I’m usually upbeat–one of those annoying people who makes Pollyanna look like a goth girl. However, today I had one of those days where I just felt out-of-sync, like a poorly dubbed Japanese monster movie where my lips moved, followed by a B-List character actor saying in English, “For the love of God, don’t let Godzilla reach the Golden Corral! They have the only all-you-can-eat salad bar in Tokyo!”
I woke up Sunday morning, refreshed after finally catching up on my REMs. (When I say that this blog is written under severe sleep deprivation, I’m not kidding.) I had the day off from my full-time job at a non-profit and my part-time job at an independent bookstore. I told myself that there were only four things I needed to concern myself with today:
2. Iron my work clothes for the week
3. Buy groceries
4. Finish writing the next chapter of my novel
Piece of cake! So I started with the first item on my list. I was about to head to the gym when I remembered that I wanted to find a workout plan specifically for an ectomorph, which refers to people, like myself, who have a body type like Flat Stanley. I want to build some muscle and bulk up a little.
I fired up the Internet and did a Google search. Hundreds of websites popped up and I checked out one after another. And there was something wrong with every one of them. Many of them required workout sessions of an hour or more up to six days per week. With my schedule, that did not seem realistic–unless I gave up eating and urination. Others required specialized equipment that I had neither seen before at my gym nor were legal in the great State of Georgia.
I glanced at the clock. It was after lunch and I had lost the entire morning. It was just like those times when a question comes to mind, like: How many number one hits did Michael Jackson have on the Swiss Music Charts? Naturally, I must run to the computer and find the answer at once, usually getting sucked down a rabbit hole of one intriguing piece of information that links to another. (For the record, Michael Jackson topped the Swiss Music Charts four times, with “Billie Jean,” “Remember the Time,” “You Are Not Alone,” and “Earth Song.”) This habit makes me a lethal weapon for trivia night, but not so successful in the productivity department.
I could feel my insides knotting up. I told myself to eat lunch and then I’d start work on my chapter, since I usually tend to put the most important thing to me last on my “to do” list. I don’t know why. It’s doubtful that the world is going to end if I don’t clean the toilet. But after lunch, I thought I should warm up to writing by reading a bit. At the end of each chapter, it seemed like I needed to stretch my literary muscles some more, so I began another chapter. The afternoon wore on. The tightness in my gut increased. The sounds of minutes ticking away grew louder, which is really interesting, because I have a digital clock. And the the voices in my head started talking:
You are such a loser.
If the Department of Family & Child Services investigated cars that never seemed to get washed, you’d be locked away in prison without any chance of parole. Why aren’t you washing your car now instead of reading this book?
You’ll never finish that novel.
You do look exactly like the actor who plays Freddy Krueger in all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.
This is just like when you wanted to join the band in the sixth grade. You never practiced “Penguins on Parade” and dropped out. That trumpet is still on the top shelf of the closet in your old bedroom in your parents house!
Even though I know better than to listen, I did, anyway. I felt like I was on the bottom of a swimming pool, pinned down by the pressure of all these unsurmountable tasks, the drain of the pool making a painful waffle pattern across my cheek.
I walked through the house and saw all the unfinished projects that awaited me. It reminded me that on Friday I had finally finished everything I was supposed to do before I left for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop that I had returned from two weeks ago. I realized that I probably would probably be late for my own funeral. I could see myself rushing in and plopping down in the back row as the pallbearers carried my car out to the hearse. I’d turn to the little church lady to my right and say, “Tell me the truth, how did I look?” She squirm on the pew and scrunch her face up, then say, “Kind of waxy. I’d ask for a refund.”
I shut my book, closed my eyes, and curled up into a fetal position on my bed. I couldn’t understand why I was shutting down. I was hopeless.
I thought about the scene in my novel that had me stuck. A high school senior invites a new student home for lunch. While his friend is washing up in the bathroom, the senior checks his hair in the hallway mirror and his friend catches him. The friends says …
I know, it isn’t rocket science, yet, for some reason, I’ve been frozen at this point for three weeks.
And then my mind started to wander. I recalled an e-mail that I received a few days ago from my mother. She had written about a dilemma. She discovered that her 50th high school reunion was scheduled for the same night as her Hafla, which is the recital for her belly dancing class. Mom mulled it over. Ultimately, she opted to attend her Hafla instead of her class reunion. She figured that she could either spend her evening listening to a bunch of old people she didn’t recognize talk about their bodies falling apart, or she could spend it doing something wild and crazy that sixty-eight-year-old women don’t normally do. My mother chose to do something that made her feel good.
My mom inspired me. I have fun when I write. I wanted to feel good when I wrote again. What would make me feel better right now?
I figured I’d better knock out the things that I had to do before the day was over, so I could focus on writing without those distractions. So, I unfurled myself from my fetal position and I did my regular workout. I felt better, so I ironed my work clothes for the week. Completing half of my list felt good, so I drove to the grocery store and stocked up on food for the week. I felt my mojo return by that point.
Now, I’m back home typing up my blog post for tomorrow, which will be your today. It feels good for my fingers to be tapping across the keyboard. I decided to move forward in the chapter of my novel to where I knew what happened next. As a result, it helped me figure out what the friend says to the senior when he catches him looking at himself in the mirror. The waffle marks on my cheek from the drain of the swimming pool have faded away, and that low point with the weight of all the pressure I put on myself now seems so long ago. It’s a good reminder that even after we grow up and move away from home, we still need our mothers.
How has your mother inspired you recently?