Perfection

Today Shiloh, my red Labrador Retriever, and I were surprised by a pitbull on the loose. We were walking along, practicing Shiloh’s training, when all of a sudden there was this extra dog right at my feet. Now, I believe I’ve heard rules for encountering pitbulls somewhere, but since there was no lead time, I just reacted with as much sense as I could muster. I was not perfect, not even close, or probably even wise. I just kept my bare legs in between the two dogs, calmly saying no,

magnifique ♥♥♥ go away. My heart was beating like a bass drum. Shiloh just wanted to meet this new friend. I was not friendly. I imagine there were warrior angels saying and doing a whole lot more than I did, because the pitbull went away. Phew!

But it got me thinking about perfection, which I believe this morning was proven to be an impossibility. I have always wanted to be perfect, and I know a lot of other people who feel the same way. And yet, there are all these rocks in the road. Unanticipated events, selfishness, time constraints, incapacity, etc.

But there’s another thing. I don’t think God even expects us to be perfect. He said we wouldn’t until heaven. Why do I want something He has said isn’t possible? One reason is that I hate conflict. My imperfection causes conflict, inside and outside myself. and yet, conflict is as sure a thing as perfection is unachievable. So, I’d be better off practicing my skills at resolving conflict than longing for perfection that’s never going to happen.

What are the conflict resolution guidelines? Lemme see, I’ve got time to think about this. No pitbull at my feet, and the fear factor has decreased. Ask questions first to be sure I understand the situation. Listen to what the other person says. Find out what they’re feeling. Speak in “I” messages. I need, I will, etc. Develop a plan that, if possible, will make both of us happy. Then work the plan. That’s not perfection, but it’s a good shot at it. Probably wouldn’t work with a pitbull, though.

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I Guess It’s Obvious …

I didn’t enjoy sharing my research. It isn’t amusing, and I really enjoy amusing. Sooo, I’m going back to starting off and seeing where my loopy brain goes. I hope you enjoy this because it’s what works for me.

Do you already know that it’s  smart to start things that can do themselves before you sit down or stand up to do something that takes your attention to accomplish? For instance, I just thought, wow, I could be watering the front flower bed, and went out and turned the water on, and now I’m back. And the water is watering. And I hope nobody from the City of Modesto reads this because we have a watering law, even though the CA drought has ended, because bureaucrats don’t think ahead much. I’m not even a numbers person, and I can figure out that when the temp goes up later this week, the snow in the mountains will become, wait for it, running water. It will fill up and run the dams over if they don’t open the flood gates. The rivers will continue to exceed the capacity of their banks. My little watering might save the whole situation, but noooooo. I can only water on Sunday and Wednesday. I guess that was more of a rant than amusing. Let me begin again.

There was this old woman who started things before she sat down to write. (Ah, here we go.) She started laundry in the washing machine, dishes in the dishwasher, and then her hubby bought her a Roomba for their 40th anniversary. A robot vacuum might not have seemed a particularly romantic gift for some women, but to this old woman it was the bomb. You see, said hubby had allowed said woman to purchase a big red Labrador Retriever she craved. Well, the big red actually started out as a wee pup, but she growed, a lot. And shed, a lot, and hubby was allergic to dog dander. Now that’s romantic, I don’t care who ya’ are.

Anyhow, the old woman set the Roomba up to vacuum Mon, Wed, Fri at 10 a.m. Presto! One of the hated housekeeping jobs a thing of the past. Or so she thought. But, she read on Facebook that a Roomba picked up an errant dog poop mess at someone else’s house and spread it from he.. to breakfast. It occurred to the old woman that she better make way for the Roomba in advance. So Mon, Wed and Fri, she blocked off the sofa so the little Ridiot wouldn’t get under there and wind itself up in electrical cords, and she made sure the floors didn’t have any extraneous stuff like: shoes, dog tie downs, carelessly tossed towels, papers, etc (like poop, although red dog is accomplished at pooping outside). She made sure the doors to the rooms she wanted vacuumed were open and the doors to the rooms she didn’t were closed. Somewhere in the midst of this, she wondered whether she was saving time, but there was the not pushing the old vacuum around. When the Ridiot vacuumed the room the red dog slept in, she tried to ignore that she had to empty the little receptacle of dog hair five times before it finished.

Then came the day that Red Dog inadvertently wrapped her leash around the old woman’s feet as she was headed for the frig with a pot of barbecued ribs the old man had made for Mother’s Day. Just as the pot hit the floor, she heard the familiar whir of the Ridiot revving up for a cleaning spree. The leash was still wrapped around her feet, and she could feel her balance going. She grabbed the door of the frig, which sprang open and Red Dog now stood looking in confusion at the ribs on the floor and the fried chicken on the bottom shelf of the frig. Clearly, she couldn’t decide which way to jump. The old woman heard the whir coming closer, and she grabbed for Red Dog’s collar to unwind her, just as Red Dog decided the ribs were the more sure bet of the two. She lunged forward, the woman missed her collar, and the leash became a noose around her feet. She hung on to the frig door for dear life as the dog gnawed ribs and the Ridiot whirred closer. When the Ridiot appeared at the kitchen door, Red Dog looked up and, barbecue sauce making kind of a horror movie grin on her face, reached over and put a stopping paw on top of the Ridiot. “Beep! Beep! Error! Please move Roomba to a new location and clear her wheels.” Red Dog picked up her foot. The Ridiot headed straight for the barbecue sauce and rib strewn floor. What could the old woman do? She threw herself down between the ribs and the Ridiot, sacrificing herself for the sake of avoiding twelve hours or so of cleaning. Now this could go on, but the old woman has to get on with the revision of her WIP, so we’ll just say, the moral of the story is: ummm, Stay off the sauce? Or, multi-tasking can have drawbacks. Or, never move food with a dog in the room?

Writer Spouses

Our critique group sat around my dining room table a week or so ago talking about this and that. The subject of our longsuffering spouses came up. You have to be a hero to be the husband or wife of a writer. You sign on for things you didn’t know you were signing on for, and it’s too late to back out. So you have to persevere, heroically. For instance:

  • Your writer will wake up in the middle of the dark night, flip on the bedside lamp, and scribble furiously in the notebook s/he keeps in her/his bedside stand, muttering just enough to keep you awake until s/he’s finished. It’s highly possible s/he will also talk, tell jokes, laugh, or lecture in his/her sleep.
  • When you are telling your writer something, suddenly the conversation will belong to him/her, and go off to places you had no idea you were talking about.
  • You may be hauled off to the far reaches of the earth to do research, and expected to help.
  • When you have arrived at the best part of a TV show, your writer will enter the room, glance at the TV, and ask sweetly, “Will you please listen to this?”, promptly sit down and start reading.
  • You may learn things you never even cared to know about how to construct plot and characters.
  • You may learn the exact way you should interrupt your writer, or not, when s/he is pecking away at the computer, or out in the garden gazing up at the sky. How were you supposed to know she was working out the inciting incident?
  • You may find ways to do what you need to do when a group of writers are engaged in critiquing each other’s work right in the middle of your house.
  • You may travel off to one writer’s conference after another, finding things to help with, or visiting museums or sports bars.
  • You may be asked to answer questions you have no idea the answers to, such as, “what’s a better name for this character, Fred or Antoine?” 
  • You may spend more than you realized on ink, paper, stamps and travel.
  • You do have leverage, however. On those research trips, you can squeeze in fishing, skiing, parasailing, or whatever you desire.

This certainly is not the sum and total of the life of a writing spouse, but at least you’re better prepared should you choose to wed one. If it’s too late, and you already spend your days with a writer, at least you know you’re not alone.