I’m totally ready for people to stop bellowing “MOM?” before they say anything. If I am in range of you bellowing “MOM?” then I’m in range of hearing whatever you plan to say next. You don’t have to send out an alarm to alert my ears that you’re going to speak. Ears don’t work that way. It just means I have to say “Yes?” before you get on with saying what you were going to say in the first place. And that extra “YES?” is adding rage wrinkles to my forehead every time I have to do it.
On the one hand, I have a working toilet that does not have to be handfed gallons of crickwater just to flush. SO there’s that. But on ANOTHER HAND I am trying to finish a book in the next 5 weeks, and I am DEEP in the end game and things are trying to connect to other things and slot into their fitted slots and I need the TIME and SPACE to let this happen, and OH! and OH! how deeply how I WISH my children would do the EXACT thing her kids are doing.
Because here is what my children did, all weekend:
Me: *Earnestly typing WITH HEADPHONES ON the Pandora Channel I named Redemption Radio because it exclusively blasts either Christian-Pop-Love-Grace-Forgiveness-Ballads or Lesbians-With-Accoustic-Guitars-Calling-For-Social-Justice into my ears, and those headphones, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, are the universal sign for, “Please ask your father who is right outside NOT pursuing his life’s work because he pursues his at an office FAR AWAY like a GENIUS and HERE he is only trimming some hedges and therefore mentally and emotionally SUPER AVAIBALE to be of parental service.”*
Either Child: Mom? Can I ask you a question.
Either Child: I’m not sure how you will answer it, but I just wanted to ask.
Me: *louder* OKAY! Well, I am working so can you please just ask?
Either Child: Oh. You are working. Never mind. I will ask later.
Me: I already took the headphones off. I already stopped working. My head is OUT of the book. Ask.
Either Child: I will go ask Dad.
Me: NO, YOU HAVE ME NOW. ASK IT.
Either Child: But now you are not in a good mood.
ME: I WONDER WHY. PLEASE JUST ASK THE QUESTION BEFORE MY BRAIN LEAPS OUT MY NOSE AND FLOMPS AWAY JUST TO NOT BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.
Either Child: Can I —
Me: NO. And if you had simply asked it, without ninety zillion prefaces, I would have said yes. EVEN IF YOU WERE ASKING TO KILL AND EAT A NEIGHBOR. I totally would have let you. And your DAD would have let you because I specifically told him before I came in here and put the HEADSET on and opened MS Word that you were ABSOLUTELY allowed to practice cannibalism today. But now you can’t kill and eat ANYONE. EVER.
*We blink at each other for a moment, and then I put my headset back on.*
Either Child: Mom?
Either Child: Can I ask you something else?
Me: *silence because I have hung myself from the tallest, tallest tree.*
You know the rage-wrinkles she is talking about? I HAVE THEM. I used to have TWO, right between my eyebrows, running vertically. I named them My Rage Horns as a collective, but they had individual names, too. The first was named SAM and the second one was named MAISY JANE. NOW? I am growing a THIRD RAGE HORN and yet I am out of children.
There are MANY things I think novelists really need to be productive: flushing toilets (that could just be me), a modicum of quiet, possibly some really good bourbon, some dogs to lie fecklessly around approving of everything, even your crappiest rough drafts, because they are mercifully illiterate and non-judgmental besides, a nose-bag full of candy to put your whole face in. NOVELISTS NEED A LOT OF THINGS.
You will notice “A Third Rage Horn” appears exactly NOWHERE on that list.
So, how was YOUR weekend?