Monday, April 20, 2009

I've got PMS.

There is one large pimple on each side of my face, the frightening pair adorning my cheeks like freakish goiters.

I am inexplicably angry and dangerously immobilized. I can go from contented to egregiously annoyed in mere seconds.

That's right, folks! I've got PMS!

Today I growled at J like David after Dentist.

"Oh no!" He cowered. "A week of this?"

It's true. The familiar tidal wave of hate has arrived!

Circumstances are making my case slightly more dire today. I was scheduled to be in DC this morning, though I had nothing pressing (er, nothing) on my calendar. I foolishly decided to make the trek on I-95 South (brave little martyr) and was ceremoniously defeated by nefarious rain and traffic. About 70 miles into my journey, I actually, you know, called the DC office to double-check that I had nothing pressing. Once confirmed, I immediately turned around and white-knuckled it home through the downpour. Nothing like a completely pointless four-hour drive in the rain first thing on a Monday morning!

I also initially titled this post "I've Got PMS and a Handgun" (an homage to the tee-shirt that was once ubiquitous on the Wildwood boardwalk); then I realized dude, you're an asshole! It's only the 10th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. I am crabby and insensitive.

Then, as if I needed another reason to be absolutely miserable, I watched a documentary of the Columbine killers on You Tube. Man, those fuckers were out of their minds. My heart aches for all those affected by the tragedy.

In a vain attempt at a pick-me-up, I headed to the gym. En route, I turned the dial to a radio station that insists upon saying the name and artist of every song played in the most hideously irritating voice. I had a thought, smiled, and believed I had stumbled upon blog brilliance. I promptly pulled out a pen and wrote this on a scrap of paper:

radio stations saying name of every song! haha fuckers! pop eyeballs out and throw at them. Hard.

Wow. I am an amazing writer.

And so I (and my long-suffering husband) soldier on through a week of hormonal high and lows. I will attempt to quell the wrath for your benefit, kind readers, but I make no guarantees.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Procrastination Station

'Member when I confessed I had a l'il problem with procrastination? Yes?

The ramifications continue. Turns out, when a friend spends the night in your third floor guest bedroom in January, and comes down the stairs in the morning and says gently, sorry dude, but you've got squirrels in the walls, the best solution is not to simply hope they go away.

It was certainly a valiant try, though.

Alright you, little bastards. You go the way of your raccoon cohort. ASAP as possible, bitches.

DUDE, Why don't I delete emails EVER?

That's all.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Slight Movement, and Stacking Trays


There. That's better.

So, I hit the publish button. Then I went downstairs, kissed my husband, and made a strong martini. We sat and talked, and I started to feel the tiniest bit better. Lighter. My martini made me slightly drunk and my eyes welled with tears and I told J I could do it! I could reach my potential! This was it.

The next morning I woke up utterly panicked. I had to delete that post! It was way too personal; likely my most intimate piece to-date. I ran to my office and promptly pressed the power button on my computer.

Then I went downstairs and ate waffles. I took deep breaths and went about my Saturday morning routine. This is a good thing, I told myself. This is a fresh start.

I kept reassuring myself on the elliptical at the gym. I kept breathing as I walked into Staples.

And here I froze. Because I have this thing.

It's this very real obsession with starting fresh. And this obsession brings with it the acquisition of new notebooks, journals, and planners.

It's a distinct pattern in my life, you see. I can't finish what I start, but I can start anew. And so that's what I do, over and over again. My bookshelves are littered with unfinished journals, mindless new beginnings, year after year.

I wish I could tell you I broke my pattern. But like a junkie, I feel victim to all of those shiny new FiveStars, chock-full of fresh, clean, blank goodness. I stayed so long in the aisle picking them up and running my fingers over their smooth covers that a salesperson asked me if I needed help. (Ha!) I picked out two identical books: one black and one gray. And I told myself firmly: This is the last time. You cannot do this again. You need to commit. You just committed. There.


So I earmarked one of the books for "GMAT Studies"; the other for "Writing and Ideas". I also bought some shiny new rollerball pens, for good measure.


On Sunday I opened up my dog-eared copy of Overcoming Procrastination. I took out my highlighter and started to read about stacking trays. I bought the plastic trays in January when I organized my files. I piled three on a cabinet, labeled Mel's Inbox, Mel's Outbox, and To File.

On Friday evening, directly before the HolyShitYouHaven'tSentInYourTaxesWhatIsWrongWithYourGoddamnBrain debacle of '09, J looked at the mound of papers in my Inbox and asked, "Babe, do you ever go through these? I'm getting worried you are missing things."

Er, yeah. I am missing the entire point of the goddamn stacking trays, thankyouverymuch.

I revisited the trays on Sunday. And do you know what I almost bloody neglected? A tiny postcard, from the New York Center for Independent Publishing. The invitation to the annual conference, with keynote speaker:

Wally is only my favorite writer. Ever. He's brilliant and insightful and moving and humane. I want to take walks with him through meadows and hold his hand and swap life stories.


I screamed, then bounded down the stairs waving the postcard wildly. "J! J! Guess whaaaaaattttt?!"

It was good news. And maybe it's the impetus I need to begin living my actual life.

Also, to file (promptly!) under Things that Put All Your Bullshit into Perspective:

Yesterday, as we celebrated Easter Sunday at Grandpop's house, my mom pulled out a silver book commemorating my grandparents' 25th Wedding Celebration. It was full of guest lists, gifts, and keepsakes. One card was from my late Grandma Bea, whom in 1979 wrote a letter to her husband thanking him for being such a wonderful man. "We haven't always had it easy, but we have four wonderful kids who are so good to us. We have our health; and we have each other. I don't tell you this enough, but I love you."

My beloved grandpop (who is still young and spry) wrote a note to Bea as well, entitled "Our first Ten Years, 1954 - 1964"). In 1961, he said, "I lost my job; but I didn't lose you."

Yeah, and then my heart burst.

I am optimistic.

In front of the Sphinx in Cairo, just because it's awesome.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Everything I do, everything I say is disingenuous.

It seems that my paralysis has seeped into every facet of my life; for I can’t even string coherent sentences together; thus the sight of a blank post template makes me slightly panicked. I can’t write! There is too much to say. Too much to do elsewhere. And I am so overwhelmed that I can do nothing. I am frozen in time. I can read and watch reality TV. I can escape; and I can make lists. But my lists are superficial. They read: Drop off dry cleaning. Make car payment. Buy groceries.

They never get to the root of the problem. The reason for my lethargy. Am I depressed? Am I in the throes of a quarter-life crisis?

I want to talk about Egypt. I want to post that Jordan was an extraordinary country; that we had an amazing time despite a myriad of challenging – and sometimes frightening – situations.

It’s all true.

But I can’t write it.

There is too much else in my brain, and it jumbles around and I can’t be bothered to make sense of it all.

“Maybe I should see a therapist,” I say to J, after a particularly grueling argument regarding my failure to send my city taxes in by J's April 10th deadline (which I agreed to, after postponing the date multiple times). J roared, and I bolted. I got in my car and decided I would drive to the mall. (I quickly nixed that plan once my mind cleared a bit and I remembered that I loathe shopping.)

I drove. And I thought. I attempted to get to the heart of it; to think long and hard enough to reach into my soul, and find the day it began. As if there was one single day in my life – maybe I was three? – when I decided the answer to life’s problems and nuisances was to stick my head in a book. If it overwhelms you, Lissa Jean, tune it out. Do nothing. Come sit here; read Where the Wild Things Are and escape awhile, won’t you?

“I don’t think you need therapy,” J says, not unkindly.

If I must read, it might as well be self-help, eh? I have highlighted most of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Overcoming Procrastination. Most – not all.

I never finished the fucking book.


So I make another list, and I check off the little things. But I completely miss the point. I can’t see the bigger picture. I can’t apply to grad school, because I can’t take the GMATS, because I can’t find time to study. Because if I study, and I fail, I might have to hold myself accountable! Better to see what is happening on The Biggest Loser. Then I will be inspired to change my life; then I will create another list. I’ll tell myself firmly: I’ll start tomorrow.

Yes, tomorrow. Tomorrow is my drug of choice. Tomorrow is looming; but right now? Right now I can sit on my couch and drink this cabernet.

So you wanna be a writer, kid? Well, publish one fluffy feature with a local paper (last November!), and call it a day.

You got published! Now, take a load off. Take a hot bath. You’ll come up with another good idea tomorrow.

My situation is dire. I am rapidly running out of twenties, and I need to be better. I need to do better. I need to be more.

And yet my head feels heavy with the weight of it all.

I am ready to begin again. I am ready to press reset and right the wrongs, all the wasted hours. I am not sure how to do that, but I have an inkling that the first step is being honest, writing it down.

And, of course, hitting the publish button.

Here goes.