03 February 2005

Don't Make Me Beg...It's So Unattractive

"The Journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step..."

So I guess one could extrapolate from that very wise, Chinese proverb, that a 1000 word newspaper column begins with a single word. Anyone got a word they might be willing to share? Take your time, I've got a whopping four hours until my deadline. No pressure.

You would think with a topic as broad as "Single Parenting", I could come up with more than enough ideas to choose from and, to be honest, thirteen days of every two-week period, I can usually come up with at least five or six, but let it come down to that one day when I actually have to produce, and it's like someone has reformatted my brain and there is no memory.

When this happens, I usually stare out the window of my office for a really long time. Then I notice how dirty the window is. Anyone who knows me at all, can attest to the fact that I am about as domestic as the international terminal in Newark Airport. I've been called a lot of things in my time, but never have I been referred to, even in jest, as Susie Homemaker.

But the strangest thing happens on the day I find myself staring blankly out of the dirty window of my office. I start searching for Windex and I climb up on the window sill and I become a cleaning fool. When I run out of ways to use Windex, I start organizing and, again, this is not one of my strong suits. I clean out my pencil holder, make new file tabs, rearrange the reference books on my desk, sift through thirteen days of mail that has been sitting in the "I'll get to that later" basket and, if I am feeling particularly void of inspiration, I will actually listen to the 55 messages on my voice mail that usually expire before I get around to checking on them, which is always funny because most of them start out with, "Hi Susie, I know you probably won't get this message but...". I have very wonderful, compassionate and long-suffering friends who love me in spite of myself. They probably look upon me as some kind of community service project. I'm fine with that.

Deadlines have a very strange effect on me.

I thought that perhaps this blog would be a wonderful way to elicit (think beg) inspirational, creative, brilliant, thought-provoking, fresh ideas to build my column around. OK, so I couldn't exactly give the person who's idea I choose direct credit, but wouldn't the satisfaction of knowing you made my life just a little less stressful be appreciation enough? You could even call it a random act of kindness, charity, a gift, whatever you want. If I could, I would even make your contribution tax-deductible, but I'm pretty sure that's against some tax law, so for now let's not wake-up the IRS. Unless you are an employee of the IRS and if you are, I think you people are doing a fantastic job and it's amazing the volume of paperwork you must have to deal with and yet somehow you maintain that sunny, efficient and friendly disposition. Makes my little conundrum of column fodder look like a day at the beach...

But it's January and it's a little too chilly to be at the beach right now and this is, quite frankly, all about me. Let's stay on topic, shall we? Speaking of which, have you got one? You can shoot me an E-mail, leave it as a comment or make a guest book entry so other reader's can see how generous and intelligent you really are. The delivery system you choose is of no import to me, just please try and get it to me within the next, oh I don't know, fifteen minutes or so? Throw me a freaking bone, will you?

I just finished rereading for the third time because yes, it was that good, David Sedaris' latest collection of essays, "Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim". Thank God he had a slightly dysfunctional childhood because I can't imagine his work would be nearly as entertaining had he grown up with June Cleaver for a Mom. I grew up with June Cleaver for a Mom but my Dad was definitely more like Robert Young in "Father Knows Best". I would like to say he was like Andy Taylor, but he put in more hours and I can only recall one time he actually took me fishing.

It's because they were such wonderful parents that I don't have a lot of early dysfunction to draw upon and I don't mean to be casting stones here, but I can't even recall over-hearing a single argument between my Mom and Dad and, when you consider they had to somehow agree on raising and dealing with me, that's solid evidence of a miracle right there. They have always been obnoxiously well-adjusted and of even temperament. Just my rotten luck. I can't seem to catch a break.

Clearly, I had the unsolicited burden of bringing in a little dysfunction to mix things up a bit and, if I do say so myself, I have made things a bit more colorful for my family. I've had easy assists from my son and daughter who have provided ample opportunities for me to send them into years of therapy and probably at least two guest appearances when Oprah spotlights adult children who share horror stories of "How My Mother Ruined My Life - Let Me Count The Ways". Good thing I stay away from TV.

But for now, I have no time to discuss dysfunction and my part in it. Let's save that for another time, another post, shall we? I need to talk about gratitude, which is what I will be filled with when someone out there gives me a topic for my next column, allowing me, once again, to defy the clock and hit the "Send" button a good five minutes before my work is due.

Please hurry. I'm starting to see spots on my window and the windex is in my desk and I'm not afraid to use it. Don't make me go there.

More to come...