I watched myself do it. I mean, I literally (yeah, I know) left my body and hovered above the kitchen island and watched myself slowly and methodically do EVERYTHING else besides write.
It’s maybe the first time I’ve been so aware in the moment. And yet, I started to cook a pot of steel-cut oatmeal. I took my vitamins. I gave some water to the cat. I rinsed a few dishes. I filled out a return label for a ridiculous jewelry purchase. I tidied up the bathroom and contemplated doing a load of laundry. I opened the blinds in my office and gave the side-eye to the cat boxes in the hall. All the while, formulating my story. But not the story that came to me 30 minutes ago in the bathroom. No, that was actually a good idea… the kind of idea that began sprouting others. This was different.
And then my monkey brain took over. What about the other “book ideas” (this has become an internal inside joke, and Sandi 1.0 points and laughs every time) that I need to work on? Am I capable of anything other than great (or even good) ideas?
The timer went off and I finished preparing the oatmeal. My laptop sat, fully charged and ready, on the yellow vintage Cosco stool in the corner.
I put the bowl of oatmeal, a glass of water, my cellphone (volume off) and my laptop on the kitchen table.
This was it. The moment wouldn’t get more perfect (“more perfect”?).
If you are curious about why this moment is most perfect (yeah, I really know), here’s the scoop:
The cats are asleep in the other room. The day is bright enough for me to be happy, but too windy/dusty/pollen-filled to justify working outdoors. The dancing shadows from the newly green leaves on the trees, combined with the melodic and tinkling windchimes helps calm my brain, but the rush of traffic in front of the house will ensure I won’t choose to nap.
I am finally feeling human after being sick for 4
years months weeks days.
My sweet husband drove to the lake for the weekend so that I could have a quiet house and an empty bed to sleep until my fever broke. I know that I have the place to myself for at least the next few hours.
I spent 2 weeks with friends and family, and we did a lot of pre-pandemic fun stuff. The idea of “normal” feels like a reality again.
I spent nearly 3 weeks isolated in a house in Vermont with a sweet dog in the middle of “mud season” (this alone should have its own chapter). And it needs to be said (admitted) that I got absolutely NO writing done.
I spent a week in Manhattan just decompressing. No friends or family. No animals. No responsibilities. A dinner show, a Broadway show, and a concert were the highlights of this trip.
And… drumroll please… the week before that, I QUIT MY JOB! I left a profession of 30 years to focus on the next chapter of my life.
So, here sits Sandi 2.0. In a perfect moment with a belly full of oatmeal. The hum of the air conditioner and the ticking of the clock distracting me. I am now super aware that I need to brush my teeth and take a shower. I have three of the teeniest projects looming at the other end of this table. If I take care of those things, I would be done in under an hour. But then what? Will the mood to write stick with me? Will I be able to control my monkey brain long enough to write about just one subject? From beginning to end?
Oscar. Oscar is the most recent subject… but the memory is from so long ago. I can feel the muscles in my brain asking for a break. What the hell is that?
Where is this anxiety over writing coming from? I suspect it’s from knowing that I don’t have the luxury of forever. I have no income now, and my savings will dry up. One job interview in 12 months. ONE. And it was a phone interview on my sickest day. I’m certain I’ll never hear back. But… do I want that? Do I want to commute to/from work 5 days a week to a job that’s basically what I just walked away from? Am I healthy enough to even take that on?
Health. It’s on “the list”. No matter what I do, I need to get my health in order. And that’s not going to happen overnight. I am the master of self-sabotage. Being aware of it and continuing to NOT take care of it is crazy. I am aging faster. I am planning more. And oh how I am the queen of planning!
I have started my own business. Pet sitting. It was a good idea. It IS a great idea. I had such help developing the website and my sweet and talented cousins donated time and money and energy into getting this off the ground. And then they left, and I got sick, and I feel like I am dangling off the edge a cliff. I know I need to focus much more time and energy on this project.
I can feel my brain trying to neatly tuck this new idea away. Like a garage-sale item. Sitting on a shelf with the rest of the ideas… collecting dust until I decide to move them or sort them or deal with them. And now I’m thinking of my ACTUAL garage sale items. In plastic bins in the closets. Waiting for a garage sale that will never happen. Why? Because I fucking HATE garage sales. I am not organized. And the idea of selling my stuff…of selling ANYTHING… makes me want to run. I am not a salesperson.
Side note: My computer highlighted the word “fucking”, and I suspected it was because it didn’t recognize it. Like how my phone insists that I “ducking hate” things. But when I clicked on it, it simply suggested I add the word “am” to create the proper verb. So it is recognized it as a verb, but not an adverb. Progress I suppose.
So here I sit. Working out the butterflies. The anxiety has faded. Maybe from the feel of the keyboard beneath my fingers. Maybe because my youngest rescue cat decided that I needed 30 seconds of love. Or maybe because the cold medicine and oatmeal are kicking in.
A good friend told me that it’s okay to just “sit”. To be still for a while. For as long as it takes. And I took that in and immediately felt my brain go to war with that.
There are other battles happening in that same space. The most recent one is Sandi 1.0 telling me that there’s no way I can start or run a successful business. I don’t want to believe her, but I’ve lived with her for a very long time. But that battle is fresh. No trenches have been dug. No blood spilled.
The longest battle has been waged for decades on a hill where Sandi 1.0 has planted her “Imposter” flag. The corpses of projects and blood-stained ideas are everywhere. I’ve seen flowers bloom in the minefields. I’ve watched beautiful sunrises over the grim landscape. The casualties of this war are words that have come from the people in my life who believe in me. I need to remember that I have all the love and support I need to win this war. The one person who continues to sabotage it is sitting at this table, petting Hestia and whispering in her ear, “Do you know I’m a writer?” She fixates on a squirrel and casually jumps out of my arms to the windowsill. Of course she doesn’t know I’m a writer. She’s not the one who needs to know.
So today I will forgive Sandi 1.0 for a lifetime of negative thoughts. I will write about Oscar, and I won’t care if it’s long enough or interesting enough. Because for today that’s not the point.
And then I will clean up the breakfast dishes, shower, take care of the teeny projects and maybe later I will sit. I will be still. And maybe it will be okay.
And tomorrow I will write again.