Well, I’m tired.

 I think the thing about waking up early to work is that you have to be asleep first, and then wake up.

 I worked last night until one am, fell asleep, dreamt (another kind of job for me but I’ll not even go into that), was woken up by a youngster who couldn’t face the journey to the bathroom through a dark house and needed a guide (5am). I tried to facilitate this with my eyes remaining shut because I thought if I did this, it would improve my chances of going immediately back to sleep.

 First of all, that’s a bad idea. The Lego minefield alone has to be gingerly navigated, not to mention all that furniture made out of wood scattered around, and you need your eyes for this. Even in the pitch dark you have a better chance than if you go into it totally blind.

 Anyway, I couldn’t get back to sleep. My mind did that thing; all of you have been there. It’s that weird brand of thinking that belongs nowhere. Its not good enough material to ever speak of and yet it is somehow so riveting to your sad, tired mind that you can’t stop producing these thoughts.

 The other problem with waking up early to work is that you’ve just added more work to your day. How much can a person work, after all?

 This is a big question for me to ask. Maybe this is crux of it all for me. The Question.

 I am the Queen of Working. I love working. I live to work. I love other workers, I love productivity, I love objects that are made by workers. I love talking about work, worrying about work, finding myself in my work. Some people walk in their sleep, I work in my sleep.  “Don’t wake her up, she’s sleep working!”

 I have to stop writing because I’ve got to work but I’m going to ponder this question. It would be good to come up with some theories. Since my book is essentially about how a person becomes themselves through their work, how work shapes you, and how a person strives to turn their ‘day job’ into their life’s work, I better ponder good.

 God, what gobble-de-gook! I am however, very tired. Like that’s an excuse.



Fourteen thousand, three hundred and seventy six words. That’s 34 pages. That’s a stack that a paper clip can no longer keep contained. Thirty four pages bumps you up into industrial size clip territory.

 But I have to stop briefly here, at 34 pages. I’m trying very hard to get something accomplished in my day job that requires around the clock work (sleeping is so yesterday) and all the mental flexibility, fluidity and cunning I can muster. So I’m going to resume my 500 words once my work resumes the regular status of just normal crazy busy as opposed to this kind of emergency status where I’m so busy that it almost feels like it loops back in on itself and I’m actually moving in slow motion. I’ve got a deadline of November 2nd, then I’m out of town until the 9th so when I get back, I’m going to start again.

 I do have one trick up my sleeve that I guess I could try. I never did manage to wake up earlier, even though I said I was going to do this. I could try getting up at six and writing until seven thirty. My good friend Carmen tells me that it’s a magical time to be lurking about the house, and an ideal time to write. So I could give this one more shot. Perhaps it will have the effect of grounding me for the day’s madness ahead. Or it could just make me really tired. I’m going to find out.

 Better hit the sack.

Can’t buy me love

Yesterday I went to London for a meeting and had to go to Knightsbridge. This, for my American friends, is the section of town which holds most of the serious money. Dior and Chanel. Exorbitant real estate prices, Harrods, embassies, aristocrats & royalty. Its little sister, nestled within it, Belgravia, has an even more concentration of extraordinary wealth. Saudi Princesses parade about, sheets of black silk billow about them, black Bentleys silently cruising behind. Men with ear pieces trail the beautiful as they shop. Restaurants don’t have names. These are the Uber Rich.

 So I’m bopping along, on my way to the meeting and I’m struck by this sight. People look morose. Morose is a great word and in this case, it’s exactly what I mean. Webster’s says: hard to please, exacting. having a sullen disposition: GLOOMY. (their caps, not mine). I think, ooh, that guy’s having a bad day. Hhhmm…she must have a wicked case of hemorhoids. Wow, that teenager looks comatose with, what is that? Boredom? What’s going on here? Why does EVERYONE look so sour?

 If you were doing an advertisement for what money can do for you, you’d have to stay clear from this place. The shops are so exclusive but everyone inside looks miserable. No body seems to be having any fun. You’d think they’d all be skipping from one shop to the next, whistling, holding doors open for each other. All this exquisite luxury seems wasted on these morose, depressed, bored people. A woman, who refused to yield to me on the sidewalk (we played a kind of class chicken), hit me with her oversized Prada shopping bag as I tried to move. (I always move in the end. My excellent manners, the automatic default that I cannot seem to override, no matter what, are a product of my good upbringing). Even though she nudged me into a building, I said sorry. She looked at me with a kind of revulsion that seemed very easy for her to access. I’d have to imagine some pretty horrible stuff to get that look on my face, and still I don’t think I could produce it. It seemed to come from some boiling reservoir of hatred. Sheeesh! I’m the one overdrawn here!

 I had a great meeting and a great day, probably way greater than Pissed Prada Person, even though I’m not the owner of a new £683 blouse. My long train ride home to Scotland was thought provoking, as usual and (having discovered that the train has a ‘quiet car,’ my thoughts were allowed to roam far and wide, without being trespassed upon by people shouting into their cell phones) very relaxing.

 I thought about how lucky I am to spend my days doing the thing I love most, making stuff and being in the company of so many talented, interesting, funny, loving people. Uber Lucky.

 Now to write.

The book I’m trying to write is about my working life. My first job was off the books. I was ten. I’ve been working every day since then. I’ve had so many different jobs that at some point it went from an alarming number, to a funny number. And when it became funny to me, I realized that I wanted to write about it.

As I pondered the structure of such a book, I regretted not keeping a journal. If I had only kept a journal for all those years, I’d have a record of exactly what those jobs entailed, how they made me feel, the exact dates! Then I stumbled upon an idea.

 Do you ever have the kind of thoughts that when you have them, you think to yourself: ‘If I were smarter, like French Philosopher Smart, this would be a really cool thought to try to express but because I’m not, there is no way I’m going to say this thought out loud’?

 Well, 35% of my thoughts fall into this category. I’m going to try to express a thought now. Wouldn’t it be cool to write a memoir about your working life and at the same time keep a written record of what it’s like to work on a book about working?

 See what I mean.

 I did my 500 words but it was really difficult. I’m feverishly busy at my day job, the kids are still on holiday, Bob’s left for London and I’ve lost control of the physical plant. I’d like to give up. People have suggested that I give up. That I concentrate on doing just one thing, not spread myself too thin. I think about giving up every day.

 But I’m not going to. I’ll never write a book if I don’t write one. And I’m not going to wait around until things change and it’s easier to write. I’m forty-eight years old and it may be easier to write just around the corner when I’m drooling in a nursing home but by then I’m not going to care about anything except creamed corn and chicken fried steak.

 Got to go make dinner.

Ok, here’s something. The boys have another school holiday. Thursday is their last day and they don’t go back until the 18th of October. I’m going to lose my mind.  I’m not going to speak of it again, except to say that they just had a holiday a few weeks ago, remember? And let me just say this one last thing. the youngest one’s school, on top of the week long holiday, is closed the previous Friday so the teachers can have an in- service day to work on the new ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ that the government is implementing. How can there be a curriculum of anything if they’re never in school? Ok, that’s me. I’m not going to speak about this again.

 Well, I have NOT been doing my 500 words a day for some time now. I have NOT been keeping up with this blog thing, although I’m not sure exactly how often I’m supposed to write (probably no rules, eh?). I have actually been WORKING.

 Remember when I sent out my original call for readers, I said that I had no deadlines but had several long-shot type irons in the fire? Well, one of those things has gone from simmer to bigger simmer and has required my attention. This is a lovely turn of events because it means that the incredible Luciana Frigerio and I will be putting it into high gear together, taking our animation production company, Hold That Tiger out for a spin on the open road. (I love metaphors and sometimes wish that I could go on and on in metaphor, abandoning my original topic altogether). Mental note: try this sometime.

 Anyway, all this is to say that I’ve had to use every ounce of my time towards something that may, possibly, hopefully, make MONEY. Not that I think My Memoir won’t make revolting amounts of cash, but that’s a slightly longer shot than this gorgeous little long shot…..

 Back to work.

Tomorrow is another day

I had a hideous night’s sleep last night. I was awake until around 2.30. The youngest called out so I took him to the bathroom and then came back to bed and finally fell asleep at around 4 or 5. So that was no fun.

 I then made the mistake of reading what I’ve written so far and then that witch of a woman came into my room and laughed at me and made me feel stupid and threw my intestines into a blender. I tried very hard to push her out and lock my door. She’s pushing very hard on the door and I’m trying to push the door closed. She’s got her foot in the jam and I’ve got the heel of my hand pressing into her face, the monster. Miraculously I manage 268 words before she throws the door open, laughs in my face with her hot, ugly breath, defeating me.

 So, I’ll try again tomorrow.

Inadvertant poetry

The children are back in school!

 I wrote my 500 words (629) this morning, before I got sucked into the day’s wash cycle and it’s a big improvement on the after-hours writing. Got everyone out safely, made my cup of coffee, picked up the ringing phone to find Batman. We quickly exchanged this important info: She to me: Your Word Is Your Wand, me to her: order ‘Your Three Year Old’ on Amazon. We exclaimed our love and hung up. I then sat down at the computer and pounded out my tale. I even laughed out loud at something I was writing. That was fun. So, then I was free to eat lunch, run to the grocery store, hang out the wash, work on the taxes (I had to file for an extension), put a second load in, provide after school snacks and homework assistance, make dinner, hang out more laundry, do the football run, put the kids to bed, debrief my husband, write this, make this crazy drawing and take care of all the things that came up that I hadn’t predicted. A hive of industry!

 I know I said I wouldn’t work on weekends but I managed a cool 500 before we caught the train to the coast, so I’m feeling on top of it. I’ve banked some work. If I get depressed (inevitable), I can stay under the covers for an entire day and still have my word count.

 We had a great time at the beach. Nicoletta made homemade pasta and we hung it to dry on a broom handle. The children looked upon this with silent wonder. This reminded me so much of this information that’s been rattling around in my head for years. Back in the old days in New York, the fish mongers would jack up the price on Fridays because they knew that all the Catholics would be eating fish on that day. So the savvy, thrifty women would buy their fish live, on a Wednesday, and keep it in the bathtub. I like thinking about all the young children, living with fish swimming around it their tubs. Some of them must have loved it, perching themselves by the side, watching, watching. Some of them must have been scared to go in the bathroom, some of them probably pondered the fish’s fate and thought long deep thoughts about killing and eating other living things. When us grown ups ‘make do’ we are inadvertently making a little crack in the daily routine and children’s imaginations get triggered. Not only do we save money but we increase the chances that our kids might grow up to be poets (who will of course need to rely on all the money-saving tricks they’ve learned from us)!

 Got to go to sleep now since I’ve got to wake up early…I failed this morning so I’m going to try again.


   It’s been fascinating for me to have made this large proclamation within this blog medium (it is after all just another medium, like oil paint or spray paint or a fine pair of shears…thinking here about my talented hairdresser). Because I make large proclamations all the time. “I’m going to learn to play the accordion!” “I will never buy cheap plastic crap again!” “When I wake up tomorrow I’m going to be a calm, patient, loving mother!” But making a proclamation and analysing myself follow through on it is a new one for me. It’s like I’m doing the idea and learning about what an idea is at the same time.

    Here’s what I figured out about ideas today in the bathroom. I think they are born, like babies. Naked, screaming, covered in primordial slime. And there they are, in your face, what can you do? They are 100% pure, unadulterated potential (well, they have their fate stuffed in there too). Once they are out in the oxygen, they immediately start to get shaped. I had this image in my head of a naked baby’s skin being shaped by its first onesie. Contained.  Everything we do for that idea/baby the second after it is born is shaping, defining, helping, steering, coaxing, loving. For this idea/baby to reach its potential, it has to fit into at least some of what is going on around it otherwise it will fail to make it. And job of the parent/idea-ist is to constantly gauge and change the setting to create an environment which will give its baby/idea the best possible chance of becoming the thing it’s meant to be.  

    So I’ve come up some ground rules. Not mandatory to work on weekends. If it’s bursting to be written and it works within that day’s family chemistry, that’s fine. Not going to write at night. This does not count working into the night, which can be a gorgeous thing. I am going to have to wake up earlier. Since I cannot possibly fit more into my already crammed day, I’ll have to add more hours to the day.

Off to the beach with the family. Later.

the hard wear of love

   I started this project behind the eight ball. Who decides to do something in addition to all the other stuff they are doing the night before the kids have a school holiday? Well, as my mother always said, ‘the die is cast’ but of course she said it in Latin.

    Yesterday, apart from the noodle business, was not a great day for me. I failed at every thing I did. And I got very stressed out by my failures. I should have thrown up my hands and taken the boys to the movies and just called it a day. But I didn’t. I kept trying to fit the square peg into the round hole and by the time Bob got home from work, I was a mess. I served some horrible pork thing for dinner that looked like prison food and complained about the Republican Party without adding any humour. If Bob wanted to, he would have had every right to smile at me pleasantly and turn in. But he didn’t. After a long day at work himself, he sat at the computer for a couple of hours and fixed the horrible situation I had created by trying to do something I didn’t know how to do. It was the digital equivalent of de-tangling a wire slinky. And he very calmly suggested that I write my five hundred words first thing in the morning instead of at bedtime. So yesterday was not a total loss. I got to be in the care of my husband. (I did write my 500 words (513) after he went to bed and they were absolute drivel.)

    So today I started the new program and wrote first thing in the morning. The boys were fresh and did their own thing and didn’t really notice that I was working so that was nice. What I wrote was marginally better than yesterday’s instalment so I’m happy with that. It was an extremely busy day but I didn’t lose so much stomach lining. I will, over time, get my rhythm. And the boys will, eventually, go back to school. And it’s Friday night so I bought Bob a very nice bottle of wine. He deserved it.

Navel gazing


   I’ve had a blog for 22 hours (and 7.5 of them I slept through) and I don’t think I’m going to be able to take the pressure. I think writing the memoir will be a cake walk in comparison to this thing. I awoke this morning to horrible, dream like thoughts of self doubt and embarrassment. What have I done!? I don’t even know what ‘Blog’ means. Is it an acronym? Better Leave Our Guts? How much do I write? What about my day is worth recording? I heard a piece on This American Life years ago about the phenomenon of ‘scrapbooking.’ One woman was so engulfed by her own project that she ended up quitting her job so she could work on the scrapbook full time. I think about her a lot. Well, I think about what her scrapbook must look like, now that she does nothing else. “Here’s a picture of me at the craft store, buying more paper!” It’s the forever-gazing-inward that sparks my imagination, the descent into madness that surely follows such constant self analysis. “Here’s a self portrait I made out of noodles today in the dayroom with Orderly Bill!”

   Enough of that. Yesterday, I managed my first 500 words. I started at 11.25 pm and finished at 12.45 this morning. I won’t bore you with the details of the domestic nonsense that went on around here, making it impossible to start any earlier. But I did it and I have to say, I think I only did it because I told you that I would. So far, this thing is working. I pounded it out. My dear friend Beatrice (the novelist) Colin, told me not to worry if what I wrote was any good. I can figure all that out later. The name of the game here is to get all your ingredients out on the counter, then you cook.

    Today will be a challenge. The boys are out on another school holiday and we are all in each other’s hair. I may try just closing my door discreetly and hope for the best.

     Thank you all for the outpouring of love and support that you showered on me yesterday. It was a real treat.


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