New Year, New Beginnings, Again

Woo-hoo, Happy New Year! It must be so exciting for those of you with resolutions, (unless you’ve already broken them.) You have my giddy support, and my cynical eye-roll. I don’t partake in that tradition; I make lists. I am a bitter woman with a to-do-list that will always be written with an ostrich plume on a parchment paper scroll. Each morning, before I unroll it to look at the day ahead, I toot on my plastic kazoo three times 🎶, and shout: “HEAR YE, HEAR YE.”

There was a time in my life when tasks on my to-do list were evenly distributed down through the annum of the scroll. If I wrote it down, it was off my mind. As of late, my to-do list is not forgotten. It is a weight that bears down on my shoulders like a 40 pound (ca. 18 kg) bag of rock salt. I’m already carrying a snowblower, so the salt is too much. My analogies adapt to extreme weather, (brought to you without rock salt or snowblower sponsorship because I’m a volunteer complainer.)

So, the scroll… I can no longer rest knowing there is a line item I can scratch off now. Even if it should wait, I need to do it today. I scroll down the entire year, thinking… I can change that furnace filter, have that oil change, have my car’s emissions tested, that mammogram in February, my five-year colonoscopy due in 2025, I could getter done now… maybe not at 3AM, but today. Why put it off for three days, months, or years?

I could die at any moment, and these tasks would remain on that scroll forever. Just last week, I slipped on a rogue blueberry at Aldi, and if not for my cat-like reflexes, I might have pulled the entire fruit display down on top of me. Instead, the move I improvised could have been choreographed by Bob Fosse, with the big finish… jazz hands. Nobody cared. Have I become Eleanor Rigby? Oh my God, I have!

Moving on. I unroll the scroll at 3AM, while one of my three dogs lays asleep, butt on my shoulder, emitting a deadly gas. She should be emissions tested.

I stare at my ceiling, considering what I’ve achieved while suspended on scaffolding of my design. Should the fingers of God and man be farther apart? Did I make the penis too small? Will the air from my ceiling fan erode the medium in less than 500 years? Should I have opted for a longer lasting element than sidewalk chalk? Will my Warhol style mural of Raphael’s angels distract from my ceiling? Should I talk to a therapist?

Not to worry. My $40 copay rests in my pocket because my ceiling is painted “ceiling white.” I conquered it myself without a scaffold, in 2011. I think it’s too glossy for today’s “what’s hot and what’s not” in ceiling paint texture. Flat is the new semi-gloss. Still, there’s not much to see apart from a random cobweb.

The reason I lay awake at this hour is that an electric current, followed by a strike of lightning zapped me in my lower spine, and woke me up.

Yesterday I read a book that had been a topic of conversation during Christmas dinner chitchat, my sister’s boyfriend asked me if I’ve read “War of Art.” Drunk off my ass on champagne (1, maybe 2 glasses by then, ) I said, “oh, umm, well, hmm… I think I’ve read everything ever written… it sounds familiar…” (God, I hate feeling stupid.)

One of my sticky fingered (now adult) ankle biters spoke up: “Oh, mom, you have it. I just saw it in the attic in a box with my old books. There’s a note in it from your friend Stove.”

Me: “You stole my book.” Her: 🤷‍♀️ “Haha, probably.” Ah, I can’t remember the text because I didn’t have it in my possession long enough to crack the binding.

Okay, I realize my Doc Martins live in Brooklyn, and will never return. Most of my nonwork regalia made the rounds in two dorms, both east and west coast. I know because I saw them on Facebook worn by a variety of coeds. The clothes never came back. My son has a collection of my teaspoons (I think I have two left,) in his glove compartment. I noticed them when we went to get his emissions test. He takes one each time he steals my mother’s yogurt, laughing at me on his way out the door, as I scream “take a plastic one!!” He thinks this is a game.

My cool boots, my “going out” clothes, my only silverware, okaaaay, take it all! But I have a line in the sand and my books are where I draw it.

When my progeny grew and moved out, I demolished each of their (crime scene) bedrooms and found one or two of my pilfered books. When I did, I lost control of my temper and yelled at my aforementioned flatulent dog because she was asleep, and she’s deaf. “I have to have something that is mine FFS. I love my books. Is nothing sacred?”

My daughter finally returned the book that she had plundered years before and, when I growled, she told me to “chill.”

One of my old work friends, Stove, put this book in my work mailbox, along with a note written on an index card encouraging me to write. It wasn’t his first attempt to push me. I hope I said thank you. If not I’ll say it now. Thank you, Stove.

Losing the book was my fault. I blame my tragic flaw, Hubris: excessive pride or dangerous overconfidence. Even while living with my kleptomaniac spawn, whose belief it was that what was mine was theirs, I set the book down. My perpetual exhaustion at that time had been caused by working nights (graveyard shift) and that made me an easy mark.

Anyway, the very kind note, encouraging me to write, was my bookmark, I had read some of it. Yesterday I read it from the beginning.

The book, War of Art, is about how internal and external resistance exists, pushes against human efforts to pursue their passion, be it fine art, painting, composing music, writing prose, mastering a sport, etc.

I cried when I read it, not only because I cry all the time but also because I realize that my obsession with mundane tasks, my scroll, is an excuse to avoid writing or finishing what I’ve started. I think the book is more pertinent now than when it was stolen.

No resolutions; I’m just changing my priorities. Tonight, when the zap wakes me, I will pull out my notebook and write.

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