Revisiting Doorways

My fantasy life in Tuscany has more realistic-looking shadows.

Words written in novel so far: 9,364

Days ago kitchen floor needed to be mopped: 6

Miles run last week: 24

I have not yet adopted seven cats or started inventing reasons to drink at two in the afternoon.

This is some comfort, given the fact that I keep forgetting why I walked into a room.

You see, I grew up as the Organized One in my family. Not the Smart One or the Pretty One, as is customary in a family with two daughters. It probably started with the Christmas party I planned without my mother’s knowledge, at the age of five, as I blogged about for Mother’s Day.

I did spend part of my middle school years in medieval England and some of my twenties either imagining life at the beach or time traveling with the Outlander, but work got done.

The Organization Fairy stayed with me through my jobs as a public relations person, organizing events and newsletters and such.

I blame the children.

Before I had a cell phone, when my daughter was about five months old, I was thirty minutes away, in the same town where my sister worked, and we were going to have lunch. I got ready to call her from Barnes & Noble, and I realized I could not remember her number. Not like, hmmm. Now how does that number start again? Oh, yeah. Five-one-five… No. Complete block.

I hadn’t slept in about five and a half months, which might have been part of the problem.

At some point, I remembered my sister’s phone number, and when I visited her, I saw the neat files that were part of her Ph.D. studies. My mind whirled. I would be lucky if I remembered to pick up milk on the way home.

Once I recovered from sleeplessness and my daughter went to preschool, I started writing again. To be honest, that was probably the shift.

Going from business-oriented work to loosey-goosey motherhood to writing created some sort of mind-body shift.

I now must employ devices to keep myself on task. At the urging of my BFF, I have bought Clean Shower because until I remember to clean the shower, it will hold off the mold.

When I see a rogue tea cup sitting on the bathroom counter or a dirty sock in the middle of the den floor, I tend to walk past it and think, “Note to self: pick up rogue tea cup and take it downstairs.” I am more than a little annoyed at myself later that evening to find that same cup in the same place.

Being right in the middle of the creation path of my second novel, the characters are doing things in my head. They demand attention, and the mommy duties and cleaning duties and chauffeuring duties are done to some extent on auto-pilot.

Unfortunately, the flotsam and jetsam of daily life end up taking a backseat. Or in some cases, being strapped to the roof of the car (ha!) until I can make a note to do something about them.

If you are ever standing outside my house and wondering why someone keeps walking into a room and then out of a room; in, and then out, please know that the best way to recover a thought is to return to the space of air where you last left it.

You have to revisit doorways.

What was I supposed to do in the master bath again? Oh, that darn cup. Seriously. It’s in the dishwasher now. But the kitchen floor? Small children are still stuck to it. Note to self: I need to go rescue them.

Shoot. What was I supposed to do again?

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Off the Grid

Comfort.

Household appliances that have become very ill or died in the last five months: 3

Dishes I washed in a bathtub yesterday: 23

Missing tiles under and around our dishwasher today: 9

Our house is the place where appliances come to die.

Let me backtrack a little bit so you can feel and understand my angst coming through your computer screen.

My husband and I decide to watch a movie on Sunday evening. This is pretty incredible stuff for us. My son had talked my husband into doing a Netflix trial, and my husband was giddy–giddy, I tell you–about watching a movie “for free.” We had been meaning to see “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” for a while… him, because he loved the trilogy; me, because I love Daniel Craig. (When things don’t work out with Rachel Weisz, he can feel free to call me.)

I sit down on the couch, he skips in to the computer… and the movie starts playing.

There are a lot of words I don’t understand.

And there’s a guy onscreen who is not Daniel Craig. This is a problem.

“Ummm. Honey?” I stage-whisper in to the office.

“Yeah?”

“There’s a lot more Swedish stuff in this movie than there should be.”

“Yeah, the movie takes place in Sweden. Duh.” (He didn’t actually say duh, but I felt its unspoken meaning from all the way in the other room.)

“What I’m trying to say is… this guy isn’t as cute, and I don’t want to read my movie. Like, I’ve already read the book. Daniel Craig has a great accent, and I don’t want to miss it.”

I think I killed his Netflix fun.

So anyway, we ended up watching “Seabiscuit,” which our neighbor had thoughtfully let us borrow, perhaps envisioning this exact scenario. It said on the DVD “1:33,” which I took to mean one hour and 33 minutes, but which we found out two and a half hours later really meant “1:33 to 1,” some ridiculous tech-y ratio that is gobbledygook and is printed on there to confuse and obfuscate. My husband laughed at me, but not too much, because we were both up way past our bedtime, and his laughter energy was spent.

It was close to midnight, and my husband walked over to turn out the kitchen lights… and found water stains near our dishwasher. Very long story short… our dishwasher had been leaking, and we never knew. Dangit.

The next morning, as my husband muttered and said bad words while chipping away at grout and tile, I Cloroxed our bathtub. And then I spent far too long leaning over said bathtub washing dishes by hand. I know. I know. It’s like something out of a Depression-era movie. Poor little suburban woman sudsing up her dishes and the butcher knife in the tub.

The rest of the day was spent in heightened productivity mode, at least creatively speaking.

Much in the same way that I fantasized as a middle schooler about moving far, far away or to medieval England, I now escape to a life off the grid. To some people, this means escaping from the government, or the Internet or mafia culture. To me, it means owning five outfits, mostly bathing suits and cover-ups, a pair of flip-flops and a shack with indoor plumbing. While I hope to eliminate all appliances, I am very fond of toilets and hot running water and will include plumbing in my Florida Keys fantasy.

Until my life of off-the-gridishness, I live with peace about two things, one of which I mentioned in an earlier post: 1.) Our TV has already been struck by lightning, and since lightning doesn’t strike twice, we’re safe. 2.) As our friend and neighbor reminded us and sent us YouTube videos about, our appliances have been “pre-disastered,” a concept coined by Garp in “A World According to Garp.” They can’t break again, right? And now I can sleep at night.

In preparation for my appliance-free life, I am starting to pack my teal L.L. Bean backpack from college with comfort items. If something blows up or leaks or catches on fire or melts or spontaneously combusts, I will grab my safety items, and… well, we’ll have to leave our cars behind, trust issues and all.

We can hitchhike to The Islands. Or maybe if we all wear our running shoes, we can just head down there on foot. So far, I feel like I can trust my own legs.