Today I feel like an arrow that was pulled back, aimed, but fell off balance at the last moment and flipped and stuck down onto a muddy earth. Every word I speak is the gutteral, threatening squeak that a fully inflated balloon makes when a terrible person rubs it in their hands.
What to write about when you don’t feel like writing and it’s after midnight and all you ever wanted to do was go to bed but you promised yourself that you’d write every day for thirty days and you already skipped a day so you have to really try hard to prove to yourself that you can handle it.
As I sit here, picking at the acne on my face, I can say for certain that I do not want to be writing this evening. I’m exactly at the halfway point - day fifteen - and I’ve skipped just one day of writing so far. And I think I only have enough grace in my grace bank to cover that single day.
So today I'm going to run down the perfect day for me, right here and now, because I've been living a little bit outside of the present lately. This isn't the first time I've done this, and I highly recommend you try it too - write out a realistic perfect day. Make it a work day, too, because those are the most difficult to tackle.
Here’s what I wish my day could look like:
Wake at 7AM and eat kickass oatmeal. Drink some water and black tea with breakfast because it doesn’t bulldoze my stomach like coffee does - that comes later. Read a dozen pages of the book that’s been on my nightstand for weeks with the bookmark forming a permanent attachment to page 7.
Pop outside for a brisk walk around the block and imagine waving at all the old people that are milling about because they wanted a bright and early start. Smell the coffee coming from the neighbor’s windows and hurry home to poop because my body knows that coffee = poop. Then make a pot of coffee and set up my writing desk.
Write for an hour and listen to the music my brain is craving (lately it’s been Prince and Rufus Wainwright). Make the writing bad, like God-awful - you know, like this piece here. And probably publish it, but let myself off the hook if it just is too embarrassing.
Scrub my face and smoosh on some makeup, and convince myself that the foundation is totally the right shade. Try to also convince myself that I look real pretty today. Drink a glass of water and take supplements that an actual doctor recommended for me specifically, instead of just taking ones I feel like sound nice that day. Pack a thoughtfully-planned lunch.
Drive to work and actually be early - if not, I’ll settle for on time. Kick butt and take names, and remember to drink a couple glasses of water.
Leave just a few minutes before five because traffic gets worse once five hits, and I want to make it to the 5:45 PM yoga class. It will be the best day if I don’t look at my phone from the moment I get in the car to the moment I step out of a quick hot shower after 60 not-quick minutes of hot yoga.
That would put me at about 2 ½ hours of not looking at any screens and my mind needs that more than anything these days.
Restore my humanity with a big glass of water and a dinner that has side dishes, like actual vegetables. Eat this glorious food at the dining room table, and rest my feet on a freshly vacuumed rug and enjoy the open space of the table without laptops or phones or charging wires snaking between plates. I would be able to look my husband in the eyes as he told me about his day, truly undistracted for a moment.
I would put my dishes in the dishwasher and arrive into the evening like a sighing ship gliding into port after a long journey.
Log on to a laptop for an hour and make sure my other work is caught up and gets the littlest lick of love. Publish what I wrote in the morning, because who even cares if it’s perfect. That’s not the point right now.
Clap every laptop closed, so that the apartment is filled with their applause for completing another day. Make sure my phone alarm is set for 7AM and then edge myself into an early bedtime with an inspired nightly skincare routine (I’m open to suggestions, beauty queens - someone just tell me what to do and also buy all the products for me). And probably some ladylike ritual of moisturizing, because I hear that’s all the rage these days.
Tuck all the ugly stuff on the bedroom floor back into its proper place, then tuck myself into bed. Maybe read, maybe talk to my husband while he’s trying to read. Or maybe the drool that comes out of my mouth the second my head hits the pillow just reminds me to get straight down to the sleeping business.
Try to think of something happy, excavate some peace from somewhere under my skin and let it warm me as I drift off.
There’s so much about this day that’s possible, but a few glaring problems come to mind: a single fifteen-minute-snooze would set off the whole day and shatter that bedtime peace fossil into dust. A bad day or a good day could alter the formula - I might want to work more, work less, write more, write less.
My question is this: is a daily routine or rhythm more like baking or cooking?
If it’s like baking, it’s a science and the measurements always need to be just right. If it’s like cooking (if it’s anything like my cooking), it’s all based on what looks and tastes and smells good in the moment.
What do you think - does a carefully & lovingly baked day work better for you, or do you prefer the vibrant & volatile cooked day?