The Magic Pear
& Other Totems of My Failure to Become A Paragon of Humanity
The “Magic Pear”
It’s one of those weekends: eating ALL the pizza, quaffing wine like it’s the new hot cure for aging (pro tip: it’s not), staying up so late it’s early, etc. You know, a weekend.
The worm of recrimination turns in my gut. I really want to be healthier. I try to use snippets of history to paste over the headlines of today:
I did that four-day cleanse a few weeks ago, right?
…and I did yoga the day before the day before the day before yesterday?
……and I got eleven hours sleep last night (or lack of consciousness, whatever)?
Before my brain can catch up with reaity, I cast around wildly for some talismanic object that I can cling to as evidence of my commitment to health.
There it is, a beautiful pear in the fruit bowl. I’ll bite.
I feel that instantly, instantly, every morsel of junk food is eradicated from my body, every iota of impurity erased forever. I am cleansed. This pear, this is it, look at me go, I am back on track.
The “Mood Lighting”
I’m a messy person. My home has it all. Dust, spiders, a little bit of old food molded to the floor where it dropped off the counter a few months ago but was a little too resistant to the broom so has, in my opinion, kind of earned its keep at this stage.
I honestly don’t know how people who work end up living in palaces of cleanliness. I mean, something’s gotta give, and in my life, that something is always going to be sparkling skirting-boards instead of a good book.
Enter my friend “mood lighting”. This is the kind of dim glow that allows me to relax in impure comfort in my home and rips away the impetus to scour and scrub. It relies on low-wattage bulbs, the less the better. Like, my trick is not bothering to replace three out of the four bulbs in the living area when they die out. Add in some lightly coloured (roses and oranges work well) lamps and fancy paper lights and a hell of a lot of candles. Basically, obfuscation charm: too dim to see dust by but bright enough to see a wink.
The “Word Count”
As a writer, I like to try to measure my daily productivity to put death-by-anxiety on the long finger. Unlike proper writers like Stephen King who measure their daily progress by the number of hours bum makes contact with chair, I prefer to rely on my story’s “word count”. My writing program does a great job of tracking my daily progress and lets me tweet my success when I attain my daily goal (tick!).
However. I sneakily allow it to be coddling rather than truthful. It counts words I put in towards world building, words on character development, and words used for general pissing and moaning about how hard everything is (waaaaa!) that I sometimes find myself typing right in the middle of a scene. Isn’t the feeling of progress more important than actual, you know, progress? No?
The Book I Read Once & Will Never Read Again Yet Still Cannot Part With
Oh you. How you clog my shelves and the back of the couch and the floor. How you summon the epoch of the Reign of Dust upon my home. But your cover is so pretty. And when I read you, it was a cold day and reading you with some hot tea and a little cookie brought immeasurable comfort to a miserable afternoon.
It would be fine if you were just one little book. But, you are legion.
See also: The dress that I wore once on an amazing summer day when we first started going out thirteen years ago that doesn’t fit anymore (will never fit again in fact) but cannot ever be thrown out and must remain where it can give me the side-eye in the closet with the actual wearable clothes, for all time.
The “Collection” Of Balsamic Vinegar Bottles
This one started out well. The trader of boutique apple balsamic vinegar in our local farmer’s market (OMG, who am I?) has an offer: bring back three of their bottles and get some amount off your next bottle. We started collecting. In our hallway. On the floor. Now there are eleven bottles there to be stepped around multiple times per day. Never once have any been redeemed for money. People understandably remark on them, “Why are they there? What do they mean? What will you do with them?” Got any ideas?
The “Broken” Timer
I meditate every day, have done so for well over a year now. It slots right into my morning routine like egg on toast. After my shower and before my first burst of writing, I set my timer, assume the position and bombs away. Great! Great? Well. Not every day.
Some days, sure. Some days I feel connected to the universe, powerfully concentrated and focused.
But some days? I start to think: “My phone must be broken. There is no way that 10 minutes have not passed by now. Maybe I just thought I set the timer but I didn’t really? I’ll just sneak a quick peek to check…” And of course, my phone is not broken and I did set the timer and there are approximately four minutes and thirty-seven seconds remaining (how?!!) and I feel whatever emotion is expressed by: “Huh. I guess I can’t even sit still and not do anything at all properly.”
The Front Room
When we moved into our current home, a cute little cottage, we said “Let’s rent a 2-bedroom place this time. That way, we can have friends and family to stay over!” What a nice idea! Then, we turned that second bedroom into a “home office” that we hated sitting in. Then, we flung some stuff in there “just for the moment”.
The moment has never ended.
Now, it is a shrine to the shame cycle of a) owning too much stuff and b) feeling bad about it but not being able to get rid of it, so c) storing it away out of sight and d) never wanting to go to that out-of-sight place AD INFINITUM.
The “Just One More”
As applicable to the metaphysical as it is to the tangible, this one can happen with a chapter of a wonderful book, a glass of Shiraz, a last dead-eyed, slack-jawed scroll through Twitter, then Facebook, then Twitter again, aaaaaaand one last look at Facebook (repeat, ad nauseum).
The “just one more” masquerades in my mind as the refrain of a healthy and disciplined lady who has her shit together and knows her limits. But, it seems those limits are always, always just around the next corner and the “just one more” never fails to turn into the “never ever ever ever stop”.