Whine and Cheese Platter, Side of Bacon

They told me my body would be undergoing some chemical and hormonal changes as my systems attempt to rebalance themselves after Amber’s birth.

I said, “I’ll be fine. I’ve been through it before. Twice, in fact. I’m what you might call an old hand at this baby-having business thingamabob.”

They said, “Why are we even bothering attempting to hand you medical advice you might need?  You obviously know what you’re doing.  Silly us; we’ll just go along now and hand out free enemas to our next ten patients.  Carry on then.”

I said, “Pip pip and tallyho.”

They said, “Eleven on this floor alone.”

I said, “Huh?”

They said, “It’s something of a subtle joke.  Just let it sink in; you’ll get it eventually.”

… I’m sorry, where was I?

Right.  Digging into my whine and cheese platter.  Join me, won’t you?

Last night, I almost went out to have a cigarette.  While this might not seem like such a big deal for a lot of people, I quit smoking (after cutting down to a maximum of 2 a day) well over two months ago.  I have nic-fitted, I have craved and I have lusted… but I have not given into the demons of nicotine addiction, no matter how dichotometically disgusting and nummy Rick smells after he comes back inside from his cigarette. I have quit, and for once in my goddamn life, I’d like to stay that way — quit.  I like having a normal lung capacity.  I like being able to climb stairs without losing my breath.  I like not needing to venture into the teeth of a screaming snowstorm because I’m twitching for a nasty habit.

But last night… Sweet Jesus, I really wanted one.  I mean, I really, really wanted one.

Yesterday was hectic as it was.  Mom was on her last full day in Newfoundland (she went back to Moncton this morning), so she and Nan and Pop were here to get the last round of photo ops and taking the last chances to chew on and horse around with the grandkids.  Jason’s music lesson didn’t go so swimmingly as usual, due to the center using his usual room as a catch-all storage facility.  There had to be at least 8 drum kits’ worth of crap piled up in boxes around the room; a non-autistic person would have had a hard time doing anything in there.  Imagine the distractions with my son, who is not only austistic, but four.

Cue dinner. Which could have gone better.  A lot better.  It was mac and cheese, which the kids usually love.  But for some reason, they didn’t want to eat it.  Especially Thomas, who thought that whining and trying to maul the cat was a more appropriate use of his time.  So we figured, “fuck it, it’s bedtime soon anyway” and we threw Cars on the new DVD player my mother bought them for Easter.

Thomas decided that he didn’t want to go calmly and quietly to bed if he didn’t have a specific toy car with him.  Now, before I get into describing how teeteringly close this kid came to being sold to a band of roving Gypsies last night, I should mention that one of the rules for the kids is this: no toys at bedtime.  They can have a book and their stuffed animals, but no cars, no blocks, no freaking Avatar toys McDonald’s foisted off on us a couple of Happy Meals ago… One book, and their “signature” stuffed animal.  (Jason has a frog, Thomas has a pig).

Well, young Mr. Carroll decided that, last night, this rule would not apply to him.  He had snuck in two cars, and when I discovered them the second time I was tucking him in, I promptly removed the offending cars from the room.

HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF FUCK BEGINNING OF WORLD WAR THREE.

A screaming-filled hour and a half later, after engaging in at least two shouting matches with Rick (because we were both at our wit’s end) and on the verge of a nervous fucking breakdown, I did something I shouldn’t have done.

I caved.

I crumpled like a hundred-dollar prom dress kicked under the motel bed.  I threw his cars back into his room while babbling something incoherent that might have been “uncle!”  and went to weep in a corner. And miraculously, the banshee wailing and the angry screeching stopped. Thomas proceeded to play quietly with his cars for ten minutes, and then he fell asleep.

But I shouldn’t have caved.  Because the rule was “no toys in bed”.

But ohgodblessedmotherfuckingquiet….

In the middle of all this, Amber woke up.  By the time Thomas shut the fuck up and went to sleep, she already horked up a load of formula all over Rick and started looking like she wanted to drift back into sleep after she’s cleaned up.  So I settle down in Rick’s chair while he goes off to find a new shirt and let her curl up on my shoulder.  And I’m rubbing her back, I’m patting her.  I’m talking to her in a soft, soothing voice… and then she gurgles a little bit and does that Exorcist thing I was joking about in my last blog post.  All over the chair, down my back and in my hair.

The only good point was the fact that, in her projectiling onto Mommy, she managed to avoid throwing up on herself, which let us avoid having to do a major clean-up of her head, ears and onesie for the second time in less than half an hour.

It didn’t help that my back was aching like a sumbitch.  Or maybe it did, because the Demerol I took for it (my last one too, goddammit) knocked me right the fuck out on the couch even before CSI: Miami came on. Rick let me sleep for three hours before he woke me up to tell me he really wanted to go to bed.  So I sent him to bed, alone, so he could get some sleep while I continued to crash on the couch with the bassinet (and baby) on the floor beside me.

As much as I like my couch, having my not-quite-two-week-old daughter next to me, waking up every half an hour to protest the lack of a nipple (synthetic, pervert) in her mouth is not really all that kind to my sleeping habits.

But whatever.  I’m slowly adapting to three hour catnaps … in the middle of the night … while everyone else is deep in REM sleep … Of course, it means I’m asleep on the couch at ten PM.  TEN PM.  But whatever, right?  Right?

Needless to say, I did not get any writing done last night.  Hell, I didn’t even get any World of Warcraft done last night either, that’s how rocky it was.   And this morning, carrying over the excess baggage from last night, I was in no mood to even begin to try.  But I did.  I cracked open VIGIL, a short story I haven’t even looked at since before Amber was born, and attempted to finish the first draft.

I got another fifty words written before I gave it up as a lost cause.  I became so frustrated with it, I considered scrapping it entirely; thankfully, I came to my senses before I got spiteful enough to delete the file.

Then I tried to continue outlining SOULBINDER.  Which was another lost cause this morning.  Every time I got into a groove where I thought I could actually get some serious work done, something would interrupt me.  If it wasn’t that goddamn owlcam Chuck linked in his post this morning, it was the kids.  If it wasn’t the kids, it was the phone.  If it wasn’t the phone, it was the maintenance guy finally coming to fish the toothbrush out of our toilet — don’t ask.  Just don’t fucking ask. If it wasn’t the maintenance guy, it was the kids again because it was time for snack.  If it wasn’t the kids, it was Amber needing to be changed and fed… you getting the message here?

So I hit a low.  The lowest low a writer can hit.  The “why fucking bother” low.  The “I’m never going to get this done” low.  The “it’ll never happen” low.   And when you get those lows, you might as well fling yourself off the Creativity Cliff, because your “muse” just committed suicide and wants you to join her in the sweet embrace of Hades.

Then I looked again at an article Josh of Blue Ink Alchemy tweeted about this morning.  (Or retweeted, I can’t recall.)  “How to Avoid Writing Your First Novel”.  Sure, I made some jokes about already being pretty damn good at avoiding writing my novel when I brushed the article off this morning, but for some reason, I went back to it and reread it.  Then I tracked down the book it mentions on Amazon, and read through the available material on the site.

One sentence in particular struck me.  It’s something I’ve known for years, but it just struck me again today:

Know this: Everything in your life is incompatible with writing, and always will be.

It was an epiphany.  A moment of perfect clarity.  Everything in my life — kids, husband, bills, housework, phone, appointments — it’s all incompatible with writing.  And nothing will ever change that.

So what’s the trick then? I’m not 100% sure, but I think it might have something to do with finding the time in between changing diapers and cooking lunch, after the kids go to bed and before Lost comes on.  Five minutes at a time might not be optimal, but you do what you can when you can.  You do what you gotta do when you gotta do it.

The book promises it can show me how to finish my first novel in six months, by writing an average of three hours a day.   I’ve ordered it from Amazon, and since it has to cross a border to get to me, it should reach me at the end of April.  In the meantime, I’m going to try to avoid hitting those lows again, because Jacob H. Christ, they really do suck donkey balls.

And I’m tired.  I’m tired of both ends of the spectrum.  I’m tired of cheering on my friends who are getting books published — even though I really am happy for them — and I’m tired of listening to all the same old excuses from wannabe writer friends who think that dreams are enough to market their ideas.  I know I can finish a novel.  I know I have interesting stories.  I’m just tired of sitting here in the middle, feeling like too much of the wannabe and not enough of the isdoing.

Just gotta keep telling myself, everything in my life is incompatible with writing.  Except for those five minutes in between changing the kid and mixing booze with narcotics …. I mean, making dinner.

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4 thoughts on “Whine and Cheese Platter, Side of Bacon

  1. When Jonas’s reflux kicked in hard at 6 weeks I started smoking again. I had quit when I was 5 weeks pregnant. Still smoking.

    Five hours straight of screaming was all it took.

  2. The crazy thing is, writing is effectively a job that you’re not allowed to go to. Like, everybody else has “work” and this work keeps them safe from other responsibilities while work exists.

    Writing, though, is work that nobody thinks is work, and it’s work that you do from home, which makes it look like it’s a hobby and not work, and hey, you can do your hobbies at any point, right? Macrame? Model airplanes? Murder porn? Except, it’s not a goddamn hobby, it requires real work, and nobody — half the time, not even writers — can see that.

    — c.

  3. I wandered over here to check out your stuff because I was curious-you being the wife of one of my oldest friend’s and yet, although we met briefly, someone I do not know. I didn’t even know you were a writer. Yeah, I’ve been kinda out of touch.
    I have to say, fucking wow. Your writing is awesome. You have an amazing talent for this and I plan on reading everything else you have posted and tracking down some other stuff if I can.
    On top of that, I already know you and Rick kick as at the parenting thing, which considering yours outnumber mine 3 to 1 and I’ve been about ready to throw in the towel about 40% of every day lately, means your just embarrassingly kicking my ass at everything right now.
    I remember so clearly how brutal my son’s infant days were. I can’t imagine how your coping with 2 older boys and, well, Rick’s sense of humor, on top of that. But, I suspect it must be a huge help to be able to write through anything thats going on on a given day. Its been a long time since I wrote anything myself, but I think you have inspired me to start again.
    Thank you for your awesome work, good luck, and don’t let Rick call your daughter Gertrude.

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