So the squirrels. Did you ever notice how they hesitate? You're driving along and there's one at the curb and you see him and he sees you and you slow down just a little and give him some more woman to rodenty-creature eye contact. And then, just as it is too late for you to do anything about it, he dashes in front of you to cross the street. Sometimes it works out for him. Sometimes -- not so much.
Last fall about this time, I was severely traumatized by one of the latter variety. Old Rocky races out and smacks himself against my front right tire, ricochets to the right, cartwheels up someone's driveway and into their open garage, where he lands, stunned but not dead. I slammed on the brakes -- obviously too late -- and sat there watching as he eventually got to his little feet, then stumbled about dazed. (Can squirrels stumble? I suppose maybe there's a better word. But you get the picture) Eventually he made it out of the garage and sat on the driveway looking at me. And I'm thinking, "Buddy. What the hell do you expect me to do? You are unfortunately a wild animal even if you're cute and even if your potential demise is now going to be a lot sooner now, and it's clearly because you smashed yourself into my Altima. Trust me when I say you're on you're own here. I'm going to drive away now. I am not going to nurse you to health. It's a rough world here in the suburbs. Welcome to it."
So why tell you this now? Because: 1) It just almost happened again with yet another squirrel just now as I was rushing home from the cleaner's to meet the dryer repair guy who eventually told me that said dryer was not dead but only wounded from a blown inner fuse because I'd pushed it too close to the wall and the vent wasn't venting which was why it was getting so hot every time I dried sheets or towels and eventually blew a fuse rather than setting itself on fire which would have been the much less pleasant alternative.... and 2) It is, it occurred to me as I was stick-vaccing up the crap behind the dryer and hoping the repair guy was not judging me on my slovenly housekeeping habits, the perfect metaphor for being a debut author. (Stick with me here; this is going to be profound if I can explain.)
Debut author life is full of false starts and hesitations. Mostly you have no idea in hell what you're doing. You race across streets -- metaphorically speaking -- hoping you won't crash head first into someone's mid size sedan. Sometimes you do anyway. Sometimes you make it to the other side. Some of the stuff you write is brilliant. Some of it, not so much. Some of your choices are fantastic. Some are phenomenally stupid. Some of your reviews are stellar. Others are the equivalent of crashing into an Altima. You keep going. Get up and stumble back down the driveway. Go gnaw on an acorn and tell your squirrel buddies about the crazy woman who just didn't stop to render aid. If you're lucky, the next time you remember -- wait at the curb. Or run faster. Get good at dodging navy Altimas. Clean behind your damn dryer if you don't want to spend an hour at your mother in law's making small talk while your underwear dries. (Okay, that's a lie. I sent my husband.)
In short -- it's like the lesson my mother taught me when I was growing up in Chicago. "If you're somewhere unfamiliar," she said, "Make sure to walk with a purpose. Look like you know where you're going even if you don't. It's safer that way. Trust me."
I'm walking like I know where I'm going this fall. Mid way through month two of the great Dreaming Anastasia adventure. Still loving every minute of it. I've bashed my head a couple of times and sat on metaphorical driveways a tad stunned on occasion. But then I get up and get back to business. So far, it's working out for me. And possibly even the squirrels.
Til next time...