I woke up at 6:15 AM.
I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my 16-year-old because every day she rolls out of bed to get ready and makes it to the bus without a second to spare and she doesn’t eat breakfast or lunch but will eat this sandwich behind her Spanish book or in Advisory where no one cares what you do.
My 12-year-old has been up since 5:00 AM, walked on the treadmill, showered and dressed and is eating a bowl of Kashi cereal watching the Fairly OddParents on Nick. I wonder how it’s possible they both came from the same womb. After making coffee from Keurg’s miracle machine (French Roast, Dark, Ahhh) I sit with her trying to wake up, feeling like a Fairly Odd Parent myself. The little dog jumps up at me. She has her scuzzy toy mitten and wants me to throw it so she can get it, bring it back, and pretend she won’t let me get it. I get it. I throw it again. The beagle jumps up and sniffs my coffee. I take it black so she’s not interested. She looks at the little dog. What a pest, she thinks, and curls into a ball by my side.
My spouse asks me to fix her cufflinks before she leaves for work. She’s wearing a gorgeous stripped Brooks Brothers shirt and smells good. I’m wearing a terry cloth coral robe that covers an oversized grey paint stained t-shirt. My hair is snarled and unruly from a restless nights sleep. Even my eyebrows have snarls. My breath could kill crabgrass.
The 12-year-old gets ready for the bus. She pulls on a hat, a scarf, a winter coat. The oldest left in a fleece sweatshirt.
I switch to a cooking channel, watching Mario Molto make soup from little fishes, their heads still intact, their eyes rolled to the heavens. I click to see what Al Roker is up to but he’s not there. Instead, one of the hosts interviews Lindsay Lohan. They ask if she is sober. She says, of course. They ask how long. She says she doesn’t know but a long time. They ask what she thought about Whitney’s death. She stares blankly. I don’t know anything about Lindsay Lohan, but even I can tell she’s going to fall again. She may already be slipping.
I decide to start writing before I shower. Not always a good strategy but I go with it. In the basement, I turn on the computer. The Internet won’t work and my virus protection has expired. Immediately I have to go to the bathroom. So I shuffle back up the stairs. I really need Naprosyn but keep forgetting to call for the refill. I groan dramatically for the sake of the dogs but barely get a raised ear.
Upstairs I unplug and plug-in a wire, turn off and turn on a few buttons, shuffle to the bathroom, then to the Miracle Machine for more French Roast. I read an essay about writing by Carolyn Chute who I haven’t thought of in years (remember The Beans of Egypt, Maine?). She’s still out there writing. In fact, she could be out there writing today, just like me. Except I’m not really writing yet. So I limp downstairs again and get the Internet working and make it to my blog by 8:45. And I start writing this. And I feel it. The hum and buzz of the others. Sitting in their basements, their screend-in porches, their highrise or ocean view offices, their workshops or classes or libraries. Writing. The Carolyn Chutes and the Toni Morrisons and the Michael Cunninghams and the Stephen Kings and the MFA students in Iowa and the off-off Broadway playwrights and the highschool kid in the back of their math notebook and the secretary during her lunch hour and S. and W. and K. and M. and J. and E. all humming and buzzing with words and ideas and characters and writing.
Be a writer, said Sorche Fairbank in a recent workshop. Don’t think you have one novel or movie in you. Write essays and blogs and lists and short stories and ideas and novels and anything at all as long as you are writing.
Be a writer.
So I am. In my coral bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. My eyeglasses spotted with toothpaste and slipping down my nose. My French Roast in a big orange mug and my books piled high and the cobwebs and the dogs snoring above me and my family off in the world, I’m a writer. I’ve been a writer for a long time.