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A Day in the Strife of a Writer

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Things I did to prepare to be the guest teacher at a writing class:

Dug up old handouts from the desk drawer in my studio out back where I haven't set foot in months. I look around, notice how disgusting the studio is, the floor covered with dead stinkbugs, and get the portable Dustbuster down from the storage loft. I begin vacuuming and discover that it only works for five minutes then overheats and shuts off.

I rearrange the order of the handouts while waiting for the vacuum to come back on, adding a new page that takes 15 minutes to track down. The vacuum comes back on and scares the hell out of me. I vacuum for five minutes, make more copies, vacuum, collate seven handout packets; I leave them unstapled in case I want to change the order later, but meanwhile I number them -- really dumb, because if I change the order later I will have to change the page numbers too, so I spend some time debating whether to just staple them then and there. Decide not to. Figure I could always cross out the page numbers. I reflect that there was a time I would have used whiteout for a job like that.

I finish vacuuming, decide to neatly coil all the extra computer wires, USB cords, midi connectors and music jacks lying in a cluttered pile on a shelf.

I notice that my easel is tilted way too far back and try to straighten it but the knob is impossible to budge. I will have to go back to the main house to get channel lock pliers from the toolkit. I enter the house, see that it's 1 pm and realize I've forgotten to eat all day -- just a single cup of coffee. I take out the 2% Greek yogurt I like because it has the texture of sour cream which no cholesterol-fearing middle-aged Jewish guy has seen in person in years, except for the odd dab that sits adjacent to guacamole on a Mexican dish.

I cut up a banana, half an apple, peel half to chop, wrap the remaining half in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator, unsure whether to place the flat part of the apple face down or up, wondering if it makes a difference in terms of turning brown quicker, but discover that if it's face down the saran wrap comes undone so the decision is made for me. I write my friend Billy about this and he claims some people don't have problems like this; they generally just eat the whole apple.

I close the refrigerator door, open the cupboard to get walnuts, add some to the yogurt, bananas and apples, take the bowl to the living room, eat on the couch while checking email on my laptop. I watch a YouTube called, "Confessions of A Jewish Mother: How My Son Ruined My Life," by the 92-year-old mother of meditation teacher who, she said, got her to stop complaining and start enjoying herself, and apparently that had wrecked her life.

I decide to shave and take a shower upstairs. While I'm up there I make the bed, and remember that I've been wanting to take the big fan down to the living room. I go into the TV room to get it and notice that my wife has taken the smoke alarm off the wall and left it lying on the TV table, and the screw it hangs on is missing. I tell myself to remember to bring up a new screw rather than waste time searching for this one, though I glance down at the carpet with hopefulness.

The battery in the smoke alarm is dead, which is probably why Shari took it down in the first place, though she could have removed the battery while the thing was still on the wall. I decide it best not to pursue this line of reasoning. I grab the fan, the dead battery and a stick of Nag Champa incense from the bathroom to bring to the studio which has a bad odor, vaguely reminiscent of dead stinkbugs drenched in cat pee. The fan scratches the wall as I carry it down our narrow stairwell and I feel bad about what a clumsy, uncaring homeowner I am; we bought the house five years ago, the inspection report said to replace all the insulation under the house and I still haven't done it, wasting a ton of energy and money in heat and air conditioning.

Decide I will call the insulation people first thing in the morning. I send myself an email to remind me. While online, there are several emails demanding an immediate response, including a Facebook message from my 10-year-old niece saying "I'm bored," one from my friend Billy telling me, "Some people eat the whole apple," and a comment on the 92-year-old Jewish mother video, saying, "That was hilarious!"

I set up the fan in the living room, check our battery collection for a 9-volt to put in the smoke alarm, but we don't have any. I DO remember to grab a double-A for the clock in my studio which has said 3:27 for nine months. I realize I've lost the incense along the way, briefly search the living room, under the fan, under the coffee table, on the stairwell, finally give up and go back upstairs to get another stick.

Put away my laundry.

Back to the studio, I light the incense, put the battery in the clock, sit at my desk to think about writing class tonight. I notice the easel, tilted way too far back, and remember that that was why I originally went into the house over an hour ago, to get channel lock pliers. I go back to the house to get them, determined to stay on task. The toolbox is right inside the door, I just grab the pliers and come back out, reflecting on the fact that somehow all of my Gentile friends seem to have gotten out of bed one morning with the sudden and immediate ability to do construction work. Even my friend Billy, an OB/GYN, built a whole new ROOM in his house. When do doctors have time to learn about joists? How did he know it was okay to take a sledgehammer to a whole wall and not have the house fall down? Why didn't they teach us this stuff in Hebrew school?

On my way to the studio I notice the path is partly blocked by an overgrown shrub, so I put the pliers down, go to the tool shed to get hedge clippers and trim back the intrusive plant. I go in and sit at my desk to prepare for the class.

The worktable to my right is filthy. I use some water from my water bottle, and a towel, and clean the table, then lightly dust off the scanner, several bookshelves, and all the windowsills.

Now truly ready to work: What to do at tonight's class? Write? Talk about writing? Talk about being writers? Should I read? Should they? The only way to prepare for a writing class is to write, so I decide to describe my day up to this point.