Hello. Last night I read about a 57-year-old woman who is publishing her first, critically acclaimed novel. She wrote it while her triplets were at school, partly by preserving their school time as her writing time. She refused all lunch invitations, for one thing. An optimistic person would have thought: see, this lady made it happen at 57, so there's still time for me! However, I am not a glass-half-full kind of gal, so her story merely added to my self-loathing for not writing a critically acclaimed novel, or any novel. I am not as industrious as she; I neither refuse lunch invitations, nor do I have triplets.
I thought I would take a break from not writing to explain why it is I have not been writing. There are many activities that require my attention. For example:
1. Just a few minutes ago, I was busy with what my mother refers to as "paperwork." "Paperwork" can take her days and hours. She files her own taxes, which she is meticulous about, and balances her checkbook with precision. Does anyone under the age of 70 balance a checkbook? This seems unlikely. I did it for awhile in my 20s, because mom had me convinced that bouncing a check had dire consequences: people from the bank would actually come to my studio apartment and repossess my scratchy Castro Convertible. But then the ledger wasn't balancing properly, and rather than get to the bottom of it, I just started blowing it off. I am not really a financial wiz; nor am I known for overspending. I do have a vague idea of how much is in the account. Balancing seems archaic to me, sort of like burping babies. I never did that either, and my kids appear reasonably unharmed by this omission.
Anyway, in my case, paperwork involves:
a) Filling out forms (80 percent of what I do as a parent). My husband has filled out zero forms; I have completed approximately 1 billion. Barely a day goes by that I don't realize that some form has to be handed in. Permission slips for field trips, camp registrations, soccer and tennis signups, insurance forms. Sometimes I feel like I will shoot myself in the head if I have to fill out one more form. Today I found myself re-submitting an insurance claim that I had already submitted but was rejected because of some technicality.
b) Writing checks. Many, many checks. Some of which are late.
c) Answering emails.
2. House cleaning. When I was working full time in the city, I hired some ladies to clean my house once a week for $85. Also, they would occasionally ruin and break things at no extra charge. After I stopped working, and both kids were in school full time, I limited the service to every second week, and they started charging me $100 (retaliation?). Then a couple of months ago, I calculated that I would save $2600 annually by cleaning the house myself. I let the ladies go. They had grown unreliable; also, I had a false sense of confidence in my cleaning abilities, descended as I am from immigrant domestic help. I also thought it would be good for the kids to clean their own rooms, as I did at their age. We can't have them getting all spoiled and soft, and graduating from college not knowing how to operate a vacuum. Their great-great-grandparents were professional cleaners, goddammit. And my husband said he would help too. To that I say, HA!!!!
3. Calling my old, infirm mother, and feeling guilty that she is old and infirm and that I cannot drive on the highway to visit her. That's all I can say about that right now.
4. Driving kids to various sports practices (on local roads).
5. Wasting time on the internet. Like with this funny video by Denis Leary. I don't imagine he fills out many of his own forms.
6. Going to the supermarket. As in, right now.