Road Blocks: Memoirs, Writing or the lack thereof…

I haven’t done much writing since my surgery. It was hard to write those first couple of weeks, and these past couple of weeks had me preoccupied with the required therapy that’s kicking my derriere, in addition to all the other mundane and not so mundane tasks that need my attention. I used to have a section of time carefully carved out that I dedicated to writing. This time no longer exists. There’s very little time for anything it seems. I am so disappointed. I crave my quiet down time and crave the creative process required to write. I had given myself a September deadline to have my manuscript ready. But September is really just around the corner and the likelihood of my achieving that goal is getting smaller and smaller. And, with school ending in just 3 short weeks, this little time I do have will be completely non-existent. Writing is not something you can sit down and force yourself to do. Thoughts and ideas come and go and if you can’t catch them you can find yourself in a troublesome situation. Sometimes an idea will come to me at 3:00 am and other times it will come to me while I sip my morning coffee. Now obviously the latter is ideal. I have learned, as much as it pains me, to ignore those 3:00 am callings. I have such sleep issues as it is, that I do my best to keep nighttime for sleeping.

It’s hard when you start to write and it’s after dinner and one child is reading and another is doing homework and the youngest comes in to you in need of attention. You want to tend to your child but you can’t bear to lose focus yet again. So you shush your child and he grabs his electronic toy and “does his work” on it, but the sounds of Remy and Patton coming from your right distract you once again. And then there is the comment, for the umpteenth time that day, from the husband, “Oh, Mommy’s on the computer again.” This is frustrating to no end. Then he tells you that your children will never remember any of the good things you’ve done for them. They’ll just remember you being on the computer all the time. All day long. Great. Well, I guess that’s too bad, because as much as I enjoy being a parent, I am not going to sacrifice my dreams and my desires. I don’t think that would serve anyone any good. It would not only be terrible for me, but would be a terrible example to set for my children too. I would hate for them to think that I did nothing for myself and gave all my time to them. I think it is important for them to see their mother, their role model, striving to do and be the best… striving to do what makes her happy. I would much rather hear them say “Mommy’s writing a book” instead of “Mommy’s doing the laundry.”

Yesterday I had the greatest idea but I wasn’t anywhere where I could go to, to write down my idea. (I was in the car, driving.) Now, I still remember what that idea was, but after sitting in front of the screen for hours and tap-tapping away at the keys I came up with nothing. Well, at least nothing that was of interest or coherent. I’m sure the fact that I keep pressuring myself to get the writing done in the daytime isn’t helping any at all either. My husband complains that I’m inaccessible or running away from him. Truth of the matter is that I just need a quiet place to think and write. After 3:30 on weekdays, unless we are out at sports practices, there is nothing about this house that is remotely quiet. My thoughts get jumbled up with the arguments and the whining down the hall. My sentences get tangled up with the arguments and the whining down the hall. And then there are all the interruptions. Some of these interruptions stem from the arguments and the whining. Others are those requiring my immediate attention: kids are hungry and need breakfast, lunch, snack dinner, water, iced tea, a Band-Aid, an ice pack, and so on and so on. The littlest one needs to be bathed and needs help with brushing his teeth and getting his pajamas on. The oldest one might need help with math or need me to listen as she practices her oral report on Ronald Reagan.

Then there are sporting events that require my chauffeur’s hat. And the house cannot be totally neglected. Nor can the laundry which seems to pile up in just hours. Despite my begging and pleading, the kids are still unable to locate the dishwasher which sits next to the sink and has not once moved from its current location in the two years we have been here. I face similar issues with our socks and laundry basket. Why my children’s socks cannot make it into the basket is a mystery to me. I go sock shopping practically as often as I go grocery shopping. I have more single socks than I can keep track of. All of these distractions get in a writer’s way. I wonder how mothers who write, write at all? And then there is that rare and wonderful moment when the entire house is quiet and an idea comes to you and you can get to the computer and just compose. It’s a wonderful, blissful, rare thing. It’s as delicious as a piece of smooth, dark Belgian chocolate… or as fresh as the first tiny bubbles sipped from a freshly corked bottle of champagne. It’s pure delight.

I’ll sit on my bed with my laptop and let my fingers walk all over the key board and listen to the click-clack, click clack that is not at all unlike the sound of my grandfather typing away on his old electric Smith-Corona, except my laptop doesn’t ring a little bell every time I come to the end of a line.

There is nothing more fulfilling to a writer than to be able to let the words flow freely from her head to the paper, or in my case, to the screen. I used to never be able to compose anything on the laptop. I needed some good lined paper – the yellow legal pads were my favorite, and a Flair marker. I would listen to the ink scrape across and delight when the black, cursive letters filled the yellow pages. From there I would copy what I had just written onto the computer and save it to a floppy disk. What a long ordeal that was! At some point over the course of the years I started to type everything out. And now I cannot write a story on paper to save my life. Is that ironic? I have all sorts of notepads and note books. I love them, covet and hoard them. I have at least two in my bag at any given time. I love to write down lists and keep notes. Often these lists and notes turn into stories. And often they remain in my notebook waiting for a better day.

Eventually I find myself writing about my inability to write in a quiet house and a head filled with thoughts. The problem is then, trying to sort through, sort out and organize the thoughts so that they translate coherently to the reader. I’m not having any luck whatsoever. I want to write about Bettina’s jewelry and Bijoux Plage, my beach club in Cannes, and going to Monaco to watch my grandfather play tennis and my fabulous swim and tennis club called Montfleury that had a retractable, glass roof over its Olympic sized swimming pool. It was absolutely incroyable!  I want to write about my wedding and how La Jolie Grandmère helped me design my wedding dress, and the croquembouche  that we served au lieu of a wedding cake because I’m not really a fancy cake kind of person at all. I want to include some recipes of some memorable foods. I want to recall and recapture and retell more stories. But I can do none of this. Instead I write and I delete. I write and I delete and this nasty pattern continues on and I have to get up and leave and meet my surgeon for a post-op check-up and then get tortured by my physical therapist. (I say the latter in a fond way. He’s a really great guy!)

Suddenly, as I’m driving to therapy an idea comes and I can do nothing about it. Next thing I realize that I’ve been in therapy for nearly two hours and my shoulder and arm are wrapped in ice and an ace bandage and I have less than two hours before I have to pick the children up from school and therefore no time to get any writing done.

I glance at the clock on my cell phone and notice a message waiting for me. I call into my voice mail and listen to Rebecca who is telling me that she got in a fight with some paint in art class and needs me to bring her a new pair of khakis or a skirt in time for her Ronald Reagan presentation at 2:45. I look back at the clock and think to myself “It’s never going to happen.” I call the school to let them know. I feel pangs of disappointment, and sadness rides over me like that massive wave that knocked me down 12 years ago, causing my first of several shoulder dislocations. I hang up the phone and feel guilty for putting my needs first. I feel like a terrible mother who has just let down her child. If I push it I could make it. There would be no time to write but I could make it. And then I worry about the ridiculous amounts of gas that the Lexus gobbles up and think I just can’t drive the extra miles. I’m still not happy with my decision.

I finally make it out of therapy, my shoulder frozen solid and headed home. The house felt as cold as the ice pack I finally shed and I cranked up the heat. Hungry, I opened the refrigerator and picked at a few pieces of the pasta I had made the night before. I am trying to deny myself of this, my favorite food, as I have noticed that it bloats me and packs on the pounds. I went back into the fridge, saw nothing that appealed to me and ate the last two pieces of chocolate from my Valentine’s Day box. (Luckily, I seem not to have any issues with this lovely confection!) Finally, I went over to the computer where I sat and stared and sat and stared some more. Eventually I forced myself to write a bit. And the first few sentences you read at the top of the page came out. I managed to write about a paragraph when my husband came home… more road blocks and more distractions.