Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I'm at my new desk staring out the window at the house next door, as I've been doing for much of the past week. In a few months I'll be blogging Rear Window-type observations about my neighbors. I'm sure this is legal.

I've got rewrites to do--some small things and some big, intractable things. They are due in a week, and I've been having trouble getting going. My available hours seem filled with urgent minutia--each tiny crisis seems to beget another one. It's hard to pump up your antagonist's presence when you're trying to explain to your credit card company the intricacies of getting mail forwarded from the great incorporated incompetence of Cleveland, OH.

My apartment will remain unfinished for awhile. There are curtains unhung and a half-assembled desk drawer unit sitting in the middle of my living room floor. I don't have time to assemble it, and it's too heavy to move. Anyway, it's the biggest piece of furniture in my living room. In a rash of I can make my own decisions! mania I ordered a large purple sleeper sofa, which hasn't arrived yet. This is generally why people don't let me make my own decisions.

My landlady has been out of town for ten days. She asked me to take of her cats and her orchid. It turns out that by Take care of my orchid she did not mean Please let it slowly dessicate and die. The cats are still alive, though, and I think I should get credit for that.

One of my cats is in diapers, as he pees on things with abandon. I use the little boy's old diapers and cut a hole for the tail and thread the tail through. The other has, like, mange. She lies on my bed at night and scratches herself perpetually. I could rent her out to cheap motels--just put her in the room et, voila!--Magic Fingers vibrating bed. Mange is bad. I should take her to the vet. I should buy a new orchid. I need to do laundry. I need cat litter and, you know, food. I need to find some child care for next week so I can write. Or at least so I can stare out the window and think about writing.

I have child care today, and, other than trying to perform CPR on all the outdoor plants (that works, right?), not too much else to do. I woke up, determined to clear my head and look at the task before me. I made coffee. I sat down at my computer. My litle boy burst through my door and announced with glee, Mommy, I peed in my big boy bed!

The question is, how do you find the head space for writing when there is no space in your head?


  1. I don't have any answers to your question. I wish I did. And I wish I could help you with your pee problems.

    But I just wanted to say that you *are* writing, quite brilliantly, about your new circumstances and life.

    I hope you keep at it.

  2. I'd say forget the furniture. It would only cover up that gorgeous hardwood floor.

    And be nice to yourself. Watching a lot of baseball seems key.

  3. Is it just me, or does a book called "Mange the Vibrating Cat" have enormous, across-the-board potential?

    Write it fast, sell it in a hurry, then hire somebody to put that pesky desk together.

    (And feel free to ask me for other money-making ideas.)

  4. The orchid should require only two decent waterings over 10 days. If you have a pretty fleshy plant with thick leaves and stems, you will be okay. The orchid will take care of herself. Also, don't worry about outdoor plants. As far as I'm concerned, if a plant can't take care of itself, then it can go away somewhere and wilt.

    I would probably splurge on child care if I were you. Ignore furniture & chores, except for basics. You're in survival mode! The hell with everything else!

    Hey Ron, keep those money-making ideas coming, I'm taking notes.

  5. The orchid, I'm afraid, has given up the ghost.

  6. orchids were made to distract and there's enough distractions. I think your orchard did you a favor. The sacrificing orchard. If only we all had one of those.

  7. It's not dead! It's just pining for the fjords!

  8. They sell orchids at the super market, remember not to buy it until the day before she comes back.
    Sorry about the pee, Ikea, and Ohio. It's too bad that all these things end up being fodder for art insead of just hard times. The diaper with the tail hole was brilliant(kidney infection?) However, Ron says "Poetry heightens your senses; it’s the best drug in the world." I've ended up taking this random comment during lecture quite literally. Perhaps your editor would be cheered up with a poem from "Jack", or the cat with mange? Both sound nice.
    p.s. I'm "fanned" you on goodreads. Though that can't help the purple couch.

  9. I bought two huge purple club chairs once. I couldn't walk across my living room and my couch looked like a Barbie toy.

    Home furnishings are returnable.

  10. Anne, I will certainly be writing to you next week when I move to a town I have NEVER been to where I know NOT A SINGLE PERSON in a region of the northeast that is full of complicated highways with tiny, impossible-to-read signage, to start teaching in a school I have NEVER heard of until they asked me to teach four classes. AND I will be living all ALONE in a 3 Bedroom EMPTY house with ABSOLUTELY NO intention of furnishing it (it's also for sale so I could have to move at any moment) with anything other than a mattress on the floor and a folding desk. But I made these choices all myself for a reason I have since forgotten.
    So, my dear I feel your pain.

  11. It's so very good to know that I'm not the only one struggling with all this stuff.