Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Anthony Trollope, the Real Housewives, and What I Do All Day

I am always fascinated by what writers do during the day.  When I was younger, I had the idea that writers sat at roll-top desks, sipped tea, and took long walks on the beach for inspiration.  I did not think about land-locked writers at all.  And I did not think about how they had to get their engine lights checked or go to the drugstore or get a cavity filled or vacuum or sit freezing on the bleachers during soccer practice.

I’ve read about writers who say that they eat breakfast and then work from 8 am to 4 pm.  This is amazing to me.  First of all, what kind of breakfast?   Who cooked it?  And cleaned up after?  And then there’s the work itself.  Does working “from 8 am to 4 pm” mean actually working?  Actually writing something down?  Because that is just unbelievable to me.

Here’s what my work day looks like:  I get up at 7:30 am, check my e-mail, and play a few games of Mahjong Titans on the computer.  I may be thinking about work or I may not.  Usually I am thinking about how I know I have to exercise and don’t want to.
At 9 I go for a jog/walk through my neighborhood.  The good part about this is that I do get to do part of it on a beach.  The bad part is that it is exercise.

I get home at 10 and do weight training while I watch terrible morning television shows.  I know the Real Housewives and various hoarders intimately.  Then I shower and eat breakfast.  This morning, it was two bite-size Almond Joys and an orange.

By now it is 11:30.  If I have to go to the grocery store, I go now, when it is less crowded than in the afternoon.  When I get home, I put away groceries and do some medically necessary things to manage a chronic health condition.
At 2 pm, I am ready to work.  I take my laptop into the kitchen, because even though I have a lovely office and a perfectly nice desk, I get more work done in the kitchen.  I don’t know why, exactly.  I think it’s because in my office, I know I’m supposed to be WORKING, which freaks me out.  In the kitchen, I drink tea, look out the window, check my kids’ Facebook pages, and once in a while, type out a sentence.  I do this until 5 and if I’m lucky, I’ve written two pages.

Anthony Trollope was a postal surveyor who wrote 5,000 words every day before he went to work.

Camille Grammer is one of the Real Housewives.  She has four nannies for two children.  And homes in Malibu, Beverly Hills, the Hamptons, and Colorado.  And no job.

On the laziness spectrum, I fall somewhere in between Anthony Trollope and Camille Grammer.

Tomorrow I am writing three pages.

Monday, January 17, 2011

What Matters

On my walk through the neighborhood this morning, I passed two little kids unfolding a card table on their front lawn.  The boy looked to be about six; the girl about three.  Both were bed-haired and dressed the way locals at the beach dress on cool winter mornings, which is to say, barefoot and without coats.

As I passed, the girl whined and the boy said, “It doesn’t really matter, Lil.”  His tone was parental and kind, and the girl was immediately quiet.

I kept walking.  I wondered what the boy’s name was.  I decided it was Carson, because I’ve known two little girls named Lily who had brothers named Carson.  And also because I’m watching “Downton Abbey.”

At the end of the block, tacked onto a telephone pole at a level only a Pomeranian could see: a torn piece of lined notebook paper , “yard sale” and an arrow scrawled in childish blue crayon.

These kids reminded me of my own, seen this weekend in Monterey.  The 21-year-old dragged her non-dancing boyfriend to watch her brother compete in a west-coast swing competition.  The 25-year-old (he came in fourth in Intermediate Jack ‘n Jills) bragged when she was out of earshot about her many accomplishments as if they were his own.

I want to tell Carson and Lily, You have no idea how much it matters.