Mandi Zandi's handy candy
dropped in the desert,
and now it's sandy.
Sandy candy's not so dandy.
I feel bad for Mandi Zandi.
Livia and I wrote this rhyme together, for no other reason than it seemed like a fun thing to do at the moment. I’m so glad that we did. Not only do I love to spend time with my girl, but I also believe honoring our small creative impulses is how we feed our imaginations and encourage them to grow.
Marshall’s Covid test came back negative, and he can return to school tomorrow. Yay!
My husband got our well pump replaced today, and for soooooo much less than the price he was quoted the other day (good job, Honey!). Unfortunately the well had to be chlorinated as part of the pump replacement process, and the system must be thoroughly flushed before we can start drinking the water again. So, for now we have to use bottled water. But, on the bright side, we’re ordering out for dinner.
Every once in a while I stop to think how different life is for other people in certain places and circumstances. Right now, for example, there are people in this country who are furious over Biden’s vaccine mandate and screaming that it’s fascism, while people like me aren’t bothered by the mandate. We took the vaccine willingly, months ago, because it was a no-brainer, not to mention the right thing to do. It is hard to fathom the way those other people are experiencing the current reality.
Speaking of the current reality, the third week of in-person school begins on Monday, but not for Marshall. He has developed symptoms of a cold. He’s vaccinated against Covid, and he probably just has allergies or a common cold, but I can’t in good conscience send him to school without making sure it isn’t Covid. So, he needs a test, and I made an appointment for him tomorrow. Problem is, even if the rapid test comes back negative, he still has to wait until the PCR results come back negative before he can return to school. So, no school for him Monday, possibly Tuesday, too. And if the results come back positive, I am going to be very upset.
To add to my headaches today, there is something wrong with our water system. The water pressure keeps dropping too low. My husband called a service person out to look at it this morning, but he wasn’t happy with the guy’s suggested fix or the estimated price. So, we have to put up with the problem for now. We have enough water pressure for most things, but I can’t do laundry, and I am falling farther and farther behind on it. Laundry Mountain is expanding into Laundry Mountain Range.
I could forget that it’s 9/11 and make it through the entire day without being sad, if the country would allow me to (it won’t). But, at least the front page of the newspaper is devoted to that old psychic wound and not a new one. That is to say, no news is good news. Or as Gary Gnu used to say, “No gnews is good gnews.”
I found out today that my new neighbor went to Boston University and graduated two years after I did. It’s not unusual to run into another BU alum (it’s a large school), or even that unusual to meet one who was there at the same time, but it is always nice to find things in common with other people.
I woke up (and got up) before my alarm went off this morning. That would suggest that I’m adapting to the new morning schedule. But, I neglected to eat until 2:00 in the afternoon, which would suggest that I’m not adapting well.
I wrote a couple of pages for my novel today. It wasn’t deliberate. It just sort of happened. I noticed that there was a file on my computer called “So-and-so’s death seems a bit sudden and cliche.” The next thing I knew, I was writing a less sudden and (I hope) less cliche death for her. She doesn’t have to die, but she has to leave, because her absence is necessary for the development of another character. Trying out different ways for her to leave is a good writing exercise, whether or not it yields any good writing.
I haven’t been getting any new e-mail from one of my e-mail accounts. My husband says it’s because the e-mail provider has changed servers and my e-mail settings have to be updated accordingly. That makes sense, but can he explain how I am traveling backward in time? Suddenly I’m getting e-mails from 2019, and oh no! The summer camp color run has been canceled! As a traveler from a dark future, I can’t help but laugh at the people of 2019 and their little disappointments. How naive they are, like country bumpkins who have never been to the Big City. Their innocence is unspoiled by any hint of what’s coming for them in 2020, when everything will be cancelled, not just the color run, not just the summer camp, but all the activities and all the social gatherings. Honestly, the summer of 2019 didn’t seem so great when I first experienced it, but it feels different on this second time through–safer, kinder, easier. I almost wish that I could stay, but there’s all that unread e-mail waiting for me in the future….
As I’ve mentioned before, I occasionally invent new types of puzzles. There are a lot of high points to creative work, and puzzle invention is no exception. First, you get the joyful blaze of an idea, followed by the “a-ha moment” when your hard work reveals how the whole thing fits together, then the pride of a job well done, the hope that your creation will be well received, and if you’re lucky, the thrill of success. It’s a fun thing to do, and it’s made slightly more fun by the fact that it’s so unusual.
Earlier this week I put the finishing touches on a new puzzle and submitted it for approval. I have been down this road enough times to know that it doesn’t always go in the direction that I want it to, but my hopes for this particular puzzle are high. It has all the hallmarks of a hit. It’s large enough to fill a whole page, simple to solve, different enough to make an impression, open to trivia and pop-culture references, adaptable to any difficulty level, flexible enough to be mass-produced without becoming repetitious, and it even has a clever name. Its weaknesses (yes, every puzzle has them) are minor. If it turns out to be a failure, I will be devastated, because I invested so much time and energy in its development. I threw everything I know about puzzles into it.
Now comes the waiting part. The approval process is slow, but I might find out next week if the puzzle will be given the green light to go to the next level. After that, there is the strong possibility that it will sit in limbo. If it gets the reception that I hope for, though, then it will be expedited. At an expedited pace, it still wouldn’t see publication for months, but I’d be happy just to know that it was on its way. So I am looking forward to next week and the prospect of a green light.
Are you wondering if your life’s mission is complete? If you’re still alive, the answer is no.
When I first encountered the preceding quote, it struck me as comforting. How nice it would be to believe that I had a life’s mission and that I had time left to complete it. After all, I’m approaching 50, my internal clock is starting to wind down, and I can’t help but wonder if there is some purpose to my life other than just getting by. But, then it occurred to me that one might alternatively interpret the quote as saying, “Hey, there’s no need to rush. Keep putting off your life’s mission. You’re not going to die until it’s done anyway!” Unfortunately, my procrastinating half heard me think that. She likes that interpretation better, and she’s the one in charge. So much for the mission!
The brain is supposed to respond to a threat by making us pay more attention to it as if it’s a saber tooth tiger. The problem is it’s a false alarm. I guess a good analogy would be, it’s not that the TV is broken, it’s that you’re watching the wrong channel. If you don’t like the show that’s on, the thing to do isn’t to try to fix your TV. The thing is to learn how to change the channel.
Jonathan Abramowitz (a clinical psychologist specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)
Everything multiplies. Not necessarily literally, of course, and not without exceptions, but as a general principle, everything you allow or invite into your life is likely to increase and spread. Tendencies grow stronger. Habits extend themselves into unexpected places. Things accumulate and grow.
The reason I mention this is because I would like to do more writing, and if there’s anything I ought to have learned by now, it’s that writing multiplies. Looking at my old blog posts and journal entries, it’s one of the most obvious lessons to be drawn from them. The writing starts in one place but it doesn’t stop there. It always spreads, moving from my journal, say, to my blog or vice versa, and from there into an essay or a scrap of song. The more I write, the more I write. Writing begets more writing.
I wish, though, as I always wish, and as every writer wishes, that writing were easier. But there’s no special method or magic that’s going to make writing easier, no way past the discomfort except to work through it, nothing to make words appear on the page except to write them. The only way to write is to write. That’s it. End of story.