I was right. It took about a week for the baffle-coma to wear off. Or maybe it was two weeks. I don’t know actually – time doesn’t penetrate a coma state. I counted time in congratulations and people’s praise of me. And in the rare backhanded, seething compliment. But since I’ve stopped desiring to tell everyone I have ever met (largely because there is no one left to tell) my good news, I guess I’m back to normal.
I’m used to being encouraged. I’m an underachiever with a little-sister (or three legged puppy) aura, so I have always wanted and received “way to go champ!” ‘s whenever I ventured anywhere close to the goals normal people take as a matter of life. “Omigosh you got your taxes in just a few months late? Whose a big girl? YOU ARE! You’re a big girl!”
Oh that’s a lie and a terrible example anyway. I’ve never done my own taxes. I never intend to, either.
I’m going to Manhattan next weekish. To see my agent, and my editor, and my publisher, who allow me to reiterate, is the 178 year old publishing house, Little, Brown. (My husband finds endless delight in referring to them as “the little brown people.” He is peculiar and finds joy in awful places.) That’s a pole vault right over normal goals, and it is of course unsettling. I will be showing up at something called The Port Authority at my agent’s request. I told her that it sounded like it was all dead hookers and glory holes and I didn’t want to go. She said all the dead hookers had been cleaned up in honor of the Pope’s visit. Which is why we get along.
Still I whined, because the whole point of being a writer and not practicing one of the other many attention-seeking arts (rock star, actor) is that you can pretty stay in your damn shed and STILL be adored and applauded. As much as I would like to walk the same street the Dutch Settlers left extra wide to accommodate future development (which is PRECISELY what I think of when I think “Broadway,”) it happens to be located on the same island from which the modern world is run and only the most competent people, those who have stepped over the steaming corpses of their lessers, can survive. AND…I do not know if I am prepared to be the only fat person on an entire island. What if natives approach in awe and want to pose with me, urging me to lean forward so they can show the size tag of my dress to the camera?
I whined this to one of my oldest best friends, a woman of singular grace and calm disposition, not to mention a raging success in her own field (personal message autograph from Warren Buffet in his book sorta field) until a text came booming over my phone, (and I paraphrase but only just), “OH MY GOD WILL YOU SHUT UP??? ‘Ooo poor me ooo big trip to NYC to see my powerful agent and editor boo hooo’. I’d take more time to console you Therese but my 3 year old is throwing graham crackers in my face and screaming at me.”
Yeah. I quickly learned to shut up. This is the career equivalence of winning the lottery. No one cares to hear a lottery winner moaning, “Oh mmmmmy GAWD these bags of money are soooo heavy I can barely carry them all!
Other things keep me grounded too. My daughter. Someone recently asked her, “Are you excited for your mama?” And she politely nodded. And she is, time to time. But that morning I’d had to leave the car running to go back inside and change my shirt. Because setting down I realized the illusion of sleeves was actually more of a shoulder cape, and every time I moved my arm my pits were exposed. “Aw man,” I said, unbuckling. “You can see my pits in this and I’m unshaven and caked in deodorant!” My daughter nodded solemnly.
“Yes, I know. I was trying not to see it, Mom. I didn’t want to be rude.”
Or today, standing up from inspecting the free box at a yard sale. Ooo. Kong! Elke will love that!
“Mom is your shirt meant to go that way?”
I looked down. Every singly button slipped out of it’s poorly sewn, over-sized hole down to my navel? Why no, no it isn’t.
LE threw herself in front of me and pretended to be giving a long hug. “Button them now!” she hissed.
“I’m..I can’t I’m holding the dog toys! Button for me!”
“I’m bad with buttons! Give me the toys and…”
“Are you doing okay?” asked the lady running the sale.
“We’re super!” I said “These uh…these are free?”
Okay. Cut our losses and book it. I instructed my eight year old to keep hugging. Keep hugging down the driveway…nothing to see here. Just a super sweet moment between mother and daughter. Keep hugging out into the street, by which time her laughter was making her muscles near useless….yes we do love each other, she’s such a little goof, heh….keep hugging…ALL RIGHT GET IN THE CAR! Never speak of it again.
She didn’t speak but howled in laughter, which was deserved.
So reality, and people who will never let me forget I am part of it, has burned off the early fog, and returned what seemed to be a building dramatic thunderstorm into a regular day in a regular life.