I Always Wear Lipstick In Case There’s a Mug Shot

Josh was late for school because I forgot to get gas last night after choir practice.  I didn’t get gas before choir because I was already late for that. The car holds 18 gallons. I put in 17.972 gallons.  So basically, we started the day running on fumes. 

I’m not feeling like Super Mom today.  What’s new?  Although there are some days when I nail it – remember in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” when Toula Portokalos starts working for her Aunt Voula’s travel agency, and she’s on the phone and computer and zipping around in her rolling chair, just on fire with efficiency and greatness? – most of the time I feel that I don’t nail it.  Maybe I staple it, or just hold it together with Scotch tape. We have duct tape, which would be better, but I don’t know where it is.

Most days, I get up, let the dogs out, feed them, clean up whatever’s in the kitchen, empty the dishwasher, get some laundry going, fix the lunches, give Josh his wake-up call so he can snooze, fix breakfast, throw on some clothes and brush my teeth before we head to school. 

I also put on lipstick and brush my hair.  This is for two reasons: One, because my mom always said, “Don’t leave the house without lipstick.”   Two, because I always have it in the back of my mind: “What if the day goes horribly wrong and there’s a mug shot and it gets printed in the paper?”  At least, I’ll be wearing lipstick and a bra.

I suspect that most people don’t think these things, but who knows, maybe they do. 

lipstick with organizerYesterday was just a bust.  I mentioned that I was late for choir practice, but that was just toward the tail end of the chain of “meh.”  Before that, I had busted my gut to race out to our local charter science high school.  Our older son, Andy, went there, and it is wonderful.  But they have a lottery for kids to get in, and we had been told that the drawings would start very soon.  I scrambled for Josh’s birth certificate, SSN, and a utility bill to show that we actually live where we say we do.  Throughout the day yesterday, I had dragged the multi-page application form from place to place, filling it in whenever I had a few minutes.  Finally, it was done!  I booked to the school before it closed for the day, and the lady at the front desk said that the lottery for Josh’s grade would start September 1 at 7 a.m., and there would be “a line around the parking lot” at that time, so that’s something to look forward to.

Before that, I had spent 15 minutes on hold with the doctor’s office.  All I wanted was to get permission, aka a referral, for my dang annual mammogram. But that would have been too easy.  Although I had seen the doctor several times last year and actually had surgery, that didn’t count.  This woman finally came on the phone and said, “This is Pat.”  Like that’s helpful.  I don’t know who she is, or care, frankly.  No offense to Pat.  “Yes, you were here for some gyn-e things” – I was not familiar with this term; it rhymes with shiny – “but you didn’t get a breast exam.”  So before I can get the mammogram, I have to come in for a documented physical. 

In other words, they are holding my mammogram hostage. 

“Do you still want to do that?”  “Well, yeah,” I said.  I simply can’t wait to see those happy people.

The whole day was like that.  Earlier this week, I saw that an illustrator named Yao Xiao has done a series of illustrations showing how to be more positive by saying, “Thank you,” instead of “I’m sorry.”  For example, instead of “Sorry I’m just rambling,” how much better to say “Thank you for listening.” Or, instead of “Sorry I’m kind of a drag” — “Thank you for spending time with me.”  Xiao figured out that having gratitude and apologizing are a lot alike, but saying thank you makes both parties feel better about themselves. 

So, thank you for listening.  Thanks to my family for putting up with me.  Thanks to my car for not running out of gas.  Thanks to God for a family to take care of, and another day to do it.

Cue the Tumbleweed

If you were to grab a remote and somehow channel-surf through my brain right now, this is what you would see:  Click:  A highway out West, deserted except for the tumbleweed that blows past the camera, maybe a buzzard circling in the sky.  Click: A front yard of a house. It’s night, and you’re basically watching the grass grow and listening to crickets.  Cricket, cricket, cricket.  Click:  Somewhere in outer space.  Just a bunch of stars, no starships, no Jedi, no Captain Kirk.  It’s pretty quiet out there on that final frontier. 

There you have it.  This is what is going on with me mentally.  Nada, zippety doo dah.  It’s pitiful. 

waiting for inspirationIf you are that unfortunate combination of a creative person and a Type A, you sort of base your self-worth on your latest achievement.  Over the last few months, I finished three publications and a book.  The three publications all had roughly the same deadline, so I was really hauling it there for a couple of months.  The big white board by my desk was covered with the list of stories I was working on.  Eventually, they all got checked off, and that was a great feeling.  In the cycle of how I work, I went from hopelessness — “I am never going to finish.  This is not humanly possible.  I’m going to let everyone down because there is no way I can get all this done.” – to cautious optimism as balance tipped on the white board.  One by one, the stories got done, and one day there were more things checked off than not.  Then I finished.   

Then it was the holidays, a frenzy of decorating and buying presents and wrapping them and buying food and eating it, and practicing for our church’s Christmas concert and playing the piano for the kids’ Christmas pageant, and feeling guilty that I didn’t send out any Christmas cards, and managing to do a handful for the neighbors on our street, no one else.  I didn’t have a good family photo to make into a card, and the wind just kind of left my sails.  I lost steam.  I pooped out. 

Today, school started back up, and I figured I would have a surge of productivity.  I took Josh to school, came home, walked the dogs, and went back to bed.  Cricket, cricket, cricket.  I managed to force myself to put a roast in the Crock Pot, so dinner is taken care of.  What I really want to do is sit on my rear end – may I digress here and say that this figure of speech doesn’t make sense; who else’s rear end would I sit on? – and watch TV, and maybe hold the scarf I’m knitting so it looks like I’m doing something, but really, I might just do a couple rows, and that’s it, and then I’ll bust out the big bag of Peanut M & Ms I’ve had my eye on.  The Christmas tree is down; I managed to get that done.  The outdoor lights are still up and will be indefinitely; I like them.  Even if I didn’t, the way I feel right now, they wouldn’t be coming down any time soon.

plantI feel bad for feeling like such a dud.  I told my daughter about it, and she said, “Creativity ebbs and flows.  It will come back.”  But, due to the unfortunate personality combination mentioned above, all I can think is, “I’m never going to produce anything again.  I will never have another surge of creativity.  This is it.  Where’s the remote?”

I told my dad about it, and he told me a joke:  A traveling salesman is lost, and he sees a guy sitting on a porch.  He gets out of his car and asks him for directions.  The man indicates which way he should go with the absolute minimum of effort, just barely pointing with his foot.  The salesman is disgusted, and says, “If you can show me anything lazier than that, I’ll give you a dollar.”  The man mumbles, “Just put it in my pocket.”

So there you have it, people.  Cricket, cricket, cricket.  ET, phone home.  Cue the tumbleweed.