It rained for about three minutes today, if you have anything that resembles a life, you may have missed it.
I watched every glorious second, gave praise and thanks, then went back to writing. Which I admit, looks a lot like I’m lounging in bed in my pajamas, playing on the computer, avoiding life. It’s a matter of perspective.
My asthma is acting up, but instead of researching the physiology of breathing and how it relates to my mental health, I asked Dante and Larry to disassemble the king bed in my room, so I could vacuum up a quarter-century worth of dust. I believe that qualifies for some sort of Good Housekeeping award, and although I believe my mother remains horrified, I am breathing much better.
This might be a post about aging, dust, and deadlines, but I’m not sure, my brain has been oxygen-deprived for a month.
We’re well into the afternoon, I haven’t moved an inch, Larry now believes he’s married to a female version of Hugh Hefner. But I’m not a bunny. I’m a beast. Let’s not confuse the two.
I thought riding a bike for fifty miles was groundbreaking for someone my age and I did earn a medal. Larry thinks I need to take my training more seriously. The thing is I have been in training my entire life, hiking the hills of Los Gatos, jogging when the kids were in elementary school. Now I walk the hood, cycle in the cold garage, I even do mild arm weights. Very mild, as in four minutes a day with three-pound weights. But still.
I’m totally immersed in this silent humble brag when I hear those familiar footsteps coming down the hall. Is he back from Home Depot already?
Larry ushers in a gust of brisk air as he storms into the room with two coffees. Before mine lands on my nightstand, he says, “Hey, there’s a ride in Utah, it’s completely flat, rest stops every fifteen miles, it’s a sixty-five miler. It sounds pretty sweet. What do you think?”
I stall, glancing at him over the rim of my coffee mug, from my subjective dust-free throne. He settles into his recliner across the room, grabs the remote, and ignites the fire, it’s chilly today.
I say, “Honey, have you thought about how we’re going to get our bike all the way to Utah?” I thought that would slam the door on this ridiculous idea. Sixty-five miles. What am I Wonder Woman?
He says, “you pack it up and put it on the plane.”
“You’ll be bringing me home in a coffin.”
“Naw, it’s flat, Palm Springs was a lot of climbing, this would be a piece of cake.”
“You’ve heard the saying ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’ this applies here.”
“Think about it.”
“Boundaries honey, you have no boundaries.”
“We have nothing scheduled in May.” God forbid we have a single month when my derriere is not throbbing.
“I hear Paris is stunning in the Spring.” I’ve never heard such a thing in my life but I’m trying to knock him off balance.
He reigns in the horse, “Maybe we should slip in a few thirty milers to give us a break.”
“That would be nice.” Mission accomplished.
Nora Ephron says, ‘Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.” It’s as if she’s speaking directly to Larry.
I should mention I’m feeling panicky and anxious. Are those the same things?
Aside from a husband who is insane, I’m desperate to finalize my manuscript for my first book, while struggling with imposter syndrome. The problem is it keeps growing, as if a child, it had a growth spurt this week. It went from fifteen essays to thirty-six, I’ve added new material and my editor has added a lot of periods. Apparently, I’m a comma abuser.
I know it, I don’t care, I love them.
My thought was to gather a few essays, put them in some semblance of order, write an intro and epilogue that hold hands, with an ending that people will talk about long after I’m gone. Which might be this May.
The book is as feisty as an adolescent, I don’t know if you ever actually finish editing a book, or parenting a child, maybe you just have to decide when it’s good enough, and be okay with messy. I use this mentality when judging my parenting skills, my appearance, my relationships, even my work. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough.
It’s interesting the stories we tell ourselves. You know what I mean? Sometimes my perception of myself does not jive with the world. The only constant is that I need to be more than I am, even if that means playing a role that is essentially false, but more is never enough. Is it?
I used to jog three miles every other day for years, not a step more, and I think it was actually two-and-a-half miles, let’s not quibble over the details. I used to refer to myself as a runner and this amused my children to no end. I was baffled, truthfully it wasn’t much faster than walking, but my feet did leave the ground.
When I started my blog I called myself a writer. My family was aghast, unless I have a book on the bestseller list, they would like me to refer to myself as a blogger. Between you and me, I’m a writer, I also sing quite nicely in the shower. But let’s keep that between us. No need to make them feel bad about themselves.
Now I’m a retired runner now, retired educator, retired daughter, and retired dog owner. Ugg. How depressing. It was Shaggy’s birthday yesterday.
He had eleven candles, I have sixty-one, and yet he knew how to be a good companion, give comfort, and always greeted me with a generous wag of the tail. Something to aspire to when I’m old. Bahaha.
I’ve created these self-imposed deadlines to keep me on track. I had the first stack of essays to Kara by February first. Right on schedule, broke my arm patting myself on the back. Then I was besieged by doubt, especially when I didn’t hear from her for weeks.
What the hell is she doing with my baby, putting it up for adoption?
Then she surfaced, offering a few things for me to consider, commas included. I didn’t sleep for a week. And then it came to me. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, there are authors out there who have repurposed blogs and newspaper columns, I could use their work as a blueprint. Brilliant. I found nine, soaked up their formats, bent back pages, wrote in the margins. I even put together a cover to clothe the wayward child.
When Kara and I had our conference call a few days ago I was ready.
She said, “what’s next?”
This is the plan. Send Kara a completed manuscript by Mid-march, recruit some beta readers by April, download the self-publishing software Gail recommended, and publish my book on June twenty-first, the summer solstice. Yes, Seth Godin is doing something similar, but as you know imitation is the highest form of compliment. I’m sure he’ll be happy to share the limelight.
All this obsessive-compulsive behavior is throwing my husband. I used to write only when he was occupied. For example, he rides on Saturday mornings, I write. He used to go to the office, on my day off I would write until I heard the garage door go up, and then I’d scramble into clothes, close my computer, open some wine.
It was a very copacetic relationship. Now I’m writing just about every waking moment (it’s only been a few weeks, but still, it’s praying on my husband’s nerves). I’m struggling to keep food in the refrigerator, the kitchen tidy, and the laundry done as I press forward with my project. I’m having trouble finding time for coffee with my sister. And she’s my muse. The grandkids have forgotten what I look like in clothing.
Larry seems confused about his new identity, not his sexual orientation, but his role as a househusband. I’m rolling in it like a dog on a dead fish, and I smell just as bad, grooming, “I don’t have time for that.”
He’s invaded my writing den no less than a dozen times today. To be fair, once was to bring me coffee, another time to bring me lunch, and a third to bring me a fresh coffee.
As he places my third coffee on the nightstand, I don’t even pause my fingers on the keyboard, I smile, “thanks, honey.” As he’s walking away he glances back at me with this look of utter dismay on his face. I think he thinks I prefer this arrangement. Hello?
If I were to consider the stories I’ve been telling myself as I was age, I would realize I attached the word can’t to most of them. You can’t go back to school you’re in the middle of menopause, you can’t start a new career at fifty, you can’t become a writer you’re too old. Okay, the word old has some prominence too.
I’m trying to write myself a new story, drop the word can’t and replace it with a more optimistic view. Why should I claim failure before I even try?
Now I tell myself, a book, a sixty-five miler, dust, “a piece of cake.”