I see that WordPress has already started my text for me, and it’s this: “Hello, world!” Which seems optimistic or delusory. Maybe just irritatingly cheerful, and maybe just irritatingly cheerful since I am, as my title suggests, writing at five o’clock. A.M., ante meridiem as the Romans used to say, before they succumbed to overextension on foreign soil and lead poisoning, the latter due to their state-of-the-art plumbing. It’s so early that even yesterday’s underwear on the floor seems irritatingly cheerful.
My idea is to add to this thing every morning between five and six, at which point my youngest son, having vaulted in slow motion out of the crib that he is still sleeping in–due to my optimistic and delusory belief that if at 22 months he is still sleeping behind bars, I retain more control than if he were free to roam the zoo–staggers into the bedroom, spots the cat on the bed where it is not supposed to be, smiles beatifically, and announces his first desire of the day in halting toddlerese reminiscent of a beer-soaked frat boy: “Pat…kitty!”
I wrap my arms around him, feel his wispy blonde curls (not from me–never wispy, never blonde, never curls) against my cheek, raise him to cat level, and watch as his pudgy fingers descend ont0 Tesserwell’s raccoon-colored head, the caress reminiscent of a beer-soaked frat boy’s caress, with full intent but like the wiring systems for steering and speed control have been destroyed by carpenter ants. Once he’s made contact, he strokes, tentatively, gazing at the cat with single-minded adoration. In that moment he is completely sated. I’d like to think that because he got his tactile and psychological furry fix, his day will go more smoothly; that every rough element will be filtered through that moment of calm. But I’m projecting. That’s just me I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about writing. When it’s going well.
I stand and gather him against me and explain that it’s still nighttime. I pour milk into a bottle, knowing the pediatric dentists would frown on me, buying time with tooth enamel, and lower bottle and boy over the crib rails onto his bear, the large and still-natty Spuce Bear. I maybe buy thirty minutes of silence before my oldest son, who turned three not long ago, strolls into the bedroom as though he’s been awake since the fall of the Roman Empire, holding his own bear, the large and ratty Joomp Bear, and begins a monologue, one that mainly features stories beginning with, “When I was a big boy,…” or questions beginning with “Why,” or complaints about breakfast, dinner, or his brother (“I only want a mouse for a brudder”–the cat might agree), that will not end until he is in bed at seven o’clock this evening. At which point my to-do list is no shorter, but blurrier, and my desire to shorten it with military effectiveness becomes a desire to do it tomorrow.
With two toddlers and a to-do list longer than a mop handle (move in three weeks, finish the essay, find an agent, a job, and my lingerie), seven P.M. seems too close but at the same time very far away. There is a good chance I will have only one hour in the next fourteen that does not involve standing and interacting with other human beings, like a double shift waiting tables at a ski resort between Christmas and New Year’s (ask me about it sometime), only with shorter customers who spill their drinks and tip poorly and occasionally play in the toilet.
I do not have time to blog. I am too old to even feel completely comfortable using that word as a verb. It feels like I am slipping on a Wonder Bra or Spanx. Like I am an imposter in a hipper world, looking younger and perter than I really am. But imagine: an hour at the keyboard each morning! Every day! And not with the novel, Lily and Tyler McNutt and the beer can potato gun that set off the avalanche in the darkness of my hard drive while agents review my queries. A whole hour. Five to six. At which point emerges a complete little work. Done, finished, and sent out on its own. Hello, world! It’ll be my pat-the-kitty moment.
What are your ptkm’s?