Archive for January, 2010

The Napping Defense

Often I find I am brimming with new ideas of things I want to do, but before I start any of them I think, first I’ll take a nap. Seriously, I have this idea of a book I want to start writing (after I take a nap) and there’s the exercising I’m going to start (apres nap). I need to clean my bathrooms (nap), write thank you notes (nap), shop for healthy food (nap).

Sometimes even just making a To Do list, I think, warrants a quickie. Making the bed, straightening the sheets gets me all lusty and tempted. Inhaling my pillow makes my toes curl. There are days my husband will come home from work and ask what I did today, and I’ll find myself pretending I didn’t hear the question while quickly checking my cheek for drool. It’s a bad habit, this napping.

Really, what is my problem? Am I that tired by my own procrastination? Daunted by possibilities? Lazy because I can be? When do I stop napping and start doing? Is the nap – or the sheer idea of a nap – the only thing that stands between me and living a fuller life?

Last night I was reading Nora Ephron’s essay “Considering the Alternative” (I Feel Bad About my Neck). In it she writes this: “When you cross into your sixties, your odds of dying – or merely getting horribly sick on your way to dying – spike.” I would have bawled my eyes out were I not soaking in a hot, bubble bath, which makes everything feel better.

But still, I’ll be in my sixties in 15 years. Fifteen years. Just what am I waiting for? This book I want to write. This body I want to have. This relationship with my kids, reconciliation with my dad, place I want to see, thing I want to learn…is that what’s standing in the way of my getting started? The Nap?

Still, napping – cold sheets, the whirl of a fan, eyes closed, body sinking – everything seems totally doable, easy even, once you’re finished. And truly, fifteen years is a lot of time. Time for at least one or two more.


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It’s the third week of my writing class. I’m learning a lot, and my writing has never been worse. I can’t even write a post as the minute I start typing I start reading what’s missing and how painfully hard I am trying.

I’ve been blowing off my writing assignments, too. I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do (to myself) if I can’t catch up. Maybe, I’ll ask myself for an extension. I just have to catch myself in the right mood.

On the other hand, I have been keeping up on my reading assignments, which are to read as many personal essays as possible. I have a stack of books next to my bed and the library keeps calling to let me know the books I special-ordered are in.

I’ve decided Nora Ehpron is my new BFF: so lovely, funny, and insightful. But David Sedaris…I mean, are there even words? I’ve read him before, but reading him again, years later, I am indebted.

Among so many others, I love this sentence from “This Old House” (When You are Engulfed in Flames): “Like anyone nostalgic for a time he didn’t live through, I chose to weed out the little incoveniences: polio, say, or the thought of eating stewed squirrel.”

Seriously, how does he do that? Duuuuuude.

I have to stop posting now. Even though it’s sunny, it’s like -10 degrees outside and my throat hurts. The kids (who don’t have school today) are in the basement making up a fashion show, using the dirty futon as their runway. I’m grabbing another cup of throat-soothing coffee, and sneaking back to bed with David.

P.S. Ugh — this post, see what I mean? I can’t write a thing. I curse you, writing class!

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Writing Class

I decided to take a writing class. An official one, by this woman who has published her personal essays in Newsweek and Oprah, among others. I love her essays, and the price seemed reasonable compared to other online classes I’ve considered. It’s a six week course. The “basic level” cost is $125. The “premium level” cost is $250 and includes “full email support.”

I signed up for the basic level thinking I’d still be turning in assignments and getting group feedback, I just wouldn’t get the “full email support” from the instructor. Apparently, not. I don’t turn in assignments. I’m supposed to just do them on my own, and give feedback to myself.

So I just figured out as I write this post that I’m paying (okay, on a credit card) $125 for her lessons, i.e. “thoughts”, which honestly, I could buy a whole a stack of writing books for $125 — or check them out from the library and spend the $125 on black riding boots, which I’ve decided I have to have – even though this means a possible consideration of skinny jeans (dear Lord). So these lessons had better be good. When I’m done, I’ll review here. That’s right, Teacher, I’m giving you “full blog support” – for free.

Anyway, Tuesday afternoon, I stepped up my usual jeans-and-a-t-shirt ensemble with a black cardigan, a lavender scarf and a smear of lipstick. It was the first day of my online class and I wanted to look good.

I headed to the Barnes and Noble cafe and treated myself to an order of the Cheesy Enchilada soup (two words: horrific, delicious). Gnawing on my plastic spoon, I opened my laptop and got busy with the first assignment: Write a profile of yourself as a writer, 750 – 1000 words. Three hours, two venti’s and one crooked spine later, I stopped at 685 words and thought – okie dokie, that was fun.

The next morning I took my coffee at home, in my jammies. I sat down at my desk and opened up my assignment to admire it again, maybe give it a few tweaks. I read it once. Wait – did I? I read it again. It sucked. I mean, sucked –suuuuucked. What the heck did I write? Of course, I never thought I wouldn’t need to edit (my own assignment that only I read), but this thing was a mess. As of Sunday, I have yet to delete it and start over (hmm, will I get in trouble for turning this in late to myself? – Not sure yet).

But it’s something. I like having homework that’s my own. I like having something to do besides check my blog stats*. I like putting on lipstick and feeling career-ish (oh, so sorry I can’t go to the PTA meeting, I have work to do for my ahem, Writing Class). And the there’s the Cheesy Enchilada soup. But I am still thinking about those riding boots…


* By the by, I noticed all the middle-aged folks (men) in the B&N cafe who are hunched over their laptops, looking important, are checking Facebook. Seriously, Facebook. They are not doing work, editing novels or completing their assignments for a Writing Class. They are checking Facebook. And I know this because I peek at their laptop screens whenever I walk by. I spy. Aren’t they pathetic?

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Paperwhite Therapy

It’s early January and my paperwhites have just opened. My friend Beth said that I should plant them to bloom after the holidays. I say, she nailed it.

Once the tree is down and the twinkle lights are unplugged, winter becomes a daunting test of emotional fitness. But now I have these cheery, little blooms brightening the corners of my rooms. Sure, they might smell a little funky, but so does brie cheese, and who would pass on a warm wedge of that?

Paperwhites are essential for weathering long winters — as are flannel sheets, pot roasts and votives on the fireplace mantle. Beth gave me some in a white pot with white stones. They looked so artful and clean. I felt like I’d just received a pot of fresh perspective.

Another good reason to wait until after the holidays is the bulbs go on sale. Yesterday I saw some selling for 80 cents a bulb. Eighty cents.

That is some seriously cheap therapy. With ten bucks, I might actually make it through January.

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My friend Annie emailed me the other day to tell me she had some good family gossip from the holidays. Annie knows I love family theater and that I’m a tad obsessed with her sister-in-law, Amanda.

Amanda is a published food writer and New York fashionista who manically art directs every minute of a family event, which makes for gorgeous meals, fantastic photos and painstaking drama. Any time there’s a family get-together, Annie calls me later and I get a good dose of schadenfreude.

Apparently this holiday was a doozy, chock full of lots of jaw-dropping details. Annie wanted to arrange a time and place to discuss, and I immediately vetoed coffee in favor of a real drink. I wanted to savor every unsavory detail in a cozy restaurant with candlelight and good wine.

We met at a cute place that’s in the center of Jcrewville. I don’t know if it was the thrill of being out on a Wednesday night or the extra boost from having a surprisingly good hair day (according to Annie), but I was feeling brightly festive so when we bellied up, I ordered a vodka martini.

As an aside, can I just say, I love the martini. There’s something about the medicinal brightness of icy vodka and the reward of a salty olive. Plus, the glass – I mean, come on…right?

So once all settled in with my gigantic martini (Annie ordered a shiraz), I sat back and waited while Annie unpacked the family baggage starting with Christmas Eve morning. I interrupted her only to ask insightful questions like, “what was Amanda wearing?” But as more and more information came out (a long cardigan, skinny jeans, riding boots), I started to feel ashamed about reveling so much in Amanda’s narcissistic shenanigans.

As cold guilt sept in, I warmed myself with more vodka. I saw unflattering glimpses of myself in Amanda: the manic need to make everything look perfect, the ache for continous positive feedback – only she seemed to be making it happen. Maybe this was the basis of my obsession. Maybe this was why I ordered another martini.

When Annie’s recount reached 3pm on Christmas day, I knocked over a glass and spilled water all over the bar. I stood up to fix things and got tangled up in my bar stool. Annie’s eyebrows shot up. I somehow pulled my bar stool back underneath me and started to tell Annie that maybe Amanda might not be so bad. Maybe she’s a bit depressed. But I was talking really loud, shouting in fact. I think I even spit a bit.

I tried to climb on my soapbox about depression and what it does to people, but I kept slipping off. As Annie contemplated this, I interrupted her, loudly, to say that depression is ugly and boy, did I know ugly. I was trying to make some kind of point, but unfortunately the point kept sliding out from under me, like my bar stool.

I leaned over and stage-whispered to Annie, “Um, I think I’m a little drunk.”

Annie whispered back “Yeah, you seem a little drunk.”

We gathered our things and left – but not without me stumbling after her, knocking into chairs and slurring loudly about the how much everyone needs a good pssssychiatrisssst.

The next day was a long one, and having two needy kids reminded me that martinis, while exciting, are best left to childless twenty-somethings who don’t have to explain why they need chili fries for breakfast. My head was pounding with regret. But I could learn from it, right? I made a list. To date, here is the best I can come up with:

1) If you plan on climbing onto soapboxes, keep sober because it’s slippery up there and you can easily lose your footing and your point.

2) When scrutinizing someone else’s narcissism, try to stop making it all about you.

3) Try not to judge your friends for being judgy when your own judgement is severely impaired.

4) Oh, and finally – do not yell, slur and spit when describing all the details of your own mental illness in public, unless you plan on sharing your schadenfreude with everyone.

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After a six week computer-imposed hiatus, it’s like I can’t even post anymore. I’m trying to think of something to write – but I got nuthin. Nuhuhuhuhuhthing.

So I’ll just keep changing my custom header. That’s something, right?

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