I’m Ignoring You Because of My Brain

It’s not really that I don’t love you. I have reasons for ignoring you and this blog over the past couple of weeks. They are bad reasons, but then people often have bad reasons for not doing things. Bad reasons for not exercising, bad reasons for not saving money, bad reasons for not walking away from the computer before posting that rabid Facebook flame. I’m claiming solidarity with the world’s self-deluded procrastinators.

In the interest of whining about how busy and hard my life is, I’ll point out that I have a job—for now—and a family life that require me to devote blocks of time if I want to continue having jobs and a family. For example, I’ve been helping my father refinance his house. I love the optimism inherent in securing a loan that won’t be paid off until you’re 105 years old, but it does require time to arrange. Also, I’m happy to spend bonding time with my wife by sitting on the couch watching hour-long crime-solving comedies that always seem to show graphic autopsies and melting flesh just when I’m eating my dinner.

However, I’ve spent time on a few other things in recent weeks, and I can use them as whimpering excuses for my absence from this blog space. Let’s look at my creative endeavors.

For the past few weeks I’ve been in rehearsals for an eight-week show that opens this weekend. I love performing, but it eats time the way my cats eat yogurt, which is to say, voraciously. This is an ideal commitment for me to cite as a bad excuse for ignoring my other commitments. People assume that actors are kind of artistic, irresponsible, flaky types anyway, so that works in my favor.

I also have the opportunity to pitch a book project to agents a month from now, so I’ve been editing and polishing the thing like it was a ’58 T-Bird. I’m obsessing over everything from typos to profound thematic problems, such as, “If the bad guy ambushes the hero and traps him in a church, why doesn’t the hero just slip out the back door and run away instead of standing there to get pummeled? Is he stupid?” I’ve been surprised at how many stupid things my characters do just because I want to get them into a certain situation.

I’ve been using a book called Nail Your Novel to guide me through editing. It’s been terribly helpful, but all this still takes time. In fact, I have a plan for writing so that it doesn’t suck away too much family time. I write as much as I want four weeknights each week, and the fifth weeknight is for my wife and me (and whatever melted-flesh TV programs we’re watching). I don’t write at all on the weekends. If I can average 1,500 words per night, in 14 weeks I have an 80,000 word first draft. I squeeze in other writing (like this blog) at other times, such as early morning or lunch.

It’s structured, and it works. It avoids those situations in which my wife doesn’t see me for three months because I’d rather write than do anything else, including eating, sleeping, and showering. It also serves as another bullshit excuse for not updating this blog in the past couple of weeks.

Yesterday afternoon I found myself off work early. That would have been an ideal time to blog, before evening when I would start editing my book. But instead of blogging with this free time, I chose to replace a florescent light fixture under our kitchen cabinet. A few weeks before, my wife had bought a new fixture to replace the current 40 year-old cracked and sagging fixture, and she laid it on the bench in the kitchen. She told me it was there, I said I’d put it up, and then she didn’t mention it for a week or so. At that point she said she should probably replace the fixture herself sometime. I might have mumbled that I’d get to it soon. Thereafter she ignored the fixture and didn’t mention the fact that it lay on our kitchen bench, and that I stacked stuff on and around it almost every day.

So, yesterday afternoon I resolved to replace the fixture, knowing that I could blog afterwards. I’ve done this sort of repair pretty often in my life, so the old fixture came down, and the new one pretty much flung itself up onto the underside of the cabinet. At that point I was reminded of a fundamental principle of home repair. When attaching something to the bottom of something else, you will have screws that point up.

My hands like to tell me to go to hell sometimes, for technical reasons beyond the scope of the current discussion. When I focus on doing something they will shake. When I really concentrate, they shake even more. When I get frustrated, that’s like permission for them to do The Harlem Shake (you young folks check the link). When I leaned over the counter, under the cabinet, backward and upside down to thread these screws, that’s when the fun began.

About an hour later I passed my wife, who was sitting in the den, and she asked what I’d been laughing about. I told her I’d just taken an hour to do something I used to be able to do in about 30 seconds, and she expressed her sympathy. I didn’t touch on the hour’s worth of events that took place before I laughed. Here’s an excerpt:

I try to thread a screw and drop it.

I try to thread it with the other hand and drop it.

I put it on the end of a screwdriver and drop it, where it falls behind the toaster.

I think bad words and consider smashing the olive oil bottle on the inconceivably hard tile floor.

I drop the screw five more times in a row.

I actually pick up the olive oil bottle but take a deep breath and put it back down.

I drop the screw four more times.

I start to ask my wife for help, but I think ‘What if I was here by myself?’

I drop the screw three more times, until it falls on the floor where it rolls under the refrigerator.

I walk around the kitchen a couple of times thinking that I could take the olive oil bottle out back and down the alley to smash it, where no one would ever need to know.

I move the refrigerator and get the screw.

I fold masking tape on my fingertip and stick the screw to it, then I try to thread it and drop it inside the toaster.

I shake the toaster upside down for the screw, and I clean toast crumbs off the counter, wondering why we haven’t died in a fire.

I drop the screw ten more times in a row.

I wring the dish cloth full of toast crumb really hard. I think some of the molecular bonds may have broken.

I drop the screw another ten times in a row.

[Imagine that this goes on for about another 45 minutes]

All the gods from every religion in history guide my hand, and I thread the screw.

I laugh because nothing is broken and everyone is still alive.

Now that I have, in the manner of a neurologically-challenged Prometheus, restored light to our kitchen, I’m pretty much out of bad reasons for not updating this blog. I can’t think of any good ones either, so here we are. All I need are a title and a photo before I post this. What photo should I use? The light fixture conquered and gloriously mounted on my cabinet? Or the cat eating yogurt?

Cats eating yogurt. It never really wa a contest, was it?
Cats eating yogurt. It never really was a contest, was it?

 

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