Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Moral of the Chicken Juice Shower

Life has strange ways of bringing us to our knees. Sometimes it’s metaphorical and sometimes it’s literal. For me, it was both, which partially explains my silence, since the event occurred exactly two weeks ago today, the day after I wrote my last blog. It was six-thirty a.m. of the morning of my niece Mandy’s wedding shower. The afore-mentioned tarts had been baked and arranged in all their cherry-almond and apple-cranberry splendor on trays in the refrigerator. Their baker, however, was anything but splendid. I was bleary-eyed, vaguely out of sorts from the previous day’s existential angst, and looking like the remains of a gone-to-seed dandelion after a puff of wind. If that seems like an exaggeration just visualize wrinkly aqua p.j.s. and olive green socks.

Anyway, I opened the refrigerator, waved my hand around in the general vicinity of the red plastic container of Folger’s as I do every morning, and wound up plastered against the kitchen island. I’m telling you -- I never saw this one coming. The coffee container hit a bowl of defrosted chicken and sent the whole thing hurtling forward onto the floor, giving both trays of tarts a fly-by chicken juice shower on the way down. I suppose a less neurotic person might have trusted the integrity of plastic wrap, but I had not been PR director of a nursing home for three long years for nothing. I’d seen the Health Department inspector give the Dietary Director a citation for putting her purse on the counter, for Pete’s sake. Never mind squadrons of salmonella flying around inside the Maytag.

So I did the only thing I could -- dropped to my knees, picked up the chicken, scrubbed the devil out of the laminate, dumped the (perfect) tarts down the garbage disposal and began taking everything out of the #$%^&&** refrigerator. That’s right -- I swore a lot, which I have found is the best front line of defense when life brings you to your knees in small, but absolute, ways. The funny thing is, while I was down on the floor screaming like a banshee a couple major thoughts occurred to me. First I wondered whether I had enough ingredients to make more tarts. (No.) Next I wondered what I could make in their place. (Cookies, lemon bars, brownies) And then it occurred to me that I would make absolutely nothing. That’s right – nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. NADA. I would go to the bakery as if I were a truly sane person who understands the reason God invented bakeries and buy some tarts.

Once that was decided, it next occurred to me that maybe it wasn’t an accident that the chicken took a joy ride. Maybe it was to show me that I really don’t have to go through life as a neurotic pleaser. (Wow! There’s a novel thought!) And maybe -- just maybe -- my whole problem with not writing anymore has something to do with being a neurotic, perfectionistic pleaser. And maybe since I'm writing a blog it means that I'm technically writing anyway. And maybe if I can write a blog then it stands to reason that maybe I can write something else too!

So I went to the bakery, bought the tarts, took them to the shower, told a funny story about it, went home, and started writing something. And that’s why I haven’t written anything here for fourteen days. I’ve been too busy writing what might become a novel. Or not. But it doesn't matter whether it does, or it doesn't, because A.) I'm writing again and B) (this is the amazing part) I'm having a blast doing it!

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