It’s been a long day without you, my friend

And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.*

The longer I’m away from anything, the harder it is to make my way back. That book on the nightstand—I put it down one night and didn’t have the nerve to crack it open the next—becomes a member of the DNF list.

Did Not Finish.

Since I’ve been gone, Coco started high school. Cherry is on the endless mailing list of college recruiters. And Bacon underwent dozens of medical tests that promised scary outcomes, but proved nothing. I’ve become a middle-aged, female  Atlas, holding our world over my head while screeching, “Don’t eat that. Eat this. Put down your phone. Finish your homework.”

My arms hurt.

My mother always told me, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I shouldn’t blame my absence on Mom. I’ve been occupied. And whiny.

I hate whiners.

My girl Hillary lost the election. Today’s news brings it home. She was robbed. We were robbed.

Whining.

I kicked my next door neighbor out of my house last October. She said he wasn’t a racist. I reminded her, “My children aren’t white.” She said he doesn’t believe what he’s been saying. With my hand on the doorknob, I told her, “If it walks like a duck, if it talks like a duck, it’s a duck.” I shut the door behind her.

I’m a red state snowflake.

We made nice over Christmas. I wish I’d served duck soup.

*Wiz Khalifa

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Algorithms

Label this under stuff I don’t like.

I hate algorithms. I loved Pinterest until more than half my feed became, Picked for you.

Yesterday, I searched for red painted chairs. Today, you guessed it, my feed is mostly red chairs. I don’t want another red chair. I have one already, a sentimental ladder back my dad rescued from a junk pile. I love it. But one is enough.

Why did I type red chairs in the search box? Images. I search when I write. I want the perfect red chair to sit behind a computer psychic’s work desk. I want the perfect red chair next to the fireplace in my main character’s log cabin. I have the perfect red chair for me in my own house.

Why does social media insist I’m so meager that I can’t think for myself? What if tomorrow I need to describe yard art? A six-foot, ceramic alligator? Will the Bots-That-Be throw reptiles in my face for a month?

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My Red Chair

Lonely Grouse

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Grouse in the Wild

Do you enjoy doing things by yourself?

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Critique Partner

By nature, writers need to be alone. Most days I’m happy-happy talking to myself in strange voices, running the dialog past my favorite critique partner, Jasmine Tea Schnauzer.

And then, I have a day like today. Call it mood. My husband, who usually fills the gas tank, leaves the car on empty. My oldest guilts me into letting her wear my new Keds to school. The characters in my book aren’t yelling loud enough for me to get them off the cliff where they’ve been hanging since Sunday.

I google people I knew in the ’80s. I find out. They’re dead. I obsess over my kids’ grades in the school’s, too convenient, Parent Portal. The meter reader passes through my fenced backyard, eight feet from the family room window. I check myself. I’m covered–albeit in a flannel pajama top and yoga pants. I scramble for cover, wondering if he’ll close the gate behind him. Will I remember before the dog runs out to chase a squirrel?

On this day, I’m a lonely grouse.

I have two choices.

A. Continue on the current path. Write nothing. Search Google for dead acquaintances. Hide out until late afternoon when I’m forced to think about school pick-up and dinner prep. By this time, I’ll be raving, cracked, and depraved.

Or

B. Get the hell out of Dodge.

Opting for B.

Do you like to be alone or are you a lonely grouse, too?

Obstacle Course

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Coco crabbing down the mountain in the Pecos Wilderness.

What’s been the biggest obstacle in your life so far?

When you’re standing on top of a giant pile of rocks, the worst thing you can do is over-think your descent.

One foot in front of the other, slide down without lifting your posterior off the ground more than an inch at a time.

It’s so obvious from the mountaintop. Why isn’t it when I’m at my keyboard? Or planning dinner for friends? Or worrying about my kids’ college fund?

If the only thing to fear is fear itself, then why am I stalling?

Like many Type As, I obsess.

Instead of getting on with it, I choreograph each move, visualize the outcomes, tweak the angle, adjust the frame …

The biggest obstacle in my life is my own irrational fear.

What’s yours?