This column contains stomach-turning words like puke and
Pardon me, please, if I yawn,
but I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. to the unmistakable sounds of Pet
in Distress. Anyone with a cat or dog knows which noises I’m
talking about: Starts somewhere deep in the gastrointestinal system and
works its way toward the throat, where it gurgles and sputters before
becoming a smoking, stinking, foaming mound beside the bed.
Oh, believe me, I wholeheartedly
agree: Yuck. With a capital Y.
So I flung back the covers and
gingerly set one foot, then the other, onto the carpet. Ha . . . not a
drop of the stuff between my toes! Spoke too soon, as it turned out,
for no sooner had I put the dot under the exclamation point of my
boastful thought than . . . squish. Which led to
some pretty colorful mutterings, let me tell you.
I’ll spare you the (remaining)
gory details. Suffice it to say that half a roll of paper towels and a
couple dozen squirts of carpet cleaner later, all was well. Even the
But my early-morning wake-up
call got me t’thinkin’:
When your day starts out this
way, how do you write happy?
It’s tempting to finger-stomp
around the keyboard, banging out angry facial expressions and surly
dialogue. But gosh darn it, the stuff I’d saved yesterday didn’t call
for narrowed eyes and curled lips, let alone heated words.
Maybe a visual stroll through
the adages and clichés taped to my monitor (the wall above it, every
shelf around it) would brighten my spirit. You know, things like “Good
enough never is” and “What is written without effort is in general read
without pleasure.” “Do or do not; there is no ‘try.’” Ah, one of my
all-time favorites, and I lean on it heavily when things aren’t going
my way. (And when others aren’t doing things my way: “Don’t say you’ll try
to remember to wipe peanut butter off the kitchen counter when you make
a sandwich, just DO it.”) But, nope, that one didn’t do the trick,
tempting to blame my fairy godmother, who ran away from home when I
was, oh, I don’t know, thirty-eight? Yep. Packed up her sparkly magic
wand and her sack of happy wishes glitter and hit the highway, leaving
nothing but a wall of “sage-isms” to help me cope with days that start
off, well, snarly.
Much as I hate to admit it,
Nike’s tried and true “Just do it” works (usually) better than magic
wands and sparkly wishes.
So, deep breath. Spine straight
and chin up, the official “Just do it” posture and a ritualistic
precursor to a stern self–pep talk: I don’t want to be in this foul
mood; wasn’t the dog’s fault, after all, that he ate god-knows-what and
it didn’t agree with him. So get over it, already. The mess is cleaned
up. Heck, the house even smells good, thanks to the fresh scents built
into the carpet cleaner. So look for the bright side!
as . . .
I did, after
all, wake up. The coffee pot didn’t leak, and the computer whirred from
the moment I hit the ON button. Ditto with my Internet connection. And
there, at my command, was the file I’d saved yesterday after a grueling
twelve hours at the keyboard. And no one (or pet) was injured while
cleaning up doggy vomit.
Injured . . .
About that time that my strange
brain conjured ways that I (or the dog) might have been harmed,
cleaning up the, ah, well, you know. Picturing me, being eaten alive by
a pulsing, growing blob of former stomach contents flicked my “bad
mood” switch to “it’s a pretty good day!” Just like that, all is well
with my world. Well, mostly. If I choose to look for it. And since I
have a deadline, I looked.
So here’s some
learned-the-hard-way advice from your old Auntie Loree: Next time you
sit down to write and the mood you’re in doesn’t match the stuff that’s
supposed to happen in your scenes, flex your “picture this” muscles.
See your world as it isn’t. Now, there’s some funny
stuff, I tell ya.
My next challenge? Getting out
of this upbeat mood before I head over to the post office. Because if I
go in there grinning like Bozo with new shoes on, those people behind
the counter will forget all about the “service” part of their corporate
title and put my happy attitude to the ultimate test.
Happy writing, folks, and may
your days be free of doggy, well, you know . . .