Every morning I wake up around four or five, haul my butt out of bed and make coffee. Then I pop this little, "All Natural!" purple pill that makes my brain buzz and my stomach forget the house has a kitchen (not to mention a pantry stocked with enough junk food to rival the snack aisle in my supermarket) and go to my desk. Ok, I don't go immediately to my desk. I make a quick detour into the bathroom, but just to flip the scale the bird.
In all seriousness, this isn't about my being this close to an eating disorder, though I'm certain my therapist will think otherwise. It's about getting up and getting on with it. You know, as best I can, now, in what's turned out to be my new "normal."
I sit down at my desk with piping hot, regular old Folgers Breakfast Blend in my hand and filthy farm dogs at my feet. For two or three hours, I'm not a widow. I'm a writer. I'm not a single mom with two kids who miss their dad so badly they talk like he just ran out to Tractor Supply and will be back in a heartbeat. I'm a writer.
I open Word, stare at the blank screen, and say encouraging things to myself like, Susan, you must put two words together. Nora Ephron is up putting twenty-two hundred words together right this minute! And then of course, thinking about Nora Ephron makes me think about her book, my favorite book, I Feel Bad About My Neck, and I have to stop, and run back to the bathroom, where I check my own neck.
It looks bad. Very bad. Redwood tree, rings around Saturn, coat-of-spackle-wouldn't-fix-this-sucker bad. And if I don't put two words together pronto? I'm never going to be able to afford the plastic surgery to even try.
Oh boy. Plastic surgery and "All Natural!" purple energy pills in the same piece. Guaranteed my therapist is stroking out right this second. Or just raising her rate.
I freshen my coffee and head back to my desk. The blank screen's still waiting for me and I'm reminded of a quote I heard a long time ago. "Writing is easy. You just sit and wait for little droplets of blood to appear on your forehead." There's no blood on my forehead but flop sweat? Please. I could swim in it. Or just bathe one of the dogs.
Hmm. There's an idea. And it might go better than my feeble attempt to deliver the e-book my agent keeps asking about.
"So Suz," she inquires carefully, during our once every two weeks whether I'm ready or not phone conversations, "How's it coming?"
"My shoe collection? Fabulous. My closet's starting to look like a DSW." I laugh. She does, too. I love my agent. She's young, smart, hungry and more importantly? She's my number one fan and a damn good editor, a crucial factor when your original number one fan and editor has gone to Heaven and taken his red pen with him.
"Oh my God, Susan. Seriously. When can I see something?"
"Right now. I'll send you the link to the scrumptious, nude, open-toed, five-inch Guess stilettos I'm currently coveting. They're on sale. And who can resist a sale?" This, of course, is a bold-faced lie. Not the part about the sale. I got them at a steal, yesterday, when I should've been at my desk. But she doesn't have to know that.
"The dating book, Suz."
Oh that's right. I'm supposed to be dating. And writing about it.
In a fit of ultimate people-pleasing mode (and probably one too many purple energy pills one day), I agreed to write about what it's like to date after twenty-two years of marriage. But I'm not. I pulled the plug on it after I met a few very nice men, all of whom were charming, funny, successful and good-looking, and not one of whom was in any condition to see anybody but a therapist. Separated and in pain. Divorced and navigating a maze of romantic entanglements that rivaled a soap opera. In each instance I wound up thinking, This poor dear needs a doctor. And maybe an anti-depressant. I guess I could offer them my counselor's number, but not until she recovers from the cardiac arrest I gave her earlier.
So, no dating and no dating book. I have enough on my plate. Heartbroken kids. Dirty dogs. A recurring nightmare in which my bathroom scale sprouts arms and legs and steals my appetite suppressants.
For two or three hours each morning, I try to forget all of it and just write. Some days it works. Some days it doesn't. Clearly today is not one of those days. And tomorrow, as they say, isn't looking good either.