It started on April 8th, I guess. That's when I stopped eating sugar. And then (legged) meat. And then, instead of just running, I started training. To run farther and faster. To clean up my stride. To fix an unproductive lateral arm swing. (You should see the pictures of me running cross-country in high school, with my rogue right arm, thrown across my body, like I'd just been hit broadside by a truck). I became slightly obsessed with running, you could say. But in a good way. A fun way! In that way that gets your brain thinking, what else is out there for me?
But then school was about to start. First grade for Gus. Pre-K for Patrick. And I was filled with a sense of dread. Dread that my mind was about to be sucked up by the tornado of paper, and art projects, and requests for money, and time, and OH MY GOD, Gus is going to have homework this year. And a millionedy-hundred sight words to learn. And harder math. (And a mother who makes up numbers like millionedy-hundred.) And, just, HOW? How can I find the time to focus on the truly important things that need focusing on--and still run, and excel at work, and keep the house from falling down, and get the laundry done, and write this blog? And the other blog? And a monthly humor column?
Something had to give.
For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, the responsibility of writing a monthly humor column, stacked on top of everything else, caused me to become unhinged. Every month was the same. It never got easier. It never came naturally. With every deadline, it was the same pathetic, sickening, cycle. I'd get three or four days of respite once one column was wrapped, and then I'd start in with the frantic worrying. What am I going to write about? What if nothing comes to me? What if this is The Time It Just Doesn't Happen?
Since I never had long stretches of time to devote to it, writing a humor column felt like ransacking a TJ Maxx clearance rack 30 minutes before I was scheduled to sing at someone's wedding. Like I was holding up various dresses, trying them on, throwing them down. Is this funny? Is THIS funny? Does this fit? What about this? IS THIS SOMETHING? This top is kind of cute--but where are the pants? THIS COLUMN NEEDS PANTS.
I could never shake the feeling that all the columns I'd written before--all two years' worth--were the result of dumb luck. They had to be. Because I had NO SYSTEM. There was no method to my madness.
For nearly everything else in my life, I have a process. And a schedule. I write things down. I make lists. I set deadlines. I do the work, and things get done. But humor doesn't work that way for me. Humor comes to me in waves. Or flashes. Or spurts. Or, just, jokes, lines, one-offs. Five words here. Two hundred words there. Sometimes more. But in order to get 700 coherent (And amusing. And inoffensive.) words every month, my brain has to be tuned in to humor all the time. And when my brain is tuned in to that station, I have trouble hearing anything else that's playing around me. Like, MY LIFE, for example. My life had become this pesky ambient Charlie Brown wah-wah-wah-wah-wah that was KEEPING ME FROM GETTING MY COLUMN WRITTEN.
And that's no way to think about a life. Especially one that's been incredibly good to me.
My life deserves better. Enough is enough.
So after much reflection and deliberation (and fierce scribbling of Pros and Cons) I decided to drop the column. Not because it was difficult (which it was), but because, given the specific circumstances of my life right now, it cost too much. When you don't have a large trust fund of sanity, you have to mind every penny.
So I made that decision. And I expected to feel conflicted about it. Maybe a little sad.
That's not what I felt at all.
I felt elated.
Even amidst the whirlwind of school starting and race prepping and crazy deadlines at work, the past few weeks have felt like one long, luxurious, vacation.
I can think again.
About anything I want.
And my thoughts don't have to be funny. Or RELEVANT TO WOMEN.
I can be MOROSE if I want to!
You have no idea how happy that makes me.