Any time you have a choice between tears and laughter, choose laughter. Crying only adds insult to injury by giving you a stuffy nose.
Dear Constant Reader, has it really been weeks since we had coffee and a chat? At first, I found the emails vaguely insulting: No fewer than four friends forwarded, to me, articles on how to write; writing prompts; non-fiction writing advice; fiction writing advice; links to writing challenges – you get the picture. At first, it was demotivating. “You think I need this? This? Is my writing that bad?” I burrowed deeper under the covers. I threw myself into work, which has lately been the equivalent of one and a half full-time jobs, anyway. In anticipation of taking all the vacation I’ve hoarded, working on this current project, I ignored my blog even more. Last night, a little voice (snickering in my ear) suggested maybe it was all just a hint. Maybe these friends were trying to jostle me out of my apparent writing coma with little things: “Just tap the keys…”
It didn’t help that my doctor now, apparently, thinks I’m “geriatric” and gives me little word puzzles to assess my mental status: “Spell ‘world’ backwards.”
“I’m sorry, but that isn’t even a challenge,” I mutter. “Can I try ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ backwards, instead?” I don’t actually say this. I can spell it forwards in my sleep. Backwards, it might make her wonder if I’m drunk. “d-l-r-o-w,” I grudgingly answer between clenched teeth. When I was in 8th grade, our math teacher stunned me by teaching the class the decimal system: Repeat after me: one, two, three, four… No, really, he was serious. …five, six… I, the utter incompetent when it came to math, raised my hand and asked, Could we do this in Base 8, just to keep it interesting? Oh, yes, I did. I wasn’t even being sarcastic about it. I just…couldn’t.
Next question: “Give me a sentence containing a noun and a verb.”
I ponder a moment, then realize speed is more important than crafting a short, pithy, Hemingway-esque sentence. “How about, ‘The meteor hit the doctor’s reception desk, causing all the patients to cancel their appointments.'” Cheshire Cat smiles sweetly, all the while thinking, Diagram that, biotch. I think she’s psychic. Pretty sure she heard me thinking it.
The only one I struggled with was the spatial relationship puzzle: Sketch a pentagon right-side up with a slightly overlapping one to the right, upside-down. I mean, it wasn’t even an oral instruction that required me to remember the difference between a pentagon and a hexadecagon and a stop sign – I just had to copy the printed picture from her questionnaire. Mentally, I was back in grade school, taking some IQ test. I’d have done doubles on analogies and timed reading comprehension, just to get out of spatial relationship puzzles. Oh-please-God-not-the-shape-thingies!! I felt panic creeping in, trying to slam shut the steel garage doors in my head. Those little things have caused me brain freeze since I was six. I passed, of course, but had a perverse urge to give her an elaborate house-tree-person drawing, instead, complete with creepy shadow in the attic, snakes in the apple tree, and a little child-scribbled Rorschach blot on the ground at the mother’s feet. Instead, I proved I can’t draw a straight line without a ruler to save my life.
So, here I am, proving to you that I can still craft a sentence. Forgive me, Reader, for I have sinned. It has been thirteen days since my last post…
Oh, thank God my doctor didn’t ask me to compose a Villanelle – I might still be sitting in her office!