posts from this blog

Le Guin Writing Exercises #5 - Chastity with Adverbs and Adjectives

August has been my month of painting. We are changing our kitchen, and my job has been to make our oak cabinets into grey cabinets. Every afternoon, in the time I normally use for writing, I paint. the color is Dorian Gray ... so at least I'm keeping the literary mode. I told myself I would paint for all of August, and then, no matter how far I'd gotten, I'd be done. Let me just say, painting is not nearly as fulfilling as writing. Perhaps it helped the Karate Kid out, but I am ready to be done! I'm glad I bought a paint sprayer, or I would have had to give up on the project entirely! Today, I administered my last coat of paint to drawers and cabinets. Alas, my kitchen is not done being painted (trim and cabinet backs elude me) but I cannot start another project that will be finished in one day, so I am done. All the other fixes will have to be finished in leftover moments, not in my precious afternoon hours. Which means today I had time to wri

Le Guin Writing Exercises #3 - Sentence Length

*I have been reading Ursula Le Guin's book Steering the Craft and completing the exercises here to give myself some accountability. Ursula Le Guin's Third Exercise - Sentence Length Practice In this exercise, the writer is asked to write one paragraph with many small sentences (no longer than seven words, no sentence fragments), and one paragraph made up entirely of one sentence. Different versions of the exercise are offered including: 1. Using the same topic for both pieces. 2. Using different topics for each piece. 3. Using topics meant to be fast paced for both short and long sentences and seeing what changes. 4. Using topics meant to be slow paced for both short and long sentences and seeing what changes. I plan on using the same topic. The topic I will use is from @anndeecandy's Instagram account giving memoir prompts. I will turn my memoir prompt into a fiction prompt and use it for this exercise. This particular prompt asks the writer to address the ide

Strawberries and Violets

Last year, almost at the end of summer, I finally bought a dead-looking bunch of strawberry plants. My daughter had been begging for us to plant strawberries, and it had taken me that long to make the purchase. Truthfully, it only happened because a leftover slab of strawberries pretty much walked its way into my cart while I went to buy something else. Still, promise kept, strawberries bought. We planted the strawberries and, since we live in Idaho, it was still cool enough for them to grow. We got about three strawberries and all took turns taking a bite. Then we waited excitedly for the next year, when there would be more strawberries. When spring came we were happy to note that the strawberries had spread out and begun growing even more plants. Little white flowers dotted the greenery, all of them promising a bountiful harvest. We had neighbors with awesome strawberry patches, and felt we were well on our way to acquiring our own. And then, something happened. If that s