Bleary Eyed While Fired Up
My eyelids want to dance together. My brain would rather watch a YouTube video about New York City’s housing market or about a kid being born to a goat herder’s favorite doe than edit one more essay in the book galley spread before me.
My life partner struggles to appreciate that every pass I make on my manuscript represents one less set of communications that will be needed between me and my publisher. The lone adult child, who still lives at home, offers to fill a hot water bottle for my back, to grill fish filets for our dinner, and to drag all our garbage to the curb.
After spending a few minutes updating my poetry submissions log, I return to my opened file. In truth, I am grateful for the opportunity to see this book in print. I like my association with the gatekeeper promoting it. I adore the audience that I have built up over the years. I’m thankful, too, that the concepts encased in this volume’s words were sufficiently attractive to merit a publishing contract. Sometimes, it takes days to marry a work to an outlet. Sometimes, it takes years. Sometimes, I hold onto a “spinster” book for an even long span.
My tea gets cold. Presently, I am quaffing ginger, green tea, and a yummy blend of cinnamon and allspice. The first is for my reoccurring respiratory issues, the second is to help balance my blood sugar, and the third is to sooth my inner child—she’s less disciplined than the adult me and would rather be making digital or acrylic paintings than weighing the use of en vs. em dashes. Fortunately, the microwave rights each glass and my cerebral potency is restored.
I adjust the hot water bottle left behind by my son and change the distance between my chair and my screen. As a grandma, I need to be mindful of which spectacles I wear and of how much I incline my back when staring, for long hours, at rhetorical assemblages. My chiropractor loves my visits, but, these days, as I am trying to sort out this book, I don’t have time to see him.
The sun sets. I change the lighting in my office. My married daughter calls to ask me to speak to my oldest grandchild. I had wanted to be able to mark off a section of my project as finished. I talk about simple arithmetic with a first grader, instead.
By the time that I return to completing that portion of my proofing, my other daughter calls. Lawyers are cheap in her city, so, given COVID and more, she’s happy to have found her place within a firm. Nonetheless, she needs to immediately vent to her dear mom about practices and procedures. She skips most of her rant’s content, though, as she’s pledged to confidentiality. I answer with “ums” and “ah-has.”
I look at the clock. My publisher’s in no rush. Maybe, tomorrow, I’ll finish today’s segment. While I reassess my schedule, my other child calls. He’s not working in the field for which he trained and needs me, at least a few times a week, to validate his situation. While we talk, my phone beeps, twice.
Two girlfriends rang me up. They actualized my rule about not calling until after dinnertime since I’ve lovingly scolded them about my habit of working during the day. One buddy can’t grasp why I bother since Hubby makes a respectable living. The other thinks that the writing process is like a faucet that can be arbitrarily turned on and off. Both, however, honor my request not to call until after dark.
By the time that we finish chatting, it’s nearly midnight as prior to speaking with them, I remembered that I owed my mother a call and that I had forgotten to turn on the dishwasher. While I was in the kitchen, I also took out some chicken to defrost for tomorrow’s dinner and watered our thirsty-looking jasmine.
I’m increasingly bleary-eyed. I love my book’s topic. In fact, I am fired up over having a chance to share my words about its main idea. It’s just that I’m getting a little bit sleepy. Maybe, I should rest content that today I have completed enough of it.
© KJ Hannah Greenberg
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs.
Thereafter, she’s been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than three dozen books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.