Mark this one on your calendars: I feel humbled. (Also mortified and pleased, but mortification and pleasure are frequent companions; humility makes for a red-letter day.)
With quite a bit of reluctance and a smidgen of guilt and shame, I had decided to skip yoga this month: Reluctance, because I do love yoga, and it’s the only exercise I ever get; guilt-n-shame, because I didn’t want to disappoint my yoga professor.
“It’s not like a college class, Jessica,” I chided myself. “You’re not doing it for a grade. Chill out. No one’s going to be disappointed in you.”
(Yes, I had this conversation, aloud, as I was folding laundry the other day. I suppose you could argue that I wasn’t talking to myself, because Gremlin was there in the room, doing her best to lie down on the garments I wanted to hang; it’s not my fault if she didn’t participate in the dialogue.)
Speaking of which, I made the mistake of grabbing a new towel from the closet this morning. I used it to dry off after my shower, thereby spreading cat hair all over my body. In the immediate aftermath, I developed a visceral understanding of one of the basic truths of physics: It is quite impossible to remove cat hair from wet skin. (WHY do I let the cats sleep in the closet? Why?) It’s like that other basic condition of physics, that the staff restroom at the library will ALWAYS be occupied. I’m willing to bet that, even at 3 am on a Sunday morning, someone, somehow, will be in it. Funny that Newton never addressed these immutable laws of science.
Strange of me to drop yoga, I know, but it was only going to be for a month. For one thing, I wanted to reclaim my Thursday nights. I’m feeling a lot of pressure with my book deadline looming, and I could use the time.
For another, I wanted to save the money. Holidays are coming up, and car insurance is due next month, and my apartment complex charged rent to the wrong credit card for the third month running. (They never would have had the second credit card, had I not lost my wallet earlier this year. I have GOT to stop losing things.) The problem with charging my backup card is that its payment due date is two weeks earlier than with the primary card. I’m having to play some very fancy financial games to make this work. No amount of yelling at my apartment complex, incidentally, has resolved the issue.
So yeah, I wanted to save some money. That’s what I told Bookish Jet, when I sheepishly asked her to relay my regrets to my yoga instructor. Short on time and money this month, I’ll be back next month, no big deal. (No big deal other than my pervasive sense of guilt, I mean. I should have been Jewish, or Catholic. I suppose I could convert.)
But apparently some of my yoga classmates overheard Bookish Jet. Which classmates? Dunno. But one of them, or several of them, banded together to get me a gift certificate.
And mortified. Good lord, people will think I’m broke! Which I am! But I don’t want them to do anything about it!
But of course I am very pleased about it, despite my mortification. Golly, that’s nice. And now I am obligated to return to regular yoga classes. Book or no book, I’m grateful for it: I love going to yoga class. I like stretching my muscles. I like doing the different poses (or, in some cases, resting comfortably while the rest of the class sweats through poses I could not possibly attempt. My puny triceps prevent me from doing handstands and some of the backbends and some of the other moves. My yoga instructor has reassured us that these postures are not necessary for achieving enlightenment. This is a tremendous relief.)
So now, instead of feeling guilty for slacking on yoga, I can go back to feeling guilty for slacking on my book.
Astute readers may wish to speculate that time spent writing this blog is time that could have been put toward the book. For the sake of diplomacy and general good will, let’s keep those speculations to ourselves, shall we?
I don’t like to talk about the book because it makes me nervous. Final deadline is in August, but first draft is due in May. We’re talking about 800 pages here. I have not made as much progress as I would have liked, so my preferred method of dealing with it is to not talk about it.
This is a classic case of denial. There is no deadline. There is no book.
See? I feel better already.
How is it, I ask you, how is it that I worked five part-time jobs throughout college and graduated with three majors, highest honors, summa cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa, all in four years—how did I manage all that, while this damn book is bringing me to my knees? One lousy book should be nothing compared to crazy work-n-school schedule I maintained in college.
There is no deadline. There is no book.
(This is my new mantra. I will mutter it to myself during the meditation bits in yoga class, because frankly I can’t get the hang of meditation and I doubt I ever will; with a mantra, at least, I can fake it.)
So as to focus more resolutely on this book (not that there is a book), I’ve decided to take some drastic steps. (Cutting out yoga for a month was going to be one of them. Whoops.) There are only three other activities I can cut. One of them is work, but since the kitties need feeding, that’s not an option. Another is sleep, but I’m really rather fond of that; I make a point of sleeping at every night. It’s habit-forming.
Oh this is painful.
Which leaves reading.
I cannot abandon reading entirely. What else would I do on my lunch breaks? I’m being serious. I cannot conceive of a lifestyle that doesn’t involve at least a little bit of reading each day.
But I can choose to read less captivating books. Case in point: after reading a fascinating review, I decided to pick up Carl Bernstein’s biography of Hillary Rodham Clinton, A Woman in Charge. I’m not much of a biography reader. Biographies rarely include werewolves or aliens. I don’t have much truck with books that neglect the undead.
But since I may wind up voting for her, I’d like to know more about the lady. I was conflicted about her before I started reading, and I’m still conflicted, but at least now I’m an informed conflicted.
Given the book’s dearth of bloodsucking vampires (well—there are some Republicans mentioned, but not that many), I don’t feel compelled to read it during every waking moment, rather unlike my experience last week with The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova. (Fantastic book! Brilliant! Compelling! Un-put-downable! With bloodsucking vampires!)
By reading books that satisfy me through lunch but which don’t consume me during the evenings, I will have that much more time to write the book. That’s the working theory, anyway.
I’m returning all of my really-interesting-looking books to the library in exchange for dull books. Goodbye, Book of Lost Things; I barely knew ya. Au revoir, Kushiel’s Dart; I had no business with the first part of a trilogy, anyway. Hello, Pigeons. (Yes. Pigeons. A history of pigeons.)
All hope is not lost, however: I still have one legitimate pleasure read checked out, A Choir of Ill Children, on the advice of The Undead Rat. For years I’ve been on a quest to find a good horror novel; here’s hoping Greg, a librarian horror aficionado, can help. Haven’t started the book yet—have to see Hillary through to her term in Congr
ess—but it’s up next.
And finally: I went to the dermatologist today. (“Are you a Hillary fan?” asked the nurse, upon seeing the book on my lap. “In some respects, certainly,” I answered. “Ugh, I can’t stand what she did to health care,” said the nurse. On this point I remained silent. Never piss off the woman who holds the scalpel.)
The dermatologist anaesthetized the mole on my chest. Then she took this ray gun thingy and zapped the hell out of it.
So there I was, looking at the smoke rising from my chest and smelling the stink of my own burnt flesh, and what do they give me? A sucker, like the dentist used to do? A sticker, like the family doctor used to do?
No. They gave me a tan bandaid. Tan. Tan! What fun is that?
So I stopped by the drugstore and got myself some Peanuts bandaids. If I have to wear a bandage on my bosom for two weeks then by God it’s going to have cartoon characters.
Off to bed now, so that I can wake up early to work on the book. Not that there is a book. There is no book.