09/17/2013 08:04 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2013

Get Back To Work

It's the Queen of Procrastination here, coming to you -- live - - from the kitchen table which, I just noticed, needs to be wiped.

I am trying to get back to work. After taking a few glorious weeks off in summer, I thought I was ready to return to the writing workplace. I felt renewed and refreshed, and yet the thought of sitting at my desk was as appealing as drinking vinegar. I tried to work out of doors to prolong the lazy feeling of summer, but my garden seized that opportunity to make its own demands. There were aphids on my wisteria and white fly had nested in the hibiscus. Weeds infested the beds. I succumbed to the pressure: I spent days and dollars on rinses and anti-fungal treatments. For those who garden, you know the value of a swift and vigorous response. After that, I extended my vacation just a wee bit longer using a cleverly timed device known as the stomach flu. This one seemed determined, with some ferocity, to offset the pints of Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream ice cream I'd consumed while vacationing. On the flip side, I was able to catch up on multiple hours of important television while I regained my strength watching reruns of Dr. Pol and The Big Bang Theory -- so that time wasn't entirely lost.

A Roman plinth of junk mail towered on the edge of my desk and I got busy right away ordering free magazines and scheduling a carpet-cleaning service. Just so you don't think it was a complete waste of time, I should tell you I discovered a guaranteed-success way to slice onions without crying, and also I should receive, in two to three weeks, a free trial of Remarkable Color which promises to return grey hairs to their color of origin without the use of conventional dye.

I was ready. But first, I did a quick inventory and immediately discovered an empty bottle of White Out. I haven't used White Out since 1980, unless you count baseboard paint touch-ups, but that didn't stop me from going online and ordering White Out and a few other necessities like highlighter pens and rubber bands. Critical tools of the writing trade, everyone knows.

I would have started work right there but someone had readjusted my seat. I sat too low. Or too high. Either way, my hands were bent over the keyboard at a funny angle and I couldn't run the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome so I upturned the chair and located the vertical adjustment lever, a rubberized length of plastic that looks very much, to my dog, like a wad of liver. He'd broken off much of the handle, and what remained was gnawed permanently in place. I would have to change the height of the desk.

No! I forced myself to remain in that chair. The seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. The writer's mantra. I alphabetized my rolodex (yes, I still have one of those) and used a Q Tip to clean my keyboard. Two hours passed. The screensaver thought I had given up -- it repeatedly regressed to an endearing photo of my lever-eating animal.

I poured stale coffee and spoke to myself in a stern voice. "You should be strapped to the chair under 500 watts of interrogation lighting." Sometimes I listen to myself, but not today. The coffee was cold and it tasted bitter.

I would have to clean the coffee maker. I had never done this before, so I rummaged in the basement in an impotent attempt to unearth the instruction manual that I was pretty sure I'd thrown away with the original carton. I called Customer Service for cleaning information. That took a while. And here we are. Waiting for the solution to drip through the coffee machine so I can start my first day back at work.

Another time-consuming quandary arose: The phone rang. Normally, I don't answer the phone when I'm writing unless it's my mother or one of my kids -- and they hardly ever call. But the name on my Caller ID intrigued: Pol Pot Cons. My first thought: I'm in trouble with the Khmer Rouge. Turns out, the call came from a public opinion pollster conducting a survey on fracking, something I know nothing about, except that I'm against it. Let me just say, in case the NSA is listening, I am not a member of the Khmer Rouge or any other political movement.

By lunchtime, I had reorganized the storage closet and made a list of supplies. I could go to the store. I could read course material for the creative writing class I teach, or I could write. Or, since it's lunch-time anyway, I could have a bowl of Americone Deam and see what's happening on The Biggest Loser.

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