Monday, January 26, 2009

Mind Games

I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (a classic by Betty Smith) when I was in high school, I think. I don't much remember what the story was about, but I very much remember the mother's technique for dealing with her poverty: She dismissed it. She always tossed out the dregs of the coffee, telling herself that she's plenty wealthy enough to eschew the thick, bitter remains of the pot.

I do that, too. When I'm making chili, chopping the celery, I refuse to use those skinny -- and yes: bitter -- mini-stalks at the top. I always tell myself, When I'm poor enough to need them, I'll eat them. But not till then. If I'm especially panicky about money, I'll buy something I shouldn't. Picture me putting those annoying air quotes around "shouldn't." Oh wait. I just used real quotes ... well, inch marks anyhow. My point is that I'll use Retail Therapy to emphasize that I have nothing to worry about. I won't buy a trip to Africa, mind, but I will order a pizza or buy a book. New. Hardcover.

Well, I do the same thing with time. Here it is Monday and Liz's car must be done by Tuesday night. She'll be home Wednesday, but I'm going to spend that day with Michele at the St. Petersburg College campus in Clearwater, so I can't count on Wednesday.

I changed my massage from Friday to Thursday because Steve From Minnesota (which seems so much friendlier than My Ex-Husband, doesn't it?) and I are having lunch on Friday.

But wait! He called and said he may come tomorrow and Liz called and said she will be home tomorrow and then Andrea called and confirmed the writers' club start-date and the next thing I knew, there was Sonny calling and we both were doing other things while we were on the phone -- I was cleaning up Sunny emissions with one hand and painting Liz's car with another and holding my cell phone with my knees while Sonny was yelling at somebody about something.

In short, which is not my style, it suddenly seemed that chaos was reining with a ten-fingered fist, and so, in the manner of Ms. Smith, I stopped working and sat down here in Blogtown with a peanut butter-and-apple sandwich, and am ambling through my thoughts as if I have all the time in the world.

Which I do not.

So yes, the writers' club will have its inaugural meeting on Sunday, February 8, at The Longhouse (, 2301 49th Street South (33707), from four to six. Anyone who even thinks he or she wants to write should show up. The big requirement is that you actually write. Complete novices and published writers and everyone in between are welcome. BYOBeverage, too, if you can't get by without it for two hours. We'll supply the table and chairs. The cost is two bucks apiece for the use of the room. Call me (727 347-4786) or ee me ( if you're interested, please. We'll meet every other Sunday.

Too bad you can't come, Pi-Dave-ke, but you're way up there in snowy Pike, New York.

Buddy Helm (dot com) is having a drumming intensive from ten-fifteen till three that day, so you are going to be very busy. Don't forget your vitamins! He's also giving his two-hour session on Friday, February 13.

Today is Melanie's fifty-sixth birthday. It's true that the picture shown here is a couple of years old, but it doesn't matter. She neither looks nor acts her age. I mean, look at her fish hat, for pete's sake! (Although she does look good in it, doesn't she?)

Today is also the thirty-first anniversary of my mentor, Jan. I'm sorry I don't have a picture of her, but I'd be willing to bet that I'll have a picture of her painted car before this year is up.

Celebrations abound!

Someone actually bought the little chair I painted for AVP. Yay! This was at Studio @ 620 yesterday. Patrons were asked to buy the chairs but leave them at the Studio until the show is over in a couple of weeks. Apparently my patron wanted to get started on the bonfire right away because s/he took it and left. I never even saw it. The show and sale benefited Alternative Visions of Peace, an organization that gives conflict-resolving workshops in prisons.

I walked in as Abasi Ote was playing the conch. I'm sorry I only got to hear part of his music. A couple of sullen teen girls played their violins, and played them well. While their introduction was being read by a very perky woman, the girls were leaning against the wall, looking like really bored, like totally rolling their eyes and everything. But I suppose that's part of being a teen, isn't it? Sullenness is the law.

And now I can no longer pretend that I have enough time to do everything, so I'm going to race back out there and paint that car. This is only the tenth car I've painted, so I'm not sure if that's enough to have established a pattern, but it certainly seems that there's a pattern. I paint for a day or two and then suddenly realize that the thing is going to look awful and the owner is going to hate it and so am I. And then something happens and suddenly everything's okay and I just know they're going to love it. Let me go look at it again. Just wait. Talk amongst yourselves.

Oh yeah. I'm smiling!

1 comment:

Pi-Dave-ke said...

Right at the instant I thought it would be interesting to attend the writer's meeting, I gotto your words of consolation!

Barbara, you are clairvoyant!

But alas, I AM trapped here in the tundra of the land of exorbitant taxes, that state of your childhood home, if not literally by the feet of snow now on the ground, then by the allure of the benefits offered by a steady income and now-visible, but still just over that hill and out-of-reach retirement.

Regarding your new found predicament...

Let me say I have always been accused of being a great procrastinator. Those accusations are pretty much on target.

I offer in evidence the case of one student of Latin, Miss Arnold, instructor, who, due to just a trifle too much procrastination, was not able to produce the well planned annual Latin project, due on some pre-announced date certain.

Said student stayed home from school "sick" (which I would have been had I received the prerequisite zero grade for any assignment late in arriving in her hands). Even with the unencumbered extra "sick" day, that project, consisting of an application of plaster-of-Paris of some kind, arrived at Miss Arnold's classroom in a semi-liquid/semi-plastic state.

Once dry, there were substantial cracks in my rendition of a portable piece of Roman roadway. The cracks in the pavement notwithstanding, it was a unique example of Roman road consruction.

My 'round Robinhood's barn example has been cited has because I believe that we perform better when under a certain amount of pressure or stress. Had I produced that twenty inches of Roman road two weeks earlier, I might have found it lacking in one or many ways and been tempted to re-do it somehow. Or I might have convinced myself to scrap the project altogether and attempt another, only to deliver that, or some subsequent project attempt late as well.

Every year I vow to complete my tax preparation duty earlier than the year before. Every year I arrive at the tax preparer's office within a week or two of the deadline. Gathering the information just does not seem as important in January as it does after St. Patty's day. Even with the promise of a tidy return of my withholding overpayment, there isn't enough benefit promised to drive me to complete my end of the tax prep deal before a certain time. When I delay right down to the deadline I always give myself a slight pat on the back because that tax return is like money in the bank...and we all know having some money in the bank is a good thing. Right?