Tonight, as I settle in to pour my heart out, I feel like singing Alanis Morissette’s famous tune. Not only has my work email crashed, but I have gotten a virus on my laptop … again… from a student’s emailed essay … again. You’d think I would have learned from the last three times that this happened but apparently not!
However, thanks to a new buddy who knows IT stuff, I am sure there is something that I can run and not spread it, or at least get the Geek Squad to look at it. Fingers crossed. In the mean time I have wisely backed everything up on an external hard drive, and here I sit clicking away (and it clicks much louder over here I have to say) at my slower than snail mail desktop. I have to laugh because in my house are four laptops and an iPad.
Laptop one is for work only, and is so slow, I have actually only kept it because it has a video making program…which I never use. Laptop two predates my college degree, and I’m not touching it. It also weighs twenty pounds. OK maybe ten but still. Laptop three is Sunshine (yep she has a name…and apparently a gender) and she saw me through a lot before her head fell off of her body. She had also been backed up since her death was a slow and painful process. Poor Sunshine, may she go to the computer version of Rainbow Bridge.
So that leaves me with a Dell Desktop that’s more than 5 years old, and more than ten times slower than any of the aforementioned lappies; and click click click I go. I will not ask for the iPad either because my guy has a way of hiding things unintentionally in plain sight and going to sleep. But I am not the one that has to be up at 6 so I digress, and flee to a straight backed chair at a desk by the window.
The fact that I sit here at night unnerves me because I always think people are staring at me—and am usually right as they pass my window and say hi—into my house. Makes me giggle in the daytime, but at night—I’m good without the creepy factor! Even if it happens often that the old man who admires the garden tells me he saw two doggie faces in the window when he had insomnia last night and walked around and around. I don’t really mind because it wasn’t me he saw, and the dogs are always naked. I’m only in PJs at night and usually in my room with thick drapes and wood blinds.
What’s that? TMI you say? My PJs have snowmen on them thank you very much, so get that mind out of the gutter! I am telling you all of this for a reason I promise.
I have just spent the weekend grading and writing and grading some more (Developmental writing—not a speedy task I assure you) and that’s all well and good. In fact, I prefer grading in sweats and stopping only to shower, eat and sleep, to commuting. I’ll take the couch any day. Yet here came that virus just as soon as I was rewarded with the snuggly friend I can lay on and still have room for both pups.
It’s kind of funny to me looking back. In the past months, I have dealt with more health issues than anyone should have in a decade (especially the youngish one that I am in the middle of thanks) and I realize now that it all stemmed from stress. So what do I do? I think on it. I meditate, I pray to whoever is out there, I speak to my deceased relatives and friends (when nobody else is in the room of course) I listen to every piece of advice. I take most of them with a grain of anxiety encrusted salt. They have all come from the living so far, but if I hear back from my Dad on anything, I will totally let you know.
I decided after a really, really, long struggle that I will focus on all that dwells in my heart: Family, my home, my new calm level of thinking that I have reached these past few months. The ability to sit still (that’s a biggie) and personal health and wellness have been my focus all this time. You know what? That was the best feeling, just knowing the part of it that included focus. I tend to get sidetracked and unfocused (as we can see clearly by my book being delayed for years but it’s now arisen like Jesus, a Phoenix, a springtime grizzly, dough, helium balloons, zombies, vampires… and whatever else rises so it’s all good!)
I have made a conscious, dedicated, decision to write first and everything else will be second. And then I get a virus from a student’s final paper. In fact it is one of the last 20 I even have left to grade. I know that may sound steep but considering I started with about 80…yep 20 felt like cake. In fact 20 papers to go is more like a chocolate cupcake from Magnolia with vanilla icing and a drizzle of caramel for the hell of it.
Here’s the thing. Sometimes shit just happens.
It would seem that the universe has played about 50 cruel jokes on me over the past few years. Things like deciding to get a new car and having Little Jimmy Newdriver crash into me on a highway one month in on the way to work. And then a snow plow hit it while parked…twice. Then it slid down an icy hill at 4am. Oh and it got smashed again in a parking garage this year. I’m sure I forgot at least one or two dents but whatever. Situations like doctor’s visits that result in countless Rx slips in triplicate and a stern “Seriously, do you think there’s anything you can do to reduce your stress level?” As I laugh and toss the scripts in a trash bin on the way to Ruffles (my wrinkly little Mazda if you missed that earlier reference)
I have gone to therapy my whole life. Oh yes, I endorse it. I adore it and support the idea of letting it all out to someone who doesn’t know you at all. For me therapy is like sex, coffee and sea salt caramels in one. Yeah it’s that good. But wouldn’t ya know that my therapist had gone on two maternity leaves and has now apparently taken a mental health leave of absence of her own… did I do that? Just kidding but you never know.
Nothing surprises me anymore. I buy a couch after months of saving. We get another dog. He eats the couch. I treat myself and my dude to new sandals. Two weeks and all four are shredded to puppy slobbered bits. We grow a gorgeous bountiful garden. Squirrels plague my tomato loving life almost as much as the crazy lurker who throws chicken out her upstairs window and attracts skunks…which spray all around the garden. A story for another day!
Here is the main point of all the irony in recent years. I am still sitting here—relatively healthy, writing my words, telling my life and loving that I have so much to say. My book is being born and it feels like a real life pregnancy. I even have homemade pickles from our very own cukes! So ha!
Ha! to the car because it still has lights that work and it gets from point A to point B. Ha! To the prescriptions I may or may not fill because I get just as much relief from downward facing dog and warrior poses three days a week. Ha! to the computer virus because my credit is better and I am finally going to buy a Mac in a couple weeks and have a Dell smashing party. I’ll call it the smash bash and I’ll be driving Ruffles to it.
Ha! to the therapist (number eight or nine who knows I’ve lost count) because I found a new one and am meeting her next week. Ha! to the couch because I love my dog. Ha! to the sandals because I still love him and it’s practically boot season anyway. Ha! to the skunks because I got this awful stinky stuff to spread around that includes rotten eggs I’m sure of it…and they hate it and they have really not been around so much.
Ha is simply not a strong enough word for the second story chicken throwing crone but I’m working on my anger, I really am. Who the hell throws home cooked chicken from windows? I mean really.
Despite all the crap that life throws at me I feel like singing (albeit Alanis who is one angry firecracker) but I’m still singing. In fact I think I’ll go for a walk in the night and sing to the old insomniac. Or maybe I will launch the chicken back in when it narrowly misses my hair tomorrow morning. Whatever the case, I’ll still be stacking ammo. I’ll still have stories to tell. No matter how many students send corrupted papers, I will still have a book in a year if it kills me. But it won’t. Know how I know? Because I can’t help tearing up as I re-read this…with laughter. Believe me that’s the best medicine of all. Even better than chicken hurled from the sky!
So rule number one (learned in first week of decidedly being author first, all else second) is this: Just roll with the punches. Make that proverbial lemonade and spike it with vodka as you pound at the keys. Because you know that you can just buy a new car when your book starts to sell right? By then the puppy will be out of the chewing phase and you will be a master yogini. Keep writing and all else will fall into place. And if it doesn’t…well I guess you can always throw chicken.