A Piece of Cake

Mockup of my proposed book cover

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.”

39 Comments

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  1. C!!! My smile lights up when I see you on my reader! I completely understand your new writing “lifestyle”. All else must pause and then punt itself! I have to add how fortunate you are to have Larry bringing you coffee; even if he offers death-like adventures when you’re in your zen of words! I long to get back to Utah. But enjoying it by foot (with hiking boots on specifically). Today I’m looking out the window at continuous falling sleet/ice. Monday it was near 70 and today I’m praying that the electricity continues. This is the 3rd, or wait, 4th?? week in a row of this. I’m beginning to think God does not like Wednesdays and Thursdays in SW MO? I’ve had serious talks and prayers with him! I’m SO PROUD of you for all the new beginnings! I love the cover idea and may I please be a Beta Reader? Pretty please? I’m sending you love and hugs my friend! ❤💚🙏🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Karla, thank you, your comment is making me smile! Larry and his “death-like adventures when you’re in your zen words!” I feel spoiled out here in California, the weather has been so warm, when we go through a cold spell it’s 60 degrees, not exactly a sleet/ice storm threatening our electricity! Stay safe and warm. Possibly God’s not a fan of hump day either! Thanks for the encouragement, and yes to the Beta Reader offer, that would be fabulous. Love and hugs to you, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great writing Neighbor! might I be so bold as to suggest. . . . . . I “should” or I “will” replaces I “can’t” almost universally. The creator of the universe created words like ‘should’ just for moments like these!

    Oh, stop! Don’t thank me.

    The thanks belong to the likes of Steven Covey and those types of life observers that I have enjoyed all my life.

    Ta Ta

    CT

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Congratulations on your book and gorgeous book cover. Did you find an agent or publisher? Or did you decide to self publish? I love your writing and am sure it would jump off the page in any query or slush pile. Also, I too on occasion life three pound weights for four minutes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you E, I’m so glad you like the cover! No publisher yet, but I’m open if you know someone! I have an editor, and a book cover artist, but I’m assuming I’ll have to self-publish. I’m weightlifting as you know so I’ll have the strength to finish this project! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve always tried the traditional route and had interest but never a contract. I’m so fascinated to read your final project. I met Ray Bradbury a few times in Palm Springs and heard him speak. He would edit his books after they were published and famous. He was never done with them.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve tried for years with no success. I think it’s probably harder today. The agents want somebody with a platform, like a celebrity. Otherwise they aren’t going to risk the investment. I agree that we never feel our work is finished and perfect.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I couldn’t get past the remore for a while, and had to keep going back to that.
    A remote-controlled fire? Now THAT is living!
    You can have the rain that kept me awake all night, and is stil coming down now. It is 11:30 am here, signalling 12 hours of non-stop rain so far.
    Good luck with the book. I like the cover. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Pete, it’s the little things that make life so interesting! Remote controls that ignite a fire is one of the bests! I’m so sorry you are getting non-stop rain and we’re getting nothing! It’s disturbing and oh so frustrating for all concerned. Thanks for the good wishes, I have a long way to go before that manuscript is ready for publication! Onward! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Cheryl, to your next to last paragraph, my grandmother would say “can’t never could.” Or, a basketball player once said “you miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Go for it. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great book cover, Cheryl and I love your humorous take on life, especially Larry’s interruptions (oops, sorry coffee runs) and his ideas for tandem rides! Loving wishes for your poor derriere. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Jane, covers can be tricky because often it will detract or detere potential interest! Glad this one appeals! Larry certainly is a endless source of material for the blog. He likes a lot of sticks in the fires, he gets bored easily, and loves having adventures to look forward to. I’m afraid my derriere is out of luck! Thanks for the kind words, means the world to me! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the proposed “cover”, I am impressed with the “under-the-bed” cleaning, and I can’t wait to read your book! FYI: I love commas too! (i.e., above sentence! LOL) BTW, the reference to your book and parenting was delightful! Without question, YOU have a way with words! Best Wishes! Leigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Leigh, thank you, I’m still playing with the title but the cover will be basically the same. So glad it appeals. I highly recommend vacuuming under the bed, it’s good for the soul, and excessive use of commas! Thank you for your kind words, your support and encouragement means the world to me! Sending love and hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so over-the-top thrilled for you, Cheryl, to be at this point in the process! And given that you have perhaps the most loving, devoted, committed husband in the land, a man, btw, with excellent taste, who can blame him for wanting you to sign up for this ride? He enjoys your company. Frankly, who doesn’t? From the sound of things, you’re his biggest fan, too. Still, could it be possible that you’re needing something very specific at this particular moment in time? Might you be needing the very level of laser-beam concentration and focus that labor and delivery required, given that it sounds like this beautiful “baby” is very close to popping? In the earlier stages of pregnancy, there’s all kinds of time for all sorts of activities peripheral to the baby’s arrival (i.e. dinners, Christmas shopping, biking, etc.). I see you at a very critical juncture in your own creative process now, where focus intentionally narrows and with the very machinations of the creative process calling on you to be hyper-focused on what’s trying to be born, maybe like never before in any earlier stage of this creative work. This is my understanding of what happens and artists ignore it at their own peril. I’m rooting for you, my friend–you’re in the short strokes now and the planet is getting ready for the arrival of a beautiful work of art–and with such a gorgeous cover!! I hope you’re savoring every minute of this. Just like there’ll never be a second first-born, whatever you may publish after, this one is your only very first. I’m cheering for you in such a big way!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mary Ellen, you know when people ask me to explain who the Gecko’s are, and for the love of Pete, what is their purpose every Wednesday afternoon. I’m going to read this to them. Outloud. With emphasis! Maybe I’ll read it twice! I’m going to print this off and read it myself every morning because this little bundle of joy as you so apply named is not a solo endeavor. It’s the conception of many, and I would not be laboring with this birth if it were not for the contributions of our fearless, kind, and faithful team. Week after week you have echoed Seth’s words, “go, go, go.,” in some form or other. You have listened to me read, cry, editing as I go and still you cheer. I appreciate the heartfelt encouragement because when you’re in a race such as this you make it across the finish line on the shoulders of others. I pray this work reaches the people who need it, that it inspires others to live dangerously, to step out of their comfort zones, and do the thing that scares them most. Here’s to living big, savoring the moment, lifting our neighbors! Wrapping you in love and hugs Mary Ellen, see you on Wednesday! xxoo

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a beautiful new story you are writing Cheryl. ❤ Congratulations on the upcoming book and my love and care to you as you navigate your continued love for Shaggy. They steal our hearts and I don’t believe ever let them go. I expect, just as it should be. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi LaDonna, thank you, I’m in the fussing and focusing stage of the manuscript and it’s all consuming. Half the time I forget to eat. I do miss Shaggy lounging at my feet, keeping me company as I write, knowing instinctively that I needed his presence. I can conjour him up at any given moment and for this I am grateful! Thank you for the kind support, means the world to me. Hugs, C xxoo

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rebecca, the book is all consuming right now, I’m exhausted. I’m trying to get through all the edits before this next bike trip. What was I thinking retirement would be? RESTFUL? 💕C

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Cheryl I think we’re sisters from another father! I’m sure you’ll agree that one can be productive while in pajamas all day long! The roles played by my ex and I were somewhat reversed from yours. I was the one who tried to get him out of the house to do things together but just couldn’t so he used my trip to CA as an excuse/time to file for divorce. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
    Having now vented a bit on a downer note, I’ll switch gears and offer my congrats on your concentrated book writing effort and appreciation for your lovely book cover. I’ll also volunteer myself as a beta reader.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, we are “sisters from another father,” and from what I understand we were both born in May? I’m a taurean too so that explains the pajamas all day! Thanks for the kind words on my little dream I’m trying to manifest. And if you’re serious about being a beta reader please email me so I can get your address! I’m at cheryloreglia@aol.com ~ no derogatory comments about my aol, I’m an oldie. Hugs to you, C

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