It's not about the house.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting To No

I have a hard time turning people down.

It's why I was the Asperger kid's best (and only) friend in elementary school. Why I learned to drink hard at an early age. Why I wound up going to graduate school, sort of, and why providence alone kept me from catching something gross or getting the Looking for Mr. Goodbar blur when I dropped out. It's also why I wound up marrying my Richard Gere.

2010, though, was going to be my Selfish Summer. Of the two old ladies whose beck-and-call I've been at for thirteen years, one went round the bend; the other died. I had no job, an easy book to write, and Richard "Goodbar" Gere kicked to the curb. I would disappear into the woods of Maine and come out a published author, all psychically rested and rejubified.

(It's not a word. Don't bother googling. I made it up.)

But then Things started to Happen.

And no matter how Selfish you're intent on being, you can't say no to one of your best friends when they tell her that she has to have her tits off. You can't say no to Richard Gere when he asks you to participate in your divorce. You can't say no to the summer camp that raised you (or, actually, taught you how to raise yourself), or to the now-diabetic cat who's been your friend for sixteen years (he was there through all the Goodbar years; he just might talk). You can't say no to your dead mother's dog whose ear's infected, or to your car that shit the bed on 95. You can't say no to family that comes to visit. And you sure as shit can't say no to one of your best friends when she goes back to work with her new, smaller tits and gets laid off.

Now here's a pop quiz for you: It's the end of August. All you've done for yourself all summer is shoot pool. The book's only 3/4 written, you're risking your last chance to be a published author, and you are feeling neither rested nor rejubified. (Still not a word. But go ahead and look it up. I bet it brings you right back meta-here...) When your sister and brother-in-law remind you of your promise back in April that you'd babysit while they go to Foxboro for opening-day -- as you've done for every home game since your niece was born six years ago (which is how she earned the nickname Football Buddy), but somehow managed to forget about till now -- do you:

A.  Immediately begin making arrangements to kennel the stank-ear dog and diabetic cat for that weekend, so they can both get the care they need while you go down and tend to Football Buddy.

B. Immediately offer to jet down there to pick up Football Buddy between cat-shots and dog-ear-cleanings, and have her as your guest in Maine for the weekend.

C. Immediately figure out a stepped-up work schedule to start making up for soon-to-be-lost time.


D. Burst into tears and wail "Writing is really hard, and I never get any time to do it, and if I don't sell this book I'm going to have to work at Wal-Mart, so why won't everyone leave me alone?"

I, personally, think B. is the most selfless option.

But nobody said this was supposed to be a selfless summer, after all.

I think Mrs. Reagan would be proud. 

P.S. I really am knuckling down on the bookwork. I really don't want to work at Wal-Mart, after all. It's why I haven't been around here much these days. I'll be done by mid-September -- October 1st at the drop-dead latest -- and when it's done I've got a couple yeses lined up as rewards. One I promise to tell you about when it happens... 

But the Hershey's Miniature is just for me.


Rita said...

A hard-earned, hard-learned truth: You have to be able to tolerate the idea that no one likes to hear the word "no" before you are able to make your peace with saying it.

A near impossibility for a people-pleaser, but I am working on it.

Janice said...

yes, sometimes you do have to say no. And its the right thing to do.

Cat Connor said...

I think I may be the wrong person to comment. For starters it's the first day of spring today... summer is 3 months off. :)
Secondly I'm published - it wasn't easy, it took years of hard slog but I managed it.
Thirdly, I have 7 kids the second to youngest has Aspergers/ADD/and an anxiety disorder and some truly fun medical conditions.

Tomorrow I am going on the kindergarten trip with our 4-yr-old, but taking the 11-yr-old too as she is sick at the moment.
Next weekend I get to go to a Writers festival - I'm leaving them all behind. And next year I'm in the States for 3 weeks - no kids!

The thing is... you can do it all, it just requires organisation!

And now I'm heading back into the edits for book 3 while Miss 4 is at kindy and Miss 11 is lying on the couch watching cartoons.
Thank god for ear buds!!!


Decide what's important and just do it!

EGE said...

No, Cat Connor, you are The Exactly Right person to comment.

I didn't know any of that about you, but I hear you loud and clear: quitcher whinin' and gitcher ass in the chair. Will do!

Have done, actually. I hope you know I was making fun of myself more than feeling sorry for myself -- or maybe making fun of my tendency to feel sorry for myself.


From now on (or at least for the next three weeks until I'm finished) whenever I feel like doing either, I will think of you and tell myself to sack the hell up.

Thanks for the kick in the ass!


Anonymous said...

Saying no - not easy. I haven't yet worked out how to pronounce that word myself.

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